Trump Watch, Capitol Siege News

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Shown below is a list of recent news stories reporting on probes of President Trump, his administration and businesses. The reports are listed in reverse chronological order, and are drawn primarily from news stories relating to investigations and the U.S. Congress of major claims of wrongdoing.

Note: Excerpts below are from the authors' words except for subheads and "Editor's notes" such as this. This segment of our near-daily summary of Trump Watch News and Commentary encompasses news stories that began in 2021. For material in 2020, kindly visit a link for it that will be posted soon here.

-- Andrew Kreig / Justice Integrity Project editor

 

2021-22

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).

 

Donald Trump, shown in a 2020 campaign hat.

 

May 2022

May 12

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 trump hotel

ny times logoNew York Times, The Trump family completed the sale of its hotel in Washington, D.C., to a Miami investor group, Eric Lipton, May 12, 2022 (print ed.). The Trump International Hotel in Washington is now officially out of business after the Trump family on Wednesday completed its sale to a Miami investor group, which plans to reopen it as a Waldorf Astoria.

The sale formally ended the Trump family’s business presence in Washington, although the family company still owns a golf course in Northern Virginia. The deal with the investor group, CGI Merchant Group, for a reported price of $375 million covers only the operation of the hotel, which is housed in a building leased from the federal government.

The new owners moved quickly to take control of the hotel, sending a crew out after dark on Wednesday to begin taking down the Trump signs, starting with the gold-plated family name above the main entrance.

Hotel industry executives have said the hotel had underperformed compared with other luxury hotels in the city, particularly since President Donald J. Trump left office, in part because some companies and travelers were reluctant to book rooms or hold events at the hotel given the controversies surrounding Mr. Trump. Those factors most likely contributed to the decision to sell the lease, they said.

But the 263-room hotel still pulled in an exceptionally high sale price, given its location on Pennsylvania Avenue, between the White House and the Capitol, and its presence inside a Washington landmark, the Old Post Office Building, whose clock tower makes it one of the tallest buildings in the capital.

The average sales price for hotels in Washington in 2020 was $354,000 per room, according to a survey by JLL, a real estate firm. The reported price for the Trump hotel deal suggested a per-room price of more than $1 million, a level that surprised some veteran real estate executives in Washington.

The hotel, which opened just a few weeks before Mr. Trump was elected president in 2016 after a $200 million renovation of the once-decrepit building, became a gathering place for his supporters, members of his cabinet, lobbyists, Republicans in Congress and foreign leaders, some of whom were on their way to see Mr. Trump.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just tipped off that he isn’t really planning to run in 2024, Bill Palmer, May 12, 2022. Donald Trump officially sold off his ownership in the management of the Trump bill palmerInternational Hotel today, which will reopen under a new name without his involvement. It was believed to be his only remaining profitable property, but he sold it anyway.

This suggests that Trump must be in truly dire economic straits, as selling off profitable properties means forfeiting your ongoing revenue from them in exchange for short term cash. It also gives away that Trump is, rather obviously, not really going to run for President in 2024. After all, this is the hotel that’s down the street from the White House.

bill palmer report logo headerWhile he was in office, Donald Trump routinely abused the presidency to steer guests and revenue toward his hotel. If Trump were truly going to run again in 2024, he’d be hanging onto the property in case he wins, because it would once again become an easy way to steer money into his own pocket. Trump (or whoever is making his financial decisions at this point) is clearly not banking on a 2024 run.

But Trump will continue spending 2022 and 2023 strongly implying that he will run, so that he can keep raking in unofficial campaign donations that he can then easily stick in his pocket, because they’re not regulated like actual campaign donations to a candidate who’s actually running.

And of course the media (on the left, right, and center) will continue playing up the ruse that Trump is going to run in 2024, because the media intends to spend 2022 and 2023 milking the “Trump 2024” narrative for ratings. But come on, the guy just sold off his prized hotel down the street from the White House. Take a hint.

 

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

ny times logoNew York Times, Jan. 6 Panel Subpoenas 5 Republican Representatives, Luke Broadwater and Emily Cochrane, May 12, 2022. The House committee investigating the Capitol attack is demanding documents and testimony from Representative Kevin McCarthy and four of his colleagues. The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol issued subpoenas on Thursday to five Republican members of Congress, including Representative Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader, who had refused to meet with the panel voluntarily.

The committee’s leaders had been reluctant to issue subpoenas to their fellow lawmakers. That is an extraordinarily rare step for most congressional panels to take, though the House Ethics Committee, which is responsible for investigating allegations of misconduct by members, is known to do so.

The panel said it was demanding testimony from Mr. McCarthy, of California, who engaged in a heated phone call with President Donald J. Trump during the Capitol violence; Representative Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, who coordinated a plan to try to replace the acting attorney general after he resisted Mr. Trump’s false claims of widespread fraud; Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, who was deeply involved in the effort to fight the election results; Representative Andy Biggs of Arizona, the former leader of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus; and Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama, who has said Mr. Trump has continued to seek an unlawful reinstatement to office for more than a year.

All five have refused requests for voluntary interviews about the roles they played in the buildup to the attack by supporters of the former president who believed his lie of widespread election fraud.

May 11

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: We’re in danger of losing our democracy, but most Americans are in denial, Max Boot, right, May 11, 2022. It has been max boot screen shotstirring to see so many Americans come together to support Ukraine’s fight for freedom. But it is dismaying to see that there is no similar consensus on defending democracy at home. Indeed, much of the country remains in denial about the threat.

A year after the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the Capitol, a CNN poll asked whether it’s likely “that, in the next few years, some elected officials will successfully overturn the results of an election.” Fifty-one percent of Republicans and 44 percent of Democrats said it’s not at all likely. Only 46 percent of Democrats and independents said that U.S. democracy is under attack, which helps to explain why Democratic candidates aren’t campaigning on defending democracy.

This reminds me of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denying before Feb. 24 that a Russian invasion was imminent and telling people not to “panic” even as Russian armies were massing in plain sight. Panic is generally a bad idea, but sometimes it is warranted. Now is one of those times for anyone who cares about the fate of U.S. democracy.

Republicans have succeeded in restricting voting rights in 19 states. Democrats have failed to protect voting rights at the national level because they can’t break a Senate filibuster. Meanwhile at least 23 supporters of the Big Lie – which holds that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump – are running for secretary of state posts to oversee elections in 19 states. Other election deniers are joining election boards.

mark esperFormer Defense Secretary Mark Esper, right, writes that Trump wanted to shoot peaceful protesters and launch missiles at Mexico. “He is an unprincipled person who, given his self-interest, should not be in the position of public service,” Esper concludes. Trump’s former National Security Adviser John Bolton says that having Trump back in the White House would threaten U.S. national security. Trump’s former communications director Anthony Scaramucci tweets, “Anyone who worked for Trump knows he is a maniac.”

Yet 70 percent of Republicans want this “maniac” to run again in 2024. If he does run, he will win the nomination – and on the present trajectory (with inflation spiking and Biden’s approval rating plunging) he has a good chance to win the White House.

May 10

 

djt jan 6 twitter

Donald Trump rouses supporters in a speech outside the White House just prior to the mob's assault on the U.S. Capitol, which contained elected members of Congress giving final certification of November election results on Jan. 6, 2021 in advance of President-elect Joe Biden's planned Inaugution.

washington post logoWashington Post, Elon Musk says he would reverse Twitter ban on Donald Trump, Faiz Siddiqui, Drew Harwell and Josh Dawsey, May 10, 2022. Musk, who is buying Twitter for $44 billion, said he would restore the former president to the social media platform.

elon musk 2015Elon Musk said he would reverse Twitter’s ban on former president Donald Trump, articulating for the first time his stance on one of the most consequential decisions before him at the social media site he is acquiring.

“I do think it was not correct to ban Donald Trump. I think that was a mistake,” Musk said at an event Tuesday hosted by the Financial Times. “It alienated a large part of the country and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice.”

twitter bird CustomThe ban, he added, “was a morally bad decision, to be clear, and foolish in the extreme.” Twitter had banned Trump’s account shortly after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, citing the “risk of further incitement of violence.”

Musk — one of Twitter’s most prolific users, with more than 90 million followers — has agreed to purchase the social media company for roughly $44 billion, arguing that the site should host unfettered free speech and function as a “de facto town square.” He has broadly criticized Twitter’s content moderation decisions, arguing that the company’s permanent bans for rule-breaking accounts should have instead been temporary removals, so as not to suppress their use of the site long-term.

What Elon Musk has said about Twitter

Musk’s decision to un-ban Trump would not only overturn one of the most significant and widely debated corporate rulings in American tech. It could also hand the former president back a megaphone he had used for years to capture the world’s attention — and shout down his adversaries — at a moment when he is boosting allies during the 2022 midterm elections and preparing for an expected presidential run in 2024.

 

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

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

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

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

May 7

washington post logoWashington Post, Inside Mark Meadows’s final push to keep Trump in power, Michael Kranish, May 10, 2022 (print ed.). The former congressman played a key role in Trump’s effort to overturn the election, according to his texts, congressional investigations and interviews.

Behind closed doors in a civic center outside Atlanta, state officials were scouring thousands of mail-in ballots on Dec. 22, 2020, when an unexpected visitor Mark Meadowsshowed up: Mark Meadows, right, President Donald Trump’s chief of staff.

Joe Biden had won the electoral college one week earlier, but Meadows’s boss was still baselessly claiming he’d been robbed — and pointing specifically at Georgia.

After Georgia’s deputy secretary of state blocked Meadows from entering the room where officials were matching voter signatures, Meadows struck up a conversation with her office’s chief investigator, Frances Watson, and got her phone number. To Watson’s shock, the next day Trump called.

“Mark asked me to do it, he thinks you’re great,” Trump said, while falsely claiming he had won Georgia “by hundreds of thousands of votes.” Trump, according to audio of the call, added, “Whatever you can do Frances, it’s a great thing, an important thing for the country.”

As he hung up, Trump said, “Mark appreciates it.”

republican elephant logoMeadows, 62, had taken the job as chief of staff on the principle that his most important task would be “to tell the most powerful man in the world when you believed he was wrong,” he wrote in his memoir, “The Chief’s Chief.”

But instead of echoing the administration’s own Justice Department to tell Trump that his claims of a stolen election were wrong, Meadows went to extraordinary lengths to push Trump’s false assertions — particularly during a crucial three-week period starting with his trip to Atlanta and culminating in the violent insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021.

A review of Meadows’s actions in that period by The Washington Post — based on interviews, depositions, text messages, emails, congressional documents, recently published memoirs by key players and other material — shows how Meadows played a pivotal role in advancing Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. In doing so, Meadows “repeatedly violated” legal guidance against trying to influence the Justice Department, according to a majority staff report of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

May 9

 

vicky ward investigates

Vicky Ward Investigates, Presidential Relatives Behaving Badly: What’s the Difference Between Hunter Biden and Jared Kushner? Vicky Ward, author and investigative reporter, above, May 9-10, 2022. It’s about timing with Kushner, and it’s about transparency with Biden, according to former White House ethics czar Richard Painter.

Given that, in the last few weeks, I’ve written about ethics controversies around both Jared Kushner, right, and Hunter Biden, I thought it was important to think about the differences and similarities between the two.

Kushner’s appearance of self-interest (his investment fund received $2 billion from PIF, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, over the objections of PIF’s financial advisors) is far worse than Biden’s, because Kushner was actually an official in the Trump White House, guiding policy in the Gulf, and, so it appears, possibly benefitting financially from policy favorable to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince MBS—possibly at significant cost to U.S. national security. (See both my previous reporting on this—Part One, Part Two, and Part Three—as well as my book, Kushner Inc.)

hunter biden unshaven newHunter Biden, left, on the other hand, has (sensibly) been kept far away from his father’s White House, but, even so, his past efforts at influence-peddling his father’s vice-presidency bear shades of Billy Carter. And there are questions as to whether Joe Biden, as vice-president, was as careful as he should have been at keeping out of his son’s business dealings. The big question remains as to why close Putin ally Vladimir Yevtushenkov, with whom Hunter Biden reportedly richard paintermet, is still not sanctioned. Had Joe Biden never met with some of Hunter’s foreign business partners, who knew Yevtushenkov, the question would not be so problematic.

But the bottom line, as the ethics lawyer Richard Painter rightly points out below, is that the two cases are really not comparable. Jared Kushner’s conduct should not be the measuring stick by which we judge Hunter Biden. Regardless, that does not mean the media should give Hunter Biden—or his father—a pass, which does seem to be what is happening in the mainstream press.

I did two interviews with Painter, one on Kushner and one on Biden.

Here’s what he had to say.

May 7

djt handwave file

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

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

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

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

May 4

 

 

stewart rhodes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Recent Headlines

May 3

 

djt hands open amazon safe

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Settles Suit Over Payments to Hotel for 2017 Inauguration, Eric Lipton, May 3, 2022. The lawsuit brought by an attorney general claimed that the Trump hotel accepted excessive payments for former President Trump’s inaugural committee.

The Trump family business and President Donald J. Trump’s 2017 inauguration committee have jointly agreed to pay $750,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the attorney general for the District of Columbia, who claimed that the Trump International Hotel in Washington illegally received excessive payments from the inauguration committee.

The settlement in the civil suit came with no admission of wrongdoing by the Trump Organization, the former president or the inaugural committee.

But the payment amounted to nearly three-quarters of the $1.03 million that the lawsuit, filed by Attorney General Karl Racine of Washington, said had been paid to Mr. Trump’s hotel by the nonprofit inaugural committee to rent out space at what Mr. Racine asserted was an above-market rate and then use it in part to host a private reception for Mr. Trump’s children on the evening he was sworn in as president.

The settlement also came just days before the Trump family was slated to formally close on the sale of the Trump International Hotel, which will be converted to a Waldorf Astoria after Mr. Trump’s name is stripped from the landmark building on Pennsylvania Avenue, a few blocks from the White House.

May 2

Investigations: Challenges To Democratic Norms

 

tucker carlson fox horizontal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

sean hannity uncredited

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

Tucker Carlson had a problem.

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 1

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The status of key investigations involving Donald Trump, Matt Zapotosky, May. 1, 2022. Probes of the ex-president’s business and political conduct are underway in multiple places.

Donald Trump is facing historic legal and legislative scrutiny for a former president, under investigation by U.S. lawmakers, local district attorneys, a state attorney general and the FBI. Authorities are looking into Trump and his family business for a medley of possible wrongdoing, including his actions leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol and how he valued his various assets for loan and tax purposes.

Though one probe — by the district attorney in Manhattan — appears to be winding down, others remain active, threatening Trump with criminal or financial penalties, or plain old public embarrassment, as he weighs a 2024 bid to return to the White House. Here’s a list of the key investigations and where they stand.

  • Trump business practices, Manhattan DA’s criminal probe
  • Trump business practices, New York AG’s civil probe
  • Georgia election results investigation
  • The Jan. 6 select committee’s investigation
  • Criminal probes of Jan. 6
  • The Mar-a-Lago boxes investigation
  • Westchester, N.Y., golf club

ap logoAssociated Press via HuffPost, Evidence Mounts Of GOP Involvement In Trump Election Schemes, Farnoush Amiri, May. 1, 2022. Since launching its investigation last summer, the Jan. 6 panel has been slowly gaining new details about what lawmakers said and did in the weeks before the insurrection.

Rioters who smashed their way into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, succeeded — at least temporarily — in delaying the certification of Joe Biden’s election to the White House.

Hours before, Rep. Jim Jordan had been trying to achieve the same thing.

Texting with then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, a close ally and friend, at nearly midnight on Jan. 5, Jordan offered a legal rationale for what President Donald Trump was publicly demanding — that Vice President Mike Pence, in his ceremonial role presiding over the electoral count, somehow assert the authority to reject electors from Biden-won states.

Pence “should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all,” Jordan wrote.

“I have pushed for this,” Meadows replied. “Not sure it is going to happen.”

The text exchange, in an April 22 court filing from the congressional panel investigating the Jan. 6 riot, is in a batch of startling evidence that shows the deep involvement of some House Republicans in Trump’s desperate attempt to stay in power. A review of the evidence finds new details about how, long before the attack on the Capitol unfolded, several GOP lawmakers were participating directly in Trump’s campaign to reverse the results of a free and fair election.

 Recent Headlines

 

April 2022

April 29

ny times logoNew York Times, Likelihood of Trump Indictment in Manhattan Fades as Grand Jury Wraps Up, Ben Protess, Jonah E. Bromwich, William K. Rashbaum and Lananh Nguyen, April 29, 2022. The investigation continues, but new signs have emerged that charges against former President Trump are unlikely to occur in the foreseeable future, if ever.

When some two dozen New Yorkers filed into a Manhattan courthouse this week to finish out their grand jury service, the case against a man who would have been the world’s most prominent criminal defendant was no longer before them.

alvin bragg twitterThat man, Donald J. Trump, was facing potential criminal charges from the grand jury this year over his business practices. But in the weeks since the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, right, stopped presenting evidence to the jurors about Mr. Trump, new signs have emerged that the former president will not be indicted in Manhattan in the foreseeable future — if at all.

At least three of the witnesses once central to the case have either not heard from the district attorney’s office in months, or have not been asked to testify, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

In recent weeks, a prosecutor at the Manhattan district attorney’s office who played a key role in the investigation has stopped focusing on a potential case against Mr. Trump, other people with knowledge of the inquiry said — a move that followed the resignation earlier this year of the two senior prosecutors leading the investigation.

And the remaining prosecutors working on the Trump investigation have abandoned the “war room” they used to prepare for their grand jury presentation early this year, the people said, leaving behind an expansive office suite and conference room on the 15th floor of the district attorney’s office in Lower Manhattan.

Here’s where the various criminal and civil investigations into Donald Trump stand.

The grand jury’s expiration at the end of the month does not preclude prosecutors from impaneling another jury, but the developments underscore the reduced possibility that Mr. Trump will face charges under Mr. Bragg, who along with several other prosecutors had concerns about proving the case. Some people close to the inquiry believe that it will not result in an indictment of the former president unless a witness cooperates unexpectedly — a long shot in an investigation that has been running for more than three years.

In recent weeks, Mr. Bragg’s prosecutors have issued a few additional subpoenas that indicate they are continuing to investigate but have not found a new path to charging Mr. Trump. The previously unreported subpoenas, people with knowledge of the matter said, appear to focus on the same topic that has long been the subject of the investigation: whether Mr. Trump falsely inflated the value of his assets in annual financial statements.

The subpoenas suggest that, rather than pursuing a new theory of the case, Mr. Bragg is looking at additional entities that received Mr. Trump’s financial statements as he sought loans and pursued other business, and that the prosecutors are seeking potential victims of the former president.

April 28

 

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Talk of martial law, Insurrection Act draws notice of Jan. 6 committee, Jacqueline Alemany, Josh Dawsey and Tom Hamburger, April 28, 2022 (print ed.). Trump White House discussions about using presidential emergency powers have become an important but little-known part of the panel’s inquiry

Three days before Joe Biden’s inauguration, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene texted White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. She told him that some Republican members of Congress believed the only path for President Donald Trump to change the outcome of the 2020 election and stay in power was for him to declare martial law.

The text from Greene (R-Ga.), revealed this week, brought to the fore the chorus of Republicans who were publicly and privately advocating for Trump to try to use the military and defense apparatus of the U.S. government to strong-arm his way past an electoral defeat. Now, discussions involving the Trump White House about using emergency powers have become an important — but little-known — part of the House Jan. 6 committee’s investigation of the 2021 attack on the Capitol.

The Washington Post's investigation of the Jan. 6 insurrection

In subpoenas, document requests and court filings, the panel has demanded information about any Trump administration plans to use presidential emergency powers to invoke martial law or take other steps to overturn the 2020 election.

Interviews with committee members and a review of the panel’s information requests reveals a focus on emergency powers that were being considered by Trump and his allies in several categories: invoking the Insurrection Act, declaring martial law, using presidential powers to justify seizing assets of voting-machine companies, and using the military to require a rerun of the election.

“Trump’s invocation of these emergency powers would have been unprecedented in all of American history,” said J. Michael Luttig, a conservative lawyer and former appeals court judge.

April 25

 

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CNN, Exclusive: Mark Meadows' 2,319 text messages reveal Trump's inner circle communications before and after Jan 6, Jamie Gangel, Jeremy Herb and Elizabeth Stuart, April 25, 2022. CNN has obtained 2,319 text messages that former President Donald Trump's White House chief of staff Mark Meadows sent and received between Election Day 2020 and President Joe Biden's January 20, 2021 inauguration.

The vast trove of texts offers the most revealing picture to date of how Trump's inner circle, supporters and Republican lawmakers worked behind the scenes to try to overturn the election results and then reacted to the violence that effort unleashed at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

cnn logoThe logs, which Meadows selectively provided to the House committee investigating the January 6 attack, show how the former chief of staff was at the nexus of sprawling conspiracy theories baselessly claiming the election had been stolen. They also demonstrate how he played a key role in the attempts to stop Biden's certification on January 6.

The never-before-seen texts include messages from Trump's family -- daughter Ivanka Trump, son-in-law Jared Kushner and son Donald Trump Jr. -- as well as White House and campaign officials, Cabinet members, Republican Party leaders, January 6 rally organizers, Rudy Giuliani, My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell, Sean Hannity and other Fox hosts. There are also text exchanges with more than 40 current and former Republican members of Congress, including Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Mo Brooks of Alabama and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.

The texts include everything from plans to fight the election results to surprising and unexpected reactions on January 6 from some of Trump's staunchest allies. At 2:28 p.m., Greene, the conservative firebrand who had helped to plan the congressional objections that day, texted Meadows with an urgent plea for help as the violence was unfolding at the Capitol.

"Mark I was just told there is an active shooter on the first floor of the Capitol Please tell the President to calm people This isn't the way to solve anything," Greene wrote. Meadows does not appear to reply.

"Mark: he needs to stop this, now. Can I do anything to help?" Mick Mulvaney, Trump's former acting White House chief of staff, texted Meadows.

"It's really bad up here on the hill. They have breached the Capitol," Georgia Republican Rep. Barry Loudermilk wrote.

"The president needs to stop this ASAP," texted GOP Rep. William Timmons of South Carolina.
"POTUS is engaging," Meadows sent in response to Loudermilk. "We are doing it," he texted to Timmons.

"Thanks. This doesn't help our cause," Loudermilk replied.

Shortly after, Donald Trump Jr. weighed in: "This his(sic) one you go to the mattresses on. They will try to fuck his entire legacy on this if it gets worse."

"TELL THEM TO GO HOME !!!" texted Trump's first chief of staff, Reince Priebus.

 

djt oct 7 2020 twitter

ny times logoNew York Times, A Crusade to Challenge the 2020 Election, Charles Homans, April 25, 2022 (print ed.). Blessed by Church Leaders, Some evangelical pastors are hosting events dedicated to Donald Trump’s election falsehoods and promoting the cause to their congregations.

The 11 a.m. service at Church for All Nations, a large nondenominational evangelical church in Colorado’s second-largest city, began as such services usually do. The congregation of young families and older couples swayed and sang along to live music. Mark Cowart, the church’s senior pastor, delivered an update on a church mission project.

Then Mr. Cowart turned the pulpit over to a guest speaker, William J. Federer.

An evangelical commentator and one-time Republican congressional candidate, Mr. Federer led the congregation through an hourlong PowerPoint presentation based on his 2020 book, “Socialism — The Real History from Plato to the Present: How the Deep State Capitalizes on Crises to Consolidate Control.” Many congregants scribbled in the notebooks they had brought from home.

“I believe God is pushing the world to a decision-making moment,” Mr. Federer said, building toward his conclusion. “We used to have national politicians that held back the floodgates of hell. The umbrella’s been ripped after Jan. 6, and now it’s raining down upon every one of us. We had politicians that were supposed to certify that — and instead they just accepted it. And, lo and behold, an anti-Christian spirit’s been released across the country and the world.”

Evangelical churches have long been powerful vehicles for grass-roots activism and influence on the American right, mobilized around issues like abortion and gay marriage. Now, some of those churches have embraced a new cause: promoting Donald J. Trump’s false claim that the 2020 election was stolen.

ny times logoNew York Times, Judge Holds Trump in Contempt Over Documents in New York A.G.’s Inquiry, Jonah E. Bromwich, Ben Protess and William K. Rashbaum, April 25, 2022. New York judge on Monday held Donald J. Trump in contempt of court for failing to turn over documents to the state’s attorney general, an extraordinary rebuke of the former president.

The judge, Arthur F. Engoron, ordered Mr. Trump to comply with a subpoena seeking records and assessed a fine of $10,000 per day until he satisfied the court’s requirements. In essence, the judge concluded that Mr. Trump had failed to cooperate with the attorney general, Letitia James, and follow the court’s orders.

“Mr. Trump: I know you take your business seriously, and I take mine seriously,” said Justice Engoron of State Supreme Court in Manhattan, before he held Mr. Trump in contempt and banged his gavel.

Lawyers for Mr. Trump had argued that they conducted a thorough search for the records being sought by investigators and found no new documents to provide. But Justice Engoron decided that the lawyers had not provided sufficient detail about how they searched.

The contempt order could be short-lived. If Alina Habba, one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, files a sworn statement detailing every step that was taken to locate potential documents, the judge might be satisfied, lawyers close to the case said. Ms. Habba said after the hearing ended that she intended to file such a statement, potentially by the end of the day.

Ms. Habba also said she intended to appeal the ruling.

“All documents responsive to the subpoena were produced to the attorney general months ago,” Ms. Habba said. “This does not even come close to meeting the standard on a motion for contempt.”

At the hearing, Justice Engoron objected to an earlier statement from Mr. Trump’s lawyers regarding their efforts to search for documents, calling it “woefully insufficient” and “boilerplate.”

It failed, he said, to outline “what, who, where, when and how any search was conducted.”

The ruling — and Justice Engoron’s comments — represent a significant victory for Ms. James, whose office is conducting a civil investigation into whether Mr. Trump falsely inflated the value of his assets in annual financial statements.

In January, Ms. James, a Democrat, said her office had concluded that the Trump Organization had engaged in “fraudulent or misleading” practices involving the statements. But she said she would continue to investigate before deciding whether to sue Mr. Trump or his company.

April 24

 

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

Palmer Report, Opinion: January 6th public hearings are set to “blow the roof” off the place, Bill Palmer, April 24, 2022. Jamie Raskin now says the bill palmerJanuary 6th Committee’s upcoming public hearings will “blow the roof off” the scandal. He’s a savvy guy. He knows that in politics, you only ramp up expectations for something if you know you’re going to be able to more than meet those raised expectations. So the committee must really have the goods.

bill palmer report logo headerIf it turned out the committee wasn’t able to unearth as much as it had been hoping, members like Raskin would be out there trying to tamp down expectations, or saying nothing at all.

So why haven’t the public hearings started yet? From the start, the committee had a long term strategy of making an example out of Steve Bannon right out of the gate, and then building cooperating witnesses from the bottom up – and that strategy appears to have ultimately paid off in spades.

Reluctant high level witnesses, ranging from the Trump White House Counsel to multiple members of Trump’s family, have recently decided to give cooperative testimony. Presumably because they don’t want contempt charges and they’re afraid of what other witnesses may have said.

capitol riot nyt jan 7 2021If you’re a higher level witness and you’re afraid that some lower level witness who’s already testified may have tried to pin it all on you, you’re motivated to go in and defend yourself. That’s what we’re seeing now with with a number of high level witnesses, some of whom had previously been trying really hard to avoid testifying.

So this rush of last minute high level testimony has perhaps held up the start of public hearings by a bit. But who cares? There’s no downside to holding the hearings in June instead of April. And they’ll be more effective now, because there’s a lot more to work with than if the hearings had already taken place.

At some point the committee has to say “the midterms are coming” and just start the public hearings. But the committee knows how to read a calendar. There’s no way will it start its public hearings any later than summer.

In the meantime, the committee is already putting some of the evidence out there in ways such as Friday’s court filing against Mark Meadows – which reveals that Meadows conspired with several House Republicans to overthrow the election. Those details are explosive, yet they’re apparently not the committee’s biggest revelations, or we wouldn’t be seeing them so soon.

The committee wants to motivate average Americans – not you and me, who will watch anyway, but average Americans – to tune in for these hearings. It’s why we’re seeing some of these juicy details surface in advance, so the media can play it up ahead of the hearings. The January 6th Committee probe appears to be playing out exactly like we’d hoped. And now we’ve got Jamie Raskin confirming that the committee has indeed hit paydirt.

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Meadows was warned of violence before Jan. 6, new court filings show, Jacqueline Alemany, April 24, 2022 (print ed.). White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows (shown above in a file photo) was warned before Jan. 6, 2021, about the threat of violence that day as supporters of President Donald Trump planned to mass at the U.S. Capitol, according to new testimony released late Friday by the House committee investigating the insurrection.

republican elephant logoOne of Meadows’s top aides, Cassidy Hutchinson, told congressional investigators she recalled Anthony Ornato, a senior Secret Service official who also held the role of a political adviser at the White House, “coming in and saying that we had intel reports saying that there could potentially be violence on the 6th. And Mr. Meadows said: All right. Let’s talk about it.”

Hutchinson added, “I’m not sure if he — what he did with that information internally.”

Those details were in a filing arguing that a federal court should reject Meadows’s claims of executive privilege and compel him to appear before the House Jan. 6 committee, which is continuing to build a case that Trump knowingly misled his followers about the election, and pressured Pence to break the law in the weeks and hours before the assault.

In the motion, the committee outlines seven “discrete categories of information” about which it seeks to question Meadows and argues that his claims of executive privilege should not preclude his testifying about those matters.

Those categories of information include testimony and documents relating to communications with members of Congress; the plan to replace acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen with Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark; efforts by Trump to “direct, persuade or pressure then Vice President Mike Pence to unilaterally refuse to count electoral votes on January 6th”; and activity in the White House “immediately before and during the events of January 6th.”

The committee laid out new examples of warnings Meadows received before Jan. 6, 2021, along with a deepened understanding of his involvement with planning and coordinating efforts to disrupt the counting of electoral college votes in Congress.

ny times logoNew York Times, Filing Provides New Details on White House Planning for Jan. 6, Luke Broadwater and Alan Feuer, April 24, 2022 (print ed.).  Testimony disclosed by the House committee investigating the attack showed that Mark Meadows and Freedom Caucus members discussed directing marchers to the Capitol as Congress certified the election results.

Before the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Trump White House officials and members of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus strategized about a plan to direct thousands of angry marchers to the building, according to newly released testimony obtained by the House committee investigating the riot and former President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to overturn the election.

On a planning call that included Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff; Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer; Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio; and other Freedom Caucus members, the group discussed the idea of encouraging supporters to march to the Capitol, according to one witness’s account.

The idea was endorsed by Representative Scott Perry, Republican of Pennsylvania, who now leads the Freedom Caucus, according to testimony by Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to Mr. Meadows, and no one on the call spoke out against the idea.

“I don’t think there’s a participant on the call that had necessarily discouraged the idea,” Ms. Hutchinson told the committee’s investigators.

The nearly two-mile march from the president’s “Stop the Steal” rally at the Ellipse to the Capitol, where parts of the crowd became a violent mob, has become a focus of both the House committee and the Justice Department as they investigate who was responsible for the violence.

Mr. Meadows and members of the Freedom Caucus, who were deeply involved in Mr. Trump’s push to overturn the 2020 election, have condemned the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and defended their role in spreading the lie of a stolen election.

Ms. Hutchinson’s testimony and other materials disclosed by the committee in a 248-page court filing on Friday added new details and texture to what is publicly known about the discussions in Mr. Trump’s inner circle and among his allies in the weeks preceding the Jan. 6 assault.

The committee alleged that Mark Meadows, the final chief of staff for President Donald J. Trump, was told that an effort to try to overturn the 2020 election using so-called alternate electors were not “legally sound” and that Jan. 6 could turn violent, but he pushed forward with plans to hold a rally in Washington anyway.

The filing is part of the committee’s effort to seek the dismissal of a lawsuit brought against it by Mr. Meadows. It disclosed testimony that Mr. Meadows was told that plans to try to overturn the 2020 election using so-called alternate electors were not “legally sound” and that the events of Jan. 6 could turn violent. Even so, he pushed forward with the rally that led to the march on the Capitol, according to the filing.

The filing also disclosed new details of Mr. Meadows’s involvement in attempts to pressure Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, over Mr. Trump’s loss there.

At rallies in Washington in November and December of 2020, Mr. Trump’s supporters did not march to the Capitol and mostly refrained from violence. But on Jan. 6, Mr. Trump encouraged a crowd of thousands to march to the building, telling them: “You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength.” He did so after the White House’s chief of operations had told Mr. Meadows of “intel reports saying that there could potentially be violence on the 6th,” according to the filing.

mark meadows book chief chiefTwo rally organizers, Dustin Stockton and his fiancée, Jennifer L. Lawrence, have also provided the committee with evidence that they were concerned that a march to the Capitol on Jan. 6 would mean “possible danger” and that Mr. Stockton’s “urgent concerns” were escalated to Mr. Meadows, according to the committee.

In his book, The Chief’s Chief, Mr. Meadows said Mr. Trump “ad-libbed a line that no one had seen before” when he told the crowd to march, adding that the president “knew as well as anyone that we wouldn’t organize a trip like that on such short notice.”

Ms. Hutchinson’s testimony contradicts those statements.

She said Mr. Meadows had said “in casual conversation”: “Oh, we’re going to have this big rally. People are talking about it on social media. They’re going to go up to the Capitol.”

April 21

 

djt michael cohen

Daily Beast, Manhattan DA’s Star Witness: Indict Trump Now or I’m Out, Jose Pagliery, Updated April 21, 2022. The grand jury that the Manhattan DA summoned to go after the Trump Organization expires at the end of the month. If it doesn’t bring charges, a key witness says he’s done.

daily beast logoIf Manhattan prosecutors don’t indict former President Donald Trump with the grand jury they’ve got in the next nine days, the key witness investigators have used to build their entire case says he won’t help revive it in the future.

Michael Cohen, the New York lawyer Trump used for years as his family company’s trusted consigliere, told The Daily Beast he’s already wasted too much of his time on a case that slowly and then suddenly doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Prosecutors only have until the current grand jury’s term expires on April 30 to issue charges, at which point they must ask jurors who’ve already done this for six months to continue hearing evidence—or call the whole thing off and awkwardly make the entire presentation all over again in front of another 23 jurors.

If this grand jury is let go, Cohen won’t play ball. Asked if he’d be willing to sit down again with investigators or testify at a future trial against Trump, Cohen responded with utter exasperation.

“No. I spent countless hours, over 15 sessions—including three while incarcerated. I provided thousands of documents, which coupled with my testimony, would have been a valid basis for an indictment and charge,” he said.

“The fact that they have not done so despite all of this… I’m not interested in any further investment of my time,” he said.

Cohen was a cornerstone of the investigation from the moment it was launched by the previous district attorney. Case in point: The entire probe is named after him. Court records made public weeks ago show that Manhattan prosecutors referred to the investigation internally as “The Fixer,” a reference to Cohen’s role as Trump’s mob-like consigliere.

Trump had relied on Cohen as his lawyer to protect his 2016 presidential campaign by delivering hush money payments to two women with whom he’d had sexual affairs: former Playboy playmate-of-the-year Karen McDougal, and porn star Stephanie Clifford, better known as Stormy Daniels.

When former DA Cy Vance Jr. realized federal prosecutors in New York weren’t going to pursue a case against Trump for election violations and fraud while he was in the White House, he launched his own local probe. Vance convened a grand jury that sent a subpoena to the Trump Organization on Aug. 1, 2019 demanding records about the hush money payments, according to court records.

allen weisselberg croppedHis documents and insider perspective helped prosecutors build their case against the Trump Organization and its former chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, right, who were both indicted last summer for criminal tax fraud. Cohen has been so helpful, in fact, that Weisselberg’s lawyers are trying to get the case dismissed by painting the entire prosecution as a revenge plot by his former colleague.

Cohen gave investigators leads, guided their subpoenas, helped them craft questions for witnesses they put before the grand jury, and even suggested that prosecutors target Weisselberg as the “weak link” who could flip on Trump, according to court documents filed by Weisselberg’s legal team.

But judging by all the available public evidence, Weisselberg hasn’t turned on his boss. Instead of cutting a deal with prosecutors, he’s aggressively trying to get the indictment dismissed. His right-hand accountant, company controller Jeffrey S. McConney, had the power to bolster the case against the Trump Organization but actually made himself the fall guy.

alvin bragg twitterMeanwhile, the second phase of the investigations appears to be falling apart. The grand jury put together to presumably indict Trump hasn’t been asked to yet, because Vance’s replacement, DA Alvin Bragg Jr., left, has refused to sign off on it. His reticence pushed the investigation’s top two prosecutors to quit in protest in February. A third top prosecutor has become less involved in the case. Prosecutors began to return evidence to witnesses. A person familiar with the situation described the team as “gutted” and a “shell” of its former self.

For some, there’s a small glimmer of hope that New York’s unique law freezing the statute of limitations on old crimes might allow prosecutors to revive this effort in the future by waiting for Bragg to change his mind or wait for his replacement if he is not re-elected in 2025. But that would require spinning up another grand jury, bringing back several witnesses, and making the same presentation all over again.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats ramp up investigation into impact of disinformation on elections, Jacqueline Alemany, April 21, 2022 (print ed.). House Democrats are seeking information from officials in key battleground states about their efforts to combat “lies and conspiracy theories” that could damage the integrity of federal elections as part of a broader investigation into the “weaponization of misinformation and disinformation” in the electoral process.

The leaders of the House Oversight and Reform and House Administration committees sent letters on Wednesday to election officials in Florida, Arizona, Texas and Ohio — all Republican-led states — requesting the information while noting their concern about new laws affecting election administration.

carolyn maloney o“The Committees are seeking to understand the scope and scale of election misinformation in your state, the impact that this flood of false information has had on election administration, the risks it poses for upcoming federal elections, and the steps that your organization and local election administrators have taken in response,” Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), right, and House Administration Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) wrote to state election officials in the letters obtained by The Washington Post. “Our investigation also aims to identify steps that federal, state, and local governments can take to counter misinformation and prevent these lies from being used to undermine the legitimate vote count in future elections.”

Lofgren and Maloney specifically ask the state election officials for the most significant misinformation and disinformation claims they have encountered and the impact they have had on the administration of elections. They also ask if the officials or their staff have been subjected to verbal of physical threats stemming from “conspiracy theories, disinformation, or misinformation following the 2020 election.”

 

 

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Jan. 6 committee must protect our democracy, E.J. Dionne Jr., right, April 21, 2022 (print ed.). Our democracy is sleepwalking ej dionne w open necktoward catastrophe. It is the task of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack — and the coup attempt it was part of — to awaken us all to the dangers confronting our republic.

It is also Attorney General Merrick Garland’s obligation to decide sooner rather than later whether the Justice Department’s own investigation and the Jan. 6 committee’s work justify an indictment of Donald Trump. If the evidence is there (and public comments from committee members suggest that the panel has it), Garland’s department must prosecute him.

Worry about what might or might not look “political” is itself a political consideration that should not impede equal justice under the law. If a president is not above the law, a defeated former president isn’t, either.

A central lesson from the ambiguous end of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 elections is that both the Jan. 6 committee and the Justice Department must be explicit about any crimes they determine Trump committed and take appropriate action. Otherwise, Trump and his minions will loudly claim exoneration, even in the face of revealed facts to the contrary.

This is why the Jan. 6 committee should not be reluctant to make a criminal referral to the Justice Department if it concludes that Trump broke the law. Yes, there is legitimate debate about this. Especially if Garland is already moving toward an indictment, some committee members worry that a referral might make legal action look — that word again — political.

Here again, however, concerns about appearances should not get in the way of directness. As one committee member, Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.), has put it: “If in the course of our investigation we find that criminal activity has occurred, I think it’s our responsibility to refer that to the Department of Justice.”

 

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

ny times logoNew York Times, Alex Jones Reaches Out to Justice Dept. About Jan. 6 Interview, Alan Feuer, Adam Goldman and Katie Benner, April 21, 2022 (print ed.). The effort by the Trump ally to get an immunity deal is the latest sign of progress in the investigation, which recently brought on a well-regarded prosecutor. The federal investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election appears to be gaining traction, with the Justice Department having brought in a well-regarded new prosecutor to help run the inquiry and a high-profile witness seeking a deal to provide information.

Alex Jones, the host of the conspiracy-driven media outlet Infowars and a key player in the pro-Trump “Stop the Steal” movement, is in discussions with the Justice Department about an agreement to detail his role in the rally near the White House last Jan. 6 that preceded the attack on the Capitol.

Through his lawyer, Mr. Jones said he has given the government a formal letter conveying “his desire to speak to federal prosecutors about Jan. 6.”

The lawyer, Norm Pattis, maintained that Mr. Jones had not engaged in any “criminal wrongdoing” that day when — chanting slogans about 1776 — he helped lead a crowd of Trump supporters in a march to the Capitol as violence was erupting.
As a condition of being interviewed by federal investigators, Mr. Jones, who is known for his rants about the “Deep State” and its supposed control over national affairs, has requested immunity from prosecution.

“He distrusts the government,” Mr. Pattis said.

While convincing federal prosecutors to grant him immunity could be an uphill climb for Mr. Jones, his discussions with the Justice Department suggest that the investigation into the postelection period could be gathering momentum.

Two weeks ago, another prominent Stop the Steal organizer, Ali Alexander, a close associate of Mr. Jones, revealed that he had received a subpoena from a federal grand jury that is seeking information on a broad swath of people — rally planners, members of Congress and others close to former President Donald J. Trump — connected to political events that took place in the run-up to Jan. 6. Mr. Alexander, who marched with Mr. Jones to the Capitol that day, has said that he intends to comply with the subpoena.

Several months ago, the department quietly took another significant step, adding Thomas Windom, a career federal prosecutor from Maryland, to help in the expanded Jan. 6 investigation, according to three people familiar with the matter.

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘I’ve Had It With This Guy’: G.O.P. Leaders Privately Blasted Trump After Jan. 6, Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin, April 21, 2022.  Representative Kevin McCarthy planned to tell President Trump to resign. Senator Mitch McConnell told allies impeachment was warranted. But their fury faded.

In the days after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol building, the two top Republicans in Congress, Representative Kevin McCarthy and Senator Mitch McConnell, told associates they believed President Trump was responsible for inciting the deadly riot and vowed to drive him from politics.

Mr. McCarthy went so far as to say he would push Mr. Trump to resign immediately: “I’ve had it with this guy,” he told a group of Republican leaders.

But within weeks both men backed off an all-out fight with Mr. Trump because they feared retribution from him and his political movement. Their drive to act faded fast as it became clear it would mean difficult votes that would put them at odds with most of their colleagues.

“I didn’t get to be leader by voting with five people in the conference,” Mr. McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, told a friend.

 

vicky ward investigates

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

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

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

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

The transaction is portrayed below in a cartoon by Mike Lukovich of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

jared kushner hunter biden Mike Lukovich of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 20

Then-Republican Presidential nominee Donald J. Trump attends a religious service in Detroit during the 2016 campaign with his aide Omarosa Manigault Newman (Reuters photo by Carlo Alegri).  Then-Republican Presidential nominee Donald J. Trump attends a church service in Detroit on Sept. 3 during the 2016 campaign with his aide Omarosa Manigault Newman (Reuters photo by Carlo Alegri).

Then-Republican Presidential nominee Donald J. Trump attends a church service in Detroit on Sept. 3 during the 2016 campaign with his aide Omarosa Manigault Newman (Reuters photo by Carlo Alegri). Her book became a tell-all No. 1 national best-seller.

CNBC, Trump campaign must pay $1.3M in legal fees to ‘Apprentice’ star Omarosa Manigault Newman in White House book lawsuit, Dan Mangan, April 20 cnbc logo2022. The presidential campaign of Donald Trump has been ordered by an arbitrator to pay $1.3 million in legal fees to Omarosa Manigault Newman in connection with a dispute over a book about her tenure as a White House advisor, her lawyer said.

The awarding of legal feels comes nearly seven months after the arbitrator ruled in Manigault Newman’s favor that a confidentiality agreement she signed while working on Trump’s 2016 campaign was invalid under New York law.

Manigault Newman first gained notoriety for her role as a villain-esque contestant on the first season of Trump’s former reality television show “The Apprentice.”

An arbitrator ordered Donald Trump’s presidential campaign to pay $1.3 million in legal fees to Omarosa Manigault Newman, the former “Apprentice” star whom the campaign unsuccessfully sued over a book about her tenure as a White House advisor, her lawyer said Wednesday.

omarosa manigault newman unhinged coverThe award comes nearly seven months after the arbitrator ruled in Manigault Newman’s favor that a confidentiality agreement she signed while working on Trump’s 2016 campaign was invalid under New York law.

The campaign in 2018 had filed a complaint with the American Arbitration Association in New York against her claiming that she violated that nondisclosure agreement with a scathing tell-all book titled Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House.

Manigault Newman’s lawyer John Phillips, in a statement, said the decision was the “largest known attorney fee award against a Political Campaign or President we can find and hopefully will send a message that weaponized litigation will not be tolerated and empower other lawyers to stand up and fight for the whistleblower and vocal critic against the oppressive machine.”

April 17

djt looking up

 washington post logoWashington Post, ‘I’m a gambler’: Trump plunges into GOP primaries with risky picks, Josh Dawsey and Michael Scherer, April 17, 2022 (print ed.). If his chosen candidates don’t win, the former president’s desired image as a kingmaker will be put in doubt.

On a recent Wednesday afternoon at his Mar-a-Lago Club, former president Donald Trump bragged about a guest dining on his patio: David McCormick, the former hedge fund CEO running for a Senate seat in Pennsylvania, who was there for a 4 p.m. meeting seeking his endorsement.

McCormick, who had been at or near the lead in recent polls, left the meeting saying it had gone well. But days later, Trump endorsed his rival, Mehmet Oz, the longtime “Dr. Oz” television personality who had launched his own massive lobbying effort that marshaled the likes of Melania Trump, Fox News host Sean Hannity and hotelier Steve Wynn.

Trump’s decision, against the advice of some of his advisers, plunged the former president deep into a messy primary — sparking an internecine fight among some of his own advisers along with considerable backlash from many other Republicans.

“I’m a gambler,” Trump said, explaining to one adviser why he wanted to get into the Pennsylvania race, according to a person who heard his comments and who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal private discussions.

With his endorsements of Oz, Senate candidate Ted Budd in North Carolina, gubernatorial hopeful David Perdue in Georgia and, on Friday, author and Senate candidate J.D. Vance in Ohio, Trump has leaped into the middle of several competitive primaries that could put his desired image as a kingmaker at risk.

In key contests, Trump’s statements have not cleared the field like they once did — and some advisers fear he has diluted his endorsements by backing hundreds of candidates, some for low-level positions, because of their willingness to support his false claims of a fraudulent election.

Trump deflects blame for Jan. 6, says he wanted to march to Capitol

The fate of his candidates is being closely watched by his own party, including potential rivals for the 2024 presidential nomination, as a measure of how strong a force he remains in the GOP. Trump has taken a different tack than many other presidential hopefuls, jumping into messy races and angling for fights in critical states, instead of making safe endorsements and staying out of charged Republican primaries. At times, he has picked candidates trailing in the polls and has taken advice from a hodgepodge of informal and formal advisers, real estate friends, consultants, Mar-a-Lago members, and others to make selections.

ny times logoNew York Times, Mar-a-Lago Machine: Trump as a Modern-Day Party Boss, Shane Goldmacher, April 17, 2022. Hoarding cash, doling out favors and seeking to crush rivals, Donald Trump is behaving as something close to the head of a 19th-century political machine.

On any given night, Donald J. Trump will stroll onto the patio at Mar-a-Lago and say a few words from a translucent lectern, welcoming whatever favored candidate is paying him for the privilege of fund-raising there.

“This is a special place,” Mr. Trump said on one such evening in February at his private club. “I used to say ‘ground zero’ but after the World Trade Center we don’t use that term anymore. This is the place where everybody wants to be.”

For 15 months, a parade of supplicants — senators, governors, congressional leaders and Republican strivers of all stripes — have made the trek to pledge their loyalty and pitch their candidacies. Some have hired Mr. Trump’s advisers, hoping to gain an edge in seeking his endorsement. Some have bought ads that ran only on Fox News in South Florida. Some bear gifts; others dish dirt. Almost everyone parrots his lie that the 2020 election was stolen.

Working from a large wooden desk reminiscent of the one he used in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump has transformed Mar-a-Lago’s old bridal suite into a shadow G.O.P. headquarters, amassing more than $120 million — a war chest more than double that of the Republican National Committee itself. Federal records show that his PAC raised more online than the party on every day but two in the last six months of 2021, one of which was Christmas Eve.

And while other past presidents have ceded the political stage, Mr. Trump has done the opposite, aggressively pursuing an agenda of vengeance against Republicans who have wronged him, endorsing more than 140 candidates nationwide and turning the 2022 primaries into a stress test of his continued sway.

Inspiring fear, hoarding cash, doling out favors and seeking to crush rivals, Mr. Trump is behaving not merely as a power broker but as something closer to the head of a 19th-century political machine.

“Party leaders have never played the role that Trump is playing,” said Roger Stone, an on-and-off adviser to Mr. Trump since the 1980s who has been spotted at Mar-a-Lago of late. “Because he can — and he’s not bound by the conventional rules of politics.”

This portrait of Mr. Trump as a modern-day party boss is drawn from more than 50 interviews with Trump advisers past and present, political rivals, Republicans who have sought his support and G.O.P. officials and strategists who are grappling with his influence.

Mr. Trump plainly relishes the power. But as he hints repeatedly about a third White House bid, the looming question is whether he can remain a kingmaker if he doesn’t actually seek the crown.

April 15

Salt Lake City Tribune, Newly released text messages show Lee knew of scheme to send alternate electors to Congress nearly a month earlier than he claimed, Bryan Schott, April 15, 2022. Newly released text messages between Sen. Mike Lee and former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows show Lee was advising and assisting former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

mike leeThe messages also reveal Lee, right, was aware of a legally dubious strategy to have then-Vice President Mike Pence throw out Electoral College votes much earlier than he had claimed.

CNN published almost 100 text messages from Lee and Texas Rep. Chip Roy to Meadows in the aftermath of Trump’s 2020 election loss. The texts trace how Lee went from being a fierce advocate for Trump’s efforts to warning the White House that the scheme could backfire. Lee eventually announced he was opposed to a plan to have Congress object to the Electoral College results in some battleground states, but the texts reveal that only came after Lee worked for months to assist Trump’s efforts.

Lee’s efforts to assist Trump began Nov. 7, the day Democrat Joe Biden was declared the winner. He texted Meadows a statement signed by the leaders of several prominent conservative groups urging Trump to “exhaust every legal and constitutional remedy” in challenging the results.

“Use it however you deem appropriate,” Lee wrote. “And if it’s helpful to you for you to leak it, feel free to do so.”

Lee also pressed Meadows to help lawyer Sidney Powell gain access to Trump. Powell alleged a secret cabal, including George Soros, the late Hugo Chávez, the CIA and thousands of election officials, conspired to steal votes from Trump in 2020.

“Sydney (sic) Powell is saying she needs to get in to see the president, but she’s being kept away from him. Apparently she has a strategy to keep things alive and put several states back in play. Can you help her get in?” Lee wrote to Meadows on Nov. 7.

Two days later, Lee again reached out to Meadows on behalf of Powell.

“Sidney told us the campaign lawyer who do not know are not focused on this and are obstructing progress. I have no way of verifying or refuting that on my own, but I’ve found her to be a straight shooter,” Lee wrote.

Powell’s conspiracy claims resulted in her being sued for defamation by Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic. Powell is facing multiple disciplinary actions, including disbarment, in several states for her actions following the 2020 election.

On Nov. 19, Lee realizes his backing of Powell may have been a mistake following a disastrous news conference where she detailed bizarre claims about a global communist plot to rig the election against Trump.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 14

U.S. Department of Justice, Russian Legislator And Two Staff Members Charged With Conspiring To Have A U.S. Citizen Act As An Unregistered Agent Of The Russian Government, April 14, 2022. Russian Legislator Aleksandr Mikhaylovich Babakov and Staff Members Aleksandr Nikolayevich Vorobev and Mikhail Alekseyevich Plisyuk Allegedly Conspired to Commit U.S. Crimes in Furtherance of a Global Foreign Influence Scheme.

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Matthew G. Olsen, the Assistant Attorney General for National Security, and Michael J. Driscoll, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today the unsealing of an Indictment charging ALEKSANDR MIKHAYLOVICH BABAKOV, ALEKSANDR NIKOLAYEVICH VOROBEV, and MIKHAIL ALEKSEYEVICH PLISYUK, citizens of the Russian Federation (“Russia”), with conspiring to act in the United States as an unregistered agent of Russia, conspiring to violate United States sanctions, and conspiring to commit visa fraud. BABAKOV, a Deputy Chairman in the Russian legislature, VOROBEV, and PLISYUK are based in Russia and remain at large.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Russian legislator Aleksandr Babakov and two of his staffers allegedly orchestrated a covert Russian propaganda campaign in the U.S. in order to advance Russia’s malevolent political designs against Ukraine and other countries, including the U.S. Today’s indictment demonstrates that Russia’s illegitimate actions against Ukraine extend beyond the battlefield, as political influencers under Russia’s control allegedly plotted to steer geopolitical change in Russia’s favor through surreptitious and illegal means in the U.S. and elsewhere in the West. Such malign foreign interference will be exposed, and we will pursue justice against its perpetrators.”

Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen said: “The indictment alleges that a high-ranking Putin-aligned legislator and his closest staffers, all three of whom are sanctioned, engaged in a global campaign to influence and gain access to U.S. elected officials. The Department will not hesitate to prosecute those who seek to covertly influence the American political process and evade U.S. sanctions.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael J. Driscoll said: “Beginning as far back as 2012, Aleksandr Babakov, an oligarch who has served as a leader in the Russian legislature along with two of his deputies, operated a nonprofit organization as a subterfuge for an international foreign influence and disinformation network to advance the interests of the Russian Government. As alleged, Babakov sought to undermine Western sanctions - including those imposed against him - promote Russia’s illicit actions designed to destroy Ukrainian sovereignty, and co-opt and cultivate relationships with U.S. politicians to advance Russia’s malign foreign policy objectives. Today’s action demonstrates the FBI’s unwavering commitment to the identification and disruption of Russian Government schemes to target the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

According to the allegations contained in the Indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court[1]:

Beginning in or around January 2012 and continuing into at least June 2017, Babakov, a member of the Russian legislature, Vorobev, his Chief of Staff, and Plisyuk, another member of Babakov’s staff, operated an international foreign influence and disinformation network to advance the interests of Russia. The defendants used a nonprofit organization based in Russia, the “Institute for International Integration Studies,” as a front for this global foreign influence campaign to advance Russia’s foreign policy objectives. Through these operations aimed at influencing the course of international affairs, the defendants worked to weaken U.S. partnerships with European allies, undermine Western sanctions, and promote Russia’s illicit actions designed to destroy the sovereignty of Ukraine. The defendants schemed to affect U.S. policy towards Russia through staged events, paid propaganda, and the recruitment of at least one American citizen (“CC-1”) to do their bidding in unofficial capacities. In pursuit of these goals, the defendants sought to co-opt U.S. and European politicians and to influence public opinion in their favor, using American and European citizens as their proxies in an effort to validate them, bring them access to power, evade sanctions, and obscure their true objective to advance Russia’s foreign policy.

Among other things, the defendants contacted members of the U.S. Congress from 2012 into 2017 to seek meetings and to offer free travel to at least one Congressmember on behalf of BABAKOV, as well as other foreign officials aligned and associated with BABAKOV. For example, in 2012, at the direction of the defendants, CC-1 sought to secure a meeting for BABAKOV with multiple members of Congress, including by offering a trip to a particular Congressmember “all expenses paid” to meet with European politicians and receive “an award.” Congressmembers rebuffed these efforts.

In March 2017, the defendants sought to arrange a meeting for BABAKOV with a member of the U.S. Congress in pursuit of the objective of “strengthen[ing] the ties of cooperation between” Russia and the United States. To secure that meeting, the defendants, through CC-1, transmitted a letter drafted by CC-1 and signed by BABAKOV to a particular Congressmember.

Also in March 2017, the defendants contacted at least one member of the U.S. Congress to offer free travel to a BABAKOV-affiliated conference in Yalta, part of Russia-controlled Crimea, as a service to benefit the purported “Prime Minister of Crimea,” Sergey Aksyonov, who was organizing and attending the conference, and had been sanctioned by the United States Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) as a Specially Designated National since 2014 based on his role in actions and policies threatening the sovereignty of Ukraine. The defendants worked together and with their associates to organize, facilitate, and promote the Yalta conference, including by soliciting Americans to attend and present at the conference and receive funding from Aksyonov’s organizing committee, for the benefit of Akysonov and his Russia-backed purported government of Crimea. The Congressmember did not accept the offer.

In connection with these foreign influence activities, the defendants also submitted fraudulent visa applications in February 2017 seeking to travel to the United States under the false pretense of each traveling alone for a “vacation,” when in fact they planned to conduct unofficial meetings with U.S. politicians and advisors to further their influence objectives. In June 2017, OFAC sanctioned the three defendants as Specially Designated Nationals. The defendants’ visa applications were ultimately denied in January 2018, disrupting the defendants’ planned meetings in the U.S.

BABAKOV currently serves as the Deputy Chairman of the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian legislature. From approximately September 2014 to October 2021, BABAKOV served as a member of the Russian Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian legislature, and therefore had the title of “Senator.” From approximately 2003 to 2014, BABAKOV served as a member of the State Duma, where he held prominent roles such as Chair of the State Duma Commission on Legislative Provisions for Development of the Military-Industrial Complex of the Russian Federation. In or about 2011, BABAKOV joined the United Russia party, which is the political party of Russian President Vladimir Putin. On or about June 17, 2012, Putin appointed BABAKOV to be the Russian Federation’s Special Representative for Cooperation with Organizations Representing Russians Living Abroad. BABAKOV has become a leader in the “For Truth” party formed in or about 2021, which supports Putin. At all times relevant to the Indictment, VOROBEV has held the position of Chief of Staff for BABAKOV, and PLISYUK has served on BABAKOV’s staff.

* * *

BABAKOV, 59, VOROBEV, 52, and PLISYUK, 58, of Russia, are charged with one count of conspiring to have a U.S. citizen act as an unregistered agent in the United States for Russia and Russian officials without notifying the Attorney General, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison; one count of conspiring to violate and evade U.S. sanctions, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and one count of conspiring to commit visa fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by a judge.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI and its New York Field Office, Counterintelligence Division, and thanked the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, for their assistance.

On March 2, 2022, the Attorney General announced the launch of Task Force KleptoCapture, an interagency law enforcement task force dedicated to enforcing the sweeping sanctions, export restrictions, and economic countermeasures that the United States has imposed, along with allies and partners, in response to Russia’s unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine. The task force will leverage all the Department’s tools and authorities against efforts to evade or undermine the economic actions taken by the U.S. government in response to Russian military aggression.

The case is being handled by the Office’s National Security and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kimberly J. Ravener and Kyle A. Wirshba are in charge of the case, with assistance from Trial Attorney Scott Claffee of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.

The charges in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

April 11

 

Saudi Leader Mohammad Bin Salman, left, Trump Senior Advisors Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump help host the Saudi leader at the Trump White House (White House file photo).

Saudi Leader Mohammad Bin Salman, left, Trump Senior Advisors Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump help host the Saudi leader at the Trump White House (White House file photo).

ny times logoNew York Times, Before Giving Billions to Kushner, Saudi Investment Fund Had Big Doubts, David D. Kirkpatrick and Kate Kelly, April 11, 2022 (print ed.). Before they committed $2 billion to Jared Kushner’s firm, officials at a fund led by the Saudi crown prince questioned taking such a big risk.

Six months after leaving the White House, Jared Kushner secured a $2 billion investment from a fund led by the Saudi crown prince, a close ally during the Trump administration, despite objections from the fund’s advisers about the merits of the deal.

A panel that screens investments for the main Saudi sovereign wealth fund cited concerns about the proposed deal with Mr. Kushner’s newly formed private equity firm, Affinity Partners, previously undisclosed documents show.

Those objections included: “the inexperience of the Affinity Fund management”; the possibility that the kingdom would be responsible for “the bulk of the investment and risk”; due diligence on the fledgling firm’s operations that found them “unsatisfactory in all aspects”; a proposed asset management fee that “seems excessive”; and “public relations risks” from Mr. Kushner’s prior role as a senior adviser to his father-in-law, former President Donald J. Trump, according to minutes of the panel’s meeting last June 30.

But days later the full board of the $620 billion Public Investment Fund — led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler and a beneficiary of Mr. Kushner’s support when he worked as a White House adviser — overruled the panel.

Ethics experts say that such a deal creates the appearance of potential payback for Mr. Kushner’s actions in the White House — or of a bid for future favor if Mr. Trump seeks and wins another presidential term in 2024.

Mr. Kushner played a leading role inside the Trump administration defending Crown Prince Mohammed after U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that he had approved the 2018 killing and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi columnist for The Washington Post and resident of Virginia who had criticized the kingdom’s rulers.

 ny times logoNew York Times Magazine, ‘This Was Trump Pulling a Putin,’ Robert Draper, April 11, 2022. Fiona Hill and other former advisers are connecting President Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine to Jan. 6. And they’re ready to talk.

fiona hillFiona Hill vividly recalls the first time she stepped into the Oval Office to discuss the thorny subject of Ukraine with the president. It was February of 2008, the last year of George W. Bush’s administration. Hill, then the national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia for the National Intelligence Council, was summoned for a strategy session on the upcoming NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania. Among the matters up for discussion was the possibility of Ukraine and another former Soviet state, Georgia, beginning the process of obtaining NATO membership.

In the Oval Office, Hill recalls, describing a scene that has not been previously reported, she told Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney that offering a membership path to Ukraine and Georgia could be problematic. While Bush’s appetite for promoting the spread of democracy had not been dampened by the Iraq war, President Vladimir Putin of Russia viewed NATO with suspicion and was vehemently opposed to neighboring countries joining its ranks. He would regard it as a provocation, which was one reason the United States’ key NATO allies opposed the idea. Cheney took umbrage at Hill’s assessment. “So, you’re telling me you’re opposed to freedom and democracy,” she says he snapped. According to Hill, he abruptly gathered his materials and walked out of the Oval Office.

“He’s just yanking your chain,” she remembers Bush telling her. “Go on with what you were saying.” But the president seemed confident that he could win over the other NATO leaders, saying, “I like it when diplomacy is tough.” Ignoring the advice of Hill and the U.S. intelligence community, Bush announced in Bucharest that “NATO should welcome Georgia and Ukraine into the Membership Action Plan.” Hill’s prediction came true: Several other leaders at the summit objected to Bush’s recommendation. NATO ultimately issued a compromise declaration that would prove unsatisfying to nearly everyone, stating that the two countries “will become members” without specifying how and when they would do so — and still in defiance of Putin’s wishes. (They still have not become members.)

“It was the worst of all possible worlds,” Hill said to me in her austere English accent as she recalled the episode over lunch this March. As one of the foremost experts on Putin and a current unofficial adviser to the Biden administration on the Russia-Ukraine war, Hill, 56, has already made a specialty of issuing warnings about the Russian leader that have gone unheeded by American presidents. As she feared, the carrot dangled by Bush to two countries — each of which gained independence in the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and afterward espoused democratic ambitions — did not sit well with Putin.

Four months after the 2008 NATO summit, Russian troops crossed the border and launched an attack on the South Ossetia region of Georgia. Though the war lasted only five days, a Russian military presence would continue in nearly 20 percent of Georgia’s territory. And after the West’s weak pushback against his aggression, Putin then set his sights on Ukraine — a sovereign nation that, Putin claimed to Bush at the Bucharest summit, “is not a country.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: This is whacked out even for Donald Trump, Shirley Kennedy, April 11, 2022. According to Newsweek, Donald Trump believes he is “the most honest human being God has ever created.”

bill palmer report logo headerGod help us all. If this lying, deceitful, hateful sack of human excrement is the most honest ever created the rest of us are in a world of trouble. Of course, that could mean that all the rest of us have name tags waiting at the Pearly Gates. It is so difficult to fathom who in their right mind believes one word this grifter says, but unfortunately, there are plenty who do. Perhaps they need an intervention, which is clear if they believe there is anything honest about Trump.

Newsweek reported on Trump’s never-ending rallies as he tries to get his choices into our government. If they have Trump’s support, we certainly don’t need them anywhere near the Capitol. The man created so much havoc in four years, and it is shameful that he continues his reign of terror. During his “speech,” for lack of a better word, Trump talked about his “squeaky clean” administration and that a friend told him he was “the cleanest on Earth.” Perhaps that friend has been living in a cave and never heard about the multiple investigations into trump and his two impeachments. We won’t even talk about the continuing investigations into January 6-which are pointing more and more at Trump-or the 15 boxes of classified materials that he spirited from the White House on his way out. Oh, yes, Trump is so clean he doesn’t even have to take showers.

Trump mentioning God is blasphemy. God probably never created Trump; he is purely the spawn of Satan. God doesn’t make mistakes, and Trump is a mistake of epic proportions. Look at who he supports, and you know everything you need to know. Madison Cawthorn is an embarrassment and could easily fill an entire piece. “Dr.” Mehmet Oz has been called before the Senate for pumping non-FDA approved drugs for weight loss. No wonder Trump likes him. They are both like old-fashioned medicine men at sideshows. They’re also both television personalities, not real people. It fits that Trump would endorse a fellow con man. What a joke. But let’s get back to Trump’s “honesty” and “cleanliness.” Liz Cheney would disagree with him.

Cheney told CNN that while the committee has not fully decided on criminal referrals it will make to the DOJ, she added: “It is absolutely clear what President Trump was dealing with when a number of people around him were doing what they knew was unlawful. They did it anyway.” In other words, Trump cannot deflect the behaviors of those around him because he had intimate knowledge of their actions, and he was directly involved in those actions. Cheney went on to tell Jake Tapper: “I think that what we have seen is a massive and well-organized and well-planned effort that used multiple tools to try to overturn an election.” That is about the size of things, and if Trump really believes he is “honest” and “clean,” he is sadly mistaken.

 Recent Headlines

April 10

 

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

ny times logoNew York Times, Jan. 6 Panel Has Evidence for Criminal Referral of Trump, but Splits on Sending Criminal Referral, Michael S. Schmidt and Luke Broadwater, April 10, 2022. Despite concluding that it has enough evidence, the committee is concerned that making a referral to the Justice Department would backfire by politicizing the investigation into the Capitol riot.

The leaders of the House committee investigating the Capitol attack have grown divided over whether to make a criminal referral to the Justice Department of former President Donald J. Trump, even though they have concluded that they have enough evidence to do so, people involved in the discussions said.

