2020 Trump Watch News & Commentary

 

capitol noose shay horse nurphoto via getty

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

Jan. 18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jan. 16

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

  • Josh Hawley, who led Senate efforts to overturn the election results, is being targeted by a super PAC. Here’s the latest.
  • Pence, occupying a leadership void, calls Harris to offer assistance — as Trump plans his Inauguration Day getaway.New
  • The F.B.I. is investigating 37 in the killing of a Capitol Police officer by a pro-Trump mob.New
  • Pelosi says impeachment managers are preparing for Senate trial, but declines to offer timeline.
  • Federal watchdogs open a far-reaching investigation into failures in the lead-up to the Capitol riot.
  • As Washington and several states brace for unrest, Biden reveals his vaccine and economic plans.
  • Here are the highlights of Biden’s $1.9 trillion ‘American Rescue Plan.’
  • A Republican senator from Oklahoma apologizes to Black constituents for seeking to disenfranchise them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Jan. 15

capitol mob

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

U.S. Investigative Reports

steve bannon trump

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

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

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

mike lindell anderson cooper aug 18 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Capitol Riot Fallout

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jan. 13

Top Headlines

 

Top Stories

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: House poised to impeach Trump for ‘incitement of insurrection,’ John Wagner, Jan. 13, 2021. Democratic effort to impeach Trump a second time takes dramatic turn. A lone Black officer faced down a mob at the Capitol. Meet Eugene Goodman; Analysis: How experts define the deadly mob attack at the U.S. Capitol; Pelosi calls for Trump’s immediate removal, promotes Cheney’s support for impeachment

U.S. House logoThe House is poised to impeach President Trump for a second time as it meets Wednesday to consider an article charging him with “incitement of insurrection” for his role in last week’s takeover of the Capitol by a violent pro-Trump mob. At least several Republicans plan to support the resolution.

liz cheney resizedAn hour before the House was scheduled to convene, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) went on Twitter to call for Trump’s immediate removal and to promote the position of Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), right, the No. 3 Republican in the chamber, who supports impeachment.

“Donald Trump’s incitement of a deadly insurrection against the U.S. Capitol is without precedent in our nation’s history and an egregious violation of his oath of office," Pelosi tweeted. “Fulfilling our oath to defend our Constitution requires that we act to remove him from office immediately.”

She attached a statement made by Cheney on Tuesday saying, “The president of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of attack.”

 Acting District of Columbia U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin on Jan. 12, 2021 (Pool photo by Sarah Silbiger)

Acting District of Columbia U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin on Jan. 12, 2021 (Pool photo by Sarah Silbiger).

ny times logoNew York Times, Prosecutors are weighing sedition and conspiracy charges and expect to arrest ‘hundreds’ tied to Capitol riot, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Jan. 13, 2021 (print ed.). The top federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., said on Tuesday that more than 70 people tied to the Capitol riot had been charged with crimes and that he expected that number to rise into the hundreds, with prosecutors looking at charging some rioters with sedition and conspiracy.

Michael Sherwin, the acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, said at a news conference that the federal investigation was unprecedented in its scope, with the entire Capitol grounds being “essentially, a crime scene.” He cautioned that the investigations would take months or longer.

Mr. Sherwin said investigators had identified at least 170 people who they believe committed a wide range of crimes on the Capitol grounds, with brian sicknickprosecutors looking at charges ranging from trespassing to felony murder. At least four people died during the riots — some of medical emergencies — and a fifth, Brian D. Sicknick, right, a U.S. Capitol Police officer, died the next day from injuries he sustained during the mayhem.

“We’re looking at significant felony cases tied to sedition and conspiracy,” Mr. Sherwin said, adding that he had assembled a team of national security and public corruption prosecutors specifically to pursue sedition charges against people who had committed “the most heinous acts” on the Capitol grounds last week.

Justice Department log circularSteven D’Antuono, the head of the F.B.I.’s Washington Field Office, defended the agency at the news conference after reports that F.B.I. officials in Virginia had warned about a threat of violence the day before the riots. The Washington Post had reported that the warning had mentioned people sharing a map of tunnels and an online thread in which people said people should be “ready for war.”

Mr. D’Antuono indicated that the information had quickly been shared with other law enforcement agencies and he said other intelligence had led the authorities to disrupt the travel of several people who had planned to attend the rally. He also noted that Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the Proud Boys group known for brawling at protests, had been arrested shortly after arriving in Washington for the event.

The F.B.I. is working around the clock on the investigation, and the agency has already received 100,000 pieces of digital media, Mr. D’Antuono said. He added that agents would identify and pursue anyone who had committed a crime at the Capitol that day, even if they had left Washington.

“Agents from our local field offices will be knocking on your door,” he said.

In addition to pursuing possible charges of seditious conspiracy, which is defined as an effort by two or more people to overthrow the government or use force to hinder its operations, investigators are also prioritizing investigations into attacks against police officers, theft of confidential information from the Capitol and attacks against reporters. Related developments:

  • F.B.I. report is said to have warned of plans for violence at the Capitol.
  • House Democrats have been briefed on active security threats.
  • Chicago man charged with threatening President-elect Biden.
  • ‘The Michigan Capitol is not safe,’ the state’s attorney general warns.
  • New York City weighs ending contracts with the Trump Organization.
  • In first public appearance since the Capitol siege, Trump expresses no contrition for inciting the mob.
  • Three lawmakers have tested positive for Covid-19 in the days since the riot.
  • Schumer calls for those involved in Capitol riots to be placed on no-fly lists.

ny times logoNew York Times, Distracted by Political Crisis, U.S. Sets Record for Virus Deaths, Mike Ives and staff reports, Jan. 13, 2021. More than 4,400 people in the country died of the coronavirus on Tuesday, the day before lawmakers were set to charge President Trump with inciting last week’s violence at the Capitol.

  • Facing new outbreaks, China puts more than 22 million under lockdown.
  • Results are expected soon with Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine, though production lags.
  • Indonesia’s president receives a Chinese-made vaccine that produced disappointing trial results.
  • Japan extends a state of emergency, and other news from around the world.
  • A South Korea church leader receives a suspended prison term after virus fallout.
  • Elders’ Covid deaths create a cultural crisis for Native Americans.
  • The death of a Miami doctor who received a coronavirus vaccine is being investigated.

As America slogs through this grimmest of winters, there is no relief in the daily tabulations of coronavirus-related deaths: More than 4,400 were reported across the United States on Tuesday, according to a New York Times database, a number once unimaginable.

Yet even as Covid-19 touches thousands of families, the nation is distracted by the political crisis gripping Washington in the last days of the Trump administration.

Tuesday’s death count, which set another daily record, represented at least 1,597 more people than those killed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The U.S. death toll, already the world’s highest by a wide margin, is now about 20,000 shy of 400,000 — only a month after the country crossed the 300,000 threshold, a figure greater than the number of Americans who died fighting in World War II.

But much of the nation’s attention is focused on the fallout from the Capitol siege, prompted in part by President Trump’s efforts to prevent Congress from certifying Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the November election.

ny times logoNew York Times, Pence Reached His Limit With Trump. It Wasn’t Pretty, Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman and Annie Karni, Jan. 13, 2021 (print ed.). After four years of tongue-biting silence, Vice President Mike Pence would not yield to President Trump’s intense pressure to overturn the election.

For Vice President Mike Pence, the moment of truth had arrived. After three years and 11 months of navigating the treacherous waters of President Trump’s ego, after all the tongue-biting, pride-swallowing moments where he employed strategic silence or florid flattery to stay in his boss’s good graces, there he was being cursed by the president.

Mr. Trump was enraged that Mr. Pence was refusing to try to overturn the election. In a series of meetings, the president had pressed relentlessly, alternately cajoling and browbeating him. Finally, just before Mr. Pence headed to the Capitol to oversee the electoral vote count last Wednesday, Mr. Trump called the vice president’s residence to push one last time.

“You can either go down in history as a patriot,” Mr. Trump told him, according to two people briefed on the conversation, “or you can go down in history as a pussy.”

The blowup between the nation’s two highest elected officials then played out in dramatic fashion as the president publicly excoriated the vice president at an incendiary rally and sent agitated supporters to the Capitol where they stormed the building — some of them chanting “Hang Mike Pence.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Pentagon to Arm National Guard Troops for Inauguration, Helene Cooper and Adam Goldman, Jan. 13, 2021 (print ed.).  About 15,000 members are expected to be deployed in Washington, D.C. Those stationed around the Capitol will carry weapons, officials said.

National Guard troops who are flooding into Washington to secure the Capitol for Inauguration Day will be armed, the Army secretary, Ryan McCarthy, has decided, Defense Department officials said Tuesday.

The armed troops will be responsible for security around the Capitol building complex, the officials said.

As up to 15,000 troops continued to arrive in Washington from all over the country, Defense Department officials had been weighing whether to deploy them with arms. Mr. McCarthy has decided that at the very least those around the Capitol building will carry weapons, said the officials, who confirmed the decision on the condition of anonymity.

Mr. McCarthy’s decision came after a meeting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California. Ms. Pelosi, according to congressional staff members, demanded that the Pentagon take a more muscular posture after a mob, egged on by President Trump last week, breached the Capitol.

Pentagon officials say they are deeply worried about protests that are planned for the inauguration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. next week. About 16 groups — some of them saying they will be armed and most of them made up of hard-line supporters of Mr. Trump — have registered to stage protests in Washington, officials said.

One Defense Department official said law enforcement agencies are planning for a range of outcomes, including a worse-case scenario in which people with firearms try to attack dignitaries, “suicide-type aircraft” try to fly into the capital’s restricted airspace and even remote-controlled drones that could be used to attack the crowd.

ny times logoNew York Times, House Votes 223-205 to Call on Pence to Strip Trump of Powers Rejection All but Ensures Impeachment Vote, Staff and wire reports, Jan. 13, 2021 (print ed.). Democrats proceeded with the resolution even after Vice President Mike Pence ruled out the option, and they warned of an impeachment vote on Wednesday. Five House Republicans said they would vote for impeachment. There had “never been a greater betrayal,” Liz Cheney said. Catch up on political news.

Lawmakers adopted a resolution that would compel Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment after President Trump incited a mob attack on the Capitol last week. In a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier in the evening, Mr. Pence rejected the effort.

ny times logoNew York Times, These are the Republicans who said they support impeaching President Trump, John Eligon, Jan. 13, 2021. As the House prepared to move forward with an impeachment proceeding, a small number of Republicans said they support the effort. The vote is set to come exactly one week after the United States Capitol was breached by an angry mob of Trump loyalists.

republican elephant logoIn 2019, not a single Republican voted in favor of impeachment. House Republican leaders have said they would not formally lobby members of the party against voting to impeach the president this time, and these are the Republicans who have said that they intend to vote for impeachment.

Representative John Katko. Representative John Katko of New York was the first Republican to publicly announce that he would back the impeachment proceedings. A former federal prosecutor, Mr. Katko said he looked at the facts of the siege, which began as lawmakers were working to certify the presidential election results.

“It cannot be ignored that President Trump encouraged this insurrection — both on social media ahead of Jan. 6, and in his speech that day,” Mr. Katko said in a statement. “By deliberately promoting baseless theories suggesting the election was somehow stolen, the president created a combustible environment of misinformation, disenfranchisement, and division. When this manifested in violent acts on Jan. 6, he refused to promptly and forcefully call it off, putting countless lives in danger.”

washington post logoWashington Post, New York City terminates its contracts with Trump’s company, David A. Fahrenthold, Jan. 13, 2021. New York City is terminating its contracts with President Trump’s company to run a carousel, two ice rinks and a golf course in city parks, Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said Wednesday — calling it a reaction to Trump’s encouragement of a mob that ransacked the U.S. Capitol.

“The President incited a rebellion against the United States government that killed five people and threatened to derail the constitutional transfer of power,” de Blasio said in a written statement. “The City of New York will not be associated with those unforgivable acts in any shape, way or form.”

That decision — which will cut off the Trump Organization from businesses that bring in $17 million per year in revenue — makes New York the latest business partner to cut ties with Trump’s company. Trump still owns his company from the White House, and his actions as president now seem to have made it a pariah, cut off by even longtime partners.

Since Wednesday’s riot at the Capitol, the company has lost two of its banks, its e-commerce vendor and two of its real-estate brokers. The company also lost its chance to host the prestigious PGA Championship golf tournament in 2022, and lost its hopes of hosting another major golf tournament in Scotland.

ny times logoNew York Times, In Georgia, Trump’s Attacks on Election Still Haunt Republicans, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, Jan. 13, 2021 (print ed.). State officials face harassment and threats, and a district attorney is weighing an inquiry into President Trump’s actions.

The impeachment charge that House Democrats have filed against President Trump stems from his role in inciting a mob to attack the U.S. Capitol last week. But included in the resolution is another element of Mr. Trump’s behavior that is also drawing condemnation as an abuse of presidential power: His pressure campaign to persuade Georgia officials to overturn his electoral loss in the state.

georgia mapBefore inspiring a throng of supporters to attack the Capitol, Mr. Trump had previously sought to “subvert and obstruct” the results of his failed re-election effort, a draft article of impeachment released Monday reads, citing in particular the president’s extraordinary intervention in Georgia.

Even if Democrats’ second effort to remove the president from office fails or fades, Mr. Trump’s efforts to subvert the will of Georgia’s voters will continue to resonate, both for the president and for politicians in Georgia. State elections officials continue to face harassment and death threats. A number of Georgia Republicans are now blaming Mr. Trump’s baseless accusations of election fraud for the losses by the state’s two Republican senators this month.

And in Atlanta, the Fulton County district attorney is weighing whether to start a criminal investigation into Mr. Trump for a phone call to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which the president exhorted him to “find” the votes that would deliver Mr. Trump victory.

That call was part of a much broader push by Mr. Trump and his allies to subvert Georgia’s election results. The effort played out over two months and in the end was based on allegations of fraud that were consistently debunked by his fellow Republicans charged with overseeing the state’s election.

Gabriel Sterling, one of the most outspoken of those officials, said in an interview this week that the president’s effort was both inappropriate and crude.

“There was never an overarching strategy,” Mr. Sterling said, adding: “It was a series of tactical moves in an attempt to get a different outcome here. The president shouldn’t be trying to do things to put his thumb on the scale. I don’t care if it’s a Republican or a Democrat, no president should do that.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump Is Blowing Apart the G.O.P. God Bless Him, Thomas L. Friedman, right, Jan. 13, 2021 (print ed.). There still will be a place for tom friedman twitterprincipled Republicans.

When all the facts come out about the treasonous attack on the U.S. Capitol inspired by President Trump, impeaching him three times won’t feel sufficient. Consider this Washington Post headline from Monday: “Video Shows Capitol Mob Dragging Police Officer Down Stairs. One Rioter Beat the Officer With a Pole Flying the U.S. Flag.”

That said, while I want Trump out — and I don’t mind him being silenced at such a tense time — I’m not sure I want him permanently off Twitter and Facebook. There’s important work that I need Trump to perform in his post-presidency, and I need him to have proper megaphones to do it. It’s to blow apart this Republican Party.

My No. 1 wish for America today is for this Republican Party to fracture, splitting off the principled Republicans from the unprincipled Republicans and Trump republican elephant logocultists. That would be a blessing for America for two reasons.

First, because it could actually end the gridlock in Congress and enable us to do some big things on infrastructure, education and health care that would help ALL Americans — not the least those in Trump’s camp, who are there precisely because they feel ignored, humiliated and left behind.

If just a few principled center-right Republicans, like Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski, abandoned this G.O.P. or were simply willing to work with a center-left Biden team, the Problem Solvers Caucus in the House and like-minded members in the Senate — the people who got the recent stimulus bill passed — would become stronger than ever. That’s how we start to dial down the madness coursing through our nation and get us back to seeing each other as fellow citizens, not enemies.

 

Jan. 12

Top Headlines

 
Capitol Riot Responses

 

Capitol Riot Commentaries

 

U.S. 2021 Elections, Politics

 

U.S. Law, Courts, Crime 

 

Top Stories

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: FBI report warned of ‘war’ at Capitol, contradicting claims there was no sign of looming violence, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, Jan. 12, 2021. The internal FBI warning, reviewed by The Washington Post, is the starkest evidence yet of the sizable intelligence failure that preceded the mayhem caused by President Trump’s supporters on Jan. 6.

A day before rioters stormed Congress, an FBI office in Virginia issued an explicit internal warning that extremists were preparing to travel to Washington to commit violence and “war,” according to an internal document reviewed by The Washington Post that contradicts a senior official’s declaration the bureau had no intelligence indicating anyone at last week’s pro-Trump protest planned to do harm.

FBI logoA situational information report approved for release the day before the U.S. Capitol riot painted a dire portrait of dangerous plans, including individuals sharing a map of the complex’s tunnels, and possible rally points for would-be conspirators to meet up in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and South Carolina and head in groups to Washington.

“As of 5 January 2021, FBI Norfolk received information indicating calls for violence in response to ‘unlawful lockdowns’ to begin on 6 January 2021 in Washington. D.C.,” the document says. “An online thread discussed specific calls for violence to include stating ‘Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Pantifa slave soldiers being spilled. Get violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die. NOTHING else will achieve this goal.”

BLM is likely a reference to the Black Lives Matter movement for racial justice. Pantifa is a derogatory term for antifa, a far-left anti-fascist movement whose adherents sometimes engage in violent clashes with right-wing extremists.

Yet even with that information in hand, the report’s unidentified author expressed concern that the FBI might be encroaching on free speech rights.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: On Eve of House Vote, McConnell Is Said to Be Pleased About Effort to Impeach Trump, Staff Reports, Jan. 12, 2021. Senator Mitch McConnell is said to believe that the impeachment effort will make it easier to purge President Trump from the party. And Representative Kevin McCarthy has asked other Republicans whether he should call on Mr. Trump to resign in the aftermath of the Capitol siege.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Mitch McConnell just threw Donald Trump all the way under the bus, Bill Palmer, Jan. 12, 2021. Mitch McConnell is still trying to force mitch mcconnellDonald Trump’s impeachment trial to take place after January 20th, so it ends up being the Democrats’ problem instead of being his problem. But now McConnell is basically coming out in favor of impeaching Trump.

bill palmer report logo headerMcConnell, right, is leaking to the New York Times today that he believes Trump has committed impeachable offenses, and that he’s “pleased” Trump is being impeached, because it’ll help rid the Republican Party of Trump going forward. This is remarkable, because it means McConnell is basically telling Republican Senators to go ahead and convict Trump once the impeachment trial happens, so that Trump can’t run again in 2024.

Now we’ll see if Mitch McConnell relents and allows Trump’s Senate impeachment trial to take place before January 20th. But either way, McConnell has clearly decided to throw Trump all the way under the bus, in the selfish hope of salvaging what’s left of his Republican Party. McConnell can never be trusted to do the right thing, but he can always be trusted to do whatever he thinks is personally best for himself.

 

 

capitol ties

eric munchelEric Gavelek Munchel, right, the Tennessee man suspected of being Zip Tie Guy shown above, was later arrested by the F.B.I. (Metro Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tenn./AP). The rioter, above at center, heavily disguised, invaded the U.S. Capitol as part of the pro-Trump "Stop the Steal" protest carrying plastic "ties," which are normally used by law enforcers to bind the wrists of suspects but which are used also by terrorists to subdue hostage victims.

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective: Trumpist masculinity reaches its high water mark with Zip Tie Guy suspect, Monica Hesse, Jan. 12, 2021. In one of the more terrifying images of last week, a man believed to be Eric Munchel, wearing dark fatigues and a face-obscuring black gaiter, climbed over a railing in the Senate Gallery.

He wore a Taser holstered to his hip and gripped a bunch of zip-tie handcuffs in one hand. While his fellow raiders were busy “scratching their balls” in Nancy Pelosi’s office or literally pooping on the Capitol’s floors, Zip Tie Guy had the mien of someone who had breached the complex with an actual nefarious plan involving hostages or worse.

The man suspected of being Zip Tie Guy was unmasked over the weekend by the Internet, then arrested by the FBI: Munchel, 30, has been charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. On Sunday, the FBI released more images, allegedly of Munchel, that had been captured throughout the day of Jan. 6.

In several, he was accompanied by a graying 57-year-old woman. And this is the point at which the portrait of Munchel became fuller, because this is the point at which it became a working theory that Zip Tie Guy had brought his mom to the revolution.

In a security camera image from earlier that afternoon, a pair of tourists, believed to be Munchel and mom, left their Hyatt hotel with matching cups of coffee in hand as if setting off for a long day at the Smithsonian. In a cellphone clip a few hours later, he ushers her up the stairs inside the Capitol, one hand steering her shoulder as they went about their illegal siege.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: House Plans Vote to Demand That Pence Seize Power From Trump, Staff reports, Jan. 12, 2021. The House is poised to vote this evening to formally call on Vice President Mike Pence to strip President Trump of power by invoking the 25th Amendment. If Mr. Pence refuses to act, an impeachment vote is expected Wednesday.

U.S. House logoHere’s the latest from Washington. The House is poised to vote Tuesday evening to formally call on Vice President Mike Pence to strip President Trump of his duties by invoking the 25th Amendment. The vote comes a day after House Democrats introduced an article of impeachment charging the president for his role in inciting a violent mob of his supporters to storm the Capitol, where rioters ransacked the seat of American government and killed a Capitol Police officer.

djt march 2020 CustomThe motion on Monday set off a high-stakes standoff between two branches of government, as House Democrats pressured Mr. Pence to intervene.

Republicans on Monday objected to unanimously passing the resolution, which asked the vice president to declare Mr. Trump “incapable of executing the duties of his office and to immediately exercise powers as acting president.”

Mr. Trump also met with Mr. Pence on Monday for the first time since their falling out last week over the president’s effort to overturn the election and the mob assault, which had put the vice president in danger. The two talked for an hour or more in the Oval Office in what amounted to a fraught peace summit meeting with the remainder of the Trump presidency at stake.

ny times logoNew York Times, Capitol Riot Live Updates: Fallout Continues as Trump Finds Himself Increasingly Besieged, Staff reports, Jan. 12, 2021. Businesses, institutions and cabinet members are cutting ties with the president as Washington and state capitols are bracing for renewed threats leading up to Inauguration Day.

  • In the wake of the Capitol attack, the president is spurned and abandoned.
  • Did mixing a riot with a pandemic yield a superspreader event?
  • Enhanced security measures for the inauguration are starting earlier than planned.
  • Trump Organization faces an urgent reckoning as businesses break away.
  • Trump loyalists in Congress fanned flames before Capitol riot.

A president who famously demands loyalty has found himself increasingly cut off. Even New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick, who publicly supported Mr. Trump when he ran for office, has spurned him, turning down the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, because of the “tragic events of last week” a reference to the deadly riot.

Schools have stripped Mr. Trump of honorary degrees. The P.G.A. of America announced it would no longer hold a major tournament at Mr. Trump’s New Jersey golf club. Mr. Trump’s primary lender for two decades, Deutsche Bank, said it has decided not to do business with Mr. Trump or his company in the future, according to a person familiar with the bank’s thinking. Twitter has permanently suspended Mr. Trump’s account, while Facebook barred him at least through the end of his term on Jan. 20.

chad wolfChad F. Wolf, right, the acting secretary for the Homeland Security Department, stepped down from his position on Monday. The department includes the Secret Service, which is leading inauguration security.

Mr. Wolf told employees of the Department of Homeland Security he would be stepping down in part because of court rulings that invalidated some of the Trump administration’s immigration policies, citing the likelihood that Mr. Wolf was unlawfully appointed to lead the agency. He did not address the Capitol riot in his letter.

White House officials, including several members of the cabinet, have resigned, saying they were deeply troubled by the deadly siege. Prominent Republicans have threatened to leave the party or called on Mr. Trump to resign.

Scores of the president’s supporters who participated in the Capitol riot are the subject of a nationwide manhunt, according to law enforcement officials. The Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation are pursuing more than 150 suspects for prosecution, a number that is almost certain to grow, an official said.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Chuck Schumer pushes no fly list for Trump insurrectionists, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 12, 2021. Over the weekend a number of viral videos bill palmershowed Trump insurrectionists being blocked from air travel, which some observers mistakenly interpreted as some kind of no fly list. But in reality it appeared those individuals were simply blocked from air travel due to refusing to wear a mask.

bill palmer report logo headerNow incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is indeed calling for all the insurrectionists who breached or entered the Capitol to be placed on the no fly list. This would prevent them from being able to travel back to Washington DC to participate in more such attacks. It would also help facilitate the arrests of those insurrectionists who are still at large and haven’t yet been tracked down by law enforcement.

Now it’s up to the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies to decide whether they’re willing to go along with what Leader Schumer is calling for. There are longstanding questions about whether we should have a no fly list. But if we’re going to have one, these Capitol insurrectionists are the very first people who should be on it. 

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump lashes out at social media sites as Democrats plan to ramp up scrutiny, Tony Romm, Jan. 12, 2021. House Democrats are planning to look into social media’s role in Capitol riot as part of a broad disinformation inquiry.

President Trump lashed out at Silicon Valley on Tuesday in his first public comments since Twitter banned him from the site, stressing the industry had done a “horrible thing for our country and to our country.”

The president told reporters that the social media sites had made a “catastrophic mistake” and acted in a politically “divisive” manner after punishing him for comments the companies said threatened to incite violence. And Trump defended his speech in front of a mob last week that later stormed the U.S. Capitol in a violent, failed insurrection that left lawmakers on lockdown, stressing even its controversial parts were “totally appropriate.”

Trump’s renewed attacks come as House Democrats plan to ramp up their scrutiny of Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. Party lawmakers in recent days have faulted tech giants for acting too slowly to stop Trump’s online rhetoric from precipitating real-world chaos.

washington post logoWashington Post, The remarkable rift between Trump and Pence, Josh Dawsey and Ashley Parker, Jan. 12, 2021. The rupture is a startling capstone to a relationship long defined by Pence’s loyalty and subservience.

Mike PenceVice President Pence, right, was in hiding from a violent mob of Trump supporters in the Capitol last Wednesday when the presidential tweet attacking him posted.

“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!” President Trump wrote at 2:24 p.m.

republican elephant logoTrump never called him that day or in the days following to make sure Pence was okay — or to discuss a governmental response to the deadly riots the president incited.

The remarkable break between the two men — played out over a tense few days as the country convulsed from a riot spurred on by the president — is a startling capstone to a relationship long defined by Pence’s loyalty and subservience. The vice president who once spent hours a day with Trump, defended some of his most incendiary comments and was careful to not speak ill of him — even to his own closest advisers — now seems to be largely estranged from him.

Pence has committed to attending the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris, even though Trump is not going. The vice president has begun telling staff goodbye, posing for pictures and having sentimental moments with key aides in his Executive Office suite.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: An Epiphany Moment’ for Corporate Political Donors May Have Arrived, Andrew Ross Sorkin, Jan. 12, 2021. As companies put donations to candidates on hold, they should reassess political giving entirely, making the halt permanent.

As companies from Coca-Cola to Amazon to Citigroup appear to be tripping over each other to declare that they are “pausing” or “reassessing” donations to citigroup logoRepublicans who sought to overturn the election — and, in some cases, suspending giving to both parties — they might want to look at a company that didn’t say anything.

That company is IBM. It didn’t need to issue a mea culpa for a simple reason. It doesn’t donate to candidates on either side of the aisle — at all, ever.

IBM is one of only a handful of large companies in the United States that is not involved in direct political giving to candidates. It has no political action committee, or PAC. Even when it gives money to trade groups, it restricts its money from being funneled to candidates.

It was a policy put in place more than a century ago by Thomas J. Watson, the founding father of the modern IBM.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: The width and depthness of Trump's coup, Wayne Madsen, left, Jan. 12, 2021. We are just now learning that the storming of wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallthe Capitol may have involved Republican members of the House of Representatives, who were in cahoots with twenty or more U.S. Capitol Police officers, including one who committed suicide, two who have been suspended, and one who has been arrested.

Investigations of police involvement have spread to the Anne Arundel County (Maryland) Police Department, the North Miami Beach Police Department, the Minneapolis Police Department, Arkansas State Police, and the Chicago Police Department.

wayne madesen report logoNewly-elected 25-year old North Carolina Republican Representative Madison Cawthorn told the Trump rally at the Ellipse, "Call your congressman and feel free, you can lightly threaten them and say, you know what, if you don’t start supporting election integrity, I’m coming after you, Madison Cawthorn is coming after you, everybody’s coming after you.”

There are calls in North Carolina for Cawthorn's resignation. Cawthorn has an affectation for Nazis and Adolf Hitler. In a 2017 Instagram posting, Cawthorn had his photograph taken at Hitler's Alpine lair, the Eagle’s Nest, in Berchtesgaden, Germany. Cawthorn also referred to Hitler as "the Führer" in his posting. Cawthorn denies he is a Nazi, but his affiliation with neo-Nazi organizations is common knowledge.

It is increasingly appearing that the January 6 storming of the Capitol was a re-enactment of the 1933 burning by the Nazis of the Reichstag.

ny times logoNew York Times, State Capitols ‘on High Alert,’ Fearing More Violence, Neil MacFarquhar and Mike Baker, Jan. 12, 2021 (print ed.). Officials are bracing for any spillover from last week’s violent assault on the U.S. Capitol. State legislatures already have become targets. It was opening day of the 2021 legislative session, and the perimeter of the Georgia State Capitol on Monday was bristling with state police officers in full camouflage gear, most of them carrying tactical rifles.

On the other side of the country, in Olympia, Wash., dozens of National Guard troops in riot gear and shields formed a phalanx behind a temporary fence. Facing them in the pouring rain was a small group of demonstrators, some also wearing military fatigues and carrying weapons. “Honor your oath!” they shouted. “Fight for freedom every day!”

And in Idaho, Ammon Bundy, an antigovernment activist who once led his supporters in the occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon, showed up outside the statehouse in Boise with members of his organization carrying “wanted” posters for Gov. Brad Little and others on charges of “treason” and “sedition.”

Gone is a large measure of the bonhomie that usually accompanies the annual start of the legislative season, replaced by marked unease over the possibility of armed attacks and gaps in security around statehouses that have long prided themselves on being open to constituents.

georgia map 2“Between Covid and the idea that there are people who are armed and making threats and are serious, it was definitely not your normal beginning of session,” said Senator Jennifer A. Jordan, a Democratic legislator in Georgia who watched the police officers assembled outside the State Capitol in Atlanta on Monday from her office window. “Usually folks are happy, talking to each other, and it did not have that feel.”

Dozens of state capitols will be on alert in the coming days, following calls among a mix of antigovernment organizations for actions in all 50 states on Jan. 17. Some of them come from far-right organizations that harbor a broad antigovernment agenda and have already been protesting state Covid-19 lockdowns since last spring. The F.B.I. this week sent a warning to local law enforcement agencies about the potential for armed protests in all 50 states.

In a video news conference on Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said that “everybody is on high alert” for protests in Sacramento in the days ahead.

 

 

Capitol Riot Responses

ali alexander resized greg palast

"Stop the Steal" Republican operative Ali Alexander, top right, is shown with two others in revelations excerpted below by investigative reporter Greg Palast in his story: Why did the Georgia GOP Team up with a riot instigator?

Palmer Report, Opinion: House Republican Mo Brooks implicates Trump White House after he’s accused of inciting Capitol attack, Bill Palmer, Jan. 12, 2021.  Ali Alexander, one of the organizers of the January 6th pro-Trump rally that turned into a domestic terrorist attack, claimed yesterday that he worked in advance with three House Republicans including Mo Brooks to plot the entire thing. This comes even as the House is moving to censure Brooks for his overall role in the day’s events, and after the Washington DC Attorney General announced that Brooks is under investigation for inciting violence.

bill palmer report logo headerIn response, Mo Brooks is pushing back and insisting that it was the Trump White House who plotted the rally. In a statement, Brooks cites his own phone records and says that “on Tuesday morning, January 5, I had a telephone call with Brian Jack, White House Political Director. He asked me to speak at the Trump rally the next day.”

mo brooks oIn effect, Congressman Mo Brooks, right, is trying to reduce his own criminal culpability in the attack by implicating the Trump White House in the debacle. He’s not quite yelling “Trump made me do it” but he’s coming close. At this point it sounds like Brooks is just trying to figure out how to avoid prison time over this.

Answering questions from reporters for the first time since the violence at the Capitol on Wednesday, Mr. Trump sidestepped questions about his culpability in the deadly riot that shook the nation’s long tradition of peaceful transfers of power.

“People thought what I said was totally appropriate,” Mr. Trump told reporters at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, en route to Alamo, Texas, where he was set to visit the wall along the Mexican border. Instead, Mr. Trump claimed that protests against racial injustice over the summer were “the real problem.”

“If you look at what other people have said, politicians at a high level about the riots during the summer, the horrible riots in Portland and Seattle and various other places, that was a real problem,” he said.

Mr. Trump’s defiance came despite near universal condemnation of his role in stoking the assault on the Capitol, including from within his own administration and some of his closest allies on Capitol Hill.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Lauren Boebert just got called to the carpet, Bill Palmer, Jan. 12, 2021. House Republican Lauren Boebert has only been in Congress for a few days, and she’s already causing demonstrable harm to the country. Even as Donald Trump’s domestic terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol was playing lauren boebertout, and the terrorists were roaming the halls looking for high value targets, Boebert, right, was busy tweeting changes to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s location.

bill palmer report logo headerSenator Brian Schatz is now calling out Boebert for this, tweeting that “We were specifically instructed by those protecting us not to tell anyone, including our family, where exactly we were, for reasons that remain obvious.”

Congressman Eric Swalwell took things even further, tweeting this: “So were we in the House. Lauren Boebert was told by the Sergeant of Arms in the chamber to not make any social media posts. It was said repeatedly. She defied it because she is more closely aligned with the terrorists than the patriots.”

It’s difficult to imagine that this will play out well for Lauren Boebert. She had already painted herself as a deranged QAnon conspiracy theorist before the attack, which now makes her a pariah. Now corporate donations to insurrectionists like Boebert are being withdrawn. We imagine she’ll face a much better financed Republican primary challenger in 2022. Boebert has been in Congress a week and she already has no political future, and now she could face criminal liability. She’d do well to resign now and just go home.

washington post logoWashington Post, Six hours of paralysis: Inside Trump’s failure to act after a mob stormed the Capitol, Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey and Philip Rucker, Jan. 12, 2021 (print ed.). As senators and House members trapped inside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday begged for immediate help, they struggled to get through to the president, who — safely ensconced in the West Wing — was too busy watching fiery television images of the crisis.

Hiding from the rioters in a secret location away from the Capitol, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) appealed to Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) phoned Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter.

And Kellyanne Conway, a longtime Trump confidante and former White House senior adviser, called an aide who she knew was standing at the president’s side.

But as senators and House members trapped inside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday begged for immediate help during the siege, they struggled to get through to the president, who — safely ensconced in the West Wing — was too busy watching fiery TV images of the crisis unfolding around them to act or even bother to hear their pleas.

“He was hard to reach, and you know why? Because it was live TV,” said one close Trump adviser. “If it’s TiVo, he just hits pause and takes the calls. If it’s live TV, he watches it, and he was just watching it all unfold.”

Even as he did so, Trump did not move to act. And the message from those around him — that he needed to call off the angry mob he had egged on just hours earlier, or lives could be lost — was one to which he was not initially receptive.

“It took him awhile to appreciate the gravity of the situation,” Graham said in an interview. “The president saw these people as allies in his journey and sympathetic to the idea that the election was stolen.”

Trump ultimately — and begrudgingly — urged his supporters to “go home in peace.” But the six hours between when the Capitol was breached shortly before 2 p.m. Wednesday afternoon and when it was finally declared secure around 8 p.m. that evening reveal a president paralyzed — more passive viewer than resolute leader, repeatedly failing to perform even the basic duties of his job.

washington post logoWashington Post, Several Capitol police officers suspended, more than a dozen under investigation over actions related to rally and riot, Aaron C. Davis, Rebecca Tan and Beth Reinhard, Jan. 12, 2021. Several U.S. Capitol Police officers have been suspended and more than a dozen others are under investigation for suspected involvement with or inappropriate support for the demonstration last week that turned into a deadly riot at the Capitol, according to members of Congress, police officials and staff members briefed on the developments.

Eight separate investigations have been launched into the actions of Capitol officers, according to one congressional aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the status of the internal review.

In one of the cases, officers had posted what Capitol Police investigators found to be messages showing support for the rally on Wednesday that preceded the attack on the complex, including touting President Trump’s baseless contention that the election had been stolen through voter fraud, the aide said.

Investigators in another instance found that a Capitol officer had posted “inappropriate” images of President-elect Joe Biden on a social media account. The steve sund recroppedaide declined to describe the photographs.

The scrutiny of the Capitol Police comes amid intensifying recriminations over why the complex was insufficiently protected when thousands of Trump supporters converged on Washington to protest the congressional action to certify Biden’s win.

On Sunday, former Capitol police chief Steven Sund, who resigned after the attack, told The Washington Post in an interview that congressional security officials rebuffed his efforts to put the D.C. National Guard on standby before the joint session.

washington post logoWashington Post, State capitals face threat of armed protests, FBI warns, Tim Craig, Holly Bailey and Matt Zapotosky, Jan. 12, 2021. The FBI warned Monday that armed far-right extremist groups are planning to march on state capitals this weekend, triggering a rush to fortify government buildings amid concerns that the violence that erupted at the U.S. Capitol last week could spread throughout the country.

The memo is something of a raw intelligence product, compiling information gathered by the bureau and several other government agencies, an official said. Some of it is unverified, and the threat is likely to differ significantly from place to place, though the memo said there were plans in all 50 state capitals, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the bulletin is considered a law enforcement document not authorized for wide public release.

But the data points it highlights for law enforcement are nonetheless troubling — including that there was information suggesting people might storm government offices, or stage an uprising were President Trump to be removed from office, the official said.

 

Capitol Riot Commentaries

ny times logoNew York Times, How White Evangelical Christians Fused With Trump Extremism, Elizabeth Dias and Ruth Graham, Jan. 12, 2021. A mix of grievance and religious fervor has turbocharged the support among Trump loyalists, many of whom see themselves as participants in a holy war.

Before self-proclaimed members of the far-right group the Proud Boys marched toward the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, they stopped to kneel in the street and prayed in the name of Jesus.

djt as chosen oneThe group, whose participants have espoused misogynistic and anti-immigrant views, prayed for God to bring “reformation and revival.” They gave thanks for “the wonderful nation we’ve all been blessed to be in.” They asked God for the restoration of their “value systems,” and for the “courage and strength to both represent you and represent our culture well.” And they invoked the divine protection for what was to come.

Then they rose. Their leader declared into a bullhorn that the media must “get the hell out of my way.” And then they moved toward the Capitol.

The presence of Christian rituals, symbols and language was unmistakable on Wednesday in Washington. There was a mock campaign banner, “Jesus 2020,” in blue and red; an “Armor of God” patch on a man’s fatigues; a white cross declaring “Trump won” in all capitals. All of this was interspersed with allusions to QAnon conspiracy theories, Confederate flags and anti-Semitic T-shirts.

The blend of cultural references, and the people who brought them, made clear a phenomenon that has been brewing for years now: that the most extreme corners of support for Mr. Trump have become inextricable from some parts of white evangelical power in America. Rather than completely separate strands of support, these groups have become increasingly blended together.

This potent mix of grievance and religious fervor has turbocharged the support among a wide swath of Trump loyalists, many of whom describe themselves as participants in a kind of holy war, according to interviews. And many, who are swimming in falsehoods about the presidential election and now the riot itself, said the aftermath of Wednesday’s event has only fueled a deeper sense of victimhood and being misunderstood.

Like many Republicans in Congress, some evangelical leaders who have been most supportive of Mr. Trump distanced themselves and their faith from the rioters. Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Dallas, called the violence “anarchy.” The siege on the Capitol “has absolutely nothing to do with Christianity,” he said. “Our support of President Trump was based on his policies.”

But critics said it was too late to try to separate the white conservative Christian culture that helped push Mr. Trump to power from last week’s violence in Washington.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: This Putsch Was Decades in the Making, Paul Krugman, right, Jan. 12, 2021. G.O.P. cynics have been coddling crazies for a long paul krugmantime. One striking aspect of the Capitol Hill putsch was that none of the rioters’ grievances had any basis in reality.

No, the election wasn’t stolen — there is no evidence of significant electoral fraud. No, Democrats aren’t part of a satanic pedophile conspiracy. No, they aren’t radical Marxists — even the party’s progressive wing would be considered only moderately left of center in any other Western democracy.

So all the rage is based on lies. But what’s almost as striking as the fantasies of the rioters is how few leading Republicans have been willing, despite the violence and desecration, to tell the MAGA mob that their conspiracy theories are false.

kevin mccarthyBear in mind that Kevin McCarthy, left, the House minority leader, and two-thirds of his colleagues voted against accepting the Electoral College results even after the riot. (McCarthy then shamelessly decried “division,” saying that “we must call on our better angels.”)

Or consider the behavior of leading Republicans who aren’t usually considered extremists. On Sunday Senator Rob Portman declared that we need to “restore confidence in the integrity of our electoral system.” Portman isn’t stupid; he has to know that the only reason so many people doubt the election results is that members of his party deliberately fomented that doubt. But he’s still keeping up the pretense.

For a long time Republican elites imagined that they could exploit racism and conspiracy theorizing while remaining focused on a plutocratic agenda. But with the rise first of the Tea Party, then of Donald Trump, the cynics found that the crazies were actually in control, and that they wanted to destroy democracy, not cut tax rates on capital gains.

The G.O.P. has reached the culmination of its long journey away from democracy, and it’s hard to see how it can ever be redeemed.

 

Jan. 11

capitol guns drawn

Top Headlines

 

U.S. Politics, Elections

 

U.S. Law, Courts, Media News

 

Top Stories

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: House Democrats introduce article of impeachment as GOP blocks measure to invoke 25th Amendment, John Wagner and Paulina Firozi, Jan. 11, 2021. House Democrats formally introduced an article of impeachment against President Trump, charging him with “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the takeover of the U.S. Capitol last week by a violent pro-Trump mob. The House could vote as early as Wednesday. Other headlines:

  • Bowser tells Americans to stay home for inauguration
  • Republican former lawmakers urge Trump’s impeachment
  • Timothy Blodgett sworn in to serve as House sergeant-at-arms

U.S. House logoIn a brief session Monday, House Republicans blocked a measure calling on Vice President Pence and the Cabinet to remove Trump under the 25th Amendment, a move that ensures a vote in the full House.

Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), below left, had a stark message to Americans on Monday: Do not attend Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration in Washington.

muriel bowser CustomWith the combined threats both of spreading the coronavirus in a city that reached its highest average daily new case rate ever on Monday, and of violence from those who reject the election result, Bowser said, Americans who would ordinarily flock to Washington should stay home.

The right-wing groups threatening to mass before and during the inauguration are different from the protesters the city normally welcomes, Bowser said. “People coming to demonstrate peacefully are very different from the people who stormed the Capitol,” she said.

When a reporter asked if she was scared of what might happen Jan. 20, Bowser said: “If I’m scared of anything, it’s for our democracy. Because we have … factions in our country that are armed and dangerous.”

In an effort to make the city inhospitable to guests, Bowser said she would also “likely” extend the mandated closure of indoor dining through Jan. 24 in the interest of public safety around the inauguration. The ban was implemented in December to address rising coronavirus cases and was set to end Jan. 15.

Bowser said she would decide Tuesday. She said she will be briefed by the FBI daily on threats to the city.

washington post logoWashington Post, Video shows mob dragging a police officer down stairs. One rioter beat the officer with an American flag pole, Katie Shepherd, Jan. 11, 2021. As a mob of pro-Trump rioters attacked the Capitol on Wednesday, one man in a white hat and backpack grabbed a police officer by the helmet, dragging the officer down the stairs. Soon, other rioters kicked and punched the officer, and one man even bashed the prone figure repeatedly with a pole flying an American flag.

The shocking violence against an outnumbered officer is shown in a video first aired by CNN on Sunday. It swiftly went viral, garnering more than 1.6 million views on Twitter by early Monday.

The Capitol mob: A raging collection of grievances and disillusionment

The officer seen in the video, as well as in other photos and videos of the moment that later surfaced on social media, has not been officially identified. The extent of the injuries the officer suffered in the attack is not clear. D.C. Metropolitan Police and U.S. Capitol Police did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the video late Sunday.

The video adds a new layer of evidence documenting the violence that pro-Trump rioters unleashed during the attempted insurrection at the Capitol, where overrun police tried to protect the federal building. One U.S. Capitol Police officer, Brian D. Sicknick, suffered injures in the incident and later died, and more than 50 other police officers were hurt. One rioter was fatally shot by police, and three other people died following medical emergencies.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Law enforcement individual arrested in relation to U.S. Capitol attack, multiple others suspended, Bill Palmer, Jan. 11, 2021. Over the past week it’s become increasingly clear that the bumbling idiots who invaded the U.S. Capitol Building must have had some kind of inside help from law enforcement. Sure enough, that’s now playing out.

bill palmer report logo headerCongressman Tim Ryan has announced that two Capitol Police officers have been suspended, one for giving directions to the domestic terrorist invaders, the other for taking selfies with them. Another ten or more Capitol Police officers are under investigation. Most importantly, as relayed by CNN, one unidentified “law enforcement individual” has been arrested.

It’s not yet been revealed whether this law enforcement individual is a member of the Capitol Police. It could also theoretically have been an off duty police officer who traveled to DC and participated in the attack. In any case, it’s becoming more clear by the minute that Trump’s idiot terrorists had help from law enforcement – and that those law enforcement personnel are going to pay for it.

washington post logoWashington Post, Outgoing chief says security officials impeded efforts to call in National Guard, Carol D. Leonnig, Aaron C. Davis, Peter Hermann and Karoun Demirjian, Jan. 11, 2021. Even as rioters violently overran his forces, outgoing Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund said in an exclusive interview, the sergeants at arms for the House and Senate took more than an hour to approve his request.

Two days before Congress was set to formalize President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund was growing increasingly worried about the size of the pro-Trump crowds expected to stream into Washington in protest.

steve sund recroppedTo be on the safe side, Sund, left, asked House and Senate security officials for permission to request that the D.C. National Guard be placed on standby in case he needed quick backup.

But, Sund said Sunday, they turned him down.

In his first interview since pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol last week, Sund, who has since resigned his post, said his supervisors were reluctant to take formal steps to put the Guard on call even as police intelligence suggested that the crowd President Trump had invited to Washington to protest his defeat probably would be much larger than earlier demonstrations.

House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving said he wasn’t comfortable with the “optics” of formally declaring an emergency ahead of the demonstration, Sund said. Meanwhile, Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger suggested that Sund should informally seek out his Guard contacts, asking them to “lean forward” and be on alert in case Capitol Police needed their help.

Stenger declined Sunday to comment when a reporter visited his Virginia home. “I really don’t want to talk about it,” he said.

It was the first of six times Sund’s request for help was rejected or delayed, he said. Two days later on Wednesday afternoon, his forces already in the midst of crisis, Sund said he pleaded for help five more times as a scene far more dire than he had ever imagined unfolded on the historic Capitol grounds.

An army of 8,000 pro-Trump demonstrators streamed down Pennsylvania Avenue after hearing Trump speak near the White House. Sund’s outer perimeter on the Capitol’s west side was breached within 15 minutes. With 1,400 Capitol Police officers on duty, his forces were quickly overrun.

 wayne madesen report logoWayne Madsen Report (WMR), Analysis: Coup attempt dissection yields police and military involvement, Wayne Madsen (Political commentator, left, author of 18 wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallbooks, former Navy intelligence officer and Department of Defense National Security Agency analyst), Jan. 11, 2021.

christopher miller official.jpgIt is becoming painfully clear that the January 6 coup attempt against the Congress involved on- and off-duty police from Washington and around the country, as well as active duty and reserve military personnel going up the chain of command to the acting Secretary of Defense, retired Army General Christopher Miller, right.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden looks at whether Senate can tackle impeachment and his agenda simultaneously, Annie Linskey, Jan. 11, 2021. President-elect Joe Biden said Monday he is consulting with Senate leaders and the chamber’s parliamentarian about whether the Senate can “bifurcate” its schedule, so it can move forward simultaneously with impeaching President Trump and enacting Biden’s agenda, including a multitrillion-dollar coronavirus relief plan.

joe biden oBiden’s comments, made Monday just after he received his second dose of the coronavirus vaccine at a Delaware hospital, revealed his most detailed thinking to date about the threat that congressional Democrats’ impeachment efforts could overshadow the early days of his us senate logopresidency.

The remarks also affirmed that the president-elect wants Congress to focus on improving the response to the virus and bolstering the struggling economy ahead of rebuking Trump for his role in inciting a deadly mob that briefly took control of the U.S. Capitol building last week.

“My priority, first and foremost, is the stimulus bill,” Biden said Monday, “and secondly to begin to rebuild the economy.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Up to 15,000 National Guard members could be deployed in D.C. during inauguration, Dan Lamothe, Jan. 11, 2021. Up to 15,000 National Guard members could be deployed in Washington during the presidential inauguration, senior defense officials said Monday, part of a rapidly expanding response following a deadly insurrection at the Capitol last week.

Army Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, said in a call with reporters that about 6,000 guardsmen from six states already are in the nation’s capital, and that the military response will expand to about 10,000 by the weekend.

Hokanson said the numbers will be determined by the requirements that federal agencies have for support. The National Guard will bring their weapons to Washington and carry them based on discussions with the FBI, police and other agencies.

“Obviously, we’re very concerned that we want our individuals to have the right to self-defense," the general said. “And so, that will be an ongoing conversation, and if the senior leadership determines that that’s the right posture to be in, then that is something that we will do.”

The shift comes after the Defense Department carved out a narrow role ahead of a protest against President Trump’s election loss on Wednesday. Trump directed thousands of people to the Capitol afterward, some of whom began storming the building and attacking Capitol Police officers, including one who later died.

Just 340 D.C. National Guard members had been activated ahead of the riot, and none were posted outside the Capitol. Instead, they were assigned to traffic duty in other parts of the city, because the Capitol Police and the Pentagon had not worked out a plan in the event of a crisis at the home of Congress.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates: Acting homeland security secretary Wolf to step down, nine days ahead of Biden inauguration, Colby Itkowitz, John Wagner, Paulina Firozi, Felicia Sonmez and Nick Miroff, Jan. 11, 2021. What we know about Trump’s possible second impeachment; Some House Democrats hope to impeach President Trump for a second time for high crimes and misdemeanors. Here is what that accelerated process might entail.

chad wolfActing homeland security secretary Chad Wolf, right, is stepping down, nine days ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration and amid widespread fears about security in the aftermath of the mob attack on the Capitol last week.

us dhs big eagle logo4In Congress, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Monday that the House will move forward with impeaching President Trump for a second time if Vice President Pence does not seek to remove him under the 25th Amendment by Wednesday.

Her threat came shortly after House Democrats formally introduced an article of impeachment against Trump, charging him with “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the takeover of the U.S. Capitol by a violent pro-Trump mob on Wednesday. Democrats say that measure already has 218 co-sponsors, enough to guarantee passage.

ny times logoNew York Times, Talk Radio Giant Tells Hosts to Stop ‘Stolen Elections’ Rhetoric: Live Updates, Tiffany Hsu, Jan. 11, 2021. The talk radio network that airs mark levin resized cpacDan Bongino and Mark Levin, right, warned staff to stop ‘dog-whistle talk.’

  • Parler accuses Amazon of breaking antitrust law in suspending hosting services.
  • Government watchdog warns of $3.6 billion in potentially fraudulent P.P.P. loans.
  • Ford, citing the pandemic, will stop making cars in Brazil and shut three factories.
  • The government settled with a company accused of using stored photos to create facial recognition databases.

Cumulus Media, a talk radio company with a roster of popular right-wing personalities including Dan Bongino, Mark Levin and Ben Shapiro, has warned its hosts to steer clear of misinformation about election fraud.

Brian Philips, an executive vice president of Cumulus, sent the stern memo on Wednesday, the same day that a pro-Trump mob rampaged through the halls of Congress. Addressed to employees working in the company’s programming and talent divisions, including those at its syndication arm, Westwood One, the memo’s first section appeared in bold typeface, with many words capitalized for emphasis.

“We need to help induce national calm NOW,” the memo began.

“Cumulus and Westwood One will not tolerate any suggestion that the election has not ended,” it continued. “The election has resolved, there are no alternate acceptable ‘paths.’ Please inform your staffs that we have ZERO TOLERANCE for any suggestion otherwise. If you transgress this policy, you can expect to separate from the company immediately. There will be no dog-whistle talk about ‘stolen elections,’ ‘civil wars’ or any other language that infers violent public disobedience is warranted, ever.”

The memo, which was first reported by Inside Music Media, underlined a statement at the end of the paragraph: “Through all of our communication channels, including social, we will work to urge restoration of PEACE AND ORDER.”

Cumulus did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Levin, who has attacked Democrats and many Republicans who have not supported Mr. Trump, has tweeted about a “massive fraud perpetrated against the president” and promoted the Jan. 6 demonstration in the days leading up to it. On the Wednesday episode of his radio show, Mr. Levin, who also hosts a Fox News program on Sunday nights, criticized those who stormed the Capitol, but defended “people who are peacefully protesting” against “a stolen election” — a characterization that has been repeatedly debunked as false.

Mr. Bongino, a former Secret Service agent and a current Fox News contributor, is also an investor in Parler, a social media app popular with Trump supporters. In an appearance on Fox News on Monday, Mr. Bongino fulminated against the suspension of Parler by major technology companies, referring to “tech tyrants,” “tech totalitarians” and “the communists at Apple and Amazon and Google.”

Mr. Bongino, who hosts a podcast and has a popular Facebook page, has raised questions about “irregularities” in the 2020 election. On an episode of his podcast in November, he said, referring to the election, “Ladies and gentlemen, these claims that there are no evidence of fraud are utterly absurd.”

Cumulus owns and operates 416 stations across 86 markets, including WMAL in Washington, WNBM in New York and KABC in Los Angeles.

— — — — —

ny times logoNew York Times, Parler accuses Amazon of breaking antitrust law in suspending hosting services, Jan. 11, 2021. Hours after it went offline on Monday, the social media start-up Parler filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing Amazon of violating antitrust law and asking for a temporary restraining order to prevent the tech giant from blocking access to cloud computing services.

parler logoAmazon told Parler over the weekend that it would shut off service because “a steady increase in violent content” on the site showed that the company did not have a reliable process to prevent it from violating Amazon’s terms of service. Amazon said it would ensure Parler’s data was preserved so that it could migrate to a new hosting provider.

Before Parler went dark, technologists also raced to scrape publicly available data from the app, as part of a broader effort to identify those who helped organize and participated in the riot at the Capitol last week.

Millions of people have turned to Parler since the November election and after Twitter and Facebook barred President Trump after the Capitol riot. Apple and Google both kicked Parler out of their app stores last week, though users who already had downloaded the app could still use it. But the app relied on amazon logo smallAmazon’s cloud computing technology to work.

Parler’s complaint was dated Sunday, before Amazon suspended Parler. But the suit was not filed with the court until Monday.

In the suit, filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, Parler accused Amazon of terminating, not just suspending, its account — and said it should have received 30 days’ notice. It also argued that Amazon violated antitrust law by conspiring with Twitter, a major Amazon customer, to boot Parler just as it was gaining broader appeal. It said it had 12 million users, and “expects to add millions more this week given its growth the last few days.”

Parler did not provide direct evidence showing that Amazon and Twitter coordinated the response. Instead, it pointed to a December news release announcing a multiyear strategic partnership between Amazon and Twitter, and it made references to Twitter’s own challenges policing its content.

Parler said losing Amazon’s services would be a “death knell,” though other platforms popular with the far right and conspiracy theorists, like Gab and 8chan, have recovered after being terminated by hosting providers.

David J. Groesbeck, a sole practitioner intellectual property lawyer in Olympia, Wash., filed the suit for Parler. Amazon did not respond to an immediate request for comment.

djt nancy pelosi

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Impeachment Live: House Vows to Move Swiftly on Impeachment if Pence Refuses to Act, Staff Reports, Jan. 11, 2021. The House plans to introduce a resolution today calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and strip President Trump of power.

Leading Democrats have suggested impeachment could move forward on a remarkably quick timetable, charging Mr. Trump by midweek. Here’s the latest.

U.S. House logoThe House on Monday plans to introduce a resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence and the cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment and strip President Trump of the powers of his office.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi escalated the pressure on Mr. Pence in a letter to colleagues on Sunday, calling on him to respond “within 24 hours” and indicated she expected a Tuesday vote on the resolution. Democrats planned to try to pass the resolution by unanimous consent on Monday, but it is expected to fail.

Next, she said, the House would bring an impeachment case to the floor. Though she did not specify how quickly it would move, leading Democrats have suggested they could press forward on a remarkably quick timetable, charging Mr. Trump by midweek with “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

“In protecting our Constitution and our democracy, we will act with urgency, because this president represents an imminent threat to both,” she wrote in the letter. “As the days go by, the horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this president is intensified and so is the immediate need for action.”

Ms. Pelosi’s actions in effect gave Mr. Pence, who is said to be opposed to the idea, an ultimatum: use his power under the Constitution to force Mr. Trump Mike Penceout by declaring him unable to discharge his duties, or make him the first president in American history to be impeached twice.

With few Democrats hopeful Mr. Pence would act, Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the party’s No. 3, said the House could vote to impeach Mr. Trump by Wednesday, one week before Inauguration Day. Lawmakers were put on notice to return to Washington, and their leaders consulted with the Federal Air Marshal Service and law enforcement on how to safely move them back into a Capitol that was ransacked in a shocking security failure less than a week ago.

“If we are the people’s house, let’s do the people’s work and let’s vote to impeach this president,” Mr. Clyburn said on “Fox News Sunday.” “The Senate will decide later what to do with that impeachment.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Parler, a Chosen App of Trump Fans, Has Become a Test of Free Speech, Jack Nicas and Davey Alba, Updated Jan. 11, 2021. The app has renewed a debate about who holds power over online speech after tech giants yanked their support for it. Parler went dark early on Monday.

From the start, John Matze had positioned Parler as a “free speech” social network where people could mostly say whatever they wanted. It was a bet that had recently paid off big as millions of President Trump’s supporters, fed up with what they deemed censorship on Facebook and Twitter, flocked to Parler parler logoinstead.

On the app, which had become a top download on Apple’s App Store, discussions over politics had ramped up. But so had conspiracy theories that falsely said the election had been stolen from Mr. Trump, with users urging aggressive demonstrations last week when Congress met to certify the election of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Those calls for violence soon came back to haunt Mr. Matze, 27, a software engineer from Las Vegas and Parler’s chief executive. By Saturday night, Apple and Google had removed Parler from their app stores and Amazon said it would no longer host the site on its computing services, saying it had not sufficiently policed posts that incited violence and crime.

amazon logo smallEarly on Monday morning, just after midnight on the West Coast, Parler appeared to have gone offline.

Those moves had set off a furious effort to keep Parler up. Mr. Matze said on Sunday that he was racing to save the data of Parler’s roughly 15 million users from Amazon’s computers. He was also calling company after company to find one willing to support Parler with google logo customhundreds of computer servers.

“I believe Amazon, Google, Apple worked together to try and ensure they don’t have competition,” Mr. Matze said on Parler late Saturday. “They will NOT win! We are the worlds last hope for free speech and free information.” He said the app would probably shut down “for up to a week as we rebuild from scratch.”

 

U.S. Politics, Elections

Palmer Report, Opinion: Why Donald Trump needs to go to prison, Robert Harrington, right, Jan. 11, 2021. It’s what the Times of India is calling the Coup Klux Klan. robert harringtnn portraitViolent white supremacists, some intent on kidnapping or physically harming members of Congress, took over the Capitol building in Washington DC while lawmakers shivered in the gallery in terror.

bill palmer report logo headerProtesters carried dozens of flex cuffs — handcuffs made of zip ties — intent on arresting members of Congress and holding them hostage. Protesters were even heard to speak of hanging some of them. Many in the DC Police and the National Guard virtually stepped aside and let them in.

This was nothing less than an attempted coup d’etat by Donald Trump and the MAGA-hat-wearing white supremacist cretins known as his base. This is why Donald Trump must go to prison for the rest of his life. At least, that’s what I think. And I present that case to you in the form of a victim impact statement.

djt prison palmer reportI hasten to add, I don’t mean to claim any special victim significance for myself. I am simply an average American claiming my share of the evil that Donald Trump has visited on every average American. To be sure, some Americans have had a greater share of Donald Trump’s evil than others. They deserve their day of justice even more than I. I’ve taken it upon myself to speak for some of them because some of them cannot speak at all. Because some of them are dead.

But I am outraged by what Donald Trump has done to the land of my birth, how he has dragged its reputation through the mud of racism and cheapened its message of freedom, how hundreds of thousands of Americans have died because of him. For example, by the time he leaves office, more than 400,000 Americans will lie dead of coronavirus thanks to Donald Trump. They are dead because Donald Trump refused to take any serious steps against the global pandemic.

But as if that were not enough, on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, five people died and the sanctity of the nation’s Capitol building was violated thanks to Trump.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Politics Live: Wall Street Banks Halt Political Donations After Capitol Riot, Staff Reports, Jan. 11, 2021. A flurry of companies have since reviewed political giving via their corporate political action committees. Here’s the latest on business.

Big businesses often donate to both political parties and say that their support is tied to narrow issues of specific interest to their industries. That became increasingly fraught last week, after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol and some Republican lawmakers tried to overturn Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s win in the presidential election.

A flurry of companies have since reviewed political giving via their corporate political action committees, according to the DealBook newsletter.

Some big banks are pausing all political donations:

    • Goldman Sachs is freezing donations through its PAC and will conduct “a thorough assessment of how people acted during this period,” a spokesman, Jake Siewert, told DealBook.
    • JPMorgan Chase is halting donations through its PAC for six months. “There will be plenty of time for campaigning later,” said Peter Scher, the bank’s head of corporate responsibility.
    • citigroup logoCitigroup is postponing all campaign contributions for a quarter. “We want you to be assured that we will not support candidates who do not respect the rule of law,” Candi Wolff, the bank’s head of government affairs, wrote in an internal memo.

Other banks, including Bank of America and Wells Fargo, said they would review their corporate contribution strategy.

Some companies are pausing donations to specific politicians. Marriott said it would pause donations from its PAC “to those who voted against certification of the election,” a spokeswoman told DealBook. She did not say how long the break would last or how the hotel operator would decide when to resume.

Blue Cross Blue Shield, Boston Scientific and Commerce Bancshares are taking a similar, targeted approach to donation freezes. The newsletter Popular Information is tracking the responses of these and other companies that donated to lawmakers who challenged the election result.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Republicans who aren’t willing to act against sedition are complicit, Jennifer Rubin, right, Jan. 11, 2021. Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) jennifer rubin new headshotand NBC’s Chuck Todd had this exchange on “Meet the Press” on Sunday about the consequences Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) should face for fomenting the deadly mob that breached the Capitol last week:

TOOMEY: "Look, I think the — they’re going to have a lot of soul searching to do. And the problem is they were complicit in the big lie, this lie that Donald Trump won the election in a landslide and it was all stolen. They compounded that with this notion that, somehow, this could all be reversed in the final moments of the congressional proceedings. So that’s going to be, that’s going to haunt them for a very long time."

pat toomeyThis is President Trump’s first impeachment all over again. “Yes, bad things were done,” Republicans such as Toomey acknowledged. “But let voters decide.”

No. Toomey, left, was elected. He has the constitutional obligations to try to remove a president who subverts democracy. He has an obligation under the Constitution to, in appropriate circumstances, expel members by a two-thirds vote. He cannot shirk his duties as he did in acquitting Trump the first time.

Why have impeachment and expulsion in the Constitution if the answer is: “Let the voters decide"? For goodness’ sake, he is not even running for reelection in 2022. I find it unfathomable that he remains so timid.

It is this sort of weakness — the failure to repudiate Trump years ago; the refusal to dump him in 2020; the silence, if not active support to overthrow the election — that defines the “good” Republicans. Not good enough. Inaction is complicity. Inaction allows Trump and lawmakers to escape accountability for their heinous actions.

ny times logoNew York Times, Stripped of Twitter, Trump Faces a New Challenge: How to Get Attention, Maggie Haberman, Jan. 11, 2021 (print ed.). President Trump became a celebrity through television, but Twitter had given him a singular outlet for expressing himself as he is, unfiltered by the norms of the presidency.

His public persona was a product of television for decades.

twitter bird CustomThrough “The Apprentice,” he built a fantasy version of himself as a tough-minded chief executive of a global business empire and a self-made billionaire. His wrestling match-style rallies helped him dominate television during the 2016 presidential campaign. Ever attuned to how he was playing and the power of ratings, he personally chose which anchors he wanted to interview him, and persuaded hosts to allow him to simply phone into their Sunday shows.

But as his campaign played out and his presidency began, Donald J. Trump, the master of the small screen, evolved gradually into a different character, @realdonaldtrump, whose itchy Twitter finger became many things at once: an agenda-setter for the day’s coverage, a weapon against his rivals, a way of firing aides and cabinet secretaries, a grenade he could throw at Republican lawmakers who had crossed him and reporters whose coverage he hated, a window into his psyche, and most of all, an unfiltered pipeline to his supporters.

Now, his Twitter account yanked away from him permanently, President Trump faces the challenge, for both his remaining days in the White House and in a post-presidency, of how to thrust himself into the conversation on his own terms.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump has assured the worst possible outcome for himself, Bill Palmer, Jan. 11, 2021. This is like Watergate, if Richard Nixon bill palmertried to have Gerald Ford killed in an attempt at remaining in power. Unlike Trump, Nixon had enough of a small fraction of decency in the end – or maybe just enough pragmatism – to pack up and leave when it was over.

bill palmer report logo headerNixon got to carve out a life outside of politics after he left office, specifically because he left office peacefully. By leaving peacefully, Nixon was able to finagle a federal pardon, and move on with his life. Of course Nixon wasn’t facing state level charges that were going to send him to prison anyway, like Trump is.

But still, even Nixon didn’t incite a terrorist attack on the Capitol building with Ford in it, in one last ridiculous attempt at somehow magically remaining in power. Trump has assured an absolutely horrible outcome for himself, and no semblance of a life after this.

It’s no longer simply a matter of whether Trump can beat the financial fraud charges during his criminal trial in New York. Even if Trump were to somehow pull that off, what does his life look like? He’s lost Twitter, meaning he can’t reach his base. Society is turning against his supporters by the minute. He’s even forced a number of prominent Republicans to cut him off, when they were hoping not to have to. Trump even lost a major golf tournament today, just to rub it in.

Donald Trump has ensured that the rest of his life will consist of criminal trials, financial destruction, ostracizing, and prison. He’s already miserable, impotent, lost, cut off, hobbled. He’ll likely never have another enjoyable day in his life. He spent four years trying to destroy America, and when he learned he wouldn’t get to do it for another four years, he opted to destroy himself.

