2020-21 Trump Watch News & Commentary

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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

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.

 

December

Dec. 3

Attacks On U.S. Democracy, Elections, 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 Raskie (D-MD) are shown, left to right, in a file photo.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The January 6th Committee is suddenly closing in on Donald Trump at high speed, Bill Palmer, Dec. 3, 2021. Steve Bannon has bill palmerbeen arrested and is going to stand trial. Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has begun turning over evidence in the hope of avoiding arrest. Trump DOJ official Jeffrey Clark is preparing to plead the fifth in regard to what he and Trump did in relation to the 2020 election, even as he tries to fend off an imminent criminal referral. Ali Alexander has come out of hiding and says he’ll testify against everyone because, in his words, he doesn’t want to go to prison.

bill palmer report logo headerThat’s a whole heck of a lot of progress of late, when you consider that just three weeks ago there were no big names known to be cooperating, and the pundits were still trying to convince us that the DOJ wouldn’t act on the criminal referral against Bannon. Now we’ve got key Trump people cooperating, pleading the fifth, awaiting trial, you name it. In other words, the January 6th Committee’s strategy is working – and now it’s all starting to come together comparatively quickly.

The thing to remember here is that there simply are no magic wands that Trump’s people can use to get the January 6th Committee to just ignore them. As we’re now seeing, privilege isn’t a magic wand, partial cooperation isn’t a magic wand, pleading the fifth isn’t a magic wand, and whatever tactic any of them might try next won’t end up being a magic wand either.

Things truly are closing in on Donald Trump. As the committee gears up to hold very public hearings after the holidays, this is all about to get remarkably explosive in nature. And that’s before getting to the part where the committee inevitably subpoenas Trump himself, leaving Trump with the impossible choice of cooperating or being indicted for contempt.

 

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, Sidney Powell, L. Lin Wood among attorneys ordered to pay $180,000 over Michigan ‘Kraken’ suit, Rosalind S. Helderman, Dec. 3, 2021 (print ed.). It's the latest in a series of rulings seeking to hold lawyers accountable for trying to use the courts to overturn a democratic election.

A federal judge in Michigan has ordered a group of lawyers who brought a failed lawsuit challenging the 2020 election results to pay more than $180,000 in legal fees to the state of Michigan and the city of Detroit, the latest in a series of rulings from federal judges seeking to hold lawyers accountable for trying to use the courts to overturn a democratic election.

linda parkerU.S. District Judge Linda V. Parker, shown in a file photo, had already ordered that the group of nine lawyers — including Sidney Powell and L. Lin Wood, both allies to former president Donald Trump — be disciplined for their role in the suit, which in August she called “a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process.”

But the group had been balking at the fees requested by their opponents in the suit, particularly the city of Detroit, which had reported that it spent $182,192 defending the case.

On Thursday, Parker said those fees were for the most part reasonable. She ordered the lawyers to pay nearly $153,000 to the city and another $22,000 to the state to pay their costs in the case.

She said the hefty fee was an “appropriate sanction … needed to deter Plaintiffs’ counsel and others from engaging in similar misconduct in the future.” She also wrote that she believed that the attorneys have the ability to pay the fees, particularly given that they have been soliciting donations from lin wood gage skidmoremembers of the public to fund lawsuits like the one they brought in Michigan.

Neither Powell or Wood (shown at left in a Gage Skidmore photo) immediately responded to a request for comment Thursday. Federal prosecutors have also sought records from Powell’s fundraising groups as part of a criminal probe.

Prosecutors demanded records of Sidney Powell’s fundraising groups as part of criminal probe

David Fink, a lawyer for the city of Detroit, said: “These lawyers abused the federal courts to advance the big lie. They must pay a price for their misconduct, and this ruling is a good start.”

 

Donald Trump debates Joe Biden on Sept. 29, 2020 (Associated Press photo by Patrick Semansky).Donald Trump debates Joe Biden on Sept. 29, 2020 (Associated Press photo by Patrick Semansky).

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The bombshell about Trump testing positive also implicates the Trump family, Greg Sargent, right, Dec. 2, 2021. Only a few days after greg sargentTrump tested positive for covid, his family sat maskless in the debate audience.

The Trump family has long treated rules and laws as nuisances that are only for the little people. And the news that Donald Trump tested positive for covid-19 before the first 2020 presidential debate shows that this tendency may be even more depraved and malevolent than you thought.

It turns out that this revelation, which comes in a new book by former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, also implicates members of Trump’s family, including Melania Trump and Donald Trump Jr.

Multiple news organizations, including The Post, have now confirmed from former Trump aides that he tested positive for coronavirus on Sept. 26, 2020, three days before his Sept. 29 debate with Joe Biden. So he had reason to believe he might have been infected heading into the debate.

Trump was informed of the positive test on Air Force One on Sept. 26, en route to a campaign rally in Pennsylvania, the book says. But the White House concealed this from the public and from debate organizers, even though he was “tired” and had a “slight cold."

Instead, Trump took a second test that came back negative, and Meadows called Trump to inform him of it. The Guardian reports that the book then relays the following:

Meadows says Trump took that call as “full permission to press on as if nothing had happened.” His chief of staff, however, “instructed everyone in his immediate circle to treat him as if he was positive” throughout the Pennsylvania trip.

In other words, everyone around Trump was apparently told he was potentially contagious, and he even appeared potentially symptomatic, even as Trump roared into the debate as if the opposite were true. If this is right, then what happened at the debate is even worse than you thought.

ny times logoNew York Times, Two Election Workers Targeted by Pro-Trump Media Sue for Defamation, Reid J. Epstein, Dec. 3, 2021 (print ed.). The two Georgia workers were falsely accused of manipulating ballots by Trump allies and right-wing news sites. Election officials said the workers did nothing wrong.

Two Georgia election workers who were the targets of a right-wing campaign that falsely claimed they manipulated ballots filed a defamation lawsuit on Thursday against one of the nation’s leading sources of pro-Trump misinformation.

georgia mapThe suit against the right-wing conspiratorial website The Gateway Pundit was filed by Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Shaye Moss, both of whom processed ballots in Atlanta during the 2020 election for the Fulton County elections board. It follows a series of defamation claims filed by elections equipment operators against conservative television operators such as Fox News, Newsmax and One America News.

The lawsuit from Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss is among the first to be filed by individual election workers who found themselves unwittingly dragged into the alternate universe of far-right media that claimed, and still does, that Donald J. Trump won last year’s presidential election.

“I want the defendants to know that my daughter and I are real people who deserve justice, and I never want them to do this to anyone else,” Ms. Freeman said in a statement.

Ms. Moss, who continues to work for the Fulton County elections board, and Ms. Freeman, a temporary employee during the 2020 election, were ensnared by the Trump-supporting media and Mr. Trump himself after Gateway Pundit published dozens of false stories about them, starting last December and continuing through this November. The stories called the two women “crooked Democrats” and claimed that they “pulled out suitcases full of ballots and began counting those ballots without election monitors in the room.”

Investigations conducted by the Georgia secretary of state’s office found that the two women did nothing wrong and were legally counting ballots.

It all began one month after the 2020 election, on Dec. 3, when a lawyer for Mr. Trump’s campaign played a spliced segment of surveillance video footage for a Georgia Senate committee. The lawyer falsely claimed Fulton elections workers pulled 18,000 fraudulent ballots from a suitcase and illegally fed them through the voting machines.

The accusation, which was quickly debunked by Fulton County and Georgia elections officials, was nevertheless amplified by Rudolph W. Giuliani and other Trump allies. A week after the first Gateway Pundit story, Mr. Giuliani compared Ms. Moss and Ms. Freeman to drug dealers and called for their homes to be searched during a hearing with Georgia state legislators.

Mr. Trump himself invoked Ms. Freeman’s name 18 times during his Jan. 3 call with Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state. The call at the time was among the president’s most egregious efforts to overturn the results of the election he lost to Joseph R. Biden Jr., who defeated Mr. Trump in Georgia by 11,779 votes.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: How Saboteurs Took Over the G.O.P., Paul Krugman, right, Dec. 3, 2021 (print ed.). With everything else going on — the likely paul krugmanimminent demise of Roe v. Wade, the revelation that Donald Trump knew he had tested positive for the coronavirus before he debated Joe Biden, and more — I don’t know how many readers are aware that the U.S. government was almost forced to shut down this weekend. A last-minute deal averted that crisis, but another crisis is a couple of weeks away: The government is expected to hit its debt ceiling in the middle of this month, and failure to raise the ceiling would wreak havoc not just with governance but with America’s financial reputation.

The thing is, the federal government isn’t having any problem raising money — in fact, it can borrow at interest rates well below the inflation rate, so that the real cost of servicing additional federal debt is actually negative. Instead, this is all about politics. Both continuing government republican elephant logofunding and raising the debt limit are subject to the filibuster, and many Republican senators won’t support doing either unless Democrats meet their demands.

And what has Republicans so exercised that they’re willing to endanger both the functioning of our government and the nation’s financial stability? Whatever they may say, they aren’t taking a stand on principle — or at least, not on any principle other than the proposition that even duly elected Democrats have no legitimate right to govern.

In some ways we’ve seen this movie before. Republicans led by Newt Gingrich partly shut down the government in 1995-96 in an attempt to extract concessions from President Bill Clinton. G.O.P. legislators created a series of funding crises under President Barack Obama, again in a (partly successful) attempt to extract policy concessions. Creating budget crises whenever a Democrat sits in the White House has become standard Republican operating procedure.

Yet current G.O.P. attempts at extortion are both more naked and less rational than what happened during the Obama years.

The five most radical right Republican justices on the U.S. Supreme Court are shown above, with the sixth Republican, Chief Justice John Roberts, omitted in this view.

The five most radical right Republican justices on the Supreme Court are shown above, with the sixth Republican, Chief Justice John Roberts, omitted in this photo array.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Supreme Court Gaslights Its Way to the End of 'Roe,' Linda Greenhouse (shown at right on the cover of her memoir, "Just linda greenhouse cover just a journalista Journalist"), Dec. 3, 2021. There are many reasons for dismay over the Supreme Court argument in the Mississippi abortion case, but it was the nonstop gaslighting that really got to me.

First there was Justice Clarence Thomas, pretending by his questions actually to be interested in how the Constitution might be interpreted to provide for the right to abortion, a right he has denounced and schemed to overturn since professing to the Senate Judiciary Committee 30 years ago that he never even thought about the matter.

Then there was Chief Justice John Roberts, mischaracterizing an internal memo that Justice Harry Blackmun wrote to his colleagues as the Roe v. Wade majority was discussing how best to structure the opinion Justice Blackmun was working on. The chief justice was trying to delegitimize the place of fetal viability in the court’s abortion jurisprudence, where for nearly 50 years, viability has been the unbreached firewall protecting the right of a woman to choose to terminate a pregnancy.

And then there was Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who rattled off a list of “the most consequential cases in this court’s history” that resulted from overruling prior decisions.

It was Justice Sonia Sotomayor who asked the uncomfortable question. “Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?” she demanded of Scott Stewart, a former law clerk to Justice Thomas who argued for Mississippi as the state’s solicitor general. Listening to the live-streamed argument, I first heard “political acts” as “political hacks,” I suppose because still in my mind were Justice Barrett’s words when she spoke in mid-September at a center in Louisville, Ky., named for her Senate confirmation mastermind, Senator Mitch McConnell. “My goal today is to convince you that the court is not comprised of a bunch of partisan hacks,” she said then.

Last month, the court heard arguments in a case that challenges New York’s strict requirement for a license to carry a concealed weapon. Most states have looser restrictions. New York, through its legislative process, is in a minority.

Will Justice Kavanaugh and those of his colleagues who glorify a recently manufactured version of the Second Amendment allow New York City to keep going its own way on gun safety in the name of “letting the people decide”? That’s about as likely as the chance that those very same justices will decide to keep the right to abortion on the books. In both cases, we know what they’re going to do. The only mystery is how they will explain it.

Linda Greenhouse, the winner of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize, writes on alternate Thursdays about the Supreme Court and the law. She reported on the Supreme Court for The Times from 1978 to 2008, and is the author of the forthcoming "Justice on the Brink: The Death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Rise of Amy Coney Barrett, and Twelve Months That Transformed the Supreme Court."

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: How to protect voting rights, prevent the Supreme Court from self-immolation and boost democracy, Jennifer Rubin, right (and author of the new book Resistance, shown below), Dec. 2, jennifer rubin new headshot2021. We have several serious constitutional crises underway. They are serious and intertwined, but remediable.

First, a majority of right-wing justices, strong-armed onto the Supreme Court by a caucus that has represented a smaller percentage of the country than Democrats since 1996, have repeatedly revealed themselves to be, yes, “partisan hacks.” These justices are at odds with the values of a significant majority of the country with no mechanism to hold them accountable. They discard precedent at will. They make up new rules to eviscerate statutory protections for voting rights and advance specious arguments to take away abortion rights established nearly a half-century ago. And they manipulate the “shadow docket” to assist “their” side and disable their ideological opponents.

jennifer rubin book resistanceSecond, Republicans have given up on democracy. They seek to tailor the electorate through voter suppression and undermine the administration of elections, thereby insulating themselves from accountability.

Third, through the operation of a Senate heavily weighted toward less populous red states, the electoral college, extreme gerrymandering and the filibuster, we have moved from democracy with minority protections to a tyranny of the minority. Republicans now wield their power to prevent accountability for crimes against our democracy (e.g., by refusing to establish a Jan. 6 commission) and to disable reforms for election integrity.

There is no easy way to interject greater democracy — and hence more accountability — into our system. The Senate and electoral college are not going away. And for the foreseeable future, Republicans will not abandon their authoritarian, might-makes-right outlook for self-restraint, tolerance, reverence for the rule of law and fairness. But that does not mean democracy’s defenders are without recourse.

Pro-democracy advocates can make this an issue in the election. Do we really want to entrust power to a party that tolerates anti-democratic extremists and foments violence? Will Republicans on the ballot acknowledge that President Biden won and vow to respect election results?

Beyond that, pro-democracy forces can focus on institutions where majority rule still applies. Gubernatorial elections in 2022 (of which there will be more than 30) are critical.

If pro-democratic forces have narrow legislative majorities and cooperative governors, they can move forward on other democratic reforms.

Ultimately, most problems come back to the Senate filibuster, which heightens minority control in an already non-majoritarian body. In short, informed voters can halt the atrophy of democracy through ballot referenda and in gubernatorial races (where gerrymandering is inapplicable). In the Senate, senators such as Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and a politically humiliated Collins can step up and secure constitutional rights. These actions will not be easy, but they are essential to preserve our democracy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump asks to dismiss E. Jean Carroll defamation case, citing N.Y. law that would force her to pay fees, David A. Fahrenthold and Shayna Jacobs, Dec. 3, 2021 (print ed.). Former president Donald Trump this week asked a federal judge to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed against him by E. Jean Carroll — a writer (shown in a file photo) who says Trump sexually assaulted her in the 1990s — citing a new state law intended to protect free speech.

e jean carroll twitterTrump’s request cited a new “anti-SLAPP” law passed in New York state last year. The law, which was signed last year, is intended to stop “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation” — instances where wealthy companies or people seek to silence their detractors with frivolous lawsuits.

The law allows defendants to seek a quick dismissal of the case, if they can prove the lawsuits against them have no “substantial basis in fact and law.” In such cases, the people who brought the suit have to pay the defendant’s legal fees.

In his filing, Trump argued the same law should also protect the most powerful person in the country — since, at the time when Carroll filed suit, he was still president. Her lawsuit says that Trump defamed her by denying her allegations that he assaulted her in a department store dressing room in the 1990s.

In the filing, Trump said that Carroll’s sole purpose in filing the suit was to retaliate for truthful comments, “maliciously inhibiting his free exercise of speech.”

The filing was signed by Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba, who began representing Trump in this case and other lawsuits in September. Habba asked U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan to grant Trump permission to file the anti-SLAPP claim.

Some experts said Trump’s motion ran counter to the intention of New York’s law.

“The spirit of anti-SLAPP laws are to prevent powerful people from bullying the powerless,” said Evan Mascagni of the Public Participation Project, a national group that advocates for anti-SLAPP laws. “Was an anti-SLAPP law designed to protect the president of the United States?”

Mascagni said several unsettled legal questions remained about New York’s law, which was written to offer broad protections. Mascagni said courts were just beginning to answer them — and sometimes different courts disagreed. Does the state anti-SLAPP law apply to federal cases, like this one? Does it apply retroactively, to cases filed before the law was passed? And does it apply to public officials like Trump?

Recent Headlines

Dec. 2

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump could pocket $100 million in deal for money-losing D.C. hotel, Jonathan O'Connell and David A. Fahrenthold, Dec. 2, 2021.
When Donald Trump offered to spend $200 million overhauling one of Washington’s most treasured historic buildings into a luxury hotel a decade ago, competitors and critics scoffed.

Trump, they asserted, could never operate a hotel profitably after paying so much.

It turns out they were right. The hotel posted millions in losses over four years, according to financial documents Trump’s company provided to the government and released by the House Oversight Committee in October.

But the former president’s company recently signed a contract to sell its lease of the historic Old Post Office Pavilion to Miami-based investment firm CGI Merchant, which hopes to turn the property into a Waldorf Astoria in partnership with Hilton Worldwide, according to three people familiar with the arrangement who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details of the transaction. One of the people said the price was $375 million, which would eclipse the previous record for hotel sales in Washington.

Trump’s company to sell D.C. hotel lease for $375 million, report says

Experts say that price would also net Trump a hefty profit, probably $100 million or more, based on the financial documents and the company’s lease with the government. That would provide Trump with a rate of return that many hedge fund managers would envy, thanks to a market that is snapping up hotels in the expectation the pandemic will wane and travel will roar back.

“Hotels are hot. Even in cities that aren’t doing so well, people are paying robust prices for hotels,” said Suzanne Mellen of the financial firm HVS. “We are seeing extraordinary pricing.”

“I assume every global luxury chain has taken an interest in this property,” said Michael Bellisario of the Baird financial company.

Spokespeople for the Trump Organization, CGI Merchant and Hilton declined to comment.

There is no indication that politics played a role in the offer by CGI Merchant and its chief executive and founder, Raoul Thomas. Experts say that the price, while high, is plausible on business grounds, but some wondered how CGI will be able turn a profit after paying such a high price.

Hotels are priced on a per-room, or “per-key,” basis. In Washington the high water mark came in 2016, when the Capella Hotel Georgetown — now the Rosewood hotel — sold for about $1.3 million per key, according to industry data. At $375 million for 263 guest rooms, the proposed Trump sale would come to about $1.43 million per key, 10 percent higher than the Capella sale.

Hotel brokers said the historic nature of the 122-year-old-building, the scarcity of five-star hotels in Washington and the location on Pennsylvania Avenue — a backdrop for the presidential inaugural parade evert four years — probably drove up the price.

“How often do you have a hotel built the way that hotel was built?” said Dan Hawkins of Berkadia Real Estate Advisors. “Pure granite. Ideally positioned between the White House and the Capitol.”

If the deal closes, Trump will have fared far better than expected when he won the deal from the General Services Administration almost a decade ago, when the government sought private companies to redevelop the building from a government office building, food court and failed shopping mall.

In selecting Trump for the project, the government overlooked his past bankruptcies, business litigation and false claims about President Barack Obama’s birthplace. His company agreed to spend $200 million to rehabilitate the building, and Trump ultimately spent $217 million on the project — $194 million redeveloping the building and $23 million on furniture, supplies and build-out for the retail space, according to the financial statements. His company provided the hotel with millions more to keep the property afloat while it was losing money, according to the statements.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The real reason Mark Meadows is such a problem for Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Dec. 2, 2021. Steve Bannon has always been the bill palmeroverconfident self destructive type, whose bouts of success have always ultimately resulted in failure or ouster. So it wasn’t shocking that he almost immediately ended up on the losing end of the January 6th Committee, getting himself indicted and arrested right off the bat. If there’s a way to lose, Bannon always finds it. But then there’s Mark Meadows.

He’s the kind of guy who managed to fail upward from being a terrible Congressman to being a terrible White House Chief of Staff, because if nothing else, he understands how the game is played. If there was a magic wand to be waved when it came to fending off the January 6th Committee without consequences, a weasel like Meadows was going to be the one to find it.

bill palmer report logo headerMoreover, everyone knows that Meadows is the kind of guy who can just sort of worm his way out of something like this, if there is indeed a way out. In fact, plenty of people in Trump world have probably been watching Meadows, hoping he could find a magic wand to wave that could make the committee just leave him alone.

Mark MeadowsThat’s why it’s such a big deal that Meadows, right, is struggling so badly when it comes to dealing with the committee. First he tried just refusing to cooperate, hoping that perhaps the committee wouldn’t refer him for criminal prosecution… because he’s Mark Meadows? No logic there, but desperate people usually skip past logic in the search for hope.

Once Meadows realized he was indeed about to find himself referred to the Department of Justice, indicted, arrested, and facing a federal criminal trial, he indeed caved. By all accounts he’s now turned over important enough documents that the committee has decided to hold off (for now) on having him indicted. But he’s still reportedly considering trying to invoke privilege when it comes to some of his interactions with Trump, because… wait, why does he think this is going to work? Oh right, he doesn’t. He’s already seen Bannon arrested for invoking imaginary privilege. Meadows is just desperately searching for baseless hope.

At this point Mark Meadows has now sold out at least some of the people around him with the evidence he’s turned over, and yet he’s still stuck trying to thread the needle of providing even more cooperation so he doesn’t get indicted for contempt, while not providing so much cooperation that he makes it easier for the Fulton County Georgia District Attorney to indict him for election tampering. Good luck pulling that one off.

Whether Mark Meadows ends up indicted, or whether he gives up everyone else in the name of keeping himself out of prison, is less relevant than the fact that everyone can see him struggling to walk this particular tightrope.

Recent Headlines

Dec. 1

Trump-allied attorney Sidney Powell, right, with allied attorney Jenna Ellis in the background last fall.

Trump-allied attorney Sidney Powell, right, with allied attorney Jenna Ellis in the background last fall, has pushed baseless claims of election tampering.

washington post logoWashington Post, Prosecutors demanded records of Sidney Powell’s fundraising groups as part of criminal probe, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Emma Brown and Rosalind S. Helderman, Dec. 1, 2021 (print ed.).  

Federal prosecutors have demanded the financial records of multiple fundraising organizations launched by attorney Sidney Powell after the 2020 election as part of a criminal investigation, according to a subpoena reviewed by The Washington Post.

The grand jury subpoena, issued in September by the U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Columbia, sought communications and other records related to fundraising and accounting by groups including Defending the Republic, a Texas-based organization claiming 501(c) 4 nonprofit status, and a PAC by the same name, according to the documents and a person familiar with the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details of the probe.

As part of the investigation, which has not been previously reported, prosecutors are seeking records going back to Nov. 1, 2020.

 

capitol riot deposition list

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s coverup of his Jan. 6 corruption takes an ominous new turn, Greg Sargent, right, Dec. 1, 2021 (print ed.). As the Jan. 6 greg sargentselect committee investigation gathers momentum, Donald Trump has gotten several cronies to refuse to testify by invoking “executive privilege.” That’s absurd on its face: Much of the information Trump wants to keep buried doesn’t relate to the office of the presidency, but rather to his incitement of mob violence to remain president illegitimately.

But there’s something uniquely troubling about the latest turn in this saga. Trump might now succeed, at least temporarily, in using this tactic to muzzle testimony from someone who apparently communicated personally and directly with Trump about some of his most flagrantly corrupt efforts to overturn our political order.

jeffrey clark nyt

We’re talking about Jeffrey Clark, above, the former Justice Department official who reportedly launched various efforts to conscript the department into helping Trump subvert the election. The committee subpoenaed Clark, but he has rebuffed questions, citing Trump’s effort to assert executive privilege to block Congress from obtaining internal information.

This week, the select committee will vote to hold Clark in criminal contempt. If and when the full House follows, the matter will be referred to the Justice Department for potential prosecution. But then the matter will likely land in the courts, perhaps for a long time.

To see why this is so perverse, let’s dig into Clark’s involvement. It’s detailed in a Senate Judiciary Committee report examining Trump’s pressure on the Justice Department, which relied on testimony from another top official, then-acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen.

That pressure constitutes the beating heart of Trump’s coup attempt. The report found that Trump extensively pressured department leaders to take official action to portray his loss as fraudulent, via investigations, lawsuits and public statements.

The idea was apparently to create a fake rationale for Trump’s vice president to simply declare Joe Biden’s electors invalid, after which friendly states might send alternate electors. That plot was outlined in the now-notorious Trump coup memo.

But the role of Clark was particularly troubling. The report found that Trump and Clark personally communicated before Clark undertook extraordinary actions on Trump’s behalf.

These included an effort to send official Justice Department letters to swing states declaring that the department was examining election problems and advising state legislators to consider appointing new electors. That was thwarted by Rosen and other officials, but it was an extraordinary abuse of power.

Subsequent to that, Clark reportedly informed Rosen that Trump had offered to install him in Rosen’s place, presumably amid Trump’s anger over Rosen’s rebuffing of his corrupt designs.

The question is, to what degree did Trump and Clark elaborate this scheme in their own conversations?

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a member of the select committee, noted that Clark could testify about his conversations throughout that time. This might illuminate what Trump directed Clark to do, or understood him to be doing, on his behalf.

Glenn Kirschner, a former federal prosecutor, told me that Clark could speak to potentially criminal conduct by Trump, by testifying about “Trump conspiring with Department of Justice officials to undermine our free and fair elections.”

That may have run afoul of the law, Kirschner notes, citing criminal conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States.

That offense, he said, could include seditious conspiracy or attempted coercion of government employees into carrying out political activity. Constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe has also detailed how Trump’s pressure on the Justice Department could constitute such crimes.

But Clark has now refused to testify, citing Trump’s executive privilege claim. And we don’t know how long it will take to get Clark’s testimony, if ever. This could remain bogged down in court and could end up before the Supreme Court.

 

November

Nov. 29jeffrey clark nyt

Palmer Report, Opinion: Down goes Trump DOJ stooge Jeffrey Clark, Bill Palmer, Nov. 29, 2021. Earlier today we explained why the January 6th bill palmerCommittee’s criminal referral against Steve Bannon, which resulted in his indictment and arrest by the DOJ, has worked. “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander announced in a video last night that he’s coming out of hiding to cooperate with the committee, specifically because he doesn’t want to go to prison. Indicting Bannon was always about scaring other, more skittish witnesses into cooperating.

bill palmer report logo headerNow the committee has announced that it’s holding a vote this week to recommend former Trump DOJ official Jeffrey Clark, shown above, for indictment. This vote will pass unanimously, and then the full House will formalize the referral within a day or two after that.

Given that Clark tried to invoke the same nonexistent “privilege” argument as Bannon, it’s not difficult to figure out that the DOJ will very likely indict and arrest Clark. What’s notable is that while Bannon simply refused to show up and testify at all, Clark, tried the trick of showing up and testifying but invoking “privilege” in response to key questions. The resulting criminal referral against him is a reminder that there are no magic wands for these witnesses.

Again, the point of indicting an obstructor like Jeffrey Clark is to scare other people into cooperating. The committee has scheduled dozens of Trump-connected people to testify, and while a few have publicly vowed not to cooperate, many of them are likely on the fence, trying to figure out their least bad option. Ali Alexander took one look at these contempt indictments coming down the pike and decided to cooperate. He likely won’t be the only one. The committee doesn’t need everyone to cooperate; it only needs a handful of key people.

 Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: The right's trashing of American symbols, Wayne Madsen (left, author of 21 books, including that portrayed below left, and a former Navy intelligence officer), Nov. 29, 2021. America's pro-Donald Trump wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallfascist movement proclaims itself as "patriotic" and its members as "patriots."

wayne madesen report logoHowever, these dregs of society have done everything possible to deface American symbols, including the U.S. flag. Almost every Trump rally features American flags that have been either disfigured with Trump's mug or recolored in a bizarre combination of black, white, and blue.

wayne madsen fourth reich coverThe Thin Blue Line flag and other defaced U.S. flags have a precedent in 1920 in Germany. While writing Mein Kampf while in prison following the failed 1923 Beer Hall Putsch in Munich, Adolf Hitler wrote about his desire for a new flag for Germany encompassing the red, white, and black colors of the defunct German Empire.

As was the case with Hitler's swastika flag that replaced the Weimar Republic's tri-band of black, red, and gold in 1933, the right's fascination with redesigning the U.S. flag to suit their far-right political aims symbolizes their opposition to the U.S. djt trump flag thumbs upConstitution and America's democratic history and traditions.

The most outrageous disfiguration of the American flag is the one often seen at Donald Trump rallies and among the crowd of insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6th.

Trump, his supporters, and the far-right continue to show their utter contempt for the United States, its fallen, its traditions, and its history every time they display defaced alterations of Old Glory. They are shameless, repugnant, and despicable creatures in their thoughts, words, and deeds.

Nov. 27

 

Ali Akbar Alexander, Stop the Steal organizer (file photo).Ali Akbar Alexander, Stop the Steal organizer (file photo).

Daily Beast, Jan. 6 Organizer Ali Alexander Will Comply With Subpoena Because He’s Broke, Zachary Petrizzo, Nov. 27, 2021. Ali Alexander, one of the main organizers of the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the deadly Capitol riot, has announced that he will comply with a congressional subpoena over his role in the attempted insurrection. In a video posted to Telegram on Saturday evening, Alexander appeared on camera for the first time in months, saying he will be “privately deposed in December,” while adding that he doesn’t plan on fighting the subpoena because he doesn’t have “money to spend on legal bills.”

daily beast logo“The only reason I’m going is because I don’t want to go to jail. So under the threat of imprisonment and spending tens and tens and tens of thousands of dollars on lawyers, I will be privately deposed before this committee in December,” he said.

Following Steve Bannon’s indictment in early November, Alexander spun himself into a tizzy, making the case that one must live life “accept[ing] that you will die.” Speaking in the third person, Alexander added in his Saturday Telegram post that he would “not [be] backing down” from the congressional committee that he claims is attempting to “imprison him.” Alexander didn’t return a Daily Beast request for comment on Saturday evening.

World Crisis Radio, What ever happened to the fight against Wall Street? Webster G. Tarpley, right, Nov. 27, 2021. In recent years, predators of international webster tarpley twitterhigh finance have run wild without accountability as spotlight was shifted to race, gender, climate, and anti-vaccine; But while campaign against Wall Street could aspire to 99% support, these other issues are vulnerable to divide & conquer strategies: the debilitating effect of wokeism increasingly recognized;

Prime suspect in price hikes is speculation on London oil market using energy derivatives;

Fourth wave of covid in Europe & US hitting supply chains, triggering lockdowns; Options come down to being vaccinated, cured, or dead, says German Health Minister;

Jury awards $26 million in damages to Charlottesville riot victims; Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, and “First Amendment Praetorians” must pay;

New human rights atrocities mean that US should lead total world boycott of February Winter Olympics in Communist China;

Lasting influence in American history of the defeatist Gen. George B. McClellan, the archetype of pessimism; How Grant sought to treat this problem in the Army of the Potomac; Submitting to psychological domination by the weakened Trump is recipe for disaster!

 

lin wood djt march 2020RawStory, Attorney Lin Wood flips out on Sidney Powell and 'Stop the Steal' organizers as thieving 'Deep State' fronts, Tom Boggioni, Nov. 27, 2021. Attorney Lin Wood (shown above at left with then-President Trump in March 2020) flips out on Sidney Powell and 'Stop the Steal' organizers as thieving 'Deep State' fronts.

raw story logo squareAttention-seeking QAnon attorney Lin Wood lashed out on his Telegram account on Friday, accusing the organizers of the Jan 6th "Stop the Steal " rally that preceded the Capitol insurrection of being a front for the "Deep State."

According to a report from Rolling Stone, the former attorney for Kyle Rittenhouse who is now in an ugly fight over the teen's bail money now that his trial has ended, has been spending the past few days pointing the finger at former allies on the right who have criticized his practices.

In response, he has accused them of being "grifters." In a post on Friday, he attacked the Stop the Steal organizers and included a record of a conversation he had with a high-profile supporter of Donald Trump, former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne.

You can read more here.

Rolling Stone, Lin Wood Goes Off the Deep State Deep End, Accuses Trump Lawyer Sidney Powell and Stop the Steal of Grifting, Peter Wade, Nov. 27, 2021. “After doing the research and connecting the dots, I have reached the conclusion that the Stop the Steal organization is a Deep State organization to raise money for purposes other than to FIX 2020,” Wood posted on his Telegram.

rolling stone logoRight-wing darling Kyle Rittenhouse, the teen acquitted of murder for killing two people at a racial justice protest, sent the QAnon world into a tailspin when he said in interviews that Lin Wood, a leading QAnon believer and Trump attorney who briefly represented Rittenhouse, was “insane” and had “taken advantage” of him.

That prompted right-wing Trump allies — including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, alt-right activist Jack Posobiec and former Trump White House aide Sebastian Gorka — to come out against Wood. In response, Wood has been posting through it, making wild claims without evidence. Over the past few days, he has shared increasingly outrageous claims on his Telegram and turned on pro-Trumpers who used to be his allies, including Sidney Powell, Sebastian Gorka and Michael Flynn.

“After doing the research and connecting the dots, I have reached the conclusion that the Stop the Steal organization is a Deep State organization to raise money for purposes other than to FIX 2020. … WATCH OUT for anyone affiliated with Stop the Steal. Every lie will be revealed,” Wood posted on Friday.

Wood then posted a recording of a phone call between himself and millionaire Trump supporter and former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne. During the sidney powellcall, Wood questioned where the money raised to overturn the election is going and accused Powell, right, of being a scammer.

“I’m not sure where all this money is going, but I think somebody owes to the American public a full accounting,” Wood told Byrne.

Byrne replied, saying that in March, Powell and Flynn invited him to move to Florida to help overturn the election. But Byrne only lasted 11 days with Powell until he, Flynn and others walked out on her in March, he said. Byrne added that he hasn’t spoken to her since, but he compared their working together as “The Devil Wears Prada” and claimed that someone told him Powell wanted to “bed” him.

“I have texts. Some of it has to do with Sidney wanting to bed me, and I said no. We have texts and witnesses to that, and that’s how she became a woman scorned,” Byrne said, later claiming that Powell was in love with him and sent him love letters.

“I haven’t spoken a word to to Sidney since April 6, and I never will again,” Byrne said.

He continued, “I gave her a laundry list of things she had to clean up and told her she had to get an auditor… She refused to let me look at any — well, I can’t tell you more. But we walked out after about 17 days there… You can infer what you want from that.”

Later in the conversation, Wood and Powell both said they believe Powell is currently under federal investigation, and Wood claimed that Powell “signed my name to certain lawsuits without my knowledge or permission, and she hasn’t been honest about that.” He added, “I’m not happy about it, I think I was set up by Sidney Powell.”

The men then discussed how much money Powell had raised, allegedly to fund her attempts to overturn the election, which they said ranged anywhere from $15 million to $70 million.

kyle rittenhouse tik tok profileBack to the topic of Rittenhouse, Wood and Byrne agreed that Rittenhouse (shown in a Tik Tok photo) must have been “coached” by someone to disparage Wood in his interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. Rittenhouse told Carlson that when Wood was his attorney, he had “taken advantage” of him and “held me in jail for 87 days.”

“It’s a lie,” Wood claimed, adding that Flynn has abandoned him since the teen made those claims. “Old Mike Flynn got out of the fox hole and ran,” Wood said.

Nov. 25

 

President Abraham Lincoln, whose administration founded the modern celebration of Thanksgiving in 1863 during the Civil War, is shown in an Alexander Gardner photo at Library of Congress.

President Abraham Lincoln, who declared the first national Thanksgiving Day in 1863 during the Civil War, is shown above in an Alexander Gardner photo at Library of Congress. Below left is depiction by artist Thomas Nast of "Lady Liberty" celebrating Thanksgiving published by Harper's Weekly in 1863. A description of the drawing is here and of Nast's career here. His drawings later attacked Boss Tweed in New York City as corrupt and popularized the image of the Democrats represented by a donkey and Republicans by an elephant.  

The Lincoln Project, Commentary: A Thanksgiving story you may not know, Staff Report (staff shown below at right), Nov. 25, 2021. This Thanksgiving, we're grateful for you keeping us in this fight. You've heard from many of us about what "this fight" is and what we must do to save our democracy.

What does it mean to be part of the Lincoln Project? What does it mean to be one of the millions of supporters and donors who have stepped up, again lincoln project mike madrid rick wilson steve schmidt reed galen 60 minutesand again, first to defeat Trump in 2020 and now to defeat the authoritarian movement he leads?

All we ask today, this Thanksgiving, is for you to take a moment and read about a Thanksgiving story (stories) you may not know.

One answer to that question is that this is not a new fight. President Abraham Lincoln was elected to stop rich southern slaveowners from taking over the government and using it to enrich themselves. His election triggered Southern states forming the thanksgiving 1863 thomas nast lady libertyConfederacy, firing on Fort Sumter, and ultimately launching a bloody rebellion -- the Civil War.

It was a long, bloody fight, and the first two years of the war saw Northern defeat after defeat. The Union resolve was tested like it had never been. In winter of 1862, 17 state governors, trying to keep morale high, declared state Thanksgiving holidays as a way of remembrance and encouraging the community spirit the North desperately needed to summon.

Heather Cox Richardson's excellent newsletter cites New York Governor Edwin Morgan's proclamation, reflecting that 1862 "was nonetheless a time for giving thanks" because “the precious blood shed in the cause of our country will hallow and strengthen our love and our reverence for it and its institutions…. Our Government and institutions placed in jeopardy have brought us to a more just appreciation of their value.”

Abraham Lincoln read that proclamation and those from the other states in the Union. The next year, he declared a national Thanksgiving Day -- which marked a turning point in the war after the Union turned back the Confederacy at Gettysburg and began to push south.

On the first national Thanksgiving Day, August 6, 1863, people around the country were reassured of the Union victories, acknowledging the great sacrifice made by those who died and their families. But this was only the first Thanksgiving Day of 1863. In October, Lincoln declared a second Thanksgiving -- which was reprinted in Harper's Weekly and spread throughout the nation. Take a moment and read it.

In it, Lincoln "fervently implore(d) the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union."

This was soon followed by an address at Gettysburg that we all know well -- a proclamation declaring the emancipation of every slave -- and ultimate victory, defeating the Confederacy and restoring the Union.

Lincoln knew Reconstruction would be arduous, and though he never lived to see it, the Union was rebuilt and became the most prosperous democracy the world had ever seen, a guiding force for freedom in the world.

As Richardson writes, "In 1861, Americans went to war to keep a cabal from taking control of the government and turning it into an oligarchy. The fight against that rebellion seemed at first to be too much for the nation to survive. But Americans rallied and threw their hearts into the cause on the lincoln project logobattlefields even as they continued to work on the home front for a government that defended democracy and equality before the law."

As we celebrate Thanksgiving today, remember that our democracy is challenged once again. We again must come together and defend its very soul. Lives have already been lost in this struggle, and more are threatened. But we give thanks for those on the front lines, defending our democracy from this latest authoritarian assault.

You may have seen that Joe Biden just announced two virtual "Summits for Democracy" this week to bring together leaders from all parts of our democracy in order to save it. The timing is of course fitting, and it is necessary. It will take all of us -- in every walk of life -- to defeat authoritarianism and preserve the great American experiment. Please consider sharing this story today with someone who needs to hear it.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Thanksgiving November 25, 1943 -- A tough and selfless America and a united anti-fascist world, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallWayne Madsen, left (author of 21 books, including last month's "The Rise of the Fascist Fourth Reich" below and former Navy intelligence officer), Nov. 24, 2021. America should not be thankful this Thanksgiving. America should be ashamed of itself.

This year should be marked not by Thanksgiving but by Shamegiving. Shame on the Republican Party for adopting the fascist cult worship of Germany's Nazis and Italy's Fascisti. Shame on the American public for being a bunch of howling crybabies resistant to getting vaccinated against a viral pandemic. Shame on the United States for placing repugnant racists like Donald Trump, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Kyle wayne madesen report logoRittenhouse, and Tucker Carlson on pedestals of right-wing idolatry. Shame on America for threatening the lives of school board members, school administrators, teachers, librarians, election administrators, public health officials, and Democratic Party officeholders.

On another Thanksgiving Day on another November 25, the United States was united like it had never been united before -- or since. The world was at war against fascism on every continent. Uniformed Americans on the overseas front lines and civilians supporting the war effort on the home front gave of themselves their all, including their lives. Military inductees did not bellyache about receiving vaccinations for smallpox, yellow fever, typhoid fever, and tetanus. Those who refused vaccinations were subject to court-martial. There were very few reported cases of vaccination refusal among the wayne madsen fourth reich covermilitary.

The common enemy was fascism, which included Adolf Hitler's plan for world conquest and a thousand year global Germania Reich, Benito Mussolini's vision of a restored Roman Empire, and Imperial Japan's plan to extend its feudalistic empire to the rest of Asia and the Pacific Rim.

America had no place for fascist propagandists either in print or on the radio airwaves. American Nazis and fascists, with the noted exception of individuals like Fred Trump, Sr., Father Charles Coughlin, and Charles Lindbergh, had either been sent to prison or deported back to Germany, Italy, or Japan.

Americans willingly complied with mandatory rationing, blackouts, and other hardships -- all in support of the war effort. They also voluntarily purchased war bonds, donated blood, and saved commodities from bacon grease to scrap metal.

Today, Americans who oppose voting rights, public education, and public health requirements and promote racism, fascism, and right-wing terrorism are basically shitting all over the memory and legacy of America's "Greatest Generation." And America's current dalliance with fascism and racism is not merely a domestic phenomenon. It is mirrored around the world, from Britain and France to Australia and Canada and every nation that fought against the evils of Nazism and fascism in World War II.

washington post logoWashington Post, Bannon files opposition to keeping documents from being released, Jacqueline Alemany, Nov. 25, 2021. Stephen K. Bannon, the former Trump White House adviser, has filed an opposition to the U.S. district court’s standard protective order for discovery, which prohibits either side from releasing documents or evidence publicly.

Bannon, 67, pleaded not guilty last week to contempt-of-Congress charges, and his legal team previously argued that the case would be more complicated by agreeing to the prosecution’s protective order for discovery.

“Members of the public should make their own independent judgment as to whether the U.S. Department of Justice is committed to a just result based upon all the facts,” said a statement provided to The Washington Post on behalf of Bannon. “In the opposition filed today, Mr. Bannon asked the judge to follow the normal process and allow unfettered access to and use of the documents.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda R. Vaughn has said that there are “less than 20 documents” to be provided, but Bannon attorney Evan Corcoran told reporters that there was probably going to be a need for the defense to locate more documents and witnesses.

Bannon’s legal team argued that the government offered little reason the documents should be withheld from public view, adding that many of the documents that would be restricted by the proposed protective order in this case are already public.

“The Government offered no reason why it wanted to limit Mr. Bannon’s attorneys in their use of the documents to prepare a defense,” Bannon’s statement said.

Bannon has refused to comply with an order from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol to provide records and testimony about his actions leading up to the attack. The committee is interested in questioning Bannon about activities at the Willard hotel in the week leading up to Jan. 6.

 Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: A coup by any other name is still a coup, Wayne Madsen, Nov. 23-24, 2021. The committee's investigators wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallare on a trail that could ultimately point to Donald Trump being aware of the plans by insurrectionists to march on the U.S. Capitol. Those Oval Office plans could also include the physical occupation of the Capitol, as well.

If the plans to occupy the Capitol included placing the Vice President, Speaker of the House, Vice President-elect, and other key senators and representatives in physical harm's way, the criminal charges could be increased to conspiracy to commit murder of an elected federal official.

wayne madesen report logoHistory instructs us that some coup plans involve the storming of the national legislature. For example, the August 19, 1991 Soviet coup against President Mikhail Gorbachev also involved plans by the coup leaders' State Emergency Committee to storm the Russian Parliament building in Moscow  on the night of August 20-21, 1991.

Had it not been for Russian President Boris Yeltsin and thousands of his supporters encircling the Parliament building to protect it from pro-coup Soviet military and KGB personnel -- a force that never materialized -- the Parliament would have been stormed and the Russian democracy movement would have been stopped in its tracks.

The lessons of the Russian and Spanish coup attempts should not be lost on the House January 6th committee. Trump's involvement in the first actual American coup d'état should be met with a criminal indictment and trial. To do less only cheapens America's Constitution and rule of law.

cy vance resized djt

 ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Investigation Enters Crucial Phase as Prosecutor’s Term Nears End, Ben Protess, William K. Rashbaum, Jonah E. Bromwich and David Enrich, Nov. 25, 2021 (print ed.). New developments suggest the long-running inquiry has returned to an earlier focus: Donald Trump’s statements about the value of his assets.

A long-running criminal investigation into Donald J. Trump and his family business is reaching a critical phase as Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the prosecutor overseeing the inquiry (shown above right), enters his final weeks as Manhattan district attorney.

Mr. Vance’s prosecutors have issued new subpoenas for records about Mr. Trump’s hotels, golf clubs and office buildings. They recently interviewed a banker employed by Deutsche Bank, Mr. Trump’s top lender. And earlier this month, they told a top Trump executive who had been under scrutiny, Matthew Calamari, that they did not currently plan to indict him in the purported tax-evasion scheme that led to charges against Mr. Trump’s company and its chief financial officer.

The developments, described by people with knowledge of the matter, show that the Manhattan prosecutors have shifted away from investigating those tax issues and returned to an original focus of their three-year investigation: Mr. Trump’s statements about the value of his assets.

In particular, the people said, the prosecutors are zeroing in on whether Mr. Trump or his company inflated the value of some of his properties while trying to secure financing from potential lenders. If Mr. Vance’s office concludes that Mr. Trump intentionally submitted false values to potential lenders, prosecutors could argue that he engaged in a pattern of fraud.

Other Recent Headlines:

 

chris christie republican rescue cover

Insider NJ, Book Review: Chris Christie to the Rescue? Fred Snowflack, Nov. 26, 2021. Chris Christie was all over TV last week hyping his book, Republican Rescue, the cover of which, creatively, shows an elephant holding a rescue tube in its trunk.

As the name implies, the GOP is in danger. If not, why would it need to be rescued? The peril for Republicans is Donald Trump and the wacky conspiracy theories the former president seems to inspire.

That is the essence of the book, but before we get there, Christie spends the first part of the book detailing his personal relationship with Trump. They met years ago when Christie was U.S. Attorney and their friendship blossomed.

When Trump got to the White House, Christie says the now-president offered him many jobs, but not the one he would have taken – Attorney General. So, Christie began spending his post-gubernatorial life at home in Mendham Township.

The anecdotes and observations Christie presents of Trump will shock no one who follows politics closely.

When a very ill Christie was fighting COVID at Morristown Medical Center, he got a call from the president. A heartfelt wish to get well?

Not really. Christie said the president was concerned that he (Christie) would blame him (Trump) for his getting the virus.

Nov. 24

 enrique tarrio mic

   Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, shown above and currently serving a jail sentence, the chairman of the Proud Boys, was issued a subpoena for his involvement with the Capitol attack on Jan. 6.

ny times logoNew York Times, House Panel Investigating Capitol Attack Subpoenas Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, Luke Broadwater, Nov. 24, 2021 (print ed.). Investigators believe the militia or paramilitary groups have information about the deadly siege on Jan. 6.

The House committee investigating the Capitol attack issued subpoenas on Tuesday to three militia or paramilitary groups, including the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, that investigators believe have information about the deadly siege on Jan. 6.

The subpoenas were issued to the Proud Boys International, L.L.C., and its chairman Henry “Enrique” Tarrio; the Oath Keepers and its president Elmer Stewart Rhodes; and the 1st Amendment Praetorian and its chairman Robert Patrick Lewis.

“The select committee is seeking information from individuals and organizations reportedly involved with planning the attack, with the violent mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 or with efforts to overturn the results of the election,” Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the committee, said in a statement. “We believe the individuals and organizations we subpoenaed today have relevant information about how violence erupted at the Capitol and the preparation leading up to this violent attack.”

The committee said members of Proud Boys International called for violence before Jan. 6, and the Justice Department indicted at least 34 people affiliated with the group.

People associated with the Oath Keepers were similarly involved in planning and participating in the Capitol riot, the committee said, including 18 members who were indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly planning a coordinated attack to storm the building. Mr. Rhodes repeatedly suggested that the Oath Keepers should engage in violence to ensure their preferred election outcome. He was also allegedly in contact with several of the indicted Oath Keepers members before, during and after the Capitol attack, including meeting some of them outside the Capitol.

1st Amendment Praetorian is an organization that provided security at multiple rallies leading up to Jan. 6 that amplified former President Donald J. Trump’s false claims of a stolen election. The group’s Twitter account suggested on Jan. 4 that violence was imminent, the committee said.

“Today is the day that true battles begin,” Mr. Lewis wrote on Twitter on Jan. 6. He also claimed to be involved with “war-gaming” to continue efforts to overturn the election results, the committee said.

The panel has issued more than 40 subpoenas and interviewed more than 200 witnesses as it investigates the violence that engulfed Congress and delayed the formalization of President Biden’s victory. The latest subpoenas demand records and testimony by mid-December.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Jan. 6 committee subpoena of Proud Boys suggests a look at coordinated action, Greg Sargent, right, Nov. 24, 2021. The House greg sargentselect committee examining the Jan. 6 insurrection just announced subpoenas for two groups that served as the shock troops in the assault on the Capitol: The Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers.

This will likely provoke a serious escalation of anger on the right. Which, in turn, highlights two subplots about the ongoing investigation: First, investigators appear largely unfazed by right-wing efforts to cow them into backing off by depicting the inquiry as a broader persecution of conservatives.

Second, despite efforts on the right to cast the investigation in those terms, the focus is falling heavily on the motives and conduct of potential organizers of the assault, as distinct from rallygoers outside those groups who might have gotten swept up in the passions of the moment.

The letters that the select committee sent to the new subpoena targets do not say exactly what was subpoenaed. But you can glean a sense of general intent: It appears investigators want to determine the degree of coordination that went into the assault.

eric trump djtPalmer Report, Opinion: Eric Trump’s burner phone just blew the January 6th scandal wide open, Bill Palmer, right, Nov. 24, 2021. If it often seems that Donald bill palmerTrump Jr. and Eric Trump (above right) are in a perpetual race to see which one can prove he’s the dumbest son, the two of them rang true to form this past week.

First it was reported that Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle bragged in text messages that she raised millions of dollars to fund January 6th. Now Rolling Stone is reporting that Eric Trump and his wife Lara Trump used burner phones – no really, burner phones – to communicate in advance with January 6th organizers. (See: Rolling Stone, Investigation: Jan. 6 Organizers Used Anonymous Burner Phones to Communicate with White House and Trump Family, Sources Say, Hunter Walker.)

bill palmer report logo headerSuffice it to say that Eric and Lara Trump are now in a bit of a tough spot. The point of using a burner phone is so that no one knows you were involved to begin with, and therefore doesn’t know what to look for. But once you’ve been outed for using a burner phone – particularly by the people on the other end, which appears to be the case here – it means investigators can potentially find and seize your burner phone records and text messages just the same as any other phone.

Keep in mind that even if the Department of Justice and the January 6th Committee didn’t already know about Eric Trump’s burner phone, they do now. If they haven’t already moved to seize those phone records, they will now. This will be investigated on both a criminal and congressional level.

There’s no way for us to know if there is going to be enough for the DOJ to bring federal criminal charges over this. The mere act of using a burner phone is behavior consistent with that of someone who’s trying to conceal a criminal plot, but it alone doesn’t prove a criminal plot. That’ll depend on the specifics of the evidence and witnesses involved. Did Eric and Lara Trump instruct January 6th organizers to commit crimes? Did Eric and Lara Trump know that others were planning to commit crimes? These are questions prosecutors will have to answer based on the evidence.

In the meantime, things are much more straightforward for the January 6th Committee. The Rolling Stone expose alone should be enough of a legal basis to subpoena Eric and Lara Trump for documents and testimony – and to have the DOJ criminally indict them for contempt if they fail to comply.

Nov. 23

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: A coup by any other name is still a coup, Wayne Madsen, Nov. 23-24, 2021. The committee's investigators wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallare on a trail that could ultimately point to Donald Trump being aware of the plans by insurrectionists to march on the U.S. Capitol. Those Oval Office plans could also include the physical occupation of the Capitol, as well.

If the plans to occupy the Capitol included placing the Vice President, Speaker of the House, Vice President-elect, and other key senators and representatives in physical harm's way, the criminal charges could be increased to conspiracy to commit murder of an elected federal official.

wayne madesen report logoHistory instructs us that some coup plans involve the storming of the national legislature. For example, the August 19, 1991 Soviet coup against President Mikhail Gorbachev also involved plans by the coup leaders' State Emergency Committee to storm the Russian Parliament building in Moscow  on the night of August 20-21, 1991.

Had it not been for Russian President Boris Yeltsin and thousands of his supporters encircling the Parliament building to protect it from pro-coup Soviet military and KGB personnel -- a force that never materialized -- the Parliament would have been stormed and the Russian democracy movement would have been stopped in its tracks.

The lessons of the Russian and Spanish coup attempts should not be lost on the House January 6th committee. Trump's involvement in the first actual American coup d'état should be met with a criminal indictment and trial. To do less only cheapens America's Constitution and rule of law.

Nov. 21

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Trump regime turned Washington into a fetid and lawless version of wartime Tangier and Macao, Wayne wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallMadsen, left, Nov. 21-22, 2021. During his four years in office, Donald Trump, accompanied by his unethical and immoral family, business associates, and advisers, turned Washington, wayne madesen report logoDC into a replica of wartime neutral cities like Tangier and Macao, where anything and everyone was for sale to the highest bidder.

Nov. 18

pro publica logo

ProPublica, Texts Show Kimberly Guilfoyle Bragged About Raising Millions for Rally That Fueled Capitol Riot, Joaquin Sapien and Joshua Kaplan, Nov. 18, 2021. Text messages reviewed by ProPublica represent the strongest indication yet that members of the Trump family inner circle were involved in financing and organizing the Jan. 6 “Save America” rally, which immediately preceded the Capitol riot.

Kimberly Guilfoyle, a top fundraiser for former President Donald Trump and the girlfriend of his son Donald Trump Jr., boasted to a GOP operative that she had raised $3 million for the rally that helped fuel the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

In a series of text messages sent on Jan. 4 to Katrina Pierson, the White House liaison to the event, Guilfoyle detailed her fundraising efforts and supported a push to get far-right speakers on the stage alongside Trump for the rally, which sought to overturn the election of President Joe Biden.

Guilfoyle’s texts, reviewed by ProPublica, represent the strongest indication yet that members of the Trump family circle were directly involved in the financing and organization of the rally. The attack on the Capitol that followed it left five dead and scores injured.

A House select committee investigating the events of Jan. 6 has subpoenaed more than 30 Trump allies for testimony and documents, including Pierson and Caroline Wren, a former deputy to Guilfoyle. But Guilfoyle herself has so far not received any official scrutiny from Congress.

Guilfoyle’s attorney, Joe Tacopina, denied that Guilfoyle had anything to do with fundraising or approving speakers. He said the text from Guilfoyle “did not relate to the Save America rally” on Jan. 6 and the “content of the message itself” was “inaccurate” and “taken out of context.” He did not respond to additional questions asking about the accuracy and context of the message.

Reached by phone, Pierson declined to comment.

The text messages show that Guilfoyle expressed specific concerns that she might not be allowed to speak on stage at the Jan. 6 rally. Pierson responded that Trump himself set the speaking lineup and that it was limited to people he selected, including some of his children and Amy Kremer, a grassroots activist who organized the event.

Guilfoyle replied that she only wanted to introduce Trump Jr. and had "raised so much money for this."

"Literally one of my donors Julie at 3 million,” she added.

Guilfoyle was referring to Julie Jenkins Fancelli, a Publix supermarket heir who Guilfoyle had developed a professional relationship with during the campaign.

Until now, Wren has been the only person identified as having worked with Fancelli. As ProPublica reported last month, Wren also boasted in private conversations with colleagues of raising $3 million for the events of Jan. 6.

It remains unclear whether that amount was really raised and, if so, how the majority of it was spent. Some of the money raised from Fancelli flowed to dark money groups that supported the rally, according to wire transfers described to ProPublica, planning documents and interviews with insiders.

In a statement from her attorney, Wren acknowledged helping to produce the rally but did not provide further details about her role in fundraising.

“To Ms. Wren’s knowledge, Kimberly Guilfoyle had no involvement in raising funds for any events on January 6th,” the statement said. “They were both present at a peaceful rally with hundreds of thousands of Americans who were in DC to lawfully exercise their first amendment rights, a primary pillar of American democracy.”

The texts between Guilfoyle and Pierson and interviews with Trump officials also suggest that Guilfoyle attempted to influence the lineup of speakers scheduled to appear at the event.

On the night of Jan. 5, Trump Jr., Guilfoyle and Wren attended an event at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, where Trump donors mingled with prominent figures in the movement to overturn the election, according to interviews and social media posts from attendees.

Around the time of that event, Wren called rally staff and urged them to allow speaking roles for Ali Alexander, a far-right provocateur and leader of the Stop the Steal movement; Roger Stone, a former Trump advisor; and conspiracy theorist and InfoWars leader Alex Jones, according to a former campaign official who was told details of the call by people who listened to it.

Trump aides had already deemed the men too radical to go on stage, worrying they might embarrass the president.

During the call, Guilfoyle voiced her support for the controversial speakers, the former campaign official was told. She also specifically demanded that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who had sued to challenge election results in four other states, address the crowd. Alexander later said on a newscast that he also received a call from Guilfoyle that same evening.

Tacopina, Guilfoyle's lawyer, said she did not urge staffers to change the speakers. "Your contention that Ms. Guilfoyle approved a speaking list for January 6th is patently false," he wrote. He threatened to “aggressively pursue all legal remedies available” against ProPublica.

But the texts show Guilfoyle and Pierson talking about a “leaked” speaking list — an apparent reference to an article about the Jan. 6 rally published by the conservative news website Breitbart the day before.

That list included Alexander, Stone and Paxton, among others.

“All I know is that someone leaked a list of ‘speakers’ that the WH had not seen or approved,” Pierson wrote. “I’ve never had so much interference.”

Guilfoyle responded: “Yea and this the list we approved.”

Tacopina did not answer further questions about what Guilfoyle meant in the text where she said "we" had approved a speaking list.

Untangling the relationship between Guilfoyle, Wren and Fancelli is key to understanding the financing of the events of Jan. 6.

In January 2020, Guilfoyle was appointed national chair of the Trump Victory finance committee, a leading fundraising vehicle for Trump’s reelection campaign. She brought Wren on as her deputy.

Guilfoyle, through her relationship with Trump Jr., had access to the family and a certain star power that appealed to donors. Wren, by all accounts a relentless, high-energy worker, brought fundraising expertise and a Rolodex of wealthy Republicans willing to invest handsomely to keep Trump in office. The duo ultimately brought in tens of millions of dollars toward Trump’s reelection.

The pair focused primarily on ramping up the campaign’s “bundling” program, a method of fundraising that relies on volunteers collecting money from their personal networks.

Fancelli, a reclusive member of one of the country’s richest families, was one of those volunteers, according to interviews and internal Trump Victory records. Splitting her time between Florida and Italy, Fancelli raised at least $72,000 from her friends and family.

She stood out to Wren and Guilfoyle, who in 2020 considered her for a role as Florida state co-chair for the bundling program, according to an internal Trump Victory planning document reviewed by ProPublica. The document highlighted Fancelli as a person Guilfoyle should contact personally.

djt mike lindell frank tv still

Still from a video published at Frank Speech. (Frank Speech) (FrankSpeech)

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s latest media appearance? A 30-minute chat/pillow ad, Philip Bump, Nov. 18, 2021. So there’s Donald Trump, sitting on an uncomfortable-looking chair in an ornate but empty ballroom, decked out in a tuxedo as a rainstorm battered Mar-a-Lago. And across from him in another uncomfortable-looking chair, the pillow guy, Mike Lindell.

For more than half an hour, the two discussed their shared, wildly incorrect understanding of American politics in a video that Lindell, CEO of MyPillow, later posted to his sort-of social media site Frank Speech. Every so often, a snippet of text would pop up as the men chatted: Use this special promotional code to save on a new MyPillow!

The encounter was not notable because it revealed some new truths. In introducing the discussion, Lindell promised that he would ask a lot of questions that the former president had not previously faced. So, right out of the gates, he dealt Trump a high fastball: “I want to ask you a question that you probably haven’t been asked, and that was: Was running the country what you expected it to be, or was it like when you were running your business?”

Hard as it may be to believe, Trump wriggled out of Lindell’s cunning trap. His response was pretty much what you would have expected it to be: The media was mean, the Democrats were mean, President Biden is terrible. Lindell, sitting giddily on the edge of his chair, interjected to offer agreement and praise.

Lindell was correct when he began the conversation by pointing out that he’s used to being the subject of interviews and not the conductor of them. But that’s changing.

Over the past year, Lindell’s breathless effort to prove his unprovable argument that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump has generated a second career: media magnate.

The fortune he accrued from his pillow sales has been deployed to create not only Frank Speech — a platform dedicated to free speech that hasn’t yet launched and that bans swearing — but a streaming platform called Lindell TV. He’s made various films detailing what he claims to be evidence of rampant fraud in the 2020 election, evidence that was quickly debunked. He has become a one-man conglomerate focused on a single goal: defending the indefensible election claims made by Trump, whom he described in introducing the conversation as “our real president.”

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Bannon's Navy service coincided with white supremacist outbreak in the ranks in late 1970s, Wayne wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallMadsen, Nov. 18, 2021. Leopards never change their spots and neither do neo-Nazis like Bannon.

The fact that Bannon, who was a U.S. Naval officer, was able to even gain a commission as an Ensign says more about the Navy's failure wayne madesen report logoto adequately screen its acquisition process for officers than in the fact that Bannon likely held his far-right views after he was commissioned in the Naval Reserve following his graduation from Virginia Tech in 1976.

Bannon's far-right views must have been tamped down when he attended Officer Candidate School (OCS) at the age of 24 in Newport, Rhode Island, followed by Surface Warfare Officers' School, also in Newport.

steve bannon ugly headshot cropped occupy democratsIt is clear that Bannon held extremist views in southern California while he was in the Navy. Most of the shipmates interviewed by The Washington Post who gave Bannon high marks as a Navy officer also happened to have shared his extremist political views, including one who Bannon, right, later hired to write for Breitbart News.

Bannon's support, both propaganda-wise and logistical, for the Trump coup against the constitutional government of the United States on January 6th represents a failure on the part of the Navy in not weeding out this malcontent at OCS.

It is a disgrace that someone like Bannon ever wore the uniform of a U.S. Naval Officer. But, then again, Michael Flynn wore the uniform of a three-star Army general and the one-time Führer of the American Nazi Party, George Lincoln Rockwell, wore the uniform of a U.S. Navy Commander.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just gave away how finished he is, Bill Palmer, right, Nov. 18, 2021. On Tuesday night, while the rest of us were living in the bill palmeryear 2021, Donald Trump was busy re-living the year 2020. Inexplicably dressed in a somewhat ill-fitting tuxedo, Trump sat down with My Pillow guy Mike Lindell for an on-camera interview. Most of it was about as loony, incoherent, and irrelevant as one might have expected. But during the interview, Trump gave away why he’s finished.

bill palmer report logo headerEven as Lindell kept trying to steer Trump toward focusing on the 2024 election, Trump was adamant about obsessing over the 2020 election. All Trump could talk about was how it was rigged, how he really won, all the usual delusional stuff. Trump even made a point of saying that he can’t just move on to 2024; he wants to “fix” the 2020 election instead.

In other words, Donald Trump has no interest in the 2024 election. He has no desire to run in it, or even think about it. He doesn’t care about trying to win in 2024. He merely wants to convince himself that he’s already won reelection, so he can pretend he’s still President. Trump is clearly living in a delusional fantasy world, and he’s not even close to being in the kind of cognitive or psychological state that would allow him to be an actual candidate 2024.

Trump will be in state prison in New York long before 2024 anyway, something that even in his delusional state he surely knows is true. Perhaps that’s why he’s only interested in fantasizing about having secretly won the 2020 election; he knows that his future as a free man doesn’t even stretch to 2024.

  jacob chansley howling

  Jacob Chansley, right with fur hat, during the Capitol riot in Washington on Jan. 6. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘QAnon shaman’ sentenced to 41 months for role in Capitol riot, Tom Jackman, Nov. 18, 2021 (print ed.). Jacob Chansley, whose brightly painted face, tattooed torso and horned cap became a visual icon of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, was sentenced Wednesday to 41 months in prison by a federal judge in Washington. His lawyer had asked the judge to impose a sentence of time already served, basically the entire 10 months since the insurrection, during which Chansley attracted more attention for demanding an organic diet while in jail and giving an interview to “60 Minutes.”

The sentence of roughly 3 ½ years is equal to the longest yet handed down to a Capitol rioter. Of the roughly 130 people who have pleaded guilty so far, only 16 have admitted to felonies, and Chansley is the fourth felon to be sentenced. The other three received terms of eight, 14 and last week a man who punched a Capitol police officer also received 41 months.

jacob chansley shaman costume and mugChansley, 34, shown at right in two different photos, was photographed parading shirtless through the halls of the Capitol with a six-foot spear, howling through a bullhorn and then sitting in the vice president’s chair in the Senate. He became known as the “QAnon Shaman” because of his appearances at gatherings of the “QAnon” conspiracy theorists and his Shamanic religious beliefs.

Prosecutors quoted Chansley offering a prayer while sitting at the dais of the Senate, thanking God for “filling this chamber with patriots that love you. … Thank you for allowing us to get rid of the communists, the globalists, and the traitors within our government.”

Chansley’s “now-famous criminal acts made him the public face of the Capitol riot,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo. With a suggested sentencing range of 41 to 51 months, the government asked for the maximum 51 months.

Chansley’s lawyer, Albert S. Watkins, argued that his client had been sufficiently penalized by his 10 months in jail.

“Mr. Chansley is in dire need of mental health treatment,” Watkins wrote in his sentencing memo. He said that a psychological evaluation earlier this year found that Chansley suffered from schizotypal personality disorder, anxiety and depression.

Watkins asked U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth to go below the sentencing guidelines range and release his client, due in part to Chansley’s “mental health infirmities of significance.”

Chansley spoke to the judge for about 30 minutes, repeatedly invoking his spiritual guides of Jesus Christ and Mohandas Gandhi. “Gandhi would allow his loyalty to God and truth to guide him to accepting responsibility,” Chansley said. “I was wrong for entering the Capitol. I have no excuse. No excuse whatsoever. My behavior was indefensible.”

Chansley’s lengthy comments, in which he praised Lamberth’s military service as a lawyer in the judge advocate corps, seemed to convince the judge that he had made significant changes. “I think your remarks are the most remarkable that I’ve heard in 34 years” as a judge, Lamberth said. “I think you are genuine in your remorse. Parts of those remarks are akin to the kinds of things that Martin Luther King would have said.”

But Lamberth said he could not reduce Chansley’s sentence below the recommended guidelines because “What you did here was horrific,” the judge said, “as you now concede. And obstructing the government as you did is the type of conduct that is so serious that I cannot justify a downward departure. I do think the minimum end of the guidelines is what you’ve earned because you’ve done everything right from the time that you started, and you’ve certainly done everything good today, convinced the court that you’re a new person.”

Chansley, who lives in Phoenix, had developed a following on various social media platforms in the months before Jan. 6, and posted messages such as, “We shall have no real hope to survive the enemies arrayed against us until we hang the traitors lurking among us,” prosecutors said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly L. Paschall noted that Chansley and Watkins had frequently claimed that his protests were peaceful. Reading from his social media posts, Paschall said: “That is not peaceful. It’s a call to battle.”

Chansley drove from Phoenix to Washington and was first spotted outside the Capitol at 1:50 p.m. on Jan. 6, according to court records. There was ample photo and video documentation of Chansley’s movements, wearing a fur vest, carrying an American flag tied to a pole with a spear at the tip, and using a bullhorn. Paschall played some of it for Lamberth on Wednesday. Prosecutors said Chansley was among the first rioters inside the Capitol on Jan. 6. He also was the first one indicted.

Chansley used his bullhorn “to rile up the crowd and demand that lawmakers be brought out,” prosecutors said. At 2:52 p.m., he entered the Senate gallery and began screaming obscenities, one of the videos showed.

He then gained access to the Senate floor, took the seat that Vice President Mike Pence had recently vacated, took pictures of himself and declared that Pence was a traitor. “It’s only a matter of time. Justice is coming!” Chansley wrote on a paper on the dais, prosecutors said.

Chansley was inside the Capitol for more than an hour, prosecutors said. He then drove back to Phoenix and gave an interview to NBC News in which he said, “The fact that we had a bunch of our traitors in office hunker down, put on their gas masks and retreat into their underground bunker, I consider that a win.” When he learned that the FBI was looking for him, he called the bureau and told them he was glad he sat in Pence’s chair, and called him “a child-trafficking traitor.”