The debate centers on whether making a referral — a largely symbolic act — would backfire by politically tainting the Justice Department’s expanding investigation into the Jan. 6 assault and what led up to it.

Since last summer, a team of former federal prosecutors working for the committee has focused on documenting the attack and the preceding efforts by Mr. Trump and his allies to reverse his defeat in the 2020 election. The panel plans to issue a detailed report on its findings, but in recent months it has regularly signaled that it was also weighing a criminal referral that would pressure Attorney General Merrick B. Garland to open a criminal investigation into Mr. Trump.

capitol riot nyt jan 7 2021Despite concluding that they have enough evidence to refer Mr. Trump for obstructing a congressional proceeding and conspiring to defraud the American people, some on the committee are questioning whether there is any need to make a referral. The Justice Department appears to be ramping up a wide-ranging investigation, and making a referral could saddle a criminal case with further partisan baggage at a time when Mr. Trump is openly flirting with running again in 2024.

The committee’s vice chairwoman, Representative Liz Cheney, said on CNN on Sunday that the committee had not reached a final decision about making referrals and downplayed any divisions on the committee, but acknowledged there was significant evidence of criminality.

“I think that it is absolutely the case, it’s absolutely clear that what President Trump was doing, what a number of people around him were doing, that they knew it was unlawful. They did it anyway,” said Ms. Cheney, a Wyoming Republican.

The shift in committee leaders’ perspective on making a referral was prompted in part by a ruling two weeks ago by Judge David O. Carter of the Federal District Court for Central California. Deciding a civil case in which the committee had sought access to more than 100 emails written by John C. Eastman, a lawyer who advised Mr. Trump on efforts to derail certification of the Electoral College outcome, Judge Carter found that it was “more likely than not” that Mr. Trump and Mr. Eastman had committed federal crimes.

The ruling led some committee and staff members to argue that even though they felt they had amassed enough evidence to justify calling for a prosecution, the judge’s decision would carry far greater weight with Mr. Garland than any referral letter they could write, according to people with knowledge of the conversations.

April 8

 

djt mike pence

 ap logoAssociated Press via Politico, State Department: White House gift records for Trump, Pence missing, Staff Report, April 8, 2022. The department says the Executive Office of the President did not submit information about gifts received by Trump and his family from foreign leaders in 2020.

The State Department says it is unable to compile a complete and accurate accounting of gifts presented to former President Donald Trump and other U.S. officials by foreign governments during Trump’s final year in office, citing missing data from the White House.

In a report to be published in the Federal Register next week, the department says the Executive Office of the President did not submit information about gifts received by Trump and his family from foreign leaders in 2020. It also says the General Services Administration didn’t submit information about gifts given to former Vice President Mike Pence and White House staffers that year. (The two are shown in file photos above).

politico CustomThe State Department said it sought the missing information from National Archives and Records Administration and the General Services Administration, but was told that “potentially relevant records” are not available because of access restrictions related to retired records.

The State Department’s Office of Protocol reported the situation in footnotes to a partial list of gifts received by U.S. officials in 2020. The office publishes such lists annually in part to guard against potential conflicts of interest. A preview of the 2020 report was posted on the Federal Register website on Friday ahead of its formal publication on Monday.

The report notes that the lack of gift information could be related to internal oversights as the protocol office neglected to “submit the request for data to all reporting agencies prior to January 20, 2021,” when the Trump administration ended and the Biden administration began. However, it also noted that there had been a “lack of adequate recordkeeping pertaining to diplomatic gifts” between Jan. 20, 2017, when Trump took office, and his departure from the White House four years later.

The State Department report comes as House lawmakers have opened an investigation into reports that Trump had taken boxes of classified materials with him to his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida after leaving office last year. The National Archives and Records Administration has asked the Justice Department to look into the matter.

The House panel investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, meanwhile, has identified an almost 8-hour gap in official White House records of Trump’s phone calls as the violence unfolded and his supporters stormed the building, according to two people familiar with the probe.

Regarding the 2020 gifts, the department said it had “made attempts to collect the required data from the current authoritative sources ... but it has confirmed that potentially relevant records are not available to the State Department’s Office of the Chief of Protocol under applicable access rules for retired records of the Executive Office of the President and the Office of the Vice President.”

“As a result, the data required to fully compile a complete listing for 2020 is unavailable,” it said.

Gift records for Trump administration officials such as former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Defense Secretary Mark Esper and former Central Intelligence Agency chief Gina Haspel are included in the limited 2020 report, as are records for other senior diplomats, Pentagon and CIA officials.

fec logo CustomPolitico, Campaign finance watchdog issues massive fine for foreign national’s Trump super PAC donation, Zach Montellaro and Myah Ward, April 8, 2022. The FEC fined Canadian billionaire Barry Zekelman's companies $975,000.

The Federal Election Commission fined the companies of a Canadian billionaire nearly a million dollars for a contribution to a super PAC supporting then-President Donald Trump, after the agency found “reason to believe” that the donations violated a federal law on foreign nationals contributing to American political committees or campaigns.

politico CustomCompanies controlled by Barry Zekelman — a Canadian billionaire and the CEO, chair and owner of Zekelman Industries — agreed to pay $975,000 to close an investigation by the FEC into $1.75 million worth of donations made to America First Action, the pro-Trump super PAC, throughout 2018.

The fine is the third-largest in FEC history, according to the Campaign Legal Center, the nonprofit group that filed the original complaint about the donations in 2019.

“We applaud the FEC for doing its job. Imposing this serious penalty helps protect the voices of voters from being drowned out by foreign corporations and other special interests,” Adav Noti, the vice president and legal director of Campaign Legal Center, said in a statement. “Super PACs should now be on notice that there are major consequences for breaking the ban on foreign contributions.”

CLC made the agency documents public late Friday afternoon. The CLC obtained the documents because of an agency practice that releases relevant findings to the complainants first, with the documents being made more broadly public roughly 30 days after the initial disclosure.

According to agency documents, Zekelman discussed the donations with officers of a U.S.-based subsidiary his company controls, Wheatland Tube, which ultimately contributed to America First Action three separate times in 2018.

U.S. law prohibits foreign nationals from directly or indirectly making a contribution or donation in connection with federal, state or local elections.

The original complaint was based on a 2019 story from The New York Times, which also first reported the fine on Friday.

The conciliation agreement between Zekelman’s companies — Zekelman Industries and Wheatland Tube — was accepted by the agency on Thursday. In the agreement, the companies contended that the contributions were “made with the good faith understanding that they were permissible,” and the agency itself “did not find that the violation was knowing or willful.”

The conciliation agreement also requires that the two companies request that America First Action either refund the $1.75 million to the companies or give the money to the U.S. Treasury.

America First Action sent POLITICO an FEC letter dated April 8, noting that the agency was dismissing its allegations against the PAC with regards to the foreign national contributions. The FEC voted to close the file on April 6.

“Unlike the Clinton campaign and the Democrat National Committee, the Federal Election Commission dismissed the complaint against America First Action because we follow the law,” Brian O. Walsh, president of America First Action, said in a statement. Walsh was referring to the FEC’s decision last month to fine the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign over $100,000, over an investigation into alleged misreporting of spending related to the Steele dossier.

Several steel companies backed Trump with monetary contributions while he was in office, though Zekelman Industries was the biggest steel industry donor, according to the Times report. Zekelman’s lobbying efforts landed him a private dining room dinner with Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. in spring of 2018, according to the report, where the group discussed incoming U.S. quotas on steel imports from competitors in South Korea.

Zekelman, who does not have U.S. citizenship, told the Times in 2019 that he was not involved in the decision to donate to America First Action, but that he discussed the matter with other executives after a representative from the PAC solicited donations.

He argued that the donation was legal because the final decision to contribute was made by American citizens or legal U.S. residents on his board, noting that the money came via Wheatland Tube, the U.S.-based subsidiary of Zekelman Industries.

 

ali akbar alexander stop the stealPolitico, 'Stop the Steal' organizer says he received a grand jury subpoena for Jan. 6 probe, Kyle Cheney, April 8, 2022. Ali Alexander (shown above in a file photo) has previously testified to the Jan. 6 select committee.

Ali Alexander, the founder of the Stop the Steal organization that helped promote Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud, said Friday he received a grand jury subpoena from the Justice Department and intends to cooperate with the investigation.

politico CustomIn a lengthy statement, Alexander denied any wrongdoing and said he is not a target of the investigation, which he said was more clearly aimed at organizers of a Jan. 6 rally near the White House. That event was run by “Women for America First.”

Alexander’s confirmation of a grand jury subpoena is the first public acknowledgment that the Justice Department’s probe of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol has expanded to include organizers of the events that preceded the attack, including some figures adjacent to Trump himself. The issuance of a grand jury subpoena suggests prosecutors believe crimes may have been committed in connection with those events.

Alexander has previously testified to the Jan. 6 select committee, where he talked about his contacts with Republican members of Congress. His cooperation with the Justice Department was first reported by the New York Times.

Alexander said in a since-deleted video that he worked with GOP Reps. Paul Gosar, Andy Biggs and Mo Brooks to attempt to use Congress’ Jan. 6 session certifying Joe Biden’s victory as a chance to pressure lawmakers to overturn the electoral results.

“We four schemed up to put maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting,” Alexander said in the video.

Biggs and Brooks have denied any substantive relationship with Alexander. Gosar has declined to address their contacts.

Alexander is also fighting in court to block a subpoena from the select committee for his phone records.

In his lawsuit to block the subpoena, Alexander revealed he had contact on the morning of Jan. 6 with Kimberly Guilfoyle, the fiancée of Donald Trump Jr. who played a role in securing financing for the ellipse rally.

“Ms. Guilfoyle thanked Mr. Alexander for being a leader on voting rights and creating the ‘Stop the Steal’ movement,” Alexander’s lawyers revealed in the filing. “The two spoke about the ongoing Georgia election and the GOP primaries that would take place in 2022. The Select Committee seemed satisfied with Alexander’s explanation of that short call.”

Guilfoyle is still in talks with the select committee about potential testimony.

In his statement, Alexander sought to separate himself from the substance of the investigation, saying he did not coordinate with the Proud Boys and suggesting his contact with the Oath Keepers was limited to accepting an offer for them to act as ushers at an event that never took place: his own permitted event near the Capitol, which didn’t occur because of the mob attack on the Capitol. The Oath Keepers are the subject of conspiracy charges for their roles in breaching the Capitol that day.

“I did not finance the Ellipse equipment. I did not ever talk with the White House about security groups. Any militia working security at the Ellipse belonged to “Women for America First,” not us,” Alexander said. “I did not coordinate any movements with the Proud Boys or even see them that day. I did take Oath Keepers offer to act as ushers for the Area 8 event but all of that was lost in the chaos. I wasn’t in communication with any of the aforementioned groups while I was near the Capitol working to get people away from the building. Lastly, I’m not willing to presume anyone’s guilt.”

“I did nothing wrong and I am not in possession of evidence that anyone else had plans to commit unlawful acts,” Alexander said. “I denounce anyone who planned to subvert my permitted event and the other permitted events of that day on Capitol grounds to stage any counterproductive activities.”

Despite his disavowal of other extremist groups that participated in the Jan. 6 attack, CNN previously unearthed video of Alexander saying he intended to reach out to the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers about doing security for his event.

Politico, Judge finds city had no legal right to yank license for Trump's Bronx golf course, Julia Marsh, April 8, 2022. De Blasio administration officials cited Trump's involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection as the reason for canceling the contract.

politico CustomA Manhattan judge ruled Friday there was no “legal foundation” for former Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to cancel the city’s contract with Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point Park in the Bronx following the Jan. 6 insurrection.

De Blasio administration officials notified the Trump Organization on Jan. 15, 2021, that the city was pulling the group’s operating license for the 18-hole course in the Throgs Neck section of the Bronx.

They referenced the “actions of Donald J. Trump and Donald Trump Jr.” that “incited” the attack on the Capitol as well as the Professional Golfers’ Association’s termination of the 2022 PGA Championship at the Trump Bedminster golf course in New Jersey as reasons for revoking the Ferry Point license.

They argued the then-president and his companies would no longer be able to attract “first-class professional championship golf tournaments such as those sponsored by the PGA” to Ferry Point because it would be associated with a “violent insurrection against the federal government.”

The Trump Organization sued to block the attempted shutdown in June 2021, countering that there wasn’t any contractual breach.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Debra James agreed, writing in her 18-page decision that Ferry Point had no obligation to host PGA-level tournaments. The city’s claim that it did “lacks any legal foundation,” James found.

A Trump Organization spokesperson thanked the court for “its well-reasoned decision based on law and facts.”

“As we have said since the beginning, the city’s efforts to terminate our long term license agreement to operate Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point Park were nothing more than a political vendetta. Former Mayor Bill de Blasio used his position to weaponize the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and the New York City Law Department all in an effort to advance his own partisan agenda, score political points and interfere with free enterprise,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

De Blasio did not return messages seeking comment, but tweeted about the ruling late Friday. “Donald Trump will be an ignominious figure in US history, regardless of the outcome of today’s decision on Ferry Point. NYC did the right thing by canceling his contract and the City will win this case in the end. The only ‘political vendetta’ here is the one he incited on Jan 6.”

A city Law Department spokesperson said in a statement, “Anyone holding a city concession is held to a high standard. We are disappointed in the court’s decision, and we are reviewing our legal options.”

April 7

 

djt rudy giuliani vlodomyr zelensky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

djt handwave file

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ny times logoNew York Times, F.B.I. Preparing to Investigate How Classified Material Went to Trump’s Home, Luke Broadwater and Adam Goldman, April 7, 2022.  Federal authorities want to know more about how sensitive national security information came to be in 15 boxes of documents and mementos sent to Mar-a-Lago from the White House.

Justice Department log circularFederal authorities are in the preliminary stages of investigating the handling of classified material found at former President Donald J. Trump’s Florida home after he left office, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

The effort, led by the F.B.I., stems from the discovery of classified information in 15 boxes that contained documents, mementos, gifts and letters that had been taken from the White House at the end of Mr. Trump’s term in apparent violation of the requirements for turning over all presidential records to the National Archives.

The development was reported earlier by The Washington Post.

The National Archives said in February that it had consulted with the Justice Department about the classified material, which it retrieved the previous month from Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida. The agency described the materials in question as “classified national security information.”

The Justice Department has instructed the National Archives not to share with the House Oversight Committee, which is conducting its own investigation, details about the material taken from the White House by Mr. Trump, the committee disclosed on Thursday, in a hint that a criminal investigation might be underway.

In cases of this type, the F.B.I. would typically look at an array of scenarios, including whether the classified material was mishandled or inadvertently disclosed, and it could examine whether a foreign adversary might have gotten access.

The investigation could put Mr. Trump at odds with the F.B.I. yet again.

In July 2016, the F.B.I. opened a highly sensitive investigation into whether any of Mr. Trump’s associates conspired with the Russians during the presidential campaign. The F.B.I. and prosecutors would later investigate Mr. Trump for obstruction after he fired James B. Comey, then the F.B.I. director, in May 2017.

A decision to open such a sensitive investigation would have required approval from senior F.B.I. officials at headquarters. Typically, opening such a high-profile case would include discussions with top Justice Department leaders, including the National Security Division.

Before proceeding with an investigation, the F.B.I. almost certainly would want an official determination from any agency involved that information was properly classified.

What role Mr. Trump played in taking the material from the White House, if any, is not publicly known. It is not likely that he would be a target of the investigation himself at the moment. In the Hillary Clinton investigation involving the emailing of classified information using a private server, the F.B.I. did not target anyone individually.

April 6

 

djt ivanka rnc photo

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

But why did they do so?

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

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

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

The Kushners are reported to have paid $30 million dollars for the land there. They have been spotted regularly going for walks on the island. But they’re not members of the club. Yet.

As of now, the Kushners are perceived to be struggling socially in Miami.

Readers of Kushner, Inc. know that the guiding principles of the couple are transactionality and public relations. In my book, I reported that even their union was part of a three-point plan devised by the late PR guru Howard Rubenstein to rehabilitate the Kushner name following the disgrace when Charles Kushner, Jared’s father, was imprisoned for charges that included a particularly sordid blackmail effort.

 djt as chosen one

ny times logoNew York Times, The Growing Religious Fervor in the Right: ‘This Is a Jesus Movement,’ Elizabeth Dias and Ruth Graham, April 6, 2022. Rituals of Christian worship have become embedded in conservative rallies in the U.S., as music and prayer blend with anger over vaccines and the 2020 election.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 djt steve bannon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s Truth Social in trouble as financial, technical woes mount, Drew Harwell and Josh Dawsey, April 6, 2022 (print ed.). The former president has fumed about the app’s glacial rollout and has been reluctant to post there until it’s a proven success. Three top executives have resigned.

Here’s a truth former president Donald Trump doesn’t want to hear: His social network, Truth Social, is falling apart.

The app — a Twitter look-alike where posts are called “truths” — has seen its downloads plunge so low that it has fallen off the App Store charts. The company is losing investors, executives and attention. And though his adult sons just joined, Trump himself hasn’t posted there in weeks.

devin nunes file flagDevin Nunes, left, the former member of Congress from California who gave up the seat that he held for 19 years to run the company, had said the app would be “fully operational” by the end of March. But it has been hamstrung by technical issues, including a waiting list that has blocked hundreds of thousands of potential users during its crucial first weeks online.

Trump has privately fumed about the app’s slow rollout and has mused about joining other platforms such as Gettr, one of its biggest competitors, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

Spurred by the former president’s frustration, Nunes has worked to install his own people atop the troubled company, leading to the resignations of its chiefs of technology, product development and legal affairs, according to the people familiar with the turmoil. The departures were first reported by Reuters and Politico.

They said Nunes has regularly traveled to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., to brief the former president and discuss the platform’s issues. Trump is holding out hope that the platform will eventually be lucrative, but he has been reluctant to post on it because “it is not ready for prime time,” a close adviser said.

He has, however, continued to pay attention to Twitter, which he has repeatedly criticized as irrelevant since the site banned him last year. He still reviews tweets from politicians and members of the media from time to time, two of the people said.

Truth Social was planned to be the flagship product of the Trump Media & Technology Group, a start-up that Trump’s advisers said would become a “media powerhouse” encompassing online video, entertainment and news.

 ny times logoNew York Times, More Evidence Bolsters Durham’s Case Against Democratic-Linked Lawyer, Charlie Savage, April 6, 2022 (print ed.). Separately, defense lawyers asked a judge to block the Trump-era special counsel from making the Steele dossier a focus of next month’s trial; New Filing by Counsel Might Strengthen Case In Trump-Era Inquiry; The lawyer, Michael Sussmann, right, is accused of lying to the F.B.I.

michael sussmann perkins youngerThe Trump-era special counsel scrutinizing the Russia investigation has acquired additional evidence that may bolster his case against a Democratic-linked lawyer accused of lying to the F.B.I. at a September 2016 meeting about Donald J. Trump’s possible ties to Russia, a new court filing revealed.

In the politically high-profile case, the lawyer, Michael Sussmann, is facing trial next month on a charge that he falsely told an F.B.I. official that he was not at the meeting on behalf of any client. There he relayed suspicions data scientists had about odd internet data they thought might indicate hidden Trump-Russia links.

john durham CustomThe new filing by the special counsel, John H. Durham, left, says that the night before Mr. Sussmann’s meeting, he had texted the F.B.I. official stating that “I’m coming on my own — not on behalf of a client or company — want to help the bureau.”

The charge against Mr. Sussmann, which he denies, is narrow. But the case has attracted significant attention because Mr. Durham has used filings to put forward large amounts of information, insinuating there was a conspiracy involving the Hillary Clinton campaign to amplify suspicions of Trump-Russia collusion. Mr. Durham has not charged any such conspiracy, however.

The disclosure of the text to the F.B.I. official in question, James A. Baker, then the bureau’s general counsel, was part of a flurry of late-night filings on Monday by prosecutors and the defense centering on what evidence and arguments the judge should permit in the trial.

At the same time, the filings suggest that the special counsel may use the trial to continue to examine larger efforts linked to the Clinton campaign that raised suspicions about potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia — including the so-called Steele dossier.

The dossier is a notorious compendium of opposition research about purported Trump-Russia ties, since revealed to be thinly sourced and dubious. It was FBI logowritten by Christopher Steele, a subcontractor for Fusion GPS, a research firm that Mr. Sussmann’s former law firm, Perkins Coie, had hired to scrutinize such matters.

hillary clinton buttonMr. Sussmann, a cybersecurity specialist, had worked for the Democratic Party on issues related to Russia’s hacking of its servers. One of his partners at Perkins Coie, Marc Elias, a campaign law specialist, was representing the Clinton campaign and hired Fusion GPS.

Mr. Durham’s new filing refers to the dossier and Mr. Steele — including a meeting with Mr. Sussmann that Mr. Steele has said involved the suspicions about the odd internet data — and Mr. Sussmann’s legal team said that Mr. Durham appears to be planning to bring up the dossier at the trial even though the indictment does not mention it.

Mr. Sussmann’s defense lawyers accused Mr. Durham of promoting a “baseless narrative that the Clinton campaign conspired with others to trick the federal government into investigating ties between President Trump and Russia,” asking the judge to block prosecutors from making arguments and introducing evidence related to the Steele dossier.

“But there was no such conspiracy; the special counsel hasn’t charged such a crime; and the special counsel should not be permitted to turn Mr. Sussmann’s trial on a narrow false statement charge into a circus full of sideshows that will only fuel partisan fervor,” they wrote.

The Durham team’s filing also asked the judge to bar the defense from making arguments and presenting evidence “that depict the special counsel as politically motived or biased based on his appointment” by the Trump administration.

“The only purpose in advancing these arguments would be to stir the pot of political polarization, garner public attention and, most inappropriately, confuse jurors or encourage jury nullification,” it said. “Put bluntly, the defense wishes to make the special counsel out to be a political actor when, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth.”

In the spring of 2019, the special counsel investigating the Trump campaign and Russia, Robert S. Mueller III, detailed “numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign” but did not charge any Trump associate with conspiring with Russia. As Mr. Trump continued to claim that he was the victim of a “deep state” conspiracy, the attorney general at the time, William P. Barr, assigned Mr. Durham to scour the Russia investigation for any wrongdoing.

But Mr. Durham has not developed any cases against high-level officials. Instead, he has brought false-statements charges involving two efforts by outsiders to hunt for signs of Trump-Russia links, both of which were thin and involved Perkins Coie in some way. He has used the indictments to insinuate that the Clinton campaign may have orchestrated the concoction of false smears against Mr. Trump, but without charging such a conspiracy.

One such effort was the Steele dossier, and the other was the suspicions that Mr. Sussmann relayed to Mr. Baker. The latter suspicions had been developed by a group of data scientists who analyzed odd internet data they thought might suggest clandestine communications between a server for the Trump Organization and a server for Alfa Bank, a Kremlin-linked Russian financial institution.

The F.B.I. — which had already opened the investigation that would evolve into the Mueller inquiry — looked into the Alfa Bank matter but decided the suspicions were unfounded.

After Mr. Sussmann’s indictment, several criminal law specialists said the charge was an unusually thin basis for a federal case because it boiled down to a dispute over what was said at a one-on-one meeting at which there were no other witnesses and there was no recording. But the newly disclosed text message from Mr. Sussmann could bolster prosecutors’ case.

In accusing Mr. Sussmann of falsely saying he was not conveying the suspicions on behalf of any client, the indictment also contended that he was concealing that he was actually representing two clients at that meeting — the Clinton campaign and a technology executive, Rodney Joffe, who worked with the cyberspecialists who analyzed the Alfa Bank data. Law firm billing records show that Mr. Sussmann listed the campaign for time working on Alfa Bank issues.

Mr. Sussmann’s legal team has denied that he told Mr. Baker he was not conveying the information on behalf of any client. They also insisted to the Justice Department before the indictment that Mr. Sussmann was not there at the direction or on behalf of the campaign. In court filings, they have acknowledged that Mr. Sussmann “arranged for this meeting on behalf of his client,” referring to Mr. Joffe.

The defense for Mr. Sussmann therefore may turn in part on what it means to be somewhere on behalf of a client. In a separate filing on Monday night, the defense asked the judge, Christopher Cooper of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, to dismiss the case if Mr. Durham does not grant immunity to Mr. Joffe, so that the technology executive can testify about his interactions with Mr. Sussmann regarding the meeting.

In that filing, they said Mr. Joffe would offer “critical exculpatory testimony on behalf of Mr. Sussmann,” including that the two agreed that he should take the information to the F.B.I. “to help the government, not to benefit Mr. Joffe.” They also said that “contrary to the special counsel’s entire theory,” Mr. Joffe’s work with the data scientists was not connected to the campaign.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Joffe did not provide a comment. But a letter from Mr. Joffe’s lawyer included in the filings said that while Mr. Joffe “can provide exculpatory information concerning the allegations against” Mr. Sussmann, Mr. Joffe still faced the possible risk of indictment and would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights not to testify.

 Recent Headlines

April 5

 

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

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

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. Investigation of Jan. 6 Confronts Sprawling Cast of Characters, Alan Feuer, Luke Broadwater and Maggie Haberman, April 5, 2022. The wide net being cast by prosecutors as they move beyond charging rioters could encompass scores of potential witnesses from inside and outside of government.

Among the challenges facing the federal grand jury recently empaneled to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol is the sheer number of people who might have information relevant to its inquiry.

According to a subpoena issued by the grand jury, prosecutors are asking for records about people who organized or spoke at several pro-Trump rallies after the election. They presumably include two events in Washington in November and December 2020 that preceded the gathering on the Ellipse near the White House on Jan. 6, 2021, where President Donald J. Trump told the crowd to descend on the Capitol.

The subpoena is also seeking records about anyone who provided security at those events and about those who were deemed to be “V.I.P. attendees.”

Moreover, it requests information about any members of the executive and legislative branches who may have taken part in planning or executing the rallies, or tried to “obstruct, influence, impede or delay” the certification of the presidential election.

Each of these broad categories could involve dozens of individuals. Taken together, the total number of potential witnesses — or at some point, targets — sought after by the grand jury could easily reach into the hundreds.

The investigation appears to be in its early stages and there is no way of knowing at this point where it may go, what crimes it might identify or who it may ultimately focus on. Many people of interest to investigators might be called only as witnesses.

One possible road map — at least in terms of who the grand jury may still want to hear from — is the parallel probe by the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack, which has already interviewed hundreds of witnesses, including, on Tuesday, Ivanka Trump, the former president’s daughter and adviser.

A relatively small group of political operatives did the bulk of the work in organizing the pro-Trump rallies in Washington that kicked off after the election and sought to challenge the results, often using the slogan “Stop the Steal.”

Prominent among them, according to interviews and documents, was Amy Kremer, a former Tea Party activist who helped create a group called Women for America First. The group set up a cross-country bus tour gathering Mr. Trump’s aggrieved supporters behind the baseless assertions of a stolen election.

Within hours of the last polls closing on Election Day, Ms. Kremer started working closely with her daughter, Kylie Jane Kremer, to set up one of the first “Stop the Steal” Facebook pages. Both women were involved — often in close coordination with the White House — in planning pro-Trump rallies on Nov. 14 and Dec. 12, 2020, and then in setting up Mr. Trump’s appearance at the Ellipse on Jan. 6, 2021.

Two other people who helped Ms. Kremer were Jennifer L. Lawrence and Dustin Stockton, both of whom had once worked closely with Stephen K. Bannon, a former top adviser to Mr. Trump. Another organizer for Women for America First was Cindy Chafian, who ultimately broke away from the group to form a new organization, the Eighty Percent Coalition, which planned its own event on Jan. 5.

Then there was a separate group of planners around Ali Alexander, a provocateur who rose in right-wing circles after the election. Mr. Alexander, an associate of Mr. Trump’s longtime adviser Roger J. Stone Jr., was part of a group of activists who planned an event at the Capitol itself and marched with the michael flynn djtcrowd to the building after Mr. Trump’s speech at the Ellipse.

Altogether, scores of people spoke at the rallies in November and December and at the gatherings on Jan. 5 and Jan. 6. They included people like Mr. Stone; Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn (shown in a file photo at left with Trump); and Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist and host of the TV show Infowars. The speakers also included pastors, state-level politicians and anti-vaccine activists.

It is hard to know who prosecutors might consider a “V.I.P.” from these events — especially for the November rally, often known as the Million MAGA March, and the one in December, which is sometimes referred to as the Jericho March.

There were dozens of V.I.P.s who attended Mr. Trump’s incendiary speech at the Ellipse on Jan. 6, according to leaked documents from event organizers. john eastmanThat rally also featured appearances by Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, and John C. Eastman, right, the law professor who was promoting the idea that Vice President Mike Pence could block congressional certification of the Electoral College results.

The attendees at the Ellipse speech included Mike Lindell, the MyPillow chief executive who helped spread Mr. Trump’s lies about a rigged election, and the YouTube stars known as Diamond and Silk, who are prominent Trump supporters.

The federal grand jury subpoena examined by The New York Times seeks information about members of the executive and legislative branches who might have been involved in the effort to delay congressional certification of the election results, suggesting that prosecutors are interested in learning more about the roles that Mr. Trump’s aides and allies inside the government may have played.

It is not clear if any Trump-era executive or legislative branch members have received subpoenas, and there is no public indication that anyone has been targeted for prosecution.

But in looking for more information about what was happening at both the White House and on Capitol Hill as Mr. Trump sought to stay in power, the House select committee has already expressed interest in a range of White House and campaign advisers, as well as contractors who worked to set up the rally. Mark MeadowsThey exist in concentric circles in and around Mr. Trump’s orbit.

Among them is Mark Meadows, right, the White House chief of staff under Mr. Trump, who turned over text messages to the House committee that served as a road map not just of his own activities, but those of others. He was one of the few people with Mr. Trump as the riot at the Capitol took place.

Katrina Pierson, a longtime Trump political adviser, was in direct contact with Mr. Trump about the details of the rallies on Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, including who would be speaking and what music would be played, according to a former administration official and the House committee. She attended a meeting in which Mr. Trump is said to have discussed wanting the National Guard deployed, anticipating counterprotests.

 

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Are these the cooperating witnesses in the DOJ’s grand jury against Trump world? Bill Palmer, April 5, 2022. At this point the known bill palmertimeline is fairly clear. Merrick Garland took over the DOJ, spent less than ten months investigating and flipping enough Capitol attackers to take down the entire Oath Keepers leadership, managed to flip at least one of the Oath Keepers leaders against Trump world, and then less than two weeks later launched a grand jury targeting Trump world.

Roger Stone’s Oath Keeper driver’s cooperating plea deal is the single biggest piece of news to come out of the DOJ’s January 6th probe, and bill palmer report logo headerthe single biggest indicator that the DOJ intends to indict Trump. After all, the DOJ takes down the biggest of fish by lining up enough cooperating witnesses that no jury would ever acquit. The question is who else might be cooperating with the DOJ in its criminal probe into Trump world.

This past weekend, Chris Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported that Steve Bannon’s co-conspirators in the “Build the wall” scam have all agreed to plead guilty. It’s not yet clear if these are cooperating plea deals, or merely guilty pleas in exchange for leniency. But the timing is interesting.

After getting busted all the way back in 2020, these three Bannon co-conspirators have each decided to plead guilty over the past two months. This lines up precisely with the reported timeframe for the DOJ’s grand jury into Trump world, which was launched two months ago. You have to wonder if the DOJ offered these three guys lenient deals in order to get them to flip on Bannon, at a time when the DOJ is clearly making a run at Trump world figures such as Bannon.

If the DOJ is going to prosecute Donald Trump, it’ll want his closest underlings like Stone and Bannon testifying against him. Over the past two months the DOJ has launched a grand jury targeting Trump world, cut a seditious conspiracy cooperating plea deal with Stone’s driver, and cut plea deals with three of Bannon’s criminal associates. It sure does look like the DOJ is looking to force Trump’s top henchmen to flip on him.

 

virginia thomas donald trump jr amazon 2018

Ultra-right activist Virginia Thomas, a longtime lobbyist for extreme causes who has made vast amounts of money in key positions and wife of Associated Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, poses four years ago in the Trump International Hotel with Donald Trump Jr. Within the Trump Town House on Insurrection Eve, the epicenter of the epicenter was a blue-walled conference room with a flag at one end echoing Ali Alexander’s (and other insurrectionists’) favored refrain on Insurrection Eve: “1776!” Alexander’s favored use of the date has long been the phrase, “1776 [violence] is always an option!”

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: Klobuchar claims Ginni Thomas advocated ‘for an insurrection,’ Glenn Kessler, April 5, 2022. After an account of comments (below) appeared in The Washington Post, a reader requested a fact check.

He said his reading of the texts by Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, were “far-fetched” but did not support the statements by Klobuchar and Pelosi that Thomas advocated an “insurrection” or a “coup.” The lawmakers made those remarks in calling on Justice Thomas to recuse himself from hearing cases related to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

“The facts are clear here. This is unbelievable. You have the wife of a sitting Supreme Court justice advocating for an insurrection, advocating for overturning a legal election to the sitting president’s chief of staff.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), in remarks on ABC’s “This Week,” March 27

“If your wife is an admitted and proud contributor to a coup of our country, maybe you should weigh that in your ethical standards.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), in remarks to reporters, March 31

Of the two quotes, Pelosi is on slightly stronger ground. A coup often involves military force, but it can also be defined as an illegal change in government. Few legal scholars supported Trump’s interpretation of Pence’s role. If Pence had acted to block the vote, he would have been challenged. Pelosi might have halted the joint session of Congress before such a vote could take place, resulting in a constitutional crisis. “Contributor to” is also weaker language than “advocated for.”

We will leave Pelosi’s comment unrated. Readers can make their own judgment about whether it is appropriate.

“Insurrection” is virtually always defined as a violent uprising against a government. Thomas may have wanted to overturn the results of the election, but her texts do not back the idea that she supported the violent tactics by the people who assaulted the Capitol. The texts are filled with falsehoods, but it’s not as clear, as Klobuchar says, that Thomas supported an insurrection. Klobuchar earns Two Pinocchios.

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘Dating Coach’ Charged in Capitol Riot Gets Prison Term for Gun Crime, Sarah Maslin Nir, April 5, 2022 (print ed.). Samuel Fisher, who as Brad Holiday traded in conspiracy theories and misogyny online, still faces federal charges related to Jan. 6.

A self styled dating coach who prosecutors say participated in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol was sentenced to three and a half years in prison after he pleaded guilty to a gun possession charge in Manhattan Supreme Court on Monday — a case that emerged through a search warrant related to his apparent involvement in the riot.

samuel fisherIn dozens of videos and articles posted online, the man, Samuel Fisher, portrayed himself as Brad Holiday, an expert at picking up women. His posts mixed misogynist remarks with far right messages and support for former President Donald J. Trump, and included accounts of his own participation in the Capitol riot.

When Mr. Fisher, right, was arrested in Manhattan two weeks after the attack on the Capitol, F.B.I. agents found over a thousand rounds of ammunition and several weapons, including an illegally modified AR-15 rifle and machetes, in his Upper East Side apartment and car.

Mr. Fisher had been charged with 17 different counts relating to the weapons cache; on Monday he pleaded guilty to one count of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree. Mr. Fisher still faces separate, federal charges over his participation on Jan. 6, including entering the Capitol building and disorderly conduct in a restricted building, to which he has pleaded not guilty.

At his sentencing in Manhattan on Monday, Mr. Fisher acknowledged his crime. “I know what I did was wrong and I accept that my actions have consequences,” he said.
In court on Monday, Mr. Fisher took responsibility for his actions and said he was working to better himself.

Wayne Gosnell, a lawyer for Mr. Fisher, told the judge that his client had spent the year since his arrest in therapy, attending narcotics and Alcoholics Anonymous groups daily, and making amends with his family, from whom friends had said he was estranged. His mother, father and brother sat in the audience, his mother occasionally weeping.

Mr. Gosnell asked for a three-and-a-half year prison term for his client, rather than the four years — the maximum penalty for the charge — that prosecutors had sought.

“I have done and will continue to do that hard work; that work does not end today, and does not end when I get out of jail,” Mr. Fisher said in the 15th floor courtroom. “I just hope that day is as soon as possible.”

 

A composite image of Jason Riddle being interviewed as a political candidate and holding a bottle of wine inside the Capitol (Photos: NBC10 Boston, left, and FBI).

A composite image of Jason Riddle being interviewed as a political candidate and holding a bottle of wine inside the Capitol (Photos: NBC10 Boston, left, and FBI).

Business Insider, Man who bragged about chugging a lawmaker's wine during the Capitol riot is sentenced to 90 days in jail, Sophia Ankel, April 5, 2022. 
A man who bragged about chugging a lawmaker's wine during the Capitol riot was sentenced to 90 days in jail on Monday, court documents seen by Insider show.

Jason Riddle of New Hampshire pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges of illegally protesting inside the Capitol and theft of government property, a criminal complaint said.

Alongside his jail term, Riddle was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay more than $750 in restitution, the court documents said.

Riddle told NBC10 Boston days after the insurrection that he followed the mob inside the Capitol, where he found a liquor cabinet in a lawmaker's office.

He said he grabbed a bottle of wine, "chugged it, and got out of there." The identity of the lawmaker is not known.

Before leaving the building, he also grabbed a red leather book entitled "Senate Procedure" from an office, which he later sold for $40, the criminal complaint said.

Last summer, Riddle told NBC10 Boston he had no regrets about storming the Capitol. He also said he was running for Congress, with the intention of unseating Rep. Ann Kuster, a Democrat from New Hampshire, in the 2022 midterms.

In the middle of the interview, Riddle was told he was running for the wrong seat and that Kuster was not a state representative but a representative for New Hampshire's 2nd congressional district.

"Well, I guess I've got to run against that then," he said. It is not clear whether his jail sentence will affect his campaign for office.

At least 800 people have been charged in the insurrection so far.

April 2

 

merrick garland new

ny times logoNew York Times, Garland Faces Growing Pressure as Jan. 6 Investigation Widens, Katie Benner, Katie Rogers and Michael S. Schmidt, April 2, 2022.
The inquiry is a test for President Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland, who have promised to restore the Justice Department’s independence.

Immediately after Merrick B. Garland was sworn in as attorney general in March of last year, he summoned top Justice Department officials and the F.B.I. director to his office. He wanted a detailed briefing on the case that will, in all likelihood, come to define his legacy: the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol.

Even though hundreds of people had already been charged, Mr. Garland asked to go over the indictments in detail, according to two people familiar with the meeting. What were the charges? What evidence did they have? How had they built such a sprawling investigation, involving all 50 states, so fast? What was the plan now?

Justice Department log circularThe attorney general’s deliberative approach has come to frustrate Democratic allies of the White House and, at times, President Biden himself. As recently as late last year, Mr. Biden confided to his inner circle that he believed former President Donald J. Trump was a threat to democracy and should be prosecuted, according to two people familiar with his comments. And while the president has never communicated his frustrations directly to Mr. Garland, he has said privately that he wanted Mr. Garland to act less like a ponderous judge and more like a prosecutor who is willing to take decisive action over the events of Jan. 6.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Mr. Garland said that he and the career prosecutors working on the case felt only the pressure “to do the right thing,” which meant that they “follow the facts and the law wherever they may lead.”

Still, Democrats’ increasingly urgent calls for the Justice Department to take more aggressive action highlight the tension between the frenetic demands of politics and the methodical pace of one of the biggest prosecutions in the department’s history.

“The Department of Justice must move swiftly,” Representative Elaine Luria, Democrat of Virginia and a member of the House committee investigating the riot, said this past week. She and others on the panel want the department to charge Trump allies with contempt for refusing to comply with the committee’s subpoenas.

“Attorney General Garland,” Ms. Luria said during a committee hearing, “do your job so that we can do ours.”

This article is based on interviews with more than a dozen people, including officials in the Biden administration and people with knowledge of the president’s thinking, all of whom asked for anonymity to discuss private conversations.

In a statement, Andrew Bates, a White House spokesman, said the president believed that Mr. Garland had “decisively restored” the independence of the Justice Department.

April 1

 

Trump Administration White House Photographer Shealah Craighead (Photo by Doug Mills of the New York Times).

Trump Administration White House Photographer Shealah Craighead (Photo by Doug Mills of the New York Times).

ny times logoNew York Times, She Took the White House Photos. Trump Moved to Take the Profit, Eric Lipton and Maggie Haberman, Updated April 1, 2022. The former chief White House photographer made plans to publish a book of Trump photos. The former president had other plans.

As President Donald J. Trump’s tenure came to an end, the chief White House photographer, who had traveled the world with him and spent countless hours inside the White House snapping pictures, notified Mr. Trump’s aides that she intended to publish a book collecting some of her most memorable images.

This was hardly a radical idea: Official photographers from every White House since President Ronald Reagan’s have published their own books. Barack Obama and George W. Bush were so supportive that they wrote forewords for them.

But like so much else involving Mr. Trump, the plan by his chief photographer, Shealah Craighead, did not follow this bipartisan norm.

First, aides to Mr. Trump asked her for a cut of her book advance payment, in exchange for his writing a foreword and helping promote the book, according to former associates of Mr. Trump.

Then Mr. Trump’s team asked Ms. Craighead to hold off on her book project to allow the former president to take Ms. Craighead’s photos and those of other White House staff photographers and publish his own book, which is now selling for as much as $230 a copy.

That the profits from Ms. Craighead’s labor are now going into Mr. Trump’s pocket has left several of Mr. Trump’s former aides upset — but not exactly surprised.

“Shea’s a very talented photographer and this was really all of her hard work,” said Stephanie Grisham, who served as the White House press secretary for Mr. Trump and wrote her own book, referring to Ms. Craighead by her nickname. “I just keep thinking: What a shame that he is actually now profiting off of it. But then again, this is the guy who is hawking caps and all kinds of stuff right now to raise money for himself.”

Eric Draper, who was the chief White House photographer during Mr. Bush’s tenure, said the move was disrespectful to Ms. Craighead.

“It’s a slap in the face,” Mr. Draper said, adding that he had spoken with Ms. Craighead last year about her plan to do her own book. “I would be disappointed if I were in her shoes.”

The 317-page book Mr. Trump published in December, titled Our Journey Together, includes no photo credits. It does not mention any of the photographers who took the images until the last page, where he briefly offered a “grateful acknowledgment” to “all the phenomenal White House photographers,” listing them by name, including Ms. Craighead, whose pictures make up much of the book.

There is no legal prohibition on Mr. Trump assembling and publishing photographs that a White House staff member took during his tenure; under federal law, those photographs are considered in the public domain and not subject to copyright. There is a public Flickr account, now managed by the National Archives, that has 14,995 photos from the Trump White House, a third of them listing Ms. Craighead as the photographer.

 

March 2022

March 30

 djt lavrov kysliak

President Trump hosted a top-level delegation at the White House in 2017, including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, left, and Russia's Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kysliak. No American media were permitted to cover the meeting, with photos (including that above) taken, selected and released by visiting Russian media.

Proof, Investigative Commentary: The Truth About Trump and Ukraine Inside Trump’s vicious, illegal, years-long war on Ukraine—a clandestine effort seth abramson graphicthat has dovetailed with the political, economic, and military aggression against Ukraine authored by Vladimir Putin, Seth Abramson, March 30, 2022.

Preface: Bringing "Proof of Corruption" to Substack. Condensing a 576-page national bestseller with 44 chapters and 4,750+ major-media citations into a single Substack article is, of course, impossible.

seth abramson proof logoWhat this Proof essay aims to do, instead, is focus on just one of the narrative threads in Proof of Corruption: Donald Trump’s thirty-year relationship with Ukraine (Macmillan, 2020), which bears no similarity whatsoever to the former president’s anodyne description of it.

Even in focusing on just one narrative, this essay must elide over 75% of the full story, which has twists and turns in it (as well as many suddenly appearing and disappearing characters) to such a degree that it can’t be reduced to a single article. This is why I wrote a book on the subject, and the reason even that nearly 600-page work benefited from the fact that much of its foundation had already been laid in two earlier tomes, Proof of Collusion (Simon & Schuster, 2018) and Proof of Conspiracy (Macmillan, 2019).

I mention this only to underscore that if you have no familiarity with the truth about Donald Trump and Ukraine, what you are about to read will at once be shocking and the barest tip of a towering iceberg. And it matters—because the story of Trump and Ukraine, both the abridged and unabridged versions, are significant now not as dry history but because they may well determine the fate of America. The implications of what you will read below are that dire. Please note that what follows is more akin to a novella-length nonfiction narrative than a mere essay. It may take you several sittings to read and digest the text in full.

Introduction: The True Story of Trump and Ukraine. A little over a week ago, former Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton made a startling statement revealing that when Donald Trump was president, the longtime New York City real estate developer could barely locate Ukraine on a map.

As with all else we’ve heard from Bolton over the last two years, the statement was a combination of a minute but accurate observation laced with some very subjective personal venom. Trump may or may not be able to locate Ukraine on a map—neither possibility would be surprising—but if Bolton intended to leave the impression that Trump is broadly unfamiliar with Ukraine, that implication would not only be inaccurate but a deeply troubling cover-up of the true story of Trump and the largest nation wholly in Europe.

As with nearly everything we’ve ever heard from the ex-president, his own narrative isn’t so much a nub of truth packed in layer upon layer of deceit, but an intentional, almost brutalizing mass of prevarication that aims to manipulate voters at every point, in every contour, and without exception.

To hear Donald Trump tell the tale, he has long been a champion of Ukraine, and has admired Vladimir Putin’s handling of Russia’s western neighbor only as an academic might—acknowledging the purported tactical genius of Russia’s strongman without approving of his methods.

In this fantasy world of Trump’s own creation (which is, unfortunately, now relevant to all of us because it reflects the belief of nearly 40% of Americans), in the same way that Russia has never had a more dangerous adversary than Donald Trump, Ukraine has never had a better friend than the former POTUS. I’ve often written on social media, and on occasion here at Proof, that the best way to parse any statement made by Mr. Trump is to start with the assumption that the exact opposite of anything he’s said is true.

While it’s an imperfect method of interlocution—sometimes when you take the opposite of everything Trump says, only 97% of it is true—it serves as a far better starting point then taking seriously or at face value anything declaimed by the former president. In the matter of Trump and Ukraine, however, the conventional reading of Trump long advised by Proof and its attendant Twitter feed is wholly sufficient: Russia has never had a better friend among American politicians than Donald Trump, and Ukraine no greater enemy.

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

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

March 29

washington post logoWashington Post, White House logs from Jan. 6 show 7-hour gap in Trump calls, Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, March 29, 2022. The House select committee is now investigating whether it has the full record and whether Trump communicated that day through backchannels, phones of aides or personal disposable phones, according to people familiar with the probe.

Internal White House records from the day of the attack on the U.S. Capitol that were turned over to the House select committee show a gap in President Donald Trump’s phone logs of seven hours and 37 minutes, including the period when the building was being violently assaulted, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post and CBS News.

The lack of an official White House notation of any calls placed to or by Trump for 457 minutes on Jan. 6, 2021 – from 11:17 a.m. to 6:54 p.m. – means the committee has no record of his phone conversations as his supporters descended on the Capitol, battled overwhelmed police and forcibly entered the building, prompting lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence to flee for safety.

The 11 pages of records, which consist of the president’s official daily diary and the White House switchboard call logs, were turned over by the National Archives earlier this year to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack.

Washington Post, Read the White House Daily Diary from Jan. 6, 2021
Washington Post, Read the Presidential Call Log from Jan. 6, 2021

 

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 committee backs contempt charges for two former Trump aides, Jacqueline Alemany and Amy B Wang, March 29, 2022 (print ed.). The committee voted for charges against former trade and manufacturing director Peter Navarro and former communications chief Daniel Scavino Jr.

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol voted Monday night to hold two former Trump aides in criminal contempt of peter navarro white house imageCongress for refusing to comply with the committee’s subpoenas.

The committee voted unanimously to recommend the charges against former trade and manufacturing director Peter Navarro, right, and former communications chief Daniel Scavino Jr. The House will soon vote on whether to refer Navarro and Scavino to the Justice Department for prosecution.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), a vice chair of the committee, called Navarro and Scavino key witnesses and rejected their claims of executive privilege as the committee has moved to a “critical stage of this investigation.”

Cheney said during the hearing that the committee has questions about Scavino’s work doing social media for the former president — specifically about “his interactions with an online forum called ‘The Donald,’ and with Qanon, a bizarre and dangerous cult.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge says nonviolent Jan. 6 defendants shouldn’t get ‘serious jail time,’ Spencer S. Hsu and Tom Jackman, March 29, 2022. A Trump appointee disputes that Capitol breach cases are unique, stirring a debate over how to hold individuals accountable in mass crime.

A federal judge criticized U.S. prosecutors for seeking jail time for some nonviolent Donald Trump supporters in the Jan. 6 Capitol breach, but not for left-wing activists who protested the 2018 Senate confirmation of Trump Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh.

“I know that the government believes that the January 6th cases are sui generis” — or one of a kind — “and therefore can’t be compared to other cases. But I don’t agree,” said U.S. District Judge Trevor N. McFadden, a 2017 Trump appointee. He called the riots the latest in Washington’s history of high-profile and politically divisive mass demonstrations.

“It does feel like the government has had two standards here, and I can’t abide by that,” McFadden said. The judge added that before Jan. 6, he could not remember seeing a nonviolent, first-time misdemeanant “sentenced to serious jail time … regardless of their race, gender or political affiliation.”

McFadden spoke out Wednesday in sentencing Capitol riot defendant Jenny Cudd, a 37-year-old florist and one-time Republican mayoral candidate from Midland, Tex., who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor trespassing. Prosecutors with the U.S. attorney’s office for Washington asked the judge to sentence Cudd to 75 days in jail and one year probation. Instead, he imposed two month’s probation and a $5,000 fine, contrasting her case with that of Tighe Barry, an activist with the left-wing antiwar Code Pink group.

The judge said that the same prosecutor’s office in 2019 sought 10 days behind bars for Barry, who stood on a chair, held up a poster, and shouted at senators from the back row in one of Kavanaugh’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearings in September 2018, and returned to protest three weeks later in violation of a stay away order.

“The government’s sentencing recommendation here is just so disproportionate to other sentences for people who have engaged in similar conduct,” said McFadden, adding that Barry, a frequent demonstrator with 14 prior arrests, accidentally knocked a chair into a bystander when Capitol Police arrested him. “I don’t believe in some sort of aggregate justice.”

Barry was sentenced to six days.

March 28

ted cruz beard

 

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump ‘more likely than not’ committed crime in trying to block confirmation of Biden’s win, judge says, Matt Zapotosky and
John Wagner, March 28, 2022. A federal judge said in a ruling Monday that then-President Donald Trump “more likely than not” committed a federal crime in trying to obstruct the congressional count of electoral college votes on Jan. 6, 2021.

The determination from U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter came in a ruling addressing scores of sensitive emails that Trump ally and conservative lawyer John Eastman had resisted turning over to the House select committee investigating the insurrection. Eastman wrote key legal memos aimed at denying Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election.

capitol riot nyt jan 7 2021“Based on the evidence, the Court finds it more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021,” Carter wrote. A Trump representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The 44-page opinion offers a careful analysis of 111 documents the committee wanted, ultimately concluding that lawmakers are entitled to have 101 of them.

But it is less notable for what it might given the committee access to and more for the judge’s analysis of Trump’s conduct leading up to the riot on Jan. 6. Breaking down the law on each point, Carter, who sits on the Central District of California and was nominated by President Bill Clinton, writes it is “more likely than not” that Trump and Eastman conspired to disrupt the counting of the electoral votes on Jan. 6 — which would be a crime under federal statutes.

“Dr. Eastman and President Trump launched a campaign to overturn a democratic election, an action unprecedented in American history,” the judge concludes. “Their campaign was not confined to the ivory tower — it was a coup in search of a legal theory. The plan spurred violent attacks on the seat of our nation’s government, led to the deaths of several law enforcement officers, and deepened public distrust in our political process.”

The judge’s ruling does not mean Trump will be charged with, or even investigated for, a crime — though it will certainly increase pressure on the Justice Department to intensify its probe of the Jan. 6 riot and potentially examine the conduct of Trump himself. Carter noted that he was only assessing the legal arguments surrounding whether Eastman could be compelled to turn over documents to the Jan. 6 committee.

“More than a year after the attack on our Capitol, the public is still searching for accountability. This case cannot provide it,” Carter wrote. “The Court is tasked only with deciding a dispute over a handful of emails. This is not a criminal prosecution; this is not even a civil liability suit.”

The judge ultimately wrote on whether there was evidence Trump had committed a crime because the committee had alleged as much in a bid to convince a judge it should be allowed to access Eastman’s emails.

The committee cited the “crime-fraud exception,” essentially arguing that because there was evidence Eastman advised Trump in the commission of a crime, he could not legally shield his communications using attorney-client privilege.

Carter zeroed in on 11 documents as he assessed whether the “crime-fraud exception” applied. He determined it did for just one: “a chain forwarding to Dr. Eastman a draft memo written for President Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani.”

Carter wrote that the memo recommended that Vice President Mike Pence reject electors from contested states on Jan. 6.

“This may have been the first time members of President Trump’s team transformed a legal interpretation of the Electoral Count Act into a day-by-day plan of action,” the judge wrote. “The draft memo pushed a strategy that knowingly violated the Electoral Count Act, and Dr. Eastman’s later memos closely track its analysis and proposal. The memo is both intimately related to and clearly advanced the plan to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021.”

March 26

Raw Story, Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene steal Trump's thunder at low-turnout Georgia rally, Bob Brigham, March 26, 2022. Donald Trump traveled to Commerce, Georgia on Saturday to rally his MAGA base against the top incumbent Republican in the Peach State.

raw story logo square"I've covered more than two dozen Trump rallies around the nation. This is the smallest crowd I've seen at a rally of his in Georgia since he won the 2016 election -- significantly smaller than the crowd in Perry in September," Atlanta Journal-Constitution political reporter Greg Bluestein noted.

Trump is backing former Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) in his campaign against GOP Gov. Brian Kemp and Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) in his campaign against Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is shown below at left.

georgia map 2"This crowd is hardly applauding. Not the same sort of enthusiasm I’ve seen at other Trump rallies," Bluestein reported.

And Perdue's campaign has been struggling.

matt gaetz official"Early polls have steadily shown Mr. Perdue, a former senator, trailing Mr. Kemp by about 10 percentage points. The governor has the backing of many of the state’s big donors and remains far ahead of Mr. Perdue in fund-raising," The New York Times reported Saturday. "Mr. Perdue’s sputtering start may hint at a deeper flaw in Mr. Trump’s plan to punish the governor for refusing to work to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results: Mr. Trump’s grievances may now largely be his alone. While polls show many G.O.P. voters believe lies about fraud and irregularities in the 2020 election, there is little evidence that Republicans remain as fixated on the election as Mr. Trump."

During his speech, Trump regurgitated the list of grievances he airs at all of his rallies, repeating his "big lie" of election fraud and complaining about Joe Biden.

March 24

Overturning 2020 U.S. Election, Russian Influences Claims

 

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

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Virginia Thomas urged White House chief to pursue unrelenting efforts to overturn the 2020 election, texts show, Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, March 24, 2022. In messages to chief of staff Mark Meadows in the weeks after Election Day, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas called Joe Biden’s victory “the greatest Heist of our History” and told him that President Donald Trump should not concede.

Virginia Thomas, a conservative activist married to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, repeatedly pressed White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to pursue unrelenting efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election in a series of urgent text exchanges in the critical weeks after the vote, according to copies of the messages obtained by The Washington Post and CBS News.

The messages – 29 in all – reveal an extraordinary pipeline between Virginia Thomas, who goes by Ginni, and President Donald Trump’s top aide during a period when Trump and his allies were vowing to go to the Supreme Court in an effort to negate the election results.

On Nov. 10, after news organizations had projected Joe Biden the winner based on state vote totals, Thomas wrote to Meadows: “Help This Great President stand firm, Mark!!!...You are the leader, with him, who is standing for America’s constitutional governance at the precipice. The majority knows Biden and the Left is attempting the greatest Heist of our History.”

When Meadows wrote to Thomas on Nov. 24, the White House chief of staff invoked God to describe the effort to overturn the election. “This is a fight of good versus evil,” Meadows wrote. “Evil always looks like the victor until the King of Kings triumphs. Do not grow weary in well doing. The fight continues. I have staked my career on it. Well at least my time in DC on it.”

Thomas replied: “Thank you!! Needed that! This plus a conversation with my best friend just now… I will try to keep holding on. America is worth it!”

It is unclear to whom Thomas was referring.

The messages, which do not directly reference Justice Thomas or the Supreme Court, show for the first time how Ginni Thomas used her access to Trump’s inner circle to promote and seek to guide the president’s strategy to overturn the election results – and how receptive and grateful Meadows said he was to receive her advice. Among Thomas’s stated goals in the messages was for lawyer Sidney Powell, who promoted incendiary and unsupported claims about the election, to be “the lead and the face” of Trump’s legal team.

washington post logoWashington Post, The Archives: Justice often runs into conflicts of interest with wife’s activism, critics say, Michael Kranish, Jan. 31, 2022. Ginni Thomas’s name stood out among the signatories of a December letter from conservative leaders, which blasted the work of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection as “overtly partisan political persecution.”

One month later, her husband, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, took part in a case crucial to the same committee’s work: former president Donald Trump’s request to block the committee from getting White House records that were ordered released by President Biden and two lower courts.

Thomas was the only justice to say he would grant Trump’s request.

That vote has reignited fury among Clarence Thomas’s critics, who say it illustrates a gaping hole in the court’s rules: Justices essentially decide for themselves whether they have a conflict of interest, and Thomas has rarely made such a choice in his three decades on the court.

“I absolutely do believe that Clarence Thomas should have recused from the Jan. 6 case,” said Gabe Roth, executive director of Fix the Court, a nonpartisan advocacy group, who called the Supreme Court “the most powerful, least accountable, institution in Washington.”

While the Supreme Court is supposed to operate under regulations guiding all federal judges, including a requirement that a justice “shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned,” there’s no procedure to enforce that rule. Each justice can decide whether to recuse, and there is no way to appeal a Supreme Court member’s failure to do so.

Unlike in lower courts, there is no other judge that can step in, and thus a recusal by one justice would mean considering the case with only eight justices, increasing the chance it could not be resolved.

Thomas, 73, has recused himself 32 times in the last 28 years, mostly on petitions never granted by the court, according to research by Roth’s group. (He recused himself more often in his first two years on the court, due partly to conflicts involving his previous employment.) He has recused himself in a family matter, sitting out a case involving a college that his son attended. But Thomas has never bowed out of a case due to alleged conflicts with his wife’s activism, according to Roth.

Ginni Thomas has long been one of the nation’s most outspoken conservatives. During her husband’s time on the Supreme Court, she has run organizations designed to activate right-wing networks, worked for Republicans in Congress, harshly criticized Democrats who she said were trying to make the country “ungovernable,” and handed out awards to those who agree with her agenda. Ginni Thomas also worked closely with the Trump administration and met with the president, and has come under fire over messages praising Jan. 6 crowds before the attack on the Capitol. In a number of instances, her activism has overlapped with cases that have been decided by Clarence Thomas.

Thomas’s vote in the Jan. 6 case is such a striking conflict of interest, critics say, that some hope it sparks further support for long-sputtering efforts to toughen rules governing the justices — an effort bolstered by a White House commission last month that noted the inherent problem with court’s recusals.

 

Democratic 2016 Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton squared off against GOP nominee Donald Trump in their third debate that fall as Clinton accused Trump of being a Russian Democratic 2016 Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton squared off against GOP nominee Donald Trump in their third debate that fall as Clinton accused Trump of being a Russian "puppet" and Trump responded by shouting "You're the puppet! You're the puppet!"

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump’s lawsuit against Clinton and 47 others is a predictable mess, Aaron Blake, March 24, 2022. From the very beginning of Donald Trump’s lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and a smattering of nearly 50 others, it becomes abundantly clear what this is about — and it’s not about winning a legal judgment.

“In the run-up to the 2016 Presidential Election, Hillary Clinton and her cohorts orchestrated an unthinkable plot — one that shocks the conscience and is an affront to this nation’s democracy,” the lawsuit, filed March 24, begins. It soon adds that the alleged plot was “so outrageous, subversive and incendiary that even the events of Watergate pale in comparison.”

In other words: This is a press release.

What the lawsuit lacks in subtlety, though, it more than makes up for in false claims, errors and dubious inferences.

The lawsuit contains a veritable smorgasbord of debunked and conspiratorial assertions about just how the Russia investigation came about. It’s clearly an effort to play into the emerging theories about what special counsel John Durham might be pursuing — i.e., that the Russia probe was not a product of FBI malfeasance, as Trump has long claimed, but rather that it’s something the FBI was duped into pursuing by nefarious Democrats.

But Trump’s legal team can’t shoot straight.

Before it even gets to the opening sentiments quoted above, the lawsuit stumbles through multiple typos. It announces it is suing 10 anonymous people whose names might be “fictious.” (The word is misspelled three more times before the 108-page lawsuit is finished.) The lawsuit also sues “Phillipe Reines” rather than Clinton adviser Philippe Reines. It is at least the fourth lawsuit filed by Trump and his allies which features a misspelling on the very first page.

(In fairness, I have misspelled Reines’s name before; I am not, however, suing him in a court of law.)

By Page 4, the lawsuit asserts that, upon learning there was no back-channel between the Trump campaign and a Russian bank, “the Defendants resorted to truly subversive measures — hacking servers at Trump Tower, Trump’s private apartment, and, most alarmingly, the White House.”

March 23

 

djt phone amazon public images

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Is Guilty of ‘Numerous’ Felonies, Prosecutor Who Resigned Says, William K. Rashbaum, Ben Protess and Jonah E. Bromwich, March 23, 2022. Mark F. Pomerantz, who had investigated the former president, left after the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, halted an effort to seek an indictment.

One of the senior Manhattan prosecutors who investigated Donald J. Trump believed that the former president was “guilty of numerous felony violations” and that it was “a grave failure of justice” not to hold him accountable, according to a copy of his resignation letter.

The prosecutor, Mark F. Pomerantz, submitted his resignation last month after the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, right, abruptly stopped pursuing alvin bragg twitteran indictment of Mr. Trump.

Mr. Pomerantz, 70, a prominent former federal prosecutor and white-collar defense lawyer who came out of retirement to work on the Trump investigation, resigned on the same day as Carey R. Dunne, another senior prosecutor leading the inquiry.

Mr. Pomerantz’s Feb. 23 letter, obtained by The New York Times, offers a personal account of his decision to resign and for the first time states explicitly his belief that the office could have convicted the former president. Mr. Bragg’s decision was “contrary to the public interest,” he wrote.

mark pomerantz paul weissMark Pomerantz, left, one of two lawyers who were leading a criminal inquiry into former President Donald J. Trump’s business practices, said in his resignation letter that he believed Mr. Trump had committed felonies.

“The team that has been investigating Mr. Trump harbors no doubt about whether he committed crimes — he did,” Mr. Pomerantz wrote.

Mr. Pomerantz and Mr. Dunne planned to charge Mr. Trump with falsifying business records, specifically his annual financial statements — a felony in New York State.

Mr. Bragg’s decision not to pursue charges then — and the resignations that followed — threw the fate of the long-running investigation into serious doubt. If the prosecutors had secured an indictment of Mr. Trump, it would have been the highest-profile case ever brought by the Manhattan district attorney’s office and would have made Mr. Trump the first American president to face criminal charges.

Earlier this month, The Times reported that the investigation unraveled after weeks of escalating disagreement between the veteran prosecutors overseeing the case and the new district attorney. Much of the debate centered on whether the prosecutors could prove that Mr. Trump knowingly falsified the value of his assets on annual financial statements, The Times found, a necessary element to proving the case.

carey dunne and mark pomerantzWhile Mr. Dunne, shown at left in file photos with his former colleague, and Mr. Pomerantz were confident that the office could demonstrate that the former president had intended to inflate the value of his golf clubs, hotels and office buildings, Mr. Bragg was not. He balked at pursuing an indictment against Mr. Trump, a decision that shut down Mr. Pomerantz’s and Mr. Dunne’s presentation of evidence to a grand jury and prompted their resignations.

Mr. Bragg has said that his office continues to conduct the investigation. For that reason, Mr. Bragg, a former federal prosecutor and deputy New York State attorney general who became district attorney in January, is barred from commenting on its specifics.

Mr. Bragg’s predecessor, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., had decided in his final days in office to move toward an indictment, leaving Mr. Trump just weeks away from likely criminal charges. Mr. Bragg’s decision seems, for now at least, to have removed one of the greatest legal threats Mr. Trump has ever faced.

The resignation letter cast a harsh light on that decision from the perspective of Mr. Pomerantz, who wrote that he believed there was enough evidence to prove Mr. Trump’s guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

“No case is perfect,” Mr. Pomerantz wrote. “Whatever the risks of bringing the case may be, I am convinced that a failure to prosecute will pose much greater risks in terms of public confidence in the fair administration of justice.”

In a statement responding to the letter, Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Ronald P. Fischetti, said that charges were not warranted and that Mr. Pomerantz “had the opportunity to present the fruits of his investigation to the D.A. and his senior staff on several occasions and failed.”

Mr. Fischetti, who was Mr. Pomerantz’s law partner in the 1980s and early 1990s, added: “We should applaud District Attorney Alvin Bragg for adhering to the rule of law and sticking to the evidence while making an apolitical charging decision based solely on the lack of evidence and nothing else.”

In its own statement, Mr. Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, called Mr. Pomerantz “a never-Trumper” and said: “Never before have we seen this level of corruption in our legal system.”

 

mo brooks save america speech jan 6 2021 waff

ny times logoNew York Times, House Republican Says Trump Asked Him to Illegally ‘Rescind’ 2020 Election, Luke Broadwater and Shane Goldmacher, March 23, 2022. Representative Mo Brooks, above, an Alabama Republican who was deeply involved in former President Donald J. Trump’s effort to use Congress to upend the 2020 election and stay in office, claimed on Wednesday that the former president had asked him repeatedly in the months since to illegally “rescind” the election, remove President Biden and force a new special election.

Mr. Brooks made the extraordinary charge as the two onetime allies were engaged in a bitter political feud, and it was not immediately clear how their falling out related to the accusation. But the account from the Alabama congressman, who played a central role in challenging electoral votes for Mr. Biden on Jan. 6, 2021, suggested that Mr. Trump has continued his efforts to overturn his defeat and be reinstated.

It marked the first time a lawmaker who was involved in Mr. Trump’s attempts to invalidate his election defeat has said that Mr. Trump asked for actions that, were they possible, would violate federal law.

His statement came after Mr. Trump withdrew his endorsement of Mr. Brooks in the Republican primary for Alabama’s Senate seat, undercutting the congressman’s already slim chances in a crowded intraparty race.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s un-endorsement of Mo Brooks hurts Trump more than it hurts Brooks, Henry Olsen, March 24, 2022. Donald Trump’s decision this week to revoke his endorsement of Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) for Alabama’s Senate seat is a body blow to the struggling candidate. But it’s also yet another demonstration that the former president’s personal influence is waning and that Republican voters don’t care about re-litigating the 2020 election as much as he does.