Jan. 9

Trump Removal Pressures

djt nancy pelosi

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump faces mounting demands to leave office or face impeachment, Seung Min Kim, Josh Dawsey, Mike DeBonis and Tom Hamburger, Jan. 9, 2021 (print ed.). President Trump faces mounting pressure for his immediate ouster after he incited Wednesday’s violent siege at the Capitol — an increasingly louder drumbeat chastising his actions that threatens not only to prematurely end his waning tenure but to put him in legal jeopardy once he leaves office.

democratic donkey logoIn Congress, a growing cadre of House Democrats is pushing to rapidly impeach Trump a second time before he is scheduled to leave office on Jan. 20. They are preparing to introduce articles charging him with inciting an insurrection and having “gravely endangered the security of the United States” and its institutions.

In public, Trump has come as close as he is likely to get to admitting he lost the election, acknowledging that there will be a transfer of power and confirming Friday that he will not attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. But in private, the president has tried to rationalize his actions, saying he wanted only to encourage a large protest that would garner news coverage and rattle members of Congress — not for his supporters to actually storm the Capitol in the worst breach of its security since the War of 1812.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden stimulus plan includes checks, jobless aid, Jeff Stein, Erica Werner and Mike DeBonis, Jan. 9, 2021 (print ed.). President-elect Joe Biden said Friday he is assembling a multitrillion-dollar relief package that would boost stimulus payments for Americans to $2,000, extend unemployment insurance and send billions of dollars in aid to city and state governments, moving swiftly to address the nation’s deteriorating economic condition and the rampaging pandemic.

joe biden twitterThe package will also include billions of dollars to improve vaccine distribution and tens of millions of dollars for schools, as well as rent forbearance and assistance to small businesses, especially those in low-income communities, Biden said at a news conference in Wilmington, Del.

“We need to provide more immediate relief for families and businesses now,” Biden said.

“The price tag will be high,” he said, adding, “The overwhelming consensus among leading economists left, right and center is that in order to keep the economy from collapsing this year, getting much, much worse, we should be investing significant amounts of money right now.”

Biden said he would lay out the package in more detail next week. It would build on some $4 trillion in economic assistance Congress has already devoted to battling the devastating pandemic, including a $900 billion package President Trump signed into law last month.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live U.S. Political Update: Democrats Lay Groundwork for Impeaching Trump Again, Staff Reports, Jan. 9, 2021. ‘I Want Him Out’: Murkowski Is First G.O.P. Senator to Call for Removal.

House Democrats intend to introduce an article of impeachment on Monday charging President Trump with “willfully inciting violence against the government of the United States.” President-elect Joe Biden prioritizes the economy, saying there is a “a dire, dire need to act now.”

  • Furious Democrats, backed by a handful of Republicans, pressured President Trump to leave office after a violent mob attack on the Capitol this week.
  • Senator Lisa Murkowski suggested she may leave the Republican Party if it continued to align itself with Mr. Trump.
  • But the president struck a defiant tone. Behind closed doors, he made clear that he would not resign. Here’s the latest from Washington.
  • Biden pledges action to address the economy and the pandemic.
  • Pelosi asked the Pentagon about preventing Trump from using the nuclear codes.
  • A judge has blocked Trump’s sweeping restrictions on asylum applications.
  • Trump's suspension from Twitter caps an online revolt against him.

washington post logoWashington Post, McConnell memo outlines how Senate would conduct second trial for Trump if House impeaches, Seung Min Kim, Jan. 9, 2021 (print ed.). Based on the Senate schedule and timelines, the proceedings would occur after the president leaves office.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump held Senators hostage in the Capitol while calling them and demanding the election be overturned, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 9, bill palmer2021 (12:03 a.m.). We all saw Donald Trump incite the domestic terrorist attack on the United States Capitol Building. And it’s since been revealed that Trump refused to sign off on the mayor’s request that the DC National Guard be sent in to retake the Capitol. But now things have taken an even darker turn.

bill palmer report logo headerCNN is reporting that while the Capitol was under siege by Trump-terrorists, and while Trump was refusing to sign off on sending the National Guard, he called at least one Senator on the phone and demanded that the election results be overturned. CNN is reporting that Trump tried to call Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville and instead reached Republican Senator Mike Lee, making his demand.

This means that if the timeline of events as we understand it is indeed accurate, Donald Trump was holding members of Congress hostage in the basement while calling them and making demands. This is way beyond merely inciting the attack, or even refusing to do anything to put it down. This is some kind of ransom situation. Trump allowed the Vice President, every Senator, and every House member to remain held hostage and in danger of violence, while he made demands. This is one of the ugliest crimes in American history – and Trump will never get out of prison.

washington post logoWashington Post, Twitter permanently suspends Trump’s account, Nitasha Tiku and Tony Romm, Jan. 9, 2021 (print ed.). “Despite our efforts to serve the public conversation, as Trump’s megaphone, we helped fuel the deadly events of January 6th,” the employees wrote.

Hundreds of Twitter employees demanded in a letter written this week that the company’s leaders permanently suspend Donald Trump’s Twitter account because of his actions surrounding the storming of the U.S. Capitol Tuesday, calling the company’s response insufficient.

twitter bird CustomIn an internal letter addressed to chief executive Jack Dorsey and his top executives viewed by The Washington Post, roughly 350 Twitter employees asked for a clear account of the company’s decision-making process regarding the President’s tweets the day that a pro-Trump mob breached the U.S. Capitol. Employees also requested an investigation into the past several years of corporate actions that led to Twitter’s role in the insurrection.

donald trump twitter“Despite our efforts to serve the public conversation, as Trump’s megaphone, we helped fuel the deadly events of January 6th,” the employees wrote. “We request an investigation into how our public policy decisions led to the amplification of serious anti-democratic threats. We must learn from our mistakes in order to avoid causing future harm.”

“We play an unprecedented role in civil society and the world’s eyes are upon us. Our decisions this week will cement our place in history, for better or worse,” the added.

In a statement, Twitter spokesperson Brandon Borrman wrote, “Twitter encourages an open dialogue between our leadership and employees, and we welcome our employees expressing their thoughts and concerns in whichever manner feels right to them.”

Twitter on Wednesday initially labeled Trump’s tweets about the election as disputed. But a subsequent video from the president — calling for calm while continuing to peddle disinformation — prompted the company to step up its enforcement actions.

Twitter ultimately locked the president out of his account for the first time, requiring him to delete his offending tweets — then wait 12 hours — in order to regain access. That came Thursday morning, and Trump issued his first public comments on the site later that night. Twitter said it would suspend Trump permanently if he continues to break its rules, putting users at risk.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump pressured Ga. elections investigator in a separate call that experts say could amount to obstruction, Amy Gardner, Jan. 9, 2021
More than a week before he urged the Georgia secretary of state to overturn the election results, the president urged the state’s chief elections fraud investigator to “find the fraud.

 ali alexander resized greg palast

"Stop the Steal" Republican operative Ali Alexander, top right, is shown with two others in revelations excerpted below by investigative reporter Greg Palast.

GregPalast.com, Investigation: Why did the Georgia GOP Team up with a riot instigator? Greg Palast, Jan. 8-9, 2021. “WE’LL LIGHT THE WHOLE SH*T ON FIRE!”

The star of the GOP’s get-out-the-vote door-knocking program in the Georgia Senate run-off, standing next to Alex Jones, was blasting his threat through a georgia map 2megaphone in front of the Governor’s home. “We’ll light the whole sh*t on fire!”GOP Operative: “We’ll light the whole sh*t on fire!”

Ali Alexander’s threat in December would become all too real when he repeated his performance on January 6 in Washington, DC.

In the U.S. Capitol that day, looking over the scene of screams, tear gas, and mayhem, Alexander said, “I warned you this would happen.”

Yes, he did. Nevertheless, the Georgia Republican Party’s Metro Atlanta Field Director Kevin Mason was more than happy to team up with Alexander. With his huge reach within the Alt-Right, Alexander could bring in a swarm of volunteers for the door-knocking campaign they desperately needed to hold back the looming Democratic victory in the US Senate run-offs.

republican elephant logoThe far-right celebrity was the magnet to draw scores of young enthusiasts to a January 3 training session at the DoubleTree Hotel in Roswell, an Atlanta suburb. The Palast Investigative Fund’s photojournalist, Zach D. Roberts, a specialist in white-fringe violence who’d been tracking Alexander’s pitch for mayhem across the nation, signed up.

Roberts, who joined up through Alexander’s website, StopTheSteal.US, was quite surprised to receive instructions, not from the right-wing group, but from Daniel George of the National Republican Senate Committee.

Why would the GOP team up with Alexander, a leader of the Stop the Steal extremists, especially after his well-broadcast warning of violence? The threat was not out of character. There are widely circulated films of Alexander with Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes. And there is a video chat with Alexander yucking it up with a right-wing jokester holding up a giant flag with a Nazi Swastika flag.

That is, if “Alexander” is his real name. He adopted it after his reported conviction for a felony crime under the name “Ali Akbar.” [See 2012 column excerpted immediately below.]

Alexander is a shapeshifter, sometimes the eye-swiveling crazy, sometimes the dapper guest for Alt-Right podcasts. We cannot link to his most incendiary outlets such as WildProtest.com because they’ve been taken down for inciting violence.

In Georgia, with Alex Jones and Nick Fuentes, a known white nationalist, Alexander hid nothing of his hopes for Washington on January 6. “Either they take Trump, prove that they won or they’re not going to hand them back the country again. We’ll light the whole sh*t on fire!”

To fire up its base, the GOP is apparently willing to cavort with the violence-threatening fringe. The Grand Old Party dismissed Alexander’s warnings. And they also forgot John Kennedy’s warning that “Those who ride the tail of the tiger soon end up inside.”

greg palast logo

Greg Palast (Rolling Stone, Guardian, BBC), shown above, is the author of The New York Times bestsellers, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy" and "Billionaires & Ballot Bandits," out as major motion non-fiction movie: "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: The Case of the Stolen Election," available on Amazon and Amazon Prime.

 ali akbar mugshot

Crooks and Liars, The National Bloggers Club And Their Super PAC Friends, Matt Osborne, Co-authored with Alex Brant-Zawadzki and Bill Schmalfeldt, Research assistance by Melissa Brewer, Sept. 12, 2012. Ali Akbar, now President of the National Bloggers Club, is one of the conservative blogosphere's most infamous characters. He began his campaign of notoriety with a crime spree in 2006, blazing a six-year trail of fraud. That's him up there, in the mug shots.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just screwed himself even worse than you think, Bill Palmer, Jan. 9, 2021. If Donald Trump had behaved during the transition period, he probably could have convinced the judge in his New York criminal trial to let him serve house arrest at Mar-a-Lago, perhaps even let him out on bail completely, while awaiting trial. But now that he’s a documented domestic terrorist threat, the odds of his pretrial incarceration just went up.

bill palmer report logo headerI’d like to thank Donald Trump for doing more to destroy Trumpism this week than I ever could have done on my own. I’d like believe i’ve certainly put a dent in Trump these past four years, but he just took a sledgehammer to his own cause.

Donald Trump’s subreddit has just been banned from Reddit. Do you know how badly you have to screw up in life to get banned from Reddit? YouTube has permanently banned Steve Bannon.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just got kicked off Twitter for the THIRD time tonight, Bill Palmer, Jan. 8, 2021. Shortly after Donald Trump got permanently banned from Twitter tonight, he tried rogue tweeting from the @POTUS account, which is supposed to be for government use. That only lasted about thirty seconds before Twitter cracked down, deleting his rant. Now it’s happened again on another account.

bill palmer report logo headerTwitter has now permanently suspended Donald Trump’s official campaign Twitter account @TeamTrump after he and/or his handlers used it to post the same rant that Twitter had just removed from the @POTUS account. That’s right, Trump has now been kicked off Twitter for the third time tonight.

At this rate Donald Trump’s next move will be to create a new account called “Ronald Trump” and hope that Twitter doesn’t figure out it’s also him. Trump is the dumbest villain of all time, and he’s getting dumber as the night goes on.

washington post logoWashington Post, Voting machine firm Dominion sues pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, seeking more than $1.3 billion in defamation claim, Emma Brown, Jan. 9, 2021 (print ed.). Dominion Voting Systems on Friday filed a defamation lawsuit against lawyer Sidney Powell, demanding more than $1.3 billion in damages for havoc it says Powell has caused by spreading “wild” and “demonstrably false” allegations, including that Dominion played a central role in a fantastical scheme to steal the 2020 election from President Trump.

For weeks, Powell has claimed that Dominion was established with communist money in Venezuela to enable ballot-stuffing and other vote manipulation, and that those abilities were harnessed to rig the election for former vice president Joe Biden.

dominion voting systemsIn a 124-page complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Dominion said its reputation and resale value have been deeply damaged by a “viral disinformation campaign” that Powell mounted “to financially enrich herself, to raise her public profile, and to ingratiate herself to Donald Trump.” The defendants named in the lawsuit include Powell, her law firm and Defending the Republic, the organization she set up to solicit donations to support her election-related litigation.

In an interview, Dominion CEO John Poulos said the lawsuit aims to clear his company’s name through a full airing of the facts about the 2020 election.

lin wood gage skidmorePoulos said he would like the case to go to trial rather than settle. “We feel that it’s important for the entire electoral process,” he said. “The allegations, I know they were lobbed against us . . . but the impacts go so far beyond us.”

Powell did not immediately respond to a request for comment. L. Lin Wood, left, a lawyer who has worked alongside Powell on post-election lawsuits and who says he is representating her in connection to defamation matters, called the lawsuit an attempt “to censor speech or try to intimidate people from telling the truth.”

 

Deaths From Pro-Trump Riot

brian sicknick

ny times logoNew York Times, He Dreamed of Being a Police Officer, Then Was Killed by a Pro-Trump Mob, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Tracey Tully, Jan. 9, 2021 (print ed.). The death of Brian Sicknick, above, a veteran and experienced officer, amplified the tragedy of the riots and undermined President Trump’s pro-police claims.

Brian Sicknick followed his Air National Guard unit to Saudi Arabia, Kyrgyzstan and a military base in his home state of New Jersey, all in the hopes of one day wearing a police uniform. It was a wish fulfilled more than 10 years ago when he joined the police department tasked with protecting the U.S. Capitol.

Then on Wednesday, pro-Trump rioters attacked that citadel of democracy, overpowered Mr. Sicknick, 42, and struck him in the head with a fire extinguisher, according to two law enforcement officials. With a bloody gash in his head, Mr. Sicknick was rushed to the hospital and placed on life support. He died on Thursday evening.

“Brian is a hero,” his brother Ken Sicknick said. “That is what we would like people to remember.”

The death of Officer Sicknick amplified the nation’s grief in the wake of the shocking attack on the Capitol by rioters, inflamed by President Trump’s calls to stop Congress from counting electoral votes and officially declaring Joseph R. Biden Jr. the winner of November’s election. One of those rioters, Ashli Babbitt, also died in the melee, shot by a police officer as she tried to push her way into the heavily protected Speaker’s Lobby, just outside the House chamber.

In all, five have died since the riot began, though three of them were not killed by hostile action. But the beating of an officer brought waves of condolences from lawmakers in both parties still reeling from the event. It also exposed one of the many contradictions of the Trump presidency in his final weeks in the Oval Office. A president who campaigned as a “law and order” candidate, boasting about his relationships with police unions and demonizing those protesting racist policing, incited a riot that led to the death of a member of the law enforcement community.

“It’s a bunch of” nonsense, William J. Bratton, the former New York City police commissioner, said of Mr. Trump’s pledges to the police, though he used a stronger word. “It was a misappropriation of the term ‘law and order.’”

Justice Department officials said during a news conference on Friday that they were investigating the circumstances of Mr. Sicknick’s death, but would not say whether it was a federal murder investigation. One official said that “felony murder is always in play,” but that investigators needed to complete their work.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. Capitol police officer dies after engaging rioters, Peter Hermann, Jan. 9, 2021 (print ed.). Officer Brian D. Sicknick, below right, brian sicknickcollapsed after returning to his division office and was rushed to a hospital, where officials said he died Thursday night.

On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) ordered flags at the U.S. Capitol to be flown at half-staff.

“The violent and deadly act of insurrection targeting the Capitol, our temple of American Democracy, and its workers was a profound tragedy and stain on our nation’s history. But because of the heroism of our first responders and the determination of the Congress, we were not, and we will never be, diverted from our duty to the Constitution and the American people,” Pelosi said in a statement.

capitol ties

An as-yet unidentified rioter, center, heavily disguised, invades the U.S. Capitol as part of the pro-Trump "Stop the Steal" protest carrying plastic "ties," which are normally used by law enforcers to bind the wrists of suspects but which are used also by terrorists to subdue hostage victims.

washington post logoWashington Post, FBI focuses on whether some rioters intended to harm lawmakers or take hostages, Devlin Barrett, Spencer S. Hsu and Matt Zapotosky, Jan. 9, 2021 (print ed.). FBI agents are trying to determine whether some who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday intended to do more than cause havoc and disrupt the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, and they are sifting through evidence to see whether anyone wanted to kill or capture lawmakers or their staffers, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Dozens have been arrested, and Friday, officials announced charges against an Arkansas man photographed in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office chair with a foot on her desk. But investigators also are working to determine the motivations and larger goals, if any, of those who had weapons or other gear suggesting they planned to do physical harm.

FBI logoSome rioters, for instance, were photographed carrying zip ties, a plastic version of handcuffs, and one man was arrested allegedly carrying a pistol on the Capitol grounds.

“We’re not looking at this as a grand conspiracy, but we are interested in learning what people would do with things like zip ties,” said a law enforcement official, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the investigation.

No photos or videos that have surfaced so far suggest any of the individuals with zip ties tried to take hostages. One possibility being pursued by investigators is that some who burst into the building may be current or former law enforcement officers, or current and former military personnel, people familiar with the investigation said.

Some who participated in the larger pro-Trump protest this week do work in law enforcement.

Chris West, the sheriff of Canadian County in Oklahoma, for example, held a news conference Friday to dispute that he was the person pictured on social media who claimed he was inside the Capitol, according to a Fox affiliate there. West told reporters that though he did come to rally in D.C. as an “individual” and Trump supporter, he never set foot in the Capitol building and thought he was walking from Liberty Square in the direction of the Capitol when the violence began.

A sheriff in Bexar County, Tex., meanwhile, told reporters that one of his lieutenants ­— Roxanne Mathai ­— was under investigation after her Facebook posts appeared to show she was at the Capitol, according to a local ABC station. Mathai has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

rnc logoMany of the initial charges have been for unlawful entry, but authorities also found suspected pipe bombs outside the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee, and they arrested the owner of a truck they said was spotted nearby with 11 molotov cocktails inside. The FBI is still searching for the person who left the suspected pipe bombs.

Adding to the investigation’s urgency, Twitter on Friday noted that plans for future armed protests have begun circulating online, including a proposed second attack on the U.S. Capitol and assaults on state government buildings Jan. 17.

Officials cautioned that there may be a variety of motives among those who broke into Congress, and they said that a key part of their investigation is determining whether any individuals or groups had planned in advance or were coordinating in the moment to commit violence against individual politicians. Others may simply have been caught up in the moment and committed rash, unplanned crimes, officials said.

capitol mob

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), The anatomy of a fascist military-police coup in the United States, Wayne Madsen, left, Jan. 8, 2021. This editor worked for several wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallyears out of the U.S. Capitol complex, attending press conferences, covering hearings, and interviewing members, and got to know almost every nook and cranny.

On January 6, 2021 – truly a date that will live in infamy – armed marauders believing conspiracy theories were able to enter the U.S. Capitol unimpeded by Capitol police.

wayne madesen report logoThe reason was simple. They were aided and abetted in an attempted coup d’etat against the United States by top law enforcement officials of the U.S. Capitol, far-right Republican members of the Senate and House of Representatives, the Department of Defense, the Washington Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), elements within the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Park Service and Police, Secret Service, and state-level offices.

The conspiracy to do exactly what was done on January 6 was advertised on social media, from Gab and Parler to Facebook and Instagram.

USA Today via Yahoo News, Florida man photographed carrying Speaker's lectern in Capitol riot arrested by federal marshal, Rich McKay, Jan. 9, 2021. A usa today logoFlorida man photographed carrying U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's lectern from the House of Representative chambers during the riot at the U.S. Capitol was arrested late Friday, according to jail records.

Adam Christian Johnson, 36, of Parrish, Florida, was arrested on a federal warrant and booked into the Pinellas County jail Friday night, the records said. No bond was allowed.

Following the storming of the Capitol on Wednesday, where lawmakers had gathered to certify the election of President-elect Joe Biden, the FBI had asked the public for help identifying participants, given the proliferation of images of the riots on the internet.

Five people died in the riot, including a Capitol Hill police officer.

Johnson was one of those identified on social media and was identified by the Bradenton Herald as being from Parrish, a community about 25 miles (40 km) south of Tampa.

In addition to the arrest of Johnson, there were at least 13 people facing criminal charges in U.S. District Court in connection to the riot, and at least another 40 people were facing lesser charges in the District of Columbia Superior Court, a local venue.

Many of those individuals were arraigned on Thursday and released, with an order from the judge not to return to Washington unless it is for court appearances or meetings with their attorneys.

They included Cleveland Meredith, who was charged with threatening Pelosi as well as possession of an unregistered firearm and unregistered ammunition, and Richard Barnett, the Gravette, Arkansas, man who was photographed sitting at Pelosi's desk and is also known as Bigo.

USA Today, Fact check: Claims of electoral fraud in Rome, dubbed 'ItalyGate,' are baseless, Camille Caldera, Jan. 8, 2021. The claim: Votes were switched usa today logofrom Trump to Biden at the U.S. Embassy in Rome. At 3:41 a.m. on Jan. 7, Vice President Mike Pence confirmed that President-elect Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump — an act that marked the formal end of the presidential race, per USA Today.

Nonetheless, some internet users have continued to levy baseless claims about electoral fraud. This week, there were multiple videos posted to Facebook that alleged the vote count was changed in Rome.

Pages like Conversation Controversy and Trump Train News Media shared a 52-minute video in which Maria Strollo Zack explains the theory, dubbed "ItalyGate."

"The theft of the election was orchestrated in the Rome Embassy, on the second floor of Via Veneto, by an employee, Stefano Serafini, foreign service officer of over 20 years," she said. "Stefano Serafini coordinated with a General Claudio Graziano."

"General Graziano is on the board of Leonardo — the defense contractor, Leonardo SPA," Strollo Zack continued. "Leonardo used their military satellite uplink to load the software and transfer it over to change the votes from Trump to Biden."

"ItalyGate" has quickly spread to around the internet. The three videos have amassed a combined 100,000 views and 7,000 shares on Facebook. An interview of Strollo Zack on America Can We Talk? on YouTube has also garnered over 400,000 views.

Conversation Controversy, Strollo Zack, American Can We Talk? have not responded to requests from USA TODAY for comment. Trump Train News Media told USA Today that they are not responsible for the content, since it was sent to the page to share.

Johnson told USA Today that "it’s clear from Italian newspapers this is going on," though he provided no proof.

The claims in both videos on "ItalyGate" are baseless. They are also easily contradicted by statements from multiple federal officials who have found no proof of electoral fraud.

On Nov. 12, a national coalition of election security officials announced that "there is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised," per USA Today.

washington post logoWashington Post, Twitter warns of new plans for violence, brewing again on social media, as reason for Trump ban, Craig Timberg and Drew Harwell, Jan. 9, 2021. The company described a looming “secondary attack” on the U.S. Capitol and state government facilities next weekend.


Biden Transition

 washington post logoWashington Post, Biden, who ran on unity, now leads a party furious at GOP, Annie Linskey, Jan. 9, 2021 (print ed.). President-elect Joe Biden, who campaigned on a promise to reach out to Republicans and unite the country, found himself Friday leading a party angrily bent on impeaching President Trump, forcing the resignation of GOP senators and making Republicans pay for their baseless challenge to the election results.

joe biden 2020 button CustomBiden, speaking to reporters in Wilmington, Del., essentially offered a divided response, calling some Republicans “shameful” and praising others for their “enormous integrity.” He said his goal of bipartisanship is, if anything, more achievable after Wednesday’s assault on the Capitol, citing Republicans like Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who he said has talked to him in disgust about the rioters.

“I think it makes my job easier,” Biden said. “We must unify the country.”

He sidestepped questions about a growing drive by House Democrats to impeach Trump, but he strongly suggested that Congress’s time would be better spent tackling his agenda. “What the Congress decides to do is for them to decide,” Biden said. “But they’re going to have to be ready to hit the ground running.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Here’s who objected to certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, Karen Yourish, Larry Buchanan and Denise Lu. Here are the eight senators and 139 representatives who voted to sustain one or both objections.

washington post logoWashington Post, Chart: Who Joe Biden is picking to fill his White House and Cabinet, Staff reports, Jan. 8, 2020. One of President-elect Joe Biden’s very first tasks will be filling the top positions in his White House and Cabinet. In contrast to President Trump’s notably White and male Cabinet, Biden has promised to be “a president for all Americans” and build a Cabinet that reflects its diversity.

joe biden kamala harrisIn making his selections Biden (shown at right with Vice President Election Kamala Harris) is looking to appease factions of the Democratic Party from moderates to progressives and longtime allies to newer faces. Cabinet positions — with the exception of the vice president and White House chief of staff — will also require approval from a Republican Senate, unless Democrats can win two Senate race runoffs in early January.

Once confirmed, they will be instrumental in carrying out his goals and setting the tenor his presidency. We’re tracking the people who Biden has already named and the top contenders for unfilled roles.

  • Washington Post, Biden still planning to be sworn in on the steps of U.S. Capitol two weeks after mob attack, Emily Davies and Matt Viser, Jan. 9, 2021. 

 

More On U.S. Elections, Politics

ronna mcdaniel djt Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, In Capital, a G.O.P. Crisis. At the R.N.C. Meeting, a Trump Celebration, Jonathan Martin, Jan. 9, 2021 (print ed.). Party members at a gathering of the Republican National Committee endorsed President Trump to lead the party forward, despite turmoil in Washington.

In Washington, Republicans were dealing with a burgeoning crisis in their ranks, with high-profile resignations and bitter infighting over how to deal with an erratic and isolated president. But at the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting on Friday, most party members were operating in a parallel universe.

rnc logoIn a chandelier-adorned ballroom at the seaside Ritz-Carlton here, there was no mention of President Trump’s disruption of the coronavirus relief package or his phone call to the Georgia secretary of state demanding that he help steal the election, both of which contributed to Republicans’ losing control of the Senate.

And while the R.N.C. chair, Ronna McDaniel (shown above with Trump in separate file photos), condemned the attack on the Capitol, neither she nor any other speaker so much as publicly hinted at Mr. Trump’s role in inciting a mob assault on America’s seat of government.

Even as the president faces a possible second impeachment proceeding, this collective exercise in gaze aversion was not the most striking part of the meeting. More revealing was the reason for the silence from the stage: Party members, one after another, said in interviews that the president did not bear any blame for the violence at the Capitol and indicated that they wanted him to continue to play a leading role in the party.

“I surely embrace President Trump,” said Michele Fiore, the committeewoman from Nevada, where Republicans have lost two Senate races and the governorship since 2016. Ms. Fiore, who was sporting a Trump-emblazoned vest, said the president was “absolutely” a positive force in the party.

The fealty to Mr. Trump was made plain on Friday when the state chairs and the committeemen and women who make up the R.N.C.’s governing board unanimously re-elected Ms. McDaniel, Mr. Trump’s handpicked chair. They also reappointed her co-chair, Tommy Hicks, who was first appointed to his post because of his friendship with the president’s eldest son.

Mr. Trump is the first president since Herbert Hoover to preside over the loss of the White House, the House and the Senate in a single term and will be the first since Andrew Johnson to boycott his successor’s inauguration. That hasn’t yet fazed the Republican rank and file.

“This room, they’re in denial, and that’s on the record,” Bill Palatucci, a committeeman from New Jersey, said during a break in the Friday session, acknowledging the “damage done to the country” and the Republican “brand” this week.

But Mr. Palatucci was a lonely voice of dissent, at least in public.

 

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

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

ny times logoNew York Times, Senator Josh Hawley, who drew condemnation for challenging the election results, defended his decision, Catie Edmondson Jan. 9, 2021 (print ed.). The day after Josh Hawley became the first Republican senator to say he would indulge President Trump’s demand that lawmakers try to overturn the election, a reporter asked if he thought the gambit would make him unpopular with his colleagues.

“More than I already am?” he retorted.

Even before Mr. Hawley lodged what was certain to be a futile objection to Congress’s certification of the results, the 41-year-old senator — regarded as a rising Republican star who could one day run for president — was far from the chamber’s most popular lawmaker.

His insistence on pressing the challenge after a violent mob egged on by Mr. Trump stormed the Capitol to protest President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory, endangering the entire Congress and the vice president in a day of terror that left at least five people dead, has earned him pariah status in Washington.

But while Mr. Hawley’s role in the riot may have left him shunned — at least for now — in official circles, it may only have improved his stock with his party’s djt maga hatbase in his home state, which remains deeply loyal to Mr. Trump.

His fellow Republicans in the Senate lined up to blame Mr. Hawley for the riot. The editorial boards of major newspapers in Missouri accused him of having “blood on his hands” and called on him to resign. His publisher canceled his book deal and his erstwhile mentor called his efforts to get Mr. Hawley elected to the Senate “the biggest mistake I’ve ever made.”

“But for him, it wouldn’t have happened,” former Senator John C. Danforth of Missouri, the Republican elder statesman, told The Kansas City Star of his former protégé’s role in the riot.

Mr. Hawley has remained defiant, arguing Wednesday evening that the electoral count in Congress was the proper venue to debate his concerns about fraud in the balloting, though he never made a specific charge of wrongdoing.

republican elephant logo“I will never apologize for giving voice to the millions of Missourians and Americans who have concerns about the integrity of our elections,” Mr. Hawley said in a statement. “That’s my job, and I will keep doing it.”

But many Republicans dismissed his effort as grandstanding intended to further his own political ambitions. Some Democratic senators demanded his resignation. And on Friday, Mr. Biden said that Mr. Hawley and Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, were part of “the big lie” that had animated Mr. Trump’s refusal to concede, invoking Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Germany’s minister of propaganda.

djt march 2020 Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Legacy: Voters Who Reject Democracy and Any Politics but Their Own, Trip Gabriel, Jan. 9, 2021. Interviews with voters this week show that President Trump’s subversion of democratic values will have enduring influence within the Republican Party.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Parler Pitched Itself as Twitter Without Rules. Not Anymore, Apple and Google Said, Jack Nicas, Updated Jan. 9, 2021. Google and Apple told Parler, a social network popular with far-right conservatives, that it must better police its users if it wants a place in their app stores.

parler logoParler is one of the hottest apps in the world, a social network that has attracted millions of far-right conservatives over the past year with its hands-off approach to policing users’ posts. And with the news that President Trump had been kicked off Twitter and Facebook, Parler was the odds-on bet to be his next soapbox.

But just as it has been gaining new clout, Parler is now suddenly faced with an existential crisis.

apple logo rainbowOn Friday, Apple told the company that it had to step up its policing of the conversation on its app — undercutting its flagship feature — or lose its platform on iPhones. Several hours later, Google suspended Parler from the Play Store, the main way to download apps on Android devices, until it better polices its app.

In an email to Parler, Apple said it had received complaints that people used the Parler app, which mimics Twitter, to plan Wednesday’s deadly riot in Washington. Apple said it had determined that Parler was not “removing content that encourages illegal activity and poses a serious risk to the health and safety of users.”

google logo customA day earlier, John Matze, Parler’s chief executive, had said in an interview with The Times about Wednesday’s melee that he didn’t “feel responsible for any of this and neither should the platform, considering we’re a neutral town square that just adheres to the law.”

In its letter, Apple referenced his stance and added, “We want to be clear that Parler is in fact responsible for all the user generated content present on your service and for ensuring that this content meets App Store requirements for the safety and protection of our users.”

Apple gave Parler 24 hours to comply before the app would be removed from Apple’s App Store.

Google said in a statement that it had pulled the app because Parler was not enforcing its own moderation policies, despite a recent reminder from Google, and because of continued posts on the app that sought to incite violence.

DJT lisa murkowski

Palmer Report, Opinion: This is a game changer, Bill Palmer, Jan. 9, 2021. Timing is bill palmera funny thing. When Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, above right, called for Donald Trump’s resignation today and threatened to leave the Republican Party over him, we were all instinctively expecting Trump to fire back at her on Twitter. Murkowski surely knew it was coming, and didn’t care.

bill palmer report logo headerBut then the bombshell dropped last night, squarely on Donald Trump’s head. After he was temporarily suspended from Twitter but then misbehaved again after getting his account back, Trump got banned from Twitter entirely – permanently. There are a lot of implications here. One of them is that he never got a chance to fire back at Murkowski. And now he’ll never get to tweet mean retaliatory things about another politician again.

This means that if some Republican Senator wants to unload on Donald Trump going forward, there will be no easy or immediate way for Trump to fire back in retaliation. If Trump can’t harm them in this way, it should make it easier for Republicans to attack Trump whenever they want. Even if some of them only do it for self-serving or backside-covering reasons, the path still just got a lot easier for them.

This is a potential game changer. Any Republican coward who’s spent four years wanting to lash out at Trump, but has been too fearful of retaliation, now gets to take free pot shots at Trump. Let the games begin, if any of these cowards want to play.

 

Jan. 8

BREAKING: Twitter permanently suspends President Trump’s account. The company said it took the action due to the ”risk of further incitement of violence.” This story will be updated.

washington post logoWashington Post, Twitter permanently suspends Trump’s account, Nitasha Tiku and Tony Romm, Jan. 8, 2021. “Despite our efforts to serve the public conversation, as Trump’s megaphone, we helped fuel the deadly events of January 6th,” the employees wrote.

Hundreds of Twitter employees demanded in a letter written this week that the company’s leaders permanently suspend Donald Trump’s Twitter account because of his actions surrounding the storming of the U.S. Capitol Tuesday, calling the company’s response insufficient.

twitter bird CustomIn an internal letter addressed to chief executive Jack Dorsey and his top executives viewed by The Washington Post, roughly 350 Twitter employees asked for a clear account of the company’s decision-making process regarding the President’s tweets the day that a pro-Trump mob breached the U.S. Capitol. Employees also requested an investigation into the past several years of corporate actions that led to Twitter’s role in the insurrection.

donald trump twitter“Despite our efforts to serve the public conversation, as Trump’s megaphone, we helped fuel the deadly events of January 6th,” the employees wrote. “We request an investigation into how our public policy decisions led to the amplification of serious anti-democratic threats. We must learn from our mistakes in order to avoid causing future harm.”

“We play an unprecedented role in civil society and the world’s eyes are upon us. Our decisions this week will cement our place in history, for better or worse,” the added.

In a statement, Twitter spokesperson Brandon Borrman wrote, “Twitter encourages an open dialogue between our leadership and employees, and we welcome our employees expressing their thoughts and concerns in whichever manner feels right to them.”

Letter to Jack Dorsey from Twitter employees asking to permanently suspend Donald Trump’s account

Twitter on Wednesday initially labeled Trump’s tweets about the election as disputed. But a subsequent video from the president — calling for calm while continuing to peddle disinformation — prompted the company to step up its enforcement actions. Twitter ultimately locked the president out of his account for the first time, requiring him to delete his offending tweets — then wait 12 hours — in order to regain access. That came Thursday morning, and Trump issued his first public comments on the site later that night. Twitter said it would suspend Trump permanently if he continues to break its rules, putting users at risk.

 

capitol guns drawn

Police with guns drawn watch as rioters and vandals break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (Source: J. Scott Applewhite/AP); Separately, Fox News reported that an unidentified shooting victim, a California woman, was evacuated from the Capitol to a hospital in critical condition and died after being shot during unidentified circumstances, with at least three other dead during the attempted insurrection at the Capitol.

Trump Removal Pressures?

 

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Trump Removal Pressures

djt looking up

washington post logoWashington Post, Calls grow to remove Trump as he acknowledges ‘new administration,’ Anne Gearan and Mike DeBonis, Jan. 8, 2021 (print ed.). President Trump promised a smooth transition in a video message posted on Twitter Thursday night, saying that his supporters had pursued post-election challenges in good faith, but “now tempers must be cooled and calm restored.”

Trump’s comments are the closest he has come to acknowledging his loss, and they follow escalating calls for his removal, coming hours after the nation’s top congressional Democrats demanded he be removed from office for his role in the deadly sacking of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

nancy pelosi chuck schumer cropped jan 8 2019 screengrab

wsj logoWall Street Journal, Schumer, Pelosi Call for Trump’s Removal After Capitol Riot, Staff Report, Jan. 8, 2021 (print ed.). President for first time directly condemns rioters; transportation secretary resigns and head of Capitol Police says he plans to step down.

Democratic congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer (shown above in a file photo) called for President Trump to be removed from office while several top administration officials resigned, a day after the Capitol was stormed by rioters encouraged by the president to try to block Congress from certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s election win.

The head of the Capitol Police said late Thursday he planned to resign, after lawmakers demanded accountability from officials responsible for the security of the complex and launched investigations into why police were quickly overwhelmed, letting rioters roam through the building and forcing Congress to delay its count of states’ results. The Capitol Police said some officers were hospitalized as a result of the melee, but that there were no deaths to date. Earlier, a union official had said that an officer had died.

betsy devos oBreaking News: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, right, submitted her resignation to President Trump on Thursday night, saying the Capitol riot was an inflection point for her.

The Justice Department said 15 criminal complaints would be filed by the end of the day in connection with the riot, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation is seeking the public’s help in identifying more suspects.

Amid bipartisan criticism, Mr. Trump for the first time directly condemned the perpetrators and struck a conciliatory tone. In a video posted on Twitter, Mr. Trump said the people who stormed the Capitol “do not represent our country” and that lawbreakers “will pay.” He also said he would assist in the Biden transition process, and didn’t repeat his charges of election fraud.

“We have just been through an intense election and emotions are high. But now, tempers must be cooled and calm restored,” he said. “My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth orderly and seamless transition of power. This moment calls for healing and reconciliation.”

The developments highlighted the alarm Wednesday’s riot set off and the belief among many lawmakers from both parties that Mr. Trump provoked it and didn’t condemn the actions strongly enough once the protests turned violent.

“What happened at the U.S. Capitol yesterday was an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president,” said Mr. Schumer, the Senate minority leader from New York. Mr. Schumer’s description echoed comments from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) who called the rioting a “failed insurrection” Wednesday night.

Mr. Trump remained in the White House on Thursday. He privately awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to golfers Annika Sorenstam and Gary Player and gave one posthumously to Babe Zaharias.

elaine chao oTransportation Secretary Elaine Chao, left, said Thursday that she was quitting her post, citing the “entirely avoidable” storming of the Capitol building. Ms. Chao is married to Mr. McConnell. Mick Mulvaney, the U.S. special envoy for Northern Ireland and the former White House chief of staff, quit as well. He told CNBC: “I can’t stay here. Not after yesterday.”

Former Attorney General William Barr, who resigned just before Christmas, said that Mr. Trump’s conduct on Wednesday was a “betrayal of his office and supporters.”

A number of White House officials had resigned Wednesday. Among them were Matthew Pottinger, the deputy national security adviser, and Stephanie Grisham, chief of staff and press secretary to first lady Melania Trump.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. Capitol police officer dies after engaging rioters, Peter Hermann, Jan. 8, 2021. Officer Brian D. Sicknick collapsed after returning to his division office and was rushed to a hospital, where officials said he died Thursday night.

A U.S. Capitol Police officer who was injured amid Wednesday’s takeover of the Capitol died Thursday night, according to a statement from his department.

The officer was identified as Brian D. Sicknick.

The Capitol Police said in the statement that Sicknick was injured “while physically engaging with protesters.” He collapsed after returning to his division office and was rushed to a hospital, where officials said he died at 9:30 p.m. Thursday.

Police did not provide details of how Sicknick was injured and the cause of death was pending Friday morning. It is considered a line-of-duty death and is being investigated by the D.C. police department’s homicide unit.

On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) ordered flags at the U.S. Capitol to be flown at half-staff.

“The violent and deadly act of insurrection targeting the Capitol, our temple of American Democracy, and its workers was a profound tragedy and stain on our nation’s history. But because of the heroism of our first responders and the determination of the Congress, we were not, and we will never be, diverted from our duty to the Constitution and the American people,” Pelosi said in a statement.

 Sidney Powell, right, and Jenna Ellis

Trump attorneys Jenna Ellis, left, and Sidney Powell conduct a press conference with Trump counsel Rudy Giuliani before Trump fired Powell.

washington post logoWashington Post, Voting machine firm Dominion sues pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, seeking more than $1.3 billion in defamation claim, Emma Brown, Jan. 8, 2021. Dominion Voting Systems on Friday filed a defamation lawsuit against lawyer Sidney Powell, demanding more than $1.3 billion in damages for havoc it says Powell has caused by spreading “wild” and “demonstrably false” allegations, including that Dominion played a central role in a fantastical scheme to steal the 2020 election from President Trump.

For weeks, Powell has claimed that Dominion was established with communist money in Venezuela to enable ballot-stuffing and other vote manipulation, and that those abilities were harnessed to rig the election for former vice president Joe Biden.

dominion voting systemsIn a 124-page complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Dominion said its reputation and resale value have been deeply damaged by a “viral disinformation campaign” that Powell mounted “to financially enrich herself, to raise her public profile, and to ingratiate herself to Donald Trump.” The defendants named in the lawsuit include Powell, her law firm and Defending the Republic, the organization she set up to solicit donations to support her election-related litigation.

In an interview, Dominion CEO John Poulos said the lawsuit aims to clear his company’s name through a full airing of the facts about the 2020 election.

lin wood gage skidmorePoulos said he would like the case to go to trial rather than settle. “We feel that it’s important for the entire electoral process,” he said. “The allegations, I know they were lobbed against us . . . but the impacts go so far beyond us.”

Powell did not immediately respond to a request for comment. L. Lin Wood, left, a lawyer who has worked alongside Powell on post-election lawsuits and who says he is representating her in connection to defamation matters, called the lawsuit an attempt “to censor speech or try to intimidate people from telling the truth.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just got a police officer murdered, Bill Palmer, right,Jan. 8, 2021. The first four known deaths stemming from the domestic bill palmerterrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol Building were all pro-Trump people who were either violently invading the building, or who died of medical issues during the fracas. But now CNN and others are confirming that a Capitol Police officer has also died as a result of the attack.

bill palmer report logo headerBecause Donald Trump knowingly and specifically incited this domestic terrorist attack, he’s already looking at a number of potential felony charges. That could now include conspiracy to commit homicide. In general, if someone is murdered as the result of a felony conspiracy, all participants in that felony conspiracy are considered guilty of that murder, whether they were directly responsible for that death or not.

Our condolences go out to the loved ones of the deceased police officer. It’s particularly jarring that Donald Trump and his supporters spent all these years chanting things like “Law and order” and “Blue lives matter,” but in the end, Trump incited them to murder a police officer.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Everything is happening at once now, Bill Palmer, Jan. 8, 2021. By the time today is over, it’s likely that either Donald Trump will have been removed via the 25th Amendment or Donald Trump’s second impeachment will be underway. You’re welcome to place your own odds on which one you think it’ll be. As the day goes on, even more of Trump’s top people will likely resign in protest of him.

bill palmer report logo headerToday will also bring us one step closer to Donald Trump being criminally charged on a federal level – which as recently as the start of this week seemed like a 50-50 proposition at best, but is now nearly a given. At this rate the DOJ and New York State may end up fighting each other to decide who gets to put Trump on trial first.

All of this happens even as President-elect Joe Biden comes another day closer to becoming President Joe Biden. He just announced his Attorney General, Merrick Garland, who now becomes the person who will oversee those federal charges against Trump.

Everything is happening at once right now. It’s difficult to predict how each day will play out or what controversy we’ll face in any given hour. But here’s what we do know: on January 20th this will be over. After that we’ll still have plenty of problems, and it’ll be a new kind of normal, and we’ll have to find our footing in it. But this depraved “President Trump” era is twelve days from being behind us.

ABC News via Yahoo News, Capitol police officer dies from injuries suffered during riots, Jack Date and Mark Osborne, Jan. 7, 2021 (11:57 p.m.). A U.S. Capitol abc news logoPolice officer has died following injuries suffered in the violent siege on the building Wednesday, according to a press release from the department.

The death is the fifth connected to the riots, which saw swarms of pro-Donald Trump protesters overwhelm police barricades, surge into the Capitol and force lawmakers to go into hiding.

The officer, identified as Brian D. Sicknick, died at 9:30 p.m. Thursday evening, police said.

"Officer Sicknick was responding to the riots on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol and was injured while physically engaging with protesters," USCP [U.S. Capitol Police] said in a statement. "He returned to his division office and collapsed. He was taken to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. The death of Officer Sicknick will be investigated by the Metropolitan Police Department's Homicide Branch, the USCP, and our federal partners."

Sicknick had been with the department, most recently as part of the first responder unit, since 2008.

Three people died of medical emergencies, while a 35-year-old woman, Ashli Babbitt, was shot and killed by Capitol police while trying to enter a broken window into the House Chamber.

Law enforcement said more than 50 Capitol police and Metropolitan police officers suffered injuries in the rioting, and "several USCP officers have been hospitalized with serious injuries."

"These individuals actively attacked United States Capitol Police Officers and other uniformed law enforcement officers with metal pipes, discharged chemical irritants, and took up other weapons against our officers," the USCP said in a statement. "They were determined to enter into the Capitol Building by causing great damage."

A U.S. Capitol Police officer has died following injuries suffered in the violent siege on the building Wednesday, according to a press release from the department.

The death is the fifth connected to the riots, which saw swarms of pro-Donald Trump protesters overwhelm police barricades, surge into the Capitol and force lawmakers to go into hiding.

"Officer Sicknick was responding to the riots on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol and was injured while physically engaging with protesters," USCP said in a statement. "He returned to his division office and collapsed. He was taken to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. The death of Officer Sicknick will be investigated by the Metropolitan Police Department's Homicide Branch, the USCP, and our federal partners."

Sicknick had been with the department, most recently as part of the first responder unit, since 2008.

Three people died of medical emergencies, while a 35-year-old woman, Ashli Babbitt, was shot and killed by Capitol police while trying to enter a broken window into the House Chamber.

Law enforcement said more than 50 Capitol police and Metropolitan police officers suffered injuries in the rioting, and "several USCP officers have been hospitalized with serious injuries."

"These individuals actively attacked United States Capitol Police Officers and other uniformed law enforcement officers with metal pipes, discharged chemical irritants, and took up other weapons against our officers," the USCP said in a statement. "They were determined to enter into the Capitol Building by causing great damage."

djt nancy pelosi

Palmer Report, Opinion: Speaker Nancy Pelosi just threw down the gauntlet against Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 7, 2021. This morning, incoming Senate bill palmerMajority Leader Chuck Schumer called on Mike Pence and the cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment and immediately remove Donald Trump from office. This afternoon, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi threw down the gauntlet.

During a speech, Pelosi demanded that Pence invoke the 25th Amendment. She also threatened to impeach Trump if Pence doesn’t bill palmer report logo headerimmediately do so. It’s not clear what impeachment would even look like with just 12 days left in Trump’s term; impeachment is a complex multi-step process that goes through committees. It’s also unclear whether Mitch McConnell, who still controls the Senate for several more days, would be willing to go along with a fast track impeachment.

But Pelosi’s mere threat to introduce articles of impeachment against Trump does serve to place a lot more pressure on Mike Pence to move forward with the 25th Amendment. Pence is still under the illusion that he has some kind of political future after this. If he concludes that he has to move against Trump in order to preserve his own future viability, he just might do it. So the mounting pressure on him matters.

washington post logoWashington Post, After inciting mob attack, Trump retreats in rage. Then, grudgingly, he admits his loss, Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey, Jan. 8, 2021 (print ed.). President Trump spent more than 24 hours after instigating a mob to violently storm the Capitol trying to escape reality.

Cloistered in the White House, Trump raged uncontrollably about perceived acts of betrayal. He tuned out advisers who pleaded with him to act responsibly. He was uninterested in trying to repair what he had wrought. And he continued to insist he had won the election, even as his own vice president certified the fact that he had not.

Only after darkness fell in Washington on Thursday, after the Capitol had been besieged by death and destruction and a growing chorus of lawmakers had called for his immediate removal from office, did Trump grudgingly accept his fate.

“Now Congress has certified the results,” Trump said in a video recorded in the White House’s Diplomatic Reception Room late Thursday afternoon. “A new administration will be inaugurated on January 20th. My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power. This moment calls for healing and reconciliation.”

This was not a concession so much as a grudging acknowledgment that his presidency would end. Trump did not talk of winners and losers, nor did he utter the word “concede,” but it was the closest he seemed willing to go.

Some of his advisers had pleaded with him to give this kind of speech in November, after it was clear he had lost. Those appeals only intensified this week. During his 2-minute, 41-second speech, Trump read from a script that he agreed to only after a pressure campaign from Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, legal counsel Pat Cipollone and members of his family, officials said.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump posts new video, admits it’s over for him, sounds afraid of going to prison for terrorist attack, Bill Palmer, Jan. 7, 2021. As today has gone on, Donald Trump has found himself cornered. Calls for the 25th Amendment are now coming from the top levels of Congress, as well as from inside the White House. The Feds have revealed they’re probing Trump’s actions yesterday on a criminal level. Now Trump is waving one heck of a white flag.

bill palmer report logo headerTrump has apparently regained use of his Twitter account long enough to post a two-plus minute video. In it, he directly condemned the people who attacked the U.S. Capitol and called for them to be prosecuted. He also promised an orderly transition to President Biden, along with a lot of other fluffy and conciliatory language You can watch it here:

So what’s really going on? Donald Trump very much sounds like he’s now afraid of being removed from office via the 25th Amendment, sent to prison for inciting the terrorist attack, or both. He clearly didn’t write these words. But he was willing to read them, which means he understands that he’s now trying to hang onto what very little he has left. His presidency is over. His life as he knows it is over. He’s earmarked for prison and bankruptcy.

Of course Donald Trump can’t be trusted. But this video reveals that Trump is on the ropes and he’s scared. He’s essentially begging not to be prematurely ousted, and begging not to spend the rest of his life in prison. It’s too little too late; Trump must still be ousted immediately via the 25th or impeachment. But it’s good to see Trump cowering like this.

djt impeachment graphic

washington post logoWashington Post, After chaos, calls for Trump’s removal, Rosalind S. Helderman, Karoun Demirjian, Seung Min Kim and Mike DeBonis, Jan. 8, 2021 (print ed.). President Trump was ensconced in the White House residence Wednesday night and into Thursday morning, raging about perceived betrayals, as an array of top aides weighed resigning and some senior administration officials began conversations about invoking the 25th Amendment — an extraordinary measure that would remove the president before Trump’s term expires on Jan. 20.

A deep, simmering unease coursed through the administration over the president’s refusal to accept his election loss and his role in inciting a mob to storm the Capitol, disrupting the peaceful transfer of power to President-elect Joe Biden. One administration official described Trump’s behavior Wednesday as that of “a total monster,” while another said the situation was “insane” and “beyond the pale.”

Fearful that Trump could take actions resulting in further violence and death if he remains in office even for a few days, senior administration officials were discussing Wednesday night whether the Cabinet might invoke the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to force him out, said a person involved in the conversations.

A former senior administration official briefed on the talks confirmed that preliminary discussions of the 25th Amendment were underway, although this person cautioned that they were informal and that there was no indication of an immediate plan of action. Both of these people, like some others interviewed for this story, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the matter.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump pledges ‘orderly transition’ early Thursday, John Wagner and Marisa Iati, Jan. 8, 2021 (print ed.). Scalise says both parties need to ‘tone down the rhetoric.’

djt march 2020 CustomPresident Trump pledged an “orderly transition” in a statement issued early Thursday, shortly after Vice President Pence announced Joe Biden as the winner of the presidential election at the end of a joint session of Congress that was disrupted for hours by a violent throng of Trump supporters.

Trump’s statement stopped short of conceding or congratulating Biden, who plans to address the nation Thursday and introduce his nominees for several top Justice Department posts. Congress completed its work after rejecting Republican challenges to electoral college results in Arizona and Pennsylvania. In othern news:

mick mulvaney omb SmallMick Mulvaney, left, Trump’s former acting chief of staff, said Thursday he is resigning from his current post as a special envoy to Northern Ireland in the wake of the “international travesty” that took place at the Capitol on Wednesday. During an appearance on CNBC, Mulvaney said Trump is “not the same as he was eight months ago” and suggested the violence at the Capitol could have been avoided if Trump had pledged an orderly transition weeks ago.

“Those who choose to stay, and I have talked with some of them, are choosing to stay because they’re worried the president might put someone worse in,” Mulvaney said.

He argued that Trump is behaving differently now than he did during Mulvaney’s tenure as his acting chief of staff.

Newly elected Republican Rep. Nancy Mace (S.C.) said Wednesday’s siege on the Capitol erased what she views as Trump’s accomplishments. “Everything that he’s worked for … all of that, his entire legacy, was wiped out yesterday,” Mace told CNN on Thursday, four days after being sworn into office.

Mace said she sent her children home from D.C. on Monday after seeing concerning social media discussion of plans for the rally. She place partial blame for Wednesday’s violence on Trump and some of her colleagues in Congress. “When you speak like that, when you incite this kind of violence, rhetoric has real consequences,” Mace said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump banned from Facebook indefinitely, CEO Mark Zuckerberg says, Tony Romm and Elizabeth Dwoskin, Jan. 8, 2021 (print ed.).  The move follows temporary bans of Trump’s accounts by both Twitter and Facebook.

facebook logoFacebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday the social media giant is banning President Trump indefinitely, marking a dramatic escalation between Silicon Valley and the White House after Trump weaponized the web to help stoke a riot at the U.S. Capitol.

“We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great,” Zuckerberg wrote. "Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.”

Facebook’s suspension marked the most aggressive penalty that any social media company has meted out to Trump over his four-year term, a period in which he has repeatedly peddled falsehoods, attacked critics and spread divisive rhetoric online. Twitter on Wednesday evening suspended Trump for 12 hours, but the company’s blockade lifted Thursday morning — and the president had not yet tweeted.

The tech giants each took the rare aggressive steps after a violent mob stormed the House and Senate Wednesday, forcing lawmakers into a lockdown and briefly interrupting their formal process to certify Joseph Biden as the next president of the United States. In failing to act until after the deadly riot occurred, Facebook, Twitter and Google-owned YouTube have faced sharp criticism saying they should have done more, and sooner, to stop Trump from helping provoke the situation.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Is Said to Have Discussed Pardoning Himself, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, Jan. 8, 2021 (print ed.). President Trump has suggested to aides he wants to pardon himself in the final days of his presidency, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions, a move that would mark one of the most extraordinary and untested uses of presidential power in American history.

In several conversations since Election Day, Mr. Trump has told advisers that he is considering giving himself a pardon and, in other instances, asked whether he should and what the effect would be on him legally and politically, according to the two people. It was not clear whether he had broached the topic since he incited his supporters on Wednesday to march on the Capitol, where some stormed the building in a mob attack.

Mr. Trump has shown signs that his level of interest in pardoning himself goes beyond idle musings. He has long maintained he has the power to pardon himself, and his polling of aides’ views is typically a sign that he is preparing to follow through on his aims. He has also become increasingly convinced that his perceived enemies will use the levers of law enforcement to target him after he leaves office.

No president has pardoned himself, so the legitimacy of prospective self-clemency has never been tested in the justice system, and legal scholars are divided about whether the courts would recognize it. But they agree a presidential self-pardon could create a dangerous new precedent for presidents to unilaterally declare they are above the law and to insulate themselves from being held accountable for any crimes they committed in office.

The discussions occurred in recent weeks, and it was not clear whether he has brought it up since he incited supporters to march on the Capitol, where some stormed the site.

 

Jan. 7

Trump Removal Pressures?

 

Other Top Headlines

 

More On Trump's Mob Riot

 

Trump Removal Pressures?

djt looking up

wsj logoWall Street Journal, Schumer, Pelosi Call for Trump’s Removal After Capitol Riot, Staff Report, Jan. 7, 2021. President for first time directly condemns rioters; transportation secretary resigns and head of Capitol Police says he plans to step down.

Democratic congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer called for President Trump to be removed from office while several top administration officials resigned, a day after the Capitol was stormed by rioters encouraged by the president to try to block Congress from certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s election win.

The head of the Capitol Police said late Thursday he planned to resign, after lawmakers demanded accountability from officials responsible for the security of the complex and launched investigations into why police were quickly overwhelmed, letting rioters roam through the building and forcing Congress to delay its count of states’ results. The Capitol Police said some officers were hospitalized as a result of the melee, but that there were no deaths to date. Earlier, a union official had said that an officer had died.

betsy devos oBreaking News: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, right, submitted her resignation to President Trump on Thursday night, saying the Capitol riot was an inflection point for her.

The Justice Department said 15 criminal complaints would be filed by the end of the day in connection with the riot, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation is seeking the public’s help in identifying more suspects.

Amid bipartisan criticism, Mr. Trump for the first time directly condemned the perpetrators and struck a conciliatory tone. In a video posted on Twitter, Mr. Trump said the people who stormed the Capitol “do not represent our country” and that lawbreakers “will pay.” He also said he would assist in the Biden transition process, and didn’t repeat his charges of election fraud.

“We have just been through an intense election and emotions are high. But now, tempers must be cooled and calm restored,” he said. “My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth orderly and seamless transition of power. This moment calls for healing and reconciliation.”

The developments highlighted the alarm Wednesday’s riot set off and the belief among many lawmakers from both parties that Mr. Trump provoked it and didn’t condemn the actions strongly enough once the protests turned violent.

“What happened at the U.S. Capitol yesterday was an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president,” said Mr. Schumer, the Senate minority leader from New York. Mr. Schumer’s description echoed comments from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) who called the rioting a “failed insurrection” Wednesday night.

Mr. Trump remained in the White House on Thursday. He privately awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to golfers Annika Sorenstam and Gary Player and gave one posthumously to Babe Zaharias.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said Thursday that she was quitting her post, citing the “entirely avoidable” storming of the Capitol building. Ms. Chao is married to Mr. McConnell. Mick Mulvaney, the U.S. special envoy for Northern Ireland and the former White House chief of staff, quit as well. He told CNBC: “I can’t stay here. Not after yesterday.”

Former Attorney General William Barr, who resigned just before Christmas, said that Mr. Trump’s conduct on Wednesday was a “betrayal of his office and supporters.”

A number of White House officials had resigned Wednesday. Among them were Matthew Pottinger, the deputy national security adviser, and Stephanie Grisham, chief of staff and press secretary to first lady Melania Trump.

djt nancy pelosi

Palmer Report, Opinion: Speaker Nancy Pelosi just threw down the gauntlet against Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 7, 2021. This morning, incoming Senate bill palmerMajority Leader Chuck Schumer called on Mike Pence and the cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment and immediately remove Donald Trump from office. This afternoon, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi threw down the gauntlet.

During a speech, Pelosi demanded that Pence invoke the 25th Amendment. She also threatened to impeach Trump if Pence doesn’t bill palmer report logo headerimmediately do so. It’s not clear what impeachment would even look like with just 12 days left in Trump’s term; impeachment is a complex multi-step process that goes through committees. It’s also unclear whether Mitch McConnell, who still controls the Senate for several more days, would be willing to go along with a fast track impeachment.

But Pelosi’s mere threat to introduce articles of impeachment against Trump does serve to place a lot more pressure on Mike Pence to move forward with the 25th Amendment. Pence is still under the illusion that he has some kind of political future after this. If he concludes that he has to move against Trump in order to preserve his own future viability, he just might do it. So the mounting pressure on him matters.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump posts new video, admits it’s over for him, sounds afraid of going to prison for terrorist attack, Bill Palmer, Jan. 7, 2021. As today has gone on, Donald Trump has found himself cornered. Calls for the 25th Amendment are now coming from the top levels of Congress, as well as from inside the White House. The Feds have revealed they’re probing Trump’s actions yesterday on a criminal level. Now Trump is waving one heck of a white flag.

bill palmer report logo headerTrump has apparently regained use of his Twitter account long enough to post a two-plus minute video. In it, he directly condemned the people who attacked the U.S. Capitol and called for them to be prosecuted. He also promised an orderly transition to President Biden, along with a lot of other fluffy and conciliatory language You can watch it here:

So what’s really going on? Donald Trump very much sounds like he’s now afraid of being removed from office via the 25th Amendment, sent to prison for inciting the terrorist attack, or both. He clearly didn’t write these words. But he was willing to read them, which means he understands that he’s now trying to hang onto what very little he has left. His presidency is over. His life as he knows it is over. He’s earmarked for prison and bankruptcy.

Of course Donald Trump can’t be trusted. But this video reveals that Trump is on the ropes and he’s scared. He’s essentially begging not to be prematurely ousted, and begging not to spend the rest of his life in prison. It’s too little too late; Trump must still be ousted immediately via the 25th or impeachment. But it’s good to see Trump cowering like this.

wsj logoWall Street Journal, Editorial: The Disgrace on Capitol Hill, Editorial Page, Jan. 7, 2021 (print ed.). Republicans objecting to state electors should stop and certify Joe Biden’s election by acclamation. Fueled by lies about a stolen election, protesters overran police and stormed America’s seat of government on Wednesday, forcing a lockdown of the U.S. Capitol and a 6 p.m. city curfew. This sounds like a dispatch from some foreign correspondent in an unfortunate land. Instead it was President Trump’s parting gift to Washington, and the country, for denying him a second term.

Wednesday’s joint session of Congress was supposed to be a ritual of American democracy, memorializing Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. As lawmakers met, Mr. Trump was speaking at a “Save America March,” where he vowed never to concede. “We’re going to the Capitol,” he urged the crowd, to ted cruz o“try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”

There the protesters marched — and then some. After Rep. Paul Gosar and Sen. Ted Cruz, right, objected to the counting of Arizona’s 11 electors, the two chambers retired to consider it. The Senate debate lasted less than an hour. Rioters breached the building, and the Vice President was suddenly whisked from the floor. In the House, lawmakers said they were given gas masks and told to lie on the floor. A woman was shot and killed, and police officers were injured.

What a disgrace. The trespassers should be arrested, and the maskless ones can probably be identified long after the fact. Where was the police presence in Washington? Once the mob was inside, the call went out for backup from Virginia and Maryland, and the National Guard was activated. But it’s a scandal that the U.S. Capitol wasn’t better protected on such a significant day. 

nancy pelosi mask

Raw Story, Democrats' impeachment probe of Trump for Capitol riots could take just two days: report, Matthew Chapman, Jan. 7, 2021. On Thursday, CNN reported that if House Democrats move forward with proposals to impeach outgoing President Donald Trump for his role in provoking the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, the articles could be approved within just two days.

"One option Democrats are exploring: offering articles of impeachment through a privileged resolution," reported Manu Raju, Lauren Fox, and Phil Mattingly. "That would allow the chamber to move ahead with a vote to impeach Trump within two days, skip hearings, approving an organizing resolution, an investigation and moving straight to a vote. Top Democrats in both chambers seem to embrace this approach."

Pelosi Says House May Seek Impeachment if Cabinet Doesn’t Act: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), shown above, has made clear impeachment is on the table if Vice President Mike Pence and Cabinet members do not move expeditiously to strip Trump of power under the 25th Amendment. The Democratic caucus will hold a conference call at noon on Friday discussing the matter.

Even if the impeachment moves forward quickly, there is no guarantee that the Senate, which was recently won by Democrats but which is currently still led by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), will put conviction to a vote soon, or that any significant number of Republicans have a desire to remove Trump from office in this manner.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Federal prosecutors are now probing Donald Trump for yesterday’s U.S. Capitol attack, Bill Palmer, Jan. 7, 2021. When President-elect Joe Biden announced Merrick Garland as his pick for Attorney General today, it was a reminder that the Department of Justice is now just thirteen days away from no longer being under Donald Trump’s control. Now federal prosecutors are letting it be known that Trump’s role is already being probed in yesterday’s domestic terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol.

bill palmer report logo headerThis news, coming from CNN this evening, isn’t surprising. Trump clearly incited yesterday’s attack with several tweets and speeches, specifically directing his supporters to show up at a certain place and time to try to prevent Congress from carrying out its duty of certifying the election. The clear cut evidence provided by Trump himself, and the public outrage over what happened yesterday, all but ensures that the DOJ will criminally charge Trump for the incident once he’s out of office. So why not get the jump now?

This comes even as the news is leaking that Trump is planning to try to pardon himself on his way out of office. That’s expected, and not overly concerning. Most legal experts believe the courts will throw out any self-pardon. And because Trump has committed so many kinds of felonies in office, he’d have to make his self-pardon overly broad, which would make it even more constitutionally flimsy.

washington post logoWashington Post, After chaos, calls for Trump’s removal, Rosalind S. Helderman, Karoun Demirjian, Seung Min Kim and Mike DeBonis, Jan. 7, 2021.  President Trump was ensconced in the White House residence Wednesday night and into Thursday morning, raging about perceived betrayals, as an array of top aides weighed resigning and some senior administration officials began conversations about invoking the 25th Amendment — an extraordinary measure that would remove the president before Trump’s term expires on Jan. 20.

A deep, simmering unease coursed through the administration over the president’s refusal to accept his election loss and his role in inciting a mob to storm the Capitol, disrupting the peaceful transfer of power to President-elect Joe Biden. One administration official described Trump’s behavior Wednesday as that of “a total monster,” while another said the situation was “insane” and “beyond the pale.”

Fearful that Trump could take actions resulting in further violence and death if he remains in office even for a few days, senior administration officials were discussing Wednesday night whether the Cabinet might invoke the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to force him out, said a person involved in the conversations.

A former senior administration official briefed on the talks confirmed that preliminary discussions of the 25th Amendment were underway, although this person cautioned that they were informal and that there was no indication of an immediate plan of action. Both of these people, like some others interviewed for this story, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the matter.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates: Trump pledges ‘orderly transition’ early Thursday, John Wagner and Marisa Iati, Jan. 7, 2021. Scalise says both parties need to ‘tone down the rhetoric.’

djt march 2020 CustomPresident Trump pledged an “orderly transition” in a statement issued early Thursday, shortly after Vice President Pence announced Joe Biden as the winner of the presidential election at the end of a joint session of Congress that was disrupted for hours by a violent throng of Trump supporters.

Trump’s statement stopped short of conceding or congratulating Biden, who plans to address the nation Thursday and introduce his nominees for several top Justice Department posts. Congress completed its work after rejecting Republican challenges to electoral college results in Arizona and Pennsylvania. In othern news:

mick mulvaney omb SmallMick Mulvaney, left, Trump’s former acting chief of staff, said Thursday he is resigning from his current post as a special envoy to Northern Ireland in the wake of the “international travesty” that took place at the Capitol on Wednesday. During an appearance on CNBC, Mulvaney said Trump is “not the same as he was eight months ago” and suggested the violence at the Capitol could have been avoided if Trump had pledged an orderly transition weeks ago.

“Those who choose to stay, and I have talked with some of them, are choosing to stay because they’re worried the president might put someone worse in,” Mulvaney said.

He argued that Trump is behaving differently now than he did during Mulvaney’s tenure as his acting chief of staff.