In arguing for a 51-month sentence, Paschall wrote in her sentencing memo that “the peaceful transition of power in our nation was disrupted by a mob of thousands. … And this defendant was, quite literally, their flag-bearer.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Pentagon inspector general raises questions about ex-D.C. Guard commander’s Jan. 6 account, Dan Lamothe and Paul Sonne, Nov. 18, 2021 (print ed.). The D.C. National Guard’s commanding general was directed twice by Pentagon leadership to send in troops as violence engulfed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, according to a newly released investigation that appears to undercut the now-retired general’s claim that he would have responded to the riot more quickly if Trump administration officials had allowed.

william walker resized proofArmy Secretary Ryan McCarthy first notified Maj. Gen. William Walker, right, by phone at 4:35 p.m. that Walker was authorized to send troops to Capitol Hill, and then called the general again “to reissue the deployment order” about 30 minutes after McCarthy “originally conveyed it,” an unidentified Army witness told investigators with the independent Defense Department Inspector General, according to a newly released report. A timeline of events that day, assembled by the inspector general’s office, also indicates separate calls were made.

The investigation’s findings bring new scrutiny to Walker, who earlier this year was lauded for his candor in publicly recounting how dysfunction at the Pentagon stalled the National Guard’s response as supporters of President Donald Trump brutalized police and panicked lawmakers pleaded for help.

Speaking at a joint Senate hearing on March 3, Walker recalled having a quick reaction force (QRF) geared up and said he was frustrated by the speed at which senior defense officials were responding. He told senators it was 5:08 p.m. when he received approval to deploy. The Capitol was breached at 1:50 p.m.

Three weeks after the Senate hearing, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) appointed him House sergeant-at-arms, saying Walker was a “leader of great integrity” and that he would be “an important asset to the House, particularly in light of the January 6 insurrection.”

Walker, in a phone interview late Wednesday, said he was shocked the inspector general’s office released what he characterized as inaccurate, uncorroborated statements by anonymous Army officials. He said he tried to send personnel to the Capitol hours earlier and was ready to go when was first notified.

“These were exigent circumstances. Rome was burning,” Walker said. “I came danger-close to just saying, ‘Hey, we’re going,’ and then resign. But prudent people talked me out of that decision. It probably wouldn’t have been the right one.”

Walker said he was not allowed to respond to the anonymous statements before the report, calling the inspector general’s work sloppy and illustrative that he is up against “the most powerful Army in the world.”

“And I believe in that Army,” he added. “But that Army failed on January 6th.”

It’s unclear why Walker was never asked for a response to the claims he was told twice to dispatch his forces.

Walker told Congress in his testimony that memorandums issued by McCarthy and Trump’s acting defense secretary, Christopher C. Miller, restricted his ability to quickly dispatch the National Guard, but Army officials interviewed by the inspector general said Walker was aware of those decisions ahead of time and did not voice objection.

[Gen. Charles] Flynn’s involvement became controversial because his brother is retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a former Trump adviser who called for the military to participate in re-running the 2020 election. Army officials falsely asserted for days that Charles Flynn was not at the meeting, before Flynn confirmed that he was briefly involved in a statement to The Washington Post. The inspector general report affirms as much, saying other Army witnesses told investigators that Flynn’s involvement was “minimal.”

Trump, Russia, Steele, Durham

Other Relevant Headlines

Investigations

pro publica logo

ProPublica, Texts Show Kimberly Guilfoyle Bragged About Raising Millions for Rally That Fueled Capitol Riot, Joaquin Sapien and Joshua Kaplan, Nov. 18, 2021. Text messages reviewed by ProPublica represent the strongest indication yet that members of the Trump family inner circle were involved in financing and organizing the Jan. 6 “Save America” rally, which immediately preceded the Capitol riot.

Kimberly Guilfoyle, a top fundraiser for former President Donald Trump and the girlfriend of his son Donald Trump Jr., boasted to a GOP operative that she had raised $3 million for the rally that helped fuel the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

In a series of text messages sent on Jan. 4 to Katrina Pierson, the White House liaison to the event, Guilfoyle detailed her fundraising efforts and supported a push to get far-right speakers on the stage alongside Trump for the rally, which sought to overturn the election of President Joe Biden.

Guilfoyle’s texts, reviewed by ProPublica, represent the strongest indication yet that members of the Trump family circle were directly involved in the financing and organization of the rally. The attack on the Capitol that followed it left five dead and scores injured.

A House select committee investigating the events of Jan. 6 has subpoenaed more than 30 Trump allies for testimony and documents, including Pierson and Caroline Wren, a former deputy to Guilfoyle. But Guilfoyle herself has so far not received any official scrutiny from Congress.

Guilfoyle’s attorney, Joe Tacopina, denied that Guilfoyle had anything to do with fundraising or approving speakers. He said the text from Guilfoyle “did not relate to the Save America rally” on Jan. 6 and the “content of the message itself” was “inaccurate” and “taken out of context.” He did not respond to additional questions asking about the accuracy and context of the message.

Reached by phone, Pierson declined to comment.

The text messages show that Guilfoyle expressed specific concerns that she might not be allowed to speak on stage at the Jan. 6 rally. Pierson responded that Trump himself set the speaking lineup and that it was limited to people he selected, including some of his children and Amy Kremer, a grassroots activist who organized the event.

Guilfoyle replied that she only wanted to introduce Trump Jr. and had "raised so much money for this."

"Literally one of my donors Julie at 3 million,” she added.

Guilfoyle was referring to Julie Jenkins Fancelli, a Publix supermarket heir who Guilfoyle had developed a professional relationship with during the campaign.

Until now, Wren has been the only person identified as having worked with Fancelli. As ProPublica reported last month, Wren also boasted in private conversations with colleagues of raising $3 million for the events of Jan. 6.

It remains unclear whether that amount was really raised and, if so, how the majority of it was spent. Some of the money raised from Fancelli flowed to dark money groups that supported the rally, according to wire transfers described to ProPublica, planning documents and interviews with insiders.

In a statement from her attorney, Wren acknowledged helping to produce the rally but did not provide further details about her role in fundraising.

“To Ms. Wren’s knowledge, Kimberly Guilfoyle had no involvement in raising funds for any events on January 6th,” the statement said. “They were both present at a peaceful rally with hundreds of thousands of Americans who were in DC to lawfully exercise their first amendment rights, a primary pillar of American democracy.”

The texts between Guilfoyle and Pierson and interviews with Trump officials also suggest that Guilfoyle attempted to influence the lineup of speakers scheduled to appear at the event.

On the night of Jan. 5, Trump Jr., Guilfoyle and Wren attended an event at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, where Trump donors mingled with prominent figures in the movement to overturn the election, according to interviews and social media posts from attendees.

Around the time of that event, Wren called rally staff and urged them to allow speaking roles for Ali Alexander, a far-right provocateur and leader of the Stop the Steal movement; Roger Stone, a former Trump advisor; and conspiracy theorist and InfoWars leader Alex Jones, according to a former campaign official who was told details of the call by people who listened to it.

Trump aides had already deemed the men too radical to go on stage, worrying they might embarrass the president.

During the call, Guilfoyle voiced her support for the controversial speakers, the former campaign official was told. She also specifically demanded that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who had sued to challenge election results in four other states, address the crowd. Alexander later said on a newscast that he also received a call from Guilfoyle that same evening.

Tacopina, Guilfoyle's lawyer, said she did not urge staffers to change the speakers. "Your contention that Ms. Guilfoyle approved a speaking list for January 6th is patently false," he wrote. He threatened to “aggressively pursue all legal remedies available” against ProPublica.

But the texts show Guilfoyle and Pierson talking about a “leaked” speaking list — an apparent reference to an article about the Jan. 6 rally published by the conservative news website Breitbart the day before.

That list included Alexander, Stone and Paxton, among others.

“All I know is that someone leaked a list of ‘speakers’ that the WH had not seen or approved,” Pierson wrote. “I’ve never had so much interference.”

Guilfoyle responded: “Yea and this the list we approved.”

Tacopina did not answer further questions about what Guilfoyle meant in the text where she said "we" had approved a speaking list.

Untangling the relationship between Guilfoyle, Wren and Fancelli is key to understanding the financing of the events of Jan. 6.

In January 2020, Guilfoyle was appointed national chair of the Trump Victory finance committee, a leading fundraising vehicle for Trump’s reelection campaign. She brought Wren on as her deputy.

Guilfoyle, through her relationship with Trump Jr., had access to the family and a certain star power that appealed to donors. Wren, by all accounts a relentless, high-energy worker, brought fundraising expertise and a Rolodex of wealthy Republicans willing to invest handsomely to keep Trump in office. The duo ultimately brought in tens of millions of dollars toward Trump’s reelection.

The pair focused primarily on ramping up the campaign’s “bundling” program, a method of fundraising that relies on volunteers collecting money from their personal networks.

Fancelli, a reclusive member of one of the country’s richest families, was one of those volunteers, according to interviews and internal Trump Victory records. Splitting her time between Florida and Italy, Fancelli raised at least $72,000 from her friends and family.

She stood out to Wren and Guilfoyle, who in 2020 considered her for a role as Florida state co-chair for the bundling program, according to an internal Trump Victory planning document reviewed by ProPublica. The document highlighted Fancelli as a person Guilfoyle should contact personally.

Proof, Investigation: Three Major Revelations About the January 6 Insurrection Just Dropped, Seth Abramson, left, Nov. 18, 2021. These new reports transform seth abramson graphicour understanding of how the attack was funded and by whom, who attended a key January 5 war council and what happened there, and who led the coup plot at the White House.

seth abramson proof logoIntroduction: One of the reasons curatorial journalism is so important is that when breaking news drops, curatorial journalists can quickly reveal to a mass audience how the revelations dovetail with what is already known—and do so in ways that produce new revelations.

This is what’s happening right now with just-released breaking news from ProPublica.

pro publica logoAlready important in its own right, this new ProPublica report, when combined with past reporting from Proof, swells in significance. This article enumerates the things we now know that we didn’t previously—and all the new revelations this information affords us.

January 6 Had Far More Money Behind It Than We Knew

Proof long ago reported that, according to InfoWars founder and Stop the Steal co-organizer Alex Jones, the January 6 rally at which Donald Trump incited a mob to attack the U.S. Capitol—a rally that was only going to feature Stop the Steal leaders until Trump commandeered it—cost Jones and his team, which included domestic terrorist Ali Alexander and Trump adviser Roger Stone, about $500,000 to arrange. Jones is on video saying about $400,000 of this came from a single donor who Proof has written about on more than one occasion: Publix heiress Julie Jenkins Fancelli.

It now looks like Jones was lying about the funding of January 6—and significantly.

In fact, it appears that about eight times the amount Jones said came in to the January rally came from sources other than his organizations (InfoWars and Stop the Steal), and what’s more, (a) it mostly came from Fancelli (who apparently gave much more than the $400,000 Jones revealed), (b) Fancelli’s donation, which now appears to have topped seven figures, was coordinated by the 2020 Trump presidential campaign, the Trump White House, and the Trump family in the person of top campaign official, top presidential adviser, and Donald Trump Jr. girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle. This is one of the most critical pieces of information we get from the ProPublica report.

But we also have a better understanding, now, of why Jones lied about the amount of money he and his fellow insurrectionists received from sources arranged by Trump’s team, and—perhaps more from a Jones omission than a lie—how he came to be in contact with Fancelli and convince her to give, along with other donors, what clearly was a massive amount of money. Even more importantly, the question is now raised: why didn’t Trump pay for the January 6 White House Ellipse event out of his own not inconsiderable campaign war chest? Does this underscore that Trump and Guilfoyle knew that what they were funding on January 6 might involve or provoke illegalities—and lay outside any political expenditure a federally compliant political campaign could condone, sanction, or contribute to—and they therefore sought to inoculate Trump and his inner circle against possible future criminal charges? This appears to be a classic case of ex ante “consciousness of guilt,” in criminal trial advocacy parlance.

According to ProPublica, Kimberly Guilfoyle is now, through her lawyer, denying that she ever wrote things she definitely wrote—ProPublica has the text messages—even as her top aide, Caroline Wren, whose reputation is now permanently entwined with the reputation of Trump and his family (including Guilfoyle) seeks to minimize the role her boss (and her boss’s boss, Trump) played in convincing Trump donors to pour at least three million dollars into an event to be held months after an election Trump lost.

Given the scope of the difference between Jones’s public claims and the stark reality—the 800% markup now reported by ProPublica—it seems likely that there was far, far more money behind January 6 than we imagined; far more involvement of the White House in enabling short-turnaround fundraising at this level (a level beyond anything on-the-ground insurrectionists like Stop the Steal’s leadership could have possibly mustered themselves, as according to Roger Stone he struggled even to get money for a hotel room and Alexander is on camera repeatedly bemoaning his lack of funds); and a cover-up after-the-fact—as well as guilty-conscience performances both before and after the fact—that extend well beyond what any of us had previously known.

Palmer Report, Opinion: So much for Merrick Garland doing “nothing.” Now it looks like he’s off to the races, Bill Palmer, right, Nov. 18, 2021.  In the court of public bill palmeropinion, Attorney General Merrick Garland will (correctly or not) get credit for everything the DOJ does that people like, and get blamed for everything the DOJ does or doesn’t do that people dislike. To that end, a whole lot of people have spent this year believing that Garland and his DOJ were doing “nothing.”

bill palmer report logo headerIt didn’t matter that during the course of 2021 the DOJ raided the homes of Trump co-conspirators Rudy Giuliani and Victoria Toensing, arrested Trump money man Tom Barrack, raided Trump-Russia figure Oleg Deripaska, and so on. These moves happened too far apart from each other, and because not much DOJ news leaked out in between them, the media painted a picture of “nothing” happening and Garland being “weak.”

merrick garlandBut then this past week happened. Merrick Garland’s DOJ indicted and arrested Steve Bannon for contempt of Congress. It indicted two more people related to the ongoing criminal probe involving Joel Greenberg and Matt Gaetz, making clear that the probe is still ongoing. The Feds raided the home of a Republican official in relation to a phony election “audit.” And the Feds raided the home of Lauren Boebert’s former campaign manager in relation to that same phony audit. And it’s still only Thursday.

Let’s be clear: none of these things came out of nowhere. The DOJ didn’t suddenly “wake up.” Garland, right, didn’t suddenly “grow a Justice Department log circularspine.” That’s just gibberish talk from commentators who don’t understand, or are trying to falsely spin, what we’re all watching happen.

Most of what we’re seeing this week (with the exception of Bannon) is a direct result of lengthy and complex DOJ criminal probes that have been ongoing for months on end. We’re just finally starting to see the fruits of some of these long running probes. There will be plenty more.

Do you know how long it takes to build up a comprehensive enough case to get a judge to sign off on a home search and seizure warrant? Those kinds of warrants don’t just fall out of the sky on demand. These latest raids were the result of a long running DOJ probe into election tampering that until this week we didn’t even know existed – and now Boebert is dragged into it.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Bannon's Navy service coincided with white supremacist outbreak in the ranks in late 1970s, Wayne wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallMadsen, Nov. 18, 2021. Leopards never change their spots and neither do neo-Nazis like Bannon.

The fact that Bannon, who was a U.S. Naval officer, was able to even gain a commission as an Ensign says more about the Navy's failure wayne madesen report logoto adequately screen its acquisition process for officers than in the fact that Bannon likely held his far-right views after he was commissioned in the Naval Reserve following his graduation from Virginia Tech in 1976.

Bannon's far-right views must have been tamped down when he attended Officer Candidate School (OCS) at the age of 24 in Newport, Rhode Island, followed by Surface Warfare Officers' School, also in Newport.

steve bannon ugly headshot cropped occupy democratsIt is clear that Bannon held extremist views in southern California while he was in the Navy. Most of the shipmates interviewed by The Washington Post who gave Bannon high marks as a Navy officer also happened to have shared his extremist political views, including one who Bannon, right, later hired to write for Breitbart News.

Bannon's support, both propaganda-wise and logistical, for the Trump coup against the constitutional government of the United States on January 6th represents a failure on the part of the Navy in not weeding out this malcontent at OCS.

It is a disgrace that someone like Bannon ever wore the uniform of a U.S. Naval Officer. But, then again, Michael Flynn wore the uniform of a three-star Army general and the one-time Führer of the American Nazi Party, George Lincoln Rockwell, wore the uniform of a U.S. Navy Commander.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just gave away how finished he is, Bill Palmer, right, Nov. 18, 2021. On Tuesday night, while the rest of us were living in the bill palmeryear 2021, Donald Trump was busy re-living the year 2020. Inexplicably dressed in a somewhat ill-fitting tuxedo, Trump sat down with My Pillow guy Mike Lindell for an on-camera interview. Most of it was about as loony, incoherent, and irrelevant as one might have expected. But during the interview, Trump gave away why he’s finished.

bill palmer report logo headerEven as Lindell kept trying to steer Trump toward focusing on the 2024 election, Trump was adamant about obsessing over the 2020 election. All Trump could talk about was how it was rigged, how he really won, all the usual delusional stuff. Trump even made a point of saying that he can’t just move on to 2024; he wants to “fix” the 2020 election instead.

In other words, Donald Trump has no interest in the 2024 election. He has no desire to run in it, or even think about it. He doesn’t care about trying to win in 2024. He merely wants to convince himself that he’s already won reelection, so he can pretend he’s still President. Trump is clearly living in a delusional fantasy world, and he’s not even close to being in the kind of cognitive or psychological state that would allow him to be an actual candidate 2024.

Trump will be in state prison in New York long before 2024 anyway, something that even in his delusional state he surely knows is true. Perhaps that’s why he’s only interested in fantasizing about having secretly won the 2020 election; he knows that his future as a free man doesn’t even stretch to 2024.

 

djt mike lindell frank tv still

Still from a video published at Frank Speech. (Frank Speech) (FrankSpeech)

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s latest media appearance? A 30-minute chat/pillow ad, Philip Bump, Nov. 18, 2021. So there’s Donald Trump, sitting on an uncomfortable-looking chair in an ornate but empty ballroom, decked out in a tuxedo as a rainstorm battered Mar-a-Lago. And across from him in another uncomfortable-looking chair, the pillow guy, Mike Lindell.

For more than half an hour, the two discussed their shared, wildly incorrect understanding of American politics in a video that Lindell, CEO of MyPillow, later posted to his sort-of social media site Frank Speech. Every so often, a snippet of text would pop up as the men chatted: Use this special promotional code to save on a new MyPillow!

The encounter was not notable because it revealed some new truths. In introducing the discussion, Lindell promised that he would ask a lot of questions that the former president had not previously faced. So, right out of the gates, he dealt Trump a high fastball: “I want to ask you a question that you probably haven’t been asked, and that was: Was running the country what you expected it to be, or was it like when you were running your business?”

Hard as it may be to believe, Trump wriggled out of Lindell’s cunning trap. His response was pretty much what you would have expected it to be: The media was mean, the Democrats were mean, President Biden is terrible. Lindell, sitting giddily on the edge of his chair, interjected to offer agreement and praise.

Lindell was correct when he began the conversation by pointing out that he’s used to being the subject of interviews and not the conductor of them. But that’s changing.

Over the past year, Lindell’s breathless effort to prove his unprovable argument that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump has generated a second career: media magnate.

The fortune he accrued from his pillow sales has been deployed to create not only Frank Speech — a platform dedicated to free speech that hasn’t yet launched and that bans swearing — but a streaming platform called Lindell TV. He’s made various films detailing what he claims to be evidence of rampant fraud in the 2020 election, evidence that was quickly debunked. He has become a one-man conglomerate focused on a single goal: defending the indefensible election claims made by Trump, whom he described in introducing the conversation as “our real president.”

  jacob chansley howling

  Jacob Chansley, right with fur hat, during the Capitol riot in Washington on Jan. 6. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘QAnon shaman’ sentenced to 41 months for role in Capitol riot, Tom Jackman, Nov. 18, 2021 (print ed.). Jacob Chansley, whose brightly painted face, tattooed torso and horned cap became a visual icon of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, was sentenced Wednesday to 41 months in prison by a federal judge in Washington. His lawyer had asked the judge to impose a sentence of time already served, basically the entire 10 months since the insurrection, during which Chansley attracted more attention for demanding an organic diet while in jail and giving an interview to “60 Minutes.”

The sentence of roughly 3 ½ years is equal to the longest yet handed down to a Capitol rioter. Of the roughly 130 people who have pleaded guilty so far, only 16 have admitted to felonies, and Chansley is the fourth felon to be sentenced. The other three received terms of eight, 14 and last week a man who punched a Capitol police officer also received 41 months.

jacob chansley shaman costume and mugChansley, 34, shown at right in two different photos, was photographed parading shirtless through the halls of the Capitol with a six-foot spear, howling through a bullhorn and then sitting in the vice president’s chair in the Senate. He became known as the “QAnon Shaman” because of his appearances at gatherings of the “QAnon” conspiracy theorists and his Shamanic religious beliefs.

Prosecutors quoted Chansley offering a prayer while sitting at the dais of the Senate, thanking God for “filling this chamber with patriots that love you. … Thank you for allowing us to get rid of the communists, the globalists, and the traitors within our government.”

Chansley’s “now-famous criminal acts made him the public face of the Capitol riot,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo. With a suggested sentencing range of 41 to 51 months, the government asked for the maximum 51 months.

Chansley’s lawyer, Albert S. Watkins, argued that his client had been sufficiently penalized by his 10 months in jail.

“Mr. Chansley is in dire need of mental health treatment,” Watkins wrote in his sentencing memo. He said that a psychological evaluation earlier this year found that Chansley suffered from schizotypal personality disorder, anxiety and depression.

Watkins asked U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth to go below the sentencing guidelines range and release his client, due in part to Chansley’s “mental health infirmities of significance.”

Chansley spoke to the judge for about 30 minutes, repeatedly invoking his spiritual guides of Jesus Christ and Mohandas Gandhi. “Gandhi would allow his loyalty to God and truth to guide him to accepting responsibility,” Chansley said. “I was wrong for entering the Capitol. I have no excuse. No excuse whatsoever. My behavior was indefensible.”

Chansley’s lengthy comments, in which he praised Lamberth’s military service as a lawyer in the judge advocate corps, seemed to convince the judge that he had made significant changes. “I think your remarks are the most remarkable that I’ve heard in 34 years” as a judge, Lamberth said. “I think you are genuine in your remorse. Parts of those remarks are akin to the kinds of things that Martin Luther King would have said.”

But Lamberth said he could not reduce Chansley’s sentence below the recommended guidelines because “What you did here was horrific,” the judge said, “as you now concede. And obstructing the government as you did is the type of conduct that is so serious that I cannot justify a downward departure. I do think the minimum end of the guidelines is what you’ve earned because you’ve done everything right from the time that you started, and you’ve certainly done everything good today, convinced the court that you’re a new person.”

Chansley, who lives in Phoenix, had developed a following on various social media platforms in the months before Jan. 6, and posted messages such as, “We shall have no real hope to survive the enemies arrayed against us until we hang the traitors lurking among us,” prosecutors said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly L. Paschall noted that Chansley and Watkins had frequently claimed that his protests were peaceful. Reading from his social media posts, Paschall said: “That is not peaceful. It’s a call to battle.”

Chansley drove from Phoenix to Washington and was first spotted outside the Capitol at 1:50 p.m. on Jan. 6, according to court records. There was ample photo and video documentation of Chansley’s movements, wearing a fur vest, carrying an American flag tied to a pole with a spear at the tip, and using a bullhorn. Paschall played some of it for Lamberth on Wednesday. Prosecutors said Chansley was among the first rioters inside the Capitol on Jan. 6. He also was the first one indicted.

Chansley used his bullhorn “to rile up the crowd and demand that lawmakers be brought out,” prosecutors said. At 2:52 p.m., he entered the Senate gallery and began screaming obscenities, one of the videos showed.

He then gained access to the Senate floor, took the seat that Vice President Mike Pence had recently vacated, took pictures of himself and declared that Pence was a traitor. “It’s only a matter of time. Justice is coming!” Chansley wrote on a paper on the dais, prosecutors said.

Chansley was inside the Capitol for more than an hour, prosecutors said. He then drove back to Phoenix and gave an interview to NBC News in which he said, “The fact that we had a bunch of our traitors in office hunker down, put on their gas masks and retreat into their underground bunker, I consider that a win.” When he learned that the FBI was looking for him, he called the bureau and told them he was glad he sat in Pence’s chair, and called him “a child-trafficking traitor.”

In arguing for a 51-month sentence, Paschall wrote in her sentencing memo that “the peaceful transition of power in our nation was disrupted by a mob of thousands. … And this defendant was, quite literally, their flag-bearer.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Pentagon inspector general raises questions about ex-D.C. Guard commander’s Jan. 6 account, Dan Lamothe and Paul Sonne, Nov. 18, 2021 (print ed.). The D.C. National Guard’s commanding general was directed twice by Pentagon leadership to send in troops as violence engulfed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, according to a newly released investigation that appears to undercut the now-retired general’s claim that he would have responded to the riot more quickly if Trump administration officials had allowed.

william walker resized proofArmy Secretary Ryan McCarthy first notified Maj. Gen. William Walker, right, by phone at 4:35 p.m. that Walker was authorized to send troops to Capitol Hill, and then called the general again “to reissue the deployment order” about 30 minutes after McCarthy “originally conveyed it,” an unidentified Army witness told investigators with the independent Defense Department Inspector General, according to a newly released report. A timeline of events that day, assembled by the inspector general’s office, also indicates separate calls were made.

The investigation’s findings bring new scrutiny to Walker, who earlier this year was lauded for his candor in publicly recounting how dysfunction at the Pentagon stalled the National Guard’s response as supporters of President Donald Trump brutalized police and panicked lawmakers pleaded for help.

Speaking at a joint Senate hearing on March 3, Walker recalled having a quick reaction force (QRF) geared up and said he was frustrated by the speed at which senior defense officials were responding. He told senators it was 5:08 p.m. when he received approval to deploy. The Capitol was breached at 1:50 p.m.

Three weeks after the Senate hearing, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) appointed him House sergeant-at-arms, saying Walker was a “leader of great integrity” and that he would be “an important asset to the House, particularly in light of the January 6 insurrection.”

Walker, in a phone interview late Wednesday, said he was shocked the inspector general’s office released what he characterized as inaccurate, uncorroborated statements by anonymous Army officials. He said he tried to send personnel to the Capitol hours earlier and was ready to go when was first notified.

“These were exigent circumstances. Rome was burning,” Walker said. “I came danger-close to just saying, ‘Hey, we’re going,’ and then resign. But prudent people talked me out of that decision. It probably wouldn’t have been the right one.”

Walker said he was not allowed to respond to the anonymous statements before the report, calling the inspector general’s work sloppy and illustrative that he is up against “the most powerful Army in the world.”

“And I believe in that Army,” he added. “But that Army failed on January 6th.”

It’s unclear why Walker was never asked for a response to the claims he was told twice to dispatch his forces.

Walker told Congress in his testimony that memorandums issued by McCarthy and Trump’s acting defense secretary, Christopher C. Miller, restricted his ability to quickly dispatch the National Guard, but Army officials interviewed by the inspector general said Walker was aware of those decisions ahead of time and did not voice objection.

[Gen. Charles] Flynn’s involvement became controversial because his brother is retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a former Trump adviser who called for the military to participate in re-running the 2020 election. Army officials falsely asserted for days that Charles Flynn was not at the meeting, before Flynn confirmed that he was briefly involved in a statement to The Washington Post. The inspector general report affirms as much, saying other Army witnesses told investigators that Flynn’s involvement was “minimal.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Former D.C. Guard commander demands Pentagon inspector general retract Jan. 6 report, Dan Lamothe and Paul Sonne, Nov. 18, 2021. Retired Maj. Gen. William Walker’s objection to the report’s findings injects fresh tension into the ongoing political turmoil stemming from the Capitol riot.

The former commanding general of the D.C. National Guard is demanding the retraction of an inspector general report that says Army leaders had to tell him twice to send troops to the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection, saying Thursday that the allegation is false and must be corrected.

William J. Walker, now retired from the military and serving at the Capitol as House sergeant-at-arms, said in an interview that he never received a call  Sean O’Donnell (a Trump appointee shown right who is also the EPA Inspector General).from Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy at 4:35 p.m., as alleged in a report by the Defense Department’s acting inspector general, Sean O’Donnell (a Trump appointee shown right who is also the EPA Inspector General).

Walker, repeating comments he made during sworn Senate testimony in March, said that he received authorization to deploy troops at 5:08 p.m. and immediately dispatched those forces, already loaded onto several buses to depart the D.C. Armory.

“Every minute mattered. You have to understand: These are my friends here,” Walker said, referring to his close relationship with former Capitol Police chief Steven Sund, who was forced to resign following the attack, and other law enforcement officials. He called the report “incomplete,” “inaccurate” and “sloppy work.”

Walker’s objection to the published details in the report injects fresh tension into the ongoing political turmoil and finger-pointing stemming from the assault, in which supporters of President Donald Trump smashed their way into Congress in a violent attempt to halt certification of the electoral college count affirming his defeat. The Capitol was breached at 1:50 p.m., but National Guard members were not sworn in to assist police until 5:40 p.m., after senior Army officials settled on a plan.

Pentagon inspector general raises questions about former D.C. Guard commander’s Jan. 6 account

O’Donnell’s office interviewed 44 witnesses, including Walker, McCarthy and dozens of other Pentagon and police officials. Investigators concluded that the military’s response was “reasonable in light of the circumstances,” and that McCarthy and other Pentagon officials were acting within their purview in withholding military assistance until they could make better sense of the chaos.

Trump, Russia, Steele, Durham

Other Relevant Headlines

Nov. 16

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, Analysis: Another lawyer, another memo offering advice on stealing the presidency, Philip Bump, Nov. 16, 2021 (print ed.). As his presidency wound down, Trump finally found his Roy Cohns.

On Sunday, ABC News reported on the existence of a memo written by Trump’s campaign attorney Jenna Ellis at some point in December or January. It delineated a plan for seizing a second term in office, centered on the counting of electoral votes on Jan. 6. That day, Vice President Mike Pence would reject the submitted electoral votes from a number of states, demanding that they return revised votes — presumably for Trump — by Jan. 15. If they didn’t do so, neither Trump nor Joe Biden would have enough electoral votes to constitute a majority of the 538 available, so the election would be settled by the House. And, by extension, potentially (though not necessarily) to Trump.

You may have been familiar with Ellis, right, before this new report. She was a close ally of Trump’s attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani in the weeks after Trump lost jenna ellis cropped screenshotthe 2020 election. She joined Giuliani in presenting nonsensical, unfounded and false claims about rampant fraud at hearings convened by Republicans in various states. She stood by his side during the infamous hair-dye news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters in mid-November. She also had a link to a right-wing legal group that was actively trying to undercut confidence in the results of the 2020 election.

If Ellis’s plot sounds familiar, it should. It mirrors in broad strokes the plan offered by John Eastman, another attorney linked to a right-wing legal group, in a pair of memos written after the election. The first of those offered a simple, four-part plan for Trump and Pence to reject the cast electoral votes and secure a second term in office. At some point after that memo was written (and after it was shown to at least one incredulous senator), Eastman wrote a longer version. It was a sanitized version of the same thing: If Pence does these things, a Trump victory might result. It was a spoonful of sugar drizzled around the same medicine.

ny times logoNew York Times, Book Review: In Another Trump Book, a Journalist’s Belated Awareness Steals the Show, Jennifer Szalai, Nov. 16, 2021. By the looks of his formidable résumé, the veteran Beltway journalist Jonathan Karl, right, shouldn’t startle all that easily.

jonathan karl headshot“Karl has covered every major beat in Washington, D.C., including the White House, Capitol Hill, the Pentagon and the State Department,” his author bio notes, “and has reported from the White House under four presidents and 14 press secretaries.” Until recently he was the chief White House correspondent for ABC News — a perch that placed him, as he put it in the title of his previous book, “Front Row at the Trump Show.”

jonathan karl betrayalYet in his new book, Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show, Karl comes across as almost poignantly ingenuous and polite to a fault, repeatedly flummoxed by what he saw in the last year of the Trump administration. “Front Row,” which had the unfortunate timing of being published in March 2020, before the consequences of Trump’s governance were fully laid bare, began with a solemn tribute to “objectivity and balance” and a complaint that “the mainstream media coverage of Donald Trump is relentlessly and exhaustively negative.” Just a year-and-a-half later, after 750,000 American Covid deaths and an attack on the Capitol, Karl allows that the “Trump show” may have in fact been more sinister than mere theatrics after all.

“I have never wavered from my belief that journalists are not the opposition party and should not act like we are,” Karl maintains in “Betrayal.” “But the first obligation of a journalist is to pursue truth and accuracy. And the simple truth about the last year of the Trump presidency is that his lies turned deadly and shook the foundations of our democracy.”

“Betrayal” is presented as an inside look at what happened in the last months of the Trump White House, beginning on Feb. 10, 2020. At the time, news about a novel coronavirus in China was percolating throughout the United States, but staffers in the White House seemed more immediately threatened by Johnny McEntee, a 29-year-old former college quarterback who went from carrying President Trump’s bags to becoming the director of the Presidential Personnel Office — “responsible for the hiring and firing of more than 4,000 political appointees across the federal government.”

 

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, Analysis: Bannon’s contempt charge sparks debate over Jan. 6 panel strategy, Jacqueline Alemany and Theodoric Meyer, Nov. 16, 2021. We don't yet know how many of the 35 people subpoenaed by the House are cooperating.

Double-edged subpoena: The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol scored a big win when President Biden's Justice Department last week moved to indict Steve Bannon for defying a congressional subpoena.

The former Trump White House adviser, one of 35 people who have been subpoenaed by the select committee, surrendered to federal authorities and appeared in federal court for the first time on Monday. Bannon is the first of the group to be held in criminal contempt.

So far, the committee has interviewed over 150 people, and has threatened to ramp up efforts to compel testimony from Mark Meadows, former president Donald Trump's chief of staff, and Jeffrey Clark, a former DOJ official, after they both refused to cooperate.

enrique tarrio mic

washington post logoWashington Post, Proud Boys leader seeks release from D.C. jail, alleging inhumane conditions, Paul Duggan, Nov. 16, 2021 (print ed.). A national leader of the Proud Boys, a far-right group with a history of violence, asked a judge on Monday to release him from the D.C. jail and place him on home confinement, citing what he described as inhumane conditions in the facility.

Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, who has served 70 days of a five-month jail term, pleaded guilty in August to two crimes, including setting fire to a stolen Black Lives Matter banner during a tumultuous demonstration in Washington after the election defeat of former president Donald Trump.

Appearing in D.C. Superior Court via video, Tarrio, 37 (shown above in a file photo), and his attorney said Tarrio has endured abuse from staff members, unsanitary conditions, poor food and a lack of medical care. The complaints echoed the findings of a surprise inspection of the facility last month by the U.S. Marshals Service, which listed numerous “systemic failures” at the 45-year-old jail in Southeast Washington.

“I’ve been in jail before, but what I’ve seen here, I’ve never seen before,” Tarrio told Judge Jonathan H. Pittman. “It’s insane. It’s a gulag.”

At Monday’s hearing, a lawyer for the D.C. Department of Corrections disputed many of Tarrio’s assertions, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Courtney argued that Tarrio’s emergency motion for release, filed Nov. 9, was legally improper. Courtney said the correct course would be for Tarrio to file a lawsuit, which is a more protracted process.

Pittman said he would issue a ruling later this week, but on the bench Monday, he seemed to side with the government.

Nov. 15

 

steve bannon rally source unstated

washington post logoWashington Post, Stephen Bannon surrenders after he was indicted on charges of contempt of Congress, Spencer S. Hsu and Tom Jackman, Nov. 15, 2021. Stephen K. Bannon, the former Trump White House adviser who was indicted last week for defying a congressional subpoena, surrendered to federal authorities Monday morning and was scheduled to make his first court appearance later Monday afternoon.

Bannon, 67 (shown above in a file photo), walked through a group of photographers outside the FBI field office in downtown Washington. Bannon told the news media, “I don’t want anybody to take their eye off the ball for what we do every day. . .We’re taking down the Biden regime.”

Bannon is expected to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robin M. Meriweather for his arraignment on two counts of contempt of Congress.

A federal grand jury indicted Bannon on Friday after he ignored a Sept. 23 subpoena to testify and provide documents to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The committee wants to question Bannon about activities that occurred at the Willard Hotel the night before the riot, when pro-Trump activists sought to convince Republican lawmakers to block certification of the election. The committee’s subpoena also noted that Bannon was quoted predicting “hell is going to break loose” on Jan. 6.

The panel has subpoenaed at least 20 Trump aides, including former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. Meadows did not appear Friday for a scheduled deposition, officials said. The charges against Bannon are misdemeanors, punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

 

steve bannon billionaire guo wengui

Wayne Madsen Report,  Investigative Commentary: Time to extradite Bannon's patron to China, Wayne Madsen, former Navy intelligence officer shown at left and author of the new book shown below left, The Rise of the Fascist Fourth Reich), Nov. 15, 2021. The method to bring down a massive far-right conspiracy to overthrow the government is to, as the Department of Justice did during Iran-contra, and, to a lesser extent, for Watergate is to "follow the money."

wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallToday, as former Trump White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is arraigned in federal court in Washington for two criminal counts of contempt of Congress for refusing to appear before the January 6th special House committee and turn over requested documents, it is an important reminder that Bannon's financial patron is Guo Wengui, a fugitive billionaire Chinese national who resides in the United States. Bannon and Guo are shown above in a file photo.

wayne madesen report logoGuo (shown above in a file photo with Bannon) was granted political asylum by the Trump administration in 2017 as a Priority 1 asylee after Trump was informed that Guo had laid out the required $200,000 in initiation fees and $14,000 in annual dues to wayne madsen fourth reich coverbecome a member of Trump's Mar-a-Lago billionaires' beach club in Palm Beach, Florida. Guo is currently the subject of an Interpol Red Notice arrest warrant issued in April 2017 by China.

Guo is accused of fraud, rape, bribery, money laundering, kidnapping, and other crimes committed in China and abroad before he was granted political asylum in the United States.

Guo has the distinction of being involved in simultaneous attempts to overthrow two governments, that of his asylum-grantor, the United States, and that of China. Guo maintains a Chinese government-in-exile in Manhattan, which he calls the New Federal State of China, which has its own flag and Himalaya Coin cryptocurrency, issues its own "Himalaya" passport, and claims to represent a post-Communist state in China.

Guo's government-in-exile is nothing more than a fraudulent micronation involved in dubious activity and is not much different than the Dominion of Melchizedek and Kingdom of EnenKio, which were the subjects of international criminal investigations for banking and securities fraud.

Palmer Report, Opinion: How Steve Bannon could quickly end up indicted on additional felony counts, Bill Palmer, right, Nov. 15, 2021. Steve Bannon, above, is being arrested tomorrow – or depending on your time zone, later today. If he gets out on bail or house arrest, that’s just fine and dandy. The Feds can then bill palmermonitor his communications and hope to catch him committing witness tampering etc. Then they can hit him with additional charges, which places more pressure him to flip. It’s just how it works.

bill palmer report logo headerTo that end, the Feds don’t always ask the judge for pretrial incarceration, because they want someone like Bannon free to get caught committing more serious crimes. If this happens, the doomsday pundits will label the DOJ “weak.” But that’s total ignorance about the process.

Put another way: do you want Bannon to just face the two current felony counts, or do you want him to pick up another three or four felony counts for tampering, obstruction, seeking dirty foreign money to pay his lawyers, and so on?

“But if Bannon knows his communications are being surveilled, he won’t commit any more crimes!” Career criminals are creatures of habit. They can’t help themselves. Time and again you see them quickly get tripped up in this way while awaiting trial. The kicker is that not only do they get hit with additional felony counts, the conditions of their pretrial release are violated, so they then have to rot in jail while awaiting trial.

washington post logoWashington Post, In wake of Bannon indictment, Republicans warn of payback, Amy B Wang, Nov. 15, 2021 (print ed.). GOP lawmakers say Democrats, by pursuing contempt charges against a Trump ally, are paving the way for them to go after Biden aides if they retake the House in 2022.

Republicans are rallying around former White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon after his indictment for contempt of Congress on Friday, warning that Democrats’ efforts to force Bannon to comply with what they see as an unfair subpoena paves the way for them to do the same if they take back the House in 2022.

Bannon, like former president Donald Trump, has refused to comply with an order from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection to turn over records and testify about his actions leading up to the attack, when a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol trying to stop the certification of President Biden’s electoral college win.

Bannon is expected to turn himself into law enforcement Monday ahead of a court appearance that afternoon. Democrats and a handful of anti-Trump Republicans argue that the indictment was necessary to enforce subpoenas issued by the Jan. 6 committee to Trump associates who are resisting cooperation and to witnesses summoned by other congressional panels.

Many GOP leaders, however, are seizing on Bannon’s indictment to contend that Democrats are “weaponizing” the Justice Department, warning Democrats that they will go after President Biden’s aides for unspecified reasons if they take back the House majority in next year’s midterm elections, as most political analysts expect.

 

capitol riot deposition listPalmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s January 6th co-conspirators are now officially in a no-win situation – and someone’s going to flip, Bill Palmer, right, Nov. bill palmer15, 2021. Numerous January 6th co-conspirators from the Trump regime now face the no-win decision of going to prison for contempt, or testifying to the committee and incriminating themselves. As a result, some of them may now seek immunity cooperation deals from the DOJ. Often just the specter of a congressional hearing can prompt movement on that front. For that reason, such hearings often end up accomplishing a lot more than just the testimony you see on your television screen.

bill palmer report logo headerMost of the media isn’t talking about the prospect of January 6th witnesses cutting DOJ plea deals in response to being subpoenaed, because it interferes with its current ratings-friendly “Trump and his people are getting away with it all and taking over in 2024” narrative. But back in the real world, in a criminal conspiracy this large, someone always cuts a deal.

There are at least a dozen key Trump people who were criminally involved in 1/6 or related election crimes, any one of whom can provide testimony and evidence to take the others down. You only need one of them to flip. And they’re all afraid someone else will flip on them first.

This is 100% different than the previous four years, where Trump’s people were holding out for pardons, Trump’s DOJ was sabotaging the criminal cases against them, etc. None of that exists now. There are no magic wands, only cooperation deals or prison sentences.

And no, Trump’s people can’t magically get off the hook by stalling. Even if the GOP wins the midterms, the DOJ criminal cases against them won’t go away or be sabotaged. And Trump’s people are not going to be willing to rot in prison until 2024 in the faint hope Trump wins and pardons them.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Journalists also have an obligation to fix democracy, Jennifer Rubin (shown at right, with the cover of her book this fall below left), Nov. 15, 2021.jennifer rubin new headshot Looking back on the first 10 months of Joe Biden’s presidency, we see little evidence the media has examined its own role in Republicans’ assault on democracy.

Indeed, one could argue mainstream media outlets have been complicit in the current crisis of democracy. The trivialization of coverage, default to false equivalency, amplification of GOP spin and habitual treatment of Republicans’ conduct as within the normal boundaries of politics have serious implications for a democracy that relies on an informed citizenry.

jennifer rubin book resistanceJournalism professor and media critic Jay Rosen observes that “the incremental coverage, the focus on the inside game, the notion of tactics and strategy, and the joining up of the political class with the information junkies” does little to inform voters about major pieces of legislation. We get nonstop coverage of the “sausage making” but little about the content of bills that cost trillions. We hear incessant chatter about the filibuster but little examination of Senate Democrats’ compromise voting-rights plan, while Republicans are rarely grilled as to the basis for their objections to common-sense measures (e.g. enhancing penalties for threats to election officials, requiring a paper audit trail, limiting wait times to 30 minutes).

This style of political coverage reduces critical issues of the day to sporting events and celebrity gossip.

Republicans are rarely grilled on their tacit approval of violence — from the former president’s rationalization of the “Hang Mike Pence!” chants on Jan. 6 to warnings of “bloodshed” from Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) to violent imagery posted on social media by Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.). At best, we get easily sidestepped inquiries “What is your response?”); virtually never are Republicans asked “How can you remain in a party that tolerates violence?” or “How can we entrust power to people who follow the MAGA leader and/or stir violence?”

The press treats leaders of the GOP, who fail to condemn such aberrant conduct, continue to deny their nominee lost in 2020 and still pledge fidelity to the former president who instigated a violent insurrection, as ordinary politicians. Hmm, why has the president “failed” to get Republican support for his initiatives?

Nov. 13

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: Fresh reporting on Jan. 6 is a powerful rebuke to those minimizing events of that terrible day, Editorial Board, Nov. 13, 2021 (print ed.). One hundred and eighty-seven minutes. That is the length of time between when President Donald Trump called on his followers to march to the Capitol on Jan. 6, as Congress was convening to certify the results of the presidential election he had lost, and when he belatedly and begrudgingly released a video telling them to go home.

Those harrowing 187 minutes — during which the nation’s commander in chief sat back and watched television coverage of his supporters attacking the Capitol, even as his advisers, allies, elder daughter and besieged lawmakers begged him to intervene — were chronicled with troubling new detail in a Post investigation. The fresh reporting is a powerful rebuke to those who have sought to minimize, distort or forget the events of that terrible day.

Thanks to the work of a team of more than 75 Post journalists who interviewed more than 230 people and examined thousands of pages of court documents and internal law enforcement reports, along with hundred of videos, photographs and audio recordings, we now have the fullest understanding to date of what was going on not just on Jan. 6 but also in the days leading up to the assault and its aftermath.

Among the findings: A cascade of warnings — including explicit threats targeting Congress — was ignored by law enforcement. Some Pentagon leaders feared Mr. Trump might misuse the National Guard to remain in power and placed guardrails on deployment that may have hampered response to the insurrection. Efforts to strong-arm Vice President Mike Pence into using his ceremonial role to reject the results of the presidential election continued even after the assault on the Capitol when the shaken Congress reconvened.

New details about the pressure brought to bear on Mr. Pence make his steadfastness all the more admirable. Unfortunately, the former vice president has tarnished the record of his Jan. 6 courage with subsequent toadying to Mr. Trump, including criticizing the media for what he called overplaying the significance of Jan. 6. Mr. Pence is not alone in bending under Mr. Trump’s tightening grip on the Republican Party; as was reported in the third part of the series, nearly a third of the 390 Republicans around the country who have expressed interest in running for statewide office this cycle have supported a partisan audit of the 2020 vote, played down Jan. 6 or directly questioned the victory of President Biden.

Those continuing efforts to undermine elections and the peaceful transfer of power are why The Post’s investigation, albeit rigorous and thorough, must not be the last word. As the Post team itself noted, a number of critical questions remain. How seriously did Mr. Trump or his allies inside the government consider using emergency powers to remain in office? How did rioters know what unsecured windows would give them entry into the Capitol? Who built those gallows on the West Front of the building? And what else did Mr. Trump say or do during those horrific 187 minutes?

The special House committee investigating Jan. 6 has powers that reporters lack. It can compel testimony and subpoena documents to address the still unanswered questions — and assure that nothing like Jan. 6 will happen again.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Sorry, Mr. Trump: Executive privilege is President Biden’s to assert, Ruth Marcus, Nov. 13, 2021 (print ed.). Whose privilege is it, anyway?

That is, does executive privilege — a president’s ability to shield internal documents and private conversations with top advisers from discovery — belong to the sitting president or the president whose secrets are being sought?

The answer is complicated, but the outcome, in the case of Donald J. Trump v. Bennie G. Thompson (the head of the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection), should be clear: The views of the incumbent president outweigh the position of his predecessor. The legitimate need for information takes precedence over generalized concerns about chilling internal discussions. Executive privilege is not absolute.

As U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan tartly explained in denying former president Donald Trump’s bid to prevent internal White House documents from being turned over to the select committee, “Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President.” This is the judicial equivalent of a mic drop. Case over.

Not actually, of course. Trump has appealed Chutkan’s ruling. A federal appeals court will hear oral arguments on an accelerated timetable later this month. A trip to the Supreme Court is somewhere between likely and inevitable.

Here’s why Trump should lose:

Executive privilege is mentioned nowhere in the Constitution, but it’s an important component of presidential authority and the separation of powers. The Supreme Court first recognized it in 1974 in U.S. v. Nixon, in which Richard M. Nixon resisted the Watergate special prosecutor’s subpoena for his White House tapes.

The court’s unanimous ruling found a “presumptive privilege for Presidential communications,” noting that “a President and those who assist him must be free to explore alternatives in the process of shaping policies and making decisions, and to do so in a way many would be unwilling to express except privately.”

But this privilege is fundamentally for the good of the public — the country benefits from having an effective president — not the personal protection of the chief executive. So, a president’s “generalized interest in confidentiality” has to yield at times to more pressing needs, which in Nixon’s case meant “the demonstrated, specific need for evidence in a pending criminal trial.”

In the years since, the courts have made clear that this countervailing interest extends, although with lesser force, to congressional investigations as well. At the same time, the Supreme Court ruled, in a 1977 case refereeing a battle over control of Nixon’s papers, that a former president still retains executive privilege, again, not quite as strongly.

Nov. 12

 

djt steve bannon

washington post logoWashington Post, Bannon indicted over refusal to comply with subpoena from Jan. 6 committee, Devlin Barrett, Jacqueline Alemany and Spencer S. Hsu, Nov. 12, 2021. The House had voted in October to hold the former White House chief strategist in criminal contempt of Congress for his refusal to comply with a subpoena issued by the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Former White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon (shown above at right in a file photo) was charged Friday with contempt of Congress after refusing to comply with a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on Congress.

He was indicted by a grand jury in Washington. Indictment here and related story below:

ny times logoNew York Times, Bannon Indicted on Contempt Charges Over House’s Capitol Riot Inquiry, Katie Benner and Luke Broadwater, Nov. 12, 2021. Stephen K. Bannon, a former top aide to Donald Trump, had refused to comply with subpoenas from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on Congress.

Stephen K. Bannon, a onetime senior aide to former President Donald J. Trump, was indicted by a federal grand jury on Friday on two counts of contempt of Congress, after his refusal to provide information to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Justice Department log circularMr. Bannon, 67, had declined last month to comply with subpoenas from the committee seeking testimony and documents from him. The House then voted to hold Mr. Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress.

After holding Mr. Bannon in contempt, the House referred the matter to the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington for a decision on whether to prosecute him.

Mr. Trump has directed his former aides and advisers to invoke immunity and refrain from turning over documents that might be protected under executive privilege.

A Justice Department spokesman said Mr. Bannon was expected to turn himself in to authorities on Monday, and make his first appearance in Federal District Court in Washington later that day.

The politically and legally complex case was widely seen as a litmus test for whether the Justice Department would take an aggressive stance against one of Mr. Trump’s top allies as the House seeks to develop a fuller picture of the actions of the former president and his aides and advisers before and during the attack on the Capitol.

At a time of deep political polarization, the Biden Justice Department now finds itself prosecuting a top adviser to the previous president of another party in relation to an extraordinary attack by Mr. Trump’s supporters on a fundamental element of democracy, the peaceful transfer of power.

Mark MeadowsThe grand jury’s decision to indict Mr. Bannon also raises questions about similar potential criminal exposure for Mark Meadows, right, Mr. Trump’s former chief of staff.

Before the Justice Department announced the indictment of Mr. Bannon, Mr. Meadows, a former House member from North Carolina, failed to meet a deadline of Friday morning for complying with the House committee’s request for information.

While Mr. Meadows served in the White House during the period being scrutinized by the committee, Mr. Bannon left the White House in 2017 and was a private citizen while backing Mr. Trump’s efforts to hold onto power after Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the 2020 election. The length of time since Mr. Bannon served in the White House has complicated the question of whether he can claim to be covered by executive privilege.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said the charges reflect the Justice Department’s commitment to “show the American people by word and deed that the department adheres to the rule of law, follows the facts and the law and pursues equal justice under the law.”

Bannon, 67, was subpoenaed on Sept. 23, one of a number of former advisers to President Donald Trump who have balked at answering the select committee’s questions about the events before and during the riot that sought to prevent Congress from formally certifying the election of President Biden.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Steve Bannon’s life is about to get destroyed on two fronts, Bill Palmer, Nov. 12, 2021. Given prior reporting earlier this year that the bill palmerManhattan DA is pursuing him on various criminal charges, Steve Bannon now faces the nearly impossible situation that no criminal ever wants to face: being prosecuted on both the federal and state level.

bill palmer report logo headerIt doesn’t just double the odds of convictions. It also puts you in an almost impossible situation. Imagine the chaos of trying to fend off criminal prosecution. Now imagine trying to fend off two different prosecutions at once. Which one do you prioritize? What if your best defense strategy in one case just ends up incriminating you in the other case? It’s like trying to thread two needles, on opposite sides of the room, at the same time.

Bannon is no pushover. But he tends to be massively overconfident, to the extent of being self sabotaging. His arrogance has already cost him his website, his wealthiest benefactor, his Trump White House job, and gotten him arrested once before. This time he can’t rely on a Trump pardon.

Steve Bannon’s life is already in tatters. Now he’s going to be criminally prosecuted in multiple jurisdictions, and he’s unlikely to find a way to slither out of both of them. Bannon, a career criminal, white supremacist, and domestic terrorist, had it coming. Now it’s about to get a whole lot worse for him.

washington post logoWashington Post, Messonnier, Birx detail political interference in last year’s pandemic response, Dan Diamond, Nov. 12, 2021. The Trump administration hampered efforts to issue warnings, six current and former officials recently told congressional investigators.

The Trump administration repeatedly interfered with efforts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last year to issue warnings and guidance about the evolving coronavirus pandemic, six current and former health officials told congressional investigators in recent interviews.

One of those officials, former CDC senior health expert Nancy Messonnier, warned in a Feb. 25, 2020, news briefing that the virus’s spread in the United States was inevitable — a statement that prompted anger from President Donald Trump and led to the agency’s media appearances being curtailed, according to interview excerpts and other documents released Friday by the House select subcommittee on the pandemic.

deborah birx palmerThe new information, including statements from former White House coronavirus coordinator Deborah Birx, left, confirms prior reporting and offers additional detail on how the pandemic response unfolded at the highest levels of government.

“Our intention was certainly to get the public’s attention about the likelihood … that it was going to spread and that we thought that there was a high risk that it would be disruptive,” Messonnier told the panel in an Oct. 8 interview. But her public warning led to private reprimands, including from then-Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Messonnier said.

“I specifically remember being upset after the call” with Azar, Messonnier told congressional investigators. In an event hosted by the conservative Heritage Foundation in January, Azar said Messonnier had been “right” to issue her warning.

cdc logo CustomOther officials detailed why the CDC held no news briefings between March 9 and May 29, 2020, in the earliest days of the pandemic, effectively muzzling the scientific agency as the coronavirus rapidly spread across the United States.

Kate Galatas, a senior CDC communications official, told the panel that the White House repeatedly blocked the agency’s media requests, including a planned April 2020 briefing that she said would have addressed the importance of wearing face coverings to contain the virus’s spread.

“I think it would have been important for timely information to be kept coming from CDC,” Galatas said, adding that White House officials like communications official Devin O’Malley told her that the agency’s briefings were redundant to White House press briefings led by Trump.

In a statement, O’Malley defended the decision to block the CDC from holding its own briefings.

“During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the White House Coronavirus Task Force held daily press briefings that routinely included senior CDC officials,” O’Malley said. “It’s imperative during a crisis that organizations communicate with a singular, clear, and consistent message, which is why the many communications errors on behalf of the CDC during the last year and a half have lead to a lack of trust for that organization among the American people.”

The officials also corroborated that Trump appointees pressured the agency to change its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports to better align with the White House’s more optimistic messaging about the state of the virus.

Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), the panel’s chairman, called on former CDC director Robert Redfield to sit for an interview with investigators, citing the ongoing probes. For instance, Clyburn said two officials have now told the panel that Redfield had called for staff to delete an email from a Trump appointee seeking control over the agency’s scientific reports.

“As CDC Director, you appear to have been unwilling or unable to prevent this unprecedented pattern of political interference,” Clyburn wrote in a letter to Redfield that the panel publicly released.

Clyburn’s panel also is requesting interviews with three longtime CDC officials — Martin Cetron, Daniel Jernigan and Henry Walke — saying that they “possess relevant information regarding key events under investigation.” The Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately respond to a question about whether the officials would be made available for interviews.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says it was ‘common sense’ for Jan. 6 rioters to chant ‘Hang Mike Pence!’ John Wagner, Nov. 12, 2021 (print ed.). In an interview for a forthcoming book, the former president also said he never feared for his vice president’s safety the day of the insurrection at the Capitol. Former president Donald Trump said he considered it “common sense” for his supporters to chant “Hang Mike Pence!” during the Jan. 6 insurrection but that he never feared for his vice president’s safety.

jonathan karl betrayalAudio of Trump’s comments to ABC News’s Jonathan Karl were published Friday by Axios in advance of a forthcoming book by Karl.

In the exchange, Trump again took issue with Pence for not intervening to change the results as he presided over the count of electoral college votes by Congress. The count was ultimately interrupted after rioters breached the Capitol and Pence was whisked out of the House chamber amid threats on his life.

Jan. 6 committee subpoenas more Trump aides, including Miller, McEnany and McEntee

Asked by Karl if he was worried about Pence’s safety, Trump said: “No, I thought he was well-protected.”

washington post logoWashington Post, The Washington Post corrects, removes parts of two stories regarding the Steele dossier, Paul Farhi, Nov. 12, 2021. The Washington Post on Friday took the unusual step of correcting and removing large portions of two articles, published in March 2017 and February 2019, that had identified a Belarusian American businessman as a key source of the “Steele dossier,” a collection of largely unverified reports that claimed the Russian government had compromising information about then-candidate Donald Trump.

The newspaper’s executive editor, Sally Buzbee, said The Post could no longer stand by the accuracy of those elements of the story. It had identified businessman Sergei Millian as “Source D,” the unnamed figure who passed on the most salacious allegation in the dossier to its principal author, former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele.

The story’s headline was amended, sections identifying Millian as the source were removed, and an accompanying video summarizing the article was eliminated. An editor’s note explaining the changes was added. Other stories that made the same assertion were corrected as well.

Source D, according to the dossier, alleged that Russian intelligence had learned that Trump had hired Russian prostitutes to defile a Moscow hotel room once occupied by President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama and possessed a video recording of the incident.

The allegation, which the dossier said was confirmed by a second person described only as “Source E,” has never been substantiated.

Steele’s dossier consisted of raw information and unconfirmed tips from unidentified sources, which he compiled as part of a political opposition-research project for an investigative firm working on behalf of the Hillary Clinton 2016 presidential campaign. Though Steele shared it with the FBI, its contents remained largely unknown and unpublicized until two months after the 2016 election, when a leaked copy was published by BuzzFeed News.

Trump has repeatedly denounced the dossier as false, framing it as the centerpiece of a malicious effort financed by his political opponents to damage him.

The Post’s reassessment follows the indictment on Nov. 4 of Igor Danchenko, a Russian American analyst and researcher who helped Steele compile the dossier. Danchenko was arrested as part of an investigation conducted by attorney John Durham, the special counsel appointed by Trump’s attorney general William P. Barr to probe the origins and handling of the FBI’s inquiry into Trump’s alleged Russian connections.

Danchenko was indicted on charges that he repeatedly lied to the FBI about where and how he got information that he allegedly gave to Steele for the dossier. He pleaded not guilty in federal court this week. His attorney, Mark Schamel, said in a statement: “For the past five years, those with an agenda have sought to expose Mr. Danchenko’s identity and tarnish his reputation while undermining U.S. National Security. This latest injustice will not stand.”

Buzbee said the indictment and new reporting by the newspaper has “created doubts” about Millian’s alleged involvement. The new reporting included an interview with one of the original sources in its 2017 article, who now is uncertain that Millian was Source D, she said. “We feel we are taking the most transparent approach possible” to set the record straight, she said.

The March 2017 Post story carried the headline, “Who is ‘Source D’? The man said to be behind the Trump-Russia dossier’s most salacious claim.” It said Millian had been identified in different portions of the dossier as Source D and Source E. The article included Millian’s repeated denials that he had helped Steele.

The newspaper removed references to Millian as Steele’s source in online and archived versions of the original articles. The stories themselves won’t be retracted. A dozen other Post stories that made the same assertion were also corrected and amended.

The Post’s decision to edit and repost the Millian stories is highly unusual in the news industry.

Mainstream publications often add corrections to published stories when credible new information emerges. Some publishers also enable readers to petition them to remove unflattering stories from their websites, a once-controversial practice that has gained more acceptance in the digital era, when articles can remain accessible online for years.

But it’s rare for a publication to make wholesale changes after publication and to republish the edited story, especially more than four years afterward.

“No such case comes immediately or specifically to mind, at least no historical case that stirred lasting controversy,” said W. Joseph Campbell, a professor and journalism historian at American University.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Does CNN still stand by its reporting on the Steele dossier? Erik Wemple,Nov. 12, 2021. A week ago, CNN covered the indictment of Igor Danchenko, the primary source for the discredited Trump-Russia dossier compiled in 2016 by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. The document, which stems from special counsel John Durham’s probe into the Russia investigation, alleged that Danchenko lied to the FBI about interactions with sources as he gathered material for Steele.
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Host Victor Blackwell noted that Durham’s work, including three indictments, wasn’t landing with the impact anticipated by former president Donald Trump. “Yes, I mean, look, this is the third person that has been charged,” responded senior justice correspondent Evan Perez. “And all of them have been charged with these types of crimes, lying in some fashion during the investigation. And it is not the type of thing that is necessarily rocking, as you said, the claim that the former president made.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Republican Party’s violence problem, Paul Waldman, right, Nov. 12, 2021. In new audio released by Jonathan Karl of ABC paul waldmanNews, Donald Trump is asked about his supporters chanting “Hang Mike Pence!” on Jan. 6 as they rampaged through the Capitol in search of the vice president. Trump was unconcerned, both because he thought Pence was “well-protected” and because the protesters were justified in their rage: “It’s common sense” that Pence should have attempted to overturn the results of the election so Trump could remain president, he said, so the rioters’ pursuit of Pence was understandable.

And of course, they were looking for Pence because Trump himself told them that the vice president should be the focus of their anger: As he watched rioters break into the Capitol on television, Trump tweeted that “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.” Ever since, Trump has tried to recast that assault not as an attack on American democracy but as a legitimate response to him losing the election.

In other news, members of the House are debating what to do about Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.), who recently tweeted an animated video in which he is depicted killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Gosar’s defense is that the video was merely a symbolic representation “of a battle between lawful and unlawful policies.”

Meanwhile, in Kenosha, Wis., the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, who became a hero of the right after he went to a protest with an AR-15-style rifle and killed two people, is nearing its end.

And if you’re a Republican who does so much as vote for a bipartisan bill to bring infrastructure spending to your district, you can expect death threats. The quickest way for Republican candidates to demonstrate their bona fides is by shooting guns in an ad.

The thread running through all these events and controversies is the belief that liberals are so wicked that violence and the threat of violence are reasonable responses to the possibility of them getting their way. Right along with that belief is a fantasy, that of a man (almost always a man) who rather than being an ordinary schlub at the mercy of a world in which he has no power is actually bursting with testosterone and potency, someone who can and perhaps should become a killing machine.

That’s the story of the Jan. 6 rioters, who believed they could break down doors and smash windows and the American system of government would bend to their will.

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, House Democrats introduce resolution to censure Rep. Gosar, Felicia Sonmez, Nov. 12, 2021 (print ed.). A group of House Democrats is introducing a resolution to censure Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.), above, for posting an altered, animated video that depicts him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and swinging two swords at President Biden.

“For a Member of Congress to post a manipulated video on his social media accounts depicting himself killing Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Biden is a clear cut case for censure,” the Democrats said in a statement. “For that Member to post such a video on his official Instagram account and use his official congressional resources in the House of Representatives to further violence against elected officials goes beyond the pale.”

The resolution will be introduced Friday by Democratic Reps. Jackie Speier (Calif.), Jim Cooper (Tenn.), Brenda Lawrence (Mich.), Sylvia Garcia (Tex.), Veronica Escobar (Tex.), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Eric Swalwell (Calif.), Nikema Williams (Ga.), and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.). Speier and Lawrence are co-chairs of the Democratic Women’s Caucus.

Nov. 11brad parscale walmart hiring

Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale surveys many empty seats at Donald Trump's first major 2020 campaign rally during the pandemic, held in Tulsa against advice of many public health experts. A meme on the web inserts a mocking question on the photo.

Vanity Fair, Lawsuit Threats, Empty Seats, and a “COVID Mobile”: Trump’s Disastrous Tulsa Rally Was Even More of a Train Wreck Than Originally Thought, jonathan karl headshotJonathan Karl, right, Nov. 11, 2021. The rally made headlines for its empty seats, but things were even worse behind the scenes, writes Jonathan Karl. The president feuded with advisers, shouted down objections, and ended up with a car full of sick staffers—and one who was “worried he was going to die.”

On April 24, 2020, Donald Trump received a grim message on a conference call with his campaign advisers. Campaign manager Brad Parscale walked the president through polls conducted by his pollster. The results were dreadful.

“In February, you were on track to win more than four hundred electoral votes,” Parscale told him, saying he had been poised to win even bigger than he won in 2016. “But now you are losing ground everywhere.”

Parscale later told me he didn’t sugarcoat the bad news, telling the president that the pandemic, and public disapproval of his response, had been devastating to his standing and that if he didn’t turn things around, he would lose.

jonathan karl betrayal“If I lose, I’m going to sue you,” Trump said.

“I love you, too,” Parscale answered. He insists the president was joking about the lawsuit, but he was obviously angry about his tanking poll numbers.

The next week, Trump did in fact take a break from his daily press conferences. They would come back, but only sporadically. The daily Trump Show in the White House briefing room was over. Trump needed another outlet. The key to turning around his polls, he told his advisors, was to get out on the road again. He had not held a campaign rally since March 2, and he was convinced that was his real problem. He was desperate to get out of the White House and in front of his adoring supporters.

“He was just beside himself,” former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a close advisor to Trump whom he called frequently throughout the campaign for advice, told me. “All he could think about was the campaign. He didn’t talk much about anything else. COVID would come into it, but really his focus was on the campaign.”

During another contentious campaign conference call in May, Trump demanded that Parscale put together a plan to get him back on the road as soon as possible. He made this demand as coronavirus infections and deaths continued to skyrocket and all large events—from concerts and baseball games to weddings and funerals—were on hold due to a nationwide shutdown.

Back at the White House and the Trump campaign headquarters, there was less concern about the health of the campaign staffers who had been infected than about the political fallout of the campaign rally turning into a pandemic super-spreader event.

From BETRAYAL: The Final Act of the Trump Show by Jonathan Karl, to be published by Dutton, an imprint of the Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House.

Nov. 9

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 panel can gain access to Trump records, judge rules, Spencer S. Hsu, Nov. 9, 2021. Attorneys for the former president vowed to appeal the decision.

tanya chutkanA federal judge in Washington ruled late Tuesday that hundreds of pages of Trump White House records can be turned over to a congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol despite the former president’s objections.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, right, clears the way for the release of government records requested by Congress, with a deadline of Nov. 12. Attorneys for Trump vowed to immediately appeal to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

U.S. House logo“The court holds that the public interest lies in permitting—not enjoining—the combined will of the legislative and executive branches to study the events that led to and occurred on January 6, and to consider legislation to prevent such events from ever occurring again,” Chutkan wrote in a 39-page opinion.

House Democrats are probing Trump’s communications and activities leading up to and during the mob riot by his supporters that contributed to at least five deaths and forced the evacuation of Congress as it met to confirm the 2020 presidential election results.

In court filings, the House has argued it needs the communications records “of the then-President who helped foment the breakdown in the rule of law” by assembling thousands of supporters in Washington after a months-long effort to falsely brand the 2020 election as stolen.

 kayleigh mcenany djt

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 committee subpoenas more Trump aides, including Miller, McEnany and McEntee, Jacqueline Alemany and Josh Dawsey, Nov. 9, 2021. The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol issued subpoenas Tuesday to 10 Trump administration officials, including some of former president Donald Trump’s closest advisers who were in the White House that day.

john mcentee CustomThose subpoenaed to provide testimony and documents include John McEntee, right, the former White House personnel director; Ben Williamson, a former deputy assistant to the president and senior adviser to Chief of Staff Mark Meadows; and Nicholas Luna, the former president’s personal assistant.

Also on the list of subpoenas that went out Tuesday was Kenneth Klukowski, senior counsel to former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, who is also on the list because of his involvement “in drafting a letter that urged legislatures in certain states to delay certification of the election, according to the report recently released by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary,” the committee said.

Trump loyalists and top advisers including Kayleigh McEnany, above right, the White House press secretary, and Stephen Miller, the senior adviser to the former president, and Cassidy Hutchinson, a special assistant to Trump for legislative affairs, have also been asked to provide depositions and documents.

Others close to the president who were subpoenaed include Molly Michael, the Oval Office operations coordinator to Trump. Michael still works for Trump and was in the White House for much of Jan. 6. McEntee, according to the committee’s statement, was “in the White House on January 6th and was with former President Trump when he traveled to the Ellipse and spoke at the ‘Stop the Steal’ rally.”

McEntee was a key figure in hiring of Trump loyalists across the government during the final stretch of Trump’s presidency.

Luna was “reportedly in the Oval Office the morning of January 6, 2021, when former President Trump was on a phone call to Vice President Pence pressuring him not to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election,” according to the committee.

The committee has sent out subpoenas in recent weeks to aides and allies of the former president as it tries to crack his inner circle as part of its investigation into the attack as well as the former president’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election results.