Brooks started his race as the heavy favorite. Armed with Trump’s backing and a high name recognition role in advancing Trump’s specious “Stop the Steal” effort, Brooks began with a strong lead in the polls. Alabama also appeared to be fertile ground for a Trump-endorsed ultraconservative. Trump did better there in the 2016 GOP primary than in most other Southern states, and Trump-backed political neophyte Tommy Tuberville routed Jeff Sessions, who had previously served as senator there for three terms, in the 2020 Republican Senate primary. If election denialism and Trump sycophancy were really the GOP’s future, Brooks was a lock.

But neither of those things are true. Two serious Republicans, Katie Britt and Mike Durant, entered the primary race and quickly established themselves as contenders. Neither has run away from Trump, but their campaign ads struck conservative themes such as opposition to President Biden’s vaccine mandates and fidelity to Christian values. Strikingly, neither has featured opposition to the 2020 election or voter fraud in their mass advertising.

If Trump’s analysis were correct, both Durant and Britt would have tried to embrace Trump’s election fraud conspiracy claims.

Other Trump-endorsed candidates are finding that the former president’s backing is not a golden ticket to office. Rep. Alex Mooney, whom Trump supports for West Virginia’s newly redrawn 2nd Congressional District, has touted that endorsement in his television ads. He has also attacked his primary opponent, Rep. David B. McKinley, for voting to establish an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 riot. Despite this, a recent poll puts McKinley ahead of Mooney by five points.

National polling also points to Trump’s fading influence.

 

 

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

TheHill.com, Mo Brooks says Trump asked him to help rescind 2020 election, Dominick Mastrangelo and Rebecca Beitsch, March 23, 2022. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) on Wednesday issued a blistering response to former President Trump's decision to unendorse him in the Alabama Senate race, accusing Trump of asking him to remove President Biden from the White House following the 2020 election despite his protests.

The statement from Brooks, right, a Trump ally that spoke at his rally on Jan. 6 and was involved in efforts to block the certification of election results that mo brooks oday, seems to suggest that Trump asked for the lawmaker’s involvement in unwinding Biden’s victory even after the attack on the Capitol.

"President Trump asked me to rescind the 2020 elections, immediately remove Joe Biden from the White House, immediately put President Trump back in the White House, and hold a new special election for the presidency," Brooks said in a statement. "As a lawyer, I’ve repeatedly advised President Trump that January 6 was the final election contest verdict and neither the U.S. Constitution nor the U.S. Code permit what President Trump asks. Period."

Brooks's statement comes hours after Trump pulled his endorsement of the lawmaker as he runs for an open Senate seat in the state's Republican primary this year.

Trump in his announcement said Brooks had "hired a new campaign staff who 'brilliantly' convinced him to 'stop talking about the 2020 Election."

"Election Fraud must be captured and stopped, or we won’t have a Country anymore," Trump said in his statement. "Very sad but, since he decided to go in another direction, so have I, and I am hereby withdrawing my Endorsement of Mo Brooks for the Senate. I don’t think the great people of Alabama will disagree with me."

The Department of Justice has refuted Trump’s baseless claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.

Brooks responded that when Trump asked him to help him overturn the election he knew "full well that it might cause President Trump to rescind his endorsement."

"But I took a sworn oath to defend and protect the U.S. Constitution. I honor my oath. That is the way I am. I break my sworn oath for no man," Brooks said. "I’m still the most conservative candidate in the race."

The only legal way America can prevent 2020’s "election debacle," Brooks said,"is for patriotic Americans to focus on and win the 2022 and 2024 elections so that we have the power to enact laws that give us honest and accurate elections."

While Brooks in his statement criticized Trump’s efforts after Jan. 6, he was reportedly involved in planning leading up to the day.

A Rolling Stone article in October didn’t directly tie lawmakers to the violent assault, but two sources who spoke to the outlet detailed multiple meetings with members of Congress to coordinate contesting the election results and planning the rallies that preceded the attack.

They outlined “dozens” of planning briefings, listing Brooks among those who either participated or sent top staffers.

And Ali Alexander, a Stop the Steal founder who secured a permit to protest on the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, has been vocal about his alleged coordination with lawmakers, posting live streams saying he had discussions with Brooks along with two other GOP lawmakers.

“I was the one that came up with the Jan. 6 idea,” Alexander said in a video.

“We four schemed up of putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting,” he added.

Brooks has also used footage from his speech at the Jan. 6 rally in a recent campaign ad, later telling viewers, “On January 6th, I proudly stood with President Trump in the fight against voter fraud.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump drops his support for Rep. Mo Brooks in Alabama Senate race, Donna Cassata and Michael Scherer, March 23, 2022. In a statement, former president Trump said Brooks went “woke” when he suggested focusing on future elections and stopping talk about the former president’s baseless claims of widespread fraud in the last presidential election.

mo brooks oFormer president Donald Trump on Wednesday withdrew his endorsement of Rep. Mo Brooks (R) in the U.S. Senate race in Alabama, accusing the fierce Trump supporter, who spoke at the Jan. 6, 2021 “Stop the Steal” rally, of making a “horrible mistake” by abandoning talk of the 2020 election.

In a statement, Trump said Brooks went “woke” when he suggested focusing on future elections and stopping talk about the former president’s baseless claims of widespread fraud in the last presidential election. Trump cited Brooks’s comment of “put that behind you.”

“Very sad but since he decided to go in another direction, so have I, and I am hereby withdrawing my endorsement of Mo Brooks for the Senate,” said Trump, who promised a new endorsement soon.

Brooks, whose Twitter handle is “Endorsed by President Trump,” is a Freedom Caucus firebrand and one of the GOP’s most vocal supporters of overturning the 2020 election results. At the rally on the Ellipse, Brooks told the crowd to “start taking down names and kicking a--.”

March 22

Wayne Madsen Report, Wartime Investigative Commentary: Putin is the new Hitler and Trumpers are the new Bund, Wayne Madsen, left, former Navy wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallintelligence officer and author of 21 books, including the recent The Rise of the Fascist Fourth Reich: The Era of Trumpism and the Far Right (shown below at left), March 22, 2022.

wayne madesen report logoBy conducting a failed blitzkrieg operation against Ukraine, Russian leader Vladimir Putin attempted to emulate Adolf Hitler's 1939 invasion and occupation of Poland.

Unlike Hitler, Putin had several factors weighing against him. Had Donald Trump been re-elected, Putin would have wayne madsen fourth reich covereasily taken over Ukraine due to the absence of a United States leading NATO in beefing up the eastern defenses of the alliance and providing weaponry to the Ukrainians.

Putin's ideology of Russian nationalism and expansionism is drawn directly from the ideology of Ivan Ilyin and Alexander Dugin, two Russian far-right Russian political philosophers.

Dugin is also closely linked to several far-right political parties outside of Russia, including the National Rally in France, the Freedom Party in Austria, and the Republican Party in the United States.

Dugin's philosophy is supported by such former Trump administration officials and propagandists as Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn, and Rudolph Giuliani. These American fifth columnists of Putin are no different than the German-American Bundists and American Firsters of the 1930s, among whose ranks was a starry-eyed fan of Hitler, one Fred Trump, Sr.

March 18

 

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 committee faces a thorny challenge: Convincing the public to care, Jacqueline Alemany and Josh Dawsey, March 18, 2022. The House Jan. 6 committee has tried to recruit high-profile journalists to write its report about the attack on the Capitol, hoping to build a narrative thriller that compels audiences and is a departure from government reports of yore.

Committee members and staffers are seeking to compile dramatic videos, texts and emails in a digital format that is easy to understand — and easy to share on social media. And they want to put together blockbuster televised hearings that the public actually tunes into, according to people with knowledge of the process who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak candidly.

Their challenge: Making the public care deeply — and read hundreds of pages more — about an event that happened more than a year ago, and that many Americans feel they already understand.

They’ll attempt to do so this spring through public hearings, along with a potential interim report and a final report that will be published ahead of the November midterms — with the findings likely a key part of the Democrats midterm strategy. They hope their recommendations to prevent another insurrection will be adopted, but also that their work will repel voters from Republicans who they say helped propel the attack.

Democrats are widely expected to have a tough time in the upcoming midterm elections, with even some Democrats privately fearing a bloodbath.

Looming over lawmakers are a handful of high-profile government reports — some more recent than others — that provide a laundry list of lessons learned as the committee deliberates the best way to present its findings: the Senate Watergate Report, the 9/11 Commission Report, and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Much to the frustration of Democratic lawmakers at the time, Mueller’s lawyerly and heavily redacted 400 page report conspicuously excluded an explicit recommendation that former president Donald Trump be prosecuted for obstruction of justice for allegedly interfering with the inquiry.

While the Jan. 6 committee’s mandate fundamentally differs from Mueller’s task, it’s seeking to avoid the challenges the special counsel created for Democrats in translating his dense report to the broader public — and employing it as a tool to bolster support for impeachment proceedings against Trump.

Committee staffers have interviewed writers to assist with the herculean task of quickly turning around hundreds of thousands of pages of depositions, records and other evidence into an accessible narrative, according to people familiar with the conversations. Staffers have asked those writers about their deadline experience, thoughts on how the report should be structured and how they would manage strong personalities pushing for their piece of the pie to be included, according to people familiar with the interviews.

It’s unclear whether the committee will succeed in bringing on a high-profile journalist or if the committee has finalized a choice to author the report. But the committee’s leaders are keenly aware of the difficulty in breaking through to hard-to-reach audiences, according to staffers and members involved in the process.

“We do not want a bureaucrat to write this report but rather a historian or a journalist — or someone who writes and can tell a story in a compelling way so that people can actually understand what happened,” said Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), a member of the committee.

Two people with knowledge of the report say the committee wants it to include gripping testimony and quotes, along with starring roles for key players in the events leading up to and on Jan. 6, 2021.

Rep. Peter Aguilar (D-Calif.), who has been steeping himself in reports issued by congressional investigations throughout history, told The Washington Post in an interview that the committee is committed to ensuring that the report isn’t written in “Congressional Research Service” style.

“Representing people of color and young people, I’m acutely aware of how they will process this work,” Aguilar added.

The committee has discussed the potential for criminal referrals should it produce enough evidence to support those findings. But unlike the Mueller report, the Jan. 6 committee’s narrative work will not be bound by the same constraints faced by the Justice Department in trying to decipher what acts of criminal liability it could prosecute — giving them more room to produce compelling reading.

“The role Congress has asked the Jan. 6 committee to play is one that’s much more focused on the moral responsibility, the corruption of power, and abuse of regular order that the Trump administration engaged in during those final weeks leading up to the insurrection,” said Garrett Graff, a journalist and historian who has authored books on Sept. 11 and Watergate.

“The Justice Department might decide that Trump is not criminally liable for his actions but that the committee is able to provide at least a high standard of proof that Trump was morally liable — and as a political question that latter standard is, in some ways, more important to the future of the country than the criminal ones,” Graff added.

The 9/11 Commission Report, formally named the “Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States,” became one of the best-selling government reports in American history, lauded for it’s narrative power and accessible writing. The report successfully pulled together thousands of interviews, 570 cubic feet of records, countless findings and extensive recommendations into a final piece of writing that read like a novel.

The committee has already met with individuals involved with the 9/11 commission, including its executive director, Philip D. Zelikow, who declined an interview with The Washington Post.

March 15

 

 enrique tarrio mic

washington post logoWashington Post, Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio jailed pending trial in Jan. 6 Capitol attack, Christiana Lilly and Spencer S. Hsu, March 15, 2022. Prosecutors argued Tarrio, shown above in a file photo, poses a risk of flight and danger to the community, citing his purported efforts to evade law enforcement and discourage witnesses from cooperating.

A federal judge Tuesday ordered Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, a longtime leader of the Proud Boys far-right group, to remain jailed pending trial on charges that he conspired with followers who planned in advance to threaten Congress and battle police at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Lauren F. Louis of Miami ordered Tarrio to be held after federal prosecutors argued that he and co-defendants “directed and encouraged” the actions of Proud Boys members who formed “the tip of the spear” in the breach of the U.S. Capitol. Tarrio poses a risk of flight and danger to the community, prosecutors said, citing his purported efforts to evade law enforcement and discourage witnesses from cooperating.

“There is overwhelming evidence that Tarrio organized a plot to corruptly obstruct, influence, and impede the certification of the electoral college vote, an offense that strikes at the heart of our democracy,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason McCullough argued in court filings. Even as Congress’s proceedings were still suspended Jan. 6, Tarrio posted to other members, “They’ll fear us doing it again,” prosecutors said. When a member asked, “So what do we do now?” he allegedly answered at 4:14 p.m., “Do it again.”

 

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Judges sentence Jan. 6 defendants to probation through next election, Spencer S. Hsu and Tom Jackman, March 15, 2022. ‘Damage from Jan. 6 persists,’ Republican appointees warn as Trump presses ‘false narrative’ that could mislead victims to commit new crimes.

U.S. judges including those appointed by Republican presidents are increasingly sentencing defendants who participated in the Jan. 6, 2021, breach of the Capitol to three-year terms of court supervision, fearing they could be misled into committing political violence in the 2024 presidential election.

A former truck driver from North Carolina on Monday became the first Jan. 6 defendant to receive a combination of a 60-day jail term and 36 months of probation. James “Les” Little, 52, pleaded guilty in February after telling the FBI that he saw President Biden’s election victory as “the second Bolshevik revolution” and warned agents and the Democratic Party of civil war if it were not overturned.

“I’m not proposing this, but I think to secure our freedoms, we’re on the brink of civil war,” Little told FBI agents who interviewed him a week after the attack on the Capitol, according to a recording played in court. In a YouTube video Little posted after the election titled “We Won’t Beat Them Next Time! There Won’t Be A Next Time! It’s Now Or Never!” the part-time delivery driver and patio store worker from Catawba County addressed the Democratic Party, saying supporters of President Donald Trump “owned lots of guns and God forbid we’d ever have to use it on you.”

U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth of Washington said Little’s explanations for his actions on Jan. 6 carried the seeds of a future threat.

“The Court must not only punish Little for his conduct but also ensure that he will not engage in similar conduct again during the next election,” Lamberth wrote in a 16-page opinion entered after a two-hour hearing. “Only a longer-term period of probation is adequate to ensure that Little will not become an active participant in another riot.”

Lamberth, a Ronald Reagan appointee, is among a growing number of judges who warn that the damage to democracy from last year’s assault on the peaceful transfer of presidential power is persisting as Trump has continued to whip a majority of Republican Party officials to embrace his false election fraud charges. Judges have also raised concerns about elected officials who continue to play down the violence of an attack that injured scores of police officers, ransacked lawmakers’ offices, caused more than $1.5 million in damage and disrupted a joint session of Congress.

“Many politicians are writing a false narrative about what happened. I think they are misleading people. … I am terribly afraid that people are going to follow that false narrative,” U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan, another Reagan appointee, said in sentencing a 25-year-old Utah man to three years’ supervision this year.

Hogan said he was sentencing Jacob Kyle Wiedrich to supervision through the 2024 election “to make sure that you do not fall victim to false gods again.” The judge added that he feared participants “aren’t taking responsibility for what their role was and what they might do after the next election,” calling Jan. 6 an “unforgivable” day that will “affect this country for many years.”

 

djt mike pence

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump signals he would pick a running mate other than Pence in 2024, John Wagner, March 17, 2022 (print ed.). Former president Donald Trump has signaled that if he makes another White House bid in 2024, he would choose a running mate other than former vice president Mike Pence.

“I don’t think the people would accept it,” Trump told the Washington Examiner during an interview Tuesday night in which he called Pence a “really fine person” but renewed his grievances about Pence’s refusal to attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election results during Congress’s counting of electoral college votes.

“Mike and I had a great relationship except for the very important factor that took place at the end. We had a very good relationship,” Trump said told the Examiner. “I haven’t spoken to him in a long time.”

Trump has repeatedly claimed that Pence, in his role as president of the Senate on Jan. 6, 2021, could have rejected the electoral college votes of several states won by Joe Biden in 2020 — an authority Pence said he was convinced he lacked. Trump has argued that the electoral college votes should have been rejected because of widespread fraud, no evidence of which has surfaced.

March 13

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

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

Palmer Report, Opinion: Major media outlets are finally warming up to the growing signs that the DOJ may be criminally targeting Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, bill palmerright, March 13, 2022. Signs have been brewing for months that the DOJ might be criminally targeting Trump, which we’ve been steadily documenting here at Palmer Report.

Now that major media outlets are finally waking up to this trend, it’s a good time to revisit what the DOJ would want to have in hand in order to charge Trump: one or more key co-conspirators flipping on him.

bill palmer report logo headerTo get a trial conviction against a crime boss like Trump who mostly doesn’t do his own dirty work, rarely uses email or texts, and often gives henchmen instructions in code words, you need one of those henchmen to testify that Trump really was instructing them to commit the crimes they committed.

Justice Department log circularThat’s why it’s so crucial that Roger Stone’s Oath Keeper driver cut a seditious conspiracy plea deal last week. If the DOJ can convince Stone that it has him nailed, and that he’s better off flipping now than going to trial, the DOJ gains a witness who can get Trump convicted.

It’s also why the DOJ case against Rudy Giuliani, which was stalled by the courts for about eight months in a battle over attorney-client privilege that was just recently resolved (largely in the DOJ’s favor), is now so relevant.

“So if the DOJ has Stone and Giuliani nailed already, why not just indict them?” Because it’s not about nailing them. It’s about nailing them so thoroughly, they REALIZE they’re nailed, and flip. Otherwise you have to wait a long time for their trial conviction, before they flip.

March 12

 

donald trump ny daily pussy

New allegations echo Trump's words in "Hollywood Access" videotape, reported upon above, that arose during the 2016 presidential campaign. Then and Now: The front page of a 2016 New York Daily News edition contrasts with President Trump's claimed innocence.

washington post logoWashington Post, N.Y. judge rejects Trump’s attempt to countersue E. Jean Carroll, Shayna Jacobs, March 12, 2022 (print ed.). A New York judge has rejected a bid by Donald Trump to sue author and columnist E. Jean Carroll, right, on the grounds that her defamation case against him in 2019 was baseless — a ruling that accused the former president of causing repeated delays to keep a sensitive matter from moving closer to trial.

e jean carroll twitterCarroll’s lawsuit has also been held up by the Justice Department’s bid to intervene as counsel on Trump’s behalf, an effort based on the argument that he was acting in his official capacity as a federal employee when he made comments disparaging e jean carrollCarroll, shown at right in a file photo and below left in one more recent.

Trump’s remarks were in response to Carroll’s allegation that he had raped her in Manhattan decades prior — an accusation Trump denies.

Allowing Trump’s counterclaim against Carroll to proceed “would make a regrettable situation worse by opening new avenues for significant further delay,” U.S. District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan wrote in a ruling that was docketed Friday.

Carroll’s sole claim of defamation “could have been tried and decided — one way or the other — long ago,” the ruling said.

e jean carroll cover new york magazineTrump’s obstructive actions in the Carroll proceeding, which began in a New York state court three years ago, “have had a dilatory effect and, indeed, strongly suggest that he is acting out of a strong desire to delay any opportunity [Carroll] may have to present her case against him,” donald trump monster abananapeeledcom dcmaKaplan added.

Trump’s allegedly damaging comments — calling Carroll a liar and insisting that he had never even met her — were made in response to allegations in her 2018 memoir What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal,” excerpted in the New York Magazine cover story at left

Carroll wrote that Trump, as shown in a graphic, right, then a well-known real estate tycoon, raped her in a dressing room at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in the 1990s after a chance encounter.

March 11

 

World War

ukraine olena kurilo 52 teacher Russian missile Chuhuiv amazon

52 year-old Ukrainian teacher Olena Kurilo following a Russian missile strike in Chuhuiv, Ukraine.

Proof, The Ten Hardest Truths About the War in Europe, Seth Abramson, left, March 11, 2020. The author of a bestseller on Russia, Ukraine, and links seth abramson graphicbetween the Russia-Ukraine conflict and U.S. politics reveals 10 terrifying things about the worst military crisis in Europe since 1945.

Introduction: I’ve been nervous about publishing this article ever since I started writing it.

The reason for my anxiety will be familiar to anyone inside or outside the American government who has extensively researched Vladimir Putin and understands what the current atrocities in Europe represent: a terrifying new stage in the war against the West that Putin has been waging for twenty years, and that he’s been winning for at least half that time in part because many in the West remain unaware they’re at war.

seth abramson proof logoTo write at length about Putin and his twenty-first-century infiltrations of Western democracies and their institutions—as I did in the “Proof” trilogy—is to run the risk of seeming not just alarmist but almost ludicrously paranoid. It’s only the fact that all the warnings those who’ve written extensively about Putin have been giving for years are now coming to horrific fruition that it even feels safe to write candidly about what we’re all now experiencing.

Academics can debate whether our current period is in the umbra of the same Cold War that dominated the last century, or a new one; whether we’re on the doorstep of World War III, or are already in it; whether the conditions on the ground in Europe today are most reflective of the eve of World War I or World War II; but what no one can deny is that what is happening in Ukraine is not merely a “news story” or even a spate of well-televised war crimes but a fundamental shifting of our age toward chaos.

There is no need to rehash the core facts beyond this brief summary: Putin is a former KGB agent and current murderous autocrat who is almost certain to be a dictator over Russia until his death; he has repeatedly said that the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the twentieth century was the 1991 fall of the Communist Soviet Union; he seeks to reconstitute the land area of the Soviet Union by whatever means necessary and over however long a period of time is required, though he understands that this cannot be accomplished without the dissolution or destruction of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization defensive alliance (NATO) and possibly both the European Union and the United States; the post-Soviet government in Russia, including (indeed perhaps especially) Putin’s KGB, began searching for ways to collapse American democracy through asymmetrical warfare from the moment the Soviet Union passed into history; and some significant portion of the current domestic political strife in the United States has been deliberately provoked by the Kremlin and its agents through acts of subterfuge, espionage, propaganda, and hacking that properly answer to the name war.

Yesterday, a former high-ranking official in the Donald Trump administration, Miles Taylor, said that the current Trumpist-Putinist Republican Party is far and away the greatest national security threat America has faced in his lifetime. That he is correct is confirmed not just by the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol by Trumpist irregulars or the fact that former president Trump—to please Putin and ensure his own future business opportunities in Russia—put every U.S. alliance and interest lying beyond our shores at risk, but the fact that America is now in a global conflict (call it the Cold War, World War III, or Second Cold War, as you like) at a time when Trump and Trumpism have deliberately put our body politic at a point of permanent fracture. That most Americans still do not understand what Putin is trying to do and the cost that will be exacted upon the United States as he seeks to do it means that the coming months and perhaps years will be the darkest and most fraught in a century.

Because Putin has now advanced from waging a “hot” cyberwar on America’s sacred electoral infrastructure to waging a hot conventional war on the European continent, everything is now in play that was previously only a harrowing specter in books like Proof of Collusion (Simon & Schuster, 2018), Proof of Conspiracy (Macmillan, 2019), and Proof of Corruption (Macmillan, 2020). Putin has already threatened the world with nuclear war; facing the most comprehensive sanctions ever leveled against a major global power, he has categorized those sanctions as themselves an act of war (thus, at least theoretically, permitting an immediate military response from Russia); there are already significant signs that the war in Europe will destabilize Earth’s international economy for the foreseeable future; the war has also shifted global alliances in such an extraordinary fashion and to such a dramatic degree that America’s supposed allies in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will not speak to the president of the United States, and the United States has now sent emissaries to negotiate with our long-time enemies in Venezuela. Gas prices just hit a historic high and show no signs of coming down rather than going up. Thousands of civilians are now being killed in Ukraine because they lack air cover, and yet the United States has just declared that it has no appetite for aiding Ukraine in rebuilding its air force via MiG-29s from Poland.

In short, we’re in the earliest days of a sequence of global events whose end none can know but whose present is a darkness deeper than anyone younger than 85 has known.

By and large, American media has so far done yeoman’s work covering the fighting in Europe. While certain news articles published in the United States have endangered the Ukrainian resistance by giving explicit descriptions of its defensive operations and placement, the fact that so many leading American journalists are now embedded in Ukrainian cities has given those of us who care about the indiscriminate killing of women and children—which at this point appears to be approximately half our nation at most—an unmistakable sense that the System of the World is unraveling. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who his aides say has survived more than a dozen assassination attempts in just the last two weeks, may be speaking first and foremost on behalf of the nation he leads when he says the Ukrainians are now fighting for the preservation of Western democracy—and against the global march of autocracy that our own president, Joe Biden, has so often spoken of—but his personal investment in this framing does not make the claim incorrect. While the NATO alliance has refused (and will continue to refuse) to deploy its forces into Europe’s current theater of war, this strategic decision in no way obviates the reality that right now the Ukrainians are indeed the world’s foremost proxies for capital-“d” Democracy.

In the coming weeks and months, Americans will be repeatedly confronted with the question of how much we’re willing to sacrifice to preserve our nation and preserve the very notion of democracy on the global stage. Unfortunately, during the COVID-19 pandemic we learned that at least half of America is unwilling to have its daily routine at all disturbed by a global or even domestic tragedy; there’s no reason to expect we’ll answer the call of history any more honorably now that it’s a political principle and the integrity of American democracy at stake rather than hundreds of millions of lives.

Of course, the impact of what’s happening now in Europe will fall upon the shoulders of hundreds of millions soon enough. Already we’re learning that the war in Ukraine is launching a refugee crisis the likes of which the West hasn’t seen since World War II, with the near certainty that at least 5 million Ukrainians will ultimately cross a national border to flee the war crimes Putin is presently inflicting on their homeland. But beyond this ever-expanding refugee crisis, and the morally intolerable civilian deaths in cities like Kyiv and Kharkiv and Mariupol, lies the fact that many millions in European democracies like Finland and Latvia and Estonia and Lithuania now feel under military threat from Russian aggression, as will those in Romania and Poland if (or more likely when) Ukraine is annexed in its totality by Russia. The economic and geopolitical effects of having the world’s largest country by land area—and its second-largest military—become a “pariah state” encompass the lives of hundreds of millions more than the tragedy in Ukraine has already affected. And that’s only in the medium term.

This essay seeks to speak candidly about this medium-range outlook, and to do so in terms that American media has so far eschewed—in part because it is habitually and temperamentally “present-oriented,” and in part because it has missed the fact, as have most Americans, that our country is, sadly, already implicitly at war with Russia.

While this may seem an inauspiciously hot-headed and alarmist start to what intends to be a sober essay on the very geopolitics that I wrote three national bestsellers about over the last forty months, understand that with the advent of the internet and the establishment of a global economy there was never a chance that World War III would look like World War II or World War I. The war we are in now is very much a twenty-first-century war, which doesn’t mean that there are no conventional components to it—as the Ukrainians are learning right now, with devastating consequences—but that if we fail to appreciate the unconventional components of international warfare in this century we are dooming ourselves to defeat at the very moment that the inchoate and unconventional aggressions of our enemies have become conventional and dire.

With all this said, here are ten truths that American media and American voters need to come to terms with immediately.

 

The Ten Hardest Truths About the War in Europe

(1) America is now in a world war.

If you’re one of those people who—like the notoriously geopolitically unsophisticated Trumpists, who speak so often of courage yet categorically oppose any instance of it—have always thought that World War III would feature the same sort of military, para- military, and asymmetrical logistics that World War I and World War II did, you need to rearrange your thinking immediately. While major international military conflicts always bear certain hallmarks—for instance, war crimes, so-called collateral damage, and the threatened use (or use) of weapons of mass destruction—the chances that a global military conflict in 2022 would look like a global military conflict that began on September 1, 1939 (let alone one that began on July 28, 1914) were always zero. Don’t be fooled by the fact that what’s happening now indeed exhibits certain similarities to what happened when Nazi Germany invaded Eastern Europe at the close of the 1930s, whether it’s the fact that Eastern Europe has again been invaded by a global military power with an autocratic leader, that fears of a genocide in Europe again dominate international political discourse, or that the use of nuclear weapons already hangs over the world like a glowering spectre. 2022 is, nevertheless, not 1939, and no amount of far-right Putin apologists whining about “liberals” wanting to drag America into a war with Russia will change the simple fact that America is already at war with Russia.

This war is a worldwide conflict that could last as many as a hundred years—think of the Hundred Years’ War between England and France (1337-1453) rather than World War I or World War II—and began upon the conclusion of hostilities in the European theater of WWII in 1945. The principal disputants have from the start been the United States and Russia, and while one could certainly question the instances in which one or the other of the two parties pushed the dispute into outright military conflict (e.g., the Korean War, the disaster at Cuba’s Bay of Pigs, the Vietnam War, or the 1979-to-1989 Soviet-Afghan War that the United States involved itself in by coordinating with men who’d later turn their violent attentions on America), one of the least-discussed errors that either side has made during this Second Hundred Years’ War was made by America: many of our diplomats, generals, and politicians believed the war had ended when the Soviet Union fell. By the time GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney was correctly telling Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama that the Russians were still America’s foremost geopolitical opponents, it was all then-President Obama could do not to laugh in Romney’s face. And back in 2012, U.S. media scored the point for Obama.....

(6) The costs of the current world war may well be more than Americans are willing to bear—and if a majority of Americans come to wrongly believe that it’s President Biden rather than Vladimir Putin and his allies (very much including Donald Trump) who’ve brought the world to its current pass, they’ll punish the Democrats and reward the Republicans. Yet doing so would play into Putin’s hands.

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

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

 

March 9

djt vladimir putinLegal Schnauzer, Opinion: Russia's Vladimir Putin is proving to be the butcher of Ukraine, and Donald Trump has a long history of siding with the butcher over Western interests, Roger Shuler, March 9, 2022. American President Joe Biden has been on the political scene long enough to recognize an adversary, and a threat, when he sees one.

Biden, in fact, has referred to Russian leader Vladimir Putin as a "killer" -- and Putin seems to be doing his darnedest in Ukraine right now to prove Biden correct.

America's most recent ex-president, Donald J. Trump -- unlike Biden -- can't seem to distinguish friend from foe. Trump even has a lengthy record of siding with Putin in Russia's longstanding struggles over Ukraine. That should give anyone considering a future MAGA vote cause for concern. Whether it will or not is another matter, even though Trump's distorted mindset is a clear threat to democracy in the U.S., Europe, and beyond.

How disturbing is Trump's chummy approach to Putin? John Harwood spells it out in an analysis at CNN, under the headline "Trump has been on Putin's side in Ukraine's long struggle against Russian aggression":

Americans rarely pay much attention to international events. Busy lives leave little time for distant events with unfamiliar protagonists.
Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine has become a rare exception, its butchery in plain view via saturation coverage for anyone with a video screen. But Americans may not yet have absorbed this disturbing reality: The American president who left office just 14 months ago sided with the butcher.

That's right: In the struggle now uniting the free world against an autocrat's lawless aggression, America's most recent ex-President sided with the autocrat.

It's not just that Donald Trump recently hailed the "genius" of Putin's strike against Ukraine. Since his political career began, Trump has backed Putin in ways connected directly to the Russian's quest to subjugate that country.

With scenes of Russia's devastation on a sovereign neighbor a regular feature on newcasts, there no longer is any excuse for American ignorance about Putin's true nature -- from Trump or anyone else. Writes Harwood:

For years, relations between Russia and the celebrity real estate executive were lubricated by money. There was the development financing Trump's sons boasted about, the Palm Beach mansion he sold to a Russian oligarch for $95 million four years after buying it for $41 million, the Manhattan project in association with a mob-linked Russian émigré.

He sought to place a Trump Tower in Moscow even as he ran for president. In 2013, when he staged a beauty pageant there, Trump asked on Twitter: "Will (Putin) become my new best friend?"

Putin seized Crimea from Ukraine the following year. Protests in Kyiv had forced a Kremlin ally to quit the presidency. The ousted president, who fled to Russia, had been advised by an American political consultant. That consultant, Paul Manafort, subsequently became Trump's 2016 campaign manager.

Did Trump seem concerned in the least about any of this? Nope.

March 8

 

guy wesley reffitt

washington post logoWashington Post, Guy Reffitt guilty on all counts in first Capitol riot trial, Rachel Weiner and Spencer S. Hsu, March 8, 2022. The week-long trial in D.C. federal court hinged on whether Reffitt, above, who never entered the Capitol building, paved the way for those behind him to do so.

The first trial in the Jan. 6 Capitol breach ended with a guilty verdict on all counts, a victory for federal prosecutors handling one of the largest investigations in U.S. history.

Guy Reffitt was found guilty of five felonies — obstruction of an official proceeding, interfering with police in a riot, transporting a firearm for that purpose, armed trespassing and witness tampering.

Reffitt, 49, traveled to D.C. from his home in Wylie, Tex., with an AR-15-style rifle and semiautomatic handgun, and went to the Capitol in what he called “full battle rattle,” including a handgun, a helmet, body armor, radio and flex-cuffs, according to government witnesses and evidence.

“On January 6th, 2021, Guy Reffitt challenged the police at the head of a vigilante mob determined to break into the United States Capitol. He did this because he wanted to take out Congress, and an angry, energized crowd gave him his best shot,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Risa Berkower told a jury of six men and six women in closing arguments Monday.

Reffitt “lighted that crowd into an unstoppable force” that pushed through officers making a “last stand” defending the Senate Wing doors, the prosecutor said. The riot forced the evacuation of Vice President Mike Pence and lawmakers as ballot boxes holding the electoral college election results were shuttled to safety.

In conversations recorded before and after the riot played for the jury, Reffitt said he was ready to overthrow “constitutionally corrupt” lawmakers.

“I’m taking the Capitol with everyone else … I think we have the numbers to make it happen,” Reffitt said in an allegedly self-recorded video at a Trump-led rally at the Ellipse. Referring to House Speaker Nancy A. Pelosi (D-Calif.), the defendant said in several expletive-laden variations that the group would drag lawmakers “out kicking and screaming” and he wanted to see her head hit every stair on the way down.

 

capitol weare the storm flyer resizedcapitol riot shutterstock capitol

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. judge dismisses most serious federal charge against Jan. 6 defendant, Spencer S. Hsu, March 8, 2022. The decision from Judge Carl Nichols in the case of a Texas man clouds the legal path of more than 270 cases.

A federal judge ruled late Monday that the Justice Department cannot charge Jan. 6 defendants with obstructing Congress’s certification of President Biden’s 2020 election victory unless they tampered with official documents or records in the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

carl nicholsIn striking down the lead charge brought in the government’s Jan. 6 investigation — punishable by up to 20 years in prison — U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols, right, broke with all other U.S. trial judges in Washington who have ruled on the question in Capitol riot cases. The decision throws a wrench pending appeal into the felony prosecutions of as many as 275 arrested individuals.

Nichols wrote in a 29-page opinion that federal prosecutors erroneously interpreted a “catchall” provision Congress passed when it overhauled a long-standing obstruction-of-justice statute as part of the ­Sarbanes-Oxley corporate responsibility act in 2002.

The provision covers “whoever corruptly . . . obstructs, in­fluences, or impedes any official proceeding.” But Nichols ruled that passage “must be interpreted as limited by [the preceding] subsection” — requiring a defendant to “have taken some action with respect to a document, record, or other object in order to corruptly obstruct, impede or influence an official proceeding.” Raiding the Capitol and forcing lawmakers to flee or wrongly trying to halt vote counting does not apply to that interpretation, the judge said.

Nichols dismissed 1 of 12 counts against Garret A. Miller, a North Texas man who allegedly bragged about storming the Capitol and threatened lawmakers and police on social media. He is accused of stating “Assassinate AOC” in response to a tweet by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) calling for President Donald Trump’s impeachment.

Nichols’s reasoning is likely to apply to the cases of at least seven other defendants who are before him on the same charge. One other, Beverly Hills spa owner Gina Bisignano, awaits sentencing after pleading guilty in a deal with prosecutors.

Other U.S. trial judges in Washington are not bound by the decision from Nichols, a 2019 Trump appointee who served in the Justice Department’s civil division under President George W. Bush and clerked for Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas. At least seven judges have previously rejected the same defense motion. Given the novel application of the law and the high stakes of the Jan. 6 probe, a certain government appeal could send the question to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and eventually to the U.S. Supreme Court, legal experts said.

Other defendants, however, may be leery of entering plea deals admitting to the charge, defense attorneys said, even as the case of the first Jan. 6 defendant to face trial went to a jury Tuesday, with Guy Wesley Reffitt facing that count among five felony charges.

The ruling also has broader implications. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) has suggested Trump could be charged with obstruction of an official proceeding, as has the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 events — although in Trump’s case, allegedly with regard to the counting of electoral college votes.

  enrique tarrio mic

ny times logoNew York Times, Former Proud Boys Leader Indicted in Jan. 6 Investigation, Alan Feuer, March 8, 2022. A federal grand jury charged Enrique Tarrio with conspiracy in the Capitol attack last year, making him the second leader of a far-right group to face charges in the past several months.

Enrique Tarrio, above, the former leader of the Proud Boys, has been charged with conspiring with other top lieutenants of the far-right nationalist group to attack the Capitol last year, according to an indictment set to be released on Tuesday by federal prosecutors.

The indictment of Mr. Tarrio was the latest step in the Jan. 6 investigation and the second time in recent months that charges had been filed against a leader of a far-right extremist group that took part in the Capitol attack. In January, prosecutors charged Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers militia, with seditious conspiracy for what the government has described as a plot to violently disrupt the work of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021.

FBI logoMr. Tarrio was not in Washington on Jan. 6, having been arrested two days earlier for having vandalized a Black Lives Matter banner at a Black church in the city after a pro-Trump rally in December 2020. Mr. Tarrio, who was also charged at the time with carrying two high-capacity rifle magazines, was ordered to leave Washington by a local judge as part of his release agreement.

But prosecutors say that he issued orders before the attack on the Capitol for members of the group to be dressed “incognito” when they arrived in Washington on Jan. 6. He also took part in a private Telegram group chat as several leaders and members of the Proud Boys stormed the Capitol.

Politico, Capitol Police officer connects early Jan. 6 confrontation with slide toward chaos, Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, March 8, 2022 (print ed.). The testimony, in the first Jan. 6 trial, revealed how prominent members of mob exploited outnumbered police near inaugural stage.
Rioters clash with police and security forces.

politico CustomTwo Capitol Police officers testifying at the trial of Jan. 6 defendant Guy Reffitt said Reffitt’s early confrontation with law enforcement was a key moment just before the pro-Trump mob tore through scaffolding and swarmed the Senate wing of the Capitol.

Sgts. Adam DesCamp and Matthew Flood, who remain on the Capitol Police force more than a year after rioters stormed the building and threatened the transfer of power, were among the final prosecution witnesses at Reffitt’s trial. The case, the first riot-related case to go to trial since the historic assault on the Capitol 14 months ago, is expected to go to the jury following closing arguments Monday afternoon.

The pair of sergeants who took the stand Monday provided some of the most vivid testimony to date about the cruelty and brutality of the push by rioters in the early moments of the mob attack.

“It was just very dangerous. There’s only a few of us there. We’re definitely outnumbered,” recalled Flood. “They were just loud, yelling obscenities. ‘Fuck you.’ ‘Traitor.’ ‘Let us in.’... I thought the crowd was going to surge forward and it was going to turn into a hand-to-hand battle. ... We were being overwhelmed.”

DesCamp said that when Reffitt was at the front of the mob gathered near an exterior Capitol stairway, he shouted that police were “traitors” and repeatedly egged on the crowd behind him. While he approached and officers unsuccessfully tried to stop his advance with pepper balls, the swelling crowd began cutting through a tarp on the inaugural scaffolding with knives, he said, creating a gap that allowed hundreds of rioters to push close to the building.

 

March 6

djt phone amazon public images

ny times logoNew York Times, How the Manhattan D.A.’s Investigation Into Donald Trump Unraveled, Ben Protess, William K. Rashbaum and Jonah E. Bromwich, March 6, 2022 (print ed.). The criminal investigation crashed over a disagreement about the merits of bringing a case, pitting a new district attorney against veteran prosecutors.

On a late January afternoon, two senior prosecutors stood before the new Manhattan district attorney, hoping to persuade him to criminally charge the former president of the United States.

The prosecutors, Mark F. Pomerantz and Carey R. Dunne, detailed their strategy for proving that Donald J. Trump knew his annual financial statements were works of fiction. Time was running out: The grand jury hearing evidence against Mr. Trump was set to expire in the spring. They needed the district alvin bragg twitterattorney, Alvin Bragg, to decide whether to seek charges.

But Mr. Bragg, right, and his senior aides, masked and gathered around a conference table on the eighth floor of the district attorney’s office in Lower Manhattan, had serious doubts. They hammered Mr. Pomerantz and Mr. Dunne about whether they could show that Mr. Trump had intended to break the law by inflating the value of his assets in the annual statements, a necessary element to prove the case.

The questioning was so intense that as the meeting ended, Mr. Dunne, exasperated, used a lawyerly expression that normally refers to a judge’s fiery questioning:

“Wow, this was a really hot bench,” Mr. Dunne said, according to people with knowledge of the meeting. “What I’m hearing is you have great concerns.”

The meeting, on Jan. 24, started a series of events that brought the investigation of Mr. Trump to a sudden halt, and late last month prompted Mr. Pomerantz and Mr. Dunne to resign. It also represented a drastic shift: Mr. Bragg’s predecessor, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., had deliberated for months before deciding to move toward an indictment of Mr. Trump. Mr. Bragg, not two months into his tenure, reversed that decision.

Mr. Bragg has maintained that the three-year inquiry is continuing. But the reversal, for now, has eliminated one of the gravest legal threats facing the former president.

This account of the investigation’s unraveling, drawn from interviews with more than a dozen people knowledgeable about the events, pulls back a curtain on one of the most consequential prosecutorial decisions in U.S. history. Had the district attorney’s office secured an indictment, Mr. Trump would have been the first current or former president to be criminally charged.

Mr. Bragg was not the only one to question the strength of the case, the interviews show. Late last year, three career prosecutors in the district attorney’s office opted to leave the investigation, uncomfortable with the speed at which it was proceeding and with what they maintained were gaps in the evidence. The tension spilled into the new administration, with some career prosecutors raising concerns directly to the new district attorney’s team.

Mr. Bragg, whose office is conducting the investigation along with lawyers working for New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, had not taken issue with Mr. Dunne and Mr. Pomerantz presenting evidence to the grand jury in his first days as district attorney. But as the weeks passed, he developed concerns about the challenge of showing Mr. Trump’s intent — a requirement for proving that he criminally falsified his business records — and about the risks of relying on the former president’s onetime fixer, Michael D. Cohen, as a key witness.

Mr. Cohen’s testimony, the prosecutors leading the investigation argued, could help to establish that Mr. Trump was intentionally misleading when he exaggerated the value of his properties. The financial statements Mr. Trump submitted to banks to secure loans — documents that say “Donald J. Trump is responsible for the preparation and fair presentation” of the valuations — could also support a case.

Mr. Bragg was not persuaded. Once he told Mr. Pomerantz and Mr. Dunne that he was not prepared to authorize charges, they resigned. Explaining the resignation to his team of prosecutors in a meeting a day later, Mr. Dunne said he felt he needed “to disassociate myself with this decision because I think it was on the wrong side of history.”

Mr. Dunne and Mr. Pomerantz also bristled at how Mr. Bragg had handled the investigation at times. Mr. Bragg left the pivotal Jan. 24 meeting before the discussion ended, though several of his top aides stayed behind. And after that day, Mr. Dunne and Mr. Pomerantz — two of New York’s most prominent litigators, who had become accustomed to driving the case — were not included in closed-door meetings where decisions were made.

Mr. Bragg’s choice not to pursue charges is reminiscent of the high hurdle that others have failed to clear over the years as they sought to hold Mr. Trump criminally liable for his practices as a real estate mogul. Mr. Trump famously shuns email, and he has cultivated deep loyalty among employees who might otherwise testify against him, a one-two punch that has stymied other prosecutors in search of conclusive proof of his guilt.

In the Manhattan investigation, the absence of damning emails or an insider willing to testify would make it harder to prove that any exaggerations were criminal. Mr. Trump, who has a history of making false statements, has in the past referred to boastful claims about his assets as “truthful hyperbole.”

The interviews with people knowledgeable about the Manhattan investigation also highlight the success of Mr. Trump’s efforts to delay it.

He fought many of the subpoenas issued by the district attorney. In one of those battles — for Mr. Trump’s tax returns and other financial documents — it took nearly 18 months and two trips to the Supreme Court for Mr. Vance’s office to obtain the records. As a result, the ultimate decision of whether to pursue charges fell to Mr. Bragg, his more skeptical successor.

A public uproar over his handling of the investigation has added to the turbulence of Mr. Bragg’s early tenure.

As he was weighing the fate of the Trump investigation, Mr. Bragg was also contending with a firestorm over a number of criminal justice reforms he introduced in a memo his first week in office. The memo immediately embroiled his administration in controversy, a public relations debacle that worsened with a handful of high-profile shootings, including the killing of two police officers in late January.

Although it is unclear whether those early travails influenced Mr. Bragg’s management of the Trump inquiry, there is no doubt that they contributed to his frenzied first days in office.

Mr. Bragg’s decision on the Trump investigation may compound his political problems in heavily Democratic Manhattan, where many residents make no secret of their enmity for Mr. Trump.

Mr. Bragg has told aides that the inquiry could move forward if a new piece of evidence is unearthed, or if a Trump Organization insider decides to turn on Mr. Trump. Other prosecutors in the office saw that as fanciful.

Mr. Trump has long denied wrongdoing and has accused Mr. Bragg and Ms. James, both of whom are Democrats and Black, of carrying out a politically motivated “witch hunt” and being “racists.”

 

Roger Stone watches news coverage of the Capitol riot in his suite at the Willard hotel on Jan. 6, 2021 (Photo by Kristin M. Davis.)

Roger Stone watches news coverage of the Capitol riot in his suite at the Willard hotel on Jan. 6, 2021 2021 (Photo by Kristin M. Davis.).

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: The Roger Stone tapes, Dalton Bennett and Jon Swaine, March 6, 2022. As a mob ransacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, Roger Stone, Donald Trump’s longest-serving political adviser, hurried to pack a suitcase inside his elegant suite on the fifth floor of the Willard hotel. He wrapped his tailored suits in trash bags, reversed his black face mask so its “Free Roger Stone” logo was hidden, then slipped out of town for a hastily arranged private flight from Dulles International Airport.

“I really want to get out of here,” Stone told an aide, as they were filmed at the hotel by a Danish camera crew for a documentary on the veteran Republican operative. Stone said he feared prosecution by the incoming attorney general, Merrick Garland. “He is not a friend,” Stone said.

Stone allowed the filmmakers to document his activities during extended periods over more than two years. In addition to interviews and moments when Stone spoke directly to the camera, they also captured fly-on-the-wall footage of his actions, candid off-camera conversations from a microphone he wore and views of his iPhone screen as he messaged associates on an encrypted app. Reporters from The Washington Post reviewed more than 20 hours of video filmed for the documentary, “A Storm Foretold,” which is expected to be released later this year.

The footage, along with other reporting by The Post, provides the most comprehensive account to date of Stone’s involvement in the former president’s effort to overturn the election and in the rallies in Washington that spilled over into violence on Jan. 6.

Stone privately coordinated post-election protests with prominent figures, and in January he communicated by text message with leaders of far-right groups that had been involved in the attack on the Capitol, the footage shows. The filmmakers did not capture conversations between Stone and Trump, but on several occasions, Stone told them or his associates that he remained in contact with the president.

Stone has refused to give testimony and evidence to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, citing his rights under the Fifth Amendment. Last week, he sued members of the panel to try to block them from using a subpoena to obtain his telephone records.

On the day of the attack, as he packed his bags, Stone told the filmmakers the riot was a mistake and would be “really bad” for the pro-Trump movement.

On the eve of the 2020 election, however, he seemed to welcome the prospect of clashes with left-wing activists. In a recorded conversation, as an aide spoke of driving trucks into crowds of racial justice protesters, Stone said: “Once there’s no more election, there’s no reason why we can’t mix it up. These people are going to get what they’ve been asking for.”

Stone declined requests for an interview. In response to questions, he said in an email that he had no involvement in the Jan. 6 riot. “Any claim, assertion or implication that I knew about, was involved in or condoned the illegal acts at the Capitol on Jan 6 is categorically false and there is no witness or document that proves otherwise,” he wrote.

Without providing specifics, Stone accused The Post of employing “a clever blend of ‘guilt by association,’ insinuations, half truths, anonymous claims, falsehoods and out of context trick questions.” He suggested that video clips of him reviewed for this article could be “deep fakes.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump muses about a really bad — and evidently illegal — idea to bomb Russia using Chinese flags, Aaron Blake, March 6, 2022. As Russia was ramping up its invasion of Ukraine, former president Donald Trump chose the moment to hail President Vladimir Putin’s moves as “savvy” and “genius.” Now the military strategist former president has weighed in with his own idea for what the United States could do next. And it’s … something.

At a speech in New Orleans on Saturday night, Trump mused that we could simply apply Chinese flags to our F-22s and then “bomb the s--t out of Russia,” setting off a conflict between those two countries.

“And then we say, China did it, we didn’t do it, China did it, and then they start fighting with each other and we sit back and watch,” Trump said, according to a recording obtained by The Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey.

The audience laughed. A joke, perhaps! But also one about something that might well violate international law. And that’s if you can get past the idea that Russia would ever mistake F-22s — a highly recognizable airplane that the Chinese don’t use — for Chinese aircraft.

“Using the flag of a neutral state or any other state that is not a party to the conflict is prohibited,” said Laurie R. Blank, an expert on international law at Emory University’s law school. “This idea would bring the U.S. into the conflict (because it would be actually engaging in military operations against Russia) and be in violation of the rule prohibiting the use of the flags, emblems or insignia of neutral states or states not party to the conflict.

“It would escalate the conflict dramatically, and the rules on neutrality and neutral states are designed to prevent exactly that.”

Blank cited Article 39(1) of Additional Protocol I to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, which states, “It is prohibited to make use in an armed conflict of the flags or military emblems, insignia or uniforms of neutral or other States not Parties to the conflict."

March 5

 

 

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

ny times logoNew York Times, Eyeing Criminal Case, Panel Suggests Trump Knew He Lost the Election, Luke Broadwater and Alan Feuer, March 4, 2022 (print ed.). At the core of a possible criminal case against former President Trump is this argument: He knew he had lost the election and sought to overturn it anyway.

Shortly after the 2020 election, as ballots were still being counted, the top data expert in President Donald J. Trump’s re-election campaign told him bluntly that he was going to lose.

djt hands up mouth open CustomIn the weeks that followed, as Mr. Trump continued to insist that he had won, a senior Justice Department official told him repeatedly that his claims of widespread voting fraud were meritless, ultimately warning him that they would “hurt the country.”

Those concerns were echoed by the top White House lawyer, who told the president that he would be entering into a “murder-suicide pact” if he continued to pursue extreme plans to try to invalidate the results of the 2020 election.

Yet Mr. Trump — time and again — discounted the facts, the data and many of his own advisers as he continued to promote the lie of a stolen election, according to hundreds of pages of exhibits, interview transcripts and email correspondence assembled by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack for a legal filing released late Wednesday.

In laying out the account, the panel revealed the basis of what its investigators believe could be a criminal case against Mr. Trump. At its core is the argument that, in repeatedly rejecting the truth that he had lost the 2020 election — including the assertions of his own campaign aides, White House lawyers, two successive attorneys general and federal investigators — Mr. Trump was not just being stubborn or ignorant about his defeat, he was knowingly perpetrating a fraud on the United States.

It is a bold claim that could be difficult to back up in court, but in making it, the House committee has compiled an elaborate narrative of Mr. Trump’s extraordinary efforts to cling to power.

In it, Mr. Trump emerges as a man unable — or unwilling — to listen to his advisers even as they explain to him that he has lost the election, and his multiple and varied claims to the contrary are not grounded in fact.

At one point, Mr. Trump did not seem to care whether there was any evidence to support his claims of election fraud, and questioned why he should not push for even more extreme steps, such as replacing the acting attorney general, to challenge his loss.

“The president said something to the effect of: ‘What do I have to lose? If I do this, what do I have to lose?’” Richard P. Donoghue, a former top Justice Department official, told the committee in an interview. “And I said: ‘Mr. President, you have a great deal to lose. Is this really how you want your administration to end? You’re going hurt the country.’”

 

Sgt. Aquilino Gonell of the U.S. Capitol Police wipes tears prior to testifying before the July 27, 2021, House select committee hearing on the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill in Washington (CNS photo/Jim Bourg, pool via Reuters).

Sgt. Aquilino Gonell of the U.S. Capitol Police wipes tears prior to testifying before the July 27, 2021, House select committee hearing on the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill in Washington (CNS photo/Jim Bourg, pool via Reuters).

washington post logoWashington Post, Idaho man sentenced to 51 months in prison for assaulting police in Jan. 6 riot, Tom Jackman, March 5, 2022 (print ed.). U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, brutally battered in the assault on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, finally got to speak directly to one of his attackers Friday, as a federal judge considered how much prison time to impose on Duke E. Wilson, who had pleaded guilty to attacking police.

Wilson, 67, right, claimed he’d been pushed into the front lines and didn’t remember being in an underground tunnel during intense combat between police and rioters.

duke wilson“I distinctly remember Mr. Wilson,” Gonell told Senior U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth Friday via video. “I vividly remember being face-to-face with Mr. Wilson as he led the crowd of insurrectionists and pushed me to gain entry.”

Gonell said Wilson swung a PVC pipe at an officer who wasn’t wearing a helmet and Gonell blocked it, damaging both of his hands.

“Although Mr. Wilson’s jacket was soaked with pepper spray,” Gonell testified, “he insisted on continuing to fight me, to prevent us from closing that door that would permit him and his fellow insurrectionists to advance through that tunnel.”

It was the same tunnel that members of Congress were using to evacuate.

“I remember seeing Mr. Wilson pick up a flagpole from the floor and use it as a weapon,” Gonell said.

Fla. man sentenced to 5 years for attacking police, the longest Jan. 6 riot sentence yet

Wilson, a retired logger and farmer from Nampa, Idaho, would later say he was remorseful, a claim Gonell said he didn’t believe.

The judge told Wilson, “obviously you’re a decent guy ... You’ve made a terrible mistake, you tried to ’fess up to it as best you could.” Lamberth sentenced Wilson to 51 months in prison. He also said he would order Wilson to pay restitution for Gonell’s medical bills.

Wilson was the 10th Capitol riot defendant sentenced on felony charges, after pleading guilty to assaulting officers and obstructing an official proceeding, and the sixth sentenced for assaulting the police. His 51-month sentence was the second longest given for such a charge, behind only the 63-month sentence imposed on Robert S. Palmer for hurling a fire extinguisher and other items at police. Of 101 defendants who have been sentenced for misdemeanors so far, 38 have received jail or prison sentences.

Prosecutors played Lamberth multiple videos Friday showing Wilson in action. He had driven from Idaho with his son and arrived in D.C. on Jan. 5, court records state, and attended President Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally on the morning of Jan. 6. Wilson said in court that Trump’s speech that day was “word for word” similar to one given at an earlier rally in Georgia, and he was disappointed.

“The flow of the crowd went up there,” Wilson told the judge about the movement to the Capitol. “There was a guy motioning people in there, into the tunnel. I went in there.”

In a letter Wilson wrote to the judge, he said he was struck in the head with a pipe, and that of those fighting with police, “I heard later that these people were with antifa and were getting the crowd worked up and agitated.”

Jan. 6 hearings open with visceral accounts of Trump supporters’ assault on police

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher T. Tortorice showed Lamberth video of Wilson in the tunnel of the Lower West Terrace area of the Capitol, where one officer was crushed between doors at one point.

“Mr. Wilson is among the most aggressive people in that crowd,” Tortorice said. Video showed Wilson holding a door open.

 

Attorney Gen. William Barr, center, announces his version of the findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, flanked by aides Rod Rosenstein and Edward O'Callaghan (C-SPAN photo).

Attorney Gen. William Barr, center, announces his version of the findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller in 2019, flanked by aides Rod Rosenstein and Edward O'Callaghan, while keeping the text of the Mueller Report largely secret for weeks while news coverage focused on the Barr verbal version, supplemented by his written excerpts (C-SPAN photo).

washington post logojeffrey toobinNew York Times, Book Review: William P. Barr’s Good Donald Trump and Bad Donald Trump, Jeffrey Toobin, right, March 5, 2022

ONE DAMN THING AFTER ANOTHER
Memoirs of an Attorney General
By William P. Barr

It’s a rare Washington memoir that makes you gasp in the very second sentence. Here’s the first sentence from William P. Barr’s One Damn Thing After Another, an account of his two turns as attorney general: “The first day of December 2020, almost a month after the presidential election, was gray and rainy.” Indeed it was. Here’s the second: “That afternoon, the president, struggling to come to terms with the election result, had heard I was at the White House. …” Uh, “struggling to come to terms with”? Not exactly. How about “struggling to overturn the election he just lost” or “struggling to subvert the will of the voters”? Maybe “struggling to undermine American democracy.”

Such opening vignettes serve a venerable purpose in the Washington memoir genre: to show the hero speaking truth to power. Barr had just told a reporter that the Justice Department had “not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”

This enraged the president. “You must hate Trump,” Trump told Barr. “You would only do this if you hate Trump.” But Barr stood his ground. He repeated that his team had found no fraud in the election results. (This is because there was none.)

By the end of the book, Barr uses the election controversy as a vehicle for a novel interpretation of the Trump presidency: Everything was great until Election Day, 2020. As Barr puts it, “In the final months of his administration, Trump cared only about one thing: himself. Country and principle took second place.” For Barr, it was as if this great president experienced a sudden personality transplant. “After the election,” Barr writes, “he was beyond restraint. He would only listen to a few sycophants who told him what he wanted to hear. Reasoning with him was hopeless.”

The heart of One Damn Thing After Another concerns the earlier days of Trump’s presidency when, apparently, “country and principle” took first place. In his December confrontation with Trump, Barr recalls a comment that may be more revealing than he intends: “‘No, Mr. President, I don’t hate you,’ I said. ‘You know I sacrificed a lot personally to come in to help you when I thought you were being wronged.’”

Robert Mueller (FBI Official Photo)This, as the rest of the book makes clear, is the real reason Barr came out of a comfortable retirement in early 2019 to serve as Jeff Sessions’s successor as attorney general. Barr — who thought Trump was “being wronged” by the investigation into the 2016 election led by Robert S. Mueller III, left, the special counsel — wanted to come to Trump’s defense.

Barr refers to the allegations that Trump colluded with the Russians in the lead-up to the election as, variously, the “Russiagate lunacy,” the “bogus Russiagate scandal,” “the biggest political injustice in our history” and the “Russiagate nonsense” (twice). Barr was as good as his word and sought to undermine Mueller and protect Trump at every opportunity. As Barr reveals in his book, Trump first asked him to serve on his defense team, but Barr later figured he could do more good for the president as attorney general. He was right.

Throughout, Barr affects a quasi-paternal tone when discussing Trump, as if the president were a naughty but good-hearted adolescent. When Trump James Comeysays repeatedly that he fired the F.B.I. director James Comey, right, because of the Russia investigation, Barr spins it as, “Unfortunately, President Trump exacerbated things himself with his clumsy miscues, notably making imprecise comments in an interview with NBC News’s Lester Holt and joking around with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador the day after firing Comey.” The just-joking defense is a favorite for Barr, as it is for the former president. In a strikingly humorless book, there is one “funny” line from Trump: “‘Do you know what the secret is of a really good tweet?’ he asked, looking at each of us one by one. We all looked blank. ‘Just the right amount of crazy,’ he said.” (Rest assured that Barr says the president spoke “playfully.”)

During his confirmation hearing, Barr promised to make Mueller’s report public — and he contrived to do so in the most helpful way for the president. In the key part of the report, concerning possible obstruction of justice by Trump (like firing Comey to interfere with the Russia investigation), Mueller said he was bound by Justice Department policy barring indictments of sitting presidents. So, instead of just releasing the report as he had promised, Barr took it upon himself to decide whether Trump could be charged with obstruction of justice. Barr “cleared the decks to work long into the night and over the weekend, studying the report. I wanted to come to a decision on obstruction.” And then, mirabile dictu, Barr concluded that the president had not violated the law, and wrote a letter to that effect. When the Justice Department got around to releasing the actual report several weeks later, it became apparent that the evidence against Trump was more incriminating than Barr let on, but by that point the attorney general had succeeded in shaping the story to the president’s great advantage.

djt barr conferring headshotsBarr, shown conferring at left with Trump, portrays Mueller, a former colleague and friend from their service in the George H W. Bush administration, as a feeble old man pushed around by liberals on his staff. To thwart them, Barr took extraordinary steps to trash Mueller’s work. On the eve of the sentencing of Roger Stone, Trump’s longtime political adviser, for obstruction of justice, Barr overruled the prosecutors and asked for a lighter sentence: “While he should not be treated any better than others because he was an associate of the president’s, he also should not be treated much worse than others.” In fact, Stone was being sentenced pursuant to guidelines that apply in all cases, but in this one and only instance, Barr decided to intervene.

michael flynn wh podium CustomEven more dramatic was Barr’s intercession on behalf of Michael Flynn, right, who pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. Prodded by Flynn’s attorney, Sidney Powell, who later emerged as a principal conspiracy theorist in the post-2020 election period, Barr not only allowed Flynn to revoke his guilty plea but then dismissed the case altogether. “I concluded that the handling of the Flynn matter by the F.B.I. had been an abuse of power that no responsible A.G. could let stand,” he writes. Suffice it to say that none of the thousands of other cases brought by the Justice Department during Barr’s tenure received this kind of high-level attention and mercy; moreover, it was rare, and perhaps even unprecedented, for the department to dismiss a case in which the defendant pleaded guilty.

The only scalps Barr wanted were of those in the F.B.I. who started the Russia investigation in the first place. He writes, “I started thinking seriously about how best to get to the bottom of the matter that really required investigation: How did the phony Russiagate scandal get going, and why did the F.B.I. leadership handle the matter in such an inexplicable and heavy-handed way?” He appointed a federal prosecutor named John Durham to lead this probe, which has now been going on longer than the Mueller investigation, with little to show for it.

Barr’s odd theory about Good Trump turning into Bad Trump may have more to do with his feelings about Democrats than with the president he served. “I am under no illusion about who is responsible for dividing the country, embittering our politics and weakening and demoralizing our nation,” he writes. “It is the progressive left and their increasingly totalitarian ideals.” In a way, it’s the highest praise Barr can offer Trump: He had the right enemies.

Jeffrey Toobin, the chief legal analyst at CNN, is writing a book about the Oklahoma City bombing.

March 2

 

 djt steve bannon

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 committee alleges Trump, allies engaged in potential crimes to block vote certification, Josh Dawsey, Tom Hamburger, Jacqueline Alemany and Rosalind S. Helderman, March 2, 2022. Lawyers for the House panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol said in a court filing Wednesday that former president Donald Trump and key allies engaged in potential crimes during their effort to overturn the election: conspiring to defraud the United States and obstructing an official congressional proceeding — the counting of electoral votes.

The alleged criminal acts were raised by the committee in a California federal court filing challenging conservative lawyer John Eastman’s refusal to turn over thousands of emails the panel has requested related to his role in trying to persuade Vice President Mike Pence to reject electors from states won by Joe Biden. Eastman has cited attorney-client privilege as a shield against turning over the documents because he has said he was representing Trump at the time.

capitol riot nyt jan 7 2021The committee argued in its filing that Eastman’s claim of privilege was potentially voided by the “crime/fraud exception” to the confidentiality usually accorded attorneys and their clients, which holds that communications need not be kept confidential if an attorney is found to be assisting their client in the commission of a crime. They asked the judge deciding whether to release Eastman’s emails to privately review evidence the committee has so far gathered to see if he believes it establishes that Eastman was assisting Trump in criminal acts.

“The Select Committee also has a good-faith basis for concluding that the President and members of his Campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States,” according to the filing.

The court filing is the strongest assertion yet from the committee that it believes Trump and some of his allies potentially committed crimes during the effort to overturn Biden’s victory and by falsely stating repeatedly that the election was stolen.

“The facts we’ve gathered strongly suggest that Dr. Eastman’s emails may show that he helped Donald Trump advance a corrupt scheme to obstruct the counting of electoral college ballots and a conspiracy to impede the transfer of power,” the committee’s chairman, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), and vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), said in a statement.

The committee has no authority to initiate criminal proceedings, and the fact that potential criminal law violations were mentioned in a court filing by the panel does not provide any indication that the Justice Department will consider any prosecutions. Nor does it mean that the lawyer-client protection asserted by Eastman will not be upheld.

But it underscores the committee’s aggressive approach and effort to hold Trump and his allies

 

joshua james

Al.com, Alabama Oath Keeper pleads guilty to seditious conspiracy in Jan. 6 riot at U.S. Capitol, Carol Robinson, March 2, 2022. An Alabama man charged for his alleged role in the breach of the U.S. Capitol pleaded guilty Wednesday to two criminal charges for his role in the Jan 6, 2021, breach of the U.S. Capitol. Joshua James, above, pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding. The maximum penalty for each crime is 20 years in federal prison.

James is is a U.S. Army combat veteran who reportedly received the Purple Heart. He owns a cleaning company called America Pro Hydro Services. He is one of nearly a dozen Alabama residents were charged for their alleged roles in the Jan. 6, 2021 unrest at the U.S. Capitol. In the 13 months since Jan. 6, 2021, more than 750 individuals have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including over 235 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement. The investigation is ongoing. More details below.

 

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

 washington post logoWashington Post, Conservative pro-Trump attorneys subpoenaed by Jan. 6 committee, Jacqueline Alemany, March 2, 2022 (print ed.). The House select committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, issued a subpoena Tuesday to Republican attorney Cleta Mitchell seeking records and testimony from the key legal adviser to former president Donald Trump who led efforts to subvert the results of the 2020 election.

The conservative firebrand is one of several lawyers subpoenaed by the panel who were also closely involved with various strategies to delay or overturn christina bobb resizedthe certification of Joe Biden’s victory, including Christina Bobb, right, an attorney turned One America News host, and Katherine Friess, who worked closely with Rudolph W. Giuliani and former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik.

Several of these lawyers spoke with Trump on Jan. 6, 2021, according to the committee’s findings.

“The six individuals we’ve subpoenaed today all have knowledge related to those matters and will help the Select Committee better understand all the various strategies employed to potentially affect the outcome of the election,” said the panel’s chairman, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), in a statement that accompanied letters that transmitted notice of the subpoenas. “We expect these witnesses to join the hundreds who have cooperated with the Select Committee as we work to provide the American people with answers about the violence of January 6th and its causes.”

Bobb and Friess were “reportedly involved in efforts to draft an executive order for then-President Trump that would have directed federal agencies to seize voting machines in numerous states,” according to Thompson’s statement.