Newly elected Republican Rep. Nancy Mace (S.C.) said Wednesday’s siege on the Capitol erased what she views as Trump’s accomplishments. “Everything that he’s worked for … all of that, his entire legacy, was wiped out yesterday,” Mace told CNN on Thursday, four days after being sworn into office.

Mace said she sent her children home from D.C. on Monday after seeing concerning social media discussion of plans for the rally. She place partial blame for Wednesday’s violence on Trump and some of her colleagues in Congress. “When you speak like that, when you incite this kind of violence, rhetoric has real consequences,” Mace said.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Federal prosecutors are now probing Donald Trump for yesterday’s U.S. Capitol attack, Bill Palmer, Jan. 7, 2021. When President-elect Joe Biden announced Merrick Garland as his pick for Attorney General today, it was a reminder that the Department of Justice is now just thirteen days away from no longer being under Donald Trump’s control. Now federal prosecutors are letting it be known that Trump’s role is already being probed in yesterday’s domestic terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol.

bill palmer report logo headerThis news, coming from CNN this evening, isn’t surprising. Trump clearly incited yesterday’s attack with several tweets and speeches, specifically directing his supporters to show up at a certain place and time to try to prevent Congress from carrying out its duty of certifying the election. The clear cut evidence provided by Trump himself, and the public outrage over what happened yesterday, all but ensures that the DOJ will criminally charge Trump for the incident once he’s out of office. So why not get the jump now?

This comes even as the news is leaking that Trump is planning to try to pardon himself on his way out of office. That’s expected, and not overly concerning. Most legal experts believe the courts will throw out any self-pardon. And because Trump has committed so many kinds of felonies in office, he’d have to make his self-pardon overly broad, which would make it even more constitutionally flimsy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump banned from Facebook indefinitely, CEO Mark Zuckerberg says, Tony Romm and Elizabeth Dwoskin, Jan. 7, 2021.  The move follows temporary bans of Trump’s accounts by both Twitter and Facebook.

facebook logoFacebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday the social media giant is banning President Trump indefinitely, marking a dramatic escalation between Silicon Valley and the White House after Trump weaponized the web to help stoke a riot at the U.S. Capitol.

“We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great,” Zuckerberg wrote. "Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.”

donald trump twitterFacebook’s suspension marked the most aggressive penalty that any social media company has meted out to Trump over his four-year term, a period in which he has repeatedly peddled falsehoods, attacked critics and spread divisive rhetoric online. Twitter on Wednesday evening suspended Trump for 12 hours, but the company’s blockade lifted Thursday morning — and the president had not yet tweeted.

The tech giants each took the rare aggressive steps after a violent mob stormed the House and Senate Wednesday, forcing lawmakers into a lockdown and briefly interrupting their formal process to certify Joseph Biden as the next president of the United States. In failing to act until after the deadly riot occurred, Facebook, Twitter and Google-owned YouTube have faced sharp criticism saying they should have done more, and sooner, to stop Trump from helping provoke the situation.

washington post logoWashington Post, After issuing a call to arms on stage at protest, Trump balked at decrying rioting, Anne Gearan and Josh Dawsey, Jan. 7, 2021 (print ed.). The president told followers to never accept defeat. Violence followed.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Is Said to Have Discussed Pardoning Himself, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, Jan. 7, 2021. President Trump has suggested to aides he wants to pardon himself in the final days of his presidency, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions, a move that would mark one of the most extraordinary and untested uses of presidential power in American history.

In several conversations since Election Day, Mr. Trump has told advisers that he is considering giving himself a pardon and, in other instances, asked whether he should and what the effect would be on him legally and politically, according to the two people. It was not clear whether he had broached the topic since he incited his supporters on Wednesday to march on the Capitol, where some stormed the building in a mob attack.

Mr. Trump has shown signs that his level of interest in pardoning himself goes beyond idle musings. He has long maintained he has the power to pardon himself, and his polling of aides’ views is typically a sign that he is preparing to follow through on his aims. He has also become increasingly convinced that his perceived enemies will use the levers of law enforcement to target him after he leaves office.

No president has pardoned himself, so the legitimacy of prospective self-clemency has never been tested in the justice system, and legal scholars are divided about whether the courts would recognize it. But they agree a presidential self-pardon could create a dangerous new precedent for presidents to unilaterally declare they are above the law and to insulate themselves from being held accountable for any crimes they committed in office.

The discussions occurred in recent weeks, and it was not clear whether he has brought it up since he incited supporters to march on the Capitol, where some stormed the site.

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: De-Trumpification must be carried out with a heavy club, Wayne Madsen, left, Jan. 7, 2021. The insurrection mounted wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallagainst the U.S. Congress -- at Trump's instigation -- was only the tip of the iceberg of a widespread and premeditated coup planned against constitutional government.

A "civil war" on January 6 was not only planned but marketed. As marauding Trump forces vandalized, looted, and terrorized Congress on the very day that the traditional Electoral Vote count was to officially declare that Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris the President-elect and Vice President-elect of the United States, other Trump terrorist gangs were assaulting state capitol buildings around the United States, including in Oregon, Washington state, California, Georgia, and a dozen other states.

Members of Georgia militia and the Ku Klux Klan entered the Georgia State Capitol building in Atlanta and were searching for the office of Secretary of State Michigan thugs yell State Sen. Dayna PolehankiBrad Raffensperger, another target of Trump insurrectionist death threats.The Governor's Mansion in Olympia, Washington was stormed by Trump mobs.

Make no mistake about it, the May 14 storming of the Michigan State Capitol building by pro-Trump armed protesters was a dry run for Trump's ultimate coup target: the U.S. Congress.

Protester, at right, at Michigan's State Capitol on April 30, 2020.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: President Trump has committed treason, Dana Milbank, right, Jan. 7, 2021 (print ed.). President Trump broke any number of laws and dana milbank Customnorms during his ruinous four-year reign. He just added one more on the way out: treason.

He lost the House in 2018. He lost the presidency in November. He lost the Senate on Tuesday. And on Wednesday, with nothing left to lose, he rallied a violent mob to attack the U.S. Capitol in hopes of pressuring lawmakers to toss out the election results, ignore the will of the people, and install him as president for another term.

Trump fomented a deadly insurrection against the U.S. Congress to prevent a duly-elected president from taking office. Treason is not a word to be used lightly, but that is its textbook definition.

“We will not take it anymore, and that’s what this is all about,” he told a sea of MAGA fans and Proud Boys on the Ellipse outside the White House at noon. From behind bulletproof glass, he told them: “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

Earlier, Trump ally Rudy Giuliani had proposed, to the same crowd, a “trial by combat” to resolve Trump’s election complaints. And Donald Trump Jr. delivered a political threat to lawmakers who don’t vote to reject the election results: “We’re coming for you.”

Trump instructed his supporters to march to the Capitol — “and I’ll be there with you” — to “demand that Congress do the right thing” and not count the electoral votes of swing states he lost. “You’ll never take back our country with weakness, you have to show strength and you have to be strong,” he admonished them, with CYA instructions to make themselves heard “peacefully and patriotically.”

Palmer Report, Opinion; Now that the smoke is clearing…, Bill Palmer, Jan. 7, 2021. Yesterday will go down as one of the dumbest days in American history. bill palmerThe President of the United States incited a domestic terrorist attack against the U.S. Capitol, got a number of people killed, and got himself suspended from every major social media platform in the process.

But now that the smoke is clearing, yesterday was also quietly a landmark day for American progress. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were certified as the next President and Vice President of the United States. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff were confirmed winners in the Georgia runoffs, giving the Democrats control of the Senate.

bill palmer report logo headerWe’re also now probably looking at Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Mark Warner, Senate Oversight Committee Chair Gary Peters, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin, Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders, Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden. That’s right, the Republicans won’t be able to hold a single bogus House or Senate committee hearing for the next couple years.

This is everything we’ve spent the past four years fighting for – and now we’ve got it. The Biden-Harris administration will be able to move full steam ahead on all fronts and not only begin repairing the damage to the country, but carve out a truly beneficial American agenda.

We always knew that Donald Trump would go out ugly. We never knew precisely what it would look like, only that it would be odious in one way or another. It’s now crucial that we move forward with tools like the 25th Amendment and/or a fast track impeachment this week to try to push Trump out the door before January 20th. But one way or the other, he’ll be gone by that day.

Donald Trump’s life is over. Mitch McConnell’s relevance is over. We’re two weeks from not having to deal with either one of them politically going forward. The smoke is going to continue to clear, and it’s going to be a brand new day.

ted cruz beard

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump, Hawley and Cruz will each wear the scarlet ‘S’ of a seditionist, George F. Will, right, Jan. 7, 2021 (print ed.). The three george f willrepulsive architects of Wednesday’s heartbreaking spectacle — mobs desecrating the Republic’s noblest building and preventing the completion of a constitutional process — must be named and forevermore shunned. They are Donald Trump, and Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz (shown above in a file photo).

Trump lit the fuse for the riot in the weeks before the election, with his successful effort to delegitimize the election in the eyes of his supporters. But Wednesday’s explosion required the help of Hawley (R-Mo.) and Cruz (R-Tex.).

josh hawley missouriHawley, left, announced his intention to object to the certification of some states’ electoral votes, for no better reason than that there has been an avalanche of “allegations” of election irregularities, allegations fomented by the loser of the election. By doing so, Hawley turned what should have been a perfunctory episode in our civic liturgy of post-election civility into a synthetic drama. He turned this moment into the focus of the hitherto unfocused fury that Trump had been stoking for many weeks.

And Cruz, by organizing support for Hawley among other Republican senators and senators-elect gave Hawley’s grotesque self-promotion an ersatz cloak of larger purpose. Shortly before the mob breached the Senate chamber, Cruz stood on the Senate floor. With his characteristic unctuousness, he regretted the existence of what he and kindred spirits have not only done nothing to refute but have themselves nurtured — a pandemic of suspicions that the election was “rigged.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Appeasement Got Us Where We Are, Paul Krugman, right,Jan. 7, 2021. So, is it finally OK to use the F-word? One shouldn’t use the paul krugmanterm “fascist” lightly. It isn’t a catchall for “people you disagree with.” It isn’t even a synonym for “bad political actors.” Mitch McConnell’s brand of politics has, in my view, greatly damaged America; but cynical legislative maneuvers aren’t the same thing as threatening and encouraging violence, and I wouldn’t call McConnell a fascist.

Donald Trump, however, is indeed a fascist — an authoritarian willing to use violence to achieve his racial nationalist goals. So are many of his supporters. If you had any doubts about that, Wednesday’s attack on Congress should have ended them.

And if history teaches us one lesson about dealing with fascists, it is the futility of appeasement. Giving in to fascists doesn’t pacify them, it just encourages them to go further.

So why have so many public figures — who should have known what Trump and his movement were — tried, again and again, to placate them by giving in to their demands? Why are they still doing it even now?

Consider a few milestones on the way to the sacking of the Capitol.

One big step happened in February, when every Republican senator other than Mitt Romney voted against convicting the president on impeachment charges despite clear evidence of his guilt. Susan Collins famously justified her vote by hoping that Trump had “learned his lesson.” What he actually learned was that he could abuse his power with impunity.

Another big step came in the spring, when armed protesters, with Trump’s encouragement, menaced Michigan authorities over Covid-19 restrictions. That dress rehearsal for this week’s violence drew some tut-tutting from Republican politicians, but no serious pushback. Indeed, one of the leaders in these events, Meshawn Maddock — who was also involved in Wednesday’s rioting — is in line to become co-chair of the Michigan G.O.P.

Again, the lesson was clear: Right-wing activists can get away with threatening elected officials, even when this includes brandishing weapons in public spaces.

Then came Trump’s unprecedented refusal to accept electoral defeat. Many Republicans joined him in trying to reject the will of the voters — almost two-thirds of House Republicans voted against accepting Pennsylvania’s electors after the Trumpist riot.

ny times logoNew York Times, Did the Capitol Attack Break the President’s Spell? Either the beginning of the end for Trump, or America, Michelle Goldberg, Jan. 7, 2021. It was probably always going to come to this. Donald Trump has been telling us for years that he would not accept an electoral defeat. He has cheered violence and threatened insurrection.

On Tuesday he tweeted that Democrats and Republicans who weren’t cooperating in his coup attempt should look “at the thousands of people pouring into D.C. They won’t stand for a landslide election victory to be stolen.” He urged his supporters to mass on the capital, tweeting, “Be there, will be wild!” They took him seriously and literally.

The day after Georgia elected its first Black senator — the pastor, no less, of Martin Luther King Jr.’s church — and its first Jewish senator, an insurgent marched through the halls of Congress with a Confederate banner. Someone set up a noose outside. Someone brought zip-tie handcuffs. Lest there be any doubt about their intentions, a few of the marauders wore T-shirts that said “MAGA Civil War, Jan. 6, 2021.”

If you saw Wednesday’s scenes in any other country — vandals scaling walls and breaking windows, parading around the legislature with enemy flags and making themselves at home in quickly abandoned governmental offices — it would be obvious enough that some sort of putsch was underway.

Jan. 4, 2021

djt handwave file

washington post logoWashington Post, Exclusive: ‘I just want to find 11,780 votes’: In extraordinary hour-long call, Trump pressures Georgia secretary of state to recalculate the vote in his favor, Amy Gardner, Jan. 4, 2021 (print ed.). President Trump urged fellow Republican Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, to “find” enough votes to overturn his defeat in an extraordinary one-hour phone call Saturday that election experts said raised legal questions.

The Washington Post obtained a recording of the conversation in which Trump alternately berated Raffensperger, tried to flatter him, begged him to act and threatened him with vague criminal consequences if the secretary of state refused to pursue his false claims, at one point warning that Raffensperger was taking “a big risk.”

brad raffenspergerThroughout the call, Raffensperger, right, and his office’s general counsel rejected Trump’s assertions, explaining that the president is relying on debunked conspiracy theories and that President-elect Joe Biden’s 11,779-vote victory in Georgia was fair and accurate.

Trump dismissed their arguments. “The people of Georgia are angry, the people in the country are angry,” he said. “And there’s nothing wrong with saying, you know, um, that you’ve recalculated.”

Raffensperger responded: “Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is, the data you have is wrong.”

At another point, Trump said: “So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.”

  • Listen to the full Jan. 2 phone call. This audio has been edited to remove the name of an individual about whom the president makes unsubstantiated allegations. (Obtained by The Washington Post)

The rambling and at times incoherent conversation offered a remarkable glimpse of how consumed and desperate the president remains about his loss, President Trump on Time Magazine's cover Feb. 27, 2017unwilling or unable to let the matter go and still believing he can reverse the results in enough battleground states to remain in office.

“There’s no way I lost Georgia,” Trump said, a phrase he repeated again and again on the call. “There’s no way. We won by hundreds of thousands of votes.”

Several of his allies were on the line as he spoke, including White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and conservative lawyer Cleta Mitchell, a prominent GOP attorney whose involvement with Trump’s efforts had not been previously known.

In a statement, Mitchell said Raffensperger’s office “has made many statements over the past two months that are simply not correct and everyone involved with the efforts on behalf of the President’s election challenge has said the same thing: show us your records on which you rely to make these statements that our numbers are wrong.”

 Sidney Powell, right, and Jenna Ellis

Trump attorneys Jenna Ellis, left, and Sidney Powell conduct a press conference with Trump counsel Rudy Giuliani before Trump fired Powell.

washington post logoWashington Post, Business leaders urge Congress to certify Biden win, Josh Dawsey, Jan. 4, 2021. Almost 200 of the country’s top business leaders urged Congress to certify the electoral results for President-elect Joe Biden in a letter Monday, arguing that “attempts to thwart or delay this process run counter to the essential tenets of our democracy.”

The letter marked the business community’s most significant push yet to ensure President Trump’s efforts to overturn the November election are unsuccessful. Signers included a wide array of executives of Fortune 500 companies, from the leaders of banks, airlines, investment firms, pharmaceutical companies, professional sports leagues, real estate conglomerates, top law firms and media companies.

“The presidential election has been decided and it is time for the country to move forward,” the letter reviewed by The Washington Post said. “ … The incoming Biden administration faces the urgent tasks of defeating covid-19 and restoring the livelihoods of millions of Americans who have lost jobs and businesses during the pandemic.”

Many of the leaders have previously been wary of getting publicly involved in politics, and some have been supportive of the president. Kathryn Wylde, the president and chief executive of the Partnership for New York City, which organized the letter, said questioning the national election was causing long-term damage to the country and that important issues such as vaccine distribution and high unemployment needed more focus.

The partnership — the major advocacy and political influence arm for the business community in New York — counts many of the city’s top firms as its members. Among the signers included leaders of Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, Pfizer, the National Basketball Association, Mastercard, Blackstone Group, BlackRock, Lyft, Deloitte, Warby Parker, Moody’s, WeWork, Ernst & Young, JetBlue, MetLife, Condé Nast, the Carlyle Group, Hearst, American Express, Saks Fifth Avenue, Price Waterhouse Cooper and Deutsche Bank, along with 150 more.

Others who signed include some of New York’s top private equity and real estate figures including Henry Kravis, Rob Speyer, William Rudin and Laurence Fink.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: All 10 living former defense secretaries: Involving the military in election disputes would cross into dangerous territory, Ashton Carter,ashton carter dod right, Dick Cheney, William Cohen, Mark Esper, Robert Gates, Chuck Hagel, James Mattis, Leon Panetta, William Perry and Donald Rumsfeld, Jan. 4, 2021 (print ed.). As former secretaries of defense, we hold a common view of the solemn obligations of the U.S. armed forces and the Defense Department. Each of us swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. We did not swear it to an individual or a party.

Department of Defense SealAmerican elections and the peaceful transfers of power that result are hallmarks of our democracy. With one singular and tragic exception that cost the lives of more Americans than all of our other wars combined, the United States has had an unbroken record of such transitions since 1789, including in times of partisan strife, war, epidemics and economic depression. This year should be no exception.

Our elections have occurred. Recounts and audits have been conducted. Appropriate challenges have been addressed by the courts. Governors have certified the results. And the electoral college has voted. The time for questioning the results has passed; the time for the formal counting of the electoral college votes, as prescribed in the Constitution and statute, has arrived.

As senior Defense Department leaders have noted, “there’s no role for the U.S. military in determining the outcome of a U.S. election.” Efforts to involve the U.S. armed forces in resolving election disputes would take us into dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory. Civilian and military officials who direct or carry out such measures would be accountable, including potentially facing criminal penalties, for the grave consequences of their actions on our republic.

  lin wood djt march 2020

Crooks and Liars, Commentary: Lin Wood Is Having A Real Time Mental Breakdown On Twitter, Red Painter, Jan. 4, 2021. Lizard people, child rape, kidnapping, guns, blackmail and extortion are just a few of the topics Lin Wood was tweeting about at 2am on Monday morning. Trump attorney Lin Wood (shown above in the Oval Office last May) went on a very unhinged rant on Twitter this morning. That this man is not being evaluated at a hospital for his serious mental health issues is shocking.

I am not saying that jokingly. Nothing about this is funny.

In fact, it is downright scary that this man (a) has a platform on numerous social media sites and (b) many Trump supporters actually believe him!

Here are some screengrabs.

"I believe Chief Justice John Roberts & a multitude of powerful individuals worldwide are being blackmailed in a horrendous scheme involving rape & murder of children captured on videotape. I have the key to the files containing the video. I have also shared this inormation." [2:11AM, 1/4/21]....

ny times logoNew York Times, British Judge Blocks Assange’s Extradition to U.S., Citing Mental Health, Elian Peltier and Megan Specia, Jan. 4, 2021. Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who is jailed in Britain, had been indicted in the United States on 17 charges of violating the Espionage Act.

A British judge ruled on Monday that the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, shown below, cannot be extradited to the United States to face trial on charges of violating the Espionage Act, saying he would be at extreme risk of suicide.

julian assange facts wikileaks CustomThe decision in the high-profile case grants Mr. Assange a major victory against the U.S. authorities who charged him over his role in obtaining and publishing secret military and diplomatic documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rights groups and advocates applauded the ruling, but many expressed concern about the rationale for the decision. The judge focused on Mr. Assange’s mental health issues, but rejected the defense argument that the charges were an attack on press freedom and were politically motivated.

Mr. Assange, 49, who was present at Monday’s hearing and wearing a face mask, was indicted in 2019 on 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act and conspiring to hack government computers in 2010 and 2011. If found guilty on all counts, he could face a sentence of up to 175 years in prison.

The judge, Vanessa Baraitser of Westminster Magistrates’ Court, said in Monday’s ruling that she was satisfied that the American authorities had brought forth the case “in good faith,” and that Mr. Assange’s actions went beyond simply encouraging a journalist. But she said there was evidence of a risk to Mr. Assange’s health if he were to face trial in the United States, noting that she found “Mr. Assange’s risk of committing suicide, if an extradition order were to be made, to be substantial.”

United Kingdom flagShe ruled that the extradition should be refused because “it would be unjust and oppressive by reason of Mr. Assange’s mental condition,” pointing to conditions he would most likely be held under in the United States.

The ruling on Monday at the Central Criminal Court in London, known as the Old Bailey, was a major turning point in a legal struggle that has spanned more than a decade. But that battle is likely to drag on for at least several months, as U.S. prosecutors indicated they would appeal the decision. The authorities have two weeks to file an appeal.

A crowd of supporters gathered outside the courthouse in central London erupted in cheers when the verdict was delivered on Monday.

Craig Murray former UK Ambassador“Today, we are swept away by our joy at the fact that Julian will shortly be with us,” Craig Murray, left, a former British diplomat and rights activist who has been documenting the hearing, told reporters outside the courthouse, noting that Mr. Assange’s defense team would be requesting bail while the appeal was underway. He said while he was “delighted we have seen some humanity,” the ruling on mental health grounds was an “excuse to deliver justice.”

Rights groups also applauded the denial of the extradition request, but some expressed concerns about the substance of the ruling. Among them was Rebecca Vincent, the director of international campaigns for Reporters Without Borders.

Jan. 3

ny times logoNew York Times, Pence Welcomes Bid to Overturn Biden’s Election as Republican Senators Join, Luke Broadwater, Jan. 3, 2021 (print ed.). The group, led by Ted Cruz of Texas, right, said that they would object to the outcome of the November vote, defying the results of the electoral process.

ted cruz oVice President Mike Pence signaled support on Saturday for a futile Republican bid to overturn the election in Congress next week, after 11 Republican senators and senators-elect said that they would vote to reject President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory when the House and Senate meet to formally certify it.

The announcement by the senators — and Mr. Pence’s move to endorse it — reflected a groundswell among Republicans to defy the unambiguous results of the election and indulge President Trump’s attempts to remain in power with false claims of voting fraud.

Every state in the country has certified the election results after verifying their accuracy, many following postelection audits or hand counts. Judges across the country, and a Supreme Court with a conservative majority, have rejected nearly 60 attempts by Mr. Trump and his allies to challenge the results.

mike pence o SmallAnd neither Mr. Pence, left, nor any of the senators who said they would vote to invalidate the election has made a specific allegation of fraud, instead offering vague suggestions that some wrongdoing might have occurred and asserting that many of their supporters believe that it has.

The senators’ opposition to certifying Mr. Biden’s election will not change the outcome. But it guarantees that what would normally be a perfunctory session on Capitol Hill on Wednesday to ratify the results of the presidential election will instead become a partisan brawl, in which Republicans amplify specious claims of widespread election rigging that have been debunked and dismissed for weeks even as Mr. Trump has stoked them.

The spectacle promises to set a caustic backdrop for Mr. Biden’s inauguration in the coming weeks and reflects the polarized politics on Capitol Hill that will be among his greatest challenges.

It will also pose a political dilemma for Republicans, forcing them to choose between accepting the results of a democratic election — even if it means angering supporters who dislike the outcome and could punish them at the polls — and joining their colleagues in displaying unflinching loyalty to Mr. Trump, who has demanded in increasingly angry fashion that they back his bid to cling to the presidency.

The conundrum is especially acute for Mr. Pence, who as president of the Senate has the task of presiding over Wednesday’s proceedings and declaring Mr. Biden the winner, but has his own future political aspirations to consider as well. On Friday, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by House Republicans to pressure Mr. Pence to do otherwise, and instead unilaterally overturn the results.

ron johnson oIn a joint statement on Saturday, the Senate Republicans — including seven senators and four who are to be sworn in on Sunday — called for a 10-day audit of election returns in “disputed states,” and said they would vote to reject the electors from those states until one was completed. They did not elaborate on which states.

The group is led by Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and includes Senators Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, right, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Steve Daines of Montana, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Mike Braun of Indiana, and Senators-elect Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama.

Related stories:

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump loyalists in the Senate vow to challenge Biden’s victory, Philip Rucker and Josh Dawsey, Jan. 3, 2021 (print ed.). The drama at the Capitol is set to punctuate a momentous week in politics that will delineate power at the dawn of the Biden presidency.

A last-ditch effort by President Trump and his allies to overturn the election thrust Washington into chaos Saturday as a growing coalition of Republican senators announced plans to rebel against Senate leaders by seeking to block formal certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

The push to subvert the vote is all but certain to fail when Congress gathers in joint session Wednesday to count electoral college votes already certified by each state. Still, Trump is continuing to press Republican lawmakers to support his baseless claims of election fraud while calling on thousands of supporters to fill the streets of the nation’s capital on Wednesday in mass protest of his defeat.

Jan. 3

Breitbart, President Trump to Address ‘Stop the Steal’ Protesters on White House Lawn on January 6, Matthew Boyle, Jan. 3, 2021. President Donald Trump breitbart logoand a list of other high-profile speakers will address “Stop the Steal” protesters on Wednesday, Jan. 6, ahead of an effort by some congressional Republicans to challenge the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral college victory, Breitbart News has learned.

Thousands of Trump supporters are expected to gather in Washington, DC, for the occasion, and members of Trump’s team have been brought in to help organize the event which is officially being hosted by Women for America First.

The main event will happen on the Ellipsis at the White House—informally called “the President’s Lawn”—a source familiar with the organizational efforts said. The president tweeted Sunday morning that he will be there on Wednesday.

The president is expected to deliver remarks beginning at around 11 a.m. He will cap off an event at which several other high-profile names, including his eldest son Donald Trump, Jr., Kimberly Guilfoyle, Amy Kremer, Rudy Giuliani, Katrina Pierson, Boris Ephsteyn, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, Diamond and Silk, Georgia State Rep. Vernon Jones, Roger Stone, Benny Johnson, Scott Presler, Bernie Kerik, and Ali Alexander are all among those expected to speak, per a source involved in the matter.

Many of these speakers, and others, will also speak on Tuesday, Jan. 5—the day before the official festivities—at an event at Freedom Plaza in downtown Washington, DC. But the main event is on Wednesday, at the Ellipsis at the White House.

The doors for the White House Ellipsis event will open at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, and while event-goers will not need to formally enter White House grounds through a White House gate there will be Secret Service checkpoints on the way in. Technically, event-goers do not need to register or have tickets, but are being encouraged to RSVP on the website MarchtoSaveAmerica.com.

The official program will begin around 9 a.m., and again will be capped by Trump’s speech beginning around 11 a.m. When the president finishes his remarks, organizers then will lead a march up to the U.S. Capitol where they are expected to arrive around 1 p.m.—the time during which the new Congress, which is being sworn in on Sunday, will consider certification of the electoral college results.

More than a hundred House Republicans are expected to challenge the certification of the electoral college results, and they will be joined by at least a dozen Senate Republicans. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) was the first one to announce he would join House GOP challenges last week, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) led an effort this weekend of 11 more Senate Republicans to join the cause.

With numbers like this, the effort is by far the most serious in modern history to challenge, via the process of Congress certifying the electoral college results, an election. There have been other attempts, like after Trump’s win in 2016 in early 2017 some House Democrats tried to challenge the results but did not get a senator on board with their challenge. Also, in early 2005, some House Democrats joined with then-Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) to challenge then-President George W. Bush’s re-election. That effort failed, as vast majorities in both chambers of Congress rejected it.

This effort is similarly expected to fail, as the Democrats control the U.S. House so despite the impressive showing of more than 100 House Republicans siding with Trump he will fall short of a majority in that chamber. Similarly, some Senate Republicans—ranging from Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) to Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) to Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) and even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—have said they recognize Biden as the legitimate president-elect and will not go along with this effort.

Therefore, given that the Senate GOP majority is tight—currently 52 members, which may change depending on what happens in Tuesday’s runoff elections in Georgia where Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and David Perdue (R-GA) face Democrats Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff respectively—there are already not enough votes for Trump to even get a majority in the GOP-controlled Senate.

Nonetheless, the success of those cheering this challenge on in getting as many members of Congress as they have gotten on board this fight—even if it is doomed to fail no matter what—is remarkable. It also resembles the anger and fury of the GOP base in the wake of the Nov. 3 contest, and signals that Trump base voters are seeking fighters in the future for the party. But it is also a tough balancing act for GOP leaders, as they seek to show the base they are willing to fight but also attempt to move forward with the reality of an incoming Biden administration that is fast-approaching in just a couple weeks.

The U.S. Senate has not started holding hearings for Biden’s cabinet picks, and may not start until after the inauguration. A large part of what will determine Biden’s administration post selections’ fates looms in Georgia on Tuesday, as those runoffs will ascertain which party controls the U.S. Senate for the foreseeable future and could mean the difference between some of Biden’s selections getting confirmed or not.

But the energy on the right as evidenced by the thousands of Trump supporters who months after the election will still descend on Washington, DC, this week is something Republicans will seek to harness in the future as they go into battle with the incoming Biden administration and as they seek to retake the House majority in 2022 after winning unexpected gains in the 2020 congressional elections.

Ultimately, too, this will all culminate in the 2024 White House battle, with what is expected to be a huge field of potential contenders bidding for their shot at Trump’s mantle, assuming he doesn’t run again which is no foregone conclusion.

Dec. 18

Southern Poverty Law Center, "Hatewatch" Opinion: Law Firm Tied to Far-Right Fringe Registers Stop the Steal LLC in Alabama, Michael Edison Hayden, Dec. 18, 2020. A law firm associated with activists on the far-right fringe registered the Limited Liability Company (LLC) Stop the Steal in Montgomery, Alabama, in November, state records show. “Stop the Steal” is the name of a nationwide protest movement focused on overturning President-elect Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 election based upon unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.

George Coleman of the law firm Baron Coleman registered the Stop the Steal LLC in Montgomery on Nov. 13. Far-right activist Ali Alexander, 35, the self-described “National Organizer” for the Stop the Steal, told Hatewatch over text that Baron Coleman represents him. Alexander promoted Stop the Steal events to Twitter soon after it became apparent that Trump lost the 2020 election and has done so persistently ever since. Baron Coleman registered the LLC one day before protesters associated with Ali’s Stop the Steal movement descended on Washington D.C. The event gave way to violent clashes between Stop the Steal supporters and counterprotesters.

Hatewatch has so far been unable to determine what the LLC does, but it borrows from a brand name first associated with Roger Stone Jr. A former adviser to Donald Trump and a convicted felon, Stone first launched Stop the Steal during the 2016 election as a group of poll watchers tasked with disputing Democratic votes in urban, multiracial areas. Like the current iteration of Stop the Steal, Stone gathered the group together under the auspices of fighting voter fraud, as Hatewatch has reported. Hatewatch reached out to Stone by phone and email, but he did not respond.

Baron Coleman also represents Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes in his defamation lawsuit against Southern Poverty Law Center, which is based upon its designation of them as a hate group. Alexander and lawyers for Baron Coleman appeared with McInnes outside the center’s headquarters in Montgomery on Feb. 4, 2019, when he announced that suit. Alexander told Hatewatch over text that Baron Coleman advised him in responding to Hatewatch’s request for comment.

“[Baron Coleman] advised me to tell you not to contact me while I’m representing a client suing y’all. Conflict of interest. Thanks!” Alexander wrote.

Alexander does not appear to be an attorney, so it is unclear what he meant by representing. Alexander is a far-right operative linked to a number of political smear campaigns and is known for posting disinformation to Twitter. One example of that behavior includes a sustained campaign he created promoting the unsubstantiated claim that Biden is “sick” and suffers from some form of otherwise unreported, degenerative illness. Mother Jones reported that Alexander is a convicted felon. Hatewatch obtained records showing Alexander entered a guilty plea on charges of “debit card abuse” in Tarrant County, Texas, in April 2008. He went by the name “Ali Akbar” at that time.

Hatewatch followed up with another text, but Alexander did not respond. Hatewatch was therefore unable to ask him about the LLC.

Baron Coleman sent Hatewatch the following comment:

I received your request for comment and don’t have much I can add. As you know any conversations between my clients and me are privileged.

Stop the Steal, LLC, is an Alabama limited liability company I organized for clients of mine. I’m afraid I’m limited by my professional duties to defer to my clients – owners of the privilege – on whether they would like to add anything more.

I appreciate you reaching out. If you can think of anything else I can help you with, please don’t hesitate to contact me at your convenience. I’ll do my best to answer anything that isn’t privileged.

Sincerely,

Baron Coleman

Stone appeared with Alexander in the trailer of an apparent film about Stop the Steal activism, which was published to Twitter on Dec. 9. The trailer also featured an appearance by white nationalist live-streamer Nick Fuentes and anti-immigrant pundit and VDARE contributor Michelle Malkin, among other activists who are promoting the falsehood that Trump won the 2020 election.

Proud Boys have also turned up at Alexander’s events. At a Stop the Steal-linked event on Dec. 12, members of the hate group reportedly took down two Black Lives Matter banners from two historic Black churches in Washington, D.C., and destroyed them. The Washington Post reported that police were investigating the incidents on hate crime charge

Dec. 8

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: A decade of wringing money and power out of conservative victimhood nears its apex, Philip Bump, Dec. 8, 2020. Ali Alexander is a right-wing personality who has worked with a rogue’s gallery of notorious characters in that world: Alex Jones, Roger Stone, Jacob Wohl, Laura Loomer, you name it.

A decade ago, he was flitting around on the fringes of the conservative movement where his past legal troubles contributed to scrutiny of his efforts to raise funds for an online publishing venture. Now, he identifies himself as “national organizer” for “Stop the Steal,” an organization which adopts the tagline of President Trump’s ploy to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Alexander’s group isn’t linked to the Trump campaign. Instead, as CNN reported last week, his “Stop the Steal” website solicits contributions that aren’t bound by nonprofit rules or constraints and which, at least in its initial iteration, went straight to him. In a brief encounter at a rally focused on the election results, CNN’s Drew Griffin asked Alexander how much he was getting from the effort.

“Zero,” Alexander insisted. He then accused Griffin of being a racist for his past reporting.

You don't need to read between the lines much to understand that there's a distinct possibility that Alexander, after years of building his name through right-wing agitation, might similarly see an opportunity in Trump's effort to throw out the results of the 2020 contest. You might suspect that Alexander's more virulent rhetoric has, at a minimum, multiple motivations. If bolstering concerns about the election is lucrative, why draw a line on how far you're willing to go to bolster those concerns?

It’s not insignificant that Alexander’s emergence coincided with the rise of the tea party movement during President Barack Obama’s first term in office. For all of the legitimate energy that the movement fostered, there was also a lot of grifting — financial and political — associated with the effort. A number of groups emerged to fundraise off the energy of the movement and amplified concerns about the future of the country, not all of them legitimate. The passion of supporters could be easy to parlay into money and political support, something which Trump himself explored with his overt flirtations with the movement in his brief consideration of a 2012 run.

Kelli Ward is another person who rose within Republican politics through the tea party movement. After winning a seat in the Arizona state Senate in 2012, she twice tried to earn the party’s nomination for a seat in the U.S. Senate, without success. She, too, has embraced the fringes of right-wing, including demonstrating support for rancher Cliven Bundy during his standoff with federal officials in 2014 and joining Loomer for an event last year.

Ward is now the head of the Republican Party in Arizona. She’s been outspoken in her criticism of Gov. Doug Ducey (R) since he certified the results of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state. When Ducey explained in a series of tweets why he was legally bound to do so, Ward told him to “STHU” — to shut up.

Ward, too, has an interest in boosting the idea that the election was stolen. Much of the most vocal part of her party believes Trump’s rhetoric on the matter and sees nefarious efforts playing a role in the results. That doesn’t mean that her position is insincere; like many Republicans, she may in fact believe the baseless claims that rampant fraud occurred. But that doesn’t mean that fighting against Ducey on the point isn’t politically useful.

Jan. 2

 

djt biden smiles

cnn logoCNN, Federal judge throws out Gohmert lawsuit asking Pence to interfere in Electoral College count, Dan Berman, Updated Jan. 2, 2021. A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit from Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas and several Arizona Republicans seeking to force Vice President Mike Pence to help throw the election to President Donald Trump next week when Congress meets to count the Electoral College votes.

Judge Jeremy Kernodle of the Eastern District of Texas said on Friday that Gohmert, below left, and the others lacked standing to sue.

louis gohmertGohmert's suit was part of the desperate and extraordinary GOP attempt to overturn the presidential election using baseless and unproven allegations of mass voter fraud and charging that multiple states that President-elect Joe Biden won illegally changed their voting rules due to the pandemic. Those arguments have failed dozens of times in state and federal courts over the past two months.

Gohmert and a slate of would-be Trump electors from Arizona had said only Pence could decide what electoral votes count -- a remarkable argument suggesting vice presidents can directly determine who wins a presidential election, regardless of the results.

 

lin wood djt march 2020

Palmer Report, Opinion: Trump world hits panic button after Donald Trump lawyer Lin Wood violently threatens Mike Pence, Bill Palmer, Jan. 1, 2021 (11:30 p.m. EST). Donald Trump has a long and strange history of hiring new lawyers who are so profoundly deranged, they end up making Trump’s existing deranged lawyers uncomfortable. We saw this when Trump had Sidney Powell filing court cases so absurd, Rudy Giuliani arbitrarily announced that Powell didn’t work for Trump.

bill palmer report logo headerNow we’re seeing a whole new round of this lunacy, but even worse. Trump is now conspiring with attorney Lin Wood (shown above at the White House in a file photo), who tweeted his expectation today that Mike Pence, below right, will “face execution by firing squad.”

Even as we wait to see whether Wood gets arrested over this apparent threat on Pence’s life, Trump’s other election lawyer Jenna Ellis mike pence o Small– a deranged lunatic in her own right – just tweeted “To be clear: I do not support the statements from Attorney Lin Wood. I support the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution.”

When you consider that Ellis has spent the past two months trying to illegally overturn the election in Trump’s favor, it’s not clear what laws she supposedly believes in. But it is clear that she’s worried about getting caught up in the criminal hole that Lin Wood is digging for himself right now.

We have a feeling that either Ellis (shown below) or Wood will no longer be Trump’s lawyer by the end of the weekend, as they can’t both be on the same legal team after this. Then again, at this rate, Wood is about to need a lawyer of his own. Trump’s endgame is getting more pointlessly deranged by the hour.

Sidney Powell, right, and Jenna Ellis

Trump attorneys Jenna Ellis, left, and Sidney Powell conduct a press conference with Trump counsel Rudy Giuliani before Trump fired Powell.

ny times logoNew York Times, Senate Overrides Trump’s Veto of Defense Bill, Dealing a Legislative Blow, Catie Edmondson, Jan. 2, 2021 (print ed.). The 81-to-13 vote, the last vote expected in this Congress, is the first time lawmakers have overridden one of Mr. Trump’s vetoes. It reflected the sweeping popularity of a measure that authorizes a pay raise for the nation’s military and amounted to an extraordinary reprimand delivered to Mr. Trump in the final weeks of his presidency.

The margin surpassed the two-thirds majority needed to force enactment of the bill over Mr. Trump’s objections. The House passed the legislation on Monday, also mustering the two-thirds majority required.

Mr. Trump, making good on a monthslong series of threats, vetoed the bipartisan legislation last week, citing a shifting list of reasons including his objection to a provision directing the military to strip the names of Confederate leaders from bases. He also demanded that the bill include the repeal of a legal shield for social media companies that he has tangled with, a significant legislative change that Republicans and Democrats alike have said is irrelevant to legislation that dictates military policy.

Those objections infuriated lawmakers, who had labored for months to put together a bipartisan bill. They had prided themselves on passing the military bill each year for 60 years, and lawmakers in Mr. Trump’s own party ultimately moved to mow over his concerns and advance the legislation.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump is destroying the Republican Party in real time, Bill Palmer, right,Jan. 1, 2021. Donald Trump’s approval rating is down eight bill palmerpoints since he lost the election, largely due to his sore loser antics, and it’ll drop further as his antics grow more embarrassing.

bill palmer report logo headerI’d rather Trump just pack up and leave quietly. But if he insists on going out this embarrassingly, at least he’s destroying the viability of a lot of his fellow bad people on his way out. His overall drop in popularity is going to convince a lot of people in the middle not to vote Republican next time. And his ongoing attacks on the Republicans will convince a chunk of his base not to vote Republican next time. The real losers here are, deservedly, the Republicans who let Trump get this far.

If this weren’t such an embarrassment to the country, it would almost be funny watching Trump-aligned clowns like Pence, Pompeo, Hawley, Cotton, and Sasse all scrambling to figure out which side of the no-win scenario they want to be on as Trump makes his exit. They’d all love to run for president in 2024, but they’re destroying their viability just by taking any position on Trump during his downfall.

Jan. 1

lin wood djt march 2020

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s lawyer Lin Wood goes on violent tirade about Mike Pence, Bill Palmer, Jan. 1, 2021. Donald Trump’s election lawyer Lin Wood (shown above at the White House and at right in a Gage Skidmore photo) is now tweeting about Mike Pence facing “execution by firing squad.” So if Wood gets arrested for making threats against the sitting Vice President of the United States, will Trump pardon him for it? This Trump endgame is all so pointless and so stupid.

bill palmer report logo headerFor reference, this is the same Lin Wood who keeps urging Republican voters in Georgia to boycott next week’s Senate runoff races, on the grounds that the runoff is somehow null and void because Trump secretly won Georgia to begin with.

Wood is an obvious crackpot who’s so far gone, he arguably makes Trump’s other lawyers like Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell look lin wood gage skidmorementally stable in comparison. The only reason we’re even writing about Wood is that, best anyone can tell, he’s actively representing Trump as a client while carrying on about these deranged conspiracies and pushing these violent threats.

Lin Wood should obviously be arrested immediately. But then what? Each time one of Trump’s crackpot election lawyers flames out, he manages to find an even crazier one who’s willing to spew even wackier and more irrelevant conspiracy theories. This is all obviously having no impact whatsoever on the fact that Trump lost and will be leaving office on January 20th. But this all keeps getting more dangerous for the Republican Party.

Dec. 31

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Officials Say Covid-19 Vaccination Effort Has Lagged; 14 Million Doses Shipped, 2.6 Million Injected, Rebecca Robbins, Updated Dec. 31, 2020, Dec. 31, 2020 (print ed.). Federal health officials acknowledged that only a fraction of the doses shipped had been administered. The number falls far short of the government’s goal of 20 million people vaccinated against Covid-19 by the end of this year.

“We know that it should be better, and we’re working hard to make it better,” said Moncef Slaoui, a leader of the federal effort to accelerate vaccine development and distribution.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: Trump is inciting chaos on Jan. 6, both in and outside the Capitol, Editorial Board, Dec. 31, 2020 (print ed.). January 6, the day Congress meets in a joint session to accept the results of the presidential election, should be a testament to America’s enduring democracy. Yet it may become a demonstration of its poor health. President Trump, along with craven enablers such as Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), is seeking to upend what should be solemn but largely perfunctory proceedings to ratify the victory of President-elect Joe Biden. The result could be a shameless show of support by numerous congressional Republicans for erasing the votes of millions of Americans — and, perhaps, mayhem incited by the president in the streets of D.C.

“Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!,” Mr. Trump tweeted earlier this month in an appeal to his supporters to come to the capital to buttress his campaign to overturn the election results. He followed up Sunday, “See you in Washington, DC, on January 6th. Don’t miss it. Information to follow!” And again on Wednesday, “JANUARY SIXTH, SEE YOU IN DC!”

That the president is actively seeking to incite street protests is a matter of more than a little concern to D.C. officials who — based on the behavior of some of Mr. Trump’s supporters at two previous rallies — fear there could be violence. While daytime demonstrations were largely peaceful on Nov. 14 and Dec. 12, destruction and bloodshed broke out when night came.

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washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump has yet to accept the election results months after Republicans said he would, JM Rieger, Dec. 31, 2020. The Republican Party continues refusing to accept the election results even as state and federal investigations have found little or no voter fraud and as Trump has lost 59 of 60 election lawsuits filed by his campaign and political allies, including two filed at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Among the roughly three dozen congressional Republicans who have publicly acknowledged Biden’s win, many waited days or weeks after the election was called before doing so. It was a stark departure from the public congratulations that many of those same Republicans gave to then-President-elect Trump in the hours and days after the 2016 election was called.

That so many elected Republicans still refuse to accept the election’s outcome is perhaps not surprising, given how many Trump supporters falsely think that Biden did not legitimately win the election.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump calls for Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a fellow Republican, to resign, John Wagner, Dec. 31, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump on Wednesday called for Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp to resign, escalating his criticism of a fellow Republican who has refused to intervene in the state’s presidential election or embrace Trump’s baseless claims of widespread fraud.

brian kemp 2019 Custom“@BrianKempGA should resign from office,” Trump said in a tweet. “He is an obstructionist who refuses to admit that we won Georgia, BIG!”

“Also won the other Swing States,” Trump claimed, continuing a series of false claims he has made since President-elect Joe Biden was projected as the winner nationally.

Trump’s latest criticism of Kemp, shown at right, came in a tweet that urged his supporters to watch a broadcast of a Senate hearing in Atlanta on purported election irregularities.

ny times logoNew York Times, Plan to Challenge Election Results Exposes Rift Among Republicans, Catie Edmondson, Jan. 1, 2021 (print ed.). After Senator Josh Hawley said he would object to the Electoral College votes on Jan. 6, Senator Ben Sasse rebuked the effort as a “dangerous ploy.”

Senator Ben Sasse on Thursday condemned a drive by his Republican colleagues in Congress to challenge the results of the 2020 election, rebuking the effort as a “dangerous ploy” led by lawmakers who are “playing with fire.”

ben sasse o croppedIn a blistering open letter to his constituents, Mr. Sasse of Nebraska, left, became the first Republican senator to publicly condemn a decision by Senator Josh Hawley to challenge President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory, saying it was intended to “disenfranchise millions of Americans.”

“Let’s be clear what is happening here: We have a bunch of ambitious politicians who think there’s a quick way to tap into the president’s populist base without doing any real, long-term damage,” Mr. Sasse wrote. “But they’re wrong — and this issue is bigger than anyone’s personal ambitions. Adults don’t point a loaded gun at the heart of legitimate self-government.”

josh hawley missouriMr. Sasse’s scathing remarks came a day after Mr. Hawley, right, Republican of Missouri, announced that he would object to Congress’s certification of the Electoral College results on Jan. 6, the final procedural step in affirming Mr. Biden’s victory.

Mr. Hawley’s move ensures that the process, usually a formality, will force up-or-down votes on the House and Senate floors, requiring lawmakers to either show loyalty to President Trump and object to the results or protect the sanctity of the electoral process.

There is almost no chance that the effort, led by Mr. Hawley in the Senate and a small group of Republican lawmakers in the House, will succeed in reversing the outcome. But Mr. Hawley’s decision to challenge the results is forcing a test of how far the Republican Party is willing to go to back Mr. Trump’s false claims.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, has discouraged lawmakers from objecting to the results, and on Thursday, he told members of his conference on a private call that he considered his vote on Jan. 6 the most consequential one he would ever cast, according to two people familiar with the discussion.

Mr. McConnell did not explicitly say how he would vote, and made clear he was not trying to sway senators to vote one way or another, the people said. But he framed the vote to certify the election results as a critical moment to defend the backbone of the electoral system and invoked votes he had taken on wars and impeachment to underscore its significance.

djt maga hatEven some of Mr. Trump’s usual allies have called his efforts to cling to power unseemly.

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board called it a “kamikaze mission” this week and said “Republicans should be embarrassed by Mr. Trump’s Electoral College hustle.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump has yet to accept the election results months after Republicans said he would, JM Rieger, Jan.1, 2021 (print ed). The Republican Party continues refusing to accept the election results even as state and federal investigations have found little or no voter fraud and as Trump has lost 59 of 60 election lawsuits filed by his campaign and political allies, including two filed at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosAmong the roughly three dozen congressional Republicans who have publicly acknowledged Biden’s win, many waited days or weeks after the election was called before doing so. It was a stark departure from the public congratulations that many of those same Republicans gave to then-President-elect Trump in the hours and days after the 2016 election was called.

That so many elected Republicans still refuse to accept the election’s outcome is perhaps not surprising, given how many Trump supporters falsely think that Biden did not legitimately win the election.

Mediaite,140 GOP House Members Expected to Challenge Electoral College Vote: CNN, Leia Idliby, Dec. 31, 2020. At least 140 House Republicans are reportedly planning to vote against confirming the electoral votes that would verify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, according to CNN.

republican elephant logoDespite no evidence of systemic voter fraud, two Republican members of the House told CNN that their colleagues will attempt to block the count of the Electoral College’s votes on Jan. 6, according to a report from Jake Tapper.

Although President Donald Trump has lost the election, and his House supporters have essentially no chance of changing the result, the motion will delay Biden’s confirmation by a couple of hours.

Trump and his colleagues and allies have spent almost two months working to overturn the election, making baseless claims of election fraud without any legal luck.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had reportedly warned fellow Republican senators not to attempt to challenge Biden’s victory, as he’s nervous the turmoil could lose the GOP Georgia’s two Senate seats.

djt i dont take responsibility at all

Strategic Culture Foundation, Investigative Commentary: Terrorism: A Menace From the Right-Wing and Allied wayne madsen screen shotFundamentalists, Wayne Madsen, right, syndicated columnist, autor of 18 books and former U.S. Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst, Dec. 31, 2020.

att logoOn early Christmas morning a vehicle bomb exploded in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. The target was the AT&T metropolitan area network hub “Batman” building, a 33-story structure – the tallest building in Tennessee – which resembles the fictional cape crusader’s cowl.

The bomber turned out to be a 63-year-old white man. Anthony Quinn Warren, who blew himself up in the terrorist attack, apparently subscribed to the babble from the pro-Donald Trump “Qanon” group of far-right conspiracy advocates who believe that Fifth Generation (5G) wireless communications networks are linked to both the anthony warnerCovid pandemic and electronic surveillance.

Warren, right, broadcast an evacuation message to residents of the downtown Nashville neighborhood prior to his detonating the bomb. After the explosion, police arrested another Tennessee man who broadcasted a similar message from his truck while driving on a highway in Lebanon, Tennessee. It turned out that there was no bomb in the truck. A third incident in strategic culture logoLeavenworth, Washington involved a bomb threat to the 911 emergency number. The claim, that there was a bomb in a garbage can on a downtown street, prompted a major evacuation of the town.

Such bombings and threats of bombings encompass the “accelerationist” doctrine of far-right Trump supporters who believe such attacks will hasten a civil war in the United States and the overthrow of the government.

The same belief system prompted a conspiracy by a pro-Trump group of armed terrorists to kidnap Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, seize control of the Michigan state legislature in Lansing, and execute legislators and state gretchen whitmer o smile Custompolice officers, in addition to Whitmer, right. Similar plots were uncovered by right-wing groups targeting the Democratic governors of Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon, Nevada, Maine, New York, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Illinois, Wisconsin, and North Carolina and the Republican governor of Ohio.

Law enforcement investigators believe that Warren was part of a clandestine far-right group that has been targeting 5G infrastructure targets across Tennessee and the nation. These have included several cell towers that were damaged by arson in Memphis, Tennessee in December 2019. The anti-5G activists have found a ready-made audience with other right-wing groups across the United States, including racially and ethnically motivated violent extremists (REMVEs), anti-government militias, and “sovereign citizen” lone wolves.

Trump and his supporters have managed to draw the public’s and media’s attention away from the far-right’s terrorist activities by conjuring up a fictional strawman – “antifa” or anti-fascism. Far from being an actual group, antifa is a political philosophy centering on opposition to fascism and all of its offshoots, from Nazism to Trumpism.

Just as Adolf Hitler, below, and his Nazis convinced the German people that “Communists” were behind the 1933 arson attack on the adolf hitlerReichstag – the actual culprits were the Nazis, themselves – Trump and his followers believe that antifa forces are carrying out arson and looting in American cities.

In fact, the actual perpetrators of violent attacks are the far-right: Patriot Prayer, Proud Boys, Wolverine Watchmen, Boogaloo Bois, Three Percenters, etc. The far-right or their religious fundamentalist counterparts have been behind almost every major terrorist attack in the United States since 1975. On December 29, of that year, a powerful bomb exploded in the TWA baggage claim area of LaGuardia Airport in New York. Eleven people were killed and 75 injured.

The confluence of anti-5G and anti-vaccination modern-day Luddites and the far-right is seen in groups like the neo-Nazi “Vorherrschaft Division,” Germany “Forke und Schaufel” (FaS), California’s Freedom Angels 2.0, and Wisconsinites Against Excessive Quarantine.

The unholy alliance of far-right and fundamentalist religious groups – be they Islamic, Christian or Jewish – has resulted in democracy coming under siege. Right-wing militia groups have occupied state legislatures in Michigan, Washington state, and Oregon. Political leaders from governors to members of the U.S. Congress and state legislators to mayors and public health officials have been threatened with physical harm.

 

Michigan thugs yell State Sen. Dayna Polehanki

Protester at Michigan's State Capitol on April 30, 2020.

An overwhelming majority of terrorist incidents in the past several decades have been carried out by the far-right, either directly or by false flags, and religious extremists, including Islamists taking their cues from the most far-right of regimes, the feudal monarchy of Saudi Arabia and the Likud-Orthodox government of Israel.

It is beyond clear where the threat of terrorism exists today. In October 2020, the Department of Homeland Security us dhs big eagle logo4concluded in a report that “violent white supremacy was the most persistent and lethal threat” in the United States. A September 29, 2020 report from the FBI Field Office in Dallas that was marked FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY/LAW ENFORCEMENT SENSITIVE stated that the Boogaloo movement was “increasing anti-government violent rhetoric and activities . . . domestic violent extremist threat in the FBI Dallas Area of Responsibility.”

 Just as Hitler diverted suspicion for the Reichstag fire to fanciful “communists,” Trump employed the same tactic regarding far-right terrorism. Just prior to his electoral defeat, Trump lied when he stated, “Somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left, because this is not a right-wing problem.”

FBI logoTrump’s own FBI director, Christopher Wray, countered Trump during a September 17, 2020 hearing before the House Homeland Security Committee. Wray testified: “What I can tell you is that within the domestic terrorism bucket category as a whole, racially-motivated violent extremism is, I think, the biggest bucket within that larger group, and within the racially-motivated violent extremists bucket, people subscribing to some kind of white supremacist-type ideology is certainly the biggest chunk of that.” As for antifa, Wray said it was “more of an ideology or a movement than an organization.”

It is past time for the far-right to be dealt with harshly for their repeated terror acts, from the Oklahoma City and Nashville bombings to mass shootings in El Paso, Pittsburgh, Dayton, Charleston, and Las Vegas.

steve bannon sofa shotAt the same time, far-right extremists should be summarily purged from law enforcement and the military.

Financiers of the extreme right, including hedge fund tycoon Robert Mercer and his daughter, Rebekah Mercer, as well as Trump adviser Steve Bannon, right, should have their activities and finances thoroughly investigated. These must be a key agenda items on President Joe Biden’s “to do” list after he assumes the U.S. presidency.

Dec. 29

djt nypost stop insanity cover dec 28 2020

washington post logoWashington Post, Murdoch’s New York Post urges Trump to accept defeat: ‘You’re cheering for an undemocratic coup,’ Tim Elfrink, Dec. 28, 2020. The tabloid, long one of President Trump’s strongest allies, demanded he stop spreading false claims of voter fraud and accept Joe Biden’s victory.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Will Pence Do the Right Thing? Neal K. Katyal, right, and John Monsky, Dec. 29, 2020. On Jan. 6, neal katyal othe vice president will preside as Congress counts the Electoral College’s votes. Let’s hope that he doesn’t do the unthinkable — and unconstitutional.

President Trump recently tweeted that “the ‘Justice’ Department and FBI have done nothing about the 2020 Presidential Election Voter Fraud,” followed by these more ominous lines: “Never give up. See everyone in D.C. on January 6th.”

The unmistakable reference is to the day Congress will count the Electoral College’s votes, with Vice President Mike Pence presiding. Mr. Trump is leaning on the vice president and congressional allies to invalidate the mike pence leftNovember election by throwing out duly certified votes for Joe Biden.

Mr. Pence, shown in a file photo thus far has not said he would do anything like that, but his language is worrisome. Last week, he said: “We’re going to keep fighting until every legal vote is counted. We’re going to win Georgia, we’re going to save America,” as a crowd screamed, “Stop the steal.”

And some Republicans won’t let up. On Monday, Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas and other politicians filed a frivolous lawsuit, which has multiple fatal flaws in both form and substance, in an attempt to force the vice president to appoint pro-Trump electors.

Mr. Katyal, a law professor at Georgetown, is a former acting solicitor general of the United States. Mr. Monsky is the creator of the American History Unbound Series of multimedia productions that covers watershed moments in American history and a board member of the New-York Historical Society.

Dec. 27

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: It takes a team to fix the Justice Department, Jennifer Rubin, right, Dec. 27, 2020. jennifer rubin new headshotThe variety and seriousness of the issues facing the next attorney general are daunting and include depoliticizing enforcement and sentencing decisions, diversifying the department’s workforce, enforcing of civil rights and police reform, and making the pardon system more transparent.

President-elect Joe Biden is taking his time, wisely in my view, to find the person whom he can trust to undertake all that while maintaining an appropriate separation between political aides at the White House and the Justice Department.

As Biden put it, there is no “obvious choice” for attorney general.

Each of the leading candidates has deficits. Former acting attorney general Sally Yates, right, may not get confirmed. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) may not have Sally Yatesthe experience to navigate and shake-up the department. Judge Merrick Garland, too moderate for some activists, would open up a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

With no standout pick, Biden may wait until the Georgia Senate races are held on Jan. 5 to assess Yates’s chances in the Senate.

Justice Department log circularGiving himself more time also allows Biden to consider whether there are other candidates for the top job who would combine experience and add diversity. Long-time U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, former acting solicitor general Neal Katyal, New York state attorney general Letitia James, or progressive jurist and Justice Department veteran Nina Pillard from the D.C. Circuit would all fit the bill.

The passage of time also raises new challenges that might require someone with a different background. The stunning cyber-attack we recently learned about underscores the national-security aspect of the job. That would point to someone like Lisa Monaco, who helped vet Biden’s vice presidential candidates. She has decades of experience in the national security realm, both at the White House and at the Justice Department.

The Post also reports that “it is possible that when he reveals his decision, he also will announce picks for deputy attorney general, associate attorney general and solicitor general.” Waiting to announcing a senior team to lead the Justice Department certainly could minimize any gaps or shortcomings Biden’s attorney general pick might have. Garland may seem too moderate to satisfy some progressive civil rights groups, but announcing his name along with, for example, former head of the civil rights division Vanita Gupta as the deputy or associate attorney general would provide reassurance he will move aggressively on civil rights enforcement and police reform.

djt michael cohen disloyal

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s criminal culpability, Robert Harrington, Dec. 27, 2020. In all of Donald Trump’s pardons and commutations to date, robert harringtnn portraitsixty of the sixty-five have a personal connection. While the Constitution places no barrier on pardons or commutations and no standard by which they must adhere, it is nevertheless so very, er, Trumpian — for lack of a better word — that most of Donald Trump’s pardons and commutations could be construed as having a corrupt purpose.

Cory Booker puts it even more plainly in his recent tweet: “A pardon is supposed to be an instrument of justice — not a tool of corruption.”

bill palmer report logo headerIn a recent interview with CBS, former fixer and hatchet man for Donald Trump Michael Cohen, above right — who is currently serving an in-home three year sentence for fraud and lying to Congress during the Russia probe — gave his opinion about Trump’s perceived abuse of the presidential pardon. Cohen also used the opportunity to plug his book, Disloyal, which became a New York Times bestseller, and to plug his upcoming book which will, no doubt, also be a bestseller.

The difference between what Cohen has to say and what Trump has to say boils down to — what else? — evidence. Cohen’s testimony in court and his final mea culpa before Congress has been backed by impressive mountains of evidence.

djt hands up mouth open CustomThe bottom line, as far as Cohen is concerned, is that Trump is going to face a mountain of legal issues once he leaves office, because “I have been questioned by the attorney general’s team on many occasions now as well as the District Attorney’s office … I know what it is they’re looking for.” That they will be prosecuting Donald Trump Cohen has no doubt.

Cohen cannot get into details because “it’s an ongoing investigation,” but, “it has to do with his finances, it has to do with his tax returns, it has to do with his properties, it has to do with the financial personal statements that he provided in order to obtain loans.” So if Cohen is right, Donald Trump is in significant civil and criminal jeopardy.

Cohen also thinks Trump is on the order of a billion dollars in debt. Trump, of course, calls Cohen a liar, and that is one of his more polite adjectives used by the one-term lame duck president. “The fact that Donald Trump calls me a liar,” Cohen avers, “should automatically mean that I’m telling the truth.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: CDC wasted weeks pursuing complex test at pandemic’s start, David Willman, Dec. 27, 2020 (print ed.). Thai scientists deployed a coronavirus test within hours. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took 46 days to roll out a working test as the virus spread.

A new virus was exploding in Wuhan, a Chinese city with 11 million people connected by its airport to destinations around the world. In the United States, cdc logo Customdoctors and hospitals were waiting for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop a test to detect the threat.

On Jan. 13, the World Health Organization had made public a recipe for how to configure such a test, and several countries wasted no time getting started: Within hours, scientists in Thailand used the instructions to deploy a new test.

The CDC would not roll out one that worked for 46 more days.

world health organization logo CustomInside the 15-acre campus of the CDC in northeast Atlanta, the senior scientists developing the coronavirus test were fighting and losing the battle against time.

The agency squandered weeks as it pursued a test design far more complicated than the WHO version and as its scientists wrestled with failures that regulators would later trace to a contaminated lab.

The Washington Post reviewed internal documents and interviewed more than 30 government scientists and others with knowledge of the events to understand more fully the missteps in those early weeks as the coronavirus began to spread unchecked across the nation. Most spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to do so publicly.

Robert RedfieldThis account reveals new details about how an overly ambitious test design and laboratory contamination caused the CDC’s delay, and describes previously unreported challenges that confronted the agency scientists assigned to carry out the work.

CDC Director Robert Redfield, right,an appointee of President Trump, took a hands-off approach while the in-house manufacturing efforts foundered and agency scientists clashed over whether to alter the design of the problem-plagued test, according to CDC and other federal officials.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mnuchin’s loyalty to Trump could end with painful setback as president shreds relief deal, Jeff Stein, Dec. 27, 2020 (print ed.). Lawmakers had thought the treasury secretary was speaking for the president in negotiating the $908 billion pact, but President Trump called it a “disgrace.”

President Trump on Saturday continued to demand changes to the $900 billion stimulus deal that Democrats and Republicans approved on Dec. 21, steven mnuchin wraising the odds that the government could shut down on Tuesday and the economy could suffer a devastating shock in the final days of his presidency.

“I simply want to get out great people $2000, rather than the measly $600 that is now in the bill,” Trump wrote in a tweet.

His demand for $2,000 stimulus checks is a direct rejection of the $600 checks that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, left, had personally proposed and negotiated with Democrats and Republicans. Now, Trump’s rejection of the deal has confounded many leaders on Capitol Hill because they had thought Mnuchin negotiated the package on behalf of the president. The treasury chief’s standing with many lawmakers is now in tatters just days before a full-blown crisis is set to occur.

Dec. 26

ny times logoNew York Times, Unemployment Aid Set to Lapse Saturday as Trump’s Plans Remain Unclear, Alan Rappeport, Updated Dec. 26, 2020. At least a temporary lapse in expanded unemployment benefits is inevitable because of President Trump’s delay in signing a $900 billion pandemic relief bill. Expanded unemployment benefits were set to lapse for millions of struggling Americans on Saturday, a day after President Trump expressed more criticism of a $900 billion pandemic relief bill that was awaiting his signature and would extend them.

djt handwave fileThe sprawling economic relief package that Congress passed with overwhelming bipartisan support would extend the amount of time that people can collect unemployment benefits until March and revive supplemental unemployment benefits for millions of Americans at $300 a week on top of the usual state benefit.

If Mr. Trump signs the bill on Saturday, states will still need time to reprogram their computer systems to account for the new law, according to Michele Evermore of the National Employment Law Project, but unemployed workers would still be able to claim the benefits.

Further delays could prove more costly. States cannot pay out benefits for weeks that begin before the bill is signed, meaning that if the president does not sign the bill by Saturday, benefits will not restart until the first week of January. But they will still end in mid-March, effectively trimming the extension to 10 weeks from 11.

Mr. Trump blindsided lawmakers on Tuesday when he hinted he may veto the measure, which he decided at the last minute was unsatisfactory. The most pressing issue prompted by the president’s delay was the fate of unemployment benefits. At least a temporary lapse in those benefits is now inevitable.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump is in la la land, Bill Palmer, Dec. 26, 2020. Donald Trump is still publicly calling for $2,000 stimulus relief checks, even as his puppet Kevin McCarthy has blocked a unanimous consent vote and forced Speaker Pelosi to bring the House back into session just to pass the $2,000 amendment.

bill palmer report logo headerThis means that either Trump is working behind the scenes to sabotage his own $2,000 check initiative, or he’s so far removed from the political process that he’s not bothering to participate in the process at all. Either way, his behavior has become essentially incoherent. Even if Trump thinks he can somehow magically save himself with $2000 checks, they’re not going to happen unless he actually leans on the Republicans.

donald trump twitterThere’s still no clear indication what Mitch McConnell will do in the Senate, once the House sends over the $2000 check amendment. At this point it’s anyone’s guess as to why McConnell seems to think the Republicans have better odds in the Georgia Senate runoffs if they don’t sign off on decent sized stimulus checks.

In any case it’s more clear than ever that we have no President of the United States. If he’d simply kept his mouth shut and signed the stimulus bill, at least $600 would be on its way to the American public. Because Trump has weighed in on the matter in such incoherent, listless, and seemingly senile fashion, Americans may end up getting no checks at all. Trump is in la la land.

michael flynn djt

Former general and Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, shown above in a file photo separate from Trump's, has called for a military coup to maintain the presidency of Trump, who has pardoned Flynn from federal crimes stemming from lying at Flynn's contacts with Russians before taking office in January 2017. Flynn's attorney Sydney Powell, invited to the White House three times in recent days to meet with Trump, has been working on courtroom, political and media strategies to disallow voting results in multiple swing states to keep Trump in office.

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Sidney Powell’s secret intelligence contractor witness is a pro-Trump podcaster, Jon Swaine, Dec. 26, 2020 (print ed.). As she asked the U.S. Supreme Court this month to overturn President Trump’s election loss, the attorney Sidney Powell cited testimony from a secret witness presented as a former intelligence contractor with insights on a foreign conspiracy to subvert democracy.

sidney powellPowell, right, told courts that the witness is an expert who could show that overseas corporations helped shift votes to President-elect Joe Biden. The witness’s identity must be concealed from the public, Powell has said, to protect her “reputation, professional career and personal safety.”