It remains unclear how many people are cooperating with the probe and, if so, how much information they are providing. Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) has said the panel will aggressively go after anyone who tries to stonewall the investigation.

The House recently voted to hold former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress. But Attorney General Merrick Garland has yet to announce whether his department will prosecute Bannon for failing to cooperate. Members of the select committee have said they view the Justice Department pursuing these charges as key to getting needed information and the department’s decision could impact whether other witnesses will cooperate with the congressional probe.

Nov. 8

 

michael flynn djt

ny times logoNew York Times, Jan. 6 Inquiry Subpoenas Close Trump Allies, Luke Broadwater, Nov. 8, 2021. The latest batch of subpoenas from the House panel investigating the Capitol riot includes officials from former President Trump’s re-election campaign. Michael Flynn, above left, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, is included among those called to turn over documents and sit for depositions.

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol issued subpoenas on Monday for six close allies of former President Donald J. Trump who promoted false claims of election fraud or worked to overturn the results of the 2020 election, including his former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn.

The subpoenas demand records and testimony from Mr. Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien and a senior adviser, Jason Miller, as well as others associated with a so-called “war room” of planners who sought to halt Congress’s counting of electoral votes before a violent mob overtook the Capitol. They include John Eastman, a lawyer who drafted a memo laying out how Mr. Trump could use Congress to try to overturn the election and Mr. Flynn, who discussed seizing voting machines and invoking certain national security emergency powers.

The subpoenas demand that the witnesses turn over documents this month and sit for depositions in early December.

 

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). 

“In the days before the Jan. 6 attack, the former president’s closest allies and advisers drove a campaign of misinformation about the election and planned ways to stop the count of Electoral College votes,” Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the committee chairman, said in a statement. “The select committee needs to know every detail about their efforts to overturn the election, including who they were talking to in the White House and in Congress, what connections they had with rallies that escalated into a riot, and who paid for it all.”

The six subpoenas bring to 25 the number issued so far by the committee. More than 150 witnesses have testified in closed-door sessions with the committee’s investigators.

Mr. Stepien was the manager of Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign, which urged state and party officials to affect the outcome of the 2020 election by asking states to delay or deny certification of electoral votes and by sending multiple slates of the votes to Congress to allow a challenge to the results, the committee said.

Mr. Miller, a senior adviser to Mr. Trump, spread the false claim of widespread fraud and coordinated with the former president and his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani in attempts to overturn the election, the committee said. It cited the fact Mr. Miller participated in a meeting on Jan. 5 at the Willard Hotel in Washington in which Mr. Giuliani, Stephen K. Bannon, and others discussed pressuring former Vice President Mike Pence to not certify the Electoral College results.

The panel also subpoenaed the Trump campaign’s national executive assistant Angela McCallum, who reportedly left voice mail for an unknown Michigan state representative in which she said that she wanted to know whether the Trump campaign could “count on” the representative. She is also believed to have told the representative that they had the authority to appoint an alternate slate of electors based on purported evidence of widespread election fraud, the committee said.

Mr. Eastman has been the subject of intense scrutiny in recent weeks after it was revealed that he wrote a memo to Mr. Trump suggesting that Mr. Pence could reject electors from certain states in order to deny Joseph R. Biden Jr. a majority of the Electoral College vote.

Mr. Eastman is reported to have participated in a briefing for nearly 300 state legislators, during which he told the group that it was their duty to “fix this, this egregious conduct, and make sure that we’re not putting in the White House some guy that didn’t get elected,” the committee said. He participated in the Jan. 5 meeting at the Willard Hotel and spoke at the rally on the Ellipse on Jan. 6 before the Capitol assault.

Mr. Flynn attended a meeting in the Oval Office on Dec. 18 during which participants discussed seizing voting machines, declaring a national emergency, invoking certain national security emergency powers and continuing to spread the false message that the 2020 election had been tainted by widespread fraud, the committee said.

It has also issued a subpoena for Bernard Kerik, the former New York police commissioner who reportedly participated in the Willard Hotel meeting and paid for rooms and suites in Washington hotels as he worked with Mr. Giuliani to promote baseless litigation and “Stop the Steal” efforts, the committee said.

 

igor danchenko john durham

Proof, Investigative Commentary: The Durham Indictment of Igor Danchenko (above at left) Is An Embarrassment to the Department of Justice, Seth Abramson, left, Nov. 7-8, seth abramson graphic2021. A longtime criminal defense attorney, Trump biographer, and chronicler of the Trump-Russia scandal unpacks an irresponsible criminal indictment by Trump-appointed special prosecutor John Durham, above right,that has fooled reporters into thinking it significant.

On the tenth page of the first volume of the major Trump-Russia report coordinated by former FBI director Robert Mueller, the venerated lawman seth abramson proof logoopines that he hasn’t been able to access a significant percentage of the stock of evidence he’s been aiming to accrue.

The reason? Not dumb luck or any particular investigative failure at the FBI, but systematic hindrance of his efforts by people FBI logoassociated with Donald Trump.

Mueller would later on in his report disclose that much of that hindrance had been coordinated by Trump himself, aided and abetted by Trump’s personal attorneys. If this tune sounds familiar, it should—as it’s exactly what would lead, 21 months after the Mueller Report was released, to an attack on the U.S. Capitol that left five dead.

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).

The Bulwark, Investigation: Notes on an Authoritarian Conspiracy: Inside the Claremont Institute’s “79 Days to Inauguration” Report, Christian Vanderbrouk, christian vanderbroukNov. 8, 2021. Claremont’s post-election war game provides a window into the group’s ambitions.

  • The sun rises on January 6, 2021 while a nation is in crisis. Michigan’s presidential electors are in dispute after a mysterious fire in Detroit destroyed thousands of mail-in ballots, ultimately throwing the election to Congress.
  • The nation’s capital is overwhelmed by riots organized by left-wing radicals.
  • A Republican member of Congress is attacked and critically injured in the violence, potentially depriving Donald Trump of the decisive vote.
  • However, the representative heroically insists on being taken to the House floor. “With IVs and blood transfusions being administered, the member casts the deciding vote, giving Trump 26 state delegations and the needed majority.”

This is the grisly climax of a report published in mid-October 2020 by the Claremont Institute and Texas Public Policy Foundation’s (TPPF) called “79 Days to Inauguration,” prepared by “Constitutional scholars, along with experts in election law, foreign affairs, law enforcement, and media . . . bulwark logo big shipcoordinated by a retired military officer experienced in running hundreds of wargames.”

Among these luminaries were figures such as John Eastman—lawyer for Donald Trump and author of a memo advising Vice President Mike Pence to unilaterally block certification of Joe Biden’s win in order to buy time for GOP-controlled state legislatures to send competing slates of electors—and K.T. McFarland, who served as deputy national security advisor under Michael Flynn in the Trump White House.

republican elephant logoOther participants include Kevin Roberts, then-executive director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation (soon to be head of the Heritage Foundation), Jeff Giesea, “a [Peter] Thiel protégé and secret funder of alt-right causes,” and Charles Haywood, a fringe blogger who anxiously awaits an American “Caesar, authoritarian reconstructor of our institutions.”

Yet despite the authors’ pretensions to scholarship and rigor — “for a simulation to be valuable, the other side gets a vote and actions must be based in realism” —  the final document is a frenzied and paranoid piece of work, revealing of the anxieties and aspirations of the authoritarian right.

Practically, the report is an instruction manual for how Trump partisans at all levels of government — aided by citizen “posses” of Proud Boys and Oath Keepers — could, quite literally, round up opposition activists, kill their leaders, and install Donald Trump for a second term in office.

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abc news logo colorABC News, Trump told RNC chair he was leaving GOP to create new party, says new book, Will Steakin, Nov. 8, 2021. In his new book, Jonathan Karl shares what Trump said before backing down.

In an angry conversation on his final day as president, Donald Trump told the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee he was leaving the GOP and creating his own political party -- and that he didn't care if the move would destroy the Republican Party, according to a new book by ABC News Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl.

Trump only backed down when Republican leaders threatened to take actions that would have cost Trump millions of dollars, Karl writes his upcoming book, Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show.

rnc logoThe book gives a detailed account of Trump's stated intention to reject the party that elected him president and the aggressive actions taken by party leaders to force him to back down.

The standoff started on Jan. 20, just after Trump boarded Air Force One for his last flight as president.

"[RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel] called to wish him farewell. It was a very un-pleasant conversation," Karl writes in Betrayal, set to be released on Nov. 16.

"Donald Trump was in no mood for small talk or nostalgic goodbyes," Karl writes. "He got right to the point. He told her he was leaving the Republican Party and would be creating his own political party. The president's son, Donald Trump Jr., was also on the phone. The younger Trump had been jonathan karl betrayalrelentlessly denigrating the RNC for being insufficiently loyal to Trump. In fact, at the January 6 rally before the Capitol Riot, the younger Trump all but declared that the old Republican Party didn't exist anymore."

With just hours left in his presidency, Trump was telling the Republican Party chairwoman that he was leaving the party entirely. The description of this conversation and the discussions that followed come from two sources with direct knowledge of these events.

"I'm done," Trump told McDaniel. "I'm starting my own party."

"You cannot do that," McDaniel told Trump. "If you do, we will lose forever."

"Exactly. You lose forever without me," Trump responded. "I don't care."

republican elephant logoTrump's attitude was that if he had lost, he wanted everybody around him to lose as well, Karl writes. According to a source who witnessed the conversation, Trump was talking as if he viewed the destruction of the Republican Party as a punishment to those party leaders who had betrayed him -- including those few who voted to impeach him and the much larger group he believed didn't fight hard enough to overturn the election in his favor.

"This is what Republicans deserve for not sticking up for me," Trump told McDaniel, according to the book.

In response, McDaniel tried to convince Trump that creating his own party wouldn't just destroy the Republican Party, it would also destroy him.

"This isn't what the people who depended on you deserve, the people who believed in you," McDaniel said. "You'll ruin your legacy. You'll be done."

But Trump said he didn't care, Karl writes.

jonathan karl headshot"[Trump] wasn't simply floating an idea," Karl, right, writes in the book. "He was putting the party chairwoman on notice that he had decided to start his own party. It was a done deal. He had made up his mind. 'He was very adamant that he was going to do it,' a source who heard the president's comments later told me."

Following the tense conversion, McDaniel informed RNC leadership about Trump's plans, spurring a tense standoff between Trump and his own party over the course of the next four days.

While Trump, "morose in defeat and eager for revenge, plotted the destruction of the Republican Party ... the RNC played hardball," according to the book.

Daily Beast, Berserk Trump Told Top Official He Was ‘Done’ With the Republican Party, Book Says, Jamie Ross, Nov. 8, 2021. It was clear to everyone that daily beast logoDonald Trump became increasingly angry as it became obvious we wouldn’t be able to overturn the 2020 election—but, according to a new book, his fury reached its peak on the final day of his presidency during a chat with Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.

ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl reports in his upcoming book Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show, that Trump, in a fit of rage, told McDaniel he was quitting the Republican Party.

evan newmann riot dojevan neumannMoscow Times, U.S. Capitol Rioter Seeks Asylum in Belarus – State TV, Staff Report, Updated Nov. 8, 2021. A man on the FBI’s Most Wanted List for allegedly attacking police during the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot is now seeking asylum in Belarus, the ex-Soviet country’s state-run television reported Sunday.

Evan Neumann, 48 (shown above in an FBI photo at the Jan. 6 insurrection and below on state television expressing gratitude for his protectors), is wanted in the United States on charges of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, as well as for assaulting, resisting and obstructing law enforcement during civil disorder. Neumann denies the charges as “unfounded.”

FBI logoNeumann sold his California home in spring and was thought to have moved to Ukraine to evade arrest, ABC News reported this summer.

“Judging by his story, [Neumann] is the same type of simple American whose shops were burned by Black Lives Matter activists,” a Belarus 1 TV channel presenter said, echoing a common talking point on Russian state television.

Neumann “sought justice and asked uncomfortable questions” following the 2020 U.S. elections disputed by ex-President Donald Trump, the presenter added, “but lost almost everything and is being persecuted by the U.S. government.”

In a sit-down interview, Neumann recalled crossing swampy forests and meeting wild hogs and snakes in his journey from Ukraine to Belarus. Belarus 1 reported that Neumann traveled from the U.S. to Italy in March, then took a train to Switzerland and drove to Germany and Poland before settling in western Ukraine, where he had rented an apartment for four months.

Neumann said he noticed Ukrainian security services “following” him two weeks into his stay, which prompted him to cross into neighboring Belarus and seek asylum. Belarusian migration authorities declined to comment, citing confidentiality of personal data, the Russian state-run RIA Novosti belarus flagreported Monday. At least three U.S. citizens have applied for asylum in Belarus so far in 2021, the outlet added.

Belarus meanwhile has been accused of orchestrating a wave of migrants and refugees, mainly from the Middle East, toward European Union members' borders in retaliation to EU sanctions. Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko has denied the charges.

Daily Beast, Capitol Riot Suspect Evan Neumann Claims Asylum in Belarus After Fleeing FBI, Philippe Naughton, Nov. 8, 2021. A California man who is on the FBI’s Most Wanted List for allegedly attacking police during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot has claimed asylum in the former Soviet republic of Belarus.

daily beast logoEvan Neumann, 48, was charged in July on six separate counts, including assaulting officers and violent entry, after being identified from footage of the storming of Congress. But by then he had already sold his house in the Bay Area and fled to Europe, initially hiding out in Ukraine before deciding to cross over into Belarus—often described as “Europe’s last dictatorship.”

His hosts appear delighted to have him. Belarus state TV portrayed him as a victim of government persecution and described him as “the same type of simple American whose shops were burned by Black Lives Matter activists.”

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 washington post logoWashington Post, McConnell spent decades chasing power. Now he heeds Trump, who mocks him and wants him gone, Michael Kranish, Nov. 8, 2021. In his 16th year as the Senate’s top Republican, McConnell is increasingly playing the role of a conflicted and compromised booster of Trump’s interests — not a leader with his own vision.

As President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell was whisked to a secret location and cloistered with a handful of other top lawmakers.

mitch mcconnell elevator getty croppedThe senator from Kentucky had spent the past four years as one of Trump’s chief enablers, boosting his election by keeping a Supreme Court seat open, pushing through his agenda with party-line votes and standing by for weeks as Trump falsely claimed the 2020 election was stolen. But their marriage of political convenience had abruptly shattered three weeks earlier, when Trump exploded at McConnell for acknowledging Joe Biden’s victory.

Safely huddled with Democratic leaders as they watched video of police battling Trump supporters in the Capitol, McConnell reacted with anger and revulsion, according to Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), who was also in the secure location.

djt maga hat“I thought to myself, 'This could be a transformative moment. He appears to have taken this very seriously,’ ” recalled Durbin, who spent hours that day holed up with the Republican leader.

But when it came time to hold Trump to account, McConnell backed off. While seven GOP senators voted to convict Trump following his impeachment by the House for inciting an insurrection, McConnell supported acquittal, ensuring Trump would face no formal penalty for inciting an insurrection.

 

Nov. 4

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 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). 

The Guardian, Investigation: Giuliani investigators home in on 2019 plan to advance Ukraine interests in US, Murray Waas, Nov. 4 2021. The high-profile federal criminal investigation of Rudy Giuliani in recent days has zeroed in on evidence that in the spring of 2019 three Ukrainian ukraine flaggovernment prosecutors agreed to award contracts, valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, to Giuliani and two other American attorneys as a way to gain political and personal influence with the Trump administration.

Justice Department log circularFederal investigators believe Giuliani and two attorneys who worked closely with him, Victoria Toensing and Joe DiGenova, probably violated federal transparency laws that require Americans working for foreign governments or interests to register as foreign agents with the US justice department and fully disclose details of each such action they undertook on behalf of the foreign interests.

Federal prosecutors in the southern district in New York have compiled a list of more than two dozen specific acts by Giuliani, Toesning and DiGenova as to how to advance the personal and political interests of a group of Ukrainian prosecutors and political factions in Ukraine with which they were aligned, the Guardian has learned.

Prosecutors consider each one of those acts to be crucial evidence of a potential violation of law, according to sources close to the investigation.

In a previously undisclosed episode, the Guardian has learned that federal investigators have uncovered extensive, detailed plans devised by one yuriy lutsenkoUkrainian prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, right, and approved by Giuliani, by which they would announce and promote an investigation of Joe Biden and his son Hunter, in Ukraine, to help boost Trump’s chances of re-election.

Investigators as early as last year obtained emails received and sent by Lutsenko describing various elements of the scheme, according to sources close to the investigation.

Trump and conservative news outlets from 2019 until the present day have made baseless allegations, since thoroughly debunked, that Joe Biden as vice-president pressured Ukraine to fire its prosecutor general for investigating a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, upon whose board hunter bidenHunter Biden sat.

Trump claimed, without evidence, that Biden sought the firing of the prosecutor so his son, left, would escape scrutiny. Trump hoped to make the allegations a centerpiece of his 2020 re-election campaign.

As part of that effort, Lutsenko, the then prosecutor general of Ukraine, analogous to the attorney general in the US, agreed to publicly announce a criminal investigation in Ukraine of Joe Biden and Hunter. Lutsenko simultaneously had been a driving force to award Giuliani, Toensing and DiGenova the hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal retainers and contracts, according to the same sources described above.

volodymyr zelenskii cropped headshotOnly the unexpected election of a new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, right, with whom the plotting Ukrainian prosecutors had little or no influence, led them to abandon their plan – although only briefly. That’s because Trump was obsessed with getting it back on track as soon as possible.

To that end, in July 2019, Trump made his now infamous “perfect” phone call to Zelensky – at the time he was withholding almost $400m in military aid to Ukraine – to pressure the new Ukrainian president to announce he was investigating the Bidens. The disclosure of Giuliani’s shadow diplomacy and Trump’s phone call with Zelensky led directly to Trump becoming only the third US president to face impeachment.

Federal investigators have obtained documents and witness statements detailing how the three Ukrainian prosecutors would, at Giuliani’s behest, help Trump and Giuliani promote the Biden-Ukraine allegations, even if they had had no truth, according to people close to the investigation.

First, Lutsenko would publicly declare that he was reopening a long dormant investigation of Burisma (whose logo is shown at left), and that the Bidens were under investigation as burisma logopart of the broader inquiry. A deputy of Lutsenko, Konstantin Kulyk, would take charge of the portion of the investigation that focused on the Bidens, and publicly verify any allegations of wrongdoing on their part.

viktor shokinFinally, Viktor Shokin, right, a former prosecutor general of Ukraine, who had previously investigated Burisma, agreed to allege publicly that Biden had fired him to quash an investigation of Burisma he had conducted years earlier.

Lutsenko and the others were so eager to gain influence in the Trump White House, through Giuliani, that they decided they could garner even greater access if they arranged for Giuliani’s personal enrichment. Even though Giuliani was engaged by then president Trump as his personal attorney, Trump did not pay him, a frustration that Giuliani expressed to the Ukrainians.

Giuliani and Lutsenko reached a preliminary agreement in March 2019 between Giuliani and the Ukrainian ministry of justice and the Republic of Ukraine to assist Ukraine in recovering money in overseas bank accounts Lutsenko said was owed to his government. Various drafts of the contract called for rudy giulianiGiuliani, left, to receive either $300,000 or $500,000 for his work.

Then, acting on Giuliani’s strong recommendation, Lutsenko, Kulyk and Shokin agreed to pay two lawyers close to Giuliani, Toensing and DiGenova, at least $250,000 to represent them as a means to publicize their various allegations about Hunter Biden and Burisma.

The husband-wife legal team of Toensing and DiGenova (shown below) are decades-long friends of Giuliani and ardent supporters of Donald Trump. Like Giuliani and Trump, they have espoused various conspiracy theories that an amorphous and malign “deep state” had plotted against Trump to destroy him and his presidency.

Along with Giuliani, Toensing and DiGenova are under federal criminal investigation by the United States attorney for the southern district of New York.

 

John Solomon, Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing

 Trump attorneyJoe diGenova, center, his wife and law partner Victoria Toensnig, and pro-Trump conspiracy theorist John Solomon, at left (file photo). 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. Prosecutors believe Giuliani and two others may have violated law over agreement that would have seen them win lucrative contracts.

 

Justice Department logo

washington post logoWashington Post, Igor Danchenko arrested, charged with lying to FBI about information in Steele dossier, Devlin Barrett and Tom Jackman, Nov. 4, 2021. An analyst who was a primary source for a 2016 dossier of allegations against Donald Trump has been arrested on charges that he repeatedly lied to the FBI about where and how he got his information, officials said Thursday.

Igor Danchenko’s role in providing information to British ex-spy Christopher Steele, who compiled the accusations about Trump in a series of reports, has long been a subject of scrutiny from internal Justice Department investigators and special counsel John Durham, according to people familiar with the investigations.

Steele presented the dossier to the FBI, and it was part of the basis for secret surveillance court orders targeting former Trump adviser Carter Page as the FBI investigated possible ties between the 2016 Trump presidential campaign and Russia.

A 2019 report by the Justice Department inspector general found major problems with the accuracy of Danchenko’s information. But the 39-page indictment unveiled Thursday paints a more detailed picture of claims that were allegedly built on exaggerations, rumors and outright lies. The indictment is likely to buttress Republican charges that Democrats and FBI agents intentionally or accidentally turned cheap partisan smears into a high-stakes national security investigation of a sitting president.

The indictment also suggests Danchenko may have lied to Steele and others about where he was getting his information. Some of the material came from a Democratic Party operative with long-standing ties to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, according to the charges, rather than well-connected Russians with insight into the Kremlin.

The allegations cast new uncertainty on some past reporting on the dossier by news organizations, including The Washington Post.

Danchenko appeared briefly Thursday in federal court in Alexandria, Va., where his lawyer tried to enter a plea of not guilty on his behalf. The judge did not accept the plea because the hearing was not an arraignment, and Danchenko was released.

His lawyer declined to speak to reporters outside the courtroom.

Durham’s probe into the FBI’s Russia investigation has also led to the indictment of a lawyer connected to Democrats, on a charge that he lied to the FBI. In addition, a former FBI lawyer who worked on the Page surveillance application later pleaded guilty to altering an email related to that case.

Former FBI officials have said the dossier did not launch their Trump campaign investigation, nor was it a factor in the conclusions reached by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. But the dossier did play a critical role both in how the FBI sought court-approved surveillance and, after it was published by BuzzFeed News in 2017, the public debate about Trump and Russia.

Trump and his supporters have accused FBI officials of trying to discredit or defeat him through an unfair investigation premised on false accusations. The FBI’s defenders, however, say the agency was obligated to examine allegations of Russian interference and possible collusion with the Trump campaign during the election.

igor danchenko john durhamNBC News, Analyst who worked on Steele dossier arrested as part of investigation into Mueller probe, Michael Kosnar and Dareh Gregorian, Nov. 4, 2021. The analyst, Igor Danchenko, has been described as the primary researcher on the dossier.

NBC News logoAn analyst who worked on the so-called Steele dossier — the salacious, largely unverified collection of former President Donald Trump's links to Russia — was arrested on a federal indictment Thursday, a senior Justice Department official confirmed to NBC News.

Igor Danchenko, above left, who's been described as the dossier's primary researcher, was arrested as part of an investigation by John Durham, above right, the special counsel appointed by Trump’s Justice Department to investigate the origins of the Russia probe.

Danchenko is expected to appear in federal court in Virginia Thursday afternoon. The exact charges are unclear.

Danchenko is the second person to be charged in recent months as part of the Durham probe. In September, prominent Democratic lawyer Michael Sussmann was charged with making a false statement to the FBI. Sussmann, who shared concerns with the bureau in 2016 about communications between the Trump campaign and Russia, allegedly failed to disclose during the meeting that he was working for multiple clients, including Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report found the Russian government did try to interfere in the 2016 election for Trump's benefit and that Trump's campaign had numerous undisclosed contacts with Russians, but much of the information in the dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele has largely been discredited.

The FBI used information from the Steele dossier as part of its legal argument for secret government surveillance of Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser, during the 2016 election, without noting any red flags about the information.

Danchenko told The New York Times last year that he'd simply passed along raw intelligence information to Steele. “Even raw intelligence from credible sources, I take it with a grain of salt,” Danchenko said. “Who knows, what if it’s not particularly accurate? Is it just a rumor or is there more to it?”

ny times logoNew York Times, Authorities Arrest Analyst Who Contributed to Steele Dossier, Adam Goldman and Charlie Savage, Nov. 4, 2021. A Russia analyst who worked with Christopher Steele, the author of a dossier of rumors and unproven assertions about Donald Trump, was taken into custody. Federal authorities on Thursday arrested an analyst who in 2016 gathered leads about possible links between Donald J. Trump and Russia for what turned out to be Democratic-funded opposition research, according to people familiar with the matter.

The arrest of the analyst, Igor Danchenko, is part of the special counsel inquiry led by John H. Durham, who was appointed by the Trump administration to scrutinize the Russia investigation for any wrongdoing, the people said.

Mr. Danchenko was the primary researcher of the so-called Steele dossier, a compendium of rumors and unproven assertions suggesting that Mr. Trump and his 2016 campaign were compromised by and conspiring with Russian intelligence officials in Moscow’s covert operation to help him defeat Hillary Clinton.

Justice Department log circularThe people familiar with the matter spoke on condition of anonymity because the indictment of Mr. Danchenko had yet to be unsealed. A spokesman for Mr. Durham did not respond to a request for comment.

Some claims from the Steele dossier made their way into an F.B.I. wiretap application targeting a former Trump campaign adviser in October 2016. Other portions of it — particularly a salacious claim about a purported sex tape — caused a political and media firestorm when Buzzfeed published the materials in January 2017, shortly before Mr. Trump was sworn in.

But most of the important claims in the dossier — which was written by Mr. Danchenko’s employer, Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent — have not been proven, and some have been refuted. F.B.I. agents interviewed Mr. Danchenko in 2017 when they were seeking to run down the claims in the dossier.

The interview suggested that aspects of the dossier were misleading: Mr. Steele left unclear that much of the material was thirdhand information, and some of what Mr. Danchenko — who was born in Russia but lives in the United States — had relayed was more speculative than the dossier implied.

A 2019 investigation by the Justice Department’s inspector general sharply criticized the F.B.I. for continuing to cite material from the dossier after the bureau interviewed Mr. Danchenko without alerting judges that some of what he said had cast doubt on the contents of the dossier.

The inspector general report also said that a decade earlier, when Mr. Danchenko worked for the Brookings Institution, a prominent Washington think-tank, he had been the subject of a counterintelligence investigation into whether he was a Russian agent.

In an interview with The New York Times in 2020, Mr. Danchenko defended the integrity of his work, saying he had been tasked to gather “raw intelligence” and was simply passing it on to Mr. Steele. Mr. Danchenko — who made his name as a Russia analyst by exposing indications that the dissertation of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia contained plagiarized material — also denied being a Russian agent.

“I’ve never been a Russian agent,” Mr. Danchenko said. “It is ridiculous to suggest that. This, I think, it’s slander.”

Mr. Steele’s efforts were part of opposition research that Democrats were indirectly funding by the time the 2016 general election took shape. Mr. Steele’s business intelligence firm was a subcontractor to another research firm, Fusion GPS, which in turn had been hired by the Perkins Coie law firm, which was working for the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Mr. Danchenko said he did not know who Mr. Steele’s client was at the time and considered himself a nonpartisan analyst and researcher.

Mr. Durham has been known to be interested in Mr. Danchenko and the Steele dossier saga. In February, he used a subpoena to obtain old personnel files and other documents related to Mr. Danchenko from the Brookings Institution, where Mr. Danchenko had worked from 2005 until 2010.

The charges against Mr. Danchenko follow Mr. Durham’s indictment in September of a cybersecurity lawyer, Michael Sussmann, which accused him of lying to the F.B.I. about who he was working for when he brought concerns about possible Trump-Russia links to the bureau in September 2016.

Mr. Sussmann, who then also worked for Perkins Coie, was relaying concerns developed by data scientists about odd internet logs they said suggested the possibility of a covert communications channel between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank, a Kremlin-linked financial institution. He has denied lying to the F.B.I. about who he was working for.

 

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Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: Durham's phony investigation a waste of scant DOJ resources, Wayne Madsen, left, Nov. 1, 2021. wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallAttorney General Merrick Garland,merrick garland right, who has become the least popular member of President Biden's Cabinet, is continuing to allow a holdover special prosecutor from the Trump administration to engage in a costly and time-consuming "investigation" of absolutely nothing rising to a level of criminality.

On October 19, 2020, just a few weeks prior to the 2020 election, U.S. Attorney for Connecticut John Durham was secretly appointed by then-Attorney General William Barr as special counsel to investigate Trump's alleged "Russia Hoax." Durham was originally tasked by Barr in April 2019 to investigate the Justice Department's ongoing internal probe of federal law enforcement john durham Customsurveillance activities of the Trump campaign for connections to Russia. Trump falsely insisted that the investigation was a "witch hunt."

Durham, left, has been permitted by Garland to continue with a fool's errand of an investigation that has resulted in two dubious indictments. It is clear that Durham's targets now include the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign, the Robert Mueller investigation of that campaign, and anything else that Durham (and his puppeteer Trump) decides is worthy. Garland has failed to show any desire to order Durham to wrap up his investigation or be shown the door.

ken starr wEssentially, Durham has become a new Ken Starr, right. Starr was the independent Whitewater counsel who began an investigation into Bill Clinton's involvement in an Arkansas real estate deal and ended with a dubious probe of Clinton for receiving a blowjob in the Oval Office from White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Durham is operating under a mandate to "broadly examine the government's collection of intelligence involving the Trump campaign's interactions with Russians." Durham has now turned the investigation on to top Democrats, which raises the belief that Garland is acting in the interests of the Republicans.

In November 2019, Durham succeeded in obtaining a guilty plea by FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith for altering an email request.

 

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Manhattan DA has new grand jury to bring more criminal indictments in case against Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, right, Nov. 4, 2021. On bill palmerTuesday, Palmer Report pointed to the election of Alvin Bragg as the next Manhattan District Attorney as signifiant in the criminal case against Donald Trump.

Cy Vance (above right) is still in office until the end of the year. But he brought the initial indictments in the Trump case the week after Bragg won the Democratic primary election, suggesting he was waiting to break the news so that it wouldn’t be seen as influencing the election. Now that Bragg has won the general election, we suggested Vance might soon make his next big move.

bill palmer report logo headerSure enough, that’s rapidly turning out to be the case. The Washington Post is reporting this afternoon that Vance has empaneled a new grand jury for the purpose of bringing more criminal indictments in the case against Donald Trump. The article cautions that this doesn’t mean indictments will definitely happen. But in reality, when prosecutors want a grand jury to indict someone, it happens greater than 99% of the time.

The article also points out that the grand jury is empaneled for up to six months. But this does not mean that it’ll take six months for indictments to come down; only that prosecutors wanted grand jurors who are going to be available for that long in case things end up taking that long.

Interestingly, the Post says that this new grand jury is empaneled in relation to the Trump Organization’s false valuation of its assets. The Manhattan DA probe began when Michael Cohen provided evidence of Trump’s crimes including asset valuation, so it’s not surprising that the DA is now looking to bring indictments related to asset valuation.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the next round of indictments will be against Donald Trump. The DA could decide to quickly bring additional charges against Allen Weisselberg instead, in the hope that as the number of years he’s facing in prison piles up, he’ll decide to cut a plea deal. The next indictments could also be against Trump’s kids, in an effort to flip them against him. Or the next round of indictments could indeed be directly against Trump himself. It’s previously been reported that Trump Organization insiders like Matthew Calamari have been cooperating with the probe, which could be enough to indict Trump even without Weisselberg’s help.

So we still have a number of unknowns about precisely where the Manhattan DA’s probe is heading next. But if you read the Post article, it’s fairly obvious that the DA’s office is the source, and that the DA therefore wanted this information out there right now – right after the new DA was elected, just as we were expecting.

We’re not going to try to put a timetable on Donald Trump’s arrest and indictment, because there are still too many variables in terms of who will flip and who will be indicted in what order. But if Vance doesn’t indict Trump on his way out the door by the end of the year, it seems a given that Bragg will indict Trump swiftly once he takes office at the beginning of the year.

The bottom line is that Donald Trump is, more obviously than ever, on a clear path to prison in New York. Once Trump is arrested, the media will start trying to scare you into staying tuned in by suggesting that the jury will just magically let Trump go, but these are the kinds of financial charges that essentially always result in conviction. The media may also try to scare you by suggesting that New York will elect a Republican Governor who will pardon Trump, but it’s exceedingly unlikely that New York will elect a Republican.

 

Nov. 3

 

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Fox News personality "Judge" Jeanine Pirro (left) and President Donald Trump (right) promote the host's book in the Oval Office in 2018. Image via Pirro's Twitter.

Raw Story, Fox's Judge Jeanine orchestrated payments for ‘command centers’ that could blow up Trump’s defense, Travis Gettys, Nov. 03, 2021. Fox News host Jeanine Pirro orchestrated campaign payments for 'command centers' at DC hotels that could blow up Donald Trump's executive privilege claims.

Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, right, and the city's former police chief Bernie Kerik had been paying for hotel rooms and travel related to their rudy giuliani recentefforts to overturn Trump's election loss, but the pair grew concerned by early December as the bills piled up, reported the Washington Post.

fox news logo Small"How do I know I'm gonna get my money back?" Kerik thought at the time, as he recently told the newspaper.

Kerik knew that Giuliani hadn't been reimbursed for his expenses or paid for his services, but their friend Jeanine Pirro, a Fox News host beloved by the twice-impeached one-term president, called Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and asked her to help them out.

McDaniel, below at left, spoke to Kerik by phone but refused to give him money, and instead recommended that he ask the Trump campaign to reimburse his expenses, according to the former police chief and a GOP official.

The campaign cut its first check to Kerik in mid-December with Trump's approval, according to a former senior campaign official, and eventually paid more than $225,000 for hotel rooms and suites at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C., that served as a "command center" for efforts to overturn the ronna mcdaniel djt Customelection results ahead of Jan. 6 riots.

Those payments, according to legal experts, could undermine Trump's claims of executive privilege over documents and testimony related to the U.S. Capitol riots sought by the House select committee investigating the insurrection.

"[This] further undermines a wildly broad assertion of executive privilege," said Richard Ben-Veniste, a former Watergate prosecutor. "Executive privilege is typically limited to the protection of communications involving a president's official duties — not to those relating to personal or political campaign matters."

Former Justice Department official John Yoo, who advised former vice president Mike Pence's staff that there was no legal basis to deny the certification of Joe Biden's election win, agreed that the payments could upend Trump's defense.

"If he acts as a president, he gets these things we talk about — executive privilege and immunity," Yoo said. "But if he's acting as a candidate, he's deprived of all of those protections."

Nov. 1

capitol weare the storm flyer resizedcapitol riot shutterstock capitol

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Red Flags: FBI, other agencies failed to heed red flags weeks ahead of Jan. 6, Written by Aaron C. Davis, with staff colleagues; Visuals and design by Phoebe Connelly, Featured Nov. 1, first published Oct. 31, 2021 (interactive). As President Donald Trump propelled his supporters to Washington, law enforcement officials received a cascade of alerts that people were planning to target a joint session of Congress, a Post investigation found.

This investigation is based on interviews with more than 230 people and thousands of pages of court documents and internal law enforcement reports, along with hundreds of videos, photographs and audio recordings. Some of those who were interviewed spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private discussions or sensitive information.

While the public may have been surprised by what happened on Jan. 6, the makings of the insurrection had been spotted at every level, from one side of the country to the other. The red flags were everywhere.

FBI logoOne of the most striking flares came when a tipster called the FBI on the afternoon of Dec. 20: Trump supporters were discussing online how to sneak guns into Washington to “overrun” police and arrest members of Congress in January, according to internal bureau documents obtained by The Post. The tipster offered specifics: Those planning violence believed they had “orders from the President,” used code words such as “pickaxe” to describe guns and posted the times and locations of four spots around the country for caravans to meet the day before the joint session. On one site, a poster specifically mentioned Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) as a target.

Key findings

  • Law enforcement officials did not respond with urgency to a cascade of warnings about violence on Jan. 6
  • Pentagon leaders had acute fears about widespread violence, and some feared Trump could misuse the National Guard to remain in power
  • The Capitol Police was disorganized and unprepared
  • Trump’s election lies radicalized his supporters in real time

The head of intelligence at D.C.’s homeland security office was growing desperate. For days, Donell Harvin led a team that spotted warnings that extremists planned to descend on the Capitol and disrupt the electoral count. and his team had spotted increasing signs that supporters of President Donald Trump were planning violence when Congress met to formalize the electoral college vote, but federal law enforcement agencies did not seem to share his sense of urgency.

On Saturday, Jan. 2, he picked up the phone and called his counterpart in San Francisco, waking Mike Sena before dawn.

Sena listened with alarm. The Northern California intelligence office he commanded had also been inundated with political threats flagged by social media companies, several involving plans to disrupt the joint session or hurt lawmakers on Jan. 6.

us dhs big eagle logo4He organized an unusual call for all of the nation’s regional homeland security offices — known as fusion centers — to find out what others were seeing. Sena expected a couple dozen people to get on the line that Monday. But then the number of callers hit 100. Then 200. Then nearly 300. Officials from nearly all 80 regions, from New York to Guam, logged on.

In the 20 years since the country had created fusion centers in response to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Sena couldn’t remember a moment like this. For the first time, from coast to coast, the centers were blinking red. The hour, date and location of concern was the same: 1 p.m., the U.S. Capitol, Jan.

Harvin asked his counterparts to share what they were seeing. Within minutes, an avalanche of new tips began streaming in. Self-styled militias and other extremist groups in the Northeast were circulating radio frequencies to use near the Capitol. In the Midwest, men with violent criminal histories were discussing plans to travel to Washington with weapons.

Forty-eight hours before the attack, Harvin began pressing every alarm button he could. He invited the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security, military intelligence services and other agencies to see the information in real time as his team collected it. He took another extreme step: He asked the city’s health department to convene a call of D.C.-area hospitals and urged them to prepare for a mass casualty event.

Harvin was one of numerous people inside and outside of government who alerted authorities to the growing likelihood of deadly violence on Jan. 6, according to a Washington Post investigation, which found a cascade of previously undisclosed warnings preceded the attack on the Capitol. Alerts were raised by local officials, FBI informants, social media companies, former national security officials, researchers, lawmakers and tipsters, new documents and firsthand accounts show.

 

October

Oct. 30

 

Donald J. Trump, left, and William Barr (Justice Department photo in March 2019).

Donald J. Trump, left, and William Barr (Justice Department photo in March 2019).

Palmer Report, Opinion: The Durham probe is finally backfiring on Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, right, Oct. 30, 2021. When Donald Trump and his Attorney General bill palmerBill Barr tasked John Durham, below right, with criminally investigating the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation, Palmer Report predicted that it wouldn’t end up helping Trump one bit. Sure enough, the probe went nowhere, found nothing, and changed zero minds heading into the 2020 election.

But the Durham probe is still ongoing, having finally resulted in a single indictment against one person for lying to investigators. Given the bill palmer report logo headerlack of legitimate evidence in the indictment, it’s likely to end in dismissal or acquittal. In fact, the indictment has turned out to be so sketchy, it’s beginning to backfire.

Remember the story about a computer server at Trump Tower that was communicating almost solely with Russia’s Alfa Bank? There john durham Customhave been so many different connections between Donald Trump and Russia, you may have forgotten that the server scandal even existed. But because the Durham indictment falsely claimed that the original authors of that article didn’t believe in their own work, they’re now coming forward to reiterate that they do indeed stand by their story.

This gives you an idea of just how absurd this indictment is; it’s based on the false claim that a group of journalists didn’t believe their story, and that someone else was therefore lying when he told federal investigators otherwise. Yeah, this is now pretty obviously alpha bank logo russiaheading for acquittal.

But it’s also served to pushed the Trump server – Alfa Bank story back into the headlines, including a major expose on the Rachel Maddow show last night. Thus far the only thing the Durham probe has done, aside from temporarily making life unfairly difficult for one indicted and pretty clearly innocent guy, is to push the Trump-Russia scandal back into the headlines. That’s the last thing Trump wanted.

russian flag wavingOf course we’ve seen this over and over again. When Donald Trump was in office, he spent much of his time trying to prove to himself that his 2016 win was legitimate, because his fragile ego couldn’t handle the possibility that he only won because Russia helped him. Accordingly, the people around him like Bill Barr ended up focusing on doing things not aimed at helping him in any real way, but instead aimed at calming Trump’s insecurities.

As a result we ended up with things like the Durham probe, an investigation that was never, ever going to help Donald Trump in any tangible way. And while these latest revelations should finally give the DOJ a legal basis for shutting Durham down, it’s not as if his probe was helping Trump. At this point the Durham probe is only serving to make Trump’s life more difficult.

Oct. 28

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The 14 things you need to know about Trump’s letter in the Wall Street Journal, Philip Bump, right, Oct. 28, 2021 (print ed.). On philip bumpWednesday, the Wall Street Journal published a letter written by former president Donald Trump in which he makes a number of claims about the results of the 2020 election in Pennsylvania. Below, the 14 things you need to know about the letter.

  1. The Wall Street Journal should not have published it without assessing the claims and demonstrating where they were wrong, misleading or unimportant.
  2. The Journal would have been better served had it explained why it chose to run the letter without contextualizing it, since that might have at least offered some clarity on the otherwise inexplicable decision, but it didn’t.
  3. Even if those who decided to publish the letter lacked the resources to fact-check each of the claims, they might have pushed back on obviously false claims, as when Trump falsely claims that Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg spent millions of dollars to “interfere in the Pennsylvania election.”
  4. They might also have noted that the organization that Trump repeatedly cites as an authority for his claims, the “highly respected” group Audit the Vote PA, has no actual experience in evaluating elections....

The main thing you need to know about the letter, of course, is that Donald Trump is still railing against his election loss 358 days after it occurred. And that prominent institutions are still enabling his dangerous misinformation more than 358 days after they should have known better. 

donald trump money palmer report Custom

Forbes, Investigation: Trump’s SPAC Is Screwing His Own Supporters While Enriching Wall Street Elites, Dan Alexander, Oct. 28, 2021. Donald Trump set off fireworks on Wall Street the night of October 20, when he announced that a new business, the Trump Media and Technology Group, planned to go public via a special purpose acquisition company (or SPAC). Shares soared 550% in a week.

At one point on Friday, when they hit their peak at $175, a little-known investor who organized the SPAC controlled a stake of more than $1 billion. Hedge funds who got in early were sitting on hundreds of millions in gains, assuming they hadn’t already cashed out. And everyday Trump supporters, betting on the SPAC from their brokerage accounts, were doubling and tripling their money in a matter of hours.

“Holy s-—, I am rich with $DWAC,” a Twitter user named Huy Tran said on Thursday, using the ticker symbol for the SPAC. He wasn’t the only one gloating about his gains. “I knew it was big this morning,” said another person. “Enough to throw $310K at it. Would’ve done more if I had more capital freed up, but damn, that was shocking. Incredible move and probably pushes $100 tomorrow. Best day of my trading career.”

Not everyone is going to make money. In any frenzy, there are suckers and there are sharks. The suckers want to play the game but don’t necessarily understand the rules. In this case, that’s likely the Trump fans and day traders buying up the stock. Some of them will get lucky. But many—especially the true Trump believers, who want to stick with the former president for the long haul—seem destined to lose big.

The sharks, on the other hand, already won the game before anyone else even came to the table. Take the SPAC’s organizer, for example. Or the group that did the underwriting. Or the Wall Street firms that bought in early. The biggest shark, however, seems to be the former president, who will probably make a fortune on the frenzy, even as those who trust in him get crushed.

In order to understand all of this, you need to be familiar with how SPACs actually work. We’ll start at the beginning, with Patrick Orlando. It is Orlando—not Trump—whose firm serves as the so-called sponsor of the SPAC. On Trump’s final day in office, January 20, Orlando’s firm paid $25,000 for what would become 8.6 million shares of a SPAC named Digital World Acquisition Corp., or about three tenths of a penny per share.

At the time, Digital World Acquisition had no assets and no operations. But soon enough, Orlando gathered a small team, including a chief financial officer named Luis Orleans-Braganza, who is a member of Brazil’s National Congress. Orlando’s firm handed Orleans-Braganza 10,000 shares around the time he signed on as CFO.

...

The higher the share price climbs, the more difficult it is to rationalize. At one point on Friday, shares of Digital World Acquisition were trading for $175 apiece. That means investors were paying $175 to buy a $7.62 chunk of a cash pile. Shares closed yesterday, October 27, at a $64.89 apiece. It would be like if a jar with $100 in coins went up for sale, and people were bidding $850 for it because doing so might allow them to invest the coins in a Trump-branded venture.

If this seems absurd, that’s because it is. The investment firms that got in early aren’t complaining, though. Even in a disaster scenario, in which the stock fell more than 90% to $5 per share, wiping out over $1 billion for SPAC investors, the owners of the Trump Media and Technology Group would still be left with shares worth estimated $430 million. And that stock would be more valuable than anything else Donald Trump currently owns.

 

Oct. 27

Proof, Investigative Commentary: The Secret Behind Trump’s January 2 Phone Call, Seth Abramson, left, Oct. 27-28, 2021. Congress must subpoena Joe diGenova seth abramson graphicand the Stop the Steal leaders who were on Trump's January 2 pre-insurrection strategy call. If it does, it will discover in full what Trump planned for January 6.

Introduction Late last night, CNN reported that the House January 6 Committee will subpoena testimony from Donald Trump lawyer John Eastman, author of a now-infamous pre-January 6 memo that may well run afoul of federal criminal statutes and has been the subject of significant reporting from Proof over the last two weeks. The problem with this prospective subpoena is that Eastman has a host of arguments available seth abramson proof logoto him to resist calls for him to testify to the House January 6 Committee.

But is there someone else Congress could speak to right now who has both more to offer the Committee and less basis to argue that he can’t be compelled to do so?

The Trump Lawyer to Speak to Isn’t a Trump Lawyer

Newly discovered information about another man very close to Trump suggests that he might be the person Congress needs to speak to—not just because it appears he has a great deal to say, but because he is precluded from claiming that he’s Trump’s lawyer on the grounds that both he and Donald Trump have repeatedly insisted that he is not.

That man is Joe diGenova, one of the primary figures in my national bestselling book Proof of Corruption (Macmillan, 2020) because he worked with Trump to try to steal the 2020 presidential election using manufactured dirt on Joe Biden illicitly offered to the Trump campaign by pro-Kremlin Ukrainians.

DiGenova is, to be clear, a Trump lawyer, whatever he and the former president may have said on the subject. Indeed, diGenova has been one of Trump’s most invaluable legal assets for at least two years, as Trump ensured in the run-up to the 2020 election that diGenova and his wife, fellow attorney Victoria Toensing (the two co-run a law firm) would not only represent him but also several his co-conspirators in the Trump-Ukraine scandal that led to his second impeachment. Trump thereby ensured, or so he believed and appears to still believe, that diGenova would be an ideal conduit between the former president and his co-conspirators.

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, Jan. 6 committee expected to subpoena lawyer who advised Trump, Pence on how to overturn election, Jacqueline Alemany, Oct. 27, 2021 (print ed.). The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol is expected to subpoena John Eastman, the pro-Trump legal scholar who outlined scenarios for denying Joe Biden the presidency, according to the panel’s chairman.
2021 Election: Complete coverage and analysis

“It will happen,” Chair Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) said in an interview Tuesday of a subpoena for Eastman, who played a key role in the legal operation that was run out of a “command center” at the Willard Hotel in Washington in the days and hours leading up to Jan. 6. Thompson did not provide a timeline for when the subpoena will be issued.

The committee has requested documents and communications related to Eastman’s legal advice and analysis on how President Donald Trump could seek to overturn the election results and remain in office.

Eastman told The Washington Post last week that he had not been contacted by the panel investigating the insurrection, but a person familiar with the select committee’s work disputed that claim and said investigators have been in touch with Eastman. This person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations, added that a subpoena would be avoidable if Eastman cooperated with the committee’s investigation voluntarily. The committee is expected to issue subpoenas to other witnesses in the days ahead.

Eastman confirmed in subsequent text messages late Tuesday that the committee had contacted him.

“I returned the call and left a voice message. No further contact,” Eastman added. When asked whether he planned on cooperating with the committee, he responded: “No comment.”

Eastman, a member of the conservative Federalist Society and a law professor, outlined the scenarios for overturning the election results in two memos that served as the basis of an Oval Office meeting on Jan. 4 between Eastman, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

In recent months, Eastman has distanced himself from the memos, telling the National Review last week that the options he outlined did not represent his advice. He said he wrote the memos at the request of “somebody in the legal team” whose name he could not recall.

Oct. 26

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Election ‘distracted’ Trump team from pandemic response, Birx tells Congress, Dan Diamond, Oct. 26, 2021. Former White House coronavirus coordinator (shown above in a White House file photo) says more than 130,000 people in the U.S. died unnecessarily.

The Trump administration was “distracted” by last year’s election and ignored recommendations to curb the pandemic, the White House’s former coronavirus response coordinator told congressional investigators this month.
U.S. coronavirus cases tracker and map

President Donald Trump official“I felt like the White House had gotten somewhat complacent through the campaign season,” said Deborah Birx, who former president Donald Trump chose in March 2020 to steer his government’s virus response, according to interview excerpts released by the House select subcommittee on the pandemic.

Birx, who sat for interviews with the subcommittee on Oct. 12 and 13, also detailed advice that she said the White House ignored late last year, including more aggressively testing younger Americans, expanding access to virus treatments and better distributing vaccines in long-term care facilities.

More than 130,000 American lives could have been saved with swifter action and better coordinated public health messages after the virus’ first wave, Birx told lawmakers.

“I believe if we had fully implemented the mask mandates, the reduction in indoor dining, the getting friends and family to understand the risk of gathering in private homes, and we had increased testing, that we probably could have decreased fatalities into the 30-percent less, to 40-percent less range,” Birx said.

More than 735,000 Americans have died from coronavirus-related complications since the pandemic began, including more than 300,000 since President Biden took office.

Oct. 25

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Book Launch: The Rise of the Fascist Fourth Reich: The Era of Trumpism and the New Far-Right, Wayne Madsen, left, Oct 25, 2021. wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallToday, WMR announces the release of The Rise of the Fascist Fourth Reich.

This book details Donald Trump's serious efforts to bring about a fascist dictatorship in the United States. In addition to emulating Adolf Hitler's "Big Lie" (große Lüge) to the letter, Trump made common cause with the world's other leading fascists in creating a new "Axis" alliance. In fact, the wayne madsen fourth reich covergovernment of the neo-Nazi President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, was direcrly involved in the January 6th coup attempt at the U.S. Capitol. It was no less a violation of U.S. national sovereignty than was Nazi Germany's involvement in the attempted July 25, 1934 attempted coup in Austria that saw Nazis, with German support, assassinate Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss.

The Holy Roman Empire was the First Reich. It was followed by Imperial Germany of the Kaisers, the Second Reich. From the ashes of Imperial Germany rose the Third Reich of the National Socialists and Adolf Hitler.

The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States and the return of strongmen leaders around the world -- in Russia, China, India, Brazil, Hungary, Poland, and other nations -- ushered into place the Fourth Reich. No less an observer than the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, commented that the Trump administration and the events of January 6, 2021 were reminiscent of the Nazi Party's burning of the Reichstag in 1933. In the third decade of the 21st century, the signs of fascism were present in Washington, Moscow, Beijing, and even in London -- with the ascendance of the proto-fascist Boris Johnson to the Prime Minister's office. This book describes the re-emergence of fascist rule long after it was believed that World War II ended the threat of this venal system of government forever.

In addition to copying Hitler's strategy of employing the Big Lie, Trump stood to implement other Nazi playbook policies. The Nazis used the outbreak of typhus in the infamous Warsaw Ghetto and forced ghettos in other Polish cities to blame the interned Jews for harboring typhus-causing lice. The same scenario played out during the initial infections of Covid-19 in major U.S. cities, including New York, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Newark, New Orleans, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC, because these cities had Democratic mayors or were in states with Democratic governors. Trump Covid advisers like Jared Kushner and Peter Navarro decided to withhold federal support support in states with Democratic governors so that voters in those states would blame those governors for the pandemic's rising death rate. It was no more an insidious operation than the Nazis blaming Polish Jews for typhus.

facebook logoFacebook and Mark Zuckerberg had permitted Trump's Big Lies on Covid, police killings of black Americans, and other triggering subjects to martial Trump's increasingly-frenzied political base to threaten to kill Democratic governors in Michigan, Virginia, North Carolina, and other states. This propaganda operation ultimately led to January 6th, Trump's version of Hitler's Reichstag Fire of 1933 and the 1934 "Night of the Long Knives."

Trump's version of Joseph Goebbels, Steve Bannon, the aspirant propagandist for a global fascist "Movement," vowed to fight for political control "precinct-by-precinct" in elections around the United States and the world.

This book delineates where the political battlefield's lines at the electoral district level have been drawn -- from Hungary and Poland to Brazil and the states of Georgia, North Carolina, and Arizona -- so that the fight can be joined by progressives and democrats everywhere.

Alternet, 'This makes my blood boil': Outrage erupts as new report links GOP lawmakers to the Jan. 6 rally, David Badash, Oct. 25, 2021. Americans are expressing outrage after a bombshell Rolling Stone report that claims several GOP Members of Congress and their staffs were involved in planning and organizing Donald Trump's January 6 rally that led to the violent and deadly insurrection, along with "Trump's efforts to overturn his election loss."

Some of those who are among the most outraged are Democratic Members of Congress, who were in the Capitol on January 6 and feared for their lives. Learning that some of their GOP colleagues were involved in the planning of the rally that precipitated the insurrection has been "triggering," as one House Democrat revealed, adding that it makes her "blood boil."

The Rolling Stone article cites two "planners of the pro-Trump rallies that took place in Washington, D.C.," who allege Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) were deeply involved, along with these members of Congress or their aides: Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX).

Legal experts have called for those members of Congress and staffers to be expelled if the allegations are true, while one has urged people to "chill," and let the DOJ do what it needs to.

U.S. Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA) calls the Rolling Stone article "highly disturbing."

"No one should be above the law," he says, "including Members of Congress and former White House Staff. And if pardons were indeed discussed in advance, why would that be? Because folks knew crimes were about to be committed."

U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) says she is "joining the calls for those who helped plan the deadly January 6th insurrection to be immediately expelled."

"Every Member of Congress that helped to plan the attempted coup of our government shouldn't be allowed to serve in Congress."

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng, the first Asian-American elected to Congress from New York, says she has "angry tears right now," citing the Rolling Stone report.

"During 1/6, I, like many, texted loved ones goodbye. Countless people have asked if I've been ok since & I've always answered truthfully that i was fine. But this article was triggering. How could colleagues be traitors? This makes my blood boil."

Rolling Stone, Jan. 6 Protest Organizers Say They Participated in ‘Dozens’ of Planning Meetings With Members of Congress and White House Staff, Hunter Walker, Oct. 24, 2021. Hunter Walker is the author of the politics newsletter The Uprising. He previously spent the entirety of the Trump administration as a White House correspondent for Yahoo News. Walker has also written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, NBC News, Vanity Fair's HIVE website, and New York Magazine, among others.

Two sources are communicating with House investigators and detailed a stunning series of allegations to Rolling Stone, including a promise of a “blanket pardon” from the Oval Office.

Rolling Stone reports "planners of the pro-Trump rallies that took place in Washington, D.C., have begun communicating with congressional investigators and sharing new information about what happened when the former president's supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. Two of these people have spoken to Rolling Stone extensively in recent weeks and detailed explosive allegations that multiple members of Congress were intimately involved in planning both Trump's efforts to overturn his election loss and the Jan. 6 events that turned violent."

Oct. 23

 

The Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington, DC (Photo by Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK via WikiMedia Commons).

The Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington, DC (Photo by Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK via WikiMedia Commons).

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Ahead of Jan. 6, Willard hotel in downtown D.C. was a Trump team ‘command center’ for effort to deny Biden the presidency, Jacqueline Alemany, Emma Brown, Tom Hamburger and Jon Swaine, Oct. 23, 2021. They called it the “command center,” a set of rooms and suites in the posh Willard Hotel a block from the White House where some of President Donald Trump’s most loyal lieutenants were working day and night with one goal in mind: overturning the results of the 2020 election.

The Jan. 6 rally on the Ellipse and the ensuing attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob would draw the world’s attention to the quest to physically block Congress from affirming Joe Biden’s victory. But the activities at the Willard that week add to an emerging picture of a less visible effort, mapped out in memos by a conservative pro-Trump legal scholar and pursued by a team of presidential advisers and lawyers seeking to pull off what they claim was a legal strategy to reinstate Trump for a second term.

They were led by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani. Former chief White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon was an occasional presence as the effort’s senior political adviser. Former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik was there as an investigator. Also present was John Eastman, the scholar, who outlined scenarios for denying Biden the presidency in an Oval Office meeting on Jan. 4 with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

The effort underscores the extent to which Trump and a handful of true believers were working until the last possible moment to subvert the will of the voters, seeking to pressure Pence to delay or even block certification of the election, leveraging any possible constitutional loophole to test the boundaries of American democracy.

ny times logoNew York Times, Internal Alarm, Public Shrugs: Facebook’s Employees Dissect Its Election Role, Ryan Mac and Sheera Frenkel, Oct. 23, 2021 (print ed. ).  Company documents show that employees repeatedly raised red flags about the spread of misinformation before and after the contested November vote; he internal dispatches reveal the degree to which Facebook knew of extremist movements and groups on its site that were trying to polarize American voters.

Sixteen months before last November’s presidential election, a researcher at Facebook described an alarming development. She was getting content about the conspiracy theory QAnon within a week of opening an experimental account, she wrote in an internal report.

On Nov. 5, two days after the election, another Facebook employee posted a message alerting colleagues that comments with “combustible election misinformation” were visible below many posts.

Four days after that, a company data scientist wrote in a note to his co-workers that 10 percent of all U.S. views of political material — a startlingly high figure — were of posts that alleged the vote was fraudulent.

In each case, Facebook’s employees sounded an alarm about misinformation and inflammatory content on the platform and urged action — but the company failed or struggled to address the issues. The internal dispatches were among a set of Facebook documents obtained by The New York Times that give new insight into what happened inside the social network before and after the November election, when the company was caught flat-footed as users weaponized its platform to spread lies about the vote.

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Facebook documents show how platform fueled rage ahead of Jan. 6 attack on Capitol, Craig Timberg, Elizabeth Dwoskin and Reed Albergotti, Oct. 23, 2021 (print ed.). Thousands of internal documents turned over to the SEC show what Facebook knew about the growth of the Stop the Steal movement on its platform in the weeks before a pro-Trump mob overran the Capitol — and the anger that many employees felt at their company’s failure to stop the Jan. 6 violence.

Relief flowed through Facebook in the days after the 2020 presidential election. The company had cracked down on misinformation, foreign interference and hate speech — and employees believed they had largely succeeded in limiting problems that, four years earlier, had brought on perhaps the most serious crisis in Facebook’s scandal-plagued history.

facebook logo“It was like we could take a victory lap,” said a former employee, one of many who spoke for this story on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive matters. “There was a lot of the feeling of high-fiving in the office.”

Many who had worked on the election, exhausted from months of unrelenting toil, took leaves of absence or moved on to other jobs. Facebook rolled back many of the dozens of election-season measures that it had used to suppress hateful, deceptive content. A ban the company had imposed on the original Stop the Steal group stopped short of addressing dozens of look-alikes that popped up in what an internal Facebook after-action report called “coordinated” and “meteoric” growth. Meanwhile, the company’s Civic Integrity team was largely disbanded by a management that had grown weary of the team’s criticisms of the company, according to former employees.

But the high fives, it soon became clear, were premature.

On Jan. 6, Facebook staffers expressed their horror in internal messages as they watched thousands of Trump supporters shouting “stop the steal” and bearing the symbols of QAnon — a violent ideology that had spread widely on Facebook before an eventual crackdown — thronged the U.S. Capitol. Many bashed their way inside and battled to halt the constitutionally mandated certification of President Biden’s election victory.

How one of America’s ugliest days unraveled inside and outside the Capitol
The face of President Donald Trump appears on large screens as supporters participate in a rally in Washington. (John Minchillo/AP)

Measures of online mayhem surged alarmingly on Facebook, with user reports of “false news” hitting nearly 40,000 per hour, an internal report that day showed. On Facebook-owned Instagram, the account reported most often for inciting violence was @realdonaldtrump — the president’s official account, the report showed.

Facebook has never publicly disclosed what it knows about how its platforms, including Instagram and WhatsApp, helped fuel that day’s mayhem. The company rejected its own Oversight Board’s recommendation that it study how its policies contributed to the violence and has yet to fully comply with requests for data from the congressional commission investigating the events.

But thousands of pages of internal company documents disclosed to the Securities and Exchange Commission by the whistleblower Frances Haugen offer important new evidence of Facebook’s role in the events. This story is based on those documents, as well on others independently obtained by The Washington Post, and on interviews with current and former Facebook employees. The documents include outraged posts on Workplace, an internal message system.

“This is not a new problem,” one unnamed employee fumed on Workplace on Jan. 6. “We have been watching this behavior from politicians like Trump, and the — at best — wishy washy actions of company leadership, for years now. We have been reading the [farewell] posts from trusted, experienced and loved colleagues who write that they simply cannot conscience working for a company that does not do more to mitigate the negative effects on its platform.”

djt march 2020 Custom

Medium, Personal Communications Commentary: When old friends choose MAGA over morality it’s time to say goodbye, James Stephens, Oct. 23, 2021. Ironically, it was Facebook ( of all places ) that shined the light of truth.

facebook logoI’m not sorry that our Facebook posts about the pandemic ended our friendship.

I grieve, but I’m not sorry.

Your posts are the evidence I didn’t want but needed.

You aren’t the person I thought you were.

donald trump twitterIt turns out much of what I thought we had in common was only superficially true. The ties that bind weren’t holding anything together. It appeared that way because nothing ever tested us — until recently.

Trump and Covid have laid bare the truth.

I see a blessing in that.

God can cause good to spring forth from bad circumstances.

Until the next day, around January 7th of 2021, I thought you were a loyal citizen of the United States of America, even if I didn’t understand your devotion to Donald Trump. I didn’t like it, but I could blame Fox News for your misguided beliefs about MAGA, and Covid, and all the rest. I know you’re a busy person with inadequate time to digest it all. Besides, you’ve always voted for Republicans, and it wasn’t a problem between us.

It appeared that we had religion in common.

For me, aspiring to live the teachings of Jesus is the pinnacle of the virtues I want in a friend. We attended the same kind of evangelical church services, so I assumed we were in one accord in the moral primacy of Christ.

But, the pandemic showed me your true motivation.

The aftermath of the presidential election confirmed my dismay.

I was shocked to find out we worshipped different gods. I am devoted to the God who is Love, and you the god of callous selfishness and fear.

These two cannot co-exist.

Like the Holocaust, there is no other side of this story for future history teachers to balance. All they can do is try to explain how so many Americans became enthralled and bewitched by self-centeredness and racism.

You seem to think Uncle Sam is a sacred being, and that Trump is his prophet.

I can’t go along with that.

“Q” looks like an upside-down noose.

You tell me that I’m a sheep, and I don’t know the real truth. But you keep spreading The Big Lie. You tell me that you won’t live in fear, but you’re terrified by vaccine myths. You tell me that wearing a mask is a sign of capitulation to tyranny, but you are willing to lie, kill, and die for that orange tyrant.

I used to think you meant well.

Things have changed us into obvious enemies.

Oct. 22

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s Rule 23 conundrum, Robert Harrington, right, Oct. 22, 2021. The new era of liberty has at last arrived. Finally, a social network where you can say what you like, when robert harrington twitteryou like, about anything you like, and never fear the social media politically correct police. We have our freedom and it comes directly from the hand of Don. Free at last. Free at last. Thank God almighty. We’re free at last.

Yes, Donald Trump has created the quintessential unfettered social media group called “Truth Social.” According to his shouty son, Don Junior, at Truth Social you will now be “free to exercise your First Amendment rights.”

bill palmer report logo headerExcept for one thing. Rule 23 of the Terms of Service. You are not allowed to “disparage, tarnish, or otherwise harm, in our opinion, us and/or the Site.” In other words, welcome to Taliban Social. The last time we had this kind of “Truth” it was spelled “Pravda.”

Once again we see in microcosm what we have seen all along. When Republicans want freedom what they really want is freedom for them and not for us. Freedom to attack us and we have to sit there and take it. Freedom to Benghazi Investigation us and we can’t Insurrection Hearing them back. The relevant part of rule 23 — Catch-23, if you will — are the words “in our opinion.” Put another way, anything you say that they don’t like can be interpreted as a disparagement against them — in their opinion.

It is the first rule of despotism that you cannot criticize the despot. Republicans simply cannot stop themselves from being despotic. It is so deep in their natures that, for them, the very right to free speech comes with heavily freighted conditions.

But this is all what the British call a storm in a teacup, of course. Trump’s new social media platform is just another joke, and it will remain a joke. No one is going to care about what is being said there. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, those are the social media platforms people are interested in. No one is going to give a crap about some racist rant over on some radical right hangout with the pretentious name of “Truth Social.” You don’t need to be a Wall Street guru or business boffin to predict it. “Truth Social” has got failure written all over it.

Say what you like about Facebook — and I do, all the time. Which is finally the point. While it’s true I have many Facebook friends who’ve done their time in Facebook jail (and for reasons that I honestly don’t understand, I’ve never spent a night there) we can still post memes critical of Mark Zuckerberg with impunity. Such freedom is gone forever — let’s call it what it is — on “Trump Social.” Because nothing good can or ever will come from Trump. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

Oct. 21

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, House votes to hold Bannon in contempt for refusing to comply with Jan. 6 subpoena, Felicia Sonmez, Marianna Sotomayor and Jacqueline Alemany, Oct. 21, 2021. Former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon (shown above in a file photo) has argued through his attorney that he can’t respond to the subpoena because of executive privilege asserted by former president Donald Trump. The matter now goes to the Justice Department, which will decide whether to pursue the contempt referral.

U.S. House logoThe House voted Thursday to hold former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress for his refusal to comply with a subpoena issued by the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

The measure was approved on a 229-to-202 vote, with nine Republicans joining all Democrats present in voting “yes.” Thursday’s full House vote comes days after the members of the bipartisan select committee voted unanimously in favor of the resolution.

Bannon has previously argued through his attorney that he can’t respond to the subpoena because of executive privilege asserted by former president Donald Trump.

Justice Department log circularThe matter now goes to the Justice Department, which will decide whether to pursue the contempt referral. Contempt of Congress is a misdemeanor criminal offense that can result in up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

Asked at a House Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday how the Justice Department would handle such a referral, Attorney General Merrick Garland said it “will do what it always does in such circumstances — it will apply the facts and the law.”

Legal experts have cast doubt on the merit of Bannon’s defense of his defiance of the subpoena and say the former president’s immunity from congressional subpoena extends only to his closest White House advisers — and not to private citizens like Bannon.

Trump’s sweeping claims of executive privilege to shield his activities and his aides and allies from congressional scrutiny have also been questioned by constitutional experts and lawyers.

Trump filed a 26-page lawsuit on Monday to block the House committee from receiving records for its inquiry from the National Archives, arguing that the committee’s document request serves no legislative purpose, that it undermines Trump’s executive privilege, and that the committee has provided Trump’s legal team with insufficient time to review the records requests.

 

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). 

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Move over Watergate, here comes Willardgate, Wayne Madsen (left, author of 21 books, including the forthcoming Trump's Fourth Reich, widely published commentator and former Navy intelligence officer), Oct. 21, 2021. Long the king of Washington wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallpolitical scandals, the Watergate office, residential, and hotel complex stands to be eclipsed by "Willardgate."

Watergate lent its name to countless other political "gate" scandals due to its being the location where the Democratic National Committee headquarters was burglarized by Richard Nixon re-election henchmen, an act that ultimately brought down the administration of Richard Nixon. Willardgate, however, may replace Watergate as the granddaddy of all DC scandals because, as with Guy Fawkes Day in England, Willardgate has become synonymous with "Treason and Plot."

wayne madesen report logoThe Willard Hotel, which is a mere few blocks from the White House and lies in-between the Executive Mansion and the Trump International Hotel, was the scene of a January 6th eve "War Council" meeting involving top Trump advisers. Documents subpoenaed by the House Select Committee on the January 6th insurrection point to the Willard War Council as planning the storming of the Capitol the next day in order to delay or suspend the certification of Joe Biden's presidential election victory.

It is also becoming clearer that the Willard Hotel served as a nexus between the Oval Office and insurrection perpetrators, many of whom were staying at Trump's hotel, with a few others at the J.W. Marriott Hotel, which is across 14th street from the Willard. The Willard apparently acted as a relay point for a "sneaker net" in order to limit the electronic communications of the conspirators. E-mail and phone call records could and would be made available to law enforcement as "smoking gun" evidence if the plotters' plan failed, which, of course, it did.

