Trump Watch, Capitol Siege News

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

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

-- Andrew Kreig / Justice Integrity Project editor

 

2021-22

capitol noose shay horse nurphoto via getty

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

 

Donald Trump, shown in a 2020 campaign hat.

 

October

Oct. 1

 

mitch mcconnell elaine chao

huffington post logoHuffPost, Donald Trump Says Mitch McConnell Has 'Death Wish' In Truth Social Rant, Lee Moran, Oct 1, 2022. The former president also insulted the GOP Senate leader's wife, Elaine Chao, in the post (shown above in a file photo).

Former President Donald Trump on Friday night resorted to violent rhetoric once more as he suggested Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has “a death wish” for supporting “Democrat sponsored Bills.”

 Trump, in a post on his Truth Social platform, also racistly referred to McConnell’s Taiwan-born wife Elaine Chao as “China loving wife, Coco Chow!”

Chao served as Trump’s secretary of transportation but resigned in protest following the Trump-incited 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Trump did not directly note which bills he was furious at McConnell for voting to approve, but McConnell did this week support a spending bill to avert a federal government shutdown and provide $12 billion in military and economic aid for Ukraine in its ongoing defense of invasion from Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

McConnell has also said he’ll back bipartisan legislation against election subversion.

 

This week's new official portrait of the U.S. Supreme Court

This week's new official portrait of the U.S. Supreme Court

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: The Supreme Court Has a Crisis of Trust, Editorial Board, Oct. 1, 2022. The Supreme Court’s authority within the American political system is both immense and fragile. Somebody has to provide the last word in interpreting the Constitution, and — this is the key — to do so in a way that is seen as fair and legitimate by the people at large.

What happens when a majority of Americans don’t see it that way?

A common response to this question is to say the justices shouldn’t care. They aren’t there to satisfy the majority or to be swayed by the shifting winds of public opinion. That is partly true: The court’s most important obligations include safeguarding the constitutional rights of vulnerable minorities who can’t always count on protection from the political process and acting independently of political interests.

american flag upside down distressBut in the bigger picture, the court nearly always hews close to where the majority of the American people are. If it does diverge, it should take care to do so in a way that doesn’t appear partisan. That is the basis of the trust given to the court by the public.

That trust, in turn, is crucial to the court’s ability to exercise the vast power Americans have granted it. The nine justices have no control over money, as Congress does, or force, as the executive branch does. All they have is their black robes and the public trust. A court that does not keep that trust cannot perform its critical role in American government.

And yet as the justices prepare to open a new term on Monday, fewer Americans have confidence in the court than ever before recorded. In a Gallup poll taken in June, before the court overturned Roe v. Wade with Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, only 25 percent of respondents said they had a high degree of confidence in the institution. That number is down from 50 percent in 2001 — just months after the court’s hugely controversial 5-to-4 ruling in Bush v. Gore, in which a majority consisting only of Republican appointees effectively decided the result of the 2000 election in favor of the Republicans. This widespread lack of confidence and trust in the nation’s highest court is a crisis, and rebuilding it is more important than the outcome of any single ruling.

john roberts oChief Justice John Roberts, right, recently suggested that the court’s low public opinion is nothing more than sour grapes by those on the short end of recent rulings. “Simply because people disagree with an opinion is not a basis for criticizing the legitimacy of the court,” he said in remarks at a judicial conference earlier in September.

This is disingenuous. The court’s biggest decisions have always angered one group of people or another. Conservatives were upset, for instance, by the rulings in Brown v. Board of Education, which barred racial segregation in schools, and Obergefell v. Hodges, which established a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, liberals were infuriated by Bush v. Gore and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which opened the floodgates to dark money in politics. But overall public confidence in the court remained high until recently.

The actual cause of its historic unpopularity is no secret. Over the past several years, the court has been transformed into a judicial arm of the Republican Party. This project was taking shape more quietly for decades, but it shifted into high gear in 2016, when Justice Antonin Scalia died and Senate Republicans refused to let Barack Obama choose his successor, obliterating the practice of deferring to presidents to fill vacancies on the court. Within four years, the court had a 6-to-3 right-wing supermajority, supercharging the Republican appointees’ efforts to discard the traditions and processes that have allowed the court to appear fair and nonpartisan.

As a result, the court’s legitimacy has been squandered in the service of partisan victories.

 

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

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

huffington post logoHuffPost, DOJ Seeks Expedited Appeal In Trump's Mar-A-Lago Documents Battle, Mary Papenfuss, Sept. 30, 2022. The Department of Justice is calling for an expedited appeal concerning its criminal investigation into White House records seized by the FBI at Mar-a-Lago.

DOJ officials are arguing that they must have access to unclassified material confiscated at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and resort by the FBI earlier this month to better assess the classified — including top secret — files they’re examining. They also need to examine all the records for possible clues as to how the documents may have been transported and accessed, officials said.

Justice Department log circularUnclassified material is currently off limits to the Justice Department as the files are first supposed to be examined by former U.S. Judge Raymond Dearie, who was named special master — at Trump’s request — by U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon, who was appointed by Trump.

Cannon had initially blocked Department of Justice access to all records seized at Mar-a-Lago. But in a blow to Trump, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled last week that the Justice Department can resume reviewing the seized classified records, blocking a portion of a stay issued earlier by Cannon. The appeals court also prohibited Dearie from vetting the documents marked classified.

Yet Department of Justice officials argued in a motion filed Friday that the appointment of the special master is still hindering its investigation into what could have dire consequences for national security.

On Thursday, Cannon moved the deadline for Dearie’s completed review from mid-November to mid-December, which would serve Republican interests to put off damaging information until after the midterm elections. The DOJ is pushing to move up the appeal process to mid-November.

Dearie is supposed to be examining the unclassified documents to determine if any are protected by attorney-client — or executive — privilege.

Meanwhile, the “government is … unable to examine [unclassified] records that were commingled with materials bearing classification markings, including records that may shed light on ... how the materials bearing classification markings were transferred to Plaintiff’s residence, how they were stored, and who may have accessed them,” said the DOJ filing with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“The records not marked as classified may also constitute evidence of potential [obstruction] and [concealment or removal of government records],” noted the motion, which was first reported by Politico.

The filing also attacked Cannon’s recent rulings against Dearie.

Cannon ruled Thursday that Trump could ignore Dearie’s demand that his legal team either prove Trump’s apparently baseless claim that the FBI “planted” records at Mar-a-Lago, or drop the claim.

Yet Cannon’s ruling appeared to contradict her own earlier ruling giving Dearie power over his review.

Several legal experts have sharply criticized the logic behind Cannon’s decisions. Former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissmann said on MSNBC Thursday that she should be removed from the bench. “She’s unfit to serve,” he said.

huffington post logoHuffPost, DOJ Seeks Expedited Appeal In Trump's Mar-A-Lago Documents Battle, Mary Papenfuss, Sept. 30, 2022. The Department of Justice is calling for an expedited appeal concerning its criminal investigation into White House records seized by the FBI at Mar-a-Lago.

DOJ officials are arguing that they must have access to unclassified material confiscated at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and resort by the FBI earlier this month to better assess the classified — including top secret — files they’re examining. They also need to examine all the records for possible clues as to how the documents may have been transported and accessed, officials said.

Justice Department log circularUnclassified material is currently off limits to the Justice Department as the files are first supposed to be examined by former U.S. Judge Raymond Dearie, who was named special master — at Trump’s request — by U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon, who was appointed by Trump.

Cannon had initially blocked Department of Justice access to all records seized at Mar-a-Lago. But in a blow to Trump, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled last week that the Justice Department can resume reviewing the seized classified records, blocking a portion of a stay issued earlier by Cannon. The appeals court also prohibited Dearie from vetting the documents marked classified.

Yet Department of Justice officials argued in a motion filed Friday that the appointment of the special master is still hindering its investigation into what could have dire consequences for national security.

On Thursday, Cannon moved the deadline for Dearie’s completed review from mid-November to mid-December, which would serve Republican interests to put off damaging information until after the midterm elections. The DOJ is pushing to move up the appeal process to mid-November.

Dearie is supposed to be examining the unclassified documents to determine if any are protected by attorney-client — or executive — privilege.

Meanwhile, the “government is … unable to examine [unclassified] records that were commingled with materials bearing classification markings, including records that may shed light on ... how the materials bearing classification markings were transferred to Plaintiff’s residence, how they were stored, and who may have accessed them,” said the DOJ filing with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“The records not marked as classified may also constitute evidence of potential [obstruction] and [concealment or removal of government records],” noted the motion, which was first reported by Politico.

The filing also attacked Cannon’s recent rulings against Dearie.

Cannon ruled Thursday that Trump could ignore Dearie’s demand that his legal team either prove Trump’s apparently baseless claim that the FBI “planted” records at Mar-a-Lago, or drop the claim.
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Yet Cannon’s ruling appeared to contradict her own earlier ruling giving Dearie power over his review.

Several legal experts have sharply criticized the logic behind Cannon’s decisions. Former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissmann said on MSNBC Thursday that she should be removed from the bench. “She’s unfit to serve,” he said.

 

September

Sept. 30

Politico, Opinion: Rupert Murdoch and Donald Trump Are Ready for the Saudi Cash, Jack Shafer, Sept. 30, 2022 (print ed.). The beleaguered LIV Golf tournament finally finds some willing partners.

Where did the LIV Golf tournament go to die? Fox.

If that joke didn’t scan for you, it’s likely you haven’t been following the sporting news, which has teemed all summer with stories about Saudi Arabia’s new professional golf circuit. Even though LIV has bid away some of the PGA Tour’s top stars, it carries a taint for many politico Custombecause it’s backed by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund and because Donald Trump, a big LIV supporter and a course owner, is hosting some of its tournaments.

This guilt by association has made LIV a bit of a public relations disaster, with accusations flying that the tour is a Saudi attempt to “sportswash” their execrable human-rights record with long, green drives and short, dramatic putts. LIV has proved to be such a bad idea that it has yet to win a major TV network contract.

rupert murdoch 2011 shankbone But that’s likely about to change. According to Golfweek, the tour seems close to a deal with Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Sports 1 cable channel, but the deal comes with a catch: Instead of Fox paying LIV to air tournaments, which is the sports entertainment norm, LIV will be paying Fox. (The last sports business that paid to have its events broadcast was the Alliance of American Football, and we know how that ended.) Plus, LIV will have to sell the ad slots, not Fox, and produce the shows.

What possessed the Saudis to start a tour, and why are they paying to air their product when the PGA Tour collects $700 million a year from broadcasters for a similar spectacle? And what’s in it for Murdoch? Why isn’t he worried about blowback from the 9/11 families who protested a LIV tournament at Trump’s Bedminster course as “another atrocity“? And what’s Trump’s deal in all of this? It’s all a matter of politics colliding with commerce.

For the Saudis, crashing professional golf accomplishes two ends. The first, of course, is political. In the short term, they hope, LIV will help dilute the image held by the West of an authoritarian country murdering Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. (The hit was reportedly commissioned by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader.) In the long term, LIV thinking goes, the billions it spends establishing its tour will replace the lucrative PGA as the sport’s face and eventually become a moneymaker. With almost unlimited funds at their disposal, the Saudis believe they can’t be counted out.

Sept. 29

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Trump’s paid-speeches organizer is struggling financially, Josh Dawsey and Isaac Arnsdorf, Sept. 30, 2022 (print ed.). A company that puts on for-profit Trump rallies, including an upcoming Mar-a-Lago gala and multimillion-dollar fees for the former president, is having trouble paying its bills

A company that organized a lucrative series of post-White House paid speeches for former president Donald Trump is now struggling to pay vendors, investors and employees, angering Trump allies who supported the effort.

The American Freedom Tour, which struck a multimillion-dollar deal with Trump after he left office, has lost two top executives and canceled events in a number of locations as it has failed to pay its bills, according to people familiar with the activities and documents obtained by The Washington Post. Its founder and owner, who has a history of bankruptcy filings, recently sought bankruptcy protection again.

The group has promised events in a number of locales but canceled them before they began and appears to be banking on a large event at Mar-a-Lago in December to turn its financial position around.
With speakers, affiliates and investors all clamoring for their money, one of the people involved who did get paid was Trump, people close to the former president say. Some Trump advisers have warned against doing future events, though Trump has expressed interest.

It’s not clear what that means for the tour’s advertised upcoming black-tie gala at Mar-a-Lago, with tickets starting at $10,000 a couple to spend time with Trump. The event includes a poolside reception and a formal ballroom dinner. Dinner and a photo with Trump costs $40,000, and a private library meeting with Trump is so pricey that it’s only listed as: “INQUIRE BELOW.” The company declined to say how much Trump is being paid for the event.

The company’s CEO, Brian J. Forte, declined to be interviewed for this article. The American Freedom Tour started last October, staging glitzy events around the country that resemble Trump rallies but sell tickets ranging from $55 to more than $4,000. In addition to Trump, the shows featured right-wing celebrities such as Candace Owens and Kimberly Guilfoyle, as well as motivational speakers offering personal finance courses.

Essentially, it was a place where Trump supporters could buy a chance to see him and other conservative luminaries — or pay more for special access — with the money not going to a political campaign, but a for-profit company and Trump himself. It was founded by Forte, a motivational-speaker promoter with a long trail of bankruptcy filings and business disputes across the country.

 

djt fbi evidence mar a lago

Partially redacted documents with classified markings, including colored cover sheets indicating their status, that FBI agents reported finding in former president Donald Trump’s office at his Mar-a-Lago estate. The photo shows the cover pages of a smattering of paperclip-bound classified documents — some marked as “TOP SECRET//SCI” with bright yellow borders and one marked as “SECRET//SCI” with a rust-colored border — along with whited-out pages, splayed out on a carpet at Mar-a-Lago. Beside them sits a cardboard box filled with gold-framed pictures, including a Time magazine cover. (U.S. Department of Justice photo.)

CNN, Trump pushing back on special master’s request for him to declare in court whether DOJ inventory is accurate, Tierney Sneed and Katelyn Polantz, Sept. 29, 2022. Former President Donald Trump is pushing back against a plan from the special master overseeing the review cnn logoof documents seized from Mar-a-Lago that would require Trump to declare in court whether the Justice Department’s inventory from the search is accurate.

The requested declaration would force the former President to go on the record in court about his suggestion that the FBI may have planted evidence during the search on August 8.

djt march 2020 Custom

Trump’s objection to the request for the declaration was made public Wednesday night in a court filing from his lawyers after the Justice Department discussed his opposition vaguely in a public submission to U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie, who is serving as special master, Tuesday evening.

Trump’s team argued the court order appointing Dearie made mention only of a declaration from a government official verifying the Justice Department’s search inventory, and that there was no such reference to a declaration from the Trump side. In the newly-public filing, which was a letter sent privately to Dearie Sunday, Trump said he had to object to the requirement “because the Special Master’s case management plan exceeds the grant of authority from the District Court on this issue.”

“Additionally, the Plaintiff currently has no means of accessing the documents bearing classification markings, which would be necessary to complete any such certification by September 30, the currently proposed date of completion,” Trump said.

The former President’s team also claimed that Dearie is exceeding his authority by asking that the documents from the search be logged in categories more specific than what U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, who granted Trump’s request for the review, contemplated in her appointment order.

Trump expressed his opposition as well to providing a briefing to Dearie on whether certain legal motions related to the search were best left to the magistrate judge who approved the warrant.

Justice Department log circularraymond dearieThe Sunday objection letter to Dearie, right, was made public with a Wednesday submission from the Trump team, in which they told the special master that documents from the search amount to 200,000 pages of material. The amount of material seized has not grown significantly since prosecutors first worked through it on the day of the search – but the Trump team, now grasping the number of pages within each document, is alarmed at how quickly they’ll have to work through the collection.

The Trump team wants extra time to work through the large volume of documents – after they had been characterized earlier as 11,000 items or documents by the Justice Department, three of Trump’s lawyers wrote in a letter to Dearie on Wednesday.

The Justice Department is investigating whether a crime was committed or the nation’s security was harmed because Trump and others had federal and classified government records among the hundreds of thousands of unsecured pages at the Florida beach club after he left the presidency.

In recent days, the special master process has prompted the Trump team and the Justice Department to try to hire a service that can host the documents digitally, so they can be worked through. Earlier this week, the department said in a court filing that Trump’s team had indicated the data hosting companies didn’t want to work with the former President.

His team now says the issue is the size of the evidence collection.

“In conversations between Plaintiff’s counsel and the Government regarding a data vendor, the Government mentioned that the 11,000 documents contain closer to 200,000 pages. That estimated volume, with a need to operate under the accelerated timeframes supported by the Government, is the reason why so many of the Government’s selected vendors have declined the potential engagement,” Trump’s team wrote on Wednesday.

Trump, in his Wednesday letter to Dearie, also complained that attorneys working on the investigation may have been exposed to a small number of confidential attorney-client communications before either the department’s filter team or the special master could review.

 

maggie haberman confidence man

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump weighed bombing drug labs in Mexico, according to new book, Josh Dawsey, Sept. 29, 2022 (print ed.). New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman’s Confidence Man details unusual, erratic interactions between Donald Trump and world leaders, members of Congress and his own aides.

As president, Donald Trump weighed bombing drug labs in Mexico after one of his leading public health officials came into the Oval Office, wearing a dress uniform, and said such facilities should be handled by putting “lead to target” to stop the flow of illicit substances across the border into the United States.

djt hands up mouth open Custom“He raised it several times, eventually asking a stunned Defense Secretary Mark Esper whether the United States could indeed bomb the labs,” according to a new book by New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman. White House officials said the official, Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir, often wore his dress uniform for mexico flag1meetings with Trump, which confused him.

“The response from White House aides was not to try to change Trump’s view, but to consider asking Giroir not to wear his uniform to the Oval Office anymore,” Haberman writes in “Confidence Man,” an extensive book about Trump’s time in New York and as president.

The 607-page book, which has long been awaited by many of Trump’s aides, is set to be published Tuesday. A copy was obtained by The Washington Post. The book details unusual and erratic interactions between Trump and world leaders, members of Congress and his own aides, along with behind-the-scenes accounts of his time as a businessman.

Presented with a detailed accounting of the book’s reporting, a Trump spokesman did not directly respond. “While coastal elites obsess over boring books chock full of anonymously-sourced fairytales, America is a nation in decline. President Trump is focused on Saving America, and there’s nothing the Fake News can do about it,” said Taylor Budowich, the spokesman.

When asked by The Post about the account of the Oval Office discussion, Giroir said in an email that he does not comment on such private conversations with Trump. He went on to criticize the flow of drugs across the border from Mexico and voice support for substance abuse treatment. “But these measures will not stop this mass murder of Americans,” he added. “Every option needs to be on the table.”

Sept. 28

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 committee postpones planned hearing as Hurricane Ian advances, Jacqueline Alemany and Josh Dawsey, Sept. 28, 2022 (print ed.). The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol is postponing its highly anticipated hearing because of Hurricane Ian, which is expected to barrel into the western coast of Florida on Wednesday, according to two people familiar with the decision.

It’s unclear when the daytime hearing, which seeks to recapture the nation’s attention with what is likely to be the panel’s final public hearing before the release of a final report, will be rescheduled.

The hearing follows eight highly produced, news-making hearings that aired over June and July, featuring blockbuster testimony from former White House officials, poll workers and law enforcement officers. During the committee’s August hiatus, staff doubled back to their investigative work to follow new leads and answer unresolved questions.

The final hearing is expected in part to focus on how associates of former president Donald Trump planned to declare victory regardless of the outcome of the 2020 election, according to people familiar with hearing planning. The Washington Post reported Monday that the committee intends to show video of Roger Stone recorded by Danish filmmakers during the weeks before the violence in which Stone predicted violent clashes with left-wing activists and forecast months before Election Day that Trump would use armed guards and loyal judges to stay in power.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

 Recent HeadlinesRoger Stone watches news coverage of the Capitol riot in his suite at the Willard hotel on Jan. 6, 2021 (Photo by Kristin M. Davis.)

Roger Stone watches news coverage of the Capitol riot in his suite at the Willard hotel on Jan. 6, 2021 2021 (Photo by Kristin M. Davis.). He is shown below also with several from the ultra-right group Oath Keepers, some of whose members have served as his bodyguards.

roger stone oath keepers

Sept. 28

vicky ward investigates

ky Ward Investigates, Misadventure in the Middle East, Vicky Ward, Sept. 28, 2022. Why the Tom Barrack trial is key to unlocking the single most dangerous and possibly self-interested corrupt piece of foreign policy in the Trump presidency.

Over the weekend, I read the court transcripts of the first two days of the trial of former Trump Inaugural chair Tom Barrack, the Lebanese-American billionaire and Trump crony who has been charged with lobbying on behalf of the UAE without registering as a foreign agent (thereby profiting from his own investments with the UAE), obstruction of justice, and lying to the FBI.

Several fascinating takeaways:

• Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster are government witnesses—at least according to one of Barrack’s lawyers, Randall Jackson.

• Jackson also told the judge that the “key” to Barrack’s defense is a first-person eyewitness account of what actually happened behind the scenes regarding the Trump White House’s initial endorsement of the blockade of Qatar (the gulf state which houses the U.S. airbase Al Udeid) by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt.

Here’s what Jackson told the judge:

Here, the specifics of what each of the countries wanted to do is very, very particularized knowledge and in this case, it is -- the actual way those events played out is key to our defense. We are actually, as Mr. Schachter previewed in his opening statement, we're going to get into it in the course of this trial exactly what Mr. Barrack's position was as it relates to the Qatar blockade and exactly what was the position of various people within the White House. … [T]he particulars of that, Judge, are actually key to our defense.

Now, the story of what exactly happened regarding the U.S. support of the blockade of Qatar started in June 2017 is critical for what it ought to reveal—not just about Tom Barrack and his business interests in the region, but also the business interests of Jared Kushner and Donald Trump and how they conflicted with U.S. national security in the region.

Remember: According to my 2019 book, Kushner, Inc. Tillerson and former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis believed it was Kushner who gave the greenlight for the blockade—which occurred in June 2017, just days after the U.S. state visit to Saudi Arabia (the purpose of which, ostensibly, was to unite the Gulf states in their fight against terrorism).

According to multiple sources, Mattis, Tillerson and McMaster were horrified to discover that, in fact, the Saudis and Emiratis appeared to have a different agenda altogether: to diminish their wealthy rival Qatar with the newly gained support of the U.S.—or at least of its president and his son-in-law, Kushner, whose father, Charles Kushner, had just met with Qatar’s finance minister and been rejected after asking for a bailout on the Kushner’s troubled trophy building at 666 Fifth Avenue, which had a $1.4 billion loan on which the clock was ticking—and no buyers.

The problem with blockading Qatar, from a U.S. national security standpoint, was that Qatar is the home to the U.S.’s airbase in the region, Al-Udeid. When I was reporting Kushner, Inc., I was told that Trump did not actually realize this, nor was he aware that the blockade had happened until after the fact, which was why Tillerson and Mattis suspected Kushner as giving the Saudis and Emiratis the greenlight.

In his own memoir, Breaking History (which I reviewed last month), Kushner denies he supported the blockade, though he does acknowledge that Tillerson suspected him as the culprit, and he also says he knew of it in advance (which Tillerson and Mattis did not)—and tried to delay it.

Kushner also doesn’t mention the role of Tom Barrack in any of Kushner’s Middle East policy-making—even though it was Barrack who introduced Kushner to the UAE ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba and also to Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince. My sources have always said it was Barrack who supported bringing MBS to the White House in March 2017. According to the court transcripts, Barrack’s lawyer mentions the fact that Barrack was asked which entrance MBS (who was not yet then crown prince) should come through. (Barrack suggested the front door, but, in Kushner’s telling, the National Security Council staff wouldn’t let MBS drive up to the West Wing since he wasn’t technically head of state, so Kushner’s assistant Avi Berkowitz waited for him outside in the snow and then there was an issue with MBS’s paperwork and the Secret Service wouldn’t let him in until Kushner himself intervened.) It was also Barrack who, among others, encouraged the idea that the U.S. first state visit be to Saudi Arabia, rather than to a country with shared democratic values. But, as I reported, it was also Barrack who tried to intervene, in vain, on behalf of the Qataris, his chief investors, once the blockade of Qatar started.

Yet there’s only one mention of Barrack in Kushner’s entire book—which has nothing to do with the Middle East but is about helping a very young, pre-White House Kushner solve an early problem with 666 Fifth Avenue. Kushner quotes Barrack as saying something unctuous (Kushner quotes a lot of people as saying something unctuous about him) and helping him, rather than hurting him, with 666 Fifth Avenue.

It makes sense that the government would bring in McMaster and Tillerson as witnesses against Barrack. According to my eyewitness sources, both men, along with Mattis, were extraordinarily concerned about the national security threat of the blockade of Qatar and no doubt will talk about it and how they felt double-crossed by the Emiratis and Saudis when it happened. (It’s in the interest of the government prosecutors to paint the UAE as hostile to the U.S.—a tactic I’m told has not gone over well in the UAE, where they feel they are on trial rather than Barrack because, in their view, the government doesn’t have enough evidence to convict Barrack.)

But if Barrack’s defense is serious about painting a picture of whose allegiances were where and the real motivations of the top people in the White House regarding the blockade of Qatar, then—in addition to McMaster and Tillerson—Mattis, Kushner, Trump, Dina Powell, Steven Mnuchin, and Charles Kushner should all be called. Let’s hear all sides of this misadventure in the Middle East. It is, in my view, the single most dangerous and possibly self-interested corrupt piece of foreign policy in the entire Trump presidency.

Sept. 26

 

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

 

Roger Stone watches news coverage of the Capitol riot in his suite at the Willard hotel on Jan. 6, 2021 (Photo by Kristin M. Davis.)

Roger Stone watches news coverage of the Capitol riot in his suite at the Willard hotel on Jan. 6, 2021 2021 (Photo by Kristin M. Davis.).

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 committee hearing will use clips from Roger Stone documentary, Dalton Bennett, Jon Swaine and Jacqueline Alemany,  Sept. 26, 2022. The committee is considering including video clips in which Stone, a longtime adviser to Donald Trump, predicted violent clashes and forecast that the president would use armed guards and loyal judges to stay in power. The Danish filmmakers, who previously were hesitant to cooperate with the investigation, said this week they decided to comply with a subpoena issued by the committee .

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob intends to show at its hearing this week video footage of Roger Stone recorded by Danish filmmakers during the weeks before the violence, according to people familiar with the matter.

The committee is considering including video clips in which Stone, a longtime friend and adviser of Donald Trump, predicted violent clashes with left-wing activists and forecast months before the 2020 vote that the then-president would use armed guards and loyal judges to stay in power, according to one of the people familiar with hearing planning.

The Washington Post revealed in March that the Copenhagen-based filmmakers had recorded footage of Stone as they followed him for extended periods between 2019 and 2021. They were at his side as Stone traveled to Washington for the “Stop the Steal” rallies that spilled into violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Their film on Stone, “A Storm Foretold,” is expected to be released later this year.
Stone resurrects "Stop the Steal."

The selection of clips for Wednesday’s hearing has not yet been finalized, according to people familiar with the committee’s planning. But thematically they are likely to focus on how Stone, former Trump chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon and other associates of the president planned on declaring victory regardless of the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, one of the people said.

Axios Sneak Peek: 1 big thing: Mark Meadows' inbox, Alayna Treene, Hans Nichols and Zachary Basu, Sept. 26, 2022. Between Nov. 3, 2020, and President Biden's inauguration, Mark Meadows' cellphone became a key channel for dozens of elected officials as well private citizens to convey outlandish conspiracy theories and last-ditch ideas to overturn the election, Axios' Sophia Cai reports.

axios logoDriving the news: A new book by former Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) — an ex-adviser to the Jan. 6 committee — claims that former President Trump's chief of staff received texts from 39 House members and five U.S. senators.

The Breach cites texts from GOP lawmakers to paint a picture of how invested many were in Trump's effort to overturn the election. The book, which has not been authorized by the committee, is set for release tomorrow and was obtained in advance by Axios. Riggleman left his position as a senior technical adviser to the committee in April.

Why it matters: The Meadows texts are the "crown jewels" that "gave us keys to the kingdom," Riggleman writes.

The timing of the book's release gives it a narrow window to impact the committee's work and the public's understanding.
Mark MeadowsWednesday's hearing is perhaps the last public one before the release of a final report on the committee's findings and recommendations.

Details: The book reveals Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) sent Meadows, right, a forwarded note from North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley, who shared his own idea for a "last-ditch effort" to demand statewide recounts of absentee and mail-in ballots in crucial states.

Other examples:

Meadows received texts in late 2020 from Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) about "dead voters" and Dominion voting machines. Riggleman notes that one of Gosar’s texts included a link to a movie about "cyber warfare" from an anti-vaccine conspiracy blog called "Some Bitch Told Me."

On Nov. 5, 2020, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) touted his experience as an attorney and offered to come to the White House, to which Meadows responded: "Most of this is being handled at the campaign. Would love your help and would love you going on TV."

Republican Reps. Chip Roy and Brian Babin, both of Texas, also reached out to Meadows for direction on how to challenge the election on the morning of Nov. 5.

Between the lines: Riggleman's headline-grabbing book and accompanying media tour have rankled some members of the committee, which has sought to downplay his insight into the panel's investigation.

"I am an intelligence officer by training," Riggleman writes in the book's introduction. "There is nothing more valuable than raw data. ... I am not asking you to like me or even to trust me. I want to let the data do the talking."

Axios Situational awareness: The National Archives has been asked to notify the House Oversight Committee by tomorrow whether any documents from the Trump White House are still unaccounted for, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Palmer Report, Analysis: DOJ files writ of replevin against Trump co-conspirator Peter Navarro, Bill Palmer, right, Sept. 26, 2022. The bill palmerDOJ has filed a writ of replevin against Peter Navarro, forcing him to immediately return government property that he’s illegally possessing. This new “replevin” filing should be a real nightmare for Navarro, given that he’s previously shown he doesn’t even know what “redacted” means.

bill palmer report logo headerBut in all seriousness, legally speaking, this filing is a big deal. For those thinking this means Navarro might have stolen classified documents, the DOJ filing instead refers to government emails, which the DOJ considers Navarro to be illegal possessing. That’s more boring than espionage, but still clear Navarro is in real trouble.

For those demanding to know when the DOJ is finally going to indict Peter Navarro, let’s not forget the DOJ has already invited Peter Navarro for contempt, and he’s awaiting trial. The DOJ is clearly looking to bring more serious charges against him and his co-conspirators.

This DOJ filing also states that Navarro has previously demanded immunity in exchange for turning over his government emails, which the DOJ has obviously rejected. This suggests the emails incriminate Navarro rather severely, beyond the current contempt charge, and that Navarro is looking to avoid prison. But it sounds like the DOJ is just going to take the emails from Navarro by force, leaving him with no leverage, and only the option of flipping on Trump if he wants immunity.

“But what if Navarro just deletes the emails?” For one thing, deleted emails are rarely actually gone. And if he did delete the emails after he learned that the government wanted them, that would be felony obstruction, helping ensure Navarro ends up in prison. In such case Navarro would go down for obstruction and contempt – and those kinds of charges start to add up for a 73 year old guy. So if he has deleted them, then he’ll really have to flip on Trump to avoid prison.