The Washington Post identified the witness by determining that portions of her affidavit match, sometimes verbatim, a blog post that the pro-Trump podcaster Terpsichore Maras-Lindeman published in November 2019. In an interview, Maras-Lindeman confirmed that she wrote the affidavit and said she viewed it as her contribution to a fight against the theft of the election.

“This is everybody’s duty,” she said. “It’s just not fair.”

terpsichore maras lindemanIn a recent civil fraud case, attorneys for the state of North Dakota said that Maras-Lindeman, shown in a screenshot at left, falsely claimed to be a medical doctor and to have both a Ph.D. and an MBA. They said she used multiple aliases and social security numbers and created exaggerated online résumés as part of what they called “a persistent effort . . . to deceive others.”

Powell’s reliance on Maras-Lindeman’s testimony may raise further questions about her judgment and the strength of her arguments at a time when she is becoming an increasingly influential adviser to the president.

Trump’s legal team distanced itself from Powell last month after she falsely claimed Republican state officials took bribes to rig the election. But she has visited the White House three times in the past week, once to participate in an Oval Office meeting. Trump has weighed naming Powell a special counsel to investigate the election, according to previous reports.

Maras-Lindeman, 42, served in the Navy for less than a year more than two decades ago and has said she worked later as a government contractor and part-time interpreter. She has identified herself as a “trained cryptolinguist.”

North Dakota’s assertions about her credentials came in a civil case brought by the state’s attorney general in 2018 over a purported charitable event she tried to organize in Minot, N.D., where she and her family resided. Attorneys for the state said she used money she collected — ostensibly to fund homeless shelters and wreaths for veterans’ graves — on purchases for herself at McDonald’s, QVC and elsewhere.

A judge ultimately found that Maras-Lindeman violated consumer protection laws by, among other things, misspending money she raised and soliciting donations while misrepresenting her experience and education. He ordered her to pay more than $25,000.

Maras-Lindeman has appealed to the state Supreme Court. In court filings and in her interview with The Post, she denied mishandling the funds or misleading donors. She blamed identity theft and bureaucratic failings for a proliferation of variations on her name and social security numbers associated with her.

donald trump melania trump piano pose

TMZ, Donald Trump Says 'Elitist Snobs' in Fashion Biz Kept Melania Off Magazine Covers, Staff report, Dec. 26, 2020. Donald Trump has too many grievances to count ... the latest being his anger that Melania (shown in a file photo with him) has not graced a single magazine cover in the 4 years he's been President, and he thinks he knows why.

Trump tweeted his outrage that, as he called her, "the most elegant First Lady" has been blackballed from mag covers by "elite snobs," and without directly saying it, it seems he might be zeroing in on Anna Wintour.

Melania was on the cover of Vogue in 2005, shortly after her marriage to Trump, but that was it.

Michelle Obama, by contrast, was on the cover of Vogue 3 times during her tenure in the White House. The last cover was in November 2016 ... after Trump's victory. As you know, the Obamas popularity drives Trump insane, so no surprise here.

Melania was actually on one cover that we know of ... the February 2017 issue of Vanity Fair Mexico.

Wintour is not a Trump fan, for sure. She's been public about her political preferences, which include Kamala Harris, whom she profiled in April 2018.

How 'bout focusing on that COVID relief bill, please.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump goes off the deep end in a haze of delusional desperation, Bill Palmer, Dec. 26, 2020. Just how poorly are things going President Donald Trump officialfor Donald Trump? He’s spent the day accusing the Supreme Court, the FBI, the Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney John Durham, and Republican Senators of conspiring to hide the fact that he secretly won the 2020 election. Translation: he knows it’s all over for him.

bill palmer report logo headerTrump also made up a fake story today about an imaginary person who told him that elections in Afghanistan are better run than the 2020 U.S. election was. In response to this idiocy, “Move to Afghanistan” is now trending on Twitter. No one outside his shrinking lunatic base wants Trump here anymore. Then again, it’s doubtful that Afghanistan would want him either.

As Donald Trump’s delusional desperation grows more absurd, his most ardent remaining supporters are heading down that same path. Earlier today they tried to convince themselves on social media that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has secretly been arrested. This obviously didn’t happen. Trump and his supporters have always made up nonsense, but now that he’s lost and their movement is at a dead end, that nonsense is becoming more clinically insane.

ny times logoNew York Times, Behind Trump Clemency, a Case Study in Special Access, Kenneth P. Vogel, Eric Lipton and Jesse Drucker, Dec. 26, 2020 (print ed.). Philip Esformes was sentenced to 20 years for Medicare fraud. Then a well-connected organization supported by his family weighed in with the White House.

philip esformesPhilip Esformes, left, acquired a $1.6 million Ferrari and a $360,000 Swiss watch and traveled around the United States on a private jet, a spending spree fueled by the spoils from what federal prosecutors called one of the largest Medicare fraud cases in history.

“Philip Esformes is a man driven by almost unbounded greed,” Denise M. Stemen, an agent in the F.B.I.’s Miami field office, said last year after Mr. Esformes, 52, a nursing home operator, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the two-decade scheme that involved an estimated $1.3 billion worth of fraudulent claims.

djt smiling fileThat prison term ended suddenly this week, when President Trump commuted what remained of Mr. Esformes’s sentence.

His rapid path to clemency is a case study in how criminals with the right connections and resources have been able to cut through normal channels and gain the opportunity to make their case straight to the Trump White House.

Background: South Florida Business Journal, South Florida man sentenced to 20 years in $1B Medicare fraud, Ashley Portero, Sept. 13, 2019. Former health care executive Philip Esformes was sentenced to 20 years in prison Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

philip esformesThe Miami Beach resident, right, was convicted on 20 criminal charges, including bribery and money laundering, in connection to what's been described as the largest Medicare fraud scheme in U.S. history.

“Esformes will now spend years in prison for orchestrating a kick-back and money laundering scheme that defrauded America’s health care system out of millions of dollars,” said Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

HHS logoEsformes was accused of billing Medicare and Medicaid programs for more than $1 billion in fraudulent services from 1998 to 2016. In April, a federal jury found him guilty of paying kickbacks to doctors and administrators and one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States.

FBI logoEsformes operated a network of skilled nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Florida, including Adar Associates, Eden Gardens LLC, Lauderhill Manor LLC, Flamingo Park Manor LLC and La Serena Retirement. The nursing homes admitted many Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, even if they did not qualify for those placements.

Once patients were admitted, the facilities billed the government health care programs for unnecessary treatments and services, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors claimed Esformes concealed inadequate care and conditions at the facilities by bribing an employee of a Florida state regulator. In return, he received advanced notice of surprise inspections to the facilities in his network (Emphasis added).

He personally received more than $37 million during the course of the fraud, according to court documents. Prosecutors said he spent some of the illegal proceeds on luxury cars, expensive clothes and watches, and on a bribe to a basketball coach at the University of Pennsylvania.

Odette Barcha, a hospital administrator, and Arnaldo Carmouze, a former physician assistant, previously pleaded guilty for their roles in the scheme. In April, Carmouze was sentenced to 80 months in prison and ordered to pay $12,590,761 in restitution (Emphasis added). Barcha was sentenced to three to 15 months in prison and ordered to pay $704,516 in restitution.

 

Dec. 25

U.S. Politics, Elections, Power Plays

michael flynn djt

Former general and Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, shown above in a file photo separate from Trump's, has called for a military coup to maintain the presidency of Trump, who has pardoned Flynn from federal crimes stemming from lying at Flynn's contacts with Russians before taking office in January 2017. Flynn's attorney Sydney Powell, invited to the White House three times in recent days to meet with Trump, has been working on courtroom, political and media strategies to disallow voting results in multiple swing states to keep Trump in office.

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Sidney Powell’s secret intelligence contractor witness is a pro-Trump podcaster, Jon Swaine, Dec. 25, 2020 (print ed.). As she asked the U.S. Supreme Court this month to overturn President Trump’s election loss, the attorney Sidney Powell cited testimony from a secret witness presented as a former intelligence contractor with insights on a foreign conspiracy to subvert democracy.

sidney powellPowell, right, told courts that the witness is an expert who could show that overseas corporations helped shift votes to President-elect Joe Biden. The witness’s identity must be concealed from the public, Powell has said, to protect her “reputation, professional career and personal safety.”

The Washington Post identified the witness by determining that portions of her affidavit match, sometimes verbatim, a blog post that the pro-Trump podcaster Terpsichore Maras-Lindeman published in November 2019. In an interview, Maras-Lindeman confirmed that she wrote the affidavit and said she viewed it as her contribution to a fight against the theft of the election.

“This is everybody’s duty,” she said. “It’s just not fair.”

terpsichore maras lindemanIn a recent civil fraud case, attorneys for the state of North Dakota said that Maras-Lindeman, shown in a screenshot at left, falsely claimed to be a medical doctor and to have both a Ph.D. and an MBA. They said she used multiple aliases and social security numbers and created exaggerated online résumés as part of what they called “a persistent effort . . . to deceive others.”

Powell’s reliance on Maras-Lindeman’s testimony may raise further questions about her judgment and the strength of her arguments at a time when she is becoming an increasingly influential adviser to the president.

Trump’s legal team distanced itself from Powell last month after she falsely claimed Republican state officials took bribes to rig the election. But she has visited the White House three times in the past week, once to participate in an Oval Office meeting. Trump has weighed naming Powell a special counsel to investigate the election, according to previous reports.

Maras-Lindeman, 42, served in the Navy for less than a year more than two decades ago and has said she worked later as a government contractor and part-time interpreter. She has identified herself as a “trained cryptolinguist.”

North Dakota’s assertions about her credentials came in a civil case brought by the state’s attorney general in 2018 over a purported charitable event she tried to organize in Minot, N.D., where she and her family resided. Attorneys for the state said she used money she collected — ostensibly to fund homeless shelters and wreaths for veterans’ graves — on purchases for herself at McDonald’s, QVC and elsewhere.

A judge ultimately found that Maras-Lindeman violated consumer protection laws by, among other things, misspending money she raised and soliciting donations while misrepresenting her experience and education. He ordered her to pay more than $25,000.

Maras-Lindeman has appealed to the state Supreme Court. In court filings and in her interview with The Post, she denied mishandling the funds or misleading donors. She blamed identity theft and bureaucratic failings for a proliferation of variations on her name and social security numbers associated with her.

Dec. 24

djt wind jim watson afp getty

Palmer Report, Opinion: Four more weeks, Robert Harrington, Dec. 24, 2020. The richest country in the world has a $900 billion defense budget pending in Congress. That’s just for one year.

bill palmer report logo headerThe United States of America spends more on national defense than China, India, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea and Brazil — combined. America spends more on war fantasies in a year than most countries spend on defense in a decade. I think America’s big stick is finally big enough, except possibly for those who have insecurities about such things.

Meanwhile, money is the number one concern in American politics. Senatorial and Congressional campaigns have budgets bigger than medium-sized airlines. Presidential campaigns will soon be measured not in millions or hundreds of millions but billions of dollars. More and more lobbyists and corporations are running the country.

Meanwhile, an entire party, the Republicans, are vested in keeping the non-white population of the United States in poverty and ignorance. They become fiscally conservative every chance they get to short-change all forward-looking or progressive social programs that help the poor, the voiceless and the marginalised. They’d love to help — they really would — but they must be responsible to the taxpayer, that is, the very people who pay the taxes for whom those social programs would do the greatest amount of good. And so on.

Meanwhile, we have a world in crisis from global warming and coronavirus. Meanwhile, it’s Christmas and families are facing eviction, starvation and privation. And so on.

All of which is to say, In four weeks time we will be rid of a psychopath, a malignant, narcissistic, child-raping, murdering racist. That’s very good news. That bit of good news cannot be overstated. But America still has one hell of a lot of problems. And they are not going to go away just because Donald Trump has gone away, they are not going to go away if we ignore them. We, those of us who care, those who fight injustice, those who speak for the voiceless, are still needed to fight the good fight.

I look forward to a day, someday in the not-too-distant future I should hope, when I can look back and honestly say I have neither typed nor spoken the name “Donald Trump” for that entire day. I am heartily sick of that whiny, insignificant, petty little man, his petulant, incoherent hate-speech and his brackish, medieval thinking. I’m sick of him and the people who carry water for him, sick of their pearl-clutching outrages and counterfeit indignation over minor instances of manufactured “scandal.” Sick of their hypocrisy, sick of their weakness, sick of their cowardice.

 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 November as one of its lawyers before firing.

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Sidney Powell’s secret intelligence contractor witness is a pro-Trump podcaster, Jon Swaine, Dec. 24, 2020. As she asked the U.S. Supreme Court this month to overturn President Trump’s election loss, the attorney Sidney Powell cited testimony from a secret witness presented as a former intelligence contractor with insights on a foreign conspiracy to subvert democracy.

Powell told courts that the witness is an expert who could show that overseas corporations helped shift votes to President-elect Joe Biden. The witness’s identity must be concealed from the public, Powell has said, to protect her “reputation, professional career and personal safety.”

The Washington Post identified the witness by determining that portions of her affidavit match, sometimes verbatim, a blog post that the pro-Trump podcaster Terpsichore Maras-Lindeman published in November 2019. In an interview, Maras-Lindeman confirmed that she wrote the affidavit and said she viewed it as her contribution to a fight against the theft of the election.

“This is everybody’s duty,” she said. “It’s just not fair.”

In a recent civil fraud case, attorneys for the state of North Dakota said that Maras-Lindeman falsely claimed to be a medical doctor and to have both a PhD and an MBA. They said she used multiple aliases and social security numbers and created exaggerated online résumés as part of what they called “a persistent effort . . . to deceive others.”

Powell’s reliance on Maras-Lindeman’s testimony may raise further questions about her judgment and the strength of her arguments at a time when she is becoming an increasingly influential adviser to the president. Trump’s legal team distanced itself from Powell last month after she falsely claimed Republican state officials took bribes to rig the election. But she has visited the White House three times in the past week, once to participate in an Oval Office meeting. Trump has weighed naming Powell a special counsel to investigate the election, according to previous reports.

Maras-Lindeman, 42, served in the Navy for less than a year more than two decades ago and has said she worked later as a government contractor and part-time interpreter. She has identified herself as a “trained cryptolinguist.”

North Dakota’s assertions about her credentials came in a civil case brought by the state’s attorney general in 2018 over a purported charitable event she tried to organize in Minot, N.D., where she and her family resided. Attorneys for the state said she used money she collected — ostensibly to fund homeless shelters and wreaths for veterans’ graves — on purchases for herself at McDonald’s, QVC and elsewhere.

A judge ultimately found that Maras-Lindeman violated consumer protection laws by, among other things, misspending money she raised and soliciting donations while misrepresenting her experience and education. He ordered her to pay more than $25,000.

Maras-Lindeman has appealed to the state Supreme Court. In court filings and in her interview with The Post, she denied mishandling the funds or misleading donors. She blamed identity theft and bureaucratic failings for a proliferation of variations on her name and social security numbers associated with her.

Dec. 22

william barr doj announcement Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Barr Sees ‘No Reason’ for Special Counsels for Hunter Biden or the Election, Katie Benner, Dec. 22, 2020 (print ed.). The outgoing attorney general, William Barr, again broke with President Trump on his unsupported claims of widespread election fraud and the need to appoint a special counsel to investigate the president-elect’s son.

Attorney General William P. Barr, shown above in a file photo, said Monday that he saw no reason to appoint special counsels to oversee the Justice Department’s ongoing criminal investigation into Hunter Biden, son of President-elect Joseph R. Biden, Jr., or to investigate President Trump’s baseless claims of widespread voter fraud, again undercutting Mr. Trump’s efforts to bend the department to his political will and to overturn the results of the election.

President Donald Trump officialAt a news conference to announce charges in an unrelated terrorism case, Mr. Barr said that he did not “see any reason to appoint a special counsel” to oversee the ongoing investigation into the younger Mr. Biden.

“I have no plan to do so before I leave,” Mr. Barr said. ”To the extent that there is an investigation, I think that it’s being handled responsibly and professionally.”

He also said that he would name a special counsel to oversee an inquiry into election fraud if he felt one was warranted. “But I haven’t and I’m not going to,” Mr. Barr said. He added that he saw “no basis” for the federal government to seize voting machines.

Mr. Barr’s comments are sure to further poison his relationship with Mr. Trump, who has expressed rage that Mr. Barr has not done more to help him overturn the results of the November election.

Mr. Barr has long been regarded as Mr. Trump’s most loyal and effective cabinet member, who on several occasions made decisions that directly benefited Mr. Trump and his allies. But his relationship with the president fractured in the wake of the election after he publicly said that he had not seen enough voter fraud to change the election’s outcome and it became clear that he had kept the ongoing investigation in Mr. Biden’s son under wraps.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Bill Barr sides with Mike Pompeo against Donald Trump as everything falls apart, Bill Palmer, Dec. 21, 2020. There is no longer any plan, strategy, or scheme that will magically save Donald Trump from being booted out of office in thirty days. He can’t accept that, because once he’s out of office, he’ll be on a path to prison, bankruptcy, and the end of his life as he knows it.

There’s a reason why Trump is now reduced to listening to the delusional fantasies of his crackpot election lawyers: they’re the only people still floating any scenarios for magically saving him. Trump’s “adult” henchmen already know it’s over, and are now trying to cover their own backsides.

bill palmer report logo headerAttorney General Bill Barr is publicly admitting that Trump lost the election fair and square. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is publicly admitting that it was indeed Russia who hacked U.S. government agencies. Barr has lost his job over it, and Pompeo might be about to. But now Barr is publicly siding with Pompeo on the Russia thing, contradicting Trump’s assertion that the hack was either overblown, or fake, or somehow done by China.

It’s clear that henchmen like Barr and Pompeo are trying to rehabilitate their images now that Trump is taking a fall. After all, the DOJ could easily charge them both with felonies for the criminal antics they carried out while in office. The best way to beat those charges is to establish the narrative now that they couldn’t have been willing Trump henchmen, since they stood up to him in the end.

Barr and Pompeo shouldn’t be let off the hook at all. They each belong in prison; Barr for numerous instances of felony obstruction of justice and Pompeo for his criminal antics in the Ukraine scandal. But for now, the point is that some of Trump’s biggest henchmen are already selfishly turning against him. They know Trump is finished.

djt impeachment graphic

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump grants clemency to 20 people, including three GOP former members of Congress and two men convicted in the Russia probe, Rosalind S. Helderman and Matt Zapotosky, Dec. 22, 2020. President Trump granted clemency on Tuesday to 20 people, including three former Republican members of Congress and two people who were convicted of crimes as part of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 president election.

The pardons and commutations came as Trump has been exploring how to use his clemency powers to reward friends and allies in the waning days before leaving office next month.

george papadopoulos cropped headshotTrump gave a full pardon to George Papadopoulos, left, a foreign policy adviser to his 2016 campaign who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during its Russia investigation.

Papadopoulos in 2017 agreed he had misled the FBI about his interactions with a London-based professor who claimed Russia had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic rival, in the form of thousands of emails. In 2018, Papadopoulos served his 14-day prison robert mueller full face filesentence.

But the onetime energy adviser, 33, later actively sought a pardon to expunge his record and bolster his post-conviction claims that he had been unfairly targeted by the U.S. authorities, including special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, right — allegations that echoed Trump’s own grievances against the Mueller probe.

alex van der zwaanTrump also pardoned Alex van der Zwaan, left, a lawyer who had worked with Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort in work related to Ukraine and pleaded guilty to lying to Mueller’s team.

The president has now used his powers to personally intervene and grant clemency in multiple cases Mueller brought against his former advisers. In November, he pardoned former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his dealings with a Russian chris collins cropped odiplomat, though he later sought to withdrew that plea.

In July, the president commuted the sentence of his longtime friend Roger Stone, who was convicted of seeking to impede a duncan hunter nbc newscongressional investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and sentenced to 40 months in prison.

Trump’s other pardons on Tuesday included grants of clemency to former Republican members of congress Steve Stockman (TX), Duncan Hunter (CA), left, and Chris Collins (NY), right, with the latter two being Trump's first two supporters in the House for his 2016 presidential run.

Trump (impeached a year ago as shown below by headlines from around the nation) also pardoned four military contractors convicted of killing 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians in Baghdad in 2007.

djt impeachment collage Custom 2

ny times logoNew York Times, Virus Disrupts Travel and Trade Between U.K and Europe, Staff Reports, Dec. 22, 2020 (print ed.).

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Is Trump Really All That Holds the G.O.P. Together? Matthew Continetti (Resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute), Dec. 22, 2020. The Republican Party has embraced reality-TV authoritarianism not out of strength but weakness.

No other Republican or conservative leader personalized his leadership in this way. In 1960, Barry Goldwater told a student group lobbying him to run for president: “The man is not important. The principles you espouse are.” In 1976, Ronald Reagan told “60 Minutes” that the Republican Party would be “dead” unless it “stands up and erects a set of principles around which people can rally.” The “Contract With America” wasn’t between the country and Representative Newt Gingrich. It was with the Republican Party.

But that is ancient history.

 

tommy tuberville doug jonesIncoming Republican U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville, left, is shown with the incumbent Alabama Democrat whom he defeated, Doug Jones.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s final hope rests with Tommy Tuberville. Sad! Dana Milbank, right, Dec. 22, 2020 (print ed.). dana milbank CustomPresident-unelect Trump has studied every play in the Coups-for-Dummies playbook: court challenges, pressure on Republican officials to overturn the election, even a half-baked plan for martial law from pardoned convict Michael Flynn. But no luck.

Now, Trump’s final hope rests with Tommy Tuberville.

This is like finding out your death-row appeal will be argued by Sidney Powell.

Tuberville — or “Tubs,” from his college football coaching days — is the Republican senator-elect from Alabama, and he’s proposing to object to the election results in the Senate on Jan. 6. Trump exulted: “Great senator.”

Problem is, Tubs, if he were a Democrat, is what Trump might call a “low-IQ individual.” In their wisdom, the voters of Alabama chose to replace Democrat Doug Jones, who prosecuted the Birmingham church bombing, with a man who recently announced his discovery that there are “three branches of government,” namely, “the House, the Senate and the executive.”

Tuberville was baffled by the vote counting after Election Day (“The referees are suddenly adding touchdowns to the other team’s side of the scoreboard”), and last week said he plans a Senate challenge to the electoral college tally.

 

Dec. 21

Palmer Report, Opinion: Bill Barr sides with Mike Pompeo against Donald Trump as everything falls apart, Bill Palmer, Dec. 21, 2020. There is no longer any plan, strategy, or scheme that will magically save Donald Trump from being booted out of office in thirty days. He can’t accept that, because once he’s out of office, he’ll be on a path to prison, bankruptcy, and the end of his life as he knows it.

There’s a reason why Trump is now reduced to listening to the delusional fantasies of his crackpot election lawyers: they’re the only people still floating any scenarios for magically saving him. Trump’s “adult” henchmen already know it’s over, and are now trying to cover their own backsides.

bill palmer report logo headerAttorney General Bill Barr is publicly admitting that Trump lost the election fair and square. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is publicly admitting that it was indeed Russia who hacked U.S. government agencies. Barr has lost his job over it, and Pompeo might be about to. But now Barr is publicly siding with Pompeo on the Russia thing, contradicting Trump’s assertion that the hack was either overblown, or fake, or somehow done by China.

It’s clear that henchmen like Barr and Pompeo are trying to rehabilitate their images now that Trump is taking a fall. After all, the DOJ could easily charge them both with felonies for the criminal antics they carried out while in office. The best way to beat those charges is to establish the narrative now that they couldn’t have been willing Trump henchmen, since they stood up to him in the end.

Barr and Pompeo shouldn’t be let off the hook at all. They each belong in prison; Barr for numerous instances of felony obstruction of justice and Pompeo for his criminal antics in the Ukraine scandal. But for now, the point is that some of Trump’s biggest henchmen are already selfishly turning against him. They know Trump is finished.

Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jennar Ellis allege election fraud to Republican legislators this month in a performance widely ridiculed because of lack of evidence persuasive to courts and Giuliani's flatulence (heard shortly before this screenshot).

Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jennar Ellis allege election fraud to Republican legislators this month in a performance widely ridiculed because of lack of evidence persuasive to courts and Giuliani's flatulence (heard shortly before this screenshot).

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: How Trump drove the lie that the election was stolen, undermining voter trust in the outcome, Amy Gardner, Dec. 21, 2020 (print ed.). Flanked by pro-Trump media outfits and an assortment of state lawmakers and lawyers who gave oxygen to debunked allegations, the president persuaded millions of Americans that the vote was rigged.

Mediaite, Rudy Giuliani Disavows Sidney Powell’s Role in Trump Legal Fight — After Her Third Oval Office Visit in Four Days, Reed Richardson, Dec 21, 2020. Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and quixotic leader of the campaign to overturn the 2020 election, Rudy Giuliani, labored to distance the president from fellow legal conspiracist Sidney Powell, even though she has visited the White House in three of the last four days.

During an appearance on Newsmax’s Spicer & Co, Giuliani insisted that Powell was acting independently and was not associated with his official efforts on behalf of Trump, despite those visits.

Giuliani’s reference to “special counsel” came after news reports that, during Powell’s Friday Oval Office audience with the president, he reportedly floated the idea of naming Powell as special counsel to investigate election fraud — a move that it should be pointed out is beyond Trump’s authority, since, by regulation, only the attorney general can appoint a special counsel.

However, just moments later, Giuliani appeared to subtly cast aspersions on Powell’s legal strategy. “We’re going to be extremely aggressive, we’re going to fight for our client as hard as we can,” he added. “But we’re also going to do in within the bounds of rationality, common sense, and the law. And it can be done. There’s no reason to go beyond anything.”

This isn’t the first time Giuliani has ruled out Powell having an official role in the legal fight, as he claimed the pair were “pursuing two different theories” just before Thanksgiving. Still, Giuliani’s disavowal rings hollow, since Powell continues to have the president’s ear and, just days before his earlier disavowal, Giuliani and Powell held a surreal, joint press conference where he stood beside her as she pushed delusional election conspiracies involving George Soros, Hugo Chavez, the Clintons, and Antifa, among others.

djt looking up

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump is leaving behind crises and undermining Biden before he takes office, Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey and Anne Gearan, Dec. 21, 2020 (print ed.). In a situation without precedent in U.S. history, one president is ending his term amid a global emergency while seeking to delegitimize a successor — and floating the prospect of mounting a four-year campaign to return to power. 

Biden’s incoming administration has long described a “perfect storm” of four crises facing the country — the pandemic, economic distress, climate change and racial justice. It suddenly has another to add: a historic cyber intrusion into government networks that likely began months ago and could reverberate for months to come.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: The ‘Red Slime’ Lawsuit That Could Sink Right-Wing Media, Ben Smith, Updated Dec. 21, 2020. Last week, a lawyer for Antonio Mugica sent scathing letters to Fox, Newsmax and OAN demanding that they immediately, forcefully clear his company’s name. Voting machine companies threaten “highly dangerous” cases against Fox, Newsmax and OAN, says Floyd Abrams.

antonio mugicaAntonio Mugica, left, was in Boca Raton when an American presidential election really melted down in 2000, and he watched with shocked fascination as local government officials argued over hanging chads and butterfly ballots.

It was so bad, so incompetent, that Mr. Mugica, a young Venezuelan software engineer, decided to shift the focus of his digital security company, Smartmatic, which had been working for banks. It would offer its services to what would obviously be a growth smartmaticindustry: electronic voting machines. He began building a global company that ultimately provided voting machinery and software for elections from Brazil to Belgium and his native Venezuela. He even acquired an American company, then called Sequoia.

Last month, Mr. Mugica initially took it in stride when his company’s name started popping up in grief-addled Trump supporters’ wild conspiracy theories about the election.

“Of course I was surprised, but at the same time, it was pretty clear that these people were trying to discredit the election and they were throwing out 25 conspiracy theories in parallel,” he told me in an interview last dominion voting systemsweek from Barbados, where his company has an office. “I thought it was so absurd that it was not going to have legs.”

rudy giuliani recentBut by Nov. 14, he knew he had a problem. That’s when Rudy Giuliani, right, serving as the president’s lawyer, suggested that one voting company, Dominion Voting Systems, had a sinister connection to vote counts in “Michigan, Arizona and Georgia and other states.” Mr. Giuliani declared on Twitter that the company “was a front for SMARTMATIC, who was really doing the computing. Look up SMARTMATIC and tweet me what you think?”

Soon his company, and a competitor, Dominion — which sells its services to about 1,900 of the county governments that administer elections across America — were at the center of Mr. Giuliani’s and Sidney Powell’s theories, and on the tongues of commentators on Fox News and its farther-right rivals, Newsmax and One America News.

Here’s the thing: Smartmatic wasn’t even used in the contested states. The company, now a major global player with over 300 employees, pulled out of the United States in 2007 after a controversy over its founders’ Venezuelan roots, and its only involvement this November was with a contract to help Los Angeles County run its election.

In an era of brazen political lies, Mr. Mugica has emerged as an unlikely figure with the power to put the genie back in the bottle.

djt maga hatLast week, his lawyer sent scathing letters to the Fox News Channel, Newsmax and OAN demanding that they immediately, forcefully clear his company’s name — and that they retain documents for a planned defamation lawsuit.

He has, legal experts say, an unusually strong case. And his new lawyer is J. Erik Connolly, who not coincidentally won the largest settlement in the history of American media defamation in 2017, at least $177 million, for a beef producer whose “lean finely textured beef” was described by ABC News as “pink slime.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: There is no middle ground between fact and fiction on the election results, Editorial Board, Dec. 21, 2020 (print ed.). As President Trump continues to lie about last month’s election, national Republican leaders are trying to stake out what they imagine as a middle ground: While Joe Biden is the president-elect, the 2020 election was marred by substantial fraud and election irregularities. In fact, this is also a lie, and their dishonesty damages U.S. democracy.

ron johnson oAt a Wednesday Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing, Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), right, declared that it is “not sustainable” for a large proportion of Americans to believe the election results are illegitimate. He then set about encouraging this false belief by dignifying debunked attacks on the vote’s integrity. Mr. Johnson insisted that pro-Trump forces have raised “legitimate concerns” about “violations of election laws,” “fraudulent votes and ballot stuffing,” and “corruption of voting machines and software that might be programmed to add or switch votes.”

Republicans are inaugurating a new, dangerous era in which political parties may refuse to acknowledge election results merely because they dislike the choices voters made. The damage is twofold: Dignifying fake claims of widespread election irregularities shreds confidence in democracy, destabilizing the nation’s politics and encouraging potentially violent resistance to duly elected leaders.

Meanwhile, GOP state lawmakers in swing states such as Michigan and Pennsylvania have responded to Republican outrage about Mr. Trump’s loss by promising major voting overhauls. This would fit into Republicans’ longer-term efforts to impose restrictions on casting ballots that depress voter participation yet provide little improvement in election integrity.

Sidney Powell, right, and Jenna Ellis

Trump attorneys Jenna Ellis, left, and Sidney Powell conduct a press conference with Trump counsel Rudy Giuliani before Trump fired Powell.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump checks out, Bill Palmer, right, Dec. 21, 2020. Donald Trump’s election lawyers Sidney Powell and Lin Wood have spent this bill palmerevening using social media to rather viciously attack Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, accusing them of being part of some kind of ill-defined conspiracy against Trump.

Presumably, this is because Meadows dared to tell Trump that Powell’s lunatic plans to magically overturn the election were literally impossible, and that Pompeo dared to publicly admit that it was Russia who hacked U.S. government agencies. But the specific reasoning behind the scuffle is less important than the fact that it’s happening at all, and what it tells us about Donald Trump himself.

bill palmer report logo headerPowell, Wood, Meadows, and Pompeo are all fully complicit in Trump’s overall corrupt agenda. They’re all his henchmen. If Trump were still in the game, he’d be giving them marching orders, telling them what to do, and getting them all on the same page – his page.

Instead, Trump’s henchmen are all eating each other alive, even as Trump says and does little. This is a clear sign that he’s checked out mentally, and his henchmen are each left to their own devices and trying to fill the resulting power vacuum with their own personal agendas.

Best anyone can tell, Trump likes to hear from his lunatic lawyers because their magical imaginary solutions make him feel good – but then he also likes it when his more stable henchmen explain why none of it’s real, because that gives him an excuse not to have to take action.

Donald Trump is in that place where he’s scared of his own shadow, knows he’s one false move from finished, also knows that he’s doomed if he doesn’t do anything, and just wants to be told that it’s all going to be magically okay. In other words, he’s checked out entirely.

Dec. 18

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump has clearly given up hope, Bill Palmer, Dec. 18, 2020.  Donald Trump has been under the proverbial gun the entire time he’s been in the Oval Office. From the Mueller probe, to impeachment, to his consistently low approval rating numbers, he’s always been on the verge of ouster. But he’s always had hope that he would hang on – until now.

bill palmer report logo headerTrump is playing some awfully petty games right now. In fact they’re so petty, his strategy is almost indistinguishably faint. Russia gets caught hacking us, and he (naturally) does nothing. Pfizer demands to know where to send the next doses of the vaccine, and he does nothing. Congress tries to figure out a stimulus package, and he does nothing.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Sets Records for New Cases and Deaths Heading Into the Holidays, Staff Reports, Dec. 18, 2020 (print ed.). More Covid-19 deaths are being reported each day than before in the U.S.

Just as the United States greets the arrival of promising vaccines — and prepares to celebrate a starkly transformed holiday season — more Covid-19 deaths are being reported each day than at any time before during the pandemic.

The nation set single-day records on Wednesday for reported deaths, with more than 3,600, and for newly reported cases, more than 245,000. The previous case record was set last Friday, when more than 236,800 new infections were announced, not including tens of thousands of significantly older cases reported that day.

Three times as many people in the United States are dying each day now than three months ago, and the number of new cases is six times what it was then. Also, with large cities already ravaged by the virus, it is now exacting a deadly toll on many midsize cities.

In the past week, just over 30 percent of the nation’s coronavirus-related deaths were reported in the South, and nearly 30 percent in the Midwest. Pennsylvania, Arizona and Kansas in particular have seen dizzying growth in death tolls over the last seven days; North and South Dakota registered the most deaths relative to the size of their populations.

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ny times logoNew York Times, Jobless Claims Remain Far Above Historical Levels, Staff Reports, Dec. 18, 2020 (print ed.). U.S. workers filed 935,000 claims for benefits last week. The trading app Robinhood will pay $65 million to settle charges from the S.E.C. Here’s the latest.

Rising Covid-19 cases are taking a steep toll on economic activity, battering the labor market even as new vaccines offer a ray of hope for next year.

The number of Americans filing initial claims for unemployment insurance remained high last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. After dropping earlier in the fall, claims have moved higher, and they remain at levels that dwarf the pace of past recessions.

us labor department logoThere were 935,000 new claims for state benefits, compared with 956,000 the previous week, while 455,000 filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federally funded program for part-time workers, the self-employed and others ordinarily ineligible for jobless benefits.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the number of new state claims was 885,000, an increase of 23,000 from the previous week.

Consumer caution, coupled with new restrictions on business activity like indoor dining, has pummeled the hospitality industry, lodging, airlines and other service businesses. The debut of a coronavirus vaccine this week offers the prospect of relief, but until mass inoculations begin next year, the economy will remain under pressure.

“Businesses are closing, and as a result, we are seeing job losses mount — and that’s exactly what we were fearful of going into the winter,” said Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics. “It’s going to be a challenging few months, no doubt.”

At the end of November, more than 20 million workers were collecting unemployment benefits under state or federal programs, Labor Department data indicates.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House aides talked Trump out of last-minute demand for stimulus checks as big as $2,000, Jeff Stein, Dec. 18, 2020 (print ed.). White House aides talked Trump out of last-minute demand for stimulus checks as big as $2,000. Advisers persuaded the president on Thursday not to announce support for significantly bigger stimulus payments.

djt handwave fileWhite House aides intervened Thursday to prevent President Trump from issuing a statement calling for substantially larger stimulus payments for millions of Americans, according to two people who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details of the private exchange.

On a phone call Thursday afternoon, Trump told allies that he believes stimulus payments in the next relief package should be “at least” $1,200 per person and possibly as big as $2,000 per person, the officials said. Congressional leadership is preparing a stimulus package that would provide checks of $600 per person.

Trump was in the middle of formally drafting his demand for the larger payments when White House officials told him that doing so could imperil delicate negotiations over the economic relief package, the officials said. Congressional Republicans have insisted that the relief bill remain less than $1 trillion, and it’s currently designed to cost around $900 billion. Larger stimulus checks could push the package’s total over $1 trillion.

Dec. 12

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washington post logoWashington Post, Trump, allies vow to ‘fight on’ after Supreme Court loss, Colby Itkowitz, Dec. 12, 2020. President Trump lashed out at his attorney general and GOP governors he deemed unfaithful. President Trump on Saturday amplified his unfounded claims and falsehoods about Joe Biden’s victory, lashed out at his attorney general and GOP governors he deemed unfaithful to him, and vowed to continue challenging the election results, despite the Supreme Court dealing a final blow to his brazen legal efforts to overturn the vote.

“I WON THE ELECTION IN A LANDSLIDE, but remember, I only think in terms of legal votes, not all of the fake voters and fraud that miraculously floated in from everywhere! What a disgrace!,” Trump tweeted shortly after 8 a.m., one in a series of morning posts that Twitter labeled as disputed.

Many of Trump’s Republican allies in Congress were unswayed by the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the challenge brought by the Texas attorney general that asked the justices to invalidate millions of ballots cast in four battleground states — Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Georgia — and toss out Biden’s win. The Congress members accused the Supreme Court of dodging or lacking courage.

Dec. 11

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ny times logoNew York Times, Supreme Court Rejects Texas Suit Seeking to Subvert Election, Adam Liptak, right, Dec. 11, 2020. The Supreme Court on adam liptakFriday rejected a lawsuit by Texas that had asked the court to throw out the election results in four battleground states that President Trump lost in November, ending any prospect that a brazen attempt to use the courts to reverse his defeat at the polls would succeed.

The court, in a brief unsigned order, said Texas lacked standing to pursue the case, saying it “has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another state conducts its elections.”

The order, coupled with another one on Tuesday turning away a similar request from Pennsylvania Republicans, signaled that a conservative court with three justices appointed by Mr. Trump refused to be drawn into the extraordinary effort by the president and many prominent members of his party to deny his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., his victory.

It was the latest and most significant setback for Mr. Trump in a litigation campaign that was rejected by courts at every turn.

Texas’ lawsuit, filed directly in the Supreme Court, challenged election procedures in four states: Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. It asked the court to bar those states from casting their electoral votes for Mr. Biden and to shift the selection of electors to the states’ legislatures. That would have required the justices to throw out millions of votes.

djt brett kavanaugh amy coney barrettMr. Trump has said he expected to prevail in the Supreme Court, after rushing the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett in October in part in the hope that she would vote in Mr. Trump’s favor in election disputes.

“I think this will end up in the Supreme Court,” Mr. Trump said of the election a few days after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death in September. “And I think it’s very important that we have nine justices.”

He was right that an election dispute would end up in the Supreme Court. But he was quite wrong to think the court, even after he appointed a third of its members, would do his bidding. And with the Electoral College set to meet on Monday, Mr. Trump’s efforts to change the outcome of the election will soon be at an end.

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washington post logoWashington Post, White House orders FDA chief to authorize vaccine today or submit his resignation, Josh Dawsey and Laurie McGinley, Dec. 11, 2020. Warning led FDA to move authorization up from Saturday; The message from White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows came as the Food and Drug Administration prepared to clear the nation’s first coronavirus vaccine, according to three people familiar with the situation.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, left, on Friday told Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, to submit his mark meadowsresignation if the agency does not clear the nation’s first coronavirus vaccine by day’s end, according to people familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss what happened.

fda logoThe threat came on the same day that President Trump tweeted that the FDA is “a big, old, slow turtle” in its handling of vaccines, while exhorting Commissioner Stephen Hahn to “get the dam vaccines out NOW.” He added: “Stop playing games and start saving lives!!!”

It also led the FDA to accelerate its timetable for clearing America’s first vaccine from Saturday morning to later Friday, according to two people familiar with the process who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters.

The White House actions once again inject politics into the vaccine race, potentially undermining public trust in one of the most crucial tools to end the pandemic that has killed more than 290,000 Americans. It comes in the midst of a process that had been designed to show no shortcuts were taken in reviewing the safety and effectiveness of a vaccine as surveys show many people remain unsure whether they will get the shots.

A White House official declined to comment, saying “we don’t comment on private conversations, but the Chief regularly requests updates on progress toward a vaccine.”

stephen hahn o“This is an untrue representation of the phone call with the Chief of Staff,” Hahn, right, said in a statement. “The FDA was encouraged to continue working expeditiously on Pfizer-BioNTech’s EUA request. FDA is committed to issuing this authorization quickly, as we noted in our statement this morning.”

pfizer logoThe two-shot vaccine, which has been shown to be 95 percent effective in randomized trials involving tens of thousands of people, has already been cleared by Britain, Canada, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. U.S. officials have engaged in a more rigorous review process that they believe will boost public confidence.

Meadows’ threat and the president’s tweets constituted the latest attack by Trump, who has complained vociferously that the vaccine wasn’t authorized before Election Day, blaming it on the ‘Deep State’ inside the agency that he accused of working against his reelection. Trump was also said to be upset that Britain cleared the vaccine before the United States, although the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been developed and reviewed in record time.

 ny times logoNew York Times, F.D.A. Advisory Panel Gives Green Light to Pfizer Vaccine, Katie Thomas, Noah Weiland and Sharon LaFraniere, Dec. 11, 2020 (print ed.). The panel of experts voted in favor of emergency authorization for people 16 and older. The F.D.A. does not have to follow the advice, but it usually does.

pfizer logoPfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine passed a critical milestone on Thursday when a panel of experts formally recommended that the Food and Drug Administration authorize the vaccine. The agency is likely to do so within days, giving health care workers and nursing home residents first priority to begin receiving the first shots early next week.

fda logoThe F.D.A.’s vaccine advisory panel, composed of independent scientific experts, infectious disease doctors and statisticians, voted 17 to 4, with one member abstaining, in favor of emergency authorization for people 16 and older. With rare exceptions, the F.D.A. follows the advice of its advisory panels.

With this formal blessing, the nation may finally begin to slow the spread of the virus just as infections and deaths surge, reaching a record of more than 3,000 daily deaths on Wednesday. The F.D.A. is expected to grant an emergency use authorization on Saturday, according to people familiar with the agency’s planning, though they cautioned that last-minute legal or bureaucratic requirements could push the announcement to Sunday or later.

The initial shipment of 6.4 million doses will leave warehouses within 24 hours of being cleared by the F.D.A., according to federal officials. About half of those doses will be sent across the country, and the other half will be reserved for the initial recipients to receive their second dose about three weeks later.

ny times logoNew York Times, As President Trump Disputes Election, Republicans Target Voting by Mail, Michael Wines, Dec. 11, 2020 (print ed.). Nearly half of voters cast absentee ballots in the election, a huge increase. If Republicans have their way, that might not last.

President Trump’s barrage of losses in court cases trying to undermine the election has not stopped Republicans from turning to battles they might be able to win — attempts to limit or undermine the future use of the vote-by-mail ballots that so infuriated Mr. Trump.

Absentee ballots constituted nearly half the votes cast in the 2020 election, and the experiment in mass voting by mail has been viewed by election experts as a remarkable success, one that was less prone to errors than expected and had almost no documented fraud. But that has not stopped Republican critics eager to follow the president’s lead.

This week in Georgia, as the president rages against the election he lost and the members of his party who oversaw it there, Republican state senators promised to make getting and casting mail ballots far more difficult.

The Georgia state senators pledged on Tuesday to eliminate no-excuse absentee voting, require a photo ID to obtain a ballot, outlaw drop boxes and scrap a court agreement to quickly tell voters about signature problems on ballots so that they could be fixed.

Republicans were pressing that cause on other fronts as well: The national and state parties filed a lawsuit in Atlanta seeking to curtail the use of drop boxes in next month’s runoff elections for the U.S. Senate. The suit claimed it was illegal to let absentee voters deposit ballots after business hours.

Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican and a frequent target of Mr. Trump for not taking steps to overturn the election results, renewed an earlier call for a recheck of signatures on mail ballots after a Trump volunteer falsely claimed at a State Senate hearing that a video showed workers retrieving “suitcases” of ballots from under a table after observers left. Election officials said the video showed routine tabulation work.

washington post logogeorge conway postWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s last-ditch effort to steal the election is the biggest farce of all, George T. Conway III, right, Dec. 11, 2020 (print ed.).

“We will be INTERVENING in the Texas (plus many other states) case. This is the big one. Our Country needs a victory!” tweeted the soon-to-be-ex-president of the United States. A filing at the Supreme Court soon followed.

President Trump needs an intervention these days all right — but not of the kind he was talking about. And it’s he who desperately needs a victory, not the country.

That’s because Trump and his allies have lost just about every lawsuit they’ve brought to try to keep him in office. By one Democratic election lawyer’s count, they have just one win and 55 losses to show for their efforts (a ratio that would be even more lopsided if he counted multiple losses in each case). Adding insult to injury, the Trumpistas’ solitary victory was a piddling, technical one that affected just a tiny number of ballots, nowhere near enough to change the result. Sad!

Trump and his litigation boosters have lost every which way, and everywhere. In state courts and federal courts. In trial courts and appellate courts, intermediate and supreme. Before Democratic judges and Republican ones. In Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and Nevada — every state that could possibly matter. On substantive grounds and procedural ones, on the facts, and on the law.

They’ve already lost a case in the U.S. Supreme Court — and are about to lose there again, very, very soon.

It’s hard to imagine that any alliance of litigants and lawyers has ever lost more cases for more reasons — and in less time — than this sorry bunch has.

Their problem is they have nothing to sue about, and never did. The words of a Trump-appointed member of the federal appeals court in Philadelphia pretty much sum things up: “Calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here.”

And time’s up. All the contested states have certified their Biden-Harris slates of electors before the deadline set by federal law. That means the certifications “shall be conclusive, and shall govern in the counting of the electoral votes.” The electors will meet and vote in their respective states on Monday. The result will be Biden 306, Trump 232. A landslide, according to Trump.

ken paxton mugBrought by Texas’s ethically challenged attorney general, Ken Paxton [shown in a mug shot at left] the case is legally preposterous. By Texas’s own admission, it’s “challenging” the other states’ “administration of the 2020 election.” No constitutional provision, no statute and no principle of law gives one state the standing to challenge another state’s handling of an election. In our system, Texas isn’t the boss of Pennsylvania. Allowing such suits would invite a multistate free-for-all every time a presidential election is held.

Texas’s proposed complaint even has a claim that, given Trump’s middle-of-election-night lead in the defendant states, there was less than a “one in a quadrillion” chance that Biden should have won. Do they really think the justices of the Supreme Court are that stupid?

And what relief does the Texas suit seek? For the court to declare that the 62 electoral votes of Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin “cannot be counted.” That’s a quote.

That any member of any bar, let alone a member of the Supreme Court bar, could file such flimsy tripe in any court, let alone the Supreme Court, is an embarrassment to the legal profession. For public officials such as Paxton and his fellow Republican attorneys general to call for the wholesale disenfranchisement of the people of four states is an affront to the rule of law, an insult to an independent judiciary and a contempt of democracy.

Palmer Report, Opinion: 300,000, Robert Harrington, Dec 11, 2020.  By the time you read this, brothers and sisters, the 300,000th American will have died robert harringtnn portraitfrom COVID-19. To put that number in perspective, 116,516 Americans died in World War I, 405,399 died in World War II. By the time Joe Biden ascends to the presidency in January, the COVID death toll will have easily exceeded the death toll of the Second World War.

bill palmer report logo headerThese American deaths are at the feet of Donald Trump. He could have stopped most of it. Instead he chose to politicize the disease and create confusion and conflict around it.

Trump mocked people for wearing masks. He faked irritation at reporters wearing masks and pretended to have difficulty hearing them because their voices were muffled — even though their words were easily discernible. He mocked Joe and Jill Biden for wearing masks. He downplayed the severity of the disease itself, even though we know that he knew how deadly it really was — thanks to a February recording of an interview with Bob Woodward.

Trump made not wearing a mask a macho thing, a thing of pride, thereby confusing the very reason we wear masks. We wear them to protect each other, to keep others safe, to sacrifice our comfort in the name of the health and comfort of our fellow human beings. The average Trump supporter doesn’t understand this. Even though many of them are slow and stupid, it’s a simple message that they could have easily learned: wearing a mask is one of the bravest and most selfless and most patriotic things you can do.

Donald Trump provided his low-information devotees with a smorgasbord of reasons to mistrust the reality of the pandemic, and many of those reasons contradicted the other reasons. He began by saying it was a “Democrat hoax.” Then he said that it would disappear in the spring. Then he hinted it was a deadly pathogen created in a lab in China. Then he claimed that it was only killing the very old, and they didn’t matter anyway, that the rest of us were just fine. Then he claimed a victory and falsely insisted that the pandemic was over, just days before the thousand-a-day death toll climbed to two thousand deaths a day, and now three three thousand deaths a day.

Then — in a staggering orgy of hypocrisy — Donald Trump claimed the pandemic had been politicized, and that the announcement of the vaccine was deliberately withheld until after the election in order to hurt him politically. And the drooling cretins who follow him uncritically believe all of it.

Trump’s strategy these days is to ignore the pandemic and focus on the provably false claim that the election was stolen from him. Just as in the run up to the election his focus was on Hunter Biden and the “dangers” of voting by mail, it remains scattered on inaninities — focused anywhere except on this devastating pandemic.

Welcome to the party of “pro-life.” Welcome to the party where facts no longer matter, where the narrative can be anything you want it to be as long as it suits the capricious goal of the moment. Americans have been waiting four long years to see how far Donald Trump could push the envelope before Republicans finally pushed back. We now have our answer. There is no limit. Republicans will never lush back. Donald Trump can be as destructive and murderous as he wants to be, even in his death throes, and Republicans are content to allow a bunch of tinfoil hat-wearing lunatics to be their spokespeople.

It’s at times like this when the Napoleonic edict, to never interrupt your enemy when he’s making a mistake, is at its most applicable. I’m content to let their whole stinking Republican pirate ship of corruption go down with him. If Donald Trump is the end of the Republican Party, then he may have finally done us a favor by accident. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump Tries to Kill Covid Relief, Paul Krugman, Dec. 11, 2020 (print ed.). Is it ignorance, or is it cynicism? The next few months will be terrible. Several thousand Americans are now dying from Covid-19 every day; given the lag between cases and deaths, the daily toll will almost certainly rise through the end of this year, and if people are careless over Christmas it could surge even higher in the new year. Economic recovery has stalled, with employment still down almost 10 million from pre-pandemic levels.

The most we can hope for at this point are policies that mitigate the suffering, getting us through the horror while we wait for widespread vaccination. And a few days ago it seemed possible that we would in fact get some good news on the economic front. A bipartisan group of senators seemed close to agreement on a Covid relief bill that would fall far short of what we should be doing, but would be much better than nothing.

Then the lame-duck Trump administration intervened — destructively. Tthe administration proposal completely eliminated the most important piece of any relief deal — expanded benefits for the unemployed — replacing it with one-time $600 checks that would be sent to everyone.

President Trump is still trying, in ever more desperate and destructive ways, to overturn the results of the election. And in his madness he may imagine that he will gain more politically from sending everyone another check with his name on it than from helping those truly in need.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The covid-19 pandemic is Trump’s legacy. He can still salvage a shred of his reputation, Eugene Robinson, right, eugene robinson headshot CustomDec. 11, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump's shameful legacy will be the needless death and vast devastation of the covid-19 pandemic.

More than 3,100 Americans died from the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, a shocking all-time high, with the virus currently the nation's leading cause of death. The health and economic impacts of covid-19 were always going to be brutal, but Trump made everything much worse than it had to be. And he has capped his mismanagement of the crisis by making it more difficult not just to persuade Americans to comply with life-saving preventative efforts but by also sowing doubt about the vaccines that are the way out of this crisis.

The worst thing Trump did — and continues to do — is to treat the virus less like a threat to the nation and more like a danger to his own political and psychological well-being. From the beginning, he listened to the advisers who told him what he wanted to hear — that it wouldn't be so bad (though epidemiologists said otherwise), that we could achieve some sort of herd immunity (though infectious-disease specialists said this was madness), that the disease would magically "go away" in time for the election (though all realistic people said this was pure fantasy).

Trump could have used his megaphone and his dominance of the Republican Party to push for consistent, nationwide rules for mandates and shutdowns. If he had called last spring for universal mask-wearing, for example, and driven that message home with his loyal MAGA followers, Republican governors such as Ron DeSantis of Florida, Greg Abbott of Texas and even Kristi Noem of South Dakota likely would have had no choice but to go along or face the wrath of constituents who are more loyal to Trump than to them.

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, Manhattan D.A. Intensifies Investigation of Trump, William K. Rashbaum, Ben Protess and David Enrich, Dec. 11, 2020. Prosecutors have recently interviewed employees of President Trump’s lender and insurance brokerage, in the latest indication that he still faces the potential threat of criminal charges once he leaves office.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The price Donald Trump will pay, Bill Palmer, Dec. 11, 2020. I’ve been asked whether Donald Trump’s seditious post-election behavior will increase the odds that he ultimately pays a price for all of this. That’s a good question, and the answer comes in two parts.

bill palmer report logo headerFirst, Trump is already just about a lock for prison in New York State on financial charges, which nearly always result in a conviction. It’s possible that in response to Trump’s worsening behavior, New York could decide to indict Trump sooner than it was otherwise djt prison palmer reportplanning. But if Trump is indicted while he’s still in office, will this scare him into toning down his antics, or cause him to panic and ramp up his antics? That’s something New York would have to consider.

Second, there is the ongoing question of federal charges. Because Trump will try to pardon himself and that self-pardon will take time to get thrown out in court, there could be a significant delay before the DOJ even legally has the option of federally charging Trump. By that time he could already be in state prison, making the charges more symbolic than anything. But Trump’s worsening antics could leave America with the kind of lasting bad taste that ultimately demands federal criminal charges once they’re an option.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: ‘Take off your mask’: Boorish customers have found a way to make sexual harassment even more of a hazard, Monica Hesse, Dec. 11, 2020 (print ed.). The upside to wearing a mask at work was that at least it would curtail the harassment. As a server, Sandy Tran was used to unwanted comments on her appearance, but the coronavirus precautions enforced by her Dallas restaurant now required full-time face coverage — a literal barrier between Tran and creepy customers.

Then she heard the first iteration of what would become a refrain:

“Take off your mask,” the diner instructed her while she took his order one afternoon. “I want to see your beautiful smile.”

“If I do it, it makes me seem like I have no respect for myself,” Tran thought, weighing her options. “But if I don’t, he’s going to leave me a bad tip.” Before the pandemic, Tran could make $200 a night. Now she often went hours into her shift without seating a single customer, and her base pay was $2.13 an hour. She needed the money. So from a six-foot distance, she pulled down her mask. She felt “like a circus animal,” standing there while the customer pressed her to tell him her ethnicity, saying she was a “beautiful mix.”

Dec. 9supreme court Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court denies Trump allies’ bid to overturn Pennsylvania election results, Robert Barnes, Dec. 9, 2020 (print ed.). The Supreme Court on Tuesday denied a last-minute attempt by President Trump’s allies to overturn the election results in Pennsylvania.

The court’s brief order provided no reasoning, nor did it note any dissenting votes. It was the first request to delay or overturn the results of the presidential election to reach the court.

The lawsuit was part of a blizzard of litigation and personal interventions Trump and his lawyers have waged to overturn victories by Democrat Joe Biden in a handful of key states.

Trump called the speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives twice during the past week to make an extraordinary request for help reversing his loss in the state. But Speaker Bryan Cutler told the president he had no authority to step in, or to order the legislature into special session, a Cutler spokesman told The Washington Post.

Republican members of the legislature and Congress supported the Supreme Court challenge to the changes they had made to Pennsylvania’s voting system in 2019.

A group of Republican candidates led by Rep. Mike Kelly (R) challenged Act 77, a change made by the Republican-controlled legislature to allow universal mail-in ballots. Their charge was that the state constitution’s requirements on absentee ballots meant the legislature didn’t have the authority to open mail-in balloting for others.

Trump allies ask Supreme Court to intervene in Pennsylvania election

But the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said the challenge was filed too late — only after the votes were cast and the results known. Democrat Joe Biden won the state by a more than 80,000-vote margin.

The unanimous order blamed petitioners for a “complete failure to act with due diligence in commencing their facial constitutional challenge, which was ascertainable upon Act 77’s enactment.”

It added that some of the petitioners had urged their supporters to cast their ballots using the new main-in procedure.

The U.S. Supreme Court rarely intervenes in a decision of a state supreme court interpreting its own constitution and laws. But the plaintiffs charged that the system raised federal issues. Although acknowledging that it is up to states to develop election procedures, the claim was that the federal Constitution was violated if the Pennsylvania legislature expanded the mail-in procedure without proper authority from the state constitution.

Further, they claimed the individual constitutional rights of Kelly and the others were violated. Their theory was that because the Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismissed the challenge because it was filed too late, they were denied due process.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Light at the end of the tunnel, Robert Harrington, right, Dec. 9, 2020. Yesterday, December 8, 2020, about 120 miles from where I’m sitting robert harringtnn portraitas I write this to you, brothers and sisters, the first mainstream, non-clinical Homo sapiens in human history received a vaccine for coronavirus in Coventry, England. Her name is Margaret Keenan, a lady in a care home who will turn 91 next week.

What a last few weeks it has been! After so long a period of hopeless drought in the world we are finally getting a little blessed rain. November marked the beginning of the end for one of the most hateful and destructive monsters in human history. It was also the month we got the grand news that the world has been gifted with not one but three vaccines. And December marks the beginning of the end of the modern pandemic that motivated those vaccines.

bill palmer report logo headerWhat will January bring? Possibly the downfall of the two insider-trading criminals, the robotic non-person Kelly Loeffler and her partner in deceit, the coward David Perdue, returning effective control of the Senate to the Democrats.

Should those two disgusting villains lose in Georgia, Vice President Kamala Harris will undoubtedly have her work cut out for her after January 20. No doubt she will have to fulfill her Constitutional duty and preside over the Senate more often than most Vice Presidents have had to in recent decades.

Victory in Georgia is essential. Without it power will be retained by the Republicans and Mitch McConnell, with McConnell continuing to function as Majority Leader. Without majority leadership McConnell will be reduced to humiliating powerlessness. Certainly many votes in the Senate will come down to a 50-50 tie, with Susan Collins expressing “concern” but voting party line nevertheless.

It has been a hard fight and a horrible year, culminating in triumph. After we defeat Loeffler and Perdue, let’s all take a brief, much-needed, much-deserved rest. But then let’s get back to work. We have a pandemic to defeat, global warming to stop and much-needed work in social justice to advance.

 ny times logoNew York Times, After Trump’s Loss in Arizona, State Republicans Turn on One Another, Simon Romero, Dec. 9, 2020 (print ed.). A top Republican told the governor to “shut the hell up.” Another official described a lawmaker as a resident of “Crazytown.”

The Republican speaker of Arizona’s House of Representatives did what he thought was right after Rudolph W. Giuliani rolled through Phoenix for maskless meetings with Republican legislators and then tested positive for the coronavirus: He shut the chamber down for a week in a bid to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

rnc logoBut that move is now adding fuel to the open conflict within Arizona’s Republican Party, positioning Trump loyalists intent on overturning the state’s election results against relatively moderate figures like Rusty Bowers, the House speaker, and Gov. Doug Ducey, both of whom have made it clear the results will stand.

The party this week publicly urged people to fight to the death to overturn the election in which President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. defeated President Trump by fewer than 11,000 votes, about 0.3 percentage points. That entreaty came after 28 current and incoming Republican lawmakers called for the decertification of the election as requested by Mr. Giuliani, the personal and campaign lawyer for Mr. Trump.

The quarreling, which has powerful state Republicans openly insulting one another, is bringing attention to the challenges the party faces as Arizona shifts from a Republican bastion to a battleground state.

ny times logoNew York Times, As Trump Rails Against Loss, His Supporters Become More Threatening, Nick Corasaniti, Jim Rutenberg and Kathleen Gray, Dec. 9, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump’s baseless claims of fraud have prompted outrage among his loyalists and led to behavior that even some Republicans say is dangerous.


U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

election 2020 national map washington post

American System Network, Opinion: All Fifty States Have Now Certified Their Election Results and Electors in Conformity with Safe Haven Requirements, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Dec. 9, webster tarpley 20072020. Biden’s 306 Electoral Vote Total Makes Him Next President, According to Applicable Law; Electoral College Meets in State Capitals on Monday;

But Trump Presses Last-Ditch Lawsuit to Shred the Right to Vote of Americans: Seventeen Reactionary State AGs Join Rogue Attorney General Paxton of Texas in Attack on Statehood of Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Georgia; Supremes to Hear Initial Arguments Thursday; Time for Rule Eleven Sanctions Against These AGs and Pro-Trump Lawyers.

Will States Accept Lessons in Election Organization from Voter Suppression Leader Texas, Where Only One Drop Box for Paper Ballots Was Allowed in Each County; GOP Hates All Voter-Verifiable Paper Trails Because They Make Theft by Republicans More Difficult.

GOP’s Armed Fascist Gangs Run Wild in Various States with Political Cover from White House Usurper.

How Biden’s Personal Friendship with Defense Secretary-Designate Lloyd Austin Can Help Block Coups, Autogolpes, Putsches, and Other Subversive Chicanery Coming from the Trump Camp; In Parlous Times, President Has Right to Choose a Defense Minister He Knows and Trusts; Austin is Expert in Logistics, a Specialty Needed During Pandemic; Expertise in Directed Energy Weapons Using New Physical Principles Also Needed.

Gen. McCaffrey Backs Austin as Bulwark Needed in Pentagon to Counter “Squirrely Lads Burrowing In,” i.e. Trump’s Incompetent Recent Appointments Spreading Chaos!

CNNCNN, Melania Trump 'just wants to go home,' Kate Bennett, Dec. 9, 2020. In mid-November, as President Donald Trump railed against the election results, his wife, first lady Melania Trump publicly agreed with his sentiments. But privately, a handful of days after the final state tally, the first lady tasked an emissary with discreetly finding out what was available to her in terms of budget and staff allocation for post-White House life.

While the President is busy figuring out a way to stay in the White House, the first lady is determining what to put in storage, what goes to Trump's New York City digs, and what should be tagged for shipment to Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida.

"She just wants to go home," said another source familiar with Melania Trump's state of mind. Asked how the first lady feels about rumors her husband might announce a 2024 bid, the source added: "That might not go over well."

Melania Trump Twitter photoThe first lady quietly brought on Marcia Lee Kelly to her scant East Wing staff in April as a special government employee who could add gravitas and experience. She is unpaid and serves in a volunteer capacity but her job as Trump's special adviser proved helpful as the waning months of her first-term tenure.

Kelly had previously run the White House Office of Administration and after it became clear Trump would need to prep for her life after Washington the first lady told Kelly to discreetly ask West Wing acquaintances and a member of the Office of Management and Budget whether there were taxpayer funds allocated to former first ladies, according to two sources familiar with the discussions.

melania trump i really dont care jacket twitterThe short answer is no. While there are post-presidential perks for such things for the outgoing commander in chief, budgets to set up an official office and staff and cover some travel costs, there is nothing from the government for any first lady, save a paltry $20,000-a-year pension, which is paid out only if her husband dies.


The intel gathered by Kelly on the budget -- that there isn't one -- has not deterred Trump from turning her energy to departing Washington. According to discussions with three sources familiar, there is currently ongoing inventory being taken at the White House of the Trump's own furniture and art and personal items.

And the first lady is hyper-focused of late on her legacy. One thing Trump is considering is a book, though it will likely not be a memoir -- the post-White House writing of which is a tradition most first ladies have adhered to. Michelle Obama's memoir, Becoming, and Laura Bush's memoir, Spoken from the Heart, were massive bestsellers.

Instead, Trump is said to be toying with writing a photo-centric coffee table book about White House hospitality history, or one perhaps centered on the design projects she has completed while first lady, according to a source in the publishing industry familiar with preliminary discussions. Trump has also reportedly done one of the final things most first ladies do before leaving office: select the administration's official china service.

ny times logoNew York Times, After Trump’s Loss in Arizona, State Republicans Turn on One Another, Simon Romero, Dec. 9, 2020 (print ed.). A top Republican told the governor to “shut the hell up.” Another official described a lawmaker as a resident of “Crazytown.”

The Republican speaker of Arizona’s House of Representatives did what he thought was right after Rudolph W. Giuliani rolled through Phoenix for maskless meetings with Republican legislators and then tested positive for the coronavirus: He shut the chamber down for a week in a bid to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

rnc logoBut that move is now adding fuel to the open conflict within Arizona’s Republican Party, positioning Trump loyalists intent on overturning the state’s election results against relatively moderate figures like Rusty Bowers, the House speaker, and Gov. Doug Ducey, both of whom have made it clear the results will stand.

The party this week publicly urged people to fight to the death to overturn the election in which President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. defeated President Trump by fewer than 11,000 votes, about 0.3 percentage points. That entreaty came after 28 current and incoming Republican lawmakers called for the decertification of the election as requested by Mr. Giuliani, the personal and campaign lawyer for Mr. Trump.

The quarreling, which has powerful state Republicans openly insulting one another, is bringing attention to the challenges the party faces as Arizona shifts from a Republican bastion to a battleground state.

washington post logoWashington Post, Defense bill clears House with veto-proof majority, despite Trump threats, Karoun Demirjian, Dec. 9, 2020 (print ed.). Republicans have hoped that a strong show of support in the House and Senate will dissuade President Trump from trying to scuttle the bill in the waning weeks of his presidency.

The House on Tuesday passed a bipartisan, $741 billion defense authorization bill by a sizable veto-proof majority, throwing down the first of two expected gauntlets before President Trump, who has escalated his threat to scuttle the legislation.

The 335-to-78 vote represents a much bigger margin of victory for the bill than the House mustered for an earlier version of the legislation this summer. It is also a sharp rebuke to Trump’s exhortations to Republicans to vote against the measure: Fewer than half of the GOP lawmakers who opposed the initial defense bill over the summer voted against the bipartisan compromise Tuesday.

washington post logopaul waldmanWashington Post, Opinion: Any Biden effort to ‘reach out’ to conservatives is doomed, Paul Waldman, right, Dec. 9, 2020 (print ed.). President-elect Joe Biden is not giving up on reaching out to the people who didn’t vote for him, even as most of them seem to believe he’s at the head of a plot to steal the election — and a significant portion believe he’s part of a global conspiracy of satanic, pedophile, cannibal, sex-traffickers.

Biden is determined, though, just as so many Democrats were before him. And like them, he’ll probably fail.

Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs reports that the Biden White House will be making a particular point of reaching out:

The Biden administration plans to create a position to find common ground with conservatives, said Louisiana Congressman Cedric Richmond, a senior adviser and director of the Office of Public Engagement for the president-elect

It’s possible that Rep. Richmond (D-La.) is just throwing around ideas, and in the end, there won’t be a Conservative Outreach Czar in the Biden White House. But there’s no doubt that Biden will govern, as he said many times, as the president of all Americans, not just those who supported him.

djt profile balding big head palmerIt’s the right thing to do (and what we assumed all presidents would do, until Donald Trump). He’ll be supporting policies that he believes are good for the whole country, not just the places in the country that supported him. Unlike Trump, he won’t be doing any “victory tours” of just the states he won. But it won’t help.

This is a never-ending obsession with Democrats. How can we get conservatives to like us more? Is there some special strategy we can deploy, or argument we can make, that will open their hearts and minds to what we have to say?

You may have noticed that Republicans — who have now lost the popular vote in seven of the last eight presidential elections — never bother to ask themselves how they might reach out to liberals.

They appoint no people to carry out this task; they publish no essays in their journals about how to go about it; they hold no think-tank forums to explore the problem and consider solutions. They’d much rather dream up new voter suppression schemes to make it more difficult for liberals to cast their ballots.

Dec. 8michael flynn djt

wayne madsen screen shotStrategic Culture Foundation, Right-Wing Generals Calling for a Military Coup: A Long History, Wayne Madsen, right, Dec. 8, 2020. History books record that there were a mere handful of cases in which generals plotted the overthrow of a far-right regime to institute moderate or leftist government. In the vast majority of cases, however, strategic culture logogenerals’ putsches are fascist affairs having dire consequences for the rule of law and human rights.

Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, above at left, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and Donald Trump national security adviser, circulated an on-line petition calling for Trump to suspend the U.S. Constitution, declare martial law, and have the Pentagon oversee a “re-vote” of the presidential election, one that would assuredly have Trump “win” over the current President-elect, former Vice President Joe Biden.

The Flynn petition also warned of a “civil war” if his demands were not carried out.

The petition stated: “Failure to [suspend the Constitution, declare martial law, and conduct a re-vote] could result in massive violence and destruction on a level not seen since the Civil War.” The petition adds, “Limited Martial Law is clearly a better option than Civil War!” Flynn was recently pardoned by Trump for his criminal conviction of lying to federal investigators.

Flynn’s dangerous anti-constitutional rhetoric has not been seen in the United States since the Civil War. To be sure, there have been right-wing generals who defied various post-Civil War administrations in the past – Army General Douglas MacArthur, Army Major General Edwin Walker, Air Force General Curtis LeMay, and Army Major General John Singlaub are four of the most notorious in that respect – none have come close to Flynn in advancing insubordination to outright insurrection and sedition.

Flynn’s call for a coup in the United States places him in the camp of some of the vilest military fascist tyrants who have seized power in nations around the world. Such regimes were supported by civilian paramilitaries that acted as street vigilantes and thugs against pro-democracy opposition parties and leaders.

Such would-be “enforcers” for a Trump/Flynn dictatorship today routinely issue death threats against public health officials, health care workers, state governors, mayors, municipal and county council and board members, and election officials around the United States. Fascist enablers like Trump and michael flynn uniform resizedFlynn (shown in a file photo while in uniform) have encouraged their supporters to see those trying to ensure free and fair elections and those trying to protect the health of the public as a common enemy to be dealt with by intimidation and violence.

The world has seen the blood-soaked results of paramilitaries and civilian vigilantes teaming up with military dictators to enforce fascist rule. Trump and his supporters are encouraging a similar alliance in the United States. This unholy alliance comprises neo-Nazis, white nationalists, police officers and sheriff’s deputies, and other various social misfits and dead enders. These are the shock troops for the fascist ideology of Trumpism.

Every fascist regime requires its violent enforcers. For Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, the enforcers were the SA (“Sturmabteilung” – the Storm Troopers or “Brownshirts”), the SS (“Schutzstaffel”), and the Gestapo (“Geheime Staatspolizei” or “secret state police”).These paramilitaries were aided by the civilian police. e.

Trump has cobbled together a similar violent force to intimidate his opponents and public officials. They include the fascist Proud Boys, the white nationalist “Boogaloo Bois,” the Ku Klux Klan, the American Nazi Party, Atomwaffen Division, White Aryan Resistance, American Identity Movement/Identity Evropa, Patriot Prayer, Light Foot Militia, Forza Nuova – USA, steve bannon court aug 21 2020National Policy Institute, Oath Keepers, 3 Percenters, and various regional and state militias and groups, such as the Michigan Militia, Wolverine Watchmen, Virginia Militia, Georgia 229 Militia, Pennsylvania Volunteer Militia, Wisconsin Kenosha Guard.

Through the auspices of criminally charged former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon (shown in a collage of photos following his arrest in a massive fund-raising scheme), the embryonic Trump militias have been able to coordinate their activities with likeminded groups in Europe, Latin America, Australia, and South Africa.

With General Flynn and his confederates calling for a military coup in the United States, Trump’s paramilitary militia-in-formation is waiting for the call to arms to wage civil war and draw blood on America’s streets. That is the enemy every loyal American now must face and deal with swiftly and with certitude.

 

michael flynn arms folded

washington post logoWashington Post, Michael Flynn judge says pardon doesn’t mean ex-national security adviser is innocent, Spencer S. Hsu and Ann E. Marimow, Dec. 8, 2020. A federal judge dismissed Michael Flynn’s prosecution Tuesday after President Trump’s pardon, but said the act of clemency does not mean the former national security adviser, above, is innocent of lying to FBI agents about his talks with the Russian government before Trump took office.

In formally ending Flynn’s three-year legal saga, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan said he probably would have denied the Justice Department’s controversial effort this year to drop the case, which Democrats and many legal experts said appeared to be an attempt by Attorney General William P. Barr to bend the rule of law to help a Trump ally.

emmet sullivan 2012Sullivan, left, expressed deep skepticism about the Justice Department’s stated reasons for abandoning the case, criticizing it for applying a different set of rules to Flynn, who twice pleaded guilty to lying about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador during special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe of 2016 election interference.

The judge also said he was troubled by the government’s “dubious” rationales as well as aspects of its “ever-evolving justifications” that ignored applicable law, appeared to be irrelevant or to contradict prosecutors’ previous statements.

“President Trump’s decision to pardon Mr. Flynn is a political decision, not a legal one. Because the law recognizes the President’s political power to pardon, the appropriate course is to dismiss this case as moot,” Sullivan wrote, adding: “However, the pardon ‘does not, standing alone, render [Mr. Flynn] innocent of the alleged violation.’ ”

The 43-page ruling delivered the court’s final say in the politically charged case, after the Justice Department and Flynn’s defense requested immediate dismissal following Trump’s “full and unconditional pardon” on Nov. 25. The action ensured that Flynn will not face federal penalties for “any and all possible offenses” arising from facts or circumstances “in any matter related” to Mueller’s Russia probe.

Read the opinion here.

Flynn, 61, pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying in an FBI interview and to senior White House officials about the scope of his pre-inauguration conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak after Moscow intervened to boost Trump in the 2016 U.S. election.

FBI logoFlynn, ousted from the White House after only 22 days on the job, was the only Trump White House adviser charged in Mueller’s investigation, and faced up to six months in prison under an initial plea deal.

But when Sullivan did not initially approve a sentence of probation that had the government’s blessing, Flynn changed defense teams and began accusing prosecutors and his former attorneys of entrapping and coercing him into pleading guilty despite his earlier sworn statements. Flynn moved in January to withdraw his guilty plea, and Barr ordered a review of the case that determined that the Justice Department should drop the prosecution.

djt handwave fileIn reversing course, the Justice Department concluded that Flynn’s lies were not material to any valid counterintelligence or criminal investigation. The government also said it doubted that it could persuade a jury to convict him since key FBI officials who led the probe into potential Trump campaign ties to Russia had been discredited.

Meet the judge who will decide Flynn’s case, one of the Justice Department’s most probing skeptics

In Tuesday’s opinion, Sullivan cast doubt on the government’s true reasons.

“As this case has progressed, President Trump has not hidden the extent of his interest in this case,” noting that Trump tweeted or retweeted about Flynn’s case at least 100 times. “Given this context, the new legal positions the government took … raise questions regarding its motives in moving to dismiss.”

Justice Department log circularThe president has repeatedly attacked the Russia investigation as a “witch hunt” and embraced Flynn’s case as a rallying cry for his reelection campaign. For more than a year, Flynn attorney Sidney Powell has called the pursuit of Flynn a corrupt effort by the FBI and “deep-state” conspirators to “get Trump,” discussing the case several times with Trump, before taking a prominent legal role last month promoting Trump’s unsuccessful claims of voter fraud.

The judge also took issue with the government saying that Flynn had a “faulty memory” in defending his misstatements.

“Mr. Flynn is not just anyone; he was the National Security Advisor to the President, clearly in a position of trust, who claimed that he forgot, within less than a month, that he personally asked for a favor from the Russian Ambassador that undermined the policy of the sitting President prior to the President-Elect taking office,” Sullivan wrote.

Sullivan declined to immediately dismiss the case upon the Barr Justice Department’s motion in May, instead tapping a retired federal judge to argue against the government’s position to help determine whether dismissal was in the public interest. The department argued that judges must dismiss prosecutions when the government and defense agree to do so, leading to an extraordinary legal battle that reached the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and raising questions about the power of the courts to check the executive branch.

With Flynn’s pardon, those questions may now go unanswered, but Sullivan on Tuesday strongly rejected the Justice Department’s argument, saying courts are not a “rubber stamp.”

Michael Flynn Harvard 2014Prosecutors conceded at one point, he noted, that judges may act to protect the public against exceptional abuses by “rogue” prosecutors, such as the “corrupt dismissal of politically well-connected individuals.” But Sullivan said that narrow reading “fails to acknowledge the possibility that the ‘considered view of the Executive Branch as a whole’ could be contrary to the public interest.”

Similarly, the judge called the government’s “newly-minted” definition of “materiality” perplexing, “not the law” and an unexplained “about-face” from prior prosecutors’ position that Flynn’s lie’s were “absolutely material” and “went to the heart” of the FBI’s investigation.

Sullivan’s complaints echoed findings by a bipartisan Senate investigation that the Flynn-Kislyak talks were relevant to assessing “what Moscow sought to gain and the counterintelligence vulnerabilities” of Trump’s team.

The Justice Department inspector general found last year the FBI committed serious errors but had sufficient legal basis to open the criminal inquiry into whether individuals associated with Trump’s campaign cooperated with the Russians.

Trump by Michael Vadon Creative Commons e1486885124813

Palmer Report, Opinion: Supreme Court rejects Donald Trump’s election case; so much for Alito and SCOTUS saving him, Bill Palmer, Dec. 8, 2020. 
Today is the safe harbor deadline, meaning that after today, the presidential election results can no longer be disputed or revised. So it’s a big deal that the U.S. Supreme Court just refused to hear a case brought by Donald Trump and his allies, which sought to overturn the results in Pennsylvania.

bill palmer report logo headerNotably, this was the case that was presented to conservative Trump-friendly Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. So the rejection, which doesn’t note any dissenters, suggests that Alito agreed with the rejection – and that it may well have been unanimous.

So this could be the end of it. We’ll see if the Supreme Court makes any additional moves tonight, before the safe harbor deadline at the end of the day. But it looks like Donald Trump has finally, fully lost his to bid to magically overturn the election.

Trump always had literally zero chance of pulling this off, at the margins he lost by. But it’s comforting that Trump’s failure to magically overturn the election is becoming more official by the hour.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Rachel Maddow just nailed it, Bill Palmer, Dec. 8, 2020. When corrupt Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a bizarre election lawsuit today aimed at helping Donald Trump, Palmer Report pointed out that it had literally zero chance of going anywhere, and that Paxton was surely just trying to get Trump to pardon him.

bill palmer report logo headerSure enough, Rachel Maddow used her MSNBC show tonight to go into more detail about the story. Paxton is facing a potential ninety-nine year prison sentence in Texas for financial fraud, which he’s been abusing his office to fend off. But as Maddow pointed out, Paxton is also now under active investigation by the FBI. No wonder Paxton is trying to impress Trump in the hope of a federal pardon.

Meanwhile, Maddow also confirmed something that Palmer Report was hoping would be the case. In his dismissal of the Michael Flynn case today, Judge Emmet Sullivan did indeed include language expressing doubt as to whether Flynn’s preemptive pardon can prevent him from being charged with additional crimes. This opens the door for the DOJ to indict Flynn again once Trump is gone.

Palmer Report, Opinion: No, this Texas election case with the Supreme Court isn’t going anywhere, Bill Palmer, Dec. 8, 2020. For those asking: No, this Texas lawsuit won’t magically overturn anything. It’s even more legally vacuous than Trump’s last fifty election lawsuits, all of which went nowhere.

bill palmer report logo headerNo, the Supreme Court won’t intervene when there’s no case to be had. Yes, the results will be locked in place at the end of today’s safe harbor deadline. No, there’s absolutely nothing to worry about. Joe Biden won, and there is literally zero chance of that changing.

Tweet of the day, from Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul: “I feel sorry for Texans that their tax dollars are being wasted on such a genuinely embarrassing lawsuit. Texas is as likely to change the outcome of the Ice Bowl as it is to overturn the will of Wisconsin voters in the 2020 presidential election.”

Background: Texas Tribune, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was indicted 5 years ago. He still hasn't gone to trial, Emma Platoff June 19, 2019 Updated: July 28, 2020. Read our timeline covering delays and side battles in the long-running securities fraud case against Paxton.

Spring 2014: First signs of trouble. In April, during Paxton’s bid to become the Republican nominee for attorney general, The Texas Tribune obtains documents showing he was not registered with the state board while he was being paid to solicit clients for a North Texas financial services firm. Paxton’s campaign launches an internal review to determine whether he had broken any laws. Soon after, the Texas State Securities Board reprimands Paxton for soliciting investment clients without being registered. He is fined $1,000 and signs a disciplinary order without disputing its findings.

Prosecutors begin to build their case against Paxton, now sworn in as attorney general. News breaks that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating Servergy, a McKinney tech firm Paxton had invested in. In July, Paxton is indicted by a Collin County grand jury. In late August, Paxton pleads not guilty....

Dec. 7

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump asks Pa. House speaker for help overturning election results, Amy Gardner, Josh Dawsey and Rachael Bade, Dec. 7, 2020. The calls from the president, confirmed by Pennsylvania House Speaker Bryan Cutler’s office, mark the third state where Trump has directly attempted to overturn a result since he lost the election to President-elect Joe Biden.

washington post logoWashington Post, As Trump rants over election, his administration accelerates push to lock in policy and staffing gains, David Nakamura, Juliet Eilperin and Lisa Rein, Dec. 7, 2020 (print ed.). The rush has come despite the president’s relative inattention to governing since his electoral defeat last month, driven in part by ideologically minded aides, including Cabinet members eager to burnish their own legacies.

President Donald Trump officialPresident Trump last week recorded a 46-minute video rant regurgitating a litany of baseless accusations of election fraud.

Yet even as Trump has been consumed with his waning political fortunes in a desperate attempt to retain power, his administration has accelerated efforts to lock in last-minute policy gains and staffing assignments that it hopes will help cement the president’s legacy and live on past Jan. 20, when President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in.

Last week, for example, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services adopted a longer and more difficult citizenship test that critics said could further curb legal immigration. The Pentagon named 11 new members, including a pair of prominent former Trump campaign aides, to a Defense Department business advisory board. And the president signed an executive order drafted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy aimed at protecting civil liberties in the use of artificial intelligence by the federal government.

washington post logoWashington Post, Armed protesters alleging voter fraud surrounded the home of Michigan’s secretary of state, Katie Shepherd, Dec. 7, 2020. EST  Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson had just finished wrapping string lights around her home’s portico on Saturday evening and was about to watch “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” with her 4-year-old son when a crowd of protesters marched up carrying American flags and guns.

About two dozen protesters chanted “Stop the Steal” and accused Benson, a Democrat and Michigan’s chief election officer, of ignoring widespread voter fraud — an echo of President Trump’s continued unfounded claims as he seeks to overturn the results of the election that President-elect Joe Biden won.

“She’s decided to completely ignore all of the credible, credible, fraudulent evidence that has been continually pointed out,” demonstrator Genevieve Peters said of Benson, as she live-streamed the protest in Detroit on Facebook. “We’re out here in front of the secretary of state’s house and we want her to know we will continue to be here.”

Although the group dispersed with no arrests when police responded just before 10 p.m. Saturday, Michigan state officials accused the group of “terrorizing” Benson’s family.

“They shouted baseless conspiracy theories about the election, and in videos uploaded to social media, at least one individual could be heard shouting ‘you’re murderers’ within earshot of her child’s bedroom,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy (D) said in a joint statement on Sunday. “This mob-like behavior is an affront to basic morality and decency.”

They added that “terrorizing children and families at their own homes is not activism.”

Palmer Report, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis raids house of scientist who exposed his COVID coverup, Bill Palmer, Dec. 7, 2020. In a profoundly disturbing ron desantis odevelopment, Florida’s criminal Governor Ron DeSantis, right, had law enforcement raid scientist Rebekah Jones’ house at gunpoint today. Her crime: she dared to bill palmer report logo headerpost data exposing DeSantis’ effort to cover up the coronavirus pandemic in Florida.

Ron DeSantis has to go to prison for this. He’s carrying out acts of terrorism against whistleblowers. In fact DeSantis has to go to prison for life. This isn’t merely corruption; it’s domestic terrorism. 

 

ny times logoNew York Times, Rudy Giuliani Tests Positive for Coronavirus, Trump Says, Maggie Haberman, Dec. 7, 2020 (print ed.). Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and President Trump’s personal and campaign lawyer, has tested positive for the coronavirus, Mr. Trump announced on Twitter on Sunday.

djt rudy giuliani“@RudyGiuliani, by far the greatest mayor in the history of NYC, and who has been working tirelessly exposing the most corrupt election (by far!) in the history of the USA, has tested positive for the China Virus. Get better soon Rudy, we will carry on!!!” Mr. Trump wrote.

Mr. Giuliani was at Georgetown University Medical Center, according to a person who was aware of his condition but not authorized to speak publicly.

Mr. Giuliani has repeatedly been exposed to the virus through contact with infected people, including during Mr. Trump’s preparation for his first debate against President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. in September, as well as when he appeared with his son, Andrew, at a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters about two weeks ago. But Mr. Giulani had not been said to have contracted the virus until now.

It was unclear why Mr. Trump was the one announcing it. It was also unclear whether Mr. Giuliani, 76, is symptomatic. But at his age, he is in the high-risk category for the virus.

washington post logoWashington Post, Florida police raid house of fired data scientist who alleged state manipulated covid-19 stats, Reis Thebault, Dec. 7, 2020. Florida police officers with guns drawn raided the home of an ousted health department data scientist Monday morning, searching for the former agency employee’s most powerful tools: her computer, her phone and other hardware that supports the coronavirus website she set up after accusing the state of manipulating its official numbers.

Law enforcement officials allege the scientist, Rebekah Jones, may have also used the devices to hack into a health department website in November and to send an unauthorized message to Florida emergency personnel, urging them to speak out against the state’s pandemic response. She has denied the accusation.

This is the latest clash between Jones and state officials, who have traded accusations since she was fired from the Florida Department of Health this summer. Jones said she had refused to comply with agency requests she considered unethical, and she has accused the state of mismanaging a health crisis that has so far infected more than a million residents and killed nearly 20,000.

After her dismissal, Jones launched her own data portal, advertising it as the transparent and independent alternative to the state dashboard. Now, Jones says, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s raid is an attempt to silence her work.

 

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Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Erik Prince, Back in action for the Pentagon, Wayne Madsen, Dec. 7, 2020. Erik Prince, the founder of the discredited former mercenary firm Blackwater USA and brother of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, has apparently landed a major secret Pentagon contract for mercenary services in Africa.

The announcement of the contract was practically simultaneous with Donald Trump's order to withdraw some 7,000 U.S. military personnel from Somalia. The moves by Trump and the Pentagon, which has seen several Trump loyalists embedded in key positions after Trump's firing of Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and other Pentagon officials on November 9, is yet another monetization of government services by Trump and his grifter supporters prior to Joe Biden's inauguration on January 20.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Bye bye, Betsy DeVos, Robert Harrington, Dec. 7, 2020. There are three ways to get rich from what’s variously called a multilevel robert harringtnn portraitmarketing or network marketing or referral marketing scheme. Whatever option you have available to you, your wealth will come as the direct result of suckers who will start poor and stay that way.

I prefer to call these companies pyramid schemes or Ponzi schemes, because that’s what they actually are. They’re zero sum games with lots and lots of losers and damned few winners. They all have cult-like followings and multiply faster than rabbits. They are aberrations in the world of otherwise legitimate business.

bill palmer report logo headerBetsy DeVos is an heiress of one of these scams called called Amway. DeVos is the outgoing Secretary of Education, one of a handful of Trump cabinet appointments who is sufficiently evil and conscienceless to have lasted Trump’s entire first and only term. She will be gone in January, and the anticipatory champagne corks have been popping across the land and in the homes of American educators on that account. Public school educators despise her, and for good reason.

betsy devos oDeVos, right, is notorious for rolling back and rewriting Obama-era guidance and regulations, including those that protect the rights of transgender students, students of color and survivors of campus sexual assault. She also revoked higher education regulations that curb bad actors in the for-profit college sector. She blocked the discharging of student loan debt for borrowers who were defrauded by unscrupulous lenders.

DeVos has consistently shown herself to be a friend of the filthy rich elite and the enemy of the voiceless, working class, little guy. Betsy DeVos is a woman of legendary tone deafness who is almost absurdly incompetent. Her departure is being universally praised and celebrated by jill biden headshot whalmost all teachers of both parties.

Above all, DeVos, an evangelical Christian, ignored the needs of America’s public schools to “build God’s kingdom” instead. Throughout her tenure she has actively promoted private evangelical schools — the province of the rich, white elite — over poor, inner city schools. Most recently, DeVos used the $2 trillion coronavirus stabilization law to redirect money intended for public schools and colleges to private and religious schools instead.

Fortunately, as a bonus counterweight to DeVos’ departure, the incoming First Lady, Jill Biden, left, is an intelligent and talented educator. Unlike the outgoing First Lady, Dr. Biden has actually worked for a living.

washington post logoWashington Post, Conservative nonprofit group challenging election results around U.S. has tie to Trump legal adviser, Jon Swaine, Rosalind S. Helderman, Josh Dawsey and Tom Hamburger, Dec. 7, 2020. A conservative legal organization that has filed lawsuits challenging the election results in five states has a tie to President Trump’s legal team, raising questions about the independence of what has appeared to be an endeavor separate from the president’s last-gasp legal maneuvering.

jenna ellis cropped screenshotSenior Trump campaign legal adviser Jenna Ellis, right, serves as special counsel to the Thomas More Society, which has filed lawsuits through the newly formed Amistad Project alleging problems with the vote in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

The Thomas More Society confirmed her relationship to the group but said she is playing no role in its election-related activities.

However, her affiliation with the organization — as well as other links between Trump’s team and the conservative group — suggest a coordinated effort to flood the nation’s courts with repetitive litigation that allows the president to claim the election results remain contested.

The first glimpse of the Amistad Project came late this summer, when the new legal outfit popped up in courts across the country, trying to stop county election officials from taking grants to bolster their operations amid the pandemic.

Amistad’s lawsuits have asked courts to allow the Republican-controlled legislatures in battleground states to appoint presidential electors — a strategy Trump and his legal team have urged state lawmakers around the country to embrace. Amistad sought to justify the plan in a paper published on Friday that railed against the conduct of election officials in “urban Democrat strongholds.”

Philip Hackney, a former IRS official and professor in nonprofit law at the University of Pittsburgh, said the Thomas More Society was “putting its tax-exempt status at risk” by partnering with partisan figures while bringing election litigation.

For Trump, the Amistad Project has served a key role in helping to keep alive his baseless claims that fraud corrupted the 2020 presidential race. The group’s efforts serve as a third front in the assault against the election results, alongside Trump’s own legal challenges and lawsuits filed by attorney Sidney Powell.

washington post logoWashington Post, Georgia governor rebuffs Trump’s call for special session to overturn election results, top official says, Felicia Sonmez, Dec. 7, 2020 (print ed.). Georgia’s governor will not call a special session of the state’s legislature to overturn the election results in President Trump’s favor, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan (R) said Sunday.

brian kemp 2019 CustomIn an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Duncan said he “absolutely” believes that Gov. Brian Kemp (R), right, won’t accede to Trump’s demand that he persuade the state legislature to appoint electors who would override the popular vote and nullify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state.

“We’re certainly not going to move the goal posts at this point in the election,” Duncan said.

cnn logoThe lieutenant governor also weighed in on Trump’s Saturday night rally in the state. He said he was encouraged by the parts of the speech in which the president urged his supporters to vote for Sens. David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) in Senate runoff elections next month that could decide which party controls the upper chamber.

But Duncan said Trump’s fanning of the flames around misinformation was “concerning,” pointing to the president’s repeated false claims that he won the election and that the election was “stolen.”

“The mountains of misinformation are not helping the process; they’re only hurting it,” Duncan said.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The devil came down to Georgia, Shirley Kennedy, Dec. 7, 2020. The devil came down to Georgia. He was looking for an election to steal. He called out to Governor Kemp to help his scheme, but Kemp refused his deal. So continues the saga of the man who cannot and will not admit he lost.

bill palmer report logo headerAs many Republicans feared, Trump did not come to Georgia to help Perdue and Loeffler win their races. He came to continue to push Governor Kemp to do something to overturn the election results in Georgia, even if it meant breaking the law. Trump is no stranger to breaking the law, so this comes as no surprise. It is obvious that Trump has lost what was left of his mind.

The runoffs will go forward on January 5, regardless of what Trump thinks and despite any craziness he continues to put out in the universe. While Trump finally told the crowd they should go out and vote for Loeffler and Perdue, his “lawyers” Lin Wood and Sydney Powell held their own rally, encouraging Republicans not to vote on January 5. Taking advantage of Republican stupidity, a progressive PAC has erected a billboard in Georgia: “Perdue/Loeffler didn’t deliver for Trump. DON’T deliver for them.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Lawyers across the country urge bar associations to investigate Trump’s legal team, Alan Feuer, Dec. 7, 2020. Arguing that “a license to practice law is not a license to lie,” nearly 1,500 lawyers issued a letter on Monday calling on bar associations across the country to investigate and, if needed, penalize the members of President Trump’s legal team, including the architect of his post-election strategy, Rudolph W. Giuliani, right.

rudy giuliani recent“It is indefensible for lawyers to falsely proclaim widespread voting fraud, submit a pattern of frivolous court claims and actively seek to undermine citizens’ faith in our election’s integrity,” said the letter, which was signed by several former judges, former federal prosecutors and law professors. “We condemn this conduct without reservation.”

The letter comes as Mr. Trump and his Republican allies have lost or withdrawn from nearly 50 legal challenges to this year’s election, including five in five different states within about three hours on Friday evening alone. Even so, Mr. Trump’s lawyers and those representing his Republican allies have continued filing lawsuits, igniting criticism that they are acting frivolously, even irresponsibly.

In their letter on Monday, the signers noted that Mr. Giuliani — who recently tested positive for Covid-19, according to President Trump — has made baseless arguments in public about “massive fraud” in the election, but has tempered his claims under questioning in court, saying he was not alleging fraud.

“Mr. Giuliani’s aim is obvious,” the letter said. “To fuel Mr. Trump’s campaign to delegitimize the outcome of the election.”

Among the signers were Philip Lacovera, a former deputy solictor general who worked on the case that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon; Stephen Gillers, a professor of legal ethics at New York University; and Thomas Vanaskie, a former judge with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.

The letter also took aim at another lawyer for Mr. Trump, Joseph DiGenova, who late last month publicly threatened Christopher Krebs, the former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency who was fired by Mr. Trump after he declared that the 2020 elections were “the most secure in American history.”

During an interview on the conservative TV outlet Newsmax, Mr. DiGenova said that because of Mr. Krebs’s remarks he should be “taken out at dawn and shot.”

For the moment, only a handful of challenges to the election are still moving through the courts, including an emergency petition by Mike Kelly, a Republican congressman from Pennsylvania, requesting the Supreme Court hear his appeal of a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the state’s election results.

All of the remaining efforts are running out of time to succeed. On Tuesday, the nation will reach the so-called safe harbor deadline, the date by which all state-level election challenges are supposed to be completed.

Then on Dec. 14, the Electoral College will cast its votes, making any attempt to overturn the results of the election nearly impossible.

ny times logoNew York Times, As His Term Ends, Trump Faces More Questions on Payments to His Hotel, Eric Lipton, Dec. 7, 2020. A civil case being pursued by the attorney general for the District of Columbia considers whether President Trump and his family have profited from the office.

It was a month before Donald J. Trump’s inauguration, and one of his aides had a delicate question: Wasn’t there going to be a backlash when it became known that the inauguration had spent donors’ money at Mr. Trump’s hotel in Washington, even though other places would cost much less or even be free?

“These are events in P.E.’s honor at his hotel, and one of them is with and for family and close friends,” Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, then an event planner for Mr. Trump, wrote in an email to a colleague in December 2016, referring to Mr. Trump as the president-elect and saying she raised the issue to “express my concern.”

As Mr. Trump’s presidency comes to a close, expenditures like those are receiving renewed legal scrutiny in the form of a civil case being pursued by the attorney general for the District of Columbia.

At the heart of the case is a question — whether Mr. Trump and his family have profited from his public role, sometimes at the expense of taxpayers, competitors and donors — that has been a persistent theme of his tenure in the White House.

More than 200 companies, special-interest groups and foreign governments patronized Mr. Trump’s properties during his presidency while reaping benefits from him and his administration. Sixty of them spent $12 million at his properties during the first two years he was in office.

The Trump family business has received millions of dollars in payments by the Secret Service, the State Department and the United States military to Trump properties around the country and the world. The president has visited his properties on at least 417 days since taking office, at times with world leaders. And he and his affiliated political committees spent more than $6.5 million in campaign funds at his hotels and other businesses since 2017, including a million-dollar final burst in the weeks before the election last month.

In the lawsuit now moving forward, Attorney General Karl A. Racine of Washington is arguing that Mr. Trump’s inaugural committee illegally overpaid his family business by as much as $1.1 million for events held at the Trump International Hotel in the city in January 2017. Ivanka Trump was deposed in the case last week.

Questions about spending, influence and lobbying around the 2017 inaugural have also drawn scrutiny from federal prosecutors from two different offices in New York, with charges filed against at least one donor.

Twitter, Analysis of Supreme Court requests for briefs on Pennsylivania's presidential balloting, Stephen Vladeck (right, University of Texas law professor), Dec. 6, stephen vladeck resized2020. A lot of reactions today to Justice Alito moving up the deadline for PA to respond to @MikeKellyPA's application for an emergency injunction to throw out PA's certification of its presidential electors.

Here's a quick #thread on why none of this matters—or is going to matter:

First, there's the obvious point: Even if this gambit somehow succeeds (spoiler: it won't), the worst-case scenario is that PA's electoral votes get tossed.

In that case, Biden would *still* receive 286 electoral votes when the Electoral College votes on 12/14. He needs 270.

3. Now, let's get to why the Kelly suit isn't going anywhere. First, it was dismissed by the PA Supreme Court based upon a state procedural bar ("laches"). #SCOTUS does not have jurisdiction to review state court decisions that rest on such "independent and adequate" state rules.

djt looking up

Palmer Report, Opinion: The principal reason Donald Trump belongs in prison, Robert Harrington, right, Dec. 6, 2020. I have infinite respect for Dr. Mary L. Trump, robert harringtnn portraitDonald Trump’s niece. I read with fascination her book, “Too Much and Never Enough,” and if you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it. We are fortunate that a woman who grew up to be a first rate trained psychologist was at Donald Trump’s elbow for so many of his formative years. She is to the history of Trump what the Watergate tapes were to Nixon, or the Zapruder film was to the Kennedy assassination. She was there, she witnessed the formation (and the formulation) of the monster. Dr. Trump has the qualities, intelligence and qualifications to relate and interpret what and how Donald Trump happened.

But when it comes to the central reason why Donald Trump must go to prison I think Dr. Trump, for all her perspicacity, widely misses the point. In fact I think most commentators on the tragedy that is Donald Trump and the Trump presidency miss the point.

bill palmer report logo headerIn a recent interview, Dr. Trump said, “It’s quite frankly insulting to be told time after time that the American people can’t handle [the prosecution of Trump] and that we just need to move on.” I can’t argue with her there. But then she gave her reason: “If anybody deserves to be prosecuted and tried, it’s Donald. [Otherwise] we just leave ourselves open to somebody who, believe it or not, is even worse than he is.”

While that’s all true enough, and I can’t dispute it, it’s not the principal reason Donald Trump belongs in prison. The principal reason Trump needs to go to jail is one I made in passing in the last article I wrote to you, brothers and sisters. So vital is that point that I think it requires it’s very own article.

djt prison palmer reportDonald Trump must go to prison not merely because we must discourage future monsters who may be worse, he must go to prison because we do not have the right not to send him there. We do not have the right to forgive him for the crimes he has committed against other people.

Think of it yourself. Imagine someone has harmed you very deeply, so deeply in fact, that the harm he has done to you has ruined your life, or destroyed the life of someone you love. Now imagine if I came along and ostentatiously forgave that person, completely absolved them of any wrongdoing they may have committed against you. Wouldn’t that seem to you the pinnacle of arrogance and conceit? Wouldn’t you wonder how dare I do such a thing and — more to the point — who the hell do I think I am that I should do such a thing, that I should so presumptuously arrogate such a power to myself? Wouldn’t you even go so far as to think I am committing a crime just as bad, or at least in the same league, as the man I so conspicuously absolved?

Of course you would. You would feel your heartfelt cry for justice he’s been ignored, rejected, smothered in a blanket of self-righteous goo and sentimental self-congratulation.

By forgiving Trump we would be committing a grave injustice to more than a quarter of million men and women Trump has murdered through negligence, the thousands of family businesses he’s ruined, the 545 immigrant children he has permanently separated from their parents, the dozens of women Trump has sexually assaulted and raped, the hundreds, or even thousands of Americans and their families Trump has put in fear of their lives with angry Tweets because they were “guilty” of insulting him, or insufficiently praising him, or not going far enough in assisting him in his criminal endeavors.

What hubris it would be for us to ignore justice for such a man! What arrogance would be ours to then slap ourselves on the backs with smug approbation and call ourselves peacemakers! We have no such right. We must, at the very least, try to send Donald Trump to prison — and we have no right not to.

Yes, we need to prevent another Trump. Yes, we need to send a message that no one, not even the president of the United States, is above the law. Yes, we need to prosecute Trump because the law demands it, that no free society can hope to survive without the rule of law. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

But above all, we must avenge the millions of Americans Donald Trump has harmed, the ones he harmed insolently, thoughtlessly, without remorse, without so much as an afterthought. He has harmed and killed Americans with elitist indifference, as if it’s his birthright and we are all nothing by comparison. Justice must be done. Justice cries out from the ground for the voiceless Donald Trump has destroyed. Justice must be done if only for the reason that we have no right to contemplate anything less than justice, and for that reason alone we have no choice but to do our duty. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: No, President Trump can’t pardon himself, J. Michael Luttig, Dec. 7, 2020. J. Michael Luttig served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals (1991-2006) and as assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department (1990-1991).

In June 2018, in the throes of the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible obstruction of justice by President Trump, the president claimed “the absolute right to PARDON myself,” citing “numerous legal scholars.”

The president was correct that some scholars have reached that conclusion. But those scholars are wrong. The president has no right under the Constitution to pardon himself.

 

Dec. 4

election 2020 national map washington post

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The size of Joe Biden’s victory matters. And it is huge, Jennifer Rubin, right, Dec. 4, 2020. The refusal by Republicans to jennifer rubin new headshotacknowledge President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory is remarkable in its contempt for democracy and defiance of reality. But while much time has been spent trying to get Republicans to admit that Biden won, very little time has been spent impressing upon them the magnitude of the victory. That matters as we begin Biden’s presidency.

Biden not only received a majority of the popular vote, but also cleared 51 percent — the largest vote percentage obtained against an incumbent president since 1932 and a bigger percentage of the popular vote than any Republican president since George H.W. Bush in 1988. In the process, Biden amassed the largest total number of ballots in U.S. history. He pummeled Trump by more than 7 million votes (and exceeded Barack Obama’s 2008 vote total by more than 11 million). Biden’s popular vote margin by percentage (4.4 percent) far surpasses Obama’s 2012 victory over Mitt Romney.

Why is it important to emphasize the magnitude of Biden’s victory? Because, far from narrow, it represents the overwhelming verdict of the voters. If there is such a thing as a mandate, Biden has one. He has been explicit about the things he intends to do: preserve and expand Obamacare, pass child-care and sick-leave legislation, pursue police reform, push through a massive infrastructure bill and tackle climate change.

Of course, if his margin of victory was a single vote or single elector, he would still be entitled to exercise all the powers of the presidency. Treating Biden as anything but the president-elect and denying him ample latitude to compile the Cabinet and senior staff of his choosing represents an outlandish attempt to preempt the will of more than 80 million Americans.

donald trump money palmer report Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump raises $495 million since mid-October, including a haul fueled by misleading appeals about election fraud, Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Anu Narayanswamy, Dec. 4, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump has raised $495 million since mid-October, with $207.5 million of it pouring in after Election Day — an extraordinary haul resulting from Trump’s post-election fundraising effort using a blizzard of misleading appeals about the integrity of the vote.

The sum raised since Oct. 15 far exceeds fundraising records set by the Trump operation in roughly comparable time periods at the height of the 2020 presidential campaign and is an unusually large amount to raise after the election.

That means between Oct. 15 to Nov. 23, Trump raised an average of nearly $13 million per day — a massive amount fueled by a deluge of email and text fundraising appeals sent out by the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a joint fundraising committee that raises money for the president’s campaign, the party and Trump’s new leadership PAC, Save America.

The figures were announced by the campaign on Thursday, and will be made public in federal filings this month and in January. The Biden campaign has not yet released figures.

“These tremendous fundraising numbers show President Trump remains the leader and source of energy for the Republican Party, and that his supporters are dedicated to fighting for the rightful, legal outcome of the 2020 general election,” Bill Stepien, Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, said in a statement. “It also positions President Trump to continue leading the fight to clean up our corrupt elections process in so many areas around the country, and to build on gains from the 2020 elections so we can take back the House and build on our Senate majority in 2022.”

Much of the money raised since the election probably will go into Save America, a political action committee that the president can use for various activities after he leaves office. Some of the contributions will go toward what is left of the president’s legal fights over the certification of election results, which have failed to gain traction in the courts.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: America may not be so lucky next time. Benjamin L. Ginsberg, Dec. 4, 2020. Benjamin L. Ginsberg practiced election law for 38 years. He co-chaired the bipartisan 2013 Presidential Commission on Election Administration.

The country was lucky that President Trump and his reelection campaign were so inept. He ultimately lost by a wide margin, and his challenges to the results have been farcical. His rhetoric ramped up in inverse proportion to his ability to produce evidence supporting his charges of systemic “fraud” or “rigged” elections.

The United States might not be so lucky next time. What if the 2020 election had been as close as it was in 2000, and the outcome hinged on a state (or states) with a truly narrow margin? How would the country have fared under a Trump-style assault on democracy’s foundations?

Trump’s attempts to negate millions of votes by challenging state certifications revealed cracks in those foundations. Some shoring-up is clearly needed before the next election cycle begins. A good place to start might be with the appointment of a bipartisan commission that would propose election reforms to Congress and the states. Here are half a dozen suggestions to get things started:

Revise the Electoral Count Act of 1887, a law that came perilously close to being invoked for the first time in its history. Its muddled language would not have provided clear answers to myriad crucial questions. What happens if a state submits competing slates of electors? How to determine if a “majority” of the electoral college refers to all 538 electors or only those present and voting? If choosing the president fell to the House, with a single vote for each state, could a majority of members prevent the swearing-in of enough minority members (who nonetheless represented more states) so that the majority’s presidential candidate would win? The 1887 law clearly needs updating and clarifying.

washington post logodjt smiling fileWashington Post, Trump campaign groups spent $1.1 million at Trump properties in the last days of reelection bid, David A. Fahrenthold, Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Anu Narayanswamy, Dec. 4, 2020. The president’s campaign and its affiliated committees continued a pattern of self-enrichment in which Trump has converted $6.7 million from campaign donors into revenue for his businesses since taking office, new filings show. 

Dec. 3

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Why Prosecuting Trump Is a Very Bad Idea, Eric Posner (University of Chicago law professor and the author of “The Demagogue’s Playbook: The Battle for American Democracy From the Founders to Trump”), Dec. 3, 2020. The goal would be to renew faith in our government, but its effect would be the opposite.

As the Biden administration slowly coalesces, there have been many calls for its Justice Department to prosecute Donald Trump for any crimes he may have committed while in office. The hope, proponents of this view argue, is to establish that the president is subject to the rule of law and to deter future presidents from breaking the law.

The problem with this agenda is that there is little evidence that Mr. Trump did commit crimes as president. A conviction, given what we know now, is all but impossible. The calls to investigate him echo the president’s own calls to investigate Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden based on mere speculation — calls that most people, especially liberals, rightly condemned.

The most plausible charge is that Mr. Trump obstructed justice by interfering with, and possibly lying to, Robert Mueller and his investigators. Critics also argue that Mr. Trump may have broken the law by threatening to withhold military aid to Ukraine unless the Ukrainian government announced the opening of an investigation into the Bidens. A third possible charge is that Mr. Trump corruptly mixed his financial affairs with government business.

All of these charges would face formidable difficulties in court.

Investigations into allegations that Mr. Trump was involved in credit and tax fraud and campaign finance violations before his presidency are another matter. But convictions based on such pre-presidential behavior will not reflect on his presidency nor hold lessons for future presidents.

And even these investigations run the risk of turning Mr. Trump into one of the last things we want him to be: a martyr.

Dec. 1

election 2020 national map washington post

washington post logoWashington Post, Last two of six states Trump contested certify his defeat, Amy Gardner, Emma Brown and Rosalind S. Helderman, Dec. 1, 2020. The certification on Monday in Wisconsin and Arizona of President-elect Joe Biden’s victories in the battleground states dealt a fresh blow to President Trump's quest to overturn results as a chorus of Republicans and Democrats offered support for the election’s integrity.

washington post logoWashington Post, Arizona certifies Biden’s win, even as Trump allies vow to contest results, Felicia Sonmez and John Wagner, Dec. 1, 2020. Supreme Court leery of Trump’s bid to exclude undocumented immigrants from congressional reapportionment; What we know about absentee ballot requests for Georgia runoffs; Georgia secretary of state calls those trying to overturn the election results ‘dishonest actors.’

joe biden twitterArizona certified its results Monday, giving President-elect Joe Biden a win in yet another state where President Trump has contested the election. Trump allies have pledged to continue court challenges in the state.

donald trump gage skidmore portrait

Donald J. Trump (Gage Skidmore photo).

 ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Raises $170 Million as He Denies His Loss and Eyes the Future, Shane Goldmacher and Maggie Haberman, Dec. 1, 2020 (print ed.). The president’s campaign has ratcheted up its appeals for cash, but the first 75 percent of every contribution is going to a new political action committee that could fund his next political move.

President Trump has raised about $170 million since Election Day as his campaign operation has continued to aggressively solicit donations with hyped-up appeals that have funded his fruitless attempts to overturn the election and that have seeded his post-presidential political ambitions, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The money, much of which was raised in the first week after the election, according to the person, has arrived as Mr. Trump has made false claims about fraud and sought to undermine public confidence in the legitimacy of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory.

Instead of slowing down after the election, Mr. Trump’s campaign has ratcheted up its volume of email solicitations for cash, telling supporters that money was needed for an “Election Defense Fund.”

In reality, the fine print shows that the first 75 percent of every contribution currently goes to a new political action committee that Mr. Trump set up in mid-November, Save America, which can be used to fund his political activities going forward, including staff and travel. The other 25 percent of each donation is directed to the Republican National Committee.

A donor has to give $5,000 to Mr. Trump’s new PAC before any funds go to his recount account.

The Washington Post reported earlier on Monday that Mr. Trump’s postelection efforts had raised more than $150 million. Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for Mr. Trump’s campaign, declined to comment on the fund-raising.

  Michigan thugs yell State Sen. Dayna Polehanki

Anti-Government Protesters at Michigan's State Capitol on April 30, 2020.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: 1918 Germany Has a Warning for America, Jochen Bittner, Dec. 1, 2020. Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” campaign recalls one of the most disastrous political lies of the 20th century.

Watching President Trump’s “Stop the Steal” campaign since Election Day, I can’t help but see a parallel to one of the most dreadful episodes from Germany’s history.

nazi swastika w iron crossOne hundred years ago, amid the implosions of Imperial Germany, powerful conservatives who led the country into war refused to accept that they had lost. Their denial gave birth to arguably the most potent and disastrous political lie of the 20th century — the Dolchstosslegende, or stab-in-the-back myth.

Its core claim was that Imperial Germany never lost World War I. Defeat, its proponents said, was declared but not warranted. It was a conspiracy, a con, a capitulation — a grave betrayal that forever stained the nation.

That the claim was palpably false didn’t matter. Among a sizable number of Germans, it stirred resentment, humiliation and anger. And the one figure who knew best how to exploit their frustration was Adolf Hitler.

Don’t get me wrong: This is not about comparing Mr. Trump to Hitler, which would be absurd. But the Dolchstosslegende provides a warning. It’s tempting to dismiss Mr. Trump’s irrational claim that the election was “rigged” as a laughable last convulsion of his reign or a cynical bid to heighten the market value for the TV personality he might once again intend to become, especially as he appears to be giving up on his effort to overturn the election result.

But that would be a grave error. Instead, the campaign should be seen as what it is: an attempt to elevate “They stole it” to the level of legend, perhaps seeding for the future social polarization and division on a scale America has never seen.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: How Will Biden Deal With Republican Sabotage? Paul Krugman, right, Dec. 1, 2020. He needs to make the G.O.P. pay a price for obstruction. When Joe Biden paul krugmanis inaugurated, he will immediately be confronted with an unprecedented challenge — and I don’t mean the pandemic, although Covid-19 will almost surely be killing thousands of Americans every day. I mean, instead, that he’ll be the first modern U.S. president trying to govern in the face of an opposition that refuses to accept his legitimacy. And no, Democrats never said Donald Trump was illegitimate, just that he was incompetent and dangerous.

It goes without saying that Donald Trump, whose conspiracy theories are getting wilder and wilder, will never concede, and that millions of his followers will always believe — or at least say they believe — that the election was stolen.

Most Republicans in Congress certainly know this is a lie, although even on Capitol Hill there are a lot more crazy than we’d like to imagine. But it doesn’t matter; they still won’t accept that Biden has any legitimacy, even though he won the popular vote by a large margin.

At a fundamental level — and completely separate from the Trump factor — today’s G.O.P. doesn’t believe that Democrats ever have the right to govern, no matter how many votes they receive.

After all, in recent years we’ve seen what happens when a state with a Republican legislature elects a Democratic governor: Legislators quickly try to strip away the governor’s powers. So does anyone doubt that Republicans will do all they can to hobble and sabotage Biden’s presidency?

The only real questions are how much harm the G.O.P. can do, and how Biden will respond.

So what can Biden do?

First, he needs to start talking about immediate policy actions to help ordinary Americans, if only to make it clear to Georgia voters how much damage will be done if they don’t elect Democrats to those two Senate seats.

Finally, although Biden is still talking in a comforting way about unity and reaching across the aisle, at some point he’ll need to stop reassuring us that he’s nothing like Trump and start making Republicans pay a political price for their attempts to prevent him from governing.

 ny times logoNew York Times, As Trump Attacks Georgia Republicans, Party Worries About Senate Races, Lisa Lerer, Richard Fausset and Maggie Haberman, Dec. 1, 2020 (print ed.). Some Republicans fear that the doubt President Trump is sowing about the fairness of the election could depress turnout for the crucial runoff races.

President Trump’s sustained assault on his own party in Georgia, and his repeated claims of election fraud in the state, have intensified worries among Republicans that he could be hurting their ability to win two crucial Senate runoff races next month.

The president has continued to claim without evidence that his loss in the new battleground state was fraudulent, directing his ire in particular at Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, both conservative Republicans, whom he has accused of not doing enough to help him overturn the result.

November

Nov. 30

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Arizona certifies Biden’s win, even as Trump allies vow to contest results, Felicia Sonmez and John Wagner, Nov. 30, 2020. Supreme Court leery of Trump’s bid to exclude undocumented immigrants from congressional reapportionment; What we know about absentee ballot requests for Georgia runoffs; Georgia secretary of state calls those trying to overturn the election results ‘dishonest actors.’

joe biden twitterArizona certified its results Monday, giving President-elect Joe Biden a win in yet another state where President Trump has contested the election. Trump allies have pledged to continue court challenges in the state.

The action came as Biden forged ahead with plans for his presidency, announcing a committee to organize his Jan. 20 inauguration and formally unveiling his economic team. Biden was also set to receive his first President’s Daily Brief, a classified compilation of information from intelligence agencies. In other news:

  • Biden suffered hairline fractures in his right foot while playing with his dog, Major, and will probably require a walking boot for several weeks, his doctor said.
  • Biden has filled out his economics and communications teams, enlisting mostly women, including several of color, in a move that reflected his campaign pledge to create an administration that embodies the country’s diversity.
  • The recount in Wisconsin’s two largest counties reconfirmed that Biden beat Trump in the key swing state by more than 20,000 votes. Wisconsin is expected to certify the vote as early as Monday.
  • In his first television interview since the Nov. 3 election, Trump suggested that he will never accept his loss to Biden.
  • Supreme Court leery of Trump’s bid to exclude undocumented immigrants from congressional reapportionment

washington post logoWashington Post, Wisconsin recount confirms Biden’s win over Trump, Rosalind S. Helderman, Nov. 30, 2020 (print ed.). As a result of the recount, President-elect Biden’s lead over President Trump grew by 87 votes. Under state law, Trump was required to foot the bill for the partial recount — meaning his campaign paid $3 million only to see Biden’s lead expand.

democratic donkey logoThe recount of presidential ballots in Wisconsin’s two largest counties finished Sunday, reconfirming that President-elect Joe Biden defeated President Trump in the key swing state by more than 20,000 votes.

wisconsin map with largest cities CustomAfter Milwaukee County completed its tally Friday and Dane County concluded its count Sunday, there was little change in the final breakdown of the more than 800,000 ballots that had been cast in the two jurisdictions. As a result of the recount, Biden’s lead over Trump in Wisconsin grew by 87 votes.

Under Wisconsin law, Trump was required to foot the bill for the partial recount — meaning his campaign paid $3 million only to see Biden’s lead expand.

The results of the Wisconsin recount cemented Trump’s failure to alter the results of the November election in a series of states where he has falsely alleged there was widespread fraud and irregularities.

The Guardian, Opinion: Beware going 'back to normal' thoughts – normal gave us Trump, Robert Reich, right, Nov. 29, 2020. Fatigued by the coronavirus and robert reichTrump, the idea of going back to normal is seductive – we must guard against it.

“Life is going to return to normal,” Joe Biden promised on Thursday in a Thanksgiving address to the nation. He was talking about life after Covid-19, but you could be forgiven if you thought he was also making a promise about life after Trump.

It is almost impossible to separate the two. To the extent voters gave Biden a mandate, it was to end both scourges and make America normal again.

Despite Covid’s grim resurgence, Dr Anthony Fauci – the public health official whom Trump ignored and then muzzled, with whom Biden’s staff is now conferring – sounded guardedly optimistic last week. Vaccines will allow “a gradual accrual of more normality as the weeks and the months go by as we get well into 2021”.

Normal. You could almost hear America’s giant sigh of relief, similar to that felt when Trump implicitly conceded the election by allowing the transition to begin.

Trump called Biden “the most boring human being I’ve ever seen”, and Americans seem to be just fine with that.

Biden’s early choices for his cabinet and senior staff fit the same mold – “boring picks”, tweeted the Atlantic’s Graeme Wood (referring to Biden’s foreign policy team), “who, if you shook them awake and appointed them in the middle of the night at any time in the last decade, could have reported to their new jobs and started work competently by dawn.” Hallelujah.

All his designees, including Janet Yellen for Treasury and Anthony Blinken for secretary of state, are experienced and competent – refreshing, especially after Trump’s goon squads. And they’re acceptable both to mainstream Democrats and to progressives.

Boring, reassuring, normal – these are Biden’s great strengths. But they could also be his great weaknesses

That’s because any return to “normal” would be disastrous for America.

  • Normal led to Trump. Normal led to the coronavirus.
  • Normal is four decades of stagnant wages and widening inequality when almost all economic gains went to the top. Normal is 40 years of shredded safety nets, and the most expensive but least adequate healthcare system in the modern world.
  • Normal is also growing corruption of politics by big money – an economic system rigged by and for the wealthy.
  • Normal is worsening police brutality.
  • Normal is climate change now verging on catastrophe.
  • Normal is a GOP that for years has been actively suppressing minority votes and embracing white supremacists. Normal is a Democratic party that for years has been abandoning the working class.

If the underlying trends don’t change, after Biden we could have Trumps as far as the eye can see. And health and environmental crises that make the coronavirus another step toward Armageddon.

Robert Reich, a former US secretary of labor, is professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and the author of "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few and The Common Good". His new book, "The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It," is out now.

 wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Another Trump surprise for his "losers and suckers," Wayne Madsen, Nov. 30, 2020. Previous Donald Trump has another surprise in store for military veterans -- dubbed "losers and suckers" by the outgoing president. Due to the financial stress experienced from Covid-19 wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallby many veterans receiving co-pay prescription drugs from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the VA placed a hold on billing statements on April 6, 2020.

robert wilkie vaSecretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie, right, obviously on the orders of the Trump White House, has decided to send out a bill to veterans in January 2021 for all prescriptions received from April 6 to December 31, 2020. For some veterans, the bill may top more than $500.

And, of course, the bills will begin arriving in veterans' mail boxes just around the time that Joe Biden is sworn in as president, January 20, giving less informed veterans the false impression that it is Biden who is billing them for 10 months' worth of prescription drugs.

There is no other reason for Wilkie's action other than causing additional problems for the new administration.

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Raw Story, Rick Wilson urges ‘humiliation and incarceration’ for the GOP’s ‘grubby sellouts’ who propped up Trump for 4 years, Travis Gettys, Nov. 30, 2020. epublicans know the end of Donald Trump’s presidency is near, despite his increasingly desperate legal challenges, and former GOP strategist Rick Wilson won’t be willing to forgive and forget.

Wilson, writing for The Daily Beast, imagines there will be a rush of Republicans to distance themselves from the soon-to-be-former president, but he said there will be copious evidence of lawmakers, governors and political professional debasing themselves for Trump.

republican elephant logo“Let’s be honest with one another, though; most of you enjoyed every moment of Trump,” Wilson writes. “You boasted that the world had changed. You bragged that finally there was a Republican badass who gave no f*cks and owned the libs. All we had to give up to get there was everything that defined the center-right party for generations. You were just fine with the executive orders, the lawlessness, the statism, the betrayal of alliances around the world, and with that f*cking clown as the leader of the party and the country.”

Wilson blasted the “grubby sellouts” who raised ridiculous conspiracy theories about George Soros or Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) to justify their support of Trump, saying that was arguably more contemptible than Republicans who jumped fully on board the MAGA train.

djt hands up mouth open CustomWilson predicts there will be calls for goodwill and healing as Joe Biden enters the White House, but he urged the new administration and Democratic lawmakers not to fall for that trick.

“The other side will work daily to sabotage not only a legislative agenda but the nation itself,” Wilson writes. “Remember, the Trump GOP is shorn of all ideological and philosophical pretense, and even when Trump leaves office, it’s not over. His cultists’ reign of terror will shape elected GOP members as long as he and his foul spawn walk the earth unpunished.”

“Only exposure, pain, humiliation, and (inshallah) incarceration will lead to a moment of reckoning for the GOP,” he adds. “It should start at the top and work down from there.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: “NO WAY WE LOST THIS ELECTION” – Donald Trump goes completely over the edge, Bill Palmer, right, Nov. 30, 2020 (1:42 a.m. EST). bill palmerTrump tweeted tonight that there was “NO WAY” he lost the election, and now “YES WAY” is trending because everyone is tweeting it back at him. This has turned into junior high school, and Trump is still finding a way to lose.

I’ve advocated for giving Trump less attention in general now that he’s lost the election – particularly when he makes threats that he knows he can’t carry out. But the reality is that we are stuck with him in this defeated, shrinking, but still dangerous role for another fifty days. We can’t ignore him entirely, at least not until he’s out of office.

bill palmer report logo headerIt’s worth keeping in mind that one of our more effective tools these past four years has been belittling Donald Trump every time he’s done something embarrassing. Belittling an honorable adversary is inappropriate. But Trump is the opposite of honorable, and being rude to him has been almost a moral imperative.

The reason humiliation has been an effective tool is that voters in the middle understand it. They don’t listen when you talk about authoritarianism. They don’t care when we talk about corruption, because they inextricably believe that both sides are corrupt anyway. But they don’t like the idea of having a President who’s incompetent, a buffoon, an embarrassing punchline.

And so it’s been important over these past four years that we’ve always belittled Trump whenever he’s done something we could belittle him for. It’s helped keep the middle turned against him, which is why his approval rating remained low, and why he lost. It’s also difficult for Trump to play offense when he’s stuck playing defense over his latest embarrassing moment.

In that sense, each time Trump pops up and absolutely demands attention over the next fifty day, it’s not a bad idea to belittle him in response. Remind him that whatever attention he gets is not going to be the kind of attention he wants, so he’ll go back into a funk and leave us alone for a few days.

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Raw Story, Melania Trump brutally reminded of her profane complaints about Christmas after unveiling this year’s decorations, Travis Gettys, Nov. 30, 2020. Melania Trump unveiled this year's White House Christmas decorations, and she was reminded over and over of her recently revealed complaints about holiday festivities.

Former friend Stephanie Winston Wolkoff released recordings of the first lady complaining as shown above) about decorating the White House for Christmas, and social media users were quick to point out those previously reported remarks after she tweeted out photos of this year's celebration.

melania red xmas trees

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Everything we needed to know about Melania Trump is in those bewildering Christmas decorations, Monica Hesse, Nov. 30, 2020. Four years of White House decor give us whatever insight there was to be had into the first lady.

It’s our final Christmas with Melania Trump, and we shall celebrate in the usual way: by accompanying FLOTUS on an annual tour of her White House decor, a one-minute video that also appears to serve as a trailer for a movie about a woman who wakes up in a castle one holiday season and goes searching for the person who spiked her eggnog with mushrooms.

And so here we are, following the first lady down colonnades and breezeways as she encounters rows of looming, florally festooned evergreens in the manner of someone who has never seen a tree.

The decor contains many roses, white lights and hanging ornaments — airplanes, speedboats — which Melania looks up at and beholds in wonder.

Over the past four years Melania’s off-kilter Christmas decorations have become a reliable source of controversy. This began with her first holiday in 2017, when she unveiled a maze of icy, creepy branches that appeared to be a joint production created by the set decorator from “The Haunting of Hill House” and the Babadook. In 2018, she showcased giant blood-red trees (shown above) onto which the Internet promptly photoshopped white bonnets to turn them into extras from “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

In a season meant to celebrate family, friends, community and warmth, Melania always appears alone and very, very cold.

The fans who love Melania’s Christmas decor — and they are legion, and they are loud — will insist they love it because it’s “elegant”; that Melania has returned “elegance” to the White House.

And maybe this is the disconnect: there are those who feel the White House should be a place of inclusion, a place where you hang up the weird calamari ornament just because Rhode Island made it, and Rhode Island is a part of the country, too.

Melania is not there to welcome you, she is there for you to admire her. When she delivers words, they will be stilted but she will look fantastic doing it.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump goes berserk and accuses Bill Barr of being part of the conspiracy against him, Bill Palmer, Nov. 30, 2020.  Donald Trump used his Fox News call-in on Sunday to insist that Bill Barr is part of the massive conspiracy against him. That’s right, Bill Barr. His top remaining henchman. That’s how bad it’s gotten for Trump. Come to think of it, Barr needs a pardon in order to avoid being charged with felony obstruction of justice. Is Barr’s pardon now in danger?

bill palmer report logo headerPresident-elect Joe Biden announced on Sunday evening that he twisted his ankle while playing with his dog. Best wishes to him on his recovery. Meanwhile, how refreshing is it to have a President who’s honest with us about his health? And how refreshing is it to have a President who would actually play with a dog?

Now that Wisconsin has completed its recount in both counties that Trump paid for, it means Joe Biden has won Wisconsin again. We’d all be better of if Trump would just give up and leave now. But since he’s insisting on fighting this until the bitter end, I am not getting tired of winning.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The King of Trump TV Thinks You’re Dumb Enough to Buy It, Ben Smith, Nov. 30, 20200 (print ed.). Chris Ruddy, the C.E.O. of Newsmax, has found a business opportunity in feeding Trump supporters the fantasy that the president could still win the election.

Mr. Ruddy, a Long Island-born 55-year-old, has emerged as the most audacious media entrepreneur of the Trump election fantasy. The chief executive of Newsmax and part of President Trump’s South Florida social circle, Mr. Ruddy has capitalized on the anger of Mr. Trump’s supporters at Fox News for delivering the unwelcome news, first in Arizona and then nationally, that Mr. Trump had lost his re-election campaign. On Newsmax, however, the fight is still on, the imaginary election-altering Kraken is yet to be released, Mr. Trump is striving valiantly for four more years and the ratings are incredible.

Newsmax’s prime-time ratings, which averaged 58,000 before Election Day, soared to 1.1 million afterward for its top shows, with one host, Greg Kelly, cheerleading on Twitter and on the air for “the QUEST TO COUNT all the LEGAL VOTES.” The ratings even drew a congratulatory call from Mr. Trump himself, my colleagues Michael Grynbaum and John Koblin reported last week.

But Mr. Ruddy is not the sort of true-believing ideologue his viewers may imagine in the foxhole alongside them. He is, rather, perhaps the purest embodiment of another classic television type, the revenue-minded cynic for whom the substance of programming is just a path to money and power.

Mr. Ruddy is hardly alone in the sudden scramble to convert Mr. Trump’s political profile into cash.

The noisiest effort is led by Hicks Equity Partners, the family business of a Republican National Committee co-chairman and friend of Donald Trump Jr., Thomas Hicks Jr. The Hicks group has sought to lead buyouts of both Newsmax and its smaller and stranger rival, the One America News Network.

Other possibilities for the president to cash in on his stature include creating a new Trump TV network from scratch, either as a television broadcast channel, a package of online video or even a way to direct cash into the Trump family political operation.

Nov. 29

washington post logoWashington Post, 20 days of fantasy and failure: Inside Trump’s quest to overturn the election, Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey and Amy Gardner, Nov. 29, 2020 (print ed.). With his denial of his loss to Joe Biden, President Trump endangered America’s democracy and threatened to undermine national security and public health. All the while, he largely abdicated the responsibilities of the job he was fighting so hard to keep.

washington post logoWashington Post, Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismisses lawsuit against mail ballots with prejudice in another defeat for Trump, Elise Viebeck, Nov. 29, 2020 (print ed.). The Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismissed with prejudice a Republican lawsuit seeking to invalidate more than 2.5 million votes cast by mail in the general election, the latest in a string of legal defeats for the GOP as President Trump fails to undo his losses in key battleground states.

Justices on the state high court ruled unanimously late Saturday that Republican petitioners waited too long to file their suit challenging Act 77, the 2019 law that established universal mail voting in Pennsylvania. Trump allies had asked the court to invalidate all votes cast by mail in the most recent election or direct the majority-Republican legislature to choose a slate of presidential electors. The ruling with prejudice means that the plaintiffs are barred from bringing another action on the same claim.

The court’s written order called the latter option “extraordinary,” noting that it would disenfranchise 6.9 million voters.

“The want of due diligence demonstrated in this matter is unmistakable,” the justices wrote, noting that the lawsuit was filed “more than one year” after no-excuse mail voting was enacted in Pennsylvania. The order blamed petitioners for a “complete failure to act with due diligence in commencing their facial constitutional challenge, which was ascertainable upon Act 77’s enactment.”

Concurring, Justice David N. Wecht noted that the GOP petitioners “failed to allege that even a single mail-in ballot was fraudulently cast or counted.”

Legal experts had predicted little chance of success for the suit, which also sought to block certification of election results. Trump and his allies have gained no substantive traction with more than two dozen cases trying to undermine President-elect Joe Biden’s win since Election Day.

The ruling followed a procedural setback for the petitioners on Wednesday, when a temporary order blocking further certification of election results was stayed on appeal from state officials who already had formalized Biden’s win the previous day. The state asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to exercise extraordinary jurisdiction in the case, a request it granted as part of Saturday night’s order.

washington post logoWashington Post, For Trump advocate Sidney Powell, a playbook steeped in conspiracy theories, Aaron C. Davis, Josh Dawsey, Emma Brown and Jon Swaine, Nov. 29, 2020 (print ed.). The appellate lawyer has emerged as a key voice on the far right, becoming a leading purveyor of outlandish allegations about the election.

She zipped through classes at the University of North Carolina, earning her diploma in less than two years. She added a law degree and in her early 20s became, she has often said, the youngest federal prosecutor in the country.

And when Sidney Powell — then a Democrat — moved into private practice, she co-wrote a paper hailed as a “manual” for deciphering sometimes-arcane appellate rules, salting in advice for fellow attorneys: Never “slant” the truth to benefit a client. “To write anything less than an accurate statement of facts can cost an attorney credibility with the court,” she wrote.

sidney powellFast forward two decades — through a bitter case she says shook her faith in the U.S. justice system — and there was Powell, right, at a lectern at the headquarters of the Republican National Committee, introduced as an attorney representing President Trump.

At the Nov. 19 news conference, before a national television audience, she asserted that “communist money,” the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez and a manipulated computer algorithm were all connected in a secret plot that had altered potentially millions of ballots and stolen the election from Trump.

Powell did not stop there. In an interview two days later with the conservative outlet Newsmax, she said she had been given evidence — which she said she could not disclose — that Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican and an ally of the president, had taken bribes and conspired to orchestrate Trump’s defeat. Nationwide, she estimated that “thousands” of local elections officials knowingly helped carry out the master scheme to tamper with ballots. In fact, Powell claimed, if anyone bothered to look, they’d probably find that U.S. elections had been rigged for decades.

In important places, the headspinning allegations did not land well.

Trump watched from the White House as his usual cast of sympathetic proxies — including Fox News’s Tucker Carlson and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie — turned on Powell, according to an official familiar with the events, who like others interviewed for this report spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe confidential or private interactions at the White House and at Trump’s campaign offices. On ABC’s Sunday talk show, Christie said Powell’s comments had tipped the president’s legal efforts to challenge the outcome of the election into a “national embarrassment.”

In calls to the White House, several GOP senators warned that Powell seemed unhinged, two officials said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Even as Trump Claimed Fraud, These Republicans Didn’t Bend, Peter Baker and Kathleen Gray, Nov. 29, 2020 (print ed.). They refuted conspiracy theories, certified results, dismissed lawsuits and repudiated a president of their own party.