There is a major difference between how the Watergate and Willard have gone down in American history. The Watergate scandal demonstrated that the Nixon White House was not above the law and the affair ultimately cost Nixon his presidency. Willardgate, on the other hand, has thus far shown that Trump may get away with almost having carried out a coup.

washington post logoWashington Post, Pranksters have already defaced Trump’s new social network, Drew Harwell, Oct. 21, 2021. Truth Social has some unusual rules for a Trump-run site: It reserves the right to ban users and safeguard itself from lawsuits with Section 230 protections. It also prohibits ‘excessive use of capital letters.’

Former president Donald Trump and his team declared Wednesday night that they would soon launch a “media powerhouse” that would help them triumph in their long-running war against Big Tech. But within hours, pranksters found what appeared to be an unreleased test version and posted a picture of a defecating pig to the “donaldjtrump” account.

trump truth platformThe site has since been pulled offline — evidence that Trump is likely to face a daunting challenge in building an Internet business that can stand on its own.

Banned by all major social networks after his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, Trump has for months agitated to regain the online megaphone that once blasted his voice around the world. In a presentation released Wednesday by his new media company, Trump Media & Technology Group, his team hailed the new social network as the first tentpole for a Trump-led media, news and Internet empire that would one day compete with Disney, CNN and Facebook.

But the site’s early hours revealed lax security, rehashed features and a flurry of bizarre design decisions. An open sign-up page allowed anyone to use the site shortly after it was revealed, sparking the creation of the “donaldjtrump” account and the pig posting. A Washington Post reporter was able to register and post under the account name “mikepence” without any stops in place. New sign-ups were blocked shortly after.

The site looks almost entirely like a Twitter clone: A user can post Truths, which are like tweets, or Re-Truths, which are retweets. There’s also a news feed, called the Truth Feed, a notification system so users can know “who’s interacting with your TRUTH’s,” the social network’s App Store profile states.

trump defecating pig

Lawyers, Guns, Money, Opinion: Of chumps and pig dumps, Shakezula, Oct. 21, 2021. Is this a picture of a pooping pig or Truth Social?

Former president Donald Trump and his team declared Wednesday night that they would soon launch a “media powerhouse” that would help them triumph in their long-running war against Big Tech. But within hours, pranksters found what appeared to be an unreleased test version and posted a picture of a defecating pig to the “donaldjtrump” account.

The site has since been pulled offline — evidence that Trump is likely to face a daunting challenge in building an Internet business that can stand on its own.

donald trump twitterYeah. No. The evidence it will face daunting challenges is that Orangefinger is involved in it in any way. Merry pranksters are a delightful extra.

The site’s code shows it runs a mostly unmodified version of Mastodon, the free, open-source software launched in 2016 that anyone can use to run a self-made social networking site.

I’m not saying it would be impossible to build a “news and Internet empire that would one day compete with Disney, CNN and Facebook,” on open-source code. I am saying that the klutzes, putzes and yutzes who would be allowed to work for TFG couldn’t do it even if they didn’t have a coke-addled clown giving them new instructions every five seconds.

parler logoThe site is likely to undermine other conservative-friendly social media alternatives, such as Gettr, Gab and Parler, that have sought to win over pro-Trump audiences.

This is an understatement. Being on the original official MAGA platform will be a huge draw for his fans. Plus, the competing sites will be treated to all the venom he’s capable of spraying.

Assuming the platform doesn’t collapse under the combined weight of bots, pranksters, constant format changes, and incompetence. Which it will. So never mind. The next scene will be blaming Big Tech for his failure and demanding money from the rubes.

Oct. 20

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Organization, Already Under Indictment, Faces New Criminal Inquiry, William K. Rashbaum and Ben Protess, Oct. 20, 2021. The investigation, by the Westchester County district attorney’s office, increases the legal scrutiny of the former president and his family business.

Former President Donald J. Trump’s family business, which is already under indictment in Manhattan, is facing a criminal investigation by another prosecutor’s office that has begun to examine financial dealings at a golf course the company owns, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

In recent months, the district attorney’s office in suburban Westchester County, N.Y., has subpoenaed records from the course, Trump National Golf Club Westchester, and the town of Ossining, which sets property taxes on the course, a sprawling private club that is perched on a hill north of New York City and boasts a 101-foot waterfall.

The full scope of the investigation could not be determined, but the district attorney, Mimi E. Rocah, appears to be focused at least in part on whether Mr. Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, misled local officials about the property’s value to reduce its taxes, one of the people said.

Ms. Rocah, a Democrat, has not accused anyone at the company of wrongdoing, and it is unclear whether the investigation is examining Mr. Trump’s conduct or if it would ultimately lead to any charges. Still, the Westchester inquiry intensifies the law enforcement scrutiny on Mr. Trump and his family business. Both have been the subject of a long-running criminal investigation by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which is examining a range of potential financial and tax improprieties.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Interviewed for 4.5 Hours in Protesters’ Lawsuit, Jonah E. Bromwich, Oct. 20, 2021 (print ed.). The former president was deposed as part of a lawsuit accusing his security guards of roughing up protesters in 2015.

djt hands up mouth open CustomFormer President Donald J. Trump was deposed under oath for four and a half hours this week in connection with a lawsuit filed by a group of protesters who said his bodyguards attacked them in 2015.

The questioning took place in a conference room on the 25th floor of Trump Tower in Manhattan on Monday, according to one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers, Benjamin N. Dictor.

Mr. Dictor said that the former president had been asked about his relationship with other defendants — including his longtime personal bodyguard Keith Schiller — as well as a witness in the case, Matthew Calamari. Mr. Calamari is an executive at the Trump Organization who prosecutors at the Manhattan district attorney’s office have been weighing whether to charge as part of their long-running investigation into Mr. Trump and his family business.

“We think that the fact that Donald J. Trump sat for deposition yesterday is a significant point, simply because this is the first time that the former president has been subject to judicial process since taking office,” Mr. Dictor said.

In a statement released on Monday, Mr. Trump called the suit “baseless,” and said that the plaintiffs “have no one to blame but themselves.” But he added that he had been “pleased to have had the opportunity to tell my side of this ridiculous story.”

Mr. Dictor, a labor lawyer, also represents the New York NewsGuild, a union representing the employees of various news publications including The New York Times.

Other topics that may have arisen in the deposition could also be of interest to investigators and to the general public, including any discussion of the former president’s net worth, which is relevant to the case because the plaintiffs have asked for punitive damages.

The protesters’ lawsuit has had a long life span. It was filed in 2015, shortly after the demonstration at Trump Tower, in which the five plaintiffs, disturbed by Mr. Trump’s campaign trail comments about Mexican people, showed up at Trump Tower holding signs that said “Make America Racist Again.”

Oct. 16

djt jeffrey epstein headshots

Palmer Report, Opinion: The ghost of Jeffrey Epstein is coming back to haunt Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Oct. 16, 2021. Jeffrey Epstein’s remaining secrets died with him in that prison cell – or did they? We’ve all been waiting to see whether or not the ongoing criminal case against Epstein’s longtime sidekick Ghislaine Maxwell ends up unearthing Epstein’s remaining secrets. But in the meantime, Epstein’s ghost is resurfacing in a new and strange way.

bill palmer report logo headerMichael Wolff’s new insider book claims that Steve Bannon was terrified of the secrets that Jeffrey Epstein was holding onto about Donald Trump, and that Bannon in fact admitted as much to Epstein. Of course this kind of insider chatter always raises questions about just who would have told Wolff about this, why this source would have such information, what their motivation would be for providing it, and how slanted it might be as a result.

But those questions aside, you can’t overlook the timing. Steve Bannon is just a couple days away from facing federal criminal prosecution for his failure to testify to the January 6th Committee – and he’s trying to dodge that testimony because he’s afraid of further incriminating himself in the ongoing criminal case against him in New York.

Bannon is on track for prison either way, and we can’t imagine he’s willing to take the fall by himself. If anything, a snake like Bannon will end up spilling his guts around everyone and everything in order to try to reduce or eliminate his own prison time. So if Bannon really does know what Epstein knew about Trump, he may end up giving it up as he tries to get himself off the hook. The thing about these types is they’re never loyal to each other for any longer than they have to be.

Oct. 15

michael wolff too famous landslide coversDaily Beast, Jeffrey Epstein Bragged Bill Barr was in Charge, Not Trump, Lachlan Cartwright, Oct. 15, 2021. The pedophile told Ehud Barak he had “direct knowledge” that Barr was in charge in DC, according to a new book that also claims Steve Bannon gave Epstein advice on his PR strategy.

daily beast logoA controversial new book from the journalist Michael Wolff claims that the pedophile Jeffrey Epstein bragged that Bill Barr was the man in charge during Trump’s time in office and that the president “lets someone else be in charge, until other people realize that someone, other than him, is in charge. When that happens, you’re no longer in charge.”

The tome, Too Famous: The Rich, the Powerful, the Wishful, the Notorious and the Damned, also claims that Steve Bannon and former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak tried to help Epstein rehabilitate his image, even suggesting that he try to get favorable coverage on Rachel Maddow or 60 Minutes.

According to Wolff—who reportedly tried to buy New York Magazine with Epstein and disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein—Barak asked Epstein the million-dollar question of who was in charge at the White House. “‘What I want to know from you all-knowing people is: Who is in charge, who is,’ [Barak] said, putting on an American accent over his own often impenetrable Israeli one, ‘calling the shots?’ This was a resumption of the reliable conversation around Epstein: the ludicrousness and vagaries of Donald Trump—once among Epstein’s closest friends. ‘Here is the question every government is asking. Trump is obviously not in charge because he is—’”

Wolff claims that Epstein interrupted the former politico and called Trump—his former playboy party pal—a “moron,” then confided, “At the moment, Bill Barr is in charge.” The pedophile financier continued: “It’s Donald’s pattern...he lets someone else be in charge, until other people realize that someone, other than him, is in charge. When that happens, you’re no longer in charge.”

Barak allegedly pressed, “But let me ask you, why do you think this Barr took this job, knowing all this?”

“The motivation was simple: money,” Epstein replied. “Barr believes he’ll get a big payday out of this ... If he keeps Donald in office, manages to hold the Justice Department together, and help the Republican Party survive Donald, he thinks this is worth big money to him. I speak from direct knowledge. Extremely direct. Trust me.”

The book also claims that Epstein and Barak, along with Epstein’s lawyer Reid Weingarten, called Steve Bannon—“a new friend [who] had been introduced in December 2017”—and talked over a PR strategy with him to rehabilitate Epstein’s image after the damaging expose by The Miami Herald dredged up allegations that Epstein had molested and raped dozens of underage girls at his properties in Palm Beach, New York, and on his private island in the Caribbean. (Bannon told The New York Times that he disputed Wolff’s account of the conversation and that he “never media-trained anyone.”)

Wolff claims that Bannon laughed to Epstein, “You were the only person I was afraid of during the campaign,” and that Epstein replied, “As well you should have been.”

The pair had “deeply bonded,” the book says, “partly out of a shared incredulity about Donald Trump ... Bannon was often astonished by what Epstein knew.”

Wolff paints Bannon as a man who was eager to advise Epstein on rehabbing his image, despite the many serious accusations against him that he’d serially preyed on very young and very vulnerable girls. “‘So where is the comms piece in this?’” the book quotes Bannon as asking. “‘Who is handling it? Who’s on point? Are these your people, Reid?’”

The book says Bannon pressed Weingarten, Epstein and Barak about why there was “no communications team” and asked “What was the response from Jeffrey’s side to the Florida story? Who engaged? ... He probably can’t be hated any more. We’ve flatlined on this. He can’t get deader. While the chances of reviving him are remote, what’s the alternative?”

Oct. 14

djt phone amazon public images

seth abramson graphicProof via Substack, Investigation and Commentary: Revelation Involving January 2 Call Between Trump and Insurrectionist Leaders Confirms That Trump Coordinated the January 6 Coup Personally, Seth Abramson, left, Oct. 13-14, 2021 (excerpt continued below). In view of this new information, there can no longer be any doubt that the former president (shown above at the White House in a file photo), his lawyers, and top White House advisers were intimately involved in coordinating the chaos of January 6.

Oct. 12

 

john eastmanProof via Substack, Investigation: Trump Lawyer John Eastman Speaks Out About January 6—and Makes Everything Worse for Trump, Seth Abramson, Oct. 11-12, seth abramson graphic2021. In an op-ed for the Sacramento Bee, Eastman, above—one of Trump's lawyers on January 6 and a participant in the former president's Willard Hotel war room—offers a stunning defense of Trump's coup conspiracy.

By January 6, 2021, not a single state legislature in the United States—whether GOP-led or otherwise—had voted to de-certify its presidential electors. Indeed, every state had certified its 2020 election results, including every GOP-led state legislature that sent Biden electors to D.C. for the joint session of Congress scheduled for January 6.

There was, in short, no way for Trump to receive a second term as President of the United States as dawn broke on January 6 and his legal team, including Giuliani and Eastman, met in the Willard Hotel to stage what one participant (domestic extremist Joe Oltmann) would call a “war room.”

seth abramson proof logoIn his Sacremento Bee op-ed, Eastman admits, stunningly, that on January 6 Trump was suffering from the “absence of certifications of alternate Trump electors from the contested states’ legislatures.” In other words, he admits the “Trump electors” he and Giuliani and Trump’s campaign brought to D.C. had no legal status or significance.

Every time Trump or his allies open their mouths to speak about January 6, they bury themselves and the former president further. No wonder Trump had engaged in such extraordinary actions to try to keep his advisers quiet. In Eastman’s case, Trump may have believed that the fact that Eastman was his lawyer on January 6 would keep him quiet; certainly, with the help of Robert Costello, Trump had successfully kept Rudy Giuliani quiet about the most sensitive components of his coup plotting with Trump.

But now that Eastman has spoken, what he’s said cannot be ignored: not by the FBI, not by the House January 6 Committee, and not by the American people. Eastman’s words confirm that the Trumpist coup conspiracy of January 6—which encompassed Trump’s legal team, political staffers, and top advisers within the White House—was centered on extra-legal actions that could only be accomplished by the very paramilitary entities Trump had just spoken with hours earlier.

In the next 72 hours, Proof will issue a breaking news report explaining this last sentence. It’s being written up right now.

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, Analysis: We still don’t know if Trump’s aides will comply with Jan. 6 subpoenas, Jacqueline Alemany and Theodoric Meyer, Oct. 12, 2021. Will they or won't they? The select committee probing the Jan. 6 insurrection has commanded several prominent aides to former president Donald Trump appear this week before lawmakers.

But with just two days to go until the first ex-adviser is scheduled to appear, it's unclear whether any of them will show.

Mark MeadowsThe select panel ordered Mark Meadows, right, Trump's last White House chief of staff, along with ex-Trump advisers Kash Patel and Stephen Bannon, to this week submit depositions surrounding the storming of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob aiming to overturn President Biden's election.

Meadows and Patel are scheduled to provide testimony on Oct. 15 and 14, respectively, according to Sept. 23 letters transmitting subpoenas from the committee. And despite Trump's demands his former allies not comply with congressional investigators, the committee confirmed last week the two former aides are “engaging” with them.

If they don't show, the panel's chair and ranking member say they will rapidly consider criminal contempt of Congress. Which, to say the least, would dramatically escalate the situation.

Investigators were delayed in serving a subpoena to longtime Trump adviser Dan Scavino, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, potentially putting Scavino on a delayed timetable to provide documents and testimony.

Bannon, however, is not cooperating. He said last week he would not comply with the Jan. 6 panel's sweeping request for documents and testimony, setting up a legal and political battle as the committee seeks to uncover what Trump and his aides did during the Jan. 6 attack and the events leading up to it.

 

djt tump int hotel

wsj logoWall Street Journal, Trump Close to a Deal to Sell Marquee Washington, D.C., Hotel, Staff Report, Oct. 12, 2021. Miami-based CGI Merchant Group in talks to pay ex-president’s family company around $370 million for property in former Old Post Office. The Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., attracted supporters of Donald Trump, Republican lawmakers, lobbyists and others with business before the Trump administration.

djt hands up mouth open CustomFormer President Donald Trump’s family company is in advanced discussions to sell the rights to its opulent Washington, D.C., hotel in a deal worth more than $370 million, say people familiar with the matter.

CGI Merchant Group, a Miami-based investment firm, is in talks to acquire the lease on the hotel, these people said. The Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C., is located in the former Old Post Office, a short walk down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House in a building featuring some of the largest guest rooms in the capital.

The property is owned by the federal government, but with extensions the lease runs close to 100 years. CGI has also entered into discussions with hotel operators, including Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc.’s Waldorf Astoria luxury brand, about removing the Trump name in favor of that of another hotel manager, these people said.

The lease deal could ultimately fetch closer to $400 million, which would represent roughly a doubling of the money the Trump Organization spent to convert the government building into a luxury hotel, said one of the people familiar with the matter.

The Trump Organization initially hoped to sell the lease for close to $500 million, a person familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal in 2019.

The hotel sales talks have been heating up as Democratic-controlled House committees have been investigating and holding hearings on potential conflicts of interest and emoluments issues surrounding Mr. Trump.

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform has been examining the lease terms between the Trump Organization and the federal government’s General Services Administration for use of the Old Post Office. The deal predates Mr. Trump’s entry into national politics, but the committee is probing how well Mr. Trump managed conflicts of interest while president.

A Friday report from the House committee said the hotel lost more than $70 million between its opening in 2016 and last year, leading the company to inject at least $24 million in aid.

The Trumps have disputed those findings, though their government filings show a slowdown in business. The hotel generated about $150 million in revenue over four years, according to Mr. Trump’s financial disclosures while president. His most recent disclosure, which covered all of 2020 and the first few weeks of 2021, showed the hotel’s revenue fell to $15 million, compared with $40 million in 2019.

The Washington, D.C., hotel has been a jewel in the Trump family portfolio. In 2012, the Trumps beat out some of the most experienced and deepest-pocketed names in the lodging business, including Marriott International Inc. and Hilton, for the rights to the lease.

The family’s pledge to spend about $200 million renovating and converting the 19th century post office into a modern luxury hotel was the highest offer, say people familiar with the matter.

About two years ago, the Trumps decided to test the sales market for the hotel’s lease. The family initially hoped it could sell the lease for close to $500 million, a person familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal at the time.

Oct. 11 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."

Proof via Substack, Investigative Commentary: If You Know Who Steve Bannon's Lawyer Is, You Understand How Closely Trump Is Linked to the Cover-Up of His Own seth abramson graphicRole in the January 6 Conspiracy, Seth Abramson, left, Oct. 10-11, 2021. Suspicious, possibly corrupt conduct by lawyer Robert Costello confirms Trump is doing more than using public declarations to obstruct the January 6 investigation—he's using his usual backroom ploys.

seth abramson proof logoIntroduction: Perhaps no top Donald Trump adviser was more important to the former president’s January 6 attack on our democracy than Steve Bannon. Whereas Kimberly Guilfoyle, Katrina Pierson, and Peter Navarro acted as adjuncts to Trump’s will, Bannon’s role was to shape it—to give his patron a vision of what was possible if he’d simply cease thinking (or continue not to think) of the future of the United States or its rule of law.

We know that Bannon recently revealed, in a conference call with GOP leaders, a plan to “control this country” via “20,000 shock troops”—neo-fascists personally recruited by Bannon and ready to seize control of America’s ship of state as soon as the GOP is again in power.

And we know that Bannon now claims the power to defy Congressional subpoenas, with his fig-leaf in asserting this unprecedented right being the absurd declaration that anyone who speaks to a president is protected from ever having to reveal what was said in such a conversation—whether or not they were a member of the federal executive branch when the conversation occurred. It’s rank nonsense, of course (and dangerous nonsense, at that).

But what Americans must now understand is how closely coordinated with Trump Bannon’s defiance of U.S. law appears to be—and how vital to Trump’s own interests it is that Bannon remain quiet, given the white supremacist Trump adviser’s infamous Insurrection Eve claim that “all hell is going to break loose [on January 6].”

Robert Costello Is Either Donald Trump’s Lawyer or the Equivalent

On December 11, 2020, the then-under-indictment Bannon hired Robert J. Costello as his criminal defense lawyer. Thirteen months earlier, in November 2019, Costello had been hired by Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani, who was then facing—and still faces—a federal criminal investigation of his own.
It took under six weeks for Trump’s lawyer’s lawyer to get Trump to pardon Bannon.

You might think that Bannon’s ease in getting a pardon from Trump was due in part to him working for Trump as an adviser during the period he was seeking that pardon, and you’d be right.

But what you might not realize is that Bannon’s connection to Trump came not just in phone calls with the then-president or meetings with the president’s attorney, but via his own lawyer Robert Costello—who, it turns out, is effectively Trump’s advocate as much as he is Bannon’s. And Costello doesn’t just seem to work for Trump, his specific task appears to be getting men who have dirt on Trump to stay quiet in exchange for Trump’s aid.

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).

 

oan logo

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective: Trump’s favorite channel, One America News, was never ‘news’ at all, Margaret Sullivan, right, Oct. 11, 2021 (print ed.). A stunning margaret sullivan 2015 photoReuters exposé demonstrates that for OAN, “it was never, never the full truth” when covering Trump.

The whitewashing and denialism of the Jan. 6 insurrection started at One America News on that very same day.

As President Donald Trump tried to overturn the legitimate results of the presidential election — inciting a deadly riot along the way — the cable robert herring sr croppedchannel’s brass were sending an all-too-clear message to their team about how to cover this horrifying event.

“Please DO NOT say ‘Trump Supporters Storm Capitol. . . .’ Simply call them demonstrators or protestors. . . . DO NOT CALL IT A RIOT!!!” came the impassioned email directive from a news director to the staff.

The next day, OAN’s top boss, founder Robert Herring Sr., left, ordered producers to get in line behind the president, as he floated the conspiracy theory that it wasn’t Trump supporters breaking those windows and storming those barricades — that it was the leftist movement reuters logoantifa instead.

When Reuters, the global news agency, published its two-part investigation last week of OAN, the most startling finding was that AT&T indirectly provided 90 percent of the channel’s revenue, after letting it be known that it was eager to host a new conservative cable network.

att logoYes, the world’s largest communications company played a major role in creating and sustaining the far-right channel that spins wacky ideas, promotes fraudulent covid-19 cures and, in its fervor, makes the pro-Trump market leader, Fox News, look almost reasonable. (AT&T has challenged aspects of Reuters’ reporting and said that the company, through its offshoot, DirecTV, provides “viewpoints across the political spectrum.”)

But just as noteworthy as AT&T’s involvement was the way Reuters’s John Shiffman pulled back the curtain on how the San Diego-based network operates, relying in part on court documents.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The fight between Biden and Trump over executive privilege should be decided in favor of the sitting president, Laurent Sacharoff (law professor at the University of Arkansas School of Law), Oct. 11, 2021 (print ed.). Whose privilege is it anyway?

The Jan. 6 select committee’s investigation has escalated along two main fronts. It has demanded Trump-era documents from the National Archives and subpoenaed his former aides to testify.

In the past few days, former president Donald Trump has objected to both inquiries by asserting executive privilege, in a formal letter to the National Archives and by way of individual letters to each potential witness. He is doing so, he has said, “in defense of the Office of the Presidency.”

President Biden has said that the extraordinary circumstances of the Jan. 6 inquiry justify waiving claims of privilege, at least over the archive documents. As for witnesses, Biden has hinted that he will not assert the privilege over most information central to the inquiry into the Jan. 6 attack.

These inconsistent positions raise two questions: Do former presidents have constitutional authority to invoke executive privilege to keep private their communications with top advisers? If so, what happens if the incumbent president disagrees and they end up in court?

The answer in this murky corner of constitutional law isn’t entirely clear — executive privilege itself isn’t mentioned in the Constitution and there have only been a few Supreme Court cases on the subject.

My view is that a president’s ability to invoke executive privilege ends with the presidency. After all, the framers were crafting a chief executive whose power was limited in tenure, unlike the British monarch. As a practical matter, the incumbent president’s interest in safeguarding the institutional interests of the presidency should provide sufficient protection.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: One more time Trump tried to undo the will of the voters, Ruth Marcus, right, Oct. 10, 2021 (print ed.). Jeffrey Clark asked the attorney ruth marcus twitter Customgeneral for a lift on the way to topple him.

It was Sunday evening, Jan. 3. Clark, a previously obscure Justice Department official, had caught President Trump’s eye as a willing accomplice jeffrey rosenin seeking to overturn the election results — a role that Jeffrey Rosen, left, the acting attorney general, had shown he was unwilling to play.

So Trump, meeting with Clark behind Rosen’s back, had offered to install him in the top job. Clark, then the acting head of the civil division — and a colleague of Rosen’s stretching back decades in government and private practice — told Rosen he’d let him stay on, as the department’s number two.

Now, Rosen and Clark were headed to the White House for a hastily scheduled showdown with the president. Could Clark get a ride in the AG’s motorcade?

Justice Department log circular“Maybe this was ungracious of me, but I declined,” Rosen told Senate Judiciary Committee investigators in an interview transcript released Thursday.

The interviews, with Rosen and others, were included in a committee report that offers new details — some amusing, others chilling — of the slow-motion coup gathering steam inside the Trump administration even before the public insurrection of Jan. 6. The new material underscores the imperative of hearing from Clark himself. What did the president say to him in their private meetings? How did Clark get connected with Rep. Scott Perry, the Pennsylvania Republican who introduced him to Trump? Who else was involved? The last best hope of obtaining Clark’s testimony appears to be the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.

As outlined in the report, the White House meeting opened with Trump brazenly summarizing the choice before him. “One thing we know is you, Rosen, aren’t going to do anything to overturn the election,” Trump said, according to Rosen. Let that sink in: A sitting president, in the Oval Office no less, announcing that he wants an attorney general who will use the Justice Department to undo the will of the voters.

Specifically, Clark was willing to do what Rosen wouldn’t: send a letter to officials in Georgia — to be replicated with other contested states — declaring that the Justice Department had “taken notice” of “irregularities” in the election and calling on the state to convene a special session of the legislature. This was so preposterously outside the department’s purview that Rosen had summarily refused Clark’s entreaties. Clark, for his part, told Rosen that he’d turn down Trump’s offer to become attorney general if Rosen would simply send the letters himself.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. Capitol Police’s failure to share intelligence internally crippled its Jan. 6 response, former official says, Mariana Alfaro, Oct. 11, 2021. In a joint statement responding to the criticism, members of the Capitol Police’s executive team said many of the problems described in the letter have been addressed.

A former senior official in the U.S. Capitol Police accused two of the department’s top officials of failing to properly share vital intelligence in the days ahead of the Jan. 6 insurrection, crippling the response to the attack.

yogananda pittmanIn a blistering letter to Congress, the former official claims that Assistant Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman, right, and acting assistant chief Sean Gallagher received an intelligence report on Dec. 21 that had specific warnings and information about a potential riot similar to a report that the FBI later provided to the department on Jan. 5.

In the 16-page letter, dated Sept. 28, the former official claims that Pittman and Gallagher deliberately never shared this December intelligence report with other department officials or used it to update security assessments provided to Capitol Police officers.

Sharing that information, the former official alleges, could have “changed the paradigm of that day” and “would have provided the documentation needed to support securing the National Guard and other allied agency manpower for January 6th.” It also would have provided the intelligence needed to procure hard gear and other weapons.

A pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 to try to stop the counting of electoral college votes affirming President Biden’s win. In the worst attack on the seat of democracy since the War of 1812, four people died and an officer who had been sprayed with a powerful chemical irritant, Brian D. Sicknick, suffered a stroke and died the following day. Some 140 members of law enforcement were injured as rioters attacked them wielding flagpoles, baseball bats, stun guns, bear spray and pepper spray.

The individual, who sought anonymity for privacy reasons, declined to comment Monday beyond the letter, saying he wants the focus on the allegations he raised. “This is not about me,” the former official said.

In a joint statement responding to the criticism, members of the Capitol Police’s executive team — which includes Pittman and Gallagher along with Chief of Police J. Thomas Manger — said that while “there is more work to do, many of the problems described in the letter have been addressed.”

The former official claims Pittman lied to Congress when she claimed that the critical information detailed in that December report was shared with assistant chiefs and deputy chiefs. The information contained warnings that individuals online were sharing maps of the Capitol campus and were planning on confronting members of Congress while armed. Pittman told Congress that senior officials in the department were aware of these reports, but the former official claims that this is “unconditionally false.”

“It was never sent or shared. It also was never used to update any intelligence brief forwarded to the commanders,” the official writes, claiming that Gallagher and Pittman were the only officials who had “all the intelligence information” on Jan. 6.

 Related Recent Headlines

Oct. 10

 MIDNIGHT IN WASHINGTON: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could

By Adam Schiff. Random House. 510 pp. $30.

adam schiff march 20 2019 hearing cnn screenshot

washington post logoWashington Post, Book Review: Adam Schiff points to a second insurrection — by members of Congress themselves, Carlos Lozada, Oct. 10, 2021 (print ed.). In his memoir, the House Intelligence Committee chair (shown above) argues America barely passed Trump’s “stress test” of American democracy .

How do you know when democracy is threatened?

Well, an actual physical assault is a good tip-off. “Be prepared to don your gas mask in the event the room is breached,” a Capitol Police officer warned Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and his fellow lawmakers in the House chamber on Jan. 6, as rioters penetrated the building. “Be prepared to get down under your chairs if necessary.”

Schiff begins his memoir, Midnight in Washington, with scenes of that day, recalling that, as they huddled in a secure location within the Capitol complex, some of his colleagues were already considering whether to impeach President Donald Trump for inciting the attack. But the violence against the Capitol — carried out when lawmakers gathered to certify the 2020 election results — was not the only offensive against the American experiment that Schiff witnessed. “What took place inside our chamber, with the challenge to the electors, was every bit as much an attack on our democracy,” he asserts. “We can reinforce the doors and put up fences. But we cannot guard our democracy against those who walk the halls of Congress, have taken an oath to uphold our Constitution, but refuse to do so.”

In effect, there were two insurrections, not one, Schiff argues, and he is more interested in the insurrectionists wearing suits and ties than in the shirtless ones in buffalo horns. “We came so close to losing our democracy,” he writes, looking back on the varied political and legalistic efforts to overturn the 2020 vote and to convince the public that the contest was illegitimate. “The system held, if barely.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: One more time Trump tried to undo the will of the voters, Ruth Marcus, right, Oct. 10, 2021 (print ed.). Jeffrey Clark asked the attorney ruth marcus twitter Customgeneral for a lift on the way to topple him.

It was Sunday evening, Jan. 3. Clark, a previously obscure Justice Department official, had caught President Trump’s eye as a willing accomplice jeffrey rosenin seeking to overturn the election results — a role that Jeffrey Rosen, left, the acting attorney general, had shown he was unwilling to play.

So Trump, meeting with Clark behind Rosen’s back, had offered to install him in the top job. Clark, then the acting head of the civil division — and a colleague of Rosen’s stretching back decades in government and private practice — told Rosen he’d let him stay on, as the department’s number two.

Now, Rosen and Clark were headed to the White House for a hastily scheduled showdown with the president. Could Clark get a ride in the AG’s motorcade?

Justice Department log circular“Maybe this was ungracious of me, but I declined,” Rosen told Senate Judiciary Committee investigators in an interview transcript released Thursday.

The interviews, with Rosen and others, were included in a committee report that offers new details — some amusing, others chilling — of the slow-motion coup gathering steam inside the Trump administration even before the public insurrection of Jan. 6. The new material underscores the imperative of hearing from Clark himself. What did the president say to him in their private meetings? How did Clark get connected with Rep. Scott Perry, the Pennsylvania Republican who introduced him to Trump? Who else was involved? The last best hope of obtaining Clark’s testimony appears to be the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.

As outlined in the report, the White House meeting opened with Trump brazenly summarizing the choice before him. “One thing we know is you, Rosen, aren’t going to do anything to overturn the election,” Trump said, according to Rosen. Let that sink in: A sitting president, in the Oval Office no less, announcing that he wants an attorney general who will use the Justice Department to undo the will of the voters.

Specifically, Clark was willing to do what Rosen wouldn’t: send a letter to officials in Georgia — to be replicated with other contested states — declaring that the Justice Department had “taken notice” of “irregularities” in the election and calling on the state to convene a special session of the legislature. This was so preposterously outside the department’s purview that Rosen had summarily refused Clark’s entreaties. Clark, for his part, told Rosen that he’d turn down Trump’s offer to become attorney general if Rosen would simply send the letters himself.

Oct. 9

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Time to aggressively prosecute Trump machine to the fullest extent of the law! Webster Griffin Tarpley, right, Oct. 9, 2021. House AND Senate webster tarpley twittercommittees close in on GOP crimes of January 6 and in months-long effort to use Department of Justice to subvert November vote count; Mitch blinks on debt default;

Jobless rate falls from 5.2% to 4.8% in a month, but Wall Street’s controlled media can‘t contain their ”disappointment”;

Rejecting unrealistic advice from outside ”experts,” Biden signals abundant booster availability in US while increasing vaccine exports;
Defeatist essay by neocon prince Kagan unleashes wave of fashionable panic among liberals: he calls for popular front against fascism with ”zombie” GOPers like Romey informed by ”republican virtue” (!!);

”Mr. Globalization” Thomas Friedman challenges Dems to show the courage of Liz Cheney, but cannot see this would be devastating for working-class base; New York Times resident reactionary Douthat foolishly downplays danger of Trump dictatorship;

Jonathan Chait does better, judging that ”anybody fighting Biden now is helping Trump’s next coup,” since ”all Republican politics is now functionally authoritarian”; But all fall short of calling for outright extinction of Republican Party, the surest way to defend Constitutional government.

Oct. 8

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Tells Former Aides to Defy Subpoenas From Jan. 6 Panel, Luke Broadwater and Maggie Haberman, Oct. 8, 2021 (print ed.). Former President Trump’s instruction raises the prospect of the committee issuing criminal referrals for some of his close advisers as early as Friday.

Former President Donald J. Trump has instructed his former aides not to comply with subpoenas from the special congressional committee investigating the Capitol riot, raising the prospect of the panel issuing criminal referrals for some of his closest advisers as early as Friday.

In a letter reviewed by The New York Times, Mr. Trump’s lawyer asked that witnesses not provide testimony or documents related to their “official” duties, and instead to invoke any immunities they might have “to the fullest extent permitted by law.”

The House committee has ordered four former Trump administration officials — Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff; Dan Scavino Jr., a deputy chief of staff; Stephen K. Bannon, an adviser; and Kash Patel, a Pentagon chief of staff — to sit for depositions and furnish documents and other materials relevant to its investigation. They all faced a Thursday deadline to respond.

Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the select committee, has threatened criminal referrals for witnesses who do not comply with the subpoenas, and said the committee expected witnesses “to cooperate fully with our probe.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Bannon refuses to comply with congressional investigators seeking information about the Jan. 6 insurrection, Tom Hamburger, Oct. 8, 2021. Former White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon has notified the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol that he cannot comply with the panel’s sweeping request for documents and testimony, according to a letter Bannon’s attorney sent to the committee.

The letter from his attorney, Robert Costello, notes that former president Donald Trump’s attorney recently asked Bannon to defy the lawmakers’ request for documents or information citing executive privilege, the doctrine cited by presidents to protect access to notes and communications related to holding the office of the president.

“It is therefore clear to us that since the executive privileges belong to President Trump and he has, through his counsel, announced his intention to assert those privileges...we must accept his direction and honor his invocation of executive privilege,” Costello wrote Thursday, the deadline for responding to subpoena requests.

The committee had also requested documents and interview from other prominent Trump administration officials, including former chief of staff Mark Meadows, former deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino, and Kash Patel, who later went to work at the Pentagon.

The response from Bannon — and the other former Trump officials — is likely to set off a battle in the courts over congressional subpoena power in the face of objections from a former president.

Already, members of the Jan. 6 committee are urging a tough response to those refusing to cooperate with the inquiry.

“This is a matter of the utmost seriousness and we need to consider the full panoply of enforcement sanctions available to us,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) a constitutional law professor who sits on the Select Committee. “And that means criminal contempt citations, civil contempt citations and the use of Congress’s own inherent contempt powers.”

Proof via Substack, Investigative Commentary: New Evidence Emerges About Where Congresswoman Lauren Boebert Was in the Hours Before the January 6 seth abramson graphicAttack, Seth Abramson, left, Oct.7- 8, 2021. While we don't yet know all the details of this newly discovered, secretive Insurrection Eve meeting, what we do know points to it being critical—and suggests it may have been held at the White House.

Introduction: Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) may have one of the most peculiar backgrounds of any person ever to serve in the United States Congress. The New York Post notes that despite being fairly young—Boebert entered Congress at the age of 34—the Colorado politician has, along with her husband Jayson, “racked up arrests” in her home state, and is widely known for “dust-ups” with uniformed police.

The Denver Post called Boebert’s criminal record “unusually long” for anyone seeking public office, let alone someone who loudly and repeatedly professes her love for the police. The Post also adds to the criminal incidents mentioned above another fact-pattern that involved involve allegations of Criminal Harassment and many instances of the now-Congresswoman skipping out on court dates without explanation. During one of her several arrests she loudly declared that the careers of the arresting officers would be ruined once she exposed them through her “friends at Fox News.” A friend of the police Lauren Boebert certainly was not in the years leading up to her implicit encouragement of violence against police officers at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

The congresswoman, who regularly deletes tweets just after posting them, infamously tweeted “Today is 1776” on Insurrection Day, and then not once but twice tweeted out the location of members of Congress, including House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), as the attack unfolded.

Boebert was later accused by her peers of giving a “large” Capitol tour to a group of unidentified persons on Insurrection Eve.

Boebert’s history of deceit, violence, lawlessness, and contempt for rule of law raises the natural question of what role she may have played in encouraging and seth abramson proof logofacilitating the attack on the Capitol on January 6. Because Boebert wasn’t sworn into office until January 3—just 72 hours before the attack—there was little opportunity for her to be actively engaged in a Capitol plot as a congresswoman (that is, at the level potentially available to a newly minted insurrectionist member of the House) until January 4 at the earliest. This makes the question of how Lauren Boebert spent her first 48 hours in Congress—post-January 3, pre-January 6—of great interest to federal investigators.

Due to some fantastic sleuthing by a Proof reader, Proof has new information on this....[reserved for "Proof" subscribers]

With the Guardian reporting that Trump is “preparing to direct” some of his top aides—including former chief of staff Mark Meadows, former Trump political adviser Dan Scavino (who now appears to be missing), and former post-election Trump whisperer Steve Bannon—to defy Congressional subpoenas, the discovery that a non-executive branch employee like Boebert, who can’t claim executive privilege, may have been at one of the most important and secretive insurrection planning meetings could change the scope of the House January 6 Committee investigation considerably. Let’s hope so.

himself has already lied about that day so many times that anything he tells the FBI now will directly contradict at least two or three of prior public statements.

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, D.C. Trump hotel made millions from foreign nations but still struggled, documents show, Jonathan O'Connell and David A. Fahrenthold, Oct. 8, 2021. Hundreds of pages of the hotel’s financial documents show that the federally leased hotel lost $71 million while Trump was in office.

Donald Trump’s luxury Washington hotel lost more than $70 million while he was in office despite reaping millions in payments from foreign governments, according to federal documents released by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Friday.

carolyn maloney oThe committee, chaired by Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), right, released hundreds of pages of financial documents on the property Friday that it received from the General Services Administration, the agency that leased the federally owned property to Trump’s company beginning in 2013.

Maloney and Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) allege the documents show that Trump received an estimated $3.7 million from foreign governments and received preferential treatment from Deutsche Bank when the bank allowed Trump to defer payments for six years on the principal of the property’s $170 million loan.

The findings “raise new and troubling questions about former President Trump’s lease with GSA and the agency’s ability to manage the former President’s conflicts of interest during his term in office when he was effectively on both sides of the contract, as landlord and tenant,” the two Democrats said in a news release.

Maloney and Connolly also wrote a 27-page letter Friday to GSA administrator Robin Carnahan saying the documents warranted further investigation.

Previous reporting from The Washington Post showed the 263-room property was running about half empty and losing money, but the documents provide by far the most detailed accounting to date of the hotel and how Trump won the contract for the lease in 2013.

Oct. 7

ny times logoNew York Times, Report Cites New Details of Trump Pressure on Justice Dept. Over Election, Katie Benner, Oct. 7, 2021 (print ed.). A Senate panel fleshed out how Donald Trump pursued his plan to install a loyalist as acting attorney general to pursue unfounded reports of fraud. It provides the most complete account yet of Mr. Trump’s efforts and describes how officials fought them off.

Even by the standards of President Donald J. Trump, it was an extraordinary Oval Office showdown. On the agenda was Mr. Trump’s desire to install a loyalist as acting attorney general to carry out his demands for more aggressive investigations into his unfounded claims of election fraud.

Justice Department log circularOn the other side during that meeting on the evening of Jan. 3 were the top leaders of the Justice Department, who warned Mr. Trump that they and other senior officials would resign en masse if he followed through. They received immediate support from another key participant: Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel. According to others at the meeting, Mr. Cipollone indicated that he and his top deputy, Patrick F. Philbin, would also step down if Mr. Trump acted on his plan.

Mr. Trump’s proposed plan, Mr. Cipollone argued, would be a “murder-suicide pact,” one participant recalled. Only near the end of the nearly three-hour meeting did Mr. Trump relent and agree to drop his threat.

Mr. Cipollone’s stand that night is among the new details contained in a lengthy interim report prepared by the Senate Judiciary Committee about Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure the Justice Department to do his bidding in the chaotic final weeks of his presidency.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Republican election strategy comes out of Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa, Wayne Madsen, left, Oct. 7, 2021. The gerrymandering of U.S. House of Representatives and wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallstate legislative seats, as well as the adoption of restrictive voting laws and partisan vote counting "audits" and unofficial election oversight by pro-Donald Trump GOP hacks, comes straight out of the segregationist policies of minority wayne madesen report logowhite-ruled Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa.

Republicans in states like Texas, Florida, Georgia, Arizona, and other states, fearful of shrinking white populations and the voting clout of non-white groups, have decided to opt for the minority-rule election tricks employed by the two racist regimes in Rhodesia and South Africa. By resorting to the minority-rule and apartheid playbooks, Republicans hope to ensure continued white rule with only a facade of democratic legitimacy.

Oct. 5

 

Former Trump White House Press Secretary and First Lady Chief of Staff and Communications Director Stephanie Grisham in a CNN interview (File photo).

Former Trump White House Press Secretary and First Lady Chief of Staff and Communications Director Stephanie Grisham in a CNN interview (File photo).

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: I told the Trumps my relationship with a White House staffer had turned abusive. They didn’t seem to care, Stephanie Grisham, Oct. 5, 2021. Stephanie Grisham served as chief of staff to the first lady, press secretary and communications director in the Trump White House. Her book “I’ll Take Your Questions Now: What I Saw at the Trump White House” publishes Tuesday.

stephanie grisham coverAfter being by their sides for almost six years, I knew Donald and Melania Trump about as well as anyone, or so I thought. And they knew me. A hungry gossip, the president showed an ongoing interest in my relationship with my boyfriend, a fellow White House staffer, and asked intimate questions about our relationship.

He and the first lady invited us as a couple to events, with Trump conferring on us his stock compliment, “right out of central casting.” They knew when we got a dog for my birthday. They knew when we broke up.

They also knew when the relationship turned abusive — and they didn’t seem to care.

One day, while meeting with Mrs. Trump alone, she asked how I was holding up after our breakup. My eyes started to well up. I had been holding in the fact that the end of our relationship had become violent, reaching its worst point on the day I left. I told the first lady that he got physical with me.

She asked me if I had called the police and I said no, explaining that this close to the election, it wouldn’t be good to have yet another domestic abuse scandal hanging over the administration. I also had no proof. She nodded and did not push the matter further. As far as I know, she told no one.

A few weeks later, after the first presidential debate, I was with President Trump on Air Force One. Noting that my ex was also in our entourage, the president asked me if it was tough to have seen him at the debate. He then began to tell me how broken up my ex had been about the split and expressed sympathy for him.

Oct. 4

donald trump money palmer report Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump, talked out of launching a 2024 bid yet, settles on a wink-and-nod approach, Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey, Oct. 4, 2021. The former president’s advisers fear an early announcement would complicate his fundraising and other activities.

As turmoil in Afghanistan reached a crescendo in August, Donald Trump began talking again with advisers about whether he should announce his 2024 campaign for president right away.

They responded by urging patience, according to three people familiar with the discussions, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. An announcement would force a reshuffling of his newly formed fundraising apparatus, advisers argued, and could complicate his ability to appear on broadcast television without triggering equal time rules.

Some of his advisers were concerned that Democrats might use his announcement in their effort to frame the midterm elections around his candidacy, potentially boosting their own turnout and hampering his plans if Republicans fall short next year. Advisers also argued that he could be more effective electing like-minded Republicans next year if he was not an official candidate himself.

Oct. 3

I’LL TAKE YOUR QUESTIONS NOW: What I Saw at the Trump White House
By Stephanie Grisham. Harper. 329 pp. $28.99

washington post logoWashington Post, Book Review: An aide dishes on the Trump White House. But what does she say for herself? Carlos Lozada, Oct. 3, 2021 (print ed.). One of the saddest and cringiest moments — out of many — in Stephanie Grisham’s memoir of her years in the Trump White House occurs at Mar-a-Lago, in the middle of the Stormy Daniels scandal. Grisham, then communications director for first lady Melania Trump, felt sorry for her boss and proposed that the two take a walk along the beach. Grisham hoped to “comfort her as a friend,” she writes, to “hang out woman to woman,” to give Melania a chance to unburden herself.

“And there will be photographers?” the first lady asked. Melania, Grisham realized, assumed it was just another press event that her aide was setting up. She did not acknowledge, or even recognize, the overture of friendship. “I felt like such an ass to have offered,” Grisham admits.

In that exchange, Grisham committed a mistake that so many Trump acolytes make, and one she would repeat in her years working for the first lady and the president. She thought she belonged. “Everyone just loves you,” Donald Trump assured Grisham when he named her White House press secretary. She came to believe that she was “a trusted and valued member of Trump World.” Right up until she wasn’t.

It’s not easy writing a White House tell-all when it feels like so much about this White House has already been told. The substantive revelations in Grisham’s “I’ll Take Your Questions Now” are matters of detail, coloring in a picture whose contours have long been clear.

Oct. 2

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Trump forces seen preparing creeping coup against US Constitution! Webster G. Tarpley, right, Oct. 2, 2021. Biden calls for patience to pass webster tarpley twitterbipartisan infrastructure bill; Reconciliation bill likely to shrink below $3.5tr target; Neocons scare liberals with defeatist putsch scenarios, but forget Trump lacks magical powers.

  • Government shutdown averted by continuing resolution that extends federal funding through December 3
  • Democrats eye abolition of debt ceiling, a pernicious device that only serves GOP destabilization of US government; Time to implement Fourteenth Amendment, which makes debt ceiling, default, and national bankruptcy all illegal and unconstitutional!
    German election shows left shift to SPD, but ultra-lefts are decimated and anti-vaccine demagogy falls flat; Anti-immigrant party fares poorly
  • A distant mirror for budget brinksmanship: the March 1933 Weimar debate about funding jobless benefits which brought down the Mueller SPD government; from then on, no government could muster a majority in parliament, speeding advent of Hitler 3 years later

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump asks court to force Twitter to reinstate his account, Adela Suliman, Oct. 2, 2021. The former president seeks a preliminary injunction while his lawsuit against the social media giant proceeds.

Former president Donald Trump has asked a court to mandate that Twitter restore his social media account.

donald trump twitterIn a filing late Friday, Trump asked a federal district judge for a preliminary injunction enabling his return to Twitter while his lawsuit against the social media giant continues.

“Plaintiff Donald J. Trump respectfully moves for a preliminary injunction directing, inter alia, Defendant Twitter, Inc. and all persons acting in concert with Defendant, to reinstate Plaintiff’s access to Defendant’s social media platform(s),” the filing said.

twitter bird CustomIt argued that Twitter was “censoring” Trump by indefinitely banning him from the platform, adding that the company “exercises a degree of power and control over political discourse in this country that is immeasurable, historically unprecedented, and profoundly dangerous to open democratic debate.”

The filing also argued that Twitter had suspended Trump’s account after being “coerced” by his political rivals in Congress.

Twitter banned Trump from its platform on Jan. 8, stating that two of his tweets had violated the company’s policies and citing “the risk of further incitement of violence.” The unprecedented move came after the riot on Jan. 6 in which hundreds of Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attack that resulted in five deaths and left about 140 police officers injured.

 

September

Sept. 30

Jan. 6 Capitol Insurrection

capitol riot jan 6 jose luis magana ap

Rioters wave flags in front of the U.S. Capitol. The Pentagon has faced scorching criticism for taking hours to deploy National Guard units to the Capitol on Jan. 6. | Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo

Wayne Madsen Report, Opinion: Members of the Supreme Court should be investigated for role in insurrection, Wayne Madsen, left, Sept. 30, 2021. At least two wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallmembers of the dominant Trump faction on the Supreme Court are worthy of being investigated for their possible roles in the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Justice Samuel Alito was considered the "go-to" member of the court by one-time Donald Trump election challenge attorney Sidney Powell. wayne madesen report logoPowell, whose veracity on a number of issues has been shown to be severely lacking, may have acted out of character by revealing the game plan behind Trump's encouragement of his supporters halting the congressional certification of the Electoral College count on January 6.

Powell and John Eastman, another Trump election challenge attorney, as well as Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX) were attempting to have Alito issue a Supreme Court emergency injunction halting the January 6 certification process by Congress under the provisions of the 12th Amendment of the Constitution.

Then there is Clarence Thomas. The role of his wife, Ginni Thomas, in promoting the January 6th events on her Facebook page, resulted in her apologizing to her husband's former law clerks.

If need be, Alito, Clarence Thomas, and his wife should be subpoenaed by the House Select Committee on January 6th. If they refuse, they should be charged with contempt of Congress and, of course, they can always just "tell it to the judge."

washington post logoWashington Post, House Jan. 6 committee issues subpoenas for pro-Trump rally organizers, Jacqueline Alemany, Tom Hamburger and Carol D. Leonnig, Sept. 30, 2021. The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol issued subpoenas to 11 people associated with or involved in the planning of pro-Trump rallies that preceded the violent insurrection.

The subpoenas announced on Wednesday evening by the committee come a week after it issued subpoenas targeting two top Trump White House officials, the chief of staff to the acting defense secretary, and longtime Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon.

Several of the newly subpoenaed are rally organizers — including the founders and staff of the pro-Trump Women for America First group — who could face questions about reports that the group had concerns about the “Stop the Steal” rally turning into an illegal and chaotic march on the Capitol. They may also be able to shed light on the degree to which the former president and his senior White House aides knew about their fears of chaos on Jan 6.

The subpoenas ask that Amy Kremer, a stalwart supporter of Trump and the founder of Women for America First — the group that sponsored the Stop the Steal rally on the Ellipse — provide documents and appear for a deposition before the committee.

The best-known person on the list of new subpoenas may be Katrina Pierson, who served as Trump campaign spokesman in 2016, worked with a pro-Trump political organization during the Trump’s term in office, and reportedly served as an informal liaison between the White House and the rally on the Ellipse. The letter sent to her Wednesday cites reports “that you participated in a meeting with President Trump in the Oval Office on Jan. 4., 2021,” about the rallies planned in coming days. The subpoena seeks documents and testimony related to her discussions about the rallies.

The committee is also seeking information from Kremer’s daughter Kylie, who assisted her mother in organizing the rally, along with Maggie Mulvaney, the niece of former acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. Mulvaney was listed as a “VIP Lead” on the permit for the event and served as the director of finance for the Trump campaign.

 

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: A Trump lawyer wrote an instruction manual for a coup. Why haven’t you seen it on the news? Margaret Sullivan, right, Sept. 30, 2021 (print ed.). margaret sullivan 2015 photoIn a normal world, the “Eastman memo” would be infamous by now, the way “Access Hollywood” became the popular shorthand in 2016 for the damning recording of Donald Trump’s bragging about groping women.

But it’s a good bet that most people have never even heard of the Eastman memo.

That says something troubling about how blasé the mainstream press has become about the attempted coup in the aftermath of the 2020 election — and how easily a coup could succeed next time.

The memo, unearthed in Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s new book, is a stunner. Written by Trump legal adviser John Eastman — a serious Establishment Type with Federalist Society cred and a law school deanship under his belt — it offered Mike Pence, then in his final days as vice president, a detailed plan to declare the 2020 election invalid and give the presidency to Trump.

In other words, how to run a coup in six easy steps.

Pretty huge stuff, right? You’d think so, but the mainstream press has largely looked the other way. Immediately after the memo was revealed, according to a study by left-leaning Media Matters for America, there was no on-air news coverage — literally zero on the three major broadcast networks: ABC, NBC and CBS. Not on the evening newscasts watched by more than 20 million Americans, far greater than the audience for cable news. Not on the morning shows the next day. And when Sunday rolled around, NBC’s “Meet the Press” was the only broadcast network show that bothered to mention it. (Some late-night hosts did manage to play it for laughs.)

The Washington Post reviewed the memo that was obtained for the Woodward-Costa book and wrote about it in a broader news story about the book’s revelations and in a news analysis. CNN got a copy, too, and more than most, gave it its due.

But largely, it fell upon a handful of opinion writers to provide the appropriate outrage.

“The Horrifying Legal Blueprint for Trump’s War on Democracy” read the headline on Jonathan Chait’s piece in New York magazine’s Intelligencer section. And in the New York Times, columnist Jamelle Bouie took it on with “Trump Had a Mob. He Also Had a Plan.” The Post’s Greg Sargent hammered away at it.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s world implodes amid subpoenas and firings, Bill Palmer, right, Sept. 30, 2021. Once Donald Trump was named the loser of the bill palmer2020 election, it was just a matter of time before he and his underlings were dismantled. That process is taking longer than most of us would like. But the reality is that it is in fact happening – and the past twenty-four hours have demonstrated just how ugly it’s getting.

bill palmer report logo headerIt all started yesterday when scandalous former Trump campaign manager (and at this point you have to specify which scandalous former Trump campaign manager you’re talking about) Corey Lewandowski was separately accused of having sexually harassed a Republican donor and of having had an affair with the Governor of South Dakota.

By the time the day was over, Donald Trump’s people announced that Lewandowski had been fired from the Trump Super PAC he’d been running, and that Lewandowski would no longer be associated with “Trump world.” That’s right, they used the term “Trump world.”

In a reminder that there’s simply no shortage of corrupt Trump underlings coming down the pike, Lewandowski was replaced by a different criminal, Pam Bondi, pam biondiright, who once used her position as Florida Attorney General to scuttle the Trump University investigation in exchange for a campaign donation.

But in a reminder that every Trump underling is going to end up facing the music eventually, it was revealed last night that former Trump spokesperson Katrina Pierson is one of the many Trump people who just got subpoenaed by the January 6th Committee. So even people like Pierson, who disappeared from mainstream view after Trump lost, are still on the hook for their Trump-era antics.

We all know that “Trump world” – as it now calls itself – certainly doesn’t fire people over moral or ethical concerns. So the quick firing of Lewandowski tells us that Donald Trump and his remaining people are indeed in a panic over how things are falling apart. They didn’t even hesitate to throw Lewandowski under the bus, in the hope of taking the heat off the Super PACs that Trump is still using to raise “campaign” funds and shove them into his pocket.

Trump world – which sounds like the worst amusement park in history – is imploding. And this all comes even as Rudy Giuliani’s legal troubles have just been revealed to be even worse than we knew, raising questions about when he’ll finally wave the white flag and cut a plea deal against Donald Trump. It’s all falling apart in slow motion, but it’s undeniably falling apart.

Sept. 29

abraham lincoln alexander gardner library of congress getty images

Wayne Madsen Report, Opinion: We need an Executive Order establishing a January 6 military commission, Wayne Madsen, left, author of 20 books and former Navy intelligence officer, Sept. 29-30, 2021. With Donald Trump wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smalland his January 6th co-conspirators using frivolous lawsuits to tie up in the courts subpoenas from the House select committee investigating the insurrection and a lethargic Attorney General in Merrick Garland, President Biden should follow the example of President Andrew Johnson.

After it was determined that the conspirators who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln, above, also intended to assassinate the entire Cabinet and "other officers of the Federal Government," Johnson, on May 1, 1865, signed an executive order creating a military commission to try the accused seditionists and assassins.

wayne madesen report logoIn addition to murdering Lincoln, two of the conspirators stabbed, with the intent of assassinating, Secretary of State William Seward and injured Seward's two sons and his daughter in the process.

In June 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order establishing a military commission to try eight accused German saboteurs who landed in the U.S. by submarine. All of the Germans were found guilty and six of them were executed.

The United States must graduate from its pollyannish attitude of neither imprisoning nor executing for sedition and insurrection guilty past presidents.

No president in American history was ever impeached of crimes even approaching those of Mr. Trump. The mere fact that Trump set such a hideous example for possible future rogue U.S. presidents requires that he be tried for sedition and insurrection and if found guilty, he and his co-conspirators should face the same sentences as those dealt to the Lincoln assassination conspirators.

Sept. 28

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump played tough with Putin in front of cameras, while Putin toyed with his insecurities, says book by Trump press secretary Stephanie Grisham, Jada Yuan and Josh Dawsey, Sept. 28, 2021. Little is known about what happened in the 90-minute conversation between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Osaka, Japan, two years ago. But as journalists were quickly ushered out of the room at the 2019 Group of 20 Summit, Stephanie Grisham once again found herself with a close-up view of the action.

She saw Trump lean toward Putin that day and tell him: “Okay, I’m going to act a little tougher with you for a few minutes. But it’s for the cameras, and after they leave, we’ll talk. You understand.”

It’s just one of many telling interactions detailed by Grisham in her new book, titled, “I’ll Take Your Questions Now.” One of the most senior and longest-serving Trump advisers, she worked as the president’s third press secretary and as first lady Melania Trump’s chief of staff and communications director before she resigned on Jan. 6 during the Capitol riot.

Her 352-page book — obtained by The Washington Post — alleges a litany of misdeeds by the 45th president: from ogling a young female staffer, to orchestrating lies for the public, to attempting to ban the news media from the White House compound. It also gives a rare firsthand look at Melania Trump, who craved her privacy, and a blow-by-blow of how she wound up wearing that “I Really Don’t Care, Do U?” jacket.

Grisham even claims to know dirt on Trump’s hair, which she says he cuts himself with “a huge pair of scissors that could probably cut a ribbon at an opening of one of his properties.”

“The intent behind this book is obvious,” Melania Trump’s office said in a statement after a passage leaked comparing the former first lady to Marie Antoinette. “It is an attempt to redeem herself after a poor performance as press secretary, failed personal relationships, and unprofessional behavior in the White House. Through mistruth and betrayal, she seeks to gain relevance and money at the expense of Mrs. Trump.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Stephanie Grisham’s Book Details Trump’s ‘Terrifying’ Temper, Katie Rogers, Sept. 28, 2021. The former press secretary is reflective in her tell-all: “I should have spoken up more.” Stephanie Grisham’s book was kept a secret from her closest allies in the White House.

President Donald Trump officialStephanie Grisham, the former Trump White House press secretary perhaps best known for never holding a televised briefing with reporters, plans to release a tell-all book next week that accuses President Donald J. Trump of abusing his staff, placating dictators like Vladimir Putin of Russia, and making sexual comments about a young White House aide.

In her book, titled “I’ll Take Your Questions Now,” Ms. Grisham recalls her time working for a president she said constantly berated her and made outlandish requests, including a demand that she appear before the press corps and re-enact a certain call with the Ukrainian president that led to Mr. Trump’s (first) impeachment, an assignment she managed to avoid.

“I knew that sooner or later the president would want me to tell the public something that was not true or that would make me sound like a lunatic,” Ms. Grisham writes, offering a reason for why she never held a briefing.

After serving as press secretary, Ms. Grisham worked in Melania Trump’s office. She resigned on Jan. 6 as a horde of Trump supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol. Her book was kept a secret from her closest allies in the White House, though by the time she departed Washington that number had dwindled. (She writes that, months before the election, she had moved to Kansas.) Her publisher, HarperCollins, calls the book “The most frank and intimate portrait of the Trump White House yet.”

omarosa manigault newman unhinged Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Loses N.D.A. Case Against Omarosa Manigault Newman, Maggie Haberman, Sept. 28, 2021. Donald Trump had filed the case against Ms. Manigault Newman, a former White House aide and “Apprentice” star, after she wrote a tell-all book (shown above) about serving in his administration.

Former President Donald J. Trump has lost an effort to enforce a nondisclosure agreement against Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former White House aide and a star on “The Apprentice” who wrote a tell-all book about serving in his administration.

The decision in the case, which Mr. Trump’s campaign filed in August 2018 with the American Arbitration Association in New York, comes as the former president is enmeshed in a number of investigations and legal cases related to his private company.

“Donald has used this type of vexatious litigation to intimidate, harass and bully for years,” Ms. Manigault Newman said in a statement. “Finally the bully has met his match!”

The decision, dated on Friday and handed down on Monday, calls for her to collect legal fees from the Trump campaign.

Mr. Trump’s campaign filed the case shortly after Ms. Manigault Newman published her book, Unhinged. It claimed that she violated a nondisclosure agreement she had signed during the 2016 campaign stipulating that she would not reveal private or confidential information about his family, business or personal life.

djt ivanka trump jared palmer CustomThe book paints a picture of an out-of-control president who is in a state of mental decline and is prone to racist and misogynistic behavior. Ms. Manigault Newman’s book also casts the former president’s daughter Ivanka Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner (shown at left in a file photo), in a negative light. When Trump advisers tried to cast doubt on Ms. Manigault Newman’s accounts, she released audio recordings that backed up several of her claims.

In a statement on Tuesday morning, Mr. Trump said nothing about the arbitration case, and instead attacked Ms. Manigault Newman in personal terms.

The media- and image-obsessed Mr. Trump has for years used nondisclosure agreements as a way to prevent staff members from speaking about him publicly, and to deter them from making disparaging comments or writing books like Ms. Manigault Newman’s.

The arbitration is confidential, meaning that only the parties involved can release information about the case. In papers made available by Ms. Manigault Newman’s lawyer, John Phillips, the arbitrator, Andrew Brown, said that the definition of the type of comment protected by the nondisclosure agreement was so vague that it had been rendered meaningless. What was more, he wrote, the statements Ms. Manigault Newman had made hardly included privileged information.

“The statements do not disclose hard data such as internal polling results or donor financial information,” Mr. Brown wrote. “Rather, they are for the most part simply expressions of unflattering opinions, which are deemed ‘confidential information’ based solely upon the designation of Mr. Trump. This is exactly the kind of indefiniteness which New York courts do not allow to form the terms of a binding contract.”
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At another point, Mr. Brown wrote that the agreement “effectively imposes on Respondent an obligation to never say anything remotely critical of Mr. Trump, his family or his or his family members’ businesses for the rest of her life.”

The arbitrator added, “Such a burden is certainly unreasonable.”

Mr. Phillips, who is based in Florida, said the lawsuit had been an abuse of power by a sitting president. “It’s over,” he said. “We’ve won in Donald Trump and the Trump campaign’s chosen forum.”

Arbitration decisions do not create a precedent, according to Shira A. Scheindlin, a retired Federal District Court judge for the Southern District of New York. That means that there is no potential impact from the Manigault Newman case on ones filed against other Trump employees.

However, a ruling in one case “may be persuasive” in another, said Cliff Palefsky, a lawyer in San Francisco who is an expert in the arbitration process. In the decision in Ms. Manigault Newman’s case, the arbitrator referred to a ruling in a class-action suit filed in New York by a former Trump campaign aide, Jessica Denson. In that case, a judge ruled that the Trump campaign’s nondisclosure agreements were not enforceable.

Charles Harder, the defamation lawyer who had represented the Trumps over the years and who was handling Ms. Manigault Newman’s arbitration case, parted ways with the Trumps before the decision was issued.

Sept. 27

American Prospect, Opinion: Fight Fascism First, Robert Kuttner, Sept. 27, 2021. Robert Kagan’s must-read essay in The Washington Post, "Our Constitutional Crisis Is Already Here," gets the big picture right, but gets some tactical details seriously wrong.

Kagan is all too accurate when he points out that Trump has captured the Republican Party and that Trumpers are now fully prepared to destroy democracy in order to win the 2022 and 2024 elections. "Trump’s grip on his supporters left no room for an alternative power center in the party," he points out. "One by one, the ‘adults’ resigned or were run off."

He is correct that Democrats, going about the normal business of negotiating their differences on the budget resolution, are not sufficiently mindful of the deeper threat of full-on fascism.

Kagan is also right that the Republicans are playing a double game, behaving as a normal opposition party in trying to block or weaken the governing party’s program, while being enablers of dictatorship, quite like the German conservatives who threw in with Hitler in 1932.

What to do? Here is where the wishful second part of Kagan’s powerful essay contradicts the unflinching first part. He writes that Republicans like Mitt Romney and the six other Republican senators who voted to convict Trump for inciting an insurrection should fashion themselves as Constitutional Republicans who, in the present emergency, are willing to form a national unity coalition in the Senate for the sole purpose of saving the republic.

Sure, that would be swell. But it’s not going to happen. And it won’t happen even if the Democrats reduce Biden’s Build Back Better program to 50 cents to "strive for a temporary governing consensus."

Rather than looking for anti-Trump Republicans, who Kagan accurately reminds us are as dead as dinosaurs, Democrats should be redoubling their efforts to get voting rights legislation, and to use the federal government’s police and prosecutorial powers to give no quarter to fascists seeking to overthrow what remains of our democracy.

Sept. 26

Proof, Investigation: Trump Lawyer Admits Trump's Legal Team Was Seeking An Emergency Injunction Against Certification of Biden's Win As Trump Incited a Riot seth abramson graphicto Delay the Joint Session of Congress, Seth Abramson, left, Sept. 26, 2021. New revelation confirms the actions of Trump's legal team in the Willard "war room"—whose occupants were in direct contact with Trump—were designed to dovetail with the violent attack on the Capitol.

Introduction: On March 10, 2021, Proof published an article entitled “Here Is the Twelve-Point Plan Donald Trump Had for January 6.” Based on two seth abramson proof logomonths of research relating to January 6, Proof concluded that Trump’s plan for January 6 was built on the following foundation....

In a new interview with far-right activist and propagandist Stew Peters, Powell admits that Trump’s legal team filed for an injunction against Congress in the first days of January.

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).

 

steve bannon billionaire guo wengui

Guo Wengui, a Chinese billionaire wanted by the government of China for bribery, kidnapping, money laundering, fraud and rape, is shown above with Trump ally and former 2016 campaign CEO Steve Bannon. Guo funds through his GTV Media Group conglomerate Bannon's "War Room" podcast and "Real America's Voice" Internet television broadcast and other propaganda supporting the January 6th insurrection in Washington and the overthrow of the the U.S. government, which is giving him political asylum in New York City and elsewhere.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: International fascist collusion to overthrow the U.S. government, Wayne Madsen, left, Sept. 26, 2021 (authorized for republication in wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallan excerpt form after first pubication on Sept. 9 behind the paywall of the Wayne Madsen Report. The author is national security expert who has appeared on all but one major U.S. broadcast and cable news networks. He is a former Navy Intelligence Officer and NSA analyst, and author of 20 books, including the forthcoming, "The Rise of the Fascist Fourth Reich: The Era of Trumpism and the Far-Right."

Not since the planned 1934 fascist coup against the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt by various right-wing, fascist, and Nazi forces, backed by wealthy Wall Street interests, has the United States faced a coordinated plot by Americans and foreign interests to overthrow democracy in the United States.

wayne madesen report logoIn 1933 and 1934, the fascist coup planning, which was exposed by retired Marine Corps General Smedley Butler, were directly linked to Adolf Hitler's Germany, Benito Mussolini's Italy, and French Croix de Feu fascist political leaders. Groups supporting a coup against FDR included groups ranging from the pro-Mussolini American Legion to Nazi organizations like the Silver Legion of America, the German American Bund, Friends of New Germany, the Ku Klux Klan, the Sentinels of the Republic, and the Crusaders.

Today, substitute the government of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Chinese expatriate billionaire Guo Wengui, and groups like the Proud Boys, Three Percenters, Oath Keepers, Boogaloo Bois, and Falun Gong, and you will see that history is merely repeating itself with different countries and groups involved in establishing a fascist dictatorship in America, Brazil, and other nations.

Steve Bannon's effort to create an international fascist movement, which is known as simply as "The Movement," has brought together Donald Trump loyalists with the Brazilian government of Bolsonaro and his family. Trump and Bolsonaro loyalists are actively attempting to corrupt and destroy the electoral underpinnings of democratic rule in the United States, Brazil, and third countries, for example, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, and others.

Bolsonaro's son, Eduardo Bolsonaro, a member of Brazil's Chamber of Deputies, the Latin American leader of Bannon's Movement, and Trump's personal choice but failed nominee as Brazil's ambassador in Washington, was very active with the attempted January 6 coup attempt in Washington.

Eduardo Bolsonaro participated in an insurrection eve "War Council" held at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC. Other participants in the war council included Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, Rudolph Giuliani, MyPillow's Mike Lindell, disgraced ex-National Security Adviser under trump Lt. General Michael Flynn, and lawyer Sidney Powell. Eduardo Bolsonaro also held a meeting at the White House on January 4 with Ivanka Trump and separately with expatriate Brazilian fascist political adviser and astrologer Olavo de Carvalho. Carvalho, who has been dubbed the "Rush Limbaugh" of Brazil, lives south of Richmond, Virginia in Dinwiddie County. Carvalho, a close associate of Bannon, is a "flat earther," climate change and Covid-19 pandemic denier, and anti-vaccine (anti-vaxx) proponent.