This doesn’t mean Navarro will flip on Trump. He’d have to be an idiot not to flip, but on the other hand, he is an idiot. So we’ll see. But Navarro now has only two choices, flip on Trump or rot in prison. He’ll have to live with whatever choice he makes. If Navarro doesn’t flip, others will.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden and Trump appear headed for a historically rare rematch in 2024, Matt Viser, Sept. 26, 2022. Biden and Trump appear to be nudging each other into a rare face-off between a sitting president and the predecessor he unseated.

President Biden was at a Democratic reception in Maryland a few weeks ago when his rhetoric turned toward an increasingly frequent topic — “what Trump is doing and the Trumpers are doing.” An audience member called out, “Lock him up!,” and Biden went on to cite “the new polls showing me beating Trump by six or eight points.”

A few days earlier, former president Donald Trump was at a rally in Pennsylvania when he, too, turned toward a frequent topic: “We’re leading Biden … by record numbers in the polls.” He said three times, with growing enthusiasm, “So I may just have to do it again!”

The country seems to be barreling toward a rematch that few voters actually want, but that two presidents — one current, one former — cannot stop talking about. Biden and Trump both say they are planning to make their decisions in the coming months, but with a lingering codependency between them, they each appear to be nudging the other into what would be a rare faceoff between the same two candidates four years apart.

Sept. 24

 

 

anika collier navaroli marlena sloss washington post

Whistleblower Anika Collier Navaroli, a policy official on the team designing Twitter's content moderation rules who spoke exclusively with the Washington Post, said Twitter's complacency toward then-President Donald Trump led to disastrous consequences (Photo by Marlena Sloss for The Washington Post).

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Jan. 6 Twitter witness: Failure to curb Trump spurred ‘terrifying’ choice, Drew Harwell, Sept. 24, 2022 (print ed.). In an explosive hearing in July, an unidentified former Twitter employee testified to the House Jan. 6 committee that the company had tolerated false and rule-breaking tweets from Donald Trump for years because executives knew their service was his “favorite and most-twitter bird Customused … and enjoyed having that sort of power.”

Now, in an exclusive interview with The Washington Post, the whistleblower, Anika Collier Navaroli, reveals the terror she felt about coming forward and how eventually that fear was overcome by her worry that extremism and political disinformation on social media pose an “imminent threat not just to American democracy, but to the societal fabric of our planet.”

“I realize that by being who I am and doing what I’m doing, I’m opening myself and my family to extreme risk,” Navaroli said. “It’s terrifying. This has been one of the most isolating times of my life.”

“I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t believe the truth matters,” she said of her testimony to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack.

Twitter banned Trump two days after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, citing fears he could incite further violence. By that time, he had sent more than 56,000 tweets over 12 years, many of which included lies and baseless accusations about election fraud. One month earlier, he had tweeted, “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

Sept. 22

 

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Inside Joke That Became Trump’s Big Lie, Carlos Lozada, Sept. 22, 2022. Donald Trump’s so-called big lie is not big because of its brazen dishonesty or its widespread influence or its unyielding grip over the Republican Party. It is not even big because of its ambition — to delegitimize a presidency, disenfranchise millions of voters, clap back against reality. No, the lie that Donald Trump won the 2020 election has grown so powerful because it is yoked to an older deception, without which it could not survive: the idea that American politics is, in essence, a joke, and that it can be treated as such without consequence.

The big lie depends on the big joke. It was enabled by it. It was enhanced by it. It is sustained by it.

When politicians publicly defend positions they privately reject, they are telling the joke. When they give up on the challenge of governing the country for the rush of triggering the enemy, they are telling the joke. When they intone that they must address the very fears they have encouraged or manufactured among their constituents, they are telling the joke. When their off-the-record smirks signal that they don’t really mean what they just said or did, they are telling the joke. As the big lie spirals ever deeper into unreality, with the former president mixing election falsehoods with call-outs to violent, conspiratorial fantasies, the big joke has much to answer for.

Recent books like Why We Did It: A Travelogue From the Republican Road to Hell by a former Republican operative and campaign consultant, Tim Miller, and Thank You for Your Servitude: Donald Trump’s Washington and the Price of Submission by The Atlantic’s Mark Leibovich place this long-running gag at the center of American politics. The big joke drains language of meaning, divorces action from responsibility and enables all manner of lies. “Getting the joke” means understanding that nothing you say need be true, that nobody expects it to be true — at least nobody in the know. “The truth of this scam, or ‘joke,’ was fully evident inside the club,” Leibovich writes. “We’re all friends here. Everyone knew the secret handshake, spoke the native language, and got the joke.”

Without the big joke, the big lie would not merit its adjective. Its challenge to democracy would be ephemeral, not existential.

The chroniclers of Donald Trump’s election lie typically seek out an origin story, a choose-your-own adventure that always leads to the Capitol steps on Jan. 6, 2021. In his book, The Big Lie: Election Chaos, Political Opportunism, and the State of American Politics After 2020, Politico’s Jonathan Lemire pinpoints an August 2016 campaign rally in Columbus, Ohio, during which Trump first suggested that the contest against Hillary Clinton would be rigged against him. This, Lemire writes, was when “the seeds of the big lie had been planted.”

Carlos Lozada became a New York Times Opinion columnist in September 2022, after 17 years as an editor and book critic at The Washington Post. He is the author of “What Were We Thinking: A Brief Intellectual History of the Trump Era” and the winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for criticism. @CarlosNYT

Politico, Top Meta exec Clegg to decide whether to reinstate Trump on Facebook, Rebecca Kern, Sept. 22, 2022. Nick Clegg gave no indication which way he plans to decide — but said he will make the decision by Jan. 7, 2023.

politico CustomMeta’s top policy executive Nick Clegg will be the one to decide whether to reinstate former president Donald Trump’s account in January 2023, he said Thursday.

meta logoClegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, said whether to extend Trump’s two-year suspension is “a decision I oversee and I drive,” at an event held in Washington by Semafor, a news organization.

“It’s not a capricious decision,” he said. “We will look at the signals related to real-world harm to make a decision whether at the two-year point — which is early January next year — whether Trump gets reinstated to the platform.”

Clegg added that he would consult with CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Meta’s board of directors. He said Zuckerberg is focused on building the virtual Metaverse, while Clegg is responsible for the implementation and enforcement of broad policy issues.

Political significance: Clegg gave no indication which way he plans to decide — but said he will make the decision by Jan. 7, 2023.

“We’ll talk to the experts, we’ll talk to third parties, we will try to assess what we think the implications will be of bringing Trump back onto the platform,” Clegg said.

facebook logo“I’m very mindful that if you have this significant ability to take decisions which affect the public realm as a private sector company you need to act with great caution and reticence, you shouldn’t throw your weight about,” Clegg, a former deputy prime minister of the United Kingdom, said. “American democracy is not our democracy — it’s your democracy.”

Not fact-checking political speech: Clegg said Trump could be suspended again if he is allowed back on the platform but then consistently violates the platform’s policies.

But Clegg reiterated Meta’s position that it will not fact-check politicians’ or candidates’ speech on its platforms. He said it’s not Meta’s role to determine what is true and false.

“It’s not about truth and lies,” he said. “Political speech is not an exercise in scientific accuracy. Politicians are there to sketch out a visual of what they want to see — they’re not there to provide statistical precision.”

“We do not want to get in the way of what politicians say about each other or themselves,” he said. “We are not here to interfere — that’s a sort of sacred part of the democratic process.”

Sept. 21

 

News conference by New York Attorney General Letita James, center. Although the lawsuit against Donald J. Trump cannot include criminal charges, the former president could face substantial financial penalties (Photo by Maddie McGarvey for The New York Times).News conference by New York Attorney General Letita James, center. Although the lawsuit against Donald J. Trump cannot include criminal charges, the former president could face substantial financial penalties (Photo by Maddie McGarvey for The New York Times).

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: New York Attorney General Unveils Lawsuit Against Trump, Jonah E. Bromwich, William K. Rashbaum and Ben Protess, Sept. 21, 2022. Accuses Him of ‘Staggering’ Fraud. Letitia James accused former President Trump and his family business of fraudulently overvaluing his assets by billions of dollars in a sprawling scheme.

Donald J. Trump, his family business and three of his adult children lied to lenders and insurers for more than a decade, fraudulently overvaluing his assets by billions of dollars in a sprawling scheme, according to a lawsuit filed on Wednesday by the New York attorney general, Letitia James, who is seeking to bar the Trumps from ever running a business in the state again.

Ms. James concluded that Mr. Trump and his family business violated several state criminal laws and “plausibly” broke federal criminal laws as well. Her office, which in this case lacks authority to file criminal charges, referred the findings to federal prosecutors in Manhattan; it was not immediately clear whether the U.S. attorney would investigate.

The 220-page lawsuit, filed in New York State Supreme Court, lays out in new and startling detail how, according to Ms. James, Mr. Trump’s annual financial statements were a compendium of lies. The statements, yearly records that include the company’s estimated value of his holdings and debts, wildly inflated the worth of nearly every one of his marquee properties — from Mar-a-Lago in Florida to Trump Tower and 40 Wall Street in Manhattan, according to the lawsuit.

The company also routinely spurned the assessments of outside experts: After a bank ordered an appraisal that found 40 Wall Street was worth $200 million, the Trumps promptly valued it at well over twice that number. Overall, the lawsuit said that 11 of Mr. Trump’s annual financial statements included more than 200 false and misleading asset valuations.

“The number of grossly inflated asset values is staggering, affecting most if not all of the real estate holdings in any given year,” according to the lawsuit. Ms. James, a Democrat who is running for re-election, filed the lawsuit, which comes just weeks after the former president refused to answer hundreds of questions under oath in an interview with Ms. James’s office.

Mr. Trump has long used his net worth to construct a public persona as a self-made billionaire, an image that underpinned his initial run for the White House. But, according to Ms. James, he had a financial motivation for inflating his property values.

His company, the Trump Organization, provided the fraudulent financial statements to lenders and insurers, her suit said, “to obtain beneficial financial terms,” including lower interest rates and lower premiums. All told, Ms. James said, he was able to obtain a quarter of a billion dollars in ill-gotten gains, money that she now wants the company to forfeit.

Lawyers for Mr. Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ms. James, who has become one of Mr. Trump’s primary antagonists, is looking to extract a steep price from the former president and his company. Her lawsuit asks a judge to appoint an independent monitor to oversee the company’s financial practices, while ousting the Trumps from the leadership of their own family business; Ms. James also wants to prevent the family from acquiring real estate in New York for five years in order to preclude the company from reinventing itself in Florida while expanding its New York operations.

If she is successful, Mr. Trump — as well as his children who are named as defendants, Eric, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. — will also be permanently barred from serving as officers or directors in any New York company, essentially chasing them out of the state. While Ms. James stopped short of trying to dissolve the Trump Organization altogether, she wants to shut down at least some of his New York operations.

Palmer Report, Analysis: Allen Weisselberg’s guilty plea suddenly looms large, Bill Palmer, right, Sept. 21, 2022. Allen bill palmerWeisselberg’s recent guilty plea looms larger now. Cooperation deal or not, his guilty plea removes 5th amendment protections for these specific crimes, and requires him to testify in federal criminal probes that result from the criminal referrals Letitia James made today.

This isn’t some trick, or some contrarian idea. It’s simply standard procedure how these things work. Without a cooperation deal, Weisselberg cannot be forced to testify about additional crimes that he and Trump committed together, which go beyond bill palmer report logo headerthe ones he pleaded guilty to. But when it comes to the specific crimes that he did plead guilty to, he has to testify. His lawyers certainly explained this to him when he was deciding to plead guilty.

Weisselberg can refuse to comply, but in such case he’d be charged with obstruction and do a lot more prison time than what he got in his deal. And if he testifies but lies to try to protect Trump, he’ll get charged with perjury, and once again do more time.

We’ll see if Weisselberg goes through with testifying to various prosecutors about the crimes that he just pleaded guilty to having committed with Donald Trump, so that he can stick with the charitable five month prison sentence he’s been given, or if Weisselberg ends up being too wimpy to testify against Trump and decides to spend a lot more time in prison instead. That’ll be his choice. But now that Letitia James is making federal criminal referrals that overlap with the things that Weisselberg is on the hook for testifying about, it’s worth watching.

Former FBI Special Agent Babak Broumand is accused of helping corrupt attorney Edgar Sargsyan avoid “law enforcement detection and monitoring” through a bribery scheme that provided secret information in exchange for cash and gifts, including escorts and a Ducati motorcycle, according to a trial memorandum from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Sept. 20

 

eric herschmann senate tv via getty

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Was Warned Late Last Year of Potential Legal Peril Over Documents, Maggie Haberman, Sept. 20, 2022 (print ed.). A former White House lawyer sought to impress on former President Trump the seriousness of the issue and the potential for legal exposure.

A onetime White House lawyer under President Donald J. Trump warned him late last year that Mr. Trump could face legal liability if he did not return government materials he had taken with him when he left office, three people familiar with the matter said.

The lawyer, Eric Herschmann, shown above on Senate television defending the president during an impeachment trial, sought to impress upon Mr. Trump the seriousness of the issue and the potential for investigations and legal exposure if he did not return the documents, particularly any classified material, the people said.

The account of the conversation is the latest evidence that Mr. Trump had been informed of the legal perils of holding onto material that is now at the heart of a Justice Department criminal investigation into his handling of the documents and the possibility that he or his aides engaged in obstruction.

In January, not long after the discussion with Mr. Herschmann, Mr. Trump turned over to the National Archives 15 boxes of material he had taken with him from the White House. Those boxes turned out to contain 184 classified documents, the Justice Department has said.

Palmer Report, Analysis: The odds of Donald Trump being criminally indicted just went through the roof, Bill Palmer, right, Sept. 20, 2022. Once Donald bill palmerTrump’s special master stunt finishes quickly failing, he’ll have to start working on actual trial defenses with the expectation of being indicted. One of Trump’s best trial defenses would probably be that he was too clueless to know that he wasn’t allowed to have the classified documents he took. No one really believes this, but it’s a question of reasonable doubt. The bad news for Trump is that this defense just got fully wiped out.

bill palmer report logo headerLast year, former Trump White House lawyer Eric Herschmann told Trump that he was breaking the law by possessing those documents and advised him to return them, according to a new report from the New York Times. Why is this important? When a lawyer (particularly one who used to work with you) informs you that you’re committing a crime by keeping something in your possession, and you continue to keep it in your possession anyway, it proves that you know you’re possessing it illegally. Yet Trump continued to keep the documents for another year after that.

It’s previously been reported that Herschmann testified against Trump to a DOJ grand jury, which means the DOJ already has Herschmann’s testimony about having informed Trump that he was committing crimes. This is the kind of thing that will help make sure Trump is actually convicted at trial, because now he can’t just play dumb to the jury and pretend he’s too stupid to understand how classified documents work.

We’re not the only ones who see it that way. Legal expert Laurence Tribe responded to the news by tweeting that an “Espionage Act indictment of Trump not long after the midterms seems all but inevitable.” The DOJ likes to keep building its case until it has enough in hand to make a conviction a near certainty. Herschmann’s testimony puts that over the top.

Sept. 19

Palmer Report, Analysis: Special Master Dearie quickly holds Donald Trump’s feet to the fire, as Trump’s stunt backfires, Bill Palmer, right, Sept. 19, bill palmer2022. For some reason Donald Trump and his attorneys thought that Judge Raymond Dearie, who has been a federal judge since the 1980s and has a reputation and career to protect, would somehow be a favorable special master pick for them. Trump and his team are quickly finding out that things don’t work that way.

bill palmer report logo headerSpecial Master Dearie is already ordering Trump to provide evidence that he had actually declassified any of the documents that were seized from his home. This corners Trump, because he’s been trying to take the position that he blanket declassified every document he ever touched, without providing any evidence of this. Not surprisingly, Trump’s team has filed a response to Dearie, saying it doesn’t want to provide any such evidence because it might need it for its eventual criminal defense.

raymond dearieThis essentially means that Trump is going to lose, and he’s going to lose quickly. This Special Master, right, is going to turn around and say that since Trump can’t provide any evidence these documents were declassified, they’re outside the Special Master’s purview, and therefore his work is done.

Trump will probably end up asking his pet judge to ditch this Special Master and appoint another one. But by that time the Court of Appeals will have seized control of the entire thing anyway, and it’ll be out of the hands of Trump’s pet judge. It took Trump six years to find just one of his appointed judges who was willing to set herself on fire for Trump’s sake, and now Trump has burned that judge in a way that bought him, what, a week? What a waste. Trump’s got nothing.

Sept. 18

washington post logoWashington Post, Book Review: Former U.S. attorney dishes on how he held line against Trump White House, Barbara McQuade, Sept. 18, 2022 (print ed.). In detailing his ouster from the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman says former attorney general William Barr "was desperate," cites Barr's interference in other investigations.

geoffrey berman sdnyWhen then-Attorney General William Barr bungled the firing of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, right, in 2020, we all knew there was more to the story.

Now, in his new book, Holding the Line: Inside the Nation’s Preeminent US Attorney’s Office and Its Battle with the Trump Justice Department, Berman dishes on that clumsy episode and on a range of conflicts with the Department of Justice during his tenure leading the Southern District of New York. Berman names the former DOJ officials who exerted political pressure that he found inappropriate, including Edward O’Callaghan and Jeffrey Rosen. Ultimately, Berman was ousted for the sin of refusing to obey what he believed to be partisan DOJ leadership. “The Department of Justice was not a private law firm dedicated to the president’s personal interests,” he writes, “and it was shameful when they operated as if they were.”

Justice Department log circularWith the storytelling skills of a trial lawyer, Berman describes the episode in which Barr summoned him to Manhattan’s Pierre hotel, “a swanky place where even standard rooms can cost a thousand bucks a night or more.” Barr told Berman that he wanted to replace him at the Southern District of New York (SDNY) with Jay Clayton, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Barr even offered Berman a job he apparently thought would be an enticing sweetener: head of the DOJ’s civil division, which represents the United States in all civil lawsuits — a big job but far from the criminal fray. With that job, Barr told Berman, he could “attract clients and build a book of business” for whenever Berman left the DOJ for the private sector. Only after offering him the job did Barr ask whether Berman had any experience in civil law, revealing that the attorney general was not always concerned with the best interests of the department he was entrusted to lead.

Though Berman refused to resign, Barr still issued a news release announcing that Berman was “stepping down” and that, until President Donald Trump could nominate Clayton, the Southern District of New York would be led by Craig Carpenito, the U.S. attorney for New Jersey. Barr bypassed Berman’s deputy, Audrey Strauss, the presumptive choice to serve as acting U.S. attorney. Berman responded with a news release of his own, noting that he was not resigning. His main goal, he writes in “Holding the Line,” was to preserve the office’s independence. The next day, Barr backed down on Carpenito and inserted Strauss into the role of acting head of the office. With Strauss in place, Berman agreed to resign. He concludes: “The truth was that Barr was desperate to get me out of the job I was in, and it was not to put a better US attorney in place. The reasons were perfectly obvious. They were based in politics.”

geoffrey berman bookBerman knew all along that he was living on borrowed time at the SDNY, given his numerous run-ins with the DOJ over what he thought were inappropriate orders from department officials. In one episode that predated Barr’s tenure as attorney general, Berman was investigating Gregory Craig, a former White House counsel for President Barack Obama, for potential violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. About two months before the 2018 midterm elections, O’Callaghan called Berman and told him to indict Craig and to do so before Election Day. Berman’s office had recently filed charges in separate cases against a Republican congressman and Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen. According to Berman, O’Callaghan had engaged in a heated exchange with the SDNY over the reference in the Cohen indictment to “Individual-1,” which, in context, was an unmistakable reference to Trump. Berman had refused demands to remove it. Now, O’Callaghan said of the Craig case, “It’s time for you guys to even things out.” Berman’s office ultimately declined prosecution. The DOJ sent the case to the D.C. U.S. attorney’s office, which filed the charges. Craig was acquitted at trial.

Berman reserves his strongest criticism for Barr, calling him a bully and his behavior “thuggish.” Upon taking office, Barr tried to “kill” the Southern District’s investigations relating to the campaign finance crimes to which Cohen had pleaded guilty. The reference in plea documents to “Individual-1” made it apparent that Trump faced potential criminal exposure in this investigation. Barr even discussed dismissing Cohen’s conviction in the same way he would later dismiss the false-statements charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn. In both cases, the defendants had pleaded guilty in open court.

Berman’s book provides a cautionary tale about how political forces can undermine the quest for justice. He’s concerned that power has become centralized in Washington, providing an opportunity for politics to influence decisions. To protect the independence of the 94 U.S. attorney’s offices, he offers some suggestions for reform. For example, he recommends prohibiting DOJ leadership from granting requests by defense counsel to overrule charging decisions made by U.S. attorneys. He further suggests forbidding the DOJ from shopping cases to other districts after they have been declined for prosecution by a U.S. attorney. He also proposes to eliminate prior-approval requirements that U.S. attorneys’ offices must obtain from the DOJ for sensitive investigative steps.

Fortunately, most U.S. attorneys know that their job is to exercise independent judgment and to refuse to take action based on politics. Berman reminds us that to do the job right, you must be willing to resign.

Or in some cases, refuse to do so.

Barbara McQuade is a law professor at the University of Michigan Law School and the former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.

 

Anti-Trump Womens March on Washington, Jan. 21 2017 (Photo by Jim Fry via Twitter and the Voice of America).

Anti-Trump Womens March on Washington, Jan. 21 2017 (Photo by Jim Fry via Twitter and the Voice of America).

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: How Russian Trolls Helped Keep the Women’s March Out of Lock Step, Ellen Barry, Sept. 18, 2022. As American feminists came together in 2017 to protest Donald Trump, Russia’s disinformation machine set about deepening the divides among them.

Linda Sarsour awoke on Jan. 23, 2017, logged onto the internet, and felt sick.

The weekend before, she had stood in Washington at the head of the Women’s March, a mobilization against President Donald J. Trump that surpassed all expectations. Crowds had begun forming before dawn, and by the time she climbed up onto the stage, they extended farther than the eye could see.

More than four million people around the United States had taken part, experts later estimated, placing it among the largest single-day protests in the nation’s history.

But then something shifted, seemingly overnight. What she saw on Twitter that Monday was a torrent of focused grievance that targeted her. In 15 years as an activist, largely advocating for the rights of Muslims, she had faced pushback, but this was of a different magnitude. A question began to form in her mind: Do they really hate me that much?

That morning, there were things going on that Ms. Sarsour could not imagine.

More than 4,000 miles away, organizations linked to the Russian government had assigned teams to the Women’s March. At desks in bland offices in St. Petersburg, using models derived from advertising and public relations, copywriters were testing out social media messages critical of the Women’s March movement, adopting the personas of fictional Americans.

They posted as Black women critical of white feminism, conservative women who felt excluded, and men who mocked participants as hairy-legged whiners. But one message performed better with audiences than any other.

It singled out an element of the Women’s March that might, at first, have seemed like a detail: Among its four co-chairs was Ms. Sarsour, a Palestinian American activist whose hijab marked her as an observant Muslim.

Over the 18 months that followed, Russia’s troll factories and its military intelligence service put a sustained effort into discrediting the movement by circulating damning, often fabricated narratives around Ms. Sarsour, whose activism made her a lightning rod for Mr. Trump’s base and also for some of his most ardent opposition.

One hundred and fifty-two different Russian accounts produced material about her. Public archives of Twitter accounts known to be Russian contain 2,642 tweets about Ms. Sarsour, many of which found large audiences, according to an analysis by Advance Democracy Inc., a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that conducts public-interest research and investigations.

 

chris doworth left matt gaetz joel greenberg resized facebook

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL, at center, former Florida State Rep. Chris Dorworth, left, then of the Ballard Partners lobbying firm, and former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg, at right, posed for the photograph above outside the White House in June of 2019.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The real reason Matt Gaetz hasn’t been indicted (yet), Bill Palmer, right, Sept. 18, 2022. Why hasn’t Matt Gaetz been indicted bill palmeryet? We keep hearing pundit chatter about how it’s due to the “60 day rule” about not indicting a candidate close to election day – but that’s not what’s going on here. The DOJ has reportedly had three cooperating witnesses against him for several months. This means he could have been indicted months ago.

bill palmer report logo headerWe’re currently 52 days from the election, which means the “60 day rule” didn’t even kick in until last week. All you have to do is look at a calendar to see that it’s not the reason Gaetz hasn’t been indicted. And if the DOJ had dropped the Gaetz case, it would have told him by now, and he’d be bragging about it nonstop. So the only reason for the DOJ to have sat on a ready-to-go Gaetz indictment for months is that it’s part of an ongoing probe involving bigger fish than Gaetz.

So who’s the bigger fish? Another Florida politician involved in the sex trafficking scandal? Or is it a bigger fish in a different aspect of the Gaetz probe? He’s being investigated for alleged misuse of campaign funds as well, along with other things. Gaetz is also likely a material witness to various crimes that Donald Trump committed, which is probably what the holdup is really about.

Keep in mind, Gaetz being indicted is not the ideal outcome here. The ideal outcome is Gaetz cutting a cooperation deal against Trump. The Feds are known to keep digging up criminal dirt on smaller fish to ratchet up the pressure for them to flip on bigger fish.

If Gaetz isn’t yet inclined to flip on Trump, and the DOJ indicts Gaetz anyway, then he’ll just double down and go to trial, which will take a couple years, and he’ll never be of any value in the case against Trump, because the Trump case will have long played out by the time Gaetz is convicted and realizes he should have flipped.

Sept. 15

Politico, Judge rejects DOJ bid to delay Mar-a-Lago ruling, appoints special master, Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, Sept. 15, 2022. Aileen Cannon appointed Raymond Dearie, a senior judge in the Eastern District of New York, to lead an independent review of the seized materials.

U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon on Thursday rejected a Justice Department demand to permit federal prosecutors to continue their review of records marked classified that were recovered from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

politico CustomIn her ruling, Cannon refused to accept DOJ officials’ contention that the records they are attempting to review as part of an ongoing criminal investigation remain highly classified or contain extraordinarily sensitive defense information that could damage national security if released.

“The Court does not find it appropriate to accept the Government’s conclusions on these important and disputed issues without further review by a neutral third party in an expedited and orderly fashion,” the Trump appointee wrote in her 10-page ruling.

aileen cannonCannon, right, instead appointed Raymond Dearie, below left, a senior judge in Brooklyn, N.Y., to lead an independent review of the seized materials. He was one of two potential special masters proposed by the Trump team and prosecutors said they found him acceptable even though he was not one of their initial picks.

In a signed filing, Dearie accepted the task. Cannon urged him to complete his review by Nov. 30 — more than a month after the Oct. 17 deadline DOJ had asked raymond dearieCannon to set.

The Justice Department had previously appealed Cannon’s order to appoint a special master and had indicated it would seek relief from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals if she did not agree to delay aspects of her ruling by Thursday night. The Justice Department contended that her decision had harmed national security, preventing intelligence community officials from reviewing the seized records, and was blocking the public’s urgent interest in pursuing evidence of crimes.

The ruling is another setback for federal prosecutors, who have expressed alarm at the extraordinarily sensitive records they found in boxes intermingled with Trump’s personal items in his Mar-a-Lago storage room, as well as some recovered from his office. DOJ has warned that Cannon’s Sept. 5 order — which enjoined the Justice Department from furthering its criminal review of the documents seized by FBI agents from Mar-a-Lago in August — had also disrupted a parallel risk assessment of those documents by the intelligence community. Though Cannon allowed that review to continue, DOJ emphasized that her order had sown confusion within the Executive Branch.

In one nod to the Justice Department, Cannon ordered Trump to shoulder the full cost of Dearie’s review, as well as any staff or associates he hires.

Cannon also clarified certain steps DOJ could take to further its criminal investigation even while the documents remained off-limits, such as “questioning witnesses and obtaining other information about the movement and storage of seized materials, including documents marked as classified, without discussion of their contents.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump warns of ‘big problems’ if indicted, says he’d still run for office, Azi Paybarah, Sept. 16, 2022 (print ed.). Former president Donald Trump warned that if he were indicted on a charge of mishandling classified documents after leaving the White House, there would be “problems in this country the likes of which perhaps we’ve never seen before.”

Trump, speaking Thursday to conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, added, “I don’t think the people of the United States would stand for it.”

Hewitt, who is also a contributing columnist for The Washington Post, then noted that critics would describe the comment as inciting violence, and he asked Trump to respond to the claim. “That’s not inciting — I’m just saying what my opinion is. I don’t think the people of this country would stand for it,” Trump said.

FBI logoWhen pressed by Hewitt, Trump said he thought there would be “big problems, big problems.”

Federal agents conducted a court-authorized search of Trump’s club and residence Aug. 8, as part of a long-running investigation into whether government documents — some of which are classified — were being stored at Mar-a-Lago instead of returned to the National Archives.

The FBI probe is the latest legal pressure on Trump, who now faces growing scrutiny as the criminal probe intensifies. The investigation is looking into whether he or his former aides took classified government documents and improperly stored or never returned them. Trump’s lawyer has argued that the former president cooperated with federal authorities and that many of the documents were covered by executive privilege.

In January 2021, the House impeached Trump on a single charge of “incitement of insurrection” for his role in whipping up a crowd of his supporters to stop Congress from the counting of electoral college votes for Joe Biden. A mob of pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, to stop the count, an attack that resulted in five deaths and injuries to dozens of members of law enforcement.

Trump’s comments Thursday came hours before officials from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security briefed Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee about threats against federal officials. After the briefing, Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), the committee’s chairman, described Trump’s rhetoric as dangerous.

“Inviting the mob to return to the streets is exactly what happened here on January 6th, 2021,” Durbin told reporters. After noting that five people died as a result of the attack and 149 law enforcement agents were injured that day, the senator said Trump’s “careless and inflammatory rhetoric has its consequences.”

In the interview with Hewitt, Trump also said he “would have no prohibition against running” for office if he were indicted. “It would not take you out of the arena,” Hewitt said, trying to clarify the former president’s position. Trump replied, “It would not.”

Trump repeatedly has hinted at another run for the presidency in 2024.

Proof, Investigative Commentary: DOJ Investigating Ties Between the FBI and the Kremlin Agent Behind 2016 Trump-Russia Collusion; Jared Kushner May Also Be Implicated, Seth seth abramson graphicAbramson, left, Sept. 15, 2022. A new Insider report is here expanded upon by Proof to reveal a potentially harrowing triangle linking Trump’s lead agent in Trump-Russia collusion, Putin’s lead agent in the same events, and the FBI.

Introduction: The oft-maligned collation of raw intel known as the Steele Dossier, once advertised as “70%” accurate by its curator, Christopher Steele—who said from the outset that his unprocessed data required additional work by U.S. intelligence agents—has so far proven to be about one-third accurate, one-third inaccurate, and one-third unproven, though with each passing year this last third moves closer and closer to falling under “accurate.”

seth abramson proof logoTo hear the Dossier tell it, the two lead agents for Donald Trump in colluding with the Kremlin in 2015 and 2016—which we know Trump did, in secretly negotiating (through Michael Cohen) the most lucrative business deal of his life with the Kremlin, the Trump Tower Moscow deal, throughout the entirety of his 2016 presidential run, and thereafter overseeing a political operation that sent confidential election-related data (through Paul Manafort) to Vladimir Putin’s chief civilian agent doing business in America, Oleg Deripaska—were, well, the men I just said: Cohen and Manafort.