Mitchell established an “election integrity working group” in August 2020, as directed by Trump, but became best known for her participation in a phone call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and other state officials during which Trump urged them to find evidence to overturn Georgia’s November election results.

In his letter to Mitchell seeking her cooperation, Thompson cites her promotion of “false claims of election fraud to Members of Congress” and her participation in the call between Trump and Raffensperger, along with her contact with Trump on Jan. 6 “and in the days prior,” per the committee’s findings.

Thompson, who said earlier this week that the public hearings would likely start in April, requested that Mitchell appear before the panel March 28.

“The timeline moves based on the information we see, and as new information comes, it moves,” Thompson told reporters Tuesday.

Kenneth Chesebro, a Boston-area attorney, is also among the list of legal advisers to Trump subpoenaed by the panel. Thompson cites Chesebro’s promotion of legal theories that supported the Trump campaign’s “use of alternate slates of electors in states that former President Trump had lost.”

Thompson also alleges that Chesebro “participated in efforts that you told the Trump campaign would 'bolster’ the argument for delaying the electoral certification and make the public ‘believe[e] that the election in [Wisconsin] was likely rigged, and stolen by Biden and Harris, who were not legitimately elected.’ ”

The committee is also seeking documents and a deposition from Kurt Olsen, an attorney who represented the state of Texas to sue Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin over how they conducted their elections.

Olsen, according to Thompson’s letter, contacted “various high-level officials at the Department of Justice at the former President’s ‘direct[ion]’ to discuss filing a last-minute challenge to the election based on a similar case that the Supreme Court had already rejected.”

He also “reportedly prepared a draft executive order for former President Trump that would have directed the U.S. Department of Justice ‘to take voter action,’ ” and had “multiple telephone calls” with Trump, according to the committee’s findings.

Former Kansas attorney general Phillip Kline is also on the list of lawyers the committee subpoenaed over his role in convening a meeting “between President Trump and more than 300 state legislatures in an attempt to disseminate purported evidence of election fraud, encouraging them to sign onto a letter urging Vice President Mike Pence to delay the electoral certification on January 6, 2021,” according to Thompson.

 

February 2022

Feb. 25

 

djt looking up

ny times logoNew York Times, House Panel Widens Investigation of Trump’s Handling of Documents, Luke Broadwater, Feb. 25, 2022. The Oversight Committee is demanding more information about classified material that former President Trump took with him when he left office.

A House committee on Friday expanded its investigation into former President Donald J. Trump’s destruction and removal of White House documents, demanding more information about classified material found at Mr. Trump’s property in Florida and reports that aides had discovered documents in a White House toilet during his time in office.

In a letter to the national archivist, Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York and the chairwoman of the Oversight Committee, said the panel was seeking a detailed description of the contents of 15 boxes recovered from Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s Palm Beach compound, including their level of classification, and all records that he “had torn up, destroyed, mutilated or attempted to tear up, destroy or mutilate.” She also said the panel wanted documents “relating to White House employees or contractors finding paper in a toilet in the White House, including the White House residence.”

The letter also sought information about the findings of any federal inquiries into the classified material and any communications with Mr. Trump about the Presidential Records Act or White House policies on record-keeping.

“The American people deserve to know the extent of what former President Trump did to hide and destroy federal records and make sure these abuses do not happen again,” Ms. Maloney said in a statement.

washington post logoWashington Post, New attorney tapped to head N.Y. Trump investigation after two lead prosecutors quit, Shayna Jacobs, Feb. 25, 2022 (print ed.). Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D), right, has asked his investigations chief to oversee the ongoing probe into former president Donald Trump and his business practices, a day after the abrupt resignations of two veteran attorneys who had been leading the case.

alvin bragg twitterSusan Hoffinger, also an experienced litigator and recent addition to Bragg’s executive team, will captain what has been described as a squad of about 25 lawyers, paralegals and analysts. Over more than three years, the group has pored through millions of records relating to Trump and operations at the Trump Organization, his family-run company, focusing most recently on whether assets were illegally overvalued to secure better terms on loans and insurance rates, and undervalued to get tax breaks.

Bragg’s announcement Thursday follows the dramatic departure of Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz, whose resignations signaled a marked shift in the probe. Multiple people with knowledge of the matter said Dunne and Pomerantz felt Bragg, who took office Jan. 1, was not interested in pursuing a case against Trump and had not given them direction on how to proceed.

Prosecutors in Trump probe quit after new DA seems to abandon plan to seek indictment of former president

Bragg’s office has said the case, which he inherited from his predecessor, Cyrus R. Vance Jr. (D), is proceeding. On Thursday, his spokesperson said it was “not true” that Bragg was unconcerned with advancing the matter.

“As we said yesterday, the investigation remains ongoing,” said Bragg spokeswoman Danielle Filson, adding that Hoffinger “will lead the strong team that is in place.”

The case gained significant notoriety under Vance as he fought to obtain Trump’s tax returns and related records — a drawn-out battle that was won at the Supreme Court. Since obtaining the records a year ago, prosecutors secured an indictment from a previous grand jury against the Trump Organization and its longtime chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, alleging 15-year tax fraud.

A second six-month grand jury that was expected to hear evidence for possible charges related to Trump Organization’s alleged practice of manipulating asset values was convened in the fall.

Vance had authorized his prosecutors to seek an indictment against Trump, two people with knowledge of the matter said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive process. But that did not happen before he left office at the end of the year.

Dunne and Pomerantz believed Bragg would similarly seek an indictment, the people familiar with the situation said. But their new boss was slow to read their memos or meet with them, and they grew increasingly frustrated, concluding they were losing momentum that had been initiated under Vance, the people said.

The grand jury’s term is set to expire this spring.

Trump and his legal team have repeatedly denied wrongdoing and have said the investigation, which is being conducted in partnership with New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), is politically motivated. James has a parallel civil probe covering the same subject areas, which could result in a lawsuit.

 Recent Headlines

 

Feb. 23

 

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

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

Proof, Investigation: New Revelations Indicate Ginni Thomas Was a Key Author of Trump’s January 6 Coup Plot, Seth Abramson, left, Feb. 23, seth abramson graphic2022. A recent NYT report explosively updates past reporting at PROOF on Ginni Thomas’s involvement in January 6. The new revelations—taken in sum—position Thomas as a chief author of the insurrection.

Introduction The most comprehensive reporting on Ginni Thomas’s involvement in the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol continues to seth abramson proof logobe this exclusive Proof report from January.

However, the New York Times just published a very lengthy feature on the Thomases—Ginni Thomas and her husband, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas—that gave its readers a series of buried ledes about Ginni Thomas and January 6.

It’s unclear why the Times did little to highlight these revelations; all are ensconced deep within an article it takes more than an hour and half to listen to via an audio reading supplied by the newspaper. Whatever the explanation for the odd framing of Ginni Thomas’s role in January 6 by the Times, Proof has decided to update its prior report with a summary of the Times feature that focuses only on the elements of the feature that will matter to federal investigators.

These elements, combined with the January Proof report, confirm that Ginni Thomas was one of the chief architects of the events of January 6, 2021. While it remains unclear whether the House January 6 Committee will now subpoena Ginni Thomas, it is increasingly evident that the Committee is gathering all available data on potential witnesses—including data published in venues like Proof, which the Committee has previously cited in its formal filings.

For this reason, the article below may be of assistance to decision-makers wondering if Ginni Thomas has valuable evidence about the January 6 attack on the Capitol to offer both Congress and the FBI. The short answer: she does. And indeed the evidence curated in the article that follows warrants the immediate issuance of a subpoena to Ginni Thomas for both testimony and documents. It warrants, further, the interrogation of Thomas by agents of the FBI.

Addressing the Elephant in the Room: Clarence Thomas: The New York Times focuses a majority of its article on Ginni Thomas on her husband, Clarence Thomas—a common mistake that Proof warned about at the very beginning of its own feature on Ginni Thomas.

Ginni Thomas’s activities are considerably more newsworthy and influential than her husband’s, deserving coverage exclusive from any consideration of Justice Thomas’s arch-conservative jurisprudence.

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

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

 

djt looking up

ny times logoNew York Times, 2 Prosecutors Leading N.Y. Trump Inquiry Resign, Clouding Case’s Future, William K. Rashbaum, Ben Protess, Jonah E. Bromwich, Kate Christobek and Nate Schweber, Feb. 23, 2022. The resignations came after the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, shown below at right, was said to have expressed doubts about the case, and amid a monthlong pause in the presentation of evidence to a grand jury.

The two prosecutors leading the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation into former President Donald J. Trump and his business practices abruptly resigned on Wednesday amid a monthlong pause in their presentation of evidence to a grand jury, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The stunning development comes not long after the high-stakes inquiry appeared to be gaining momentum, and throws its future into serious doubt.

alvin bragg twitterThe prosecutors, Carey R. Dunne and Mark F. Pomerantz, submitted their resignations after the new Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, indicated to them that he had doubts about moving forward with a case against Mr. Trump, the people said.

Mr. Pomerantz confirmed in a brief interview that he had resigned, but declined to elaborate. Mr. Dunne declined to comment.

Without Mr. Bragg’s commitment to move forward, the prosecutors late last month postponed a plan to question at least one witness before the grand jury, one of the people said. They have not questioned any witnesses in front of the grand jury for more than a month, essentially pausing their investigation into whether Mr. Trump inflated the value of his assets to obtain favorable loan terms from banks.

The precise reasons for Mr. Bragg’s pullback are unknown, and he has made few public statements about the status of the inquiry since taking office. In a statement responding to the resignations of the prosecutors, a spokeswoman for Mr. Bragg said that he was “grateful for their service” and that the investigation was ongoing.

Time is running out for this grand jury, whose term is scheduled to expire in April. Prosecutors can ask jurors to vote to extend their term, but generally avoid doing so. They also are often reluctant to impanel a new grand jury after an earlier one has heard testimony, because witnesses could make conflicting statements if asked to testify again.

And without Mr. Dunne, a high-ranking veteran of the office who has been closely involved with the inquiry for years, and Mr. Pomerantz, a leading figure in New York legal circles who was enlisted to work on it, the yearslong investigation could peter out.

The resignations, following the monthlong pause, mark a reversal after the investigation had recently intensified. Cyrus R. Vance Jr., Mr. Bragg’s predecessor, convened the grand jury in the fall, and prosecutors began questioning witnesses before his term concluded at the end of the year. (Mr. Vance did not seek re-election.)

In mid-January, reporters for The Times observed significant activity related to the investigation at the Lower Manhattan courthouse where the grand jury meets, with at least two witnesses visiting the building and staying inside for hours.

The witnesses were Mr. Trump’s longtime accountant and an expert in the real estate industry, according to people familiar with the appearances, which have not been previously reported. Mr. Dunne and Mr. Pomerantz also made regular appearances at the courthouse.

The burst of activity offered a sign that Mr. Bragg was forging ahead with the grand jury phase of the investigation, a final step before seeking charges.

But in recent weeks, that activity has ceased, and Mr. Dunne and Mr. Pomerantz have been seen only rarely.

letitia james o headshotThe pause coincides with an escalation in the activity of a parallel civil inquiry by the New York state attorney general, Letitia James, left, whose office is examining some of the same conduct by Mr. Trump.

Ms. James, who last week received approval from a judge to question Mr. Trump and two of his adult children under oath, has filed court documents describing a number of ways in which the Trump Organization appeared to have misrepresented the value of its properties.

She concluded that the company had engaged in “fraudulent or misleading” practices, and although she lacks the authority to criminally charge Mr. Trump, she could sue him.

Mr. Bragg’s office must meet a higher bar to bring a criminal case and has encountered a number of challenges in pursuing Mr. Trump, including its inability thus far to persuade any Trump Organization executives to cooperate.

Mr. Trump has disputed the notion that he inflated his property values or defrauded his lenders, and has accused Mr. Bragg and Ms. James, both Democrats who are Black, of being politically motivated and “racists.”

“I’ve been representing Donald Trump for over a year in this case and I haven’t found any evidence that could lead to a prosecution against him, or any crimes,” said a lawyer for Mr. Trump, Ronald P. Fischetti. “I hope Mr. Bragg will now look again at all the evidence in the case and make a statement that he is discontinuing all investigation of Donald Trump.”

As Mr. Bragg’s grand jury presentation has come to a halt, another serious criminal inquiry into the former president has been gaining steam. In recent weeks, a district attorney in Atlanta asked a judge to convene a grand jury for an investigation into Mr. Trump’s attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election in Georgia.

Another criminal investigation, in New York’s Westchester County, is examining Mr. Trump’s financial dealings at one of his company’s golf courses.

The Manhattan investigation, which proceeded in fits and starts for years, was the most developed of the three criminal inquiries into Mr. Trump. allen weisselberg croppedIt resulted in the indictments last summer of The Trump Organization and its long-serving chief financial officer, Allen H. Weisselberg, right, on separate tax-related charges.

After announcing those charges, the prosecutors zeroed in on a subject that has spurred much debate over the years: Mr. Trump’s net worth.

They have questioned whether Mr. Trump defrauded his lenders — sophisticated financial institutions like Deutsche Bank — by routinely inflating the value of his assets, The New York Times has previously reported.

In particular, the prosecutors have focused on annual financial statements Mr. Trump provided the lenders, scrutinizing whether he overvalued his various hotels, golf clubs and other properties to score the best possible loan terms.

Mr. Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, compiled the statements based on information provided by the Trump Organization, leading the prosecutors to question whether the company had given its accountants bogus data.

Early this month, Mazars notified the Trump Organization that it would no longer serve as its accountant and that it could no longer stand behind a decade of Mr. Trump’s financial statements.

Mazars said it had not, “as a whole,” found material discrepancies between the information the Trump Organization provided and the true value of Mr. Trump’s assets.

But given what it called “the totality of circumstances” — including its internal investigation and Ms. James’s court papers — Mazars instructed the company to notify anyone who had received the statements that they “should not be relied upon.”

Even with Mazar’s retraction, a criminal case would likely be difficult to prove. The documents, known as statements of financial condition, contain a number of disclaimers, including acknowledgments that Mr. Trump’s accountants had neither audited nor authenticated his claims.

And the prosecutors have thus far been unable to convince Mr. Trump’s long-serving chief financial officer to cooperate with the investigation, depriving them of the type of insider witness whose testimony can be crucial to complicated white collar criminal cases.

  • An empire under scrutiny. The New York State attorney general is currently conducting a civil investigation into former president Donald Trump’s business practices. Here’s what to know:
  • The origins of the inquiry. The investigation started after Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, testified to Congress that Mr. Trump and his employees had manipulated his net worth to suit his interests.
  • The findings. Ms. James detailed in a recent filing what she said was a pattern by the Trump Organization to inflate the value of the company’s properties in documents filed with lenders, insurers and the Internal Revenue Service.
  • The potential impact. Because the investigation is civil, the attorney general cannot file criminal charges and would have to sue Mr. Trump. Ms. James could seek financial penalties and try to shut down certain aspects of Mr. Trump’s business.
  • Mr. Trump’s lawsuit. In December Mr. Trump sued Letitia James, the New York attorney general, seeking to halt the inquiry. The suit argues that the attorney general’s involvement in the inquiry is politically motivated.
  • Pushing back. Lawyers for the Trump family had sought to prevent Ms. James from obtaining documents as part of the inquiry and interviewing Mr. Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump under oath. But a State Supreme Court judge in Manhattan has rejected the efforts.

Mr. Trump’s lenders might also not make for sympathetic victims with a jury. The lenders, which made millions of dollars in interest from Mr. Trump, conducted their own assessments of his assets.

If Mr. Bragg ultimately closes the investigation, he could face political fallout in Manhattan, where Mr. Trump is generally loathed. And the district attorney has already had a rocky start to his tenure, after a memo he released outlining his policies for the office was met with furious pushback from local officials, small businesses and the public.

Mr. Bragg — who was sworn in on Jan. 1 — is a former federal prosecutor and veteran of the New York State attorney general’s office, where he oversaw civil litigation against Mr. Trump and his administration under Ms. James’s predecessor.

The district attorney’s criminal investigation into Mr. Trump began in the summer of 2018 under Mr. Vance, who initially looked into the Trump Organization’s role in paying hush money to a pornographic actress who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump.

The inquiry grew out of a federal case against Mr. Trump’s former fixer, Michael D. Cohen, who pleaded guilty to arranging the hush money and said he did so at the direction of Mr. Trump.

The focus of the investigation shifted after Mr. Vance, in 2019, subpoenaed Mazars for copies of Mr. Trump’s tax returns. Mr. Trump sued to block the subpoena, sparking a bitter 18-month legal battle that saw the former president take the case to the United States Supreme Court, where he lost twice.

Mr. Dunne, who served as Mr. Vance’s general counsel and stayed on to help Mr. Bragg with the Trump investigation, argued the case before the Supreme Court. And around the time that the prosecutors received Mr. Trump’s tax documents, Mr. Vance recruited Mr. Pomerantz, a prominent former prosecutor and defense lawyer, to help lead the investigation.

The case accused Mr. Weisselberg and the company of a 15-year scheme to pay for luxury perks for certain executives, like free apartments and leased Mercedes-Benzes, off the books. Mr. Weisselberg pleaded not guilty and his lawyers filed court papers this week seeking to dismiss the charges. A judge has tentatively scheduled a trial for late summer.

 

djt michael cohenNew York Daily News, Two top Manhattan prosecutors heading Trump investigation resign suddenly, probe to continue, Molly Crane-Newman and Larry McShane, Feb. 23, 2022. The Manhattan District Attorney’s ongoing investigation into ex-President Trump’s finances took a dramatic and unexpected turn Wednesday when two top prosecutors in the case abruptly resigned.

Highly-regarded lawyers Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz bailed after their new boss, Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, indicated he had doubts about proceeding with the case against Trump, according to The New York Times.

The investigation was launched by Bragg’s predecessor Cy Vance Jr., with the current DA’s spokeswoman confirming the sudden departures of the two attorneys from the prior regime.

Ex-top Trump advisor Michael Cohen, who testified in the DA’s investigation against his estranged boss, was stunned by the development.

“Mark Pomerantz and Carey Dunne just resigned?” Cohen said when contacted by The News. “What? Wow. ”

Cohen, above left, who spent upwards of 300 hours answering questions from the prosecutors, was rattled by word of their exits.

“I am deeply disturbed by this report,” he said. “I know the information in the New York DA’s possession — and not to indict is a dereliction of duty to all New Yorkers and the country.”

Meanwhile, in a filing late Tuesday, The Trump Organization and its longtime chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg called in court papers for the dismissal of charges brought against them in 2021 stemming from the DA’s probe, alleging Cohen’s cooperation was motivated by vengeance rather than justice.

Weisselberg previously testified with immunity before a grand jury investigating Cohen, who was convicted in 2018 of violating campaign finance laws and lying to Congress. The case involved “hush money” payments Cohen arranged to porn star Stormy Daniels and model model Karen McDougal during Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Daniels and McDougal say they had extramarital affairs with Trump, which Trump denied. Cohen spent about 13 1/2 months in prison and another 18 months in home confinement.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: 'The DOJ may be investigating Trump, but prosecution is a different matter, Jennifer Rubin, right, Feb. 23, 2022. Attorney jennifer rubin new headshotGeneral Merrick Garland confirmed on Tuesday that the National Archives had informed the Justice Department that classified materials were removed from the White House before Donald Trump left office. “We will do what we always do under these circumstance: Look at the facts [and] the law and take it from there,” Garland said.Opinions to start the day, in your inbox. Sign up.

In other words, the Justice Department is investigating whether any laws were broken. If Trump were an ordinary federal employee, this could be a serious legal problem. But because he is the former commander in chief, prosecuting him for any violation of national security laws would be difficult. (Lawyers for Trump deny any wrongdoing.)

Justice Department log circularImproper handling of classified material has frequently been the basis for an enforcement action. Just few years ago, esteemed Army general and then-CIA director David H. Petraeus was prosecuted for providing classified materials to his biographer, with whom he was having an affair. The Justice Department seriously considered bringing charges against him for lying to the FBI during the investigation and for violating the Espionage Act.

So where does this leave the Justice Department? Prosecuting under statutes relating to classified materials is tricky given that the president can declassify documents. The requirement that removal must have been done “knowingly” also poses a hurdle to any prosecution.

Garland is right not to brush the incident aside. He’ll need to determine exactly what sort of documents were removed; why they were lifted; whether Trump knew which documents were removed; and whether, for example, there was any plan to destroy them. After all that, he’ll need to establish whether the laws discussed above or any others were violated and, if so, whether prosecution is appropriate.

Still, of all the potential offenses that state and federal prosecutors might pursue against Trump (from seditious conspiracy to financial crimes), it seems unlikely that this would be what the Justice Department hangs its hat on.

Republicans spent years pushing to prosecute Hillary Clinton for her use of a personal server only to be disappointed when then-FBI director James B. Comey found no “clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information.” He declined to prosecute under a grossly negligent standard. The GOP was livid over this decision. Nevertheless, its hypocrisy and misuse of the criminal justice system to go after political opponents does not justify a Democratic administration prosecuting a far-fetched case without legal precedent.

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s Truth Social’s disastrous launch raises doubts about its viability, Drew Harwell, Feb. 23, 2022. Former president Donald Trump's new social media venture, Truth Social, became available for download in Apple’s App Store on Feb. 20.

His long-promised social network, Truth Social, has been almost entirely inaccessible in the first days of its grand debut because of technical glitches, a 13-hour outage and a 300,000-person waitlist.

Even Trump supporters made jokes about the early slog. Jenna Ellis, a former member of his legal team, posted to Instagram a photo showing Trump with his finger hovering over a laptop, “letting us on to Truth Social one at a time.”

The site had been heralded for months as the crown jewel of Trump’s post-presidential business ambitions, with allies pledging it would revolutionize social media and take down the mainstream social networks where Trump is banned.

But early glimpses at Truth Social suggest its offerings are almost identical to what Twitter and other sites have offered for years — except tweets are called “truths,” and retweets “retruths.” The site’s early struggles also have fueled doubts that Trump’s company will be able to handle tougher long-term challenges, such as policing for dangerous content and guarding against cyberattacks.

“The basic thing they needed to actually get right, to get someone in the door, they couldn’t get right,” said Bill Fitzgerald, a privacy researcher. The “ineptitude of the rollout,” he added, could be a warning of future issues ahead: “There is no better sign of a rushed implementation than the fact that you can’t onboard anybody. So I’m hard-pressed to understand why anyone would trust that these people would keep their information safe.”

Although Trump has criticized social networks’ “wildly aggressive censorship,” his site’s “terms of service” mark some extensive restrictions for acceptable speech.

Trump’s company, the Trump Media & Technology Group, also prohibits anyone from attempting to “disparage, tarnish, or otherwise harm, in our opinion, us and/or the Site.” Truth Social has already banned an account named for a Twitter parody that targeted former congressman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who resigned from Congress to become the Trump company’s CEO. The site’s terms of service also show it is designed to benefit from Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which Trump has said should be “completely terminated” because it protects tech companies from being sued for what their users post. Pranksters have already defaced Trump’s new social network.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Organization and Finance Chief Seek Dismissal of Fraud Charges, Ben Protess, William K. Rashbaum and Jonah E. Bromwich, Feb. 23, 2022 (print ed.).  Former President Trump’s family business and Allen Weisselberg, right, its longtime chief financial officer, called the case against them politically motivated.

allen weisselberg croppedThe Trump Organization and its longtime chief financial officer asked a judge on Tuesday to dismiss the criminal charges against them, arguing in court filings that the case was politically motivated and was only brought because the defendants were linked to former President Donald J. Trump.

The Trump Organization, Mr. Trump’s family business, was charged by the Manhattan district attorney’s office last summer with organizing a yearslong scheme to compensate a number of its executives with off-the-books luxury perks, allowing them to avoid paying taxes. Its chief financial officer, Allen H. Weisselberg, was charged with participating in the scheme and receiving a rent-free apartment and leased Mercedes-Benzes, among other benefits.

The indictment accused Mr. Weisselberg of failing to pay state and federal taxes on about $1.7 million in perks and charged him with grand larceny for obtaining tax refunds to which it said he was not entitled.

Mr. Trump was not charged, nor was he accused of any wrongdoing. But after the indictments last summer, the district attorney’s office convened a new grand letitia james o headshotjury and continued to investigate whether Mr. Trump had defrauded his lenders by inflating the value of his assets to receive the best possible loan terms.

President Donald Trump officialThe New York attorney general, Letitia James, left, whose office is participating in the criminal investigation, is also conducting a parallel civil inquiry into some of the same conduct.

The office of the new Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, declined to comment on Tuesday’s filings. The office, which will have a chance to respond in its own court papers in the coming weeks, announced the charges in July under Mr. Bragg’s predecessor, Cyrus R. Vance Jr.

In separate court filings on Tuesday, lawyers for Mr. Trump’s company and Mr. Weisselberg raised a number of legal arguments, including the contention that Mr. Trump’s company had been improperly singled out for prosecution.

Feb. 21

Steady, Reflections on the American presidency: Is It Really Presidents' Day? Dan Rather, right (author and former CBS News Evening Anchor and dan rather 2017Managing Editor), Feb. 21, 2022. Happy Presidents’ Day.

Let’s face it, it’s an odd holiday in many ways, starting with a lack of clarity over exactly what we are celebrating, other than a welcome Monday off in the depths of winter.

For most of my life, we celebrated George Washington’s birthday on February 22.

george washington gilbert stuart portraitAbraham Lincoln was also born in February (the 12th, under the new calendar, so no worries there). In most places, his birthday wasn’t an official holiday. So the idea of combining the birthdays of two of our most revered presidents into a Presidents’ Day seemed to make sense.

But does “Presidents’ Day” mean this day is actually in recognition of ALL presidents?

Perhaps we can try to disentangle ourselves from some of these syntactic wanderings and use this Presidents’ Day (I'm sticking with this form of the apostrophe) into a consideration of the presidency more generally. It’s something that’s been on my mind a lot lately.

The U.S. presidency is a combination of both a head of government and a head of state. It oversees a continental experiment in representative democracy. It now also entails being the Commander in Chief of the most potent military force the world has ever seen assembled. So pretty powerful stuff.

When I was growing up, the office of the presidency carried with it an almost mythic status. At least that’s what we were taught in school. Thankfully, we have long since moved beyond seeing our presidents with hagiographic halos. Even Washington and Lincoln were flawed men, trapped by their times and their inability to think more broadly, especially on the issue of race.

This more nuanced view of the presidency, and American history more generally, is producing a backlash. The fights over our curricula at the state and local level are often about how we try to contend with the complexities of our national story. And it is only natural that our presidents, or at least their reputations, should get caught in the rhetorical crossfire.

Our Founding Fathers were very clear that they were creating, in the presidency, a citizen who was not above the law, certainly not a king, let alone a god. They could have never imagined how powerful the nation they created would become, and thus the powers that would lie with the person leading it. They were wary of concentrated power, and they would have never abided by the idea that presidents would be above reproach, re-examination, and even scorn. Cults of personality are the antithesis of what they hoped to create.

And yet, at the same time, as a nation we should yearn for stateliness in the position itself. We should hope for wise leadership. We should respect the office.

All presidencies are messy in real time. It often takes the distance of history to add necessary context. Fiercely debating how we should govern is completely acceptable. Wrestling over how we adjudicate power, how we weigh the accumulation and spending of our resources, how we plan for the future and make sense of the past — all this is also fair and open to disagreement.

But that presidents can be brazenly above the law must be considered un-American. That they should rule for only their supporters at the expense of the rest of the nation must be rejected. And that they should not accept the verdict of the people in free and fair elections is to make a mockery of our most basic democratic necessities.

Ultimately the American presidency is what we allow it to be. It is an extension of us, the nation at large. And it should reflect us, in all of our wonderful diversity, encouraged by our better angels.

Feb. 20

djt hands open amazon safePalmer Report, Opinion: This is outrageous, Bill Palmer, right, Feb. 20, 2022. Over the past week various judges in various jurisdictions ruled that Donald bill palmerTrump and his family must testify in the New York probe into the Trump Organization, that Allen Weisselberg must testify in the Washington DC probe into the Trump inaugural, and that Trump can be held personally liable for harm caused by the January 6th attack.

This swarm of devastating rulings against Donald Trump has finally convinced a lot of you that his future really does consist of bill palmer report logo headerbankruptcy and prison, not some kind of mythical comeback. It’s good to see some of the defeatist fretting finally subside, and give way to positive momentum. When defeatism rules the day, it’s difficult to organize and put in the work and win any upcoming battles. But when your side has momentum and is able to see what a win looks like, it becomes a whole lot easier to organize and win tough battles such as, say, the 2022 midterms.

However, before we embark on the constructive hard work of winning upcoming political battles, we should take a moment to think about how we got to this point – because it’s not pretty. If you look at what transpired in court this week (particularly in New York), and you work backwards, you realize that this was always going to be the outcome. It’s been clear since late 2019 that if Trump lost the 2020 election, New York would take his assets and put in him in prison. Once he did lose the election, there was never any doubt that we’d end up where we’re at now. Trump was always going down.

Yet for the past year, nearly everyone in the mainstream media – left, right, or center – and nearly all of the most prominent social media pundits, have been insisting that Donald Trump would get away with it all and somehow retake control of the country. Since literally the minute Trump was declared the loser, the media and the pundits have been insisting nonstop that Trump in 2024 was inevitable. Not only was he going to automatically win the Republican nomination, he was somehow magically going to steal the general election as well – and then we’d all be doomed.

There was never anything to support this narrative. Within days of leaving office, polling showed that only about half of Republican voters even wanted Trump to be their 2024 presidential nominee. There was no consensus on an alternative candidate; Republican voters were simply making clear that they knew Trump was washed up, damaged goods, someone who had no future and certainly wouldn’t be competitive if he were the 2024 Republican nominee.

Yet even as the facts have made clear for the past year that the Republican electorate had already moved beyond Trump, and that New York was going to put Trump in prison long before 2024 anyway, the media has almost unanimously spent the past year feeding us a fictional story instead. The media simply ignored every single thing that was happening, and instead fed us baseless “Trump 2024” hype. And if anything, media outlets that lean liberal were more guilty of promoting this narrative.

How could the entire media have spent an entire year getting the entire narrative about Donald Trump entirely wrong? That kind of industry-wide ineptness isn’t possible, of course, unless it was done on purpose. And let’s not mince words: it was in fact done on purpose.

Every single person in the mainstream media, and every prominent political pundit, has known all along that things in New York would inevitably end up where they are now. The New York Attorney General would not only dismantle the Trump Organization, but do it in way that would feed the related criminal case against Donald Trump and his family. Trump was always heading for bankruptcy and prison in New York – and nothing was going to cause that path to deviate.

But it was going to take time for things to progress to this point – an unknown amount of time. And that was the problem. The media and the pundits didn’t want to have to spend every day of the past year factually pointing out that at some unknown future time, Trump would be ripped limb from proverbial limb by New York prosecutors. The media didn’t want to have to keep covering a story that was moving at a snail’s pace and didn’t produce any publicly visible results most days. More specifically, the media didn’t want to annoy audiences by repeatedly pointing out that Trump was going to be indicted and put in prison, without being able to specify when this would actually end up happening.

You should be so outraged by this industry-wide deception, there should be steam coming out of your ears. You’ve been lied to.

Not only have you been lied to, you’ve been lied to in an injurious manner. Many of you have spent the past year scared to death that Trump was going to “get away with it all” and take over the country in 2024. Many of you have been too scared, too paralyzed with fear, too demotivated, to be able to focus on fighting the political battles that have needed to be fought.

Feb. 19

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump and his family just gave away how screwed they know they are, Bill Palmer, right, Feb. 19, 2022. bill palmerWhen a New York Supreme Court judge ruled this week that Donald Trump and his family must testify in the New York Attorney General’s civil probe into the Trump Organization, it was an ugly blow for the Trumps to say the least. But the real news coming out of this is why the Trumps have been fighting to not have to testify.

Now that the Trumps have been ordered to testify, if they still refuse (or give uncooperative Fifth Amendment-laden testimony), bill palmer report logo headerthe New York Attorney General will be able to use this as a basis for dropping the hammer on the Trump Organization and taking its assets to cover the financial penalties. After all, if a company is being investigated by the government, and the people who run that company are refusing to testify in its defense, then that’s the ballgame.

So the Trump Organization is a goner unless the Trumps can disprove the allegations New York has made. If the Trumps thought they could accomplish this by testifying, without incriminating themselves in the process, they’d do it. Their refusal to testify means they know they’re screwed. Like, really screwed.

Imagine deciding to forfeit your company, its assets, and the income you derive from it all, in the hope of perhaps slightly reducing your odds of going to prison. That’s the position the Trumps are in at this point. That’s how screwed they know they are.

Even if the Trumps consider themselves innocent in all of this, their actions make clear that they expect to be criminally indicted in New York, and they’re worried about beating the rap at trial. In fact they’re so worried about it, they’re now effectively forfeiting their entire real estate empire in the name of somehow trying to avoid prison.

Sure, Donald Trump still gets quasi-campaign donations from his fans, for a 2024 campaign that’ll never actually launch. And sure, the Republican Party is still paying some of Trump’s legal bills, for now. But these are mere pilfering schemes, and temporary ones at that. They can’t possibly be enough to keep the Trump financial house of cards afloat.

Feb. 18

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ny times logoNew York Times, Judge Allows Civil Suits to Proceed Against Trump Over Jan. 6, Alan Feuer and Luke Broadwater, Feb. 18, 2022. The ruling means the plaintiffs in three civil cases will likely be able to seek information from the former president over his role in the attack on the Capitol.

A federal judge in Washington ruled on Friday that three civil lawsuits against Donald J. Trump related to the attack on the Capitol last January were able to move forward, saying that the former president was not shielded by the normal protections of immunity or the First Amendment.

The ruling by the judge, Amit P. Mehta, meant that the plaintiffs in the suits — several members of Congress and police officers who served at the Capitol during the attack — will likely be able to seek information from Mr. Trump about the specific role he played in fostering the chaos at the building on Jan. 6, 2021.

If ultimately found liable, Mr. Trump could also be on the hook for financial damages.

capitol riot nyt jan 7 2021Judge Mehta’s order capped a difficult week for Mr. Trump, one in which a judge in New York ruled that he had to answer questions from state investigators examining his company, the Trump Organization, for evidence of fraud. Officials at the National Archives also said that Mr. Trump had taken classified national security documents from the White House to his private club in Florida.

The lawsuits, all of which were filed last year, accused Mr. Trump of overlapping charges of conspiring with several others — people like his lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, his son Donald Trump Jr. and extremist groups such as the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers militia — to sow doubts about the 2020 election, culminating in the violent storming of the Capitol. Judge Mehta allowed the suits to go ahead against the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, but dismissed them against Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Trump’s son.

amit mehta CustomJudge Mehta, left, ruled that he would consider — and likely grant — a motion to dismiss from another defendant in one of the cases, Representative Mo Brooks, Republican of Alabama. Instead of moving to dismiss, Mr. Brooks had asked Judge Mehta to allow him to substitute the federal government in his place as the defendant in the case.

At a nearly five-hour hearing last month, Mr. Trump’s lawyers argued he was immune from being sued because he had been acting in his official role as president when he addressed a huge crowd in Washington at the Ellipse before the Capitol was breached. The lawyers also claimed that Mr. Trump’s incendiary speech, one in which he urged the crowd to “fight like hell,” but also cautioned them to be peaceful and patriotic, should be protected by the First Amendment.

But in his 112-page order, Judge Mehta ruled that Mr. Trump’s actions that day had little to do with normal presidential duties like executing laws or commanding the armed forces and instead concerned something more personal: what the judge called Mr. Trump’s “efforts to remain in office for a second term.”

“To deny a president immunity from civil damages is no small step,” Judge Mehta wrote. “The court well understands the gravity of its decision. But the alleged facts of this case are without precedent.”

The judge also found that after months of creating an “air of distrust and anger” by relentlessly claiming the election had been stolen, Mr. Trump should have known his supporters would take his speech not merely as words, but as “a call to action.” For that reason, the judge decided, the address was not “protected expression.”

Mr. Trump “invited his supporters to Washington, D.C., after telling them for months that corrupt and spineless politicians were to blame for stealing an election from them; retold that narrative when thousands of them assembled on the Ellipse; and directed them to march on the Capitol building,” Judge Mehta wrote.

Each of the suits was based in part on a Reconstruction era law known as the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, originally intended to protect former slaves from abuse by local officials but became a vehicle for challenging official actions more broadly. The suits, which seek civil damages, are separate from the Justice Department’s sprawling investigation into hundreds of people who took part in the storming of the Capitol and from a parallel congressional investigation into machinations by Mr. Trump and others to overturn the election results in the weeks and months leading up to Jan. 6.

To date, Mr. Trump has not faced a subpoena from either the Justice Department or the House committee investigating the Capitol riot. But the ruling on Friday created the likelihood that Mr. Trump would have to provide documents to the plaintiffs or even sit for a deposition.

“Above all else, it’s about accountability,” said Joseph Sellers, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs. Representatives for Mr. Trump did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

ny times logoNew York Times, Material Recovered From Trump by Archives Included Classified Information, Luke Broadwater and Michael S. Schmidt, Feb. 18, 2022. The National Archives confirmed on Friday that it had uncovered classified information among documents that President Donald J. Trump had taken with him to his home in Florida from the White House and that it had consulted with the Justice Department about the matter.

The agency “has identified items marked as classified national security information within the boxes,” according to a letter posted on the National Archives and Record Administration website that was sent to Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York and the chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee, who has been scrutinizing how Mr. Trump handled presidential records.

“Because NARA identified classified information in the boxes, NARA staff has been in communication with the Department of Justice,” said the letter, written by David S. Ferriero, the national archivist.

In the past two weeks, a series of disclosures has raised new questions about whether Mr. Trump followed federal record-keeping laws or mishandled classified information after he left office. The National Archives said in its letter on Friday that the Trump White House had failed to turn over records that included “certain social media records.”

 

sean hannity uncreditedwashington post logoWashington Post, The frantic texts sent to Trump’s White House chief of staff on Jan. 6, Jacqueline Alemany, Tom Hamburger, Josh Dawsey and Tyler Remmel, Feb. 18, 2022 (print ed.). Thousands of frantic text messages that might have otherwise been lost to history are now key to piecing together a picture of the events surrounding the Jan. 6 attack.

The panicked texts started landing in Mark Meadows’s phone long before thousands of supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s victory.

Mark MeadowsFox News host Sean Hannity (shown above in a file photo) shot off a text on New Year’s Eve — a week before the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the violent siege — warning the White House chief of staff, right, of mass resignations in the White House Counsel’s Office:

"We can’t lose the entire WH counsels office. I do NOT see January 6 happening the way he is being told. After the 6 th. He should announce will lead the nationwide effort to reform voting integrity."

The night before the rally, Hannity’s private concerns about the day ahead escalated in another text to Meadows: "Im very worried about the next 48 hours. Pence pressure. White House counsel will leave."

The ping-pong of private Hannity missives was a far cry from the contents of his show, where he continued to amplify the arguments for electoral objections despite his stated fears.

fox news logo SmallBy Jan. 6, as images of violent rioters storming the building splashed across screens and news feeds, the Fox News host’s single-sentence thoughts turned into desperate directives. Sean Hannity: "Can he make a statement? Ask people to peacefully leave the [Capitol]."

These and thousands of other frantic, ephemeral text messages that might have otherwise been lost to history are now key to piecing together the most vivid and comprehensive picture to date of the events surrounding the chaos at the Capitol.

Many were sent to Meadows by Fox News hosts, lawmakers and other Trump allies urging him to get his boss — cocooned in his private dining room just off the Oval Office — to put a halt to the assault.

donald trump money palmer report Custom

Palmer Report, Opinion: Where New York’s destruction of Donald Trump and his family goes from here, Bill Palmer, right, Feb. 18, 2022. Yesterday, bill palmerattorneys for Donald Trump and his family complained to the New York Supreme Court about how unfair it was that they were being forced to testify against the Trump Organization (and essentially against themselves) in the New York Attorney General’s civil probe into the Trump Organization’s finances.

They pointed out that any such testimony will then be used to help prosecute them in the related criminal case. They also pointed out that if bill palmer report logo headerthey refuse to testify, New York will use this as a basis for ruling against the Trump Organization and dismantling it. The court didn’t dispute any of this, but ruled that they must testify anyway. So now what?

The Trumps will try to stall this a bit more in court, but that won’t last long. From there, the most likely outcome is that the Trumps will repeatedly invoke the Fifth Amendment during their testimony against the Trump Organization, under the premise that it’s better to letitia james o headshotlose their money than their freedom. Letitia James, right, will then use this as the basis for ruling against the Trump Organization, dismantling it, and effectively taking away the Trump family’s assets.

This will leave the Trump family without income or assets, fighting off creditors, even as New York prepares to bring inevitable criminal charges for financial fraud. Donald Trump is surely a lock for indictment, and conviction. The big questions are which if any of Trump’s kids will also be indicted, and whether any of them will end up cutting a plea deal against him in exchange for some kind of immunity.

None of this will happen tomorrow or the next day, of course. The legal process still moves at the speed that it moves. But this New York Supreme Court ruling clears the way for Letitia James to drop the hammer against the Trump Organization on her timeline, not on Donald Trump’s timeline.

More On Trump Family, Allies

 

djt melania trump file ny times logoNew York Times, Charitable Offer by Melania Trump Is Rejected, a Move She Calls ‘Politics,’ Eric Lipton, Feb. 18, 2022. Mrs. Trump assailed what she called attempts to “cancel her” as she comes under criticism, along with her husband, for post-White House fund-raising efforts.

An Oklahoma school that specializes in teaching advanced computer science skills has rejected an offered donation by Melania Trump, who said on Friday that “politics got in the way of my mission to support children.”

Mrs. Trump disclosed the clash with the school in a statement defending her charitable fund-raising efforts since she left the White House, which she has said are focused on supporting foster children.

Mrs. Trump did not name the school that she said rejected her donation, noting only that it was “a computer science school founded in Silicon Valley with a campus in Oklahoma.”

That fits the description of an organization known as Holberton School, a San Francisco-based education company that has more than 30 schools around the world that specialize in computer science training as an alternative to traditional college for students who want to become software engineers. It opened a location in Tulsa, Okla., in 2020.

Julien Barbier, the chief executive of Holberton, confirmed on Friday that Mrs. Trump had tried to donate money to the Tulsa school.

“We were approached about a scholarship by her team but never reached an agreement on the logistics of the scholarship,” he said, declining to discuss the matter further.

Mrs. Trump said that she had offered to make the donation anonymously, with the money intended to support scholarships. She said she had signed an agreement detailing the planned contribution when the school moved to reject it, which she said was part of an effort to “cancel me.”

“It was made clear to me that the school’s board of directors organized a politically motivated decision,” Mrs. Trump said in her statement, which was posted on her website on Friday. “Obviously, I was disappointed but not surprised. This is not the first time where politics got in the way of my mission to support children.”

She added that it was at least the second time her efforts to support a charitable cause had been rejected, asserting that a “corporate partner refused an opportunity to further our shared philanthropic goals surrounding my visit to Africa,” which took place in 2018. She provided no other details.

Since December, Mrs. Trump has accelerated her efforts to raise or make money — for herself and for charitable causes — holding an online auction last month to sell a white hat she had worn at the White House during a visit by the French president in 2018, as part of what she called the Head of State Collection.

She also recently announced plans to host what she called an “exclusive high tea” that she is calling Tulips & Topiaries, selling tickets for as much as $50,000 for “V.I.P. table sponsors.” The money raised from the event, scheduled to be held in Naples, Fla., in April, would be at least partly donated to a cause that supports children in or emerging from foster care, Mrs. Trump has said.

The money, she told The New York Times in a statement this month, would be used “to provide children within the foster community the ability to secure entry-level jobs within the technology sector,” resembling the mission of the Holberton School.

But the planned event in Florida has drawn questions from officials who are investigating whether Mrs. Trump complied with state law. Florida requires anyone soliciting charitable donations to register with the state, and officials there could not find a registration filed on behalf of Mrs. Trump or the programs she said she was raising money for, called Be Best and Fostering the Future.

In the statement on Friday, Mrs. Trump said that she did not intend to create her own formal nonprofit organization, registered with Florida or the federal government.

Instead, she said, the money raised at the April event would go to Gen Justice, an existing nonprofit also known as Generation Justice that uses legal action to try to improve the foster care system in the United States. Mrs. Trump also said she was working with a conservative nonprofit called the Bradley Impact Fund that had selected the foster-care related charities she intended to support. Both organizations are registered in Florida to raise charitable donations.

A spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which oversees charitable giving in the state, declined to comment on Friday about the inquiry.

“With the investigation still ongoing, we are not able to comment further at this time,” Erin M. Moffet, the agency spokeswoman, said in an email on Friday.

Mrs. Trump, in a series of public statements, said that she had followed all the state rules.

“The media has created a narrative whereby I am trying to act in an illegal or unethical manner,” her statement on Friday said. “That portrayal is simply untrue and adversely affects the children I hope to support. Those who attack my initiatives and create the appearance of impropriety are quite literally dream killers. They have canceled the hopes and dreams of children by trying to cancel me.”

Mrs. Trump’s moneymaking efforts have only intensified in recent weeks, as she announced a partnership with Parler, the conservative social media site, to use the platform to promote her online sales.

She disclosed on Parler this week a plan to sell what she is calling the POTUS TRUMP NFT Collection, which features virtual artwork known as a nonfungible token, or NFT, on USAmemorabilia.com, a website she is creating.

ny times logoNew York Times, Donald Trump’s New Social App Is Poised to Join a Crowded Field, Matthew Goldstein and Ryan Mac, Feb. 18, 2022. Truth Social, the former president’s hard-right alternative to Twitter, could go live next month. But as businesses go, outrage may not be the best moneymaker.

For months, former President Donald J. Trump has promoted Truth Social, the soon-to-be-released flagship app of his fledging social media company, as a platform where free speech can thrive without the constraints imposed by Big Tech.

At least seven other social media companies have promised to do the same.

Gettr, a right-wing alternative to Twitter founded last year by a former adviser to Mr. Trump, bills itself as a haven from censorship. That’s similar to Parler — essentially another Twitter clone backed by Rebekah Mercer, a big donor to the Republican Party. MeWe and CloutHub are similar to Facebook, but with the pitch that they promote speech without restraint.

Truth Social was supposed to go live on Presidents’ Day, but the start date was recently pushed to March, though a limited test version was unveiled recently. A full rollout could be hampered by a regulatory investigation into a proposed merger of its parent company, the Trump Media & Technology Group, with a publicly traded blank-check company.

If and when it does open its doors, Mr. Trump’s app will be the newest — and most conspicuous — entrant in the tightly packed universe of social media companies that have cropped up in recent years, promising to build a parallel internet after Twitter, Facebook, Google and other mainstream platforms began to crack down on hate speech.

At least one other social media start-up is hoping to ride the former president’s popularity among conservatives to build its business. Gettr, which began on July 4 and is led by Jason Miller, the former Trump adviser, had hoped to land Mr. Trump before he decided to open his own venture. In January, Gettr advertised that it was the “place to watch” recent rallies by Mr. Trump.

In a written statement, Mr. Miller said the former president was welcome “to join GETTR whenever he is ready.” The site claims to have five million users and a cash pile of tens of millions of dollars. In a recent interview, Mr. Miller denied a previous claim that Gettr had raised $75 million.

parler logoParler, the platform popular with Trump supporters, is still reeling from its role after the violent protests at the U.S. Capitol in January 2021 by thousands of angry fans of Mr. Trump. Downloads of Parler’s app plummeted 88 percent last year after Apple and Google removed it from their app stores and Amazon cut off web services after the riot, according to SensorTower, a digital analytics company.

Parler, which said in January that it had raised $20 million from investors, has since returned to the Apple Store. However, internal turmoil has continued. Last year, Parler fired John Matze, one of its founders, from his position as chief executive. Mr. Matze has said he was dismissed after a dispute with Ms. Mercer — the daughter of a wealthy hedge fund executive who is Parler’s main backer — over how to deal with extreme content posted on the platform.

Christina Cravens, a spokeswoman for Parler, said the company had always “prohibited violent and inciting content” and had invested in “content moderation best practices.”

Moderating content will also be a challenge for Truth Social, whose main star, Mr. Trump, has not been able to post messages since early 2021, when Twitter and Facebook kicked him off their platforms for inciting violence tied to the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

With Mr. Trump as its main poster, it was unclear if Truth Social would grow past subscribers who sign up simply to read the former president’s missives, Mr. Matze said.

Feb. 17

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge says Donald Trump, two of his children must give depositions in probe of family’s business practices, Shayna Jacobs and Jonathan O'Connell, Feb. 17, 2022. The judge denied a request by the family to quash New York Attorney General Letitia James’s subpoenas in the civil case or to put off enforcing them until the conclusion of a criminal probe.

Former president Donald Trump and two of his adult children must give depositions in a long-running civil investigation into the family’s business practices — a ruling that means the trio could face hours of uncomfortable questioning by investigators in the near future.

Attorneys for Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump tried to get subpoenas for their testimony and related documents thrown out in court filings and at a hearing Thursday morning. They accused New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) of trying to circumvent the legal process by seeking evidence for the civil matter that she could also use to build a criminal case against the former president and his business.

James, who has called herself a partner in a criminal probe originated by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, is conducting a parallel civil inquiry that has covered the same subject areas: whether asset valuations Trump and the Trump Organization gave lenders, tax authorities and insurance brokers were false and amounted to wrongdoing.

Trump has sued James over the inquiry, calling it politically motivated and saying it violates his constitutional rights. That lawsuit is pending in federal court in Syracuse, N.Y.

In a written ruling Thursday, New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron denied a request by the family to quash James’s subpoenas in the civil case or delay enforcing them until the conclusion of the criminal probe. Engoron said the Trumps must sit for depositions within three weeks, and Donald Trump must provide the requested records within 14 days.

Trump attorney Ron Fischetti said he plans to appeal, however, and will ask the appeals court to stay enforcement of Engoron’s decision until the appeal is heard.

'Never stopped ripping things up': Inside Trump's habit of tearing up documents

Engoron wrote that calling the Trumps to testify for the civil matter wouldn’t trample on their protection against self-incrimination, since they can plead the Fifth Amendment. “When they are deposed, the [Trumps] will have the right to refuse to answer any questions that they claim might incriminate them, and that refusal may not be commented on or used against them in a criminal prosecution,” his opinion said.

Eric Trump, another son of Trump’s who has served as an executive at the Trump Organization, asserted his Fifth Amendment right more than 500 times when he was deposed in the civil case, James’s office said in a court filing in January.

The Trumps’ depositions probably would not be made public unless James files a lawsuit against the Trump Organization or its executives, in which case they could be disclosed in whole or in part. If James takes the depositions and then goes back to Engoron over future subpoena disputes, it’s possible she could reveal some of the testimony in those arguments.

In New York, a witness who testifies in front of a state-level grand jury is automatically given immunity from criminal prosecution. For that reason, the Trumps’ attorneys argue, it is unfair for James to seek their depositions because she could use them to implicate the Trumps in the criminal probe.

Fischetti said after the decision that he thinks the dispute over the Trumps’ testimony could eventually create new case law in New York, as a legal test of whether the subject of a civil investigation must comply with a subpoena if the same agency is considering a criminal.

Trump attorney Alina Habba argued at the hearing that James shouldn’t be permitted to bring her civil case because she disparaged the former president publicly while running for office.

Kevin Wallace, from the attorney general’s office, countered that “what matters is the substance of the investigation, the substance of what we’ve found.” He said the idea that the office cannot pursue both a criminal case and criminal inquiry at the same time “is not accurate.”

Trump’s use of financial statements to report his wealth to various parties is a key issue in both the civil and the criminal probe and has also been under the microscope by Congress. The scrutiny on Capitol Hill intensified this week, after a court filing by James included a report from Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars. The report said the financial statements the firm helped prepare for Trump could no longer be relied on and suggested that any recipient of the documents be alerted.

On Thursday, two congressional Democrats cited that report in asking the General Services Administration to consider terminating Trump’s federal lease for the hotel he built at the Old Post Office building in downtown Washington, a few blocks from the White House.

Trump’s company is preparing to sell the hotel lease shortly, in a deal that is expected to close this spring and is likely to net his company a profit of more than $100 million. The hotel was a popular gathering place for his supporters during his presidency.

In their letter to the GSA, Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney (N.Y.) and Gerald E. Connolly (Va.), the top Democrats on the House Oversight Committee, say that the disclosures from Mazars warrant a closer look at the lease. The lawmakers point specifically to a clause in the lease requiring that any information provided by the leaseholder to a bank “shall be true and correct in all material respects.”

Palmer Report, Commentary: Melania Trump lashes out after learning she’s under investigation, Ron Leshnower, Feb. 17, 2022. Palmer Report Melania Trump can’t compete with her husband when it comes to egregious acts of greed, corruption, and wanton cruelty, but she is holding her own these days in the weird scandal department. A pair of shady endeavors is raising questions and eyebrows as Melania fails to offer satisfactory answers. Though unrelated, Melania’s two new scandals suggest she is trying to make a dishonest and possibly illegal buck through unusually sly methods.

bill palmer report logo headerThe first scandal is about an “exclusive high tea” event planned for April in Naples, Florida. Ticket prices range from $3,000 to $50,000, with an unspecified amount of the proceeds going to charity. The charity in question is “Fostering the Future, a Be Best Initiative,” which aims to confer computer science scholarships to children who have grown up in the foster care system. So far, so good.

The problem is that Florida law requires any organization that solicits donations to be registered. Neither “Fostering the Future” nor “Be Best,” which was the name of Melania’s public-awareness campaign while in the White House, are registered, according to reporting from The New York Times. Florida is now investigating the high tea, which prompted Melania to tweet a sadly predictable fake-news defense: “Dishonest reporting at it again. Everything has been done lawfully, & all documents are in the works. Read with caution-typical corrupt media.”

In another development, early last week, Vice looked at the blockchain records of a $170,000 purchase of a non-fungible token (NFT) “Head of State Collection, 2022” that Melania auctioned in January. According to a press release, an undisclosed amount would, similarly, go toward helping foster care children gain access to computer science and technology education. The records, however, reveal something curious: Melania’s NFT collection was purchased by none other than… Melania (or at least her team).

Melania’s office failed to offer a more plausible explanation for “the bizarre chain of transactions and multiple wallets… or why the winning bid of a public crypto auction was facilitated by the creators of the auction and turned out to be the exact minimum amount.” A new Bloomberg analysis released Wednesday suggests it could be “wash trading,” when someone simultaneously buys and sells the same asset, possibly triggering an artificial rise in price. Although wash trading is illegal with securities and futures, NFTs are a new asset class in an unregulated market.

While Worst Lady Melania Trump grabs headlines with her latest scandals, First Lady Jill Biden is charting quite a different course. This week, she was headed to New York to “tape segments of Sesame Street’s upcoming season and Sesame Workshop’s social impact and military family initiatives,” according to the White House. She is then visiting Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa as part of the Biden administration’s renewed “Cancer Moonshot” initiative to fight cancer. Indeed, Melania Trump and Jill Biden could not present a more striking study in contrasts.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden orders Trump White House visitor logs to be given to Jan. 6 panel, John Wagner and Sean Sullivan, Feb. 17, 2022 (print ed.). The former president claimed the logs were subject to executive privilege, but a White House lawyer rejected that, saying the National Archives should provide the records to the House’s Jan. 6 committee.

joe biden resized oPresident Biden has ordered visitor logs from the White House during President Donald Trump’s tenure to be turned over to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The former president claimed the logs were subject to executive privilege. In a letter Tuesday, a White House lawyer rejected the claim, saying the National Archives should provide the records within 15 days to the House committee.

“The President has determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the best interests of the United States, and therefore is not justified, as to these records and portions of records,” White House counsel Dana Remus said in the letter.

The letter was first reported by the New York Times.

It was not immediately clear what the records would show or how meticulously they were maintained.

In her letter, Remus said that “the records in question are entries in visitor logs showing appointment information for individuals who were processed to enter the White House complex, including on January 6, 2021.”

Trump will keep list of White House visitors secret

Early in Trump’s tenure, the White House announced that it would not follow President Barack Obama’s policy of voluntarily disclosing the names of most visitors to the White House complex. The Trump White House cited “grave national security risks and privacy concerns.”

Biden resumed the practice after taking office, voluntarily disclosing visitor logs on a monthly basis, with some exceptions.

“The majority of the entries over which the former President has asserted executive privilege would be publicly released under current policy,” Remus said in the letter to David S. Ferriero, the archivist of the United States.

washington post logoWashington Post, Amid high-profile dispute with prosecutors, lawyer charged by Durham asks court to toss his case, Matt Zapotosky, Feb. 17, 2022. The lawyer charged by Special Counsel John Durham with lying to the FBI when he passed along information about then-candidate Donald Trump has asked a judge to dismiss the case — saying that even if he did what Durham alleged, it was not a crime.

michael sussmann perkins youngerAttorneys for Michael Sussmann, right, argued in a motion to dismiss on Thursday that Durham’s case was virtually unprecedented and, if allowed to proceed, might dissuade other tipsters from coming forward. Durham, they asserted, has not charged Sussmann with giving false information to the FBI, but rather, with lying about whether he was approaching the bureau on behalf of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

“This is a case of extraordinary prosecutorial overreach,” Sussmann’s lawyers wrote. “The law criminalizes only false statements that are material — false statements that matter because they can actually affect a specific decision of the government.”

john durham CustomA spokesman for Durham, left — appointed in 2019 to review the FBI’s investigation of possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia — declined to comment.

Motions to dismiss are fairly common in criminal cases, and defendants must meet a high legal bar. But legal analysts have said almost from the moment Sussmann was charged in September that the case might be a tough one for prosecutors.

Durham will probably respond to the motion before the judge rules.

Thursday’s motion comes on the heels of a rancorous exchange between the special counsel and Sussmann’s defense team over recent filings in the case. Trump and some of his political allies said a filing by Durham indicated Democrats were spying on the White House while Trump was president. Sussmann, others involved in gathering the material at issue and outside analysts said that interpretation was wrong, notably claiming the information they turned over to the government predated Trump’s time in office.

At the core of Sussmann’s indictment is a September 2016 meeting in which he gave the FBI data showing possibly nefarious computer connections between the Trump Organization, which is the former president’s business entity, and a Russian financial institution known as Alfa alpha bank logo russiaBank. By Durham’s account, Sussmann claimed he was not sharing the information on behalf of any clients, but was in fact acting on behalf of two: a tech executive and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The FBI investigated the matter but ultimately could not prove the computer data showed anything nefarious.

Sussmann has pleaded not guilty.

Durham’s indictment suggested that Sussmann knew the data he was presenting did not show nefarious ties between Trump and Russia, and intentionally hid that he was working for the Clinton campaign. But Sussmann’s attorneys argued that Sussmann’s hiding his ties to Clinton was irrelevant.

“At the end of the day, Hillary Clinton herself could have publicly handed over the Russian Bank-1 Information and the FBI would still have investigated it,” Sussmann’s attorneys argued. Their motion also said charging tipsters who hide their true motivations could have a chilling effect, citing the hypothetical example of “a jilted ex-wife” who might “think twice about reporting her ex-husband’s extensive gunsmuggling operation.”

Durham’s team said that if Sussman had been fully truthful, the FBI might have been able to “more fully to assess and uncover the origins of the relevant data and technical analysis.”

The motion to dismiss comes about a week after Durham raised fresh allegations about Sussmann in a court filing that was ostensibly meant to ask a judge to inquire about possible conflicts of interest. The filing ignited fury among conservatives and drew recriminations from Sussmann’s team.

It added some details to Durham’s previous allegations, focused largely on the computer ties that Sussmann and those working with him examined between Trump-connected entities and those linked to Russia. Those purported ties came from the Domain Name System, or DNS, a sort of digital phone book which matches domain names — which are typically words — to Internet addresses, which are numbers. DNS records would show when one computer communicated with another, perhaps because someone looked up a particular website, or sent an email.

Feb. 15

 

donald trump money palmer report Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Breaking: Accounting Firm Cuts Ties With Trump and Retracts Financial Statements, Ben Protess and William K. Rashbaum, Feb. 15, 2022 (print ed.). Donald J. Trump’s longtime accounting firm cut ties with his family business last week amid ongoing criminal and civil investigations into whether Mr. Trump illegally inflated the value of his assets, court documents filed on Monday show.

In a letter to the Trump Organization on Feb. 9, the accounting firm notified the company of its decision and disclosed that it could no longer stand behind annual financial statements it prepared for Mr. Trump. The firm, Mazars USA, compiled the financial statements based on information the former president and his company provided.

letitia james o headshotThe letter instructed the Trump Organization to essentially retract the documents, known as statements of financial condition, from 2011 to 2020. In the letter, Mazars noted that the firm had not “as a whole” found material discrepancies between the information the Trump Organization provided and the actual value of Mr. Trump’s assets. But given what it called “the totality of circumstances,” the letter directed the Trump Organization to notify anyone who received the statements that they should no longer rely on them.

The statements, which Mr. Trump used to secure loans, are at the center of the two law enforcement investigations into the former president and his company. The Manhattan district attorney’s office and the office of the New York attorney general, Letitia James, have been investigating whether Mr. Trump used the statements to defraud his lenders into providing him the best possible loan terms.

The revelations appeared in the new court documents filed by Ms. James’s office, which is seeking to question Mr. Trump and two of his adult children under oath as part of her investigation.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers had asked a judge to prohibit the questioning, and in response, Ms. James’s office argued in court papers last month that the company had engaged in “fraudulent or misleading” practices.

Her filing on Monday — which marked her latest attempt to press ahead with questioning Mr. Trump as well as Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump — included a copy of the Mazars letter, signed by the accounting firm’s general counsel.

The brief letter could bolster Ms. James’s investigation, which has focused partly on the statements and whether they overvalued Mr. Trump’s various hotels, golf clubs and other properties.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Did Mazars just turn state’s evidence against Donald Trump? Bill Palmer, right, Feb 15, 2022. Yesterday we all learned that the bill palmerMazars accounting firm has dumped its longtime client the Trump Organization, citing a conflict of interest, and making clear that Donald Trump’s past decade of financial statements should now be considered unreliable. So what’s going on? How we all came to learn about it may be the biggest clue.

bill palmer report logo headerThe Mazars letter to the Trump Organization is dated February 9th – the middle of last week. On February 14th, just five days later, New York Attorney General Letitia James included a copy of the letter in a court filing. This almost certainly means that Mazars provided James with a copy of the letter when it sent the letter to the Trump Organization last week. In other words, Mazars appears to be working with New York against Trump.

Numerous observers are asking whether Mazars has criminal exposure here. How could a major accounting firm go a decade or more without figuring out that one of its most notorious clients was fudging the numbers? This could explain why Mazars appears to be working with prosecutors.

Former prosecutor Richard Signorelli tweeted his suspicion that “something is going on behind the scenes of the prosecution,” adding that Mazars accountants could be “turning state’s evidence” against Trump world. Of course the real question is why this move is happening right now, and what it signals is coming next.

This Mazars letter significantly bolsters not only the civil probe that the New York Attorney General is running into the Trump Organization, but also the related criminal case that the New York Attorney General and the Manhattan District Attorney are jointly running into Donald Trump himself. Signorelli may be onto something when he suggests that this letter and court filing could be intended to clear the way for criminal charges against Donald Trump. Stay tuned – something was just set in motion.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: The fascist fifth column rears its head in Canada, Wayne Madsen, left, author of 21 books and former U.S. Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst, Feb. 14-15, 2022. The "convoy" wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallhad everything to do with overthrowing the Canadian government and replace it with a fascist junta.

Canadians are coming to the realization that the so-called "truckers convoy" that laid siege to the capital city of Ottawa for over wayne madesen report logotwo weeks had nothing to do with ending vaccine mandates for U.S.-Canada cross-border truckers.

The "convoy" had everything to do with overthrowing the Canadian government and replace it with a fascist junta consisting of neo-Nazis, Qanon cultists, western Canada secessionists, far-right Conservatives, and, more alarming, members of law enforcement and the military. What has occurred in Canada has been nothing more than a Canadian version of the January 6, 2021 fascist-led siege of the U.S. Capitol.

Feb. 14

 

joe oltmann patrick byrne safe

Colorado militant Joe Oltmann (left above) and ex-Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne (right). Introduction Just days ago, on an episode of Conservative Daily Podcast titled “GOPers Covering Up Election Fraud,” insurrectionist Colorado militiaman Joe Oltmann — whose presence in Donald Trump’s Insurrection Eve “command center” at the Willard Hotel in Washington was extensively covered by Proof here and here — lit into his one-time insurrectionist compatriot Patrick Byrne over a statement Byrne made about him.

Proof, Investigation: Eyewitness: I Was Present As Alleged Coup Plotter Patrick Byrne Privately Confessed to Federal Crimes on January 6—and seth abramson graphicThere's a Video of Him Doing It, Seth Abramson, left, Feb. 14, 2022. New audio and video evidence from insurrectionists Joe Oltmann and Patrick Byrne is about to become critical to ongoing federal investigations by both the FBI and House January 6 Committee.

Byrne and Oltmann are so loudly self-righteous about their supposedly noble efforts to end U.S. democracy that they have provided seth abramson proof logofederal investigators — both in Congress and the FBI — with a trail of evidence that cannot be ignored. And only some of that evidence is testimonial; some portion of it clearly exists in multimedia formats, whether it be prior statements made by Oltmann on his too-candid-by-half Conservative Daily Podcast or Byrne’s now multiple public confessions about what he was doing before and during and after January 6.

Or we could look at Oltmann’s Facebook videos — previously reported on by Proof here and here — or what apparently is a whole film Byrne made on his dubiously legal conduct.

All this must be seized by investigators before any of it is destroyed or otherwise compromised. But Congress must also exploit the new divisions that have appeared within the coup plotters’ ranks. At one point in the conversation of his with Patrick Byrne that he secretly lin wood gage skidmorerecorded, Linn Wood (shown at left in a Gage Skidmore photo) actually advises Byrne to go to federal authorities and drop a dime on his fellow coup plotter Sidney Powell (albeit for financial crimes, not political ones).

sidney powellThe consequences this would have for the January 6 investigation would have been fully unmistakable to Byrne in that moment, and yet he agreed with Wood that he would probably need to turn Powell, right, in to the authorities — partly (perhaps even in major part) to save his own skin. Congress and the FBI can now leverage the same sort of cynical reasoning to question Byrne and Wood with respect to their actions on and around January 6, or even to cut a deal with Powell on some of her alleged financial crimes if she will reveal in full what she said to Donald Trump (and what he said to her in response) on December 18, 2020 and other key dates in the insurrection timeline.

It has been far too easy, for some time now, for members of Congress and federal law enforcement officers to dismiss people like Lindell, Oltmann, Byrne, Powell, Flynn as cranks, lunatics, or some combination of the two. What sort of person would conspire with these incompetent radicals, one might ask?