The House Select Committee on the January 6 insurrection would do well to cooperate with Brazilian Senator Jacques Wagner (PT-Bahia) of the Workers' Party of former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Wagner is conducting a Senate investigation of Eduardo Bolsonaro's role in the January 6 coup attempt at the U.S. Capitol. Wagner asked the then-Brazilian Foreign Minister, Ernest Araujo, someone who has erroneously called Nazism a "leftist" movement, to answer eight questions [right] dealing with the roles played by Bolsonaro's son and the Brazilian Embassy in Washington, DC into the January 5 war council at the Trump hotel and additional meetings between Eduardo Bolsonaro and "several other members of the Republican Party."

Those who diminish the importance of the January 6 coup attempt by calling it a "riot" or a "violent protest" fail to understand that it is the subject of formal legislative investigations by the U.S. House and the Brazilian Senate. That fact, alone, points to the January 6 event being a vast international conspiracy.

Bannon's operations, including his own involvement in the January 6 insurrection, have been financed by Guo Wengui and Lindell, as well as previously by the multi-billionaire hedge fund father-daughter team of Robert and Rebekah Mercer.

On August 10, 2021, Eduardo Bolsonaro was back in the United States attending Lindell's kooky "cyber symposium" in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Bannon emceed the live-streamed symposium. Bolsonaro gave Lindell a "Make America Great Again" hat signed by Donald Trump. Bolsonaro said he had met Trump at his Bedminster, New Jersey on August 9 and Trump asked him to give the hat to Lindell. Bolsonaro gave a speech on how Brazil's election system was as "rigged" as that of the United States. Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly threatened that he might cancel the 2022 presidential election, which polls currently indicate that he would lose to the leftist Lula da Silva in a landslide.

Former Trump White House adviser Jason Miller, the CEO of the right-wing social media platform GETTR, participated in the September 3-4 Conservative Political Action Conference Brasil (CPAC Brasil) conference in Brasilia, the nation's capital. On September 7, Jair Bolsonaro urged tens of thousands of his supporters who gathered in Brasilia to storm the Brazilian Supreme Court and imprison the justices, including Alexandre de Moraes, who has been leading an investigation of President Bolsonaro and members of his family, including Eduardo, for corruption. Miller and his delegation met with Jair and Eduardo Bolsonaro in Brasilia.

The House January 6 committee should also invite Justice Moraes to share on a confidential basis any information he has gleaned on the Bolsonaros involvement with the attempted January 6 coup in Washington. Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly threatened a military coup in Brazil to cement his rule over the country.

The Fourth Reich movement of Donald Trump and his fellow fascists is the focus of the forthcoming editor's book titled, "The Rise of the Fascist Fourth Reich: The Era of Trumpism and the Far-Right."

washington post logoWashington Post, Election fraud, QAnon, Jan. 6: Extremists in Germany read from a pro-Trump script, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Sept. 26, 2021 (print ed.). Apocalyptic messages circulating ahead of German elections on Sunday import conspiratorial rhetoric from the United States.

One message advocated “occupying election offices.”

Another warned of “coronavirus tyranny.”

And a third extolled former president Donald Trump and Q, the shadowy oracle of the extremist ideology QAnon, for inspiring a new social movement prepared to take back power from the state. “America is waking up and ready to fight,” it vowed.

The calls to action came not in anticipation of the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol. Rather, they emerged this month in Germany, within a far-right group on the messaging app Telegram, where neo-Nazis and doomsday preppers foresee what’s known as “Day X” — the collapse of the German state and assassination of high-ranking officials.

Such apocalyptic messages — posted in the run-up to German elections on Sunday — import conspiratorial, anti-government rhetoric broadcast in the U.S., according to screenshots of the since-deleted chatroom reviewed by The Washington Post.

  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

american flag upside down distress

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Our constitutional crisis is already here, Robert Kagan, right, Brookings Institution fellow, best-selling author and former State Department official, Sept. 26, 2021 (print ed.). The United States is heading into its greatest political and constitutional robert kagan looking leftcrisis since the Civil War, with a reasonable chance over the next three to four years of incidents of mass violence, a breakdown of federal authority, and the division of the country into warring red and blue enclaves. The warning signs may be obscured by the distractions of politics, the pandemic, the economy and global crises, and by wishful thinking and denial. But about these things there should be no doubt:

First, Donald Trump will be the Republican candidate for president in 2024. The hope and expectation that he would fade in visibility and influence have been delusional. He enjoys mammoth leads in the polls; he is building a massive campaign war chest; and at this moment the Democratic ticket looks vulnerable. Barring health problems, he is running.

Second, Trump and his Republican allies are actively preparing to ensure his victory by whatever means necessary. Trump’s charges of fraud in the 2020 election are now primarily aimed at establishing the predicate to challenge future election results that do not go his way. Some Republican candidates have already begun preparing to declare fraud in 2022, just as Larry Elder tried meekly to do in the California recall contest.

Meanwhile, the amateurish “stop the steal” efforts of 2020 have given way to an organized nationwide campaign to ensure that Trump and his supporters will have the control over state and local election officials that they lacked in 2020. Those recalcitrant Republican state officials who effectively saved the country from calamity by refusing to falsely declare fraud or to “find” more votes for Trump are being systematically removed or hounded from office. Republican legislatures are giving themselves greater control over the election certification process. As of this spring, Republicans have proposed or passed measures in at least 16 states that would shift certain election authorities from the purview of the governor, secretary of state or other executive-branch officers to the legislature. An Arizona bill flatly states that the legislature may “revoke the secretary of state’s issuance or certification of a presidential elector’s certificate of election” by a simple majority vote. Some state legislatures seek to impose criminal penalties on local election officials alleged to have committed “technical infractions,” including obstructing the view of poll watchers.

The stage is thus being set for chaos. Imagine weeks of competing mass protests across multiple states as lawmakers from both parties claim victory and charge the other with unconstitutional efforts to take power. Partisans on both sides are likely to be better armed and more willing to inflict harm than they were in 2020. Would governors call out the National Guard? Would President Biden nationalize the Guard and place it under his control, invoke the Insurrection Act, and send troops into Pennsylvania or Texas or Wisconsin to quell violent protests? Deploying federal power in the states would be decried as tyranny. Biden would find himself where other presidents have been — where Andrew Jackson was during the nullification crisis, or where Abraham Lincoln was after the South seceded — navigating without rules or precedents, making his own judgments about what constitutional powers he does and doesn’t have.

Today’s arguments over the filibuster will seem quaint in three years if the American political system enters a crisis for which the Constitution offers no remedy.

Most Americans — and all but a handful of politicians — have refused to take this possibility seriously enough to try to prevent it. As has so often been the case in other countries where fascist leaders arise, their would-be opponents are paralyzed in confusion and amazement at this charismatic authoritarian. They have followed the standard model of appeasement, which always begins with underestimation. The political and intellectual establishments in both parties have been underestimating Trump since he emerged on the scene in 2015. They underestimated the extent of his popularity and the strength of his hold on his followers; they underestimated his ability to take control of the Republican Party; and then they underestimated how far he was willing to go to retain power. The fact that he failed to overturn the 2020 election has reassured many that the American system remains secure, though it easily could have gone the other way — if Biden had not been safely ahead in all four states where the vote was close; if Trump had been more competent and more in control of the decision-makers in his administration, Congress and the states. As it was, Trump came close to bringing off a coup earlier this year. All that prevented it was a handful of state officials with notable courage and integrity, and the reluctance of two attorneys general and a vice president to obey orders they deemed inappropriate.

These were not the checks and balances the Framers had in mind when they designed the Constitution, of course, but Trump has exposed the inadequacy of those protections. The Founders did not foresee the Trump phenomenon, in part because they did not foresee national parties. They anticipated the threat of a demagogue, but not of a national cult of personality. They assumed that the new republic’s vast expanse and the historic divisions among the 13 fiercely independent states would pose insuperable barriers to national movements based on party or personality. “Petty” demagogues might sway their own states, where they were known and had influence, but not the whole nation with its diverse populations and divergent interests.

Such checks and balances as the Framers put in place, therefore, depended on the separation of the three branches of government, each of which, they believed, would zealously guard its own power and prerogatives. The Framers did not establish safeguards against the possibility that national-party solidarity would transcend state boundaries because they did not imagine such a thing was possible. Nor did they foresee that members of Congress, and perhaps members of the judicial branch, too, would refuse to check the power of a president from their own party.

Robert Kagan, author of the long column excerpted above, is the Stephen & Barbara Friedman Senior Fellow with the Project on International Order and Strategy in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings. He is a contributing columnist at the Washington Post. His new book is The Jungle Grows Back: America and Our Imperiled World” (Knopf, 2018). He previously wrote the New York Times bestseller, The World America Made (Knopf, 2012), as well as other books about history and global affairs.

For his writings, Politico Magazine named Kagan one of the “Politico 50” in 2016, the “thinkers, doers and visionaries transforming American politics in 2016.” His most recent pieces include The Twilight of the Liberal World Order” in “Brookings Big Ideas for America” and “Backing into World War III in Foreign Policy. He served in the State Department from 1984 to 1988 as a member of the policy planning staff, as principal speechwriter for Secretary of State George P. Shultz, and as deputy for policy in the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs. He is married to longtime State Department official Victoria Nuland and holds a doctorate in American history from American University.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fallout begins for far-right trolls who trusted Epik to keep their identities secret, Drew Harwell, Hannah Allam, Jeremy B. Merrill and Craig Timberg, Sept. 26, 2021 (print ed.). The colossal hack of Epik, an Internet-services company popular with the far right, has been called the “mother of all data lodes” for extremism researchers. In the real world, Joshua Alayon worked as a real estate agent in Pompano Beach, Fla., where he used the handle “SouthFloridasFavoriteRealtor” to urge buyers on Facebook to move to “the most beautiful State.”

epik logoBut online, data revealed by the massive hack of Epik, an Internet-services company popular with the far right, signaled a darker side. Alayon’s name and personal details were found on invoices suggesting he had once paid for websites with names such as racisminc.com, whitesencyclopedia.com, christiansagainstisrael.com and theholocaustisfake.com.

The information was included in a giant trove of hundreds of thousands of transactions published this month by the hacking group Anonymous that exposed previously obscure details of far-right sites and launched a race among extremism researchers to identify the hidden promoters of online hate.

After Alayon’s name appeared in the breached data, his brokerage, Travers Miran Realty, dropped him as an agent, as first reported by the real estate news site Inman. The brokerage’s owner, Rick Rapp, told The Washington Post that he didn’t “want to be involved with anyone with thoughts or motives like that.”

Alayon told The Post that he does not own the ‘racisminc,’ Holocaust-denial or other Web addresses but declined to say if he had owned them in the past; the records were hacked earlier this year. But in a screenshot of his Epik account, which he sent to The Post, the information for four other domains he currently owns matches the private records that can be found in the Epik breach.

Asked why his name, email address and other personal information were listed in company invoices for the ‘racisminc’ and Holocaust-denial domains, Alayon said the data was “easily falsifiable,” that he was the possible victim of extortion and that The Post was “fake news.”

The breach of Epik’s internal records has cast a spotlight on a long-hidden corner of the Internet’s underworld, and researchers expect it could take months before they can process the full cache — the equivalent of tens of millions of pages. Many are digging for information on who owns and administers extremist domains about which little was previously known.

Epik, based outside Seattle, said in a data-breach notice filed with Maine’s attorney general this week that 110,000 people had been affected nationwide by having their financial account and credit card numbers, passwords and security codes exposed. An earlier data-breach letter from the company, filed to comply with Montana law, was signed by the “Epic Security Team,” misspelling the company’s name. An Epik spokesperson said it was a simple typo.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: The nation faces financial calamity. Republicans will be to blame, Editorial Board, Sept. 26, 2021 (print ed.). The White House on Thursday instructed federal agencies to prepare for an imminent government shutdown, in case Congress fails to pass a stopgap funding bill by Sept. 30. Government shutdowns are expensive and disruptive, and they deservedly sully the nation’s image and sense of self-respect. But at this point a lapse in government services should be the least of Americans’ worries. The nation faces an epochal financial disaster if Congress fails to raise the debt limit, forcing the country to default on its obligations and inviting a global financial panic.

Mitchell_McConnellIf that happens, there will be no doubt about who is at fault: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), left, and his Republican caucus, who are playing games with the full faith and credit of the United States.

Democrats joined with Republicans to suspend the debt ceiling during the Trump administration. But Mr. McConnell suddenly declares that the majority is solely responsible for performing this unattractive task, even though he pioneered the routine use of the filibuster to force any and all Senate legislation to overcome a 60-vote threshold. With only 50 votes, and Republicans unwilling to lift a finger to avoid financial calamity, Democrats’ only option would be to use the arcane “reconciliation” procedure. Senate experts believe this would be possible, but it would require a couple of weeks of complex parliamentary maneuvering and some Republican cooperation in the Senate Budget Committee. Meanwhile, the treasury is on the verge of running out of money.

Other than sticking it to Democrats, what is the point? Using reconciliation, Democrats would have to raise the debt limit by a specific dollar amount, not just suspend it for a time, as Republicans did under President Donald Trump. This would enable Republicans to run attack ads blasting Democrats for expanding the debt by some large, specific number. Never mind that raising the debt limit does not approve any new spending; it merely permits the treasury to finance the spending Congress already has okayed.

Sept. 22

Trump Watch

djt maga hat speech uncredited Custom

seth abramson proof logoProof, Investigative Commentary: Why Donald Trump Is Again Interfering in Georgia's Electoral Process, Seth Abramson, left, Sept. 20-21, 2021. Trump is up to his old seth abramson graphiccrimes—bribery, witness tampering, and obstruction—as well as the basic graft for which he's well known. His latest scheme is a dangerous long-term play that we can't ignore.

That’s right: Trump is up to his old tricks (which in some instances have actually been crimes) in Georgia. CNN reports that Trump has just again initiated a communication with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which the corrupt ex-POTUS rehashes the “Big Lie” about the November presidential election and tries to convince Raffensperger to “decertify” the 2020 election results in Georgia—which georgia mapof course he knows (and Raffensperger knows) neither the State of Georgia nor anyone in it can do.

If you’re thinking Trump is up to something else here besides the obvious, you’re right.

In fact, it’s reasonably transparent: Trump is in the midst of trying to help one of the top insurrectionist leaders in America, Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), become the Secretary of State in Georgia so that Trump—or his handpicked 2024 Republican presidential candidate—can steal the 2024 election in that state through new administrative regs, the redeployment of voting machines away from majority-minority precincts, various draconian machinations involving early voting and poll hours and ID presentments, and, if necessary, open election fraud.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump sues New York Times and niece Mary Trump over tax records story, Katerina Ang, Sept. 22, 2021. The suit alleges that Mary Trump, the New York Times and at least three of the newspaper’s reporters participated in an “insidious plot” to obtain records about the former president’s finances.

Former president Donald Trump has sued his niece, Mary L. Trump, and the New York Times over the publication of a 2018 article detailing allegations that he “participated in dubious tax schemes … including instances of outright fraud” that allowed him to receive over $413 million from his father, Fred Trump Sr., while significantly reducing taxes.

The suit, filed in a Dutchess County, N.Y., court on Tuesday, alleges that Mary Trump, the New York Times and at least three of its reporters “engaged in an insidious plot to obtain confidential and highly-sensitive records” about the former president’s finances. According to the lawsuit, Donald Trump suffered at least $100 million in damages as a result of the alleged actions.

Trump, unlike every other major-party presidential nominee in recent history, has declined to make his tax records public.

In a statement about the suit Wednesday, the former president said, “More to come, including on other people, and Fake News media.”

The New York Times and the three reporters named in the suit — David Barstow, Susanne Craig and Russ Buettner — won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting for their 18-month investigation that culminated in the article. Their work “debunked [Trump’s] claims of self-made wealth and revealed a business empire riddled with tax dodges,” according to the Pulitzer Prize board.

After the article’s publication, Trump dismissed the story as a “hit piece” that was “boring.”

Sept. 21 Trump-allied attorney Sidney Powell, right, with allied attorney Jenna Ellis in the background last fall.

Trump-allied attorney Sidney Powell, right, with allied attorney Jenna Ellis in the background last fall, has pushed baseless claims of election tampering.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Campaign Knew Lawyers’ Voting Machine Claims Were Baseless, Memo Shows, Alan Feuer, Sept. 21, 2021. Days before lawyers allied with Donald Trump gave a news conference promoting election conspiracy theories, his campaign had determined that many of those claims were false, court filings reveal.

Two weeks after the 2020 election, a team of lawyers closely allied with Donald J. Trump held a widely watched news conference at the Republican Party’s headquarters in Washington. At the event, they laid out a bizarre conspiracy theory claiming that a voting machine company had worked with an election software firm, the financier George Soros and Venezuela to steal the presidential contest from Mr. Trump.

But there was a problem for the Trump team, according to court documents released on Monday evening.

By the time the news conference occurred on Nov. 19, Mr. Trump’s campaign had already prepared an internal memo on many of the outlandish claims about the company, Dominion Voting Systems, and the separate software company, Smartmatic. The memo had determined that those allegations were untrue.

The court papers, which were initially filed late last week as a motion in a defamation lawsuit brought against the campaign and others by a former Dominion employee, Eric Coomer, contain evidence that officials in the Trump campaign were aware early on that many of the claims against the companies were baseless.

The documents also suggest that the campaign sat on its findings about Dominion even as Sidney Powell and other lawyers attacked the company in the conservative media and ultimately filed four federal lawsuits accusing it of a vast conspiracy to rig the election against Mr. Trump.

According to emails contained in the documents, Zach Parkinson, then the campaign’s deputy director of communications, reached out to subordinates on Nov. 13 asking them to “substantiate or debunk” several matters concerning Dominion. The next day, the emails show, Mr. Parkinson received a copy of a memo cobbled together by his staff from what largely appear to be news articles and public fact-checking services.

Even though the memo was hastily assembled, it rebutted a series of allegations that Ms. Powell and others were making in public. It found:

That Dominion did not use voting technology from the software company, Smartmatic, in the 2020 election.

That Dominion had no direct ties to Venezuela or to Mr. Soros.

And that there was no evidence that Dominion’s leadership had connections to left-wing “antifa” activists, as Ms. Powell and others had claimed.

As Mr. Coomer’s lawyers wrote in their motion in the defamation suit, “The memo produced by the Trump campaign shows that, at least internally, the Trump campaign found there was no evidence to support the conspiracy theories regarding Dominion” and Mr. Coomer.

djt as chosen one

Palmer Report, Opinion: Serious new legal trouble for everyone involved with Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign, Bill Palmer, Sept. 21, 2021. Dominion Voting Systems has already brought individual civil cases against numerous lawyers associated with Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign, over the phony conspiracy theories they touted about imaginary election fraud. The big question was whether there would end up being enough evidence to prove that they knew these claims were false when they made them, and whether Trump himself would end up being targeted by Dominion as well.

bill palmer report logo headerNow we’re getting some answers. The New York Times is reporting that after Donald Trump was declared the loser of the 2020 election, his campaign immediately crafted an internal memo admitting that there was no voting machine fraud. This is bad for the Trump cartel on two levels.

First, it means that the likes of Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani are really screwed. They’ll have a nearly impossible time convincing anyone that they somehow weren’t aware of this Trump campaign internal memo, meaning Dominion now has the smoking gun it needs to very likely win its cases against them.

Second, it means that Donald Trump and his 2020 campaign leaders all knew that Powell and Giuliani were lying when they went out there to make these claims on behalf of the campaign. It means Trump and his campaign people are looking at serious legal culpability in civil court, once Dominion inevitably files suit against them. It also raises the possibility of a criminal conspiracy to commit election fraud.
In the interim, Iran has continued to expand the quantity and quality of its uranium enrichment, leading some experts to conclude it is now even closer to possessing enough fissile material to build a bomb than the two or three months the Biden administration has publicly estimated. At the same time, Iran has repeatedly sparred with the International Atomic Energy Agency over monitoring of its nuclear activities originally agreed in the 2015 deal.

For its part, the administration has continued to warn that negotiating time is running out, without saying how much time is left or what it will do if it expires. Some answers may emerge this week, when the Tehran government says Iran’s new foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, plans to hold bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Britain, Germany and France at the annual United Nations General Assembly.

washington post logoWashington Post, Huge hack reveals embarrassing details of who’s behind Proud Boys and other far-right websites, Drew Harwell, Craig Timberg and Hannah Allam, Sept. 21, 2021. Researchers say it will allow them to gain important new insights into how extremists operate online.

Epik long has been the favorite Internet company of the far-right, providing domain services to QAnon theorists, Proud Boys and other instigators of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol — allowing them to broadcast hateful messages from behind a veil of anonymity.

But that veil abruptly vanished last week when a huge breach by the hacker group Anonymous dumped into public view more than 150 gigabytes of previously private data — including user names, passwords and other identifying information of Epik’s customers.

Extremism researchers and political opponents have treated the leak as a Rosetta Stone to the far-right, helping them to decode who has been doing what with whom over several years. Initial revelations have spilled out steadily across Twitter since news of the hack broke last week, often under the hashtag #epikfail, but those studying the material say they will need months and perhaps years to dig through all of it.

“It’s massive. It may be the biggest domain-style leak I’ve seen and, as an extremism researcher, it’s certainly the most interesting,” said Megan Squire, a computer science professor at Elon University who studies right-wing extremism. “It’s an embarrassment of riches — stress on the embarrassment.”

Epik, based in the Seattle suburb of Sammamish, has made its name in the Internet world by providing critical Web services to sites that have run afoul of other companies’ policies against hate speech, misinformation and advocating violence. Its client list is a roll-call of sites known for permitting extreme posts and that have been rejected by other companies for their failure to moderate what their users post.

Online records show those sites have included 8chan, which was dropped by its providers after hosting the manifesto of a gunman who killed 51 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019; Gab, which was dropped for hosting the antisemitic rants of a gunman who killed 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018; and Parler, which was dropped due to lax moderation related to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

TheDonald’s owner speaks out on why he finally pulled plug on hate-filled site

Epik also provides services to a network of sites devoted to extremist QAnon conspiracy theories. Epik briefly hosted the neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer in 2019 after acquiring a cybersecurity company that had provided it with hosting services, but Epik soon canceled that contract, according to news reports. Epik also stopped supporting 8chan after a short period of time, the company has said.

Earlier this month, Epik also briefly provided service to the antiabortion group Texas Right to Life, whose website, ProLifeWhistleblower.com, was removed by the hosting service GoDaddy because it solicited accusations about which medical providers might be violating a state abortion ban.

An Epik attorney said the company stopped working with the site because it violated company rules against collecting people’s private information. Online records show Epik was still the site’s domain registrar as of last week, though the digital tip line is no longer available, and the site now redirects to the group’s homepage.

Epik founder Robert Monster’s willingness to provide technical support to online sanctuaries of the far-right have made him a regular target of anti-extremism advocates, who criticized him for using Epik’s tools to republish the Christchurch gunman’s manifesto and live-streamed video the killer had made of the slaughter.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: How serious is the threat to democracy, and how do we defeat it? Jennifer Rubin, right, author of the new book Resistance published this week and shown below, Sept. 21, 2021. Election law guru Richard L. Hasen jennifer rubin new headshothas published a law review article explaining the danger of subverted elections and violence after millions have been brainwashed to believe the “big lie” that the 2020 election was stolen.

The piece is particularly timely, given the new reporting that two supposedly “responsible” Republicans, Sens. Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina and Mike Lee of Utah, had reviewed the disgraced former president’s fraud claims in January and confirmed they were total bunk. Despite this, the senators have refused to separate their party from the instigator of the Jan. 6 insurrection and voted against a bipartisan commission to review the violent day.

jennifer rubin book resistanceHasen warns: “Of greatest concern is that the activities of Trump and his allies from the November 2020 election through January 7, 2021 served as dress rehearsal for how to subvert election results in 2024 or in other future elections.” He outlines three main risks to our elections.

The first risk arises from the “independent state legislature" doctrine. As Hasen explains, this is “[t]he argument that Article II and Article I, section 4 give state legislatures virtually unlimited powers over the rules for running presidential and congressional elections — even if it means violating the state’s own Constitution.” He points out that if courts were to accept this doctrine, it would "create a potential earthquake in American election law by upending everything from voter initiatives setting the rules for congressional primaries to normal election administration decisions of state and local election administrators — not to mention, rendering state constitutional protections for voting rights a nullity in congressional and presidential election.”

Democrats have warned that electing a GOP House majority in 2022 would open the door to abuse of this process and refusal to recognize voters’ presidential choice in preference for state lawmakers’ pick. Hasen writes:

The 2020 election shattered the illusion that bipartisan norms insulated our elections in a way that less mature democracies could not. Instead, it’s now clear we have one party that would gladly swap U.S. democracy for a tin-pot dictatorship with its champion at the helm. Behind that party is an army of disgraceful, right-wing media outlets, pundits and think tanks that eagerly legitimize anti-democratic subversion for the sake of a buck. A recently-surfaced, six-point plan from lawyer John Eastman advising how the vice president could unilaterally pull off a coup underscores the seriousness of the threat and just how deceitful and un-American are MAGA’s enablers. (It should also highlight the need for disciplinary action against lawyers plotting to overturn our democracy.)

washington post logoWashington Post, Two GOP operatives indicted for allegedly routing money from Russian national to support Trump campaign, Felicia Sonmez and Isaac Stanley-Becker, Sept. 21, 2021. A political strategist who was pardoned by the former president after being convicted in a 2012 campaign finance scheme is facing new charges related to an alleged 2016 plot to illegally funnel donations made by a Russian national to support then-candidate Donald Trump’s White House bid.

Jesse Benton, 43, who was previously a top aide to former congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and later ran a pro-Trump super PAC, was charged this month, according to a federal indictment in Washington unsealed Monday. Also charged is Roy Douglas “Doug” Wead, 75, a conservative author and former special assistant to President George H.W. Bush.

According to the indictment, in the months before the 2016 presidential election, Benton and Wead solicited a U.S. campaign donation from a Russian national in violation of federal law, then filed false campaign finance reports to make it seem that the donation was from Benton.

Federal disclosures from that period make clear the donation went to support Trump’s election, though the recipient is not named in the indictment. Authorities allege Benton arranged for the Russian national to attend a fundraiser “and get a photograph with” the candidate, “in exchange for a political contribution.”

Benton and Wead “concealed the scheme from the candidate, federal regulators, and the public,” according to the indictment.

The court filing does not name Trump, but details in the indictment match a $25,000 donation that Benton made in the fall of 2016 to a committee that jointly raised money for the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee, campaign finance records show.

The unnamed Russian national, who is described as a business associate of Wead, wired a total of $100,000 from a bank account in Vienna, Austria, to a political consulting firm owned by Benton, authorities allege.

In return, Benton and Wead allegedly arranged for the Russian national to attend a September fundraiser in Philadelphia. The following month, Benton used his credit card to pay the $25,000 cost of the Russian national’s ticket to the event and told a consultant for the related campaign committees that he had “bought the tickets and gifted them” to Wead and the individual.

Benton then paid off the $25,000 on his card using the funds wired by the individual to his consulting company. He kept the remaining $75,000, the indictment alleges.

washington post logoWashington Post, Treasury Department will sanction crypto exchanges that help channel payments to hackers, Gerrit De Vynck, Sept. 21, 2021. The Biden administration is also warning companies that paying ransoms to hackers might be illegal The U.S. government is stepping up its efforts to disrupt the infrastructure hackers use to make money from breaking into and holding hostage computer networks, announcing sanctions against one virtual currency exchange and warning U.S. companies it could be legally risky for them to pay off hackers that hit their systems.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions Tuesday against Suex, an exchange that lets people buy and sell virtual currencies with regular credit cards, according to its website. The government said as much as 40 percent of known transactions run by Suex were criminal. Other exchanges could be hit with sanctions, too.

“We are going to continue to look at the ecosystem and look for actors that are taking similar actions,” Anne Neuberger, the White House’s deputy national security adviser on cybersecurity, said during a call with reporters.

Ransomware attacks, where hackers lock out a company or organization from its computer system and demand a ransom payment to restore access, more than doubled from 2019 to 2020. The government sees them as both a criminal menace, and a national security threat. In February, a hack on the Colonial Pipeline fuel-delivery network led to fuel shortages up and down the East Coast. President Biden has told Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country is known to host many of the ransomware gangs responsible for the surge, that he would take “any necessary action” to defend critical infrastructure against cyberattacks.

The anatomy of a ransomware attack

Still, the hacks keep coming. On Monday, Iowa-based New Cooperative, a major buyer and distributor of grain and feed, said it had been hit by a ransomware attack, though it was able to find a workaround to keep most of its business running.

The announcement Tuesday is part of the government’s attempts to lower the frequency and profitability of ransomware attacks. It has urged companies to increase their cybersecurity practices, such as requiring all employees to use two-factor authentication. Legislators have proposed new rules requiring private companies that operate critical infrastructure to meet minimum security standards.
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Sanctioning crypto exchanges might also make it riskier for companies to pay ransoms even if they want to. Right now, many companies hire third-party consultants to negotiate and help pay ransoms, ensuring that computer systems get back up and running quickly. But if the exchanges used to facilitate those ransom payments are sanctioned, the hacked companies and their consultants could now both be breaking the law by paying.

“Companies that facilitate ransomware payments to cyber actors on behalf of victims, including financial institutions, cyber insurance firms, and companies involved in digital forensics and incident response, not only encourage future ransomware payment demands but also may risk violating OFAC regulations,” the Treasury Department said in its statement. “The U.S. government strongly discourages all private companies and citizens from paying ransom or extortion demands.”

FBI held back ransomware decryption key from businesses to run operation targeting hackers

If companies feel they must make a payment, the best course of action is to tell law enforcement ahead of time, Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said on the call.

“If a company determines that it’s in their interest to pay these demands, the OFAC guidance makes clear that the best way to protect that company from the risk of paying a sanctioned entity is to report the fact that they have been attacked to law enforcement,” Adeyemo said.

The White House has also been pushing cyber-insurance providers to craft policies that incentivize companies to take security more seriously. Some hackers have specifically targeted companies they know have robust cyber-insurance. The government wants stricter rules on who gets to access that insurance.

“In order to get home insurance, you have to have installed smoke detectors or have an alarm system,” Neuberger said. “So when we look at cybersecurity, what we’re grappling with is what seems to be the lack of incentives for companies to make the investment to have to modernize their defenses to meet the threat.”

Sept. 18

Proof via Substack, Investigation: January 6 Was a Violent Nationwide Insurrection—Not One Attack on One Building in Washington, Seth Abramson, left, Sept. 18, seth abramson graphic2021. Many Americans don't realize that Trump's plan for a January 6 attack on American democracy was national in scope—and continues to be. As his insurgency continues, capitals across America are at risk.

Introduction: One of the gravest misunderstandings about January 6 is that it was a localized event involving a single target: the United States Capitol. In fact, it was a decentralized plot that involved dozens of individual attacks around the country and which—moreover—the President of the United States at the time, Donald Trump, publicly acknowledged he knew was a diffuse network of attacks on American democracy. Indeed, Trump said all of the following in his speech the White House Ellipse on Insurrection Day:

seth abramson proof logo• That in addition to the crowd in front of him, he was well aware his speech was being heard by “hundreds of thousands of American patriots who are committed to the honesty of our elections and the integrity of our glorious republic”, a reference to Trumpist insurrectionists gathering “live” in other locations outside D.C. (as any reference to a TV audience would have accounted it in the millions rather than the hundreds of thousands);

• That the purpose of the upcoming march on the Capitol, among other things, was to convince Vice President Mike Pence to “send it [the results of the Electoral College votes in the fifty states] back to the states to re-certify [them]”, a plot Trump believed would lead to the de-certification of Joe Biden’s electors and which he knew would only be aided if massive protests occurred in the states Trump was claiming wanted to revisit their Electoral College votes;

• That “in addition to challenging the certification of the election, I’m calling on…state legislatures to quickly pass sweeping election reforms, and you better do it before we have no country left”;

• That he was “looking out all over this country and seeing fantastic crowds” (emphasis supplied), a confession that he was tracking January 6 events across America;

• That the supposed theft of the 2020 presidential election was very much a state-by-state issue, with the former president spending time in his speech at the Ellipse discussing not just the national outcome of the November vote but specific events in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Pennsylvania (as well as, in the same speech, falsely characterizing the 2020 election results in Ohio, Texas, Florida, and projecting his false claims of election theft forward into future elections in Wyoming and New York); and

• “If this happened to the Democrats, there’d be hell all over the country going on, there’d be hell all over the country” (emphasis supplied), a repetition of a calculated phrase pointing toward a nationwide protest against democracy, and another attempt to send a message to pro-Trump insurrectionists outside D.C. unsure about how violent they had the sitting president’s permission to get so far from what was (at the time) seen as the epicenter of the January 6 spectacle.

With all of the foregoing in mind, America needs a comprehensive summary of what happened on January 6 outside the nation’s capital.

washington post logoWashington Post, Court hearings, guilty pleas belie right-wing recasting of Jan. 6 defendants as persecuted patriots, Spencer S. Hsu, Tom Jackman, Ellie Silverman and Rachel Weiner, Sept. 18, 2021 (print ed.). There are about 73 pleas, with roughly 600 charged and dozens still jailed. Ahead of the Justice for J6 rally, a look at where the defendants stand.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice for J6 rally sees a sparse crowd and tight security, Emily Davies, Marissa J. Lang, Teo Armus, Peter Jamison and Katie Mettler, Sept. 18, 2021. A small band of right-wing protesters decrying the treatment of the mob that overran the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was dwarfed by hundreds of police and news reporters. Police said they made four arrests and seized two weapons.

The most anticipated visit by right-wing activists to the nation’s capital since a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 ended with a whimper Saturday, as demonstrators supporting the rioters found themselves far outnumbered by police, journalists and counterprotesters.

Although the protesters returned to the scene of a historically grievous attack on American democracy, it was immediately obvious that much had changed. The Capitol grounds — where poorly prepared police fought a losing, hand-to-hand battle against President Donald Trump’s supporters just over eight months ago — were secured Saturday with metal fences and hundreds of officers. The halls of Congress were all but deserted. No president, or former president, delivered a bellicose speech urging that his election loss be overturned.

Capitol Police said Saturday afternoon that between 400 and 450 people had been observed at some point inside the protest zone. But many of them were journalists and other bystanders.

washington post logoWashington Post, Oath Keepers founder draws scrutiny from federal officials and followers for role in Jan. 6 riot, but he remains free and uncharged, Hannah Allam and Spencer S. Hsu, Sept. 18, 2021 (print ed.). It depends on who’s talking.

To some, Stewart Rhodes is a paramilitary commander enlisting thousands of foot soldiers to overthrow the government.

stewart rhodesTo others, he’s a couch-surfing grifter — and the most shocking thing about the involvement of his Oath Keepers group in the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol was that some members actually showed up.

To federal prosecutors, Rhodes, 56, is “Person One,” which is how he is referenced in court filings for roughly 22 Oath Keepers associates charged in connection with the Capitol attack, including 18 who are accused of conspiracy in the largest single indictment of the probe. Five have pleaded guilty.

In the prosecution’s timeline, Rhodes coordinated with participants, allegedly giving advice about what weapons to bring and speaking with one who was part of the “stack” formation implemented moments before the group charged into the Capitol — one of the most salient images of the day.

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: California shows US future once again! Webster G. Tarpley, right, Sept. 18, 2021. Newsom’s landslide win in California recall marks failure for webster tarpley 2007GOP‘s anti-social ”health freedom” demagogy: Silent Majority of Vaccinated emerges despite media focus on loudmouth rejection front; Time for Dems to take gloves off!

In Virginia gubernatorial debate, Wall Street’s GOP candidate Youngkin showcases his plan for avoiding Larry Elder‘s fate: LYING!
Gen. Milley provides much-needed model of patriotism;

Playing small ball, FDA advisory board backs covid boosters for over-65s;

Definitively refuting trickle-down economics, 2020 direct stimulus payments cut US poverty rate by unprecedented 2.7% despite pandemic and closures; now make Child Tax Credit permanent!

Sept. 17

Proof via Substack, Investigative Commentary: A Secretive Summit That Trump Attended in December of 2020 May Explain Both Trump's Role in the January 6 seth abramson graphicInsurrection and Why Both CJCS Milley and China Feared Trump Would Start a War, Seth Abramson (left, attorney, professor, Newsweek columnist, metajournalist, and New York Times bestselling author), Sept. 16-17, 2021.

Introduction: On December 27, 2020, fresh off receiving one of the most controversial presidential pardons in U.S. history—from then-president Donald Trump, the very man he had committed federal felonies to protect—Roger Stone traveled to Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach to “thank[ ]” his patron and criminal co-conspirator.

seth abramson proof logoOnly a few U.S. media outlets covered the astonishingly brazen meeting at the time, and surprisingly that didn’t change nine days later—when a “movement” co-led by Stone, Stop the Steal, coordinated with the 2020 Trump Campaign in a sequence of events resulting in armed insurrection and a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Back in December 2020, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reported on the meeting in a way that should have, but didn’t, lead to it becoming a focus of sustained national attention: per the paper, Stone went to see Trump on December 27 not just to “deliver a personal thank you to the president” but also, critically, to “counsel the president on how he could ‘ensure that Donald Trump continues as our president.’” This was during the same period that, as Proof has reported, Stone recorded a video seeking donations for arms and armor for Proud Boys and Oath Keepers planning to travel to Washington on January 6—the precise conduct Proud Boy “sergeant-at-arms” and Stone associate Ethan Nordean would later be arrested for.

So there can be no doubt that when Stone met Trump just nine days before January 6 to discuss how that day could lead to an overturning of the November 2020 election, Stone’s focus was on the Stop the Steal–cosponsored March to Save America that he was personally involved in coordinating at a logistical as well as strategic level.

The Sun-Sentinel report noted that, after posting a picture of (and commentary upon) the strange golf club meeting on Parler, Stone subsequently thought better of it and deleted all reference to the event on the far-right social media platform. At the time, he claimed it was to honor a policy supposedly in place at Trump’s golf club to prevent guests from posting pictures of the club; journalists have not yet been able to verify that any such policy exists, and a Google Image search certainly suggests it doesn’t (especially when the photograph promotes Donald Trump in any way). In any case, Stone had by then deleted not only photos of the meeting but also any reference to it on social media—and thereafter would refuse to discuss it with journalists. It did not, therefore, seem like a reticence related to an eldritch country club photography policy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Oath Keepers founder draws scrutiny from federal officials and followers for role in Jan. 6 riot, but he remains free and uncharged, Hannah Allam and Spencer S. Hsu, Sept. 17, 2021. It depends on who’s talking.

To some, Stewart Rhodes is a paramilitary commander enlisting thousands of foot soldiers to overthrow the government.

To others, he’s a couch-surfing grifter — and the most shocking thing about the involvement of his Oath Keepers group in the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol was that some members actually showed up.

To federal prosecutors, Rhodes, 56, is “Person One,” which is how he is referenced in court filings for roughly 22 Oath Keepers associates charged in connection with the Capitol attack, including 18 who are accused of conspiracy in the largest single indictment of the probe. Five have pleaded guilty.

In the prosecution’s timeline, Rhodes coordinated with participants, allegedly giving advice about what weapons to bring and speaking with one who was part of the “stack” formation implemented moments before the group charged into the Capitol — one of the most salient images of the day.

washington post logoWashington Post, Disclosures on Milley’s Trump pushback could further politicize the military, Missy Ryan, Sept. 17, 2021. Supporters say the country’s top officer sought to protect the Constitution, but some fear his actions could compound existing problems. New revelations showing how Gen. Mark A. Milley, the nation’s top military officer, quietly maneuvered to check President Donald Trump reveal the lengths that top officials went to prevent potentially rash action, but the disclosures also threaten to thrust the military deeper into the partisan fray, former officials said.

mark milley army chief of staffA series of dramatic inside-the-room accounts, including one in which the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, right, promised to alert China’s top officer if Trump was preparing to launch an attack, provides new insight into military leaders’ response to the previous administration’s fraught final period.

But Kori Schake, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said the revelations that Milley covertly acted to counter his commander in chief are “bad for the military as an institution.”

“It encourages people to do what Americans are already doing, which is viewing the military as they view the Supreme Court: apolitical when they agree with them, partisan when they don’t,” she said.

Biden comes to Milley’s defense after revelation that top general, fearing Trump, conferred with China to avoid war

The latest exposé comes in a book by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, who write that Milley, alarmed by the possibility Trump might strike China as he tried to stay in power, reached out to Gen. Li Zuocheng in the months surrounding the 2020 election in order to dismiss any Chinese fears of a preemptive American attack, they said.

That followed other dramatic accounts involving Milley, including in a book by Washington Post journalists Carol D. Leonnig and Philip Rucker, which said the general likened the circumstances around the election to those of Nazi-era Germany.

washington post logoWashington Post, Milley says calls to Chinese counterpart were ‘perfectly within the duties and responsibilities’ of his job, John Wagner, Sept. 17, 2021. Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Friday that calls he made late in the Trump administration to his Chinese military counterpart were “perfectly within the duties and responsibilities” of his job and that he would explain his actions in greater detail during an upcoming appearance before Congress.

Milley, who has come under fire after a new book revealed the conservations aimed at averting armed conflict, described the calls as “routine” and said they were done “to reassure both allies and adversaries in this case in order to ensure strategic stability.”

“I think it’s best that I reserve my comments on the record until I do that in front of the lawmakers who have the lawful responsibility to oversee the U.S. military,” Milley said, according to the Associated Press. “I’ll go into any level of detail Congress wants to go into in a couple of weeks.”

The AP reported that Milley, the Pentagon’s top uniformed officer, made his comments to reporters traveling with him to Europe. Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are scheduled to testify Sept. 28 before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden comes to Milley’s defense after revelation top general, fearing Trump, conferred with China to avert war, Karoun Demirjian and John Wagner, Sept. 17, 2021 (print ed.). Critics of Gen. Mark Milley contend he should be removed as Joint Chiefs chairman after a new book disclosed the extent of his alarm that Trump might order a strike on China in the waning days of his presidency.

mark milley army chief of staffPresident Biden on Wednesday threw his full support behind the Pentagon’s top uniformed officer, right, who has come under fire after a new book revealed he privately conferred with his Chinese counterpart Gen. Li Zuocheng, left, to avert armed conflict late in the Trump administration.

Gen. Li Zuocheng“I have great confidence in General Milley,” Biden told reporters at the White House, following calls from former president Donald Trump and his Republican allies on Capitol Hill for the removal of Gen. Mark A. Milley as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Biden’s declaration, coinciding with efforts by the chief spokespersons for the White House and the Pentagon to stage a similar defense of the embattled general, effectively ends speculation that Milley’s assignment may be cut short. But the controversy surrounding his fitness for the job rages on — and thus far is falling mostly along party lines.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump gave six months extra Secret Service protection to his kids, three officials. It cost taxpayers $1.7 million, David A. Fahrenthold and Carol D. Leonnig, Sept. 17, 2021. The former president required the Secret Service to devote agents and money to wealthy adults with no role in government, whom the agents trailed to ski vacations, weekend houses, a resort in Cabo San Lucas and business trips abroad.

In June, former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin visited Israel to scout investments for his new company, then flew to Qatar for a conference. At the time, Mnuchin had been out of office for five months.

But, because of an order given by President Donald Trump, he was still entitled to protection by Secret Service agents. As agents followed Mnuchin across the Middle East, the U.S. government paid up to $3,000 each for their plane tickets, and $11,000 for rooms at Qatar’s luxe St. Regis Doha, according to government spending records.

In all, the records show U.S. taxpayers spent more than $52,000 to guard a multimillionaire on a business trip.

These payments were among $1.7 million in additional government spending triggered by Trump’s highly unusual order — which awarded six extra months of Secret Service protection for his four adult children and three top administration officials — according to a Washington Post analysis of new spending documents.

That $1.7 million in extra spending is still tiny in comparison to the Secret Service’s $2.4 billion budget.

But, as the records show, Trump’s order required the Secret Service to devote agents and money to an unexpected set of people: wealthy adults, with no role in government, whom the agents trailed to ski vacations, weekend houses, a resort in Cabo San Lucas, and business trips abroad.

“Who wouldn’t enjoy continuing their free limo service and easy access to restaurant tables?” said Jim Helminski, a former Secret Service executive, who said the decision appeared to show Trump giving a public service as a private benefit to his inner circle. “Even if there was a credible risk to family and associates of Trump, these people are now private citizens who can afford to hire some very talented private security firms for their personal protection.”

New York Times, Ohio House Republican, Calling Trump ‘a Cancer,’ Bows Out of 2022, Jonathan Martin, Sept. 17, 2021 (print ed.). Representative Anthony Gonzalez, one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump, is the first of the group to retire rather than face a stiff primary challenge.

Calling former President Donald J. Trump “a cancer for the country,” Representative Anthony Gonzalez, Republican of Ohio, said in an interview on Thursday that he would not run for re-election in 2022, ceding his seat after just two terms in Congress rather than compete against a Trump-backed primary opponent.

anthony gonzalezMr. Gonzalez, right, is the first, but perhaps not the last, of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Trump after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot to retire rather than face ferocious primaries next year in a party still in thrall to the former president.

The congressman, who has two young children, emphasized that he was leaving in large part because of family considerations and the difficulties that come with living between two cities. But he made clear that the strain had only grown worse since his impeachment vote, after which he was deluged with threats and feared for the safety of his wife and children.

Mr. Gonzalez said that quality-of-life issues had been paramount in his decision. He recounted an “eye-opening” moment this year: when he and his family were greeted at the Cleveland airport by two uniformed police officers, part of extra security precautions taken after the impeachment vote.

“That’s one of those moments where you say, ‘Is this really what I want for my family when they travel, to have my wife and kids escorted through the airport?’” he said.

Mr. Gonzalez, who turns 37 on Saturday, was the sort of Republican recruit the party once prized. A Cuban American who starred as an Ohio State wide receiver, he was selected in the first round of the N.F.L. draft and then earned an M.B.A. at Stanford after his football career was cut short by injuries. He claimed his Northeast Ohio seat in his first bid for political office.

Mr. Gonzalez, a conservative, largely supported the former president’s agenda. Yet he started breaking with Mr. Trump and House Republican leaders when they sought to block the certification of last year’s presidential vote, and he was horrified by Jan. 6 and its implications.

Still, he insisted he could have prevailed in what he acknowledged would have been a “brutally hard primary” against Max Miller, a former Trump White House aide who was endorsed by the former president in February.

Yet as Mr. Gonzalez sat on a couch in his House office, most of his colleagues still at home for the prolonged summer recess, he acknowledged that he could not bear the prospect of winning if it meant returning to a Trump-dominated House Republican caucus.

“Politically the environment is so toxic, especially in our own party right now,” he said. “You can fight your butt off and win this thing, but are you really going to be happy? And the answer is, probably not.”

For the Ohioan, Jan. 6 was “a line-in-the-sand moment” and Mr. Trump represents nothing less than a threat to American democracy.

“I don’t believe he can ever be president again,” Mr. Gonzalez said. “Most of my political energy will be spent working on that exact goal.”

 

washington post logoWashington Post, Durham grand jury indicts lawyer whose firm represented Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Devlin Barrett and Spencer S. Hsu, Sept. 17, 2021 (print ed.). A grand jury working with special counsel John Durham’s office handed up an indictment Thursday of lawyer Michael Sussmann, who prosecutors have accused of making false statements to the FBI during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Sussmann, the indictment charges, “lied about the capacity in which he was providing ... allegations to the FBI” of potenmichael sussmann perkins youngertial cyber links between a Russian bank and a company owned by former president Donald Trump.

An attorney at Perkins Coie, a prominent law firm tied to the Democratic party, Sussmann, right, had been bracing for possible indictment.

  • Read the indictment: U.S. v. Michael Sussmann

Charging him marks a strange twist in the special counsel’s probe championed by Trump and his Republican allies, and which to date has resulted in a single conviction of a low-level FBI lawyer.

john durham CustomDurham, right, was tasked with finding crimes that may have been committed at the FBI and elsewhere in the federal government, but in charging Sussmann, the special counsel is in essence arguing that the FBI was the victim of a crime.

In a statement issued Wednesday, ahead of the indictment, lawyers for Sussmann insisted their client committed no crime.

“Michael Sussmann is a highly respected national security and cyber security lawyer, who served the U.S. Department of Justice during Democratic and Republican administrations alike,” his lawyers Sean Berkowitz and Michael Bosworth said in a joint statement. “Any prosecution here would be baseless, unprecedented, and an unwarranted deviation from the apolitical and principled way in which the Department of Justice is supposed to do its work. We are confident that if Mr. Sussmann is charged, he will prevail at trial and vindicate his good name.”

Durham grand jury examines if anyone presented false evidence to FBI

In recent months, Durham’s team has questioned witnesses about how the allegation of a possible digital tie between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank Justice Department log circularwas presented to the FBI. Durham also has examined the authenticity of data given to the FBI.

Durham is pursuing a prosecutorial theory that Sussmann was secretly representing Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, which was a client of Sussmann’s firm, these people said.

It was not immediately clear how an individual lying to the FBI’s top lawyer would square with the Justice Department’s historical practice of charging false-statements cases. Typically, such cases are charged when a witness knowingly lies to a special agent conducting an investigation.

Sept. 16

Palmer Report, Opinion: Here come the January 6th superseding indictments, Bill Palmer, Sept. 16, 2021. “They’ve gotten away with it all!” It’s the rallying cry of defeatists everywhere who are so eager to feel outrage, they’ve baselessly convinced themselves that the January 6th attackers are off the hook. Meanwhile back in the real world, the indictments continue to come down – and now we’re getting into superseding indictments.

bill palmer report logo headerFor instance, prosecutors handed down superseding indictments today against Capitol attackers Ronald Sandlin and Nathaniel DeGrave, who had already been hit with lesser January 6th charges. It’s a reminder that as the evidence continues to add up, and people start cutting plea deals and ratting each other out, the indictments are continuing to get more serious.

The criminal indictments in relation to January 6th are still just getting started. That’s a fact made clear by the evidence. How high up will these indictments go, and will they reach the likes of Roger Stone and Donald Trump? We’ll see. But the narrative that they’ve “gotten away with it all” is simply fiction.

 

djt evander holyfield vitor belfortMediaite, Trump-Announced Evander Holyfield Boxing Match Reportedly a Box Office Dud, Nets a Paltry 150k Pay-Per-View Buys, Brandon Contes, Sept. 16, 2021. Former US President Donald Trump poses for a photo prior to the fight between Evander Holyfield and Vitor Belfort during Evander Holyfield vs. Vitor Belfort presented by Triller at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on September 11, 2021 in Hollywood, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

In a fight that never should have happened, Evander Holyfield was embarrassed in his return to the ring last week against Vitor Belfort, getting KO’d in the first round. But the real loser might be Triller Fight Club.

According to boxing journalist Dan Rafael, sources say the fight generated around 150,000 PPV buys. If that number holds, it will represent a massive fail for Triller, who promoted and sold the PPV event for $49.99.

Per sources, #HolyfieldBelfort event totaled about 150k PPV buys between linear & digital platforms, which would make it a massive $ loser for Triller. At 150k it would gross about $7.5M from ppv, not remotely close to covering even the purses, not to mention rest of expenses.

— Dan Rafael (@DanRafael1) September 16, 2021

In comparison, Mike Tyson’s return to the ring against Roy Jones Jr. last year surpassed a reported 1.6 million PPV buys, or more than 10 times the reported amount of Triller’s Holyfield bout.

Triller brought former president Donald Trump on board last week, in a desperate attempt to add juice to the fight and provide alternate commentary of the event. The former president’s boxing prowess dates back decades, having welcomed some of the world’s best fighters to Trump Plaza in Atlantic City long before the dying venue imploded earlier this year.

But even Trump, who loves to falsely criticize other sports for their dwindling popularity by invoking the “go woke, go broke” narrative, wasn’t enough of a draw to help this dud of a boxing match. While the NBA and NFL watch their TV ratings start to bounce back from a deplorable 2020, the Triller-Trump partnership just oversaw an epic fail for boxing.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Turns out Donald Trump’s boxing match stunt was a money losing disaster for everyone involved, Bill Palmer, Sept. 16, 2021. Given Donald Trump’s treasonous acts against the United States, anyone who even tries to do business with him should be financially shunned by every mainstream American on principle alone. Even as we continue working toward that goal, it turns out Trump’s own inherent toxicity and crappiness is working to make sure his financial partners end up punished.

bill palmer report logo headerTake for instance, the disgusting decision to allow career criminal Donald Trump to provide pay per view commentary for a boxing match this past week. Mediaite is reporting that just a relative handful of people paid to tune in for Trump’s incoherent commentary, and the whole thing has apparently turned into a major financial loss for the promoters. In other words, the promoters got exactly what they deserved.

Hopefully this will send a message to anyone else who thinks about partnering with anti-American traitor Donald Trump going forward. His base is comparatively small, and even they seem increasingly uninterested in his ramblings. And the vast majority of the country wants nothing to do with Trump, or with anyone disgusting enough to partner with Trump. The traitor is a terrible financial bet. Then again, he always has been.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘CUT HIM OFF NOW!’ Newsmax Host Short-Circuits After Guest Commits Unforgivable Sin of Criticizing Trump, Ken Meyer, Sept. 16, 2021. Newsmax’s Grant Stinchfield had a major-league meltdown where he screamed and cut off a guest on his show for mildly criticizing Donald Trump over the former president’s approach to Afghanistan.

Stinchfield spoke on Wednesday night with Joe Saboe, an Iraq War veteran who recently made headlines for his efforts to help people flee Afghanistan in light of the Taliban’s national takeover.

During the interview, Stinchfield and Saboe had a dispute about whether the current state of affairs in Afghanistan is a “hostage situation,” and the Newsmax host eventually made the argument that Trump would’ve never let this happen.

I can tell you, this didn’t happen under President Trump, and I know there’s a lot of people on the Left that want to try to blame President Trump. He wanted out of Afghanistan real bad. He was real frustrated, not being able to get out, but he didn’t pull out because he knew this would happen. In fact, we all did.

Stinchfield moved to dismiss Saboe from the show, but before he could, Saboe offered a counterpoint by saying “we followed this closely from multiple administrations. We know that Trump’s administration’s efforts here were fairly weak, that they were trying to limit the number of people that would get out…”

At that moment, Stinchfield claimed he was “low on time” and once again moved to terminate the segment. Saboe kept on speaking though, which caused Stinchfield to repeatedly shout “Cut him off now!”

“You’re not gonna blame this on President Trump on my show!” He exclaimed. “Don’t come on this program and take the talking points of the left and blame President Trump! That’s not helping anybody!”

Stinchfield concluded by shouting that “the Biden administration screwed this up from the very start,” and he also took some parting shots at Saboe for disagreeing with his “hostage situation” commentary.

Sept. 14

les wexner mansion jeffrey epstein wmr graphic mariaWayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Bannon's involvement with Epstein reflects on a past littered with ties to pedophiles, Wayne Madsen, Sept. 14, 2021. According to a new book by Donald Trump biographer Michael Wolff, former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon coached the late pedophile and child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein for a planned CBS "60 Minutes" interview in the months prior to Epstein's arrest by federal authorities in 2019.

According to Wolff's book, Too Famous: The Rich, the Powerful, the Wishful, the Notorious, the Damned," Bannon conducted 15 hours of practice interviews with Epstein at his Manhattan townhouse [known as the Wexner Mansion, named for Epstein's benefactor Leslie Wexner, the clothing retailing mogul and shown above in a WMR graphic].

We have previously reported that Epstein's New York residence was the scene of the 1994 rape of two girls, one 12 and the other 13, by Epstein and Trump. Bannon has, for quite some time, been under our radar for his past association with pedophiles. In 2005, Bannon was affiliated with a Hong Kong-based company alexander acosta o cropped Customcalled Internet Gaming Entertainment (IGE) [whose silent partner included Marc Collins-Rector].

There is a common thread that extends far and wide within Trump's circle of friends and associates. U.S. Attorney in Miami Alex Acosta, right, whom Trump named as his Labor Secretary, the government's chief monitor for underage sex trafficking, was more interested in burying the criminal activities of pedophiles like Epstein, Trump, and Rector than in protecting children from predators with large bank accounts.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s “serious mental decline,” Bill Palmer, right, Sept. 14, 2021. As 2020 went on, we all watched Donald Trump become more bill palmerdesperate, more deranged, and more incoherent in his public behavior. By the time he lost and then tried to falsely declare himself the winner, and then turned around and incited the January 6th Capitol attack, no one was surprised at his worsening behavior. But it turns out he was even further off the deep end than we knew.

bill palmer report logo headerBob Woodward and Robert Costa have written a new book which says that Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley was “certain that Trump had gone into a serious mental decline in the aftermath of the election,” screaming and ranting all day about whacked out conspiracy theories. Milley went so far as to hold a secret meeting in order to preempt any potential nuclear strikes that Trump might order.

The book also reveals that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called General Milley after January 6th and urged him to get a handle on things, adding that Trump was “crazy.” Milley’s response to Pelosi: “I agree with you on everything.”

Sept. 13

Best-selling author Michael Wolff's two 2021 books:

Best-selling author Michael Wolff's two 2021 books: "Landslide" and "Too Famous."

ny times logoNew York Times, Commentary: Why Our Monsters Talk to Michael Wolff, Ben Smith, Sept. 13, 2021 (print ed.). In his new book, the author of “Fire and Fury” continues his specialty: teasing out stories from men in power, our media columnist Ben Smith writes.

It’s early 2019, a few months before Jeffrey Epstein will be arrested on sex charges, and he is sitting in the vast study of his New York mansion with a camera pointed at him as he practices for a big “60 Minutes” interview that would never take place.

The media trainer is a familiar figure: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s campaign guru and onetime White House adviser. Mr. Bannon is both conducting the interview and coaching Mr. Epstein on the little things, telling him he will come across as stupid if he doesn’t look directly into the camera now and then, and advising him not to share his racist theories on how Black people learn. Mainly, Mr. Bannon tells Mr. Epstein, he should stick to his message, which is that he is not a pedophile. By the end, Mr. Bannon seems impressed.

“You’re engaging, you’re not threatening, you’re natural, you’re friendly, you don’t look at all creepy, you’re a sympathetic figure,” he says.

This explosive, previously unreported episode, linking a leader of the right with the now-dead disgraced financier, is tucked away at the end of a new book by Michael Wolff, Too Famous: The Rich, the Powerful, the Wishful, the Notorious, the Damned. Mr. Bannon confirmed in a statement that he encouraged Mr. Epstein to speak to “60 Minutes” and said that he had recorded more than 15 hours of interviews with him.

michael wolff folded armsMr. Wolff, 68, left, has been at this since before I had a byline, infuriating his rivals by the access he gets, the stories he tells and the gleeful way he tells them. And he has been the subject of pieces like this one — scolding profiles of the journalist enfant terrible and New York media scenester — for decades.

He has managed to stay at the top of his game because of his undying interest and expertise in a particular subject: big, bad men. What Oprah Winfrey is to tearful celebrities and earnest royals, Mr. Wolff is to louche power players. The litany is astounding: Roger Ailes, Rupert Murdoch, Harvey Weinstein, Boris Johnson, Mr. Bannon, Mr. Trump. All appear in his new book, a collection of profiles, some previously published, some not.

Magnates seem to think Mr. Wolff gives them their best shot at a sympathetic portrait. He writes, in “Too Famous,” that Mr. Weinstein called him during his 2020 rape trial to propose a biography. “This book is worth millions,” Mr. Weinstein told him, according to Mr. Wolff. “You keep domestic, I’ll take foreign.” As for Mr. Epstein? “He wanted me to write something about him — a kind of a book — it wasn’t clear why,” Mr. Wolff told me.

Few women appear in “Too Famous.” Tina Brown, Arianna Huffington and Hillary Clinton are the exceptions. “These are the women, and there are not too many, who have done exactly what men would do,” he said. And Democrats rarely talk to him. “They don’t have a sense of play,” he said.

Sept. 12

djt evander holyfield vitor belfort

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Trump Talked as Holyfield Got Pummeled. Just Another Day in Boxing’s Absurd Summer, Kevin Draper, Sept. 12, 2021. Of course it was a circus (shown in a promotional ad above) — the kind that makes sense in boxing these days.

In a single zany sentence, this is how the once-promising summer of boxing ended: Triller, a social video app that is a much less popular version of TikTok, put on a pay-per-view fight between a 58-year-old Evander Holyfield (who hasn’t fought in a decade) and a 44-year-old mixed martial artist, Vitor Belfort — and paid former President Donald J. Trump and Donald Trump Jr. to serve as live commentators, all on the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The result of the (legally) professional fight is mostly beside the point — Belfort won by a technical knockout in the first round, after the referee stopped the bout because of how clear it was that Holyfield never should have been allowed into the ring — but it served to underscore what could have been.

Earlier this year, Triller won the right to promote Teófimo López’s lightweight title defense against George Kambosos Jr. The app paid more than $6 million for the privilege, after the fight went to an open bid because López and his promoter, Top Rank, could not agree on a deal.

Triller had burst onto the boxing scene last winter, with an exhibition fight between Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. The internet celebrity Jake Paul knocked out a former N.B.A. player, Nate Robinson, on the undercard, and the rappers Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa and French Montana all performed between fights.

An optimist could see an evolution in how boxing was being presented: a brash entrant aiming to attract a new type — and a new generation — of fans to a sport that has been the subject of a thousand obituaries.

The López-Kambosos fight, then, was Triller’s chance to show that it was serious. That its foray into boxing was not just an expensive, attention-grabbing marketing strategy for its app — though it was definitely that — and that its flashy presentation would work for real fights, too, and that it had figured out something that traditional promoters like Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions had not.

As if to punctuate its seriousness, on June 1, Triller announced that it had hired the Boxing Hall of Fame announcer Jim Lampley to call the fight. Cast aspersions on Triller all you want, but Lampley calling a López title bout is a strong way to present a legitimate draw.

Alas, that announcement would be the high point.

The fight, scheduled for June 19, was pushed back to August after López tested positive for the coronavirus. It was moved again, to September, onto the same card featuring Oscar De La Hoya — who has not fought since George W. Bush was president — fighting Belfort. But that date did not work out — in theory, López will now fight in October — and then, last week, De La Hoya was hospitalized with the coronavirus, in what he said was a breakthrough infection.

On a week’s notice, Holyfield stepped in to fight Belfort instead. The bout, originally to take place in Los Angeles, was moved across the country to Florida after the California State Athletic Commission refused to sanction it — even as an exhibition. (In Florida, it counted as a pro fight.)

But we are not done yet. On Tuesday, Triller announced that Trump and Trump Jr. would commentate the fight. The next day, Lampley, objecting to the presence of the Trumps even though they were to be on a separate commentating stream, pulled out.

That is how Triller’s big summer showcase, to be voiced by Lampley, became three hours of Trump recalling different boxers he’d known and been friends with, before two depressing top bouts, both over in the first round, each of which featured one washed-up fighter beating another.

“They say there is a lot of people watching,” the former president said with a smile between fights. “I can’t imagine why.” The night was one of Trump’s highest-profile, and lengthiest, public appearances since leaving office, and a fairly rare event in light of his suspension from a number of social media sites.

CBS Boxing, Analysis: Holyfield vs. Belfort fight results: Ex-MMA star knocks out Evander Holyfield, while Anderson Silva shines, Brian Campbell

evander holyfield vitor belfort cbs boxingCBS Boxing, Analysis: Holyfield vs. Belfort fight results: Ex-MMA star knocks out Evander Holyfield, while Anderson Silva shines, Brian Campbell, Sept. 12, 2021. The two quick fights headlined an event that will also be remembered for some odd moments.

Well, the good news is that no one got seriously injured. That's about the best thing one can say about Saturday's Triller Fight Club pay-per-view card from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel in Hollywood, Florida.

MMA legend Vitor Belfort, above right, knocked out 58-year-old former heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield, left, in the main event and Anderson Silva continued to raise his stock on the boxing side of his post-UFC combat career in one of the most bizarre fight cards in recent memory.

Let's take a closer look at what we learned following this circus from south Florida.

  1. Triller is the bottom of the combat sports food chain
  2. Let's be happy for Holyfield it wasn't much worse
  3. Consider Anderson Silva the new face of the celebrity boxing era

Sept. 11

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Yes, the Jan. 6 insurrectionists were terrorists. George W. Bush just indicted them, Jennifer Rubin, right, Sept. 11, 2021. Few jennifer rubin new headshotAmericans expected wisdom from former president George W. Bush on the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Even fewer expected wisdom on the current state of our politics. That is nevertheless what we got from his remarks in Shanksville, Pa., today.

In perhaps the most important words spoken in his political career, Bush in his remarks at the crash site of United Airlines Flight 93 drew a straight line between the 9/11 terrorists and the 1/6 terrorists.

“We have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders but from violence that gathers within,” he said. “There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home. But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit." He added, "It is our continuing duty to confront them.” Bush’s words were an indictment not only of the violent MAGA insurrectionists but also, implicitly, of his party that coddles them and the leader whom the 1/6 terrorists wanted to install by force.

The violent insurrectionists carried symbols of the Confederacy (the traitors whose rebellion resulted in more than 600,000 American deaths) in the Capitol, where they trashed the citadel of democracy and tried to hunt down House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The Capitol, of course, was the suspected target of Flight 93; the heroes on board that plane spared the lawmakers and others who worked there from the fate of occupants of the twin towers and the Pentagon. The 1/6 terrorists breached the building the 9/11 terrorists could not. Both the 9/11 terrorists and the domestic 1/6 terrorists sought to destroy our democracy in service to a crazed ideology of intolerance.

When viewed in that context, the actions of the former president and his party should horrify all decent Americans. One can imagine how their actions and rhetoric would have sounded if the other “children of the same foul spirit” were radical Islamists.

“We love you; you’re very special,” then-President Donald Trump told the Jan. 6 terrorists as their assault on democracy continued. Later, he declared, "These were peaceful people, these were great people.” He insisted, “The crowd was unbelievable and I mentioned the word ‘love,’ the love in the air, I’ve never seen anything like it.” No president and no party could have survived if the object of his remarks were foreign rather than domestic terrorists. No president could have avoided prosecution if the crowd he inspired to march on the Capitol had been radical Muslims ready to kill elected leaders and stop democracy in its tracks.

And the Republican Party continues to minimize, deflect and ignore the 1/6 terrorist attack. Can one imagine in the wake of 9/11 Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asking senators as a "favor” not to investigate the 9/11 attacks? Consider the reaction had House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy insisted we not bother investigating 9/11 because the other side was simply seeking to score political points. One can only imagine the reaction if, after a foreign attack premised on the big lie, Sens. Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and the other Republicans proceeded to make challenges to the democratic process based on the same conspiracy theory advanced by foreign terrorists.

In every case, had the terrorists been foreigners, we would have labeled their Republican apologists as anti-American, if not traitorous. There is no difference, as Bush pointed out, when the terrorists carry Confederate flags or a radical Islamist flag. As he said, “It is our continuing duty to confront them” — not to sympathize with them, not to turn them into martyrs.

In musing about what has become of a country where “every disagreement [turns] into an argument, and every argument into a clash of cultures," Bush decried politics that is no more than “a naked appeal to anger, fear and resentment.” Only one party matches that description. Bush used a powerful refrain, one that also serves as a rebuke to the racist, antidemocratic MAGA movement:

At a time when religious bigotry might have flowed freely, I saw Americans reject prejudice and embrace people of Muslim faith. That is the nation I know.
At a time when nativism could have stirred hatred and violence against people perceived as outsiders, I saw Americans reaffirm their welcome of immigrants and refugees. That is the nation I know.

Bush’s bluntness was a refreshing antidote to the usual blasé treatment of a radicalized Republican Party that embraces “children of the same foul spirit” as the 9/11 terrorists. The press, the ecosystem of donors, activists and operatives, and even, to an extent, the Democrats all treat Republicans as a normal political party within our democratic system, rather than as the enablers of a “foul spirit” and violent extremism. They shy away from labeling Republicans as “1/6 truthers” when the GOP’s effort to direct blame away from the actual terrorists is no better than claiming 9/11 was an inside job. (McCarthy and his cohorts insist it’s Pelosi who should be investigated.)

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump May Be Gone, but the Fight Against His Border Wall Goes On, Edgar Sandoval, Sept. 11, 2021. Residents in Los Ebanos, Texas, thought a Biden victory would end fears of losing their property for President Trump’s wall. It hasn’t worked out that way.

Sept. 5

 

ritz carlton hotel pentagon city amazonThe Ritz Carlton–Pentagon City in Northern Virginia, the site of a significant, unreported international meeting on January 5 — Insurrection Eve.

Proof via Substack, Investigation: Evidence of Foreign Entanglement in January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol Emerges, Seth Abramson, left, Sept. 5, 2021. A top Trump ally met foreign nationals in seth abramson graphicVirginia hours before the Capitol attack. The potential links between this meeting and the transnational conspiracy theory that animated the attack are clear.