If the president hoped Republicans across the country would fall in line behind his false and farcical claims that the election was somehow rigged on a mammoth scale by a nefarious multinational conspiracy, he was in for a surprise. Republicans in Washington may have indulged Mr. Trump’s fantastical assertions, but at the state and local level, Republicans played a critical role in resisting the mounting pressure from their own party to overturn the vote after Mr. Trump fell behind on Nov. 3.

The three weeks that followed tested American democracy and demonstrated that the two-century-old system is far more vulnerable to subversion than many had imagined even though the incumbent president lost by six million votes nationwide. But in the end, the system stood firm against the most intense assault from an aggrieved president in the nation’s history because of a Republican city clerk in Michigan, a Republican secretary of state in Georgia, a Republican county supervisor in Arizona and Republican-appointed judges in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

They refuted conspiracy theories, certified results, dismissed lawsuits and repudiated a president of their own party, leaving him to thunder about a supposed plot that would have had to include people who had voted for him, donated to him or even been appointed by him. The desperate effort to hang onto office over the will of the people effectively ended when his own director of the General Services Administration determined that Joseph R. Biden Jr. stephanos bibasis the president-elect and a judge Mr. Trump put on the bench chastised him for ludicrous litigation.

“Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy,” Judge Stephanos Bibas, right, appointed by Mr. Trump in 2017, wrote for a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia on Friday as it dismissed the latest of dozens of legal claims filed by Mr. Trump and his allies. “Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here.”

 

Nov. 27

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump commits to leaving if electoral college votes for Biden, Josh Dawsey, Nov. 27, 2020 (print ed.). But the president vowed he would continue his fight to overturn the election he lost, saying it is “going to be a very hard thing to concede.” It was Trump’s first explicit commitment to vacate office.

President Trump said on Thursday that he would leave the White House if the electoral college voted for President-elect Joe Biden next month, though he vowed to keep fighting to overturn the election he lost and said he may never concede.

Though advisers have long said he would leave on Jan. 20, it was Trump’s first explicit commitment to vacate office if the vote did not go his way.

Trump said he planned to continue to make claims of fraud about the results and said, without evidence, that Biden could not have won close to 80 million votes. His legal team has been widely mocked — and has lost almost every claim in every state, as officials certify results for Biden.

Even as most of his lawyers have quit and many campaign officials say the effort to overturn the election is going nowhere, Trump said it was going “very well.”

The president made the remarks in the Diplomatic Room of the White House after he spoke to troops across the world. The Thanksgiving session — an annual tradition for Trump — marked the first time he took questions since the election.

The president also said he planned to campaign in Georgia for two Republicans in Senate runoffs set for January. The races are key to the party keeping the majority. Trump said he may go as soon as Saturday, though a White House spokesman later said he meant next Saturday.

Republicans close to Trump have said he was largely uninterested in the runoffs until his Thursday appearance. He railed against Georgia officials, who he believes have not intervened enough as the state has counted ballots and certified results for Biden.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump falls to pieces, Bill Palmer, Nov. 27, 2020. So this is how it ends. Certainly not with a bang, and not quite with a whimper djt rnceither, but instead with a sort of loud angry whimper that’s half heartedly meant to come off like a bang.

bill palmer report logo headerSitting at an inexplicably tiny desk yesterday, Donald Trump finally took questions for the first time since he lost the election. He ended up yelling “Don’t talk to me that way, I’m the President of the United States” at a reporter who dared to ask him about conceding.

The thing is, Trump has never been particularly good at selling his strongman routine. Part of it is that he just can’t be bothered to put in the work required to give himself the upper hand. His “Thanksgiving” message yesterday consisted of tweeting “No thanks” at a pair of football players who had taken a knee, one of whom was white, in a reminder that the debate has completely passed Trump by.

Donald Trump seems desperate to find any minor points of leverage or suspense to keep all eyes on him, but those moments are increasingly slipping away from him. Yesterday he said that he’s made up his mind about whether he’ll attend President Biden’s inauguration but he’s not willing to reveal his decision yet, as if anyone cares. At some point a failed search for leverage merely displays as petulance.

Nov. 25

djt council to reopen america fox

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Sets Record of Two Million New Virus Cases in Two Weeks, Lauren Leatherby, Nov. 25, 2020. Health officials are acknowledging that contact tracing can no longer be expected to contain the virus’s spread. Here’s the latest.

For the first time since the outbreak hit the United States, the country has added more than one million cases in each of the past two consecutive weeks. If the growth pattern holds, the total number of cases reported for November is likely to hit 4.5 million, more than double that of any previous month.

Some epidemiologists project that the number of deaths in the coming weeks could exceed the spring peak, in spite of improved treatment.

In the past week, the United States added an average of 173,000 new daily cases. If this growth pattern holds, the total number of cases reported for the full month of November is likely to hit 4.5 million. That would be more than double the number of any previous month.

With several days still left in the month, about 3.3 million people in the United States had already tested positive for the coronavirus as of Nov. 23.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump’s assault on the election could leave a lasting mark on American democracy, Toluse Olorunnipa, Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Rosalind S. Helderman, Nov. 24, 2020 (print ed.). When President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20, he will face a fundamental challenge unlike any incoming president before him: Tens of millions of Americans who doubt his legitimacy and question the stability of the country’s democratic traditions — in part because of his predecessor’s unprecedented attempt to set both ablaze before leaving office.

For the past three weeks, as President Trump has refused to concede the election, the federal government, the Trump campaign legal team and whole swaths of the Republican Party have worked in tandem to interfere with the peaceful transition of power.

By lodging baseless claims of voter fraud and embracing — or declining to reject — outlandish conspiracy theories about the electoral process, Trump and his allies have normalized the kind of post-election assault on institutions typically seen in less-developed democracies, according to historians, former administration officials, and lawmakers and diplomats from across the political spectrum.

Lingering damage to the U.S. electoral system could be among the most consequential legacies of the Trump presidency, said Michael Chertoff, a homeland security secretary under President George W. Bush.

Trump’s effort to overturn the election results in the days after the race has so far proved unsuccessful, as Biden has moved ahead with hallmarks of a presidential transition such as building a Cabinet. But Chertoff and others said the harm inflicted on the democratic process since Nov. 3 should not be underestimated.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Is Said to Plan Pardon of Flynn, Maggie Haberman and Michael Crowley, Updated Nov. 25, 2020. The expected pardon of President Trump’s former national security adviser, who twice pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I., is said to be one of a string Mr. Trump plans to issue before leaving office.

President Trump has told aides that he plans to pardon his former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn and that it is one of a string of pardons he plans to issue before leaving office, a person familiar with the discussions said on Tuesday.

Michael Flynn Harvard 2014Mr. Flynn, right, a retired Army lieutenant general, twice pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about his conversations with a Russian diplomat during the presidential transition in late 2016 and early 2017. He was the only former White House official to plead guilty in the inquiry led by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russia’s election interference.

In May, the Justice Department sought to withdraw its charges against Mr. Flynn. That move has since been tied up in federal court, challenged by the judge who presided over Mr. Flynn’s case, Emmet G. Sullivan.

Mr. Trump’s plans were reported earlier by Axios. Mr. Flynn, 61, served just 24 days as Mr. Trump’s national security adviser before the president fired him in February 2017 for lying about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States at the time, Sergey I. Kislyak.

Mr. Flynn changed his legal team last year and began seeking to withdraw his guilty plea, claiming he never lied to investigators and was the target in January 2017 of what his lawyers in court papers called an “ambush-interview” by F.B.I. agents seeking to entrap him. He has since become a hero figure on the pro-Trump right, portrayed as a decorated patriot victimized by the politically motivated Russia “hoax” investigation of Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump, who initially distanced himself from Mr. Flynn after his firing, has since taken up his cause, calling him “an innocent man” targeted by Obama administration officials trying to “take down a president.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Happy Thanksgiving to All Those Who Told the Truth in This Election, Thomas L. Friedman, right, Nov. 25, 2020 (print ed.). Civil servants, tom friedman twitterelected officials and judges did their jobs and protected democracy. With so many families gathering, in person or virtually, for this most unusual Thanksgiving after this most unusual election, if you’re looking for a special way to say grace this year, I recommend the West Point Cadet Prayer. It calls upon each of these future military leaders to always choose “the harder right instead of the easier wrong” and to know “no fear when truth and right are in jeopardy.”

Because we should be truly thankful this Thanksgiving that — after Donald Trump spent the last three weeks refusing to acknowledge that he’d lost re-election and enlisted much of his party in a naked power play to ignore the vote counts and reinstall him in office — we had a critical mass of civil servants, elected officials and judges who did their jobs, always opting for the “harder right” that justice demanded, not the “easier wrong” that Trump and his allies were pressing for.

It was their collective integrity, their willingness to stand with “Team America,” not either party, that protected our democracy when it was facing one of its greatest threats — from within. History will remember them fondly.

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump makes bizarre desperation move after he realizes it’s all over for him, Bill Palmer, right (11:51 pm EST Nov. 24, 2020). When the bill palmerGSA began the transition to President-elect Biden, and Donald Trump publicly signaled his support for the move, it meant the end of his ability to argue that he’s still somehow magically going to win the election. Trump didn’t necessarily seem to understand this, as he’s since thrown a number of Twitter tantrums about how he didn’t really admit he lost. Not things are getting weird.

bill palmer report logo headerThe news broke today that Rudy Giuliani is meeting with Pennsylvania’s Republican legislators at a Wyndham hotel on Wednesday, to brief them on his latest phony conspiracy theories about the election. As a practical matter, this is going nowhere. Pennsylvania already certified its results statewide on Tuesday; game over. These low level Pennsylvania Republicans are only taking this meeting with crackpot Rudy because they figure it might get them somewhere personally. But now CNN and the New York Times are reporting that Trump is planning to attend as well.

This is surreal. Donald Trump has consistently remained far removed from Rudy’s post-election antics, presumably because he didn’t want to suffer the democratic donkey logoembarrassment of being seen as being directly involved in it. Now Trump has apparently decided he wants to take over this dumpster fire himself.

This is consistent with Trump’s pattern of tepidly and indecisively waiting far too long to take action on something, only to then try to belatedly jump into the fray after he realizes it’s too late. So it’s not necessarily surprising. But it suggests Trump is now so aware that he’s lost the election and that his life is going down the tubes, he’s willing to completely humiliate himself just to take a belated fantasy stab at magically turning it around. This is just pathetic.

ny times logoNew York Times, Since Election Day, a Lot of Tweeting and Not Much Else for Trump, Karen Yourish and Larry Buchanan, Nov. 25, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump has posted some 550 tweets since Nov. 3. About three-quarters of them attempted to undermine the integrity of the election results.

donald trump twitterIn total, the president attacked the legitimacy of the election more than 400 times since Election Day, though his claims of fraud have been widely debunked.

As Mr. Trump’s attacks continue, the coronavirus pandemic rages on, worse than ever. More than 25,000 people in the United States have died from Covid in the past three weeks.

Mr. Trump’s public calendar, meanwhile, has been remarkably light, especially relative to his pre-election schedule, when he often attended multiple campaign rallies in a single day.

From Nov. 4 to Nov. 23, he has had just eight days with an official schedule, though he has managed to maintain his weekend golf plans at his club in Virginia, as he has done most weekends in Washington.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s ugly endgame gets underway now that he knows he’s lost, Bill Palmer, Nov. 25, 2020. It took some folks awhile to get there, but we now all seem to be on board with the reality that Donald Trump was never going to magically overturn the election, and that he was merely using that farce to try to distract us from whatever corrupt endgame he’s been pursuing behind the scenes. Fortunately, now that we’re all paying proper attention, Trump’s quiet endgame moves are coming under the proper spotlight.

bill palmer report logo headerFor instance, last night we all learned that Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, right, has been trying to secretly shift nearly half a billion dollars in pandemic aid money into a fund where he can presumably find a way for him and his pals to pocket it. Now that he’s been caught, steven mnuchin whe’ll have a harder time pulling it off. Just as, now that Trump has been caught trying to destroy the airplanes used in the Open Skies treaty, he’ll have a harder time pulling that off.

One thing that Trump has to do in the open, and simply hope that no one pushes back against, is his pardon endgame. Trump leaked last night that he’s about to pardon Michael Flynn. No surprise, as Trump has always considered protecting Flynn to be a top priority.

More such pardons are coming. But as we’ve explained, pardons will only be partially effective for Trump, and they’re not magic wands. It’s simply the only thing that Trump has left to try. The more loudly we push back against the corrupt nature of these pardons, the more cover it’ll give the DOJ to go ahead and challenge these pardons in court once Trump is gone from office.

 ny times logoNew York Times, As Their D.C. Days Dwindle, Ivanka and Jared Look for a New Beginning, Elizabeth Williamson, Nov. 25, 2020 (print ed.). Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner seem poised for a quick departure from Washington. They appear to have plans in New Jersey. As Manhattan awaits word of the Trump family’s return, the first daughter and her husband appear to be making preparations elsewhere: a Garden State refuge behind guarded gates, perhaps, or Florida, where jared kushner ivanka trump july 4 2017 facebookPresident Trump is renovating his Mar-a-Lago estate.

But New York now seems inhospitable and nowhere in their plans.

“In an odd way, they will even have a harder time than Trump himself” in New York, said Donny Deutsch, a brand management mogul in Manhattan and no-holds-barred critic of Mr. Trump on cable TV. “He’s despicable but larger than life.”

“Those two are the hapless minions who went along.”

Nov. 24

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washington post logoWashington Post, Trump relents, allows transition to proceed, Josh Dawsey, Tom Hamburger, Amy Gardner and Philip Rucker, Nov. 24, 2020 (print ed.). Decision came as more GOP officials urged him to concede. While short of a concession, the president’s move paves the way for President-elect Joe Biden’s team to receive funding and security briefings, and sets in motion the steps needed for a peaceful transfer of power.

President Trump effectively surrendered his three-week protest of the election results Monday by submitting to the government's official transition to the incoming Biden administration, bowing to a growing wave of public pressure yet still stopping short of conceding to President-elect Joe Biden.

Trump authorized the federal government to initiate the Biden transition late Monday, setting in motion a peaceful transfer of power by paving the way for the president-elect and his administration-in-waiting to tap public funds, receive security briefings and gain access to federal agencies.

Though procedural in nature, Trump's acceptance of the General Services Administration starting the transition amounted to a dramatic capitulation and capped an extraordinary 16-day standoff since Biden was declared the winner on Nov. 7.

By continuing to subvert the vote and delay the transition, Trump risked becoming isolated within his own party as a growing chorus of Republican officials recognized Biden as president-elect following a succession of defeats in courts by the Trump campaign.

On Monday, the Michigan Board of State Canvassers certified Biden's win there, while earlier in the day dozens of business leaders and Republican national security experts had urged Trump to accept the result because refusing to begin the transition was endangering the country's security, economy and pandemic response.

And so Trump yielded, writing Monday night on Twitter that he had agreed to support the Biden transition "in the best interest of our country."

Yet the president also vowed to continue his push to overturn the results, adding, "Our case STRONGLY continues, we will keep up the good … fight, and I believe we will prevail!"
Supporters of President Trump and President-Elect Joe Biden argue in Lansing, Mich., as the state canvassing board met Monday to certify the election results.
Supporters of President Trump and President-Elect Joe Biden argue in Lansing, Mich., as the state canvassing board met Monday to certify the election results. (Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty Images)

A senior Trump campaign adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid, said Monday night: "He basically just conceded. That's as close to a concession as you will probably get."

To bring closure, some of Trump's advisers said they were encouraging him to deliver a speech in which he does not concede but talks about his accomplishments in office and commits to a transfer of power.

Trump only reluctantly agreed to let the transition begin as criticism intensified in recent days of his chaotic legal strategy, his failure to produce evidence of widespread voter fraud and his reliance on misinformation and debunked conspiracy theories.

A turning point was Thursday's news conference by Trump lawyers Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sidney Powell alleging without any evidence that there was a coordinated plot with roots in Venezuela to rig the election in Biden's favor.

washington post logoWashington Post, Michigan board votes to certify the state’s election results, dealing Trump another blow, Tom Hamburger, Beth Reinhard and Kayla Ruble, Nov. 24, 2020 (print ed.). In the run-up to Monday’s meeting, President Trump made an extraordinary personal intervention in the state, seeking to undo President-elect Joe Biden’s win.

The Michigan Board of Canvassers voted Monday to certify the state's election results, effectively awarding the state's 16 electoral votes to President-elect Joe Biden, who defeated President Trump with a margin of more than 154,000 votes.

The decision dealt another blow to Trump’s unprecedented effort to undo Biden’s win by attempting to delay the certification of the election results in key states.

michigan mapThree out the four board members — including one Republican — voted for certification, capping a dramatic political dispute that had roiled the state.

The Michigan canvassing board had never before refused to certify a statewide vote, but pressure on the once-obscure panel had built over the past week.

In the run-up to Monday’s meeting, Trump made an extraordinary personal intervention into Michigan, reaching out personally to state and local officials. His supporters called on the GOP-controlled legislature to appoint their own set of electors before the electoral college meets on Dec. 14.

And both the president and top GOP officials sought to discredit the vote process in Michigan’s Wayne County, home of Detroit, making sweeping and unsubstantiated claims about widespread fraud and citing errors in the vote tallies. Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and state GOP Chairwoman Laura Cox called for a “full audit and investigation” before the vote was certified.

joe biden twitterDetroit had more vote errors in 2016 when Trump won Michigan by a narrow margin. He didn’t object then.

The YouTube webcast of Michigan’s canvassing board meeting drew more than 30,000 people — a remarkable viewership for the small panel. The quiet scene they tuned into offered a striking contrast to the day’s high stakes: four board members sitting at tables draped in black cloth inside an antiseptic meeting room.

In the end, one of the Republican board members, Aaron Van Langevelde, joined the two Democratic board members in voting to certify the vote.

The lone holdout was GOP board member Norman Shinkle, who told The Washington Post in an interview last week that he was leaning toward seeking a delay. Shinkle cited a debunked conspiracy theory aired by Trump that voting machines made by a company called Dominion deleted thousands of Trump votes.

On Monday, Shinkle called Michigan’s elections “a national embarrassment.” “There is no excuse for the confusion and uncertainty that seems to follow every election in our state,” he said, before abstaining when the vote was called.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump Wars II: The Loser Strikes Back, Paul Krugman, Nov. 24, 2020 (print ed.). Trashing the nation on his way out the door. We all knew that Donald Trump would react badly to defeat. But his refusal to concede, the destructiveness of his temper tantrum and the willingness of almost the entire Republican Party to indulge him have surpassed even pessimists’ expectations.

Among other things, his officials are already trying to sabotage the economy, setting the stage for a possible financial crisis on Joe Biden’s watch.

To the uninitiated, the sudden announcement by Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, that he’s terminating support for several emergency lending programs created back in March might not seem like that big a deal. After all, the financial markets aren’t currently in crisis. In fact, defying Trump’s prediction that “your 401(k)s will go to hell” if he were to lose, stocks have risen substantially since Biden’s win.

Furthermore, much of the money allocated to those programs was never actually used. So what’s the problem?

Well, the Federal Reserve, which administers the programs, has objected strenuously — for good reason. You see, the Fed knows a lot about financial crises and what it takes to stop them — and Mnuchin is depriving the nation of tools that could be crucial in the months or years ahead.

Mnuchin’s claim that the money is no longer needed makes no sense, and it’s not clear whether his successor will be easily able to undo his actions. Given everything else that’s happening, it’s hard to see Mnuchin’s move as anything but an act of vandalism, an attempt to increase the odds of disaster under Trump’s successor.

Nov. 23

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ny times logoNew York Times, How Trump Hopes to Use Party Machinery to Retain Control of G.O.P., Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman, Nov. 23, 2020 (print ed.). Ronna McDaniel, shown above, a close ally of President Trump, wants to remain head of the Republican National Committee, inciting a behind-the-scenes proxy battle. As President Trump brazenly seeks to delay the certification of the election in hopes of overturning his defeat, he is also mounting a less high-profile but similarly audacious bid to keep control of the Republican National Committee even after he leaves office.

McDaniel, Mr. Trump’s handpicked chairwoman, has secured the president’s support for her re-election to another term in January, when the party is expected to republican elephant logogather for its winter meeting. But her intention to run with Mr. Trump’s blessing has incited a behind-the-scenes proxy battle, dividing Republicans between those who believe the national party should not be a political subsidiary of the outgoing president and others happy for Mr. Trump to remain in control of it.

While many Republicans are hesitant to openly criticize their president at a moment when he is refusing to admit he has lost, the debate crystallizes the larger question about the party’s identity and whether it will operate as a vessel for Mr. Trump’s ambitions to run again in four years.

rnc logoMr. Trump will have no political infrastructure once he leaves office except for a political action committee he recently formed, and absent a formal campaign, he is hoping to lean on the R.N.C. to effectively give him one, people familiar with his thinking said.

The continuing influence of Mr. Trump could also have implications for some of the national committee’s most critical assets: Its voter data and donors lists contain thousands of names of contributors and detailed information about supporters. The voter data in particular is a focus of attention, after distrust arose between the committee and the Trump campaign over the data’s use in the final months of the campaign.

This power play is alarming a number of R.N.C. members, party strategists and former committee aides, who are highly uneasy about ceding control of the committee to a potential candidate in 2024, a step that they fear would shatter the party’s longstanding commitment to neutrality in nominating contests.

“Trump always wants to use other people’s money,” said former Representative Barbara Comstock, a Northern Virginia Republican who lost her re-election in 2018 thanks to the suburban anti-Trump wave that also felled the president this month. The R.N.C., the Trump campaign and related committees raised more than $1 billion this cycle.

Ms. Comstock — while allowing that “nobody dislikes Ronna” — said the committee should not be a piggy bank for the president’s political endeavors.

washington post logoWashington Post, Chris Christie calls the conduct of Trump’s legal team a ‘national embarrassment,’ Paul Kane, Nov. 23, 2020 (print ed.). Several prominent Republicans said this weekend that President Trump’s legal arguments had run their course, calling on him to concede to Joe Biden or at least allow the presidential transition process to begin.

“The conduct of the president’s legal team has been a national embarrassment,” former New Jersey governor Chris Christie said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

chris christie april 2015Christie, left, a Trump confidant who helped run debate preparations, said the Republican Party needed to focus on trying to win Georgia’s two runoff elections Jan. 5 to secure the Senate majority, rather than continuing with the unsuccessful legal challenges of the election results.

“The rearview mirror should be ripped off,” Christie said.

Late Saturday night, after a federal judge threw out Trump’s legal attempt to invalidate all of Pennsylvania’s votes, Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) congratulated Biden and vice president-elect Kamala D. Harris on their victory and encouraged the president to accept that result.

“President Trump has exhausted all plausible legal options to challenge the result of the presidential race in Pennsylvania,” Toomey said in a statement, noting that he ushered that judge, Matthew W. Brann, onto the federal bench as a “longtime conservative Republican.”

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP national security experts call on Trump to concede, Tom Hamburger and Ellen Nakashima, Nov. 23, 2020. Imploring GOP lawmakers to speak up, more than 100 former officials issued a statement saying President Trump’s refusal to accept the result is dangerous and harmful.

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 this month as one of its lawyers.

washington post logoWashington Post, Giuliani releases statement distancing Trump campaign from lawyer Sidney Powell, Felicia Sonmez and Josh Dawsey, Nov. 23, 2020 (print ed.). Powell lobbed some of the most convoluted false claims about the election, alleging a conspiracy that involved ‘communist money.’

The president’s legal team was thrown into tumult Sunday when two Trump attorneys — Rudolph W. Giuliani and Jenna Ellis — released a statement abruptly distancing the campaign from a third attorney, Sidney Powell.

Giuliani, Ellis and Powell all appeared together at a news conference Thursday, when they made a range of baseless accusations about the integrity of the election. Powell, in particular, has lobbed some of the most convoluted claims, alleging a conspiracy that involved “communist money,” the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez and an algorithm favoring Democrats.

“Sidney Powell is practicing law on her own,” Giuliani and Ellis said in their statement Sunday. “She is not a member of the Trump Legal Team. She is also not a lawyer for the President in his personal capacity.”

tucker carlson djtAt the start of Thursday’s news conference, Giuliani said he, Ellis, Powell and other attorneys present were “representing President Trump and we’re representing the Trump campaign.” Ellis introduced the group as “an elite strike force team that is working on behalf of the president and the campaign to make sure that our Constitution is protected.”

Two advisers to Trump, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations, said that the president disliked the coverage Powell was receiving from Fox News host Tucker Carlson, shown at left in a file photo, and others and that several allies had reached out to say she had gone too far. The advisers also said she fought with Giuliani and others in recent days.

Trump believed she was causing more harm than help, a campaign official said: “She was too crazy even for the president.”

 ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: G.O.P. Rewrites Old Playbook on Disenfranchising Black Americans, Jim Rutenberg and Nick Corasaniti, Updated Nov. 23, 2020. As they try to reverse Joe Biden’s victory, President Trump and his allies are targeting cities with large populations of Black voters, painting them as corrupt.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The disinformation system that Trump unleashed will outlast him. Here’s what reality-based journalists must do about it, Margaret Sullivan, below left, Nov. 23, 2020 (print ed.). It’s time for journalism to stand for something — or lose its audience to the excitement of burgeoning lies.

margaret sullivan 2015 photoPresident Trump didn’t create the media cesspool that he’ll bequeath to a troubled nation. He just made it exponentially worse — not only with his own constant lies but with his ability to spread the ugliness.

Just days ago, he tweeted out a debunked conspiracy theory that a company that makes voting machines had deleted millions of Trump votes. And though he — barring true disaster — will leave office in January, the widespread disinformation system that he fostered will live on.

Social media platforms, streaming “news” channels and innumerable websites will spew lies and conspiracy theories, and will keep weakening the foundation of reality that America’s democracy needs in order to function.

So what, if anything, can the reality-based press do to counter it?

I see three necessities.

First, be bolder and more direct than ever in telling it like it is. No more pussy-foooting or punch-pulling. No more of what’s been called “false equivalence” — giving equal weight to truth and lies in the name of fairness.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just lost big time in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Bill Palmer, Nov. 23, 2020. After a judge dismissed Donald Trump’s Pennsylvania election case with prejudice over the weekend and basically told him to go shove it, you’d think Trump and Rudy Giuliani would finally take a hint and give up. But they just keep finding new ways to lose.

bill palmer report logo headerToday the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied Trump’s appeal to get Philadelphia ballots thrown out. Not only did this shut down Trump’s current case, it also reversed an earlier lower court ruling that Trump had won. That’s right, even as Trump has lost dozens of court rulings related to the election, he’d only won two minor rulings along the way – and now he’s back down to having only won one minor ruling.

Giuliani keeps openly fantasizing about getting this all in front of the United States Supreme Court. That would also fail, because when you have literally no case, you automatically lose, even if the judges like you better. But it’s worth noting that the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up any of Trump’s cases today. With certification deadlines looming, he’s running out of time. All of this had literally zero chance of magically overturning the election result, but it’s going even more humiliatingly for Trump than even we were expecting.

Trump Watch

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 ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: How Misinformation ‘Superspreaders’ Seed False Election Theories, Sheera Frenkel, Nov. 23, 2020. Researchers have found that a small group of social media accounts are responsible for the spread of a disproportionate amount of the false posts about voter fraud.

eric trump djtOn the morning of Nov. 5, Eric Trump (shown at far right), one of the president’s sons, asked his Facebook followers to report cases of voter fraud with the hashtag, Stop the Steal. His post was shared over 5,000 times.

By late afternoon, the conservative media personalities Diamond and Silk had shared the hashtag along with a video claiming voter fraud in Pennsylvania. Their post was shared over 3,800 times.
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That night, the conservative activist Brandon Straka asked people to protest in Michigan under the banner #StoptheSteal. His post was shared more than 3,700 times.

Over the next week, the phrase “Stop the Steal” was used to promote dozens of rallies that spread false voter fraud claims about the U.S. presidential elections.

New research from Avaaz, a global human rights group, the Elections Integrity Partnership and The New York Times shows how a small group of people — mostly right-wing personalities with outsized influence on social media — helped spread the false voter-fraud narrative that led to those rallies.

facebook logoThat group, like the guests of a large wedding held during the pandemic, were “superspreaders” of misinformation around voter fraud, seeding falsehoods that include the claims that dead people voted, voting machines had technical glitches, and mail-in ballots were not correctly counted.

“Because of how Facebook’s algorithm functions, these superspreaders are capable of priming a discourse,” said Fadi Quran, a director at Avaaz. “There is often this assumption that misinformation or rumors just catch on. These superspreaders show that there is an intentional effort to redefine the public narrative.”

diamond and silk croppedAcross Facebook, there were roughly 3.5 million interactions — including likes, comments and shares — on public posts referencing “Stop the Steal” during the week of Nov. 3, according to the research. Of those, the profiles of Eric Trump, Diamond and Silk (shown at right) and Mr. Straka accounted for a disproportionate share — roughly 6 percent, or 200,000, of those interactions.

While the group’s impact was notable, it did not come close to the spread of misinformation promoted by President Trump since then. Of the 20 most-engaged Facebook posts over the last week containing the word “election,” all were from Mr. Trump, according to Crowdtangle, a Facebook-owned analytics tool. All of those claims were found to be false or misleading by independent fact checkers.

donald trump twitterThe baseless election fraud claims have been used by the president and his supporters to challenge the vote in a number of states. Reports that malfunctioning voting machines, intentionally miscounted mail-in votes and other irregularities affecting the vote were investigated by election officials and journalists who found no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

The voter fraud claims have continued to gather steam in recent weeks, thanks in large part to prominent accounts. A look at a four-week period starting in mid-October shows that President Trump and the top 25 superspreaders of voter fraud misinformation accounted for 28.6 percent of the interactions people had with that content, according to an analysis by Avaaz.

“What we see these people doing is kind of like setting a fire down with fuel, it is designed to quickly create a blaze,” Mr. Quran said. “These actors have built enough power they ensure this misinformation reaches millions of Americans.”

In order to find the superspreaders, Avaaz compiled a list of 95,546 Facebook posts that included narratives about voter fraud. Those posts were liked, shared or commented on nearly 60 million times by people on Facebook.

twitter bird CustomAvaaz found that just 33 of the 95,546 posts were responsible for over 13 million of those interactions. Those 33 posts had created a narrative that would go on to shape what millions of people thought about the legitimacy of the U.S. elections.

A spokesman for Facebook said the company had added labels to posts that misrepresented the election process and was directing people to a voting information center.

“We’re taking every opportunity to connect people to reliable information about the election and how votes are being counted,” said Kevin McAlister, a Facebook spokesman. The company has not commented on why accounts that repeatedly share misinformation, such as Mr. Straka’s and Diamond and Silk’s, have not been penalized. Facebook has previously said that President Trump, along with other elected officials, is granted a special status and is not fact-checked.

Many of the superspreader accounts had millions of interactions on their Facebook posts over the last month, and have enjoyed continued growth. The accounts were active on Twitter as well as Facebook, and increasingly spread the same misinformation on new social media sites like Parler, MeWe and Gab.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Why the far-right news outlets can’t beat Fox News at its game, Paul Waldman, Nov. 23, 2020. President Trump’s most devoted paul waldmansupporters have had it with the liberally biased news media. But now, the outlet they’re abandoning isn’t CNN or the New York Times or The Post. It’s Fox News.

Many seem to be heading to Newsmax, which used to be a network characterized by cheap production values and elaborate conspiracy theories, but is now characterized by cheap production values, elaborate conspiracy theories — and rapidly growing ratings. Others seem to be gravitating to One America News, the even nuttier cable news alternative that has long been a Trump favorite. Meanwhile, some Trumpists fed up with Twitter — another of Trump’s targets — have been decamping for Parler, where right-wingers are free to say almost anything they please without moderation.

fox news logo SmallBut as a political project, they’re limited in one important way. Conservatives are very good at raising a stink, and news organizations often respond by changing their coverage. But it only works if those in the mainstream are aware of what’s being said on the right. You can’t pressure someone who is barely aware you exist.

Which is part of the power of Fox News: It’s watched by most Republicans in official Washington, and what happens there is injected into the mainstream conversation. The same congressman who watches Fox News in his office later goes on ABC News and repeats what he heard.

 

djt as chosen one

President Trump is shown in an idealized graphic created when he described himself during his campaign as "The Chosen One."

 washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: Giuliani keeps peddling debunked falsehoods on behalf of Trump, Glenn Kessler, Nov. 23, 2020. Trump campaign tries to invalidate thousands of votes as Wisconsin recount gets underway,

“Want evidence of fraud. In 70% of Wayne County, Detroit, there were PHANTOM VOTERS. There were more votes than registered voters. 120%, 150%, 200%, even 300%.”

Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, in a tweet on Nov. 22

Want evidence that the Trump legal team is not serious? When the top lawyer tweets out information that has already been thoroughly debunked, even in the conservative media.

The Facts

During Giuliani’s news conference on Thursday, he made similar claims about overvotes, which he said signaled many people voted twice.

“The overvote was so high, monstrously high in about two-thirds of the precincts in the city of Detroit, which means, magically, two and three times the number of registered voters turned out to vote,” he declared. “In fact, we have precincts in which two times the number of people who live there, including children, voted. That’s absurd.”

But the next day, Power Line, a conservative website, pointed out something very odd about the affidavit that made this claim. (It had been filed in a Georgia court case that has since been dismissed by a federal judge.) Under a blog post titled “Do Trump’s lawyers know what they are doing?” Power Line pointed out that the precincts that were listed in the affidavit were from Minnesota, not Michigan.

Someone had apparently mixed up two states that started with “Mi.” The precincts were not in Wayne County but in some of the reddest parts of Minnesota — Trump country.

That’s a pretty big error — one that the lawyer who filed the affidavit, L. Lin Wood, acknowledged in an email to PolitiFact. “We are imperfect,” he said.

Our colleague Aaron Blake further dug into the data and found that even in those Minnesota precincts, the data in the affidavit was off. Minnesota has same-day registration and very high turnout rates. Blake determined that the number of voters matched the number of votes cast. He speculated that the affidavit might have been relying upon incomplete “estimated voters” data from the Minnesota secretary of state in the days after the election.

washington post logoWashington Post, In last-gasp maneuver, Trump campaign tries to invalidate thousands of votes as Wisconsin recount gets underway, Rosalind S. Helderman and Dan Simmons, Nov. 23, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump’s campaign is seeking to use a recount of the presidential election in Wisconsin to attempt to invalidate tens of thousands of votes in the state, making sweeping challenges to whole categories of ballots cast in the state’s two Democratic-leaning counties in his last-gasp effort to reverse President-elect Joe Biden’s win.

wisconsin map with largest cities CustomAs a recount began on Friday in Dane and Milwaukee counties — home to the cities of Madison and Milwaukee — Trump lawyers argued that officials should not merely retabulate all the votes cast in the Nov. 3 election to reconfirm they’d been counted properly.

Instead, they argued that large batches of ballots had been improperly accepted and counted in the first place. In both Dane and Milwaukee, they sought to disqualify all absentee ballots that had been cast before Election Day in person, rather than by mail.

So far, their efforts have been rejected by the Democratic-majority boards of canvasses in both counties, which have denied attempts to set aside large categories of ballots and instead proceeded to a slow-moving process to retabulate all the votes.

The recount must conclude no later than Dec. 1, when the election is scheduled to be certified. At that point, the president’s campaign could file a lawsuit over its rejected challenges — potentially delaying certification.

 djt tump int hotel

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative commentary: Has the Trump International Hotel been bugged by Trump and his associates? Wayne Madsen, left, Nov. 23, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Small2020. While Donald Trump has continually lambasted the FBI for wiretapping his Trump Tower in New York -- legally authorized by court orders as a result of the amount of organized crime activity taking place there -- there is evidence that he had at least one condominium wayne madesen report logooutfitted with audio and video bugs during its use by contestants on Trump's NBC reality show, "The Apprentice."

Moreover, there are fears being expressed from informed quarters that Trump has been blackmailing individuals who have stayed at his Trump International Hotel, located in the Old Post Office building, on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: What line did Sidney Powell cross that Rudy Giuliani didn’t? Philip Bump, Nov. 23, 2020. Ridiculous claims and embarrassing behavior are clearly acceptable. So what wasn't?

sidney powellThere’s no question that, at least at one point, Sidney Powell, right, was part of President Trump’s legal team as he pushed to overturn the will of the voters and earn a second consecutive term as president.

Trump himself had touted her involvement in his “truly great team.” She was one of three attorneys who spoke during last week’s wild, overheated campaign news conference in which the “elite strike force” (as one member described them) delineated a wide-ranging and obviously hollow case for how Trump had somehow been wronged. Afterward, both Trump and the Republican Party shared snippets of her arguments.

Between then and Sunday afternoon, though, the relationship between Powell and the president soured. Rudolph W. Giuliani, who has served as Trump’s personal attorney since last year, released a statement effectively slicing Powell out of the strike force. Something that Powell had done crossed some sort of line, and out she went, with the statement’s language leaving open the possibility that the remaining team might try to claim that Powell had never been formally representing Trump’s interests.

So what happened?

Powell did do two things that Giuliani avoided, however.

The first was that she implied the involvement of Republican elected officials in her delineated conspiracy theory. The other obvious failure on Powell’s part was that she was unable to give Fox News adequate cover to present her claims uncritically.

Nov. 22

ny times logoNew York Times, Judge Dismisses Trump Lawsuit Seeking to Delay Certification in Pennsylvania, Alan Feuer, Nov. 22, 2020 (print ed.). In a scathing order, a federal judge rejected the Trump campaign’s claim of widespread improprieties with mail-in ballots, removing a major legal hurdle to certifying Joseph R. Biden’s Jr.’s victory there. A federal judge in Pennsylvania dismissed on Saturday night a lawsuit by the Trump campaign that had claimed there were widespread improprieties with mail-in ballots in the state, ending the last major effort to delay the certification of Pennsylvania’s vote results, which is scheduled to take place Monday.

In a scathing order, Judge Matthew W. Brann wrote that Mr. Trump’s campaign, which had asked him to effectively disenfranchise nearly seven million voters, should have come to court “armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption” in its efforts to essentially nullify the results of Pennsylvania’s election.

matthew brannBut instead, Judge Brann, right, complained, the Trump campaign provided only “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations” that were “unsupported by evidence.”

The lawsuit, filed on Nov. 9, accused Pennsylvania’s secretary of state, Kathy Boockvar, and several counties with largely Democratic populations of unfairly handling mail-in ballots, which were used in unprecedented numbers during this year’s election. The suit claimed that under Ms. Boockvar’s guidance, the Democratic counties gave voters who had submitted mail-in ballots with minor flaws an opportunity to “cure” or fix them while counties with mostly Republican populations did not alert voters about faulty ballots.

That, according to the campaign, violated the equal protections clause of the U.S. Constitution.

But Judge Brann rejected this argument, likening it to Frankenstein’s monster, which had been “haphazardly stitched together.” He ruled that the Trump campaign, lacking standing to make the claim, could not prove that it had suffered any harm if some counties, anticipating a deluge of mail-in ballots, helped their voters to file proper ballots while others did not.

“That some counties may have chosen to implement” Ms. Boockvar’s suggestions while others did not, “does not constitute an equal-protection violation,” Judge Brann wrote.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The disinformation system that Trump unleashed will outlast him. Here’s what reality-based journalists must do about it, Margaret Sullivan, Nov. 22, 2020. It’s time for journalism to stand for something — or lose its audience to the excitement of burgeoning lies.

President Trump didn’t create the media cesspool that he’ll bequeath to a troubled nation. He just made it exponentially worse — not only with his own constant lies but with his ability to spread the ugliness.

Just days ago, he tweeted out a debunked conspiracy theory that a company that makes voting machines had deleted millions of Trump votes. And though he — barring true disaster — will leave office in January, the widespread disinformation system that he fostered will live on.

Social media platforms, streaming “news” channels and innumerable websites will spew lies and conspiracy theories, and will keep weakening the foundation of reality that America’s democracy needs in order to function.

So what, if anything, can the reality-based press do to counter it?

I see three necessities.

First, be bolder and more direct than ever in telling it like it is. No more pussy-foooting or punch-pulling. No more of what’s been called “false equivalence” — giving equal weight to truth and lies in the name of fairness.

 

djt as chosen one

President Trump is shown in an idealized graphic created when he described himself during his campaign as "The Chosen One."

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump privately plots his next act — including a potential 2024 run, Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey, Nov. 22, 2020 (print ed.). In a nod to the reality that he is destined to leave office in January, the president is seriously contemplating life beyond the White House, telling advisers he wants to remain an omnipresent force in politics and the media.

President Trump would have the world falsely believe that he won the election and is preparing for a second term.

In private huddles and phone conversations, however, Trump has been discussing an entirely different next act: another presidential run in 2024.

In a nod to the reality that he is destined to leave office in January, the president is seriously contemplating life beyond the White House, telling advisers that he wants to remain an omnipresent force in politics and the media — perhaps by running for the White House again.

Trump has told confidants he could announce a 2024 campaign before the end of this year, which would immediately set up a potential rematch with President-elect Joe Biden.

Trump also has been exploring ways to make money for relatively little work, such as giving paid speeches to corporate groups or selling tickets to rallies. In addition, he may try to write a score-settling memoir of his time as president and appear on television, in a paid or unpaid capacity.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s attempt at unprecedented power grab runs into resistance from local and state Republicans, Toluse Olorunnipa, Amy B Wang and Chelsea Janes, Nov. 22, 2020 (print ed.). While some GOP officials have given credence to his baseless fraud claims, only a few have seemed willing to endorse a move to overturn the will of voters by appointing pro-Trump electors in states that President-elect Joe Biden won.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s post-presidency will be cluttered with potentially serious legal battles, Shayna Jacobs, Nov. 22, 2020 (print ed.). The swirl of criminal investigations and civil complaints stemming from his business activities and personal conduct could possibly prove more serious once he leaves office.

 

Nov. 21

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Projected U.S. Covid-19 Deaths by March 1 (based on current scenario: 470,974 U.S. Covid-19 deaths, Staff report, Nov. 21, 2020. Projected daily U.S. deaths at 1,695 by March 1, with 354,530 total U.S. deaths projected by Jan. 21.

djt handwave file

 

ny times logoNew York Times, After Trump Meeting, Michigan Lawmakers Say They’ll Honor State’s Vote, Kathleen Gray and Maggie Haberman, Nov. 21, 2020 (print ed.). A group of Michigan Republicans, after a meeting at the White House, said they would honor the count showing President-elect Joe Biden had won their state. Other political news: Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, tested positive for the coronavirus and has been isolating since Monday.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump suffers twin defeats in effort to reverse Biden’s victory in key states, Amy Gardner, Tom Hamburger and Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Nov. 21, 2020 (print ed.). Georgia officials certified President-elect Joe Biden’s slim victory there, and Michigan Republicans said after a White House meeting that they had learned nothing to warrant changing the outcome in their state.

President Trump received twin blows Friday to his effort to overturn his election defeat, with Georgia officials certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s slim victory there and Michigan Republicans declaring after a White House meeting that they had learned nothing to warrant reversing the outcome in their state.

american flag upside down distress“We will follow the law and follow the normal process regarding Michigan’s electors, just as we have said throughout this election,” Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R) and Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield (R) said in a joint statement issued late Friday.

The developments were a substantial setback for the president after the tumult of Thursday, when his lawyers held a news conference on Capitol Hill and made incendiary and false claims that Biden had rigged the election and proclaimed their intent to aggressively challenge the results.

Trump this week made an extraordinarily personal intervention in Michigan, where his lawyers hope to stall the state’s certification of the vote, set to be considered at a meeting Monday, and get the GOP-controlled legislature to appoint pro-Trump electors to the electoral college. Trump trails Biden in Michigan by about 156,000 votes.

But even after a personal invitation to the White House by the president, the state’s top two GOP lawmakers notably did not endorse his baseless claims of widespread fraud in the state and instead said they used the meeting to press Trump for more coronavirus relief funds.

washington post logoWashington Post, Anger builds in Black community over Trump’s unsupported claims of voter fraud in big cities, Ashley Nguyen, Kayla Ruble and Tim Craig, Nov. 21, 2020 (print ed.). Scholars and activists compared President Trump’s actions to the disenfranchisement of African Americans following the Civil War.

When Wisconsin Republicans opened an office earlier this year in the historical Bronzeville neighborhood, it was meant to be a physical symbol of President Trump's commitment to urban voters. Signs on the window declared "Black Voices Matter," and the address was on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

But on Friday, as state officials began recounting ballots in Milwaukee County at the request of Trump’s failed reelection campaign, the office had become, for many residents, a symbol of Republican hypocrisy.

“The president kept talking about Black voices mattering when he attempted to make inroads with the African American community,” said Cavalier Johnson, president of the Milwaukee Common Council. “Then he loses the election, and turns right around and targets the same communities that these Black folks came from.”

Johnson, who is Black, reflected deepening outrage over the president’s push for a recount, which some characterized as an attempt to disenfranchise Black voters in a desperate and chaotic bid to stay in power. Though Trump courted Black voters — and improved his showing over 2016 — he and his allies are now trying to deny President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in key battleground states by targeting ballots cast in heavily Black cities such as Philadelphia, Detroit, Atlanta and Milwaukee, arguing that these Democratic strongholds are hotbeds of fraud.

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

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Most Senate Republicans greet Trump’s push to overturn election with usual response: Silence, Paul Kane, Mike DeBonis, Paulina Firozi and Rachael Bade, Nov. 21, 2020 (print ed.). Three Republican senators criticized President Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results. The others responded with what has become their go-to reaction — nothing.

republican elephant logoTheir response, or lack of it, served to harden one of the party’s legacies of the Trump years: its complicit silence, which has not only made GOP lawmakers appear subservient to the president but has contributed to a notable shift in the party toward conspiracy theories and away from facts.

Only this time, their collective refusal to speak up comes at an unusually perilous moment for American democracy — as a president takes the unprecedented step of wielding the powers of his office to try to subvert the will of the voters.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump’s lawyers have lots of affidavits. That doesn’t mean as much as it seems, Aaron Blake, Nov. 21, 2020 (print ed.). At their news conference Thursday, President Trump’s lawyers implored reporters to take their thus-far-baseless allegations of massive voter fraud more seriously. And in the course of doing so, they repeatedly referred to the hundreds of affidavits they had assembled as genuine evidence of fraud.

“It’s your job to read these things and not falsely report that there’s no evidence,” said Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer.

But how much weight do these affidavits carry? And what is their true reliability?

The Trump campaign has repeatedly cited the hundreds of sworn affidavits it has assembled. It has even shown stacks of them to illustrate the supposed heft of its legal case. Many of them are not available because they haven’t been filed in actual lawsuits or made available publicly. (Giuliani cited the alleged targeting of their authors for keeping them obscured.)

But among the witnesses who have had their allegations aired in court, many have been dismissed by judges as inadmissible or not credible. One particularly high-profile one alleged many precincts in Michigan had more votes than actual voters, but shortly after Giuliani et al. raised the issue Thursday — alongside their pleas to take the affidavits seriously — it fell apart.

  • Washington Post, Michigan’s attorney general is considering criminal probes of state and local officials who bend to Trump’s will on overturning election results, Nov. 21, 2020 (print ed.).

washington post logoWashington Post, The Founders didn’t prepare for a president who refuses to step down, historians say, Gillian Brockell, Nov. 21, 2020. While President Trump continues to deny the results of the election, scholars warn there is nothing in the Constitution about what to do if he refuses to leave office. The framers never envisioned such a crisis.

President Trump continued Friday to deny the results of the election, pressuring state officials in Michigan and Georgia to overturn the will of voters, and increasing fears that he might refuse to cede power to President-elect Joe Biden.

But those looking to the nation’s Founders, or the Constitution they framed, for answers to such a crisis will come up empty-handed. There is nothing in the Constitution about what to do if a president refuses to step down when his term expires, according to three historians and a constitutional law professor.

World Crisis Radio, Scoundrel Time! Opinion: Autogolpe [coup against one's own government) Loses Some Momentum, but MAGA Fanatics Keep Trying, Webster G. webster tarpley 2007Tarpley, right, Nov. 21, 2020. Georgia Finally Certified for Biden with 16 Electoral Votes, but Fraudster Gov. Kemp is still Seeking to Filch Them; Michigan State Reps Visit Trump, and Do Not Openly Embrace His Coup Plan; Monday’s Meeting of State Canvassing Board in Lansing is Next Crucial Moment; Michigan AG Eyes Charges for Attempted Election Subversion.

US Government Faces Possible Government Shutdown and More Chaos on Dec. 11, with Moscow Mitch Once More the Culprit; Meadows Won’t Guarantee that Closure Can Be Averted; First-Time Jobless Claims Rise to 742,000, Still Depression Levels.

djt maga hatChristmas Cliff Looms for Sick and Needy, as Mnuchin Proclaims the End of Emergency Spending while Pandemic Rockets Ahead; Even Federal Reserve Wants to Spend More; No More Help for Self-Employed, Gig Workers; No More 13-Week Extension of Jobless Benefits; Eviction Freeze, Student Loan Forbearance, and Withdrawals from Retirement Accounts All Ending; Trump Gang from Super-Spreaders to Super-Scrooges.

Pompeo Meets Taliban to Press for Less Afghan Violence at Appeasement Talks in Qatar Just After 8 Die in Kabul Mortar Attacks; European Leaders in US-Led Coalition Warn that Trump’s Plan to Run for the Exits is Fraught with Peril.

The Lazy Putschist: Trump Flees Pandemic Discussion at Virtual G-20 Conference to Goof Off on Golf Links while Nation Suffers; This Negates His Oath to Promote the General Welfare and Should Force Him Out of Office; Show Him the American People Are More Teed Off than He Is! Seventy-Five Years Ago, the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials – Still Applicable Today.

Nov. 20

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump uses power of presidency to try to overturn the election, Philip Rucker, Amy Gardner and Josh Dawsey, Nov. 20, 2020 (print ed.). The president is orchestrating a far-reaching pressure campaign to persuade Republican officials in Michigan, Georgia and elsewhere to overturn the will of voters, who chose President-elect Joe Biden.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Trump Attempts to Overturn Election Are Unparalleled in U.S. History, David E. Sanger, Nov. 20, 2020 (print ed.). The president’s push to prevent states from certifying electors and get legislators to override voters’ will is an audacious use of brute political force.

Mr. Trump’s chances of succeeding are somewhere between remote and impossible, and a sign of his desperation after President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. won by nearly six million popular votes and counting, as well as a clear Electoral College margin. Yet the fact that Mr. Trump is even trying has set off widespread alarms, not least in Mr. Biden’s camp.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: Trump is past exploring legal options. He’s using lies and chicanery to try to undo his defeat, Editorial Board, Nov. 20, 2020 (print ed.). Day by day, President Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of a free and fair election grow more brazen. Day by day, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other so-called leaders of the Republican Party grow more complicit in this banana-republic style assault on democracy.

As one Trump court challenge after another fails, it is easy to dismiss his claims that the election was “stolen” as nothing but a public relations stunt. Not a harmless stunt, to be sure; he is guaranteeing that millions of Americans will see President-elect Joe Biden as less than legitimate and their own democratic system as corrupt. But a stunt, nonetheless. Watching the latest ravings of campaign lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, who on Thursday posited with no evidence whatsoever a series of increasingly wild conspiracy theories, it was possible to feel any number of emotions: pity, fury, astonishment. But nothing in his unhinged performance would lead a serious person to fear that the election results were in danger of being voided in court.

But it is a different matter entirely when the president intervenes directly in an effort to persuade state officials to overturn the voting results. This is what Mr. Trump is now doing. Having lost an election by a decisive margin, and then having lost one legal challenge to that result after another, he is now strong-arming local Republicans to simply ignore and override the results.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden paints Trump as reckless as Pence and science advisers cheer vaccine news, Anne Gearan and Seung Min Kim, Nov. 20, 2020 (print ed.). At dueling public events, the president-elect and the White House offered starkly different views of Trump’s pandemic response.

President Trump will be remembered as one of the nation's most reckless leaders for holding up cooperation on the deadly coronavirus pandemic after losing his bid for reelection, President-elect Joe Biden said Thursday.

At the White House, Vice President Pence tried to apply a veneer of calm to a tumultuous outgoing administration as he and federal health officials held what has become a rare public discussion of the federal government’s efforts to address the pandemic.

In Wilmington and in Washington on Thursday, the two events provided a split screen of sorts illuminating the challenges confronting the incoming administration on the most immediate crisis it faces. The events also showed the extent to which the Trump administration is ignoring the reality that in just two months there will be a change of power at the White House.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden brushes aside Trump attempts to overturn the election, confident his win will stand, Michael Scherer and Matt Viser, Nov. 20, 2020 (print ed.). President-elect Joe Biden tried Thursday to minimize as an irresponsible distraction the ever-escalating attempts by President Trump and his allies to undermine or overturn the presidential election results.

djt biden resized smilesThe decision reflected confidence among Biden’s advisers that Trump’s maneuverings — from pushing Michigan Republicans to block certification of the results to unfounded claims that U.S. voting machine software had been tampered with by allies of the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez — were little more than public spectacle aimed at satisfying Trump’s sense of grievance with no chance of overturning the vote.

“It’s hard to fathom how this man thinks. It’s hard to fathom,” Biden told reporters in Wilmington, Del. “I am confident he knows he hasn’t won and he’s not going to be able to win, and we’re going to be sworn in on Jan. 20.”

Biden said he did not plan any new legal moves in response to Trump’s latest efforts, but also did not rule out taking action against the General Services Administration at a future date to force a belated recognition of his presidential transition. The GSA, following Trump’s dictate, has refused to allow the traditional exchange of information with the incoming administration, even blocking intelligence and pandemic briefings.

“Hang on. I’m on my way,” Biden said, after being asked what he would tell people concerned by Trump’s efforts to question the results. “That’s what I say to them. Not a joke.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Rudy Giuliani made accusations of fraud that the Trump team has failed to support in court, Alan Feuer and Linda Qiu, Nov. 20, 2020 (print ed.). At a rambling news conference on Thursday, Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, mixed misleading statements, wild conspiracy theories and outright fabrications as he attempted to suggest that Mr. Trump still had a viable pathway to winning the election.

Over and over again, Mr. Giuliani and other members of the president’s legal team suggested that Mr. Trump had evidence to prove that “massive fraud” had been committed in swing states across the country. But Mr. Giuliani himself had undercut that accusation in one high-profile case, telling the federal judge overseeing a suit in Pennsylvania, “This is not a fraud case.”

Mr. Giuliani, speaking at the Republican National Committee’s headquarters in Washington, claimed that Mr. Trump would prevail in the election if only he could get his day in front of a judge.

“Give us a chance to prove it in court and we will,” he said.

The problem? In many of the instances that Mr. Giuliani mentioned, the Trump campaign has already had its chance in court — and failed.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: No, judges don’t overturn elections because of isolated irregularities, Jeremy W. Peters, Nov. 20, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump’s approach to challenging the election has been scattershot and contradictory, as his campaign demands that courts stop ballots from being counted in certain places while insisting that a more thorough review is necessary in other places.

Confusing as it may seem, essentially his goal is this: to get judges to invalidate the results in enough counties and states so that President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s lead disappears.

Would judges ever actually do that?

They have before, though never on the scale that the president and his legal team is attempting. There are numerous examples going back hundreds of years in the United States when courts have been asked to toss out the results of elections on the local, state and federal levels. Losing candidates have prevailed for a variety of reasons: because the court determined that the count was off, or that inconsistent standards were applied in processing ballots, or even that there was voter fraud.

But these cases are the exception. And election law experts said that judges have set the bar extremely high. It’s not enough to claim — or even prove — that irregularities occurred. The irregularities have to be significant enough to change the outcome of the race, which is extraordinarily rare.

“The prevailing view today is that courts should not invalidate election results because of problems unless it is shown that the problems were of such magnitude to negate the validity of which candidate prevailed,” said Edward B. Foley, director of election law at Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law. This is inherently difficult to do, he added, given how hard it is to provide evidence that disputed ballots were cast in favor of a particular candidate.

Nov. 19

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump tries delaying count to cast doubt on Biden win, Amy Gardner, Robert Costa, Rosalind S. Helderman and Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Nov. 19, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump has abandoned his plan to win reelection by disqualifying enough ballots to reverse President-elect Joe Biden’s wins in key battleground states, pivoting instead to a goal that appears equally unattainable: delaying a final count long enough to cast doubt on Biden’s decisive victory.

On Wednesday, Trump’s campaign wired $3 million to election officials in Wisconsin to start a recount in the state’s two largest counties. His personal lawyer, ­Rudolph W. Giuliani, who has taken over the president’s legal team, asked a federal judge to consider ordering the Republican-controlled legislature in Pennsylvania to select the state’s electors. And Trump egged on a group of GOP lawmakers in Michigan who are pushing for an audit of the vote there before it is certified.

Giuliani has also told Trump and associates that his ambition is to pressure GOP lawmakers and officials across the political map to stall the vote certification in an effort to have Republican lawmakers pick electors and disrupt the electoral college when it convenes next month — and Trump is encouraging of that plan, according to two senior Republicans who have conferred with Giuliani and spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the matter candidly.

But that outcome appears impossible. It is against the law in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin law gives no role to the legislature in choosing presidential electors, and there is little public will in other states to pursue such a path.

Behind the thin legal gambit is what several Trump advisers say is his real goal: sowing doubt in Biden’s victory with the president’s most ardent supporters and keeping alive his prospects for another presidential run in 2024.

The shift in strategy comes after the president has suffered defeat after defeat in courtrooms around the country. And it serves as a tacit acknowledgment that Trump has failed to muster evidence to support his unfounded claims about widespread fraud.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The recount in Georgia is going quite well for Trump. He’s still complaining. He’s still losing, Philip Bump, Nov. 19, 2020 (print ed.). The review of votes cast narrowed Joe Biden's lead, but not enough.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: We need a commission on voter suppression in 2020, Jennifer Rubin, right, Nov. 19, 2020 (print ed.). An jennifer rubin new headshotattempt to disenfranchise Detroit voters by two Republicans members of the Wayne County, Mich., Board of Canvassers failed Tuesday, thanks in large part to a Zoom conference that allowed the public to observe their antics. Slate’s Ben Mathis-Lilley writes on the episode:

“[Board chair Monica Palmer] made something of a misstep by trying to block Detroit’s votes but not those tallied in nearby Livonia, which has a much whiter population, even after it had been noted during the meeting that Livonia’s numbers included the same kinds of small inconsistencies that were purportedly at issue. . . .

For his part, Republican canvassing board member William Hartmann has spent the last decade-plus filling his Facebook account with images of Barack Obama caricatured as a toothless, cigarette-smoking bum and hustler.

Fortunately all of this failed to go over with the members of the public, many of them Black, who spoke directly to Palmer and Hartmann during the comment period before they reversed their position. Palmer and Hartmann were lectured about the vote-counting process and told repeatedly they were embarrassing their state in what was sure to be a losing effort.”

It is moments like this that suggest we need a top-to-bottom evaluation of the 2020 election, including the conduct of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy; Attorney General William P. Barr’s decision to change Justice Department protocol in the investigation of voting fraud allegations; state efforts to block early voting; state rules preventing ballots to be processed in advance of Election Day; and pressure applied to local election officials such as Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Throw in as well a deep dive into social media treatment of disinformation and the frivolous lawsuits from the Trump campaign.

Such a commission should interview public servants such as Christopher Krebs, who was fired from his position as head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency; the 16 U.S. attorneys and assistant U.S. attorneys who determined there was no pattern of fraud in the election; and local and state officials, lawmakers and nonpartisan groups who saw the good, the bad and the ugly. We need to come up with reliable, factual data to serve as the basis for expert recommendations designed to maximize voter participation, election security and public confidence in the results.

Some of the results and recommendations might include criminal referrals for anyone who made false statements under oath or interfered in vote tabulation. Findings would also provide the basis for proposals to change state and federal voting laws to prevent voter intimidation, foot-dragging and conspiracies theories that thwart popular will. We may need laws to prohibit conduct that plainly attempted to impede a free and fair election.

rudy giuliani nov 19 2020

American System TV, Opinion; Scoundrel Time! Trump’s Multi-State Attempt to Steal Electoral Votes and Stage Coup for Dictatorship Descends Into Theatre of the Absurd with Deranged Press webster tarpley 2007Conference by Giuliani (above) and Friends, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Nov. 19, 2020. Allegations of Plot to Falsify Outcome with Rigged Voting Machines Bought with “Communist Money”; Plan Targets Democratic Cities with Black Majorities; Demand is Still that State Legislatures Junk Popular Votes and Choose Slates of MAGA Toadies as Electors; Grotesque Proceedings Make “Ghouliani” and His Claim of Win into Laughingstock.

After Dropping Lawsuits in Michigan, Trump Invites GOP Legislature Reps Chatfield and Shirkey to White House Friday in Open Conspiracy to Subvert Legal Nov. 3 Vote; Don Also Convinced Two Wayne County GOP Hacks to Recant Their Votes to Certify Votes There, but Secretary of State Rules It’s too Late; Trump’s Arizona Lawsuits Also Ended; Alexandria Ocasio Cortez officialIn Pennsylvania, House Orders “Audit” of Election Returns.

Biden Confers with Bipartisan Group of Ten Governors, Pledging Necessary Aid to States; Says that Legal Action May Take Too Long to Be Relevant, But Does Not Rule It Out; Pledges No National Shutdown.

Far From the Battlefield, AOC [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, left], is already Protesting Fellow Dems When Maximum Unity against Fascism is Imperative.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Did Joe Biden just pull a fast one? Bill Palmer, rigth, Nov. 19, 2020. Earlier this week the media reported that Joe Biden bill palmerwas privately lamenting about not wanting to have to criminally prosecute Donald Trump, even while making clear that he would let the DOJ handle it and not interfere in any way. It’s a non-story, both because Biden won’t be involved in the DOJ’s decisions about federal charges, and because Trump is likely to get hit with state charges in New York first anyway. But it nonetheless set off a firestorm.

At first I thought Biden was simply leaking this particular lament because he wanted to position himself as being above the fray, and therefore make sure that the DOJ’s inevitable prosecution of Trump doesn’t look partisan. But today it finally hit me.

bill palmer report logo headerFor the past ten days since Biden was declared the winner, Palmer Report has been pointing out that the real story with Trump is that he’s now facing prison and bankruptcy. It’s been really irksome that the mainstream media is still hung up on fantasies about Trump launching a media venture or running in 2024, when in reality he’ll be in prison by then. I’ve been wondering how many weeks or months it would take for the media to finally shift gears and acknowledge that Trump is done for.

But now that Biden has leaked his lament about wishing he didn’t have to prosecute Trump, the mainstream media is suddenly spending portions of every day talking about the criminal liability that Trump faces. It’s finally prompted the media to shift gears and joe biden ostart acknowledging that Trump is looking at federal prison, state prison, litigation, you name it. It’s taking Trump’s legs out from under him, because once the public is aware that Trump has no leverage when it comes to where he goes next, it shatters Trump’s narrative that he’s somehow in the driver’s seat.

Did Joe Biden just pull a fast one? As a result of his leak about not wanting to prosecute Trump, suddenly the national conversation is about Trump being prosecuted, instead of Trump leaving on a magic carpet. If Biden had leaked that he did want to prosecute Trump, that wouldn’t have worked, because the media would have just criticized him for being too brazen about it. But as it’s playing out, Biden’s leak has resulted in the media finally acknowledging that Trump is backed into a corner on criminal charges.

Keep in mind that Joe Biden has been on the political stage for nearly fifty years. He knows how the media works. He knows how narratives work. Did Biden just get lucky, or did he purposely leak this in order to goad the media into turning toward the real narrative? Biden is a lot savvier than some people give him credit for.

Nov. 16

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ny times logoNew York Times, Trump, Trying to Cling to Power, Fans Unrest and Conspiracies, Michael D. Shear, Nov. 16, 2020 (print ed.). The president’s refusal to concede has entered a more dangerous phase as he blocks his successor’s transition, withholding intelligence briefings, pandemic information and access to the government.

joe biden oMore than a week after President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. was declared the winner, Mr. Trump continues to block his successor’s transition, withholding intelligence briefings, critical information about the coronavirus pandemic and access to the vast machinery of government that Mr. Biden will soon oversee.

Some former top advisers to Mr. Trump have said that his refusal to cooperate is reckless and unwise. John F. Kelly, Mr. Trump’s former chief of staff, called it “crazy” on Friday. John R. Bolton, the president’s former national security adviser who wrote a scathing memoir about his time in the administration, said the refusal “harms the country.”

john bolton hands up uncredited Custom“Every day that he delays under the pretense that he’s simply asking for his legal remedies ultimately is to the country’s disadvantage,” Mr. Bolton (shown at right in a file photo) said on ABC’s “This Week” program on Sunday morning.

The president’s attempt to cling to power played out against a backdrop of protests by Trump supporters and opponents late Saturday, with sporadic clashes near the White House. The police arrested 21 people as one protester was stabbed and four officers were injured. Rather than seek to calm tensions, Mr. Trump lashed out.

“ANTIFA SCUM ran for the hills,” he posted on Twitter on Saturday as he urged the police to move in aggressively. “DC Police, get going — do your job and don’t hold back!!!”

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: The Cities Accused in Fraud Conspiracies Didn’t Cost Trump the Election, Emily Badger, Nov. 16, 2020. Yet Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Detroit have become the targets of G.O.P. allegations of voting shenanigans.

President Donald Trump officialThat these three cities would become the chief sites of Republican claims of fraud in this election is unsurprising. All three are heavily Democratic. They have large African-American populations. And in their respective states, they have long been targets of racialized charges of corruption.

But in one revealing way, the fixation this year is misplaced. All three cities voted pretty much the same way they did in 2016. Turnout barely budged, relative to other areas in these states. Joseph R. Biden Jr. saw no remarkable surge in support — certainly nothing that would bolster claims of ballot stuffing or tampered vote tallies. Mr. Trump even picked up marginally more votes this year in all three cities than he did four years ago.

Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Detroit, in other words, were not decisive in explaining why the Northern battleground states flipped from Mr. Trump four years ago to Mr. Biden in 2020. Voters outside of these cities made the difference.

 Michigan thugs yell State Sen. Dayna Polehanki

Anti-Government Protesters at Michigan's State Capitol on April 30, 2020.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump coronavirus adviser tells Michigan to ‘rise up’ against new shutdown orders, Katie Shepherd, Nov. 16, 2020. I’m not going to be bullied into not following reputable scientists and medical professionals,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) responded.

On Sunday, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) announced a three-week “pause to save lives,” closing colleges, high schools, workplaces and in-person dining as new coronavirus cases have spiked.

scott atlas resized After she appealed to the Trump administration to intervene in the pandemic, White House coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas responded with a call to action. But instead of supporting Whitmer’s efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus in Michigan, he urged residents to reject the state’s public health guidelines.

“The only way this stops is if people rise up,” Atlas said in a tweet Sunday night, which quoted a reporter who had shared information about Whitmer’s new restrictions. “You get what you accept. #FreedomMatters #StepUp.”

gretchen whitmer o horizontal Custom

Critics immediately condemned Atlas’s “rise up” rhetoric, which mirrored President Trump’s previous calls to “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” and statements that correlated “tyranny” with the pandemic restrictions put in place by Whitmer, who was the target of an alleged kidnapping plot that was thwarted last month. The suspects said they planned the attack because the Michigan governor was a “tyrant b----,” according to the FBI.