(Along with Trump himself, of course, as the candidate publicly asked the Kremlin’s hackers to hack on his behalf, which they began doing the same day—as requested.)

But at least as to Paul Manafort, this is all a bit misleading. Manafort was in fact under contract with Kremlin agent Deripaska to work as an agent of the Kremlin for the entirety of the time Manafort was allegedly working pro bono for Trump—a contract that had begun in 2005, just before Manafort suddenly moved into Trump Tower and renewed his by-then decades-long friendship with Trump—placing it somewhere between dubious and flat-out wrong to suggest Manafort was ever truly Trump’s man.

Just so, one could argue that Cohen couldn’t possibly have “led” in Trump’s political collusion with the Kremlin in 2015 and 2016, as he wasn’t substantially involved in Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign at all; his role in the Trump-Russia scandal was to help Trump secretly negotiate a real estate development deal with the Kremlin while Trump’s political team—the one Cohen wasn’t actually on—authored the most unabashedly pro-Russia foreign policy agenda in the history of American politics.

With this is mind, there’s never been any doubt amongst Trump biographers and political historians that while the lead for Putin in the Trump-Russia scandal was in fact Deripaska—as Steele’s dossier had implied, via its persistent focus on Deripaska agent Manafort—the corresponding lead for Trump was in actuality his son-in-law Jared Kushner.

It was Jared Kushner who held the most secret (and later lied about) meetings with Kremlin agents, both himself and through intermediaries, before and immediately after the 2016 election; it was Jared Kushner who set up Vladimir Putin’s “friend” Dimitri Simes (who would permanently flee Washington for Moscow to take a job as a Putin propagandist the moment Kremlin spy Maria Butina was arrested in the U.S.) as Trump’s top adviser on Russia policy, in which role Simes helped Trump’s Kremlin intermediary George Papadopoulos and Russian Alfa Bank adviser Richard Burt write Trump’s now-infamous agenda for total American capitulation to Moscow (including and indeed perhaps especially on the subject of Ukraine); and it was Jared Kushner who orchestrated the multinational “grand bargain” detailed in 2019 New York Times bestseller Proof of Conspiracy, which bargain in part saw Trump and his son-in-law offering secrets (including nuclear secrets) to strongmen in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt in return for some concessions on Arab-Israeli relations and a windfall for Putin and Russia on (1) Ukraine-related sanctions, and (2) the building of nuclear power plants across the Middle East.

But it was also Jared Kushner who would have been needed to to act as intermediary for perhaps the most controversial component of the Steele Dossier—the sordid affair at the Ritz Moscow notwithstanding, as 2018 New York Times bestseller Proof of Collusion does more than enough to confirm that something uncouth (if largely benign) happened at that location in November 2013—this being the Dossier’s unprocessed intelligence on the sale of a portion of Kremlin-owned oil giant Rosneft, which sale was allegedly to be arranged in such a way as to benefit the Trump family directly.

While Steele’s dossier was silent on exactly how the deal would benefit Trump, its contention that Trump agent Carter Page discussed the deal pre-election in Moscow with Rosneft CEO and Putin lackey Igor Sechin was eventually confirmed (as was Page’s decision to lie about this discussion and his trip to Moscow repeatedly to the media, despite accurately debriefing Trump’s campaign on its particulars at the time).

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

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump warns of ‘big problems’ if indicted, says he’d still run for office, Azi Paybarah, Sept. 15, 2022. Former president Donald Trump warned that if he were indicted on a charge of mishandling classified documents after leaving the White House, there would be “problems in this country the likes of which perhaps we’ve never seen before.”

Trump, speaking Thursday to conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, added, “I don’t think the people of the United States would stand for it.”

Hewitt, who is also a contributing columnist for The Washington Post, then noted that critics would describe the comment as inciting violence, and he asked Trump to respond to the claim. “That’s not inciting — I’m just saying what my opinion is. I don’t think the people of this country would stand for it,” Trump said.

FBI logoWhen pressed by Hewitt, Trump said he thought there would be “big problems, big problems.”

Federal agents conducted a court-authorized search of Trump’s club and residence Aug. 8, as part of a long-running investigation into whether government documents — some of which are classified — were being stored at Mar-a-Lago instead of returned to the National Archives.

The FBI probe is the latest legal pressure on Trump, who now faces growing scrutiny as the criminal probe intensifies. The investigation is looking into whether he or his former aides took classified government documents and improperly stored or never returned them. Trump’s lawyer has argued that the former president cooperated with federal authorities and that many of the documents were covered by executive privilege.

In January 2021, the House impeached Trump on a single charge of “incitement of insurrection” for his role in whipping up a crowd of his supporters to stop Congress from the counting of electoral college votes for Joe Biden. A mob of pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, to stop the count, an attack that resulted in five deaths and injuries to dozens of members of law enforcement.

Trump’s comments Thursday came hours before officials from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security briefed Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee about threats against federal officials. After the briefing, Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), the committee’s chairman, described Trump’s rhetoric as dangerous.

“Inviting the mob to return to the streets is exactly what happened here on January 6th, 2021,” Durbin told reporters. After noting that five people died as a result of the attack and 149 law enforcement agents were injured that day, the senator said Trump’s “careless and inflammatory rhetoric has its consequences.”

In the interview with Hewitt, Trump also said he “would have no prohibition against running” for office if he were indicted. “It would not take you out of the arena,” Hewitt said, trying to clarify the former president’s position. Trump replied, “It would not.”

Trump repeatedly has hinted at another run for the presidency in 2024.

ny times logoNew York Times, Durham Inquiry Appears to Wind Down as Grand Jury Expires, Katie Benner, Adam Goldman and Charlie Savage, Sept. 15, 2022 (print ed.). The special counsel appointed by the Trump administration to examine the Russia investigation seems to be wrapping up its work with no further charges in store.

john durham jip IMG 8238When John H. Durham was assigned by the Justice Department in 2019 to examine the origins of the investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, President Donald J. Trump and his supporters expressed a belief that the inquiry would prove that a “deep state” conspiracy including top Obama-era officials had worked to sabotage him.

Now Mr. Durham (shown at left in a photo this spring by the Justice Integrity Project) appears to be winding down his three-year inquiry without anything close to the results Mr. Trump was seeking. The grand jury that Mr. Durham has recently used to hear evidence has expired, and while he could convene another, there are currently no plans to do so, three people familiar with the matter said.

Mr. Durham and his team are working to complete a final report by the end of the year, they said, and one of the lead prosecutors on his team is leaving for a job with a prominent law firm.

Over the course of his inquiry, Mr. Durham has developed cases against two people accused of lying to the F.B.I. in relation to outside efforts to investigate purported Trump-Russia ties, but he has not charged any conspiracy or put any high-level officials on trial. The recent developments suggest that the chances of any more indictments are remote.

After Mr. Durham’s team completes its report, it will be up to Attorney General Merrick B. Garland to decide whether to make its findings public. The report will be Mr. Durham’s opportunity to present any evidence or conclusions that challenge the Justice Department’s basis for opening the investigation in 2016 into the links between Mr. Trump and Russia.

ny times logoNew York Times, N.Y. Attorney General Rejects Trump Settlement Offer and May Sue, Ben Protess, Jonah E. Bromwich and William K. Rashbaum, Sept. 15, 2022. The attorney general, Letitia James, is also considering suing at least one of former President Trump’s children as part of her Trump Organization inquiry.

The New York attorney general’s office has rebuffed an offer from Donald J. Trump’s lawyers to settle a contentious civil investigation into the former president and his family real estate business, setting the stage for a lawsuit that would accuse Mr. Trump of fraud, according to three people with knowledge of the matter.

The attorney general, Letitia James, is also considering suing at least one of Mr. Trump’s adult children, the people said. Ivanka, Eric and Donald Trump Jr., have all been senior executives at Mr. Trump’s company, the Trump Organization.

The likelihood of a lawsuit grew this month after Ms. James’s office rejected at least one settlement offer from Mr. Trump’s lawyers, the people said. While the Trump Organization for months has made overtures to the attorney general’s office — and the two sides could still reach a deal — there is no indication that a settlement will materialize anytime soon.

Ms. James, a Democrat who is running for re-election in November, is focused on whether Mr. Trump fraudulently inflated the value of his assets and has mounted a three-and-a-half-year inquiry that has cemented her as one of the former president’s chief antagonists. Mr. Trump, who has denied all wrongdoing and derided the investigation as a politically motivated witch hunt, has fired back at her, filing an unsuccessful lawsuit to block her inquiry and calling Ms. James, who is Black, a racist.

 

mike lindell screengrab

washington post logoWashington Post, FBI seizes Mike Lindell’s phone in probe of Colo. voting machine breach, Jon Swaine and Emma Brown, Sept. 15, 2022. FBI agents seized a cellphone belonging to Mike Lindell, above, the MyPillow founder and prominent election denier, as part of a federal investigation into an alleged breach of voting machines in Colorado, according to Lindell.

The agents served Lindell with a search warrant and grand jury subpoena Tuesday afternoon in the drive-through area of a Hardee’s restaurant in Mankato, Minn., he said on his online TV show. Lindell said the agents questioned him about Tina Peters, the Mesa County, Colo., clerk who was indicted in March on charges that she helped an outsider copy sensitive data from the county’s elections systems in May 2021.

The FBI acknowledged that a warrant was served but declined to elaborate. “Without commenting on this specific matter, I can confirm that the FBI was at that location executing a search warrant authorized by a federal judge,” a spokesperson for the bureau’s Denver field office said in an email.

ny times logoNew York Times, A merger delay could threaten a $1 billion financing deal tied to former President Trump’s upstart social media company, Matthew Goldstein, Sept. 15, 2022. The social media company backed by former President Donald J. Trump may not be able to count on a $1 billion deal it arranged to finance its upstart Truth Social platform.

The deal was agreed upon last year by about three dozen hedge funds and other wealthy investors, and is expected to expire on Sept. 20, according to a regulatory filing. The offer’s status was put into jeopardy after the shell company that is seeking to merge with Mr. Trump’s company delayed the deadline for completing the merger by at least three months.

The $1 billion financing arrangement, known as a private investment in public equity, or PIPE, was intended to provide another source of financing to Trump Media & Technology Group, the parent of Truth Social, upon the completion of its merger with Digital World Acquisition Corp., a vehicle known as a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC.

Digital World raised $300 million in an initial public offering last September, money that Trump Media would assume after a merger, in addition to a stock market listing. The $1 billion in PIPE financing would be provided by the investors “upon consummation of their business combination,” the merging companies said in a statement when the deal was announced in December.

The merger had been expected to close no later than Sept. 20. But the delay in completing the merger means that the hedge funds that agreed to invest in the newly merged company can walk away if they want, said experts familiar with PIPEs.

Sept. 14

 

Partially redacted documents with classified markings, including colored cover sheets indicating their status, that FBI agents reported finding in former president Donald Trump’s office at his Mar-a-Lago estate. (U.S. Department of Justice)

A photo released by the U.S. Department of Justice shows documents allegedly seized at Mar-a-Lago spread over a carpet. (U.S. Department of Justice via AFP and Getty Images).

Palmer Report, Analysis: The DOJ’s endgame with Donald Trump gets explosive, Bill Palmer, right, Sept. 14, 2022. It’s anyone’s guess as to when the DOJ bill palmerwill criminally indict and arrest Donald Trump. It could be before or after the midterms. It could be after the new year. It could be tomorrow. Take your pick. But based just on what’s become publicly available about the criminal cases the DOJ is building against Trump, there’s no longer any doubt whatsoever that the DOJ is going to indict him. In fact it sure looks like we’ve rather explosively entered the endgame.

bill palmer report logo headerHere’s what I suspect has been going on with the DOJ’s case against Trump, if I had to make an educated guess based on the publicly available information that’s surfaced to date. Trump’s theft of nuclear secrets – almost certainly for nefarious purposes – is his most serious crime in the eyes of the law. Moreover, the DOJ’s priority throughout this probe has to have been tracking down the classified secrets he stole. That’s meant cultivating sources inside Mar-a-Lago so it could identify the specific locations of the documents before going in to get them. That’s also presumably involved quietly tracking down documents that Trump gave or sold to others, while they still had their guard down, before tipping anyone off by going into Trump’s home.

While this process was playing out, any other federal criminal charges against Donald Trump had to wait. The DOJ surely could have indicted Trump six months ago for his election overthrow plot. But doing so would have put the effort to track down the classified documents at risk, because if Trump was indicted for any reason, it might have spooked anyone he’d given classified documents to, and sent them underground.

Justice Department log circularNow that the DOJ and the intelligence community have finally sorted out Trump’s classified document crime spree as best they can, they’ve finally gone into his home and seized the documents that they’ve known all along were there, and that they’ve been surveilling all along. And now that the DOJ can finally indict Trump in his nuclear secrets scandal, it’s going ahead and indicting him on everything else as well, as evidenced by the reported forty grand jury subpoenas in a week and the seizure of Mike Lindell’s cellphone.

The DOJ has a long pattern of taking this kind of approach. If it’s indicting someone for a serious crime, it’ll also tack on indictments for as many other lesser charges as possible. Why? Lesser crimes are often more easily proven beyond a reasonable doubt, meaning that even the most hesitant jury will end up convicting on something. In a famous example, the DOJ indicted Paul Manafort on eighteen felony charges, and the jury ended up indicting him on eight of them, which was enough to put him in prison.

Now we’re about to see the same thing happen to Donald Trump. He’s going to get hit with quite a large number of felony counts, for various kinds of crimes. Based just on what’s publicly available, the DOJ appears to be targeting Trump for espionage, obstruction, seditious conspiracy, wire fraud in relation to fundraising on the big lie, and the manner in which his social network was funded. Given how hard the DOJ tries to keep things secret, there are probably more aspects of its investigation into Trump that we don’t even know about.

Pro Publica, Investigative Commentary: For Donald Trump, Information Has Always Been Power, Andrea Bernstein, Sept. 14, 2022. People have wondered why the former president collected classified intel, speculating that he is just a packrat. But he has a long history of gathering and wielding sensitive info to help himself.

pro publica logoEver since the FBI came out of Mar-a-Lago last month with box after box of documents, some of them highly sensitive and classified, questions have wafted over the criminal investigation: Why did former President Donald Trump sneak off with the stash to begin with? Why did he keep it when he was asked to return it? And what, if anything, did he plan to do with it?

It’s true that Trump likes to collect shiny objects, like the framed Time magazine cover that was stowed, according to the U.S. Justice Department, alongside documents marked top secret. It’s true, as The Associated Press reported, that Trump has a “penchant for collecting” items that demonstrate his connection to famous people, like Shaquille O’Neal’s giant shoe, which he kept in his office in New York’s Trump Tower.

FBI logoBut I’ve covered Trump and his business for decades, and there’s something else people around him have told me over and over again: Trump knows the value of hoarding sensitive, secret information and wielding it regularly and precisely for his own ends. The 76-year-old former host of “The Apprentice” came up in the world of New York tabloids, where trading gossip was the coin of the realm. Certainly sometimes he just wanted to show off that he knew things about important people. But he also has used compromising information to pressure elected officials, seek a commercial advantage or blunt accountability and oversight.

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

Take a little-known episode where Trump tried to pressure former Republican New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman.

In 1997, Trump, then a major casino owner in Atlantic City, was furious with New Jersey elected officials for supporting a $330 million tunnel project. The tunnel would run from the Atlantic City Expressway almost to the doorstep of a casino run by then-rival Steve Wynn. “Trump didn’t want Wynn in Atlantic City,” Whitman recently told me. Trump “wanted to control the gambling there.”

As a casino owner, Trump wasn’t able to make donations in New Jersey legislative races, contributions being one of his go-to methods of attempting to exert control over government decisions. But Trump could run caustic ads and file lawsuits, which he did. When none of that worked, and the tunnel was in the final stages of approval, Whitman said, Trump called her up.

A few years before the tunnel vote, Whitman’s son, Taylor, who was in high school at the time, had gotten falling-down drunk at a private dance at Trump’s Plaza Hotel off Central Park in New York City and had to be taken to the hospital. This is something that high school students stupidly do, and Whitman said to me she was happy for Taylor to be sick “to teach him a lesson.” But in the call, Trump suddenly brought the episode up. He said it would be “too bad” if the press found out about her son’s drunken antics.

“He made the threat during the deliberations over the tunnel,” Whitman said, and it “blindsided” her because the high school dance was private and Taylor's behavior had been a family concern. She had no idea how Trump found out about it, she said, but the episode made it clear to her that people collected and delivered sensitive information to Trump about what happened in his properties. She did not buckle to Trump, and he never made good on his threat.

Many people who have found themselves, for better or worse, in Trump’s orbit over the decades — people with far less power than Whitman — told me it was obvious that Trump collected information on people, delighted in it, even. And he was not shy about deploying it. “There was always someone watching,” one former high-level Trump Organization employee told me. “What Donald would do is he would let the person know he knows, in his around-the-corner way. He let the person know he was all-imposing and he knew what was going on.” Like most other former employees, this person did not want to speak on the record for fear that Trump would still come after him all these years later.

Sept. 13

 ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. Issues 40 Subpoenas in a Week, Expanding Its Jan. 6 Inquiry, Glenn Thrush, Maggie Haberman, Adam Goldman and Alan Feuer, Sept. 13, 2022 (print ed.). It also seized the phones of two top advisers to former President Trump, a sign of an escalating investigation two months before the midterm elections.

Justice Department log circularJustice Department officials have seized the phones of two top advisers to former President Donald J. Trump and blanketed his aides with about 40 subpoenas in a substantial escalation of the investigation into his efforts to subvert the 2020 election, people familiar with the inquiry said on Monday.

The seizure of the phones, coupled with a widening effort to obtain information from those around Mr. Trump after the 2020 election, represent some of the most aggressive steps the department has taken thus far in its criminal investigation into the actions that led to the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

The extent of the investigation has come into focus in recent days, even though it has often been overshadowed by the government’s legal clash with Mr. Trump and his lawyers over a separate inquiry into the handling of presidential records, including highly classified materials, the former president kept at his residence in Florida, Mar-a-Lago.

Federal agents with court-authorized search warrants took phones last week from at least two people: Boris Epshteyn, an in-house counsel who helps coordinate Mr. Trump’s legal efforts, and Mike Roman, a campaign strategist who was the director of Election Day operations for the Trump campaign in 2020, people familiar with the investigation said.

Mr. Epshteyn and Mr. Roman have been linked to a critical element of Mr. Trump’s bid to hold onto power: the effort to name slates of electors pledged to Mr. Trump from swing states won by Joseph R. Biden Jr. in 2020 as part of a plan to block or delay congressional certification of Mr. Biden’s Electoral College victory.

Making a case against Trump. The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack is laying out a comprehensive narrative of President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Here are the main themes that have emerged so far from eight public hearings:

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U.S. Politics, Economy, Governance

don bolduc victory graphic

ny times logoNew York Times, Morse Concedes to Bolduc in New Hampshire Senate Race, Realizing G.O.P. Fears, Trip Gabriel, Sept. 15, 2022 (print ed.). With Chuck Morse’s concession, Don Bolduc, a 2020 election denier, will face Senator Maggie Hassan in November. Some Republicans fear he’s too right-wing.

Don Bolduc, a retired Army general and 2020 election denier, appears to have captured the Republican nomination for Senate in New Hampshire after his chief rival conceded early Wednesday.

The Associated Press has not yet called the race. As of 8 a.m., Mr. Bolduc held a lead of about 1,200 votes over Chuck Morse, the president of the State Senate.

djt maga hatchris sununuMr. Morse was endorsed by Gov. Chris Sununu, right, and helped by $4.5 million from national Republicans, who were worried that a victory by Mr. Bolduc would forfeit what they saw as a winnable seat in the quest for Senate control this fall.

Mr. Bolduc’s apparent victory will come as a relief to Democrats, who also assume he will be the weaker opponent against Senator Maggie Hassan, a first-term Democrat. She won in 2016 by about 1,000 votes in purple New Hampshire but has been saddled with low job approval numbers. Four states — New Hampshire, Arizona, Georgia and Nevada — have vulnerable Democratic senators the party is aggressively defending to keep its hold on the Senate.

Mr. Bolduc led wire-to-wire in polling during the race. He amassed grass-roots support by traveling widely for two years and holding town hall-style events, where attendees fumed over President Biden and Democratic governance in Washington.

His supporters were less animated by bread-and-butter issues such as inflation — which is soon expected to affect the cost of the home heating oil that is widely used in New Hampshire — than by immigration, the 2020 election and cultural issues. “I signed a letter with 120 other generals and admirals saying that Donald Trump won the election and, damn it, I stand by” it, Mr. Bolduc said at a debate last month. He has also said he was open to abolishing the F.B.I. after agents searched Mr. Trump’s residence in Florida seeking classified documents.

Mr. Sununu, a moderate and popular Republican in the state, was outspoken in calling Mr. Bolduc a “conspiracy-theory extremist” whom most voters did not take seriously.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: These 97 Members of Congress Reported Trades in Companies Influenced by Their Committees, Alicia Parlapiano, Adam Playford and Kate Kelly, Produced by Ege Uz, Sept. 14, 2022 (print ed.). At least 97 current members of Congress bought or sold stock, bonds or other financial assets that intersected with their congressional work or reported similar transactions by their spouse or a dependent child, an analysis by The New York Times has found.

U.S. lawmakers are not banned from investing in any company, including those that could be affected by their decisions. But the trading patterns uncovered by the Times analysis underscore longstanding concerns about the potential for conflicts of interest or use of inside information by members of Congress, government ethics experts say.

Times reporters analyzed transactions between 2019 and 2021 using a database of members’ financial filings called Capitol Trades created by 2iQ Research. They matched the trades against relevant committee assignments and the dates of hearings and congressional investigations.

When contacted, many of the lawmakers said the trades they reported had been carried out independently by a spouse or a broker with no input from them. Some have since sold all their stocks or moved them into blind trusts. Two said the trades were accidental.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats ramp up efforts to win over Hispanic voters, Theodoric Meyer, Leigh Ann Caldwell and Tobi Raji, Sept. 15, 2022. President Biden will address the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s annual gala this evening, as Democrats labor to win back Hispanic voters ahead of the midterm elections.

They’ve got their work cut out for them.

Former president Donald Trump alarmed Democrats by making big gains with Hispanic voters — Hispanic men in particular — in 2020 even as he lost the presidency. The party suffered another blow when Republicans won the special election in June to fill the seat vacated by former Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Tex.), who represented a heavily Hispanic district.

Republicans argue that Democrats have alienated Hispanic voters by moving to the left on social issues.

Democrats are cautiously optimistic that stepped-up outreach to Hispanic voters, falling gas prices and anger over the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade can help them reverse their losses this cycle — or at least stop the bleeding.

But recent polls of Hispanic voters conducted for the National Association of Latino Elected Officials, UnidosUS and Mi Familia Vota show cause for concern, according to Matt Barreto, a veteran Hispanic pollster who’s also a senior adviser to Building Back Together, an outside group promoting Biden’s agenda.

Sept. 11

 

djt jan 6 rioters capitol

Proof, Investigative Commentary: An Alphabetical Compendium of the Dangerous and Deadly Weapons Insurrectionists Wielded at the Capitol on seth abramson graphicJanuary 6, Seth Abramson, left, Sept. 11, 2022. This list of 115+ dangerous and deadly weapons used on January 6 is the largest of its kind, curating reports from media and federal sources to offer a more accurate picture of Trump’s insurrection.

America will never get a full accounting of the weapons supporters of Donald Trump brought to the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

There are a variety of reasons for this. Most notable among them is that precious few Trumpist insurrectionists were arrested on-scene, which means that well over 90% of those who attacked the Capitol on Insurrection Day were able to leave the building and/or its surrounding grounds with all the weapons they had had on their person and later deny having ever been armed at all. And because seth abramson proof logoWashington, D.C. is a gun-free zone, those who carried firearms to the Capitol on January 6—a class of pro-Trump criminals we know from extensive major-media reporting on this critical question sits somewhere in the double digits—largely did so by concealing these weapons on their person, meaning the cases we know about in which this occurred are only a very small fraction of the actual instances of handguns and long guns being brought into or near the seat of the U.S. federal government on January 6.

There’s also the simple fact that the January 6 insurrection was designed to unfold in several stages—an initial storming of the Capitol followed by a long-term occupation and, during that occupation, the reinforcement of the building’s criminal occupiers with a mass arsenal of heavy weaponry—so some significant percentage of the stock of weapons that was supposed to be brought to bear on the Capitol on January 6 was stored off-site, most notably—federal investigators have learned—in a Comfort Inn in Ballston, a Virginia neighborhood just a short distance from the planned launch site for Trump’s armed insurrection.

That Republican Party officials have brutally lied about January 6—falsely claiming that no guns were found on any Capitol attacker; falsely claiming that no arrests for conduct involving a weapon were ever made related to January 6; falsely claiming that an event isn’t an “insurrection” unless nearly all participants are armed with guns; falsely claiming that the only January 6 casualties were caused by government agents; falsely claiming that both antifa and Black Lives Matter were present at the Capitol on January 6; falsely claiming that the intention of the January 6 attackers couldn’t have been in any way seditious because if it had been the Trumpists would have killed everyone at the Capitol; falsely claiming that the United States Capitol Police or the Metropolitan Police Department or unidentified left-wing agitators provoked the Trumpist mob on January 6; and even more vile lies Proof will not repeat here—means that even if we could uncover a significant fraction of the weaponry armed Trumpists brought to downtown D.C. on January 6 to try to overturn a democratic election there is no longer any chance that even a sizable minority of Republicans would believe any such reporting.

This, of course, was the purpose, from the start, of GOP disinformation about January 6: to rewrite the history of that terrifying day and to do so in a manner calibrated to ensure that such events could happen again, indeed on a far greater scale.

And yet, despite the impossibility of investigators ever getting a full accounting of more than a small fraction of the arms carried by the Trumpist mob as it marched on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, here’s what U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said about the weaponry brought to the U.S. Capitol grounds by pro-Trump insurrectionists on January 6 (with reference to her nearly 40-year as a judge in D.C.):

“I don’t think I’ve seen, in all my years as a judge, quite such a collection of weapons.”

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

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

Sept. 10

 

donald trump money palmer report Custom

Palmer Report, Opinion: DOJ grand jury into Donald Trump’s financial fraud subpoenas a familiar face, Bill Palmer, right, Sept. 10, 2022. Earlier this bill palmerweek ABC News reported that the DOJ has a grand jury investigating how Donald Trump used a PAC to raise money under the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen. Now the New York Times is revealing the names of some of those subpoena recipients – including one you’ll recognize.

bill palmer report logo headerThe subpoena recipients include former Trump White House adviser Stephen Miller, a guy whose name seems to surface in every Trump White House scandal. This means that Miller will have to provide documents, communications, and presumably testimony as needed. There’s really no getting out of a grand jury subpoena, because the courts tend to process battles over these kinds of subpoenas rather swiftly.

In other words, Miller will soon have to give up Trump. People cannot be compelled to testify against themselves to a grand jury, but they can be compelled to testify against others; the Fifth Amendment only protects against self incrimination. Miller will surely claim executive privilege, but that doesn’t apply to criminal acts committed by a President, so it won’t hold up.

The key here is the timing. ABC says that this grand jury has been sending out subpoenas to more than a dozen Trump associates for the past several weeks. That seems to line up with when the DOJ carried out a search and seizure warrant at Trump’s home. While that was in a separate classified documents probe, it’s starting to feel like the DOJ’s various probes into Trump are being lined up so they reach a peak at the same time. Stay tuned.

Sept. 9

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Post-Election Fund-Raising Comes Under Scrutiny by Justice Dept., Alan Feuer, Maggie Haberman and Adam Goldman, Sept. 9, 2022 (print ed.). A federal grand jury has issued subpoenas seeking information about Save America PAC, which was formed as Donald J. Trump promoted baseless assertions about election fraud.

A federal grand jury in Washington is examining the formation of — and spending by — a super PAC created by Donald J. Trump after his loss in the 2020 election as he was raising millions of dollars by baselessly asserting that the results had been marred by widespread voting fraud.

According to subpoenas issued by the grand jury, the contents of which were described to The New York Times, the Justice Department is interested in the inner workings of Save America PAC, Mr. Trump’s main fund-raising vehicle after the election. Several similar subpoenas were sent on Wednesday to junior and midlevel aides who worked in the White House and for Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.

The new focus on Save America was reported earlier by ABC News.

Among the roughly half-dozen current and former Trump aides in the White House and the 2020 presidential campaign who are said to have received subpoenas this week were Beau Harrison, an aide to Mr. Trump in the White House and in his post-presidency, and William S. Russell, who similarly worked in the West Wing and now for Mr. Trump’s personal office, according to several people familiar with the events.

The fact that federal prosecutors are seeking information about Save America PAC is a significant new turn in an already sprawling investigation of the roles that Mr. Trump and some of his allies played in trying to overturn the election, an array of efforts that culminated with the violent mob attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Those parts of the Jan. 6 inquiry related to Mr. Trump have so far largely centered on a plan to create slates of electors pledged to him in seven key swing states that Joseph R. Biden Jr. had won.

The new subpoenas appeared to have been issued by a different grand jury in Washington than the one that has been gathering evidence about the so-called fake electors plan, which has focused on questions surrounding pro-Trump lawyers like Rudolph W. Giuliani and John Eastman.

At least one of the new subpoenas bore the name of a veteran federal prosecutor in Washington who specializes in fraud cases, suggesting that this avenue of inquiry is devoted primarily to examining the spending and fund-raising at Mr. Trump’s super PAC.

 

greg craig barack obama  Former White House Counsel Gregory Craig, right, was indicted by Trump's Justice Department and then acquitted. He is shown with President Obama in 2009 (White House photo.)

Former White House Counsel Gregory Craig, right, was indicted by Trump's Justice Department and then acquitted. He is shown with President Obama in 2009 (White House photo.)

 ny times logoNew York Times, A former U.S. attorney said the Justice Department under Donald Trump pushed cases that would help the former president, Benjamin Weiser, Sept. 9, 2022 (print ed.). Geoffrey S. Berman, who headed the Manhattan office, says in a book the Justice Department pushed cases, against John Kerry and others, to help Mr. Trump.

A book by a former top federal prosecutor offers new details about how the Justice Department under President Donald J. Trump sought to use the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan to support Mr. Trump politically and pursue his critics — even pushing the office to open a criminal investigation of former secretary of state John Kerry.

geoffrey berman sdnyThe prosecutor, Geoffrey S. Berman, was the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York for two and a half years until June 2020, when Mr. Trump fired him after he refused a request to resign by Attorney General William P. Barr, who sought to replace him with an administration ally.

A copy of Mr. Berman’s book, Holding the Line, was obtained by The New York Times before its scheduled publication Tuesday.

The book paints a picture of Justice Department officials motivated by partisan concerns in pursuing investigations or blocking them; in weighing how forthright to be in court filings; and in shopping investigations to other prosecutors’ offices when the Southern District declined to act.