“If it [the January 6 attack] [had been] organized, they would have taken the Capitol and made demands that had already been established by the group. They would have [had] the firepower to assure nobody [among the rioters] would die. [They would have] kill[ed] all the cops inside [the Capitol]—or the congressmen they hate so much. When the right is 10% as organized as the left, we will have civil wars in every Western country.”

—Trump ally Eduardo Bolsonaro, in comments The Brazilian Report called “chilling”

seth abramson proof logoIntroduction: In a series of Facebook livestreams and interviews with far-right media outlets on January 5 and January 6, informal Trump adviser Michael Lindell underscored that he believed January 6 would be a turning point in American history—in fact, he said more than once, he believed it would be the most significant moment in the United States since the end of the American Civil War.

Lindell’s militant view of the joint session of Congress scheduled for January 6, 2021 provides some context for his decision to be one of the benefactors of the Stop the Steal “movement” following the November 2020 presidential election. So the matter of who Lindell was meeting with on January 5, and where and why—especially as it was on that day that Lindell published what amounted to a declaration of civil war—is now of very significant interest to federal investigators.

Read more at the Proof site to see the revelations....

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

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

Sept. 4

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump Tower’s key tenants have fallen behind on rent and moved out. But Trump has one reliable customer: His own PAC, Shayna Jacobs, David A. Fahrenthold, Jonathan O'Connell and Josh Dawsey, Sept. 4, 2021 (print ed.). Inside Trump Tower, swank suit-maker Marcraft Clothes once rented the entire 18th floor, outfitting its offices with fireplaces, mahogany-lined closets and two bars for schmoozing customers.

But then Marcraft fell $664,000 behind on rent and went out of business last year — its assets having dwindled to $40.75 in a checking account and “1,200 damaged coats,” according to court filings.

One floor up, a business school once led by Kardashian family matriarch Kris Jenner was consumed by lawsuits, falling $198,000 behind on payments to Trump Tower by October 2020, according to court papers. And on the 21st and 22nd floors, the company that made Ivanka Trump shoes racked up $1.5 million in unpaid rent, according to a lawsuit that the Trump Organization filed this year.

But through all that — as Trump Tower has dealt with imploding tenants, political backlash and a broader, pandemic-related slump in Manhattan office leasing since last year — it has been able to count on one reliable, high-paying tenant: former president Donald Trump’s own political operation.

Starting in March, one of his committees, Make America Great Again PAC, paid $37,541.67 per month to rent office space on the 15th floor of Trump Tower — a space previously rented by his campaign — according to campaign-finance filings and a person familiar with the political action committee.

This may not be the most efficient use of donors’ money: The person familiar with Trump’s PAC said that its staffers do not regularly use the office space. Also, for several months, Trump’s PAC paid the Trump Organization $3,000 per month to rent a retail kiosk in the tower’s lobby — even though the lobby was closed.

Campaign-finance experts said the payments do not appear to be illegal. This kind of PAC has very few restrictions and no expiration date, so Trump is free to spend its money at his own properties as long as he wants.

Axios, Trump in advanced talks to sell D.C. hotel, Jonathan Swan and Dan Primack, Sept. 4, 2021. Former President Trump is in advanced talks to sell rights to his Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., sources tell Axios.

axios logoWhy it matters: The removal of Trump’s big, golden name from Pennsylvania Avenue would be a symbolic bombshell savored by opponents.

The historic building became a prop and symbol for both sides in the political wars.
The hotel was a central setting during his chaotic presidency, with Trump preening at his personal table, and supporters and supplicants thronging the lobby bar and restaurants to curry favor.

How it would work: Trump would sell the leasing rights to a real estate developer, who in turn would negotiate with hotel companies that would manage the property and rebrand it.

Details of the deal’s terms aren't yet known but Trump’s representatives have been in talks with major hotel chains and investors.
Trump, who initially tried to sell the leased federal property in the fall of 2019, declined Axios' request for comment.
Sources said the former president is likely to get less than the $500 million he was reportedly seeking in 2019.

The backstory: The hotel is housed in the 122-year-old Old Post Office building.

Three years before Trump was elected, the General Services Administration (GSA), the federal landlord, announced a 60-year lease agreement with the Trump Organization. Under the 2013 agreement, $200 million of private money was to be spent to restore the building and convert it into a luxury development.
The Trump Organization has been paying $250,000 a month in base rent, GSA said in 2017. The rent was to rise with inflation.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Go ahead Donald Trump, make my day, Bill Palmer, right, Sept. 4, 2021. Multiple people around Donald Trump are now publicly insisting that he’ll bill palmerenter the 2024 presidential race within days. My response: good, go ahead, make my day. No really, bring it on.

Here’s the thing. No one actually enters the 2024 election in the year 2021. If Trump announces a “campaign” this far out, it’ll only be because his ego needs the headlines, his wallet needs the money, and he needs a distraction from his worsening legal situation in New York – which now reportedly includes the cooperating testimony of Matthew Calamari Jr.

bill palmer report logo headerFunctionally, beyond holding a few idiotic rallies that he’s already been holding anyway, Donald Trump wouldn’t actually be running for anything by announcing a 2024 campaign in 2021. But here’s what would happen. It would convince Trump’s base that he’s going to be the 2024 Republican nominee. They’d come to accept nothing less. And by the time Trump is indicted in New York, or passes away from his visibly worsening physical health, or becomes more senile and can no longer leave the house, his supporters are going to see it as a bait and switch when they get stuck with some other Republican as their 2024 nominee.

djt maga hatNot only will Trump gain little to nothing by “entering” the 2024 race right now (other than in the wallet), he’ll end up hurting the Republicans’ prospects in 2024. Of course Trump doesn’t care about how much he hurts the GOP when it comes to pursuing his own selfish goals, as we’ve seen time and again.

The only potential downside to Trump launching a fake 2024 campaign in 2021 is that the mainstream media might be tempted to chase ratings and page views by pretending his fake campaign is real. Then again, if the media sees that it can’t hold your attention by trying to scare you with the specter of a magical Trump comeback, it’ll then have to admit that his “campaign” isn’t real and move on.

We’d all prefer that Donald Trump would just go away and never come back. But if he wants to insist on launching a fake 2024 presidential campaign this month, then by all means, please proceed. It’ll force the Republican Party to even more slavishly cater to his demands at the expense of its own viability, and when Trump inevitably “exits” the race because he was never really in it to begin with, it’ll leave the Republicans holding the bag.

Related Recent Headlines

Sept. 3

 

mike lindell screengrab

Proof via Substack, Investigation: On Insurrection Eve, Trump Adviser Michael Lindell Both Proposed Civil War in a 15-Page Manifesto and Met in Virginia with a seth abramson graphicCorrupt Foreign National, Seth Abramson, left, Sept. 2-3, 2021. In this second entry of the Proof series on lightly reported or non-reported pre-insurrection meetings involving insurrectionist kingpins, we discuss a secretive January 5 dinner in Virginia. 

Introduction: Proof long ago reported on Michael Lindell’s claims that he met with the corrupt son of corrupt Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro on January 5. That reporting in turn led to two additional significant Proof reports on the possible value of the Bolsonaros to Trump’s coup attempt; the connection between other Trump war room participants (such as the Becks of Idaho) and the Bolsonaros; and other visits Eduardo Bolsonaro made during his consistently-thereafter-lied-about trip to D.C.—including not just one but two visits to see the Trump family at the White House, one before Insurrection Day and one shortly afterward.

seth abramson proof logoThe reports linked to above contain photographs of these key meetings. Ultimately, reports at Proof about Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Michael Lindell (shown above in a file photo), Team Kraken, Daniel Beck, Doyle Beck, Eduardo and Jair Bolsonaro, and Donald Trump led to an ongoing Congressional inquiry in Brazil, as detailed (with links) in the history of this publication.

Brazilian media has now covered the possible involvement of the Brazilian government in Team Trump’s fraudulent “election fraud” accusations against Brazil’s foremost enemy—Venezuela—in a way that U.S. media has not.

And some members of Team Trump and its offshoot Team Kraken, such as Sidney Powell, have maintained their lies about Venezuela in a way that must be extremely pleasing to the increasingly unstable, perpetually embattled neo-fascist Bolsonaro government.

Proof can now report much more on what Lindell was doing on Insurrection Eve than it already has—though this is a developing story, and there is doubtless much more to learn. But the urgency of uncovering what Lindell has been up to has only grown since his insurrectionist August “conference” in South Dakota; his past claims that Trump will be reinstated as President of the United States (which would have seen Trump back in the White House on August 13, per Lindell); and the upcoming Justice for J6 rally in D.C. on September 18, during which insurrectionists like Lindell will return to the scene of past offenses via a rally law enforcement fears could spawn new violence.

Read more at the Proof site to see the revelations....

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, Liz Cheney appointed vice chair of panel investigating Jan. 6 Capitol attack, Adela Suliman, Sept. 3, 2021 (print ed.). Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) has been appointed as vice chair of the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, according to a statement on Thursday from the panel.

liz cheney o“Every member of this committee is dedicated to conducting a non-partisan, professional, and thorough investigation of all the relevant facts regarding January 6th and the threat to our Constitution we faced that day," Cheney said in a statement. “I have accepted the position of Vice Chair of the committee to assure that we achieve that goal."

The move further cements Cheney, who was ousted by fellow House Republicans from her leadership position in May over her challenge of former president Donald Trump’s false claim that the presidential election was stolen, as a major player in the investigation. She was originally tapped to join the committee in July.

Cheney’s position will boost Democrats’ arguments the probe is bipartisan even as many Republicans oppose it – with some GOP lawmakers even going so far as to threaten telecommunications and social media companies that comply with its requests.

bennie thompson headshotRep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), left, the select committee’s chair, welcomed Cheney’s appointment and said her presence “underscores the bipartisan nature” of the effort to get to the bottom of events that saw an attack on the Capitol earlier this year.

“Representative Cheney has demonstrated again and again her commitment to getting answers about January 6th, ensuring accountability, and doing whatever it takes to protect democracy for the American people,” Thompson said in a statement.

The Jan. 6 committee is tasked with investigating the facts related to the attack on the Capitol that saw pro-Trump rioters involved in deadly clashes with police and threatened the orderly certification of President Biden’s electoral victory.
In June, House Speaker Pelosi announced the formation of a select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol after Senate Republicans blocked an effort to form an independent, bipartisan commission.

Cheney, 55, has called her decision to publicly fight Trump a matter of principle, warning that allowing him to falsely claim that the election was stolen amounts to an attack on democracy and is destructive to the GOP and its values.

Trump has previously publicly reveled in Cheney’s ouster, calling her “a bitter, horrible human being,” in a statement and stating that she was “bad” for the Republican Party.

On Monday, the committee asked 35 companies to retain phone records and other information related to the attack as it ramps up its investigation ahead of the return of Congress next month. Several of the companies indicated this week that they intend to comply with the panel’s requests. However, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Republicans “will not forget” the actions of telecommunications and social media companies that comply with the committee’s request.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Kevin McCarthy emerges as a demagogue in his own right, Michael Gerson, right, Sept. 3, 2021 (print ed.). House Minority Leader Kevin michael gerson file photoMcCarthy’s threat that Republicans “will not forget” if telecommunications companies comply with requests for email and phone records by the Jan. 6 committee marks a coming out of sorts.

kevin mccarthyFor years, McCarthy (R-Calif.), left, has been former president Donald Trump’s factotum — a groveler and sniveler, held in obvious contempt by the object of his loyalty. You can usually identify the minority leader in a picture by his hunted expression.

But now McCarthy is emerging as a demagogue in his own right. His obstruction of a congressional inquiry is probably a violation of House ethics rules, and maybe even a violation of federal law. But that is presumably the point: McCarthy wants to show his chest hair and spitting skills in a party where toxic masculinity has become the dominant political philosophy.

douglas jensen mugDouglas Jensen

washington post logoWashington Post, QAnon ‘poster boy’ for Capitol riot sent back to jail after violating court order to stay off Internet, Spencer S. Hsu, Sept. 3, 2021 (print ed.).A self-described “poster boy” for the Jan. 6 Capitol riot was sent back to jail Thursday after violating a federal judge’s order to stay off the Internet — a lapse his lawyer attributed to his seeming addiction to the QAnon cult.

Douglas Jensen, 42, of Des Moines became one of the most recognized members of the mob that day when he was recorded on widely shared video pursuing U.S. Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman up two flights of stairs inside the Capitol while searching for the just-evacuated Senate chamber, according to prosecutors.

Jensen — wearing a black T-shirt emblazoned with a large “Q” and an eagle — came to Washington believing that members of Congress and Vice President Mike Pence were going to be arrested for opposing President Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election, U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly said at a hearing Thursday. The judge was in D.C., and Jensen appeared from Des Moines via video link.

“He was at the forefront of a mob deep inside the Capitol because he wanted a front row to see what would happen. . . . He wanted to be part of a revolution,” Kelly said, citing Jensen’s own statements.

Kelly said it was a “close call” when he released Jensen from jail July 13. At the time, the judge said he believed the assertion by Jensen that after being behind bars since Jan. 8, he recognized he had been deceived by “a pack of lies.”

Capitol riot defendants’ lawyer apparently hospitalized with covid leaves clients without counsel, prosecutors say

Jensen agreed to abide by the judge’s order imposing conditions for his release, including not accessing the Internet or using Internet-capable devices, including cellphones. The court’s point was to separate Jensen from the far-right QAnon ­conspiracy theory, which the FBI has warned could encourage violence among some believers of its false foundational claim that a cabal of Satan-worshipping “global elites” and “deep state” international child-sex traffickers were engaged in plots to conduct a coup against Trump.

jacob chansley shaman costume and mug

washington post logoWashington Post,‘QAnon Shaman’ Jacob Chansley, face of pro-Trump Capitol riot, to plead guilty, Spencer S. Hsu, Sept. 3, 2021 (print ed.). One of the most visible participants in the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol is set to plead guilty Friday, as a federal judge scheduled a plea hearing for Jacob Anthony Chansley, often referred to as the “QAnon Shaman.”

Shown above, Chansley, 33, of Phoenix was photographed shirtless and wearing horns, a fur-lined headdress and red, white and blue face paint while carrying a flag-draped spear in the Capitol, where prosecutors said he sat in the vice president’s chair and left Mike Pence a note after the Senate chamber was evacuated.

On Thursday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth set a plea hearing for 11 a.m. Friday. A calendaring notice filed in the court’s electronic docketing system did not specify charges or whether Chansley had entered a plea deal with prosecutors. A guilty plea is not final until it has been entered in court and approved by a judge.

Recent Headlines:

Sept. 2

 

August 2021

Aug. 29

Forbes, Commentary: Here’s Why Trump’s Hotel Just Banned Me For Life, Zach Everson, Aug. 28, 2021. I went to the Trump International Hotel in Washington Thursday evening to do some investigating. The rates that night started at $2,400, well above the usual $400 to $700, and I wanted to find out why. Upon entering, I saw a big sign that read “Arrow Exterminators.” I confirmed that the exterminators were customers rather than contractors, and, with that assignment checked, settled in at the bar to see if any swamp people of note were still showing up with Trump out of power.

One $17 prosecco and no dignitaries later, I got up to leave, taking photos of the place to capture the scene. I then beat my usual exit path, walking the length of the lobby to people watch before heading to the restroom to wash my hands and snag a fresh tissue. Twenty seconds of scrubbing later, I was still in the restroom, texting, when the hotel’s director of security, Ernest Wojciech, opened the door, took a quick look around, and left.

Text sent, I exited the restroom and turned left to swing by the hotel ballroom before leaving. From several feet away, however, Wojciech beckoned, informing me that I was walking the wrong way. I did an about-face and, when I reached Wojciech, was notified that I was being told to leave.

While escorting me out, Wojciech explained that the ejection was for taking photos without permission. Once outside, he told me the ban was permanent, then declined to elaborate. Higher-ups in the Trump Organization also didn’t feel like explaining. When Forbes reached out to ask whether one of its reporters had, in fact, been banned from the hotel for life, a spokesperson did not respond.

The real reason they kicked me out probably wasn’t the photos though. For nearly five years, I’ve been reporting on the hotel, largely using social media to do things like track who was hanging out in the lobby (unsurprisingly, a lot of lobbyists) and who was using the hotel as an office (just Rudy Giuliani). I even started a newsletter, named 1100 Pennsylvania after the hotel’s address, to document the goings-on inside the building.

Some of my reporting may have been embarrassing to the hotel, as well as to the former president. And apparently the Trump Organization, which once offered me a complimentary glass of Veuve Clicquot champagne when I showed up to report on the hotel for Condé Nast Traveler, didn’t appreciate my coverage anymore. That might explain why the hotel’s director of marketing was standing by as the security guard escorted me out the front door.

Aug. 26

michael byrd

NBC News, Officer who shot Ashli Babbitt during Capitol riot breaks silence: 'I saved countless lives,' Rich Schapiro, Anna Schecter and Chelsea Damberg, Aug. 26, 2021. In an exclusive interview with NBC News, Lt. Michael Byrd (above) said he opened fire only as a “last resort” after the rioters failed to comply with his commands.

In the chaotic minutes before he shot and killed Ashli Babbitt during the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, Lt. Michael Byrd focused his attention on the glass doors leading into the lobby of the House of Representatives chamber.

About 60 to 80 House members and staffers were holed up inside, and it was Byrd’s job to protect them.

As rioters rampaged through the Capitol, Byrd and a few other officers of the U.S. Capitol Police set up a wall of furniture outside the doors.

“Once we barricaded the doors, we were essentially trapped where we were,” Byrd said in an exclusive interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt, speaking publicly for the first time since the riot. “There was no way to retreat. No other way to get out.

“If they get through that door, they’re into the House chamber and upon the members of Congress,” added Byrd, who gave NBC News permission to use his name after authorities had declined to release it.

Byrd’s connection to what was going on outside and inside the building was his police radio. For several minutes, it crackled with a cascade of alarming messages.

There were shouts of officers down. Screams from his colleagues under attack by rioters with chemical agents. A report that an officer’s fingertips were blown off.

“It was literally broadcast over the air,” Byrd said. “I said, ‘OK, this is getting serious.’”

Soon a horde of demonstrators arrived. Byrd, a 28-year veteran of the Capitol Police, took a defensive posture with his gun drawn as rioters smashed the glass doors.

He said he yelled repeatedly for them to get back. But the mob kept pressing forward, and then a lone rioter tried to climb through one of the doors.

What happened next was captured on video: Byrd fired one shot, striking Babbitt in the shoulder.

Babbitt, 35, an Air Force veteran and ardent supporter of former President Donald Trump, fell to the ground; she died from her injuries later.

Her death became a rallying cry for the far right, which described Babbitt as a martyr. Trump himself declared that she had been murdered and suggested, falsely, that the officer who shot her worked for a high-ranking Democrat.

For Byrd, who is Black, the incident turned his life upside down. He has been in hiding for months after he received a flood of death threats and racist attacks that started when his name leaked onto right-wing websites.

But in his interview with Holt, Byrd said he has no doubt that he made the right decision in light of the circumstances.

“I know that day I saved countless lives,” Byrd said. “I know members of Congress, as well as my fellow officers and staff, were in jeopardy and in serious danger. And that’s my job.”

washington post logoWashington Post, House Jan. 6 panel issues wide-ranging records request, John Wagner, Aug. 26, 2021 (print ed.). Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), the committee chairman, signaled that an expansive investigation is underway, touching not only on what happened Jan. 6 but also on former President Donald ivanka eric don jr trump CustomTrump’s efforts to subvert the election.

washington post logoWashington Post, Seven Capitol Police officers sue Trump, right-wing groups over injuries from Jan. 6 riot, Paul Duggan and Spencer S. Hsu, Aug. 26, 2021. Seven U.S. Capitol Police officers on Thursday sued former president Donald Trump and more than a dozen alleged participants in the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, saying the defendants are responsible for the officers being “violently assaulted, spat on, tear-gassed, bear-sprayed, subjected to racial slurs and epithets, and put in fear for their lives.”

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, alleges that Trump, by falsely claiming the presidential election was rigged, incited a mob of his supporters to storm the Capitol in an effort to stop Congress from confirming President Biden’s victory.

The complaint describes an array of abuse endured by the seven officers, who collectively “have dedicated more than 150 years” to protecting Congress “so that it can carry out its constitutional responsibilities safely and openly.”

While hundreds of demonstrators besieged the historic building, many of them armed with bludgeons, cans of noxious spray and other weapons, the lawsuit says, Trump “reportedly was watching live television coverage” and “refused to call off the attackers, whom he had personally directed to the Capitol just moments before.”

The complaint says Trump and other defendants “encouraged and supported acts of violence, knowing full well that among his supporters were such groups and individuals as the Proud Boys, who had demonstrated their propensity to use violence” against Trump critics.

washington post logoWashington Post, D.C. judges vent frustration about leniency in Capitol riot cases, Rachel Weiner, Aug. 26, 2021. Judges are asking prosecutors why defendants aren’t paying more to cover the cost of damage to the Capitol, why the court can’t order additional supervision of many defendants beyond a brief prison term and why more do not face heftier charges.Trump attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani (file photo)

Trump attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani (file photo)

Palmer Report, Opinion: This court ruling is even worse for Sidney Powell than you think, Jesse Green, Aug. 26, 2021. As was reported yesterday, Judge Linda Parker of the Eastern District of Michigan recently entered an order sanctioning the Kraken lawyer Sidney Powell and Lin Wood (the MAGA Lawyers) for their antics following the 2020 election.

I started to read through the document before realizing the thing was 110 pages long. It goes into detail about what the MAGA lawyers did and why they were bill palmer report logo headerwrong to do what they did and how the court had to sanction them and refer them for disbarment. If the sanctions and the disciplinary actions all stick it will help deter other attorneys who may want to repeat what they did and attack the very foundations of democracy.

lin wood gage skidmoreOn Lowering the Bar, writer Kevin Underhill had an interesting take on the order. He noted that printed out on standard paper the order would weigh over a pound. Mr. Underhill said, “if someone has moved to sanction you, and the judge’s order on that motion weighs more than a pound, that’s not good news for you.”

The MAGA lawyers decided to fight the sanctions. Wood, right, claims he shouldn’t be sanctioned because he didn’t participate in the actions, and Powell claims she was never given the chance to prove the allegations.

BradBlog & BradCast, Commentary: Accountability Rising for Trump's Failed Attempt to Steal the 2020 Election, Brad Friedman, Aug. 26, 2021.  Trump lawyers sanctioned, will face disbarment probes; Capitol officers sue Trump; Terror suspect sentenced in MI Guv kidnap plot; House files massive 1/6 records requests; TX AG Paxton clears TX AG Paxton.

Donald Trump tried to steal the 2020 election. We really must stop describing his efforts and those by his supporters as "questioning the results" or "claiming fraud" or "trying to overturn the election." The fact is, Trump tried to steal it. He used every means at his disposal to try and do so. Thankfully, he is largely a failure at pretty much everything, so it didn't work, though we now know it came exceedingly close. So, let's start calling it for what it is: An unprecedented attempted by a President of the United States to try and steal a Presidential election. To that end, accountability is now happening. Slowly but quite assuredly, along with a number of other related accountability stories on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the stories covered on today's program...

• The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) released its 2020 post-election survey [PDF] of various voting and election-related data from all 50 states last year. While The Guardian's Sam Levine characterizes the report as proving the election was "a remarkable success," we explain why that may be a bit of an overstatement. That said, the data does reveal yet again that, while there were far too many rejections of absentee and mail-in ballots (as is always the case, but especially amid pandemic voting last year), there is still no evidence at all to even suggest that the Presidential election was stolen in any way, shape or form by Joe Biden, the Democrats or anyone else. Not that Donald Trump didn't try (and fail) to do exactly that, of course;

• More accountability for Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election, specifically for the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol that he incited as part of that effort. Seven Capitol Police officers on Thursday filed a lawsuit [PDF] against Trump, several far-right extremist groups charged with aiding the deadly plot, and even against Trump associates like Roger Stone. It is, as the New York Times describes it, "the most expansive civil effort to date seeking to hold Mr. Trump and his allies legally accountable." Trump is already facing two other similar lawsuits filed by the NAACP and by Rep. Eric Swalwell. But, no doubt, the disgraced former President and his supporters will see this new complaint differently, because it is filed by police officers and, as you know, Republicans always "back the blue", right?;

• That lawsuit follows just one day after the bi-partisan U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6th attack issued a massive series of records requests to at least 8 different federal agencies for documents related to Trump's movements, actions and meetings on January 6th, and in the weeks and months both before and after. The requests were sent to, among others, the FBI, Dept. of Homeland Security and National Archives, where Presidential White House records are stored. Trump is apparently livid about the effort, describing it as a "partisan exercise" being carried out by a "Leftist" House Committee. (That may come as a surprise to "Leftist" Committee members Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger);

• In still more accountability news today, tangentially related to Trump's attempt to steal last year's election in Michigan: The sentence for the first domestic terrorist, among some 13 charged in the plot to kidnap Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last year, was handed down on Wednesday. A 25-year old man who, according to Justice Department prosecutors, cooperated with the investigation after initially pleading not guilty, changed his plea and was sentenced to more than 6 years in prison on charges of providing material support for terrorist acts and felony firearms charges. The failed conspiracy, according to the FBI and Whitmer, sprang from Trump's attempt to vilify the Governor for her science-based handling of the COVID pandemic, in a year in which Trump was willing to say and do anything to win the important battleground state. (He lost it by 150,000 votes instead);

Aug. 24

 

alex jones screen shot 2020 05 01 at 12.02.06 pm

Alex Jones, host and founder of the Texas-based Infowars show (file photo).

Wayne Madsen Report, Opinion: Is Qanon driven by military-grade PSYOPs subliminal programming? Wayne Madsen, left (author of 20 books and former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst), Aug. 24, 2021. There remains an wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smalluncomfortable fact with Qanon. The amorphous freewheeling cult is not losing adherents but, in fact, gaining them as a result of the Covid pandemic.

Qanon might be dismissed if its only followers were uneducated individuals prone to believing whatever nonsense was slickly-presented to them by conniving masters of deception -- those like the charlatans who sell "prosperity gospel" religion and miracle "medical" cures. But that is not the case. Qanon believers include those with college educations, including people with advanced degrees, military and intelligence community veterans, and, yes and very wayne madesen report logounfortunately, journalists.

There are some indications that Qanon is the product of those who have expertise in military psychological warfare operations (psyops) and that large masses of people around the world are being manipulated and coerced for some end game. What is the goal?

Judging from the effects this potential psyop is having on political stability, the ultimate target may be democratic governance.

barry bennett djtWall Street Journal, Republican Lobbyist Barry Bennett Comes Under DOJ Scrutiny, Byron Tau, Aruna Viswanatha and Julie Bykowicz, Aug. 24, 2021. One-time Trump campaign senior adviser faces probe into whether he set up an undisclosed lobbying effort to embarrass Qatar’s adversaries, people familiar with the matter say.

wsj logoFederal prosecutors are investigating Barry Bennett, a Republican lobbyist and one-time unpaid campaign adviser to former President Donald Trump, over allegations that he secretly set up and funded a U.S.-based advocacy group without disclosing its ties to the government of Qatar, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Bennett, shown above at left in a 2016 file photo, founded his lobbying firm, Avenue Strategies, soon after Mr. Trump’s election and signed on to represent Qatar a few months later, according to the firm’s federal lobbying disclosure records. The tiny Gulf nation, which hosts a large U.S. Air Force base, was at the time embroiled in a diplomatic and political conflict with its regional rivals Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

djt maga hatThe Embassy of Qatar paid Mr. Bennett’s firm about $3 million total between July 2017 and July 2018 for work that included developing “a long-term plan to create closer ties between the United States and the State of Qatar,” according to the records.

Prosecutors have presented evidence to a grand jury alleging that Mr. Bennett set up and funded a political group called Yemen Crisis Watch, according to the people familiar with the matter, as a way to embarrass Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E., which at the time were enmeshed in a military campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen. That war has since left thousands dead and fueled what the United Nations described in 2019 as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Yemen Crisis Watch never registered with the U.S. government, as it would have been obligated to do under the Foreign Agents Registration Act if representing foreign interests. Mr. Bennett didn’t report that he set up and funded the organization, a review of FARA filings shows. Qatar gave Avenue Strategies $250,000 in October 2017 earmarked “for use in supporting the relief of humanitarian suffering in Yemen,” according to a lobbying document.

Mr. Bennett declined to comment. A spokesman for the Justice Department declined to comment. The Qatar Embassy didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Yemen Crisis Watch had an active social-media presence in late 2017. A prominent evangelical minister and a Kansas Republican politician took up its cause, placing op-eds in a Washington newspaper and participating in a congressional briefing in late December. On Twitter, the group said it intended to “promote awareness of the atrocities and humanitarian crisis unfolding in Yemen.”

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

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

Palmer Report, Opinion: This is what you’ve been waiting for, Bill Palmer, right, Aug. 24, 2021. During a stretch of just a few hours yesterday, several big names in Trump bill palmerworld suddenly decided to loudly turn against several other big names in Trump world. It might have caught you off guard if you haven’t been paying attention these past few months. But in reality, everything we saw yesterday was the direct or indirect result of the incremental collapse of Trump world that we’ve been seeing throughout 2021.

bill palmer report logo headerYesterday it was revealed in court filings that Igor Fruman has decided to plead guilty, meaning he’s very likely going to cooperate in the prosecution of Rudy Giuliani. This didn’t come out of nowhere. Last week we brought you the news that the court-appointed special master phase of the criminal case against Giuliani was nearing completion, meaning his arrest could come within weeks. This meant that if Fruman was ever going to get a favorable deal, he’d have to do it now – and so he’s apparently doing just that.

Yesterday we also saw Alex Jones suddenly lash out at his hero Donald Trump, calling him a “dumbass.” Jones claimed it was in reference to Trump’s recent decision to finally recommend the COVID vaccine to his supporters. But given the timing, this is more likely about the fact that Jones’ top lieutenant Owen Shroyer was indicted over the weekend for his role in the insurrection that Trump incited. Now that Jones has to worry he’s about to be the next to get indicted for Trump’s insurrection, suddenly he’s lashing out at Trump in frustration. In other words, these past months of the Feds bringing January 6th-related charges against people incrementally further up the chain is finally prompting movement at the top.

Yesterday we also saw Roger Stone suddenly decide to reignite his long standing feud with Steve Bannon. But this probably didn’t just come out of nowhere, either. Stone now has to worry about Shroyer flipping on him, or Shroyer flipping on Jones who in turn could flip on Stone. And so now Stone is trying to change the subject by calling for Bannon’s arrest. Or just maybe this is Stone’s way of offering himself up as a witness against Bannon, in case Stone ends up needing to curry favor with prosecutors.

The thing is, the big movement we saw yesterday – the kind of stuff you’ve been waiting for – wasn’t spontaneous. It wasn’t as if these ongoing criminal cases and investigations were sitting dormant until they suddenly came to life yesterday. Rather, the details we’ve been steadily bringing you about these probes all year are what led to yesterday’s big fireworks. Even as the defeatists insist on referring to incremental progress as “nothing being done,” the reality is that Trump world is now eating itself alive, as a direct result of everything that has been done thus far in 2021.

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge wants Justice Dept. to detail decision on charging Infowars host accused in Jan. 6 riot, Rachel Weiner, Aug. 24, 2021. Prosecutors say guidelines involving the media were followed in charging Jonathan Owen Shroyer.

A federal judge wants prosecutors to explain whether they considered a correspondent for the right-wing website Infowars a member of the media when charging him with participating in the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Magistrate Judge Zia M. Faruqui said in an order Tuesday that he is not questioning the decision to prosecute Jonathan Owen Shroyer, only whether the Justice Department followed its own protocols in doing so.

“The events of January 6 were an attack on the foundation of our democracy,” Faruqui wrote. “But this does not relieve the Department of Justice from following its own guidelines, written to preserve the very same democracy.”

Shroyer was arrested this week on charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct on the Capitol grounds. Shroyer, prosecutors say, violated an agreement not to engage in such behavior that he signed after being removed from a 2019 impeachment hearing for heckling a Democratic lawmaker.

On the day of the riots, he marched with a crowd toward the Capitol shouting, “We aren’t going to accept it!” and later appeared on the building’s steps, prosecutors allege in court records.

Several people charged in the Capitol riot have described themselves as members of the press, but prosecutors have argued in the past that there is no evidence those defendants engaged in journalism. The government did not explain whether it concluded that Shroyer was not a member of the media.

Shroyer hosts a talk show on Infowars, which is banned by major social media platforms for promoting conspiracy theories. Like founder Alex Jones, he has falsely accused a pizza restaurant in Northwest Washington of harboring pedophiles and the parents of children killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting of lying.

Justice Department guidelines require approval from the attorney general to investigate or charge a member of the news media with a crime, to ensure that law enforcement does not impinge upon freedom of the press. Those guidelines were recently strengthened after the Justice Department revealed that under President Donald Trump, records were secretly subpoenaed from several news organizations.
In a letter to the court, prosecutors say guidelines protecting the media have been “scrupulously followed.” But the government said the Justice Department is not required to detail that process for the court.

“Such inquiries could risk impeding frank and thoughtful internal deliberations within the Department about how best to ensure compliance with these enhanced protections for Members of the News Media,” wrote John Crabb, who leads the Criminal Division of the U.S. attorney’s office in D.C.

ny times logoNew York Times Magazine, He Was the ‘Perfect Villain’ for Voting Conspiracists, Susan Dominus, Aug. 24, 2021. Eric Coomer had an election-security job at Dominion Voting Systems. He also had posted anti-Trump messages on Facebook. What happened next ruined his life.

dominion voting systemsThe Trump campaign and its allies have introduced more than 60 lawsuits claiming election fraud in this country, but no court has found persuasive evidence to support the idea that Coomer, Dominion or anyone else involved in vote-counting changed the election results.

Bipartisan audits of paper ballots in closely contested states such as Georgia and Arizona confirmed Biden’s victory; and prominent Republicans, including Attorney General Bill Barr and Trump’s official in charge of election cybersecurity, have reaffirmed the basic facts of the election: Over all, the results were accurate, the election process was secure and no widespread fraud capable of changing the outcome has been uncovered.

Joe.My.God, FCC Fines Jacob Wohl And Jack Burkman $5.1 Million, Joe MG, Aug. 24, 2021. First, a reminder about the case:

jacob wohl aug 2020Jacob Wohl, left, a conservative activist known for his largely bumbling attempts to stage political scandals, has been charged with running a robocalling scheme to spread false election information. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed four felony charges today against Wohl and his partner Jack Burkmanjack burkman w. They’re accused of targeting Detroit residents with calls that discouraged voting, including false claims that mail-in ballots would let health agencies “track people for mandatory vaccines.”

Wohl and Burkman allegedly targeted voters in Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois, making a total of around 85,000 calls in August. The calls claimed to come from a group called “Project 1599, a civil rights organization founded by Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl,” and they were aimed at areas with large Black populations, urging them to not “be finessed into giving your private information to the man.”

And today, this.

‼️ Whoa! The FCC just announced a massive $5 million fine for illegal robocalling against conspiracy theorists John Burkman and Jacob Wohl pic.twitter.com/6ZPgpV0tLu

— Cristiano Lima (@viaCristiano) August 24, 2021

The pair are also facing a $2.75 million lawsuit from the NY AG https://t.co/IXQZydavHt

— Tonya Riley (@TonyaJoRiley) August 24, 2021

Aug. 19

Proof via Substack, Investigation: New Pre-Insurrection Strategy Meetings #1: Reps. Mo Brooks and Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows, Donald Trump, and 50 seth abramson graphicHouse Republicans, Seth Abramson, left, Aug. 19, 2021. In this new entry in a Proof series focused on lightly or non-reported pre-insurrection meetings involving insurrectionist kingpins, we discuss a secretive GOP-caucus call no one seems to be aware of.

Introduction: Most Americans don’t yet realize how much planning Congressional Republicans did prior to January 6 to ensure that that seth abramson proof logoterrible day would be as chaotic as possible.

The lightly and in some cases unreported meetings that top Washington Republicans held between January 2 and January 5—including White House meetings—explain why the Republican Party writ large can under no circumstances cooperate with the new House January 6 Committee. It is now a certainty that if that committee conducts a comprehensive review of top Republicans’ movements in the 120 hours preceding the January 6 attack on the Capitol, it will discover an institutionalized insurrectionist conspiracy the GOP must hide from voters if it is to take back the House in late 2022.

Proof previously began the process of reporting on largely or entirely unreported pre-insurrection strategy sessions with this article, among whose stunning revelations was a national conference call held by Donald Trump with state GOP officials on January 2. That call, which included nearly 300 such officials and was both highly irregular and conducted on a weekend, would have been more than enough covert insurrectionist business for a President of the United States to conduct a single day. But it turns out that it wasn’t the only major pre-insurrection meeting Donald Trump chaired that day.

This article is about a second such meeting.

Read more at the Proof site to see the revelations....

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).

Aug. 16

afghanistan trump troops 2020American System Network, Commentary: Afghan collapse started under Trump in February 2020, Webster G. Tarpley, left, Aug. 16, 2021. Trump’s Doha pullout pledge webster tarpley 2007to Taliban triggered surrender deals by tribal and province chiefs, setting stage for disintegration of Afghan army.

williams burns 20057,000 US troops are enough for Afghan redout to hold airport enclave, airlift Americans and friends to Guam over coming weeks.

Biden should fire failed Doha negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad, the Bush-Trump retread who disoriented US government, and hold NSC’s Jake Sullivan and CIA’s William Burns, right, accountable.

Breaking: Biden speech follows JFK after Bay of Pigs by saying I am President, the buck stops here; President should also study JFK’s ouster of CIA boss Allen Dulles and his clique for lying and incompetence.

Responsible Statecraft, Analysis: America leaves Afghanistan, and the regional geopolitics take over, Graham E. Fuller, left, Aug. 16, 2021. There will Graham Fullerlikely be a return to a much more historically normal state of global affairs in which multiple players are engaged.

 The final end of the government in Kabul is at hand as the inexorable logic of regime collapse gains momentum. It seems more of a surprise to current policymakers than to those many observers with a long-time familiarity with the country’s dynamics. It will not be pleasant to watch, but it has long been inevitable given the utterly unrealistic ambitions and poor policy execution that Washington has maintained in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, those darker, but more insightful views on the entire enterprise have long been largely stifled by our media.

The neo-imperialist neoconservatives all argue that the American departure and the subsequent collapse of the Kabul government are deeply destructive to American “credibility” as a superpower in the world. The underlying ideology of this view is of course the cherished concept that the United States must serve as global policeman everywhere and that a failure to do so is a sign of weakness and decline.

This line of thinking is precisely backwards: it is the overall decline of America domestically and geopolitically that is the telltale sign of its deeper weakness; there is an increasing international belief that the United States is living inside a fantasy bubble of denial about maintaining its global hegemony. If the 20-year U.S. military presence in Afghanistan had actually ever shown any serious concrete advancement towards concrete goals, that would be one thing. But the neocons are ever content to throw good money after bad in the blind pursuit of hegemony — even in the very heart of “the graveyard of empires.”

On a human level, of course, it indeed matters what fate the Afghans will meet under a new Taliban government. The Afghan people have been suffering under repeated and constant warfare and military intervention since 1978, starting with a domestic coup by Afghan communists, followed by the Soviet invasion, the subsequent years of fighting to expel the Soviets by U.S.-supported mujahedin groups, the subsequent civil war among the mujahideen that followed and to which the Taliban finally put an end by restoring national order and discipline — with a rough and ready kind of justice.

But Washington’s focus on Afghanistan in reality has had very little to do with establishing a better and more equitable society for the Afghans. The ostensible impulse for the American invasion was nominally to destroy the presence of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. But the deeper and more profound reason for the American invasion and lengthy occupation was more pointedly to establish a military and geopolitical foothold in Central Asia on the very borders of Russia and China. That ambition was never nakedly articulated but was clearly understood by all regional forces. The “nation-building and humanitarian” aspects of the American occupation were largely window dressing to cover Washington’s geopolitical ambitions. Those ambitions still have not fully died among American neocons and liberal interventionists.

Like it or not, a key feature of the new “post-American geopolitics” will be a return to a much more historically normal state of global affairs in which multiple players are engaged. And in this case, multiple players will also have the greatest influence over Afghanistan’s future — probably for the better. The reality is that all three countries which the United States perceives as enemies – Iran, Russia, and China — actually all share with Washington the same major goals for Afghanistan’s future: stability and an end to bloodshed and jihadism. But all three of these countries also unite in vigorous opposition to American intervention and dominance in Afghanistan and Central Asia.

While in another era, the Taliban might have cared little about the views of these neighboring countries, today Central Asia is a different place. Afghanistan is in tatters, and no matter what the social policies of the Taliban are, they also need to restore the country to a minimal degree of prosperity and peace. China, in particular, has the greatest political and economic leverage to assist in Afghanistan’s future. Afghanistan figures in China’s ambitious and visionary plan of the Belt and Road Initiative across Central Asia in a re-creation of an economically linked Central Asian that has not been so linked since the days of Genghis Khan. China will make great efforts to try to ensure that the Taliban maintain stability and avoid any support to radical movements which not only hugely affect China in Xinjiang, but also affect Russia in the Caucasus and Central Asia, and the security of Shi’ite Iran — a regular target of Sunni jihadi ideology.

None of these states — Iran, China, or Russia — wishes to see the United States establish itself militarily in the heart of Central Asia and are thus happy to see Washington floundering in that occupation. Once U.S. military influence is removed from the heart of Central Asia, a prosperous and stable Afghanistan is in the interest of all.

Pakistan remains something of a wild card, but Pakistan’s dominant interest is to ensure that its eastern border with Afghanistan remains safe and friendly. Especially since Pakistan’s western neighbor — India — poses the greatest strategic threat to Islamabad. Pakistan cannot tolerate unfriendly powers on both borders. It will do whatever it takes to maintain decent working relations with Kabul. And, of course, China has Pakistan’s back as a key link in the Eurasian Belt and Road Initiative. Pakistan must also be attentive to the Pashtun character of the Taliban movement; after all, there are more Pashtuns in eastern Pakistan than there are in Afghanistan itself. And resurgent Pashtun nationalism poses a constant concern to Islamabad as well.

Washington will have to lick its wounds in departing Afghanistan in defeat after 20 feckless years of occupation but cannot persist in a costly and losing policy. And only a fool would try to ward off the geopolitical power of Russia and China, and even Iran, across the vast stretches of Eurasia. Furthermore, while Washington has essentially employed military instruments to attempt to impose its hegemony around the world, Moscow and Beijing are working the diplomatic route — with far greater success.

What might be the nature of a Taliban-dominated government in Afghanistan? Hard to say, but this is a new generation of Taliban leaders who have traveled, seen the world, and dealt with many other governments. One would hope they have learned something in the course of their exile; they have little other option than to recognize the reality of now living in an international environment of mainly of non-Muslim powers. And if Taliban social policies are distasteful to Americans, they might wish to reflect upon Saudi Arabia in the same context. Of course, Riyadh and Saudi money still seem to enjoy vast influence in Washington that the Taliban cannot exert.

President Biden deserves at least some measure of credit in finally closing the spigots on U.S. blood and treasure in Afghanistan after 20 years. Hopefully it is the beginning of a sign of greater realism on the part of Washington’s geopolitical thinkers about the new limits of American power. And the need for a far more modest vision of what truly comprises American interests.

Palmer Report, Opinion: CNN and MSNBC are failing us today, Bill Palmer, Aug. 16, 2021. Today is not exactly a banner day for the media. MSNBC’s Mika msnbc logo CustomBrzezinski and CNN’s Jake Tapper have spent the day inaccurately trying to put all the blame on President Biden for the Afghanistan debacle, while essentially pretending that Bush, Cheney, and Trump didn’t set up this outcome long ago. Meanwhile NPR is giving airtime to John Bolton, the last guy who should be given a voice when it comes to Middle East war fallout.

bill palmer report logo headerToday is a sad reminder that while Fox News and other right wing propaganda outlets are by far the most egregious about it, mainstream media outlets like CNN and MSNBC are also TV ratings factories that are at times willing to push dishonest or even false narratives in the CNNhope of hitting their ratings marks for the day.

We urge the media to do better. Of course better journalism often doesn’t translate to better ratings, so it makes for a conundrum. Keep in mind that you, the audience, have the final vote: your remote control. If you simply turn off any coverage that you know is dishonest, it’ll hit the media in the ratings department, and they’ll be forced to adjust accordingly.

Aug. 14

Proof via Substack, Investigation: New Revelations on An Insurrection Eve White House Meeting Suggest It Should Be at the Center of the Congressional January 6 seth abramson graphicInvestigation, Seth Abramson, left, Aug. 13-14, 2021. Trump hosted a meeting at the White House hours before the January 6 insurrection. Congress and media must give it significant scrutiny — as it increasingly looks like pre-insurrection planning.

Introduction: Back in late March, Proof authored an exclusive report revealing that dangerous far-right internet troll Rogan O’Handley attended a secret meeting at the White House just hours before the attack on the United States Capitol.

seth abramson proof logoProof termed the meeting “secret” because—by O’Handley’s own admission—that’s what it was. Indeed, when he spoke to a large insurrectionist mob at Freedom Plaza immediately after leaving the event at the White House, he told them that he “can’t” reveal even a single attendee of the Insurrection Eve meetup he’d just attended at the People’s House.

That O’Handley was admitted to the White House with a number of unknown parties hours before the worst attack on our nation’s capital since 1814 was deemed by Proof especially harrowing because of what O’Handley, either directed or merely inspired by his White House meeting, told the mob at Freedom Plaza.

As Proof noted in publishing its report on the secret White House meeting, here, with emphasis supplied, is some of what O’Handley said fresh from his visit to the White House (at a time he was sharing a stage—literally—with domestic terrorist Ali Alexander):

It may be forty degrees out here, but it sure feels like 1776. I was just at the White House. I can’t tell you who I was meeting with, but they’re optimistic. They think something good is going to happen tomorrow. All I gotta say is, “It damn well better happen,” because I don’t want to see these patriots more pissed off than they already are—in DC, right next to Congress….If you want to see what patriots do when they get in an uprising, then vote to certify the fraud tomorrow. But you better make the right decision tomorrow, or you're gonna have a whole lot of pissed off patriots in DC.

Here’s the video of O’Handley’s inciting speech, which includes the shouted message to members of the U.S. Congress, “YOU SHOULD BE AFRAID OF US! WE ARE NOT GOING ANYWHERE! NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS [TOMORROW]!” Right Wing Watch @RightWingWatch "If you want to see what patriots do when they get in an uprising, then vote to certify the fraud tomorrow."

Rogan O’Handley, aka DC Draino, fired up crowd the night before the insurrection. He said he'd come from the White House where they expected "something good" the next day.

Read more at the Proof site to see what's new....

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).

 

Aug. 12

washington post logoWashington Post, What Rosen told U.S. senators: Trump applied ‘persistent’ pressure to get Justice to discredit election, Ann E. Marimow and Josh Dawsey, Aug. 12, 2021. Former president Donald Trump’s last attorney general has told U.S. senators his boss was “persistent” in trying to pressure the jeffrey rosenJustice Department to discredit the results of the 2020 election.

In closed-door testimony Saturday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Jeffrey Rosen said he had to “persuade the president not to pursue a different path” at a high-stakes January meeting in which Trump considered ousting Rosen as the nation’s most powerful law enforcement officer.

According to a person familiar with the testimony, Rosen’s opening statement also characterized as “inexplicable” the actions of his Justice Department colleague, Jeffrey Clark, who was willing to push Trump’s false claims of election fraud and whom Trump considered installing as acting attorney general to replace Rosen.

Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis alleged 2020 election fraud during a post-election hearing before Michigan's legislature.

Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis alleged 2020 election fraud during a post-election hearing before Michigan's legislature.

washington post logoWashington Post, Giuliani told agents it was okay to ‘throw a fake’ during political campaign, Devlin Barrett, Aug. 12, 2021. Rudolph W. Giuliani’s promise of a “big surprise” to help Donald Trump’s election in October 2016 led to Democratic accusations the FBI was feeding him secrets about an investigation of Hillary Clinton.

But a newly obtained transcript shows the former New York mayor, right, told federal agents it was okay to “throw a fake” when campaigning, to which his then-law partner added, “there’s no obligation to tell the truth.”

rudy giuliani recentGiuliani’s comments came in a 2018 interview with agents for the Justice Department inspector general, conducted in a room at Trump’s hotel in downtown Washington. The Project on Government Oversight, a government watchdog group, sued for a copy of the interview transcript and provided it to The Washington Post on Wednesday.

djt maga hatGiuliani’s private defense of his actions has come to light as he and other Trump lawyers face discipline and possible court sanctions for their unfounded statements surrounding the 2020 election, raising questions about lawyers’ integrity in a democracy.

During the February 2018 interview to try to determine if FBI agents had leaked him sensitive information, Giuliani’s then-law partner and counselor, Marc Mukasey, opined that the standards for truth-telling are different in electoral politics than in legal matters.

“In the heat of a political campaign, on television, I’m not saying Rudy necessarily, but everybody embellishes everything,” Mukasey said.

bj pak djtPalmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump and his goons are having a no good, very bad, horrible day, Bill Palmer, right, Aug. 12, 2021. Yesterday the news broke that the bill palmerScottish courts approved a money laundering probe into Donald Trump’s golf properties. The news also broke that federal prosecutors have reportedly decided to criminally indict Matt Gaetz, and are pressuring him to flip on others. Then last night the courts ruled that Dominion’s civil suit against Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and Mike Lindell could move ahead.

bill palmer report logo headerOf course this came even as Donald Trump was releasing new inflammatory statements about January 6th, Matt Gaetz was bragging about upcoming rallies, and Mike Lindell was holding a “symposium” about supposed election fraud. These folks really don’t know when to quit while they’re behind. But then that’s the point, isn’t it? With Trump no longer in office, he’s no longer in position to protect himself or his goon squad. They’re all in the process of being dismantled, even as they continue to do the only things they know how to do, even knowing it’s not working for them anymore.

The news will keep getting uglier. Yesterday former U.S. Attorney BJay Pak (shown above at left) testified to Congress about Trump’s illegal election tampering, the third highly credible witness to do so in the past week, after Jeffrey Rosen and Richard Donoghue. No amount of rhetoric or rallies on the part of Team Trump is going to stop the legal process from moving forward against them. It’s been a bad week for Trump and his people. It’s only going to get worse for them.

Aug. 8

ny times logoNew York Times, Former Acting Attorney General Testifies About Trump’s Efforts to Subvert Election, Katie Benner, Aug. 8, 2021 (print ed.). The testimony highlights the former president’s desire to batter the Justice Department into advancing his personal agenda.

Justice Department log circularJeffrey A. Rosen, who was acting attorney general during the Trump administration, has told the Justice Department watchdog and congressional investigators that one of his deputies tried to help former President Donald J. Trump subvert the results of the 2020 election, according to a person familiar with the interviews.

jeffrey rosenMr. Rosen, left, had a two-hour meeting on Friday with the Justice Department’s office of the inspector general and provided closed-door testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Saturday.

The investigations were opened following a New York Times article that detailed efforts by Jeffrey Clark, the acting head of the Justice Department’s civil division, to push top leaders to falsely and publicly assert that ongoing election fraud investigations cast doubt on the Electoral College results. That prompted Mr. Trump to consider ousting Mr. Rosen and installing Mr. Clark at the top of the department to carry out that plan.

Mr. Trump never fired Mr. Rosen, but the plot highlights the former president’s desire to batter the Justice Department into advancing his personal agenda.

Mr. Clark, who did not respond to requests for comment, said in January that all of his official communications with the White House “were consistent with law,” and that he had engaged in “a candid discussion of options and pros and cons with the president.”

Mr. Rosen did not respond to requests for comment. The inspector general’s spokesman declined to comment.

Mr. Rosen has emerged as a key witness in multiple investigations that focus on Mr. Trump’s efforts to undermine the results of the election. He has publicly stated that the Justice Department did not find enough fraud to impact the outcome of the election.

Mr. Rosen on Friday told investigators from the inspector general’s office about five encounters with Mr. Clark, including one in late December during which his deputy admitted to meeting with Mr. Trump and pledged that he would not do so again, according to a person familiar with the interview.

Palmer Report, Jeffrey Rosen’s testimony is a bodyblow to Donald Trump and Jeffrey Clark, Bill Palmer, Aug. 7, 2021(PM). It’s a big deal that former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen has, according to the New York Times, eagerly testified this past week to both the DOJ and Congress about the Trump-Clark plot to overthrow the election. Rosen’s cooperation will hand the DOJ an easy criminal case against Trump and Jeffrey Clark both.

bill palmer report logo headerOne thing to watch for: the recent mainstream media reporting on the Trump-Clark election plot has pointed to Rosen and former DOJ official Richard Donoghue having played the hero role in stopping the Trump-Clark plot. Now that Rosen has raced to testify before anyone could try to stop him, will Donoghue do the same? If so, it’ll be a sign that there are two credible cooperating witnesses in play.

In any case this is all getting interesting rather quickly. Just a couple days ago the January 6th Committee revealed that it was incorporating the Trump-DOJ election plot into its Capitol attack probe, and now Jeffrey Rosen – the head of the DOJ at the time of the election plot – has already given his cooperating testimony.

Aug. 7

donald trump money palmer report Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Trump’s Donation Tactics Led to Millions in Refunds Into 2021, Shane Goldmacher, Aug. 7, 2021. Donald Trump and the Republican Party returned $12.8 million to donors in the first half of the year, a sign that their aggressive fund-raising tactics ensnared many unwitting contributors.

The aggressive fund-raising tactics that former President Donald J. Trump deployed late in last year’s presidential campaign have continued to spur an avalanche of refunds into 2021, with Mr. Trump, the Republican Party and their shared accounts returning $12.8 million to donors in the first six months of the year, newly released federal records show.

The refunds were some of the biggest outlays that Mr. Trump made in 2021 as he has built up his $102 million political war chest — and amounted to roughly 20 percent of the $56 million he and his committees raised online so far this year.

Trailing in the polls and facing a cash crunch last September, Mr. Trump’s political operation began opting online donors into automatic recurring contributions by prechecking a box on its digital donation forms to take a withdrawal every week. Donors would have to notice the box and uncheck it to opt out of the donation. A second prechecked box took out another donation, known as a “money bomb.”

djt maga hat speech uncredited CustomThe Trump team then obscured that fact by burying the fine print beneath multiple lines of bold and capitalized text, a New York Times investigation earlier this year found.

The maneuver spiked revenues in the short term — allowing Mr. Trump to spend money before the election — and then caused a cascade of fraud complaints to credit cards and demands for refunds from supporters. The refunded donations amounted to an unwitting interest-free loan from Mr. Trump’s supporters in the weeks when he most needed it.

New Federal Election Commission records from WinRed, the Republican donation-processing site, show the full scale of the financial impact. All told, more than $135 million was refunded to donors by Mr. Trump, the Republican National Committee and their shared accounts in the 2020 cycle through June 2021 — including roughly $60 million after Election Day.

“It’s pretty clear that the Trump campaign was engaging in deceptive tactics,” said Peter Loge, the director of the Project on Ethics in Political Communication at George Washington University. “If you have to return that much money you are doing something either very wrong or very unethical.”

Aug. 4

U.S. Insurrection Probes, Commentaries

Proof via Substack, Investigation: Three Obscure Pre-Insurrection Meetings Require Immediate Congressional Investigation, Seth Abramson, left, Aug 3-4, 2021. seth abramson graphicBeyond the key meetings already outlined by Proof, these virtually unreported ones—involving, variously, Trump, members of Congress, and domestic terrorists—require media and Congressional attention.

Introduction: Proof has now written at great length about several pre-insurrection meetings only lightly reported elsewhere. This article adds three even more obscure — but possibly even more important — meetings to that roster. The roster presently includes the following events (see prior Proof reporting for articles on all 15 of these meetings and confirmation from various eyewitnesses to the meetings that all of them occurred):

seth abramson proof logoA December 18, 2020 meeting in the Oval Office at the White House;
• a December 21, 2020 meeting in the Oval Office at the White House;
• a December 28, 2020 meeting in Donald Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago;
• a January 3, 2021 meeting in the Oval Office at the White House;
• a January 4, 2021 meeting in Ivanka Trump’s office at the White House;
• a January 5, 2021 afternoon meeting in Trump International Hotel;
• a January 5, 2021 meeting at the Vice Presidential Residence in Washington;
• a January 5, 2021 meeting in the InfoWars suite at the Willard Hotel;
• a January 5, 2021 Stop the Steal meeting in the Downtown Marriott Hotel DC;
• a January 5, 2021 White House-Pentagon conference call;
• a January 5, 2021 meeting of social media influencers in the White House;
• a January 5, 2021 VIP area meeting at Stop the Steal’s Freedom Plaza event;
• a January 6, 2021 VIP area meeting at the White House Ellipse event;
• January 5 and January 6, 2020 meetings in Roger Stone’s Willard Hotel suite;
• January 5, January 6, and January 8, 2020 meetings in Rudy Giuliani’s suite (the Team Trump “war room”) at the Willard Hotel in Washington.

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).

Aug. 2Trump ally Steve Bannon, left, with his billionaire partner Guo Wengui, a fugitive from China.

Trump ally Steve Bannon, left, indicted last year in a massive fraud scheme but pardoned by Trump, with his billionaire partner Guo Wengui, a fugitive from China.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Foreign cash bought the White House for Trump, Wayne Madsen (left, author of 20 books and former Navy intelligence officer), Aug. 2, 2021. Projection sums up the entire wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallfour years of Donald Trump's chaotic administration in that while he and his cohorts were trying to convince the world that Joe Biden was tied financially in some way to Ukraine and China, his administration was bought and wayne madesen report logopaid for by foreign interests.

In addition to cash outlays to Team Trump, Steve Bannon's international bloc of fascist parties and individuals contributed in kind with social media gaslighting and other propaganda campaigns designed to perpetuate unfounded rumor on Biden, Covid-19, and other subjects.

Repeated attempts by Congress to close campaign finance loopholes that permit foreign money to flow into the campaign coffers of American political candidates have met with failure. For the most part, it has been Trump loyalists in the U.S. Senate, many there due to foreign money helping to pay for their seats, that have deep-sixed repeated bills originating in both the House and the Senate designed to stop foreign money infusion into U.S. campaigns. 

Trump ally and Trump ally and "Stop the Steal" promoter Roger Stone, with (from left) allies Jacob Engels, Christina Engelstad and Joseph Greco last January (Photo via Proof).

Proof via Substack, Investigation: Trump Adviser Roger Stone Was Closely Attended By a Leading Proud Boy Just Before a Proud Boy Arson, a Proud Boy Riot, and the Proud Boys' Capitol Attack, Seth seth abramson graphicAbramson, left, Aug. 2, 2021. Images confirm that Stone had a level of access to January 6 insurrectionists well beyond what has been reported by major media, and during a period the longtime Trump adviser was in touch with Trump.

seth abramson proof logoIntroduction: As Proof has reported, longtime Donald Trump friend and adviser Roger Stone has consistently lied about every aspect of his trip to Washington in early January 2021, even as he refuses to reveal details about what he discussed with Trump at Mar-a-Lago when the two met there on December 28, 2020 — just nine days before the insurrection. Of late, Stone has been particularly focused on establishing who was or was not in his suite at the Willard Hotel on Insurrection Day. Perhaps to counterbalance the fact that he was rooming with convicted felon Kristin M. Davis, Stone has emphasized the fact that also in his suite at the Willard were two pastors, Randy Coggins II and Mark Burns.

Less clear is why Stone was walking the halls of the hotel on Insurrection Day with a binder of information, as Proof has reported, or why Davis now says Stone was hanging out with “literally fifty” insurrectionists at the Willard on January 6. Davis, who holds herself out as Stone’s PR flack, wrote an apologia for Stone in July that was soon deleted from the fake-news site that published it, a seeming acknowledgment that, as FBI investigators appear to be closing in on Stone as a potential insurrection kingpin, the less he or his team say about January 6 the better.

And yet Stone himself has already lied about that day so many times that anything he tells the FBI now will directly contradict at least two or three of prior public statements.

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, Opinion: Biden cannot sit back and let our democracy sink. He’s now showing us he gets that, E.J. Dionne Jr., right, Aug. 2, 2021 (print ed.). ej dionne w open neckPresident Biden’s infrastructure bill defied predictions of its impending death again and again and again. Voting rights and political reform have been the subject of early obituaries even more dire. To protect our democracy, Biden has no choice but to prove these wrong, too.

The broad bipartisan vote to move forward on a physical infrastructure bill really was a big deal. It marked a decisive break from the dominance of a form of conservative politics that cast even the most basic forms of government action as wasteful. In tandem with the larger Democrats-only bill, it could herald a new era of social reform and public investment.

But if Biden has been right in saying that our democracy’s health depends on the political system demonstrating its capacity to undertake ambitious projects, Joe Biden portrait 2our democracy’s success also requires — well, that it remain a democracy.

That’s in question as Republican states (18 at last count) enact laws to limit access to the ballot and, in many cases, corrupt the election process itself by undercutting independent, nonpartisan ballot counting.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosThus the importance of Friday’s White House meeting, in which Biden joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) to craft a strategy to enact political reform and voting rights bills.

The meeting reflected a growing awareness inside the Biden camp that it cannot hang back and let democracy legislation founder while offering false hope that political organizing can overcome voter suppression and extreme gerrymandering.

As Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) told me, after Biden’s “intimate engagement” in negotiating the bipartisan infrastructure bill with the Senate, the administration cannot now claim the filibuster is purely that chamber’s business.
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Reflecting a view widely held by civil rights leaders, Jones argued that Biden must match the energy he devoted to infrastructure with an equally spirited push on voting rights, including — if needed — a willingness to back a change in Senate rules.

A White House statement after the meeting did not mention the filibuster. But it declared that “passing legislation to protect against voter suppression, electoral subversion, dark money and partisan gerrymandering” was a “moral imperative.”

Jones described Pelosi as “enormously strong” on the issue because she “gets that everything is at stake.” That was the message the speaker sent after the White House encounter: “This is of the highest priority for us.”

Schumer, too, has gone on offense, hosting efforts by Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Raphael G. Warnock (Ga.), Joe Manchin III (W.Va.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.) and others to write a new version of the political reform bill rooted in many of Manchin’s suggestions for easier ballot access. The bill will also include new provisions to try to stop partisan bodies from pushing aside local election officials and nullifying election results.

 Aug. 1

 

Trumpenstein monster (Image by ABananaPeeled.com licensed under DMCA)

 washington post logoWashington Post, Trump has more than $100 million in political cash after first six months of 2021, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Anu Narayanswamy, Aug. 1, 2021 (print ed.). The massive haul reveals how the former president has reaped financial rewards while claiming the election was stolen from him.

Former president Donald Trump’s proved himself his party’s most powerful fundraiser in the first six months of the year, amassing a political treasure chest of President Donald Trump official$102 million by the end of June, according to filings made public on Saturday.

His aides said he had raised $82 million in that period, though some of the money came in the form of transfers from accounts soliciting funds last year.

The sums, which are extraordinary for an ex-president who has been booted off social media, testify to the power of Trump’s online donor base and the deep financial reservoir available to him if he chooses to seek the White House a third time. They also reveal how the former president has reaped financial rewards while claiming the election was stolen from him.

Since leaving office, Trump has continued to vigorously solicit donations from supporters, based mostly on false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election. His reported haul eclipsed that of his party’s House and Senate campaign arms, and was outpaced only slightly by the Republican National Committee, which raised $84 million in the first half of the year.

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 panel faces choice of whether to call GOP lawmakers to testify, Karoun Demirjian, Marianna Sotomayor and Jacqueline Alemany, Aug. 1, 2021 (print ed.). Several congressional Republicans have admitted to having contact with President Donald Trump during the Capitol insurrection or in the days leading up to it, making their testimony potentially key to the panel’s stated goal of being ‘guided solely by the facts.’

The Jan. 6 panel’s chairman, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), said in an interview that there is “no reluctance to subpoena” any member of Congress “whose testimony is germane to the mission of the select committee” if they resist cooperating voluntarily.

Thompson said the panel will be seeking the White House telephone and visitor logs to further scrutinize which members were in touch with the White House on Jan. 6.

“I would say between noon and 6 p.m., any call that went to the White House, you assume had to be something that had to do with it,” he said.

But legal experts said there is little precedent for forcing lawmakers to testify as part of a congressional inquiry if they resist a subpoena, an issue members of the Jan. 6 panel said they have yet to fully investigate or plan for as they plot out the next steps of their probe.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Will Trump ever be held accountable? The Justice Department just increased the odds, Laurence H. Tribe (professor of constitutional law emeritus at Harvard Law School), Aug. 1, 2021 (print ed). Donald Trump managed to evade legal accountability throughout his presidency. That might be about to change — and the newest sign comes in a brief filed by the Justice Department. It doesn’t directly address the former president, yet has ominous implications for his ability to avoid responsibility for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

The Justice filing came in a lawsuit in which Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and a number of Capitol Police officers have sued Trump and others for their roles in the insurrection. One of those named in the suit, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), claimed that he is immune from personal liability under a law known as the Westfall Act, which shields federal officials acting within the scope of their employment.

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, Analysis: G.O.P. Strives to Turn Jan. 6 Riot Events Upside Down, Lisa Lerer and Nicholas Fandos, Aug. 1, 2021 (print ed.).  In the Republicans’ disinformation campaign, the arrested Capitol rioters are political prisoners and Speaker Nancy Pelosi is to blame for the attack.

In the hours and days after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, rattled Republican lawmakers knew exactly who was to blame: Donald J. Trump. Loyal allies began turning on him. Top Republicans vowed to make a full break from his divisive tactics and dishonesties. Some even discussed removing him from office.

rnc logoBy spring, however, after nearly 200 congressional Republicans had voted to clear Mr. Trump during a second impeachment proceeding, the conservative fringes of the party had already begun to rewrite history, describing the Capitol riot as a peaceful protest and comparing the invading mob to a “normal tourist visit,” as one congressman put it.

This past week, amid the emotional testimony of police officers at the first hearing of a House select committee, Republicans completed their journey through the looking-glass, spinning a new counternarrative of that deadly day. No longer content to absolve Mr. Trump, they concocted a version of events in which those accused of rioting were patriotic political prisoners and Speaker Nancy Pelosi was to blame for the violence.

Their new claims, some voiced from the highest levels of House Republican leadership, amount to a disinformation campaign being promulgated from the steps of the Capitol, aimed at giving cover to their party and intensifying the threats to political accountability.

republican elephant logoThis rendering of events — together with new evidence that Mr. Trump had counted on allies in Congress to help him use a baseless allegation of corruption to overturn the election — pointed to what some democracy experts see as a dangerous new sign in American politics: Even with Mr. Trump gone from the White House, many Republicans have little intention of abandoning the prevarication that was a hallmark of his presidency.

Rather, as the country struggles with the consequences of Mr. Trump’s assault on the legitimacy of the nation’s elections, leaders of his party — who, unlike the former president, have not lost their political or rhetorical platforms — are signaling their willingness to continue, look past or even expand his assault on the facts for political gain.

The phenomenon is not uniquely American.

“This is happening all over the place — it is so much linked to the democratic backsliding and rising of authoritarian movements,” said Laura Thornton, the director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. “It’s about the same sort of post-truth world. You can just repeat a lie over and over and, because there’s so little trust, people will believe it.”

Behind the Republican embrace of disinformation is a calculus of both ambition and self-preservation. With members of the select committee hinting that they could subpoena Trump aides, allies on Capitol Hill and perhaps Mr. Trump himself, the counterfactual counterattack could pre-emptively undercut an investigation of the riot. 

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.

washington post logoWashington Post, Federal judge berates riot suspect who refuses to wear mask: ‘When did you go to medical school?’ Rachel Weiner, Aug. 1, 2021 (print ed.). Daniel Goodwyn could go to jail for failing to comply with the requirement.

A federal judge in D.C. erupted in anger at a Jan. 6 riot defendant and his lawyer Friday afternoon for refusing to cooperate with court officials on covid-19 safety requirements.

“You may not believe in this virus even though 600,000 people have died,” said U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton. “I’m not going to be a part of spreading this virus because of what you don’t believe.”

But he did not immediately incarcerate Daniel Goodwyn, a San Francisco webpage designer accused of taking part in the assault on the Capitol. The judge said he would give Goodwyn one more chance to comply, even as the defendant insisted he would not.
reggie b walton

The judge, right, also warned Goodwyn’s lawyer, John Hull, that he could be held in contempt for repeatedly interrupting the proceedings and for calling a pretrial services officer “prissy” and “arrogant” in an email.

The clash in court came as concerns over the delta variant of the coronavirus and shifting masking guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised questions about the country’s pandemic recovery.

Goodwyn — charged with felony obstruction of an official proceeding and related misdemeanors — was first arrested in January at his parent’s home in Corinth, Tex.

During the arrest, according to prosecutors, FBI agents learned that someone in the home was believed to have covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, but Goodwyn refused to take a coronavirus test or wear a mask. When they put one on him, he chewed it and tried to spit it out; they went through five masks before getting him into quarantine at a nearby jail, prosecutors said.

Goodwyn was released in February but has since violated the conditions of his release multiple times, prosecutors said, including by refusing to wear a mask and failing to show up to meetings or report his location.