Whitmer responded to Atlas’s tweet Sunday night on CNN, where she defended the three-week pause that resembles the stay-at-home orders issued in many cities and states early in the pandemic.

“We know that the White House likes to single us out here in Michigan, me out in particular,” Whitmer told CNN. “I’m not going to be bullied into not following reputable scientists and medical professionals.”

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) also slammed Atlas, calling the tweet “disappointing, irresponsible, and the reason why the United States finds itself in such desperate circumstances regarding COVID-19.” She said the opposition to restrictions would lead to more coronavirus cases and deaths.

washington post logodjt hands up mouth open CustomWashington Post, Analysis: The ending of Trump’s presidency echoes the beginning — with a lie, Ashley Parker, Nov. 16, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump’s term is poised to come full circle in myriad ways, from a consistent lack of strategic vision to his enduring efforts to delegitimize his political rivals, whoever they might be.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker: Giuliani’s fantasy parade of false voter-fraud claims, Glenn Kessler, Nov. 16, 2020. In interviews with sympathetic Fox News hosts, former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, right, has made several wild claims alleging that election fraud and malfeasance was responsible for Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election.

rudy giuliani recentHis claims have been echoed in weekend tweets by President Trump, accusing a software company of somehow manipulating the vote in favor of Biden. These presidential tweets have been flagged by Twitter as misleading.

Moreover, this nonsense has already been debunked by Trump’s own government. In a statement issued Nov. 12, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, an arm of the Department of Homeland Security, and partners such as the National Association of Secretaries of State declared: “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”

That sentence was posted in boldface, just to make it clear. The statement added: “While we know there are many unfounded claims and opportunities for misinformation about the process of our elections, we can assure you we have the utmost confidence in the security and integrity of our elections, and you should too. When you have questions, turn to elections officials as trusted voices as they administer elections.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump is putting this country through something unprecedented. Here are three scenarios, Fred Hiatt (Post editorial page editor), Nov. 16, 2020 (print ed.).

Scenario 1: President Trump is trying to overturn the results of a freely conducted election.
Scenario 2: Trump knows he has lost and must leave office Jan. 20, but he is salting the soil to make governing impossible for Biden while preparing his own political and financial comeback.
Scenario 3: Trump has no plan but is lashing out in anger and disbelief that he could have lost an election.

washington post logoWashington Post, Election Live Updates: Biden delivers address on the economy as Trump refuses to concede, Staff reports, Nov. 16, 2020. Reps. Cheri Bustos, Tim Walberg test positive for coronavirus; Reps. Mark Pocan, Debbie Lesko quarantining; Wisconsin says recount would cost Trump campaign $7.9 million; Delaware is famous for corporations, chemicals, chickens — and now, finally, a president.

President-elect Joe Biden spoke with business and labor leaders and then delivered an address about the economy and his “build back better” plan. He said coordination between his team and President Trump’s administration is key as vaccine development progresses and the question of distribution looms, while Trump continued to refuse to acknowledge his loss.

Former president Barack Obama, in a “60 Minutes” interview broadcast Sunday, urged Trump to “put the country first” and concede.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has called for oil and gas firms to pick spots where they’d like to drill on Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as it races to open the pristine wilderness to development and lock in drilling rights before Biden takes office.

Nov. 14

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: The Whole World Is Watching: Will It Be Wag the Dog against Iran, 'Autogolpe' (Coup against one's own government), or webster tarpley 2007Legal Transfer of Power to Biden? Webster G. Tarpley, right,Nov. 14, 2020. Destiny of 330 Million Americans Might Now Depend on the Whim of One Mentally Troubled Adventurer; By Acting as Accessories, Republican Party Has Earned Extinction – Let’s Make Sure that They Get It, Starting in Georgia on January 5!

Decapitated US Government Leaves Window of Vulnerability Wide Open on World Stage; Pompeo Eyed with Suspicion by emmanuel macronFrench President Macron, left, Who Promises to Keep Biden Informed of All that Transpires in Monday Meeting; French Views Reflect Recent Terror Attacks by Jihadis; Pompeo’s Visit to Israel Prepared by Veteran Neocon Warmonger Eliot Abrams.

Trump Fanatics Gather in DC’s Freedom Plaza (Capacity 15,000); Few Elected Officials Present Reportedly Include One QAnon Fanatic from Georgia; Not Enough for Coup; Trump Makes Perfunctory Drive-By Cameo Appearance but No Rousing Speech, then Hurries Off to Play Golf; Energy Level Falling; Anti-Trump Forces Wisely Declined Provocation.

One Week After Associated Press Called Election for Biden, Concern Grows of Threat of Public Health Chaos due to Failure to Ascertain Him as Victor; Trump’s GSA Overseer Emily Murphy, Now Sabotaging Transition, Has Been Faulted for Misleading Congress on Trump Hotel and New FBI Headquarters Issues.

Is Time for New 1776 or Rather a New 1865, which Was Already the Second American Revolution? From Mussolini’s March on Rome in October 1922 to the Pathos of the “Million MAGA March”: The First Time as Tragedy, the Second Time as Farce!

Miami Herald, Investigation: FBI wanted to arrest Epstein while he was judging a beauty pageant. The plan was overruled, Ben Wieder and Kevin G. Hall, Nov. 14, miami herald logo2020. A Justice Department look-back report into its abortive 2008 prosecution of Jeffrey Epstein found that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had planned to arrest Jeffrey Epstein in May 2007, but pulled back after the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, led by former Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, frowned on the plan.

The report also concludes that Epstein wasn’t assisting the federal government in prosecuting Wall Street traders behind the collapse of investment bank Bear Stearns or serving as an “intelligence asset,” long rumored to be reasons for his notoriously lenient treatment.

That determination raises questions about an FBI document that seems to identify Epstein as providing information to the bureau.

Buried in a 350-page report by the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) — obtained by McClatchy and the Miami Herald — are references to a story that said Epstein was given a lighter sentence and avoided federal prosecution because he cooperated with authorities on other matters.

jeffrey epstein sex offenderThat was an “urban myth” federal prosecutor Ann Marie Villafaña told her superiors at the time, according to the new DOJ report, which said it found no evidence that he was a government witness.

It would seem at odds with a declassified FBI document, dated Sept. 18, 2008, in which the agency was closing out a forfeiture proceeding as part of a deal that allowed Epstein to be prosecuted on the state level and avoid more severe punishment by federal prosecutors.

“Epstein has also provided information to the FBI as agreed upon. Case agent advised that no federal prosecution will occur in this matter as long as Epstein continues to uphold his agreement with the State of Florida,” reads the declassified document. The document cited Epstein and child prostitution.

The document has led to the view that Epstein served as an informant. The OPR report, whose executive summary was made public Thursday, does not rule out that possibility but said it found no evidence of that status in relation to the Florida prosecution.

The report found that Acosta exercised poor judgment in reaching a non-prosecution agreement with Epstein, an agreement that allowed a more lenient state prosecution instead. It also faulted Acosta for failing to ensure that Epstein’s victims would be notified of developments in the case. Epstein would go on to plead guilty in June 2008 to two solicitation counts, one involving a minor, in Florida state court and serve 13 months in the private wing of the Palm Beach County stockade, allowed to leave and work from his West Palm Beach office up to 12 hours a day, six days a week.

perversion of justice miami herald logoThe report shows that Villafaña, a federal prosecutor in the West Palm Beach office of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Southern Florida, submitted an 82-page prosecution memorandum on May 1, 2007, for her superiors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Acosta, proposing a 60-count indictment against Epstein for sex crimes against minors.

In a statement to the Herald on Thursday, she hinted at how she was thwarted and expressed disappointment the Justice Department didn’t publicly release the full document.

The Herald and McClatchy later obtained the full report, and it shows she planned to file charges by May 15, 2007, and the FBI had been hoping to arrest Epstein soon after at a beauty pageant in the Virgin Islands, where Epstein was serving as a judge, a fact first published by NBC News.

But Villafaña’s superiors in the Southern District of Florida, notably Jeffrey Sloman, Acosta’s top deputy, and Matthew Menchel, the chief of the office’s criminal division, pushed back on her efforts to file charges, arguing that they needed more time to evaluate her sentencing memorandum and wondering why she was in a “rush.” Sloman could not immediately be reached by the Herald.

Villafaña told the report’s authors that her reasons for wanting to rush were to prevent Epstein from abusing more girls.

Background: JIP Editor's Note: The Miami Herald published a multi-part investigative project — "Perversion of Justice" — on Nov. 28 reporting how top officials gave a sweetheart deal to billionairre perversion of justice miami herald logomiami herald logopervert Jeffrey Epstein, a friend of future President Trump and past president Clinton, along with a promise not to investigate Epstein's friends and accomplices in a ring allegedly involving hundreds sex victims, many of them high school and junior high schoolers.

The Justice Integrity Project also has extensively covered this case, Jeffrey Epstein (shown below at right), and his enablers, who include prominent prosecutors and other lawyers, including President Trump's Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta.

Jeffrey Epstein Harvard University But this Miami Herald series goes far beyond all previous news reports, which now number in the hundreds. The Herald credited reporter Julie K. Brown and visual producer Emily Michot with the series. The Herald obtained thousands of FBI and court records, lawsuits, and witness depositions, and went to federal court in New York to access sealed documents in the reporting of "Perversion of Justice." The Herald also tracked down more than 60 women who said they were victims, some of whom had never spoken of the abuse before.. 

Miami Herald, Perversion of Justice: A decade before #MeToo, a multimillionaire sex offender from Florida got the ultimate break, Investigative project, Nov. 28, 2018.

    • Part One: How a future Trump Cabinet member gave a serial sex abuser the deal of a lifetime
    • Part Two: Cops worked to put serial sex abuser in prison. Prosecutors worked to cut him a break
    • Part Three: Even from jail, sex abuser manipulated the system. His victims were kept in the dark
    • Interactive: Sex abuser Jeffrey Epstein was surrounded by powerful people. Here’s a sampling
    • Timeline: For years, Jeffrey Epstein abused teen girls, police say. A timeline of his case
    • Overview: How Miami Herald journalists investigated Jeffrey Epstein

djt as chosen one

President Trump is shown in an idealized graphic created when he described himself during his campaign as "The Chosen One."

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump, from motorcade, greets hundreds of supporters gathered in D.C. to falsely claim he won election, Emily Davies, Marissa J. Lang, Peter Hermann, Rachel Chason and John Woodrow Cox, Nov. 14, 2020. A week after the election was called for Joe Biden, hundreds of President Trump’s supporters descended on the nation’s capital Saturday to falsely claim that the race had been stolen from the man they adore — who soon decided to welcome them in person.

Shortly after 10 a.m., Trump drove down Pennsylvania Avenue in his motorcade, greeting hundreds of cheering protesters who ran to the side of Freedom Plaza to catch a glimpse. He smiled and waved from a car window as people filled the street to follow behind.

“He drove right past me. I saw him. He waved right past me,” one man said, squatting to collect himself.

A group of women huddled around their phone, looking at a video they took of Trump’s appearance.

“He looked fake,” one said. “I’m still shaking.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s push to contest election results suffers more setbacks, Hannah Knowles, David A. Fahrenthold and Rosalind S. Helderman, Nov. 14, 2020 (print ed.). State courts dealt Republicans multiple losses, and the final state projections gave President-elect Joe Biden a resounding 306 electoral votes.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump voters struggle with his role in defeat: Sore loser, victim or fighter? Marc Fisher, Christine Spolar and Hannah Knowles, Nov. 14, 2020. Move on, some supporters say. Keep punching, others insist.

For generations, Americans have hated sore losers, whether in playground disputes, affairs of the heart, sports or politics. But Trump’s refusal to concede to President-elect Joe Biden and his insistence, without evidence, that the election was rigged against him has focused a spotlight on a rapidly shifting culture’s growing acceptance of losers who push back against the truth.

Nov. 13

washington post logoWashington Post, First major newspaper to endorse Trump in 2016 urges him to accept loss in this election, Elahe Izadi, Nov. 13, 2020 (print ed.).sheldon adelson The editorial page of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, owned by GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson, right, urged President Trump to work with Joe Biden’s transition team.

“President Donald Trump seeks to delay the inevitable,” reads the headline of the editorial, which appeared in print Thursday and published online Wednesday night.

“It is too fitting that the Trump presidency concludes amid a babel of bluster and bravado,” the unbylined authors, representing the viewpoint of the paper’s management, wrote. “But the president does a disservice to his more rabid supporters by insisting that he would have won the Nov. 3 election absent voter fraud. That’s simply false.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s attacks on election outcome prolong tech’s emergency measures, Elizabeth Dwoskin, Nov. 13, 2020 (print ed.). Facebook extends political ad ban while Twitter labeled 300,000 tweets on election week. Technology companies are bracing for a prolonged facebook logoperiod of uncertainty as long as President Trump and his allies dispute the outcome of the election, testing whether the firms can sustain the pace of enforcement they put in place during the past week.

donald trump twitterTwitter has softened the aggressive approach it took in the days after the election, when the company covered up 456 total tweets, the company said in a blog post Thursday, including many by Trump, his campaign and allies including his son Eric Trump and White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. It labeled 300,000 tweets overall. Spokesman Nick Pacilio said it will continue to restrict the proliferation of tweets that get labels and disable the retweet button indefinitely in an effort to slow the flow of potentially harmful content until the election results are settled.

Roughly 30 percent fewer people shared tweets that received a prompt warning people before sharing, Twitter said. And 74 percent of people twitter bird Customwho saw the tweets saw it with the label — the others saw the tweets before they were labeled.

A Google spokeswoman, Charlotte Smith, declined to share information about the company’s timeline for lifting its political ad ban, which applies to all Google properties, including Google-owned YouTube.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump has made a huge mistake, Bill Palmer, Nov. 13, 2020. Donald Trump has made a huge mistake by going a week without speaking in public. It’s not clear if he’s trying to make us miss him, or if he’s just pouting, or some combination of both. But either way, he’s given us a taste of what it’ll be like when he’s gone – no chaos and a newfound ability to focus on more important things – and it’s only making us more eager to be rid of him.

bill palmer report logo headerTrump tweeted “Biden did not win.” Twitter slapped a warning label on it that confirms Biden did win. That pretty much sums up how this entire delusional farce is going for Trump.

The government of China just congratulated Joe Biden on his win. This is a big deal. China could have chosen to drag this out as a way of trying to weaken Biden’s negotiating position in the early days of his presidency. Instead China is opting to fall in line fairly quickly, a sign that it knows better than to mess with Biden on this kind of thing.

Tweet of the day, from Jimmy Kimmel: “One reason Trump’s advisors are so worried he might not be able to win, is because he lost.”

Nov. 12

joe biden

ny times logoNew York Times, Virus and National Security Concerns Grow as Trump Rebuffs Transition, David E. Sanger and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Nov. 12, 2020. President Trump’s refusal to allow President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his transition staff access to government offices, secure communications and classified briefings prompted growing warnings on Thursday, including from Republicans, that keeping Mr. Biden in the dark potentially endangers the country.

On Capitol Hill, several Senate Republicans insisted that Mr. Biden should at least be given access to the President’s Daily Brief, the compendium of the nation’s most closely guarded intelligence secrets and assessments of threats like terrorist plots and cyberattack vulnerabilities. Their call amounted to an acknowledgment that Mr. Biden will be declared the victor in the election.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump insists he’ll win, but aides say he has no real plan to overturn results, Philip Rucker, Josh Dawsey and Ashley Parker, Nov. 12, 2020 (print ed.). No evidence has surfaced to back up the president’s claims of widespread fraud, and he is talking privately about a rematch in 2024 — an indication that he may be starting to come to terms with his loss.

President Trump declared Wednesday on Twitter, “WE WILL WIN!”

But, in fact, the president has no clear endgame to actually win the election — and, in an indication he may be starting to come to terms with his loss, he is talking privately about running again in 2024.
Follow the latest on Election 2020

Trump aides, advisers and allies said there is no grand strategy to reverse the election results, which show President-elect Joe Biden with a majority of electoral college votes, as well as a 5 million-vote lead in the national popular vote.

Asked about Trump’s ultimate plan, one senior administration official chuckled and said, “You’re giving everybody way too much credit right now.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s election challenge looks like a scam to line his pockets, Dana Milbank, right, Nov. 12, 2020 (print ed.). President dana milbank CustomTrump isn’t really trying to overturn the election. He’s simply running one more scam before he leaves office that would enable him to enrich himself.

That’s the way it appears, at least, from the scores of fundraising emails his campaign has sent out since the election. He seems to be asking for funds to challenge the election, but the fine print shows that the money could let him line his own coffers. The tin-pot-dictator routine looks more as if it’s about passing the tin cup.

Sixty percent of the contribution, up to $5,000, goes to “Save America,” Trump’s newly created leadership PAC. And 40 percent of the contribution up to $35,500, goes to the Republican National Committee’s operating account, its political (not legal) fund.

Only after reaching the first maximum would a single penny go to Trump’s “Recount Account,” and only after reaching the second maximum would a penny go to the RNC’s legal account.

“It’s a straight-up bait and switch,” Paul S. Ryan, the vice president of policy and litigation at Common Cause, tells me. Such email solicitations target small donors, so for the “overwhelming majority of people contributing … none of their money will end up in recount accounts” or be used for otherwise challenging the election.

Palmer Report, Opinion: New York State targets Trump Organization CFO on its way to taking Donald Trump down, Bill Palmer, Nov. 12, 2020. And so it begins. For the past year New York State has had a widely documented grand jury in the process of indicting Donald Trump for financial crimes.

bill palmer report logo headerallen weisselberg croppedNow that Trump has lost the election, we’ve been waiting for New York to start putting information out there making clear to Trump that it has him cornered. Well, here we go.

Bloomberg is reporting today that New York is putting the squeeze on Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, right, and his family, targeting them for alleged tax fraud, and seemingly making a point of leaking it to the media. The implication seems clear enough: New York is looking to force Weisselberg to flip on the Trump family.

This is how these kinds of prosecutions tend to work, moving up the ladder one rung at a time. It’s not at all surprising to see New York going after Weisselberg on its way to Trump.

What’s notable here is the timing. Trump just lost the election, he now has a clear cut timeframe for when he’ll be out of office and thus subject to arrest, and now New York is suddenly letting it be known that it’s picking off Trump’s CFO. This is only going to escalate from here.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept. faults former Epstein prosecutor for ‘poor judgment’ but finds no misconduct, Matt Zapotosky and Beth Reinhard, Nov. 12, 2020. The Justice Department conducted an internal investigation of the late Jeffrey Epstein’s 2008 plea deal with federal prosecutors in Florida after alexander-acosta-fiu.jpgrevelations last year that then-U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta, right, who later served as President Trump’s labor secretary, shelved an indictment that could have resulted in a lifetime prison sentence.

Justice Department log circularThe Justice Department’s internal disciplinary arm concluded that then-U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta exhibited “poor judgment” in signing off on a generous deal for politically connected millionaire Jeffrey Epstein to resolve allegations he molested dozens of young girls but did not commit “professional misconduct,” a mild conclusion that disappointed those who say Epstein abused them and escaped justice.

The Justice Department on Thursday released an executive summary of an investigation conducted by its Office of Professional Responsibility into the handling of the Epstein case, which is now more than a decade old, and briefed victims and their lawyers. Though the summary chastised Acosta’s judgment and acknowledged Epstein’s victims were treated poorly, it said investigators did not find evidence his decision to sign off on the deal “was based on corruption or other impermissible considerations, such as Epstein’s wealth, status, or associations.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have taken the Twitter balance of power away from Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Nov. 12, 2020.  democratic donkey logoWhen Kamala Harris tweeted a video of herself telling Joe Biden that he’d won, it was the fifth most-liked tweet of all time. Joe Biden’s victory announcement was the seventh most-liked tweet of all time.

bill palmer report logo headerBarack Obama still has the second and third most-liked tweets of all time. The only tweet that’s ever outpaced him was the one that tragically announced the death of Chadwick Boseman.

None of Donald Trump’s tweets has ever made the top ten. So much for the notion that Trump was ever that influential of a Twitter user. In hindsight, he mainly used the platform just to stir up controversy and terrorize people. 

borat sacha baron cohen maria bakalova amazon studios

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Stop wasting time on Trump’s lawsuits. More nefarious behavior is afoot, Jennifer Rubin, right, Nov. 12, 2020. The post-jennifer rubin new headshotelection news environment — like all political horse-race coverage — prioritizes tension and conflict over boring reality. This is normally a ratings gambit, but in the present election environment, it elevates President Trump’s baseless claims of voting irregularity and unintentionally serves his (and, perhaps not coincidentally, the Kremlin’s) goal to sow doubt in the election when there is none.

It is time for the media to stop taking Trump’s claims at face value — or straining to impart some logic for an exercise that amounts to a temper tantrum. Instead, they should focus more precisely on the actual damage Trump is doing.

Let’s begin with Trump’s “right to file lawsuits.” No one has a right to file frivolous, unsupportable and irrational complaints. That’s how lawyers get sanctioned. Trump’s lawsuits are not a “long shot”; they have zero chance of success. Biden has won at least 279 electoral votes (306 with Georgia and Arizona, which have not been called but have President-elect Joe Biden in the lead). Meanwhile, Biden won by nearly 150,000 votes in Michigan, more than 50,000 in Pennsylvania and more than 20,000 in Wisconsin.

The only way to reverse the result is to knock out at the very least Pennsylvania’s 50,000-vote margin — a switch of such magnitude that has never happened in any election, and for which there is no coherent theory or factual basis. There is nothing in the realm of reality that would suggest Biden did not win Pennsylvania and, therefore, the election. (There is nothing to suggest he didn’t win all the other states called for him either, but let’s make this simple.) The lawsuits filed by Trump in Pennsylvania and elsewhere have been laughed out of court and do not even purport to show “fraud.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: Four viral videos falsely credit ‘voter fraud’ for Biden’s win, Meg Kelly and Sarah Cahlan, Nov. 12, 2020.  News organizations have called the 2020 presidential election for Democrat Joe Biden, but that hasn’t stopped President Trump’s surrogates from sharing misleading, fake and debunked videos that cast doubt on the election results.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosElection officials have swatted away Trump campaign claims of voter fraud, and no evidence presented by the president’s team — or anyone else — has supported these allegations.

Still, nearly a week later, several of these videos — including this manipulated clip of President-elect Biden and claims about votes cast in Sharpie — are still circulating on social media in an effort to seed doubts about the outcome of the 2020 election. Here is a tour of four big offenders.

washington post logoWashington Post, Arizona’s GOP attorney general rejects Trump’s unfounded voter fraud claims: ‘There is no evidence,’ Jaclyn Peiser, Nov. 12, 2020. As President Trump’s campaign plows on with lawsuits featuring unfounded claims of voter fraud in lost battleground states, Arizona’s Republican attorney general on Wednesday rejected the president’s conspiracy claims and said he’s unlikely to overtake President-elect Joe Biden in the state.

“It does appear that Joe Biden will win Arizona,” state Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in a Wednesday interview with Fox Business host Neil Cavuto. “There is no evidence, there are no facts that would lead anyone to believe that the election results will change.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Of course Republicans are doing this. It’s who they are, E.J. Dionne Jr., ej dionne w open neckNov. 12, 2020 (print ed.). No. Not this time. Not again.

We knew that President Trump had no respect for democracy or the Constitution. So we’re not surprised that he’s lying, and lying, and lying again to claim he prevailed in the election that President-elect Joe Biden won decisively, fair and square.

What we did not know for certain was whether the Republican Party would once again bow before Trump’s corruption and his indifference to the fate Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore portrait)of our republican institutions.

Well, the GOP has turned out to be as despicably ready to validate Trump’s falsehoods and authoritarian behavior as its worst critics feared. With precious few exceptions, Republican leaders are quite happy to be complicit in Trump’s subversion.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Just call it already, Bill Palmer, right, Nov. 12, 2020. The votes have been counted in Arizona and Georgia. Joe Biden has won both bill palmerstates by substantial margins. The media is embarrassing itself by not calling these states for Biden yet, solely because they’re afraid of hurting Trump’s feelings.

bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump is now demanding that the vote be audited. Who’s going to be the one to tell him that Wisconsin just did an audit and he lost 271 votes?

We need to at least consider criminal penalties for any Republican office holder who’s still refusing to acknowledge that Joe Biden is President-elect. Not simply that they’re refusing to acknowledge him; we wouldn’t want to go down that slippery slope if it were just that. But they specifically know he’s only pretending to “contest” the election as an excuse to fundraise money and put it in his pocket. It’s fraud on Trump’s part, and by propping it up, these Republican office holders are knowingly participating in a criminal conspiracy.

Nov. 11

Top Headlines

 

Attempted Coup By Trump?

 

More U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

U.S. Law, Crime, Courts

 

Top Stories

djt biden smiles resized

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: The Times Called Officials in Every State: No Evidence of Voter Fraud, Nick Corasaniti, Reid J. Epstein and Jim Rutenberg, Nov. 11, 2020 (print ed.). New York Times, Statements Amount to Forceful Rebuke of Trump’s False Claims. The president and his allies have baselessly claimed that rampant voter fraud stole victory from him. Officials contacted by The Times said that there were no irregularities that affected the outcome.

Election officials in dozens of states representing both political parties said that there was no evidence that fraud or other irregularities played a role in the outcome of the presidential race, amounting to a forceful rebuke of President Trump’s portrait of a fraudulent election.

Over the last several days, the president, members of his administration, congressional Republicans and right wing allies have put forth the false claim that the election was stolen from Mr. Trump and have refused to accept results that showed Joseph R. Biden Jr. as the winner.

But top election officials across the country said in interviews and statements that the process had been a remarkable success despite record turnout and the complications of a dangerous pandemic.

“There’s a great human capacity for inventing things that aren’t true about elections,” said Frank LaRose, a Republican who serves as Ohio’s secretary of state. “The conspiracy theories and rumors and all those things run rampant. For some reason, elections breed that type of mythology.”

Steve Simon, a Democrat who is Minnesota’s secretary of state, said: “I don’t know of a single case where someone argued that a vote counted when it shouldn’t have or didn’t count when it should. There was no fraud.”

“Kansas did not experience any widespread, systematic issues with voter fraud, intimidation, irregularities or voting problems,” a spokeswoman for Scott Schwab, the Republican secretary of state in Kansas, said in an email Tuesday. “We are very pleased with how the election has gone up to this point.”

The New York Times contacted the offices of the top election officials in every state on Monday and Tuesday to ask whether they suspected or had evidence of illegal voting. Officials in 45 states responded directly to The Times. For four of the remaining states, The Times spoke to other statewide officials or found public comments from secretaries of state; none reported any major voting issues.

Statewide officials in Texas did not respond to repeated inquiries. But a spokeswoman for the top elections official in Harris County, the largest county in Texas with a population greater than many states, said that there were only a few minor issues and that “we had a very seamless election.” On Tuesday, the Republican lieutenant governor in Texas, Dan Patrick, announced a $1 million fund to reward reports of voter fraud.

Some states described small problems common to all elections, which they said they were addressing: a few instances of illegal or double voting, some technical glitches and some minor errors in math. Officials in all states are conducting their own review of the voting — a standard component of the certification process.

President Trump and his allies have baselessly claimed that rampant voter fraud stole victory from him. The Times contacted officials, representing both parties, in almost every state, who said that there were no irregularities that affected the outcome.

 Trump by Michael Vadon Creative Commons e1486885124813

ny times logoNew York Times, Fighting Election Results, Trump Employs a New Weapon: The Government, Peter Baker and Lara Jakes, Nov. 11, 2020 (print ed.). As President Trump and his administration insist he didn’t lose, the rest of the world has increasingly moved to accept Joe Biden’s victory.

President Trump, facing the prospect of leaving the White House in defeat in just 70 days, is harnessing the power of the federal government to resist the results of an election that he lost, something that no sitting president has done in American history.

In the latest sign of defiance, the president’s senior cabinet secretary fueled concerns on Tuesday that Mr. Trump would resist handing over power to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. after legal challenges to the vote.

“There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

djt pence yard sign logoMr. Trump’s attorney general has at the same time authorized investigations into supposed vote fraud, his general services administrator has refused to give Mr. Biden’s team access to transition offices and resources guaranteed under law and the White House is preparing a budget for next year as if Mr. Trump will be around to present it.

The president has also embarked on a shake-up of his administration, firing Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper as well as the heads of three other agencies while installing loyalists in key positions at the National Security Agency and the Pentagon. Allies expect more mike pompeo portraitto come, including the possible dismissals of the directors of the F.B.I. and the C.I.A.

He snapped when asked if Mr. Trump’s delaying tactics undermined the State Department’s efforts to pressure political leaders abroad to accept losing results. “That’s ridiculous and you know it’s ridiculous, and you asked it because it’s ridiculous,” he said.

Mr. Pompeo, right, can often be sarcastic, particularly when speaking to reporters, but the State Department made no effort to clarify if he was joking. Asked later on Fox News if he was serious, he did not say. “We will have a smooth transition,” he said. “And we will see what the people ultimately decided, when all the votes have been cast.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Postal worker admits making up allegations of ballot tampering, officials say, Shawn Boburg and Jacob Bogage, Nov. 11, 2020 (print ed.). A Pennsylvania postal worker whose claims have been cited by top Republicans as potential evidence of widespread voting irregularities recanted to U.S. Postal Service investigators.

us mail logoA Pennsylvania postal worker whose claims have been cited by top Republicans as potential evidence of widespread voting irregularities admitted to U.S. Postal Service investigators that he fabricated the allegations, according to three people briefed on the investigation and a statement from a House congressional committee.

Richard Hopkins’ claim that a postmaster in Erie, Pa., instructed postal workers to backdate ballots mailed after Election Day was cited by Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) in a letter to the Department of Justice calling for a federal investigation. Attorney General William P. Barr subsequently authorized federal prosecutors to open probes into credible allegations of voting irregularities and fraud, a reversal of long-standing Justice Department policy.

But on Sunday, Hopkins, 32, told investigators from the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General that the allegations were not true, and he signed an affidavit recanting his claims, according to the sources who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe an ongoing investigation. Democrats on the House oversight committee tweeted late Tuesday that the Justice Department logo“whistleblower completely RECANTED.”

The reversal comes as Trump has refused to concede to President-Elect Joe Biden (D), citing unproven allegations about widespread voter fraud in an attempt to swing the results in his favor. Republicans held up Hopkins’ claims as among the most credible because he signed an affidavit swearing that he overheard a supervisor instructing colleagues to backdate ballots mailed after Nov. 3.

The Trump campaign provided that affidavit to Graham, who in turn asked the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation to launch an investigation. The Trump campaign also cited reports of the allegation in a federal lawsuit filed Monday against Pennsylvania election officials that seeks to prevent them from certifying the states’ election results.

john roberts djt state of union

Chief U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, left, exchanges a greeting with Donald Trump at a State of the Union address.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justices show they’re inclined to uphold ACA, Ann E. Marimow, Amy Goldstein, Paige Winfield Cunningham, Paulina Firozi and Robert Barnes, Nov. 11, 2020 (print ed.). Justices urged to defer to Congress and uphold ACA; Breyer takes issue with interpretation of ‘shall;’ Alito compares mandate to a plane continuing to fly without one part; Roberts skeptical of allowing challengers to ‘roam around’ the ACA; Gorsuch presses ACA challengers about their specific injury; Thomas draws an analogy to wearing masks during the pandemic, Nov. 10, 2020. California solicitor general urges court not to ‘tear down’ the ACA; Three questions for the justices reviewing the Affordable Care Act.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday is reviewing the latest Republican challenge to the Affordable Care Act, reviving the partisan battle over health care that was central to the presidential contest and the confirmation of the newest justice, Amy Coney Barrett.

The court is reviewing a decision that found part of the law, also known as Obamacare, unconstitutional. The case raises questions about the fate of health insurance for millions of Americans. The lawsuit was brought by Republican state officials and is backed by President Trump’s administration, which has prioritized abolishing the law.

Three justices appointed by Trump — Barrett, Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh — are on the case, along with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr., Steven G. Breyer, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Clarence Thomas.

 

Attempted Coup By Trump?

djt john bolton cnn

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: John Bolton: Time is running out for Trump — and Republicans who coddle him, John R. Bolton, above right in a cable screenshot, Nov. 11, 2020. A Ylale Law School graduate and lifelong Republican, John R. Bolton served as national security adviser under President Trump and is the author of “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir.”

As of this writing, the Republican Party has not suffered permanent damage to its integrity and reputation because of President Trump’s post-election rampaging. This will not be true much longer.

john bolton room where cover CustomIt is simply a truism that Trump has a legal right to pursue all appropriate election-law remedies to ensure an accurate, lawful vote count. To be credible, however, any aggrieved candidate must at some point produce valid legal arguments and persuasive evidence.

Trump has so far failed to do so, and there is no indication he can. If he can’t, his “right” to contest the election is beside the point.

The real issue is the grievous harm he is causing to public trust in America’s constitutional system. Trump’s time is running out, even as his rhetoric continues escalating. And time is running out for Republicans who hope to maintain the party’s credibility, starting with Georgia’s two Senate runoffs in January. Here is the cold political reality: Trump is enhancing his own brand (in his mind) while harming the Republican brand. The party needs a long internal conversation about the post-Trump era, but first it needs to get there honorably.

Consider the competing interests. Donald Trump’s is simple and straightforward: Donald Trump. The near-term Republican interest is winning the mark esperGeorgia runoffs. The long-term Republican interest emphatically involves winning those Senate seats, but it also involves rejecting Trump’s personalized, erratic, uncivil, unpresidential and ultimately less-than-effective politics and governance.

Trump is engaging in what could well be a systematic purge of his own administration, starting with the utterly unjustified firing of Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, right, this week and continuing through high- and mid-level civilian offices in the department. Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, head of the National Nuclear Safety Administration, was forced to resign. Washington is filled with rumors that the CIA and FBI directors are next.

rutherford hayes samuel tilden resized

OpEdNews, Opinion: Trump and Republicans Staging a Hayes/Tilden Coup, Rob Kall, right, Nov. 11, 2020. They Don't Need to Win Lawsuits, Just Stall. rob kall newoenearthlogoDonald Trump and the leadership of the Republican party are aggressively staging a coup, inspired by the 1876 Tilden Hayes election, and the Democratic Party and their mainstream media surrogates, CNN and MSNBC have not yet caught on. They are laughing at a situation that must be aggressively addressed with dire urgency. Mainstream Pundits are smarmily laughing at Trump, when it is they who are the clueless ones.

Mark my words. The 1876 Hayes Tilden election will become a frequently cited element of the news very soon.

It doesn't matter if Trump wins or loses the plethora of lawsuits he and his surrogates are filing across the nation. As long as he slows down the process and delays the finalization and confirmation of state vote counts he will win the election. If even a few Republican run states refuse to certify the vote counts, Biden will no longer have the 270 electoral votes. If that happens, Trump won't have the 270 electoral votes either. Under those circumstances, the election will fall to be decided by the House of Representatives. The process there will hand the victory to Trump.

Thom Hartmann and Greg Palast predicted this possibility earlier in the year. Now, election integrity activist Jonathan Simon and journalist David Sirota are also weighing in.

Earlier this week, in an interview, Greg Palast explained to me, describing the coup as an "article 2 gambit. Now article 2 of the constitution says that the state legislatures pick your electors. Now i bet you thought we all know we don't actually vote for president we vote for electors. No, you don't even vote for electors, your vote is purely advisory.

America does not have a democracy. We give advice to each state legislature and the legislatures then determine which electors go to the electoral college."

On May 8th, in an interview on my Bottom-up Show, Thom Hartmann theoretically described what is actually now happening, citing a similar occurrence in the 1876 Tilden Hayes presidential election, where the article 2 Gambit worked to reverse the election.

OpEdNews, Opinion: Trump Is Sandbagging to Send Election to the House; Election Integrity Should Not Help Him, Jonathan Simon, shown at right oenearthlogobelow, author of "Code Red: Computerized Election Theft and The New American Century," also shown below, Nov. 11, 2020.

jonathan simonAs Donald Trump, facing a defeat he signaled in advance he would not (and could not, given the stakes and his nature) accept, files lawsuit after lawsuit in a kind of virtuoso false-note cadenza improvised on a lifelong theme of litigiousness, some of my election integrity colleagues (and good friends) have declared support for Trump's attempted putsch, "open-mindedly" asserting it is our vehicle to a new election-integrity dawn. The ironies could not be much richer.

We do face what one of my colleagues, appalled by Trump, described as a "horrible dilemma:" to seize the rarest of opportunities to secure bipartisan support and press for serious election reform or essentially keep silent vigil and pray Trump's con doesn't work. The answer, to me, becomes clearer with every CAPS LOCK TWEET, frivolous lawsuit, and breathless Trump/GOP fundraising appeal. This crisis is being played for money (lots of it) and short- and long-term political advantage. It has literally nothing to do with democracy or election integrity. And it is being played by the same cynics who doubled down on every thumb on the electoral scales, including voter-suppression and disinformation schemes galore.

It is worthy of note that Trump has never stopped claiming that there were "millions of illegal voters" who cost him the popular vote victory in 2016 without ever producing a shred of evidence to substantiate that eternally repeated claim. In fact, he slapped together an Electoral Integrity "Commission" to ferret out the fraudsters and then disbanded it without so much as a Report.

We do face what one of my colleagues, appalled by Trump, described as a "horrible dilemma:" to seize the rarest of opportunities to secure bipartisan support and press for serious election reform or essentially keep silent vigil and pray Trump's con doesn't work. The answer, to me, becomes clearer with every CAPS LOCK TWEET, frivolous lawsuit, and breathless Trump/GOP fundraising appeal. This crisis is being played for money (lots of it) and short- and long-term political advantage. It has literally nothing to do with democracy or election integrity. And it is being played by the same cynics who doubled down on every thumb on the electoral scales, including voter-suppression and disinformation schemes galore.

It is worthy of note that Trump has never stopped claiming that there were "millions of illegal voters" who cost him the popular vote victory in 2016 without ever producing a shred of evidence to substantiate that eternally repeated claim. In fact, he slapped together an Electoral Integrity "Commission" to ferret out the fraudsters and then disbanded it without so much as a Report.

jonathan simon code redAnd it is further worthy of note that Trump's current strategy is not about actually overturning enough votes to win election legitimately. His own aides have acknowledged that is impossible. Rather it is fixed on delaying certification past the applicable deadlines. The law favors delay and Team Trump knows it.

His plan is to prevent certification of 270 Biden electoral votes by tying up several state processes in court past the state deadlines (the "hard" one being 12/14, when the Electoral College votes on slates) and then either importuning friendly state legislatures (the GOP controls Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Arizona) to send Trump elector slates to Congress, or simply throwing the election to the House, where the GOP controls the majority of state delegations (under the Twelfth Amendment, the House votes for president by state delegation) so Trump wins.

Does that look like democracy or electoral integrity to you? To me it looks like yet another right-wing scheme to steal an election and haven't we been through (and been irreparably harmed by) enough of those? Don't kid yourselves this is a clear and present danger.

So I think we should examine what's going on now in context. Yes, our electoral system is manifestly in need of serious reform. And yes, no Democrat, since The Help America Vote Act (2002) ushered in the Computerized Voting Era, has challenged the system's non-transparency or the parade of red flags that that non-transparency has given rise to. But Trump has no intention of pursuing a genuine investigation bent on bringing transparency to the system. He is interested in the welfare of no one and nothing other than Donald J. Trump not his party, not his nation, not its voters. That has been demonstrated beyond any disputing. He will lie. He will falsely accuse. He might even commit fraud as part of his desperate putsch.

I think our responsibility is not to join the Democrats and media in chanting how wonderful and legitimate our electoral system is. We know better than anyone that it is not. But our responsibility is to keep careful watch over the delay-scam that Trump is now setting in motion, and give what support we can to the beleaguered election officials who will now be attacked ruthlessly and desperately (my god, they're even going after their own GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in Georgia!). So far Trump has failed for lack of evidence in virtually every case he has taken to court, some before highly partisan right-leaning judges. We can let that process play out (it is infinitely more than Kerry or Clinton or Ossoff or Coakley or any Democrat-of-note with the exception of Al Franken has ever ventured). But we don't have to and shouldn't provide more anecdotal or ambiguous forensic fuel to a desperate man who has utter contempt for fact and evidence, or to the party that yet again is riding cynical shotgun for him.

It's not that we as Democrats, Progressives, or EI advocates "won." Given the polls and the control of the equipment, and given all the other outcomes (from Senate to House to state legislatures), Democrats are hardly the "winners" of this election. We have at least as good reason, in the pervasive red shift from both exit and tracking polls, to suspect wholesale rigging to benefit Republican candidates, as Trump has to suspect retail indeed much better, given the egregious numbers and the whole forensic history of the post-HAVA era.

Perhaps this will turn out to be a long-postponed moment of truth and reckoning for our voting system and for a counting process incidentally or diabolically designed for concealment. We continue to crunch numbers and search for telltale patterns of "mistabulation." Computerized election fraud rarely, if ever, comes out and shakes your hand. Trust in our electoral process and its core protocols has, as I've cautioned with increasing urgency over the past two decades, at last jumped the shark, hit the wall, gone over the cliff so perhaps there will now be a more receptive audience for our near-proofs and desperate pleas.

But you don't get Trump if you don't get that he will use everyone and everything he possibly can for his own ends -- and lose you when you no longer serve them. He's demonstrated that his whole life with hardly a single flinch.

You think you'll ride his scattershot charges to some new dawn for electoral integrity. If you get in bed with him (and do anything to further nurture the hopes of his besotted followers), don't expect to get up in the morning.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Pompeo committed treacherous sedition with his announcement of Trump's coup, Wayne Madsen, left, Nov. 11, 2020. Secretary wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallof State Mike Pompeo committed an act of treacherous sedition when he commented on a smooth presidential transition at a Tuesday press conference at the Department of State. In answer to a Fox News's reporter's question about the transition, Pompeo relied, "There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration."

That comment, by the senior Cabinet officer of the United States, sent foreign ministries around the world, as well as the diplomatic corps in the United States, into a bewildered frenzy.

wayne madesen report logoThe U.S. Secretary of State position is far more than that of a foreign minister. The Secretary of State also acts as a type of notary and official document repository for the Executive Branch of government. The Secretary of State acknowledges and archives documents such as international treaties, instruments of surrender, and letters of resignation from the president and vice president of the United States.

When Pompeo wrongly announced that Donald Trump had been elected to a second term, over the wishes a majority of the state electors chosen by the American voters, he was misusing his position in an official capacity and to a degree never before seen in American history.

American System TV, Opinion: Is Trump Unleashing an Autogolpe against US Constitution? Webster G. Tarpley, right, Nov. 11, 2020. Ominous Signs Multiply: webster tarpley 2007Trump’s Defense Secretary Esper Brusquely “Terminated” by Tweet.

  • Pentagon Boss Had Publicly Rejected Trump’s Bid to Use Cover of Insurrection Act to Deploy Federal Troops Against Peaceful Protesters;
  • Replacement is Christopher Miller, Current Head of National Counterterrorism Information Center;
  • Firing of Esper Introduces Chaos Factors at Worst Possible Time, with China’s Aggressor Xi Considering Attack on Taiwan.
  • Palmer Report, Opinion: The Georgia hand recount is about to put Donald Trump one step closer to the door, Bill Palmer, Nov. 11, 2020. Joe Biden is ahead by 14,000 votes in Georgia, making him the clear winner, but due to the relatively close margin the state has ordered a hand recount. Good. This will help to finish off Donald Trump more quickly.

    Trump has literally 0.0% chance of somehow magically overturning the election result, and he knows it. He’s only “contesting” the election so he can keep fundraising from his gullible supporters; the fine print literally says that he gets to keep the majority of the money he raises. Trump won’t give up the ghost until the money starts running dry.

    The Georgia recount has no chance of changing the result; even hand recounts never change the margin by more than a few hundred votes. So once this recount is finished, Joe Biden will be way ahead again, and the major media outlets will go ahead and declare him the winner there.

    That’s a big deal, because Trump’s argument that he’s magically going to overturn the election result is based on the notion that he can somehow win Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Georgia to get him over 270. Some news outlets have called Arizona for Biden and some haven’t. But once they all call Georgia for Biden after the recount, it’ll mean that Trump can’t get to 270 even if he somehow flipped Pennsylvania, which has been the main focus of his imaginary voter fraud claims.

    In other words, once the Georgia recount is over, Donald Trump will have a hard time selling the “I still might secretly win” nonsense to anyone, even many of his own supporters. At that point there won’t be any money in pretending to contest the election anymore, and Trump will have to shift his focus to trying to give himself a softer landing when it comes to facing prison and bankruptcy after he’s out of office.

Nov. 9

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Here are the GOP and Trump campaign’s allegations of election irregularities. So far, none has been proved, David A. Fahrenthold, Elise Viebeck, Emma Brown and Rosalind S. Helderman, Nov. 9, 2020 (print ed.). Republicans have made claims of election irregularities in five states where President-elect Joe Biden leads in the vote count, alleging in lawsuits and public statements that election officials did not follow proper procedures while counting ballots in Tuesday’s election.

So far, they have gone 0 for 5.

djt pence yard sign logoSince Election Day, President Trump has repeatedly claimed that a broad conspiracy of misdeeds — apparently committed in both Republican and Democratic states — had cost him the election.

“I WON THE ELECTION, GOT 71,000,000 LEGAL VOTES,” Trump tweeted on Saturday, after returning to the White House from his Virginia golf course. “BAD THINGS HAPPENED WHICH OUR OBSERVERS WERE NOT ALLOWED TO SEE.” Trump’s campaign has encouraged donors to contribute to a legal-defense fund so he can fight the cases in court.

But in the lawsuits themselves, even Trump’s campaign and allies do not allege widespread fraud or an election-changing conspiracy.

Instead, GOP groups have largely focused on smaller-bore complaints in an effort to delay the counting of ballots or claims that would djt maga hataffect a small fraction of votes, at best.

And, even then, they have largely lost in court.

The reason: Judges have said the Republicans did not provide evidence to back up their assertions — just speculation, rumors or hearsay. Or in one case, hearsay written on a sticky note.

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Forges Ahead With Plans as Trump Refuses to Concede, Luke Broadwater, Updated Nov. 9, 2020. Most Republicans Have Not Recognized Election; President-elect Joe Biden prepared to build his administration, even as many Republicans refrained from acknowledging his victory; George W. Bush congratulated Mr. Biden, but most Republican party leaders stayed quiet or urged President Trump to fight.

joe biden twitterWith Mr. Biden out of the public eye as he received congratulations from leaders around the world, his team turned its attention to a transition that will swing into action on Monday, with the launch of a coronavirus task force and swift moves to begin assembling his team.

But more than 24 hours after his election had been declared, the vast majority of Republicans declined to offer the customary statements of good will for the victor that have been standard after American presidential contests, as Mr. Trump defied the results and vowed to forge ahead with long-shot lawsuits to try to overturn them.

While some prominent Republican figures, including the party’s only living former president, George W. Bush, called Mr. Biden to wish him well, most elected officials stayed silent in the face of Mr. Trump’s baseless claims that the election was stolen from him.

washington post logoWashington Post, A Trump appointee is refusing to give Biden necessary transition resources, Lisa Rein, Jonathan O'Connell and Josh Dawsey, Nov. 9, 2020. A Trump administration appointee is refusing to sign a letter allowing President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team to formally begin its work this week, in another sign the incumbent president has not acknowledged Biden’s victory and could disrupt the transfer of power.
Follow the latest on Election 2020

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosThe administrator of the General Services Administration, the low-profile agency in charge of federal buildings, has a little-known role when a new president is elected: to sign paperwork officially turning over millions of dollars, as well as give access to government officials, office space in agencies and equipment authorized for the taxpayer-funded transition teams of the winner.

It amounts to a formal declaration by the federal government, outside of the media, of the winner of the presidential race.

But by Sunday evening, almost 36 hours after media outlets projected Biden as the winner, GSA Administrator Emily Murphy had written no such letter. And the Trump administration, in keeping with the president’s failure to concede the election, has no immediate plans to sign one. This could lead to the first transition delay in modern history, except in 2000, when the Supreme Court decided a recount dispute between Al Gore and George W. Bush in December.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump continues to defy results as world and some in GOP begin to move on, Toluse Olorunnipa, Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey, Nov. 9, 2020 (print ed.). As the president kept up allegations of voter fraud without any evidence, GOP officials and allies splintered between nudging him to accept defeat and encouraging him to fight.

As President-elect Joe Biden accepted congratulations from world leaders and a former president on Sunday, the man he defeated continued to deny the reality of a transition that was taking place despite his unwillingness to participate.
Follow the latest on Election 2020

President Trump traveled to his Virginia golf course for a second straight day Sunday, declining to concede the presidential race more than 24 hours after Biden had been declared the victor. As Trump continued to make conspiratorial allegations of voter fraud without providing any evidence, Republican officials and allies splintered between nudging him to accept defeat and encouraging him to fight.

The president appeared fixated on doing the latter, using social media to cast doubt on the election process rather than prepare for a peaceful transition of power.

Nov. 8

Palm Beach Daily News, Use of helipad at Mar-a-Lago ends with Trump's term on Jan. 20, William Kelly, Nov. 8, 2020. Two Marine One helicopters arrive at Mar-a-Lago in 2019. The town mandated that the helipad be used only as long Donald Trump was president.

For nearly four years, Mar-a-Lago has functioned as the “winter White House” of President Donald Trump.

One of the perks of that status was a helipad approved by the town so Marine One could whisk the president in and out of the 17.5-acre estate without jamming traffic.
A Trump corporate helicopter sits on the helipad at Mar-a-Lago in December 2017.

But helicopter trips to and from the helipad at Mar-a-Lago will no longer be permitted come Jan. 20 — the day Trump's chief executive powers transfer to President Elect Joe Biden.

When it approved the 50-foot, 8-inch-deep concrete helipad on the west lawn of ocean-to-lake estate, the Town Council stipulated it was “for business relating solely to the office of the president." It also said the helipad must be removed once the president leaves office.

Palm Beach does not allow helipads or helicopters, fearing the island could end up like other posh communities where helicopters buzz the super rich in and out.

Neighbors complained that noise and down draft from the massive Marine One helicopters would be disruptive, ruin their landscaping, and be used by club members. But town officials hoped the pad would enable Trump to use Marine One to shuttle back and forth from Palm Beach International Airport without causing long traffic jams and road closures.

Nov. 7

joe biden kamala harris campaign shot

ny times logoNew York Times, BIDEN BEATS TRUMP; Harris Is First Woman Elected Vice President, Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, Nov. 7, 2020. Biden Wins Presidency, Ending Four Tumultuous Years Under Trump; Joseph R. Biden Jr. achieved victory offering a message of healing and unity. He will return to Washington facing a daunting set of crises.

Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was elected the 46th president of the United States on Saturday, promising to restore political normalcy and a spirit of national unity to confront raging health and economic crises, and making Donald J. Trump a one-term president after four years of tumult in the White House.

Mr. Biden’s victory amounted to a repudiation of Mr. Trump by millions of voters exhausted with his divisive conduct and chaotic administration, and was delivered by an unlikely alliance of women, people of color, old and young voters and a sliver of disaffected Republicans. Mr. Trump is the first incumbent to lose re-election in more than a quarter-century.

The result also provided a history-making moment for Mr. Biden’s running mate, Senator Kamala Harris of California, who will become the first woman to serve as vice president.

With his triumph, Mr. Biden, who turns 78 later this month, fulfilled his decades-long ambition in his third bid for the White House, becoming the oldest person elected president. A pillar of Washington who was first elected amid the Watergate scandal, and who prefers political consensus over combat, Mr. Biden will lead a nation and a Democratic Party that have become far more ideological since his arrival in the capital in 1973.

He offered a mainstream Democratic agenda, yet it was less his policy platform than his biography to which many voters gravitated. Seeking the nation’s highest office a half-century after his first campaign, Mr. Biden — a candidate in the late autumn of his career — presented his life of setback and recovery to voters as a parable for a wounded country.

The race, which concluded after four tense days of vote-counting in a handful of battlegrounds, was a singular referendum on Mr. Trump in a way no president’s re-election has been in modern times. He coveted the attention, and voters who either adored him or loathed him were eager to render judgment on his tenure. Americans rarely turn incumbent presidents out of office, but from the beginning to the end of the race, Mr. Biden made the president’s character central to his campaign.

This unrelenting focus propelled Mr. Biden to victory in historically Democratic strongholds in the industrial Midwest, with Mr. Biden forging a coalition of suburbanites and big-city residents to claim at least three states his party lost in 2016.

Yet even as they turned Mr. Trump out of office, voters sent a more uncertain message about the left-of-center platform Mr. Biden ran on as Democrats lost seats in the House and made only modest gains in the Senate. The divided judgment — a rare example of ticket splitting in partisan times — demonstrated that, for many voters, their disdain for the president was as personal as it was political.

ny times logoNew York Times, First Candidate to Beat an Incumbent in More Than a Quarter Century, Live Updates, Nov. 7, 2020. Election Highlights: Biden Defeats Trump as Pennsylvania Puts Him Over the Top; The state’s 20 electoral votes vaulted Joe Biden past the 270-vote threshold needed to take the White House. He leads in Georgia, Arizona and Nevada. President Trump has vowed to file legal challenges.

After several tense days of vote-counting in a handful of battlegrounds, Joe Biden achieved a decades-long ambition in his third attempt at the presidency.

Mr. Biden’s victory amounted to a repudiation of President Trump by millions of voters exhausted with his divisive conduct and chaotic administration.

The result also provided a history-making moment for Kamala Harris, who became the first woman — and first woman of color — on a winning presidential ticket.

djt looking up

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden inches closer to victory as Trump’s chances fade, Updated results show Joe Biden ahead in four key states, Toluse Olorunnipa, Nov. 7, 2020 (print ed.). Biden’s strong showing as mail-in votes were counted in critical cities had him leading in Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania and — very narrowly — Georgia.

Former vice president Joe Biden appeared to be on a clear path to being elected the 46th president of the United States, after updated vote counts on Friday put him ahead in several key states and seemed to all but close off President Trump’s already dwindling chances of remaining in office.

Although no winner had been projected in the presidential race, Biden’s strong showing as mail-in votes were counted in key cities had him leading Trump in Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania and — very narrowly — Georgia.

After securing 253 electoral votes since Election Day on Tuesday, Biden was on the cusp of being declared the winner as the remaining states neared the end of the ballot-counting process.

“The numbers tell us a clear and convincing story: We’re going to win this race,” Biden said Friday in Wilmington, Del., with Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.), his running mate, next to him. “We’re going to win this race with a clear majority of the nation behind us.”

Speaking from a stage at the Chase Center, Biden forcefully declared that he had “a mandate” on a number of policy issues and said he has begun preparing to take office.

“I know watching these vote tallies on TV moves as slow as it gets and can be numbing,” he said. “But never forget, the tallies aren’t just numbers. They represent votes and voters, men and women who exercised their fundamental right to have their voice heard.”

washington post logoWashington Post, White House chief of staff tested positive for coronavirus, then told others not to disclose it, Josh Dawsey and Amy B Wang, Nov. 7, 2020 (print ed.). Mark Meadows was in the East Room of the White House on election night when the president addressed a crowd of about 150 people. During that event, Meadows worked the room extensively, without a mask, speaking to dozens.

mark meadows SmallWhite House chief of staff Mark Meadows has tested positive for the coronavirus, and told others not to disclose his condition, according to an official with knowledge of the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Meadows, right, was at the White House early Wednesday as President Trump spoke about the election.

The diagnosis, first reported by Bloomberg News, comes a little more than a month after Trump and other members of his family and inner circle also tested positive for coronavirus. Two weeks later, at least five aides or advisers to Vice President Pence were infected.

The repeated infections within the White House underscore the attitude with which the administration has handled the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed at least 235,000 Americans since February. Trump and his allies, including Meadows, have frequently flouted public health guidelines and continued to hold large indoor gatherings where few people wear masks or socially distance.

Meadows has fought with the doctors about the severity of the virus, argued about the effectiveness of masks and has repeatedly sought to move the president away from focusing on the virus, officials say.

After the outbreak in Pence’s office, Meadows appeared on CNN to say the administration had effectively given up on trying to slow the virus’s spread.

“We’re not going to control the pandemic,” Meadows said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Oct. 25. “We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigations.”

Meadows has for months openly brushed off the importance of wearing masks during the pandemic. On Election Day, Meadows visited the Trump campaign headquarters in Arlington, where he was photographed not wearing a mask.

Meadows was also among those in the East Room of the White House when Trump gave remarks around 3 a.m. Wednesday to a crowd of about 150 of his top aides, donors and allies, as well as family members. During that event, Meadows worked the room extensively, without a mask, speaking to dozens. He stood near Trump campaign adviser Corey Lewandowski, one of the few people there who was wearing a mask.

djt smiling fileThe same carelessness hurt Trump in the election, as the president trails Joe Biden in four of six battleground states where votes are still being counted. For months, Trump was criticized for publicly playing down the dangers of the virus. Leading up to Election Day, polls showed that voters overwhelmingly trusted Biden over Trump when it came to handling the pandemic.

After Trump was hospitalized for the coronavirus for four days in early October, some wondered if it would prompt the president to take the pandemic more seriously. Instead, Trump began boasting that he was “immune” to the virus, after having received experimental therapeutics. He also has in recent weeks declared that the United States was “rounding the corner” on the pandemic, as cases in the country exceed record highs.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Looks like Donald Trump’s election night party may have been a super spreader event, Bill Palmer, right, Nov. 7, 2020. When the news broke bill palmertonight (Nov. 6-7) that Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff has coronavirus, it raised questions about whether it meant that the White House outbreak that started a month ago was still underway. Now we’re starting to get some answers – and they’re ugly.

bill palmer report logo headerABC News is now confirming that Meadows is one of six people in Donald Trump’s immediate political orbit who currently have coronavirus – meaning the White House outbreak is definitely still happening. CNN is confirming that Meadows was at Trump’s election night party at the White House, and that he wasn’t wearing a mask. Given the way the virus is spreading among Trump staffers, it seems likely that Meadows either caught the virus while at the party, or infected the others while at the party, which is starting to look like another super spreader event.

In any case it’s doubtful that the outbreak will end up being limited to just six people in Donald Trump’s immediate orbit. So at a time when Trump has lost the election and is begging his remaining advisers to stick around and go down with the ship while he insists he somehow didn’t actually lose, he’s now facing a severe coronavirus outbreak among his staff.

How many of Trump’s remaining White House staff will be too sick to help him at this point? How many will resign in order to avoid getting sick while working on a sinking ship? As with all things Trump, this is going to get ugly.

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Biden-Harris Take Presidency with 279 Electoral Votes by Winning Pennsylvania and Nevada, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Nov. 7, 2020. AP and Networks Make Call At webster tarpley 200711:25 AM EST Based on Raft of Philadelphia Votes; Trump and Minions Refuse to Concede, Promising More Lawsuits and Obstruction; Honest Judges Should Impose Severe Rule Eleven Sanctions on Trump’s Legal Henchmen for Filing Frivolous Lawsuits; Election Spotlight Now Turns to Struggle To Seat Two New Democratic Senators in Georgia In January.

Dancing in Streets of US Cities with Music, Joy and Laughter as Americans Celebrate End of the Nightmare; Merkel of Germany, Macron of France, Conte of Italy, Irish Prime Minister, Modi of India, Trudeau of Canada, Sanchez of Spain and Many Other Heads of State and Government Congratulate Biden-Harris; Don’s International Isolation Means Other Nations Will Not Grant De Jure Recognition to an Illegal Trump Regime; Biden-Harris Need a Coup Watch and Close Attention to Possible Troop Movements; Keep the General Strike Option Ready in Case of New Machinations by Trump’s Fascist Judges.

Thanks to Trumps’ Genocidal Policies, Americans Are Now Dying at Rate of Almost One Per Minute; To Save 100,000 Lives or More Before January 20, Let Trump Cop a Plea Deal in Spiro Agnew Tradition and Leave Office at Once for Exile and Oblivion; Then Have Pence Push Through Pelosi’s $3.2 Trillion HEROES Act.

Tasks for Biden: Re-State the US Security Commitment to Taiwan to Deter Aggression by Beijing During US Transition; Tell UK’s Boris Johnson No Trade Accord with US if He Goes for Illegal No Deal Brexit at End of December, Which is Threat to NATO and to World Economic Stability.

Keystone State of Pennsylvania Helped Saved the Constitution at Gettysburg in 1863, and Is Now Helping to Save It Again; Way Is Clear for New Birth of Freedom Foreshadowed by Lincoln.

 

Vox, Opinion: A Coup Attempt In Plain Sight, Ezra Klein, Nov. 7, 2020. How do we cover it when it’s happening here? A few years ago, there was a boom of articles called “If it happened there,” imagining how the American press would cover this or that story if it happened in another country. How would we cover the government shutdown if it happened in another country? The Ferguson protests? The Oregon militia siege? George Floyd’s killing? Mike Bloomberg?

Slate’s Joshua Keating popularized the form, but other outlets, including Vox, have deployed it. The intent was to use the tropes of foreign coverage to create a sense of what the literary critic Darko Suvin called “cognitive estrangement”: severing us from the familiarity and overconfidence that can dull our awareness of extraordinary events. And so you’d get leads like, “the pleasant autumn weather disguises a government teetering on the brink. Because, at midnight Monday night, the government of this intensely proud and nationalistic people will shut down, a drastic sign of political dysfunction in this moribund republic.”

djt as chosen oneBut the slight air of parody lent the whole enterprise a sense of unreality. America isn’t a banana republic. It wasn’t happening there. It was happening here, and that made all the difference. In order to even see the danger, to recognize the depth of tensions or the possibilities of fracture, we had to control for American exceptionalism, for the implicit belief that we were the United States of America, and we were different.

If the past four years — and the past four days — have proven anything, it’s that we are not as different as we believed, not as kissed by providence as we hoped. Perhaps we are not different at all. We need to cover it as if it happening here, because it is.
Donald Trump is trying to discredit an election he is losing

Joe Biden has won the presidency. But the current president of the United States, Donald Trump, is attempting a coup in plain sight. “I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!” he tweeted on Saturday morning. This came after he demanded that states cease counting votes when the total began to turn against him, after his press secretary shocked Fox News anchors by arguing that legally cast votes should be thrown out.

The Trump administration’s current strategy is to go to court to try and get votes for Biden ruled illegitimate, and that strategy explicitly rests on Trump’s appointees honoring a debt the administration, at least, believes they owe. One of his legal advisers said, “We’re waiting for the United States Supreme Court — of which the President has nominated three justices — to step in and do something. And hopefully Amy Coney Barrett will come through.”

If that fails, and it will, Mark Levin, one of the nation’s most popular conservative radio hosts, is explicitly calling on Republican legislatures to reject the election results and seat Donald Trump as president anyway. After Twitter tagged the tweet as contested, Trump’s press secretary weighed in furiously on Levin’s behalf.

That this coup probably will not work — that it is being carried out farcically, erratically, ineffectively — does not mean it is not happening, or that it will not have consequences. Millions will believe Trump, will see the election as stolen. The Trump family’s Twitter feeds, and those of associated outlets and allies, are filled with allegations of fraud and lies about the process (reporter Isaac Saul has been doing yeoman’s work tracking these arguments, and his thread is worth reading). It’s the construction of a confusing, but immersive, alternative reality in which the election has been stolen from Trump and weak-kneed Republicans are letting the thieves escape.

This is, to borrow Hungarian sociologist Bálint Magyar’s framework, “an autocratic attempt.” That’s the stage in the transition toward autocracy in which the would-be autocrat is trying to sever his power from electoral check. If he’s successful, autocratic breakthrough follows, and then autocratic consolidation occurs. In this case, the would-be autocrat stands little chance of being successful. But he will not entirely fail, either. What Trump is trying to form is something akin to an autocracy-in-exile, an alternative America in which he is the rightful leader, and he — and the public he claims to represent — has been robbed of power by corrupt elites.

The corruption of the GOP will outlive Trump’s presidency

Members of the Trump family are explicitly, repeatedly, trying to make the acceptance of their conspiracies a litmus test for ambitious Republicans. And it is working. To read elected Republicans today — with a few notable exceptions, like Sen. Mitt Romney — is to read a careful, cowardly double-speak. Politician after politician is signaling, as Vice President Mike Pence did, solidarity with the president, while not quite endorsing his conspiracies. Of course every legal vote should be counted. Of course allegations of fraud should be addressed. But that is not what the president is demanding — he is demanding the votes against him be ruled illegal — and they know it.

What we are not seeing, in any way, is a wholesale rejection on the right of Trump’s effort to delegitimize the election. And thus there is no reason to believe Trump will not retain his hold over much of the party, and much of its base, going forward.

Even if Trump is rejected in this election, the Republican Party that protected and enabled him will not be. Their geographic advantage in the Senate insulates them from anything but massive, consecutive landslide defeats, and their dominance over the decennial redistricting process has given them a handicap in the House, too.

Here’s the grim kicker: The conditions that made Trump and this Republican Party possible are set to worsen. Republicans retained control of enough statehouses to drive the next redistricting effort, too, and their 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court will unleash their map-drawers more fully. The elections analyst G. Elliott Morris estimates that the gap between the popular vote margin and the tipping point state in the Electoral College will be 4 to 5 percentage points, and that the GOP’s control of the redistricting process could push it to 6 to 7 points next time.

Nov. 6

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ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Biden Edges Into Lead in Georgia as Nation Awaits Winner, Staff reports, Nov. 6, 2020 (5:56 a.m. ET). Biden now leads Trump in Georgia, where the count continues. Joe Biden is leading in Nevada and Arizona and threatening to erase President Trump’s advantage in Pennsylvania. The Trump team is pressing legal challenges in several states.

Joseph R. Biden Jr. stood on the threshold of the American presidency in the early hours of Friday, seizing a slim lead over President Trump in Georgia and drawing ever closer to overtaking him in Pennsylvania. Those victories would secure the 270 electoral votes he needs to lay claim to the White House.

Mr. Biden had already begun to project the image of a man preparing to assume the mantle of office, meeting on Thursday with his economic and health advisers to be briefed on the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking briefly to reporters in Wilmington, Del., Mr. Biden, the former vice president, urged the public to show a “little patience,” as the vote counting in battleground states stretched into a third day.

“Democracy,” he acknowledged, “can sometimes be messy.”

Mr. Biden’s appeal to let the process play out contrasted starkly with Mr. Trump, who took the lectern in the White House briefing room to falsely claim that the election was riddled with fraud, as part of an elaborate coast-to-coast conspiracy by Democrats, the news media and Silicon Valley to deny him a second term.

Mr. Trump was left increasingly with only legal challenges to forestall defeat, while Mr. Biden was betting on the steady accumulation of mail-in ballots to vault him over the top in Pennsylvania. Georgia, which has not elected a Democrat since Bill Clinton in 1992, was headed for a photo finish that could supply an extra cushion of electoral votes to Mr. Biden.

Yet both men were hostage to fortune — waiting, like the rest of America, for the verdict of a counting process that had become a game of inches. Inside the campaign war rooms, staffers took urgent soundings with their field operations to see where the outstanding votes were and how they would break for the candidates.