The book contains accounts of how department officials tried to have allusions to Mr. Trump scrubbed from charging papers for Michael D. Cohen, his former personal lawyer, and how the attorney general later tried to have his conviction reversed. It tells of pressure to pursue Mr. Kerry, who had angered Mr. Trump by attempting to preserve the nuclear deal he had negotiated with Iran.

And in September 2018, Mr. Berman writes, two months before the November midterms, a senior department official called Mr. Berman’s deputy, cited the Southern District’s recent prosecutions of two prominent Trump loyalists, and bluntly asserted that the office, which had been investigating Gregory B. Craig, a powerful Democratic lawyer, should charge him — and should do so before Election Day.

“It’s time for you guys to even things out,” the official said, according to Mr. Berman.

The book comes as Mr. Trump and his supporters have accused the Biden administration and Attorney General Merrick Garland of using the Justice Department as a weapon after a judge authorized FBI agents to search his Florida house for missing classified records. Mr. Trump, who is a likely presidential candidate in 2024, has suggested without evidence that President Biden is playing a role in that investigation.

However, Mr. Berman’s book says that during Mr. Trump’s presidency, department officials made “overtly political” demands, choosing targets that would directly further Mr. Trump’s desires for revenge and advantage. Mr. Berman wrote that the pressure was clearly inspired by the president’s openly professed wants.

In the book, Mr. Berman, who as U.S. attorney did not give news interviews, offers new details about the high-profile prosecutions of defendants like Mr. Cohen; Chris Collins, a Republican congressman from New York; Michael Avenatti, the celebrity attorney and Trump antagonist; and Jeffrey Epstein, the disgraced financier.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Geoffrey Berman’s big claims about Trump’s Justice Department, Aaron Blake, Sept. 9, 2022. They come as Trump accuses Biden’s DOJ of being “weaponized.” And they serve as a timely reminder of all the evidence that Trump politicized his own DOJ.

FBI logoFrom virtually the moment we learned that the FBI had searched former president Donald Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago last month, he and his allies have decried the search as symptomatic of a “weaponized” Justice Department. The charge was lodged even as we knew next to nothing about what undergirded the search or what materials Trump actually had — which we’ve now found out included many classified documents and even highly sensitive information on the nuclear capabilities of a foreign country.

Now comes a timely reminder of just how rich that claim is, coming from Trump and Co., according to the people who witnessed the actions of his own Justice Department firsthand.

Former U.S. attorney Geoffrey Berman is releasing a new book that details his jousting with political appointees at the Trump Justice Department — including then-Attorney General William P. Barr, whom he casts as repeatedly pushing Trump’s line in prosecution decisions with political implications. A leaked copy of the book, Holding the Line, was obtained by the New York Times and the Guardian.

Berman, who worked for Trump in 2016 and served on his transition team, was a central figure in many key events by virtue of leading the second-most prominent district in the country, based in New York City. But he has rarely spoken publicly — including about the ugly 2020 dispute between him and Barr that marked the end of his tenure.

That’s changed, and now Berman isn’t holding back much.

A case in point Berman raises is a request he received in 2018, when he said a Trump political appointee asked him to charge a prominent Democratic lawyer, Gregory Craig, and to do so before the midterms. Berman’s office had prosecuted former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and Trump-allied Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.). “It’s time for you guys to even things out,” Berman recalls the official telling him.

The official identified by Berman, Edward O’Callaghan, who was then the principal associate deputy attorney general, called the statements attributed to him “categorically false,” according to the Times. O’Callaghan declined to comment further when reached by The Washington Post.

Berman also reportedly expounds on the clash with Barr that led to Berman’s exit.

In summary: Berman’s office had prosecuted multiple Trump allies and had been investigating Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani; Barr claimed Berman was resigning and said he would appoint a new interim U.S. attorney; but Berman denied it and returned to work. Ultimately, Berman forced Trump to fire him — which meant Berman’s deputy would take over the top job, rather than Barr’s pick.

Barr’s botched effort to remove a prosecutor who probed Trump allies

In later testimony, Berman was tight-lipped about Barr’s motivations. But he writes in his book: “The reason Barr wanted me to resign immediately was so I could be replaced with an outsider he trusted.”

Berman also details several other instances of politics apparently seeping into the Trump DOJ’s work:

  • He says that, after he declined to prosecute Craig, the case was “peddled” to the U.S. attorney in Washington. That office in 2019 prosecuted Craig for alleged false statements but lost the case after a brief jury deliberation.
  • He discloses a previously unknown investigation of former secretary of state John F. Kerry for allegedly violating the Logan Act, which Trump had pressed for publicly. Berman says his office was charged with investigating the matter two days after Trump tweeted about it. He also says the pressure repeatedly ramped up whenever Trump weighed in — a “clear” and “outrageous” pattern.
  • He says a Justice Department official pressured his deputy, Robert S. Khuzami, to remove all references to Trump in a charging document detailing Cohen’s crimes. (Trump was listed in the document as “Individual-1,” but his identity was obvious, and the document implicated him in the scheme.)
  • He says Barr stifled campaign finance investigations emanating from the Cohen case and even floated seeking a reversal of Cohen’s conviction — just like Barr would later do with another Trump ally, Michael Flynn. (Barr also intervened in the case of another Trump ally, Roger Stone, to seek a lighter sentence than career prosecutors wanted.)
  • He says Barr took a keen, unusual and problematic interest in the Halkbank case, which involved Turkish bankers and government officials close to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. At the time, Trump was close to Erdogan, who decried the probe. Berman says Barr “appeared to be doing Trump’s bidding” by pushing for the charges to be dropped, according to the Guardian.

Similar to many of these, significant concerns about political influence in the Halkbank case have been raised before. And these examples don’t include the many other instances in which Trump leaned on the Justice Department (an extensive list is here). Sometimes, this involved extraordinary actions by Barr himself and officials or prosecutors like Berman objecting. Example A-1 is arguably Trump pushing the Justice Department to validate his baseless attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

But Berman brings his front-row perspective to these matters, given his involvement in many high-profile incidents. And despite his spat with Barr, his version of events has long been regrettably incomplete, leading to the incident to fall by

“I walked this tightrope for two and a half years,” he writes, according to the Times. “Eventually, the rope snapped.”

Sept. 8

 

Partially redacted documents with classified markings, including colored cover sheets indicating their status, that FBI agents reported finding in former president Donald Trump’s office at his Mar-a-Lago estate. (U.S. Department of Justice)

 A photo released by the U.S. Department of Justice shows documents allegedly seized at Mar-a-Lago spread over a carpet. (U.S. Department of Justice/AFP/Getty Images)

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept. appeals judge’s order for a Mar-a-Lago special master, Perry Stein and Devlin Barrett, Sept. 8, 2022. Donald Trump’s lawyers want a special master to shield seized documents that are protected by attorney-client or executive privilege.

The Justice Department said it would appeal a federal judge’s decision to appoint a special master to sift through thousands of documents the FBI seized from Donald Trump’s Florida residence on Aug. 8, according to a Thursday court filing.

The notice of appeal arrived three days after Judge Aileen M. Cannon ruled in favor of Trump and said she would appoint a special master, slowing — at least temporarily — an investigation into the possible mishandling of extremely sensitive classified information, as well as possible hiding, tampering or destruction of government records.

The Justice Department wrote in a brief filing that it would be appealing the decision to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

In a separate, simultaneous court filing, prosecutors asked Cannon to stay her Sept. 5 decision on two key points: her order to temporarily halt a significant portion of the FBI investigation into the potential mishandling of classified information, and to allow a special master to review the classified material that is among the documents seized as part of a court-authorized search at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club on Aug. 8.

Ultimately, the Justice Department said that a special master could be appointed, but argued that the judge should prohibit the special master from reviewing classified documents. The special master would be still able to sort through personal documents and other items the FBI also seized, setting aside materials as necessary, the filing says.

Prosecutors wrote that allowing a special master to review the classified material would “cause the most immediate and serious harms to the government and the public,” noting that those documents have already been moved to a secure facility, separate from the rest of the seized Trump papers.

And they argued that by prohibiting investigators from using the classified materials found in the August until a special master has cleared them, Cannon could harm national security by hampering the Justice Department’s ability to recover any other classified papers that may still be outstanding.

Barring the FBI from using the classified material in the investigation “could impede efforts to identify the existence of any additional classified records that are not being properly stored—which itself presents the potential for ongoing risk to national security,” prosecutors wrote — the first time they have suggested in court filings that there could be more unsecured classified material they have yet to find.

Special masters and Trump's Mar-a-Lago documents: What you need to know

Trump’s legal team argued in a federal courthouse in West Palm Beach last week that a special master is needed to determine whether any of the documents — more than 100 of which are classified — should be shielded from investigators because of attorney-client or executive privilege. They also said an independent outside expert would boost “trust” in the Justice Department’s criminal probe.

Justice Department lawyers told Cannon they had already sorted through the documents, using a “filter team” to separate out more than 500 pages of documents potentially covered by attorney-client privilege. That arrangement was approved by the U.S. magistrate judge who authorized the search warrant for Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida home and private club, after the government tried for months to get Trump and his advisers to return all the government documents kept at the property.

The Justice Department also argued that a former president cannot assert executive privilege after he leaves office, and that it is not possible for one part of the executive branch to assert privilege to shield documents from another part.

But even if Trump could assert executive privilege, the Justice Department argued in its Thursday appeal, the government’s “demonstrated, specific need” to have access to the classified materials would override that privilege. Government prosecutors also said that Trump had no clear need to maintain possession of these classified documents.

“Among other things, the classified records are the very subject of the government’s ongoing investigation,” the filing says.

Trump and the Mar-a-Lago documents: A timeline

In her original ruling, Cannon said that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence could continue its analysis of the possible risk to national security posed by the removal from government custody of classified documents, some of which contain the government’s most sensitive intelligence-gathering secrets.

But Justice Department lawyers said Thursday said that it is difficult to separate the FBI investigation from the intelligence review. They said they were unsure of the “bounds” and “implications” of the court order, prompting the intelligence community to temporarily halt its review along with criminal investigators.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that among the documents seized by the FBI was one describing a foreign government’s military defenses, including its nuclear capabilities, according to people familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The people also said of the seized documents detail top-secret U.S. operations that are so closely guarded that many senior national security officials are kept in the dark about them.

 

donald trump money palmer report Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Post-Election Fund-Raising Comes Under Scrutiny by Justice Dept., Alan Feuer, Maggie Haberman and Adam Goldman, Sept. 8, 2022.  A federal grand jury has issued subpoenas seeking information about Save America PAC, which was formed as Donald J. Trump promoted baseless assertions about election fraud.

A federal grand jury in Washington is examining the formation of — and spending by — a super PAC created by Donald J. Trump after his loss in the 2020 election as he was raising millions of dollars by baselessly asserting that the results had been marred by widespread voting fraud.

According to subpoenas issued by the grand jury, the contents of which were described to The New York Times, the Justice Department is interested in the inner workings of Save America PAC, Mr. Trump’s main fund-raising vehicle after the election. Several similar subpoenas were sent on Wednesday to junior and midlevel aides who worked in the White House and for Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.

The new focus on Save America was reported earlier by ABC News.

Among the roughly half-dozen current and former Trump aides in the White House and the 2020 presidential campaign who are said to have received subpoenas this week were Beau Harrison, an aide to Mr. Trump in the White House and in his post-presidency, and William S. Russell, who similarly worked in the West Wing and now for Mr. Trump’s personal office, according to several people familiar with the events.

The fact that federal prosecutors are seeking information about Save America PAC is a significant new turn in an already sprawling investigation of the roles that Mr. Trump and some of his allies played in trying to overturn the election, an array of efforts that culminated with the violent mob attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Those parts of the Jan. 6 inquiry related to Mr. Trump have so far largely centered on a plan to create slates of electors pledged to him in seven key swing states that Joseph R. Biden Jr. had won.

The new subpoenas appeared to have been issued by a different grand jury in Washington than the one that has been gathering evidence about the so-called fake electors plan, which has focused on questions surrounding pro-Trump lawyers like Rudolph W. Giuliani and John Eastman.

At least one of the new subpoenas bore the name of a veteran federal prosecutor in Washington who specializes in fraud cases, suggesting that this avenue of inquiry is devoted primarily to examining the spending and fund-raising at Mr. Trump’s super PAC.

Sept. 6

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘Deeply Problematic’: Experts Question Judge’s Intervention in Trump Inquiry, Charlie Savage, Sept. 6, 2022 (print ed.). A ruling by a judge appointed by former President Donald J. Trump surprised specialists and could slow the documents investigation.

A federal judge’s extraordinary decision on Monday to interject in the criminal investigation into former President Donald J. Trump’s hoarding of sensitive government documents at his Florida residence showed unusual solicitude to him, legal specialists said.

This was “an unprecedented intervention by a federal district judge into the middle of an ongoing federal criminal and national security investigation,” said Stephen I. Vladeck, a law professor at University of Texas.

Siding with Mr. Trump, the judge, Aileen M. Cannon, ordered the appointment of an independent arbiter to review the more than 11,000 government records the F.B.I. seized in its search of Mar-a-Lago last month. She granted the arbiter, known as a special master, broad powers that extended beyond filtering materials that were potentially subject to attorney-client privilege to also include executive privilege.

Judge Cannon, a Trump appointee who sits on the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Florida, also blocked federal prosecutors from further examining the seized materials for the investigation until the special master had completed a review.

In reaching that result, Judge Cannon took several steps that specialists said were vulnerable to being overturned if the government files an appeal, as most agreed was likely. Any appeal would be heard by the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, where Mr. Trump appointed six of its 11 active judges.

Paul Rosenzweig, a former homeland security official in the George W. Bush administration and prosecutor in the independent counsel investigation of Bill Clinton, said it was egregious to block the Justice Department from steps like asking witnesses about government files, many marked as classified, that agents had already reviewed.

“This would seem to me to be a genuinely unprecedented decision by a judge,” Mr. Rosenzweig said. “Enjoining the ongoing criminal investigation is simply untenable.”

Born in Colombia in 1981, Judge Cannon graduated from Duke University in 2003 and the University of Michigan Law School in 2007. After clerking for a Republican-appointed appeals court judge in Iowa, she worked as an associate for a corporate law firm for three years before becoming an assistant federal prosecutor in Florida.

Sept. 5

djt confidential markings

 

 

 djt fbi evidence mar a lago

Partially redacted documents with classified markings, including colored cover sheets indicating their status, that FBI agents reported finding in former president Donald Trump’s office at his Mar-a-Lago estate. The photo shows the cover pages of a smattering of paperclip-bound classified documents — some marked as “TOP SECRET//SCI” with bright yellow borders and one marked as “SECRET//SCI” with a rust-colored border — along with whited-out pages, splayed out on a carpet at Mar-a-Lago. Beside them sits a cardboard box filled with gold-framed pictures, including a Time magazine cover. (U.S. Department of Justice photo.)

Politico, Judge orders halt to DOJ review of documents seized from Trump, Nicholas Wu and Kyle Cheney, Sept. 5, 2022. Cannon’s order included permitting a so-called special master to review the seized materials for potential attorney-client and executive privilege.

politico CustomA federal judge on Monday ordered a halt to the Justice Department’s review of materials seized from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, describing a threat to institutions and the risk of media leaks that could cause harm to Trump.

aileen cannon“Plaintiff faces an unquantifiable potential harm by way of improper disclosure of sensitive information to the public,” U.S District Court Judge Aileen Cannon, right, wrote in a 24-page ruling issued on Labor Day.

Cannon’s order included permitting a so-called special master to review the seized materials for potential attorney-client and executive privilege. Prosecutors expressed exasperation at Trump’s demand to review for executive privilege, noting that there is no precedent for a former executive to assert privilege to bar review of materials by a sitting executive branch — particularly when the government has determined the need is urgent.

Cannon, a Trump appointee who was confirmed a week after Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election, gave the Justice Department and Trump’s lawyers until Sept. 9 to submit a joint filing to propose a list of special master candidates and outlining their duties and limitations. In the meantime, Cannon ruled that the documents would not be returned to Trump.

The Justice Department indicated that if Cannon were to make a ruling of this kind, she should formally enjoin the department, a format that would permit an appeal. A spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump plots aggressive midterm strategy seen in GOP as double-edged sword, Isaac Arnsdorf, Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey, Sept. 5, 2022 (print ed.). Republican campaigns hope rallies, robo-calls and virtual appearances by the former president can boost excitement in the party base without turning off moderates and independents.

Donald Trump’s political advisers are in early discussions with Republican campaigns about actively deploying him on the trail this fall, with party strategists placing a risky bet that Trump can boost GOP turnout without repelling moderates and independents who do not support the former president.

Trump plans to be more engaged in October than in September, by appearing at rallies, in robocalls and potentially on tele-town halls and at fundraisers, according to a close adviser, who like others interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential strategy. Trump’s political team has told others they want to be cooperative and helpful, focusing Trump on rural areas where he has strong support. Talks have included states across the South and Upper Midwest, among others.

But the risk is acute that his presence could distract from what the GOP has sought to make its central message of the midterms: that voters should fire Democrats who have presided over rising costs and violent crime. Trump, who is under multiple federal and state investigations, continues to falsely claim the 2020 election was stolen and has asserted without evidence that the FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago estate was part of a political attack — inflammatory rhetoric that Democrats have sought to keep in the spotlight.

 

Trump Spy Scandal

 

djt confidential markings

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The photo of classified documents from Trump’s resort, annotated, Philip Bump, Sept. 1, 2022 (print ed.). The Justice Department submitted the photograph as part of a court filing. Here’s what we learned from it.

Now we get to the heart of the matter: what investigators found. Let’s start with that document at the bottom center of the photo. It has a cover sheet indicating that it is classified as “secret.” The government has default cover sheets for various classification levels, ranging from a blue “confidential” classification to an orange “top secret.”

You’ll notice that the documents with the “TOP SECRET/SCI” markings in the photo have a yellow border and not an orange one. Similarly, the document at the bottom center has an orangeish-red-bordered cover sheet (not a purely red one) and is marked “SECRET/SCI.” That “SCI” is important — as are other markings on the cover sheet that provide more information about the document’s classification.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Mar-a-Lago espionage scandal is a three-alarm national security crisis. We should act like it, Jennifer Rubin, right, jennifer rubin new headshotSept. 4, 2022. Republicans are treating the investigation of defeated former president Donald Trump’s purloining of classified government documents as another opportunity to play victim and attack law enforcement.

U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon, left, a last-minute Trump nominee jammed through during the 2020 lame-duck session, seems to be contemplating a special master to review the documents one by one to see whether there is some basis for blocking them from prosecutors, even as the intelligence community feverishly conducts a national security review.

aileen cannonEven former attorney general William P. Barr observes, “Well, I think the whole idea of a special master is a bit of a red herring ... at this stage, since they have already gone through the documents, I think it’s a waste of time.”

Alas, Barr’s party cares not one whit about national security, only the security of their cult leader and his war on American intelligence.

The extent of the national security crisis Trump thrust upon us has not yet been fully appreciated. The more detailed inventory released on Friday is jaw-dropping.

Where did the documents that were in those folders go? Were any of them destroyed, given away, copied, hidden, sold or shared? We don’t know, and that is a national security disaster given that the documents could have contained the names of human sources and signals intelligence.

Put differently, any delay in investigation, prosecution and hopefully recovery of documents that contain our nation’s most sensitive secrets would be a further risk to national security.

Let’s imagine that Judge Cannon is willing, contrary to previous rulings in Trump-related cases, to find that Trump enjoys some residual executive privilege consideration. Nevertheless, as U.S. v. Nixon and its progeny have held, any such privilege claim pales in comparison to the interest in criminal prosecution.

It’s beyond time that Republicans demand not only candor from Trump — Why did he have documents? What did he do with them? — but also a full and swift investigation. And unless the court wants to rewrite decades of law, allow Trump to hold the nation hostage and deepen our national security crisis, Cannon should follow Barr’s advice, dismiss Trump’s claim and let the FBI get on with an investigation and any necessary prosecutions.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump keeps unwittingly dropping breadcrumbs, Bill Palmer, Sept. 5, 2022. While we’re all looking forward to the day when Donald Trump is no longer holding political rallies, there’s nonetheless a silver lining to them. For one thing, these rallies never seem to benefit the Republican candidates they’re nominally supposed to be helping. And now, Trump’s rallies are providing insight into how Trump is dealing with the very serious federal criminal charges he’s on the verge of getting hit with.

bill palmer report logo headerCertainly, prosecutors at the DOJ are watching footage of Trump’s rally from this weekend. Given how incoherent Trump’s speech was, they might have to watch it a few times to figure out what he was even talking about. But it’s notable, for instance, that Trump now claims the FBI ransacked his son Barron’s room. Whether this claim is true or not, it suggests that Trump – who seems to care nothing for his youngest son – is very concerned with his son’s room. Did Trump hide documents there? Did the Feds find them? Should the Feds circle back and check under the floorboards of that bedroom?

But it’s more than just that. Trump also claimed during his rally speech that Mark Zuckerberg came to visit him last week at the White House, in order to inform Trump that he’s now #1 on Facebook. This suggests that Trump’s mind is sinking further than ever into desperate delusion about how it’s all somehow magically going to work out okay for him. In his mind he’s now back in the White House, he’s back on Facebook, and everything is just fine and dandy. He’s perhaps in his safe space, so to speak, as a way of trying to convince himself that he’s not actually on the verge of arrest under the Espionage Act, which he is.

Of course Trump’s rally speech in Pennsylvania this weekend was supposed to be aimed at boosting midterm voter turnout for Republican candidates like Mehmet Oz. But you wouldn’t know it from the media coverage, because Trump has never had much luck convincing his base to vote in general elections that don’t have his name on the ballot, and because Trump rarely even tries to use these rallies to promote such candidates.

The AP used Trump’s Pennsylvania rally as an opportunity to run a story about a member of Trump’s base who’s still on board with Trump but has no interest in voting for Oz, even after Trump’s rally. Such articles are always biased in the direction of the one anecdotal example that the article’s author has arbitrarily chosen to focus on. But this one example does track with what we already know about the sheer ineffectiveness of Trump’s political rallies – particularly now that he’s no longer in office and only holds them occasionally.

In the meantime, the DOJ is now doing what it always does whenever the target of an active federal criminal investigation publicly shoots off his mouth about the investigation: it’s poring over Donald Trump’s rally speech in search of strategic advantages. In that sense, if Trump wants to keep running his mouth, he’s more than welcome to do so. It’s not helping him, it’s not helping the Republican Party, and it’s probably just helping make it that much easier for the DOJ to take him down.

 

U.S. Law, Constitution, Crime, Immigration

ny times logoNew York Times, As Midterms Near, ‘60-Day Rule’ Raises Dilemma for Trump Inquiries, Charlie Savage, Sept. 5, 2022 (print ed.).The Justice Department is debating how an unwritten rule should affect the criminal investigations into Jan. 6 and Donald Trump’s handling of sensitive documents.

As the midterm elections near, top Justice Department officials are weighing whether to temporarily scale back work in criminal investigations involving former President Donald J. Trump because of an unwritten rule forbidding overt actions that could improperly influence the vote, according to people briefed on the discussions.

Under what is known as the 60-day rule, the department has traditionally avoided taking any steps in the run-up to an election that could affect how people vote, out of caution that such moves could be interpreted as abusing its power to manipulate American democracy.

Mr. Trump, who is not on the ballot but wields outsize influence in the Republican Party, poses a particular dilemma for Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, whose department is conducting two investigations involving the former president. They include the sprawling inquiry into the Jan. 6 riot and his related effort to overturn the 2020 election and another into his hoarding of sensitive government documents at his Florida club and residence.

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment. But as the 60-day deadline looms this week, the highly unusual situation offers no easy answers, said Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard Law School professor and the former head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

 

Joe President Joe Biden addresses the nation from Philadelphia (Photo by Jim Watson for AFP via Getty Images).

Joe President Joe Biden addresses the nation from Philadelphia (Photo by Jim Watson for AFP via Getty Images).

Politico, The seeds of Biden’s democracy speech sprouted long before the Mar-a-Lago search, Sam Stein, Eugene Daniels and Jonathan Lemire, Sept. 3, 2022. But the actions of Trump and his supporters, along with threats of violence, sped up Biden’s need to address the nation.

politico CustomPresident Joe Biden’s speech warning about an assault against American democracy — by Donald Trump and his core followers — was an election-season call to arms unlike anything in modern American history.

It also was months in the making.

Aides said that Biden had been planning to give a version of Thursday night’s address since this past June, relaying he wanted to speak on what he saw as increasingly grave threats to the nation’s democracy. But events continued to get in the way of its delivery. Pressure built over the past few weeks, they said, amid a number of developments.

GOP primary victories of a number of 2020 election-denying candidates in state and federal contests, combined with the consolidation of support around Trump, jolted the White House. Biden told associates that he barely recognized the Republican Party with which he could once work, seeing a personality cult instead.

Threats made against federal agents in the aftermath of the FBI’s search in Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home also outraged the president. Biden saw echoes of what happened 18 months ago, when officers lost their lives defending the U.S. Capitol. The actual writing of the speech started about three weeks ago, with Jon Meacham, the historian who has had a hand in a number of Biden’s most sweeping speeches, helping the framing.

When a number of Republican lawmakers warned of violence should Trump be indicted, it only added to the urgency. There was, as one senior administration official put it, “a rising degree of concern that this movement, rather than dissipating, is going stronger.”

ny times logoNew York Times, A Second Constitutional Convention? Some Republicans Want to Force One, Carl Hulse, Sept. 5, 2022 (print ed.). ht Some in the G.O.P. think a debate over rewriting the Constitution is necessary to rein in the U.S. government. A former Democratic senator warns of the risks.

Representative Jodey Arrington, a conservative Texas Republican, believes it is well past time for something the nation has not experienced for more than two centuries: a debate over rewriting the Constitution.

“I think the states are due a convention,” said Mr. Arrington, who in July introduced legislation to direct the archivist of the United States to tally applications for a convention from state legislatures and compel Congress to schedule a gathering when enough states have petitioned for one. “It is time to rally the states and rein in Washington responsibly.”

To Russ Feingold, the former Democratic senator from Wisconsin and president of the American Constitution Society, a liberal judicial group, that is a terrible idea. Mr. Feingold sees the prospect of a constitutional convention as an exceptionally dangerous threat from the right and suggests it is closer to reality than most people realize as Republicans push to retake control of Congress in November’s midterm elections.

“We are very concerned that the Congress, if it becomes Republican, will call a convention,” said Mr. Feingold, the co-author of a new book warning of the risks of a convention called “The Constitution in Jeopardy.”

“This could gut our Constitution,” Mr. Feingold said in an interview. “There needs to be real concern and attention about what they might do. We are putting out the alert.”

While the rise of election deniers, new voting restrictions and other electoral maneuvering get most of the attention, Mr. Feingold rates the prospect of a second constitutional convention as just as grave a threat to democratic governance.

“If you think this is democracy’s moment of truth, this is one of those things,” he said.

Elements on the right have for years been waging a quiet but concerted campaign to convene a gathering to consider changes to the Constitution. They hope to take advantage of a never-used aspect of Article V, which says in part that Congress, “on the application of the legislatures of two-thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments.”

Throughout the nation’s history, 27 changes have been made to the Constitution by another grindingly arduous route, with amendments originating in Congress subject to ratification by the states.

With sharp partisanship making that path near impossible, backers of the convention idea now hope to harness the power of Republican-controlled state legislatures to petition Congress and force a convention they see as a way to strip away power from Washington and impose new fiscal restraints, at a minimum.

Trump Rallies, Reactions

 

djt wilkes barre sept 3 2022

ny times logoNew York Times, Donald Trump lashed out at President Biden and federal agents in his first rally since the F.B.I. search of his home, Katie Glueck and Michael C. Bender, Sept. 5, 2022 (print ed.). Donald J. Trump and President Biden have both made recent appearances in Pennsylvania, one of the key states in November’s midterm elections.

In his first rally since his home was searched by the F.B.I. on Aug. 8, former President Donald J. Trump on Saturday lashed out at President Biden and federal agents, calling his Democratic rival “an enemy of the state” and the F.B.I. and the Department of Justice “vicious monsters.”

In an aggrieved and combative speech in Pennsylvania, Mr. Trump stoked anger against law enforcement even as the F.B.I. and federal officials have faced an increase in threats following the search of Mr. Trump’s residence to retrieve classified documents.

Mr. Trump’s remarks echoed the chain of similar, escalating attacks he wrote on his social media website this week, including posts that singled out one agent by name. That agent has retired, and his lawyers have said he did not have a role in the search.

Although he faced criticism for the tirades, and some Republicans have warned about the political dangers in attacking law enforcement, the former president signaled he would yield no ground.

His speech came two days after Mr. Biden warned that democratic values were under assault by forces loyal to Mr. Trump. The former president described Mr. Biden’s address as “the most vicious, hateful, and divisive speech ever delivered by an American president.”

Wayne Madsen Report, Commentary, The "F" word to fascists is the word fascist, Wayne Madsen, left, Sept. 5, 2022. "With a fascist the problem is never wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallhow best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.”

It's a funny thing about Donald Trump's MAGA fascists. They resent being called fascists. Benito Mussolini had no problem with the word fascist. He even named his political party the "National Fascist Party." So, why do Mussolini's fellow Italian fascists like Doug Mastriano, Ron DeSantis, and Rudolph Giuliani abhor the words fascist or fascism so much?

Sept. 3

 

 

mar a lago aerial Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Empty Folders That Had Contained Classified Files Were Found at Mar-a-Lago, Charlie Savage and Alan Feuer, Sept. 3, 2022 (print ed.). An inventory of items seized in the F.B.I.’s search of former President Trump’s home, above, raised the question of whether the documents had fully been recovered.

The F.B.I.’s search of former President Donald J. Trump’s Florida club and residence last month recovered 48 empty folders marked as containing classified information, a newly disclosed court filing shows, raising the question of whether the government had fully recovered the documents or any remain missing.

The filing, a detailed list of items retrieved in the search, was unsealed on Friday as part of the court fight over whether to appoint an independent arbiter to review the materials taken by federal agents from Mr. Trump’s estate, Mar-a-Lago, on Aug. 8.

Along with the empty folders with classified markings, the F.B.I. recovered 40 more empty folders that said they contained sensitive documents the user should “return to staff secretary/military aide,” the inventory said. It also said that agents found seven documents marked as “top secret” in Mr. Trump’s office and 11 more in a storage room.

The list and an accompanying court filing from the Justice Department did not say whether all the contents of the folders had been recovered. But the filing noted that the inquiry into Mr. Trump’s handling of the documents remained “an active criminal investigation.”

The inventory also sheds further light on how the documents marked as classified were stored haphazardly in boxes or in containers, mixed among news clippings and “other printed media,” articles of clothing, books and “gift items.”

The inventory listed seven batches of materials taken by the F.B.I. from Mr. Trump’s personal office at Mar-a-Lago that contained government-owned documents and photographs, some marked with classification levels up to “top secret” and some that were not marked as classified. The list also included batches of government documents that had been in 26 boxes or containers in a storage room at the compound.