Hull said in court that Goodwyn had been diagnosed by a counselor as on the autism spectrum, which made it hard for him to wear a face covering and to handle rules he finds arbitrary. Some autistic people can’t tolerate face masks because of sensitivity to touch and texture. When asked why he wouldn’t wear a mask, Goodwyn said only that “it stresses me out,” then indicated that he does not believe in asymptomatic covid transmission or in the ability of masks to block that transmission. There is robust scientific evidence of both.

 

July 2021

July 31

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Newly revealed notes drag congressional Republicans into Trump’s election-subversion effort, Philip Bump, July 31, 2021 (print ed.). President Donald Trump officialPresident Donald Trump called acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen, below left, on Dec. 27 last year to discuss the issue at the center of his concerns. Not the 2,200 people a day dying of covid-19 at that point but, instead, his desperate attempts to cling to power after losing the presidential election on Nov. 3.

jeffrey rosenBefore digging into that call, it’s worth remembering the context. The election was called for Joe Biden on Nov. 7, as it became apparent that Trump had no path to victory. The Trump campaign and Trump himself tried to block states from certifying their results, without success.

On Dec. 11, the Supreme Court rejected the Texas attorney general’s flailing effort to toss vote totals from Biden-voting states. Three days after that, electors met in every state to cast their final ballots for president and vice president. By Dec. 27, Trump and an increasingly fringe group of allies had tried to gin up myriad conspiracy theories about the vote, each of which was quickly debunked or facially ridiculous. But here was Trump, insisting that Rosen do something.

Notes taken by Rosen’s deputy Richard Donoghue reveal Trump’s plan, such as it was.

Trump appears to have suggested that he was better versed on the situation than the top Justice Department official, because, he said, Rosen and his team Justice Department log circular“may not be following the internet the way I do.” (As a nation, we can be grateful that they were not.)

“[U]nderstand that the DOJ can’t + won’t snap its fingers + change the outcome of the election, doesn’t work that way,” Rosen said to Trump, according to Donoghue’s summary.

“[D]on’t expect you to do that,” Trump said in response, “just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R. Congressmen.”

Everything until those last four words was pretty well-established. It was clear from the first hours after polls closed on Nov. 3 that Trump was grasping at every conspiracy theory that popped up on websites or in conservative media, a habit that continues unabated.

 

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Merrick Garland: how do you like me now? Bill Palmer, right, July 31, 2021. For the first few months Attorney General Merrick Garland, above, was on the bill palmerjob, pundit after pundit insisted that he was either doing “nothing” or that he was part of some wacky conspiracy to protect Donald Trump.

These claims were always asinine on their face. But for awhile it was difficult to make an effective counter argument, because the Attorney General and the DOJ tend to be deliberate with their actions and careful with their words. In other words we had to wait until the crux of Garland’s DOJ finally began to spill over into the public eye – but now that’s beginning to happen.

bill palmer report logo headerThis past week alone has been a barnburner. Garland’s DOJ told the Treasury Department to give Trump’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee, making clear that it’s not trying to “cover up” anything. Garland’s DOJ also refused a request from Mo Brooks to represent him in civil action he’s facing for his actions on January 6th – setting a clear precedent that insurrectionist politicians are in a legally precarious position. Garland also took action against rogue Texas Governor Greg Abbott over an illegal executive order.

Impatient observers, who don’t have much of a sense for how these things actually work, are now remarking that Garland is “finally doing something.” But in reality, all we usually get to see out of the DOJ is the end result of any given lengthy internal legal process, and it just so happens that some of these processes happen to be spilling into public view at the same time. Arguing that Garland was doing “nothing” prior to this week is akin to arguing that the chef has been doing “nothing” right up until the moment your food comes out. Legal positions and criminal cases take time to cook as well.

All along Palmer Report has been pointing out that we had far too little data to work with when it came to evaluating Merrick Garland; most of the negative opinions of his work were based on a handful of poorly understood DOJ positions, or the lack of publicly visible results. Now we’re finally starting to get some real evidence of what Garland has been up to these past months, and it turns out most “Resistance” types are happy with most of what he’s been doing.

There’s plenty more to be done. Last month Garland laid out a DOJ comprehensive plan to protect voting rights, but it’s largely going to consist of civil suits against red states, meaning it’ll take time to play out. Hanging insurrectionist politicians out to dry is a good start, but now that hundreds of lower level Capitol attackers have been indicted, more of them need to be flipped so viable criminal cases can be brought against the insurrectionist politicians directly. And while the arrest of Tom Barrack and the raid of Rudy Giuliani are progress, this needs to culminate in a criminal case against Donald Trump himself.

And the lone “bad” ruling out of the Garland DOJ thus far – its decision to continue representing Trump in the civil suit brought by E. Jean Carroll – should be reversed. But given the DOJ’s refusal to represent Trump’s allies in January 6th litigation, it now appears that the Garland DOJ’s decision to continue representing Trump against Carroll was based solely on the fact that the DOJ was already representing Trump in this case before Garland got there.

But for now, Merrick Garland seems to have fended off the teeming hordes of angry people with pitchforks who were demanding that he be fired simply because… well, even they probably aren’t even sure why at this point. Of course that could change on a dime again, depending on whether the DOJ’s next move happens to be something like the arrest of Matt Gaetz, or whether it happens to be a legal position on an arcane matter that’s poorly understood and spun inaccurately by pundits. But if anything, this week should teach us that sizing up a new Attorney General requires taking a longer view of things, and not merely basing that assessment on which way the wind is blowing.

July 30

donald trump money palmer report Custom

Palmer Report, Commentary: DOJ makes major ruling against Donald Trump on his tax returns, Bill Palmer, right, July 30, 2021. New York prosecutors already have bill palmerDonald Trump’s tax returns as part of the criminal case they’re building against him and the Trump Organization. But those tax returns still haven’t become public, because Congress’ ongoing attempts at acquiring them never did work out – until now.

bill palmer report logo headerThe Department of Justice determined today that the Treasury Department should give Trump’s tax returns to Congress. There is every reason to expect that the Treasury will comply. This means that the House Ways and Means Committee is about to have the tax returns, and will surely hold public hearings exposing the most corrupt and criminal aspects of the returns – particularly the parts that show Trump’s personal finances overlapping with his political moves while in office.

The precise timeframe for the returns being handed over, and the resulting hearings, isn’t immediately clear. But we now know that it will almost certainly happen. So the public is about to find out what New York prosecutors already know: what dark and dirty secrets Donald Trump has been hiding in his tax returns all along.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: It’s a good thing Republican election-stealers are so incompetent, Paul Waldman, right, July 30, 2021. The Arizona election audit, a kind paul waldmanof Renaissance fair for deranged conspiracy theorists and Donald Trump dead-enders, has finally wound down its work, returning nearly 2.1 million ballots to county officials after they were massaged, squinted at, passed under UV lights and examined for traces of bamboo to see if they might have come from Asia (I kid you not). We await the final report, which may at last reveal that it was aliens from the planet Xerpdorp, working with George Soros and D.B. Cooper, who stole the state’s election.

You might say that I shouldn’t joke about this, since it’s part of a wide-reaching attack on the U.S. system of elections. But that’s just the point: The preservation of our democracy may depend in no small part on Republicans continuing to be too incompetent to steal future elections.

Not all Republicans, of course; there are lots of people in the GOP who are quite smart. But the ones working hardest on undermining our system are the looniest bunch the party could find.

arizona mapThe Maricopa County audit, which Trump has insisted all along would show that he really won the state, has been such a farce that even many Arizona Republicans have tried to distance themselves from it. GOP state senators are feuding with one another over whose fault it is; the governor says, “I don’t think we should spend any more time thinking about 2020”; and the whole thing has proved to be a gigantic embarrassment.

Yet Republicans in other states, from Pennsylvania to Michigan, are trying to organize similar “audits,” causing more internal disarray. To which Democrats could almost breathe a sigh of relief. If the GOP is going to keep trying to steal elections, better if they assign their worst and dimmest to the task.

To understand just how much the Republican Party has changed, it’s instructive to think back to the last contested election before 2020, in 2000. When the results in Florida were thrown into uncertainty, the GOP mobilized its smartest and most ruthless operatives to make sure the outcome was secured in George W. Bush’s favor. The enterprise was run by the cool and efficient James Baker, who had been a Cabinet secretary and chief of staff to two presidents.

Baker assembled a team of the party’s best lawyers, including three future Supreme Court justices — John G. Roberts Jr., Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — to fight the battle in state and federal courts. There was no “release the Kraken” courtroom buffoonery and no Four Seasons Total Landscaping-style face plants. The drama may have been chaotic, but inside the chaos was a highly competent group of Republican professionals who navigated it all the way to the Supreme Court, where five Republican justices handed the victory to Bush.

Now imagine if people like them — rather than Rudolph W. Giuliani, a bunch of QAnon believers and the MyPillow guy — were the ones trying to steal elections today.

 

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Is the dam finally breaking? Bill Palmer, right, July 29, 2021. Donald Trump publicly encouraged Republican Senators to vote against the bill palmerbipartisan portion of President Biden’s infrastructure package. Fifteen Republican Senators voted last night to advance it anyway. Even as Trump’s grip on the Republican House seems to be nearly as intact as ever, Trump’s grip on the Republican Senate seems to be slipping pretty severely. So what’s going on?

Consider that the Republican House is led by Kevin McCarthy, a political idiot who owes his current job to Trump, and who may therefore be inclined to continue following Trump’s lead no matter how poorly is goes for him. Also consider that the Republican Senate is led by Mitch McConnell, who is overwhelmingly corrupt in his own right, but who cares a whole lot more about his own ambitions than about protecting Trump.

bill palmer report logo headerBut is the difference between the Republican House and the Republican Senate really as straightforward as the difference in leadership? We may soon find out. McCarthy made an awfully dumb move by refusing to put any of his own House Republicans on the January 6th Committee, which as a result will carry out a very honest investigation led by six Democrats plus Republicans Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. As this investigation goes on, will House Republicans in general begin to realize they’ve made a mistake by following McCarthy, right, down this Trump-led rabbit hole?

kevin mccarthyThere are plenty of House Republicans who still believe that they need Donald Trump’s blessing – or that they at least need to avoid his wrath – in order to keep their own seats in 2022. But in this week’s Texas special election for a U.S. House seat, the Trump-endorsed Republican lost by seven points to another Republican candidate. Trump’s support doesn’t seem to be of that much help to Republican politics these days, even in a red state like Texas.

Then there’s the reality that as the January 6th investigation continues, things are likely to get a lot uglier for Donald Trump and his fellow insurrectionists. House Republicans like Jim Jordan and Mo Brooks will likely be called as witnesses. If they lawyer up and try to fight the subpoenas, it’ll mean that they fear criminal prosecution.

The public will grow angrier about January 6th, and voters in the middle may look to take out their frustrations on Republicans in the midterms. If that’s the direction this heads in, House Republicans who aren’t directly connected to the Capitol attack may begin looking for a way to insulate themselves from it by publicly standing against the insurrectionists. They could turn against McCarthy in the process. So maybe the dam really is about to break.

washington post logoWashington Post, Did Trump follow his pledge to donate the last 6 months of his presidential pay? It’s a mystery, David A. Fahrenthold, July 30, 2021 (print ed). Donald Trump promised to give away his $400,000 presidential salary. And he kept that promise, publicly announcing each gift — at least, for his first three President Donald Trump officialand a half years in office.

Then, in the middle of last year, the announcements stopped.

Trump’s White House never said where — or even if — he donated the last $220,000 of his salary, covering the final six months of 2020 and the first 20 days of 2021.

Now, six months after he left office, it’s not clear where Trump donated that remaining salary — or if he donated it at all.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Appeals court rules against Donald Trump, Ron Leshnower, July 30, 2021. Donald Trump’s many misdeeds are continuing to catch up to him. Justice can’t come quickly enough to right the wrongs, compensate the victims, and expose the full truth behind the evils of the man who occupied the Oval Office for four years longer than he deserved. Yet, justice is coming for the proud miscreant in many ways.

One way came this week in the form of an appellate court ruling that was overshadowed by coverage of more pressing Trump-influenced events, including the January 6 attack and the rising pandemic death toll. In addition to shining greater light on Trump’s fraudulent schemes and making victims whole, this new ruling could produce bombshell videos that are said to be far more damaging than the infamous Access Hollywood tape.

In a 3-0 unanimous decision, the Second Circuit rejected Trump’s appeal trying to limit the victims of the desktop video phone service scheme he promoted on “Celebrity Apprentice” to arbitration. In 2018, investors filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the Trump family and the Trump Organization for losses suffered after Trump, Don Jr., Eric, and Ivanka promoted the fraud for a decade.

In April 2020, a district court judge ruled the investors were only bound to arbitrate with ACN (the marketing company behind the fraudulent phone service). There was no legal basis for giving the Trumps the benefit of an arbitration agreement that they never signed, and so the judge ruled they must defend themselves in court against fraud, false advertising, and unfair competition claims.

To enable the investors to proceed against the Trumps, the judge also ordered Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) to show them hundreds of hours of recordings from two episodes of “The Celebrity Apprentice” that were never broadcast. According to former contestants, this footage contains an offensive treasure trove of Trump’s racist and sexist speech, which prompted former producer Bill Pruitt to tweet in the wake of the Access Hollywood tape release in 2016 that these recordings are “far worse.”

Robbie Kaplan, a partner at the law firm representing the defrauded investors, hailed the victory on Twitter. She then announced her firm’s intention to move forward with obtaining the tapes from MGM and taking depositions of the Trump family “ASAP.” Although it may resemble the proverbial tortoise more than the hare, justice is coming for Donald Trump.

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.

michael fanone

 washington post logoWashington Post, D.C. officer who had a heart attack during Capitol riot received vulgar, threatening voice mail for testifying, Jaclyn Peiser, July 29, 2021. As D.C. police officer Michael Fanone, above, sat before nine House lawmakers Tuesday morning recounting his harrowing and traumatizing tale of defending the U.S. Capitol from a pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6, his phone rang on silent mode. The unknown caller left a voice mail.

“I wish they would have killed all you scumbags, ’cause you people are scum,” the man said, referring to the police officers.

“Too bad they didn’t beat ... you more,” he added.

Fanone shared the full, uncensored voice mail — riddled with racist and homophobic expletives — Tuesday on CNN’s “Don Lemon Tonight.” The caller, who has not been publicly identified, also repeated former president Donald Trump’s false claims of a stolen election and accused Fanone of lying.

“They stole the election from Trump and you know that, you scumbag,” he said.

Fanone said he wanted to share the voice mail to remind people that many Americans believe the false, downplayed retelling of the events on Jan. 6 by Trump and several GOP lawmakers.

“Unfortunately, I’ve come to expect this type of response,” Fanone told Lemon. “It’s not the first time that people have expressed similar opinions to me. … There is an element in this country that believes that.”

Former New York Republican State Senate candidate Daniel Christmann, shown circled in yellow inside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection via an FBI photo.

Former New York Republican State Senate candidate Daniel Christmann, shown circled in yellow inside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection via an FBI photo.

washington post logoWashington Post, A former New York senate candidate stormed the Capitol, then asked friends to delete video evidence, feds say, Andrea Salcedo, July 30, 2021 (print ed.). Daniel Christmann faces multiple charges over his role in the Capitol insurrection, according to a criminal complaint that was unsealed Wednesday. ( Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) )

Moments after Daniel Christmann climbed through an open window to get into the Capitol on Jan. 6, the former New York state senate candidate took out his phone to record the insurrection for his Instagram followers, prosecutors said.

That afternoon, Christmann walked around the building taking videos he posted to his @dannyforsenate account, according to a 19-page criminal complaint that was unsealed Wednesday.

In the following days, private messages obtained by federal authorities show Christmann bragged about participating in the riot, explaining to those messaging him on Instagram how he reached unauthorized areas.

When Christmann later became aware that authorities arrested two people he knew who were inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, he began reaching out to Facebook friends to ask them to delete any videos showing him on the grounds that day, prosecutors said.

“Please remove those videos,” Christmann wrote, according to a screenshot in the complaint. “My friend jake got taken in and my campaign manager from this summer got taken in. Its go time on the end of times.”

The Monroe, N.Y., man is among hundreds of people who have been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection, including many turned in by relatives, friends and co-workers after they posted about the riot on social media.

Christmann, who was charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds; disorderly and disruptive conduct; and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building, was arrested Wednesday. His arrest came a day after four Capitol police officers delivered emotional testimony during a congressional hearing of the insurrection, detailing the abuse they endured while attempting to hold back the mob of President Donald Trump supporters on Jan. 6.

 

July 29

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 From left, Sgt. Aquilino Gonell of the U.S. Capitol Police, Officer Michael Fanone of the D.C. Metropolitan Police, Officer Daniel Hodges of the D.C. Metropolitan Police and Private First Class Harry Dunn of the U.S. Capitol Police are sworn in to testify before the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on U.S. Capitol on July 27, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Jan. 6 police officers give a master class on the dangers of right-wing extremism, E.J. Dionne Jr., right, July 29, 2021 (print ed.). Four law enforcement heroes made abundantly ej dionne w open neckclear at Tuesday’s inaugural hearing of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol why this inquiry is essential and why so many Republicans wanted to keep it from happening.

Their dramatic, heartfelt testimony also made an airtight case that right-wing extremism is a clear and present danger to the United States.

“What makes the struggle harder and more painful is to know so many of my fellow citizens, including so many of the people I put my life at risk to defend, are downplaying or outright denying what happened,” D.C. police officer Michael Fanone said.

“I feel like I went to hell and back to protect them and the people in this room,” he went on, “but too many are now telling me that hell doesn’t exist, or that hell actually wasn’t that bad.”

His next point was devastating as a commentary on what large sections of the Republican Party are committed to doing — and in its accuracy.

“The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful,” he said, “nothing, truly nothing, has prepared me to address those elected members of our government who continue to deny events of that day. And in doing so betray their oath of office.”

Yes, they do.

At Tuesday’s hearing, D.C. police officers Fanone and Daniel Hodges, Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn and Sgt. Aquilino Gonell made clear why so many Republicans want us to forget what happened on Jan. 6.

Republicans don’t want us to focus on “the hit man,” in Dunn’s resonant phrase.

They want to let Donald Trump off the hook.

And they resolutely do not want to do what Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) rightly said the committee must do: try to account for “what happened every minute of that day in the White House — every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during and after the attack.”

What happened on Jan. 6 was monstrous, the product of a dangerous, anti-democratic sickness haunting parts of the American right. This is the sort of event that a free nation must come to terms with, not ignore; investigate, not sweep under the rug; and understand, not dismiss as a one-off display of violence. That’s why this committee’s work is so important.

washington post logoWashington Post, As Trump sought probes of 2020 election, he called acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen almost daily, Josh Dawsey and Devlin Barrett, July 29, 2021 (print ed.). President Donald Trump called his acting attorney general nearly every day at the end of last year to alert him to claims of voter fraud or alleged improper vote counts in the 2020 election, according to two people President Donald Trump officialfamiliar with the conversations.

The personal pressure campaign, which has not been previously reported, involved repeated phone calls to acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen in which Trump raised various allegations he had heard about and asked what the Justice Department was doing about the issue. The people familiar with the conversations spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive legal and political issues that are not yet public.

jeffrey rosenRosen, left, told few people about the phone calls, even in his inner circle. But there are notes of some of the calls that were written by a top aide to Rosen, Richard Donoghue, who was present for some of the conversations, these people said.

Donoghue’s notes could be turned over to Congress in a matter of days, they added, if Trump does not file papers in court seeking to block such a handover. In addition, both Rosen and Donoghue could be questioned about the conversations by congressional committees examining Trump’s actions in the days after the election.

Justice Department log circularThe Justice Department recently notified Rosen, Donoghue and others who were serving there during the end of Trump’s presidency that the agency would not seek to invoke executive privilege if they are asked about their contacts with the president during that period.

That posture — which the letter to Rosen calls a departure from normal agency practice — means that individuals who are questioned by Congress would not have to say the conversations with the president were off-limits. They would be able to share details that give a firsthand account of Trump’s frantic attempts to overturn the 2020 election and involve the Justice Department in that effort.

 

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U.S. Attorney Gen. Merrick Garland (file photo).

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Be careful, Arizona Republicans. The DOJ just made clear your phony election audit is on thin ice, Jennifer Rubin, right, July 9, 2021. The Justice Department stepped up its visibility jennifer rubin new headshoton the enforcement of voting rights on Wednesday, issuing new guidance on efforts by Republicans to curb access to the ballot and to stage phony election audits.

That part on audits is the most intriguing, as it attempts to keep Republicans from undermining or even changing election results. The Justice Department zeroed in on Section 20701 of Title 52 in the U.S. Code, which requires election officials to maintain custody of all election related materials for 22 months.

“Election audits are exceedingly rare. But the Department is concerned that some jurisdictions conducting them may be using, or proposing to use, procedures that risk violating the Civil Rights Act,” the department found. “The duty to retain and preserve election records necessarily requires that elections officials maintain the security and integrity of those records and their attendant chain of custody, so that a complete and uncompromised record of federal elections can be reliably accessed and used in federal law enforcement matters.”

It means that, even when private “auditors” are given access, state election officials still must preserve their integrity. (Enforcing this part of the law something voting-rights groups have called on the administration to do.)

arizona mapIn a swipe at the unprofessional audit underway in Maricopa County, Ariz., the department stated: “Where election records leave the control of elections officials, the systems for maintaining the security, integrity and chain of custody of those records can easily be broken.” It added that the “risk of the records being lost, stolen, altered, compromised, or destroyed . . . is exacerbated if the election records are given to private actors who have neither experience nor expertise in handling such records and who are unfamiliar with the obligations imposed by federal law.”

The department also made clear it is prepared to enforce criminal penalties for violation of these document retention requirements. That is clearly a shot across the bow of the Arizona Republicans, who have allowed an inexperienced outfit led by conspiracy theorists to rifle through ballots and despoil voting machines.

Further, the department warned against various forms of voting intimidation that violate federal law, again signaling that phony GOP audits, especially Arizona’s, are on thin ice.

“There have been reports, with respect to some of the post-2020 ballot examinations, of proposals to contact individuals face to face to see whether the individuals were qualified voters who had actually voted,” the department stated, referencing Cyber Ninjas, the outfit that has proposed canvassing Arizona voters in search of voter fraud. “This sort of activity raises concerns regarding potential intimidation of voters. . . . Jurisdictions that authorize or conduct audits must ensure that the way those reviews are conducted has neither the purpose nor the effect of dissuading qualified citizens from participating in the electoral process. If they do not, the Department will act to ensure that all eligible citizens feel safe in exercising their right to register and cast a ballot in future elections.”

The directive is not a lawsuit, but it provides a clear predicate should Arizona or other jurisdictions flout voting laws. Given the uphill climb for new voting-rights legislation, aggressive enforcement of existing laws is critical. Attorney General Merrick Garland seems willing to combat fake audits, something not covered by legislation under consideration in Congress.

When coupled with this other developments at the Justice Department regarding matters related to Jan. 6, it seems Garland is attempting to dispel the impression that he intends to be a passive observer of an assault on voting rights. He does not have a lot of arrows in his quiver thanks to the filibuster and the Supreme Court’s cramped view of voting rights, but he sounds ready to make the most of what he has. That’s a development all Americans should cheer.

washington post logoWashington Post, Charlie Kirk’s pro-Trump youth group stokes vaccine resistance as covid surges again, Isaac Stanley-Becker, July 29, 2021. Turning Point USA and its affiliates are urging students to resist mandates and spreading baseless claims about ‘medical raids’ as part of a bid for donations.

charlie kirk hostA young emergency room doctor stood before dozens of students in a Tampa convention center this month and gave them a script for resisting coronavirus vaccines.

“You say, ‘I’m 18 years old. I have no health conditions. Based on the five-year mortality data, I have a highly likelihood of dying from flu vs. covid, and I don’t get the flu vaccine, so I’m not going to get this one,’" Sean Ochsenbein, a 33-year-old attending physician in Johnson City, Tenn., told students gathered for a summit hosted by the conservative youth group Turning Point USA, according to a recording of the session obtained by The Washington Post. “Drop the mic. You’re done. That’s it.”

That presentation is just one way the group led by Charlie Kirk, 27, has recently sought to rally young people against vaccine mandates. Kirk, a college dropout who gained further clicks and notoriety by using his podcast to claim the much-honored gymnast Simone Biles was a "sociopath" for dropping out of events at the Olympics, is shown above.

Text messages announcing Kirk as their author warn that President Biden is “sending goons DOOR-TO-DOOR to make you take a covid-19 vaccine.” Facebook ads from Kirk’s tax-exempt nonprofit insist the government has “NO RIGHT to force you to inject yourself with an experimental vaccine,” and say the best response to outreach about the shots is to, “LOCK YOUR DOORS, KIDS!!”

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Is the dam finally breaking? Bill Palmer, right, July 29, 2021. Donald Trump publicly encouraged Republican Senators to vote against the bill palmerbipartisan portion of President Biden’s infrastructure package. Fifteen Republican Senators voted last night to advance it anyway. Even as Trump’s grip on the Republican House seems to be nearly as intact as ever, Trump’s grip on the Republican Senate seems to be slipping pretty severely. So what’s going on?

Consider that the Republican House is led by Kevin McCarthy, a political idiot who owes his current job to Trump, and who may therefore be inclined to continue following Trump’s lead no matter how poorly is goes for him. Also consider that the Republican Senate is led by Mitch McConnell, who is overwhelmingly corrupt in his own right, but who cares a whole lot more about his own ambitions than about protecting Trump.

bill palmer report logo headerBut is the difference between the Republican House and the Republican Senate really as straightforward as the difference in leadership? We may soon find out. McCarthy made an awfully dumb move by refusing to put any of his own House Republicans on the January 6th Committee, which as a result will carry out a very honest investigation led by six Democrats plus Republicans Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. As this investigation goes on, will House Republicans in general begin to realize they’ve made a mistake by following McCarthy, right, down this Trump-led rabbit hole?

kevin mccarthyThere are plenty of House Republicans who still believe that they need Donald Trump’s blessing – or that they at least need to avoid his wrath – in order to keep their own seats in 2022. But in this week’s Texas special election for a U.S. House seat, the Trump-endorsed Republican lost by seven points to another Republican candidate. Trump’s support doesn’t seem to be of that much help to Republican politics these days, even in a red state like Texas.

Then there’s the reality that as the January 6th investigation continues, things are likely to get a lot uglier for Donald Trump and his fellow insurrectionists. House Republicans like Jim Jordan and Mo Brooks will likely be called as witnesses. If they lawyer up and try to fight the subpoenas, it’ll mean that they fear criminal prosecution.

The public will grow angrier about January 6th, and voters in the middle may look to take out their frustrations on Republicans in the midterms. If that’s the direction this heads in, House Republicans who aren’t directly connected to the Capitol attack may begin looking for a way to insulate themselves from it by publicly standing against the insurrectionists. They could turn against McCarthy in the process. So maybe the dam really is about to break.

 

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.

 washington post logoWashington Post, D.C. officer who had a heart attack during Capitol riot received vulgar, threatening voice mail for testifying, Jaclyn Peiser, July 29, 2021. As D.C. police officer Michael Fanone sat before nine House lawmakers Tuesday morning recounting his harrowing and traumatizing tale of defending the U.S. Capitol from a pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6, his phone rang on silent mode. The unknown caller left a voice mail.

“I wish they would have killed all you scumbags, ’cause you people are scum,” the man said, referring to the police officers.

“Too bad they didn’t beat ... you more,” he added.

Fanone shared the full, uncensored voice mail — riddled with racist and homophobic expletives — Tuesday on CNN’s “Don Lemon Tonight.” The caller, who has not been publicly identified, also repeated former president Donald Trump’s false claims of a stolen election and accused Fanone of lying.

“They stole the election from Trump and you know that, you scumbag,” he said.

Fanone said he wanted to share the voice mail to remind people that many Americans believe the false, downplayed retelling of the events on Jan. 6 by Trump and several GOP lawmakers.

“Unfortunately, I’ve come to expect this type of response,” Fanone told Lemon. “It’s not the first time that people have expressed similar opinions to me. … There is an element in this country that believes that.”

Former New York Republican State Senate candidate Daniel Christmann, shown circled in yellow inside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection via an FBI photo.

Former New York Republican State Senate candidate Daniel Christmann, shown circled in yellow inside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection via an FBI photo.

washington post logoWashington Post, A former New York senate candidate stormed the Capitol, then asked friends to delete video evidence, feds say, Andrea Salcedo, July 29, 2021). Daniel Christmann faces multiple charges over his role in the Capitol insurrection, according to a criminal complaint that was unsealed Wednesday. ( Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) )

Moments after Daniel Christmann climbed through an open window to get into the Capitol on Jan. 6, the former New York state senate candidate took out his phone to record the insurrection for his Instagram followers, prosecutors said.

That afternoon, Christmann walked around the building taking videos he posted to his @dannyforsenate account, according to a 19-page criminal complaint that was unsealed Wednesday.

In the following days, private messages obtained by federal authorities show Christmann bragged about participating in the riot, explaining to those messaging him on Instagram how he reached unauthorized areas.

When Christmann later became aware that authorities arrested two people he knew who were inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, he began reaching out to Facebook friends to ask them to delete any videos showing him on the grounds that day, prosecutors said.

“Please remove those videos,” Christmann wrote, according to a screenshot in the complaint. “My friend jake got taken in and my campaign manager from this summer got taken in. Its go time on the end of times.”

The Monroe, N.Y., man is among hundreds of people who have been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection, including many turned in by relatives, friends and co-workers after they posted about the riot on social media.

Christmann, who was charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds; disorderly and disruptive conduct; and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building, was arrested Wednesday. His arrest came a day after four Capitol police officers delivered emotional testimony during a congressional hearing of the insurrection, detailing the abuse they endured while attempting to hold back the mob of President Donald Trump supporters on Jan. 6.

 

 capitol riot shutterstock capitol

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP Rep. Clyde stands by comparison of Jan. 6 mob to ‘tourists’ when pressed by Democratic Rep. Raskin, John Wagner, July 29, 2021. The fiery clash between Raskin, Clyde on Jan. 6 ‘tourist’ label.

Rep. Andrew S. Clyde (R-Ga.), who infamously compared the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol to “a normal tourist visit,” steadfastly stood by his contention Tuesday night during an extended spirited exchange with Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.), rightjamin raskin american university Custom 2.

The clash came during a Rules Committee meeting several hours after Raskin had taken part in a House select committee hearing with four police officers who were on the scene when a violent mob of supporters of President Donald Trump breached the Capitol.

andrew clydeDuring the earlier hearing, Raskin questioned one of the officers, Daniel Hodges of the D.C. force, about Clyde’s comparison. Hodges rejected it, instead repeatedly using the word “terrorists” to describe those who took part in the riot.

During the Rules Committee meeting, Raskin pressed Clyde on whether he had watched the testimony of the officers earlier in the day.

Clyde, left, said that question was “absolutely irrelevant” to the matter in front of the Rules Committee.

“He refuses to say whether or not he heard the Capitol officers who risked their lives and have experienced traumatic medical injuries,” Raskin said. “That’s his prerogative.” Raskin then noted that the “tourist” comparison was rejected by Hodges.

July 28

Law & Crime, Trump Family Loses Big Appeals Court Fight to Force Fraud and Deceptive Practices Lawsuit into Secret Arbitration, Colin Kalmbacher, July 28, 2021. Former president Donald Trump, his prized family business, the Trump Organization, and three of his adult children, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump, all suffered a significant legal setback in a federal appeals court opinion issued Wednesday morning.

For years the Trump family and its namesake entity have fought to keep a potentially ugly pyramid scheme lawsuit from being litigated in the public sphere. The 45th first family’s weapon of choice to keep those details under wraps was private and compelled arbitration clauses.

In a 43-page opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denied the Trump family’s request to settle the numerous complaints against them behind the veil, and with the help, of arbitrators.

“The truth or falsity of the plaintiffs’ allegations is not before us,” Circuit Judge Robert D. Sack wrote. “We neither express nor imply any views with respect to them. The only question before us is whether this case should be resolved before the district court or an arbitrator.”

An attorney for the plaintiffs praised the court’s decision via Twitter.

“We look forward to resuming discovery in this case about a fraud on hard-working Americans perpetrated by Donald Trump and three of his adult children,” Roberta Kaplan tweeted. “We’re eager to receive the documents etc. requested from ACN, MGM and the parties so that we can begin taking depositions ASAP.”

Procedural in nature, the ruling is still a solid victory for the plaintiffs. And, though the court insisted the merits were not at stake, the alleged facts and details of the case loom large in the panel’s decision here.

Asserting myriad claims including “racketeering,” conspiracy and fraud, several class action plaintiffs originally sued the Trumps in October 2018 alleging the defendants – by way of “videos, print and online media” – promoted and endorsed a sure-fire loser of a multi-level marketing, or pyramid, scheme known as ACN Opportunity, LLC.

Those endorsements came, the anonymous plaintiffs allege, even though the various Trumps at issue failed to conduct due diligence about the likelihood of economic losses and the slim probability of commercial success from such schemes. And, as it turns out, each of the plaintiffs produced evidence to show that the vast majority of people who were convinced to become “Independent Business Owners” for ACN went on to suffer losses or earned minimal profits.

Instead, the plaintiffs claim, the Trump family simply parroted ACN’s allegedly untrue claims because they were being paid millions of dollars. And those pay-for-play payments to the Trumps were not publicly disclosed at the time their endorsements were made.

From the court’s opinion:

The four pseudonymous plaintiffs are persons of modest financial means who maintain that they fell victim to the defendants’ allegedly fraudulent scheme to induce consumers to invest in ACN by making false and misleading promotional statements about ACN’s business. The defendants allegedly concealed the fact that they were paid handsomely by ACN for what purported to be unsolicited endorsements.

More specifically, the plaintiffs allege that in exchange for millions of dollars in secret payments from ACN to the defendants between 2005 and 2015, the defendants fraudulently promoted and endorsed ACN as offering legitimate business opportunities that were likely to afford IBOs success. The defendants allegedly misled consumers, including the plaintiffs, to believe that: (1) IBOs would have a reasonable likelihood of commercial success if they invested in ACN; (2) the defendant Donald J. Trump was independently promoting and endorsing the ACN business opportunity because he thought that it offered a reasonable probability of commercial success for investors; and (3) Mr. Trump’s endorsement was predicated on the defendants’ due diligence, familiarity with ACN and its business, and personal experience with ACN. The defendants conveyed this message in various forums, including at ACN events, in ACN recruiting publications and videos, and on two episodes of “The Celebrity Apprentice” television show, where contestants seeking a job at the Trump Organization promoted ACN. The defendants’ message was critical, the plaintiffs assert, in convincing consumers – including them – to invest in ACN as IBOs.

“This message, however, was allegedly materially false,” Sack’s opinion goes on. “Contrary to the defendants’ representations that ACN’s business opportunity was a low-risk entrepreneurial venture that offered investors a viable source of income, investigations by regulatory agencies allegedly have demonstrated that ACN’s business was high-risk and that investors had a minimal likelihood of commercial success.”

The alleged facts are only cited by the court as relevant background to explain the basis of the legal claims. And, again, the merits (or lack thereof) viz. those allegations are not really what the court relied on here. This is, at the present stage, a procedural battle. But those facts are important to note because of the case’s procedural history.

At first, the Trumps litigated the lawsuits in the court system and successfully batted away a few of the causes of action – including the headline-generating racketeering claim. After winning those victories, however, and failing to secure a motion to dismiss, the Trumps moved to have the remaining claims settled by secretive arbitration.

Last April, a district court in New York City declined to allow the arbitrators newfound purview over the matter.

“These wins and benefits on the defense side represent defeats and prejudice on the Plaintiffs’ side,” Judge Lorna G. Schofield noted. “Now that Defendants have extracted what they can from the judicial proceedings, they seek to move to a different forum. This conduct is both substantively prejudicial towards Plaintiffs and seeks to use the [Federal Arbitration Act (FAA)] as a vehicle to manipulate the rules of procedure to Defendants’ benefit and Plaintiffs’ harm.”

The next month, a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York refused to stay the decision pending appeal. So, the lawsuit moved forward.

July 23

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: Was Pegasus used by Trump and Kushner to blackmail U.S. politicians? Wayne Madsen, July 23, 2021. Revelations by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that Israeli wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallsales of NSO Group's Pegasus smart phone surveillance program closely matched the foreign trips of former Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu have raised the possibility that Jared Kushner, who participated in Netanyahu's diplomatic trips to countries using Pegasus, also used Pegasus to eavesdrop on the communications of Republicans who, virtually overnight, became loyalists of Donald Trump.

As more details emerge about the political intelligence uses of Pegasus, the Israeli government and NSO Group are trying to contain the public relations damage caused by Israel's sale of the surveillance system to some of the world's most repressive regimes, including Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, the lindsey graham judiciary chairmanUnited Arab Emirates, Hungary, and Morocco. All have close ties to Israel.

mitch mcconnell elaine chaoPegasus does not merely allow an eavesdropper to listen in on smart phone conversations but allows the phone's microphone and camera to be used as an espionage device, even when the phone is turned off. Pegasus has been termed a "digital predator."

Trump's possible use of Pegasus to provide surveillance information on those whose Apple and Microsoft data were subpoenaed by Trump's Justice Department and on those whose data was not subpoenaed opens the door to Trump using embarrassing information to blackmail Republicans who, on a dime, went from being Trump critics to his most loyal supporters. Blackmail in politics usually involves sex, money, or a combination of the two.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: A Foreign Agent in Trump’s Inner Circle? Michelle Goldberg, right, July 23, 2021. Once upon a time, it would have been huge news if the chairman of the former president’s imichelle goldberg thumbnaugural committee was indicted on charges of acting as an agent of a foreign power.

Donald Trump’s presidency, however, has left us with scandal inflation. At this point many of the leading figures from his 2016 campaign have been either indicted or convicted, even if they were later pardoned. The C.F.O. of Trump’s company was charged with tax fraud less than a month ago.

tom barrackheadshotSo when the billionaire real estate investor Tom Barrack, left, one of Trump’s biggest fund-raisers, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with acting as an unregistered agent of the United Arab Emirates along with other felonies, it might have seemed like a dog-bites-man story. Barrack was once described by longtime Trump strategist uae embassy sealRoger Stone — a felon, naturally — as the ex-president’s best friend. If you knew nothing else about Barrack but that, you might have guessed he’d end up in handcuffs.

Nevertheless, Barrack’s arrest is important. Trump’s dealings with the Emirates and Saudi Arabia deserve to be investigated as thoroughly as his administration’s relationship with Russia. So far that hasn’t happened. When Robert Mueller, the former special counsel, testified before Congress, Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said to him, “We did not bother to ask whether financial inducements from any Gulf nations were influencing U.S. policy, since it is outside the four corners of your report, and so we must find out.” But we have not found out.

 

July 21

Pro-Trump Insurrection, Finances

Trump advisor and Jan. 6 insurrection participant Roger Stone poses at center with leaders of the Oath Keepers.

Trump advisor Roger Stone poses at center with leaders of the Oath Keepers.

washington post logoWashington Post, In new Capitol riot guilty plea, Tampa man admits intending to block Congress with Oath Keepers, Spencer S. Hsu, July 21, 2021 (print ed.). A Tampa man pleaded guilty Tuesday to joining a “stack formation” of Oath Keepers members and associates who allegedly breached the Capitol on Jan. 6, becoming the latest to cooperate with prosecutors and the first among the formation to specify that he intended to hinder Congress that day using intimidation and coercion.

Caleb Berry, 20, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of obstructing an official proceeding.

In a plea deal, prosecutors agreed to request lowering an estimated prison term of 51 to 63 months under federal guidelines for Berry, who has no criminal record and is one of the youngest defendants charged in the Capitol riots, in exchange for his substantial assistance.

U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta of Washington accepted the plea after Berry acknowledged that he coordinated plans and discussed the need to bring firearms for Jan. 6 in the nation’s capital with Oath Keepers members.

In plea papers, Berry admitted driving to Washington from Florida with other co-conspirators, meeting them the morning of Jan. 6 at a rally for President Donald Trump at the White House Ellipse and marching to the Capitol. They later walked single-file up the Capitol steps in camouflage, body armor and tactical gear and forced entry through the East Rotunda doors about 2:40 p.m., Berry admitted.

At least two other Oath Keepers associates — Graydon P. Young, 55, of Florida, who also admitted being part of the “stack,” and Mark Grods, 54, of Mobile, Ala., who said he entered minutes later — have also pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against others, describing encrypted communications and efforts to bring and store firearms at a hotel in nearby Arlington, Va.

The timing of Berry’s plea — he was charged July 9 under seal — could also be calculated to step up pressure on remaining defendants. Seven U.S. prosecutors entered appearances in Berry’s case, from offices including the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington and the Justice Department’s national security division.

U.S. prosecutors have now charged all but one of 14 people associated with the “stack” or just trailing behind them, including Berry and Young, according to an online group of Internet sleuths calling itself Capitol Terrorists Exposers that has provided information to journalists and investigators that prosecutors have cited in court filings.

Some have said they were in Washington to provide security for Republican VIPs including Roger Stone, or to support Trump in case he invoked the Insurrection Act and mobilized a citizen militia to pursue his unfounded claim that the election was stolen.

washington post logoWashington Post, Allen Weisselberg resigned from the top of the Trump Organization. So who’s running the company now?  David A. Fahrenthold, Josh Dawsey and Jonathan O'Connell, July 21, 2021 (print ed.). When Weisselberg resigned his position on the trust that controls the Trump Organization, Donald Trump Jr. officially became the company's most powerful officer.

allen weisselberg croppedEarlier this month, Allen Weisselberg, right — the Trump Organization’s most powerful employee not named “Trump” — resigned his post in the company’s leadership. Weisselberg had been one of two trustees at the trust that owns and controls former president Trump’s company. But Weisselberg gave up that post, and dozens of others at Trump subsidiaries, after he was charged with running a tax-fraud scheme inside the company.

Weisselberg still works at the company, according to one person familiar with the Trump Organization. But his resignation from those formal posts means that the company’s already small executive ranks have shrunk even further, at a time when the company faces a raft of financial and legal problems.

Here’s what we know — and what we don’t — about what’s happening at the Trump Organization now:

donald trump jr gage skidmore CustomOfficially, its most powerful officer is now Donald Trump Jr., shown at left in a Gage Skidmore photo.

The Trump Organization is controlled by the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust — a legal entity to which Trump transferred his hundreds of companies when he took office in 2017. The trust, in turn is controlled by trustees. Previously, there were two. But after Weisselberg resigned, just one was left: Trump Jr., according to papers the company filed in New Jersey this month.

In a practical sense, people familiar with the company say, the company’s day-to-day leaders are Trump Jr., 43, and his younger brother Eric, 37. Eric, who lives in New York, usually plays a more active role, the people said, since Trump Jr. has moved to Florida and become more involved in politics.

July 18

Trump Rallies, Claims, Probes, Riot

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: To Trump’s hard-core supporters, his rallies weren’t politics. They were life, Michael C. Bender (a reporter for the Wall Street Journal and the author of “Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost,” from which this article is adapted), July 18, 2021 (print ed.). What 2020 looked like from the front row on the campaign trail.

They were mostly older White men and women who lived paycheck to paycheck with plenty of time on their hands — retired or close to it, estranged from their families or otherwise without children — and Trump had, in a surprising way, made their lives richer. The president himself almost always spent the night in his own bed and kept few close friends. But his rallies gave the Joes a reason to travel the country, staying at one another’s homes, sharing hotel rooms and carpooling. Two had married — and later divorced — by Trump’s second year in office.

In Trump, they’d found someone whose endless thirst for a fight encouraged them to speak up for themselves, not just in politics but also in relationships and at work. His rallies turned arenas into modern-day tent revivals, where the preacher and the parishioners engaged in an adrenaline-fueled psychic cleansing brought on by chanting and cheering with 15,000 other like-minded loyalists. Saundra Kiczenski, a 56-year-old from Michigan, compared the energy at a Trump rally to the feelings she had as a teenager in 1980 watching the “Miracle on Ice” — when the U.S. Olympic hockey team unexpectedly beat the Soviet Union.

“The whole place is erupting, everyone is screaming, and your heart is beating like, just, oh my God,” Kiczenski told me. “It’s like nothing I’ve experienced in my lifetime.”

donald trump jr gage skidmore CustomPalmer Report, Opinion: The unraveling of Donald Trump Jr is reaching a particularly dangerous level, Bill Palmer, right, July 18, 2021. The fallout from the Trump bill palmerOrganization criminal indictment thus far has been incremental in some instances, but it’s definitely underway. Allen Weisselberg has “resigned” from the trust that controls the Trump Organization, meaning he’s either trying to distance himself from Trump, or Trump is trying to distance himself from Weisselberg. But the real movement thus far in terms of fallout may be with Donald Trump Jr. (shown above in a file photo by Gage Skidmore).

The removal of Weisselberg from the Trump Organization trust has actually served to elevate Donald Trump Jr’s position of control over the company. That’s not good particularly good timing, given how badly Junior has been unraveling lately.

bill palmer report logo headerMost of you have seen the recent videos released by Donald Trump Jr, in which he’s come off as increasingly erratic, jittery, incoherent, and paranoid. Well, maybe he’s not being paranoid, given that he probably is going to end up criminally indicted in all this. But now Junior is taking things in an even uglier direction.

Earlier this week Donald Trump Jr suggested that God must have a sense of humor after lightning destroyed a memorial for murder victim George Floyd. Then yesterday Donald Trump Jr suggested that God must have a sense of humor after three Texas Democrats tested positive for COVID, a deadly disaster.

Donald Trump Jr has reached the point where he’s not only openly rooting for harm to come to anyone he perceives as not siding with the Trump family, he’s convinced that God is somehow carrying out revenge on behalf of the Trump family. This is a particularly dangerous and disturbing line of thinking, for a number of obvious reasons. This guy is unraveling by the day.

washington post logoWashington Post, Two Fla. police officers charged in new Proud Boys indictment in Capitol riot, Spencer S. Hsu, July 18, 2021 (print ed.). The indictments of a father and son — former and current police officers — bring the number of off-duty law enforcement officers charged in the Capitol mob to at least 20

A father and son, who are current and former Florida police officers, and a North Carolina man have been charged with joining alleged Proud Boys members in the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, according to a new, five co-defendant indictment unsealed in Washington on Friday.

Kevin “Tito” Tuck, 51, and Nathaniel A. Tuck, 29, of central Florida were arrested and released on $25,000 unsecured bond Thursday by a U.S. magistrate judge in Tampa, court records show.

Edward George Jr. was also arrested Thursday and was scheduled to appear in federal court Friday in Raleigh, according to court records.

The charges bring the number of off-duty law enforcement officers charged in the Capitol mob to at least 20, and the defendants’ ties to several central Florida police agencies highlight the continued pressure on sheriffs and police chiefs nationwide to scrub their ranks of members with links to white supremacist and far-right armed groups.

 July 17

washington post logoWashington Post, The media scramble within Trump Book Summer, Paul Farhi, July 17, 2021. The peak of Trump Book Summer, the moment of maximum media intensity, may have come last Wednesday, when reporters scrambled to match a story about a story contained in one of those books.

Around 3 p.m. that day, New York magazine published an article based on a revelation its writer had discovered in the pages of I Alone Can Fix It, one of the entries in the current spate of Trump Studies, a copy of which the magazine said it had “obtained” before its official release.

The gist of the magazine’s report — that the book would reveal that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, feared Trump would precipitate a coup to maintain power — was so hot that it in turn triggered a nearly immediate follow-up report on CNN.com, written by no less than five reporters. Which in turn prompted The Washington Post to chase down the same nugget — which was kind of ironic considering the book that produced the scoop was written by two Post reporters and had already generated a prominent excerpt in the paper, with a second to come days later.

michael wolff landslideThe media-on-media scramble, a kind of Russian nesting doll of reportage, attested to both the profound import of the Milley anecdote and the cultural heat of the new syllabus of Trump books.

On the same day, I Alone, written by The Post’s Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig, was the best-selling book on Amazon, which includes preorders for not-yet-released books.

The third and fourth bestsellers were also dishy Trump titles, Landslide, by the independent journalist Michael Wolff, and Frankly, We Did Win This Election, by the Wall Street Journal’s Michael C. Bender, respectively.

A fourth book, Nightmare Scenario, about Trump’s handling of the pandemic by two other Post reporters, Damian Paletta and Yasmeen Abutaleb, had climbed up the lists the week before.

July 16

washington post logoWashington Post, Book Excerpt: Behind the scenes on Jan. 6: Delay at the Pentagon, resistance in the Oval Office as Ivanka Trump, advisers pleaded with Trump (Part II), Philip Rucker and Carol D. Leonnig, July 16, 2021. Part two of an excerpt from I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year. Rucker and Leonnig will discuss this book during a Washington Post Live event on July 20.

carol leonnig philip rucker trump2 coverAs the sun rose over Washington on Jan. 6, electricity hung in the air. The big day had come.

Thousands of President Trump’s supporters began gathering on the Ellipse to stake out a good spot from which to see the president, who was scheduled to address the “Save America” rally around noon. Organizers had obtained a federal permit for 30,000 people, but it looked as if the crowd would be even larger than that. Thousands more prepared to make their way toward the Capitol to protest the certification of Joe Biden’s election.

At the White House, Trump set the tone for the day with an 8:17 a.m. tweet: “States want to correct their votes, which they now know were based on irregularities and fraud, plus corrupt process never received legislative approval. All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!”

Pro-Trump Jan. 6 Insurrectionpaul allard hodgkins

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. seeks prison term for first felony defendant to be sentenced in Capitol breach, citing domestic terrorism threat, Spencer S. Hsu, July 16, 2021. U.S. prosecutors on Wednesday urged a federal judge to impose an 18-month prison term on the first defendant to face sentencing for a felony in the Jan. 6 Capitol breach, citing the need to deter domestic terrorism.

“The need to deter others is especially strong in cases involving domestic terrorism, which the breach of the Capitol certainly was,” Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Mona Sedky said in a government sentencing request for Tampa crane operator Paul Allard Hodgkins, 38, above, who carried a Trump flag into the well of the Senate.

Hodgkins’s sentencing, scheduled for Monday, could set the bar for what punishment 100 or more defendants might expect to face as they weigh whether to accept plea offers by prosecutors or take their chances at a trial by jury.

About 800 people entered the building, U.S. officials have said, with more than 500 individuals charged to date and charges expected against at least 100 others.

About 20 people have pleaded guilty, and one misdemeanor defendant has been sentenced to probation.

In Hodgkins’s case, Sedky cited FBI Director Christopher A. Wray’s testimony in March to the Senate that the problem of homegrown violent extremism is “metastasizing,” with some actors growing emboldened by the Capitol riot.

“The need to deter others is especially strong in cases involving domestic terrorism, which the breach of the Capitol certainly was,” Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Mona Sedky said in a government sentencing request for Tampa crane operator Paul Allard Hodgkins, 38, who carried a Trump flag into the well of the Senate.

The court filing marked one of the Justice Department’s bluntest statements to date of its view of the Capitol breach, in which members of a mob supporting President Donald Trump stormed barricades, assaulted nearly 140 police officers, and forced the evacuation of a joint session of Congress meeting to confirm the results of the 2020 election.

josiah colt rioter getty

washington post logoWashington Post, Man who dangled from Senate balcony pleads guilty in Capitol riots, will cooperate against others, Spencer S. Hsu, July 16, 2021 (print ed.). An Idaho man photographed (above via Getty images) hanging from the Senate balcony and sitting in the presiding officer’s chair in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot pleaded guilty Wednesday to felony obstruction of Congress, admitting to joining a group of people who came to Washington with firearms, knives and body armor to support President Donald Trump.

Josiah B. Colt, 34, became the latest defendant to agree to cooperate in the breach investigation, seeking to pare down a possible recommended five-year prison sentence.

Though Colt is not accused of being part of a larger militia-like group, he admitted in plea papers to joining at least two men from Nevada and Tennessee who arranged travel, raised funds, bought paramilitary gear and recorded themselves before breaking into the building and rushing to the Senate chamber just evacuated by lawmakers.

“My fellow patriot Josiah Colt sleeping ready for the boogaloo Jan 6,” one of the others, alleged QAnon follower Ronald Sandlin, posted on Facebook on Jan. 4, according to plea papers. The post included a picture of Colt in a bed holding a handgun, and used a term taken up by fringe groups referring to civil war, Colt acknowledged in plea papers.

In a group video recorded before the riot, Sandlin “urge[d] other patriots” watching to “take the Capitol” and said “there is going to be violence,” according to plea papers.

“We are going to be there [the Capitol] back by one o’clock when it is action time it is game time,” Sandlin added, according to plea documents. That hour, prosecutors said, was the time Congress convened to certify the 2020 presidential election results and the moment members of the pro-Trump mob began confronting police and charging barricades outside the building.

In a plea hearing, U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan of Washington read from Colt’s signed statement of facts and plea deal in which prosecutors agreed to drop three misdemeanor charges in exchange for his full cooperation.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Don’t let the hysteria get to you, Bill Palmer, right, July 16, 2021.Yesterday we learned from the Guardian that the Kremlin really was holding blackmail material against Donald Trump all bill palmeralong, meaning Trump really was a Russian puppet all along. Yesterday we also learned from Michael Wolff’s book that General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, viewed Trump in terms of Adolf Hitler.

This is a lot to take in. This comes after weeks of increasingly ugly revelations about how Trump and his co-conspirators criminally meddled in the 2020 election results. As the floodgates of inside information continue to open, we’ll no doubt see even uglier bombshells about how Trump was abusing his power.

It’s now more important than ever to remember that all of these crimes and atrocities took place while Trump was still in office. None of these things are new; they’re just newly reported. None of them are happening right now; we’re just learning about them right now.

bill palmer report logo headerIt’s even more crucial to remember that Trump is no longer in power. It’s easy to read all of these increasingly ugly revelations and fall victim to the kind of hysteria that leads you to unconsciously convince yourself that he’s still in power and he’s still doing these things as we speak.

The reality is that Trump has been ousted from office. He’s been ousted from social media. He has no remaining voice. He’s now the metaphorical equivalent of a guy living in his mom’s basement. He’s desperate to get back into power, but he has no idea how to even approach that notion. In his rare public appearances, he appears to have lost a step (or two or three) in the cognitive department. He’s under active criminal investigation in three different states, two of which have gone to grand jury, one of which has begun issuing indictments. There’s a reason so much dirt is now coming out about Trump’s time in office. He’s weak, vulnerable, and of little remaining value to those around him; the people leaking these stories are looking to finish him off.

As the headlines about Trump’s time in office continue to grow uglier, and it becomes even more clear how maniacally out of control he was while serving as President, don’t let yourself fall into the trap of thinking you need to cower to him. He’s not in power anymore. There’s nothing he can do to you right now.

If these new headlines about Donald Trump are going to motivate you, let it motivate you to work even harder to make sure that he has no future. Help spread the word about his criminal scandals and criminal prosecution. Help make sure he remains on track for prison before we even get to 2024. And make sure his favorability rating remains too deep in the toilet for him to be remotely viable for any future election anyway. At this point Trump should be scared of you, not the other way around.

djt as chosen oneWayne Madsen Report, The aspirant American führer: A Bill of Rights carve out for Nazism needed, Wayne Madsen, left, July 16, 2021. We should all appreciate the collegiate liberal arts undergraduate and wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallpost-graduate educations of two generals, current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Mark Milley, and retired Marine Corps General John Kelly.

Thanks to them, the public is now aware of something this editor always had a gut feeling about: that Donald Trump is a Nazi admirer of Adolf Hitler and that his Ku Klux Klan-member wayne madsen cafe vaterlandfather, Fred Trump (shown below at left with his son), was an unrepentant pro-Nazi member of the German-American Bund in the 1930s and, very likely, a German spy used by the Gestapo and Abwehr to spy on American and Canadian troop transports departing from U.S. ports.

According to Carol Leonnig's and Phil Rucker's just-released book, I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump's Catastrophic Final Year -- one of several new books that expose Donald Trump's plans to establish a far-right dictatorship with him as the dictator -- Trump said, pointing to a framed photograph of his father in the Oval Office, "I know the fucking krauts . . . I was raised by the biggest kraut of them all."

djt fred trump daily bast photo illustationIt was the naked Nazism displayed by father and son Trump that inspired me to write my first novel, Café Vaterland, an alternate history of the United States had Hitler obtained a nuclear weapon and intercontinental delivery missile before the United States. The book's cover photo [left] depicts a meeting of Bund leaders with Hitler in Berlin in 1936. Based on contemporaneous photos of Fred Trump, I believe that it is he who is standing behind Bund führer Fritz Kuhn, farthest right].

The Bill of Rights does not confer the freedom to murder, commit arson, riot, or commit coups. Nor should it enable Nazis like Trump and his supporters to have any rights to engage in hate fests and violent speech.

 washington post logoWashington Post, A man in a gladiator costume filmed the Jan. 6 mob for his mother, feds say: ‘Here comes the riot police, Mom,’ Katie Shepherd, July 16, 2021. When Nathan Wayne Entrekin joined a crowd of rioters that pushed its way into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, he donned a Roman gladiator costume over jean shorts and a T-shirt despite the winter chill, federal investigators say. As the mob chanted, Entrekin allegedly filmed videos on his cellphone, narrating the action for his mother, who was back in Arizona.

“Wow, Mom. I wish you were here with me,” Entrekin said in one video, according to a criminal complaint. “It’s really exciting in here. It’s joyful and it’s sad at the same time. We can’t let Biden … be our president. We can’t … there’s no way.”

Federal prosecutors on Thursday arrested Entrekin, of Cottonwood, Ariz., for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection, during which he allegedly defied police orders, entered the U.S. Capitol and witnessed people looting offices. During an interview, Entrekin told investigators that “the calls of former president Donald Trump inspired him to attend the rally,” the complaint states.

He faces charges of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. His next court appearance has not yet been set, according to court records.

Entrekin joins more than 500 people charged by federal prosecutors for participating in the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot, including members of several far-right groups like the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys. Many of those arrested recorded their actions and later posted the videos and photos to social media or shared them with family and friends. Several others also wore recognizable costumes during the riot. 

Joseph Biggs, left, and Ethan Nordean near the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 (Photo by Carolyn Kaster of the Associated Press).Joseph Biggs, left, and Ethan Nordean near the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 (Photo by Carolyn Kaster of the Associated Press).

Daytona Beach News-Journal, Volusia County Proud Boys leader threatened at Seminole County Jail, attorney says, Frank Fernandez, July 16, 2021 (print ed.). A Volusia County Proud Boys leader being held in the Seminole County Jail has been threatened by inmates and will likely be threatened again as they seek to test him, his attorney said during a federal hearing on Thursday.

Joseph R. Biggs, 37, was a leader among the Proud Boys in planning “an organized and violent attack” upon the country’s democracy and its Capitol building on Jan. 6, according to federal prosecutors.

And word that Biggs is locked up in a subsection of the Seminole County Jail, which holds about 150 federal inmates in other cases, has been getting around, according to J. Daniel Hull, who represents Biggs.

“I do worry about somebody wanting to test Joe Biggs' mettle,” Hull said. “I think that’s going to be coming up more and more.”

Biggs, whose home is in Volusia County near Ormond Beach, has been held at the Seminole County Jail since he turned himself in to U.S. Marshals on April 22.

joe biggs mugHull said that Biggs, right, is also having problems with an old injury for which he previously received surgery. Hull said on Thursday that he does not want Biggs moved to a detention facility in Washington, D.C.

Biggs and three other Proud Boys have been indicted together on six counts: conspiracy; obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting; obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder and aiding and abetting; destruction of government property and aiding and abetting; entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds; and disorderly conduct in a restricted building or grounds.

The Proud Boys is a far-right nationalist organization that describes itself as a “pro-Western fraternal organization for men who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world; aka Western Chauvinists,” according to a federal criminal complaint.

The Proud Boys strongly supported former president Donald Trump. In recent years, the group has increasingly confronted protesters on the left, including antifa, in places like Portland, sometimes leading to street fights.

Biggs’ case has been closely tied to Ethan “Rufio Panman” Nordean (shown above), another Proud Boys leader who is being held in Washington state. Nordean’s attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the charges against him. Biggs’ attorney joined that motion, which hasn't yet been heard by a judge.

July 15

ny times logoNew York Times, Book Reviews: Two Accounts of Donald Trump’s Final Year in Office, One More Vivid and Apt Than the Other, Dwight Garner, July 15, 2021. Two new books about the final year of Donald J. Trump’s presidency are entering the cultural bloodstream. The first, Landslide,”by the gadfly journalist Michael Wolff, is the one to leap upon, even though the second, I Alone Can Fix It, from the Washington Post journalists Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, is vastly more earnest and diligent, to a fault.

michael wolff landslideThis is Wolff’s third book about Trump in as many years. It’s Leonnig and Rucker’s second, after the excellent A Very Stable Genius, which appeared in early 2020. This one, alas, reads like 300 daily newspaper articles taped together so that they resemble an inky Kerouacian scroll. Each article longs to jump to Page A28 on a different scroll, in another room.

Perhaps it’s not the authors’ fault that I Alone Can Fix It is grueling. It may be that a reader, having survived Covid-19, “stop the steal” and the bear-spray wielders, and feeling carol leonnig philip rucker trump2 covera certain amount of relief — relief, John Lanchester has said, is the most powerful emotion — is uneager to rummage so soon through a dense, just-the-facts scrapbook of a dismal year.

A primary and not insignificant achievement in I Alone Can Fix It, however, is its bravura introduction of a new American hero, a man who has heretofore not received a great deal of attention: Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. A better title for this book might have been “Mr. Milley Goes to Washington.”

There tend not to be a lot of people to root for in Trump books. Reading them is like watching WWE fights in which all the wrestlers are heels, smashing each other with folding chairs. Milley provides Leonnig and Rucker not just with an adult in the room, but a human being with a command of facts, a long view of history, a strong jaw and a moral center.

Milley (shown at right in uniform in a previous post as Army chief of staff) explains the Constitution to Trump. He delivers cinematic, Eisenhower-worthy monologues, such as: “Everything’s going to be OK. We’re going to have a peaceful transfer of power. We’re going to land this plane safely. This is America.” In one meeting he tells the egregious Stephen Miller to “shut the [expletive] up.”

mark milley army chief of staffWe were, Milley suggests, closer than we knew to the precipice. A crucial moment in this book details the final weeks of Trump’s presidency, when the stitching was really coming off the ball. Milley told aides he feared a coup, and, Leonnig and Rucker write, “saw parallels between Trump’s rhetoric of election fraud and Adolf Hitler’s insistence to his followers at the Nuremberg rallies that he was both a victim and their savior.” Milley told aides: “This is a Reichstag moment.”

About the Proud Boys and their ilk, he tells military and law enforcement leaders: “These are the same people we fought in World War II.”

There’s a vast amount more in I Alone Can Fix It. It’s an almost day-by-day accounting of Trump’s last year in office, from the fumbled Covid response to the second impeachment to Rudy Giuliani’s public self-immolations. There are apocalyptic scenes of Trump dressing down and humiliating those around him, including former Attorney General William P. Barr.

A final scene worth mentioning occurred during the siege on January 6. The congresswoman Liz Cheney called Milley the following day to check in. She described being with the Trump dead-ender Representative Jim Jordan during the attack on the Capitol, and how he said to her, “We need to get the ladies away from the aisle. Let me help you.” Cheney responded, the authors write, by slapping his hand away and telling him, “Get away from me. You [expletive] did this.”

Wolff has scenes Leonnig and Rucker don’t. These include election night details, such as the freak-out in Trump world when Fox News called Arizona early for Biden. Wolff, who wrote a biography of Rupert Murdoch, describes the frantic phone calls that flew back and forth before the word came down from the old Dirty Digger himself: “[Expletive] him.”

In this accounting, Trump belittles his followers. “Trump often expressed puzzlement over who these people were,” Wolff writes, “their low-rent ‘trailer camp’ bearing and their ‘get-ups,’ once joking that he should have invested in a chain of tattoo parlors and shaking his head about ‘the great unwashed.’”

djt validimir putin

Palmer Report, Opinion: Who’s leaking these new Trump-Russia details? TR Kenneth, July 15, 2021. Apparently, Putin can’t plug up his leaks because Trump’s been outed now as the Russian asset we’ve all known him to be. The documents confirming this were highly classified and direct from the Kremlin, as newly reported by the Guardian.

Right now, there’s lots of speculation as to why this is coming out. Is it more disinformation intentionally coming from Russia? Is it something the US has had and is finally releasing?

bill palmer report logo headerIf the Kremlin is “leaking” the documents to damage Trump, then Putin is signaling their relationship is done and Trump’s on his own. This could be significant, given Biden’s recent conversation with Putin about not interfering with the US.

If the US Intel community is outing the document, it could also signal Trump is cooked and should be investigated for treason. If the document is faked, then we can ride the speculation train all the way up to the mob and Semion Mogilevich.

July 14

 

stephen calk paul manafort file

Chicago banker and Trump campaign donor Stephen Calk, right, has been convicted of bribery-related crimes on behalf of former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, above let, to whom Calk's bank gave millions of dollars in fraudulent loans as Calk sought payback via an appointment to a high-ranking Pentagon job or prestigious ambassadorship, as testimony in Manafort's Virginia corruption trial showed.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump associate convicted in court, Bill Palmer, right, July 14, 2021. The most surefire way of nailing Donald Trump bill palmerfor his crimes is to begin by nailing his underlings and associates for their related crimes.

This brings us to Stephen Calk, who was convicted this week of bribing Paul Manafort with millions of dollars in illegitimate loans in exchange for an appointed position in the Trump regime. Calk didn’t get the job, but bribery is still bribery even when it doesn’t succeed. So why does this matter?

bill palmer report logo headerCalk is now heading to prison for what will likely be several years. This means he’s a prime candidate to cut a plea deal. And while he may not have any dirt on Trump, he could certainly flip on Manafort, who accepted the bribe and attempted to get Calk the job.

On his way out the door, Trump did give Manafort a pardon. But there’s no such thing as a pardon for every crime you’ve ever committed. Manafort’s pardon merely focused on the crimes that landed him in prison to begin with. So it’s entirely conceivable that the Feds could turn around and indict Manafort for taking this bribe – particularly if Calk ends up cooperating.

Unless Paul Manafort wants to go back to prison, he would in turn have to flip on Donald Trump. Manafort refused to do this last time around, but that was back when Trump was dangling an eventual pardon in exchange for his silence. Trump can’t pardon Manafort this time, and Manafort knows it.

July 13

Trump attorneys Sidney Powell, left, and Rudy Giuliani falsely claim in November 2020 that the 2020 election was stolen from him without being able to prevail on the claim in more than 60 court decisions around the nation.

Trump attorneys Sidney Powell, left, and Rudy Giuliani falsely claimed in November 2020 that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump without being able to prevail on the claim in more than 60 court decisions around the nation.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘This is really fantastical’: Federal judge in Michigan presses Trump-allied lawyers on 2020 election fraud claims in sanctions hearing, Rosalind S. Helderman, July 13, 2021 (print ed.). The latest effort to hold former president Donald Trump and his allies accountable for months of baseless claims about the 2020 election played out Monday in a Michigan courtroom, where a federal judge asked detailed and skeptical questions of several lawyers she is considering imposing sanctions against for filing a suit seeking to overturn the results.

linda parkerU.S. District Court Judge Linda V. Parker, right, said she would rule on a request to discipline the lawyers in coming weeks. But over and over again during the more than five-hour hearing, she pointedly pressed the lawyers involved — including Trump allies Sidney Powell and L. Lin Wood (shown at left below with Trump last year in the Oval Office) — to explain what steps they had taken to ensure their court filings in the case filed last year had been accurate. She appeared astonished by many of their answers.

Attorney Lin Wood with President Trump at the White House (March 2020).While their suit aimed to create a broad impression that the vote in Michigan — and specifically Detroit’s Wayne County — had been troubled, the affidavits filed to support those claims included obvious errors, speculation and basic misunderstandings of how elections are generally conducted in the state, Parker said.

“There’s a duty that counsel has that when you’re submitting a sworn statement . . . that you have reviewed it, that you had done some minimal due diligence,” she said.

As the hearing concluded, a defiant Powell told the judge that she took “full responsibility” for the case’s pleadings and said she would file them again. She and the other lawyers “had a legal obligation to the country” to raise issues with the election, Powell said.

djt maga hatIf Parker decides to discipline the lawyers, she could require them to pay the fees of their opponents in the case, the city of Detroit and Michigan state officials. But she could also go further — assessing additional monetary penalties or recommending grievance proceedings be opened that could result in banning the attorneys from practicing in Michigan or disbarring them altogether.

The Michigan hearing is part of a broad move underway nationally to hold responsible Trump and his backers who spread falsehoods about the election, the so-called “big lie” that led to the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

The push for accountability has been advancing in the nation’s courts in recent months, even as Republicans have embraced Trump’s baseless claims and blocked an independent commission to scrutinize the failures that contributed to the Jan. 6 riot.

The effort, playing out in several states, includes attempts to punish attorneys who pursued dozens of failed efforts to use the courts to overturn the election, the filing of defamation lawsuits against key figures who falsely claimed voting machine manufacturers tipped the election, and the launch of criminal investigations examining whether Trump and his allies broke the law by trying to interfere with the official administration of the election.