The answer: Donald Trump. Donald Trump would, and apparently did, conspire with these people. That most Americans of sense would never partner up with them, or even (and here I speak from experience) communicate with them if they reached out, is immaterial.

Sometimes alleged wrong-doers are every bit as stupid as those aiming to chase them down hope they will be, and that’s all to the good (unless you’re currently working as a state public defender). That the January 6 coup plotters failed saved our nation. That the plotters are, in many instances, embarrassingly unsophisticated must be exploited to ensure the investigation of their coup plot doesn’t meet the same fate the plot itself did.

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

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

Feb. 11

 

djt hands open amazon safe

Press Run, Commentary: How Trump gets away with shredding everything, Eric Boehlert, right, Feb. 11, 2022. The consummate bully. We just witnessed eric.boehlertanother textbook example this week of how Trump gets away with bending rules in his favor, and without having to pay a price from the press or the Beltway establishment.

It’s maddening to watch and it highlights just how unprepared D.C. institutions still are in terms of dealing with an unapologetic authoritarian like Trump who, through his entire adult life, has always assumed rules do not apply to him. And they clearly do not.

The media continue to normalize his criminality, in this case absconding from the White House with classified documents as he readies another presidential run. (And shredding other docs.) It’s the same D.C. press corps that crucified Hillary Clinton for years simply because journalists thought her email story might have a hint of criminality to it. It never did.

What Trump has done since he first arrived in Washington, D.C., in January 2017 was shred longstanding Beltway protocols; traditions that for decades and sometimes centuries were based on a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ on the proper way to behave and the ethical course that should be followed while running the government. The consummate bully and liar, Trump didn’t care about any of those rules and began obliterating them immediately. He flooded the zone with crass, outlandish and destructive behavior, which the press tried to keep pace with the first. Shattering Beltway protocols used to carry a penalty, which was handed out by the press.

Eventually, as the years passed, news outlets mostly gave up, especially with the day-to-day transgressions, adopting a Trump-being-Trump view of his chronic rule breaking. Beltway institutions, particularly within the federal government, embraced the same mealy-mouthed approach, which gave Trump the okay to trample norms. “He didn’t think the rules applied to him,” a former White House aide told CNN this week. And he was right.

That’s why he packed up 15 boxes of presidential documents, some of them marked “top secret,” and shipped them off to Mar-a-lago, even though all the contents should have been sent to the National Archives, because the Presidential Records Act requires that all records created by presidents be turned over at the end of their administrations. Previously, Trump spent years destroying presidential documents, which is not allowed by law.

The whole story revolved around “the Trump administration flagrantly violating federal law by removing and destroying protected federal records,” as Media Matters noted. But that’s not how it got played in the press this week.

The Washington Post, which broke the 15-boxes story on Monday, politely carried spin from unnamed Trump advisers saying there had been no “nefarious intent” in keeping the batch of documents, some of which the January 6 committee want as part of its insurrection investigation. Instead, there had been a “frenzied packing process” in the wake of Trump’s defeat, the Post explained.

The newspaper actually granted anonymity to a “former Trump White House official,” so he or she could be quoted as saying that Trump packing up the 15 boxes was just an honest mistake by a man who would never consider breaking the rules — the same Trump who told more than 20,000 lies while in office.

Following up the Post’s credulous reporting, the New York Times managed to be equally obsequious, as it typed up the same spin from the same former Trump officials. Shorter Times: Nothing to see here folks, it was all just a misunderstanding.

Feb. 9

 

Trucks are backed up Monday on both sides of the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Windsor, Ontario, to Detroit (Photo by Daniel Mears via Associated Press).

Trucks are backed up Monday on both sides of the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Windsor, Ontario, to Detroit (Photo by Daniel Mears via Associated Press).

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary, Anti-vaxxers are the vanguard of the global fascist movement, Wayne Madsen, left, author of wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Small21 books, including the recent The Rise of the Fascist Fourth Reich: The Era of Trumpism and the Far Right (shown below) and former Navy intelligence officer, Feb. 9, 2022.

wayne madesen report logoThe anti-vaxxer truckers' "FREEDOM CONVOY" siege of the Canadian capital of Ottawa and other Canadian cities finally exposed what the entire anti-Covid vaccination movement is all about: providing a cause to united and rally fascists around the world in a multi-pronged attempt to overthrow by force democratically-elected governments.

Opposition to public health requirements during the pandemic was used by fascists the world over to create political instability. First, the fascists opposed lock downs, mandatory masking, and safe distancing prior to a vaccine being fielded to the general population.

wayne madsen fourth reich coverIn August and September 2020, white supremacist militiamen with the Wolverine Watchmen attempted to storm the Michigan legislature in Lansing, kidnap Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer, below right, from her vacation home, assassinate Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, and kill as many Democratic legislators and Michigan State Police officers as possible.

gretchen whitmer o horizontal CustomThis act followed the April siege of the Michigan legislature by armed protesters opposed to state lock down orders. Similar sieges of state Capitols by anti-vaxxers and the violence-prone far-right took place in Richmond, Virginia; Columbus, Ohio; Atlanta, Georgia; Denver, Colorado; Salem, Oregon; Olympia, Washington; and Salt Lake City, Utah.

The "LIBERATE MICHIGAN" siege would serve as a template for future political disruption, including the January 6, 2021 siege of the U.S. Capitol to prevent the certification of the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

The weaponization of lunacy with the rise of conspiracy cults like Qanon and the anti-vaxx cause fed directly into the unsuccessful attempt later in 2021 to recall California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom. In these and other political actions, the not-so-hidden hands of Russian, other Eastern European, Israeli, and domestic U.S. "bot farms" and "boiler rooms" were at play in stirring up the far-right on social media platforms, including Facebook, Gab, Instagram, Telegram, and Twitter.

 

Trump Attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis raising claims of 2020 election fraud at a hearing in Michigan in December 2020.

Trump Attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis raising claims of 2020 election fraud at a hearing in Michigan in December 2020.

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Mich. prosecutor says Giuliani asked him to hand over voting machines, Jon Swaine, Emma Brown and Jacqueline Alemany, Feb. 9, 2022. A Washington Post examination found that a phone call between President Donald Trump’s legal team and Antrim County prosecutor James Rossiter was part of a behind-the-scenes intervention that helped twist a mistake in the county’s reporting of election results into supposed proof of a vast conspiracy.

In the weeks after the 2020 election, Rudolph W. Giuliani and other legal advisers to President Donald Trump asked a Republican prosecutor in northern Michigan to get his county’s voting machines and pass them to Trump’s team, the prosecutor told The Washington Post.

Antrim County prosecutor James Rossiter said in an interview that Giuliani and several colleagues made the request during a telephone call after the county initially misreported its election results. The inaccurate tallies meant that Joe Biden appeared to have beaten Trump by 3,000 votes in a Republican stronghold, an error that soon placed Antrim at the center of false claims by Trump that the election had been stolen.

Rossiter said he declined. “I said, ‘I can’t just say: give them here.’ We don’t have that magical power to just demand things as prosecutors. You need probable cause.” Even if he had had sufficient grounds to take the machines as evidence, Rossiter said, he could not have released them to outsiders or a party with an interest in the matter.

Legal scholars said it was unusual and inappropriate for a president’s representatives to make such a request of a local prosecutor. “I never expected in my life I’d get a call like this,” Rossiter said.

Giuliani declined to comment in response to questions from The Post, his attorney said.

Giuliani’s team called Rossiter around Nov. 20, 2020, Rossiter said, as it worked to overturn Trump’s defeat to Biden. The direct appeal to a local law enforcement official was part of a broader effort by Trump’s allies to access voting machines in an attempt to prove that the election had been stolen. That effort extended to a recently disclosed draft executive order for Trump’s signature to have National Guard troops seize machines across the nation. 

 

Trump counsel Rudy Giuliani leads a news conference at Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, DC on Nov. 19, 2020.

Trump counsel Rudy Giuliani leads a news conference at Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, DC on Nov. 19, 2020. At left above is attorney Sidney Powell, whom the Trump White House announced earlier in November as one of its lawyers before firing.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Sidney Powell: ‘Perhaps’ the Kraken wasn’t real after all, Aaron Blake, Feb. 9, 2022 (print ed.). The Kraken is still backtrackin.’

The many dubious and false claims of voter fraud and irregularities made by lawyers aligned with Donald Trump after the 2020 election have forced something of a legal reckoning — a legal reckoning that continues apace. And perhaps nobody exemplifies that like former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, who has now been forced on multiple occasions to acknowledge that the Kraken wasn’t what it was cracked up to be.

During the period between Election Day and Joe Biden’s win being finalized, Powell made all manner of claims about massive voter fraud. Not only that, she said she had proof — proof that was always seemingly right around the corner.

“President Trump won by a landslide,” she said at that infamous November 2020 news conference at the Republican National Committee. “We are going to prove it.”

“I’m going to release the Kraken,” she said around the same time.

Since then, though, Powell has found herself vulnerable to both financial penalties (being sued by voting machine companies Smartmatic and Dominion) and legal penalties, possibly including disbarment. And she has offered a very different take on the evidence she had.

In response to the voting-machine lawsuit, Powell’s legal team in March argued that “reasonable people would not accept such statements as fact” but, rather, merely as claims to be evaluated in court. She said she was merely serving as an advocate for Trump. She even said that her legal opponents calling her claims “wild accusations” and “outlandish” only reinforced that the claims were not to be taken at face value.

Now, Powell has filed another such document, in response to an effort to sanction her professionally, which a federal judge moved along last summer in a scathing ruling. And again, the big takeaway is that she’s backing off.

The big line, as first spotlighted by Adam Klasfeld, is when Powell and another Trump-aligned lawyer say the claims made were only “perhaps” true — but that they were legitimate because lots of people believed them.

“Millions of Americans believe the central contentions of the complaint to be true,” the filing says, “and perhaps they are.”

The filing also notes that “dozens of laws have been enacted by state legislatures in response to concerns similar to those raised in the complaint.”

That latter statement is most certainly true. But, as with the GOP push for rewriting such election laws, there’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg question. Republicans have indeed often justified those new laws by pointing to the perception of voter fraud and other irregularities, rather than actual proof. But that perception itself owes in large part to the efforts of Powell and her ilk. Polls suggest such claims caught on with a majority of Republicans despite the utter lack of substantiation or wins in court.

Feb. 8

Palmer Report, Opinion: January 6th Committee makes clear that it intends to put Donald Trump in prison, Bill Palmer, Feb. 8, 2022. While the notion that the DOJ is doing “nothing” about Trump world is absurd on its face, none of us have any way of fully knowing just what the DOJ is doing behind the scenes. There are confirmed DOJ criminal cases against the likes of Steve Bannon, the Oath Keepers leadership, and Rudy Giuliani. And there have recently been breadcrumbs pointing to the DOJ at least trying to build a case against Donald Trump himself – but no one knows how serious the DOJ is about actually indicting Trump.

bill palmer report logo headerTo that end, the January 6th Committee isn’t taking any chances. According to a new report from the New York Times, the committee has adopted “mafia” style prosecution tactics behind the scenes, in order to bust Trump’s underlings and force them to flip on Trump. Of course Congress can’t actually prosecute anyone. But when the committee made a solid criminal referral to the DOJ against Bannon, the DOJ indicted him just three weeks later. So the committee has good reason to believe that if it makes a solid enough criminal referral against Trump for election-related and insurrection-related crimes, the DOJ will feel compelled to indict Trump for it, whether the DOJ was already planning to indict Trump or not.

It’s worth underscoring the fact that the DOJ could already be deep into the process of building a criminal case against Donald Trump, and that the DOJ could intend to bring criminal charges against him regardless of what the January 6th Committee does or doesn’t do. For instance, over the past month the DOJ has begun having Capitol attackers, in their guilty pleas, formally attest that Trump incited them to do it. And of course Trump is already on track for state prison in New York and Georgia. But finishing off Trump is important enough that the January 6th Committee can’t leave anything to chance – and so, to extend the mafia metaphor, the committee is going to hand the DOJ a criminal case against Trump that it can’t refuse.

washington post logoWashington Post, McConnell pushes back on RNC censure of lawmakers over probe of Jan. 6 attack, Felicia Sonmez and Josh Dawsey, Feb. 8, 2022. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) criticized the Republican National Committee on Tuesday for censuring two lawmakers for serving on the House panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

Mitchell_McConnellIn remarks to reporters at the Capitol, McConnell, right, described the attack as a “violent insurrection for the purpose of trying to prevent the peaceful transfer of power.”

On Friday, the RNC voted for a resolution censuring Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) for serving on the House committee investigating the attack, calling it “a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.”

Asked whether he has confidence that RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel will stay on in her role, McConnell told reporters, “I do.”

But he added: “The issue is whether or not the RNC should be sort of singling out members of our party who may have different views from the majority. That’s not the job of the RNC.”

Feb. 7

mar a lago aerial Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, National Archives had to retrieve White House records from Mar-a-Lago, Jacqueline Alemany, Josh Dawsey, Tom Hamburger and Ashley Parker, Feb. 7, 2022. President Donald Trump had improperly removed from the White House boxes that were retrieved last month by the National Archives and Records Administration, people familiar with the visit said.

nara logoPresident Donald Trump improperly removed multiple boxes from the White House that were retrieved by the National Archives and Records Administration last month from his Mar-a-Lago residence because they contained documents and other items that should have been turned over to the agency, according to three people familiar with the visit.

The recovery of the boxes from Trump’s Florida resort raises new concerns about his adherence to the Presidential Records Act, which requires the preservation of memos, letters, notes, emails, faxes and other written communications related to a president’s official duties.

Trump advisers deny any nefarious intent and said the boxes contained mementos, gifts, letters from world leaders and other correspondence. The items included correspondence with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which Trump once described as “love letters,” as well as a letter left for his successor by President Barack Obama, according to two people familiar with the contents.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump caught hiding crucial records from National Archives at Mar-a-Lago, Bill Palmer, Feb. 7, 2022. Since the Supreme Court instructed the National Archive to turn over Donald Trump’s presidential records to the January 6th Committee, various stories have surfaced about how Trump had handled such records improperly and suspiciously. He ripped up some records by hand. Others reportedly went into burn bags. Now things have taken a far uglier turn.

bill palmer report logo headerLast month the National Archives caught Trump hiding presidential records at his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida, according to a new report from the Washington Post. We say “caught” because these records included things like his communications with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un. So it’s not as if Trump just happened to walk out the door with some important records about what he once ordered for lunch. He took arguably some of the most crucial documents of his presidency and stashed them on private property where he thought no one would ever be able to access them.

In a reminder of just how inept Trump tends to be at these things, the National Archives ended up figuring out what was missing and demanded that Trump turn it over, which he then did.

It’s not clear if any of the records stashed at Mar-a-Lago were among the ones requested by the January 6th Committee. But it all adds up to bad faith intent on Donald Trump’s part. He improperly shredded records. He improperly stashed records on private property. It’s obvious that he was attempting to keep the nation from ever knowing what all he was really up to while he occupied the White House. This could help the committee make its overall case if and when it refers Trump for criminal prosecution for obstruction.

 

michael flynn resized djt

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary SPECIAL REPORT: Michael Flynn and active duty brother represent a major U.S. intelligence wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallcollapse, Wayne Madsen, left,

Wayne Madsen, left (former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst, whose his 21st book The Rise of the Fascist Fourth Reich (shown below) documents parallels between 1930s fascists and the pro-Trump fascist movement in America, Feb. 6-7, 2022.

After perusing declassified files of the Defense Intelligence Agency, where Michael Flynn served as director from 2012 to 2014, there is a strong possibility that Flynn was more loyal to Russian President Vladimir Putin than he was to his own commander-in-chief, President Barack wayne madesen report logoObama. The mere fact that it took two years before Obama fired Flynn as DIA director suggests that there were others inside the Intelligence Community and Defense Department who had been running interference for Flynn.

Flynn and [General Stanley] McChrystal serve as examples of renegade generals, who, in the spirit of General Douglas MacArthur, believe they have more authority than the president.

wayne madsen fourth reich coverSuch a flagrant abuse within the military ranks would not be seen again until January 2021, when Flynn's brother, General Charles Flynn, U.S. Army deputy chief of staff for operations, and Lt. General Walter Piatt, director of Army staff, conspired with the Trump White House to refuse authorization to dispatch National Guard troops to protect the U.S. Capitol during the January 6 siege by Trump insurrectionists.

charles flynn oEarlier, Michael Flynn had urged Trump to declare martial law, seize voting machines around the nation, and conduct an illegal "re-do" of the election. Such a collapse of constitutional government in the United States would have fulfilled the dreams of the Kremlin, which had never warmed to Western-style representative democracy, choosing instead autocratic rule by a corrupt oligarchy.

It is noteworthy that Charles Flynn is currently the commander of U.S. Army Forces Indo-Pacific at Fort Shafter, Hawaii, where he permitted a recent Republican Party event called "Red Takes Blue" at the Army's Schofield Barracks base, which is under Charles Flynn's command. The event, before it was quickly canceled due to adverse publicity, featured "Stop the Steal" figure Scott Presler.

Flynn lied about his Russia contacts to the FBI, an act that resulted in his criminal indictment and conviction, later overturned by Trump's pardon.

Flynn had been considered as the vice presidential running mate for Trump in 2016. One shudders to think of what would have occurred on January 6, 2021 had it been Flynn instead of Mike Pence who was presiding over the Senate's certification of the electoral votes.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: New revelations about Trump’s past lawlessness preview a disturbing future, Paul Waldman, right, Feb. 7, 2022. A year after paul waldmanhe left the White House, more of former president Donald Trump’s misdeeds continue to come to light. And while presidential misconduct is always worthy of notice even in retrospect, for Trump it has particular importance. He is likely running again in 2024, and he could certainly win.

And for Trump, the wrongdoing of the past is a guide to the future, not just because he might repeat what he did before, but because he would be even worse.

The Post has published two new articles concerning Trump’s violations of the Presidential Records Act. This law requires that almost all documents involving the president must be preserved, because they belong to the country; there is a whole system in place to process and maintain these records.

But as president, Trump would routinely tear up documents. As The Post reports, “he did it all in violation of the Presidential Records Act, despite being urged by at least two chiefs of staff and the White House counsel to follow the law on preserving documents.”

Feb. 6

ny times logo

New York Times, In Scrutinizing Trump, Jan. 6 Panel Adopts Prosecution Tactics, Michael S. Schmidt and Luke Broadwater, Feb. 6, 2022 (print ed.). The House select committee scrutinizing the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol is borrowing techniques from federal prosecutions, employing aggressive tactics typically used against mobsters and terrorists as it seeks to break through stonewalling from former President Donald J. Trump and his allies and develop evidence that could prompt a criminal case.

In what its members see as the best opportunity to hold Mr. Trump and his team accountable, the committee — which has no authority to pursue criminal charges — is using what powers it has in expansive ways in hopes of pressuring Attorney General Merrick B. Garland to use the Justice Department to investigate and prosecute them.

The panel’s investigation is being run by a former U.S. attorney, and the top investigator brought in to focus on Mr. Trump’s inner circle is also a former U.S. attorney. The panel has hired more than a dozen other former federal prosecutors.

The committee has interviewed more than 475 witnesses and issued more than 100 subpoenas, including broad ones to banks as well as telecommunications and social media companies. Some of the subpoenas have swept up the personal data of Trump family members and allies, local politicians and at least one member of Congress, Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio. Though no subpoena has been issued for Mr. Jordan, his text messages and calls have shown up in communications with Mark Meadows, the former White House chief of staff, and in a call with Mr. Trump on the morning of Jan. 6, 2021.

Armed with reams of telephone records and metadata, the committee has used link analysis, a data mapping technique that former F.B.I. agents say was key to identifying terrorist networks in the years after the Sept. 11 attacks. The F.B.I. said it used a similar tactic last month to identify the seller of a gun to a man in Texas who took hostages at a synagogue.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s relentless document destruction: ‘He never stopped ripping things up,’ Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey, Tom Hamburger and Jacqueline Alemany, Feb. 6, 2022 (print ed.). His shredding of memos and other papers in the White House extended throughout his presidency.

President Donald Trump tore up briefings and schedules, articles and letters, memos both sensitive and mundane.

He ripped paper into quarters with two big, clean strokes — or occasionally more vigorously, into smaller scraps.

He left the detritus on his desk in the Oval Office, in the trash can of his private West Wing study and on the floor aboard Air Force One, among many other places.

And he did it all in violation of the Presidential Records Act, despite being urged by at least two chiefs of staff and the White House counsel to follow the law on preserving documents.

“It is absolutely a violation of the act,” said Courtney Chartier, president of the Society of American Archivists. “There is no ignorance of these laws. There are White House manuals about the maintenance of these records.”

Although glimpses of Trump’s penchant for ripping were reported earlier in his presidency — by Politico in 2018 — the House select committee’s investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection has shined a new spotlight on the practice. The Washington Post reported that some of the White House records the National Archives and Records Administration turned over to the committee appeared to have been torn apart and then taped back together.

 

Trump counsel Rudy Giuliani leads a news conference at Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, DC on Nov. 19, 2020.

Trump counsel Rudy Giuliani leads a news conference at Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, DC on Nov. 19, 2020. At left above is attorney Sidney Powell, whom the Trump White House announced earlier in November as one of its lawyers before firing.

washington post logoWashington Post, Phone, email records for lawyer of Bannon, Giuliani sought by Justice Dept., Spencer S. Hsu, Feb. 6, 2022 (print ed.). Stephen K. Bannon’s team decried the collection of Robert J. Costello’s records, saying it may have violated attorney-client privilege.

The Justice Department has sought phone and email records of a defense attorney who represented Stephen K. Bannon, the former adviser to Justice Department log circularPresident Donald Trump, in his dealings with a House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riots and his subsequent indictment for contempt of Congress, his defense said.

Bannon’s team decried the collection of Robert J. Costello’s records, saying it may have violated attorney-client privilege, a bedrock principle of U.S. legal practice that says a lawyer must keep confidential what they are told by their clients.

Bannon’s defense team made the new disclosures in a 19-page motion filed Friday night, suggesting it was outrageous for Bannon’s Washington-based FBI and U.S. prosecution team to have sought records of his lawyer’s communications in a misdemeanor contempt case for a period when he was in talks with both the House committee and prosecutors. The House committee referred Bannon for prosecution in October after he refused to appear pursuant to a Sept. 23 subpoena, and he was charged by indictment on Nov. 12.

 capitol rioter

Raw Story, 'Cut their head off!': Mike Pence threatened with beheading in newly released Capitol riot video, Tom Boggioni, Feb. 5, 2022. Late Friday night the Justice Department released new videos from the January 6th Capitol riot where one insurrectionist pledged to drag former vice president Miek Pence through the streets for treason that led to him calling for Donald Trump's former running mate to be decapitated.

raw story logo squareCNN's Amara Walker shared the videos -- with a warning about the language -- that showed the bearded rioter looking into his camera and raging at Pence for betraying supporters of the former president.

In the video the unidentified man can be heard asking if Pence held up the certification of Joe Biden as president before launching into a profanity-laden attack on the former vice president.

"I'm hearing that Pence just caved. Is that true?" he asked. "I'm telling you, if Pence caved we're going to drag motherf*ckers through the streets. You f*cking politicians are going to get drug through the streets because we're not going to have our f*cking sh*t stolen."

"If we find out you politicians voted for it we're going to drag your f*cking asses through the street," he continued before turning back to Pence.

"Let me find out Pence -- let me find out you treasoned (sic) the country. I'll f*cking drag your ass too" he shouted. "Cut their head off! You do the right thing or we're going to force you to do the right thing."

ny times logoNew York Times, Where Fox News and Donald Trump Took Us, Jeremy W. Peters, Feb. 6, 2022 (print ed.). Roger Ailes understood the appeal Mr. Trump had for Fox viewers. He didn’t foresee how together they would redefine the limits of political discourse.

When Roger Ailes ran CNBC in the mid-1990s, he gave himself a talk show called “Straight Forward.” It long ago vanished into the void of canceled cable programs and never received much attention after the network boss moved on to produce more provocative and polarizing content as chairman of Fox News. But “Straight Forward” was a fascinating window into what kind of people Mr. Ailes considered stars.

Donald Trump was one of them. In late 1995, Mr. Ailes invited Mr. Trump, then a 49-year-old developer of condos and casinos, on the show and sounded a bit star-struck as he asked his guest to explain how a Manhattan multimillionaire could be so popular with blue-collar Americans.

fox news logo Small“The guy on the street, the cabdrivers, the guys working on the road crews go, ‘Hey, Donald! How’s it going?’” Mr. Ailes observed while the two men sat in front of a wood-paneled set piece that gave the studio the appearance of an elegant den in an Upper East Side apartment. “It’s almost like they feel very comfortable with you, like you’re one of them. And I’ve never quite figured out how you bridge that.”

Mr. Trump answered by flipping his host’s assertion around. It was because of who hated him: other people with money. “The people that don’t like me are the rich people. It’s a funny thing. They can’t stand me,” Mr. Trump said, adding, “I sort of love it.”

What Mr. Ailes sensed about Mr. Trump’s popularity with middle- and working-class Americans in the 1990s would stay with him, because he identified with it. “A lot of what we do at Fox is blue collar stuff,” he said in 2011.

His understanding of those dynamics helped shape the coverage he directed for decades and led to an embrace of grievance-oriented political rhetoric that the Republican Party, and a further fragmented right-wing media landscape, is grappling with as it looks toward elections this fall and the possibility of Mr. Trump returning to politics.

Mr. Ailes was eventually ousted from Fox after several women at the network came forward to say he had sexually harassed them. But before that, his intuition about what audiences wanted — and what advertisers would pay for — helped Fox News smash ratings records for cable news. He could rouse the viewer’s patriotic impulses, mine their darkest fears and confirm their wildest delusions. Its coverage of then-Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, often laced with baseless speculation about his past, helped propel the network in 2008 to the highest ratings it had ever recorded in its 12 years of existence. Mr. Ailes earned $19 million that year.

As he looked to assemble a dynamic cast of right-wing media stars to channel the rage and resentment of the budding Tea Party insurgency, Mr. Ailes’s instincts pushed Fox News ratings even higher.

Jeremy W. Peters, who covers politics and the media for The Times, is the author of “Insurgency: How Republicans Lost Their Party and Got Everything They Ever Wanted,” from which this article is adapted.

Feb. 4

 

 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.

 

Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel and former President Trump (file photos).

Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel and former President Trump (file photos).

ny times logoNew York Times, G.O.P. Declares Jan. 6 Attack ‘Legitimate Political Discourse,’ Jonathan Weisman and Reid J. Epstein, Feb. 4, 2022. The moves were an extraordinary statement about the attack, in which Trump supporters stormed the complex, brutalized officers and sent lawmakers into hiding.

The Republican Party on Friday officially declared the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol and events that led to it “legitimate political discourse,” and rebuked two lawmakers in the party who have been most outspoken in condemning the deadly riot and the role of Donald J. Trump in spreading the election lies that fueled it.

rnc logoThe Republican National Committee’s voice vote to censure Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois at its winter meeting in Salt Lake City culminated more than a year of vacillation, which started with party leaders condemning the Capitol attack and Mr. Trump’s conduct, then shifted to downplaying and denying it.

On Friday, the party went further in a resolution slamming Ms. Cheney and Mr. Kinzinger for taking part in the House investigation of the assault, saying they were participating in “persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.”

After the vote, party leaders rushed to clarify that language, saying it was never meant to apply to rioters who violently stormed the Capitol in Mr. Trump’s name.

“Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger crossed a line,” Ronna McDaniel, the Republican National Committee chairwoman, said in a statement. “They chose to join Nancy Pelosi in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse that had nothing to do with violence at the Capitol.”

But the censure, which was carefully negotiated in private among party members, made no such distinction. It was the latest and most forceful effort by the Republican Party to minimize what happened and the broader attempt by Mr. Trump and his allies to invalidate the results of the 2020 election. In approving it and opting to punish two of its own, Republicans seemed to embrace a position that many of them have only hinted at: that the assault and the actions that preceded it were acceptable.

It came days after Mr. Trump suggested that, if re-elected in 2024, he would consider pardons for those convicted in the Jan. 6 attack and for the first time described his goal as aiming to “overturn” the election results.

The day’s events, which were supposed to be about unity, only served to divide Republicans as their leaders try to focus attention on what they call the failings of the Biden administration.

george conway screenshot 2 4 2022webpRaw Story, 'Complete nonsense': George Conway trashes RNC chair for resolution defending MAGA rioters, Matthew Chapman, Feb. 4, 2022. 
'Complete nonsense': George Conway, above, trashes RNC chair for resolution defending MAGA rioters.

On Friday's edition of CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," conservative attorney George Conway tore into the Republican National Committee for their resolution appearing to defend the Capitol attackers, or at least the allies of former President Donald Trump who plotted to overturn the election.

raw story logo square"Does it make any sense that the RNC put out the official resolution equating a violent attack on the Capitol with ... 'legitimate political discourse'?" asked Cooper.

"What Ronna McDaniel said was complete nonsense," said Conway. "If they wanted to make clear between political discourse and the violence at the Capitol, they could have been more specific, but they didn't. They are lumping everybody together, including the insurrectionists. Trump is talking about pardoning these people and he is not making a distinction between the people charged with seditious conspiracy and those that watched the rally and went home."

"I think the criticism from the Republican National Committee is that somehow the January 6 Committee exceeded their mandate and have gone beyond what happened that day. But it hasn't, really," continued Conway. "You can't just look at what happened within a two-block radius of Capitol Hill for two hours on January 6. It did not just happen accidentally. It did not just happen randomly."

"I don't know who they are talking about when they are talking about 'legitimate political discourse,'" added Conway. "The people breaking glass? Are they talking about the people that put up the gallows to say 'Hang Mike Pence'? The people that signed fake electoral votes at the behest of the Trump campaign? Is it legitimate political discourse for John Eastman and Jeffrey Clark to basically make fake theories overruling the Constitution and 12th Amendment and Electoral Count Act of 1887? Those two guys. Is it legitimate political discourse, those two that pled the Fifth Amendment before the January 6 Committee? I don't think so. If somebody was engaged in legitimate political discourse they have nothing to fear from the January 6 Committee, or anything else."

 

djt mike pence

washington post logoWashington Post, Pence: Trump is ‘wrong’ to claim VP had right to overturn election, Mariana Alfaro and Josh Dawsey, Feb. 4, 2022. Former vice president Mike Pence pushed back on former president Donald Trump’s claim this week that Pence could have overturned the 2020 election when he presided over the affirmation of Joe Biden’s electoral college win.

Former vice president Mike Pence said former president Donald Trump was “wrong” in claiming that Pence could have overturned the results of the 2020 election when he presided over the congressional affirmation of Joe Biden’s electoral college win.

“This week, our former president said I had the right to ‘overturn the election.' President Trump is wrong,” Pence said Friday. “I had no right to overturn the election.”

Pence was referring to comments Trump made Sunday, in which he insisted that Pence could have “overturned” the 2020 presidential election on Jan. 6, 2021, as he presided over the counting of electoral college votes by Congress. The former president has repeatedly expressed frustration that Pence did not use his role to try to reject the electoral votes of several states that Biden won, but his Sunday statement was among his most explicit in publicly stating his desire.

The speech marked Pence’s strongest rebuke yet of Trump’s claims and efforts to get him to overturn the results of the 2020 election. In his role as president of the Senate, Pence was at the Capitol to preside over the counting of the electoral votes on the day when a pro-Trump mob breached the building in an effort to prevent Congress from officially affirming Biden’s win. Pence repeatedly told Trump in the lead-up to Jan. 6 that he did not have the power to overturn the 2020 election.

Pence dismissed Trump’s statement during a keynote speech Friday at a conference hosted by the Federalist Society, an organization for conservative and libertarian lawyers, in Florida this weekend.

“There are those in our party who believe that as the presiding officer over the joint session of Congress, I possessed unilateral authority to reject electoral college votes,” Pence said. “Under the Constitution, I had no right to change the outcome of our election.”

“And Kamala Harris,” he added, “will have no right to overturn the election when we beat them in 2024.”

Raw Story, Feds quietly obtain Bannon lawyer’s email and phone records — prompting allegations of ‘spying,’ John Wright, Feb. 4, 2022. Steve Bannon's lawyers are crying foul after federal prosecutors quietly obtained email and phone records belonging to one of them.

The records may be related to Bannon's claim that he was acting on legal advice when he defied a subpoena from the House Select Committee investigating the Capitol insurrection, according to reports.

raw story logo squareSteve Bannon's lawyers are crying foul after federal prosecutors quietly obtained email and phone records belonging to one of them.

The records may be related to Bannon's claim that he was acting on legal advice when he defied a subpoena from the House Select Committee investigating the Capitol insurrection, according to reports.

Prosecutors reportedly began obtaining the records a week after the Department of Justice indicted Bannon for contempt in November for defying the subpoena.

In a filing on Friday, Bannon's lawyers called prosecutors' actions "outrageous and inappropriate government conduct." They said that last month, Department of Justice lawyers provided them with 790 documents.

“The undersigned counsel were shocked to learn, upon accessing these documents, that almost all of the documents reflected efforts by the government to obtain telephone records and email records from the personal and professional accounts of defense counsel, Robert J. Costello, Esquire,” Bannon’s legal team wrote. “Nowhere in the Government’s production was a copy of a court order authorizing the Government’s actions, nor was there a copy of any subpoena for the records, nor was there even any application for a court order or for authorization from the Department of Justice for subpoenas intended to obtain defense counsel’s personal and professional telephone and email records."

According to the Daily Beast, "These kinds of spy tactics are sure to raise public concern, because prosecutors don’t usually spy on a target’s own lawyer."

Feb. 2

 djt barr conferring headshots

Palmer Report, Analysis: Has Bill Barr already given up Donald Trump to investigators? Bill Palmer, right, Feb. 2, 2022. Here’s the crucial bill palmerquestion of the week: who leaked to the New York Times that Donald Trump ordered Rudy Giuliani to look into seizing voting machines?

This kind of inside information about private conversations doesn’t just get picked up by the wind and randomly land on a reporter’s desk. Someone privy to the conversation decided to leak it, and had a specific reason for doing so. In any story, the source is usually whoever looks good in that story. The story says Bill Barr refused Trump’s order, so Barr is probably the leak. This is important.

bill palmer report logo headerBarr, shown above at right in a file photo, has a consistent history of thinly veiled leaks to the media to make himself look good or to promote his point of view. If this is the case again here, it means Barr wants his version of the story out there – which means he’ll certainly give it to (or has already given it to) the January 6th Committee.

The 1/6 committee chair says it’s already spoken with Barr. He didn’t say what about. He also didn’t say if it was actual testimony, or mere conversations about testifying. But if Barr is the person who leaked this revelation about Trump and voting machines, and the context of the NYT article suggests he is, it would surely mean he’s cooperating.

U.S. House Jan. 6 insurrection investigating committee members Liz Cheney (R-WY), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Jamie Raskie (D-MD) are shown, left to right, in a file photo.So if Barr is cooperating, why would the 1/6 committee (shown at right) have kept it secret? Investigators often want to track down the rest of the story before letting someone know they’re onto them. Catch them off guard. Catch them in a lie (perjury). And so on.

Another question: if Barr has been secretly cooperating, and if he is the NYT source, why would he leak this now? It would suggest that the committee has completed the part of the probe where it needed the info that Barr gave the committee to remain secret. We’ll surely find out before too much longer. But for now let’s keep an eye out for additional signs that Barr may have already given up Trump to investigators.

 Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary, ANTIFA Week: Day Three -- Turning America into a massive Bebelplatz, Wayne wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallMadsen, left, author of 21 books, including the recent The Rise of the Fascist Fourth Reich: The Era of Trumpism and the Far Right (shown below) and former Navy intelligence officer, Feb. 2, 2022. No visit to Berlin is complete unless a visit is paid to the Night of Shame Memorial on the Bebelplatz, formerly called Opera Square.

On May 13, 1933, university students, who were coaxed by Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, burned some 25,000 books that were considered to be "un-German." To the accompaniment of bands playing Nazi martial music, the book burners wayne madesen report logohad succumbed to the raving and ranting of Goebbels and his Nazi cohorts.

The plaque at the Night of Shame Memorial bears a mindful warning: "Das war ein Vorspiel nur, dort wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen." ("That was only a prelude; where they burn wayne madsen fourth reich coverbooks, they will in the end also burn people)." The prophetic words were written by German poet and writer Heinrich Heine in 1820.

The few surviving veterans of America's and the civilized world's battle against the forces of fascism in World War II would have ever believed that Nazi-style book burning -- along with book banning, which the Nazis also practiced -- would ever occur in the United States. However, this very core principle of fascist ideology has been unleashed by America's inheritor of Adolf Hitler's demagoguery and fanaticism -- Donald Trump.

The state of Tennessee has become a mini-Bebelplatz for fascist book burners and banners.

The book banners and burners have been incentivized by Republican racist and fascist governors like Greg Abbott of Texas, Ron DeSantis of Florida, Glenn Youngkin of Virginia, and others who have decided that by attacking public schools, colleges, and universities they can further their standing with the pro-Trump political ranks.

If Trump, like Goebbels and Hitler, gives the word that he wants certain books banned or burned, expect nighttime bonfires to spread across the nation and the world. The fascist and Nazi threat is now so much of a clear and present danger, the testament on the plaque on the Bebelplatz now has as much meaning as it did on May 13, 1933.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: ANTIFA Week: Day Two -- The fascist alteration of history, Wayne Madsen, Feb. wayne madesen report logo1-2, 2022. In the fascist travesty known as the state of Texas, Stephen Balch is known for a lot of things, but historical accuracy is not one of them.

Balch's recent appointment as a curriculum and textbook content adviser by the Texas State Board of Education drew sharp criticism by educators and school administrators in the state.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump ally pushes Republican Party to expel Cheney, Kinzinger, Josh Dawsey, Feb. 2, 2022 (print ed.). The resolution, to be debated at the RNC annual meeting in Salt Lake City this week, would be an unusual and public rebuke from a political party against two of its incumbent members of Congress

A prominent Trump ally is pushing the Republican Party to formally expel Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger at the party’s annual meeting this week in Salt Lake City, setting up a public showdown over the party’s direction.

David Bossie, a two-time Trump campaign adviser who serves as a national committeeman from Maryland, submitted a resolution to party leadership that attacks Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and calls for the Republican National Committee to formally endorse their ouster from the House Republican conference, according to people with knowledge of the document.

rnc logoThe resolution has circulated among party officials and members in recent days. It is co-sponsored by Frank Eathorne, the state chairman of the Wyoming Republican Party and a Trump ally. RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel has not taken a position on the resolution.

The resolution is expected to be debated by RNC members in Salt Lake City this week, where the party gathers for its annual meeting, according to Republican Party officials and RNC members. Should the resolution pass, it would be an unusual and public rebuke from a political party against two of its incumbent members of Congress.

In the resolution, Bossie cites the pair’s work for the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol as a reason they should be expelled from being Republicans, along with their efforts to “destroy President Trump,” according to people with knowledge of the document. In the document, he says the two should focus on helping Republicans win back the House of Representatives instead of helping Democrats through their work on the committee, people familiar with the document say.

kayleigh mcenany djtPalmer Report, Analysis: The real reason Kayleigh McEnany is cooperating with the January 6th Committee, Bill Palmer, Feb. 2, 2022
bill palmerKayleigh McEnany, above right, has turned over text messages to the 1/6 committee, per ABC News. No surprise. The most useful witnesses are the people who were in the room, witnessed the crimes, didn’t personally commit them, have no underlying criminal liability, and don’t want a contempt charge.

bill palmer report logo headerThis is in contrast to someone like Mark Meadows, who – based on the publicly available evidence alone – pretty clearly committed election fraud and potentially committed seditious conspiracy. Meadows is looking at perhaps spending the rest of his life in prison for these underlying crimes. Given that, the threat of a contempt of Congress charge is mere insult to injury. Meadows can’t make his overall legal troubles disappear simply by cooperating, so (for now) he sees contempt as the least of his troubles.

But for someone like Kayleigh McEnany, it really is that simple. Yes, she falsely claimed from the podium that there was election fraud in 2020. But that alone wasn’t going to be enough to nail her for something like seditious conspiracy – and her lawyers know it.

So she’s better off just cooperating, giving up everyone else in the process, and then walking away without any future legal headaches. Should she be allowed to get off scot free? Probably not. But she’s not the real target. If she gives up people like Trump and Meadows, and they go to prison, then what happens to her ultimately doesn’t matter.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s claim that election can be ‘overturned’ looms over electoral count debate, Mike DeBonis, Feb. 2, 2022 (print ed.). New statements from former president Donald Trump insisting that his vice president, Mike Pence, could have “overturned” the 2020 presidential election have jolted a congressional debate over potentially changing the 135-year-old federal law under which Trump and his allies sought to reverse Joe Biden’s victory.

President Donald Trump officialA bipartisan group of senators has met in recent weeks to discuss revisions to the 1887 Electoral Count Act, which governs the congressional certification for the election of the president and vice president. On Tuesday, a group of prominent Democrats issued their own rewrite proposal just days after Trump made the claim — which is heavily disputed by legal scholars and officials from both parties — that a vice president is empowered under the law to summarily reject states’ electoral votes.

By exploring revisions to the 1887 law, Trump said in a Sunday statement, “what [members of Congress] are saying, is that Mike Pence did have the right to change the outcome, and they now want to take that right away. Unfortunately, he didn’t exercise that power, he could have overturned the Election!”

Feb. 1

 

djt rudy new giuliani Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Trump Had Role in Weighing Proposals to Seize Voting Machines, Alan Feuer, Maggie Haberman, Michael S. Schmidt and Luke Broadwater, Updated Feb. 1, 2022. Six weeks after Election Day, with his hold on power slipping, President Donald J. Trump directed his lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani (shown above together in a file photo), to make a remarkable call. Mr. Trump wanted him to ask the Department of Homeland Security if it could legally take control of voting machines in key swing states, three people familiar with the matter said.

us dhs big eagle logo4Mr. Giuliani did so, calling the department’s acting deputy secretary, who said he lacked the authority to audit or impound the machines.

Mr. Trump pressed Mr. Giuliani to make that inquiry after rejecting a separate effort by his outside advisers to have the Pentagon take control of the machines.

And the outreach to the Department of Homeland Security came not long after Mr. Trump, in an Oval Office meeting with Attorney General William P. Barr, raised the possibility of whether the Justice Department could seize the machines, a previously undisclosed suggestion that Mr. Barr immediately shot down.

The new accounts show that Mr. Trump was more directly involved than previously known in exploring proposals to use his national security agencies to seize voting machines as he grasped unsuccessfully for evidence of fraud that would help him reverse his defeat in the 2020 election, according to people familiar with the episodes.

 

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

ny times logoNew York Times, Marc Short, who was chief of staff to former Vice President Mike Pence, testified to the House’s Jan. 6 panel, Luke Broadwater, Updated Feb. 1, 2022. Marc Short, who served as chief of staff to former Vice President Mike Pence, testified privately last week before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, the latest turn in weeks of negotiations between the panel’s investigators and Mr. Pence’s team.

marc short white house file CustomMr. Short (shown at right in a file photo) appeared in response to a subpoena from the committee, according to three people with knowledge of the developments, making him the most senior person around Mr. Pence who is known to have cooperated in the inquiry.

Investigators believe that participation by the former vice president and his inner circle is critical, because Mr. Pence resisted a pressure campaign by former President Donald J. Trump to use his role in presiding over Congress’s official count of electoral votes to try to overturn the 2020 election.

Mr. Short was with Mr. Pence on Jan. 6 as a mob of Mr. Trump’s supporters attacked the Capitol, and has firsthand knowledge of the effort by Mr. Trump and his allies to try to persuade the former vice president to throw out legitimate electoral votes for Joseph R. Biden Jr. in favor of fake slates of pro-Trump electors.

The people spoke on condition of anonymity about Mr. Short’s testimony, which was earlier reported by CNN.

Investigators have been in high-stakes negotiations for months with Mr. Pence’s team about whether he would cooperate with the inquiry. In recent weeks, they have sought the cooperation of Mr. Short and Greg Jacob, Mr. Pence’s former lawyer.

Mr. Short and Mr. Jacob were both closely involved in Mr. Pence’s consideration of whether to go along with Mr. Trump’s insistence that he try to block the official count of Electoral College results by a joint session of Congress. Three days before the proceeding, the two men met with John Eastman, a lawyer then advising Mr. Trump, about a memo Mr. Eastman had written setting out a case for why Mr. Pence had the power to hold off the certification.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump ally pushes Republican Party to expel Cheney, Kinzinger, Josh Dawsey, Feb. 1, 2022. The resolution, to be debated at the RNC annual meeting in Salt Lake City this week, would be an unusual and public rebuke from a political party against two of its incumbent members of Congress

A prominent Trump ally is pushing the Republican Party to formally expel Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger at the party’s annual meeting this week in Salt Lake City, setting up a public showdown over the party’s direction.

David Bossie, a two-time Trump campaign adviser who serves as a national committeeman from Maryland, submitted a resolution to party leadership that attacks Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and calls for the Republican National Committee to formally endorse their ouster from the House Republican conference, according to people with knowledge of the document.

The resolution has circulated among party officials and members in recent days. It is co-sponsored by Frank Eathorne, the state chairman of the Wyoming Republican Party and a Trump ally. RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel has not taken a position on the resolution.

The resolution is expected to be debated by RNC members in Salt Lake City this week, where the party gathers for its annual meeting, according to Republican Party officials and RNC members. Should the resolution pass, it would be an unusual and public rebuke from a political party against two of its incumbent members of Congress.

Books, speeches, hats for sale: The Trumps try to make money the pre-presidency way

In the resolution, Bossie cites the pair’s work for the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol as a reason they should be expelled from being Republicans, along with their efforts to “destroy President Trump,” according to people with knowledge of the document. In the document, he says the two should focus on helping Republicans win back the House of Representatives instead of helping Democrats through their work on the committee, people familiar with the document say.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: ANTIFA Week: Day Two -- The fascist alteration of history, Wayne Madsen, left, Feb. 1, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Small2022. In the fascist travesty known as the state of Texas, Stephen Balch is known for a lot of things, but historical accuracy is not one of them. Although Balch holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California at Berkeley, his far-right views and historical revisionism have been widely condemned by other political scientists and historians.

wayne madesen report logoThe founding head of the National Association of Scholars, which seeks to stamp a right-wing imprimatur on higher education, Balch favors states' rights when it comes to overriding the Supreme Court's 2015 decision on gay marriage and he supports states assuming the responsibility for immigration and border control over that of the federal government.

Balch's recent appointment as a curriculum and textbook content adviser by the Texas State Board of Education that drew sharp criticism by educators and school administrators in the state. Balch's position on a Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) working group overseeing the state's social studies curricula and recommended reading materials was condemned by the Texas Freedom Network. It stated that Balch's "conspiracy theories, inflammatory rhetoric, and shocking contempt for our constitutional and democratic institutions make him unfit for this role."

More importantly and what is of greater alarm, Balch is a colleague of 2020 election insurrection lawyer John Eastman, the author of a paper that advanced the plan for Donald Trump and a group of Republicans in Congress and state legislatures to overturn the election of Joe Biden as president. Balch, writing for the right-wing website "American Greatness" on November 30, 2020 -- as Trump and his cohorts, including Balch's colleague Eastman, were scheming to overthrow the election -- unabashedly called for Trump's supporters to take to the streets.

Balch wrote: "So damn the COVID, the president must now lead his followers into America’s streets and squares. They must especially flock to the capitol complexes of all the critical states and register indignant protest. They must do the same under the media’s noses in Washington, New York, and Los Angeles, creating a clamor that broadcast agitprop can’t drown out. This has already begun, but its intensity must greatly ratchet up, becoming incessant and overwhelming. If that be demagoguery, make the most of it!"

Balch's dream came true on January 6, 2021, as Trump insurrectionists stormed the halls of Congress, smashed everything in their path, brutally beat and bludgeoned law enforcement officers, vowed to hang Vice President Mike Pence and assassinate House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and left their animalistic residue by urinating and defecating on the floors and walls of the U.S. Capitol. Trump appears to have recently echoed Balch's call for protesters to hit the streets of Washington, New York, and Los Angeles, when, during a rally in Texas, the former president urged his supporters to protest in Washington, New York, and Atlanta should indictments of him be handed down by any of the grand juries in those cities currently investigating his crimes.

Balch was clearly one of the behind-the-scenes "Svengalis" urging Trump to mount an electoral coup with the assistance of state legislatures. Balch called for "a vacating of the results in those states where misdeeds have been particularly egregious." There were no "misdeeds" as alleged by Balch. We can also find the seeds of Trump's gambit to have bogus "electors" cast their votes for him in Balch's screed: "Since there’s no time for reruns, the state legislatures will then have to grasp the nettle. They could throw their electoral votes to Trump or, much more likely, find some way to withhold them, or perhaps pick electors who’ll abstain or vote for some stand-in."

washington post logoWashington Post, Some Trump records sent to the Jan. 6 committee were torn up and taped back together, Jacqueline Alemany, Josh Dawsey and Amy Gardner, Feb. 1, 2022 (print ed.). The National Archives confirmed the former president’s unusual habit of ripping up documents, which forced aides to attempt to piece them back together in order to comply with the Presidential Records Act.

When the National Archives and Records Administration handed over a trove of documents to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, some of the Trump White House records had been ripped up and then taped back together, according to three people familiar with the records.

Former president Donald Trump was known inside the White House for his unusual and potentially unlawful habit of tearing presidential records into shreds and tossing them on the floor — creating a headache for records management analysts who meticulously used Scotch tape to piece together fragments of paper that were sometimes as small as confetti, as Politico reported in 2018.

But despite the Presidential Records Act — which requires the preservation of memos, letters, notes, emails, faxes and other written communications related to a president’s official duties — the former president’s infrangible shredding practices apparently continued well into the latter stages of his presidency.

Recent Headlines:

 

January 2022

Jan. 31

 

mike pence djt side by side

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump suggests Pence should have ‘overturned’ the election on Jan. 6, John Wagner, Jan. 31, 2022. Former president Donald Trump suggested in a statement Sunday night that then-Vice President Mike Pence (shown above at left) should have “overturned” the election on Jan. 6, 2021, as he presided over the counting of electoral college votes by Congress.

Trump has expressed frustration before that Pence did not use his role to try to reject the votes of several states that Joe Biden won. But the language in Sunday’s statement was among Trump’s most explicit in publicly stating his desire.

The statement came in response to ongoing efforts by Congress to make changes to the Electoral Count Act, a law that governs what Congress should do in the case of any disputes about which candidate won in a state. Among the changes under consideration is making it more explicit that the role of the vice president is merely ceremonial.

“If the Vice President (Mike Pence) had ‘absolutely no right’ to change the Presidential Election results in the Senate, despite fraud and many other irregularities, how come the Democrats and RINO Republicans, like Wacky Susan Collins, are desperately trying to pass legislation that will not allow the Vice President to change the results of the election?” Trump said in his statement. “Actually, what they are saying, is that Mike Pence did have the right to change the outcome, and they now want to take that right away. Unfortunately, he didn’t exercise that power, he could have overturned the Election!”

There has been no evidence of widespread fraud in any states in which Biden prevailed, despite repeated claims by Trump to the contrary.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) is among the lawmakers involved in bipartisan talks about changes to the Electoral Count Act, an effort that has gained momentum in the wake of the failure of Democrats to pass sweeping voting rights legislation.

Among the other changes under consideration is raising the total number of senators and House members required to challenge a state’s count.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), an outspoken Trump critic who voted to impeach him on a charge of inciting an insurrection, said in a tweet that the former president would try to do it again.

 

virginia thomas donald trump jr amazon 2018

Ultra-right activist Virginia Thomas, a longtime lobbyist for extreme causes who has made vast amounts of money in key positions and wife of Associated Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, poses four years ago in the Trump International Hotel with Donald Trump Jr. Within the Trump Town House on Insurrection Eve, the epicenter of the epicenter was a blue-walled conference room with a flag at one end echoing Ali Alexander’s (and other insurrectionists’) favored refrain on Insurrection Eve: “1776!” Alexander’s favored use of the date has long been the phrase, “1776 [violence] is always an option!”

Within the Trump Town House on Insurrection Eve, the epicenter of the epicenter was a blue-walled conference room with a flag at one end echoing Ali Alexander’s (and other insurrectionists’) favored refrain on Insurrection Eve: “1776!” Alexander’s favored use of the date has long been the phrase, “1776 [violence] is always an option!”Proof, Investigative Commentary: The Coming Collapse of Donald Trump’s January 6 Conspiracy, Part 5: Ginni Thomas, Seth Abramson, left, Jan. 30-31, 2022. seth abramson graphicThis shocking new PROOF series details mounting evidence that Trump's seditious January 6 conspiracy is at the point of collapse because of the cowardice, fear, and perfidy of his co-conspirators.

seth abramson proof logoIntroduction: On Insurrection Eve—January 5, 2021—the epicenter of Trumpist coup plotting in the United States, the White House excepted, wasn’t the now-infamous Willard Hotel in Washington, but rather Trump’s so-called “private residence” in the nation’s capital: the Trump Town House at Trump International Hotel.

Presiding over the war room in the Town House was none other than Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son. Just as crucial to the plotting under way that fateful night was Trump Jr.’s then–secret fiancée Kimberly Guilfoyle, a leading presidential adviser who spent part of the hours-long war-room session speaking by phone with domestic terrorist Ali Alexander, co-leader of the Stop the Steal “movement” with Trump friend and adviser Roger Stone.

Proof must debunk the most widely spread myth about Ginni Thomas’s participation in Trump’s insurrection: that she helped organize the busloads of insurrectionists who arrived in Washington on Insurrection Eve, doing so to aid the aforementioned Alexander and Turning Point USA chief Charlie Kirk. While it’s true that Alexander has now confirmed he and Kirk orchestrated such busing in advance of the storming of the Capitol, and while it’s clear that some of those so aided by Kirk and Alexander later committed federal crimes on January 6—there is no evidence that Ginni Thomas was part of that effort, so this Proof report does not address it at all.

The reason many Americans believed Thomas was involved in the logistics of January 6 at such a granular level is partly owing to her reputation—an unfair extrapolation—and partly owing to her own public statements about January 6, for which, of course, she is directly responsible. As Slate has correctly reported via journalist Mark Joseph Stern, Ginni Thomas’s declarations on Insurrection Day gave many Americans pause:
Twitter avatar for @mjs_DCMark Joseph Stern @mjs_DC

On the morning of Jan. 6, Ginni Thomas—wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas—endorsed the protest demanding that Congress overturn the election, then sent her “LOVE” to the demonstrators, who violently overtook the Capitol several hours later. She has not posted since....

In short, as the House January 6 Committee seeks to connect three spheres of coup plotting—grassroots activists and political insiders, Congress, and the White House—there is no map of the key players within these spheres in January 2021 that does not have both Ginni Thomas and Barbara Ledeen at or near the center of it.

The House January 6 Committee would be wise to subpoena these two women immediately in order to find out what they know as soon as possible. Proof is confident that if such a subpoena is issued, one or both women will take the same tack that their associates already have, either by asserting the Fifth Amendment (like Eastman and Clark), defying their subpoenas (like Meadows and Bannon), fighting document production vociferously (like Flynn and Trump), issuing statements filled with half-truths (like Foy and Navarro), or testifying under circumstances that suggest perjury (Alexander).

If House members do not determine what Ginni Thomas knew between now and the presumed Republican takeover of Congress in January 2023, it will be impossible for the case to be made that Clarence Thomas cannot sit on any Supreme Court case that involves Trump or the January 6 insurrection now or in the future. That is how urgent the immediate issuance of federal subpoenas to Barbara Ledeen and Ginni Thomas is.

Jan. 30

 

djt maga hat speech uncredited Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump suggests that if he is reelected, he will pardon Jan. 6 Capitol rioters, Tyler Pager, Jan. 30, 2022 (print ed.). Former president Donald Trump (shown above in a file photo) suggested Saturday night he will pardon the rioters charged in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol if he is elected president in 2024.

Trump, who has teased but not confirmed another run for president, has repeatedly criticized the prosecution of individuals who violently stormed the Capitol to protest the certification of Joe Biden’s election as president. But his comments at a Texas rally on Saturday marked the first time he dangled pardons, an escalation of his broader effort to downplay the deadly events of Jan. 6.

Some of those involved in the riot held out hope for a Trump pardon before he left office 14 days later, but none were granted.

“If I run and I win, we will treat those people from January 6 fairly,” he said near the end of a lengthy campaign rally in Conroe, a city about 40 miles north of Houston. “We will treat them fairly, and if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons because they are being treated so unfairly.”

Authorities have arrested and charged more than 700 people in connection with a sprawling investigation into the insurrection. Earlier this month, the Justice Department charged Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the far-right Oath Keepers group, and 10 other members or associates of the group with seditious conspiracy, the most serious charges levied as part of the department’s investigation.

Trump also bashed the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, as he continued to spread baseless claims that the 2020 election was rigged and stolen from him.

“This hasn’t happened to all of the other atrocities that took place recently,” he said. “Nothing like this has happened. What that ‘unselect’ committee is doing and what the people are doing that are running those prisons, it’s a disgrace.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump toys with the mob, again, encouraging people to hold protests over his legal jeopardy, Aaron Blake, Jan. 30, 2022 (print ed.). What’s the worst that could happen?

Former president Donald Trump on Saturday night sent his strongest signal to date that he will fight his legal problems outside of a court of law. He encouraged people to engage in massive demonstrations in jurisdictions pursuing criminal investigations against him over Jan. 6 and tax-related issues. Then, minutes later, he said that if he’s reinstalled as president, he would consider pardoning some of the Jan. 6 Capitol rioters.

Both Trump comments were, as with many earlier ones about ongoing legal matters, carefully tailored. (Trump seemed to be reading them off a teleprompter rather than speaking extemporaneously.) The combination of the two comments, though, can’t help but conjure a repeat — or at least the suggestive prospect of a repeat — of the kind of lawlessness we saw just over a year ago.

“If these radical, vicious, racist prosecutors do anything wrong or illegal, I hope we are going to have in this country the biggest protests we have ever had in Washington, D.C., in New York, in Atlanta and elsewhere,” Trump said, “because our country and our elections are corrupt.”

Shortly afterward, he floated pardons for people who had acted on a previous call to action and taken it to its extreme.

“If I run and I win, we will treat those people from January 6 fairly — we will treat them fairly,” Trump said in a speech in Texas. “And if it requires pardons, then we will give them pardons because they are being treated so unfairly.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Kansas man who made Biden death threat said he was ‘coming for’ president, Secret Service alleges, Andrew Jeong and Spencer S. Hsu, Jan. 30, 2022 (print ed.). Charges have been filed against a Kansas man who said he was “coming for” President Biden and was found to be in possession of ammunition, though not a weapon, according to court documents.

Scott Ryan Merryman first called police in Independence, Kan., this past week to say he was going to Washington to see Biden, according to a complaint filed in Maryland federal court on Friday. He allegedly told the Secret Service in a phone interview the next day that God had said he should go to the capital to “lop off the head of the serpent in the heart of the nation,” Senior Special Agent Lisa Koerber said in a sworn affidavit.

secret service logoMerryman repeatedly denied that the serpent was a reference to the president, but on Thursday, Merryman called the White House, where a switchboard operator said he explicitly threatened Biden, the Secret Service said. Merryman, whose Facebook profile states he works in construction and used to be employed by the Army, said during that call that he was “going to cut off the head of the snake/anti-Christ,” according to the complaint. News of the charges was first reported by the Daily Beast.

After the White House phone conversation, Merryman told a Secret Service agent who spoke with him: “I’m coming for … sleepy Joe. I’m talking about President Biden, and you can quote me,” charging papers said.

The previous day, Secret Service agents met Merryman in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel in Hagerstown, Md., the service said. He consented to a search in which he was found with three rounds of ammunition, although he told law enforcement that he no longer had a weapon, according to charges.

The Secret Service allege Merryman violated at least two federal laws, including one that prohibits threatening to harm the president. That charge carries a prison term of up to five years.

A Facebook page that the complaint said belonged to Merryman also contained what the Secret Service described as “a series of increasingly threatening verbiage.” In a Tuesday post — one of many rife with extremist Christian rhetoric — Merryman allegedly wrote that he would go “on a God led journey to our nations capital,” and asked his followers “watch my strategic moves for the coming days.”

Recent Headlines:

Jan. 28

 

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

ny times logoNew York Times, Jan. 6 Committee Subpoenas Fake Trump Electors, Luke Broadwater and Alan Feuer, Jan. 28, 2022. The panel investigating the Capitol riot demanded information from 14 people who were part of bogus slates of electors for President Trump.

The panel demanded information from 14 people who were part of bogus slates of electors for President Donald J. Trump, digging deeper into an aspect of his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack issued 14 subpoenas on Friday to people who falsely claimed to be electors for President Donald J. Trump in the 2020 election in states that were actually won by Joseph R. Biden Jr., digging deeper into Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the results.

The subpoenas target individuals who met and submitted false Electoral College certificates in seven states won by President Biden: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

“The select committee is seeking information about attempts in multiple states to overturn the results of the 2020 election, including the planning and coordination of efforts to send false slates of electors to the National Archives,” Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the committee, said in a statement. “We believe the individuals we have subpoenaed today have information about how these so-called alternate electors met and who was behind that scheme.”

The so-called alternate electors met on Dec. 14, 2020, in seven states that Mr. Trump lost and submitted bogus slates of Electoral-College votes for him, the committee said. They then sent the false Electoral College certificates to Congress, an action Mr. Trump’s allies used to try to justify delaying or blocking the final step in confirming the 2020 election results — a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, to formally count the electoral votes.

The 14 individuals subpoenaed on Friday were: Nancy Cottle and Loraine B. Pellegrino of Arizona; David Shafer and Shawn Still of Georgia; Kathy Berden and Mayra Rodriguez of Michigan; Jewll Powdrell and Deborah W. Maestas of New Mexico; Michael J. McDonald and James DeGraffenreid of Nevada; Bill Bachenberg and Lisa Patton of Pennsylvania; and Andrew Hitt and Kelly Ruh of Wisconsin.

Justice Department log circularThe subpoenas order the witnesses, all of whom claimed to be either a chair or secretary of the fake elector slates, to turn over documents and sit for depositions in February.

The committee’s subpoenas came as the Justice Department said this week it was investigating the fake electors.

The scheme to employ the so-called alternate electors was one of Mr. Trump’s most expansive efforts to overturn the election, beginning even before some states had finished counting ballots and culminating in the pressure placed on Vice President Mike Pence to throw out legitimate votes for Mr. Biden when he presided over the joint congressional session. At various times, the gambit involved lawyers, state lawmakers and top White House aides.

Mark MeadowsAs early as Nov. 4, Mark Meadows, then Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, received a message from an unidentified Republican lawmaker proposing an “aggressive strategy” to maintain his grip on power. According to the strategy, Republican-controlled legislatures in states like Georgia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania would “just send their own electors” to the Electoral College instead of those chosen by voters to represent Mr. Biden.

To promote the plan, Phill Kline, the director of the Amistad Project, a conservative legal group that was working with Mr. Trump’s lawyers on lawsuits to challenge the election, fanned across right-wing media outlets that day. And Stephen Miller, below right, a top adviser to stephen miller nbc screenshot whMr. Trump, announced on Fox News that state lawmakers in several key swing states were in the process of sending “an alternate slate of electors” to Congress.

Even after the Electoral College ignored the fake electors and certified Mr. Biden’s victory, Mr. Trump’s allies continued to push the scheme.

On Dec. 22, 2020, the Amistad Project filed a federal lawsuit asking a judge to essentially force Mr. Pence to recognize the fake elector slates when he presided over Congress’s official count on Jan. 6. While the lawsuit was dismissed, a Justice Department official, Jeffrey Clark, drafted a letter one week later laying out a plan to persuade officials in Georgia to call back their Biden electors and consider swapping them for those who support Mr. Trump. (The letter was never sent.)

The scheme gathered momentum as Jan. 6 approached.

On Dec. 31, according to Politico, Ms. Ellis wrote a legal memo to Mr. Trump advising him that six states had “electoral delegates in dispute” and that because of this conflict, Mr. Pence should not accept any electors from them, but rather ask state lawmakers which slate they wanted to use. On Jan. 5, 2020, with pressure building on Mr. Pence, Ms. Ellis wrote a second memo reasserting the vice president’s authority to refuse to consider electors from states that would have given Mr. Biden a victory.

Ultimately, the efforts were rejected by Mr. Pence.

stewart rhodesHuff Post, ‘Quick Reaction Forces’ And The Lingering Mysteries Of The Plot Against The Capitol, Ryan J. Reilly, Jan. 28, 2022. The Oath Keeper “QRFs” show how things could have been a lot worse, and how much more there is to learn.

The Comfort Inn location just off the interstate has three stars on Yelp, where reviewers noted it had free parking and free breakfast, but poor WiFi. It did well on TripAdvisor too, although one person reported they found a dead roach in the shower.

As a staging ground for an alleged seditious conspiracy, however, it was a pretty solid choice. The Comfort Inn Ballston had rooms available for members of the right-wing Oath Keepers organization at a reasonable rate. The hotel’s luggage carts were strong enough to lug the bins of weapons, ammunition and supplies that they wheeled in to prepare for Jan. 6, 2021. Its location right off the ramp to Route 66 eastbound, outside of rush hour, can get you to the U.S. Capitol in a hurry. Critically, it was located in the state of Virginia, where the alleged co-conspirators wouldn’t have to worry about those pesky D.C. gun laws until it was time to take over the federal government. Then the laws wouldn’t matter.
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The indictment of Oath Keepers founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes III, above, who was integral to the plot that unfolded in Ballston, on seditious conspiracy charges this month has once again drawn national attention to how supporters of President Donald Trump plotted to help stop the certification of President Joe Biden’s election victory on Jan. 6. Even after more than 700 arrests, and the hundreds of potential cases that remain, the latest indictment indicates there is much more we still don’t know about the most high-profile conspiracy case to emerge from the Jan. 6 investigation — and how much worse things could have been.

Part of the Oath Keepers’ conspiracy was standing up “Quick Reaction Forces” (QRFs) just outside of D.C. that were on standby to deliver guns into the capital on Jan. 6. The “base of operations,” according to the indictment, was the Comfort Inn Ballston, where the North Carolina QRF team leader reserved three rooms: one for their North Carolina team, another for the Arizona QRF team, and the third for the Florida QRF team. The indictment alleges they used those rooms to store and guard the firearms, although the four men on the North Carolina QRF team “kept their rifles ready to go in a vehicle parked in the hotel lot” according to a court filing.

“While certain Oath Keepers members and affiliates inside of Washington, D.C., breached the Capitol grounds and building, others remained stationed just outside of the city in QRF teams,” the indictment states. “The QRF teams were prepared to rapidly transfer firearms and other weapons into Washington, D.C., in support of operations aimed at using force to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power.”