In all, the list said, the F.B.I. retrieved 18 documents marked as top secret, 54 marked as secret, 31 marked as confidential, and 11,179 government documents or photographs without classification markings.

A federal judge in Florida, Aileen M. Cannon, ordered the inventory list to be released during a hearing on Thursday to determine whether to appoint a so-called special master to review the government records seized from Mar-a-Lago for any that could be privileged. Judge Cannon said that she would issue a written decision on the matter “in due course.”

Mr. Trump appeared to acknowledge on social media this week that he knew that much of this material was at his estate, complaining about a photograph that the Justice Department released on Tuesday night that cataloged some of the evidence that had been seized.

The photograph showed several folders with “top secret” markings and some documents with classification markings visible. All the material was arrayed on a carpet near a placard labeled “2A,” presumably to make a record of what was in a box of that number before the F.B.I. removed it from Mar-a-Lago.

A shorter inventory, released earlier, said Box 2A contained materials found in Mr. Trump’s personal office. In a social media post, the former president declared that the folders had been kept in “cartons” rather than “sloppily” left on the floor, suggesting that he had been aware of the presence of the materials.

 

 

djt looking up

World Crisis Radio, Strategic Analysis: Biden formally warns nation and world that US is threatened by fascist dictatorship sought by Trump’s webster tarpley 2007degenerate MAGAt faction, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Sept. 3, 2022 (94:52 mins.). You have been warned!

New York Times calls for Trump’s indictment, which [conservative legal pundits] Andy McCarthy and Judge Napolitano consider imminent; Critical issue remains the indictment, not the Special Master issue;

FBI’s haul from August 8 raid includes 11,000 pages and pictures, 90 empty folders for classified and military aide/staff secretary documents;

Worse than library fines for unreturned books: CIA emergency message to all posts in October 2021 warned of severe losses in killed and flipped among agents and informants; Filchgate: Trump is still silent on his real motive in purloining masses of secret papers;

More to come: Wapo source suggests work of National Archives in recovering documents ”may not yet be done”: ”there might still be more records missing,” says one official;

At 66 days to vote, Biden popularity rises to 45%; Democrats take 3% lead in WSJ Congressional generic ballot, up from minus 5% in March, adding up to an 8% gain; Continuing winning skein from Kansas referendum and NY-19, Democrat wins Alaska House seat, defeating proto-Trumper Palin;

Wave of scientific optimism from Artemis moon shot can turn mass culture and psychology even faster against MAGAts;

G-7 ministers approve price cap on purchases of oil from Russia, while EU Commission endorses price cap for natural gas; Putin responds by cutting natural gas flow from Russia to Europe through Nordstream I; Kherson offensive is rolling;
French Energy Minister pledges that all 56 of France’s reactors will be working by winter, including the 32 now being serviced;

More proof of contemporary fascist threat: Melloni-Berlusconi-Salvini bloc could become the next Italian government after September 25 election, just in time for 100-year anniversary of Mussolini’s infamous March on Rome, which opened the fascist era!

On Labor Day weekend, celebrating 641 NLRB elections won by unions so far this year, defeating union busters at Trader Joe’s, Chipotle, Amazon, and 230 Starbucks! Breaking: Michigan MAGAts use technicalities to throw abortion rights referendum off the ballot because they know they will lose!

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Trump's blood-soaked hands may be behind suspicious deaths, Wayne Madsen, left, author of 22 books and former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst, Sept. 2-3, 2022. wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallPart of the damage assessment currently being conducted by the Intelligence Community with the possibility that Donald Trump, as president and after, compromised U.S. intelligence assets and sources will be to closely examine several suspicious deaths and outright assassinations of influential and key people abroad and in the United States.

wayne madesen report logoIn order to be considered a source or asset for the Central Intelligence Agency's Human Control System (HCS), any substantial contact between a U.S. intelligence agent and a source or asset would likely be identified in classified Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) HCS files. These files include those illegally kept by Trump at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida and at his other properties in the United States and abroad.

Working in concert with its foreign intelligence partners, the U.S. Intelligence Community will examine every source possibly compromised during and after the Trump presidency.

The following chart contains the names of politically-connected decedents around the world whose causes of death were suspicious or not provided. For example, anti-Vladimir Putin Russian businessman Daniel Rapoport was found dead outside of his Washington, DC apartment on August 14. Police ruled Rapoport's death as not suspicious. He supposedly jumped from the 8th floor of his apartment building. Rapoport's suspicious death mirrors those of other Russian critics of Putin, with "jumping" from windows being quite a common cause of death.

WMR has examined the record of suspicious deaths since April of this year. Deaths from Covid have been filtered out. The CIA and other agencies are more than likely looking back to the very day Trump took office, January 20, 2017, to ascertain the damage he has caused to America's network of sources and informants for intelligence. That is no easy task.

ny times logoNew York Times, Barr Dismisses Trump’s Request for a Special Master, Glenn Thrush, Sept. 3, 2022 (print ed.). Former Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department was justified in investigating former President Trump’s handling of government materials.

Former Attorney General William P. Barr dismissed former President Donald J. Trump’s call for an independent review of materials seized from his Florida home on Friday — and said an inventory of items recovered in the search last month seemed to support the Justice Department’s claim that it was needed to safeguard national security.

Justice Department log circular“As more information comes out, the actions of the department look more understandable,” Mr. Barr told The New York Times in a phone interview, speaking of the decision by the current attorney general, Merrick B. Garland, to seek a search warrant of the complex at Mar-a-Lago.

“It seems to me they were driven by concern about highly sensitive information being strewn all over a country club, and it was taking them almost two years to get it back,” said Mr. Barr, who resigned in December 2020, as Mr. Trump pushed him to support false claims that the election had been stolen.

“It appears that there’s been a lot of jerking around of the government,” he added. “I’m not sure the department could have gotten it back without taking action.”

Sept. 1

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump-Led Extremism a Direct Threat to America, Biden Plans to Say in Speech, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Sept. 1, 2022. President Biden’s prime-time speech comes amid deep divisions. About three-quarters of Americans think the U.S. is heading in the wrong direction, a poll found.

joe biden flag profile uncredited palmerPresident Biden will travel to Philadelphia on Thursday for a prime-time address in which he will accuse Republicans loyal to former President Donald J. Trump of embracing a form of extremism that is a direct threat to the United States.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity to preview the speech, a senior White House official said the president would state in direct language how “MAGA Republicans” have put the nation’s institutions at risk and undermined democratic values.

The focus on threats to democracy is a return to the issue that Mr. Biden said drove him to run for the presidency, after white supremacists marched through Charlottesville, Va., in 2017.

The speech is intended to deliver a dark message about threats to the very fabric of American democracy.

But aides said Mr. Biden would try to strike a tricky balance nine weeks before the midterm elections, seeking to offer a sense of optimism about the country’s future and urging Americans to fight against extremism.

 djt fbi evidence mar a lago

Partially redacted documents with classified markings, including colored cover sheets indicating their status, that FBI agents reported finding in former president Donald Trump’s office at his Mar-a-Lago estate. The photo shows the cover pages of a smattering of paperclip-bound classified documents — some marked as “TOP SECRET//SCI” with bright yellow borders and one marked as “SECRET//SCI” with a rust-colored border — along with whited-out pages, splayed out on a carpet at Mar-a-Lago. Beside them sits a cardboard box filled with gold-framed pictures, including a Time magazine cover. (U.S. Department of Justice photo.)

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Trump's cache of stolen classified files resembles those of America's most notorious spies, Wayne Madsen, left, author of 22 books and former Navy wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallintelligence officer and NSA analyst, Aug. 31-Sept. 1, 2022. Trump's treason may have led to deaths of U.S. informants and intelligence assets in Saudi Arabia and Russia. Trump's cache of stolen classified wayne madesen report logofiles resembles those of America's most notorious spies.

Photographic evidence of the classified documents Donald Trump had strewn around Mar-a-Lago presents the U.S. Intelligence Community with the shocking depth and breadth of the compromise by Trump and his associates, Kash Patel and John Solomon, right, of America's most sensitive intelligence.

john solomonAs damage assessment teams from across 17 U.S. intelligence agencies conduct in-depth analyses of compromised intelligence sources, technical methods, and relationships with foreign intelligence services, federal law enforcement photographic evidence of unprotected classified documents at Mar-a-Lago will give the most seasoned U.S. counterintelligence professional pause.

The cache of documents resembles those seized from America's most notorious spies, including Jonathan Pollard, Robert Hanssen, Aldrich Ames, shown below left in a mug shot, and John Walker.

A photograph of the files on the floor at Mar-a-Lago was contained in a Department of Justice filing to federal Judge Aileen Cannon. A naturalized citizen born in Cali, Colombia, Cannon was selected by Trump's lawyers within the U.S. District Court Circuit for South Florida after engaging in a favorable judge-shopping spree.

The gambit of Trump's legal team is to stall further legal action against him and the aldrich ames muggovernment's damage assessment efforts by arguing for the appointment of a third-party "special master" to oversee a document filtering process.

Trump elected to have such information stored in unsecured locations around Mar-a-Lago, which sees heavy traffic of foreign nationals. Many of the documents seized at the Palm Beach location were marked NOFORN, which means Not Releasable to Foreign Nationals.

It is the HCS-P files that may have caused the most damage to America's Human Intelligence sources. There is informed speculation that Jared Kushner shared critical HUMINT with his friend and financial benefactor -- to the tune of $2 billion -- Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), right. The October 2, 2018 grisly assassination of Washington Post mohammed bin salman al saudcolumnist Jamal Khashoggi and the torture and beating of several Saudi princes and businessmen by MbS's ruthless secret police may be a by-product of the compromise of HUMINT to the Saudis.

In March, MbS carried out a mass execution of 81 people, 41 of whom were Shi'as, for what the Saudi Interior Ministry described as "terrorism." How many of those executed had been U.S. intelligence assets may never be known but Kushner's reported compromise of U.S. classified information to MbS may have placed some Saudis or citizens of other countries on MbS's execution list.

There are also questions surrounding the suspicious deaths of several Russian oligarchs subsequent to Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine. Many of these deaths fit a pattern when it comes to Putin silencing those who are opposed to his policies.

Politico, Judge considers temporary limit on DOJ access to Trump documents, Josh Gerstein, Kyle Cheney and Nicholas Wu, Sept. 1, 2022. Government lawyers argue in hearing that there's 'evidence of three significant federal crimes' but judge may allow special review.

A federal judge indicated Thursday that she’s seriously considering temporarily barring Justice Department investigators from reviewing material politico Customseized from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon, right, suggested that she’s mulling imposing that restriction, while potentially allowing an exception for the intelligence community to continue reviewing national security risks from the potential exposure of the seized documents.

aileen cannonJustice Department attorneys pushed back sharply against that outcome, warning against any disruption to their ongoing criminal investigation of Trump’s handling of classified documents. Cannon, who previously said she’s inclined to appoint an outside review of the materials seized form Trump’s estate, appeared undeterred during a 90-minute hearing that featured arguments from DOJ counterintelligence officials and Trump’s legal team.

Justice Department attorneys repeatedly pleaded with Cannon not to interrupt their ongoing criminal probe, emphasizing that the search warrant executed on Aug. 8 was clearly valid and authorized to obtain “evidence of three significant federal crimes.”

“He is no longer the president and because he is no longer the president he did not have the right to take those documents,” said Jay Bratt, the chief of the Justice Department’s counterintelligence division. “He was unlawfully in possession of them…This plaintiff does not have an interest in the classified and other presidential records.”

Cannon, a Trump appointee, said she was concerned about a couple of instances in which the investigative team had flagged potentially privileged material that was not screened out during the initial review of records by the DOJ “filter team” assigned to prevent such occurrences. She also indicated she might support a special master with broad purview to screen documents for any potentially subject to executive privilege claims by Trump — despite DOJ’s argument that no such claim could ever be upheld.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump vows pardons, government apology to Capitol rioters if he’s elected, Mariana Alfaro, Sept. 1, 2022. The comments came on the same day President Biden was delivering a prime-time address warning of the threat to democracy from “MAGA Republicans” and election deniers.

Former president Donald Trump said he would issue full pardons and a government apology to rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and violently attacked law enforcement to stop the democratic transfer of power.

“I mean full pardons with an apology to many,” he told conservative radio host Wendy Bell on Thursday morning. Such a move would be contingent on Trump running and winning the 2024 presidential election.

Supporters of the former president attacked the Capitol as Congress was certifying Joe Biden’s electoral college win in the 2020 election, the worst attack on the seat of democracy in more than two centuries. The insurrection left four people dead and an officer who had been sprayed with a powerful chemical irritant, Brian D. Sicknick, suffered a stroke and died the next day. Some 140 members of law enforcement were injured as rioters attacked them with flagpoles, baseball bats, stun guns, bear spray and pepper spray.

 

thomas webster dc police

D.C. Police body-camera footage shows Marine veteran and retired NYPD officer Thomas Webster scream profanities and attack officers during the Jan. 6 riot. (Video: U.S. Attorney’s Office)

washington post logoWashington Post, Body-camera video shows former NYPD cop attack police during Capitol riot, DOJ says, Tom Jackman, Sept. 1, 2022. NYPD cop who assaulted police receives longest Jan. 6 sentence yet: 10 years. The punishment for Thomas Webster is the stiffest so far for a Capitol riot defendant.

A former New York City police officer and Marine Corps veteran, who swung a flagpole at police before tackling one officer and yanking his gas mask off during the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, was sentenced to 10 years in prison Thursday, the longest sentence handed down so far among the more than 860 people charged in the insurrection.

Thomas Webster, 56, of Goshen, N.Y., was the first riot defendant facing the felony charge of assaulting an officer to try his luck with a jury. Twelve others have pleaded guilty to a similar charge. Webster took the witness stand at his trial and testified that he was acting in self-defense, saying D.C. police officer Noah Rathbun had instigated the fight.

Video showed Webster yelling at police on the Lower West Plaza of the Capitol, as officers struggled to maintain a perimeter outside the building. Rathbun then pushed Webster in the face — Rathbun testified his hand slipped off Webster’s shoulder — before Webster swung and smashed a Marine Corps flagpole on a bike rack and then tackled Rathbun. Webster pulled the officer’s gas mask off, causing Rathbun to begin choking on tear gas, the officer testified.

The jury took three hours before finding Webster guilty in May of the assault and four other felony charges.
Thomas Webster, left, is seen in this still image from a body camera, attacking D.C. Police Officer Noah Rathbun outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (Image from Government's Sentencing Memorandum to the US District Court for the District of Columbia)

In the government’s sentencing memorandum, Assistant U.S. Attorney Hava Mirell said Webster’s argument that “a 20-year NYPD veteran believed he was entitled to retaliate with deadly and dangerous force against the vulnerable and non-violent Officer Rathbun is not only absurd, but dangerous. It may cause others to follow suit and use violence against an officer because of a political grievance.”

washington post logoWashington Post, A second man pleads guilty to Jan. 6 assault on officer Sicknick, who died of natural causes the next day, Spencer S. Hsu and Rachel Weiner, Sept. 1, 2022. Julian Khater admitted he deployed chemical spray on officers defending the Capitol, including Brian D. Sicknick, who later collapsed and died the following day.

A Pennsylvania man pleaded guilty Thursday to a chemical-spray assault on three police officers in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack, including Brian D. Sicknick, who later collapsed and died the following day.

In a plea deal with federal prosecutors, Julian Khater, a smoothie-shop owner of State College, Pa., admitted to assaulting and injuring law enforcement officers with a dangerous weapon. Along with co-defendant George Tanios, Khater had faced a 10-count indictment that included felony charges of rioting and obstructing Congress’s confirmation of Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory. Tanios pleaded guilty on July 27 to reduced misdemeanor charges.

Co-defendant in Jan. 6 Sicknick assault case pleads guilty

Khater pleaded guilty to counts punishable by up to 20 years in prison but faces a likely sentence of 78 to 97 months under federal guidelines negotiated with prosecutors. He has spent 17 months behind bars since his arrest and will be sentenced Dec. 13.

Khater’s plea resolves one of the most high-profile attacks on police in the Jan. 6 riot, in which nearly 140 defendants have been charged with felony assault against an officer. Childhood friends Khater, 33, and Tanios, 40, deployed chemical spray against officers holding back a violent crowd on the West Terrace of the Capitol, injuring Sicknick and others at a thin point in police lines.

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

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Ginni Thomas pressed Wisconsin lawmakers to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 election win, emails show, Emma Brown, Sept. 1, 2022. The conservative activist and wife of the Supreme Court justice emailed lawmakers in two states in the weeks after the election.

Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, pressed lawmakers to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 victory not only in Arizona, as previously reported, but also in a second battleground state, Wisconsin, according to emails obtained under state public-records law.

The Washington Post reported this year that Ginni Thomas emailed 29 Arizona state lawmakers, some of them twice, in November and December 2020. She urged them to set aside Biden’s popular-vote victory and “choose” their own presidential electors, despite the fact that the responsibility for choosing electors rests with voters under Arizona state law.

The new emails show that Thomas also messaged two Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin: state Sen. Kathy Bernier, then chair of the Senate elections committee, and state Rep. Gary Tauchen. Bernier and Tauchen received the email at 10:47 a.m. on Nov. 9, virtually the same time the Arizona lawmakers received a verbatim copy of the message from Thomas. The Bernier email was obtained by The Post, and the Tauchen email was obtained by the watchdog group Documented and provided to The Post.

Thomas sent all of the emails via FreeRoots, an online platform that allowed people to send pre-written emails to multiple elected officials.

 

 

christina bobb resized

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept. filing points to new legal trouble for Trump and lawyers, experts say, Perry Stein, Jacqueline Alemany, Josh Dawsey and Devlin Barrett, Sept. 1, 2022. The evidence laid out in the filing could build a case that Trump attorneys Evan Corcoran and Christina Bobb, above, obstructed the government’s investigation into documents taken to Mar-a-Lago.

There’s no way to predict whether the Justice Department will ultimately pursue charges against the former president or his associates. But in a court filing Tuesday night, government lawyers recounted numerous instances in which Trump’s lawyers allegedly misled government officials during the investigation, and in which Trump or his team appear to have haphazardly handled materials that contained national security secrets.

The evidence laid out in the filing, experts said, could build a legal case that Trump attorneys Evan Corcoran and Christina Bobb obstructed the government’s investigation, allegedly telling FBI agents and prosecutors that they had handed over all classified documents when in fact many remained in Trump’s possession.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: DOJ’s Mar-a-Lago filing reveals damning details on the Trump papers saga, Editorial Board, Sept. 1, 2022. Americans following the Mar-a-Lago search saga have, until this week, had to imagine what all the fuss was about, based on written descriptions of what the FBI found when it scoured former president Donald Trump’s home on Aug. 8. That changed late Tuesday, when the Justice Department released a photograph showing several sets of papers labeled “Top Secret/SCI,” in menacing red-lettered folders, strewn on a carpeted floor alongside a cardboard box containing at least one framed Time magazine cover.

The image of materials apparently found in the so-called 45 Office, Mr. Trump’s post-presidential working space, speaks powerfully to the grave concerns that appear to have driven Attorney General Merrick Garland to approve the search. Worse for Mr. Trump, the government included it in a court filing that provided the clearest accounting yet of the extent to which, according to the government’s narrative, the Trump team delayed the investigation — and might have deceived the investigators.

The DOJ’s filing came in an official response to Mr. Trump’s lawyers, who asked a federal judge for special review of the documents the FBI seized from Mar-a-Lago. The government made a persuasive case that, because the United States, not the former president, owns the papers in question, he lacks standing to request judicial relief or oversight. Along the way, the Justice Department revealed several alarming details about the probe.

Not only did Mr. Trump’s representatives neglect to turn over all the documents taken from the White House, they did so multiple times. First, they furnished 15 boxes to the National Archives. Then, after a grand jury subpoena, they provided a single additional envelope they said they had found after a thorough search. Once the FBI conducted its own search, investigators uncovered more than twice the amount of materials than were in the envelope. Some of these papers were in the storage room that the representatives insisted was the only location records had been placed. Some of them were elsewhere.

A federal judge unsealed a redacted affidavit last week, which the Justice Department had used to justify its search, and it included a reference to potential obstructive behavior. Now, the public knows more about what is behind the suspicion. Mr. Garland’s decision to inspect Mar-a-Lago looks more sensible and less precipitous than many had rushed to charge in the days following the FBI search.

In the weeks since the FBI search, Mr. Trump’s defenders have argued that the former president might have declassified the documents or that they were subject to executive privilege. Yet the Trump team never made these arguments as investigators sought their return, the government’s Tuesday filing said, suggesting that they are after-the-fact justifications rather than serious legal arguments.

Concerns about Justice Department politicization look less credible. Separately, the DOJ has also placed new restrictions on administration-appointed employees preventing them from attending fundraisers or campaign events, an additional safeguard of the department’s independence.

There is still a huge amount the public does not know about the Trump documents case, such as the potential harm of having these papers in such insecure circumstances, and big questions the nation’s leaders will have to consider, such as whether prosecuting a former president — and possible 2024 candidate — would be good for the country. The reasonable approach is to wait and watch; Mr. Garland has earned the public’s patience.

 

August

Aug. 31

 

 

Partially redacted documents with classified markings, including colored cover sheets indicating their status, that FBI agents reported finding in former president Donald Trump’s office at his Mar-a-Lago estate. (U.S. Department of Justice)

Partially redacted documents with classified markings, including colored cover sheets indicating their status, that FBI agents reported finding in former president Donald Trump’s office at his Mar-a-Lago estate. The photo shows the cover pages of a smattering of paperclip-bound classified documents — some marked as “TOP SECRET//SCI” with bright yellow borders and one marked as “SECRET//SCI” with a rust-colored border — along with whited-out pages, splayed out on a carpet at Mar-a-Lago. Beside them sits a cardboard box filled with gold-framed pictures, including a Time magazine cover. (U.S. Department of Justice photo.)

ap logoAssociated Press, Feds cite efforts to obstruct probe of docs at Trump estate, Eric Tucker, Jill Colvin and Michael Balsamo, The Justice Department says classified documents were “likely concealed and removed” from a storage room at former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate as part of an effort to obstruct the federal investigation into the discovery of the government records.

The FBI also seized boxes and containers holding more than 100 classified records during its Aug. 8 search of Mar-a-Lago and found classified documents stashed in Trump’s office, according to a filing that lays out the most detailed chronology to date of months of strained interactions between Justice Department officials and Trump representatives over the discovery of government secrets.

The filing offers yet another indication of the sheer volume of classified records retrieved from Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Florida. It shows how investigators conducting a criminal probe have focused not just on why the records were improperly stored there but also on the question of whether the Trump team intentionally misled them about the continued, and unlawful, presence of the top secret documents.

The timeline laid out by the Justice Department made clear that the extraordinary search of Mar-a-Lago came only after other efforts to retrieve the records had failed and that it resulted from law enforcement suspicion that additional documents remained inside the property despite assurances by Trump representatives that a “diligent search” had accounted for all of the material.

It also included a picture of some of the seized documents with colored cover sheets indicating their classified status, perhaps as a way to rebut suggestions that whoever packed them or handled them at Mar-a-Lago could have easily failed to appreciate their sensitive nature.

The photo shows the cover pages of a smattering of paperclip-bound classified documents — some marked as “TOP SECRET//SCI” with bright yellow borders and one marked as “SECRET//SCI” with a rust-colored border — along with whited-out pages, splayed out on a carpet at Mar-a-Lago. Beside them sits a cardboard box filled with gold-framed pictures, including a Time magazine cover.

Though it contains significant new details on the investigation, the Justice Department filing does not resolve a core question that has driven public fascination with the investigation — why Trump held onto the documents after he left the White House and why he and his team resisted repeated efforts to give them back. In fact, it suggests officials may not have received an answer.

It also included a picture of some of the seized documents with colored cover sheets indicating their classified status, perhaps as a way to rebut suggestions that whoever packed them or handled them at Mar-a-Lago could have easily failed to appreciate their sensitive nature.

The photo shows the cover pages of a smattering of paperclip-bound classified documents — some marked as “TOP SECRET//SCI” with bright yellow borders and one marked as “SECRET//SCI” with a rust-colored border — along with whited-out pages, splayed out on a carpet at Mar-a-Lago. Beside them sits a cardboard box filled with gold-framed pictures, including a Time magazine cover.

Though it contains significant new details on the investigation, the Justice Department filing does not resolve a core question that has driven public fascination with the investigation — why Trump held onto the documents after he left the White House and why he and his team resisted repeated efforts to give them back. In fact, it suggests officials may not have received an answer.

During a June 3 visit to Mar-a-Lago by FBI and Justice Department officials, the document states, “Counsel for the former President offered no explanation as to why boxes of government records, including 38 documents with classification markings, remained at the Premises nearly five months after the production of the Fifteen Boxes and nearly one-and-a-half years after the end of the Administration.”

That visit, which came weeks after the Justice Department issued a subpoena for the records, receives substantial attention in the document and appears to be a key investigative focus.

Though Trump has said he had declassified all of the documents at Mar-a-Lago, his lawyers did not suggest that during the visit and instead “handled them in a manner that suggested counsel believed that the documents were classified,” according to the document.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s loony rants should remind the GOP his nomination would be disastrous, Jennifer Rubin, right, Aug. 31, 2022. One jennifer rubin new headshotdoes not need a medical degree or a therapist’s license to conclude that defeated former president Donald Trump’s nutty rant insisting that he be made president immediately or the 2020 election be rerun is the sign of an unhinged personality.

Under pressure from the increasingly potent espionage investigation, he might be losing his grip. For a change, you don’t hear Republicans rushing forth to support his latest insane demand.

Trump’s posting of QAnon messages and implicit threats (in increasingly unintelligible syntax) suggests that he is losing the ability or desire to control his impulsive outbursts. This is the guy whom millions of Republicans want to nominate for president.

Since the redacted affidavit was released last week, the only two defenses from Republicans are no defenses at all. The first, courtesy of Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), amounts to extortion: Prosecute Trump and there’ll be blood in the streets. The second is the laughable inquiry: Is that all? It’s not “all,” because the affidavit was heavily redacted. Moreover, the notion that we are talking “just” about documents ignores that most espionage cases are about documents (or equivalent material). That’s where the secrets are.

Palmer Report, Analysis: Donald Trump has unhinged meltdown about “terrible” DOJ filing, Bill Palmer, right, Aug. 31, 2022. Donald Trump spent all day bill palmermelting down on his failed social network, making about a hundred increasingly frantic and frazzled posts that were over the top even by his standards. This was presumably because he knew that by the end of the day, the DOJ would drop the hammer on him with a lengthy court filing spelling out just how throughly it has him nailed.

bill palmer report logo headerSure enough, that document became public just before midnight last night, by which time Trump was presumably passed out near a bowl of Jello or something. But now he’s resumed his ranting and raving this morning, and – not shockingly – he thinks it’s all “terrible.”

Trump seems particularly upset about the DOJ’s decision to include a photo of clearly labeled highly classified documents that it found in a box mixed in with Trump’s framed copies of himself on the cover of Time Magazine. The photo helped make clear that Trump took the classified documents and considered them to be his personal property, even though he could tell just by looking at their covers that they were property of the government.

Nonetheless, Trump still thinks it’s “terrible” that the DOJ dared to do this. He’s accusing them of having thrown classified documents “haphazardly all over the floor (perhaps pretending it was me that did it!).” Trump is also apparently very upset that the DOJ released photos of these documents, which he says were supposed to be “secret.” He then claims he’s already declassified them, a false claim that even his own legal team has never officially made at any point.

We’re not going to keep sharing every deranged thought that pops out of Trump’s head today. But his initial response this morning does serve to demonstrate where his mindset is now that the DOJ has released this mammoth public court filing. He’s focused on whining like a baby and floating baseless legal defenses that probably hurt him more than help him. By (falsely) claiming he was allowed to be in possession of these documents because he declassified them, he’s admitting that they were indeed in his possession. So much for blaming the coffee boy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump wants to be treated like Hillary Clinton? By all means, Dana Milbank, right, Aug. 31, 2022 (print ed.). Donald Trump dana milbank newestand his MAGA mouthpieces say the former president should be treated the same way Hillary Clinton was — and they’re right!

Ever since the FBI found boxes upon boxes of government secrets hoarded at his resort residence, Trump has complained that he’s being held to a different standard from the one applied to Clinton during the probe of her private email server in 2016. “Absolutely nothing has happened to hold her accountable,” Trump claimed when he confirmed the search of Mar-a-Lago.

So, by all means, let’s relitigate. In fact, Trump should be treated exactly the way Clinton was:

The FBI should undertake a sprawling, multiyear investigation into Trump’s conduct, grilling him and his staff, running extensive forensics, and examining whether his actions allowed hostile actors to compromise U.S. security. The FBI should continue to keep him under investigation while he runs for president in 2024.

Palmer Report, Analysis: Donald Trump’s attorneys Christina Bobb and Evan Corcoran may have to flip on him after this DOJ filing, Bill Palmer, right, Aug. bill palmer31, 2022. We kept seeing it in major media reports, and now we’re seeing it in a public DOJ court filing. Back in May, Donald Trump’s attorney Christina Bobb signed a letter, authored by Evan Corcoran, asserting to the DOJ that all classified documents in Trump’s possession had been returned. This letter obviously turned out to be a false claim, and is felony obstruction of justice on someone’s part.

bill palmer report logo headerThere are two possible explanations here. The first would be that one or both of Trump’s lawyers knew the letter was a lie when they wrote and signed it. In such case, the attorney(s) would be charged for obstruction, and their only hope of getting off the hook would be to cut a plea deal or immunity deal against Trump.

The second scenario would be that Trump lied to his lawyers about the documents, tricking them into writing and signing this letter. In such case his lawyers would be innocent, but would still be material witnesses who would be compelled to testify against him – and refusing to testify could make them guilty of obstruction.

In either scenario, Trump’s lawyers would need to withdraw from their representation of him in order to cooperate against him. And if they’re looking for full immunity, they’d probably need to convince the DOJ that they were indeed misled, as opposed to being in on the plot. As so often ends up being the case, Trump’s newest lawyers already need their own lawyers.

 

djt barr conferring headshots

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Bill Barr Made the Decision to Clear Trump, and That Should Still Frighten Us, Neal K. Katyal, right, Aug. 31, 2022 (print ed.). The neal katyal omemo released last week by the Justice Department closing the book on the report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election is a frightening document.

Critics have rightly focused on its substance, slipshod legal analysis and omission of damning facts.

But the process by which that memo, sent in March 2019, came to be is just as worrisome. Delivered to the attorney general at the time, Bill Barr, the memo was written by two political appointees in the Justice Department.

Mr. Barr (above right) used the memo to go around the special counsel regulations and to clear President Donald Trump of obstruction of justice. If left to fester, this decision will have pernicious consequences for investigations of future high-level wrongdoing.

It raises particular concerns because, as a young Justice Department staff member, I drafted the special counsel regulations in 1999 to prevent the exact problem of having partisan political appointees undermine an investigation. The regulations were put in place to ensure that the counsel would make any determination to charge or not and to force the attorney general to overrule those determinations specifically and before Congress.

The 2019 memo tendentiously argued that Mr. Trump committed no crimes — leaving the final decision on the matter to Republican-aligned robert mueller testifying flickrappointees instead of to the independent special counsel, left.