In Pennsylvania, Mr. Trump’s lead stood at fewer than 20,000 votes, with roughly 175,000 absentee ballots still to count in the state, including more than 58,000 in the Democratic bastion of Philadelphia. In Georgia, Mr. Biden’s total vaulted above Mr. Trump’s around 5 a.m., giving the former vice president a 917-vote lead.

If the eastern battlegrounds were trending toward Mr. Biden, the Trump campaign drew some comfort from the West.

In Arizona, the continuing count whittled Mr. Biden’s early lead in the state to less than 47,000 votes. After a delay in counting the remaining ballots from Maricopa County early in the day on Thursday, election officials continued to plow through tens of thousands of ballots from Phoenix and its sprawling suburbs. In Nevada, where the counting was also slow, Mr. Biden clung to a lead of slightly more than 11,000, with absentee ballots left to count in vote-rich Clark County, home of Las Vegas.

Still, Mr. Biden’s victory in the two Midwestern battleground states of Michigan and Wisconsin put him in a strong position, with multiple paths to victory, depending on what happens in the states yet to be called. Mr. Trump needed a victory in Pennsylvania.

The process was agonizing for partisans on both sides, though for the most part, fears of widespread unrest did not materialize. Officials reported few instances of problems with the voting-counting process.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Biden Leads in Georgia, Inching Closer to the Presidency, Benjamin Mueller, Nov. 6, 2020 (5:39 a.m. ET). Ballots being counted overnight in Georgia, which put Joseph R. Biden Jr. ahead of President Trump in the state, also made it more likely that the state would host two runoffs in January for its Senate seats, with control of the chamber potentially on the line.

The latest batches of ballots from Clayton County narrowed the lead of Senator David Perdue, a Republican, over Jon Ossoff, his Democratic challenger.

With 98 percent of the state’s votes counted by 4 a.m., Mr. Perdue had 49.8 percent of the vote, short of the 50 percent he would need to win the contest outright. The other Senate race in the state had already appeared headed for a runoff. As of Friday morning, Democrats had picked up a single Senate seat in the election, putting them in a 48-to-48 tie with Republicans in the chamber with four seats left to be decided.

Republican victories in some hotly contested seats had already dampened Democrats’ hopes of taking back the Senate. The parties each need 51 seats to control the chamber — or 50 if they also hold the presidency, because the vice president can cast deciding votes. Democrats are leading the race to keep control of the House of Representatives.

Nov. 4

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washington post logoWashington Post, Counting continues in key battlegrounds: Biden 224, Trump 213, John Wagner, Nov. 4, 2020 (8:06 a.m. EST). White House race hangs in balance as votes are counted in key states.

With millions of votes still being counted, the outcome of the race between President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden remained in flux, with the possibility that the winner would not be known for days. Key states where results were outstanding included Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan; Democratic stronghold counties in Georgia were still being counted, as well.

Early Wednesday, Trump falsely asserted election fraud, pledged to mount a legal challenge to official state results and made a premature claim of victory. Biden insisted that “we believe we’re on track to win this election” and pleaded for patience, citing several key states where the vote count was ongoing.

  • Biden is projected to win California, New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Virginia, Washington, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Oregon, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, Delaware and the District of Columbia, plus one electoral vote in Nebraska.
  • Trump is projected to win Texas, Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, Missouri, Alabama, South Carolina, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Utah, West Virginia, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota and Wyoming, plus three electoral votes in Nebraska, according to Edison Research.
  • House Democrats appeared on track to secure another two years in the majority. But the party looked set to fall drastically short of its bullish predictions that it would cut deep into Trump country to grow its majority.
  • Party control of the Senate hung in the balance, but Democratic hopes of securing a majority appeared to dwindle.

washington post logoWashington Post, Top White House adviser Birx contradicts Trump on virus threat, urging all-out response, Lena H. Sun and Josh Dawsey, Nov. 4, 2020 (print ed.). A top White House coronavirus adviser sounded alarms Monday about a new and deadly phase in the health crisis, pleading with top administration officials for “much more aggressive action,” even as President Trump continues to assure rallygoers that the nation is “rounding the turn” on the pandemic.

“We are entering the most concerning and most deadly phase of this pandemic … leading to increasing mortality,” said the Nov. 2 report from Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force. “This is not about lockdowns — it hasn’t been about lockdowns since March or April. It’s about an aggressive balanced approach that is not being implemented.”

Birx’s internal report, shared with top White House and agency officials, contradicts Trump on numerous points: While the president holds large campaign events with hundreds of attendees, most without masks, she explicitly warns against them. While the president blames rising cases on more testing, she says testing is “flat or declining” in many areas where cases are rising. And while Trump says the country is “rounding the turn,” Birx notes that the country is entering its most dangerous period yet and will see more than 100,000 new cases a day this week.

Through a spokesperson, Birx did not respond to a request for comment.

Other health experts, including Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have warned of record surges in cases and hospitalizations as the United States records more than 9 million cases and 230,000 deaths.

“We’re in for a whole lot of hurt,” Fauci told The Washington Post late Friday, predicting a long and potentially deadly winter unless there’s an “abrupt change” — prompting Trump to suggest that he planned to fire the scientist after the election.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump blatantly seeks to undermine democracy with attempts to falsely claim victory, subvert election, Dan Balz, Nov. 4, 2020. For four years, President Trump has sought to undermine the institutions of a democratic society, but never so blatantly as in the early morning hours of Wednesday. His attempt to falsely claim victory and to subvert the election itself by calling for a halt to vote-counting represents the gravest of threats to the stability of the country.

Millions of votes remain to be counted, votes cast legally under the laws of the states. Until they are all counted, the outcome of the election remains in doubt. Either he or former vice president Joe Biden could win an electoral college majority, but neither has yet done so, no matter what he says. Those are the facts, for which the president shows no respect.

A president who respected the Constitution would let things play out. But Trump has shown once again he cares not about the Constitution or the stability and well-being of the country or anything like that. He cares only about himself and retaining the powers he now holds. And so he cries “fraud” when there is no evidence whatsoever of any such thing.

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Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion:The world has seen this nightmare before, Wayne Madsen, left, Nov. 4, 2020. Voter suppression and intimidation resulted in what all the "predictions" had augured, an outright electoral victory was declared for a far-right and nationalist bloc. At two o'clock in the morning, with 90 percent of the vote counted, the far-right and nationalist bloc was declared wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallthe victor. Out of 648 seats in the national legislature, the far-right and nationalist bloc received a total of 341 or 52 percent.

The leader of the rightist bloc claimed immediate victory. Just as Donald Trump is trying to manipulate himself into a second term as U.S. president after a concerted campaign of voter suppression, mail-in ballot interference, and intimidation of voters, Adolf Hitler capped off his campaign victory by declaring that he had a popular mandate to scrap Germany's democracy in favor of authoritarian rule. Of course, Hitler's victory, after acts of violence committed by his followers on peaceful citizens, was a morally shallow one.

Make no mistake about it. What occurred in the morning of March 6, 1933 in Berlin was not much different than Trump, the son of a Nazi intelligence plant in New York City and other locations in the 1930s and 40s, declaring in the early morning hours of November 4, 2020 a premature victory in an election that had millions of ballots remaining to be counted.

djt smiling fileBy March 12, Hitler had added the Steel Helmets and Nazi Storm Troopers to the ranks of the police. Across the United States, police and pro-Trump militias and white nationalist provocateurs have been witnessed as comrades-in-arms.

The Nazi government also set out to purge the German Civil Service of all those who entered government service after 1918 and were not Nazi loyalists. Mr. Trump had ordered a similar purge of the U.S. Civil Service of non-Trump loyalists a few weeks prior to the November 3 election.

Today, there is no FDR to help guide the nation through economic and political turmoil. There is only a menacing Donald Trump, who has vowed to remain in power at all costs and with, perhaps, thousands of vigilantes, police, and armed militia gangs to enforce his every dictate.

Media News

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: We still don’t know much about this election — except that the media and pollsters blew it again, Margaret Sullivan, Nov. 4, 2020. Observations on the unexpected election night we should have seen coming.

By early morning Wednesday, there was a lot that millions of anxious Americans didn’t know.

Mainly, they didn’t know who the president-elect is. That, in itself, wasn’t unexpected, nor is it terrible.
Follow the latest on Election 2020

But after consuming hours of news on Tuesday night, and observing the election results thus far, there are a few things that we can be certain of.

● That we should never again put as much stock in public opinion polls, and those who interpret them, as we’ve grown accustomed to doing. Polling seems to be irrevocably broken, or at least our understanding of how seriously to take it is.

The supposedly commanding lead that Joe Biden carried for weeks didn’t last very long into Tuesday evening. This was a lead, remember, that many predicted could result in a landslide Biden victory, help turn the Senate blue, and bring the Democrats amazing victories in red states like Ohio and Florida.

Fox News called Arizona early for Biden — and once again, prompted Trump to question its loyalty

It didn’t take long for that dream to dissipate into a much more typical process of divvying up the states into red and blue, with a lot of unknowns added in. But none of it amounted to the clear repudiation of Trump that a lot of the polling caused us to think was coming. (As for the New York Times “needle” that projected results for Georgia, North Carolina and Florida? Just as in 2016, the way the graphic twitched and swerved throughout the evening once again was capable of provoking a heart attack or, depending on your politics, nausea.)

● The news media, in general, has not done a good job of covering the Latino vote. “One day after this election is over I am going to write a piece about how Latino is a contrived ethnic category that artificially lumps white Cubans with Black Puerto Ricans and Indigenous Guatemalans . . .” tweeted Nikole Hannah-Jones of the New York Times.

Nov. 3

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ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Americans Write Final Chapter of Presidential Race Like No Other, Staff reports, Nov. 3, 2020. With millions of votes already cast, many Americans still lined up before dawn to vote. “It’s part of history, with everything going on,” one woman said; Twitter and Facebook will warn users about election posts that prematurely declare victory; The swing states of Michigan and Pennsylvania were 11th-hour campaign stops. They also set single-day records for new virus cases. Here’s the latest.

As the polls opened on Tuesday, nearly 100 million Americans had already cast a ballot. President Trump closed his campaign by questioning the fairness of the election and raising the prospect of unrest. Joe Biden urged voters to end a presidency that has “fanned the flames of hate.”

ny times logoNew York Times, As Election Day Arrives, Trump Shifts Between Combativeness and Grievance, Maggie Haberman, Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin, Nov. 3, 2020 (print ed.). The president is sounding notes of bravado and exasperation at the end of a divisive campaign. But he may have severed himself from the political realities of a country in crisis.

President Trump arrives at Election Day on Tuesday toggling between confidence and exasperation, bravado and grievance, and marinating in frustration that he is trailing Joseph R. Biden Jr., whom he considers an unworthy opponent.

“Man, it’s going to be embarrassing if I lose to this guy,” Mr. Trump has told advisers, a lament he has aired publicly as well. But in the off-camera version, Mr. Trump frequently exclaims, “This guy!” in reference to Mr. Biden, with a salty adjective separating the words.

Trailing in most polls, Mr. Trump has careened through a marathon series of rallies in the last week, trying to tear down Mr. Biden and energize his supporters, but also fixated on crowd size and targeting perceived enemies like the news media and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s infectious disease expert whom he suggested on Sunday he might try to dismiss after the election.

At every turn, the president has railed that the voting system is rigged against him and has threatened to sue when the election is over, in an obvious bid to undermine an electoral process strained by the coronavirus pandemic. It is not clear, however, precisely what legal instruments Mr. Trump believes he has at his disposal.

The president, his associates say, has drawn encouragement from his larger audiences and from a stream of relatively upbeat polling information that advisers have curated for him, typically filtering out the bleakest numbers.

ny times logoNew York Times, The One Pollster in America Who Is Sure Trump Is Going to Win, Giovanni Russonello and Sarah Lyall, Nov. 3, 2020 (print ed.). Robert Cahaly’s polls have Arizona, Michigan and Florida in the president’s column. It’s hard to find another pollster who agrees with him. But they didn’t believe him in 2016 either.

If President Trump pieces together an Electoral College win on Tuesday, at least one pollster — and perhaps only one — will be able to say, “I told you so.”

That person is Robert Cahaly, whose Trafalgar Group this year has released a consistent stream of battleground-state polls showing the president highly competitive against Joseph R. Biden Jr., and often out ahead, in states where most other pollsters have shown a steady Biden lead.

Trafalgar does not disclose its methods, and is considered far too shadowy by other pollsters to be taken seriously. Mostly, they dismiss it as an outlier. But for Mr. Cahaly, “I told you so” is already a calling card.

In 2016, its first time publicly releasing polls, Trafalgar was the firm whose state surveys most effectively presaged Mr. Trump’s upset win. A veteran Republican strategist, Mr. Cahaly even called the exact number of Electoral College votes that Mr. Trump and Hillary Clinton would receive — 306 to 227 — although his prediction of which states would get them there was just slightly off.

So with liberal anxieties flaring over whether to trust the polls, the gregarious, goatee-and-bowtie-wearing Mr. Cahaly has been in demand on cable news lately. In addition to frequent appearances on Fox News, Mr. Cahaly was on CNN last week, explaining to Michael Smerconish why he thought the president would walk away with an easy victory — and defending himself against a battery of critiques that Mr. Smerconish called up, one by one, from Mr. Cahaly’s peers.

Amid a crush of pre-election media coverage seeking his theory of the case — it drove more than 1.5 million clicks to Trafalgar’s site on Monday, he said — the big question seems to be: Is it possible to believe a guy whose polls consistently give Mr. Trump just enough support for a narrow lead in most swing states, and who refuses to reveal much of anything about how he gets his data?

In his last few polls of this election season, Mr. Cahaly has found Mr. Trump with two-to-three-point advantages in North Carolina, Arizona, Michigan and Florida, and wider leads elsewhere. That puts him far out of line with almost all major pollsters, whose surveys in those states are generally showing Mr. Biden with the edge. As different as things are this year, it’s hard to miss the echo of 2016, when Trafalgar occupied a similarly lonely position on the eve of Nov. 8.

Palmer Report, Opinion: So that was unusual, Bill Palmer, Nov. 3, 2020. By the time today is over, we’ll start to find out just how right or wrong the 2020 polls were. Joe Biden enters election day bill palmerwith a national lead of eight to ten points (depending on how you calculate the averages), a lead in most swing states, a significant lead in a few swing states, and even a small lead in some red states.

bill palmer report logo headerEven if the polling is off in 2020 by the same amount that it was off by in 2016, it’ll still give Joe Biden an electoral college victory. We all have to go out and vote today, but if we finish this right, Biden should win. The polls can be wrong, but they’re never this wrong. Here’s the crazy part though.

The national polls right now look a lot like they did a month ago, three months ago, six months ago, and even a year ago. The final Biden vs Trump polling averages are about the same as they were back when this election cycle was first starting, and a hypothetical Biden vs Trump matchup was being polled.

All the crazy, shocking, earth shifting things that happened, and none of it moved the needle in either direction. During the course of this election cycle we had an impeachment, a pandemic, civil unrest, an elaborate phony scandal about one candidate’s son, a sitting President catching a plague, nearly a quarter million Americans dead… and none of it seemed to change anyone’s mind. The polls have been about the same the entire time. That would be unusual for any election cycle, let alone the most chaotic election cycle we’ve ever had.

Compare this to four years ago, when the polling averages jumped around constantly at any whiff of news or scandal. Perhaps it’s because last time no one really knew what to make of Donald Trump and they kept changing their minds, but this time everyone knows exactly who and what Trump is. A disturbing minority of Americans have decided they like the hellscape that Trump has created, but fortunately a far larger majority have decided they want Joe Biden to step in and fix the damage that Trump has done.

washington post logoWashington Post, Top White House adviser Birx contradicts Trump on virus threat, urging all-out response, Lena H. Sun and Josh Dawsey, Nov. 3, 2020. A top White House coronavirus adviser sounded alarms Monday about a new and deadly phase in the health crisis, pleading with top administration officials for “much more aggressive action,” even as President Trump continues to assure rallygoers that the nation is “rounding the turn” on the pandemic.

“We are entering the most concerning and most deadly phase of this pandemic … leading to increasing mortality,” said the Nov. 2 report from Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force. “This is not about lockdowns — it hasn’t been about lockdowns since March or April. It’s about an aggressive balanced approach that is not being implemented.”

Birx’s internal report, shared with top White House and agency officials, contradicts Trump on numerous points: While the president holds large campaign events with hundreds of attendees, most without masks, she explicitly warns against them. While the president blames rising cases on more testing, she says testing is “flat or declining” in many areas where cases are rising. And while Trump says the country is “rounding the turn,” Birx notes that the country is entering its most dangerous period yet and will see more than 100,000 new cases a day this week.

Through a spokesperson, Birx did not respond to a request for comment.

Other health experts, including Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have warned of record surges in cases and hospitalizations as the United States records more than 9 million cases and 230,000 deaths.

“We’re in for a whole lot of hurt,” Fauci told The Washington Post late Friday, predicting a long and potentially deadly winter unless there’s an “abrupt change” — prompting Trump to suggest that he planned to fire the scientist after the election.

joe biden

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘Presidents Don’t Determine Who Gets to Vote,’ Biden Says, Katie Glueck, Nov. 3, 2020 (print ed.). Joseph R. Biden Jr. kicked off the final day before the election with a foray into a state that for four years has been a symbol of Democratic disappointment: Ohio.

“Ohio: One more day!” Mr. Biden said at a drive-in rally at an airport hangar in Cleveland. “Tomorrow we have an opportunity to put an end to a presidency that’s divided this nation. Tomorrow we can put an end to a presidency that has failed to protect this nation. And tomorrow we can put an end to a presidency that’s fanned the flames of hate all across this country.”

“My message is simple,” Mr. Biden said. “The power to change the country is in your hands.”

His remarks there come amid record-setting early in-person voting in Cuyahoga County, a major Democratic county in a Trump-friendly state that his team has watched closely. Ohio, which helped deliver the presidency to Donald J. Trump in 2016, is still seen by many Democrats as a reach for Mr. Biden, who is otherwise expected to spend the day campaigning in nearby western Pennsylvania.

But his campaign is seeking to create as many pathways to 270 electoral votes as possible, and a number of officials on Mr. Biden’s team have personal connections to the state, including Steve Ricchetti, a top Biden adviser and Ohio native.

“Ohio is like Iowa, is like Texas,” said Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, Mr. Biden’s campaign manager, in a briefing later Monday. “These expansion states on both sides that, you know, frankly, are in play. And what we’ve seen coming into this final stretch is that more states are in play than less.”

“They’re in play even further,” she added, “if we keep pushing on turnout.”

At the rally, Mr. Biden also referenced the electoral success of Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, in a state that has become increasingly challenging for Democrats. “So when Sherrod tells me to come to Ohio the day before, I come to Ohio,” Mr. Biden said.

Ohio twice voted for the Obama-Biden ticket, Mr. Biden reminded voters on Monday.

“In 2008, 2012, you placed your trust in me and Barack,” Mr. Biden said. “In 2020 I’m asking you to trust me again. I’m proud of the coalition this campaign has built. We welcome Democrats, Republicans and independents.”

In his remarks, Mr. Biden took aim at Mr. Trump’s remarks on Sunday in which he appeared to entertain the idea of firing Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert.

“Elect me and I’m going to hire Dr. Fauci,” Mr. Biden said. “We’re going to fire Donald Trump.”

In his address in Ohio, Mr. Biden hit many of the same things he has been stressing for months, even years in some cases: that Mr. Trump’s divisive presidency poses a unique threat to the nation’s character, that he does not respect even members of the military, that he does not grasp the threat of climate change and that he has mishandled the pandemic at every turn.

“The first step to beating the virus,” Mr. Biden said, “is beating Donald Trump.”

Mr. Biden then headed to Pennsylvania, where he, Senator Kamala Harris and their spouses, Jill Biden and Doug Emhoff, are fanning out across the state, seeking to promote his message to a broad coalition of voters and, in some cases, also targeting their message toward key House districts.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump calls in to Fox & Friends and sounds completely defeated and half dead, Bill Palmer, Nov. 3, 2020. During his rally last night, it finally seemed to be sinking in bill palmerfor Donald Trump that he was about to lose when he said this about Joe Biden: “Could he really win? Are we serious about this?” But was that just an isolated moment of reality, or would his delusions return today?

bill palmer report logo headerWhen Trump called in to Fox & Friends this morning, he seemed completely defeated in every way. Sounding listless and half asleep, Trump merely said that he felt he had a “very solid chance of winning” instead of his usual boasts about winning for sure. He also said that “It’s been a great run,” something that you usually only say when you think you’re at the end of it.

By now, candidates are usually running on pure adrenaline and momentum no matter how tired they may be from the campaign trail. But this morning Donald Trump sounded unsure of himself, at a loss for words, and sad. And when we say “sad” we mean both unhappy and pathetic.

In any case, while Donald Trump clearly fears he’s going to lose today, the only way to ensure that will happen is to spend today voting – and convincing as many people in your personal life as possible to vote. Let’s really leave it all on the field today, so we can get this Trump nightmare over with and celebrate President-elect Joe Biden.

Nov. 2

American System TV, Opinion: On Election Day, Vote to Free American from the Nightmare of Trump and Trumpism, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Nov. 2, 2020.  webster tarpley 2007Fate of US and World Is Riding on This Election; Almost 100 Million Americans So Far Have Made Clear that They Believe in Voting and Majority Rule, Unlike the Aspiring Great Dictator.

Trump Claim of Victory Would Be Seen as Signal to Fascist Gangs to Attack, Providing a Pretext for Martial Law and Halting of Vote Count; Dems’ Legal Defense Chief Bob Bauer Says They Are Ready; Federal Judge Rejects Attempt by Texas GOP to Shred 125,000 Drive-Thru Ballots.

Experienced Political Operatives and Pollsters Predict That Trump’s Defeat Could Be Obvious by About Ten O’Clock Tuesday Evening; They Predict Alternatives Come Down to a Skinny Biden Win with About 300 Electoral Votes, or else a Biden Landslide Victory; Biden Warned Never to Concede or Capitulate; Carville Urges that Biden Declare Himself the Winner Early in the Evening to Beat Trump to the Draw.

Biden’s Simplest Path is Winning Clinton States, Plus Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, along with North Carolina or Georgia as Insurance Against Surprises Elsewhere.

Democrats Expected to Gain 10 to 15 Seats in House; GOP’s Senate Majority Likely to Evaporate; Total Wipeout for Republicans Could Put GOP on Path to Extinction as National Force.

At This Point, Any Riot is a Pro-Trump Riot, and Must Be Denounced and Isolated; Deranged Ultra-Left Provocateurs Tout Plans to Shut Down Washington Without Waiting for Election Result; Their Posturing is Grist for Propaganda Mill of Alt-Right!

Palmer Report, Opinion: Don’t mistake what Donald Trump is doing here, Bill Palmer, right, Nov. 2, 2020. On Sunday morning, Trump surrogate Jason Miller announced on bill palmertelevision that Donald Trump’s plan would be to declare victory on election night – no matter the results – and then try to get the courts to side with him. Later on Sunday, Axios reported the same thing. None of this should come as a surprise. Nor should you misinterpret what it means.

bill palmer report logo headerIf any of Donald Trump’s evil plans had worked up to this point, he wouldn’t be in this situation. The fake scandals he created would be dominating the headlines right now, as if they were real. He’d be even, or ahead, in the polls. He wouldn’t be backed into a corner where he knows he’s about to lose badly, and be reduced to having to beg for millions of ballots to somehow be invalidated.

The thing is, Donald Trump has to falsely declare victory on election night. It’s his only remaining play. If he loses, he goes to prison, his assets are seized, and his life is over – and he knows it. So he has to make the desperate and frankly embarrassing move of declaring victory, and hoping that it somehow magically gets him out of the hole he’s in. It won’t, because if he loses in a blowout, there’s no magically saving him; nothing works in such childlike simplistic fashion.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump begins building a fortress around the White House in case he loses, Bill Palmer, Nov. 1, 2020. We’ve already seen Donald Trump hide in the White House basement while massive fencing was built around the building, a reminder of just how weak and petrified he is. Now that he’s just days away from likely losing the election, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that he now appears to be building an even more elaborate fortress around the White House.

bill palmer report logo headerNBC’s Geoff Bennett says that starting on Monday, “crews will build a “non-scalable” fence to secure the WH complex, Ellipse and Lafayette Square.” That’s cute. He’s literally walling himself in, in case he loses. This shows just how much he fears what comes next. It also suggests that he’s become so paranoid, he’s lost all touch with reality.

For starters, even if Donald Trump loses the election, he’ll still be President until late January. He’s barricading himself inside the building three months before he’ll have to leave it. Also, this isn’t real estate. Trump doesn’t have squatter’s rights. If he just sits in the White House until January and refuses to leave, Joe Biden will be sworn in on the Capitol steps anyway, and Trump will just be a schmuck who’s trespassing in the White House. In any case, this all just keeps getting dumber.

Nov. 1

  anthony fauci graphic Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘A whole lot of hurt’: Fauci warns of covid-19 surge, offers blunt assessment of Trump’s response, Josh Dawsey and Yasmeen Abutaleb, Nov. 1, 2020 (print ed.).  President Trump’s repeated assertions the United States is “rounding the turn” on the novel coronavirus have increasingly alarmed the government's top health experts, who say the country is heading into a long and potentially deadly winter with an unprepared government unwilling to make tough choices.

“We’re in for a whole lot of hurt. It’s not a good situation,” Anthony S. Fauci, shown above last spring, the country’s leading infectious-disease expert, said in a wide-ranging interview late Friday. “All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors. You could not possibly be positioned more poorly.”

Fauci, a leading member of the government’s coronavirus response, said the United States needed to make an “abrupt change” in public health practices and behaviors. He said the country could surpass 100,000 new coronavirus cases a day and predicted rising deaths in the coming weeks. He spoke as the nation set a new daily record Friday with more than 98,000 cases. As hospitalizations increase, deaths are also ticking up, with more than 1,000 reported Wednesday and Thursday, bringing the total to more than 230,000 since the start of the pandemic, according to health data analyzed by The Washington Post.

kayleigh mcenany djt

washington post logoWashington Post, Trailing in the polls, Trump enlists his administration and co-opts the government to bolster his reelection, David Nakamura and Paul Sonne, Nov. 1, 2020 (print ed.). In moves that have drawn rebukes from government ethics watchdogs, he has employed an all-hands-on-deck approach to maintaining office, dispatching aides to act as surrogates and using the government’s machinery to boost his campaign.

In the final days of the 2020 election season, President Trump has featured his White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, above right, as a star at his campaign rallies, where she has triumphantly joined him onstage.

Trump’s daughter Ivanka, a senior White House adviser, has stumped for him and on Saturday posted a stylized photo with uniformed law enforcement officers in Wisconsin, a key battleground.

His top aides, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser Robert O’Brien, have found pressing official business in a number of swing states, traveling there on taxpayer money.

And Trump is considering shifting his election night viewing party from the Trump International Hotel to the White House — a move that could help him skirt the local D.C. government’s coronavirus restrictions while also overriding long-standing norms from both political parties to refrain from overt campaigning at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

U.S. Election Polling, Predictions

joe biden

ny times logoNew York Times, Election at Hand, Biden Leads Trump in Four Key States, Poll Shows, Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin, Nov. 1, 2020. Joe Biden holds a clear advantage over President Trump in Pennsylvania, Florida, Arizona and Wisconsin, a New York Times/Siena College poll shows.

Mr. Biden is being bolstered by voters who did not participate in the 2016 election, but who now appear to be turning out in large numbers for him.

Joseph R. Biden Jr. holds a clear advantage over President Trump across four of the most important presidential swing states, a new poll shows, bolstered by the support of voters who did not participate in the 2016 election and who now appear to be turning out in large numbers to cast their ballots, mainly for the Democrat.

Mr. Biden, the former vice president, is ahead of Mr. Trump in the Northern battlegrounds of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, as well as in the Sun Belt states of Florida and Arizona, according to a poll of likely voters conducted by The New York Times and Siena College. His strength is most pronounced in Wisconsin, where he has an outright majority of the vote and leads Mr. Trump by 11 points, 52 percent to 41 percent. Mr. Biden’s performance across the electoral map appears to put him in a stronger position heading into Election Day than any presidential candidate since at least 2008, when in the midst of a global economic crisis Barack Obama captured the White House with 365 Electoral College votes and Mr. Biden at his side.

In the closing days of the campaign, Mr. Biden has a modest advantage in Florida, where he is ahead of Mr. Trump by three points, 47 percent to 44 percent, a lead that is within the margin of error. He leads by six points in both Arizona and Pennsylvania. In no state did Mr. Trump’s support climb higher than 44 percent.

washington post logoWashington Post, Post-ABC polls: Biden has slight lead in Pennsylvania; Florida a toss-up, Dan Balz, Scott Clement and Emily Guskin, Nov. 1, 2020. While the shift is slight, former Vice President Joe Biden no longer holds a statistically significant advantage, given the four-point margin of sampling error that applies to each candidates’ support; Trump is rated high on the economy but low on coronavirus as case numbers rise.

As the presidential race enters its final days, competition remains fierce in two of the most important battleground states, with former vice president Joe Biden holding a slight lead over President Trump in Pennsylvania and the two candidates in a virtual dead heat in Florida, according to two Washington Post-ABC News polls.

Among likely voters in Pennsylvania, Biden is at 51 percent to Trump’s 44 percent, and Libertarian Jo Jorgensen is at 3 percent. Biden was leading by 54 percent to 45 percent a month ago. While the shift is slight, Biden no longer holds a statistically significant advantage, given the four-point margin of sampling error that applies to each candidates’ support. Among all registered voters in the Keystone State, Biden is at 49 percent to Trump’s 45 percent, with Jorgensen at 3 percent.

In Florida, Trump is at 50 percent to Biden’s 48 percent among likely voters. Jorgensen registers at 1 percent. Last month, Trump was at 51 percent and Biden at 47 percent. Among registered voters in Florida, Trump stands at 49 percent with Biden at 47 percent. Last month among registered voters, Biden was at 48 percent and Trump at 47 percent. Those month-to-month shifts are not statistically significant.

Although there are other battleground states in play in these final days, many analysts see Florida and Pennsylvania as holding the keys to the outcome of the election. Trump won both states in 2016, but barely, taking Florida by just over one percentage point and Pennsylvania by less than one point.

Palmer Report, Opinion: I like our chances, Bill Palmer, right, Nov. 1, 2020. More people would be reading this article right now if I’d given it a scary headline about how we bill palmercould be just forty-eight hours from total doom. But I’ve never been interested in trying to scare people into paying attention to my political analysis, and I’m not going to start now. I don’t believe in optimism, but I do believe in evidence.

When you look at the numbers and the circumstances, there is far, far, far greater reason to expect Joe Biden to win than there was to expect Hillary Clinton to win. The two elections just look so different; the main difference being that Donald Trump keeps trying the same tricks as last time, yet this time he isn’t getting much mileage out of any of them. Hunter Biden’s emails? Crazed rallies? Lock somebody up? This is all so 2016. The clear majority of the country is over it.

bill palmer report logo headerHeading into Election Day in 2016, Clinton had a three and a half point lead in the national polling averages; she ended up winning by two points (and therefore lost the Electoral College). Heading into Election Day in 2020, Biden has an eight to ten point lead in the national polling averages, depending on how you do the math; if the polls are off in 2020 by the same amount they were off in 2016, Biden will win an Electoral College landslide.

And while I believe the Supreme Court wouldn’t hesitate to hand Donald Trump a victory if the deciding swing state came down to a few hundred votes like in 2000, there is nothing to suggest that this election is going to be close. If Biden wins decisively, Trump may put up a fight – but Democrats have lawyers too, and Biden will be named the winner.

So yeah, we should all be concerned that there’s a remote chance our country could come to an end in forty-eight hours. I’m not going to sugar coat how ugly it would be if Trump did win. But the odds are overwhelmingly in our favor. I like our chances. And if you’re worried about the remote chance that everything might be about to go to hell, then spend these final two days making sure your friends, family, and associates turn out and vote. We’ve spent four years working to take Trump down. Now let’s finish the job.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump just made Biden’s closing argument for him, Dana Milbank, right, Nov. 1, 2020 (print ed.).  This is the time for presidential candidates to make their closing dana milbank Customarguments, but Joe Biden didn’t really have to.

“The Fake News Media is riding COVID, COVID, COVID, all the way to the Election. Losers!” Trump tweeted.

“Covid, covid, covid, covid,” he said in Nebraska.

“Covid, covid, covid, covid, covid, covid, covid, covid, covid, covid!” he railed in Michigan

Trump was doubling down — actually, tripling, quadrupling, sextupling and decupling down — on the very thing costing him the election: his incompetent and inhumane handling of the greatest mass trauma in living memory for the vast majority of Americans.

U.S. Elections / Democracy

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Dishonesty Has Defined Trump’s Presidency. The Consequences Could Be Lasting, Peter Baker, Nov. 1, 2020. Whether President Trump wins or loses, the concept of public trust in a set of facts necessary for the operation of a democratic society has been eroded.

Born amid made-up crowd size claims and “alternative facts,” the Trump presidency has been a factory of falsehood from the start, churning out distortions, conspiracy theories and brazen lies at an assembly-line pace that has challenged fact-checkers and defied historical analogy.

But now, with the election just days away, the consequences of four years of fabulism are coming into focus as President Trump argues that the vote itself is inherently “rigged,” tearing at the credibility of the system. Should the contest go into extra innings through legal challenges after Tuesday, it may leave a public with little faith in the outcome — and in its own democracy.

The nightmarish scenario of widespread doubt and denial of the legitimacy of the election would cap a period in American history when truth itself has seemed at stake under a president who has strayed so far from the normal bounds that he creates what allies call his own reality. Even if the election ends with a clear victory or defeat for Mr. Trump, scholars and players alike say the very concept of public trust in an established set of facts necessary for the operation of a democratic society has eroded during his tenure with potentially long-term ramifications.

“You can mitigate the damage, but you can’t bring it back to 100 percent the way it was before,” said Lee McIntyre, the author of “Post-Truth” and a philosopher at Boston University. “And I think that’s going to be Trump’s legacy. I think there’s going to be lingering damage to the processes by which we vet truths for decades. People are going to be saying, ‘Oh, that’s fake news.’ The confusion between skepticism and denialism, the idea that if you don’t want to believe something, you don’t have to believe it, that’s really damaging and that’s going to last.”

ny times logoNew York Times, President Trump is casting doubts on ballots counted after Nov. 3. But states have always tallied past midnight, Maggie Astor, Nov. 1, 2020.  For weeks, President Trump and his allies have been laying groundwork to challenge the results of the election if he loses. Now, in the final days of the campaign, he has settled on a blatantly ahistorical closing argument: that the votes in a fair election should not be counted past election night.

“The Election should end on November 3rd., not weeks later!” he tweeted on Friday, two days after telling reporters in Nevada, “Hopefully, the few states remaining that want to take a lot of time after Nov. 3 to count ballots, that won’t be allowed by the various courts.”

“You would think you want to have the votes counted, tabulated, finished by the evening of Nov. 3,” he said at a campaign event a week earlier.

In reality, the scenario Mr. Trump is outlining — every vote in a modern election being “counted, tabulated, finished” by midnight — is not possible and never has been. No state ever reports final results on election night, and no state is legally expected to.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Waiting to exhale, Robert Harrington, right, Nov. 1, 2020. To quote Stormy Daniels, let’s get this unpleasantness over with. We have been robert harrington twitterwaiting to exhale for nearly four long years. It’s hard to believe but the moment is finally almost on top of us. I still recall that bleak morning, 9 November, 2016, when I awoke to the surreal news that Donald Trump — yes, really, THAT Donald Trump — was president of the United States.

We consoled ourselves with the words of pundits assuring us that Trump wouldn’t survive the first year of his first and only term. We were off by four disastrous years. We never really believed he’d make it to the next election until the next election was all that we had to hope for. And now — here it is at last.

bill palmer report logo headerMeanwhile they still astonish us with their feeble hypocrisies. Their latest nontroversy, the “But his laptop” boondoggle, has turned out to be a colossal red herring, fooling no one but the already willingly fooled.

Contrast the pearl-clutching, virtue-signaling, counterfeit indignation over four dead Americans in Benghazi, to the chinless dauphin, the soi-disant “expert,” Donald Trump Junior, proclaiming to Laura Ingraham, “Give me a break, Laura, the reality is … the number [of Covid deaths] is almost nothing.” This on the first day of a three day spree of 2,977 American deaths due to Covid-19. If the number 2,977 sounds familiar, by the way, it’s because that’s the number of human beings who died in the United States due to the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.

djt pence yard sign logoAs I write this, 236,072 Americans are dead from Covid-19. Meanwhile, Donald Trump Junior is on a self-congratulations tour over his father’s “victory” over the pandemic. I know how tired this game is getting, but imagine Obama being in the same place. Fox News excoriated Obama and Hillary Clinton over Benghazi for four long, tedious years. But let’s be honest here, for Republicans in general and Fox News in particular it isn’t about four dead Americans or four hundred dead Americans or 236,072 dead Americans. It’s about whether or not a Republican or a Democrat is in charge when it happens. That is all they care about.

I don’t want to tempt fate here, but I have a feeling we’ve got this one in the bag. Donald Trump is going to lose and he’s going to lose big. As I write this, a staggering 91.6 million Americans have already voted. That’s 67% of the 136.5 million ballots cast in the entire 2016 presidential election. In an election where the electorate has been fed the disinformation by Donald Trump and his flunkies that only Election Day votes are free of suspicion, those figures presage a blue wave of voting the likes of which has never been seen before.

While we wait, remember this. We have not just the right but the duty to remember the people who made Donald Trump and his murderous, hateful, divisive regime possible. Like an Oscar winner thanking the people who made the moment possible, it’s our turn to recall and expose the people who need to be blamed.

First I’d like to blame Fox News. Were it not for their shameful, 24-year-long campaign of deceit dressed up as news, Donald Trump would not have been possible.

Next, I’d like to blame the spineless cretins who carried water and made endless excuses for this murderous psychopath. They include Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, Bill Barr, Kellyanne Conway, Mark Meadows, Mick Mulvaney, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Batman Villain Roger Stone, handbag maven Ivanka, Dumb and Dumber, Don Junior and Eric, respectively, the shirt-tucking Rudy Giuliani, Mike “Lock her up” Flynn, the glassy-eyed dybbuk Jared Kushner, our home-grown Goebbels, Stephen “I’m gonna party like it’s 1499” Miller, the latest Trump-circle arrestee Steve Bannon — oh, there are so many! I apologize for the ones I missed. But don’t worry, we’ll get to you sooner or later. And you will carry the full weight of your own considerable blame.

Next I’d like to blame the Trump supporter. The book-hating, mono-tooth, drooling, ignorant, nose-picking, gun-toting, Dunning-Kruger poster children who never met a cliche they didn’t want to become. Thank you for being the perfect, Mad Magazine exemplar of an idiot with his hat on sideways, standing on a corner waiting to prove how stupid he really is.

Finally I’d like to blame Trump himself. Trump the monster, Trump the psycho, Trump the self-dealing, bottomless ego-feeding shredder of our sacred Constitution and wretched defiler of our consecrated People’s House. For crimes against humanity, Donald John Trump, I condemn you to the eternal infamy of all of human history, and, if there’s true justice for all in America, prison for the rest of your miserable life.

Oct. 31

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The Trumps don’t seem to understand that their supporters are dying from the coronavirus, Philip Bump, Oct. 31, 2020 (print ed.). Six in 10 deaths at this point are happening in red counties.

For two consecutive nights, as President Trump was barnstorming swing states, his two eldest sons appeared on Laura Ingraham’s Fox News program, where they dismissed the threat posed by the coronavirus.
Follow the latest on Election 2020

On Wednesday, Eric Trump made his appearance. His interview was centered on the unfounded claim that social media companies were “censoring” conservatives.

“The one thing you don’t want to do to Americans is take away their free speech. It’s our First Amendment right for a reason,” he said, conflating Twitter’s efforts to stem disinformation with government censorship of speech.

“I’m telling you,” he added, “people aren’t happy about it. I think it’s probably become the number one issue in politics in the last couple of weeks.”

A claim that social media companies adding warnings to false claims by the president (which is really the recent spur for this frustration) is the number one issue in politics is unquestionably ridiculous. That the son of the president, someone who has been on the campaign trail stumping for his father, would say this with sincerity during a period when deaths from the coronavirus are on the rise is simply callous.

djt looking up

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just gave away the game, Bill Palmer, right, Oct. 31, 2020. Looking and sounding worn down today, Donald Trump said this at his rally: “If we win on Tuesday or — bill palmerthank you very much, Supreme Court — shortly thereafter…” In so doing, Trump just gave away the game. He doesn’t think he has any chance of winning the popular vote or the Electoral College, and his only hope of victory is if the court bails him out.

bill palmer report logo headerTrump seems to be severely overestimating the Supreme Court’s willingness to throw away its own viability in order to save him if the election isn’t close. If the deciding swing state comes down to 500 votes or something (like in 2000), then yeah, the Supreme Court will probably hand it to him. But even this Supreme Court knows it can’t pull off throwing out millions of ballots. Millions of people would be in the streets. There wouldn’t really be a government or a country anymore.

Even the Justices who lean toward Trump understand this. Trump is fantasizing if he thinks that’ll happen. We’ve already seen two of Trump’s own Supreme Court appointees go against him on his tax returns, because they wanted to make sure they remained viable in a post-Trump world. Yet Trump still thinks the court is going to magically bail him out no matter what. But then narcissists like Trump always do confuse their transactional allies for fawning loyalists.

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP shifts from challenging rules to preparing to challenge ballots, Rosalind S. Helderman, Emma Brown and Beth Reinhard, Oct. 31, 2020 (print ed.). After largely failing to limit access to mail-in voting, GOP now looks to contest votes already cast. Republicans shift from challenging rules to preparing to challenge individual ballots.

In Nevada, the Trump campaign filed a lawsuit this week seeking images of the signature of every registered voter in Democratic-leaning Clark County — a potential first step toward challenging individual votes on grounds that the signed ballots don’t match the signatures on file.

In Texas, Republican officeholders and candidates sued this week to have more than 100,000 votes invalidated in the Houston area because they were cast at drive-through voting centers the GOP has asked a judge to declare illegal.

And in Minnesota and Pennsylvania, election officials will set aside any mail-in ballots that arrive after Election Day — even if they were mailed before the polls closed — to facilitate potential court challenges.

For months, Republicans have pushed largely unsuccessfully to limit new avenues for voting in the midst of the pandemic. But with next week’s election rapidly approaching, they have shifted their legal strategy in recent days to focus on tactics aimed at challenging ballots one by one, in some cases seeking to discard votes already cast during a swell of early voting.

“It’s not just the rules anymore,” said Myrna Pérez, director of the Voting Rights and Elections Program at the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice. “It’s individual voters.”

Republicans said they are just trying to make sure the process runs smoothly and the rules are applied fairly, arguing that Democrats have loosened election rules in ways that could confuse voters and invite fraud.

But Democrats said there is no evidence that expanded mail balloting and other pandemic-related changes lead to fraud. They accused Republicans of targeting valid votes in Democratic strongholds in a blatant bid to gain an electoral advantage.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Republicans, Not Biden, Are About to Raise Your Taxes, Joseph E. Stiglitz (Dr. Stiglitz, right, a university professor at Columbia, is a Nobel joseph stiglitzlaureate in economics), Oct. 31, 2020. People making from $10,000 and $30,000 — nearly one-quarter of Americans — are among millions slated to pay more in 2021.

The Trump administration has a dirty little secret: It’s not just planning to increase taxes on most Americans. The increase has already been signed, sealed and delivered, buried in the pages of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

President Trump and his congressional allies hoodwinked us. The law they passed initially lowered taxes for most Americans, but it built in automatic, stepped tax increases every two years that begin in 2021 and that by 2027 would affect nearly everyone but people at the top of the economic hierarchy. All taxpayer income groups with incomes of $75,000 and under — that’s about 65 percent of taxpayers — will face a higher tax rate in 2027 than in 2019.

For most, in fact, it’s a delayed tax increase dressed up as a tax cut. How many times have you heard Trump and his allies mention that? They surmised — correctly, so far — that if they waited to add the tax increases until after the 2020 election, few of the people most affected were likely to remember who was responsible.

Looking at the analyses of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation at the time the December 2017 tax bill was enacted, we see very clearly how different income groups are affected by the Trump tax plan. And it’s disturbing.

The current poverty line for a family of four is $26,200: People with incomes between $10,000 and $30,000 — nearly one-quarter of Americans — are among those scheduled to pay a higher average tax rate in 2021 than in years before the tax “cut” was passed. The C.B.O. and Joint Committee estimated that those with an income of $20,000 to $30,000 would owe an extra $365 next year — these are people who are struggling just to pay rent and put food on the table.

washington post logoWashington Post, In historic early turnout, more than 90 million ballots cast as of Saturday, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Holly Bailey and Barry Yeoman, Oct. 31, 2020. The massive early turnout is roughly 65 percent of the 139 million votes cast in 2016, and it essentially guarantees that, for the first time in history, a majority of ballots will be cast before Election Day. The turnout has upended the presidential campaigns’ expectations of which states would be pivotal to their path to victory.

More than 91 million Americans have already cast their ballots for the general election with three days left until Election Day, a historic early turnout that underscores voters’ intense desire to be heard in a divisive election despite the voting challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Follow the latest on Election 2020

The massive early turnout is roughly 65 percent of the 139 million votes cast in 2016, and it essentially guarantees that, for the first time in history, a majority of ballots will be cast before Election Day. The early turnout puts the country on pace for record voter participation not seen in more than a century, and if the current rate holds, more than 100 million ballots will have been cast before Tuesday.

Democrats have had an edge in early voting, but that gap has narrowed in some key battleground states in recent days, including in Florida, North Carolina and Georgia, according to data maintained by the U.S. Elections Project, a nonpartisan early-voting tracker. President Trump has urged his voters to cast their ballots on Election Day, and his campaign is hoping that his supporters take heed and show up in full force to close that gap.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump just made Biden’s closing argument for him, Dana Milbank, right, Oct. 31, 2020 (print ed.). This is the time for presidential candidates to make their closing dana milbank Customarguments, but Joe Biden didn’t really have to.

“The Fake News Media is riding COVID, COVID, COVID, all the way to the Election. Losers!” Trump tweeted.

“Covid, covid, covid, covid,” he said in Nebraska.

“Covid, covid, covid, covid, covid, covid, covid, covid, covid, covid!” he railed in Michigan

Trump was doubling down — actually, tripling, quadrupling, sextupling and decupling down — on the very thing costing him the election: his incompetent and inhumane handling of the greatest mass trauma in living memory for the vast majority of Americans.

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ny times logoNew York Times, Their First Try Backfired, but Giuliani and Allies Keep Aiming at Biden, Kenneth P. Vogel, Jim Rutenberg and Maggie Haberman, Oct. 31, 2020. Rudy Giuliani’s dirt-digging effort on Hunter Biden in 2019 ended with President Trump’s impeachment. His newest effort is not going exactly as planned.

On the weekend of Oct. 10, President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, his former adviser Stephen K. Bannon and a prominent new ally, a Chinese billionaire and Mar-a-Lago member named Guo Wengui, gathered at Mr. Guo’s luxury apartment overlooking Central Park for dinner and cigars.

Each faced some combination of legal or credibility issues, but on this night they had reason to celebrate: a plan was coming together.

That weekend, Mr. Giuliani had delivered to The New York Post a copy of a hard drive purported to be from a laptop belonging to Hunter Biden, the son of Mr. Trump’s Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. The hard drive was filled with what the men claimed was compromising material about the younger Biden that they hoped would sully his father’s reputation.

It was the latest in an often-bumbling series of attacks that began two years ago with the goal of undercutting Mr. Biden as a threat to Mr. Trump’s re-election by linking him to the messy personal and business affairs of his son.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The true depth of Donald Trump’s darkness, Robert Harrington, right, Oct. 31, 2020. I think there are two kinds of career criminals. The kind that robert harrington twitterknow they are doing wrong and have a certain sense of embarrassed moral regret about it, and the kind that are entitled and angry — even murderously so — when a prospective victim thwarts that criminal from stealing from them or doing them harm. Donald Trump is the latter kind. Trump becomes remorselessly vindictive when anyone objects to his crimes or thwarts or exposes him when he’s committing those crimes. Trump isn’t just a criminal, he’s the worst kind of criminal. Trump thinks he’s entitled to his crimes and we should praise him while he commits them and endure them while he harms and destroys all of us.

bill palmer report logo headerThis is the true depth of Donald Trump’s darkness: his unlimited ego, his undiluted envy, and his absolute belief — without cognitive dissonance — in his right to do unto others what he would self-righteously condemn if those very same things were done unto him. This, in short, is the life of the malignant narcissist who also happens to be a criminal who also happens to be president of the United States.

It is important to understand that not all narcissists are criminals. In fact, some of them use the law as a kind of self-righteous cudgel with which to beat other people, to prove that they are morally superior to them.

Unfortunately, malignant narcissists who are also criminals often do the same thing. The difference is, of course, in the hypocrisy. Malignant narcissists who are also law-breakers — like Donald Trump — see no inconsistency with believing that they should be allowed to break the law with impunity while at the same time accusing innocent people of breaking those very same laws.

Such people would be easy to spot and safely isolate were it not for the single most dangerously problematic thing about the criminal narcissist. They are often surrounded by a network of codependents and sycophants, and that network can be as large as a crowd of MAGA-hatted lickspittles and as powerful as the United States Senate. That network can, in fact, be as large as a third of the population of the United States of America.

It is out of the depth of the well of this human depravity that crawls a man like Trump who can say with a straight face that the current pandemic is over. Meanwhile America has just passed nine million cases and 235,000 deaths, and coronavirus is surging alarmingly in 47 out of 50 states, and another thousand Americans have gone to the great beyond since last I visited with you, brothers and sisters.

But because Trump has surrounded himself with the largest collection of feral subhumans ever to gather at the White House at a single time, his crimes continue to be laundered and sanitized by these water-carrying, codependent, glassy-eyed flunkies. And the lies they tell in defense of Trump are readily — even eagerly — still swallowed whole, untasted and lizard-like, by millions of Trump supporters from one end of America to the other.

We live in a world of celebrity cultism, fifteen minutes of fame so potentially toxic that Andy Warhol would barely recognize it today. Not only are celebrities worshipped, they are imitated — including their flaws. With a man like Trump, composed of nothing but flaws, this presents a very big problem. Not only do his toxic base of supporters worship him, many of them also imitate him.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Day After Election Day: Current and former Trump administration officials are worried about what might happen on ron suskindNov. 4., Ron Suskind, right, Oct. 31, 2020 (print ed.). Many of the officials I spoke to came back to one idea: You don’t know Donald Trump like we do. Even though they can’t predict exactly what will happen, their concerns range from the president welcoming, then leveraging, foreign interference in the election, to encouraging havoc that grows into conflagrations that would merit his calling upon U.S. forces.

Because he is now surrounded by loyalists, they say, there is no one to try to tell an impulsive man what he should or shouldn’t do.

“That guy you saw in the debate,” a second former senior intelligence official told me, after the first debate, when the president offered one of the most astonishing performances of any leader in modern American history — bullying, ridiculing, manic, boasting, fabricating, relentlessly interrupting and talking over his opponent. “That’s really him. Not the myth that’s been created. That’s Trump.”

Still another senior government official, who spent years working in proximity to Mr. Trump, put it like this: “He has done nothing else that’s a constant, except for acting in his own interest.” And that’s how “he’s going to be thinking, every step of the way, come Nov. 3.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s biggest debt has come due, TR Kenneth, Oct. 30, 2020. The unendurable thought has now crossed Trump’s mind that, yes, indeed, he might lose. And with losing comes the awful realization that people will be after him like New York Attorney General James. His overseas debts will come due without the power of the Presidential Office to settle them. His family will be rounded up and criminally charged. He and his family have broken so many laws in the last four years, there’s no way Donald will last long enough to see all the prosecutions.

bill palmer report logo headerRight now, with his latest Twitter meltdown, he’s realizing it’s too late. He’s losing in a landslide, at least according to the polls, and all that money he and his family grifted from the RNC has been squandered on his personal vanities instead of being thrown into vital swing states in a last gasp effort. A second term is looking out of reach and the timing is terrible for him, especially when he just figured out that he had to place loyalists in the Civil Service because according to US laws, civil servants are supposed to be loyal to the Constitution, not him. This took Trump’s narcissistic dictator-wanna-be rotting brain four years to figure out. But now it won’t matter what he does. Biden will be coming in and cleaning out the Trumpy rat’s nest.

Trump is no doubt pondering where to go on the run from prosecution. His son, Don Jr., is non-stop whining on Fox News and the fear in his eyes is as real as whatever he’s allegedly putting up his nose. The American people have been insulted, assaulted and lied to for four long years, and on November 3rd these profane criminals will have to pay the bill. It’s a powerful thing to see the American people rise up and vote. Don’t ever take it for granted. Make sure everyone you know gets to the polls by November 3rd so we can remove the garbage from the White House and begin fumigation.

ny times logoNew York Times, How a Century of Real-Estate Tax Breaks Enriched Donald Trump, Jesse Drucker and James B. Stewart, Oct. 31, 2020 (print ed.). The real estate industry has long enjoyed uniquely favorable tax treatment — thanks in part to Mr. Trump’s actions before and after he became president. Twenty-five years before he was elected president, Donald J. Trump went to Capitol Hill to complain that Congress had closed too many tax loopholes. He warned that one industry, in particular, had been severely harmed: real estate.

The recent demise of real estate tax shelters, part of a landmark 1986 overhaul of the tax code, was “an absolute catastrophe for the country,” Mr. Trump testified to Congress that day in November 1991.

“Real estate really means so many jobs,” he said. “You create so many other things. They buy carpet. They buy furniture. They buy refrigerators. They buy other things that fuel the economy.”

Mr. Trump was sounding a theme that has made real estate perhaps the tax code’s most-favored industry.

Legislators lapped it up. Mr. Trump and his fellow real estate investors got much of what he wanted, including the ability to fully deduct losses — sometimes only on paper — against other income.

Mr. Trump’s low taxes over the years were largely a product of his businesses hemorrhaging money, according to federal tax records obtained by The New York Times. But the records also show that so-called depreciation losses and other benefits for the real estate industry have helped Mr. Trump reduce his federal income taxes. In 2016 and 2017, he paid $750.

From the beginning, the real estate industry, with its claim to be a bedrock of the American way of life and its formidable lobbying power and lavish campaign contributions, has held disproportionate sway over how tax laws are written.

Tax breaks for real estate have been embedded in the federal income tax law for a century. New benefits sprouted up every few years. Even when lawmakers cracked down on business-friendly tax treatment, they often made special exceptions for real estate.

“The real estate industry has enjoyed the most lucrative tax breaks for decades,” said Victor Fleischer, a tax law professor at the University of California, Irvine, and former chief tax counsel for the Senate Finance Committee. The industry “thinks of the tax code as a basket of goodies to feast on rather than a financial obligation of doing business.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The State Department wouldn’t reveal its payments to Mar-a-Lago. Here’s how we found them, David A. Farenthold, Oct. 31, 2020 (print ed.). Legislators lapped it up. Mr. Trump and his fellow real estate investors got much of what he wanted, including the ability to fully deduct losses — sometimes only on paper — against other income.

Mr. Trump’s low taxes over the years were largely a product of his businesses hemorrhaging money, according to federal tax records obtained by The New York Times. But the records also show that so-called depreciation losses and other benefits for the real estate industry have helped Mr. Trump reduce his federal income taxes. In 2016 and 2017, he paid $750.

From the beginning, the real estate industry, with its claim to be a bedrock of the American way of life and its formidable lobbying power and lavish campaign contributions, has held disproportionate sway over how tax laws are written.

Tax breaks for real estate have been embedded in the federal income tax law for a century. New benefits sprouted up every few years. Even when lawmakers cracked down on business-friendly tax treatment, they often made special exceptions for real estate.

“The real estate industry has enjoyed the most lucrative tax breaks for decades,” said Victor Fleischer, a tax law professor at the University of California, Irvine, and former chief tax counsel for the Senate Finance Committee. The industry “thinks of the tax code as a basket of goodies to feast on rather than a financial obligation of doing business.”

We now know about the $3 for water, and other charges taxpayers picked up at President Trump's properties, but it took going around the State Department to report that.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump rolled back more than 125 environmental rules and policies. Here’s how, Juliet Eilperin, Brady Dennis and John Muyskens, Oct. 31, 2020 (print ed.). The administration has accelerated its push to deregulate in the weeks before the election and has 40 more rollbacks underway.

President Trump has spent the run-up to next week’s election touting himself as the finest steward of the nation’s air and water in generations. “Who would have thought,” he boasted during one stop in Florida, “Trump is the great environmentalist?”

But over the course of nearly four years, his administration has steadily loosened oversight of polluting industries, eroded protections for endangered wildlife and stymied Obama-era efforts to address the globe’s most daunting environmental threat: climate change.

A Washington Post analysis has found that as Trump’s first term winds to a close, he has weakened or wiped out more than 125 rules and policies aimed at protecting the nation’s air, water and land, with 40 more rollbacks underway.

The administration has accelerated its push to deregulate in the weeks before the election, to ease requirements on power plants that leak waste into waterways, weaken efficiency standards for dishwashers, scale back oversight of mine safety and approve seismic drilling in an Alaska wildlife refuge.

  djt march 2020 Custom

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Polling Inspires Cautious Optimism That Would-Be Dictator Can Be Defeated, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Oct. 31, 2020. Persons of webster tarpley 2007Good Will Must Devote Every Waking Hour to Defense of Democracy with Biden; 91 Million Americans Have Now Voted.

Record 100,000 Covid Cases and 1,000 Deaths on Friday Give the Lie to Trump’s Mantra That US Has Turned the Corner.

Trump Machine Prepares Legal Obstructions to Negate the Will of the People, with Focus on Attacking Blue Wall of PA, MI, WI; US Postal Service Thoroughly Sabotaged by GOP Stooge DeJoy.

djt maga hatDon’s Mouthpieces Will Work in Tandem with Gangs of Fascist Hooligans Encouraged to Harass and Intimidate Voters while Posing as Poll Watchers; Fascists Planning to Attack Elections in Oregon, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania; National Guard Deployed in Philadelphia; Democratic Governors and Mayors Must Not Hesitate to Deploy Guard if Riots Erupt; Any Riot Now S a Pro-Trump Riot, Allowing Him to Impose His Brand of Martial Law to Stop Voting; Oath Keeper Honcho Blusters His Phalanxes Will Arrest Deep State if Biden Wins.

boris johnson tieDeclaring “No Alternative,” Trump Clone BoJo (Boris Johnson, right) Institutes Lockdown Light with Schools Open in England and Across UK, Citing Threat to NHS Hospital System; Promises 80% of Wages Will Be Paid; Move Follows Similar Restrictions by Italy, Spain, France, and Germany.

A Mirror for Kushner and Kayleigh: France’s Marshal Pétain Worked During 1930s to Weaken France, and Helped Impose Surrender in 1940: He Knew Fascists Were an Unpopular Minority Which Could Take Power Only in Wake of Huge National Defeat; After 1940 Crushing of France, Pétain Ended Democratic Republic and Set Up Vichy Fascist Regime as German Puppet State; Same Pattern Can Be Seen with Covid Today.

Breaking: Friedman of New York Times Calls on Biden to Form National Unity Government to Include Top Republicans after Trump Defeat; But Long Overdue US Party Re-Alignment Requires That GOP Quickly Follow Federalists, Whigs, and Knownothings into Oblivion; GOP as Party of Trump Enablers Has Earned Extinction, So Let’s Be Sure They Get It This Year; Incorrigible Republicans Cannot Be Salvaged or Break Habits of Plutocracy and Sabotage of Public Interest.

 Oct. 29

djt biden smiles

American System Radio, Opinion: Four Days before General Election, US Proceeds toward Fateful Choice between Freedom and Fascism, Webster G. webster tarpley 2007Tarpley, right, Oct. 29, 2020. Vote Now by Any Available Means to Make Sure You Get on the World-Historical Scoreboard.

After Atrocity Shooting of Black Citizen Walter Wallace Jr. by Philadelphia Cops, Protests Multiply, but Provocateurs Also Move in, Fomenting Widespread Looting and Violence; Trump’s Demagogy Seizes in Situation; 11 People Shot and Scores of Police Injured; Highly Suspicious Van Found with Propane Tanks, Torches and Possible Dynamite; Gov. Wolf and Mayor Kenny Have Mobilization National Guard; Situation Must Be Pacified Quickly for Sake of National Election; Philadelphia DA Krassner Warns Proud Boys and Other Trump to Stay Away or Be Jailed; After Failure of anti-Hunter Biden Offensive, Is GOP Eyeing Riots and Martial Law as Ways to Interfere with Vote?

Looking Back at 2000: Biden and Rest of Party Must Know That No Concession to Trump Will Be Acceptable to Rank and File Voters under Any Circumstances Whatsoever; Instead, Country Needs Determined Will to Fight Through to Victory for Constitutional Government under Biden, Not Dictatorship by Financier Oligarchy and Its Puppet.

How Lincoln Defied Supreme Court Chief Justice and Traitor Roger Taney to Save Washington, and Rejected Dictatorship of Supreme Court at Opening of Civil War; Breaking: US Exceeds 85,000 Cases Today, the Worst Toll Ever; In Georgia, Ossoff Excels in Debate with Sleazy Sen. Purdue.

Oct. 28

 

joe biden

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden imagines a post-Trump nation, president steps up attacks, Sean Sullivan, Anne Gearan and Felicia Sonmez, Oct. 28, 2020 (print ed.). Joe Biden launched a closing argument promising to heal the country in the spirit of FDR, while President Trump attacked Democrats, mail-in ballots and virus testing.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump to strip protections from Tongass National Forest, one of the biggest temperate rainforests, Juliet Eilperin, Oct. 28, 2020. President Trump will open up all 16.7 million acres of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest to logging and other forms of development, according to a notice posted Wednesday, stripping protections that had safeguarded one of the world’s largest intact temperate rainforests for nearly two decades.

As of Thursday, it will be legal for logging companies to build roads and cut and remove timber throughout more than 9.3 million acres of forest — featuring old-growth stands of red and yellow cedar, Sitka spruce and Western hemlock. The relatively-pristine expanse is also home to plentiful salmon runs and imposing fjords. The decision, which will be published in the Federal Register, reverses protections President Bill Clinton put in place in 2001 and is one of the most sweeping public lands rollbacks Trump has enacted.

For years, federal and academic scientists have identified Tongass as an ecological oasis that serves as a massive carbon sink while providing key habitat for wild Pacific salmon and trout, Sitka black-tailed deer and myriad other species. It boasts the highest density of brown bears in North America, and its trees — some of which are between 300 and 1,000 years old — absorb at least 8 percent of all the carbon stored in the entire Lower 48′s forests combined.

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ny times logoNew York Times, Miles Taylor, a Former Homeland Security Official, Reveals He Was ‘Anonymous,’ Michael D. Shear, Oct. 28, 2020. Mr. Taylor’s criticisms of President Trump in a New York Times Op-Ed article and subsequent book roiled Washington. He resigned from the administration last year.

Miles Taylor, shown above in a screenshot, the former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security, was the anonymous author of The New York Times Op-Ed article in 2018 whose description of President Trump as “impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective” roiled Washington and set off a hunt for his identity, Mr. Taylor confirmed Wednesday.

Mr. Taylor was also the anonymous author of A Warning, a book he wrote the following year that described the president as an “undisciplined” and “amoral” leader whose abuse of power threatened the foundations of American democracy. He acknowledged that he was the author of both the book and the opinion article in an interview and in a three-page statement he posted online.

us dhs big eagle logo4Mr. Taylor resigned from the Department of Homeland Security in June 2019, and went public with his criticism of Mr. Trump this past summer. He released a video just before the start of the Republican National Convention declaring that the president was unfit for office and endorsed Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential nominee.

But Mr. Taylor, who had repeatedly denied being Anonymous, did not reveal himself to be the author of the opinion article and book at the time. Confronted with Mr. Taylor’s public criticism in August, the president wrote on Twitter that he was a “DISGRUNTLED EMPLOYEE named Miles Taylor, who I do not know (never heard of him).”

The Op-Ed pages of The Times are managed separately from the news department, which was never told of Anonymous’s identity.

Mr. Taylor served for two years as a top aide to Kirstjen Nielsen, Mr. Trump’s third homeland security secretary, and wrote in The Times that he was part of a cadre of officials around Mr. Trump who were quietly working to “frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.”

As a senior administration official, Mr. Taylor often interacted with the president at the White House, particularly on issues related to immigration, cybersecurity and terrorism. He left government after Ms. Nielsen was fired and later became the head of national security relations for Google. He has been on personal leave from the company for the past several months after endorsing Mr. Biden and has been organizing other Republicans to campaign against Mr. Trump’s re-election.

The disclosure of Mr. Taylor’s identity is likely to renew the debate over his motives and raise questions about whether his position in the Trump administration was senior enough to justify the decisions by The Times’s Opinion desk and the book’s publisher to keep his identity secret.

Mr. Taylor’s essay has had less impact over time as an array of onetime Trump administration officials have come forward with names attached to publicly criticize the president’s leadership and character, among them the former defense secretary, Jim Mattis, and Mr. Trump’s third national security adviser, John R. Bolton.

In the book, Mr. Taylor said he decided to remain anonymous because he believed revealing his identity would have allowed Mr. Trump and his allies to distract attention from the substance of the critique he leveled against the president.

david correia djt

Law & Crime, Lev Parnas’s Business Associate David Correia, Fraud Guarantee Co-Founder with Giuliani Ties, Will Plead Guilty, Adam Klasfeld, Oct 28, 2020. David Correia, above left, a business associate of impeachment figure Lev Parnas who did business with Rudy Giuliani in the company Fraud Guarantee, plans to plead guilty on Thursday morning on unspecified charges.

Federal prosecutors declined to comment on what counts of his indictment Correia plans to plead guilty to or whether he intends to cooperate in the prosecution of Parnas, his co-defendants, or potentially others who have not been named. Correia, however, has been charged with the two key conspiracies that prosecutors hope to prove at trial next year: illegally funneling foreign money into U.S. elections and duping people to invest in Fraud Guarantee, a company that reportedly paid $500,000 to Giuliani.

At least seven alleged victims invested in Fraud Guarantee, putting in hundreds of thousands of dollars for a total of more than $2 million. Prosecutors say that’s because Parnas and Correia misled them about how much they had contributed to the company and how much money the company had raised overall.

“We couldn’t say it better ourselves — the behavior alleged today is indeed fraudulent — guaranteed,” FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney said when prosecutors unveiled those charges in September.

Parnas’s attorney Joseph Bondy declined to comment. Correia’s attorney William Harrington, from the firm Goodwin Procter, did not immediately respond to phone and emails requests for comment. Neither did Giuliani through his spokeswoman Christianné Allen.

A South Florida man who had partnered with Parnas on a marijuana business, Correia has been an ancillary figure in a case tied to President Trump’s impeachment. He kept a low profile as his co-defendant Parnas shared thousands of files that the House Intelligence Committee used to build a case that Trump abused his office to manufacture dirt on his political rival, former vice president Joseph Biden. Parnas’s name appeared in