Comfort Inn’s parent company did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the inclusion of surveillance camera photos in court documents indicates it is cooperating with the FBI investigation.
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A federal magistrate judge in Texas, where Rhodes was arrested, ordered the Oath Keepers founder held until trial this week. “Defendant created, staged, and controlled the QRF as a strategic force to escalate armed violence in support of the Raid upon his request,” wrote the federal magistrate judge.

The “stack” of Oath Keepers marched up the stairs in formation and breached the Capitol just after 2:30. Vallejo messaged Rhodes that they were “standing by” at the hotel at 2:38.

Court documents don’t indicate much about what happened after that, when the Capitol had been breached without the QRFs being called in. There’s no explicit acknowledgement that any of the three QRFs at the hotel left the facility, and there’s little reference to the specific activities of other groups that Rhodes seemed to allude to on Jan. 6.
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Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: The Republican Party is now the American Nazi Party, Wayne Madsen, left, author of 21 books, including the recent The Rise of the Fascist Fourth Reich: The Era of Trumpism and the Far Right (shown below), Jan. 28, 2022. Since the 1930s, there have wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallbeen several iterations of the American Nazi Party under various names -- German-American Bund, American Nazi Party, National Socialist White People's Party, National Socialist Party of America, and Groyper Army -- and leaders -- Fritz Kuhn, George Lincoln Rockwell, Frank Collin, David Duke, and Nick Fuentes.

Today, the American Nazis, more powerful than at any time in the past, are part and parcel of the Republican Party. In fact, among the Republican Party's current elected officials and supporters are several died-in-the-wool Nazis.

wayne madesen report logoThe transformation of the Republican Party into a virtual carbon copy of Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party began earlier than most people think. In 1989, Ku Klux Klan and National Socialist White People's Party leader David Duke was elected to the wayne madsen fourth reich coverLouisiana House of Representatives as a Republican. In 1990, Duke was the only Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate against three Democrats. In the run-off election, in which Duke faced incumbent Senator J. Bennett Johnston, Duke -- the Nazi and Klansman -- received an astounding 43.5 percent of the vote to Johnston's 53.9 percent. That means that in 1990 607,391 Louisianans, many of them Republican, favored a Nazi as their U.S. Senator.

Trump's purge of the Republican Party is similar to Hitler eliminating any of his opponents in the Nazi Party, including those who were members of the party's first incarnation, the German Workers' Party (Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, DAP), which was formed in 1919. .

If anyone doubts that Trump would not emulate Hitler and order his opponents executed, consider that on January 6, Trump's army that invaded the U.S. Capitol were prepared to, as they chanted, "Hang Mike Pence!" The Trump army, that included several Nazis, also vowed to assassinate House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and any other anti-Trump senator or representative they could have laid their hands on, including Ms. Cheney, Kinzinger, and others.

Jan. 26

 

melania trump hat french

washington post logoWashington Post, Melania Trump auctioned off her hat, and became the latest victim of the cryptocurrency crash, Jada Yuan, Jan. 26, 2022 (print ed.). The former first lady’s chapeau (shown above) appears to have fetched $90,000 below her asking price.

Melania Trump began 2022 by announcing she’d be auctioning off a hat, along with two other items, for the low, low starting bid of $250,000.

Her website, MelaniaTrump.com, allowed the bids only to be made in cryptocurrency. Remember this. This will be important.

She called the auction the “Head of State” collection. It included the custom-made, wide-brimmed white hat she’d worn to meet French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte, during the Trumps’ first state visit at the White House in April 2018 — autographed — plus a watercolor of Trump in the hat, and a non-fungible token, or NFT, depicting the image.

One year after leaving the White House, Melania Trump is remaking herself as an entrepreneur. In a vast departure from previous first ladies — but in keeping with her business trajectory before her husband became president, when she licensed her name to jewelry and skin care lines — she is reviving her personal brand for monetary gain.

That plan, though, has an unexpected gum in the works: the massive cryptocurrency crash.

“A portion of the proceeds derived from this auction will provide foster care children with access to computer science and technology education,” read a small disclosure on the auction’s website. The rest, presumably, will go to Trump herself. Trump’s office did not respond to questions about how much of the proceeds will be donated, and to which charity.

When The Washington Post checked the hat auction exactly two days before its indeterminate ending time (advertised as Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. PST, although a countdown clock on the website ran 24 hours faster than that), the starting bid had dropped to $155,916, and continued to fluctuate around that level. At an earlier point in the 14-day auction, the bids had reached more than $275,000.

But the auction was only accepting bids in cryptocurrency, which has taken a nosedive in the last week, with bitcoin falling 20 percent and Ethereum 30 percent.

Melania Trump’s hat auction may have become unlikely collateral damage in the crisis, a prime example of what happens when risk-taking intersects with terrible timing. The only cryptocurrency accepted on Trump’s website is Solana (SOL), which has been one of the hardest-hit, falling more than 40 percent over the previous week. The Solana blockchain (a distributed database that stores a secure and decentralized record of digital transactions) also had an outage on Friday and Saturday, further adding to its free fall. Had this auction taken place in December 2021, Trump would have been accepting bids in Solana during a surge in which its value had increased 11,150 percent since the beginning of the year.

Instead, Trump’s auction closed early Tuesday morning (again, a day earlier than advertised on the website), with the hat and its lot appearing to go for around $90,000 below the asking price. Bidding was at $160,218 and still open well past midnight on Jan. 25, but when The Post checked in on the auction at 3:30 a.m. PST — 19.5 hours before the advertised end time — the site read, “Auction Ended.” No final price is listed.

Bitcoin price falls sharply amid Wall Street sell-off, with value cut in half since November

This is all happening at a time when the Trump family’s business practices are under intense scrutiny, including by New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) who has filed evidence in a civil investigation against former president Trump and his three eldest children focusing on the ways he allegedly misrepresented his assets to secure favorable loans and insurance policies.

Jan. 25

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Republicans lied about the need for a Jan. 6 commission, Jennifer Rubin, right and author of the recent book Resistance, Jan. 25, 2022. Among Republicans’ many jennifer rubin new headshotfeeble excuses for nixing a bipartisan commission on the Jan. 6 insurrection was the notion that there was nothing more to learn about that day. As Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) put it this past May, “It’s not at all clear what new facts or additional investigation yet another commission could actually lay on top of existing efforts by law enforcement and Congress."

It’s never a good look to make assurances that there is nothing to find out about a secret plot to overturn an election. But McConnell’s statement was also absurdly wrong. It is hard to recount all that we have learned from the House select committee’s investigation on Jan. 6. Thanks jennifer rubin book resistanceto the committee’s work, for example, we discovered:

The president and assistant attorney general Jeffrey Clark schemed to involve the Justice Department in a plot to invalidate the election;

An executive order was drafted to allow the federal government to seize voting machines;

Seven states put forth fake slates of electors;

Then-President Donald Trump was reportedly in contact with a team led by Rudolph W. Giuliani, John Eastman, Boris Epshteyn and Stephen K. Bannon, who set up a post at the Willard hotel working to delay certification of electoral votes; and

Republican members of Congress sent texts to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows concerning the plan to engage the Justice Department or to prevent Congress from counting the electoral votes.

djt maga hatMoreover, the cooperation the committee has received from Trump administration officials, including former attorney general William P. Barr, means we might get unique insight into the effort to discredit mail-in ballots well in advance of the election. This will be essential, especially because one party is actively attempting to create a false account of events.

Even before the select committee’s anticipated hearings take place, it has provided a more complete perspective on the insurrection. Far from a single effort to overturn the election results by inflaming a mob, this was a multipronged coup attempt involving arguably dozens of officials in the federal government and state governments. The unwillingness of the participants to blow the whistle in real time — including those who resigned quietly — should shock and dismay Americans.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s world is a ticking time bomb and it’s about to go off, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 24, 2022. Over the past year we’ve grown bill palmeraccustomed to the political news being a bit less hectic than it had been during the previous four years when a psychotic traitor was occupying the office of President of the United States. Now we’re in cleanup mode, which tends to move far more incrementally, due to the nature of the legal system. But lately things have suddenly begun heating up in remarkable fashion. Here’s what all has transpired in the past week:

bill palmer report logo headerThe courts finally ruled that the majority of Rudy Giuliani’s seized communications were not protected by attorney-client privilege and turned them over to the DOJ, which is now free to indict Rudy as soon as it wants.

– The DOJ gave Matt Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend immunity in exchange for testifying against him to a grand jury, which will ostensibly indict him any day now. Gaetz’s former associate Joel Greenberg has also finally decided that he’s ready to be sentenced, meaning he expects Gaetz to get indicted soon, which will allow him to get credit for the results of his cooperation.

– The New York Attorney General announced in a court filing that she has evidence that Donald Trump and multiple members of his family committed financial fraud. Although she made the filing in her civil probe into the Trump Organization, she’s also jointly running a criminal probe into Trump with the Manhattan District Attorney, so her announcement seems to signal near-certain criminal indictments against the Trump family.

– The Fulton County Georgia District Attorney decided to empanel a special grand jury in her criminal probe into Donald Trump’s election fraud, a fairly clear signal that she intends to indict Trump, and that she wants to do so as soon as the constraints of the legal system will allow. She also previously met with Trump’s criminal defense attorneys, prompting Trump to go ballistic in a press release a short time later, another clear signal that she intends to indict him.

– The Supreme Court ruled that Donald Trump has no executive privilege argument in relation to January 6th, prompting the National Archives to deliver a ton of incriminating evidence to the January 6th Committee. This also wiped out the legal argument that the likes of Mark Meadows have been trying to use while attempting to avoid getting indicted for contempt of Congress.

Again, these developments have all happened within the past week. These are the kinds of developments that the “good guys” have spent the past year diligently working toward, and now that hard work is finally paying off. Donald Trump himself is on a clear track to be criminally indicted in multiple jurisdictions, and it’s a matter of who gets to him first. Numerous close Trump allies are weeks at most away from federal indictment, which will force them to consider flipping on Trump.

Oh and by the way, it was just eleven days ago that the DOJ arrested the entire Oath Keepers leadership in order to pressure them to flip on the Trump world people who are on the next rung up the ladder from them. At this point Trump world is taking so many devastating blows, it’s almost difficult to keep track of them all. And because Trump is just a Florida Man at this point without the office of the presidency to shield him, there’s nothing he can to do stop his world from being torn apart around him. Tick tock.

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 influencer who called for ‘civil war’ sentenced to probation, Spencer S. Hsu, Jan. 25, 2022. Brandon Straka’s sentencing illustrates why Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes faces seditious conspiracy charge but Straka doesn’t.

Many extreme pro-Trump voices cast Jan. 6 as the first shot of a “revolution,” but Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes is charged with seditious conspiracy while others aren’t. The sentencing of right-wing influencer Brandon Straka illustrates why.

Politico, Judge presses ahead with April trial for several Oath Keepers, Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney, Jan. 25, 2022. The case includes defendants facing obstruction charges, rather than those who were recently charged with seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

politico CustomA federal judge insisted on Tuesday that the first criminal trial for Oath Keepers who entered the Capitol on Jan. 6 open in Washington this April, a timeline he said he was committed to despite vocal objections from some defense attorneys who worry they wouldn’t have enough time to wade through a massive — and growing — trove of digital evidence.

Justice Department log circularJudge Amit Mehta set the April 19 date for a subset of the 22 Oath Keepers charged with a sweeping conspiracy to obstruct the transfer of presidential power from Donald Trump to President Joe Biden. Mehta said he expected the first trial to include defendants who haven’t been detained and are facing obstruction charges, rather than those who were recently charged with seditious conspiracy and might take more time to build their defenses.

“This trial date is going to have to hold. … This case has got to go forward,” Mehta said during a hearing held by video conference with prosecutors and defense lawyers. “There’s ample time to get ready.”

Although defense lawyers said they were facing a mountain of videos, smartphone downloads and other evidence that is challenging to review, Mehta said he believed that most of the evidence directly relevant to most of the Oath Keeper defendants had been turned over some time ago and that the bulk of the remainder was evidence about the Capitol riot generally that probably won’t be germane to anyone’s defense.

Mehta’s timeline means that the government faces the likelihood of having its first conspiracy trial open without the marquee defendant they charged for the first time earlier this month: Oath Keepers’ founder Stewart Rhodes.

The sequence also means the highly anticipated charge the government dusted off to level at Rhodes and 10 other members of his group a couple of weeks ago — seditious conspiracy — won’t go in front of a jury until July at the earliest, after the first Oath Keepers group. Mehta also set a tentative date in September for a third trial, since it could be difficult to try so many defendants at once, especially with coronavirus restrictions in place.

Mehta said he expected that Rhodes’ case, since it was only recently charged, would take longer to prepare. Rhodes’ lawyer Phillip Linder said he anticipated being ready for the July date.

Linder noted that Rhodes was awaiting a ruling from a magistrate judge in Texas on whether he should be released pending trial. Both the Justice Department and Rhodes’ attorneys say they’ll appeal the ruling if they lose, sending the matter to Mehta.

washington post logoWashington Post, Georgia prosecutor granted special grand jury in probe of Trump’s efforts to overturn state’s vote results, Amy B Wang and John Wagner, Jan. 25, 2022 (print ed.). The Fulton County district attorney was authorized to seat a grand jury beginning on May 2 for a period not to exceed 12 months.

The Atlanta area prosecutor weighing whether former president Donald Trump and others committed crimes by trying to pressure Georgia election officials has been granted a special purpose grand jury to aid in her investigation.

Fulton County Superior Court judges on Monday approved the request made last week by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and said she will be allowed to seat a special grand jury on May 2, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

The special grand jury can continue for a period “not to exceed 12 months,” Christopher Brasher, chief judge of Fulton County Superior Court, wrote in an order.

“The special purpose grand jury shall be authorized to investigate any and all facts and circumstances relating directly or indirectly to alleged violations of the laws of the State of Georgia, as set forth in the request of the District Attorney referenced hereinabove,” he added. “The special purpose grand jury … may make recommendations concerning criminal prosecution as it shall see fit.”

Politico, Investigation: Capitol Police examines backgrounds, social media feeds of some who meet with lawmakers, Betsy Woodruff Swan and Daniel Lippman, Jan. 25, 2022 (print ed.). The little-known new practice by the department’s intelligence analysts, instituted since the Jan. 6 attack, is highly controversial given the civil liberties concerns it raises.

politico CustomAfter the Jan. 6 insurrection, the Capitol Police’s intelligence unit quietly started scrutinizing the backgrounds of people who meet with lawmakers, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Politico also viewed written communications describing the new approach, part of a host of changes that the department implemented after the Capitol attack. Examining the social media feeds of people who aren’t suspected of crimes, however, is a controversial move for law enforcement and intelligence officials given the civil liberties concerns it raises.

cdc logo CustomAmong those who have been subject to new Capitol Police scrutiny are Hill staffers, the three people said. All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.) said in an interview that he is unaware of any members who know about the “very, very bad” practice.

“Whatever they think that sounds like for security, it sounds dangerously close — if not already over the line — to spying on members of Congress, their staff, their constituents and their supporters,” said Armstrong, a former criminal defense attorney.

“Anybody involved with implementing this without making it known to the actual members of Congress should resign or be fired immediately,” he added. “And I’m not big on calling for resignations.”

Recent Headlines:

Jan. 24

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: United States is a "flawed democracy" heading for "hybrid regime" status, Wayne Madsen, left, Jan. 24, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Small2022. Yet another major right-of-center watchdog of telltale signs of global authoritarianism has reduced the “democracy” ranking of the United States.

The latest is the annual Democracy Index ranking by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), which cited new flaws in United States civic wayne madesen report logolife. The EIU is part of the Economist Group publishing house that puts out "The Economist" magazine. The EIU also has an extremely cozy relationship with Britain's Secret Intelligence Service (MI-6) and is well-integrated with City of London banking interests, and so cannot be considered as some kind of leftist fringe organization.

In 2016, the EIU for the first time reduced the United States index description from a "full democracy" to a "flawed democracy" with the election of Donald Trump as president. This year it further downgraded the United States due to a worsening situation with regard to suppression of the electoral franchise.

State laws being enacted by Republican state governors and legislatures that will further restrict voting rights are sure to move the United States into the hybrid regime category, where it will join such kleptocratic and fascist-oriented regimes as Turkey, Haiti, Guatemala, Pakistan, Morocco, Moldova, Nigeria, and Uganda. Currently, the United States shares flawed democracy status with Tunisia, Israel, the Philippines, Indonesia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Serbia.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s world is a ticking time bomb and it’s about to go off, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 24, 2022. Over the past year we’ve grown bill palmeraccustomed to the political news being a bit less hectic than it had been during the previous four years when a psychotic traitor was occupying the office of President of the United States. Now we’re in cleanup mode, which tends to move far more incrementally, due to the nature of the legal system. But lately things have suddenly begun heating up in remarkable fashion. Here’s what all has transpired in the past week:

bill palmer report logo headerThe courts finally ruled that the majority of Rudy Giuliani’s seized communications were not protected by attorney-client privilege and turned them over to the DOJ, which is now free to indict Rudy as soon as it wants.

– The DOJ gave Matt Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend immunity in exchange for testifying against him to a grand jury, which will ostensibly indict him any day now. Gaetz’s former associate Joel Greenberg has also finally decided that he’s ready to be sentenced, meaning he expects Gaetz to get indicted soon, which will allow him to get credit for the results of his cooperation.

– The New York Attorney General announced in a court filing that she has evidence that Donald Trump and multiple members of his family committed financial fraud. Although she made the filing in her civil probe into the Trump Organization, she’s also jointly running a criminal probe into Trump with the Manhattan District Attorney, so her announcement seems to signal near-certain criminal indictments against the Trump family.

– The Fulton County Georgia District Attorney decided to empanel a special grand jury in her criminal probe into Donald Trump’s election fraud, a fairly clear signal that she intends to indict Trump, and that she wants to do so as soon as the constraints of the legal system will allow. She also previously met with Trump’s criminal defense attorneys, prompting Trump to go ballistic in a press release a short time later, another clear signal that she intends to indict him.

– The Supreme Court ruled that Donald Trump has no executive privilege argument in relation to January 6th, prompting the National Archives to deliver a ton of incriminating evidence to the January 6th Committee. This also wiped out the legal argument that the likes of Mark Meadows have been trying to use while attempting to avoid getting indicted for contempt of Congress.

Again, these developments have all happened within the past week. These are the kinds of developments that the “good guys” have spent the past year diligently working toward, and now that hard work is finally paying off. Donald Trump himself is on a clear track to be criminally indicted in multiple jurisdictions, and it’s a matter of who gets to him first. Numerous close Trump allies are weeks at most away from federal indictment, which will force them to consider flipping on Trump.

Oh and by the way, it was just eleven days ago that the DOJ arrested the entire Oath Keepers leadership in order to pressure them to flip on the Trump world people who are on the next rung up the ladder from them. At this point Trump world is taking so many devastating blows, it’s almost difficult to keep track of them all. And because Trump is just a Florida Man at this point without the office of the presidency to shield him, there’s nothing he can to do stop his world from being torn apart around him. Tick tock.

 

Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and his estranged wife, Tasha Adams, who has said that he His estranged wife Tasha Adams said that he is a

Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and his estranged wife, Tasha Adams, who has said that he His estranged wife Tasha Adams said that he is a "complete sociopath" and that she felt Rhodes was personally dangerous to her and her family,and also to the country.

Politico, Judge mulls release for militia leader facing sedition charges in Jan. 6 attack, Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney, Jan. 24, 2022. A yearlong delay in charging Oath Keepers founder may have hurt the case for keeping him in jail.

A federal magistrate judge sounded open Monday to releasing the citizen militia leader prosecutors say masterminded a conspiracy to take over the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, with the intention of keeping then-President Donald Trump in power.

politico CustomDuring a bail hearing here for Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes (shown above left with his estranged wife, who has said he is a danger to the public), Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Rakoczy said the seditious conspiracy Rhodes is accused of threatened the U.S. political system by seeking to block the peaceful transfer of presidential power.

“It is difficult to imagine a graver risk to the society that we live in,” Rakoczy said as Rhodes looked on in a black-and-gray striped jail jumpsuit with his hands cuffed in front of him.

“Mr. Rhodes coordinated, offered to fund and facilitated the attack on the Capitol,” she said.

The conspiracy alleged against Rhodes and ten other Oath Keepers is the most complex and momentous case yet against the more than 725 people charged so far in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection. Prosecutors have also arrested more than two dozen members of the right-wing extremist Proud Boys, alleging they conspired to obstruct the transfer of power. Several leaders of both groups have been held in jail pending trial.

However, defense attorneys argued that by waiting a year to charge and arrest Rhodes, prosecutors and investigators undercut their claims that the public would face “immense” danger if he remained free pending trial.

“Saying he’s a danger now is disingenuous...Why did they wait?” defense lawyer Phillip Linder asked during the hour-and-45-minute hearing. “To me, that speaks volumes.”

U.S. Magistrate Judge Kimberly Priest Johnson issued no immediate ruling, but engaged in an extended discussion with defense attorneys about potential custodians who could supervise Rhodes if he is released. She also said she didn’t see much to prosecutors’ argument that he poses a risk of not appearing for trial.

“In the last year, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence—at least that was presented here today—to support that he’s a continued danger of a flight risk,” Johnson said.

Defense attorneys told reporters after the court hearing that it was almost comical to think that Rhodes, who wears an eye patch on his left eye due to a gun accident three decades ago, could slip away.

“You’ve seen what the guy looks like?” lawyer James Lee Bright said.

Whatever Johnson decides regarding Rhodes’ pretrial detention is almost certain not to be the final word on the issue. Both sides have said they will appeal if she loses.

Linder said during his presentation that Rhodes’ Jan. 13 arrest at a friend’s home in Little Elm, Texas, scuttled plans for the Oath Keepers leader to testify to the House committee probing the Capitol riot and President Donald Trump’s efforts to cling to power.

“He was actively cooperating,” Linder said. “They thwarted that. There are people in D.C. who are not very happy with this indictment.”

Rakoczy also asked Johnson to grant a stay of any release order she might issue. Such a stay, which the magistrate said she would grant, would keep Rhodes behind bars while prosecutors to appeal to the Washington-based judge assigned to his case, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta.

During the court session Monday, lawyers for each side presented starkly different views of Rhodes.

Rakoczy said he amassed a large stockpile of weapons for the “civil war” he repeatedly discussed in encrypted chats with other Oath Keepers’ leaders and members. She said he oversaw the staging of those weapons in Virginia prior to the Jan. 6 events and was in tactical command of many of those people that day as they rushed into the Capitol in two lines or “stacks.”

However, Linder said the Oath Keepers had a legitimate purpose: to provide security for speakers at conservative political rallies including a Stop the Steal event and a Latinos for Trump rally scheduled for that day. Rhodes’ lawyers described him as law-abiding and stressed that he’d been open and responsive with law enforcement before and after Jan. 6.

The defense was less clear about the purpose of Rhodes organizing stashes of weapons in Virginia on the day the Capitol was breached. Rhodes lawyers’ stressed, though, that keeping the weapons outside D.C. indicated the Oath Keepers’ commitment to abide by the law including D.C.’s strict gun laws.

Linder also noted that Rhodes never gave any order to bring any of the weapons into D.C., despite at least one Oath Keeper repeatedly seeking such permission.

One of the FBI agents involved in the mammoth Jan. 6 investigation, Michael Palian, took the witness stand for the prosecution to describe the encrypted chats Rhodes engaged in before and on Jan. 6, some of which seemed to urge or predict guerilla warfare on American streets after the 2020 election.

Some of the chats were displayed on large screens in the courtroom, as were photos of Oath Keepers entering the Capitol and a photo Palian said depicted Rhodes meeting with Oath Keepers outside the building. The agent said that on Jan. 6 Rhodes used the encrypted messages to direct his fellow militia members.

Politico, Kerik told Jan. 6 panel that former Army colonel came up with idea to seize voting machines, Betsy Woodruff Swan, Jan. 24, 2022. Previously, Phil Waldron was best known for circulating a 38-page PowerPoint presentation that urged Trump to declare a state of emergency in the wake of the election.

politico CustomA former member of President Donald Trump’s legal team told the Jan. 6 committee that former Army colonel Phil Waldron first came up with the idea of Trump issuing an executive order to seize voting machines, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Earlier this month, Bernie Kerik — who worked with Rudy Giuliani on Trump’s legal efforts to find evidence of voter fraud — told the select bernard kerikcommittee that Phil Waldron originated the scheme, which would almost certainly have been illegal. A person familiar with Kerik’s testimony, who was not authorized to discuss it publicly, described it in detail to Politico.

Last week, the select committee obtained a copy of a draft executive order written for Trump. The order, which Trump did not issue, would have directed the Defense secretary to seize voting machines. It also would have given the secretary 60 days to write an assessment of the 2020 election — a timeline that would have expired a month after Biden’s inauguration day. POLITICO published the text of the draft order last week.

Waldron is best known for circulating a 38-page PowerPoint presentation that urged Trump to declare a state of emergency in the wake of the election, as The Washington Post has detailed. That presentation found its way into the inbox of Mark Meadows while he was White House chief of staff. Meadows passed the presentation to the select committee last year, and his lawyer has said Meadows did nothing with it. Waldron has said he briefed members of Congress on the findings detailed in the presentation, including claims about voter fraud.

Kerik and Waldron both worked with Giuliani on Trump’s post-election outside legal team. Politico could not independently confirm Kerik’s claim to the committee about Waldron and the voting machines, but Waldron is a key focus of the committee. On Dec. 16, the committee subpoenaed him for documents and testimony, citing the PowerPoint presentation. Kerik’s testimony to the committee came after investigators issued the subpoena.

In his voluntary interview with the committee, Kerik also called the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol “counterproductive,” according to the source. Kerik indicated that the riot eliminated any hope he and his team had of getting government authorities to take their fraud allegations seriously.

Additionally, Kerik discussed friction regarding Trump attorney Sidney Powell, as well as financial frustrations. He noted that he struggled even to get reimbursement for his stays at the Willard hotel, and that he was paying for his lawyer out of his own pocket.

washington post logoWashington Post, How Trump’s flirtation with an anti-insurrection law inspired Jan. 6 attack, Devlin Barrett and Spencer S. Hsu, Jan. 24, 2022 (print ed.). Within days of President Donald Trump’s election defeat, Stewart Rhodes began talking about the Insurrection Act as critical to the country’s future.

The bombastic founder of the extremist group Oath Keepers told followers that the obscure, rarely used law would allow Trump to declare a national emergency so dire that the military, militias or both would be called out to keep him in the White House.

Appearing Nov. 9, 2020, as a guest on the Infowars program of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, Rhodes urged Trump to invoke the act “to suppress the deep state” and claimed Oath Keepers already had men “stationed outside D.C. as a nuclear option.”

Invoking the Insurrection Act was an idea sparked in conservative circles that spring as a means of subduing social justice protests and related rioting, a goal Trump seemed to embrace when he called for state leaders to “dominate” their streets. By the end of the year, it had become a rallying cry to cancel the results of a presidential election. Now, private and public discussions of the law stand as key evidence in the cases against the Oath Keepers.

Earlier this month, Rhodes was charged with seditious conspiracy, accused along with 10 members of his group of conspiring to use violence to try to stop Joe Biden’s certification as president. Rhodes has denied wrongdoing, saying he never wanted or told his group to enter the U.S. Capitol.

A court hearing in Plano, Tex., on Monday will determine whether he must stay in jail while awaiting trial. Court filings and public statements leading up to Jan. 6, 2021, show how important the idea of the Insurrection Act became to Rhodes and other extremists, including followers of the ever-changing QAnon extremist ideology, and to Trump and people close to him.

“It is hard to put into words how mind-boggling this idea was, to use a statute designed to protect the country from insurrection to support an actual insurrection,” said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino.

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 committee has spoken with former Trump attorney general Barr, chairman says, Amy B Wang and Tom Hamburger, Jan. 24, 2022 (print ed.). Former attorney general William P. Barr has spoken with the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, the committee chairman said Sunday, a further indication that several former Trump administration officials are cooperating with the panel even as others are fighting efforts to compel their testimony.

“We’ve had conversations with the former attorney general already. We have talked to Department of Defense individuals,” Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), the chairman of the committee, said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

The bipartisan House panel is investigating the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob trying to stop the confirmation of Joe Biden’s electoral college win, an attack that resulted in the deaths of one police officer and four others and injured about 140 members of law enforcement.

It is unclear what has been discussed between the committee and Barr, who stepped down as attorney general in the weeks before Jan. 6, 2021. Barr had been closely allied with Trump through most of his tenure at the Department of Justice but resigned in December 2020 after publicly disputing claims of widespread election fraud.

Thompson was asked Sunday if he intended to ask Barr about a draft of a Trump executive order, first reported by Politico last week, that would have directed the defense secretary to seize voting machines in battleground states. Thompson said he did, though he acknowledged the plan was only in draft form and never became operational.

“We are concerned that our military was part of this big lie on promoting that the election was false,” Thompson told CBS News. “So, if you are using the military to potentially seize voting machines, even though it’s a discussion, the public needs to know. We’ve never had that before.”

The draft executive order is believed to be one of the documents former president Donald Trump went to court to try to block from release. The document was among hundreds of pages provided to the committee by the National Archives last week, after the Supreme Court rejected Trump’s arguments. Trump has baselessly claimed for more than a year that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him. (There has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud affecting the election’s outcome.)

Jan. 23

 djt rudy giuliani headshots Custom

Palmer Report, Opinion: It’s over for Rudy Giuliani, Bill Palmer, Jan. 23, 2022. To give you an idea of just how slowly the federal court bill palmersystem can move, eight months after the Feds raided Rudy Giuliani’s home and seized his communications, the court appointed official overseeing those communications finally finished determining which of them were covered by attorney-client privilege just a few days ago.

Now the DOJ has its hands on the incriminating evidence it tried to take eight months ago – including about fifty communications that Rudy specifically tried and failed to get suppressed, which he would only have done because they incriminated him.

bill palmer report logo headerThis means the DOJ, once it finishes processing and evaluating these incriminating communications, can indict and arrest Rudy Giuliani any time it wants. The kicker is that doing so immediately may not be the best move. The point of busting Rudy, above left, is not simply to put him in prison. The real goal is to amass such a crushing criminal case against Rudy, even he realizes he has zero chance of winning at trial, thus prompting him to cut a deal against Trump world now instead of dragging out a trial date for a year.

But now that the court system has finally allowed the DOJ to have the evidence it wanted against Rudy Giuliani all along, it’s over for Rudy. He’s now a lock for indictment and prison. His only slim hope would have been if the court appointee had gone rogue and ruled that all of Rudy’s communications were privileged – which didn’t happen.

Of course because this process has taken so long, multiple additional Trump-era criminal scandals have surfaced that appear to incriminate Rudy Giuliani. So we’ll see if the DOJ decides to indict Rudy soon on the seized evidence it just received, or if it waits a bit to build a broader case against Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani hawking their false claims that they could prove election fraud caused Democratic nominee Joe Biden's presidential victory in 2020.him which includes some of the things that have put Rudy’s name in the headlines more recently.

Either way, it’s over for Rudy. He can flip on Donald Trump and everyone else, or he can spend the rest of his life in prison. Once he realizes he’s going down, we suspect he’ll flip. The only question is at what point Rudy will figure out he’s going down. Rudy also has to consider that his former ally Sidney Powell, right, now claims she’s begun cooperating with the DOJ. There’s usually only one lenient plea deal to go around.

Jan. 22

ali alexander djt

ali akbar mugshot

"Stop the Steal" organizer Ali Alexander is shown in collages of photo spanning his career as an organizer for the radical right. At top is a file photo showing him organizing efforts against then President-elect Joe Biden's election certification. Immediately above, via Crooks and Liars is an illustration of its 2012 column The National Bloggers Club And Their Super PAC Friends by Matt Osborne, co-authored with Alex Brant-Zawadzki and Bill Schmalfeldt, which reported:. "Ali Akbar (later Ali Alexander), 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."

CNN, Investigation: Videos show 'Stop the Steal' rally organizer saying he would work with extremist groups, Andrew Kaczynski and Em Steck, Jan. 22, 2022. Videos show what 'Stop the Steal' leader was thinking leading up to Jan. 6.

An organizer of the "Stop the Steal" rallies that preceded the attack on the US Capitol a year ago said he would work with two extremist groups, who later had members charged in the attack, about providing security and housing for the January 6, 2021, rally in Washington.

CNNIn previously unreported videos from the social media platform Periscope reviewed by CNN's KFile, Ali Alexander, a leader of the "Stop the Steal" rally and a central figure in the House select committee's investigation of January 6, said he would reach out to the right-wing Proud Boys and Oath Keepers on providing security for the event. Both groups later had members charged in the attack on the Capitol, including conspiracy. Last week, the Justice Department charged the Oath Keepers leader and 10 others with seditious conspiracy related to the attack.

Alexander has not been charged or implicated in any unlawful act. He has denied working with anyone, including lawmakers or extremist groups, to attack the Capitol.

In other videos removed from Periscope -- it's unknown who removed the videos, when and why -- Alexander claimed to describe further details of his communications and coordination with several Congressional Republicans pushing to overturn the election result. The lawmakers have denied planning rallies or coordinating with Alexander in any way.

An attorney for Alexander denied that his client worked with the Proud Boys but acknowledged that Alexander did try to help them with housing; the attorney also said the Oath Keepers did provide security for several events.

While some of Alexander's Periscope videos have been previously reported by CNN, these additional videos provide new details of his claims about his contacts with extremist groups and lawmakers in the lead-up to the rally. They also show the heated rhetoric used by Alexander to describe his efforts, including speculating that a civil war could occur if the "Stop the Steal" movement's efforts were successful and that he'd rather see the White House be struck by lightning and "burn down" than have then President-elect Joe Biden enter it.

Claims about working with Proud Boys and Oath Keepers

In one livestream video on December 23, 2020, entitled "JAN6," Alexander said to his followers that he planned to reach out to the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers about providing security for the January 6 rally.

"Don't worry, I'm gonna make sure so many people are so safe. It's gonna make your head spin. I'm gonna try to make sure that every 15 minutes -- so that you just know in your head, you don't have to know in a map -- that Metro stops are being patrolled," he said. "I'm gonna try to go that deep into it. I'm gonna talk to the Proud Boys. I'm gonna talk to the Oath Keepers and I'm gonna try to get patrols going, okay, of men that go for hours."

In another video from December 29, 2020, Alexander said he spoke to the Proud Boys to make sure they had lodging covered for the event after a hotel frequented by the group said it would close in early January temporarily.

"I'll find you a room," Alexander said in a livestream addressing the camera. "My team will find you a room. I talked tonight to the Proud Boys to make sure that they were all covered."

Dozens of members of the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers have been charged in the attack on the US Capitol. Prosecutors have said members of both groups conspired ahead of time to disrupt the Electoral College proceeding. Both groups have been the subject of subpoenas by the January 6 committee.

Baron Coleman, Alexander's attorney, told CNN his client "did not work with the Proud Boys," saying his "colorful remarks or exaggerations during playful livestreams contextualize his intentions." But he said his client did offer to help them find new housing and the Oath Keepers did provide security for several events.

Alexander has not been charged or implicated in any unlawful act and he has denied working with anyone, including lawmakers, to attack the Capitol. In his December testimony, he claimed that the evidence he handed over to the committee exonerated himself and members of Congress.

"Anyone who suggests I had anything to do with the unlawful activities on January 6 is wrong. They're either mistaken or lying," Alexander said in his opening statement to the committee on December 9.

Coleman, Alexander's attorney, also argued to CNN in an email that the clips provided seemed out of context, arguing Alexander was joking or exaggerating in clips. He said all of Alexander's rallies were peaceful.

"Using tiny clips from the thousands of hours of extemporaneous speaking that Ali produced during the 2020 election cycle seems out of context and without regard to the truth," Coleman said. "All of Ali's rallies, to this date, remain peaceful and without incident. All of the dozens of rallies he did, all peaceful, without incident. The other ones under his care post-Election Day; all peaceful and without incident."

After at least two rallies in Washington, DC, however, clashes between protesters and counterprotesters turned violent. At a November 14 rally, violence erupted between the groups after dark and at least 20 people were arrested. And after the December 12 rally, at least four people were stabbed after an evening of faceoffs with counterprotesters; at least 33 people were arrested, including six people for assaulting police officers.

Alexander previously worked as a Republican political operative under the name of Ali Akbar on John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign and a handful of political action committees before rebranding himself as an outspoken supporter of Trump. Alexander gained notoriety after he began posting videos of himself espousing pro-Trump and far-right views in 2019 on social media and for his work with MAGA conspiracy theorists Jacob Wohl and Laura Loomer.

Claims about working with members of Congress

The extent of Alexander's work with members of Congress, the Trump campaign and the Trump White House has been a subject of interest for the House committee investigating January 6. Alexander sat in early December for a deposition and claimed in a court filing he told lawmakers of his interactions with Republican representatives.

He has also handed over thousands of text messages and communication records that include his interactions with members of Congress and former President Donald Trump's inner circle leading up to the riot at the Capitol.

The purpose of the Stop the Steal movement's work, Alexander said in a previously reported video first highlighted by the nonpartisan watchdog organization Project On Government Oversight in January 2021, was to build public pressure to intimidate members of Congress.

"I'm the guy who came up with the idea of January 6th when I was talking with Congressman [Paul] Gosar, Congressman Andy Biggs, and Congressman Mo Brooks," he said on December 28, 2020. "So, we're the four guys who came up with a January 6th event, hashtag 'do not certify.' And it was to build momentum and pressure, and then on the day change hearts and minds of Congresspeoples [sic] who weren't yet decided or saw everyone outside and said, 'I can't be on the other side of that mob.'"

New videos unearthed by CNN's KFile offer new details of these communications.

In one Periscope video from January 2, 2021 -- four days before the session to certify the Electoral College results -- Alexander claimed Arizona's Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona worked with him to pressure senators to object to certifying the results of the 2020 election. In the same recording, Alexander, speaking straight to the camera, said he worked with Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks and Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar to gather Republican votes protesting the election results.

"Who worked with Congressman Mo Brooks to whip up votes in the House," Alexander said in the livestream. "[Who worked with] Congressman Paul Gosar to whip up votes in the House, Congressman Andy Biggs, to not only whip up votes in the House, but also let me know who the soft senators were because he briefed them in the Steering committee? Boom, we've been doing the work."

Alexander had also mentioned speaking with Brooks in an earlier video from December 17, 2020.

"I will tell you, I have talked with Mo Brooks," Alexander said of the lawmaker. "We are talking personally. I've talked with the staff and I've talked with him."

None of the lawmakers contacted by CNN returned repeated requests for comment. Spokespeople for Biggs and Brooks have previously denied planning rallies or coordinating with Alexander in any way.

After the attack on the Capitol last January, Biggs' spokesperson told CNN, "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 spokesperson added that Biggs "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."

A spokesperson for Brooks last month denied that the congressman was in contact with Alexander beyond one "benign" text message sent in mid-December 2020 from Alexander, in which Alexander identified himself as the founder of the "Stop the Steal" movement and claimed the two met in 2010. The spokesperson said Brooks did not recognize the number and had "no personal knowledge" about who the sender was.

Also in that December 17 video, Alexander called Marjorie Taylor Greene, who at that point had been elected but not sworn in as a Georgia representative, "a friend of mine" who would help their efforts to object to the election results.

A spokesperson for Greene's office previously told Rolling Stone that she and her office "had nothing to do with planning of any protest."

In another previously unreported video, Alexander claimed that Gosar came up with the idea for a march in Washington, DC on to protest the results of the election, though he did not specify which march. Alexander's attorney told CNN that his client was referring to the first rally in Washington DC in November.

"I got a call from Congressman Gosar," Alexander said in a speech at a rally on December 3, 2020. "He's the spirit animal of Stop the Steal. He's actually the originator of the DC march. He called me and said, 'Y'all need to march on DC.' I said, 'We'll see what we can do.'"

In one video from December 21, 2020, Alexander said he shared a dinner with Gosar a day earlier.

Gosar's chief of staff previously told the New York Times that Alexander was "a solid organizer," but that Gosar's office, while it promoted the events, was not involved in planning them.

Heated rhetoric

The videos unearthed by CNN's KFile also show the heated rhetoric that Alexander used leading up to the January 6, 2021, rally.
In one video from early January 2021, Alexander speculated that being successful on January 6 might lead to a civil war. In the same video, he said he'd rather see the White House "burn down," than have Biden enter it.

Alexander's attorney said his comments about the White House were "in jest."

"There's no circumstance that I think is legitimate that Joe Biden should enter the White House," he said on January 1, 2021. "I think the White House should burn down and I'm not saying that -- I'm not telling anyone to, but I'm just saying -- I literally believe that a bolt of lightning should hit the White House and light it on fire before it's handed over."

Jared Holt, a resident fellow at The Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab who studies US domestic extremist movements and had extensively researched January 6, said Alexander's rhetoric had the potential to influence bad behavior among the far-right.

"His role in the pro-Trump political space, connecting politicians, influencers, and activists, means that his words matter a great deal," Holt told CNN. "What Alexander says, whether in jest or in earnest, has the potential to ripple across far-right communities and offer permission for bad behavior."

 Jan. 21

djt oval office arms folded

ny times logoNew York Times, Atlanta D.A. Requests Special Grand Jury in Trump Election Inquiry, Maggie Astor and Danny Hakim, Jan. 21, 2022 (print ed.). The prosecutor, Fani Willis of Fulton County, Ga., is investigating possible election interference by the former president (shown in a file photo) and his allies.

A district attorney in Atlanta on Thursday asked a judge to convene a special grand jury to help a criminal investigation into former President Donald J. Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia.

The inquiry is seen by legal experts as potentially perilous for the former president. The grand jury request from the district attorney in Fulton County, Fani T. Willis, had been expected after crucial witnesses refused to participate voluntarily. A grand jury could issue subpoenas compelling those witnesses to provide information.

The distinction of a special grand jury is that it would focus exclusively on the Trump investigation, while regular grand juries handle many cases and cannot spend as much time on a single one. The Georgia case is one of two active criminal investigations known to involve the former president and his circle; the other is the examination of his financial dealings by the Manhattan district attorney.

“The District Attorney’s Office has received information indicating a reasonable probability that the State of Georgia’s administration of elections in 2020, including the State’s election of the President of the United States, was subject to possible criminal disruptions,” Ms. Willis wrote in a letter to Christopher S. Brasher, the chief judge of the Fulton County Superior Court; the letter was first reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Judge Brasher declined to comment.

ny times logoNew York Times, Jan. 6 Panel Seeks Testimony From Ivanka Trump, Luke Broadwater, Jan. 21, 2022 (print ed.). The House inquiry into the Capitol riot requested cooperation from Ms. Trump and revealed new details about what unfolded inside the White House that day.

ivanka trump in 2011The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot on Thursday requested cooperation from Ivanka Trump, as it revealed pieces of what it has learned about a scramble inside the White House that day to get President Donald J. Trump to denounce and call off the mob that was laying siege to the Capitol.

In a letter to Ms. Trump, right, the former president’s eldest daughter who served as one of his senior advisers, the committee said it had obtained evidence that multiple White House officials — including Ms. Trump, at least twice — had implored Mr. Trump to call off the violence, only to be rebuffed. But aides at the time were also worried about Mr. Trump issuing anything other than a scripted statement during the mayhem.

“Apparently, certain White House staff believed that a live, unscripted press appearance by the president in the midst of the Capitol Hill violence could have made the situation worse,” wrote Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the panel’s chairman.

The summoning of Ms. Trump suggested that the committee was delving deeper into the question of what Mr. Trump was doing and saying while the attack unfolded, as it seeks to determine his intentions and state of mind during the assault. The letter also made clear that the panel has already uncovered substantial evidence about those critical hours inside the White House from key players who were present that day.

vicky ward investigates

Vicky Ward Investigates, Extraordinary Exaggerations, Vicky Ward, Jan. 21, 2022. Donald Trump and the “Fairy Tale” of Real Estate Accounting. I’ve read the very long filing in which New York Attorney General Letitia James says she’s got evidence showing that former president Donald Trump and his family real estate business inflated the valuation of their assets for the purposes of acquiring loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions in what appears to be a pattern of fraud. (James says the investigation is on-going and has not decided whether or not to bring civil charges.)

“Thus far in our investigation, we have uncovered significant evidence that suggests Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization falsely and fraudulently valued multiple assets and misrepresented those values to financial institutions for economic benefit,” James said.

A spokesperson for the Trump Organization has said the claims are baseless.

An example of Trump’s alleged “falsehoods”: In financial statements dated 2015 and 2016, the value of Trump’s NYC apartment was based on the calculation that it was 30,000 square feet, instead of its actual size of 10,966 square feet. Banks relied on the statements—which, as the filing points out, “overstated by almost a factor of three” the value of the apartment—when determining whether to grant Trump and his company loans and insurance. According to the filing, in his own testimony, long-time Trump Org CFO Alan Weisselberg “admitted that this amounted to an overstatement of ‘give or take’ $200 million.”

Most people will rightly be horrified to read this.

But in the world of real estate, which I’ve written about for over a decade, exaggerating your net worth is completely commonplace, particularly when seeking funding or marketing. (It’s also commonplace for real estate developers to sing a different song to the IRS. Typically, their accountants write complex disclamatory cover letters explaining the discrepancies. We don’t know what Trump’s said.)

I phoned around to some of the biggest developers in America these past 24 hours to gauge their reaction to the Attorney General’s filings, and the general reaction, unbelievably, was: “This behavior is not particularly surprising or interesting. Possibly, he went too far.”

The reason for this is that, though Trump’s exaggerated claims may be more extreme than most, what he’s done is essentially exactly how the “game” (and I don’t use that word loosely) of real estate works. And nearly all the players in it—particularly banks and financial institutions who have dealt with Donald Trump over the years—understand it and play it. They are complicit.

For example, a former senior banker at Deutsche Bank, which loaned Trump $640 million to finance Trump International Hotel & Towel in Chicago, has told me that when he and his colleagues received Trump’s financial statements, they were so “comical” and “absurd” that he threw them in the garbage. Nonetheless, Deutsche Bank loaned Trump millions—and, though the process of repayment was far from simple (see here), they didn’t lose money from the deal, as far as they know.

Another person closely associated with Trump’s financings over the years once described one of Trump’s pitches to me as “a complete fairytale.” Yet this person still does regular business with him.

And as for getting the square footage wrong? You’d be amazed at the inventive ways people come up with for “measuring” buildings. In all my reporting, I’ve never come across a building that stayed the same size over the years according to its marketing material, even if the building itself didn’t change a square inch. In fact, if some buildings were actually as big as the marketing material said they were, they would have spilled over the sidewalk.

Other “tricks” of the trade include skipping Floor 13 but still saying you have 25 floors instead of 24. And numbering penthouses, and so on. “The area for fudginess is huge,” a seasoned real estate executive told me yesterday.

The critical question for James is whether Trump’s hyperbole crossed the line. Say, for example, he certified a set of facts—as opposed to his own opinions—that he knew to be incorrect and that inaccuracy cost an institution financially? From what James filed, that is unclear. So we shall have to see.

But as an explainer about the culture from which the Trumps come, …well, read me!

My 2014 book about the world of New York real estate—in which Trump has been head-quartered for most of his career—is not called A Story of Good and Honest People. It’s quite deliberately called The Liar’s Ball, named after the colloquial name for the annual industry party. With reason.

Jan. 20

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary / Special Report: Minority rule Trump -- turning America into Rhodesia and Afrikaaner Suid Afrika, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallWayne Madsen, left, and author of The Rise of the Fascist Fourth Reich: The Era of Trumpism and the Far Right, Jan. 20, 2022. The more that is discovered about Donald Trump's coup d'état on January 6, the more it takes on the appearance of a pre-planned putsch that combined the elements of street action -- the occupation of the U.S. Capitol complex and, possibly, the Supreme Court -- with a quasi-constitutional "lawfare" operation consisting of fake electors, counterfeit elector certificates of ascertainment, and invocation of the Electoral Count Act of 1877.

wayne madesen report logowayne madsen fourth reich coverCombined, these actions, code named GREEN BAY SWEEP by its conspirators, would have not only placed the United States under martial law after Trump's implementation of dictatorial powers under the Insurrection Act but would have implemented minority white rule in the fashion of Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa.

GREEN BAY SWEEP was predicated on millions of votes for the Democratic presidential ticket being nullified by Trump electors in six states -- Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Nevada. Previously certified electors pledged to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris would have been supplanted by electors pledged to the Trump-Pence ticket. Many of the Trump electors were sitting Republican members of the legislatures of the six states involved, plus New Mexico, in the electoral subterfuge plot.

CNN, Investigation, Trump campaign officials, led by Rudy Giuliani, oversaw fake electors plot in 7 states, Marshall Cohen, Zachary Cohen and Dan Merica, Jan. 20, 2022.

Trump campaign officials, led by Rudy Giuliani, oversaw efforts in December 2020 to put forward illegitimate electors from seven states that Trump lost, according to three sources with direct knowledge of the scheme.

CNNThe sources said members of former President Donald Trump's campaign team were far more involved than previously known in the plan, a core tenet of the broader plot to overturn President Joe Biden's victory when Congress counted the electoral votes on January 6.

Giuliani and his allies coordinated the nuts-and-bolts of the process on a state-by-state level, the sources told CNN. One source said there were multiple planning calls between Trump campaign officials and GOP state operatives, and that Giuliani participated in at least one call. The source also said the Trump campaign lined up supporters to fill elector slots, secured meeting rooms in statehouses for the fake electors to meet on December 14, 2020, and circulated drafts of fake certificates that were ultimately sent to the National Archives.

Trump and some of his top advisers publicly encouraged the "alternate electors" scheme in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Arizona, Wisconsin, Nevada and New Mexico. But behind the scenes, Giuliani and Trump campaign officials actively choreographed the process, the sources said.

One fake elector from Michigan boasted at a recent event hosted by a local Republican organization that the Trump campaign directed the entire operation.

"We fought to seat the electors. The Trump campaign asked us to do that," Meshawn Maddock, co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party, said at a public event last week that was organized by the conservative group Stand Up Michigan, according to a recording obtained by CNN.

Listen to Meshawn Maddock describe the Trump campaign's involvement in the fake elector plot at a recent speech in Michigan

"[Matt Maddock] fought for investigations into every part of the election we could. He fought for a team of people to come and testify in front of the committee. We fought to seat the electors. Um, the Trump campaign asked us to do that -- under a lot of scrutiny for that today. My husband has, he's suffered for that a little bit in Lansing because it's not very popular, but you know when you represent the whole state of Michigan and that's what I see it now. I realize that even though you're going to vote for somebody to be your next state representative, your next state senator, the truth is, this body of people, they represent all of us.

Maddock was also one of the 16 Trump supporters from Michigan who served as fake electors and signed the illegitimate certificate that was sent to the National Archives.

"It was Rudy and these misfit characters who started calling the shots," a former Trump campaign staffer said. "The campaign was throwing enough sh*t at the wall to see what would stick."

The scheme was integral to Trump's plan to get then-Vice President Mike Pence to throw out Biden's electors and replace them with the GOP electors on January 6 when Congress counted the electoral votes. It has also come under renewed scrutiny by the January 6 select committee and state attorneys general, raising questions about the involvement of Trump's campaign and whether any laws were broken.

Committee chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi told reporters Thursday the panel is looking into whether there was a broader conspiracy or involvement from the Trump White House in the creation or submission of these fake electors.
"That's a concern" Thompson said.

In its subpoena letter sent to Giuliani on Tuesday, the House committee specifically references his efforts to convince state legislatures to overturn election results. The document cites Giuliani's comments from December 2020 in which he publicly urged lawmakers in Michigan to award the state's electoral votes to Trump.

One of the pro-Trump electors from Pennsylvania, Sam DeMarco, told CNN there was a last-minute dispute, where the state's GOP electors pushed Trump campaign officials to add legal caveats to the fake certificate to say they were only electors-in-waiting, if Trump's legal challenges prevailed.

The fake documents from Pennsylvania and New Mexico ultimately contained these caveats, but the documents from the other five states explicitly claimed, falsely, that the pro-Trump electors were the rightful electors.

It's not clear that any of the fake electors themselves participated in strategy sessions with top Trump campaign brass. But both Maddock from Michigan and DeMarco from Pennsylvania have said they were in direct contact with members of the Trump campaign.

Many of the players involved in the scheme, including Maddock, stand by their actions and are still pushing the lie that the 2020 election was stolen. Giuliani, a Trump spokesperson and a representative from Stand Up Michigan did not respond to CNN's requests for comment.

Jan. 19

 

 supreme court headshots 2019

ny times logoNew York Times, In Rebuke to Trump, Supreme Court Won’t Block Release of Jan. 6 Files, Adam Liptak, Jan. 19, 2022. The case was a constitutional clash on the scope of executive privilege and whether a former president may invoke it when the current one has waived it.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused a request from former President Donald J. Trump to block the release of White House records concerning the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Clarence Thomas HROnly Justice Clarence Thomas, right, noted a dissent.

A special House committee investigating the attack sought the records from the National Archives, which gave both President Biden and Mr. Trump the opportunity to object.

Mr. Trump invoked executive privilege, a doctrine meant to protect the confidentiality of presidential communications, over some of the documents.

“Congress may not rifle through the confidential, presidential papers of a former president to meet political objectives or advance a case study,” his lawyers told the justices in an emergency application.

“These sweeping requests are indicative of the committee’s broad investigation of a political foe, divorced from any of Congress’s legislative functions,” the application said.

djt impeachment graphicMr. Biden took a different view in October in declining to assert executive privilege over some of the materials.

“Congress is examining an assault on our Constitution and democratic institutions provoked and fanned by those sworn to protect them, and the conduct under investigation extends far beyond typical deliberations concerning the proper discharge of the president’s constitutional responsibilities,” wrote Dana Remus, the White House counsel.

She added that executive privilege should not be employed to protect “information that reflects a clear and apparent effort to subvert the Constitution itself.”

Mr. Trump told the justices that he had a constitutional right to shield the materials from Congress even though Mr. Biden declined to invoke executive privilege over them.

“The disagreement between an incumbent president and his predecessor from a rival political party,” Mr. Trump’s lawyers told the court, “is both novel and highlights the importance of executive privilege and the ability of presidents and their advisers to reliably make and receive full and frank advice, without concern that communications will be publicly released to meet a political objective.”

Lawyers for the House committee responded that the Supreme Court should not thwart its inquiry. “The select committee’s work,” they wrote, “is of the highest importance and urgency: investigating one of the darkest episodes in our nation’s history, a deadly assault on the United States Capitol and Congress, and an unprecedented disruption of the peaceful transfer of power from one president to the next.”

 

djt oct 7 2020 twitter

washington post logoWashington Post, N.Y. attorney general alleges Trump’s business inflated property values, wealth statements, Shayna Jacobs, Jonathan O'Connell and Josh Dawsey, Jan. 19, 2022. New York Attorney General Letitia James alleged on Tuesday that former president Donald Trump’s business inflated the value of his properties and misstated his personal worth in representations to lenders, insurance brokers and other players in his real estate empire.

James, right, a Democrat who is leading a civil probe into Trump and his business, spelled out the claims in a court filing late Tuesday that was offered in support of her bid to see Trump and his adult children deposed under oath.

letitia james resized o headshotIn the nearly 160-page document, James cited examples of Trump (shown above at the White House in a file photo) allegedly lending his signature to financial statements that estimated the worth of properties in the Trump Organization portfolio and the value of his own fortune — estimates that James’s team has long suggested were misleading and potentially key to taking legal action against the Manhattan-based company.

“Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., and Ivanka Trump have all been closely involved in the transactions in question, so we won’t tolerate their attempts to evade testifying in this investigation,” James said in a statement released Tuesday night along with the documents.

James said that the trio’s testimony is necessary to advance a probe that is based on at least 900,000 documents obtained from the Trump Organization, interviews with employees and other evidence.

The filings were in response to a motion to quash subpoenas to the three Trumps that demanded they sit for depositions and produce related records. Eric Trump, who along with his siblings has served as a high-ranking officer at the company, was deposed in late 2020.

Trump Organization attorney Alan Futerfas, who is representing Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump in this matter, argued that the subpoenas violate the constitutional rights of the family, which is also under criminal investigation in New York by the Manhattan district attorney.

 

Trump children Eric Trump, left, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. at the White House.Trump children Eric Trump, left, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. in a file photo taken at the White House during the Trump presidency.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Court filing from New York AG Letitia James is devastating for Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr., bill palmerBill Palmer, right, Jan. 19, 2022. Late last night New York Attorney General Letitia James revealed a court filing in her ongoing civil case against the Trump Organization. The filing was for the official purpose of asking the courts to force Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, and Donald Trump Jr. to testify about the Trump Organization in the civil case. But it’s what James revealed about the evidence in the case that serves as the real story.

bill palmer report logo headerIn making her argument for why the court should compel their testimony, James announced that she has “significant evidence” that Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, and Donald Trump Jr. falsified the values of Trump Organization properties for loan, insurance, and tax purposes. To be clear, these would be felonies.

This is just a civil case. But James and the Manhattan District Attorney are also jointly running a related criminal investigation into Donald Trump, which has already led to criminal charges against Allen Weisselberg and the Trump Organization. So if James has evidence of criminal acts by multiple Trump family members, it’s a near certainty that she’s already provided this evidence to the Manhattan DA, and that Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, and Donald Trump Jr. will be criminally indicted.

This in addition to the near certainty that James will use the “significant evidence” she has to assert massive civil penalties against the Trump Organization, and to seize its assets to cover those penalties if needed.

Even if the Trumps try to dodge testifying in the civil case by invoking the Fifth Amendment, James can still use their refusal to testify as a basis for concluding that the Trump Organization is culpable. And while pleading the fifth is not considered an indicator of guilt in any criminal charges that end up getting brought, James says she already has the evidence that the Trumps committed these financial crimes anyway. The Trumps simply have no magic wands for getting off the hook at this point.

Palmer Report, Analysis: The New York AG just put Ivanka Trump right in the center of the Trump Organization’s Deutsche Bank scandal, Bill Palmer,  Jan. 19, 2022. Last night New York Attorney General Letitia James formally asked the courts to compel Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, right, and Donald Trump Jr. ivanka trump twitter portraitto testify in her civil probe into the Trump Organization. In that filing, James stated that she has “significant evidence” that the three of them falsified asset valuations for loan, insurance, and tax purposes.

bill palmer report logo headerNotably, these would be felonies if proven true – and James just happens to also have a Trump criminal case in conjunction with the Manhattan District Attorney. So it seems a given at this point that the three of them will be criminally indicted on charges along the lines of loan, insurance, and tax fraud. But now one key detail in the court filing is jumping off the page.

Various individuals across social media have spotted this in the publicly available text of Letitia James’ court filing, in item #365: “While at the Trump Organization Ivanka Trump, along with Allen Weisselberg, was the primary point of contact for representatives of Deutsche bank.”

deutsche bank logoThis is a big deal because it appears to single out Ivanka Trump as being the member of the Trump family who dealt with Deutsche Bank the most directly – and it’s long been alleged that the Trump Organization’s biggest financial fraud was in relation to its famously sketchy Deutsche Bank loans.

If we all thought Ivanka Trump was on the hot seat last night when the New York Attorney General announced that she has “significant evidence” that Ivanka and her family committed financial fraud, then Ivanka is on a nuclear hot seat if the NY AG views her as having been the most directly responsible for the alleged fraud involving Deutsche Bank.

Jan. 18

 

Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani hawking their false claims that they could prove election fraud caused Democratic nominee Joe Biden's presidential victory in 2020.

Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani hawking their false claims that they could prove election fraud caused Democratic nominee Joe Biden's presidential victory in 2020.

washington post logoWashington Post, House Jan. 6 committee subpoenas Trump-allied attorneys Giuliani, Powell and others, Jacqueline Alemany, Jan. 18, 2022. Rudolph W. Giuliani was Trump’s personal attorney, and Sidney Powell led a legal charge to overturn the 2020 election. Two other Trump allies were also subpoenaed.

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection issued subpoenas to members of former president Trump’s outside legal team on Tuesday, including Trump’s former personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani, former White House aide Boris Epshteyn, and lawyers Jenna Ellis and Sidney Powell.

“The four individuals we’ve subpoenaed today advanced unsupported theories about election fraud, pushed efforts to overturn the election results, or were in direct contact with the former President about attempts to stop the counting of electoral votes,” Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) said in a statement.

Thompson’s statement added, “We expect these individuals to join the nearly 400 witnesses who have spoken with the Select Committee as the committee works to get answers for the American people about the violent attack on our democracy.”

Giuliani and Epshteyn were part of the group of Trump advisers who coalesced at a “command center” at the Willard Hotel in the lead up to the Jan. 6 rally on the Ellipse and the counting of electoral votes, the Washington Post has reported.

In a letter transmitting notice of the subpoenas, Thompson cites Giuliani’s involvement in seeking to convince state legislators to take steps to overturn the election results, his urging of Trump to seize voting machines across the country, and his contact with Trump in the days ahead of Jan. 6 “regarding jenna ellis cropped screenshotstrategies for delaying or overturning the results of the 2020 election.”

Thompson’s letter to Epshteyn references his presence at the Willard Hotel in the days leading up to Jan. 6, along with his participation on a call with Trump on the morning of Jan. 6 where options were discussed to delay the certification of election results.

In a letter accompanying the subpoena to Ellis, right, Thompson notes her involvement in preparing and circulating two memos “purporting to analyze the constitutional authority for the Vice President to reject or delay counting electoral votes from states that had submitted alternate slates of electors.”

Jan. 17

 

Former president Donald Trump endorses the 2022 re-election of Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in Des Moines, Iowa on Oct. 9, 2021.

Former president Donald Trump endorses the 2022 re-election of Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in Des Moines, Iowa on Oct. 9, 2021.

Proof, Investigation:The Coming Collapse of Donald Trump’s January 6 Conspiracy, Part 4: Chuck Grassley, Seth Abramson, left, Jan. 16-17, 2022 (Excerpt from a much longer article). This shocking seth abramson graphicnew PROOF series details mounting evidence that Trump's seditious January 6 conspiracy is at the point of collapse because of the cowardice, fear, and perfidy of his co-conspirators.

Introduction: There’s simply no other way to put this: the bizarre, still unexplained Insurrection Eve statement issued to U.S. media by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)—a stark declaration concerning the anticipated whereabouts of sitting Vice President of the United States Mike Pence over the coming 24 hours—remains one of the most sinister moments in the whole of the January 6 insurrection timeline.

seth abramson proof logoYet it appears as though no one in the DOJ, the FBI, or even the House of Representatives is seriously looking into it. The following Proof report attempts to remove any “fuzz” from the key facts regarding Grassley’s statement.

As you read this report, keep in mind the photograph atop this article: Donald Trump’s October 9, 2021 endorsement of Sen. Grassley for re-election to the United States Senate in 2022.

2022? Yes. Donald Trump travelled to Iowa over a year before the 2022 midterms to endorse Grassley for an election Grassley intends to run in but could easily, given his age and his health, find himself deciding against. Trump, out of office and spreading seditious rhetoric at every opportunity, is intent on drawing the senior senator from Iowa as close to him as possible.

Why would Trump care so much about the political fate of an extremely elderly United States senator surely in his final or second-to-last Senate term? Perhaps because Trump knows that, if the GOP regains control of the Senate in January 2023, Grassley will again chair the Senate Judiciary Committee rather than being (as he is now) merely its ranking member.

Grassley’s prospective 2023 role on the Senate Judiciary Committee would not only have been vital to Trump in a second term in office, but may still be now in the event any issues touching upon Trump’s legal liabilities somehow come before that body— for instance, issues relating to Trump’s rampant misconduct while in the Oval Office.

And yet, even all this might not have been enough to make Trump care about Grassley in October 2021. But at the time Trump went to Iowa to stump with Grassley, the aged senator was just weeks removed from being hounded by U.S. media (see below) as to another component of his Senate service: his past role as Senate president pro tempore. I

In endorsing the 88 year-old Grassley—the second-oldest human in Congress—in October 2021, Trump not only brazenly blew smoke about him (“He’s a very young guy”) but called Grassley a “patriot” (a term now used as code for “insurrectionist”); more importantly, he dropped a line which, in retrospect, seems telling: “When I’ve needed [Senator Grassley] for help, he was always there.” And Donald Trump desperately needed Chuck Grassley’s help on January 6, 2021.

The question now is whether Grassley is linked to Trump in ways that are much less evident—and relate not to 2022 but January 6, 2021. All of the Following Things Are True About Grassley’s Infamous Insurrection Eve Declaration About Pence (1) Grassley’s January 5 statement that Pence would not be overseeing the certification of the 2020 election was definitive and unambiguous. Grassley’s statement, The Hill reported at the time, “sent shock waves” through D.C., and did so on the eve of what would turn out to be the worst attack on Washington since the American Civil War.

Grassley’s claim caused “chaos” in the nation’s capital, wrote The Hill, forcing reporters to suddenly “grapple with [the question of] whether Pence had pulled out of the joint session”—and in effect giving Pence an opportunity to choose that option if he hadn’t been inclined to do so previously, it having been laid so neatly on the table for him by an esteemed senior member of the Republican Party.

Conclusion: Whereas Kevin McCarthy is now dissembling about the content of his January 6, 2021 conversation with Donald Trump, at least he previously (and repeatedly) was candid about it. In contrast, it appears that Chuck Grassley and his staff have been lying from the start about what could’ve been even more consequential contacts with Team Trump

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

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

washington post logoWashington Post, The Justice Dept. alleged Jan. 6 was a seditious conspiracy. Now will it investigate Trump? Matt Zapotosky, Josh Dawsey, Tom Hamburger and Rachel Weiner, Jan. 17, 2022 (print ed.). The Justice Department’s decision to charge Oath Keepers with seditious conspiracy last week makes clear that prosecutors consider the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol part of an organized assault to prevent the peaceful transfer of presidential power.

But so far the department does not appear to be directly investigating the person whose desperate bid to stay in office motivated the mayhem — former president Donald Trump — either for potentially inciting a riot or for what some observers see as a related pressure campaign to overturn the results of the election.

The House select committee on Jan. 6 is investigating both matters, separate from the Justice Department, and has aggressively pursued information about Trump and those closest to him. But FBI agents have not, for example, sought to interview or gather materials from some of Trump’s most loyal lieutenants about their strategy sessions at the Willard hotel on how to overturn the results of the 2020 election, according to participants in those meetings or their representatives.

The department has not reached out to the Georgia secretary of state’s office about Trump urging its leader to “find” enough votes to reverse his defeat, a person familiar with the office said, even as a local district attorney investigates that matter.

The Trump campaign has not received requests for documents or interviews from the FBI or Justice Department related to Jan. 6 or the effort to overturn the election results, and federal prosecutors have not sought to interview those with knowledge of Trump’s consideration of a plan to install an attorney general more amenable to his unfounded claims of massive voter fraud, according to people familiar with the matter. The Justice Department inspector general is investigating the aborted plan and could ultimately ask prosecutors to consider whether crimes were committed.

Attorney General Merrick Garland has vowed to hold accountable all those responsible for the Jan. 6 riot — whether they were at the Capitol or committed related crimes. “The actions we have taken thus far will not be our last,” Garland said in a Jan. 5 speech marking the anniversary of the Capitol breach.