The challenge in devising the regulations was to develop a framework for the prosecution of high-level executive branch officials — which is harder than it sounds, because the Constitution requires the executive branch to control prosecutions. So we are left with one of the oldest philosophical problems: Who will guard the guardians?

The solution we landed on was to have a special counsel take over the investigative and prosecutorial functions. That counsel was vested with day-to-day independence in an investigation, but the attorney general would still be able to overrule the special counsel — but, crucially, if the attorney general overruled, to report to Congress, to ensure accountability.

The regulations were written with an untrustworthy president in mind, more so than the problem that Mr. Barr presented, which is an untrustworthy attorney general. Unlike presidents, attorneys general are confirmed by the Senate, with a 60-vote threshold — so we assumed they would be reasonably nonpartisan. And we also knew there was no way around the attorney general being the ultimate decider, because the Constitution requires the executive branch to control prosecutions.

We created the role of special counsel to fill a void — to concentrate in one person responsibility and ultimate blame so that investigations would not be covered up from the get-go and to give that person independence from political pressure.

It is outrageous that Mr. Barr acted so brazenly in the face of this framework. The point of requiring a special counsel was to provide for an independent determination of any potential criminal wrongdoing by Mr. Trump.

But the political appointees in his Justice Department took what was the most important part of that inquiry — the decision of whether he committed crimes — and grabbed it for themselves. This was a fundamental betrayal of the special counsel guidelines not for some principle but because it protected their boss, Mr. Trump. It is the precise problem that the regulations were designed to avoid and why the regulations give the counsel “the full power and independent authority to exercise all investigative and prosecutorial functions of any United States attorney.”

Mr. Katyal is a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, was an acting solicitor general in the Obama administration and is a co-author of “Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump.”

 truth social logo

Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Exclusive: Trump left Sarasota media company weeks before federal subpoenas were issued, Chris Anderson, Aug. 31, 2022. Donald Trump removed himself from the board of his Sarasota-based social media company, records show, just weeks before the company was issued federal subpoenas by both the Securities and Exchange Commission and a grand jury in Manhattan.

Trump, the chairman of Trump Media and Technology Group, was one of six board members removed on June 8, state business records show.

Among the board members removed were Kashyap Patel, Trump's former point man in the White House; Scott Glabe, a former assistant to Trump who was counsel for the media company; and Donald Trump, Jr.

The SEC served Trump Media and Technology Group with a subpoena on June 27, according to a regulatory filing. Trump's media company owns Truth Social, an app similar to Twitter. Trump was banned by Twitter for inflammatory remarks concerning the insurrection.

Four days later, on July 1, a grand jury in the Southern District of New York handed the company another federal subpoena, an action that typically means a potential criminal investigation is in progress.

The investigations appear to be related to a proposed merger between Trump's media company and a blank-check company called Digital World Acquisitions Corp., according to a recent regulatory filing.

Aug. 30

 

mar a lago aerial Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago documents already examined by FBI, Justice Dept. tells judge, Devlin Barrett, Aug. 30, 2022 (print ed.). A ‘filter team’ has completed its review of material possibly covered by attorney-client privilege, the court filing says.

FBI agents have already finished their examination of possibly privileged documents seized in an Aug. 8 search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, according to a Justice Department court filing Monday that could undercut the former president’s efforts to have a special master appointed to review the files.

Justice Department log circularThe “filter team” used by the Justice Department to sort through the documents and weed out any material that should not be reviewed by criminal investigators has completed its review, the brief filed by Justice Department prosecutors says. The filing came in response to a decision Saturday by U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon to hold a hearing this week on Trump’s motion seeking the appointment of a special master.

The filing says prosecutors will provide more information later this week. But it notes that even before the judge’s weekend ruling, the filter team had “identified a limited set of materials that potentially contain attorney-client privileged information, completed its review of those materials, and is in the process of following the procedures” spelled out in the search warrant to handle any privilege disputes.

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump again summons the mob, Ruth Marcus, right, Aug. 30, 2022 (print ed.). Richard M. Nixon famously deployed the ruth marcusmadman theory of foreign policy, directing aides to suggest to his counterparts overseas that they might not be able to control a volatile and reckless president.

Now, Donald Trump and his defenders are using a version of that gambit to deter the Justice Department from prosecuting the former president, arguing that going after Trump would dangerously incite his already angry followers.

Trump had his lawyer deliver this sinister message to Attorney General Merrick Garland — wrapped in a purported effort to calm the waters. “President Trump wants the Attorney General to know that he has been hearing from people all over the country about the raid. If there was one word to describe their mood, it is ‘angry,’ ” a Trump lawyer told a senior Justice Department official three days after the search at Mar-a-Lago. “The heat is building up. The pressure is building up. Whatever I can do to take the heat down, to bring the pressure down, just let us know.”

Then, on Sunday, Trump acolyte Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) didn’t bother with the disingenuous niceties. He went straight to the threat.

Let’s address that supposed “double standard” between Trump and Hillary Clinton: There isn’t one. Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state was, as I said at the time, sloppy and exasperating. She shouldn’t have used her private email address for official business, and she should have been more careful about classified information being on it. This is, as then-FBI Director James B. Comey concluded, a far cry from an indictable offense.

How does Trump’s conduct fit into this rubric? With so much of the evidence under seal, we can’t tell for sure. But we know, based on the redacted affidavit, that there appear to be significant differences between the Clinton and Trump situations.

 

anthony ornato djtUSA Today, Anthony Ornato, Secret Service and Trump official named in explosive Jan. 6 testimony, retires, Bart Jansen, Aug. 30, 2022. Ornato, shown above in sunglasses, was expected to testify to the House committee investigating the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021, after another witness described him talking about a clash between Trump and his security detail. A former White House aide to Donald Trump who was a central figure in explosive testimony about the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021, retired Monday from the Secret Service.

usa today logo 5Anthony Ornato, who served as Trump’s deputy chief of staff for operations while also a top Secret Service official, retired after 25 years with the agency, according to agency spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.

“I long-planned to retire and have been planning this transition for more than a year,” Ornato, the former assistant director for the office of training, said in a statement to Politico.

Ornato’s retirement comes as the House committee awaits his additional testimony about an incident involving Trump before the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

Members of the Secret Service, including Tony Ornato, right, stand guard as then-President Donald Trump, left, speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington before departing, Sept. 9, 2019.
A former Trump aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, testified that Ornato told her after Trump’s speech on Jan. 6, 2021, that the president tried to grab the steering wheel in his vehicle and lunged for the chief of his Secret Service security, Robert Engel, in order to join the mob at the Capitol rather than return to the White House.

Hutchinson said Ornato described the incident while Engel was in the room with them and Engel didn’t correct the story.

“Mr. Engel grabbed his arm, said, ‘Sir, you need to take your arm off the steering wheel,’” Hutchinson testified. “’We’re going back to the West Wing. We’re not going to the Capitol.’ Mr Trump then used his free hand to lunge towards Bobby Engel and when Mr. Ornato recounted this story for me, he had motioned towards his clavicles.”

Ornato and Engel, who each cooperated with the committee before the June hearing, reportedly wanted to testify again to clear up potential disputes with Hutchinson’s testimony.

Cassidy Hutchinson testifies before the January 6th commission.
Guglielmi said the Secret Service has cooperated with the investigation and made officials available for testimony. It will be up to Ornato to decide whether to testify.

“Certainly when he was an employee of the service, he had all intentions of testifying,” Guglielmi said. “Now that he’s a private citizen working for another organization, you’re going to have to check with him on if that still stands.”

A committee spokesman declined comment on Ornato’s retirement.

Ornato joined the Secret Service in 1997 and served under five presidential administrations. Before joining the White House in 2019, Ornato served as deputy assistant director of the Secret Service’s office of investigations. He previously served in the presidential protective division during the George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump administrations.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The next scary matter for Trump’s lawyers: The crime-fraud exception, Jennifer Rubin, right, Aug. 30, 2022.  Even jennifer rubin new headshotoccasional “Law & Order” viewers know that the conversations between a criminal defendant and his lawyer are normally protected from prosecutors.

However, when any lawyer becomes a co-conspirator, such attorney-client privilege evaporates because of what is known as the “crime-fraud exception.” If you’re participating in a crime rather than defending a criminal, you and your client don’t get the benefit of the attorney-client privilege.

In the case of former president Donald Trump, we may soon get a treatise on the crime-fraud exception, as the matter is poised to come up in a shockingly large number of instances.

Aug. 29

Politico, Analysis: When an election denier becomes a chief election official, Zach Montellaro, Aug. 29, 2022. Trump-aligned secretary of state hopefuls are campaigning against ballot counting machines and could complicate mail voting, among other changes.

politico CustomMany of the election deniers running for secretary of state this year have spent their time talking about something they can’t do: “decertifying” the 2020 results.

The bigger question — amid concerns about whether they would fairly administer the 2024 presidential election — is exactly what powers they would have if they win in November.

Atop the list of the most disruptive things they could do is refusing to certify accurate election results — a nearly unprecedented step that would set off litigation in state and federal court. That has already played out on a smaller scale this year, when a small county in New Mexico refused to certify election results over unfounded fears about election machines, until a state court ordered them to certify.

But secretaries of states’ roles in elections stretch far beyond approving vote tallies and certifying results. Many of the candidates want to dramatically change the rules for future elections, too.

djt maga hatThe Donald Trump-aligned Republican nominees in a number of presidential battleground states have advocated for sweeping changes to election law, with a particular focus on targeting absentee and mail voting in their states — keying off one of Trump’s obsessions.

And even if they cannot push through major changes to state law using allies in the legislatures, they could still complicate and frustrate elections through the regulatory directives that guide the day-to-day execution of election procedures by county officials in their states.

That could include things from targeting the use of ballot tabulation machines, which have become the subject of conspiracy theories on the right, to changing forms used for voter registration or absentee ballot requests in ways that make them more difficult to use.

Election officials “are the people who protect our freedom to vote all the way through the process,” said Joanna Lydgate, the CEO of States republican elephant logoUnited Action, a bipartisan group that has opposed these candidates. “But all the way through, there are opportunities for mischief, opportunities for election deniers to add barriers to the ballot box, to curtail the freedom to vote.”

Four Republicans on the ballot in major battlegrounds this fall have banded together in what they call the America First Secretary of State Coalition: secretary of state nominees Kristina Karamo in Michigan, Mark Finchem in Arizona and Jim Marchant in Nevada, along with Pennsylvania gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano, who would appoint the state’s chief election official if he wins.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Lindsey Graham’s vile ‘riots’ threat gives away Trump’s game, Greg Sargent, right, Aug. 29, 2022. “If there’s a prosecution greg sargentof Donald Trump for mishandling classified information,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham on Fox News, there will be “riots in the streets.”

The South Carolina Republican’s quote has been relentlessly skewered as a blatant threat of retaliatory political violence ever since he offered it Sunday night. And it is that: Everyone knows the old mob-speak trick of cloaking threats in the guise of faux-innocent “predictions.”

But there’s a more pernicious danger here that shouldn’t escape notice. Underlying Graham’s threat is another attack on the rule of law, one that more Trump propagandists will resort to when their man’s legal perils deepen. It’s an effort to discredit the idea that the law can be applied to the former president at all.

Trump endorsed Graham’s threat by posting video of it on Truth Social. And Trump himself had already unleashed a volley of deranged hints that the FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago compound is the stuff of banana republics and FBI leadership is riddled with corruption.

All this comes after release of the redacted affidavit for the Mar-a-Lago search warrant has deepened our understanding of Trump’s potential crimes and strengthened the case that the search was premised on reasonable law enforcement grounds.

Some Republicans have quietly shifted from objecting to the search to questioning the search’s timing. That’s silly: The timing reflects evidence amassed by federal agents that Trump still had highly sensitive documents as late as June. But this shows how hard defending Trump has become.

Not for Graham, apparently.

“Most Republicans, including me, believe that when it comes to Trump, there is no law,” Graham seethed in that Fox appearance. “It’s all about getting him.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Finally, a Sunday anchor puts his foot down on Espionagegate, Jennifer Rubin, right, Aug. 29, 2022. Finally, a Sunday anchor jennifer rubin new headshotputs his foot down on Espionagegate.

Given my fervent criticism of mainstream media interviewers for going soft on Republicans carrying water for defeated former president Donald Trump, who is under investigation for possible violation of the Espionage Act, it’s only fair to point out appropriately tough, take-no-prisoners performances.

On Sunday, that came from George Stephanopoulos on ABC News’s “This Week” in an interview with retiring Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). His upcoming retirement is noteworthy since he should have zero reason to fear Trump’s wrath or prostrate himself in front of the MAGA crowd. And yet he did.

Here’s the exchange:

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Trump Document Inquiry Poses Unparalleled Test for Justice Dept., Katie Benner, Aug. 29, 2022. What had started as an effort to retrieve national security documents has now been transformed into one of the most challenging and complicated criminal investigations in recent memory.

As Justice Department officials haggled for months this year with former President Donald J. Trump’s lawyers and aides over the return of government documents at his Florida home, federal prosecutors became convinced that they were not being told the whole truth.

That conclusion helped set in motion a decision that would amount to an unparalleled test of the Justice Department’s credibility in a deeply polarized political environment: to seek a search warrant to enter Mar-a-Lago and retrieve what prosecutors suspected would be highly classified materials, beyond the hundreds of pages that Mr. Trump had already returned.

By the government’s account, that gamble paid off, with F.B.I. agents carting off boxloads of sensitive material during the search three weeks ago, including some documents with top secret markings.

merrick garlandBut the matter hardly ended there: What had started as an effort to retrieve national security documents has now been transformed into one of the most challenging, complicated and potentially explosive criminal investigations in recent memory, with tremendous implications for the Justice Department, Mr. Trump and public faith in government.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, right, now faces the prospect of having to decide whether to file criminal charges against a former president and likely 2024 Republican candidate, a step without any historical parallel.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: DeSantis's "Mongoose Gang" of intimidators and cronies, Wayne Madsen, left, Aug. 29, 2022. wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallFlorida is currently the closest thing to a fascist police state within the borders of the United States.

wayne madesen report logoThat is primarily due to its Republican authoritarian governor, military "stolen valor" practitioner Ron DeSantis, below left, acting like a tinpot caudillo or dictator, the type that frequently plagued the Caribbean and Latin America over the decades. DeSantis has continually abused his authority as governor. This includes his throwing elected Democrats out of office, in one case at gunpoint, and replacing them with far-right Republican cronies.

ron desantis oOne of DeSantis's victims was the successful elected Democratic State's Attorney for Hillsborough County, Andrew Warren. In an op-ed in the Washington Post, Warren described his ordeal in DeSantis's banana republic of Florida: "An armed sheriff’s deputy and a governor’s aide showed up on Thursday morning at the State Attorney’s Office in Tampa, where I was serving as the elected prosecutor for Hillsborough County. They handed me an executive order signed by DeSantis that immediately suspended me from office. Before I could read it, they escorted me out."

Warren, who is suing DeSantis in federal court for his actions, continued in his op-ed: "This is a blatant abuse of power. I don’t work for DeSantis. I was elected by voters — twice — and I have spent my entire career locking up violent criminals and fraudsters. Without any misdoing on my part or any advance notice, I was forced out of my office, removed from my elected position, and replaced with a DeSantis ally. If this can happen to me, what can DeSantis do to other Floridians?"

Warren's question would soon be answered. DeSantis did not hesitate to fire other Democratic officials in the state. A few weeks after DeSantis suspended Warren, he struck again by suspending four elected members of the Broward County school board -- all registered Democrats -- from their non-partisan seats.

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, QAnon accounts have found a home, and Donald Trump’s support, on Truth Social, Tiffany Hsu, Aug. 29, 2022. Researchers identified 88 users promoting the conspiracy theory on Donald Trump’s platform, and said he had reposted messages 65 times.

Dozens of QAnon-boosting accounts decamped to Truth Social this year after they were banned by other social networks and have found support from the platform’s creator, former President Donald J. Trump, according to a report released on Monday.

FBI logoNewsGuard, a media watchdog that analyzes the credibility of news outlets, found 88 users promoting the QAnon conspiracy theory on Truth Social, each to more than 10,000 followers. Of those accounts, 32 were previously banned by Twitter.

Twitter barred Mr. Trump over fears that he might incite violence after the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. He started Truth Social as an alternative in February 2022. He has amplified content from 30 of the QAnon accounts to his more than 3.9 million Truth Social followers, reposting their messages 65 times since he became active on the platform in April, according to the report.

djt golf shirt bloated“He’s not simply President Trump the political leader here — he’s the proprietor of a platform,” said Steven Brill, co-chief executive of NewsGuard and the founder of the magazine The American Lawyer. “That would be the equivalent of Mark Zuckerberg reposting content from supporters of QAnon.”

Millions of QAnon followers believe that an imaginary cabal of sex-trafficking, Satan-worshiping liberals is controlling the government and that Mr. Trump is leading the fight against it. Fantastical QAnon ideas have taken root in mainstream Republican politics, although some supporters have struggled at the polls.

The movement has been viewed by law enforcement as a potential domestic terror threat and was linked to the Capitol riot. Tech companies such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Twitch have cracked down on QAnon content.

“The other platforms have taken some steps to deal with QAnon and other similar types of misinformation, but here, it’s pretty clear that they’re not,” Mr. Brill said of Truth Social.

Truth Social did not respond to questions about NewsGuard’s findings. Instead, in a statement sent through a representative, the social media platform said that it had “reopened the internet and given the American people their voice back.”

Politico, Same-sex marriage puts Ron Johnson in a bind, Marianne LeVine and Holly Otterbein, Aug. 29, 2022. The conservative Wisconsin senator — the chamber's most vulnerable incumbent this fall — could soon face a very tough vote.

politico CustomThe most endangered Senate Republican incumbent — who’s trailing his reelection foe in one of the most closely divided states in the country — could face a tough vote just weeks out from Election Day on whether to enshrine same-sex marriage into law.

As Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer moves closer to a vote that would put Sen. Ron Johnson on defense in the home stretch of the midterms, the Wisconsin conservative is suddenly under the microscope on a social issue that he’s rarely focused on during his decade-plus in office. But it’s far from clear whether he’ll take that baby step to the center ahead of a November contest against Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who’s opened a slight lead in public polls.

Johnson surprised many fellow senators last month when he said he saw “no reason” to oppose what he described as unnecessary House-passed legislation designed to protect same-sex marriage, which could come to the floor as soon as next month. Then, when pressed later, he hedged on whether he’d vote yes or merely present. And he’s now pushing, alongside other Senate Republicans, for the bill to be amended before declaring his support.

washington post logoWashington Post, Naming of special master could complicate Mar-a-Lago documents case, David Nakamura and Amy B Wang, Aug. 29, 2022. If a federal judge appoints a special master to review materials taken by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago, it could complicate matters in the federal government case.

A federal judge’s indication that she is prepared to appoint a special master to review materials seized from Mar-a-Lago by federal agents could present new complications and unresolved legal questions in the federal government’s high-stakes quest to wrest control of the documents from former president Donald Trump.

aileen cannonU.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon’s two-page order issued on Saturday appeared unusual in that the judge has not yet heard arguments from the Justice Department, said former federal prosecutors and legal analysts on Sunday.

Cannon, right, 41, whom Trump appointed to the bench in the Southern District of Florida in 2020, has also given federal officials until Tuesday to provide the court with a more detailed list of items the FBI had removed from Trump’s Florida estate on Aug. 8.

She asked the government to give a status report of its own review of the materials and set a Thursday court hearing in West Palm Beach, Fla. That location is about an hour away from the federal courthouse in Fort Pierce, Fla., where she typically hears cases.

Aug. 28 

donald trump money palmer report Custom

Proof, Investigative Commentary: The Real Scandal in Donald Trump’s Historic Theft of Classified Records Is Not What You Think, Seth Abramson, left, seth abramson graphicAug. 26-28, 2022. As a Trump biographer who’s written more best-sellers on Trump’s presidency than any other author, I’ve a very different view of the current classified-records scandal involving Trump and Mar-a-Lago.

Introduction:seth abramson proof logo Donald Trump orchestrating a premeditated heist of well over 1,000 pages of highly classified taxpayer-owned government records—along with thousands of additional pages of documents that, while not classified, were both sensitive and not his to take—may be the least surprising thing Trump has ever done in his brief political career.

It’s important for Americans to understand not just that what Trump did is actually—for him—unsurprising, but also why it’s unsurprising.

The real story is a historic heist of classified national security-related information that was premeditated, conducted over the course of two years, and constitutes one of the gravest national security breaches in American history. The real story is that we don’t yet know the motive behind the crime. The real story is a historic heist of this sort of course would not have been undertaken for no reason—but had to have had behind it some sort of personal benefit that neither major media nor federal investigators have yet discovered, and which—candidly—there is no evidence as yet either major media or federal investigators are trying to find out.

Because Trump never told anyone about the declassifications—again, humoring for a moment the idea that any such declassifications ever occurred, even in Trump’s head—he was in fact only accomplishing a single goal in executing such a extraordinarily clandestine executive action. To wit, he was empowering himself to secretly show the documents that he had stolen to persons not otherwise entitled to see them, under circumstances in which he had a legal excuse for doing so if he got caught doing so.

There is, to be clear, no other purpose for a declassification that is known only to the President of the United States and not even a single other attorney, adviser, associate, aide, agent, acolyte, or assistant.

But there’s much more to say here, as in fact the act of fully declassifying a document to publicly viewable status—the sort of declassification Trump avoided here—has one other major result: the destruction of the pecuniary value of the data so declassified.

That is, if you take a classified document and make it public, it no longer can be sold for a profit, as everyone everywhere can access it if they have the time and inclination to track it down and view it.

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

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

Justice Matters Podcast, Commentary: Trump-appointed-judge Aileen Cannon grants Trump's demand for special master BEFORE DOJ weighs in, Glenn Kirschner, Aug. 28, 2022. There are some fundamental principles and universal rules by which America courts operate. One of those fundamental principles is that a judge does not rule on an issue until hearing from both parties involved in the litigation.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Former President Trump’s legal team is scrambling to find a defense to hold off the Justice Department, Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush, Aug. 28, 2022. The lawyers representing the former president in the investigation into his handling of classified documents have tried out an array of defenses as they seek to hold off the Justice Department.

On May 25, one of former President Donald J. Trump’s lawyers sent a letter to a top Justice Department official, laying out the argument that his client had done nothing illegal by holding onto a trove of government materials when he left the White House.

The letter, from M. Evan Corcoran, a former federal prosecutor, represented Mr. Trump’s initial defense against the investigation into the presence of highly classified documents in unsecured locations at his members-only club and residence, Mar-a-Lago. It amounted to a three-page hodgepodge of contested legal theories, including Mr. Corcoran’s assertion that Mr. Trump possessed a nearly boundless right as president to declassify materials and an argument that one law governing the handling of classified documents does not apply to a president.

Mr. Corcoran asked the Justice Department to present the letter as “exculpatory” information to the grand jury investigating the case.

Government lawyers found it deeply puzzling. They included it in the affidavit submitted to a federal magistrate in Florida in their request for the search warrant they later used to recover even more classified materials at Mar-a-Lago — to demonstrate their willingness to acknowledge Mr. Corcoran’s arguments, a person with knowledge of the decision said.

As the partial release of the search warrant affidavit on Friday, including the May 25 letter, illustrated, Mr. Trump is going into the battle over the documents with a hastily assembled team. The lawyers have offered up a variety of arguments on his behalf that have yet to do much to fend off a Justice Department that has adopted a determined, focused and so far largely successful legal approach.

“He needs a quarterback who’s a real lawyer,” said David I. Schoen, a lawyer who defended Mr. Trump in his second Senate impeachment trial. Mr. Schoen called it “an honor” to represent Mr. Trump, but said it was problematic to keep lawyers “rotating in and out.”

Often tinged with Mr. Trump’s own bombast and sometimes conflating his powers as president with his role as a private citizen, the legal arguments put forth by his team sometimes strike lawyers not involved in the case as more about setting a political narrative than about dealing with the possibility of a federal prosecution.

“There seems to be a huge disconnect between what’s actually happening — a real live court case surrounding a real live investigation — and what they’re actually doing, which is treating it like they’ve treated everything else, recklessly and thoughtlessly,” Chuck Rosenberg, a former U.S. attorney and F.B.I. official, said of Mr. Trump’s approach. “And for an average defendant on an average case, that would be a disaster.”

Politico, Judge rejects bid by Gov. Kemp and Trump attorney Chesebro to quash subpoenas, Kyle Cheney and Nicholas Wu, Aug. 28, 2022.  However, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney also gave Kemp an election-year reprieve.

The judge overseeing the Atlanta-area grand jury investigation into Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election has rejected an effort by Gov. Brian Kemp to block a subpoena for his testimony.

However, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney also gave Kemp an election-year reprieve, agreeing to delay his testimony until after the Nov. 8 vote, when Kemp is up for reelection and facing a challenge from Stacey Abrams.

“The Governor is in the midst of a re-election campaign and this criminal grand jury investigation should not be used by the District Attorney, the Governor’s opponent, or the Governor himself to influence the outcome of that election,” McBurney wrote in his six-page order.

In a separate opinion, McBurney also rejected an effort by a Trump-allied attorney, Kenneth Chesebro, to similarly block a subpoena for his testimony. Chesebro had claimed that his potential testimony would be entirely barred by attorney-client privilege, as well as New York state’s rules around attorney confidentiality. However, McBurney noted that, as with many other witnesses, there are plenty of topics that would not be subject to privilege claims.

Among them: “Mr. Chesebro’s background and experience, his knowledge of both Georgia and federal election law, his communications with Republican Party officials in Georgia following the 2020 general election, his interactions with the individuals in Georgia seeking to prepare slate of ‘alternate’ electors weeks after the final vote count showed former President Trump losing by over 10,000 votes in Georgia, etc.”

“Because these are legitimate, relevant, non-protected areas of investigation for the special purpose grand jury, quashal is improper,” McBurney wrote in a three-page order.

The rulings are victories for District Attorney Fani Willis, though the delayed testimony for Kemp is a setback for her investigation’s overall timetable. The DA has argued for the urgency of Kemp’s testimony sooner than November.

Kemp’s office and an attorney for Chesebro did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kemp was a target of Trump’s fury during the closing weeks of his presidency, as Trump railed against his decision, along with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, to certify Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia. Both beat back challenges from Trump-backed candidates in the state’s May Republican primary elections.

washington post logoWashington Post, Inside Trump’s war on the National Archives, Jacqueline Alemany, Isaac Arnsdorf and Josh Dawsey, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). The agency has been hit with a wave of threats and vitriol since the FBI retrieved scores of classified records from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club.

In the nearly three weeks since the FBI searched former president Donald Trump’s Florida home to recover classified documents, the National Archives and Records Administration has become the target of a rash of threats and vitriol, according to people familiar with the situation. Civil servants tasked by law with preserving and securing the U.S. government’s records were rattled.

nara logoOn Wednesday, the agency’s head sent an email to the staff. Though academic and suffuse with legal references, the message from acting archivist Debra Steidel Wall was simple: Stay above the fray and stick to the mission.

“NARA has received messages from the public accusing us of corruption and conspiring against the former President, or congratulating NARA for ‘bringing him down,’ ” Steidel Wall wrote in the agencywide message, which was obtained by The Washington Post. “Neither is accurate or welcome.”

The email capped a year-long saga that has embroiled the Archives — widely known for being featured in the 2004 Nicolas Cage movie, “National Treasure” — in a protracted fight with Trump over classified documents and other records that were taken when he left office.

Archives officials have emailed, called and cajoled the former president and his representatives to follow the law and return the documents. When the Archives recovered 15 boxes from Mar-a-Lago in January, agency officials found a mess of disorganized papers lacking any inventory. Highly classified material was mixed in with newspaper clippings and dinner menus. And Archives officials believed more items were still missing.

What happened next was an extraordinary step for America’s record keepers: they referred the matter to the Justice Department, opening a dramatic new chapter in what had been a quietly simmering dispute.

 

mar a lago aerial Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Affidavit to search Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate says 184 classified files found in January, Devlin Barrett and Perry Stein, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). The newly public affidavit will help explain why FBI agents wanted to search Mar-a-Lago for classified documents, with sensitive information blocked out.

The FBI searched former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home this month after reviewing 184 classified documents that were kept there since he left the White House, including several with Trump’s apparent handwriting on them, and interviewing a “significant number” of witnesses, court filings unsealed Friday say.

FBI logoThe details contained in a search-warrant affidavit and related memo crystallize much of what was already known about the criminal probe into whether Trump and his aides took secret government papers and did not return all of the material — despite repeated demands from senior officials. The documents, though heavily redacted, offer the clearest description to date of the rationale for the unprecedented Aug. 8 search and the high-stakes investigation by the Justice Department into a former president who may run again for the White House.

The affidavit suggests that if some of the classified documents voluntarily returned from Mar-a-Lago to the National Archives and Records Administration in January had fallen into the wrong hands, they could have revealed sensitive details about human intelligence sources or how spy agencies intercept the electronic communications of foreign targets. Over the spring and summer, the affidavit states, the FBI came to suspect that Trump and his team were hiding the fact that he still had more classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, leading agents to want to conduct a search of the property.

 ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Intelligence Will Assess Security Risks From Mar-a-Lago Documents, Luke Broadwater, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). The director of national intelligence said her office would lead a review of the sensitive material retrieved from former President Trump’s Florida home.

U.S. intelligence officials will conduct a review to assess the possible risks to national security from former President Donald J. Trump’s handling of classified documents after the F.B.I. retrieved boxes containing sensitive material from Mar-a-Lago, according to a letter to lawmakers.

In the letter, Avril D. Haines, the director of national intelligence, informed the top lawmakers on the House Intelligence and Oversight Committees that her office would lead an intelligence community assessment of the “potential risk to national security that would result from the disclosure” of documents Mr. Trump took with him to his private club and residence in Palm Beach, Fla.

In the letter, which was obtained by The New York Times, Ms. Haines said her office would work with the Justice Department to ensure that the assessment did not interfere with the department’s criminal investigation concerning the documents. The review will determine what intelligence sources or systems could be identified from the documents and be compromised if they fell into the wrong hands.

 

djt handwave file

 ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: Donald Trump Is Not Above the Law, Editorial Board, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). Over the course of this summer, the nation has been transfixed by the House select committee’s hearings on the events of Jan. 6, 2021, and how or whether Donald Trump might face accountability for what happened that day. The Justice Department remained largely silent about its investigations of the former president until this djt nyt aug 27 2022month, when the F.B.I. searched his home in Palm Beach, Fla., in a case related to his handling of classified documents. The spectacle of a former president facing criminal investigation raises profound questions about American democracy, and these questions demand answers.

Mr. Trump’s unprecedented assault on the integrity of American democracy requires a criminal investigation. The disturbing details of his postelection misfeasance, meticulously assembled by the Jan. 6 committee, leaves little doubt that Mr. Trump sought to subvert the Constitution and overturn the will of the American people. The president, defeated at the polls in 2020, tried to enlist federal law enforcement authorities, state officials and administrators of the nation’s electoral system in a furious effort to remain in power. When all else failed, he roused an armed mob that stormed the Capitol and threatened lawmakers.