One of the first substantial repercussions came last month, when a committee of judges in New York state suspended the law license of former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who served as rudy giuliani recentTrump’s personal attorney. The committee found that Giuliani, right, had “communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large” in violation of his ethical obligations as an attorney.

Representatives for Giuliani have called the action “unprecedented” and expressed confidence that his law license will be restored after a hearing to determine whether to revoke his license permanently.

In Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers (D) has asked a federal judge to order Trump and three of his attorneys to pay the state’s attorneys’ fees in a case the former president filed in December unsuccessfully challenging President Biden’s win there. Trump and his lawyers told a judge in a court filing Monday that the request for attorney’s fees was “untimely and unwarranted.”t

Authorities in several states have also opened criminal probes related to the post-election period, including in Fulton County, Ga., where District Attorney Fani Willis launched a criminal investigation in February, in the wake of Trump’s calls to state officials to try to persuade them reverse Biden’s victory in the state.

Palmer Report, Sidney Powell is going through some things today, Bill Palmer, July 12, 2021. The wheels of justice turn way too slowly, but they nonetheless turn. Trump-adjacent lawyers including Sidney Powell and Lin Wood were forced to appear before a judge in Michigan today, in an initial hearing to determine whether they should be disbarred and/or face other court imposed sanctions. It didn’t go well for them.

The Judge systematically dismantled the ridiculous lawsuit that Sidney Powell and her pals filed late last year, which used phony evidence to claim that Donald Trump won Michigan. Yet even as this played out today, Powell incredibly made the claim that she stood by the suit and that she’d file it all over again if given the chance.

bill palmer report logo headerMeanwhile Powell’s associate Julia Haller was reduced to tears during the hearing. Lin Wood spent the entire time insisting that he had no idea he had even been a part of the election lawsuit; it’s still not entirely clear if he’s just playing dumb or if he really is psychologically unraveling this badly.

In any case, this hearing went poorly for all of the lawyers who were involved in the phony suit, but particularly badly for Sidney Powell. The Judge ended up giving them two weeks from today to file whatever they want to file that they think might help their case. But if the tenor of today’s hearing was an accurate indicator, then Powell and her pals appear headed for disbarment.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump Organization removes indicted top finance officer Allen Weisselberg from leadership roles at dozens of subsidiaries, David A. Fahrenthold and Shayna Jacobs, July 13, 2021 allen weisselberg cropped(print ed.). The Trump Organization has removed indicted chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, right, from his leadership roles at more than 40 subsidiary companies, according to corporate filings in the United States and Scotland.

The changes were made Thursday and Friday, a week after a grand jury in Manhattan indicted Weisselberg on 15 felony counts, including grand larceny and tax fraud. Weisselberg was accused by New York prosecutors of helping run a 15-year scheme to evade income taxes by concealing executives’ salaries — including more than $1.7 million of his own income — from tax authorities. Two Trump corporate entities were indicted alongside Weisselberg.

On Thursday, the Trump Organization removed Weisselberg as a director of the company that runs its golf course in Aberdeen, Scotland, according to British corporate records.

washington post logoWashington Post, Book Excerpt: ‘I Alone Can Fix It’: Inside Trump’s Election Day and the birth of the ‘big lie,’ Carol D. Leonnig and Philip Rucker, July 13, 2021. At the end of a tumultuous day, the defiant president refused to accept the signs that he was losing the White House contest to Joe Biden. “I won in a landslide and they’re taking it back,” Trump told advisers.

  • Part one of an excerpt from I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year. Leonnig and Rucker will discuss this book during a Washington Post Live event on July 20.

carol leonnig philip rucker trump2 coverFinally, Election Day had arrived. The morning of Nov. 3, 2020, President Trump was upbeat. The mood in the West Wing was good. Some aides talked giddily of a landslide. Several women who worked in the White House arrived wearing red sweaters in a show of optimism, while some Secret Service agents on the president’s detail sported red ties for the occasion. Trump’s voice was hoarse from his mad dash of rallies, but he thought his exhausting final sprint had sealed the deal. He considered Joe Biden to be a lot of things, but a winner most definitely was not one of them. “I can’t lose to this f------ guy,” Trump told aides.

Around noon, his detail whisked Trump across the Potomac River to visit his campaign headquarters in Arlington, where campaign manager Bill Stepien and the senior leadership briefed Trump in the conference room. Stepien outlined what to expect that night — when polls closed in each battleground state, how quickly votes should be tallied and which states would probably have the first projected winners. He explained that because of the huge number of mail-in ballots in many states, it might take long into the night for votes to be counted. Patience was in order.

Stepien explained to Trump that in many battleground states, the first votes to be recorded were expected to be in-person Election Day votes, which could lean Trump, while mail-in votes, which were likely to heavily favor Biden, would be added to the tally later as those ballots were processed. This meant that the early vote totals could well show Trump ahead by solid margins.

washington post logoWashington Post, Texas Democrats arrive in D.C. after leaving their state to block restrictive voting legislation, Amy Gardner and Eva Ruth Moravec, July 13, 2021 (print ed.). Democratic lawmakers in Texas fled the state on Monday, potentially torpedoing an ongoing special session called by Republicans to take up new voting restrictions and other GOP priorities.

texas mapAt least 50 House Democrats landed in Washington late Monday. The exodus denies Republicans the required two-thirds attendance level to conduct business, calling into doubt whether plans to take up voting legislation this week could proceed.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosSpeaking to reporters at Dulles International Airport, Texas Democratic leaders vowed to stay away from the state until Aug. 7, when the 30-day special session would end.

“We are determined to kill this bill,” House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner said.

In a statement, Turner and other leaders also pledged to pressure Congress to pass new federal voting protections.

washington post logoWashington Post, The Republican Party’s top lawyer called election fraud arguments by Trump’s lawyers a ‘joke’ that could mislead millions, Josh Dawsey, July 13, 2021 (print ed.). The Republican Party’s top lawyer warned in November against continuing to push false claims that the presidential election was stolen, calling efforts by some of the former president’s lawyers a “joke” that could mislead millions of people, according to an email obtained by The Washington Post.

Justin Riemer, the Republican National Committee’s chief counsel, sought to discourage a Republican Party staffer from posting claims about ballot fraud on RNC accounts, the email shows, as attempts by Donald Trump and his associates to challenge results in a number of states, such as Arizona and Pennsylvania, intensified.

“What Rudy and Jenna are doing is a joke and they are getting laughed out of court,” Riemer, a longtime Republican lawyer, wrote to Liz Harrington, a former party spokeswoman, on Nov. 28, referring to Trump attorneys Rudolph W. Giuliani and Jenna Ellis. “They are misleading millions of people who have wishful thinking that the president is going to somehow win this thing.”

The email from Riemer to Harrington, which came about six weeks before a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, shows key figures in the party were privately disturbed by the false claims being made about the election by Trump and his supporters — even if they did not say so publicly.

rnc logorudy giuliani recentRiemer said Ellis and Giuliani, left, were damaging a broader Republican Party push on “election integrity” issues, according to the email. Riemer had led the party’s legal efforts for months ahead of and after the November election, particularly limiting the expansion of mail-in ballots. But Riemer was skeptical internally of some of the most conspiratorial theories and did not believe many of the claims from Giuliani and others about fraud, according to people who talked to Reimer and, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.

Some Trump allies, including Giuliani, sought to have Riemer fired after learning of the email, according to people familiar with the matter, but he remains employed at the RNC.

“I led the RNC legal team in over 55 lawsuits on behalf of the President’s reelection, winning a majority of them, including the only successful post-election lawsuit. Any suggestion that I did not support President Trump or do everything in my power to support the RNC’s efforts to reelect President Trump is false,” Riemer said in a statement. “I will say publicly now what I then said privately: I take issue with individuals who brought lawsuits that did not serve President Trump well and did not give him the best chance in court.”

Harrington, who is now a spokeswoman for Trump, continued to push voter-fraud allegations and left the RNC at the end of 2020. As the former president’s spokeswoman, she continues to post false claims of election fraud on social media and helps draft and disseminate the former president’s false claims about the election.

“The only thing that’s a joke is the idea that Joe Biden got 81 million votes,” Harrington said when asked about Riemer’s email on Monday afternoon.

ronna mcdaniel djt CustomIn recent weeks, some Trump allies have targeted the RNC and its chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, left, arguing they did not do enough in the aftermath of the Nov. 3 election to help Trump overturn the results. Ellis has led many of the attacks, tweeting “#RonnaMustGo.”

Conservative nonprofit group challenging election results around the country has tie to Trump legal adviser Jenna Ellis

Ellis and Giuliani were brought in by Trump to handle his election challenges within two weeks of the election, amid his growing dissatisfaction with his traditional legal team. Many of those lawyers stepped back in mid-November, when Trump appointed Giuliani and others to take charge. But Giuliani and Ellis were also unable to overturn the results, and Trump has complained about both of them in recent weeks, according to multiple people familiar with the former president’s remarks. Ellis has launched a group on voting, but Trump has not yet backed it publicly.

The RNC has also declined, according to multiple people familiar with the matter, to pay any of Giuliani’s legal bills — a point of contention among some Giuliani associates. “Rudy Giuliani has never worked for the RNC and he has never acted at our direction,” a party spokeswoman said.

ny times logoNew York Times, As Republicans Take Aim at Voting, Democrats Search for a Response, Michael Wines, July 13, 2021 (print ed.). A speech by President Biden on Tuesday could be a signal of how hard the Democrats will fight to protect voting rights.

 

GOP Opposition To Vaccines

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: GOP anti-vaxxers are sacrificing citizens’ lives for political gain, Michael Gerson (right, former chief speechwriter for GOP President George W. Bush), July 13, 2021 (print ed.). michael gerson file photoHere is perhaps the most important medical and political fact of our time: 99.5 percent of all covid-19-related deaths in the United States occur among unvaccinated people; 0.5 percent of covid deaths occur among vaccinated people. If you tell people not to be vaccinated, you add to the former category.

In this light, the recent outbreak of applause at the Conservative Political Action Conference for the United States’ failure to meet its vaccination target was macabre. Here were political activists — many of whom would call themselves “pro-life” — cheering for the advance of death. How did we get to such a strange, desperate place?

I don’t want to discount the possibility that some people are just badly misinformed. They think the vaccines come with itsy-bitsy tracking chips, or make you magnetic, or render you infertile — all of which are pure rubbish. Ignorance is a form of moral mitigation, but it is still, well, ignorance.

There are also some who oppose vaccination out of a tragically misapplied libertarianism. They somehow think the defense of freedom requires the rejection of sound medical advice from the government. They seek a rarefied form of liberation — liberation from rational rules, from prudent precautions, from scientific reality and from moral responsibility for their neighbors’ well-being. This is the degraded version of a proud tradition: Live free and let someone else die.

But others in conservative media and elected office must know precisely what they’re doing. They’re rational enough to recognize the timeline the rest of us inhabit, on which we desperately needed miraculous vaccines, miraculously got them and expeditiously distributed them to the willing.

fox news logo SmallIn the case of Fox News celebrities in particular, they must know that discouraging vaccination — by exaggerating risks, highlighting unproven alternative therapies and normalizing anti-vaccine voices — will result in additional, unnecessary deaths. This is hard to get my head around. If someone were to pay me as a columnist to argue that cigarette smoking is healthy for children, or to encourage teenagers to take naps on railroad tracks after underage drinking, I don’t think I could make an ethical case for accepting the deal. Should it matter if I belonged to a news network where producing child smokers and trisected teens were institutional policies? Or if one-half of a major political party endorsed such goals? I don’t see why.

For years, I’ve been saying to myself that GOP politics can’t go lower. I am perpetually wrong. Americans should never forget this moment — or let guilty Republicans forget it. When Republican activists cheered for death at CPAC, they were cheering for disproportionately Republican deaths. When elected Republicans feed doubts about safe, effective vaccines, they are making it more physically dangerous to be a Republican in America.

July 9

washington post logoWashington Post, Constitutional lawyers call Trump’s First Amendment defense against Jan. 6 lawsuits ‘spurious,’ Spencer S. Hsu, July 9, 2021. Committee investigating Jan. 6 Capitol attack will hold first hearing later this month.

Former president Donald Trump’s claim that the First Amendment shields his conduct leading up to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot is legally “spurious” and should be rejected as a federal court considers lawsuits that allege he incited the violence, four prominent First Amendment lawyers and scholars argued Thursday.

Targeting a key defense raised by lawyers for Trump and co-defendants including Rudolph W. Giuliani and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), the legal experts said that courts have long recognized that speech central to a crime — such as the political intimidation of voters, lawmakers and government officials — is barred and not protected by the Constitution.

In a 23-page proposed friend-of-the-court brief filed Thursday in a case brought by members of Congress and Capitol police, the legal scholars argued that courts must strike a balance between protecting freedom of political speech and preventing political intimidation.

“Granting constitutional protection to the statutorily proscribed acts of political intimidation in the guise of ‘speech’ would render the government incapable of carrying out its functions, including its core democratic function of protecting the ability of all eligible citizens to engage freely and without coercion in the democratic process, whether by voting or by supporting and advocating for candidates,” the scholars wrote.

The four signers were First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams, who has fought several precedent-making cases in court, Berkeley law school dean Erwin Chemerinsky, former Harvard Law School dean Martha Minow and noted constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe.

Swalwell, a former House impeachment manager, argued the Trump speakers “all conspired with … each other, and others to subvert the will of the people in the 2020 election.” Swalwell’s suit said the defendants violated the Reconstruction-era Ku Klux Klan Act, which was passed to prohibit violent interference in Congress’s constitutional duties such as the Klan’s reign of terror to disenfranchise Black citizens and White supporters after the Civil War.

Now part of a civil rights statute known as “Section 1985,” the law authorizes lawsuits against people who conspire to interfere with government, obstruct justice or deprive others of equal protection under the law, such as by threatening voters, candidates, or the courts.

Rep. Eric Swalwell sues Trump over Jan. 6 riot, alleging he poses risk of ‘inciting future political violence’

The First Amendment scholars noted in their brief that courts historically have defended inflammatory political speech absent evidence that it incited imminent lawless action, or that a speaker seriously intended a “true threat” of violence — lines they argue Trump’s statements almost certainly crossed.

However, relying on such grounds could result in weakening First Amendment protections, while simultaneously “devastating” enforcement if courts interpret political intimidation laws as requiring proof of perpetrators’ intent, they wrote. Rather than apply those First Amendment tests with potentially harmful and unintended consequences to democracy, it would be better to shore up political-intimidation laws, they said, since many modern forms of intimidation do not involve threats of imminent violence but coercion of voters and elections officials.

“Although the January 6 insurrection may be the most spectacular example of incitement and ‘true threat’ in American history, modern political intimidation often takes subtler forms …,” the constitutional scholars wrote, such as “aggressive poll-watching, anonymous threats of harm, frivolous and excessive voter registration challenges, and coercion by employers,” as well as baseless threats of legal harm.

Carving out a “categorical” exception from the First Amendment for speech integral to political intimidation, they concluded, “also will preserve the efficacy of the political-intimidation statutes on which the health of our democracy depends.”

Before Trump’s impeachment acquittal in February, three of the four who wrote the amicus brief signed on to letters joined by more than 100 constitutional scholars earlier this year agreeing that the First Amendment did not prevent the Senate from convicting and disqualifying him from holding future office.

Read Rep. Swalwell’s opposition to Trump, Giuliani motions to dismiss here

In a separate filing, lawyers for Swalwell raised similar arguments, warning that Trump’s legal interpretation would weaken civil rights laws “beyond recognition,” adding that the former president was not “petitioning the government for redress,” but “unleash[ing] a violent mob at the Capitol to prevent Congress from carrying out its constitutional duties.”

Trump and others conspired “through a months-long campaign of lies and deceit that culminated in violence-laced calls to save a country they claimed was being stolen,” knowing the propensity of some listeners to engage in violence, that Trump approved of such violence and had pressured election officials and Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the results, attorneys wrote.

They concluded, “And when hordes of Trump’s supporters did just that, Donald Trump reportedly was happy with the result.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s growing hatred of Ron DeSantis could derail his 2022 reelection chances in Florida, Bill Palmer, July 9, 2021. Large chunks of the mainstream media have spent the first half of 2021 trying to build up Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as some kind of frontrunner for President in 2024. It’s not clear that DeSantis actually has any such prospects. But he’s incompetent and corrupt and assholish, and that means the media can scare people into staying tuned in by pushing the notion that DeSantis is inevitable.

ron desantis oPalmer Report predicted that because of this early media attention and the scrutiny that comes with it, DeSantis,right, would end up melting under the spotlight long before 2024. Sure enough, DeSantis is running into trouble already, thanks to – and we should have seen this part coming – Donald Trump.

bill palmer report logo headerDespite his toxically low favorability rating, lack of social media presence, and advancing criminal investigations, Trump is surely still fantasizing about running for President again in 2024. Because the media has moved on from pretending that Trump is the 2024 frontrunner, and is now pretending that Ron DeSantis is the 2024 frontrunner, it turns out Trump is enraged at him.

Vanity Fair says that Trump now “f—ing hates” DeSantis – and we all know how this is likely to play out from here. (Vanity Fair, “There’s Going to Be a Blowup”: Trump and DeSantis Are on a Collision Course, Gabriel Sherman.) ,Trump inevitably ends up lashing out at and sabotaging anyone he sees as a threat, even if that person is a loyalist.

Here’s the interesting part about where this is headed. New York has begun issuing criminal indictments against the Trump Organization, with a grand jury that’s empaneled for another four and a half months. This points to Donald Trump himself being indicted sometime in late 2021, with his criminal trial taking place in perhaps mid to late 2022.

In other words, just as Donald Trump will finally be facing the prospect of being sentenced to prison, and his entire life is unraveling, Ron DeSantis will be up for reelection. DeSantis is already facing two solid Democratic challengers, in the form of Nikki Fried and Charlie Crist.

Given that DeSantis only won the race for Governor of Florida by 0.4 points in 2018 to begin with, he’s already vulnerable. Now he’s got his would-be biggest ally Donald Trump, a guy he shares a largely overlapping support base with, jealous of him and sniping at him. That sniping will only get worse as Trump’s life continues to be further dismantled. DeSantis has a real problem here.

July 8

Proof via Substack, Investigation: Sgnificant New Evidence Emerges That the Arizona "Audit" Now Aimed at Discrediting the 2020 Election May Be a Criminal Conspiracy Born in Florida and Involving seth abramson graphicDonald Trump, Seth Abramson, left, July 7, 2021. New information about the Cyber Ninjas' connections to the Florida Republican Party quickly produces a chain of evidence that leads directly to the former President of the United States.

No less an august journalistic body than the Associated Press has asked whether the mysterious firm now running an “audit” of the 2020 presidential election in Arizona— the Cyber Ninjas, a firm run by Doug Logan—might be little more than “grifters.”

According to the AP, before its hire by Arizona’s Republican state senate president Karen Fann, Cyber Ninjas
…had not placed a formal bid for the [Arizona] contract and had no experience with election audits. Senate President Karen Fann says she can’t recall how she found the firm.

seth abramson proof logoWhat the Associated Press appears to get wrong, however, is its diagnosis of how Fann came to select Logan and his firm, with the news agency writing that “Cyber Ninjas’ chief ap logoexecutive officer [Logan] had tweeted support for conspiracy theories claiming Republican Donald Trump, and not Democrat Joe Biden, had won Maricopa County and Arizona.” While this is true, and important, Logan being a far-right conspiracy theorist doesn’t explain how he came onto Fann’s radar—simply that, once he did, he cut a likely figure as someone willing to aid Donald Trump in discrediting the 2020 presidential election at any cost.

What Proof can now report is the apparent means by which Fann found Logan—a wild story that leads directly to the doorstep of Trump himself. It’s a story, too, that is far more than merely academic, for as many media outlets have noted, if Logan and his firm can cast further doubt on the 2020 election in the minds of Trump voters, it could light a fire under Trump’s domestic insurgency while also leading to a) even louder calls for Trump to be (illegally) “reinstated” as president—as has been proposed by former Trump legal adviser Sidney Powell, top Trump ally Michael Lindell, former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn, and even Trump himself—and b) an outbreak of partisan, fraudulent post-election “audits” in states Trump lost.

If these audits turn out the way Trump wants them to—and in the case of the Arizona audit, may well have engineered it to in advance—the result could be chaos across America.  

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

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

AZ Central / Arizona Republic, Did Trump and his allies interfere with the Maricopa County election? Secretary of State Katie Hobbs wants an inquiry, Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, July 8, 2021 (print ed.). Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs on Wednesday asked Attorney General Mark Brnovich to open a criminal investigation into possible efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to influence Maricopa County supervisors as the ballots were still being tallied.

Hobbs said some of the communications “involve clear efforts to induce supervisors to refuse to comply with their duties,” which could violate Arizona law. She cited The Arizona Republic’s reporting last week on text messages and voicemails from the White House, Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward to the Republican members of the Board of Supervisors.

“The reporting also includes firsthand statements from the victims of this potential crime,” Hobbs said. She cited at least one potential felony charge under Arizona law.

Brnovich did not immediately comment on Hobbs’ request, which was emailed directly to the attorney general shortly after 1 p.m.

Late Wednesday, Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., called on U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to examine the possibility of "an extremely serious crime" in what Gallago called a "pressure campaign" exerted by the Trump campaign and party officials.

Their efforts "reflect a disturbing trend following the 2020 election of Trump advisors and allies, and even former President Trump himself, committing potential crimes to overturn the election," Gallego wrote.

The U.S. Justice Department did not have an immediate response earlier Wednesday when asked whether it might look into the matter.

The request for a legal review is freighted with political overtones.

Hobbs, a Democrat, is running for governor next year. She created a national profile for defending Arizona’s election administration efforts when November presidential election results were among the closest in the country. Arizona was spotlighted by Trump and his allies as they promoted the false narrative of a stolen election.

Brnovich, a Republican, is running for the U.S. Senate next year. Trump has criticized Brnovich for not supporting the state Senate’s ongoing ballot review. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an Arizona law Brnovich defended that makes voting more difficult, something he has cast as part of his commitment to preserving election integrity.

Now, he has been asked to investigate Trump and his GOP allies on that very issue.

The Guardian, Trump told chief of staff Hitler ‘did a lot of good things’, book says, Martin Pengelly, July 8, 2021 (print ed.). Remark shocked John Kelly, author Michael Bender reports. Book details former president’s ‘stunning disregard for history.’

john kelly o dhsOn a visit to Europe to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the first world war, Donald Trump insisted to his then chief of staff, John Kelly: “Well, Hitler did a lot of good things.”

The remark from the former US president on the 2018 trip, which reportedly “stunned” Kelly, left, a retired US Marine Corps general, is reported in a new book by Michael Bender of the Wall Street Journal.

Frankly, We Did Win This Election has been widely trailed ahead of publication next week. The Guardian obtained a copy.

Bender reports that Trump made the remark during an impromptu history lesson in which Kelly “reminded the president which countries were on which side during the conflict” and “connected the dots from the first world war to the second world war and all of Hitler’s atrocities”.

Bender is one of a number of authors to have interviewed Trump since he was ejected from power.

In a statement a Trump spokesperson, Liz Harrington, said: “This is totally false. President Trump never said this. It is made-up fake news, probably by a general who was incompetent and was fired.”

But Bender says unnamed sources reported that Kelly “told the president that he was wrong, but Trump was undeterred”, emphasizing German economic recovery under Hitler during the 1930s.

“Kelly pushed back again,” Bender writes, “and argued that the German people would have been better off poor than subjected to the Nazi genocide.”

Bender adds that Kelly told Trump that even if his claim about the German economy under the Nazis after 1933 were true, “you cannot ever say anything supportive of Adolf Hitler. You just can’t.”

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Fascist leaders deserve the most extreme punishment available, Wayne Madsen, July 7-8, 2021. Wayne Madsen, left, is a syndicated columnist, the author of 20 wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallbooks, including two about Donald Trump, and is a former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst.

Donald Trump's January 6 attempt to overthrow the constitutional government of the United States continues to play out in state capitals around the nation as his fascist forces wayne madsen cafe vaterlandundermine the democratic electoral process and purge disloyal leaders of the Republican Party from its ranks.

There is little wonder in the revelation in a revelatory book by Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender that Trump, on a 2017 trip to France to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, told White House chief of staff John Kelly that "Hitler did a lot of good things.”

This editor's novel, Café Vaterland, deals with the Ku Klux Klan and pro-Nazi German-American Bund activities of Trump's father, Fred Trump, prior to and after the outbreak of World War II. Donald Trump's fascination for Hitler can be directly linked to his father's Nazi sympathies.

Trump should be tried by a military commission in the same manner that the co-conspirators of John Wilkes Booth were dealt with in Washington, DC after Booth's assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

The Hitler-praising Trump is no mere insurrectionist. His obvious links to foreign actors in overthrowing the constitutional government of the United States are no different than the activities of various fascist puppet rulers in Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II. It is a useful reminder to consider how these fascist puppets were dealt with after the German surrender in 1945.

Vanity Fair, “There’s Going to Be a Blowup”: Trump and DeSantis Are on a Collision Course, Gabriel Sherman, July 8, 2021. Trump and DeSantis Are on a Collision Course.In public it’s all smiles, but behind the scenes, Republicans are already preparing themselves for a showdown between former president Donald Trump and Florida governor Ron DeSantis.

Florida is the gravitational center of Donald Trump’s MAGA-ified Republican Party, so it’s not surprising that the Sunshine State’s pugnacious Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, right,wants to be Trump’s ron desantis orightful heir. Since his 2018 election, DeSantis has thrilled the GOP base by governing like a mini Trump. He defied public health guidelines during the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic last year and kept Florida virtually free of a statewide lockdown. In May he perpetuated Trump’s 2020 election lie and signed a restrictive voting rights bill live on Fox News. And last month he dispatched Florida law enforcement agents to Texas to “secure [the] southern border.” According to one recent conservative poll, DeSantis beat Trump with a 74% approval rating (Trump scored 71%).

djt maga hatBut in the wake of the Surfside condo collapse, DeSantis’s claim to the MAGA mantle is facing its biggest test, with DeSantis putting management of the tragedy ahead of Trump’s need for blind loyalty.

On June 30, the conservative Washington Examiner reported that DeSantis’s team was furious that Trump intended to hold a MAGA rally in Florida while the search for survivors continued (DeSantis didn’t attend the rally). On July 1, DeSantis appeared alongside President Joe Biden and praised him for the federal government’s response to the tragedy. (The moment recalled the greeting between New Jersey governor Chris Christie and Barack Obama after Hurricane Sandy.)

In recent days I spoke with a half dozen GOP insiders about the recent flare-ups between DeSantis’s and Trump’s camps. The sources agreed that DeSantis and Trump are on an inevitable collision course as the 2024 GOP field takes shape. “There’s going to be a blowup,” a prominent Republican said. “Trump fucking hates DeSantis. He just resents his popularity,” a Trump confidant told me. Asked for comment, Trump spokesperson Liz Harrington said: “Governor DeSantis has shown great respect.”

DeSantis needs to walk a tightrope as he seeks to position himself for a 2024 run. According to a source, DeSantis has told donors that he won’t openly campaign in Iowa or New Hampshire before his 2022 Florida reelection campaign. But he’s clearly in a strong position. “Heading into 2024, DeSantis is primed to push Trump off the throne,” former Trump adviser Sam Nunberg told me. “Trump surely sees this coming and will ultimately offer Governor DeSantis a joint ticket.”

 July 7

The Guardian, Trump told chief of staff Hitler ‘did a lot of good things’, book says, Martin Pengelly, July 7, 2021. Remark shocked John Kelly, author Michael Bender reports. Book details former president’s ‘stunning disregard for history.’

On a visit to Europe to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the first world war, Donald Trump insisted to his then chief of staff, John Kelly: “Well, Hitler did a lot of good things.”

The remark from the former US president on the 2018 trip, which reportedly “stunned” Kelly, a retired US Marine Corps general, is reported in a new book by Michael Bender of the Wall Street Journal.

Frankly, We Did Win This Election has been widely trailed ahead of publication next week. The Guardian obtained a copy.

Bender reports that Trump made the remark during an impromptu history lesson in which Kelly “reminded the president which countries were on which side during the conflict” and “connected the dots from the first world war to the second world war and all of Hitler’s atrocities”.

Bender is one of a number of authors to have interviewed Trump since he was ejected from power.

In a statement a Trump spokesperson, Liz Harrington, said: “This is totally false. President Trump never said this. It is made-up fake news, probably by a general who was incompetent and was fired.”

But Bender says unnamed sources reported that Kelly “told the president that he was wrong, but Trump was undeterred”, emphasizing German economic recovery under Hitler during the 1930s.

“Kelly pushed back again,” Bender writes, “and argued that the German people would have been better off poor than subjected to the Nazi genocide.”

Bender adds that Kelly told Trump that even if his claim about the German economy under the Nazis after 1933 were true, “you cannot ever say anything supportive of Adolf Hitler. You just can’t.”

djt michael cohenPalmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s “nine lives have expired,” Bill Palmer, right, July 7, 2021. If you ask the defeatists why they think Donald Trump will “get away bill palmerwith it all” in the New York criminal probe, their answer is usually the same: “he’s always gotten away with it all.”

This is factually untrue; over the past several months he’s lost the presidency, lost his Twitter account, his financial house of cards is in real trouble, and he’s found himself on track to face criminal indictment for the first time in his life. But because none of these are definitive punishments, it’s understandable that some defeatists see him as incapable of being toppled.

bill palmer report logo headerHere’s the thing, though. The only reason Donald Trump escaped criminal punishment the previous four years was that he had the protections of the presidency in his pocket. He controlled the federal prosecutors who wanted to bring him justice. And even if states had indicted him, they likely couldn’t have physically arrested him anyway. But that’s all changed now.

Donald Trump is once again doing his usual stupid, spiteful thing of cutting off his top lieutenants once they get into legal trouble for doing his criminal bidding. He’s done this to people like Michael Cohen and gotten away with it because he was President at the time. But now Trump is doing it to Rudy Giuliani, a guy who also appears to know a ton of Trump’s dirty secrets. Someone on Twitter asked Cohen, above left, why Trump is doing this.

Michael Cohen’s response: “Because Trump doesn’t think past his nose and has never had to take responsibility for any of his dirty deeds. Thus, no fear of Rudy. Plus, Rudy is as batshit crazy as Donald. Rest assured, Donald’s 9 lives have expired!”

 

U.S. Law, Courts, Crime  

washington post logoWashington Post, Rep. Mo Brooks says he can’t be sued for inciting Capitol riot, because he is a federal employee, Spencer S. Hsu, July 7, 2021 (print ed.). The Alabama Republican said he acted as member of Congress in a fiery speech on Jan. 6 urging the overturning of presidential election results.

mo brooks oRep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), right, has asked to be dismissed from a federal lawsuit alleging that he incited the Jan. 6 mob assault on the U.S. Capitol, claiming that he can’t be held liable because he was acting as a federal employee while challenging the 2020 election results in a fiery speech just before the riot began.

Brooks said in a motion Friday that he should be dropped as a defendant or represented by the Justice Department in the case, filed March 5 by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.).

The lawsuit names former president Donald Trump, Brooks, Donald Trump Jr. and Rudolph W. Giuliani and seeks damages in connection with their statements to a crowd near the White House that the former president told to march to the Capitol.

“Today is the day American patriots start taking down names,” Brooks said, echoing Trump’s unfounded claims that the election was rigged. Brooks told people in the crowd that they were victims of a historic theft and asked whether they were ready to sacrifice their lives for their country.

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta in Washington on Monday directed the Justice Department and Swalwell to respond to Brooks’s claims. The judge also dismissed without prejudice Swalwell’s request that the court enter a default judgment against Brooks, who had previously failed to meet a deadline to respond to the suit.

In his filing Friday, Brooks invoked a 1988 law that protects federal employees from personal liability while acting within the scope of their office or employment. He argued that his speech, tweets and related conduct “were indisputably made in the context of and preparation for” a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6 to confirm the results of the presidential election. Trump has asked the judge to dismiss the case on similar grounds, claiming that as president he has absolute immunity from lawsuits over his official actions and was free to urge Congress to take actions favorable to him in its electoral count.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump friend and golfing partner charged with misdemeanor indecent assault, David A. Fahrenthold, July 7, 2021 (print ed.). A friend and golfing partner of former president Donald Trump — who gained notoriety for using that friendship to lobby Trump’s administration — was charged with indecent assault last week in Pennsylvania on allegations he groped one of his dental patients, according to court documents.

Albert Hazzouri Jr., a 65-year-old dentist from Scranton, Pa., is best known for a 2017 note he wrote Trump, using stationery from Trump’s own Mar-a-Lago Club, to push a proposal for an oversight committee on dental spending.

The note, which addressed Trump as “Dear King,” came to symbolize the way that Trump blended business with government, giving his customers and friends an audience to lobby for their private causes.

In charging documents filed last week, police said Hazzouri had groped a female patient after a dental procedure in May.  In an affidavit, Scranton Police Detective Dina Albanesi wrote that Hazzouri offered to walk the woman to her car. Then — when the two were in a stairwell — Hazzouri allegedly told the patient to “get on his back.”

The woman told him no, police said. “Hazzouri backed up into her, wrapped his hands around her and grabbed her buttocks and squeezed them,” Albanesi wrote. At the bottom of the stairs, she wrote, Hazzouri also grabbed the woman’s breasts and groin.

The woman went to police headquarters the same day, according to a police affidavit. Albanesi had the woman call Hazzouri on a recorded line. “He stated it was a mistake and [he] didn’t realize he did it until after it was over,” the detective wrote. “He apologized and offered her free dental needs as long as she lives.”

The three misdemeanor charges against Hazzouri each carry a penalty of up to two years in prison, or up to a $5,000 fine. He was released on $75,000 bail, according to court records, and his next hearing is July 20. The charges against Hazzouri were first reported by the Times-Tribune newspaper in Scranton.

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.

Law&Crime, Michigan Judge Refuses to Allow Sidney Powell, Lin Wood, and Other ‘Kraken’ Attorneys to Skip Sanctions Hearing, Adam Klasfeld, July 7, 2021. Right-wing attorneys Sidney Powell and Lin Wood at the so-called Stop the Steal rally.

Mere hours after lawyers for the so-called “Kraken” litigation to overturn the 2020 presidential election asked to skip attending an upcoming sanctions hearing, a federal judge in Michigan refused to budge from her earlier order.

Those “Kraken” lawyers must personally attend those proceedings via Zoom.

One of the most visible efforts to torpedo the 2020 presidential election results, the “Kraken” team is the name given by pro-Donald Trump lawyer Sidney Powell to lawsuits meant to overturn President Joe Biden’s victories in Michigan, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Georgia. The emphatic failure of that heady and multi-armed legal offensive has left a hangover—with potential serious consequences—for every lawyer who participated in it. The State of Michigan and the City of Detroit have requested heavy sanctions for the “Kraken” lawyers, up to their referral for disbarment proceedings.

Scheduling a hearing to consider those motions, U.S. District Judge Linda Parker wrote a terse order last month: “Each attorney whose name appears on any of Plaintiffs’ pleadings or briefs shall be present at the motions hearing.”

Originally scheduled for last week, Judge Parker pushed the hearing back two weeks to accommodate the July 4th vacation plans of one of the lawyers, Stefanie Junttila. After Junttila won that brief allowance, her colleagues Powell, Lin Wood, Scott Hagerstrom, Julia Haller, Brandon Johnson, Howard Kleinhendler, and Gregory Rohl sought to avoid appearing entirely, other than through their lawyer.

“Since the Court entered that order, however, Movants retained counsel,” their lawyer Donald Campbell wrote in a motion on Wednesday. “They therefore ask the Court to indicate whether they may appear via counsel.”

Judge Parker rejected the request without fanfare hours later via in a minute order which proclaimed the request was “DENIED.”

In December, Judge Parker was similarly straightforward in rejecting those lawyers’ requests to overturn the election results in Michigan.

“Plaintiffs ask this court to ignore the orderly statutory scheme established to challenge elections and to ignore the will of millions of voters,” she wrote in a ruling late last year. “This, the Court cannot, and will not, do.”

“The People have spoken,” she added.

At the heart of the Michigan “Kraken” lawsuit—filed in the names of six Michigan residents, led by Timothy King—was an idea that the judge found antagonistic to the nation’s democratic experiment. The lawsuit, King v. Whitmer, took the names of that plaintiff resident and of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D).

“The right to vote is among the most sacred rights of our democracy and, in turn, uniquely defines us as Americans,” Parker’s 36-page opinion stated. “The struggle to achieve the right to vote is one that has been both hard fought and cherished throughout our country’s history. Local, state, and federal elections give voice to this right through the ballot. And elections that count each vote celebrate and secure this cherished right.”

Detroit’s lawyer David Fink accused lawyers for the “Kraken” team of “lies,” “unhinged conspiracy theories,” and “fraud on the court.”

The “Kraken” in strict parlance is a mythical, octopus-like monster. It received the Hollywood treatment in various iterations over the years under the name “Clash of the Titans.” The creature was quickly slain in the movies — and in the courts.

The sanctions hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday, July 13.

July 5

washington post logoWashington Post, On path to 2022, GOP candidates center pitches on Trump’s false election claims, Amy Gardner, July 5, 2021 (print. ed.). Across the country, Republican contenders at every level are echoing fraud claims as the 2020 election becomes a central issue for the 2022 midterm elections.

djt melania epstein maxwell headshot

From left: American real estate developer Donald Trump and his girlfriend (and future wife), former model Melania Knauss, financier (and future convicted sex offender) Jeffrey Epstein, and British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell pose together at the Mar-a-Lago club, Palm Beach, Florida, February 12, 2000. Getty Images.

Business Insider, Trump took a 'sudden interest' in Ghislaine Maxwell when discussing who to pardon, according to a new book, Thomas Colson, July 5, 2021. Donald Trump took a "sudden interest" in Ghislaine Maxwell's case as he was considering who to pardon in the final week of his presidency, journalist Michael Wolff alleges in a new book.

Maxwell, a close associate of Jeffrey Epstein, is awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges, to which she has pleaded not guilty. Epstein died in jail last year while he was awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.

According to Wolff's new book Landslide— his second detailing the Trump presidency — the former president's attention turned to Maxwell and her case as he looked for potential candidates for a presidential pardon, according to an extract published by the Times of London.

michael wolff folded armsAccording to Wolff, right, Trump was "bored" by the "process and details" of pardoning individuals but was determined to use the executive power granted to presidents before he departed the White House.

Wolff said he would frequently interrupt conversations to ask: "Why do you think should be pardoned? Give me one person — who's your top pick?"

Of Maxwell, he asked "Has she said anything about me?" according to the book. Wolff reports that he added: "Is she going to talk? Will she roll on anybody?"

The former president also considered giving himself a federal pardon, telling aides that "they say I can. Unlimited pardon power," but was dissuaded from doing so due to the risk of triggering individual states to pursue prosecutions, Wolff alleges.Trump socialized with Maxwell on at least one occasion in 2000, when he was photographed with his wife Melania as well as Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein. He sent her well-wishes in July last year after she was arrested and did so again the following month.

When asked "why you would wish such a person well" by Axios reporter Jonathan Swan, Trump replied: "She's now in jail, so yeah, I wish her well. I would wish you well. I would wish a lot of people well. Good luck. Let them prove somebody was guilty."

Trump ultimately did not pardon Maxwell. His former chief strategist Steve Bannon and the rapper Lil Wayne were among those he did pardon.

ny times logoNew York Times, Talk: Rep. Adam Kinzinger on the Big Lie, Interview by David Marchese, July 5, 2021 (print ed.). “If you’re scared to tell the truth to people, I understand, but you need to find a different line of work.”

adam kinzinger twitterSince the horrifying events at the Capitol on Jan. 6, Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, right, has been a consistent, if lonely, Republican voice speaking out against the big lie that the presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump.

After the sidelining of Representative Liz Cheney from leadership, Kinzinger, a 43-year-old Air Force veteran who was first elected to the House in 2010, was further entrenched as one of the most influential sitting Republican politicians willing to regularly and publicly denounce that dangerous fiction.

Inhabiting that position is just about the last thing Kinzinger ever imagined his job would entail. “I made the decision early in my career that I would be willing to take a potentially career-ending vote,” says Kinzinger, one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for inciting the attempted insurrection. “But I thought that vote would be for something like a Social Security reform bill. I never thought it would be for defending democracy.”

How does it feel to have your job these days? I could imagine there’s an even greater sense of purpose. I could also imagine it being demoralizing.

You pretty much nailed it. The job has changed because there is so much mistrust. Both within the party and between parties. But yes, there is a sense of aggressive purpose. On the one hand, it’s important for me to do what I’m doing and to speak out. On the other hand, you look around since the election and not many more people have joined me in speaking out about the big lie, and that is a little discouraging.

Have you had any meaningful communication with party leadership — Kevin McCarthy, Elise Stefanik, Steve Scalise — since Liz Cheney was voted out of her position? In May, House Republicans voted to remove Cheney, who pushed back against Trump’s claims of a stolen election, from her position as conference chair. She had been the party’s third-highest-ranking member in the House.

No. I haven’t had meaningful communication since Jan. 6. Kevin gave a great speech the week after that, and then he went to Mar-a-Lago and charged the paddles and brought Trump back to life.2

On Jan. 13, McCarthy, the House minority leader, said that Trump “bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters.” On Jan. 28, he met with Trump in Florida — smiling for a posed photo — to discuss Republican strategy for the 2022 midterm elections.

That’s the moment when I realized, Oh, man, this is a problem. You come to understand that when the party and party leaders talk about unity, and in the same breath say that Donald Trump is the leader of the Republican Party, what they’re talking about isn’t unity. They’re talking about capitulation. When under the guise of unity, you act like Jan. 6 was just whatever you want to make of it, that is capitulating to a false narrative and to a dangerous attack on democracy. I will certainly talk to Kevin if he wants to. But I don’t see how we’re ever going to come eye-to-eye on this until there is a recognition that we can’t be the party of insurrection.

djt rudy giuliani headshots Custom

Palmer Report, Commentary: Rudy Giuliani has been marooned by Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, right, July 5, 2021. Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani aren’t bill palmerexactly having a good time of it lately. Trump’s company and CFO were just criminally indicted in New York, in an obvious first step toward indicting Trump himself. Giuliani’s home has been raided by the Feds, and a court appointed special master is turning over his communications to prosecutors. At this point it’s a question of whether Trump or Giuliani is arrested first.

bill palmer report logo headerAs often ends up being the case with a ship where everyone is sinking, it turns out it’s every man for himself on Team Trump. Rudy Giuliani, who appears to be broke, is still trying to get his legal bills paid by Donald Trump. But according to a new expose by Michael Wolff, Trump has cut Rudy off instead.

Trump has a habit of usually cutting off his own henchmen once it’s clear they’re going down for his dirty work. But Trump has made rare exceptions, going out of his way to praise and prop up a handful of his henchmen (Roger Stone, etc), presumably because he thinks they have the goods to take him down.

Rudy Giuliani has always been one of that handful. But with Donald Trump now cutting him off, it suggests that Trump is now facing too many problems of his own to try to keep Rudy afloat. In turn it opens the door to Rudy cutting a plea deal once he’s indicted, and giving up Trump to try to save himself. These two deserve each other.

matt gaetz djt resized amazon public images rally

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican representing the Panhandle region of Florida, has been a fervant supporter of Donald Trump, who reportedly refused Gaetz's request for an open-ended pardon to cover unspecified matters and other associates, according to news reports.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Matt Gaetz is just about out of time, Bill Palmer, right, July 5, 2021. It’s always tricky to try to predict when the target of a long running bill palmercriminal investigation might be indicted – except in instances where prosecutors just flat out say when it’s going to happen. For instance, when New York prosecutors began telling people about the timeframe for the initial Trump Organization indictments and the media printed it, sure enough, it happened in that timeframe. This brings us to Matt Gaetz.

bill palmer report logo headerThe escalating criminal case against Donald Trump and the Trump Organization has deservedly dominated the headlines over the past few weeks. But it’s managed to overshadow the ongoing federal criminal investigation into Matt Gaetz, which has reportedly involved a number of alleged crimes, including underage sex trafficking. Notably, back in mid-June, ABC News reported that if Gaetz is going to be indicted, it was expected to happen in July.

It’s worth pointing out that we’re now five days into July. This means that we’re looking Matt Gaetz being indicted and arrested somewhere between zero and four weeks from now. That’s not a lot of remaining time, given that the criminal investigation has been public knowledge for a few months, and has reportedly been going on behind the scenes since last year.

Matt Gaetz may still be holding out hope that the Feds end up announcing they weren’t able to make a criminal case against him after all. That’s theoretically possible. But given that the Feds have Joel Greenberg and Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend as cooperating witnesses against him, let’s just say that they wouldn’t have been given leniency unless they were able to show that they had something of value on Gaetz.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump Jr. just made things even worse, Shirley Kennedy, July 5, 2021. Huffington Post reported that Don Jr. — who is obviously stupid — is doing damage control, and let’s say it is not going to well.

One can only wonder how bright the Trump boys are when they say such absurd things. The mouth works, and the brain kicks in later. They are not even apologetic about saying stupid things.

As Huff Post reported, Don Jr. admitted his father’s guilt in the pending New York investigation. He admitted that his father paid for private school for Allen Weisselberg’s grandchildren “because he’s a good guy.” No, he was buying Weisselberg’s silence and bill palmer report logo headercooperation.

Don Jr. is either in denial or stupid (or both).

huffington post logoAccording to Huff Post, Ari Melber of MSNBC said that Don Jr. “may have made things worse.” “May?” It sounds more like “definitely.”

According to the indictment filed against Weisselberg and the Trump Organization, that tuition was paid to replace part of Weisselberg’s salary to lower his tax liability. The indictment alleges that the Trump Organization was engaged in a “wide-ranging scheme to defraud the government of taxes” by giving Weisselberg a like kind exchange for a portion of his salary, on which he would have otherwise owed income tax.

The federal prosecutor obviously contradicts Don Jr.’s claim that Trump is just “a good guy” who paid the tuition out of the kindness of his heart. First, Donald Trump does not have a heart. Second, you best believe that anytime Trump gives anyone anything, there is something in it for him. Other than in those instances, Trump keeps his ill-gotten gains for himself and his family.

The most pathetic thing about all of this is that the Trump Organization kept records that detailed these types of payment. If you are doing something you know to be illegal, why in the world would you maintain records on the illegal activity? Are these people really that dense?

Huff Post further details that the Trump Organization’s “questionable compensation schemes” also likely involves his children, to which the other not-so-bright Trump (Eric) responded: “We’ve always lived amazingly clean lives.” There are those who inherit, those who had a great idea and made a lot of money from that idea, and those who grift. The Trumps fall squarely into the latter category. Trump has spent his life opening and bankrupting businesses. We know for a fact that he had paid little or no income taxes over the years. Clean lives my ass.

July 3

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s company cloaked him in gilded fame. Now it faces felony charges, debt and a tainted brand, Jonathan O'Connell, David A. Fahrenthold and Josh Dawsey, July 3, 2021 (print ed.). djt apprenticeDonald Trump’s business brought him international fame, a hit television show (with a graphic parody shown at right) and a presidential résumé. On Thursday, it brought forth an indictment in New York state court that could damage his financial and political future.

The full impact on Trump’s business of the 10 felony counts brought against it by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. (D) — as well as 15 felony counts against his chief financial officer — remains to be seen. The company and CFO Allen Weisselberg pleaded not guilty to all the charges. Trump was not charged in the case.

The indictment comes after nearly six years of his company enduring one blow after another wrought by Trump’s political career. That trajectory began with the loss of merchandising deals during the early days of his first campaign, continued with the loss of branding and management agreements during his presidency and culminated with a wave of partners vowing to no longer do business with him after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

ny times logoNew York Times, In Case Against Trump’s Company, Echoes of His Father’s Tactics on Taxes, Mike McIntire and Russ Buettner, July 3, 2021. The first criminal prosecution involving former President Trump’s business hearkens back to Fred Trump’s $16,135 purchase of boilers in the 1990s.

ny times logoNew York Times, As president, Donald Trump is said to have called an Arizona official who was being pressured to investigate election fraud claims, Michael Wines and Reid J. Epstein, July 3, 2021 (print ed.). President Donald J. Trump twice sought to talk on the phone with the Republican leader of Arizona’s most populous county last winter as the Trump campaign and its allies tried unsuccessfully to reverse Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s narrow victory in the state’s presidential contest, according to the Republican official and records obtained by The Arizona Republic, a Phoenix newspaper.

But the leader, Clint Hickman, then the chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, said in an interview on Friday that he let the calls — made in late December and early January — go to voice mail and did not return them. “I told people, ‘Please don’t have the president call me,’” he said.

At the time, Mr. Hickman was being pressed by the state Republican Party chairwoman and Mr. Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani to investigate claims of fraud in the county’s election, which Mr. Biden had won by about 45,000 votes.

Liz Harrington, a spokeswoman for Mr. Trump, said in a statement that “it’s no surprise Maricopa County election officials had no desire to look into significant irregularities during the election,” though there is no evidence of widespread problems with Arizona’s election. She did not directly address the calls reportedly made by Mr. Trump. Two former campaign aides said they knew nothing about the outreach to the Maricopa County official.

The Arizona Republic obtained the records of the phone calls from Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani after a Freedom of Information Act request.

washington post logoWashington Post, Alleged Oath Keeper arrested in Capitol riot turned over firearm, Spencer S. Hsu, July 3, 2021 (print ed.). Another alleged Oath Keepers associate was arrested Friday in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, accused of joining a “stack formation” of organized members who prosecutors say marched up the east steps and entered the Rotunda in camouflage and tactical gear.

David Moerschel, 43, of Punta Gorda, Fla., was charged by criminal complaint Thursday with three counts, including conspiracy and obstructing Congress. Moerschel joined some defendants who prosecutors allege staged in advance at an Arlington hotel, where they say weapons were stored for a “Quick Reaction Force” site.

His arrest makes him at least the 18th alleged Oath Keeper in a group whose members prosecutors have accused of plotting and communicating in advance to breach the Capitol and disrupt Congress that day.

The FBI in charging papers included several photographs of a person alleged to be Moerschel taken from surveillance, news and other video footage in and around the Capitol that day, as well as the Comfort Inn Ballston.

FBI agents met and identified Moerschel in May and recovered from his attorney on June 14 a long black jacket, black flak vest, duffel bag and rifle case, including a firearm, consistent with clothes he wore and objects he was photographed with in the images, the FBI said.

U Interview, Melania Trump’s Sister, Ines Knauss, Posts Anti-Trump Tweets On Secret Account, Madeline Hoverkamp, July 3, 2021. Melania Trump’s sister, Ines Knauss, has a private Twitter account where she has seemingly reacted to her brother-in-law’s political career – often unfavorably.

Melania’s family is usually private, avoiding the spotlight that Trump’s presidency put them under. However, the 53-year-old Knauss has been active on Twitter, posting and liking tweets critical of the 45th president.

Journalist Ashley Feinberg, who found Knauss’ account, also previously unearthed the secret social media accounts of fired FBI Director James Comey and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah).

Melania Trump Twitter photoKnauss liked tweets that criticized Trump’s impeachment attorney, as well as one that poked fun at the former president’s Twitter account being suspended after the U.S. Capitol riot on January 6.

Though the account is private, Feinberg was “able to get a look at her feed through a third party.”

djt looking upThe existence of Knauss’ private Twitter account was noted before in Mary Jordan’s 2020 book The Art of Her Deal, which details Melania’s journey toward becoming First Lady.

Melania’s sister has shared supportive tweets, as well. She offered her sister and brother-in-law well wishes after they tested positive for COVID-19 in October. Ines’ tweets show that she attempts to support Melania, shown at left; she liked one that read, “We should all congratulate Melania Trump for her successful campaign against cyberbullying.”

The relationship between Ines and her brother-in-law is less clear, though. Along with her history of liking critical tweets, on January 6 she posted a tweet of a conversation with her father, Viktor, which roughly translates to, “Are you watching CNN?” Viktor responded with a heart emoji, saying that he was in fact watching the network.

Family is reportedly incredibly important to Melania. Ines was Melania’s maid of honor at her wedding to Trump. The former First Lady’s parents live with their daughter and grandson Baron now. Melania’s sister and parents are reportedly upset about the fallout from the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and the former president’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

 

July 1

 

 nancy pelosi nbc sept 26 19 impeachment

washington post logoWashington Post, Pelosi names Cheney to select committee investigating Jan. 6 attack, Felicia Sonmez and Marianna Sotomayor, July 1, 2021. The move to form the committee comes more than one month after Senate Republicans blocked an effort to create an independent, bipartisan commission.

liz cheney oHouse Speaker Nancy Pelosi (shown above in a file photo) announced Thursday that Rep. Liz Cheney, right, an outspoken critic of former president Donald Trump, will serve on a select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

Pelosi (D-Calif.) also tapped Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), left, to chair the 13-member panel and announced her other appointments. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who opposed the committee, has repeatedly declined to say whether he plans to appoint members; at a news conference Thursday morning, he dodged questions on the bennie thompson headshotsubject.

Cheney (R-Wyo.) was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for “incitement of insurrection” for the attack that resulted in five deaths , injured some 140 members of law enforcement and was the worst assault on the Capitol in centuries.

The House approved legislation Wednesday establishing the 13-member committee, with all but two Republicans — Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) — opposing the measure.

The move to form the committee comes more than one month after Senate Republicans blocked an effort to create an independent, bipartisan commission.

Addressing reporters after the group held its first meeting Thursday afternoon, Thompson said that the lawmakers selected plan to begin by inviting police officers who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6 to testify at an initial hearing.

“The select committee is determined to assemble a comprehensive and authoritative report on the events constituting the January 6th insurrection, the relevant causes of the insurrection and policy recommendations necessary to prevent any reoccurrence of this nightmare in the future,” Thompson said. “Although we eagerly await the arrival of our five other colleagues, many of us hope to begin the process with a hearing in which Capitol Police officers themselves could be able to testify about their experiences.”

The House approved legislation Wednesday establishing the 13-member committee, with all but two Republicans — Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) — opposing the measure.

The move to form the committee comes more than one month after Senate Republicans blocked an effort to create an independent, bipartisan commission.

Addressing reporters after the group held its first meeting Thursday afternoon, Thompson said that the lawmakers selected plan to begin by inviting police officers who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6 to testify at an initial hearing.

“The select committee is determined to assemble a comprehensive and authoritative report on the events constituting the January 6th insurrection, the relevant causes of the insurrection and policy recommendations necessary to prevent any reoccurrence of this nightmare in the future,” Thompson said. “Although we eagerly await the arrival of our five other colleagues, many of us hope to begin the process with a hearing in which Capitol Police officers themselves could be able to testify about their experiences.”

In addition to Thompson and Cheney, Pelosi announced six other appointees to the panel Thursday: Democratic Reps. Zoe Lofgren (Calif.), Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), Pete Aguilar (Calif.), Stephanie Murphy (Fla.), Jamie B. Raskin (Md.) and Elaine Luria (Va.).

Schiff and Raskin were the lead impeachment managers during Trump’s first and second impeachment trials, respectively; Lofgren also was an impeachment manager.

Pelosi designed the Jan. 6 select committee to have 13 members, five of whom would be appointed “after consultation with” McCarthy. That means she will maintain the power to overrule any McCarthy pick whom Democrats consider objectionable.

“It was our hope that we could have done this with the bipartisan outside commission,” Pelosi said at a news conference Thursday morning. “Maybe one day that will be possible. … But I’m very proud. And, as I say, decisions are liberating. They enable you to go to the next step. And the next step for us has always been to seek and find the truth.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Day of Rage: An Investigation of How a Mob Stormed the Capitol, Staff Report, July 1, 2021 (print ed.). (video). We spent six months reviewing thousands of videos to reconstruct the most complete picture of the Capitol riot, finding at least eight places where rioters broke in. Our 40-minute visual investigation maps out what else happened — and why. Watch it here, and scan through some of our key findings.

In the six months since an angry pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, immense efforts have been made not only to find the rioters and hold them accountable, but also — and perhaps more important — to dig into the details of Jan. 6 and slowly piece together what actually happened that day.

Congressional committees have looked into police and intelligence failures. The Justice Department has launched a nationwide investigation that has now resulted in more than 500 arrests. And while Republicans in Congress blocked the formation of a blue-ribbon bipartisan committee, House Democrats are poised to appoint a smaller select committee.

Even now, however, Republican politicians and their allies in the media are still playing down the most brazen attack on a seat of power in modern American history. Some have sought to paint the assault as the work of mere tourists. Others, going further, have accused the F.B.I. of planning the attack in what they have described — wildly — as a false-flag operation.

The work of understanding Jan. 6 has been hard enough without this barrage of disinformation and, hoping to get to the bottom of the riot, The Times’s Visual Investigations team spent several months reviewing thousands of videos, many filmed by the rioters themselves and since deleted from social media. We filed motions to unseal police body-camera footage, scoured law enforcement radio communications, and synchronized and mapped the visual evidence.

What we have come up with is a 40-minute panoramic take on Jan. 6, the most complete visual depiction of the Capitol riot to date. In putting it together, we gained critical insights into the character and motivation of rioters by experiencing the events of the day often through their own words and video recordings. We found evidence of members of extremist groups inciting others to riot and assault police officers. And we learned how Donald J. Trump’s own words resonated with the mob in real time as they staged the attack.

Here are some of the major revelations: 

  • Multiple Points of Attack
  • A Delay Turns Deadly
  • The Makeup of the Mob

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump went to the border to attack Biden — but he mainly talked about himself, Tyler Pager, July 1, 2021 (print ed.).  The former president did not fully ignore the issue of immigration during djt hands up mouth open Customhis trip to the U.S.-Mexico border — he just mainly focused on himself.

Former president Donald Trump traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border here Wednesday for a trip billed as an opportunity to assail President Biden on immigration — an issue core to Trump's political identity and one Republicans view as a weakness for Democrats.

But Trump often got sidetracked from the day’s message, instead launching into grievance-filled rants.

He tried to re-litigate the results of the 2020 election. He questioned whether Biden would pass the mental acuity test that he has often used to boast about his own mental fitness.

And he introduced and provided commentary on most of the more than two dozen House Republicans who traveled to see him at the border, often touting the electoral significance of his endorsements of them. He complimented the physical appearance of Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), the medical acumen of Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Tex.) — his former White House doctor — and the auctioneering abilities of Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.), with Trump asking him to put them on display by jokingly selling the border wall.

 

June 2021

June 30

 

 

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wsj logoWall Street Journal, Trump Organization and CFO Allen Weisselberg Expected to Be Charged Thursday, Corinne Ramey, Updated June 30, 2021. The Manhattan district attorney’s first charges in three-year probe will focus on alleged tax-related crimes at former president’s company.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office is expected to charge the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer with tax-related crimes on Thursday, people familiar with the matter said, which would mark the first criminal charges against the former president’s company since prosecutors began investigating it three years ago.

allen weisselberg croppedThe charges against the Trump Organization and Allen Weisselberg, right, the company’s longtime chief financial officer, are a blow to former President Donald Trump, who has fended off multiple criminal and civil probes during and after his presidency. Mr. Trump himself isn’t expected to be charged, his lawyer said. Mr. Weisselberg has rejected prosecutors’ attempts at gaining his cooperation, according to people familiar with the matter.

The defendants are expected to appear in court on Thursday afternoon, the people said.

The Trump Organization and Mr. Weisselberg are expected to face charges related to allegedly evading taxes on fringe benefits, the people said. For months, the Manhattan district attorney’s office and New York state attorney general’s office have been investigating whether Mr. Weisselberg and other employees illegally avoided paying taxes on perks—such as cars, apartments and private-school tuition—that they received from the Trump Organization.

If prosecutors could show the Trump Organization and its executives systematically avoided paying taxes, they could file more serious charges alleging a scheme, lawyers said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Bill Cosby to be released from prison after sexual assault conviction vacated by Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Sonia Rao and Paul Farhi, June 30, 2021. Bill Cosby will be released from prison after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court announced Wednesday that his sexual-assault conviction was to be overturned. The entertainer had served more than two years after being convicted of sexual assault in one of the most high-profile trials of the #MeToo era.

The court issued an opinion written by Justice David Wecht that, according to the Associated Press, said Cosby, 83, could not be charged in the case because of a previous agreement with a prosecutor.

bill cosby“Everyone’s mind is blown right now,” former federal prosecutor Neama Rahman told The Daily Beast. “This is extremely rare. This is unprecedented.”

Cosby was convicted on three counts of sexual assault in April 2018 and sentenced to three to 10 years in state prison that September. The charges stemmed from a 2004 incident in which he was accused of drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand, an operations director for women’s basketball at Temple University. She testified that Cosby, who served on Temple’s board of trustees, had given her a pill that made her unable to control her limbs, and that he violated her at his estate in the Philadelphia suburbs.Advertisement

Dozens of women have alleged Cosby sexually assaulted them, dating back as far as the 1960s, when Cosby was a rising young comedian and co-star of the TV program “I Spy.” Cosby’s early stardom made him a breakthrough figure, one of the first Black performers to achieve mass popularity.

He went to star in a long series of humorous TV commercials, write best-selling books dispensing fatherly advice and headline other TV shows. The peak of his national acclaim was between 1984 and 1992, the years in which he appeared as Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” on NBC. The sitcom dominated TV ratings and helped revive its ailing network.

It also was a breakthrough of its own kind, portraying a Black upper-middle class family in the same familiar and heartwarming ways that family sitcoms had long portrayed White families. Some critics later drew a straight line between the fictional Huxtables and the real-life Obama family when Barack Obama was elected president in 2008.

ny times logoNew York Times, Security in Afghanistan Is Decaying, U.S. General Says as Forces Leave, Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Eric Schmitt, Updated June 30, 2021. “Civil war is certainly a path that can be visualized,” said Gen. Austin S. Miller, commander of the U.S.-led forces. “That should be a concern for the world.”

The commander of the U.S.-led mission in Afghanistan warned on Tuesday that the country could be on a path to chaotic civil war as American and other international troops prepare to leave in the coming weeks.

His assessment, in a rare news conference at the headquarters of U.S. and NATO command in Kabul, will likely be one of the last publicly delivered by an American four-star general in Afghanistan, where recent events have included a Taliban offensive that has seized around 100 district centers, left dozens of civilians wounded and killed, and displaced thousands more.

nato logo flags name“Civil war is certainly a path that can be visualized if it continues on the trajectory it’s on,” the commander, Gen. Austin S. Miller, told reporters during the news conference. “That should be a concern for the world.”

With some intelligence estimates saying that the Afghan government could fall in six months to two years after a final American withdrawal, General Miller’s comments were a window into recent tension between the White House and the Pentagon.

For months, Pentagon leaders argued for some sort of lasting American military presence in Afghanistan, citing counterterrorism concerns and the need to provide a check on the Taliban’s advance. President Biden’s response, in April, was final: All American forces except for an embassy garrison will be gone by Sept. 11.

Speaking from a garden adjacent to the circle of flagpoles that once displayed the flags of the 36 countries that contributed to the U.S.-led NATO mission — now reduced to Turkey, Britain and the United States — General Miller said the troop withdrawal was reaching a point where he would soon end his command, which began in September 2018, and in turn, say goodbye to Afghanistan.

“From a military standpoint it’s going very well,” General Miller said of the U.S. withdrawal. He did not offer a timeline for when the withdrawal will be complete. The Taliban, for the most part, have not attacked U.S. or international forces as they have departed, instead focusing the brunt of the violence on the Afghanistan security forces and the civilians caught in the crossfire.

washington post logoWashington Post, Donald Rumsfeld (1932–2021) Dies, Bradley Graham, June 30, 2021. Influential but controversial defense secretary who led two invasions dies at 88.

Donald H. Rumsfeld, whose roles overseeing the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and efforts to transform the U.S. military made him one of history’s most consequential as well as controversial Pentagon leaders, died June 29 at his home in Taos, N.M. He was 88.

The cause was multiple myeloma, said his former chief of staff Keith Urbahn.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s political prominence stretched back to the 1960s and included stints as a rebellious young Republican congressman, favored counselor to President Richard M. Nixon, right-hand man to President Gerald R. Ford and Middle East envoy for President Ronald Reagan. He also scored big in business, helping to pioneer such products as NutraSweet and high-definition television and earning millions of dollars salvaging large troubled firms.

His greatest influence and notoriety came during a six-year reign as defense secretary under President George W. Bush. Mr. Rumsfeld was initially hailed for leading the U.S. military to war in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, but his handling of the Iraq War eventually led to his downfall. In the invasion’s aftermath, he was criticized for being slow to draft an effective strategy for countering an Iraqi insurgency. He also failed to set a clear policy for the treatment of prisoners.

Donald H. Rumsfeld, whose roles overseeing the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and efforts to transform the U.S. military made him one of history’s most consequential as well as controversial Pentagon leaders, died June 29 at his home in Taos, N.M. He was 88.

The cause was multiple myeloma, said his former chief of staff Keith Urbahn.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s political prominence stretched back to the 1960s and included stints as a rebellious young Republican congressman, favored counselor to President Richard M. Nixon, right-hand man to President Gerald R. Ford and Middle East envoy for President Ronald Reagan. He also scored big in business, helping to pioneer such products as NutraSweet and high-definition television and earning millions of dollars salvaging large troubled firms.

His greatest influence and notoriety came during a six-year reign as defense secretary under President George W. Bush. Mr. Rumsfeld was initially hailed for leading the U.S. military to war in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, but his handling of the Iraq War eventually led to his downfall. In the invasion’s aftermath, he was criticized for being slow to draft an effective strategy for countering an Iraqi insurgency. He also failed to set a clear policy for the treatment of prisoners.

Dogged for months by mounting calls for Mr. Rumsfeld’s removal, Bush finally let him go in late 2006 — 3 1/2 years into the Iraq War and just after an election in which the Republicans lost control of both houses of Congress. Mr. Rumsfeld’s forced exit under clouds of blame and disapproval cast a shadow over his previously illustrious career.

Nevertheless, in a statement on Wednesday Bush praised Mr. Rumsfeld as “a man of intelligence, integrity, and almost inexhaustsible energy” who “never paled before tough decisions, and never flinched from responsibility.”

None of Mr. Rumsfeld’s predecessors had come into the Pentagon’s top job with as much relevant experience. Having served as defense secretary once before under Ford, Mr. Rumsfeld was the only person ever to get a second shot at the position. He held the record as the youngest Pentagon leader, then under Bush, he became the oldest.

Devastated Miami condo (Photo by Amy Beth Bennett of the Associated Press).

Devastated Miami condo (Photo by Amy Beth Bennett of the Associated Press).

washington post logoWashington Post, Grand jury will examine Surfside condominium collapse, prosecutor says, Lori Rozsa, Kim Bellware, Mark Berman and Griff Witte, June 30, 2021 (print ed.). Miami's top prosecutor pledged Tuesday to have a grand jury examine last week's collapse of an oceanfront high-rise, suggesting that even as the search continues for survivors, the focus was quickly shifting to accountability for a disaster likely to go down as one of the country's worst.

The announcement by Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle did not address whether criminal charges could ultimately be filed, as they have been in other mass-casualty events that were found to be a result of negligence or incompetence.

But while Fernandez Rundle raised the prospect of “potential criminal investigations,” she said the grand jury inquiry would be used to determine “what steps we can take to safeguard our residents.”

“[T]his is a matter of extreme public importance, and as the State Attorney elected to keep this community safe, I will not wait,” she said in a statement.

washington post logoWashington Post, Condo board’s head warned damage was ‘accelerating’; death toll rises to 12 as Biden makes plans for visit, Rebecca Tan, Beth Reinhard and Tim Craig, June 30, 2021 (print ed.).  New documents show the Champlain Towers South condo building was badly damaged and needed millions of dollars in repairs to fix problems that continued to worsen in the months before last week's collapse of the 40-year-building.

In an April letter, the president of the Champlain Towers South condo association warned residents that damage to the structure's concrete support system was "accelerating" and "would begin to multiply exponentially" in coming years. The letter, written by president Jean Wodnicki, also offered a broad explanation of why residents were being asked to fund more than $15 million in repairs.

“When you can visually see the concrete spalling [cracking], that means that the rebar holding it together is rusting and deteriorating beneath the surface,” Wodnicki wrote. “Please note that the original scope of work in the 2018 report has expanded. The concrete deterioration is accelerating.”

In related news: 

ny times logoNew York Times, Security in Afghanistan Is Decaying, U.S. General Says as Forces Leave,Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Eric Schmitt, Updated June 30, 2021. “Civil war is certainly a path that can be visualized,” said Gen. Austin S. Miller, commander of the U.S.-led forces. “That should be a concern for the world.”

The commander of the U.S.-led mission in Afghanistan warned on Tuesday that the country could be on a path to chaotic civil war as American and other international troops prepare to leave in the coming weeks.

His assessment, in a rare news conference at the headquarters of U.S. and NATO command in Kabul, will likely be one of the last publicly delivered by an American four-star general in Afghanistan, where recent events have included a Taliban offensive that has seized around 100 district centers, left dozens of civilians wounded and killed, and displaced thousands more.

“Civil war is certainly a path that can be visualized if it continues on the trajectory it’s on,” the commander, Gen. Austin S. Miller, told reporters during the news conference. “That should be a concern for the world.”

With some intelligence estimates saying that the Afghan government could fall in six months to two years after a final American withdrawa