But some legal analysts say they worry Garland might be moving too cautiously.

“The other shoe has yet to drop — that is: When will the Justice Department promptly and exhaustively investigate the part of the coup attempt that I believe came perilously close to ending American constitutional democracy, basically, without a drop of blood?” said Harvard Law School Professor Laurence Tribe, a constitutional scholar and outspoken Trump critic.

Trump friend and advisor Roger Stone, center, poses with members of the radical right group Oath Keepers (File photo).

Trump friend and advisor Roger Stone, center, poses with members of the radical right group Oath Keepers (File photo).

Palmer Report, Commentary: Confirmed: DOJ is targeting Roger Stone, Rudy Giuliani, and Trump world in relation to Capitol attack, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 2022.  bill palmerWhen major newspapers publish lengthy articles about political scandals, the good news is that they often contain crucial pieces of inside information that no one else has been able to uncover. The bad news is that these articles are typically put together by trading editorial favors with inside sources, and are thus often presented in a manner that borders on fiction.

bill palmer report logo headerNow that the DOJ has arrested the entire Oath Keepers leadership for seditious conspiracy in relation to the January 6th Capitol attack, the media fallout is underway. This has led the Washington Post to publish a piece which is one of the most dishonestly constructed major newspaper articles in recent memory, yet still manages to give away a key piece of crucial information. Notably, the one important revelation in the article manages to disprove the premise of the entire rest of the article.

The article is titled “The Justice Dept. alleged Jan. 6 was a seditious conspiracy. Now will it investigate Trump?” It goes on to loudly insist that the DOJ is not investigating Trump or Trump world, but offers no actual evidence of this. Instead it’s written almost entirely from the point of view of alleged January 6th participants and their defense attorneys, all of whom are claiming innocence. It also quotes some potential witnesses within the Trump Justice Department log circularregime who say they haven’t been contacted by the DOJ about any investigation into Trump. But this is meaningless because the probe wouldn’t have reached this point yet anyway.

The WaPo article also includes the usual round of attention-seeking legal experts who like to put on a good show of wringing hands about how our democracy is going to die because nothing is being done. But then the article goes on to admit that when it comes to the DOJ, “much could be happening in secret.” So even this article is admitting that the legal experts it’s quoting are full of it, because no one knows for sure what the DOJ has going on behind the scenes.

Well, actually a handful of people do know what the DOJ is up to. The entire premise of the first thirty paragraphs of this WaPo article is that if the DOJ were investigating Trump world, we’d know it, because well, the DOJ would be asking other January 6th figures for information about them. But in the thirty-first paragraph, the article reveals that according to an attorney representing several Oath Keepers, the DOJ is “interested” in “close Trump allies Rudy Giuliani and Roger Stone.”

Oh, so the DOJ is investigating Donald Trump’s inner circle in relation January 6th. It only took the Washington Post thirty-one paragraphs to drop this major bombshell, after having first spent thirty paragraphs trying to vaguely scare everyone into believing that it’s not happening.

This is just weird, and yet par for the course. Major newspaper articles of this type always come off as having been constructed like Frankenstein’s monster, with one misleading paragraph being inserted here because a source demands that a certain slant be presented in exchange for inside information, and then another paragraph further down the page that confirms the real truth, buried so deep that the source perhaps won’t bother to read that far and thus won’t end up being pissed off.

In any case, while this Washington Post article is a painful reminder that journalism is dying in much the same way that they want us to believe democracy is dying, it’s almost worth having to slog through this kind of misleading agenda-driven nonsense just to get the bombshell confirmation that the DOJ is targeting Rudy Giuliani and Roger Stone in relation to January 6th.

Given Roger Stone’s close ties to the Oath Keepers on January 6th, this strongly suggests that the DOJ’s arrest of the Oath Keepers leadership this past week was indeed about getting to Roger Stone. It also suggests that the ongoing DOJ criminal probe into Rudy Giuliani, which included a raid of his home last year, also includes his role in January 6th.

This comes on top of Mike Lindell’s claim this weekend that his bank is forcing him to close his accounts in relation to a subpoena threat from the Feds, and it’s becoming clear that the DOJ is targeting Donald Trump’s inner circle from all sides. If the DOJ is going to indict Trump, it’ll do so by first indicting and flipping one or more members of his inner circle. The process we’re seeing play out right now is exactly what it would look like. This doesn’t prove that the DOJ will indict Trump. But it overwhelmingly disproves the popular legal pundit claim that the DOJ has decided not to go after Trump.

Jan. 16

merrick garland new

Palmer Report, Opinion: What a difference 48 hours has made, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 16, 2022. For months there was a popular narrative in political punditry that bill palmerMerrick Garland, above, and his Department of Justice were doing “nothing” about Trump world and January 6th. This was obviously false; no serious person would ever believe that the Garland DOJ was simply doing nothing. But plenty of pundits opportunistically pushed this nonsense to take advantage of the fact that no one could see what the DOJ was doing; after all, fear mongering sells. But over the past 48 hours we’ve finally started getting to see what the DOJ has been doing behind the scenes all this time.

bill palmer report logo headerFirst came the DOJ’s arrest of a double digit number of Oath Keepers leaders on Friday for seditious conspiracy, the most severe criminal charge that anyone could have hoped would be brought. This means that the DOJ has been painstakingly building these criminal cases in overwhelmingly comprehensive fashion for some time. In addition the DOJ’s decision to wait for all of the cases to be completed, before rounding them up at once, suggests it’s pitting them against each other to push one or more of them to flip quickly before the others can. And of course they’d be flipping on the next rung up on the ladder in the January 6th criminal conspiracy, which would mean people along the lines of Roger Stone and Alex Jones – in other words, key people in Trump world. But that was just the half of it.

Justice Department log circularOn Saturday, key Donald Trump sedition ally Mike Lindell announced that his bank is closing down all his accounts due to reputational risk, in relation to a subpoena threat from the Feds. In other words, the DOJ appears to be following the January 6th Trump world money trail through Lindell. This comes on top of earlier reports that the DOJ was following the money trail through former Trump election lawyer Sidney Powell.

So within a span of 48 hours we’ve gone from having no real sense of what the DOJ was doing about Trump world and January 6th behind the scenes, to now seeing what appears to be the DOJ’s plan to take down the likes of Stone, Jones, Powell, and Lindell. Throw in the earlier raid against former Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Victoria Toensing, and the federal criminal indictment against Trump money man Tom Barrack, and we’re starting to see that the DOJ really has been targeting Trump world from all sides.

This comes on top the revelation from earlier this week that that DOJ has begun having January 6th Capitol attackers formally confess that they were invading the Capitol because they believed Donald Trump wanted them to. Now we can suddenly see that the DOJ has been overwhelmingly targeting Trump and his people behind the scenes.

This still doesn’t prove that the DOJ is going to end up criminally indicting Donald Trump. The way these things work, the DOJ will need to continue successfully flipping people upward in order to get to Trump himself. But it fully disproves the ridiculous claim that the DOJ has been doing “nothing.” The pundits who spent months making this claim certainly knew better. There’s really no reason to ever listen to them again.

Jan. 15

 

oan logo

washington post logoWashington Post, DirecTV says it will sever ties with far-right network One America News, Timothy Bella, Jan. 15, 2022. The conservative channel’s contract with DirecTV expires in early April. DirecTV announced Friday evening that it will sever ties with One America News later this year, pulling the conservative news channel from millions of homes and dealing a significant blow to the pro-Trump network.

att logoThe channel, which rose to prominence during the Trump administration and has promoted conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election and coronavirus pandemic, will be dropped from DirecTV in early April when its contract expires. OAN’s sister channel, A Wealth of Entertainment, will also be removed from the satellite provider. Both channels are owned by Herring Networks and founded by Robert Herring Sr., below left.

robert herring sr“We informed Herring Networks that, following a routine internal review, we do not plan to enter into a new contract when our current agreement expires,” a DirecTV spokesperson said in a statement to The Washington Post.

The move figures to be a big financial loss for the fringe network. An OAN accountant reported in 2020 that 90 percent of the channel’s revenue in the previous year stemmed from subscriber fees paid by DirecTV and other AT&T-owned platforms, according to Reuters. AT&T has been repeatedly criticized for playing a foundational role in building up OAN into a Trump-friendly alternative to Fox News. Though DirecTV is now its own company, AT&T owns 70 percent of the satellite provider.

Without the estimated tens of millions of dollars in revenue from AT&T, an OAN accountant said in sworn testimony that the network’s value “would be zero,” reported Reuters.

Related story:

Reuters, Special Investigative Report: How AT&T helped build far-right One America News, John Schiffman, Oct. 6, 2021 (First of two stories). As it lauded former President Donald Trump and spread his unfounded claims of election fraud, One America News Network saw its viewership jump. Reuters has uncovered how America’s telecom giant nurtured the news channel now at the center of a bitter national divide over politics and truth.

One America News, the far-right network whose fortunes and viewership rose amid the triumph and tumult of the Trump administration, has flourished with support from a surprising source: AT&T Inc, the world's largest communications company.

reuters logoA Reuters review of court records shows the role AT&T played in creating and funding OAN, a network that continues to spread conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and the COVID-19 pandemic.

OAN founder and chief executive Robert Herring Sr. has testified that the inspiration to launch OAN in 2013 came from AT&T executives. “They told us they wanted a conservative network,” Herring said during a 2019 deposition seen by Reuters. “They only had one, which was Fox News, and they had seven others on the other [leftwing] side. When they said that, I jumped to it and built one.”

Since then, AT&T has been a crucial source of funds flowing into OAN, providing tens of millions of dollars in revenue, court records show. Ninety percent of OAN’s revenue came from a contract with AT&T-owned television platforms, including satellite broadcaster DirecTV, according to 2020 sworn testimony by an OAN accountant.

Herring has testified he was offered $250 million for OAN in 2019. Without the DirecTV deal, the accountant said under oath, the network’s value “would be zero.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden White House forces resignation of former Trump aide who promoted baseless Jan. 6 theories, Mariana Alfaro, Jan. 15, 2022 (print ed.). The Biden administration on Friday forced out Darren Beattie, who was a member of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, along with six other members appointed by Trump.

The Biden White House has forced the resignation of a Trump-appointed member of a U.S. commission who has promoted the baseless claim that the FBI planted agents among the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Darren Beattie was named by former president Donald Trump to the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad in November 2020. In a letter Friday, Gautam Raghavan, deputy director of the White House office of presidential personnel, told Beattie that he must turn in his resignation by the end of business Friday and if he did not, his position would be terminated.

A spokesman for the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Beattie confirmed the White House’s letter in a Friday afternoon tweet, saying the request for his resignation was “better than a Pulitzer [Prize].”

“You’ve been fired by better people than this,” commented Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), an outspoken conservative.

As a member of the commission, Beattie was serving a three-year term and would have had the option of retaining his post until replaced. Members of the commission aren’t paid for their service.

FBI logoThe White House move comes days after Beattie’s actions as a right-wing blogger attracted attention from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack. The panel dismissed the “unsupported” claim that the FBI helped to incite the insurrection, a theory perpetuated by right-wing media and some Republicans looking to absolve the pro-Trump mob that attacked the building.

The committee’s statement came after it interviewed Ray Epps, an Arizona man who encouraged others to break into the Capitol on Jan. 5 and was seen on the Capitol grounds the day of the attack. In the interview with the committee, Epps denied any involvement with the FBI or any other law enforcement agency.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Seditious conspiracy charges means January 6th has been recognized as a coup attempt, Wayne Madsen, left, Jan. 14-15, 2022. The investigation of January 6th by both the Department of Justice and the House Select Committee on January 6th has entered a wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallnew phase: the planning, coordination, financing, and other matters relating to the insurrection.

This new direction of the investigation of the coup could find its way into the Trump White House; the Pentagon; the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, and Interior; the wayne madesen report logoDirectorate of National Intelligence; and, as previously reported by WMR, a few foreign embassies in Washington, including those of Brazil, Russia, and Hungary.

The Justice Department's recognition that January 6 was no mere spontaneous riot but a carefully-planned coup attempt, refocuses the criminality of January 6 on propagandists and rabble rousers and like [Alex] Jones, Fox's Tucker Carlson, and Steve Bannon; financiers like Jenkins Fancelli and Bannon's exiled Chinese billionaire friend and chief funder Guo Wengui; and GOP state Attorneys General like Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton; Missouri's Eric Schmitt, a current candidate for the U.S. Senate; and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, as well as RLDF war games participant, Kansas Chief Deputy Attorney General Jeff Chanay.

The recent indictments are also the first to charge conspirators for actions planned after January 6, including preventing the peaceful transfer of power from Trump to President-elect Joe Biden on January 20, 2021.
 

Trump friend and

Trump friend and "Stop the Steal" organizer Roger Stone, center, displays a "White Power" sign with a group of Proud Boys whom he had hired as a personal security force to accompany him while he attended a 2018 Republican conference ini Oregon, according to an Oregon news report and the Snopes fact-checking site.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Roger Stone’s final move, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 15, 2022. It’s difficult to live your life so stupidly that even after getting your bill palmersentence commuted and later getting pardoned, you still end up dying in prison.

But with yesterday’s criminal indictment of the entire Oath Keepers leadership for seditious conspiracy, Roger Stone is next in line to be bill palmer report logo headerindicted for the same charges. This means that Donald Trump’s mid 2020 commutation of Stone, and Trump’s late 2020 pardon of Stone, won’t stop Stone from spending the rest of his natural life in prison.

What’ll be particularly interesting is what Roger Stone decides to do once it hits him that his life is essentially over.

Will he cut a deal against Donald Trump? On the one hand, such a deal would represent Stone’s only hope of tasting fresh air again at some point. On the other hand, Stone is 69 years old and seemingly in frail health – so would he ever get out of prison even with a plea deal? Would the DOJ be willing to give Stone immunity in exchange for giving up everything on his decades long friend Trump?

These may stop being mere hypothetical questions soon, as this DOJ probe continues to move up the hierarchy.

Jan. 14

 

stewart rhodes

ny times logoNew York Times, Oath Keepers Leader Arrested in First Sedition Charge in Jan. 6 Inquiry, Alan Feuer and Adam Goldman, Jan. 14, 2022 (print ed.). The F.B.I. arrested Stewart Rhodes, above, the founder of the far-right militia, in a major step forward in the investigation into the attack on the Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump.

Stewart Rhodes, the leader and founder of the far-right Oath Keepers militia, was arrested on Thursday and charged with seditious conspiracy for organizing a wide-ranging plot to storm the Capitol last Jan. 6 and disrupt the certification of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s electoral victory, federal law enforcement officials said.

The arrest of Mr. Rhodes was a major step forward in the sprawling investigation of the Capitol attack and the case marked the first time that prosecutors had filed charges of sedition. According to his lawyer, Jonathon Moseley, Mr. Rhodes was arrested at shortly before 1 p.m. Read the indictment here.

Mr. Rhodes, a former Army paratrooper who went on to earn a law degree at Yale, has been under investigation for his role in the riot since at least last spring when, against the advice of his lawyer, he sat down with F.B.I. agents for an interview in Texas. He was at the Capitol on Jan. 6, communicating by cellphone and a chat app with members of his team, many of whom went into the building. But there is no evidence that he entered the Capitol.

The Oath Keepers, along with the Proud Boys, have emerged as the most prominent far-right extremists to have taken part in the assault on the Capitol. Prosecutors have collected reams of evidence against them, including encrypted cellphone chats and recordings of online meetings. They have charged its members not only with forcing their way into the building in a military-style “stack,” but also with stationing an armed “quick reaction force” at a hotel in Virginia to be ready to rush into Washington if needed.

roger stone hatThrough their lawyers, members of the Oath Keepers who are already facing charges have said they converged on Washington just before Jan. 6 as part of a security detail hired to protect conservative celebrities like Roger J. Stone, Jr., the longtime ally of former President Donald J. Trump.

In an interview with The New York Times this summer, Mr. Rhodes expressed frustration that several members of his group had “gone off mission” by entering the Capitol on Jan. 6, quickly adding, “There were zero instructions from me or leadership to do so.”

But at least four Oath Keepers who were at the Capitol that day and are cooperating with the government have sworn in court papers that the group intended to breach the building with the goal of obstructing the final certification of the Electoral College vote.

Mr. Rhodes has also attracted the attention of the House select committee investigating Jan. 6, which issued him a subpoena in November. In a letter at the time, House investigators noted that Mr. Rhodes had taken part in several events intended to question the integrity of the 2020 presidential election throughout that fall and winter.

On Election Day, according to the letter, Mr. Rhodes said that an “honest” count of the votes could only result in a victory for Mr. Trump and called on members of his group to “stock up on ammo” and prepare for a “full-on war in the streets.”

Within a week of Election Day, Mr. Rhodes had told the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones that he had men stationed outside Washington prepared to act at Mr. Trump’s command.

Around the same time, federal prosecutors say, he urged his fellow Oath Keepers at an online meeting to support Mr. Trump, calling him the “duly elected president” and adding: “You can call it an insurrection or you can call it a war or fight.”

The drumbeat continued through the winter, prosecutors say, as Mr. Rhodes appeared at a pro-Trump rally in Washington on Dec. 12, 2020, and called on Mr. Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act, suggesting that a failure to do so would result in a “much more bloody war.” At the rally, Mr. Rhodes acknowledged in a television interview that he and members of his group were there to provide security for celebrity speakers along with another shadowy paramilitary organization, the First Amendment Praetorian.

On Jan. 4, just two days before the storming of the Capitol, Mr. Rhodes posted an article on the Oath Keepers website calling on “all patriots” to “stand tall in support of President Trump’s fight to defeat the enemies foreign and domestic who are attempting a coup.”

djt handwave file

Palmer Report, Opinion: The DOJ’s January 6th due diligence has now landed it two steps from Donald Trump’s doorstep, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 14, 2022. The bill palmerDOJ didn’t wake up yesterday and randomly decide to arrest the Oath Keepers leadership on a lark. In reality the DOJ spent all year painstakingly working through the lower level grunts involved in January 6th and flipping people upward – while most pundits insisted it was doing “nothing” – so it could be in position to take out Oath Keepers leadership yesterday.

No serious person would ever have thought that the Garland DOJ was doing “nothing” about the January instigators (sorry, but pundits who talk like that are a joke). The real questions were what the DOJ was specifically doing behind the scenes, whether it would succeed, and whether we’d end up agreeing with the strategy. Now we’re getting some answers.

bill palmer report logo headerDOJ managed to flip so many people upward, it was able to build slam dunk seditious conspiracy charges against all twelve of these Oath Keepers leaders. That’s due diligence right there. What stands out is that the DOJ apparently decided to wait until all twelve cases were ready, then arrested them all at once yesterday. Now these twelve Oath Keepers leaders will each feel pressure to hurry up and flip before any of the eleven others can. Typically there’s only one truly lenient plea deal available in situations like this, and their lawyers are all explaining this to them.

Justice Department log circularIt’s overwhelmingly likely that one or more of these twelve will flip fairly quickly, which in turn will take down the people on the next rung up of the January 6th criminal conspiracy – people like Roger Stone and Alex Jones, who were allegedly acting as liaisons between the Trump administration and the Oath Keepers.

In any massive criminal conspiracy, any given person usually only has direct evidence against the people one rung up from them. But now that the DOJ has wiped out the Oath Keepers leadership, if the next rung up is indeed Roger Stone, then the next rung up from him is Donald Trump.

Of course even if one or more of these Oath Keepers leaders cuts a deal tomorrow, it’ll still take the DOJ time to use their cooperation to complete the cases against the next rung up. So the “are we there yet” folks will still have plenty to complain about. But the DOJ is now just two steps from Donald Trump’s doorstep.

Jan. 12

ap logoAssociated Press, 1/6 panel requests interview from GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, Farnoush Amiri and Eric Tucker, Jan. 12, 2022. The House panel investigating the U.S. Capitol insurrection requested an interview and records from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday, seeking first-hand details from members of Congress on former President Donald Trump’s actions as hundreds of his supporters brutally beat police, stormed the building and interrupted the certification of the 2020 election.

kevin mccarthyMississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, Democratic chairman of the panel, requested that McCarthy, R-Calif., right, provide information to the nine-member panel regarding his conversations with Trump “before, during and after” the riot. The request also seeks information about McCarthy’s communications with former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in the days before the attack.

“We also must learn about how the President’s plans for January 6th came together, and all the other ways he attempted to alter the results of the election,” Thompson said in the letter. “For example, in advance of January 6th, you reportedly explained to Mark Meadows and the former President that objections to the certification of the electoral votes on January 6th ‘was doomed to fail.’”

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary, House Select Committee on 1/6 is the most important in the history of the nation, Wayne Madsen, left, Jan. wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Small11-12, 2022. The House of Representative's Select Committee on the January 6, 2021 insurrection is the most important congressional investigative panel in the history of the nation, eclipsing, by far, the Senate Watergate Committee that investigated abuses of power by the administration of Richard Nixon.

wayne madesen report logoThe major difference between the January 6th and Watergate committees is that the Donald Trump administration attempted to carry out a coup d'état, whereas the Nixon administration abused power to cover up a cloak-and-dagger break-in by its so-called Plumbers Unit of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex. Exacerbating the Watergate scandal was Nixon's firing of the Watergate Independent Counsel, Archibald Cox after the top tier of the Department of Justice resigned in protest.

richard nixon o new CustomTo be sure, what Nixon, left, did was illegal and unconstitutional and he resigned as Congress was preparing to impeach and remove him from office. His successor, Gerald Ford, willingly appeared as president before the House Judiciary Committee to answer questions about his pardon for Nixon. Although the historical record indicates that there was nervousness at the Pentagon about Nixon attempting a military coup in his final days in office, it is known that Defense Secretary James Schlesinger and White House chief of staff General Alexander Haig took steps to prevent any such action.

The commonly used phrase by Washington's pundits after Nixon's resignation was that "our constitutional system worked." Most subpoenas issued to witnesses by the Senate Watergate Committee, officially known as the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, were honored.

Some members of the House January 6th committee have promised a similar cavalcade of star witnesses appearing before it for televised hearings beginning in February.

To say that the January 6th hearings are the most important in American history is no overstatement. Watergate may have resulted in a constitutional crisis, particularly in October 1973 in the "Saturday Night Massacre" that saw Nixon fire Cox with the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General resigning in protest, but January 6th almost saw the abrogation of the U.S. Constitution; the assassinations of the Vice President, the Vice President-elect, and Speaker of the House; and a declaration by Trump of a national security emergency and a declaration of martial law.

One fact remains in the history of congressional investigations. Not one hearing sponsored by the Republicans meant a hill of beans when it came to high-level corruption.

Whether it was the 1950-1954 Senate Committee on Government Operations and the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations hearings of Republican chairman Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin, the Whitewater nonsense targeting President Bill Clinton in the 1990s, the Benghazi hearings during which self-congratulating buffoons like Republicans Jim Jordan of Ohio or Darrell Issa of California played their game of "gotcha" with officials of the Barack Obama administration, nothing of any substance came out of any these investigations.The only thing that was discovered was that the Republicans had a knack for wasting millions of dollars on useless investigations and that the only information that came out of the McCarthy hearings was that a bizarre homosexual love triangle existed between his staff counsel Roy Cohn, Army Private G. David Schine, and McCarthy.

Another McCarthy, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California has promised similar Republican monkeyshine against Democrats if he takes over as House Speaker next year.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Here’s the thing about the January 6th Committee’s big wins, Bill Palmer, Jan. 12, 2022. The January 6th Committee just keeps racking up wins. It’s now becoming clear that it’s obtained mountains of damning evidence against Donald Trump and his associates. It’s also increasingly clear that key inside witnesses have privately sold Trump out to the committee, and will do so again publicly during televised hearings.

Keep in mind that the committee has achieved all of these wins through the use of smart and savvy investigative strategy, including interviewing hundreds of lower level witnesses and using the information they’ve provided as leverage against higher level witnesses who otherwise might not have been pressured into cooperating.

bill palmer report logo headerNone of the committee’s wins have been achieved through “aggression” or “urgency” or “growing a spine” or “showing passion” or any of the other terms that the doomsday pundits out there have used while criticizing the committee. That’s because these kinds of reality show style terms are mere gibberish that don’t actually mean anything in the real world, and therefore couldn’t possibly ever produce a cooperating witness, uncover a key piece of evidence, or form the basis of an actionable criminal referral.

republican elephant logoAs it becomes more clear that the January 6th Committee is winning, and doing so via good old fashioned detective work, these doomsday pundits will only get more loud and urgent with their hyperbolic insistence that the committee has failed and “lacks a spine” (or whatever trendy nonsense terms they’re tossing around this week).

We’re talking about the kind of pundits who have based their entire brand on painting themselves as being smarter and savvier than the committee, which means they need the committee to fail – or at least be seen as a failure – in order to keep their brand intact. As it becomes more difficult for them to sell this narrative, they’ll resort to attacking the committee more hyperbolically and dishonestly. A big part of your job, as an actual political activist, is to push back against these doomsday fraudsters and prevent them from poisoning the well.

Daily Beast, Kayleigh McEnany Reportedly Meets With Jan. 6 Committee, Staff Report, Jan. 12, 2022. The committee subpoenaed the former Trump flack and current Fox News host back in November, expressing interest in her public statements pushing the Big Lie.

daily beast logoFormer White House press secretary and current Fox News host Kayleigh McEnany appeared virtually before the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack on Wednesday, according to CNN.

McEnany, who was both then-President Donald Trump’s spokesperson and a senior advisor to Trump’s campaign during the 2020 election, was subpoenaed in November. The committee’s subpoena expressed interest in McEnany’s public remarks pushing Trump’s election lies following President Joe Biden’s electoral victory, stating that her comments contributed to the election denialism that fueled the insurrection.

McEnany did not appear on Wednesday's broadcast of Fox News’ Outnumbered, the midday opinion show she co-hosts. She’s not the only Fox News personality that’s become ensnared in the Jan. 6 probe: the committee has also called on host Sean Hannity to cooperate, citing his many texts with the Trump White House related to the riots and the ex-president’s plans to overturn the election.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump abruptly ends NPR interview after he is pressed on baseless election fraud claims, John Wagner, Jan. 12, 2022. Former president Donald Trump abruptly ended an interview with NPR on Tuesday after he was pressed on his baseless claims of election fraud and repeated contention that the 2020 election was “rigged” against him.

Trump hung up on “Morning Edition” host Steve Inskeep nine minutes into what NPR said was scheduled to be a 15-minute interview that was broadcast Wednesday.

After several lines of questioning related to Trump’s widely debunked election claims, Inskeep asked Trump whether he would endorse only Republican candidates this year who are pressing his case that the 2020 contest against Joe Biden was stolen from him.

“Is that an absolute?” Inskeep asked.

Trump responded that the candidates “that are smart” are going to press his case, citing Kari Lake, a Republican gubernatorial candidate in Arizona. Lake, a former news anchor, has parroted Trump’s baseless claims about election fraud.

Trump calls GOP senator a ‘jerk’ after he rejects former president’s false claims of widespread election fraud

“She’s very big on this issue,” Trump said. “She’s leading by a lot. People have no idea how big this issue is, and they don’t want it to happen again. . . . And the only way it’s not going to happen again is you have to solve the problem of the presidential rigged election of 2020.”

As Inskeep sought to interject, Trump said, “So, Steve, thank you very much. I appreciate it.” He then hung up, prompting Inskeep to protest.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, I have one more question,” Inskeep said, adding that he wanted to talk about a court hearing related to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol.

Earlier in the interview, Inskeep had challenged Trump multiple times on his claims of election fraud.

Inskeep asked, for example, why election officials in Arizona had accepted the findings of a Republican-ordered audit that uncovered no issues that would have altered the result of the 2020 presidential race in the state.

“Because they’re RINOs, and frankly, a lot of people are questioning that,” Trump said, referring to the term “Republicans in name only.”

Pressed on why most U.S. senators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), have not backed his election fraud claims, Trump replied, “Because Mitch McConnell is a loser.”

Jan. 10

 

capitol right full crowd uncredited

A mob attacking the Capitol on Jan. 6 last year. During a speech earlier that day, President Donald J. Trump told the crowd to “fight like hell” and march to the building.

ny times logoNew York Times, Civil Suits Against Trump Seek Damages for Jan. 6 Attack, Luke Broadwater and Alan Feuer, Jan. 10, 2022. Lawyers argued that the cases against the former president should be allowed to go forward because he inflamed a mob and failed to stop the violence it wrought.

Members of Congress, police officers and government watchdog groups argued in federal court on Monday that Donald J. Trump was liable for major financial damages for his role in inspiring the Jan. 6 attack on Congress, pressing an array of civil suits against the former president amid mounting frustration that he has faced no penalty for the riot.

Over nearly five hours in the United States District Court for Washington, lawyers laid out their cases against Mr. Trump, contending that he deserved to be held responsible for inflaming a violent mob, despite what are typically wide immunity protections for a president’s speech and actions while in office.

capitol riot nyt jan 7 2021“Mr. Trump dispatched the crowd that he assembled,” said Joseph Sellers, the lawyer for a group of House Democrats, including Representatives Barbara Lee of California, Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey and Hank Johnson of Georgia. “After he saw that they were engaged in breaking into the Capitol, instead of trying to calm them, he retweeted his incendiary remarks from the rally before.”

During a hearing over whether the suits can move forward, Judge Amit P. Mehta, right, focused on why Mr. Trump did not act more amit mehta Customquickly to call off the mob. He asked lawyers for Mr. Trump whether the president’s slow response was not evidence he agreed with the siege after telling the crowd to “fight like hell” and march to the Capitol.

“You have an almost two-hour period in which the president doesn’t take to Twitter or to any other type of communication and say: ‘Stop. Get out of the Capitol,’” the judge said, adding, “If my words were misconstrued and they led to violence, wouldn’t a reasonable person whose words were being misconstrued come out and say: ‘Wait a minute. Stop’?”

Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Jesse R. Binnall, argued that the suits should be dismissed because his remarks inflaming the crowd were protected by presidential immunity and his First Amendment right to free speech. He asserted that Mr. Trump had told the crowd to “peacefully and patriotically” march on the Capitol.

“These cases should be dismissed because they never should have been brought in the first place,” Mr. Binnall said. “The complaints themselves are void of any legal basis. Instead, they’re chock-full of propaganda that’s meant to achieve a political rather than a legal objective.”

Judge Mehta also invoked a lawsuit against organizers of the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in the Charlottesville, Va., noting that the allegations against the white nationalist Richard Spencer and other defendants included inciting violence and then failing to stop it. Jurors in that case found the organizers liable under state law for injuries to counterprotesters, awarding more than $25 million in damages.

But Judge Mehta wrestled openly on Monday with the constitutional issues of trying to hold a president accountable through the civil courts. He noted that presidents could be prosecuted criminally only after leaving office, but he said the Supreme Court had granted “even broader” immunity protections from civil suits.

“This is not an easy case,” the judge said. “I’ve struggled with a lot of these issues because they raise a lot of important constitutional questions.”

The House Democrats’ suit accuses Mr. Trump, his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and two militia groups, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, of conspiring to incite violence on Jan. 6. (Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, had been a plaintiff in the suit but withdrew after he was named chairman of the House committee investigating the attack.)
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A second suit was filed by Representative Eric Swalwell, Democrat of California, against Mr. Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr., Mr. Giuliani and Representative Mo Brooks, Republican of Alabama, accusing them of inciting the mob violence.

A third was filed by two Capitol Police officers who argued that Mr. Trump was responsible for the physical and emotional injuries they had suffered as a result of the day’s events.

Mr. Brooks, who wore body armor onstage at a rally preceding the violence as he told the crowd to “start taking down names and kicking ass,” represented himself at Monday’s hearing after the Justice Department declined to do so. He argued that his own efforts to undermine the 2020 election were no different from tactics used by Democrats, who objected to previous presidential certifications.

“This was not to inspire people to attack the Capitol,” he said of his speech.

The lawsuits are an effort to subject Mr. Trump to some sort of accountability a year after the attack.

By a vote of 43 to 57 last year, the Senate acquitted Mr. Trump of inciting insurrection, falling short of the two-thirds needed to convict him.

Jan. 9

 

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

The Guardian, Capitol attack panel investigates Trump over potential criminal conspiracy, Hugo Lowell, Jan. 9, 2022 (print ed.). Messages between Mark Meadows and others suggest the Trump White House coordinated efforts to stop Joe Biden’s certification.

The House select committee investigating the Capitol attack is examining whether Donald Trump oversaw a criminal conspiracy on 6 January that connected the White House’s scheme to stop Joe Biden’s certification with the insurrection, say two senior sources familiar with the matter.

joe biden hands out 1 6 22 speechThough Biden never mentioned Trump by name, he was explicit in blaming the former president for fomenting the violence of a year ago. (Biden condemns Trump’s ‘web of lies’ a year on from deadly Capitol assault.)

The committee’s new focus on the potential for a conspiracy marks an aggressive escalation in its inquiry as it confronts evidence that suggests the former president potentially engaged in criminal conduct egregious enough to warrant a referral to the justice department.

House investigators are interested in whether Trump oversaw a criminal conspiracy after communications turned over by Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows and others suggested the White House coordinated efforts to stop Biden’s certification, the sources said.

djt march 2020 CustomThe select committee has several thousand messages, among which include some that suggest the Trump White House briefed a number of House Republicans on its plan for then-vice president Mike Pence to abuse his ceremonial role and not certify Biden’s win, the sources said.

The fact that the select committee has messages suggesting the Trump White House directed Republican members of Congress to execute a scheme to stop Biden’s certification is significant as it could give rise to the panel considering referrals for potential crimes, the sources said.

Members and counsel on the select committee are examining in the first instance whether in seeking to stop the certification, Trump and his aides violated the federal law that prohibits obstruction of a congressional proceeding – the joint session on 6 January – the sources said.

The select committee believes, the sources said, that Trump may be culpable for an obstruction charge given he failed for hours to intervene to stop the violence at the Capitol perpetrated by his supporters in his name.

But the select committee is also looking at whether Trump oversaw an unlawful conspiracy that involved coordination between the “political elements” of the White House plan communicated to Republican lawmakers and extremist groups that stormed the Capitol, the sources said.

That would probably be the most serious charge for which the select committee might consider a referral, as it considers a range of other criminal conduct that has emerged in recent weeks from obstruction to potential wire fraud by the GOP.

liz cheney screengrab capitolThe vice-chair of the select committee, the Republican congresswoman Liz Cheney, left, referenced the obstruction charge when she read from the criminal code before members voted unanimously last November to recommend Meadows in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify.

The Guardian previously reported that Trump personally directed lawyers and political operatives working from the Willard hotel in Washington DC to find ways to stop Biden’s certification from happening at all on 6 January just hours before the Capitol attack.

But House investigators are yet to find evidence tying Trump personally to the Capitol attack, the sources said, and may ultimately only recommend referrals for the straight obstruction charge, which has already been brought against around 275 rioters, rather than for conspiracy.

The justice department could yet charge Trump and aides separate to the select committee investigation, but one of sources said the panel – as of mid-December – had no idea whether the agency is actively examining potential criminality by the former president.

A spokesperson for the select committee declined to comment on details about the investigation. A spokesperson for the justice department declined to comment whether the agency had opened a criminal inquiry for Trump or his closest allies over 6 January.

Still, the select committee appears to be moving towards making at least some referrals – or alternatively recommendations in its final report – that an aggressive prosecutor at the justice department could use to pursue a criminal inquiry, the sources said.

corey lewandowski testimony proofProof, Investigative Commentary: The Coming Collapse of Donald Trump’s January 6 Conspiracy, Part 3: Corey Lewandowski, Seth Abramson, left, Jan. 9, 2022. seth abramson graphicThis shocking new Proof series details mounting evidence that Trump's seditious January 6 conspiracy is at the point of collapse because of the cowardice, fear, and perfidy of his co-conspirators. Note: This is Part 3 of an ongoing series in the January 6 section of Proof. Part 4 is due soon, and will focus on Stop the Steal co-organizer Ali Alexander. Part 1 is here, and Part 2 is here.

seth abramson proof logoIntroduction: There were many—indeed one might say innumerable—reasons for Donald Trump to fire Corey Lewandowski (shown above in a file photo) as his campaign manager during the presidential campaign of 2016.

Lewandowski was accused of assaulting reporter Michelle Fields; fought relentlessly and unprofessionally with campaign chairman Paul Manafort—the Kremlin agent who was in contact with Russian intelligence during the 2016 GOP primaries and general election, and who Trump for some reason gave over his entire campaign to despite the fact that Manafort (normally paid well over a million dollars a year) was quite suspiciously not asking for any payment—and, put bluntly, simply didn’t know what he was doing. Corey Lewandowski was clearly out of his league trying to run a successful national presidential campaign, which is probably why Fields ultimately derided him, in public, as little more than Donald Trump’s “body man.”

This is, in essence, correct—as this article will show. And it’s a fact that could now benefit the House January 6 Committee (hereafter the “HJ6C”) more than it realizes. Almost no one has been as close to Trump since mid-2015, which is one reason Trump has always exhibited an almost proprietary interest over the mercurial Massachusetts native. Corey Lewandowski simply knows too much to be left swinging in the wind.

But Trump has left him swinging, anyway. There’s more on that later on in this article.

After Lewandowski’s firing in mid-June 2020, it quickly became clear that—despite the said dissolution of his formal relationship with the Trump campaign—he never really left it. Just as Manafort continued being a top Trump political adviser for many, many months after he himself was fired in August of 2016 (see the bestselling Proof trilogy for much more on this), Lewandowski never ceased to be one of Trump’s foremost confidants and political advisers following his separation from the 2016 Trump campaign. It’s for this reason that his activities on Insurrection Eve, nearly five years later, should remain of intense interest to FBI and House investigators.

But it’s not just Lewandowski’s status and reputation as a leading Trump advisor that makes him an important witness for the HJ6C now—it’s what we already know he was doing during the first week of January 2021, and on Insurrection Eve in particular.

What Proof Has Reported

In late January 2021, Proof reported that Lewandowski had been spotted in Trump’s “war house” on Insurrection Eve, along with much of Trump’s inner circle (including Donald Trump Jr.). Eyewitnesses have confirmed, on video, that the purpose of the hours-long January 5 meeting at Trump International Hotel’s “Trump Town House” was to continue plotting (and outlining for third parties) a comprehensive January 6 strategy.

So what was Lewandowski really doing on Insurrection Eve? And—in addition to the President of the United States—with whom was he meeting, and why?

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

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

Palmer Report, Opinion: The January 6th Committee’s plan to refer Donald Trump for criminal prosecution, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 9, 2022. Last month, in a leak bill palmerthat could only have come from the January 6th Committee itself, the New York Times reported that the committee was looking at referring Donald Trump to the DOJ for criminal prosecution on crimes including obstruction of Congress and wire fraud.

Now, in a new leak that could also have only come from the committee itself, the Guardian is reporting ( Capitol attack panel investigates Trump over potential criminal conspiracy, Hugo Lowell) that the committee is looking at also referring Trump for a criminal conspiracy to overthrow the election.

With these leaks, the committee is giving away a lot about what it’s currently sitting on, and how it intends to play this. First, if you’re a congressional committee, you don’t leak you’re even “considering” a criminal referral against the former President of the United States unless you already have more than enough evidence to make the criminal referral legitimate in the eyes of the law and in the court of public opinion.

bill palmer report logo headerSecond, by leaking that different kinds of charges are being considered, the committee is laying the groundwork for demonstrating that Trump committed a broad swath of crimes in relation to January 6th. It’s not simply a question of whether Trump, recklessly or intentionally, incited the Capitol attack. It’s that the moment in question was part of an ongoing crime spree.

But the most intriguing part of these leaks may be the fact that the January 6th Committee obviously knows the Department of Justice is paying Justice Department log circularattention. While the DOJ has been very quiet about what if any criminal avenues it’s pursuing against Donald Trump, the committee is now giving the DOJ a very blatant heads up about the kinds of criminal referrals it could end up receiving against Trump.

This is notable because even if the DOJ has been pursuing January 6th and/or Donald Trump from very different directions, it’ll have to take immediate notice if Congress hands it a comprehensive criminal case against Trump from these specific directions. Now that the DOJ is aware that it could soon be receiving a criminal referral against Trump on the kinds of charges that the committee is leaking, the DOJ has time to steer its own efforts in those general directions. This doesn’t guarantee the DOJ will bring charges against Trump. But if the committee hands over a complete criminal case that’s likely to win at trial, the DOJ would have a hard time – from a legal standpoint and a perception standpoint – not bringing the charges.

Steady, Commentary: It Ain't Over, Dan Rather, right, Jan. 9, 2021. The lingering threat of January 6. Like almost every other journalist or journalistic dan rather 2011organization this week, we marked the one year anniversary of the insurrection of January 6 here on Steady. We talked about the dangers of that day, what preceded it, and what has followed. We considered the many unanswered questions that remain. Our tone was one of apprehension and sadness. Across America, there was no shortage of eloquent and urgent reflections.

But of course there are also counter narratives engulfing almost the entirety of the Republican Party. Tens of millions of our fellow citizens fervently believe that what happened that day was not that big a deal, a one-off mob, or, and this is bone-chilling, something to actually celebrate.

Under these arguments, drawing comparisons between January 6 and other days of infamy, such as Pearl Harbor or 9/11, is outrageous because the level of violence, the loss of life, and the immediate threats each posed to American existence are not in the same universe. To be sure, the nature of analogies is that they far from perfect. But attacks aren’t always physical, although there was certainly a lot of physical harm done to the police officers on 1/6. Our communal soul, our hopes, our confidence, the mechanisms that make our governance and way of life possible can also be assaulted. And they were. Grievously.

I am not one that believes we are headed into a widespread violent civil conflict, although we must always be alert to the possibility. Rather, what we saw, and have continued to see, is one of our two major political parties is infused with a motivating energy that at best can be called anti-democratic. Much of it is downright authoritarian, with elements of white nationalism bubbling towards the surface.

All of this means that even as the dates of the calendar move forward, we cannot allow ourselves to turn the page on January 6. Yes the protective barriers around the Capitol have come down, but the guardrails for our democracy remain tenuous.

Jan. 8

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump suddenly has a money problem with his own henchmen, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 8, 2022. Everyone who’s followed Donald bill palmerTrump over the years, whether in politics or in real estate before that, knows that he does everything he can to avoid paying his bills. Yet the ambitious suckers who attach themselves to him always end up thinking they’ll somehow be the one person Trump comes through for.

bill palmer report logo headerFor instance, when it became clear that Trump’s top political advisers were going to be targeted and/or prosecuted in relation to January 6th, Trump promised to pay their legal bills – a tactic generally used to keep them loyal to him.

But now the New York Times says that some of Trump’s former and current staffers are learning that Trump is not going to pay their legal bills, and some of them are considering taking legal action against Trump in order to get those bills paid.

This is yet another tale of Trump screwing everyone who’s remained loyal to him; that’s nothing new. But the real story here is that if Trump doesn’t pay these folks’ legal bills, it could prompt some of them to cooperate with prosecutors, in the hope of reducing their legal bills. After all, if he’s showing no loyalty, why should they? We’ll see who cracks and when.

Jan. 6

Proof, Investigation: The Coming Collapse of Donald Trump’s January 6 Conspiracy, Part 2: Roger Stone, Seth Abramson, left, Jan. 6, 2022. This shocking new seth abramson graphicPROOF series details mounting evidence that Trump's seditious January 6 conspiracy is at the point of collapse because of the cowardice, fear, and perfidy of his co-conspirators. This is Part 2 of an ongoing series in the January 6 section of Proof. Part 3 is due soon, and will focus seth abramson proof logoon Stop the Steal co-organizer Ali Alexander. Part 1 in the series is here.

Introduction: While we don’t yet know if the walls are closing in on Donald Trump—for the former president to be in significant legal trouble it would take a degree of commitment and verve from AG Merrick Garland that we’ve seen little public evidence of yet—it can now be said that Trump is facing abandonment from his friends. It’s a sign that they, at least, believe the end is nigh for Trump politically and (perhaps) as a matter of law.

bennie thompson headshotAs 2021 turned to 2022, we heard Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), left, and Liz Cheney (R-WY)—chair and vice chair of the House January 6 Committee (hereafter the HJ6C)—boast of having spoken to over 300 fact witnesses in their investigation of January 6, making Trumpist dead-enders Steve Bannon and Mark Meadows, right, who’ve both defied their congressional subpoenas, seem like outliers. Mark Meadows(Bannon, a top adviser to Trump in the days leading up to January 6, faces a federal Contempt of Congress trial later this year, while Congress referred former Trump chief of staff Meadows to the DOJ for potential prosecution via the same charge).

In just the last 72 hours, Thompson and Cheney have gotten even more explicit than this, disclosing that they’ve spoken to “multiple” witnesses with “firsthand knowledge” of Trump’s movements on January 6. Such individuals would have to have been very close to the former president indeed on both Insurrection Day and the days immediately preceding it.

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

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

mike pence djt side by side

Axios, Mike Pence’s team helping Jan. 6 committee, Alayna Treene, Jan. 5, 2022. People in and around former Vice President Mike Pence's office have been particularly cooperative as the Jan. 6 select committee focuses on what former President Trump was doing during the more than three hours the Capitol was under attack, sources familiar with the testimony tell Axios.

Why it matters: At the one-year mark of the insurrection, the committee is piecing together a definitive timeline of how Trump resisted pleas from his own advisers, allies, family members and lawmakers to halt the violence down Pennsylvania Avenue. The committee is axios logoramping up its closed-door work with the goal of holding public hearings as early as this spring.

Some Pence-world witnesses have testified without a subpoena, according to one source with direct knowledge of the closed-door hearings. Both Pence's former chief of staff Marc Short, and former press secretary Alyssa Farah, who later served as communications director to Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, are among those cooperating with the committee. Keith Kellogg also has given a deposition. One source familiar with their involvement said Short, who was subpoenaed by the committee, would not have cooperated without the approval of Pence.

Jan. 4

 

sean hannity uncreditedPalmer Report, Opinion: It’s Sean Hannity’s time in the barrel, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 4, 2022. Fox News host Sean Hannity often manages to find himself bill palmerconnected to various Donald Trump scandals, sometimes tangentially, sometimes in the thick of it. But Hannity seems to be just slippery enough to avoid getting dragged down in the process. However, he may have finally bitten off more than he can chew.

Adam Schiff now says that the January 6th Committee has requested Sean Hannity’s cooperation with regard to the text messages he was bill palmer report logo headersending Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows during the January 6th Capitol attack. Talk about a no-win situation for Hannity.

Keep in mind that the committee surely already has some or all of Hannity’s text messages to Meadows, or it wouldn’t be targeting fox news logo Smallhim like this. If Hannity’s texts reveal that he was in on the January 6th plot, then he’s screwed for obvious reasons. And even if Hannity is innocent in all of this and his texts were merely pleading with Meadows to have Trump call off the Capitol attackers, Hannity will lose badly in the eyes of his own audience by testifying to as much.

If you’re wondering which way Hannity is leaning, longtime Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow is representing him in the matter, suggesting Hannity is trying to figure out how not to cooperate.

Jan. 3

ny times logoNew York Times, Another Far-Right Group Is Scrutinized in Effort to Aid Trump, Alan Feuer, Jan. 3, 2022. The organization, called 1st Amendment Praetorian, is not as well known as the Oath Keepers or the Proud Boys, but it worked closely with pro-Trump forces in the months after the 2020 election.

Days after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 last year, federal law enforcement officials pursued two high-profile extremist groups: the far-right nationalist Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers militia. Members of both organizations were quickly arrested on attention-grabbing charges, accused of plotting to interfere with the certification of the 2020 vote count.

Now congressional investigators are examining the role of another right-wing paramilitary group that was involved in a less publicly visible yet still expansive effort to keep President Donald J. Trump in power: the 1st Amendment Praetorian.

Known in shorthand as 1AP, the group spent much of the postelection period working in the shadows with pro-Trump lawyers, activists, business executives and military veterans to undermine public confidence in the election and to bolster Mr. Trump’s hopes of remaining in the White House.

By their own account, members of the 1st Amendment Praetorian helped to funnel data on purported election fraud to lawyers suing to overturn the vote count. They guarded celebrities like Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, at “Stop the Steal” rallies, where huge crowds gathered to demand that Mr. Trump remain in office. And they supported an explosive proposal to persuade the president to declare an emergency and seize the country’s voting machines in a bid to stay in power.

The organization is not as well known as the Oath Keepers or the Proud Boys, but it worked closely with pro-Trump forces after the 2020 election.

None of 1AP’s top operatives have been arrested in connection with the Capitol riot, and it remains unclear how much influence they exerted or how seriously criminal investigators are focused on them. Still, the group had men on the ground outside the building on Jan. 6 and others at the Willard Hotel, near some of Mr. Trump’s chief allies. And in the days leading up to the assault, 1AP’s Twitter account posted messages suggesting that the group knew violence was imminent.

“There may be some young National Guard captains facing some very, very tough choices in the next 48 hours,” read one message posted by the group on Jan. 4.

Last month, citing some of these concerns, the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack issued a subpoena to Robert Patrick Lewis, the leader of 1AP. On the same day, it sent similar requests to Enrique Tarrio, the chairman of the Proud Boys, and Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the Oath Keepers.

washington post logoWashington Post, Capitol Police see sharp increase in threats to Congress, departure of dozens of officers, Tom Jackman, Jan. 3, 2022. Chief Thomas Manger seeks to rebuild force, add resources after after Jan. 6 breakdowns.

In the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot, the U.S. Capitol Police force saw its workforce decline and its morale plummet, but its workload continued to soar. While the force maintained its protective and patrol duties, the number of threats aimed at members of Congress or the Capitol itself rose again in 2021 to roughly 9,600, Chief Thomas Manger said. The trajectory began with less than 4,000 threats in 2017 and increased to more than 8,600 threats in 2020.

“The threats against Congress have grown exponentially over the last five years,” Manger said in an interview before his testimony on Capitol Hill this week before the Senate Rules and Administration Committee. “And the workload, assigning somebody to look into all these cases is important.”

As he spoke, Manger said, a threat on Twitter directed toward a senator came in, reading, “idk I will kill @Sen.” He did not reveal the name.

“Out of 18,000 police departments, the U.S. Capitol Police is unique,” said Manger, who took over in July after retiring as Montgomery County, Md., police chief. “Nobody does what we do — protecting the Capitol of the United States and the members of Congress,” while also patrolling the campus, handling constant demonstrations and investigating threats. In response to an inspector general’s suggestion that the department focus more on being a protective agency, Manger said, “I don’t know where we can say, well, we can do a little less traditional policing.”

Jan. 2

 

liz cheney screengrab capitol

Raw Story, Liz Cheney reveals Ivanka visited Donald Trump 'at least twice' on Jan. 6 to stop the violence, David Edwards, Jan. 2, 2022. Liz Cheney, above, reveals Ivanka visited Donald Trump 'at least twice' on Jan. 6 to stop the violence.

Former President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka visited at least twice on Jan. 6, 2020 in an effort to stop the attack on the U.S. Capitol, according to Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY).

During an interview on ABC, Cheney explained why the Jan. 6 Select Committee could consider criminal charges for Trump.

raw story logo square"We are learning much more about what former President Trump was doing while the violent assault was underway," Cheney told ABC host George Stephanopoulos. "The Committee has firsthand testimony now that he was sitting in the dining room next to the Oval Office watching the attack on television as the assault on the Capitol occurred."

"The briefing room at the White House is just a mere few steps from the Oval Office," she continued. "The president could have at any moment walked those very few steps into the briefing room, gone on live television and told his supporters who were assaulting the Capitol to stop, he could have told them to stand down, he could have told them to go home and he failed to do so."

Cheney said that there was "no question" that Trump's failure to act was a "dereliction of duty."

"But I think it's also important for the American people to understand how dangerous Donald Trump was," she asserted. "We know, as he was sitting there in the dining room next to the Oval Office, members of his staff were pleading with him to go on television, to tell people to stop. We know Leader [Kevin] McCarthy was pleading with him to do that."

"We know members of his family," she added, "we know his daughter -- we have firsthand testimony that his daughter Ivanka went in at least twice to ask him to please stop this violence. Any man who would not do so, any man who would provoke a violent assault on the Capitol to stop the counting of electoral votes, any man who would watch television as police officers were being beaten, as his supporters were invading the Capitol of the United States is clearly unfit for future office, clearly can never be anywhere near the Oval Office ever again."

washington post logoWashington Post, Poll: Democrats and Republicans split over Jan. 6 attack, Trump’s culpability, Dan Balz, Scott Clement and Emily Guskin, Jan. 2, 2022 (print ed.). Partisan divisions related to Jan. 6 and the 2020 presidential election color most issues in The Washington Post-University of Maryland survey.

One year after the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, Republicans and Democrats are deeply divided over what happened that day and the degree to which former president Donald Trump bears responsibility for the assault, amid more universal signs of flagging pride in the workings of democracy at home, according to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosPartisan divisions related both to the Jan. 6 assault and the 2020 presidential election color nearly every issue raised in the survey, from how much violence occurred at the Capitol that day to the severity of the sentences handed down to convicted protesters to whether President Biden was legitimately elected. Only on a question about injured law enforcement officers is there broad bipartisan agreement.

The percentage of Americans who say violent action against the government is justified at times stands at 34 percent, which is considerably higher than in past polls by The Post or other major news organizations dating back more than two decades. Again, the view is partisan: The new survey finds 40 percent of Republicans, 41 percent of independents and 23 percent of Democrats saying violence is sometimes justified.

On Jan. 6, the day Congress was to ratify the 2020 electoral college vote, Trump claimed at a rally near the White House that the election had been rigged and urged his followers to “fight like hell” to stop what he said was a stolen outcome. Many of his supporters walked to the Capitol from the rally and took part in the violence.

 

robert palmer

This image provided by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia shows Robert S. Palmer, of Largo, Fla., hurling a fire extinguisher at police in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. (U.S. District Court for District of Columbia/U.S. District Court)

washington post logoWashington Post, 1 in 3 Americans say there can be justified violence against government, citing fears of political schism, pandemic, Meryl Kornfield and Mariana Alfaro, Jan. 2, 2022 (print ed.). The Post-UMD poll, coming a year after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, marks the largest share of Americans to hold that view since the question was first asked more than two decades ago.

Phil Spampinato had never contemplated the question of whether violence against the government might be justified — at least not in the United States. But as he watched Republicans across the country move to reshape election laws in response to former president Donald Trump’s false fraud claims, the part-time engineering consultant from Dover, Del., said he began thinking differently about “defending your way of life.”

“Not too many years ago, I would have said that those conditions are not possible, and that no such violence is really ever appropriate,” said Spampinato, 73, an independent.

The notion of legitimate violence against the government had also not occurred to Anthea Ward, a mother of two in Michigan, until the past year — prompted by her fear that President Biden would go too far to force her and her family to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

“The world we live in now is scary,” said Ward, 32, a Republican. “I don’t want to sound like a conspiracy theorist but sometimes it feels like a movie. It’s no longer a war against Democrats and Republicans. It’s a war between good and evil.”

A year after a pro-Trump mob ransacked the Capitol in the worst attack on the home of Congress since it was burned by British forces in 1814, a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll finds that about 1 in 3 Americans say they believe violence against the government can at times be justified.

The findings represent the largest share to feel that way since the question has been asked in various polls in more than two decades. They offer a window into the country’s psyche at a tumultuous period in American history, marked by last year’s insurrection, the rise of Trump’s election claims as an energizing force on the right, deepening fissures over the government’s role in combating the pandemic, and mounting racial justice protests sparked by police killings of Black Americans.

The percentage of adults who say violence is justified is up, from 23 percent in 2015 and 16 percent in 2010 in polls by CBS News and the New York Times.

A majority continue to say that violence against the government is never justified — but the 62 percent who hold that view is a new low point, and a stark difference from the 1990s, when as many as 90 percent said violence was never justified.

While a 2015 survey found no significant partisan divide when it comes to the question of justified violence against the government, the new poll identified a sharper rise on the right — with 40 percent of Republicans and 41 percent of independents saying it can be acceptable. The view was held by 23 percent of Democrats, the survey finds.

American Flag

washington post logoWashington Post, Shaken by Jan. 6 attack, Capitol workers quit jobs that once made them proud, Paul Schwartzman and Peter Jamison, Jan. 2, 2022 (print ed.). “The idea that you’re in a place where your life is at risk was just — on top of everything else — the clinching factor for me,” said Rich Luchette, 35, a former senior adviser to Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.). “It becomes overwhelming at some point.”

A sign of the enduring trauma, Luchette said, occurred a week or so after the insurrection, when the sounds of partying neighbors woke him up in his Navy Yard apartment. As he opened his eyes, his first thought was: “Are there Proud Boys out in the hallway?”

Luchette had considered looking for a new job before Jan. 6. By July, he had found one.

In any given year, staff turnover at the Capitol is constant, making it difficult to quantify the number of employees who quit or retired because of the insurrection. More than 100 U.S. Capitol Police officers had departed as of early December, a figure that was a sharp increase over the previous year.

On a typical day, the 290-acre Capitol complex is a veritable city unto itself, spread out over multiple blocks, with its own subway system, an array of cafeterias and a workforce approaching 30,000 people.

Jan. 6 was anything but typical, with the coronavirus having kept many employees at home. Yet, no matter where they were as the insurrection unfolded, Capitol employees could not help but feel violated as they saw rioters invade and vandalize their workplace.

Another former House staffer, a Democrat who quit months after Jan. 6, said the toll of that day grew as time passed.

“I got to the point where my mental health just took an absolute nose dive because I was still trying to process all this stuff,” said the former aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because she fears retribution from Trump supporters.

Death threats continued to arrive daily by phone from constituents who were convinced that Democrats had stolen the election. “It absolutely broke me to know that people would be fine if my boss was dead, if I was dead, if my co-workers were dead,” she said. “The American people stopped believing in the institution. And if they don’t believe in it, what the hell are any of us doing working for it?”

Recent Headlines

 

December

Dec. 27

peter navarro white house imageDaily Beast, Trump Advisor Peter Navarro Lays Out How He and Bannon Planned to Overturn Biden’s Electoral Win, Jose Pagliery, Dec. 27, 2021. “It started out perfectly. At 1 p.m., Gosar and Cruz did exactly what was expected of them…”

A former Trump White House official says he and right-wing provocateur Steve Bannon were actually behind the last-ditch, coordinated effort by rogue Republicans in Congress to halt certification of the 2020 election results and keep President Donald Trump in power earlier this year, in a plan dubbed the “Green Bay Sweep.”

daily beast logoIn his recently published memoir, Peter Navarro, then-President Donald Trump’s trade advisor, details how he stayed in close contact with Bannon as they put “Green Bay Sweep” in motion with help from members of Congress loyal to the cause.

But in an interview last week with The Daily Beast, Navarro shed additional light on his role in the operation and their coordination with politicians like Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX).

“We spent a lot of time lining up over 100 congressmen, including some senators. It started out perfectly. At 1 p.m., Gosar and Cruz did exactly what was expected of them,” Navarro told The Daily Beast. “It was a perfect plan. And it all predicated on peace and calm on Capitol Hill. We didn’t even need any protestors, because we had over 100 congressmen committed to it.”

That commitment appeared as Congress was certifying the 2020 Electoral College votes reflecting that Joe Biden beat Trump. Sen. Cruz signed off on Congressman Gosar’s official objection to counting Arizona’s electoral ballots, an effort that was supported by dozens of other Trump loyalists.

Staffers for Cruz and Gosar did not respond to requests for comment. There’s no public indication whether the Jan. 6 Committee has sought testimony or documents from Sen. Cruz or Rep. Gosar. But the committee has only recently begun to seek evidence from fellow members of Congress who were involved in the general effort to keep Trump in the White House, such as Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA).

This last-minute maneuvering never had any chance of actually decertifying the election results on its own, a point that Navarro quickly acknowledges. But their hope was to run the clock as long as possible to increase public pressure on then-Vice President Mike Pence to send the electoral votes back to six contested states, where Republican-led legislatures could try to overturn the results. And in their mind, ramping up pressure on Pence would require media coverage. While most respected news organizations refused to regurgitate unproven conspiracy theories about widespread election fraud, this plan hoped to force journalists to cover the allegations by creating a historic delay to the certification process.

“I never spoke directly to him about it. But he was certainly on board with the strategy. Just listen to his speech that day. ”

“The Green Bay Sweep was very well thought out. It was designed to get us 24 hours of televised hearings,” he said. “But we thought that we could bypass the corporate media by getting this stuff televised.”

Navarro’s part in this ploy was to provide the raw materials, he said in an interview on Thursday. That came in the form of a three-part White House report he put together during his final weeks in the Trump administration with volume titles like, “The Immaculate Deception” and “The Art of the Steal.”

“My role was to provide the receipts for the 100 congressmen or so who would make their cases… who could rely in part on the body of evidence I'd collected,” he told The Daily Beast. “To lay the legal predicate for the actions to be taken.” (Ultimately, states have not found any evidence of electoral fraud above the norm, which is exceedingly small.)

The next phase of the plan was up to Bannon, Navarro describes in his memoir, In Trump Time.

“Steve Bannon’s role was to figure out how to use this information—what he called ‘receipts’—to overturn the election result. That’s how Steve had come up with the Green Bay Sweep idea,” he wrote.

“The political and legal beauty of the strategy was this: by law, both the House of Representatives and the Senate must spend up to two hours of debate per state on each requested challenge. For the six battleground states, that would add up to as much as twenty-four hours of nationally televised hearings across the two chambers of Congress.”

His book also notes that Bannon was the first person he communicated with when he woke up at dawn on Jan. 6, writing, “I check my messages and am pleased to see Steve Bannon has us fully ready to implement our Green Bay Sweep on Capitol Hill. Call the play. Run the play.”

Navarro told The Daily Beast he felt fortunate that someone cancelled his scheduled appearance to speak to Trump supporters that morning at the Ellipse, a park south of the White House that would serve as a staging area before the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol building.

“It was better for me to spend that morning working on the Green Bay Sweep. Just checking to see that everything was in line, that congressmen were on board,” he said during the interview. “It was a pretty mellow morning for me. I was convinced everything was set in place.”

Later that day, Bannon made several references to the football-themed strategy on his daily podcast, War Room Pandemic.

"We are right on the cusp of victory,” Bannon said on the show. “It's quite simple. Play's been called. Mike Pence, run the play. Take the football. Take the handoff from the quarterback. You've got guards in front of you. You've got big, strong people in front of you. Just do your duty."

This idea was weeks in the making. Although Navarro told The Daily Beast he doesn’t remember when “Brother Bannon” came up with the plan, he said it started taking shape as Trump’s “Stop the Steal” legal challenges to election results in Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin fizzled out. Courts wouldn’t side with Trump, thanks to what Navarro describes in his book as “the highly counterproductive antics” of Sydney Powell and her Kraken lawsuits. So instead, they came up with a never-before-seen scheme through the legislative branch.

Navarro starts off his book’s chapter about the strategy by mentioning how “Stephen K. Bannon, myself, and President Donald John Trump” were “the last three people on God’s good Earth who want to see violence erupt on Capitol Hill,” as it would disrupt their plans.

When asked if Trump himself was involved in the strategy, Navarro said, “I never spoke directly to him about it. But he was certainly on board with the strategy. Just listen to his speech that day. He’d been briefed on the law, and how Mike [Pence] had the authority to it.”
“The Green Bay Sweep was very well thought out. It was designed to get us 24 hours of televised hearings.”

Indeed, Trump legal advisor John Eastman had penned a memo (first revealed by journalists Robert Costa and Bob Woodward in their book, Peril) outlining how Trump could stage a coup. And Trump clearly referenced the plan during his Jan. 6 speech, when he said, “I hope Mike is going to do the right thing. I hope so. I hope so… all Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify and we become president and you are the happiest people.”

 

alex jones screen shot 2020 05 01 at 12.02.06 pm

Proof, Investigation: The Coming Collapse of Donald Trump’s January 6 Conspiracy, Part 1: Alex Jones, Seth Abramson, left, Dec. 27, 2021. This shocking new seth abramson graphicPROOF series details mounting evidence that Trump's seditious January 6 conspiracy is at the point of collapse because of the cowardice, fear, and perfidy of his co-conspirators. Note: This is Part 1 of an ongoing series in the January 6 section at Proof. Part 2 is due soon.

Introduction: One difficulty journalists face in writing about Alex Jones (shown above in a screenshot) is that the man produces so much content daily that sifting through it all is nearly impossible. Those who do are richly rewarded, however; on Jones’s nightly Infowars program (The Alex Jones Show) and in other venues, seth abramson proof logothe infamous far-right conspiracy theorist and self-described “performance artist” has made so many controversial and even self-incriminating statements that one could craft an endless breaking news cycle just by finding obscure video and audio of Jones in which he discusses the January 6th insurrection and his role in it.

Proof has already reported on some of the most shocking statements Jones has made about the attack on the U.S. Capitol, including interviews he has conducted with his Stop the Steal “movement” co-conspirators, domestic terrorist Ali Alexander and longtime Trump friend and political adviser Roger Stone. You can find a few of these reports (in chronological order) here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

A less commonly discussed component of Jones’s carefully constructed public persona is the incredibly delicate state of his relationship with the man who he agreed to lead the march on the Capitol for: Donald Trump. Jones has never been a particularly loyal Trumpist, which makes him a potential weak spot in Trump’s January 6 conspiracy and the ongoing effort to steal the 2024 presidential election linked to that conspiracy.

On November 22, 2021, Congress’s House January 6 Committee (hereafter “HJ6C”) subpoenaed Jones. The subpoena launched a raft of speculation about whether Jones would cooperate with Congress in order to save his own skin—and precisely how far he would be willing to go, and how much damage he would be willing to do to Trump, in an attempt to do so.

Alex Jones and Donald Trump: A Troubled History

The relationship between Jones and Trump has always been an uneasy one, but it’s been especially bad since the attack on the Capitol on January 6. On March 3, 2021, leaked video of a Jones tirade about Trump in 2019—which Jones did not appear to realize was being recorded—was published by a number of media outlets. In the video, Jones says the following of his nominal ally (emphasis supplied):

It’s the truth, and I’m just going to say it—that I wish I never would have fucking met Trump. I wish it never would’ve happened. And it’s not the attacks I’ve been through. I’m so sick of fucking Donald Trump. God, I’m fucking sick of him. And I’ve not doing this [carrying water for him] because, like, I’m kissing his fucking ass, you know. It’s, like, I’m sick of it.

In a longer version of the video, according to Caolan Robertson, who leaked it to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Jones derides his audience for being willing to “buy anything” and boasts about earning tens of millions of dollars—not just millions—via his far-right, often pro-Trump rhetoric.