This board is aware that in deciding how Mr. Trump should be held accountable under the law it is necessary to consider not just whether criminal prosecution would be warranted but whether it would be wise. No American president has ever been criminally prosecuted after leaving office.

The risks of political escalation are obvious. The Democratic and Republican parties are already in the thick of a cycle of retribution that could last generations.

Mr. Garland has been deliberate, methodical and scrupulous in his leadership of the Justice Department’s investigations of the Jan. 6 attack and the transfer of documents to Mr. Trump’s home. But no matter how careful he is or how measured the prosecution might be, there is a real and significant risk from those who believe that any criticism of Mr. Trump justifies an extreme response.

Yet it is a far greater risk to do nothing when action is called for. Aside from letting Mr. Trump escape punishment, doing nothing to hold him accountable for his actions in the months leading up to Jan. 6 could set an irresistible precedent for future presidents. Why not attempt to stay in power by any means necessary or use the power of the office to enrich oneself or punish one’s enemies, knowing that the law does not apply to presidents in or out of office?

More important, democratic government is an ideal that must constantly be made real. America is not sustained by a set of principles; it is sustained by resolute action to defend those principles.

Immediately after the Jan. 6 insurrection, cabinet members reportedly debated privately whether to remove Mr. Trump from power under the authority of the 25th Amendment. A week after the attack, the House impeached Mr. Trump for the second time. This editorial board supported his impeachment and removal from office; we also suggested that the former president and lawmakers who participated in the Jan. 6 plot could be permanently barred from holding office under a provision of the 14th Amendment that applies to any official who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or given “aid or comfort” to those who have done so. But most Republicans in the Senate refused to convict Mr. Trump, and Congress has yet to invoke that section of the 14th Amendment against him. As a result, the threat that Mr. Trump and his most ardent supporters pose to American democracy has metastasized.

Even now, the former president continues to spread lies about the 2020 election and denounce his vice president, Mike Pence, for not breaking the law on his behalf. Meanwhile, dozens of people who believe Mr. Trump’s lies are running for state and national elected office. Many have already won, some of them elevated to positions that give them control over how elections are conducted. In June the Republican Party in Texas approved measures in its platform declaring that Mr. Biden’s election was illegitimate. And Mr. Trump appears prepared to start a bid for a second term as president.

Mr. Trump’s actions as a public official, like no others since the Civil War, attacked the heart of our system of government. He used the power of his office to subvert the rule of law. If we hesitate to call those actions and their perpetrator criminal, then we are saying he is above the law and giving license to future presidents to do whatever they want.

ny times logoNew York Times, A judge signaled her intent to grant Donald Trump’s request for a special master to review the seized documents, Alan Feuer and Maggie Haberman, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). The judge, an appointee of President Donald J. Trump, indicated she was prepared to grant Mr. Trump’s request for an arbiter, or special master, to review the documents seized by the F.B.I.

A federal judge in Florida gave notice on Saturday of her “preliminary intent” to appoint an independent arbiter, known as a special master, to conduct a review of the highly sensitive documents that were seized by the F.B.I. this month during a search of Mar-a-Lago, former President Donald J. Trump’s club and residence in Palm Beach.

In an unusual action that fell short of a formal order, the judge, Aileen M. Cannon of the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Florida, signaled that she was inclined to agree with the former president and his lawyers that a special master should be appointed to review the seized documents.

But Judge Cannon, who was appointed by Mr. Trump in 2020, set a hearing for arguments in the matter for Thursday in the federal courthouse in West Palm Beach — not the one in Fort Pierce, Fla., where she typically works.

On Friday night, only hours after a redacted version of the affidavit used to obtain the warrant for the search of Mar-a-Lago was released, Mr. Trump’s lawyers filed court papers to Judge Cannon reiterating their request for a special master to weed out documents taken in the search that could be protected by executive privilege.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers had initially asked Judge Cannon on Monday to appoint a special master, but their filing was so confusing and full of bluster that the judge requested clarifications on several basic legal questions. The notice by Judge Cannon on Saturday was seen as something of a victory in Mr. Trump’s circle.

A different federal judge, Bruce E. Reinhart, a magistrate judge in West Palm Beach, ordered the unsealing of the warrant affidavit. The document said, among other things, that the Justice Department wanted to search Mar-a-Lago to ensure the return of highly classified documents that Mr. Trump had removed from the White House, including some that department officials believed could jeopardize “clandestine human sources” who worked undercover gathering intelligence.

Special masters are not uncommon in criminal investigations that include the seizure by the government of disputed materials that could be protected by attorney-client privilege. A special master was appointed, for example, after the F.B.I. raided the office of Mr. Trump’s longtime personal lawyer Michael D. Cohen in 2018 and took away evidence that Mr. Cohen and Mr. Trump claimed should have been kept from investigators because of the nature of their professional relationship.

In the case of the search of Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s lawyers have argued that some of the documents taken by the F.B.I. could be shielded not by attorney-client privilege, but rather by executive privilege, a vestige of Mr. Trump’s service as president. But legal scholars — and some judges — have expressed skepticism that former presidents can unilaterally assert executive privilege over materials related to their time in office once they leave the White House.

In December, for example, a federal appeals court in Washington ruled that, despite his attempts to invoke executive privilege, Mr. Trump had to turn over White House records related to the attack on the Capitol to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot.

In her notice on Saturday, Judge Cannon gave the Justice Department until Tuesday to file a response to Mr. Trump’s request. The judge also instructed prosecutors to send her under seal “a more detailed receipt” specifying the items that were seized by federal agents during the search of Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8. As part of their initial request, Mr. Trump’s lawyers had asked for a complete inventory of what was taken, arguing that the receipt the F.B.I. had given them was insufficient.

 

The FBI has photographs of Inna Yashchyshyn (left) and former President Donald Trump, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Kimberly Guilfoyle, a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project said

The FBI has photographs of Inna Yashchyshyn (left) and former President Donald Trump (center), Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina (right), and Kimberly Guilfoyle, a Republican activist and romantic partner of Don Trump Jr., according to a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.

Daily Mail, Investigation: Trump and the NEW Inventing Anna: FBI investigating Ukrainian immigrant who posed as an heiress of the Rothschild banking dynasty, faked massive wealth and infiltrated Mar-a-Lago and the Donald's inner circle, Nikki Schwab, Aug. 26, 2022 (Continued from above). A Ukrainian woman posing as a member of the Rothschild banking dynasty successfully infiltrated Mar-a-Lago and ex-President Donald Trump's inner circle.

  • The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project were out with a report Friday on 33-year-old Inna Yashchyshyn
  • They report that she told Florida socialites she was heiress Anna de Rothschild, and was 'fawned all over' by guests at Trump's private club
  • The story comes out as intrigue continues to swirl around the raid of Mar-a-Lago over the presence of classified documents at the ex-president's home
    It highlights whether those materials were secure if a fraudster was able to infiltrate Trump's social circle

A Ukrainian woman posing as a member of the Rothschild banking dynasty successfully infiltrated Mar-a-Lago and former President Donald Trump's inner circle - and is now being investigated by the FBI and Canadian authorities.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project revealed the alleged antics of the faker -- whose real name is Inna Yashchyshyn -- on Friday.

Yaschyshyn, 33, told Florida socialites she was heiress Anna de Rothschild, and was 'fawned all over' by guests at Trump's private club after bragging of her Monaco property portfolio and family vineyards, it's claimed.

But the alleged scammer is actually the Ukrainian-born daughter of a truck driver called Oleksandr Yaschysyn, who lives in a neat-but-modest home in Buffalo Grove, Illinois.

Yaschyshyn is believed to have been taken to the club for the first time by a Trump donor called Elchanan Adamker in 2021 -- and posed for a photo with the former president the very next day.

She is accused of obtaining fake IDs -- including a US passport and multiple drivers' licenses - using her fake Rothschild alter ego.

Yaschushyn faces an FBI probe over a charity she was president of called the United Hearts of Mercy. It was founded by a Florida-based Russian businessman called Valery Tarasenko in Canada in 2015, but is alleged to have been used as a front to fundraise for Russian organized crime gangs.

The FBI has photographs of Inna Yashchyshyn (left) and former President Donald Trump, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Kimberly Guilfoyle, a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project said

Yaschushyn is currently embroiled in a separate lawsuit with Tarasenko, whose daughter she used to babysit, and claims she has been framed by him. She has also been tied to a condo development in Canada, although further details of what cops in Quebec are investigating her for have yet to emerge.

Tarasenko says Yaschushyn cared for his children while he traveled on business, and claims she was keen to make in-roads at Mar-a-Lago to find rich benefactors. It is unclear if Tarasenko himself faces a probe.

Yaschushyn in turn claims she is the victim, and that Tarasenko set her up by producing multiple fake IDs without her knowledge.

The United Hearts of Mercy positioned itself as a nonprofit which helped impoverished children, but the FBI believes it was actually a front to funnel cash to organized crime gangs.

Payment processing firm Stripe suspended donations to the United Hearts of Mercy's purported COVID appeal.

Emails sent by the Post-Gazette to supposed donors in Hong Kong all bounced back, suggesting those donors may never have existed.

The story comes out as intrigue continues to swirl around the August 8 raid of Mar-a-Lago over the presence of classified documents at the ex-president's home and private club - and highlights whether those materials were secure if a fraudster was able to infiltrate Trump's social circle.
Yashchyshyn and her infiltration into the inner circle was laid out in a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. It also included photos and videos of her playing at Trump's Palm Beach golf club

Yashchyshyn and her infiltration into the inner circle was laid out in a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. It also included photos and videos of her playing at Trump's Palm Beach golf club

The Secret Service wouldn't comment on whether they were investigating Yashchyshyn, nor would the FBI - but several sources said they had been questioned by FBI officials about Yashchyshyn's behavior.

Canadian law enforcement confirmed Yashchyshyn has been the subject of a major crimes unit investigation in Quebec since February, the Post-Gazette reported.

The United Hearts of Mercy was founded in Canada by Tarasenko, although it's still unclear whether Yaschyshyn is being probed there over that nonprofit. She was also linked to a condo development in the country.

Yashchyshyn started showing up at Mar-a-Lago last spring. The Post-Gazette reported she was first invited by Trump supporter Elchanan Adamker, who runs a financial services firm, to Mar-a-Lago for the first time in May 2021.

She also managed to take footage of Trump's speeches inside the club

'It wasn't just dropping the family name. She talked about vineyards and family estates and growing up in Monaco,' recalled LeFevre. 'It was a near-perfect ruse and she played the part.'

He added that 'everyone was eating it up' and Mar-a-Lago members 'fawned all over her and because of the Rothschild mystique, they never probed and instead tiptoed around her with kid gloves .'

By the next day, Yashchyshyn was rubbing shoulders with Trump and Sen. Lindsey Graham at the president's nearby West Palm Beach golf club.

The report included photographs of Yashchyshyn, Trump and Graham, as well as her in a group shot with Donald Trump Jr.'s fiancee Kimberly Guilfoyle.

The Post-Gazette also shared images of Yashchyshyn's various IDS -- passports from the U.S. and Canada, along with a Florida driver's license, in which she uses the Rothschild name -- as well as Ukrainian and Russian passports where she goes by Inna Yashchyshyn and Anna Anisimova, respectively.

When speaking to the Post-Gazette, however, she said, 'I think there is some misunderstanding.'

Yashchyshyn said any passports or driver's licenses using the Rothschild name had been fabricated by her former business partner, 44-year-old Valeriy Tarasenko. 'That's all fake, and nothing happened,' Yashchyshyn said.

The various IDs have been turned over to the FBI, the Post-Gazette said. Yashchyshyn also said she was speaking to the FBI on August 19.

Politico, Trump lawyers renew plea for outside supervision of Mar-a-Lago search trove

 

Former U.S. President Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower in Manhattan for his scheduled testimony on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022 (Associate Press photo by Julia Nikhinson).

Aug. 27

 

donald trump money palmer report Custom

Proof, Investigative Commentary: The Real Scandal in Donald Trump’s Historic Theft of Classified Records Is Not What You Think, Seth Abramson, left, seth abramson graphicAug. 26-27, 2022. As a Trump biographer who’s written more best-sellers on Trump’s presidency than any other author, I’ve a very different view of the current classified-records scandal involving Trump and Mar-a-Lago.

Introduction:seth abramson proof logo Donald Trump orchestrating a premeditated heist of well over 1,000 pages of highly classified taxpayer-owned government records—along with thousands of additional pages of documents that, while not classified, were both sensitive and not his to take—may be the least surprising thing Trump has ever done in his brief political career.

It’s important for Americans to understand not just that what Trump did is actually—for him—unsurprising, but also why it’s unsurprising.

The real story is a historic heist of classified national security-related information that was premeditated, conducted over the course of two years, and constitutes one of the gravest national security breaches in American history. The real story is that we don’t yet know the motive behind the crime. The real story is a historic heist of this sort of course would not have been undertaken for no reason—but had to have had behind it some sort of personal benefit that neither major media nor federal investigators have yet discovered, and which—candidly—there is no evidence as yet either major media or federal investigators are trying to find out.

Because Trump never told anyone about the declassifications—again, humoring for a moment the idea that any such declassifications ever occurred, even in Trump’s head—he was in fact only accomplishing a single goal in executing such a extraordinarily clandestine executive action. To wit, he was empowering himself to secretly show the documents that he had stolen to persons not otherwise entitled to see them, under circumstances in which he had a legal excuse for doing so if he got caught doing so.

There is, to be clear, no other purpose for a declassification that is known only to the President of the United States and not even a single other attorney, adviser, associate, aide, agent, acolyte, or assistant.

But there’s much more to say here, as in fact the act of fully declassifying a document to publicly viewable status—the sort of declassification Trump avoided here—has one other major result: the destruction of the pecuniary value of the data so declassified.

That is, if you take a classified document and make it public, it no longer can be sold for a profit, as everyone everywhere can access it if they have the time and inclination to track it down and view it.

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

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

Aug. 26

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 ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: Donald Trump Is Not Above the Law, Editorial Board, Aug. 26, 2022. Over the course of this summer, the nation has been transfixed by the House select committee’s hearings on the events of Jan. 6, 2021, and how or whether Donald Trump might face accountability for what happened that day. The Justice Department remained largely silent about its investigations of the former president until this month, when the F.B.I. searched his home in Palm Beach, Fla., in a case related to his handling of classified documents. The spectacle of a former president facing criminal investigation raises profound questions about American democracy, and these questions demand answers.

Mr. Trump’s unprecedented assault on the integrity of American democracy requires a criminal investigation. The disturbing details of his postelection misfeasance, meticulously assembled by the Jan. 6 committee, leaves little doubt that Mr. Trump sought to subvert the Constitution and overturn the will of the American people. The president, defeated at the polls in 2020, tried to enlist federal law enforcement authorities, state officials and administrators of the nation’s electoral system in a furious effort to remain in power. When all else failed, he roused an armed mob that stormed the Capitol and threatened lawmakers.

This board is aware that in deciding how Mr. Trump should be held accountable under the law it is necessary to consider not just whether criminal prosecution would be warranted but whether it would be wise. No American president has ever been criminally prosecuted after leaving office.

The risks of political escalation are obvious. The Democratic and Republican parties are already in the thick of a cycle of retribution that could last generations.

Mr. Garland has been deliberate, methodical and scrupulous in his leadership of the Justice Department’s investigations of the Jan. 6 attack and the transfer of documents to Mr. Trump’s home. But no matter how careful he is or how measured the prosecution might be, there is a real and significant risk from those who believe that any criticism of Mr. Trump justifies an extreme response.

Yet it is a far greater risk to do nothing when action is called for. Aside from letting Mr. Trump escape punishment, doing nothing to hold him accountable for his actions in the months leading up to Jan. 6 could set an irresistible precedent for future presidents. Why not attempt to stay in power by any means necessary or use the power of the office to enrich oneself or punish one’s enemies, knowing that the law does not apply to presidents in or out of office?

More important, democratic government is an ideal that must constantly be made real. America is not sustained by a set of principles; it is sustained by resolute action to defend those principles.

Immediately after the Jan. 6 insurrection, cabinet members reportedly debated privately whether to remove Mr. Trump from power under the authority of the 25th Amendment. A week after the attack, the House impeached Mr. Trump for the second time. This editorial board supported his impeachment and removal from office; we also suggested that the former president and lawmakers who participated in the Jan. 6 plot could be permanently barred from holding office under a provision of the 14th Amendment that applies to any official who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or given “aid or comfort” to those who have done so. But most Republicans in the Senate refused to convict Mr. Trump, and Congress has yet to invoke that section of the 14th Amendment against him. As a result, the threat that Mr. Trump and his most ardent supporters pose to American democracy has metastasized.

Even now, the former president continues to spread lies about the 2020 election and denounce his vice president, Mike Pence, for not breaking the law on his behalf. Meanwhile, dozens of people who believe Mr. Trump’s lies are running for state and national elected office. Many have already won, some of them elevated to positions that give them control over how elections are conducted. In June the Republican Party in Texas approved measures in its platform declaring that Mr. Biden’s election was illegitimate. And Mr. Trump appears prepared to start a bid for a second term as president.

Mr. Trump’s actions as a public official, like no others since the Civil War, attacked the heart of our system of government. He used the power of his office to subvert the rule of law. If we hesitate to call those actions and their perpetrator criminal, then we are saying he is above the law and giving license to future presidents to do whatever they want.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Georgia judge skeptical of claims of political bias in 2020 election probe, Matthew Brown, Tom Hamburger and Ann E. Marimow, Aug. 26, 2022 (print ed.). With the midterm elections approaching, a new wave of political and legal tensions erupted into public view.

The judge presiding over the grand jury investigation into possible election interference by Donald Trump and his allies expressed skepticism Thursday over arguments from Republicans that the prosecution, led by a Democratic district attorney, was politically motivated.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert C.I. McBurney did not immediately rule on a request from Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) to toss a subpoena for his testimony from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D).

“It is not my space” to focus on politics, McBurney said as lawyers for Kemp argued that the subpoena had already become a political issue this election season. “I don’t think it is the right forum” to debate the political ramifications of the case, said the judge.

With the midterm elections approaching, the investigation has expanded dramatically, reaching Trump’s inner circle and edging closer to the former president himself. Hours after the hearing ended Thursday, newly filed records showed prosecutors are seeking testimony from Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows, lawyer Sidney Powell and cybersecurity expert Phil Waldron.

In recent days, a new wave of political and legal tensions erupted into public view, with Kemp’s attorney and others accusing prosecutors of politicizing the sensitive case.

The Georgia criminal investigation into Trump and his allies, explained

Kemp, who resisted pressure from Trump to overturn Georgia’s election results, is considered a key witness. Prosecutors said in a filing this week they would like to ask the governor about calls he received from Trump and others pressing him to contest the state’s election results.

Kemp is running for reelection against Democrat Stacey Abrams, a former state lawmaker and voting rights advocate whom he narrowly beat in 2018. Last week, Abrams tweeted that the governor’s “refusal to testify shows that he will do anything to win an election. Kemp wants credit for ‘standing up’ to Trump but refuses to testify against the former president and said he would welcome his endorsement.”

In court on Thursday, lawyers for the governor cited Abrams’ comments as an example of the politicization of the ongoing inquiry.

Aug. 25

ny times logoNew York Times, Redacted Affidavit Used in Trump Search to Be Unsealed, Glenn Thrush and Alan Feuer, Aug. 25, 2022. Judge Orders Justice Dept. to Release Document by Friday.

A federal judge in Florida on Thursday ordered that a redacted version of the affidavit used to obtain a warrant for former President Donald J. Trump’s Florida residence be unsealed by noon on Friday — paving the way for the disclosure of potentially revelatory details about a search with enormous legal and political implications.

The decision by Judge Bruce E. Reinhart came just hours after the Justice Department submitted its proposal for extensive redactions to the document, in an effort to shield witnesses from intimidation or retribution if it is made public, officials said.

Judge Reinhart appeared to accept the requested cuts and, moving more quickly than government lawyers had expected, directed the department to release the redacted affidavit in a brief two-page order issued from Federal District Court in Southern Florida. The order said that he had found the Justice Department’s proposed redactions to be “narrowly tailored to serve the government’s legitimate interest in the integrity of the ongoing investigation.”

The redactions, he added, were also “the least onerous alternative to sealing the entire affidavit.”

In its most complete form, the document would reveal important details about the government’s justification for taking the extraordinary step of searching Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8.

The ruling is a significant legal milepost in an investigation that has swiftly emerged as a major threat to Mr. Trump, whose lawyers have offered a confused and at times stumbling response. But it is also an inflection point for Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, who is trying to balance protecting the prosecutorial process by keeping secret details of the investigation, and providing enough information to defend his decision to request a search.

 

Former U.S. President Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower in Manhattan for his scheduled testimony on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022 (Associate Press photo by Julia Nikhinson).

Former U.S. President Trump leaves Trump Tower in Manhattan for his scheduled testimony on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022 (Associate Press photo by Julia Nikhinson). He answered only one question during four hours of them in an interview with the New York State attorney general, his lawyer said.

Politico, How Trump has spent his days since the feds searched his home, Meridith McGraw and Daniel Lippman, Aug. 25, 2022. The stakes may be high but the summer schedule goes on.

politico CustomAs he finds himself, once more, in legal jeopardy—standing at the epicenter of a media storm of his own making, his political future changing course in real time—Donald Trump has done what Donald Trump likes to do.

He’s played golf, engaged in a bit of politicking, and mingled with friends and guests at his Bedminster golf club.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: The point of no return with fascism in America, Wayne Madsen, Aug. 25, 2022. The United States wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallsits precariously on the same precipice the Weimar Republic of Germany found itself in 1932.

The parties that generally favored German democracy – the Social Democrats, German People’s Party (DVP), and the Center Party all backed the aging president of the republic, Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg, in the 1932 presidential election. His opponent that year was Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. The Nazis made a mockery of anyone who was opposed to Hitler and that included the much-respected Hindenburg.

wayne madesen report logoToday, the United States has politically separated into two camps – one that favors democracy and includes Democrats, the few bona fide independents who hold significant political offices, and a group of Republicans who have been ostracized from their party by those favoring the anti-democratic and fascist policies of Donald Trump’s transformed Republican Party.

Aug. 24

washington post logoWashington Post, Archives asked for records in 2021 after Trump lawyer agreed they should be returned, email says, Josh Dawsey and Jacqueline Alemany, Aug. 24, 2022. About two dozen boxes of presidential records stored in then-President Donald Trump’s White House residence were not returned to the National Archives and Records Administration in the final days of his term even after Archives officials were told by a Trump lawyer that the documents should be given back, according to an email from the top lawyer at the record-keeping agency.

“It is also our understanding that roughly two dozen boxes of original presidential records were kept in the Residence of the White House over the course of President Trump’s last year in office and have not been transferred to NARA, despite a determination by Pat Cipollone in the final days of the administration that they need to be,” wrote Gary Stern, the agency’s chief counsel, in an email to Trump lawyers in May 2021, according to a copy reviewed by The Washington Post.

The email shows NARA officials were concerned about Trump keeping dozens of boxes of official records even before he left the White House — concerns that only grew in the coming months as Trump repeatedly declined to return the records. It also showed that Trump’s lawyers had concerns about Trump taking the documents and agreed that the boxes should be returned — at least according to the top Archives officials — while Trump kept the documents.

Aug. 23

Rolling Stone, Trump Tells His Lawyers: Get ‘My’ Top Secret Documents Back, Asawin Suebsaeng and Adam Rawnsley, Aug. 23, 2022. The ex-president is desperate to recover the classified trove taken from Mar-a-Lago — and is pushing his legal team on a long-shot maneuver to return them.

rolling stone logoIn the weeks after the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago raid, former President Donald Trump repeatedly made a simple-sounding but extraordinary ask: he wanted his lawyers to get “my documents” back from federal law enforcement.

Trump wasn’t merely referring to the alleged trove of attorney-client material that he insists was scooped up by the feds during the raid, two people familiar with the matter tell Rolling Stone. The ex-president has been demanding that his team find a way to recover “all” of the official documents that Trump has long referred to as “mine” — including the highly sensitive and top secret ones.

Sources close to Trump agree with outside legal experts that such a sweeping legal maneuver would be a long-shot, at best. “I hate to break it to the [former] president, but I do not think he is going to get all [the] top-secret documents back,” says one Trump adviser. “That ship has probably sailed.”

Further, several longtime Trump advisers say they want absolutely nothing to do with the now-infamous boxes of documents, fearing that any knowledge of them could invite an unwanted knock on the door from the feds. “Who would want any of that back? … If it is what they say it is, keep them the hell away,” a second adviser says.

Still, the former president’s legal team appears to be working to retrieve at least some of the papers seized during the Aug. 8 federal search. In recent days, the Trump team — led by former federal prosecutor Evan Corcoran — has been quietly prepping additional legal arguments and strategies to try to pry back material that the feds removed from the ex-president’s Florida abode and club, the sources say. Those measures include drafting a so-called “Rule 41(g) motion,” which allows “a person aggrieved by an unlawful search and seizure of property” to “move for the property’s return,” according to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.

This would be a follow-up measure to the lawsuit, filed Monday by Trump and his attorneys, calling for the appointment of a special master to review the Mar-a-Lago materials for potentially privileged materials. It is unclear when the ex-president’s lawyers plan to file a subsequent motion, which people close to Trump expect to be more narrowly tailored than what the former president apparently wants.

“The motion he already filed is so absolutely terrible, that it’s hard to contemplate him filing something even more aggressive and even more unlikely to succeed,” says Ken White, a criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor.

“However,” White added, Trump is “basically trying to litigate the ultimate issue in the case, which is whether he had the right to possess and keep those things, even after he was asked to return them. It’s very unlikely that the court would accept that invitation to litigate that…He would have to prove that those things were illegally taken, and — based on what we know — that is going to be very difficult to prove…He’s going to have to make some very unusual legal arguments, which, if they’re anything like the motion that was just filed, is going to be a very uphill climb.”

Aug. 22

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ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Trump Had More Than 300 Classified Documents at Mar-a-Lago, Maggie Haberman, Jodi Kantor, Adam Goldman and Ben Protess, Aug. 22, 2022. The initial batch of documents retrieved by the National Archives from former President Donald J. Trump in January included more than 150 marked as classified, a number that ignited intense concern at the Justice Department and helped trigger the criminal investigation that led F.B.I. agents to swoop into Mar-a-Lago this month seeking to recover more, multiple people briefed on the matter said.

In total, the government has recovered more than 300 documents with classified markings from Mr. Trump since he left office, the people said: that first batch of documents returned in January, another set provided by Mr. Trump’s aides to the Justice Department in June and the material seized by the F.B.I. in the search this month.

The previously unreported volume of the sensitive material found in the former president’s possession in January helps explain why the Justice Department moved so urgently to hunt down any further classified materials he might have.

And the extent to which such a large number of highly sensitive documents remained at Mar-a-Lago for months, even as the department sought the return of all material that should have been left in government custody when Mr. Trump left office, suggested to officials that the former president or his aides had been cavalier in handling it, not fully forthcoming with investigators, or both.

The specific nature of the sensitive material that Mr. Trump took from the White House remains unclear. But the 15 boxes Mr. Trump turned over to the archives in January, nearly a year after he left office, included documents from the C.I.A., the National Security Agency and the F.B.I. spanning a variety of topics of national security interest, a person briefed on the matter said.

Mr. Trump went through the boxes himself in late 2021, according to multiple people briefed on his efforts, before turning them over.

The highly sensitive nature of some of the material in the boxes prompted archives officials to refer the matter to the Justice Department, which within months had convened a grand jury investigation.

Aides to Mr. Trump turned over a few dozen additional sensitive documents during a visit to Mar-a-Lago by Justice Department officials in early June. At the conclusion of the search this month, officials left with 26 boxes, including 11 sets of material marked as classified, comprising scores of additional documents. One set had the highest level of classification, top secret/sensitive compartmented information.
The National Archives found more than 150 sensitive documents when it got a first batch of material from former President Trump in January.
That previously unreported count helps explain why the Justice Department moved so urgently to hunt down any further classified materials he might have.

Palmer Report, Analysis: Turn out Donald Trump stole classified CIA secrets, Bill Palmer, right, Aug. 22, 2022. In the two weeks since the Feds seized bill palmerclassified documents that Donald Trump had stolen and hidden in his home, his apologists have floated various excuses for why he had the documents. One of the most popular narratives has been that Trump simply wanted to use the documents to help him remember his time in office so he could write a memoir. But new reporting shatters that narrative.

bill palmer report logo headerTrump stole more than three hundred classified documents in total, including documents that were classified by the NSA and CIA, according to a new report tonight from the New York Times. These agencies don’t deal in the kind of somewhat harmless, just barely classified documents that Trump’s allies have suggested he took. These agencies deal in state secrets.

Moreover, the NYT is now confirming that Trump personally went through at least some of these boxes of classified documents. And while Trump did voluntarily turn over some of the classified documents earlier this year, the Feds ended up seizing documents that were at the “highest level of classification” – meaning Trump kept the good stuff for himself.

This new reporting also confirms that not one but two of Donald Trump’s lawyers signed a statement for the Feds earlier this year, asserting that all the classified documents at Mar-a-Lago had been returned. If it can be proven that they knew there were still dozens of boxes of classified information in Trump’s home at the time they signed that statement, then they’ll face criminal charges themselves, and they’ll have to decide whether to flip on Trump.

But let’s not lose track of the real headline here. Donald Trump didn’t just steal souvenirs that happened to be classified. He stole secrets that had been classified by the CIA and NSA. We’re talking state secrets here. We still don’t know if Trump actually tried to sell these secrets or blackmail anyone with them. But you don’t steal state secrets from the CIA unless you have really ugly intentions. No wonder the DOJ has classified this as an espionage investigation in its unsealed search warrant of Trump’s home.

ny times logoNew York Times, Judge in Trump Search Case Issues Written Order Seeking Redactions, Alan Feuer, Aug. 22, 2022. The order was made on the same day former President Trump’s lawyers asked another judge to appoint an independent special master to review the material seized.

The federal magistrate judge in Florida who signed the warrant authorizing the search of former President Donald J. Trump’s private club and residence issued a formal order on Monday directing the government to propose redactions to the sealed affidavit used to justify the search, saying that he remained inclined to make portions of it public.

But the judge, Bruce E. Reinhart, repeated in his order the note of caution he struck in court last week. The government, he added, could still persuade him to keep the whole affidavit sealed, and an extensively redacted version might result in what he described as “a meaningless disclosure.”

Hours after Judge Reinhart issued the order, lawyers for Mr. Trump filed a motion asking another federal judge in Florida — one whom Mr. Trump named to the bench — to appoint an independent arbiter, known as a special master, to review the documents seized during the search for any that fell outside the scope of the warrant or that were protected by executive privilege or attorney-client privilege.

The motion, which was filled with bombastic complaints about the search — “The government has long treated President Donald J. Trump unfairly,” it said at one point — also asked the Justice Department to provide an “informative receipt” of what was taken from Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s home and club in Florida, on Aug. 8. His lawyers wrote that the inventory left at the property by the agents who conducted the search was “legally deficient” and did “little to identify” the seized material.

aileen cannonIf the judge who received the motion, Aileen M. Cannon, left, appoints a special master in the case, it will almost certainly drag out the process of reviewing the multiple boxes of documents that were seized and slow down the government’s investigation into whether Mr. Trump obstructed a federal inquiry and wrongfully retained national defense documents.