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

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

Dec. 25

djt handwave file

Palmer Report, Opinion: It’s Christmas morning for everyone who wants to see Donald Trump taken down, Bill Palmer, right, Dec. 25, 2021. There’s a metaphor in bill palmerpolitics – it even made its way into the pilot episode of The West Wing – about it being “Christmas morning” for someone when their opponent unwittingly hands them a political gift. Of course right now it’s literally Christmas morning. Accordingly, Trump and certain Republicans appear to be in the process of handing us a rather sizable gift.

bill palmer report logo headerThe kicker is that at this point they don’t appear to be able to avoid handing us that gift. In reality they handed it to us nearly a year ago. Trump had already lost the election, the courts had already laughed at his appeals, and there was literally zero chance he was going to remain in office. But because he knew that the rest of his life would consist of civil and criminal consequences if he did leave office, he did something desperate and stupid – and he dragged large chunks of his own party into it.

Yes, at this point it’s accurate (if dark and brutal) to refer to Trump’s post-election criminal antics as a political gift. He had a number of his Republican allies commit election tampering in various states. He had a number of them get involved in planning January 6th. None of this had any chance whatsoever of helping Trump or the GOP. But because Trump was going to lose everything anyway, he demanded that the GOP follow him off that particular cliff – and many of them did.

Moreover, they all did it in remarkably stupid fashion. Trump got himself banned from social media, at a time when he was going to need his social media voice more than ever if he wanted to remain relevant. The Trump supporters who invaded the Capitol finally showed mainstream Americans in the middle that everything the anti-Trump people in their lives had been saying about pro-Trump people for four years really was true. More crucially, Team Trump left a trail of gigantic breadcrumbs that are now being used to take them down.

It’s not a coincidence that the letters the January 6th Committee sent this week to House Republicans Jim Jordan and Scott Perry just happen to focus on January 6th-related crimes that they allegedly committed with Donald Trump. The committee spent 2021 doing the ton of research and investigation required to learn every move these folks took, which is what you have to do before even engaging them. Let them know they’re nailed on certain things. Try to scare them into cooperating. Or bait them into lying during their testimony, then use a perjury referral to either send them to prison or scare them into caving. Or just ring them up for criminal contempt if they never do cooperate.

Yes, that’s right, there is now a distinct possibility that Jim Jordan and certain other House Republicans will be arrested for contempt in early 2022. Let that sink in. They’d be going on criminal trial right around the time the midterm elections heat up. Try to imagine the chaos for the Republican Party as it tries to find substitute candidates in those races, or defend its decision to let people seek reelection while they’re on criminal trial. Picture certain House Republicans in swing districts trying to figure out whether and how to distance themselves from their fellow House Republicans who are in the process of becoming convicted criminals.

That’s all before getting to the scenario where the January 6th Committee follows through on its stated goal and refers Donald Trump for criminal prosecution on charges like obstruction of Congress and Big Lie wire fraud. Yes, that’s right, the Republicans could find themselves trying to compete in the midterms while an indicted, arrested, obviously guilty, and howling mad Trump prepares to go on criminal trial.

It’s too early to predict precisely how all of this will play out. But it’s now abundantly clear how the January 6th Committee intends for things to play out. And if Team Trump wants to accuse the committee of making this political, then too bad, because the felonies that Trump and his people committed were overwhelmingly political to begin with. With its idiotic response to Trump’s 2020 loss, Trump and the GOP unwittingly handed everyone else a huge gift. It’s Christmas morning indeed.

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Christmas 2021 in the shadow of fascist coup, dictatorship, and civil war, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Dec. 25, 2021. Garland is webster tarpley 2007massively derelict in his duty to defend the US Constitution; AG’s soft on fascism policy cannot enable the rule of law; Public outcry demands decisive action against coup plotters past, present, and future; Non-feasance equals appeasement of totalitarian forces;

Reactionary economist Glenn Hubbard reveals GOP inflation demagogy is camouflage for brutal deflationary austerity on the Volcker model; Warren and other senators mull blocking nomination of Powell;
Desperate demagogue Putin doubles down on threats to West, pointing once again to his severe domestic problems;
This year’s holiday reading might include: Malaparte, Luttwak, Agamben, Carl Schmitt;

Corrupt US media are drowning in corporate greed and the cynical nihilism of many reporters; Time to think like Grant, not McClellan! Merry Christmas to listeners and friends of World Crisis Radio!

Dec. 24

 

 

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 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.

 

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Will Donald Trump Get Away With Inciting an Insurrection? Laurence H. Tribe, Donald Ayer and Dennis Aftergut, Mr. Tribe taught constitutional law at Harvard for 50 years. Merrick Garland was one of his students. Mr. Ayer oversaw criminal prosecutions and investigations as Ronald Reagan’s U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of California. He later served as deputy attorney general. Mr. Aftergut handled a number of complex investigations and prosecutions as a federal prosecutor in San Francisco.

merrick garlandIn his nine months in office, Attorney General Merrick Garland, right, has done a great deal to restore integrity and evenhanded enforcement of the law to an agency that was badly misused for political reasons under his predecessor. But his place in history will be assessed against the challenges that confronted him. And the overriding test that he and the rest of the government face is the threat to our democracy from people bent on destroying it.

Mr. Garland’s success depends on ensuring that the rule of law endures. That means dissuading future coup plotters by holding the leaders of the insurrection fully accountable for their attempt to overthrow the government. But he cannot do so without a robust criminal investigation of those at the top, from the people who planned, assisted or funded the attempt to overturn the Electoral College vote to those who organized or encouraged the mob attack on the Capitol. To begin with, he might focus on Mark Meadows, Steve Bannon, Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman and even Donald Trump — all of whom were involved, in one way or another, in the events leading up to the attack.

Justice Department log circularAlmost a year after the insurrection, we have yet to see any clear indicators that such an investigation is underway, raising the alarming possibility that this administration may never bring charges against those ultimately responsible for the attack.

While the Justice Department has filed charges against more than 700 people who participated in the violence, limiting the investigation to these foot soldiers would be a grave mistake: As Joanne Freeman, a Yale historian, wrote this month about the insurrection, “Accountability — the belief that political power holders are responsible for their actions and that blatant violations will be addressed — is the lifeblood of democracy. Without it, there can be no trust in government, and without trust, democratic governments have little power.”

The legal path to investigate the leaders of the coup attempt is clear. The criminal code prohibits inciting an insurrection or “giving aid or comfort” to those who do, as well as conspiracy to forcibly “prevent, hinder or delay the execution of any law of the United States.” The code also makes it a crime to corruptly impede any official proceeding or deprive citizens of their constitutional right to vote.

Based purely on what we know today from news reports and the steady stream of revelations coming from the House select committee investigating the attack, the attorney general has a powerful justification for a robust and forceful investigation into the former president and his inner circle. As White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows was intimately involved in the effort to overturn the election. He traveled to Georgia last December, where he apparently laid the groundwork for the phone call in which the president pressured Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, to “find 11,780 votes.” Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio reportedly promoted a scheme to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to reject duly certified Joe Biden electors. And from their war room at the Willard Hotel, several members of the president’s inner circle hatched the legal strategy to overturn the results of the election.

The president himself sat back for three hours while his chief of staff was barraged with messages from members of Congress and Fox News hosts pleading with him to have Mr. Trump call off the armed mob whose violent passion he had inflamed. That evidence, on its own, may not be enough to convict the former president, but it is certainly enough to require a criminal investigation.

And yet there are no signs, at least in media reports, that the attorney general is building a case against these individuals — no interviews with top administration officials, no reports of attempts to persuade the foot soldiers to turn on the people who incited them to violence. By this point in the Russia investigation, the special counsel Robert Mueller had indicted Paul Manafort and Rick Gates and secured the cooperation of George Papadopoulos after charging him with lying to the F.B.I. The media was reporting that the special counsel’s team had conducted or scheduled interviews with Mr. Trump’s aides Stephen Miller and Mr. Bannon, as well as Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Of course, there is no way to know for sure whether Mr. Garland’s Department of Justice is investigating the leaders of the attack behind closed doors. Justice Department policy does not permit announcing investigations, absent exceptional circumstances. Mr. Garland, unlike his predecessor, plays by the book, keeping quiet about investigations until charges are filed. But the first of the rioters to plead guilty began cooperating with the Justice Department back in April. If prosecutors have been using their cooperation to investigate the top officials and operatives responsible for the siege of the Capitol and our democracy, there would likely be significant confirmation in the media by now.

It is possible that the department is deferring the decision about starting a full-blown investigative effort pending further work by the House select committee. It is even conceivable that the department is waiting for the committee’s final report so that federal prosecutors can review the documents, interviews and recommendations amassed by House investigators and can consider any potential referrals for criminal prosecution.

But such an approach would come at a very high cost. In the prosecution business, interviews need to happen as soon as possible after the events in question, to prevent both forgetfulness and witness coordination to conceal the truth. A comprehensive Department of Justice probe of the leadership is now more urgently needed than ever.

It is also imperative that Mr. Trump be included on the list of those being investigated. The media has widely reported his role in many of the relevant events, and there is no persuasive reason to exclude him.

First, he has no claim to constitutional immunity from prosecution. The Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel has recognized such immunity only for sitting presidents because a criminal trial would prevent them from discharging the duties of their office. Mr. Trump no longer has those duties to discharge.

Nor is exclusion of the former president remotely justified by the precedent President Gerald Ford set in pardoning Richard Nixon to help the country “heal” from Watergate. Even our proud tradition of not mimicking banana republics by allowing political winners to retaliate against losers must give way in the wake of violence perpetrated to thwart the peaceful transition of power. Refusing to at least investigate those who plot to end democracy — and who would remain engaged in efforts to do so — would be beyond foolhardy.

Furthermore, the pending state and local investigations in New York and Atlanta will never be able to provide the kind of accountability the nation clearly needs. The New York case, which revolves around tax fraud, has nothing to do with the attack on our government. The Atlanta district attorney appears to be probing Mr. Trump’s now infamous call to Mr. Raffensperger. But that is just one chapter of the wrongdoing that led up to the attack on the Capitol.

Significantly, even if the Atlanta district attorney is able to convict Mr. Meadows and Mr. Trump for interfering in Georgia’s election, they could still run for office again. Only convicting them for participating in an insurrection would permanently disqualify them from office under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.

Some have expressed pessimism that the Department of Justice would be able to convict Mr. Trump. His guilt would ultimately be for a jury to decide, and some jurors might believe he deluded himself into believing his own big lie and thus genuinely thought he was saving, rather than sabotaging, the election. But concerns about a conviction are no reason to refrain from an investigation. If anything, a federal criminal investigation could unearth even more evidence and provide a firmer basis for deciding whether to indict.

To decline from the outset to investigate would be appeasement, pure and simple, and appeasing bullies and wrongdoers only encourages more of the same. Without forceful action to hold the wrongdoers to account, we will likely not resist what some retired generals see as a march to another insurrection in 2024 if Mr. Trump or another demagogue loses.

Throughout his public life, Mr. Garland has been a highly principled public servant focused on doing the right thing. But only by holding the leaders of the Jan. 6 insurrection — all of them — to account can he secure the future and teach the next generation that no one is above the law. If he has not done so already, we implore the attorney general to step up to that task.

 

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

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s last stand, Bill Palmer, right, Dec. 24, 2021. When the U.S. Court of Appeals swiftly ruled that the National Archives must bill palmerturn over incriminating evidence against Donald Trump to the January 6th Committee, it was a given that Trump would appeal to the Supreme Court. Yesterday he did precisely that. Here’s the thing.

Even this Supreme Court isn’t going to allow itself to get dragged into Donald Trump’s last stand, just as it made a point of steering clear of bill palmer report logo headerhis baseless 2020 election claims. Trump has no claim of privilege and therefore has no case, as the appeals court has already spelled out. So the Supreme Court is either going to refuse to hear his case at all, or 2) hear the case but swiftly rule against him. Either way, this will be over within weeks.

This comes even as the January 6th Committee has pretty clearly been gearing up to hold publicly televised hearings in the new year. As we predicted back when this court battle first began, the committee will end up receiving the National Archives evidence against Donald Trump right around the time it was planning to go at Trump with its public hearings.

This is shaping up to be Donald Trump’s last stand. He seems to know it too, given how desperately he’s trying to fight this losing battle in court, even knowing that it won’t help him in any real way, or somehow magically “run out the clock.” He simply has no choice but to fight a losing battle on this, knowing he’s screwed anyway.

Dec. 21

 

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Lead Capitol riot charge is constitutional, judges find, Rachel Weiner, Dec. 21, 2021. Three federal judges have agreed that the most serious charge faced by those accused of participation in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol is constitutional, a victory for the Justice Department and a blow to the defendants fighting those accusations.

The ruling came Monday evening from U.S. District Judge Amit B. Mehta, who is overseeing the prosecutions of more than a dozen people associated with the Oath Keepers, a self-styled militia group. Mehta joins judges Dabney L. Friedrich and Timothy J. Kelly, both of whom have moved to uphold the obstruction charges in other cases.

The same legal challenge has been raised by defendants in various Capitol riot prosecutions, from single-person indictments to sprawling conspiracy cases. One judge who has questioned the use of the obstruction charge has yet to rule on the issue.

Without that felony charge, prosecutors would be left with only minor charges against many they view as playing a major role in the riot. The Justice Department has avoided charges of sedition, a rarely used law, and not all those accused of acting as key instigators were seen assaulting police officers.

What crime might Trump have committed on Jan. 6? Liz Cheney points to one.

The ruling also has broader implications. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) has suggested former president Donald Trump could be charged with obstruction of an official proceeding.

Mehta had previously expressed concern that it was unclear what conduct counted as felony “obstruction of an official proceeding” as opposed to misdemeanor disruption of a congressional hearing — a difference between a potential sentence of six months and 20 years behind bars.

Lead felony charge against Jan. 6 defendants could be unconstitutionally vague, U.S. judge warns

But after months of consideration and legal arguments on both sides, Mehta ruled that the government had it right.

“Their alleged actions were no mere political protest,” he wrote. “They stand accused of combining, among themselves and with others, to force their way into the Capitol building, past security barricades and law enforcement, to ‘Stop, delay, and hinder the Certification of the Electoral College vote.’ ”

Defendants had argued that it was unclear whether the certification of President Biden’s victory counted as an “official proceeding.” Charging participants in the Jan. 6 riot with obstruction, they warned, could turn even peaceful protesters into potential felons.

Right wing and liberal vigils planned for in D.C. on anniversary of Capitol riot

Mehta said the “plain text” of the obstruction law covered the group’s actions, and that “even if there were a line of ambiguity ... their alleged acts went well beyond it.” Because the law requires the obstruction to be undertaken “corruptly,” he added, it does not imperil constitutionally protected free speech.

  • Washington Post, Right-wing, liberal vigils planned in D.C. on anniversary of Capitol riot

 

Dec. 20

washington post logoWashington Post, Donald Trump’s endorsed candidate struggles as old and new Republican parties clash in Alabama Senate race, Michael Scherer, Dec. 20, 2021. Rep. Mo Brooks leaves little doubt about how he hopes to win the Republican primary for Alabama’s open U.S. Senate seat next year. The words “Endorsed by Trump” precede his name in his campaign logo, and the same message is printed in his Twitter handle.

But eight months after receiving the former president’s highest blessing in one of the nation’s reddest states, Brooks is still struggling to win Trump’s approval behind the scenes, and his standing has begun to fade in the state amid fierce competition.

As a result, Alabama is once again set up to host one of the most suspenseful Senate primaries in the country, with outside groups and candidates preparing to spend millions in a contest that will help shape the tone and tenor of the Republican caucus and the future face of conservative governance in the Deep South.

On one side of the divide is Brooks, a Freedom Caucus firebrand and one of the GOP’s most vocal supporters of overturning the 2020 election results. On the other is Katie Britt, a former business association president and former aide to retiring Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), a giant in Alabama politics who has told others that he is willing to spend $5 million of his own campaign funds on her election.

The faceoff reprises historic divisions that have long bedeviled Republican primaries in the South, pitting the conservative economic development wing of the party, exemplified by Britt and Shelby, who has served as the most powerful Republican Senate appropriator since 2018, and a fiercer brand of conservatism, represented by Brooks, that seeks to disrupt the U.S. Capitol to force more conservative policies. It’s a split that often has less to do with policy positions in a state that Trump won with 62 percent of the vote — all the candidates in the race are Bible-believing conservatives — than style.

“It’s country club versus country,” said David Mowery, a Montgomery, Ala.-based political consultant who has worked for both Republicans and Democrats. “There is a weird dynamic where a lot of your business folks are also social conservatives. They just don’t want to be gauche about it. Wearing a .44 on your belt, a Ten Commandments T-shirt and a tricorner hat is outré.”

Complicating matters further is the late entry of a third candidate, wealthy businessman and celebrity military veteran Mike Durant, who spent $1.2 million on ads since mid-October months to introduce himself, according to the ad-tracking firm Medium Buying. Before founding his defense contracting business, Pinnacle Solutions, Durant made headlines when his Special Forces helicopter was shot down by Somali militia and he was held as a prisoner for 11 days.

Trump, a guiding light for the rural-working-class wing of the party, has also inserted himself as an unpredictable influence in the state. After Brooks spent much of 2020 warning of election theft by Democrats, the congressman ingratiated himself with Trump by helping to lead the effort to overturn the results and rally protesters to the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Dec. 19

 djt steve bannon

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

Daily Beast, The Steve Bannon Problem Isn’t Going Away for Joe Biden, Jose Pagliery, Dec. 19, 2021. Bannon’s strategy of slow-walking and exposing the White House was dealt a blow in court. Unfortunately, that isn’t the end of Bannon’s gambit.

daily beast logoRight-wing provocateur Steve Bannon is going full-steam ahead with a plan to turn his criminal case into a one-man reconnaissance mission involving the White House, the Justice Department, and the Jan. 6 Committee, where he hopes to find anything that’ll smear Democrats who’ve come after him.

Earlier this month, The Daily Beast laid out Bannon’s strategy to find any evidence that this is merely a political prosecution, or—as some have commented—generate enough suspicion to besmirch the whole thing.

The DOJ cast the strategy as an underhanded ploy to harm the Jan. 6 Committee’s ongoing investigation into the causes of the insurrection by exposing its inner workings and witnesses who’ve secretly cooperated, and the gambit seemed to be stymied when the federal judge overseeing the case issued a protective order on Dec. 10 limiting what kinds of documents Bannon could make public.

Not so fast.

Bannon’s team is interpreting the judge’s order as a greenlight to dig into the Biden administration and expose what they find, according to a person familiar with Bannon’s case.

“Was this a politically motivated prosecution? The communications will show that… we’re going to ask for specific documents,” said the source, who spoke to The Daily Beast on condition of anonymity. “The judge will allow us behind the curtain.”

The legal team plans to publicly file damning documents they get, the source said. What would be a cut-and-dry misdemeanor case could become an unwelcome peek into the Biden administration.

“We’re not completely restricted,” the source said.

Jared Carter, a professor at Vermont Law School who reviewed the judge’s order on The Daily Beast’s behalf, said “it does create a place” for Bannon to start filing acquired documents in court and turn his prosecution into an all-out assault on those coming after him.

“Clearly their strategy is: The best defense is a good offense. And what we're seeing is the defense team trying to employ that strategy, trying to put the government and Biden administration on its heels,” Carter said. “That can be a very effective strategy.”

Bannon’s game plan falls right in line with the comments he made on Nov. 15, the day he turned himself into the FBI and appeared in court.

“We're taking down the Biden regime,” he said on his way into the FBI’s Washington field office.

And on his way out of court a few hours later: “We’re gonna go on the offense. We’re tired of playing defense.”

Bannon’s claim that this is a political prosecution relies, in part, on remarks President Joe Biden made shortly after Marine One landed on the White House south lawn.

When asked about Bannon and other witnesses who defied congressional subpoenas to testify, he said, “I hope that the committee goes after them and holds them accountable criminally.” When asked if the Justice Department should prosecute them, the president agreed.

Here’s how Bannon tried to frame it back on that day in November: “Joe Biden ordered Merrick Garland to prosecute me from the White House lawn when he got off Marine One.”

That’s a hefty accusation with no real evidence to back it up. But Trump’s former White House adviser plans to demand memos and internal communications at the White House, Justice Department, and Jan. 6 Committee to prove it.

The point is to show that this entire prosecution was poisoned from the start.

But this isn’t like the time the Drug Enforcement Administration was caught making 179 arrests over a decade in New York without a single white defendant. Legal scholars said Bannon isn’t being singled out because of his race or gender, so he doesn’t fit into what’s considered a protected class.

Only three Jan. 6 Committee witnesses have refused to testify. And while only Bannon has been criminally charged, Congress has already referred former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows to the Justice Department for prosecution—and ex-DOJ official Jeffrey Clark might not be too far behind.

“They have to prove that in insurrection cases held by this DOJ they've chosen not to go forward. But Bannon and Meadows are the only ones saying they’re not going to do it. The selective prosecution model fails,” said Joshua E. Kastenberg, a professor at University of New Mexico’s law school.

Legal scholars also said Bannon’s mission for embarrassing memos borders on what they call “discovery abuse,” when one side uses a court battle to make unreasonable requests for evidence.

David Schultz, a law professor at the University of Minnesota, said the judge should severely limit this case to its core premise: Bannon got a subpoena to testify, and he didn’t show up.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Ali Alexander hits the panic button after testifying to the January 6th Committee, Bill Palmer, Dec. 18, 2021. “Stop the Steal” bill palmerorganizer Ali Alexander recently came out of hiding and announced his intention to cooperate with the January 6th Committee because (in his words) he didn’t want to go to prison for contempt. Then after several hours of testimony, he emerged and told the cameras that he and Donald Trump were innocent. But the committee didn’t publicly state any dissatisfaction with his testimony, so it left us wondering just how cooperative he was.

bill palmer report logo headerNow Alexander is hitting the panic button. His lawyers are revealing that he admitted to the committee that he spoke by phone with House Republican Paul Gosar, right, and texted with House Republican Mo Brooks, below at left. The kicker is that his lawyers have revealed this information in a lawsuit they’ve filed to try to block Verizon from turning over his phone records to the January 6th Committee. Oops.

paul gosarSo what’s this guy trying to do here? Logically speaking, he’d only want to keep his own phone records suppressed if he’s either 1) lying to the committee about his phone records, or 2) afraid his phone records will incriminate him. Then again, this suit is guaranteed to quickly fail, so it could just be an attempt on his part at giving off the public appearance that he’s fighting against the committee, even as he seemingly cooperated behind the scenes. Even more strangely, Politico says Alexander turned over all of his texts – so why is he taking legal action to block his carrier from turning them over?

mo brooks oAli Alexander better be careful here. Mark Meadows already learned the hard way that partial or aborted cooperation with the committee is still grounds for being referred for criminal contempt. Alexander is making a panic move here. But is it because he’s afraid of what he said to the committee, or because he’s afraid Trump world will find out what all he said to the committee?

In any case, if Alexander’s phone records do indeed implicate the likes of Gosar and Brooks, then it’s all going to come out before much longer one way or the other. And if Alexander is being untruthful or uncooperative in any aspect of this, then he’s headed to prison for contempt. Alexander’s only chance of surviving this is if he’s being fully truthful and cooperative – in which case he’d need to give up everyone else.

Dec. 17

 

robert palmer

This image provided by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia shows Robert S. Palmer, of Largo, Fla., hurling a fire extinguisher at police in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. (U.S. District Court for District of Columbia/U.S. District Court)

washington post logoWashington Post, Fla. man sentenced to 5 years for attacking police, the longest Jan. 6 riot sentence yet, Tom Jackman, Dec. 17, 2021. Robert S. Palmer watched and cheered rioters, then joined front of mob and hurled fire extinguisher, plank and long pole at police.

A man who watched and cheered the Capitol riot, then moved to the front of the mob and hurled a fire extinguisher, a plank and a long pole at officers, was sentenced Friday to more than five years in federal prison, the longest sentence given so far to someone charged in the Jan. 6 attack.

Robert S. Palmer, 54, of Largo, Fla., pleaded guilty in October to assaulting law enforcement officers with a dangerous weapon, and his original plea agreement called for a sentencing range of 46 to 57 months. But after his plea, and his entry into the D.C. jail, Palmer arranged to make an online fundraising plea in which he said he did “go on the defense and throw a fire extinguisher at the police” after being shot with rubber bullets and tear gas.

That was a lie, Palmer admitted Friday. He had thrown a fire extinguisher — twice — a large plank and then a four- to six-foot pole at police before he was struck with one rubber bullet. The lie indicated a failure to accept responsibility for his actions, prosecutors argued, and when U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan agreed, she increased his sentencing range to 63 to 78 months, ultimately imposing a 63-month term.

“Look behind you,” Chutkan instructed Palmer in the courtroom. “Those are U.S. marshals. They ran from this courthouse. They put themselves in danger to protect the occupants of the Capitol. That’s what they’re sworn to do. They’re the patriots. The people working in the Capitol that night, they are patriots. Doing what they get paid to do, they didn’t know if they were going to come out of there alive that night.”

Palmer said, “I’m really, really ashamed of what I did.”

He said that while in jail he saw footage of himself on an MSNBC news program.

“I was horrified, absolutely devastated to see myself on there,” Palmer said.

In a letter to the judge last month, he wrote, “I realize that we, meaning Trump supporters, were lied to by those that at the time had great power, meaning the sitting president as well as those acting on his behalf.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge rejects Fox News request to dismiss Dominion Voting’s defamation lawsuit over election claims, Timothy Bella, Dec. 17, 2021. A judge on Thursday rejected a request from Fox News to dismiss a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems over baseless claims made against the company during the 2020 presidential election, allowing the suit to move forward.

Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric M. Davis said it was “reasonably conceivable” for the Denver-based voting-machine company to have a defamation claim.

“The Court can infer that Fox intended to avoid the truth,” Davis wrote in a 52-page ruling. “Whether Dominion ultimately will prove Fox’s actual malice by clear and convincing evidence is irrelevant on a motion to dismiss. … Accordingly, Fox’s Motion should be denied.”

dominion voting systemsDominion filed the lawsuit against Fox News earlier this year, claiming that some of its highest-profile on-air talent helped elevate false charges that the company had changed votes to favor Joe Biden over then-President Donald Trump. The lawsuit claims that hosts such as Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro brought Trump allies onto their shows to spread lies asserting that Dominion was using algorithms in voting machines that were created in Venezuela to rig multiple elections for Hugo Chávez, the late president.

Dominion alerted Fox News and its anchors to information disproving the false claims being broadcast against the company, according to the judge. The allegations from Dominion in the lawsuit show that Fox was given “signs indicating the reports were false,” Davis wrote.

“Fox possessed countervailing evidence of election fraud from the Department of Justice, election experts, and Dominion at the time it had been making its statements,” the judge wrote. “The fact that, despite this evidence, Fox continued to publish its allegations against Dominion, suggests Fox knew the allegations were probably false.”

In a statement, Fox News Media said it would continue to fight Dominion’s defamation lawsuit.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The January 6th Committee has finally turned the corner – and turned things upside down, Bill Palmer, right, Dec. 17, 2021. Now that the bill palmerJanuary 6th Committee has unearthed enough dirt for the media to want to run with it daily as a Trump/GOP scandal, the media no longer feels compelled to make up phony Biden scandals for ratings, and President Biden’s approval rating is ticking upward accordingly. Funny how that works.

Keep in mind that the mainstream media (with the exception of Fox News) doesn’t really want to have to rely on phony Biden scandals for ratings. That causes credibility issues for them, and it turns out phony Biden scandals don’t boost ratings much anyway. It’s just all they’ve had to work with lately.

bill palmer report logo headerTrump is under criminal investigation in three jurisdictions, two of which have reached the grand jury stage. The likelihood of Trump being indicted on the state level is a huge, pivotal story with widespread implications. But information and details publicly surface so slowly at this stage of a criminal probe, the media can’t do daily stories on it, and so instead the media mostly just ignores it.

And for quite awhile the 1/6 committee was in information gathering mode with lower level witnesses, which is what gives you dirt on the bigger fish and allows you to make a run at them. But that also produced very little public information during that timeframe, so the media saw the topic as not particularly viable for producing daily ratings.

Now that the 1/6 probe has unearthed dirt about Donald Trump, Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan, and other big names, and now that it’s clear more dirt will surface every day for awhile going forward, the media seems comfortable settling in with this as its main daily narrative. The media is still throwing in some doomsday hyperbole for good measure. But fake Biden scandals are apparently no longer needed.

This is lucky for the media, because not only did the fake Biden scandals not really boost ratings, they’re becoming non-viable. No one is still talking about the Afghanistan pullout, as we predicted. And average U.S. gas prices have been dropping steadily for six weeks now, so the media can’t keep getting away with falsely telling audiences they’re rising, as it did for the first few weeks that average gas prices were dropping.

It’s important to keep in mind that the people in the mainstream media are not the “good guys”, but nor are they cartoon villains. Major media types just consider it their job to hit their ratings marks no matter what – and then the more honest among them will try to include some truth and knowledge within that ratings framework if they can.

Now that the January 6th Committee is finally in a position to be able to keep putting increasingly juicy and damning news out there on a daily basis with regard to Donald Trump, the Republican Party, and January 6th, here’s hoping that the media is willing to keep running with all of this in honest fashion, and therefore doesn’t feel compelled to pummel audiences with either doomsday hysteria or phony scandals about Joe Biden. While the point of the 1/6 probe is to hold people accountable for a treasonous plot, it’s starting to have the interesting side effect of steering the media away from some of its worst habits.

washington post logoWashington Post, House Jan. 6 committee subpoenas retired Army colonel who worked for Trump’s outside legal team, Jacqueline Alemany and Tom Hamburger, Dec. 17, 2021 (print ed.). The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob announced Thursday it had issued a subpoena to retired Army Col. Phil Waldron as it investigates the causes of the insurrection.

Waldron worked with Trump’s outside legal team and circulated and briefed members of Congress on a PowerPoint presentation that outlined various proposals to overturn the results of the 2020 election. A version of the presentation that Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows handed over to the committee surfaced last week after the panel made some of its findings public.

phil waldron georgia senateThe subpoena requested that Waldron, right, appear for a deposition on Jan. 17 and provide documents to the committee by Jan. 10.

“Mr. Waldron reportedly played a role in promoting claims of election fraud and circulating potential strategies for challenging results of the 2020 election,” Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), the committee’s chairman, said in a statement. “He was also apparently in communication with officials in the Trump White House and in Congress discussing his theories in the weeks leading up to the January 6th attack. The document he reportedly provided to Administration officials and Members of Congress is an alarming blueprint for overturning a nationwide election.”

Election denier who circulated Jan. 6 PowerPoint says he met with Meadows at White House

The committee has issued over 50 subpoenas and has interviewed more than 250 people, but further interest in Waldron comes as the committee has homed in on Meadows, who the House voted to hold in contempt of Congress this week, as an integral part of President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the election.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Forbes testifies to New York grand jury about Donald Trump’s falsified asset valuations, Bill Palmer, Dec. 17, 2021. Even as we all bill palmerfocus on the January 6th Committee’s seeming intent to have the Department of Justice bring up Donald Trump on federal criminal charges, it’s easy to forget that Trump is under confirmed criminal investigation in New York for his finances, and in Georgia for election tampering. Now we’re getting big news out of New York.

bill palmer report logo headerForbes Magazine just announced that it testified yesterday to the New York grand jury about articles it had previously published about Donald Trump’s falsified net worth, and Trump’s falsified valuation of one of his apartments. Forbes said that it didn’t want to have to testify, and that it only did so after it lost a subpoena battle – but it nonetheless testified.

This new testimony comes within the context of recent major media reports that the Manhattan District Attorney has empaneled a grand jury over Donald Trump’s overall pattern of falsification of asset values. To be clear, if it can be proven that he intentionally lied about the values of his properties on documents like mortgage applications, that’s the kind of felony that people go to prison for.

It’s been clear for some time that Manhattan DA Cy Vance is looking to bring criminal charges against Donald Trump over his finances. It’s notable that Vance is retiring in a couple weeks, at which point the case will be taken over by incoming Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, who has vowed to hold Trump accountable.

This late-December grand jury testimony suggests that Vance may be trying to criminally indict Donald Trump before he leaves office. So even though we’re heading into the holidays, it’s worth keeping an eye on the Manhattan DA’s office over these next two weeks. Will Vance indict Trump this month, or will he wait and let Bragg indict Trump in the new year? Stay tuned.

Recent Related Headlines:

Dec. 14

 

abraham lincoln military commission

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Punishment for U.S. coup leaders must be as severe as that which befell Lincoln assassination plotters, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallWayne Madsen, left, Dec. 14, 2021. In WMR's December 7, 2021 report, we predicted that we are now in a situation of experiencing "Watergate-level of back-to-back developments." The recent revelations by the House Select Committee on the January 6th sedition, now deemed an attempted coup d'état by Donald Trump and his circle of conspirators, bears out our earlier assessment.

It was Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, Attorney General James Speed, and Advocate General of the Army Joseph Holt who successfully argued that the Lincoln assassination conspirators should be tried by a military commission. Those who plotted to kill Lincoln were, according to several historical records, continuing to follow orders from the remnants of the Confederate government, even though its Army chief, General Robert E. Lee, had surrendered his forces to the United States on April 9, 1865.

abraham lincoln alexander gardner library of congress getty imagesWhen Lincoln, right, was assassinated on April 14, 1865, members of the Confederate government and its Bureau of Special and Secret Service continued to be active around the nation. It was important for the federal government to send a message to the Confederate holdouts and the summary military commission trial and sentencing of the Lincoln assassination cabal sent that very message: continue to wage war and the consequences will be swift and harsh.

That same message must be vigorously delivered by the federal government to those who planned and carried out the coup attempt of January 6th.

A modern-day military commission that would handle the sedition trials of Donald Trump, Mark Meadows, Rudolph Giuliani, and other conspirators, could follow the same path as the 1865 tribunal. The lackadaisical attitude of Attorney General Merrick Garland toward the January 6th coup attempt demands why he and his department -- continued to be infiltrated by Trump right-wing loyalists like Alexander Haas, the director of the Civil Division’s Federal Programs Branch and Curtis Gannon, the Deputy Solicitor General -- not be relied upon or trusted to ensure that the coup plotters are dealt with effectively and, if found guilty of seditious conspiracy, severely.

merrick garlandIf Garland does not want to "look backward," as he has stated, then it must be a military commission that looks forward in bringing the judicial hammer down on the seditious conspirators of January 6th. Garland, left, can watch the commission's proceedings on television if he so wishes.

In dealing with our country's worst case of sedition since the Civil War, justice for the main perpetrators and planners must be dealt with by thinking "out of the box." The coup plotters had definitely been creative when it came to interpreting election laws and the Constitution by proposing bogus presidential electors, killing off the major leaders of Congress, and declaring a "national security emergency" and imposing martial law.

America must send a clear message to the world: when our democracy is attacked from within, including by the President of the United States, justice is swift and certain.

And, if that means Donald Trump is found guilty of seditious conspiracy and related crimes against the nation and its Constitution, capital punishment should be a primary option for a special military commission to consider. Had the Trump coup been successful, there is no doubt that Trump and his cronies would have been merciless in dealing with those who opposed his attempted seizure of dictatorial power. This nation will not get a second chance to deal with the coup plotters in a determined and swift manner.

Dec. 13


 mark meadows hands out

Politico, Meadows Jan. 5 email indicated National Guard on standby to ‘protect pro Trump people,’ investigators say, Kyle Cheny and Nicholas Wu, Dec. 13, 2021 (print ed.). Mark Meadows, shown above in a file photo, indicated in a Jan. 5 email that the National Guard was on standby to “protect pro Trump people,” according to documents obtained by the House committee investigating the Capitol riot, which the panel described in a public filing Sunday night.

politico CustomThe context for the message is unclear, but it comes amid intense scrutiny of the Guard’s slow response to violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and conflicting timelines about their efforts from the Pentagon and National Guard leadership.

It's unclear who Meadows, the former White House chief of staff to Donald Trump, relayed the information to or whether it was the result of any insight provided by the Defense Department.

But the exchange is of high interest to congressional investigators probing whether Trump played a role in the three-hour delay between the Capitol Police's urgent request for Guard support and their ultimate arrival at the Capitol, which had been overrun by pro-Trump rioters. The comment also aligns christopher miller official.jpgwith testimony from former Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, right, who said that in a Jan. 3 conversation with Trump, the then-president told him to "do whatever was necessary to protect the demonstrators that were executing their constitutionally protected rights."

The description of the message is part of a 51-page document released Sunday by the select panel a day before it is set to vote to hold Meadows in contempt of Congress. The full House is expected to vote to hold Meadows in criminal contempt of Congress on Tuesday.

In other messages described by the committee, Meadows appears to have asked members of Congress to help connect Trump with state lawmakers shortly after his defeat in November.

“POTUS wants to chat with them,” Meadows said, according to documents obtained by the Jan. 6 committee and described publicly Sunday evening.

The messages also describe numerous contacts with members of Congress about Trump’s efforts to recruit state lawmakers and encourage them to help overturn the election results. They also included questions about Meadows’ exchanges with members of Congress as they pressed him urgently to issue a statement telling rioters on Jan. 6 to exit the Capitol.

Meadows’ attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The messages are the clearest insight yet into the conversations Trump was having with senior advisers in the chaotic months after his defeat in which President Donald Trump officialhe sought to cling to power in increasingly desperate ways. Though Meadows turned over thousands of text messages and emails, he has declined to sit for a deposition to discuss those messages, claiming he is barred by executive privilege. The committee and Meadows had reached a tentative agreement for him to come in for an interview, but the pact collapsed last week.

Instead, the committee held a closed-door deposition without Meadows present and described the questions they would have asked him. The transcript of that closed session was appended to the panel’s contempt report, describing the details of the documents Meadows had provided.

“We would have asked him about text messages sent to and received from a Senator regarding the Vice President’s power to reject electors, including a text in which Mr. Meadows recounts a direct communication with President Trump who, according to Mr. Meadows in his text messages, quote, ‘thinks the legislators have the power, but the VP has power Too,’” the panel’s investigators noted.

Meadows' comments on the National Guard's readiness to defend Trump supporters align with concerns that have wracked investigators for months. POLITICO reported in May that a Capitol Police leader similarly encouraged officers to focus on anti-Trump forces within the Jan. 6 crowd, prompting concerns about intelligence failures even as the pro-Trump mob encroached on the Capitol.

The committee pointed out that many of the messages he shared already appeared to violate privilege by describing his own contacts with Trump. He mark meadows book chief chiefalso revealed many of those contacts in his recently released book (shown at right).

The committee described a slew of other messages it obtained from Meadows including:

— Text messages with a “media personality” who had encouraged Trump to issue a statement asking those at the Capitol to “peacefully leave.”

— A text “sent to one of — by one of the President’s family members indicating that Mr. Meadows is, quote, ‘pushing hard,’ end quote, for a statement from President Trump to, quote, ‘condemn this shit.’”

— Texts in December 2020 regarding efforts to install Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark as acting attorney general.

— Texts to and from a member of Congress in November 2020 seeking contact information for the attorney general of Arizona to discuss claims of election fraud.

— Texts to and from organizers of the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the violent attack on the Capitol.

— Texts “reflecting Mr. Meadows’ skepticism about public statements regarding allegations of election fraud put forth by Sidney Powell and his skepticism about the veracity of claims of tampering with Dominion voting machines.”

Powell, who briefly worked with Trump's campaign legal team before leading her own series of lawsuits intended to overturn the election results, was the most notable purveyor of outlandish claims of election fraud. She huddled with Trump at the White House in December 2020. Trump briefly considered naming her a "special counsel" to pursue election fraud.

The context for the message is unclear, but it comes amid scrutiny of the Guard’s slow response to the Jan. 6 violence at the Capitol.

 

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

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: The PowerPoint that speaks the truth, Wayne Madsen, left (author of 21 books, syndicated columnist and former Navy intelligence officer), Dec. 13, 2021. Let’s talk about the January 5, 2021 PowerPoint slide show that wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smalldescribes the plot by Donald Trump to cancel the 2020 election and call out the National Guard to enforce a staged re-do of the election, one that would have ensured a Trump win over the actual victor, Joe Biden.

wayne madesen report logoThis has its roots in the info-sphere of Trump's far-right network of retired military officers. That includes former Army psychological operations Lieutenant Colonel Phil Waldron and former Lt. General Michael Flynn, who once led the Defense Intelligence Agency and served as Trump's later-disgraced White House national security adviser.

The PowerPoint was shared by former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows with the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th insurrection. The “insurrection” should properly be called “an attempted coup d'état” involving military and law enforcement assets.

Because the Trump cabal seems to like PowerPoint presentations, WMR has drawn up its own on the Trump-led attempted coup. Widest dissemination of this .PDF is encouraged.

CLICK HERE FOR POWERPOINT

Press Run, Opinion: Slow-walking the coup PowerPoint, Eric Boehlert, right, Dec. 13, 2021. Twelve months after the press shied away from calling Trump’s coup eric.boehlertattempt a “coup,” the Beltway media continue to go slow on the latest revelation about how deeply enmeshed the White House was in its blatant push to sabotage democracy following the Republican’s lopsided loss to Joe Biden.

The discovery of a pro-coup PowerPoint circulating within the White House last winter, designed to nullify millions of American votes, ought to be covered nonstop today, and used as proof that Trump is not suitable to hold office in this country. Instead, the PowerPoint has received mostly passing, disinterested coverage.

Titled “Election Fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for 6 JAN,” the 38-page presentation is a rocket ship ride into the Big Lie abyss. The proposed plan was for Trump to declare a national emergency and for all electronic voting to be rendered invalid, citing foreign “control” of electronic voting systems. The chilling PowerPoint came to light recently when Trump’s fourth and final chief of staff, Mark Meadows, turned the electronic presentation over to investigators at the January 6 Committee. Days later, Meadows stopped cooperating with the panel.

The PowerPoint included plans for Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 6 to reject electors from “states where fraud occurred.” It also included a proposal in which the certification of Biden’s victory would be delayed, and U.S. marshals and National Guard troops would help “secure” and count paper ballots in supposedly disputed states.

A criminal conspiracy to overthrow last year’s election, the PowerPoint is a heavy-handed plot twist that most Hollywood scriptwriters would dismiss as not being believable. Yet here we are, as Trump plans his re-election run and we learn more about the runaway criminal enterprise he oversaw as president.

We’re learning about it slowly though, and what seems to be reluctantly by the Beltway press, which instead of touting the PowerPoint as a smoking gun that reveals the GOP’s proudly anti-democratic ways, are treating the proposal timidly — an oddity that doesn’t demand much attention. Virtually none of the coverage I’ve seen has included key context, such as quotes from experts on authoritarianism regarding the stunning implications of a White House likely consulting a sabotage plan like that.

“PowerPoint Sent to Mark Meadows Is Examined by Jan. 6 Panel,” was the ho-hum headline the New York Times produced over the weekend. As of Sunday night, there had been no Times follow-up on the story, suggesting the paper does not see the PowerPoint as being overly important or worthy of ongoing coverage.

The coup blueprint still has not appeared on the front page of single major American newspaper, nor has any influential editorial page weighed in. Republican members of Congress have not been repeatedly pressed to explain the document and why, twelve months ago, the president’s chief of staff took a meeting with the author of the unhinged PowerPoint. Or why members of the author’s conspiracy team, just days before the deadly January 6 insurrection, spoke to a group of Republican senators and House members, briefing them on the bogus claims of foreign interference in the election.

As of Sunday afternoon, “PowerPoint” had been mentioned just 20 times on CNN in the previous week, 50 times on MSNBC, and to nobody’s surprise, 0 times on Fox News. There has not been a single network evening news mention, according to a search of Nexis.

The media’s shoulder shrug response has left Democrats perplexed and enraged. “Can someone explain to me why this isn’t the only thing in the news?” tweeted Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI). “I deeply respect the fourth estate, but, holy shit they had a plan to just end democracy, and is the press gonna just be like “are democrats using the wrong words again?”

There’s a long and disturbing history of the press sleepwalking through this coup story. The press embraced a timid storyline immediately following Trump's defeat as he unleashed a vicious campaign against free and fair elections in America.

Instead of detailing his treasonous, post-election behavior surrounding the would-be coup as a power-hungry authoritarian out to steal an election, news consumers received updates about Trump’s “tactics,” his vague “moves” and “chicanery”; his legal “strategy” and “power play” while he was “sulking” and “brooding” inside the White House.

One Politico dispatch at the time dismissed Trump’s anti-democratic behavior as merely “bad sportsmanship.”

Back in October 2020, when he was asked whether he would agree to the peaceful transfer of power if he lost, Trump became the first president in American history to balk at the centerpiece of our democratic tradition. The Times placed the story inside the paper on page 15, gently noting that Trump had "declined an opportunity on Wednesday to endorse” the idea. "Trump Won't Commit to Peaceful Transfer of Power" should have been the headline on the front page of every major newspaper in America. It didn't appear on a single one.

Now they’re sleepwalking past the coup.

Dec. 12

Palmer Report, Opinion: Mark Meadows email blows open January 6th National Guard scandal, Bill Palmer, right, Dec. 12, 2021. One of the biggest unanswered bill palmerquestions surrounding the January 6th Capitol attack was the delayed response of the Washington DC National Guard. Various people have made various excuses for the hours-long delay, all of which have sounded suspicious – raising the question of whether the Trump White House may have delayed sending in the National Guard on purpose in order to protect the pro-Trump people who attacked the Capitol.

bill palmer report logo headerNow we appear to be getting an answer. The January 6th Committee just released a fifty-plus page document recommending that White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows be referred for criminal contempt. In that document, the committee spells out various things it would have asked Meadows if he’d shown up and testified. One of those questions is why Meadows sent an email on January 5th stating that the National Guard was on standby to “protect pro Trump people.”

Mark MeadowsSo what does this even mean? The darkest interpretation would be that the Trump White House knew the January 6th Capitol attack was coming, and decided that if the National Guard was going to be used at all, it would only be on the side of the pro-Trump terrorists.

Meadows, right, and his defense lawyers might try to argue that the National Guard was really on standby to protect against “Antifa” or other anti-Trump groups. But in such case, why would the National Guard be protecting pro-Trump people from anti-Trump people? Wouldn’t it still be protecting the Capitol from anti-Trump people?

The most obvious interpretation here is that Donald Trump refused to send in the National Guard to fend off the Capitol attackers because he’d already decided to use the National Guard to help protect the Capitol attackers from other law enforcement personnel. Keep in mind that the DC National Guard is technically part of the U.S Army. So if this is the proper context for the Meadows email, then it means Trump directed the U.S. military to side with domestic terrorists and against the United States Congress.

If it comes down to it, Donald Trump will try to pin the entire thing on Mark Meadows. At that point Meadows would have to flip on Trump just to avoid potentially spending the rest of his life in prison, and Meadows had better hope he’s got evidence up his sleeve that proves the orders came from Trump.

Of course that’s all getting a few steps ahead. For now Mark Meadows is being referred for criminal contempt, and based on how serious the referral is, the Department of Justice is highly likely to indict and arrest Meadows for contempt. That’s all before getting to whatever underlying criminal charges Meadows (and others, including Trump) might end up facing as a result of the criminal activity documented in evidence such as these emails.

Dec. 12

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

Palmer Report, Opinion: Mark Meadows email blows open January 6th National Guard scandal, Bill Palmer, right, Dec. 12, 2021. One of the biggest unanswered bill palmerquestions surrounding the January 6th Capitol attack was the delayed response of the Washington DC National Guard. Various people have made various excuses for the hours-long delay, all of which have sounded suspicious – raising the question of whether the Trump White House may have delayed sending in the National Guard on purpose in order to protect the pro-Trump people who attacked the Capitol.

bill palmer report logo headerNow we appear to be getting an answer. The January 6th Committee just released a fifty-plus page document recommending that White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows be referred for criminal contempt. In that document, the committee spells out various things it would have asked Meadows if he’d shown up and testified. One of those questions is why Meadows sent an email on January 5th stating that the National Guard was on standby to “protect pro Trump people.”

Mark MeadowsSo what does this even mean? The darkest interpretation would be that the Trump White House knew the January 6th Capitol attack was coming, and decided that if the National Guard was going to be used at all, it would only be on the side of the pro-Trump terrorists.

Meadows, right, and his defense lawyers might try to argue that the National Guard was really on standby to protect against “Antifa” or other anti-Trump groups. But in such case, why would the National Guard be protecting pro-Trump people from anti-Trump people? Wouldn’t it still be protecting the Capitol from anti-Trump people?

The most obvious interpretation here is that Donald Trump refused to send in the National Guard to fend off the Capitol attackers because he’d already decided to use the National Guard to help protect the Capitol attackers from other law enforcement personnel. Keep in mind that the DC National Guard is technically part of the U.S Army. So if this is the proper context for the Meadows email, then it means Trump directed the U.S. military to side with domestic terrorists and against the United States Congress.

If it comes down to it, Donald Trump will try to pin the entire thing on Mark Meadows. At that point Meadows would have to flip on Trump just to avoid potentially spending the rest of his life in prison, and Meadows had better hope he’s got evidence up his sleeve that proves the orders came from Trump.

Of course that’s all getting a few steps ahead. For now Mark Meadows is being referred for criminal contempt, and based on how serious the referral is, the Department of Justice is highly likely to indict and arrest Meadows for contempt. That’s all before getting to whatever underlying criminal charges Meadows (and others, including Trump) might end up facing as a result of the criminal activity documented in evidence such as these emails.

djt march 2020 Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, In Bid for Control of Elections, Trump Loyalists Face Few Obstacles, Charles Homans, Dec. 12, 2021 (print ed.). A movement animated by Donald J. Trump’s 2020 election lies is turning its attention to 2022 and beyond. When thousands of Trump supporters gathered in Washington on Jan. 6 for the Stop the Steal rally that led to the storming of the U.S. Capitol, one of them was a pastor and substitute teacher from Elizabethtown, Pa., named Stephen Lindemuth.

Mr. Lindemuth had traveled with a religious group from Elizabethtown to join in protesting the certification of Joseph R. Biden’s victory. In a Facebook post three days later, he complained that “Media coverage has focused solely on the negative aspect of the day’s events,” and said he had been in Washington simply “standing for the truth to be heard.”

Shortly after, he declared his candidacy for judge of elections, a local Pennsylvania office that administers polling on Election Day, in the local jurisdiction of Mount Joy Township.

Mr. Lindemuth’s victory in November in this conservative rural community is a milestone of sorts in American politics: the arrival of the first class of political activists who, galvanized by Donald J. Trump’s false claim of a stolen election in 2020, have begun seeking offices supervising the election systems that they believe robbed Mr. Trump of a second term. According to a May Reuters/Ipsos poll, more than 60 percent of Republicans now believe the 2020 election was stolen.

This belief has informed a wave of mobilization at both grass-roots and elite levels in the party with an eye to future elections. In races for state and county-level offices with direct oversight of elections, Republican candidates coming out of the Stop the Steal movement are running competitive campaigns, in which they enjoy a first-mover advantage in electoral contests that few partisans from either party thought much about before last November.

And legislation that state lawmakers have passed or tried to pass this year in a number of states would assert more control over election systems and results by partisan offices that Republicans already decisively control.

A movement animated by former President Trump’s 2020 election lies is turning its attention to 2022 and beyond.

Dec. 11

Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis claim fraud during a Michigan hearing about the 2020 presidential election.

Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis claim fraud during a Michigan hearing about the 2020 presidential election.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis freaks out after realizing she’s in real trouble, Bill Palmer, right, Dec. 11, 2021. Back when Jenna Ellis publicly distanced bill palmerherself from the likes of Sidney Powell, Lin Wood, Rudy Giuliani, and other Trump election lawyers, it appeared she’d managed to insulate herself from the election fraud that they went on to commit. But now, new evidence suggests that Ellis could be in more trouble than any of them.

bill palmer report logo headerPolitico is reporting that Jenna Ellis authored two memos claiming that then-Vice President Mike Pence could somehow overthrow the 2020 election results. Not only were these memos inaccurate, they were arguably an instruction manual on how to commit felony election tampering.

Ellis, below at right, responded to the news by tweeting this: “Wondering how @politico thinks it’s responsible or ethical journalism to publish attorney-client privileged documents. They admit they are the first to publish in their entirety the two Ellis memos, which both have the banner ‘ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGED.’ Trump hatred persists.”

Ellis’ freak-out on Twitter suggests that she’s concerned about where this may be heading. Notably, Ellis is not refuting that she wrote the memos, and jenna ellis cropped screenshotinstead appears to be acknowledging their authenticity. As for attorney-client privilege, that doesn’t apply if the attorney and client are plotting criminal activity together. So if the legal system does end up deciding that these memos were part of a criminal election tampering plot, they would be allowed as evidence at trial.

Last month it was reported that the DOJ has had Sidney Powell under grand jury investigation for months, in relation to her 2020 election overthrow antics. While there’s no known DOJ investigation into Jenna Ellis, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it isn’t investigating her.

In the meantime, the January 6th Committee has already reportedly targeted communications that Jenna Ellis may have had with Steve Bannon. Based on this new reporting, it seems a given that the committee will subpoena Ellis for documents and testimony – and as usual, if she doesn’t cooperate she’ll be referred for criminal contempt. Trump’s people are increasingly finding themselves in no-win situations of their own making, and Ellis seems to be just the latest.

ny times logoNew York Times, Jan. 6 Committee Examines PowerPoint Document Sent to Meadows, Luke Broadwater and Alan Feuer, Dec. 11, 2021 (print ed.). Mark Meadows’s lawyer said the former White House chief of staff did not act on the document, which recommended that President Donald J. Trump declare a national emergency to keep himself in power.

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol is scrutinizing a 38-page PowerPoint document filled with extreme plans to overturn the 2020 election that Mark Meadows, the last chief of staff to President Donald J. Trump, has turned over to the panel.

The document recommended that Mr. Trump declare a national emergency to delay the certification of the election results and included a claim that China and Venezuela had obtained control over the voting infrastructure in a majority of states.

A lawyer for Mr. Meadows, George J. Terwilliger III, said on Friday that Mr. Meadows provided the document to the committee because he merely received it by email in his inbox and did nothing with it.

“We produced the document because it wasn’t privileged,” Mr. Terwilliger said.

Col. Phil Waldron (Georgia Senate)Phil Waldron, left, a retired Army colonel and an influential voice in the movement to challenge the election, said on Friday from a bar he owns outside Austin, Texas, that he had circulated the document — titled “Election Fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for 6 JAN” — among Mr. Trump’s allies and on Capitol Hill before the attack. Mr. Waldron said that he did not personally send the document to Mr. Meadows, but that it was possible someone on his team had passed it along to the former chief of staff.

It is unclear who prepared the PowerPoint, but it is similar to a 36-page document available online, and it appears to be based on the theories of Jovan Hutton Pulitzer, a Texas entrepreneur and self-described inventor who has appeared with Mr. Waldron on podcasts discussing election fraud.

Mr. Waldron said he was not surprised that Mr. Meadows had received a version of the document, which exists in varied forms on internet sites.

“He would have gotten a copy for situational awareness for what was being briefed on the Hill at the time,” Mr. Waldron said.

On Jan. 4, members of Mr. Waldron’s team — he did not identify them — spoke to a group of senators and briefed them on the allegations of supposed election fraud contained in the PowerPoint, Mr. Waldron said. The following day, he said, he personally briefed a small group of House members; that discussion focused on baseless claims of foreign interference in the election. He said he made the document available to the lawmakers.

Mr. Meadows is not known to have worked directly with Mr. Waldron, who has described his military background as involving “information warfare.” However, Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer as he fought to stay in power, has cited Mr. Waldron as a source of information for his legal campaign.

Mr. Meadows remains in a legal battle with the Jan. 6 committee, which is moving forward with holding him in criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to appear for a scheduled deposition or to turn over documents he believes could violate Mr. Trump’s assertions of executive privilege. Mr. Trump has filed suit claiming he still has the power to keep White House documents secret, an assertion several courts have rejected, though the case appears headed for the Supreme Court.

Mr. Meadows has responded by filing suit in an attempt to persuade a federal judge to block the committee’s subpoenas. His lawsuit accuses the committee of issuing “two overly broad and unduly burdensome subpoenas” against him, including one sent to Verizon for his phone and text-message data.

Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the committee, has cited the 38-page PowerPoint as among the reasons he wants to question Mr. Meadows under oath.

washington post logoWashington Post, Election denier who circulated Jan. 6 PowerPoint says he met with Meadows at White House, Emma Brown, Jon Swaine, Jacqueline Alemany, Josh Dawsey and Tom Hamburger, Dec. 11, 2021. A retired U.S. Army colonel who circulated a proposal to challenge the 2020 election, including by declaring a national security emergency and seizing paper ballots, said that he visited the White House on multiple occasions after the election, spoke with President Donald Trump’s chief of staff “maybe eight to 10 times” and briefed several members of Congress on the eve of the Jan. 6 riot.

Col. Phil Waldron (Georgia Senate)Philip Waldron, the retired colonel, was working with Trump’s outside lawyers and was part of a team that briefed the lawmakers on a PowerPoint presentation detailing “Options for 6 JAN,” Waldron told The Washington Post. He said his contribution to the presentation focused on his claims of foreign interference in the vote, as did his discussions with the White House.

A version of the presentation made its way to the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, on Jan. 5. That information surfaced publicly this week after the congressional committee investigating the insurrection released a letter that said Meadows had turned the document over to the committee.

“The presentation was that there was significant foreign interference in the election, here’s the proof,” Waldron said. “These are constitutional, legal, feasible, acceptable and suitable courses of action.”

The PowerPoint circulated by Waldron included proposals for Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 6 to reject electors from “states where fraud occurred” or replace them with Republican electors. It included a third proposal in which the certification of Joe Biden’s victory was to be delayed, and U.S. marshals and National Guard troops were to help “secure” and count paper ballots in key states.

Although Trump at the time was pressuring Pence to delay certifying Biden’s victory, it is not clear how widely the PowerPoint was circulated or how seriously the ideas in it were considered. A lawyer for Meadows, George J. Terwilliger III, said on Friday that there was no indication that Meadows did anything with the document after receiving it by email. “We produced it [to the committee] because it was not privileged,” Terwilliger said. A Meadows spokesman, Ben Williamson, declined to comment. Waldron said he was not the person who sent the PowerPoint to Meadows.

Still, Waldron’s account of his interactions with the White House, together with a 36-page version of the presentation that surfaced online this week and was reviewed by The Post, shed new light on the wild theories and proposals that circulated among the people advising Trump as they worked to overturn his election defeat, causing a crisis at the heart of government. They suggest that Meadows, who also pressed senior Justice Department leaders to investigate baseless conspiracy theories about election fraud, was more directly in contact with proponents of such theories than was previously known.

Proof, Investigative Commentary: Previously Unreported Insurrection Eve Video Confirms Stop the Steal Plot to Occupy the United States Capitol Long-Term Beginning on January 6, Seth Abramson, left, Dec. 11, 2021. Ali Alexander—who was just deposed by Congress for eight hours—appears to seth abramson graphichave confessed on January 5 that his "movement" indeed intended to not only storm the Capitol but occupy it on January 6.

Alexander declares, on January 5, that the U.S. Capitol will soon be “Fort Trump.”

Introduction: Yesterday the House January 6 Committee subpoenaed someone who very few people in America have heard of: Kimberly seth abramson proof logoFletcher, a leader of the far-right insurrectionist group Moms for America. According to domestic terrorist Ali Alexander—one of the primary Stop the Steal leaders, along with Trump friend and adviser Roger Stone and Trump ally Alex Jones—Fletcher was integral to Stop the Steal’s organizing efforts in November of 2020, following Trump’s defeat in the November 3 presidential election.

But it’s a nexus between Fletcher and Alexander on Insurrection Eve—January 5, 2021—that may be the most important component of the testimony Fletcher is now likely to provide to Congress in January 2022: specifically, what was said between her and Alexander before and after she invited him to speak to her group outside the Capitol.

 Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Trump's crazy election theft conspiracy is largely copied from a past serious electoral caper, Wayne wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallMadsen, left, author of 21 books and former Navy intelligence officer, Dec. 10-11, 2021. The Trump fringe theory is illustrated in a PowerPoint presentation dated January 5, 2021 and which was among the documents that former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, below right, Mark Meadowshanded over to the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attempted coup d'état by Trump.

The first "talking point" in the PowerPoint slide show states: "The Chinese systematically gained control over our election system constituting a national security emergency." The Chinese connection was to have been used by Trump to declare a "national security emergency," cancel the outcome of the 2020 election by declaring "electronic voting in all states invalid," and declare martial law.

Although the PowerPoint presentation is an example of fictional buffoonery, the ramifications are quite serious. The talking points provide additional information on Trump's ultimate goal of declaring himself re-elected by establishing a dictatorship. That fact, alone, should be ample reason to put Trump in a federal Supermax prison for the rest of his life.

The Trump talking points contain a number of false pretenses that he and his administration were willing to use to cancel the election and assume dictatorial powers.

The Trump conspiracy then veers off into a global caper with all sorts of foreign actors involved in an operation so vast, it would have involved thousands of potential witnesses and whistleblowers. Yet, no such credible individual came forward.

The talking points also include what can only be described as Trump's plan to have Joe Biden and Kamala Harris arrested after his declaration of a national emergency and martial law:

One slide details Trump's past and potential future plans to militarize American elections. This is, perhaps, the most dangerous aspect to Trumpism witnessed to date:

• A Trusted Lead Counter will be appointed with authority from the POTUS to direct the actions of select federalized National Guard units and support from DOJ, DHS and other US government agencies as needed to complete a recount of the legal paper ballots for the federal elections in all 50 states.
•  US Marshals will immediately secure all ballots and provide a protective perimeter around the locations in all 50 states.
•  DHS will use their emergency response logistic capabilities to support the effort. They will integrate the IT support that will include separating out the legal from the counterfeit ballots and communications with all supporting the effort and cameras (Possibly cell phones) imaging each and every ballot. These images will be distributed to the Internet.
•  The federalized National Guard in each state will be supplied detailed processes and be responsible for counting each legitimate paper ballot. Teams made up of three (first couple counties will be five) National Guard members will do the counting. As the counting occurs each ballot will be imaged and the images placed on the Internet so any US citizen can view them and count the ballots themselves. The process will be completely transparent.

Vice President Mike Pence's role in the coup - which he rejected -- is also outlined in the PowerPoint. It would have included declaring invalid millions of votes cast by electronic means.

 

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

washington post logoWashington Post, House committee subpoenas six people linked to Jan. 6 rally, including Trump-backed Ohio congressional candidate, Mariana Alfaro, Dec. 11, 2021 (print ed.). Max Miller, a former Trump White House aide, met with the former president on Jan. 4 to discuss the rally at the Ellipse, the committee said.

The House select committee investigating the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob issued subpoenas Friday to six people involved in the planning of the rally on the Ellipse that preceded the insurrection.

Among those subpoenaed were Max Miller, who was an aide to President Donald Trump and is now an Ohio congressional candidate who the committee says met with Trump on Jan. 4 to discuss rally details, and another Trump aide, Robert “Bobby” Peede Jr., who also attended the meeting.

In a statement, the committee said it is seeking information from people involved with the rally’s planning or who witnessed the coordination of these plans.

“Some of the witnesses we subpoenaed today apparently worked to stage the rallies on January 5th and 6th, and some appeared to have had direct communication with the former president regarding the rally at the Ellipse directly preceding the attack on the U.S. Capitol,” Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the committee, said in the statement. “The Select Committee expects these witnesses to join the hundreds of individuals who have already cooperated with our investigation as we work to provide the American people with answers about what happened on January 6th and ensure nothing like that day ever happens again.”

In the worst attack on the Capitol since the War of 1812, a mob of Trump supporters stormed the building to try to stop the affirmation of Joe Biden’s electoral college win. The riot resulted in five dead and injuries to some 140 members of law enforcement.

The bipartisan committee is investigating the attack over the objections of many Republicans, including Trump.

Others subpoenaed include former Trump aide Brian Jack, now an adviser to the political operation of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.); Stop the Steal movement organizer Ed Martin; and Kimberly Fletcher, a leader of Moms for America, the group that helped organize the Jan. 5 rally at Freedom Plaza and the rally at the Ellipse. The panel also subpoenaed Bryan Lewis, who obtained the permit for the rally.

Miller is running in Ohio’s 13th Congressional District and has received Trump’s endorsement, as well as the support of more than a dozen other prominent Republicans and Trump allies, including Reps. Ronny Jackson (Tex.) and Billy Long (Mo.), former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

In an op-ed published in The Washington Post in October, Miller’s ex-girlfriend Stephanie Grisham — a former Trump White House press secretary — accused a former partner of being violent toward her during their time working in the White House. Grisham didn’t name the individual in her op-ed, but within hours of the piece’s publication online, Miller sued her, alleging defamation.

In a letter to Miller, Thompson said the committee had “reason to believe” that he communicated, on or before Jan. 1, 2021, with then-Deputy Interior Secretary Katharine MacGregor and then-acting director of the National Park Service Margaret Everson about the permit process for the rally. Specifically, Thompson said Miller or someone acting on his behalf “sought to have those officials intervene with career employees who had declined to allow the stage for the rally to be placed in the center of the Ellipse.”

This denial, Thompson noted, was due to the NPS’s long-standing practice of not allowing event structures to be placed within the vista sightline between the White House’s Truman Balcony and the Jefferson Memorial. After the intervention, the career employees reversed the decision. After that, Miller exchanged texts with a rally organizer about the decision to build the stage in that spot, Thompson said.

Dec. 10

 

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Trump's crazy election theft conspiracy is largely copied from a past serious electoral caper, Wayne wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallMadsen, left, author of 21 books and former Navy intelligence officer, Dec. 10, 2021. The Trump fringe theory is illustrated in a PowerPoint presentation dated January 5, 2021 and which was among the documents that former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, below right, Mark Meadowshanded over to the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attempted coup d'état by Trump.

The first "talking point" in the PowerPoint slide show states: "The Chinese systematically gained control over our election system constituting a national security emergency." The Chinese connection was to have been used by Trump to declare a "national security emergency," cancel the outcome of the 2020 election by declaring "electronic voting in all states invalid," and declare martial law.

Although the PowerPoint presentation is an example of fictional buffoonery, the ramifications are quite serious. The talking points provide additional information on Trump's ultimate goal of declaring himself re-elected by establishing a dictatorship. That fact, alone, should be ample reason to put Trump in a federal Supermax prison for the rest of his life.

The Trump talking points contain a number of false pretenses that he and his administration were willing to use to cancel the election and assume dictatorial powers.

The Trump conspiracy then veers off into a global caper with all sorts of foreign actors involved in an operation so vast, it would have involved thousands of potential witnesses and whistleblowers. Yet, no such credible individual came forward.

The talking points also include what can only be described as Trump's plan to have Joe Biden and Kamala Harris arrested after his declaration of a national emergency and martial law:

One slide details Trump's past and potential future plans to militarize American elections. This is, perhaps, the most dangerous aspect to Trumpism witnessed to date:

• A Trusted Lead Counter will be appointed with authority from the POTUS to direct the actions of select federalized National Guard units and support from DOJ, DHS and other US government agencies as needed to complete a recount of the legal paper ballots for the federal elections in all 50 state