Special masters were appointed in other high-profile searches involving Mr. Trump — including the one conducted in 2018 at the office of Michael D. Cohen, the former president’s longtime personal lawyer. In the Cohen case, lawyers for Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen moved quickly to request a special master. This time, it took Mr. Trump’s legal team two weeks to ask for an independent review.

“The department is aware of this evening’s motion,” said Anthony Coley, a spokesman for the Justice Department. “The United States will file its response in court.”

Judge Reinhart’s order earlier in the day effectively put in writing a ruling he made from the bench last Thursday, after arguments from news media companies that wanted the entire affidavit unsealed and federal prosecutors who wanted to keep it fully under wraps. In both his written order and his oral ruling, Judge Reinhart instructed the Justice Department to file a redacted version of the affidavit to him under seal by this Thursday at noon, accompanied by a memo explaining its justifications for the proposed redactions.

In his order, Judge Reinhart acknowledged that it was “a foundational principle of American law that judicial proceedings should be open to the public,” but offered three reasons for keeping much of the affidavit under seal, including some that were never fully explored at the hearing last week, in Federal District Court in West Palm Beach, Fla.

He said there was “a significant likelihood” that releasing the full affidavit could harm the safety of witnesses who helped the government’s investigation, leading to “witness intimidation or retaliation.”

“Given the public notoriety and controversy about this search, it is likely that even witnesses who are not expressly named in the affidavit would be quickly and broadly identified over social media and other communication channels, which could lead to them being harassed and intimidated,” Judge Reinhart wrote.

He also expressed concern about revealing the identity of the F.B.I. agent who swore to the affidavit, particularly when there have been “increased threats against F.B.I. personnel since the search.”

Days after the search at Mar-a-Lago, an armed man attacked the F.B.I.’s Cincinnati field office and died in a shootout with the local police. Not long after that, a Pennsylvania man was arrested after posting messages online threatening the F.B.I., including at least one that directly mentioned the attack outside Cincinnati.

Judge Reinhart further noted in his written order that releasing the full affidavit could also put Mr. Trump in danger, given that the document “discusses physical aspects” of Mar-a-Lago, which is “protected by the United States Secret Service.”

“Disclosure of those details,” Judge Reinhart wrote, “could affect the Secret Service’s ability to carry out its protective function.”

Aug. 20

 

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

 washington post logoWashington Post, Officers recall battling thundering mob in Jan. 6 trial of Maine man, Tom Jackman, Aug. 19, 2022. Kyle Fitzsimons, seen with a bloody face in a widely shared photo from the Capitol riot, pushed his way to the front line and assaulted three police officers, according to testimony

kyle fitzsimmonsIn the battle for the West Terrace tunnel at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as a thundering mob tried to force its way through one small opening, three police officers testified in federal court this week that Kyle Fitzsimons pushed his way to the front line and assaulted them. All three also said they feared they were about to die during the hours-long attack.

Sgt. Phuson Nguyen, a 19-year veteran of the D.C. police, said he had already been hit once with some sort of chemical spray; he moved to the back of the tunnel and cleared his eyes, then returned to the front line with a gas mask on. Surveillance and police body-cam video played in court showed Fitzsimons reaching to pull Nguyen’s mask off while another man sprayed what Nguyen thought was bear spray directly into his face. Then Fitzsimons released the mask back onto Nguyen’s face, trapping the chemical irritant inside, the officer said.

“At that point I was choking under the mask,” Nguyen testified. “I also got knocked down at the same time. … In my head, I thought that was it for me. I thought that’s where I’m going to die. … In my head, I told myself, ‘If you want to see your family again, you need to gather yourself.’” He said he broke the seal on his mask and a colleague dragged him to safety.

After three days of testimony, and dozens of videos and photographs capturing Fitzsimons throughout the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, the judge hearing the case decided Friday not to issue a verdict on six felony counts, including assaulting police officers and obstructing an official proceeding, and five misdemeanors. Instead, U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras said he would first consider a defense motion to dismiss some charges, and issue a ruling after Labor Day.

Fitzsimons, 38, from Lebanon, Maine, has been held in jail since February and is currently in the D.C. jail. He chose a bench trial rather than a jury trial, and Thursday he elected not to testify in the case.

aquilino gonell cns jim bourg pool via reutersaCapitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell (shown at left in a pool photo tearing up while testified before Congress about his ordeal, said Fitzsimons grabbed his left arm and tried to yank him out of the tunnel while he was leaning in the opposite direction, and video showed the two men struggling. Pain shot through his left shoulder, “one of the worst pains I felt in my life,” Gonell said. He said he suffered a partially torn rotator cuff and labrum, underwent surgery, and now faces a forced medical retirement from the Capitol Police.

D.C. Officer Sarah Beaver was also in the tunnel, after retreating from an earlier lost skirmish on the Capitol’s perimeter. Video showed Fitzsimons hurling an unstrung archery bow, which he told a reporter he brought to the District as a sign of peace, into the tunnel and hitting Beaver in the head. She was wearing a helmet and was unhurt, though briefly staggered. But spending hours in the small tunnel, Beaver said, “I couldn’t breathe and I was afraid if I passed out, I was going to die.”

Fitzsimons’s attorney, Natasha Taylor-Smith, a federal public defender from Philadelphia, said video evidence did not clearly show Fitzsimons grabbing Nguyen’s gas mask or Gonell’s shield. She said that Nguyen was “simply mistaken” about which rioter grabbed the mask, and that Fitzsimons was severely stunned by chemical spray coming from both sides when he allegedly snagged Gonell’s arm or shield.

Because the photo of a bloodied Fitzsimons was widely published, Taylor-Smith said, he “has become the poster child for January 6.” She said he did not bring any weapons to the Capitol, though prosecutors counted his bow as a weapon, and she criticized Gonell, saying he wrote a book, conducted multiple interviews and tried to profit from his experience. Gonell denied that.

washington post logoWashington Post, Lawmakers demand data noting uptick in social media posts ‘calling for civil war,’ Cat Zakrzewski, Aug. 20, 2022. House Oversight Committee leaders called on eight social networks, including Meta, Truth Social and Gab, to turn over details about how they’re responding following the FBI search of former president Donald Trump’s residence.

House Oversight Committee leaders are demanding social media companies take “immediate action” to address a flood of violent online threats against law enforcement, following the FBI’s search of former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

The lawmakers sent letters Friday to the executives of eight social media companies, including Facebook parent company Meta and the fringe right-wing platform Gab, demanding details about the number of threats against law enforcement. The letters cite a “spike in social media users calling for civil war” and other violence against law enforcement after Trump and some Republican members of Congress lashed out against the FBI.

The letters say these online threats have contributed to attacks against law enforcement, citing the threats that the gunman who tried to breach the FBI’s Cincinnati field office earlier this month shared on Trump’s social network, Truth Social.

“We are concerned that reckless statements by the former president and Republican Members of Congress have unleashed a flood of violent threats on social media that have already led to at least one death and pose a danger to law enforcement officers across the United States,” said the letters written by House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) and House national security subcommittee Chairman Stephen F. Lynch (D-Mass.). “We urge you to take immediate action to address any threats of violence against law enforcement that appear on your company’s platforms.”

FBI attacker was prolific contributor to Trump’s Truth Social website

The letters request information about how the companies respond to threats of violence, including how many threats against law enforcement were removed and how many were reported to authorities. The lawmakers also ask for plans to ensure platforms aren’t used to incite further violence against law enforcement, and for documents about any advertising that appeared alongside violent comments.

Lawmakers also sent letters to executives from Twitter, TikTok, Truth Social, Rumble, Gettr and Telegram, canvassing mainstream social networks, as well as alternative social networks favored by Trump’s supporters.

Law enforcement leaders have been sounding the alarm about threats to federal agents for a week, as top GOP leaders have accused the FBI, without evidence, of carrying out a politicized attack on Trump. The politicians have tapped into long-running hostility among Trump and his followers toward arms of the federal government, which some call the “Deep State.” The FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued a joint bulletin last week warning about an “increase in violent threats posted on social media against federal officials and facilities.”

Recent Headlines

 

Trump Probes, Reactions, Riots, Supporters

 

Shown above is the receipt for property that was seized during the execution of a search warrant by the FBI at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. on Aug. 12, 2022 (Associated Press Photo by Jon Elswick).

Shown above is the receipt for property that was seized during the execution of a search warrant by the FBI at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. on Aug. 12, 2022 (Associated Press Photo by Jon Elswick).

ny times logoNew York Times, Former President Trump is facing several active investigations. We break them down here, Staff Reports, Aug. 18, 2022 (print ed.). Former President Donald J. Trump’s legal jeopardy appeared to intensify significantly when federal agents issued a search warrant for his Florida club and home as part of an investigation into his handling of classified material.

President Donald Trump officialBut the active investigation is one of several into the former president’s business dealings and political activities.

Here are some of the most notable cases:

  • Classified documents inquiry
  • Georgia election interference case
  • Jan. 6 investigations
  • New York State civil inquiry
  • Manhattan criminal case

 

lindsey graham npr

ny times logoNew York Times, Graham Ordered to Appear Before Atlanta Grand Jury Investigating Trump, Richard Fausset, Aug. 20, 2022. A federal judge declined to stay an order that Senator Lindsey Graham, above, appear before a special grand jury investigating election interference by Donald Trump.

The order, issued by U.S. District Court Judge Leigh Martin May, means that Mr. Graham, a South Carolina Republican and staunch Trump ally, is on track to appear in a closed-door session of the special grand jury on Tuesday at a downtown Atlanta courthouse. However, Mr. Graham already has taken his case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, which has the ability to step in to postpone his appearance.

Judge May had earlier issued an order forcing the senator to give testimony, but Mr. Graham asked the judge to stay the order while he pursued his appeal in the case. On Friday, the judge wrote that “the public interest would not be served” by granting a stay and delaying Mr. Graham’s testimony.

ny times logoNew York Times, An associate of Rudy Giuliani sought a pardon for the former lawyer to Donald Trump after Jan. 6, a new book said, Maggie Haberman, Aug. 20, 2022. The letter, which also requested that Rudolph W. Giuliani be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, was intercepted before reaching President Donald J. Trump.

An associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Donald J. Trump’s personal lawyer, tried to pass a message to Mr. Trump asking him to grant Mr. Giuliani a “general pardon” and the Presidential Medal of Freedom just after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, according to a new book.

The associate, Maria Ryan, also pleaded for Mr. Giuliani to be paid for his services and sent a different note seeking tens of thousands of dollars for herself, according to the book, Giuliani: The Rise and Tragic Fall of America’s Mayor, by Andrew Kirtzman, who had covered Mr. Giuliani as a journalist. The New York Times obtained an advance copy of the book, which is set to be released next month.

Bernard B. Kerik, Mr. Giuliani’s close adviser and the New York City police commissioner for part of his time as mayor, stopped the letter from getting to Mr. Trump. And it is unclear if Mr. Giuliani, who helped lead the efforts to overturn the 2020 election but has repeatedly insisted he did not seek a pardon shielding him from potential charges, was involved in the request.

But the letter adds another layer to the complex picture now swirling around Mr. Giuliani as he faces legal fallout from his efforts to try to help Mr. Trump cling to power, including being notified that he is a target in at least one investigation.

“Dear Mr. President,” Ms. Ryan wrote in the letter, dated Jan. 10, 2021, according to the book, “I tried to call you yesterday to talk about business. The honorable Rudy Giuliani has worked 24/7 on the voter fraud issues. He has led a team of lawyers, data analysts and investigators.”

Ms. Ryan, who co-hosts a radio show with Mr. Giuliani, made clear in the note that he was facing financial troubles.

“He needs to be paid for his services,” Ms. Ryan wrote. She said she had given an invoice to Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, via Katherine Friess, a lawyer working with Mr. Kerik.

Ms. Ryan went on, “As you know, he lost his job and income and more defending you during the Russia hoax investigation and then the impeachment pro bono.”

Mr. Kirtzman wrote in his book that Ms. Ryan had sent Mr. Meadows a bill for $2.5 million for Mr. Giuliani’s services and expenses. The Times has previously reported that Mr. Trump told aides that Mr. Giuliani was only to be “paid on the come,” a reference to a bet in the casino game craps, which translated to payment only if he succeeded.

huffington post logoHuffPost, Ex-CIA Director Says Today’s GOP Is Most Dangerous Political Force He’s Ever Seen, Jennifer Bendery, Aug. 18-19, 2022. “I agree,” said Michael Hayden, in response to a journalist who covers extremism describing Republicans as "nihilistic" and "contemptible."

Former CIA director Michael Hayden, a Bush administration appointee, said Wednesday that today’s Republican Party is the most dangerous political force he’s ever seen.

michael hayden CIA official portraitHayden, left, who is a retired U.S. Air Force four-star general and also the former director of the National Security Agency (NSA), made his claim on Twitter, in response to a tweet by Financial Times associate editor Edward Luce.

“I’ve covered extremism and violent ideologies around the world over my career. Have never come across a political force more nihilistic, dangerous and contemptible than today’s Republicans. Nothing close,” Luce wrote in the tweet.

“I agree,” Hayden wrote in response to the tweet. “And I was the CIA Director.”

Hayden served as the CIA’s chief from May 2006 until February 2009. He was appointed by former President George W. Bush, and he was confirmed to his post by every Senate Republican who was present that day, except for one, Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.).

CIA LogoHayden was also the NSA director from March 1999 until April 2005, appointed by former President Bill Clinton. During his tenure, he oversaw the NSA’s controversial warrantless wiretapping program put in place after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
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Hayden has recently been warning about the damage that former President Donald Trump is doing to the country. Despite being a Republican, he endorsed Joe Biden for president in 2020 and even cut a video for him.

“If there is another term for President Trump, I don’t know what will happen to America,” Hayden said in the Oct. 2020 video released by Republican Voters Against Trump. He cited Trump’s disregard for the truth, his refusal to reject the actions of violent white supremacist groups and his disregard for America’s allies as reasons the nation could be in jeopardy.

Republican National Committee spokesperson Emma Vaughn criticized Hayden for “labeling half of Americans” as worse than the Islamic State group or al-Qaeda.

“Dangerous rhetoric from the left led to an assassination attempt on a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, a shooting at a Congressional baseball practice, Molotov cocktails at pregnancy centers, rampant crime in major cities, and an open border,” said Vaughn, despite no evidence that any of those matters are the result of Democratic rhetoric. “Call out the left on their threatening hyperbole, then we will talk."

 

donald trump money palmer report Custom

Palmer Report, Analysis: Where did the money go? Bill Palmer, Aug. 20, 2022. When it was reported this week that the National Republican Senatorial Committee was slashing TV ad budgets in some of the most competitive U.S. Senate races, it made sense on some level. The Republicans are running terrible candidates who aren’t exactly attracting fundraising momentum. And Donald Trump’s toxic unpopularity has put a damper on all things GOP when it comes to general election.

But even with these things factored in, how could the NRSC be this broke? It’s still only August. And if anything, when the purse strings tighten, you start by cutting ad budgets in the least competitive states. If it’s this early and the NRSC is already cutting ad buys in the highest profile Senate races, something doesn’t add up.

If it all feels suspicious to you, it turns out you’re not the only one. Some Republican strategists are now sounding the alarm about how the NRSC can be this broke and are demanding an audit, per the Washington Post. To give you an idea of how absurd the NRSC’s finances are, it somehow racked up $12 million in American Express credit card payments, while only spending $23 million on television ads. In other words, a huge chunk of the money that’s coming in is going out the door on… credit card purchases?

One big clue may be that the NRSC is run by Republican Senator Rick Scott. He’s best known for having defrauded Medicaid out of billions of dollars when he was a health care industry CEO. Now that he’s in charge of the NRSC, the NRSC’s books predictably come off as a fraudulent mess. Scott is also closely aligned with Donald Trump, who has long viewed the Republican Party as his personal piggy bank. So where did the money go?

In any case, it creates an opportunity for the Democrats, whose opponents are facing a cash crunch. Here are the nine Democratic Senate candidates running in the most competitive races. Donate, volunteer, and sign up for more information from all nine of them: Pennsylvania – Ohio – Florida – North Carolina – Wisconsin – Arizona – Georgia – New Hampshire – Nevada.

Aug. 18

 

Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, Donald J. Trump, and then Trump Golf Properties Chief Operating Officer Carolyn Kepcher in a publicity photo from Trump's former television show nearly two decades ago

Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, Donald J. Trump, and then-Trump Golf Properties Chief Operating Officer Carolyn Kepcher in a publicity photo from Trump's former television show nearly two decades ago "The Apprentice," on which they each had recurring roles as talent judges before Kepcher was replaced in 2006 as a judge by Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump.

ny times logoNew York Times, Allen Weisselberg, a Top Trump Executive, Pleads Guilty in Tax Scheme, Jonah E. Bromwich, Ben Protess and William K. Rashbaum, Aug. 18, 2022. Mr. Weisselberg has refused to cooperate in the Manhattan district attorney’s broader investigation into Donald J. Trump and his family business.

One of Donald J. Trump’s most trusted executives pleaded guilty on Thursday to conspiring with Mr. Trump’s company to carry out a long-running tax scheme, an admission that painted a damning picture of the former president’s family business but did not advance a broader investigation into the man himself.

As part of the plea deal with the Manhattan district attorney’s office, the executive, Allen H. Weisselberg, is required to testify at the company’s trial if prosecutors choose to call on him, and to admit his role in conspiring with Mr. Trump’s company to carry out the tax scheme. That testimony could tilt the scales against the company, the Trump Organization, as it prepares for an October trial related to the same accusations.

“Yes, your honor,” Mr. Weisselberg said again and again in response to detailed questions from the judge, Juan Merchan, who asked whether he and the Trump Organization committed the criminal conduct underlying each of the 15 counts.

Under the terms of the plea deal, if Mr. Weisselberg testifies truthfully at the upcoming trial, he will receive a five-month sentence. Mr. Weisselberg, who was facing up to 15 years in prison, must also pay nearly $2 million in taxes, penalties and interest after accepting lavish tax-free perks including leased Mercedes-Benzes, an apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and private school tuition for his grandchildren.

The plea deal does not require Mr. Weisselberg to cooperate with the district attorney’s broader criminal investigation of Mr. Trump, and his admissions will not implicate the former president. His willingness to accept jail time rather than turn on Mr. Trump underscores the extent of his loyalty to a family he has served for nearly a half-century, and it helped stymie the larger effort to indict Mr. Trump.

Mr. Weisselberg was indicted alongside Mr. Trump’s family business last year and accused of participating in a scheme in which some employees were compensated with special off-the-books perks and benefits. Mr. Weisselberg, prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office said, avoided paying taxes on $1.76 million of his income over the last 15 years.

In refusing to cooperate against Mr. Trump, Mr. Weisselberg fended off intense pressure from prosecutors. They saw Mr. Weisselberg as the ideal cooperator in their wider investigation focused on the former president and his business practices: He entered the Trump orbit in the early 1970s as a junior bookkeeper for Mr. Trump’s father and climbed the ranks at the Trump Organization in the decades that followed, developing an encyclopedic knowledge of its finances.

Despite not securing Mr. Weisselberg’s cooperation, the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, may still gain a victory from the deal. Prosecutors now can point to Mr. Weisselberg’s admissions that he conspired with the Trump Organization — damning evidence against the company — when they face off at trial. And Mr. Weisselberg, an accountant who served a vital role as the company’s financial gatekeeper, will be branded as a felon.

“In one of the most difficult decisions of his life, Mr. Weisselberg decided to enter a plea of guilty today to put an end to this case and the yearslong legal and personal nightmares it has caused for him and his family,” his lawyer, Nicholas A. Gravante Jr., said in a statement. “Rather than risk the possibility of 15 years in prison, he has agreed to serve 100 days. We are glad to have this behind him.” Mary E. Mulligan, another one of his lawyers, declined to comment.

In his own statement, Mr. Bragg emphasized that the plea “directly implicates the Trump Organization in a wide range of criminal activity,” adding that, “We look forward to proving our case in court against the Trump Organization.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s dominance in GOP comes into focus, worrying some in his party, Hannah Knowles, Josh Dawsey and David Weigel, Aug. 18, 2022 (print ed.). Rep. Liz Cheney’s defeat by a wide margin marked the fourth loss by a House Republican who voted to impeach Trump last year on charges that he incited a riot.

Donald Trump is securing his grip on the Republican Party less than three months before the midterms, with GOP primary voters surging to the polls in Wyoming to oust his most vocal GOP critic, scores of nominees for state and federal offices amplifying his false claims and bellicose rhetoric, and many prominent party figures echoing his evidence-free attacks about the FBI search of his home.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), Trump’s staunchest Republican opponent in Congress, lost her primary Tuesday in a landslide to Harriet Hageman, whom the former president endorsed with the sole mission of dislodging Cheney. The race attracted more voters than any Republican primary in Wyoming’s 132-year history — serving as a stark example of how Trump has kept his hold on the party after losing the presidency in 2020.

Hageman’s victory marked the fourth and final primary defeat of a House Republican who voted to impeach Trump last year on charges that he incited a riot. Of the 10 who cast that vote, only two are now possibilities to retain their seats next year, both advancing from all-party primaries with unusual rules. The other four opted not to run for reelection.

ny times logoNew York Times, Judge May Release Affidavit in Trump Search, but Only After Redaction, Patricia Mazzei and Alan Feuer, Aug. 18, 2022. The federal judge’s redaction order came as he said he was inclined to unseal parts of the affidavit used in the search of former President Trump’s home. The decision struck a middle course between the Justice Department, which wanted to keep the affidavit under wraps, and media organizations.

A federal judge ordered the government on Thursday to propose redactions to the highly sensitive affidavit that was used to justify a search warrant executed by the F.B.I. last week at former President Donald J. Trump’s private home and club, saying he was inclined to unseal parts of it.

Ruling from the bench, the judge, Bruce E. Reinhart, said it was “very important” that the public have as “much information” as it can about the historic search at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s Florida residence, noting that there were portions of the affidavit that “could be presumptively unsealed.”

“Whether those portions would be meaningful for the public or the media,” Judge Reinhart added, was not for him to decide. He acknowledged that the redaction process can often be extensive and effectively turn documents into “meaningless gibberish.”

Judge Reinhart’s decision appeared to strike a middle course between the Justice Department, which had wanted to keep the affidavit entirely under wraps as its investigation into Mr. Trump’s handling of classified documents continued, and a group of news organizations, which requested that it be released in full to the public.

Warrant affidavits — which are written and sworn to by federal agents before searches take place — contain detailed information about criminal investigations and are almost always kept under seal until charges are filed.

As part of his ruling, Judge Reinhart ordered the government to send him under seal proposed redactions to the warrant affidavit by next Thursday at noon. He said he would review the suggestions and decide if he agreed with them. But he did not set a specific date for the affidavit to be released.

“This is going to be a considered, careful process,” Judge Reinhart said.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to Judge Reinhart’s ruling, but privately, officials said they were shocked by the decision.

The hearing, in Federal District Court for the Southern District of Florida, emerged from an effort last week by a coalition of news organizations to unseal the affidavit — a document that should disclose the contours of the broader investigation into Mr. Trump’s handling of the sensitive files — chief among them, what led prosecutors to believe there was probable cause that evidence of a crime existed at Mar-a-Lago. Among the news organizations making the request were The New York Times, The Washington Post and Dow Jones & Company.

It is unlikely, however, that any critical details of the inquiry, including issues related to probable cause or the identities of witnesses who were interviewed by prosecutors will make it into the redacted version of the affidavit.

At the request of the Justice Department, Judge Reinhart has already unsealed the warrant itself and two attachments to it. Those documents revealed, among other things, that prosecutors have been looking into whether Mr. Trump violated the Espionage Act, mishandled government records and obstructed justice by removing boxes of material from the White House at the end of his tenure.

ny times logoNew York Times, Jan. 6 Grand Jury Has Subpoenaed White House Documents, Alan Feuer, Maggie Haberman and Luke Broadwater, Aug. 18, 2022 (print ed.). The subpoena, issued in May to the National Archives, demanded all documents the agency had provided to the House committee’s parallel investigation.

Federal prosecutors investigating the role that former President Donald J. Trump and his allies played in the events leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol have issued a grand jury subpoena to the National Archives for all the documents the agency provided to a parallel House select committee inquiry, according to a copy of the subpoena obtained by The New York Times.

nara logoThe subpoena, issued to the National Archives in May, made a sweeping demand for “all materials, in whatever form” that the archives had given to the Jan. 6 House committee. Those materials included records from the files of Mr. Trump’s top aides, his daily schedule and phone logs and a draft text of the president’s speech that preceded the riot.

It was signed by Thomas P. Windom, the federal prosecutor who has been leading the Justice Department’s wide-ranging inquiry into what part Mr. Trump and his allies may have played in various schemes to maintain power after the former president’s defeat in the 2020 election — chief among them a plan to submit fake slates of pro-Trump electors in states actually won by Joseph R. Biden Jr.

The subpoena was not related to a separate investigation into Mr. Trump’s retention and handling of classified documents that were removed from the White House at the end of his tenure and taken to Mar-a-Lago, his private club and residence in Palm Beach, Fla. That inquiry led this month to a court-approved search of Mar-a-Lago during which federal agents carted off several boxes of sensitive materials.

Asking the National Archives for any White House documents pertaining to the events surrounding Jan. 6 was one of the first major steps the House panel took in its investigation. And the grand jury subpoena suggests that the Justice Department has not only been following the committee’s lead in pursuing its inquiry, but also that prosecutors believe evidence of a crime may exist in the White House documents the archives turned over to the House panel.

ny times logoNew York Times, Former Vice President Mike Pence called on Republicans to stop assailing the F.B.I. after the Mar-a-Lago search, Alan Feuer and Luke Broadwater, Aug. 18, 2022 (print ed.). Former Vice President Mike Pence also said he would consider talking to the Jan. 6 committee if he were “summoned to testify.”

mike pence oFormer Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday called on Republicans to stop attacking the nation’s top law enforcement agencies over the F.B.I.’s search of Mar-a-Lago, former President Donald J. Trump’s Palm Beach, Fla., home.

Congressional Republicans, including members of leadership, have reacted with fury to the Aug. 8 search, which is part of an investigation into Mr. Trump’s handling of classified material. Some lawmakers have called to “defund” or “destroy” the F.B.I., even as more moderate voices have chastised their colleagues for their rhetoric.

Speaking at a political event in New Hampshire, Mr. Pence said that Republicans could hold the Justice Department and the F.B.I. accountable for their decisions “without attacking the rank-and-file law enforcement personnel.”

Aug. 15

 

djt rudy new giuliani Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Giuliani Is Target of Georgia Criminal Inquiry on Election Interference, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, Aug. 15, 2022. Lawyers for Rudolph W. Giuliani have been told that he is a target of a criminal investigation in Georgia into election interference by Donald J. Trump and his advisers, one of Mr. Giuliani’s lawyers said on Monday.

rudy giuliani recentMr. Giuliani, who spearheaded efforts to keep Mr. Trump in power as his personal lawyer, emerged in recent weeks as a central figure in the inquiry being conducted by Fani T. Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, Ga., which encompasses most of Atlanta. Earlier this summer, prosecutors questioned witnesses before a special grand jury about Mr. Giuliani’s appearances before state legislative panels in December 2020, when he spent hours peddling false conspiracy theories about secret suitcases of Democratic ballots and corrupted voting machines.

For Mr. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, the developments are the latest in a widening swath of trouble, though he got some good news recently when it emerged that he was unlikely to face charges in a federal criminal inquiry into his ties to Ukraine during the 2020 presidential campaign.

 

Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani hawking their false claims that they could prove election fraud caused Democratic nominee Joe Biden's presidential victory in 2020.

Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani hawking their false claims that they could prove election fraud caused Democratic nominee Joe Biden's presidential victory in 2020.

washington post logoWashington Post, Michigan plot to breach voting machines points to a national trend, Patrick Marley and Tom Hamburger, Aug. 15, 2022 (print ed.). A state police inquiry found evidence of a conspiracy that has echoes elsewhere in the country as election deniers seek proof of 2020 fraud.

michigan mapEight months after the 2020 presidential election, Robin Hawthorne didn’t expect anyone to ask for her township’s voting machines.

The election had gone smoothly, she said, just as others had that she’d overseen for 17 years as the Rutland Charter Township clerk in rural western Michigan. But now a sheriff’s deputy and investigator were in her office, questioning her about her township’s three vote tabulators, suggesting that they somehow had been programmed with a microchip to shift votes from Donald Trump to Joe Biden and asking her to hand one over for inspection.

dana nessel o“What the heck is going on?” she recalled thinking.

The surprise visit may have been an “out-of-the-blue thing,” as Hawthorne described it, but it was one element of a much broader effort by figures who deny the outcome of the 2020 vote to access voting machines in a bid to prove fraud that experts say does not exist.

In states across the country — including Colorado, Pennsylvania and Georgia — attempts to inappropriately access voting machines have spurred investigations. They have also sparked concern among election authorities that, while voting systems are broadly secure, breaches by those looking for evidence of fraud could themselves compromise the integrity of the process and undermine confidence in the vote.

In Michigan, the efforts to access the machines jumped into public view this month when the state’s attorney general, Dana Nessel (D), left, requested a special prosecutor be assigned to look into a group that includes her likely Republican opponent, Matthew DePerno.

The expected GOP nominee, Nessel’s office wrote in a petition filed Aug. 5 based on the findings of a state police investigation, was “one of the prime instigators” of a conspiracy to persuade Michigan clerks to allow unauthorized access to voting machines. Others involved, according to the filing, included a state representative and the sheriff in Barry County, Dar Leaf.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. Elections Live Updates: Election deniers march toward power in key 2024 battlegrounds,, Amy Gardner, Aug. 15, 2022. GOP nominees who dispute the 2020 results could be positioned to play a critical role in the next presidential election.

washington post logoWashington Post, How Trump’s election denialism took over the GOP, JM Rieger, Aug. 15, 2022 (video). Former president Donald Trump’s false claims election claims began in 2016, but did not become a key litmus test for Republican candidates until after the 2020 election. Here’s how it happened.

 

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

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

Proof, Investigative Commentary: Donald Trump’s January 6 Coup Plot Infiltrated the Pentagon, Seth Abramson, left, Aug. 14-15, 2022. It’s no longer seth abramson graphicpossible to look away from a simple fact: the civilian leadership at the Pentagon under former president Trump is now implicated seth abramson proof logoin his coup conspiracy—and Congress must investigate it.

Note: This 250-page report on the coup plot at the Pentagon functions as the fourth book in the Proof series, Proof of Coup: How the Pentagon Shaped An Insurrection.

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

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

Palmer Report, Analysis: Donald Trump says the DOJ has seized his passports, Bill Palmer, right, Aug. 15, 2022. After the DOJ had the FBI carry out a bill palmersearch warrant at Mar-a-Lago to retrieve the classified documents that Donald Trump stole, and the unsealed search warrant revealed that Trump was under criminal investigation for espionage, it raised questions about whether he might hypothetically try to flee the country. Looks like we won’t have to worry about that.

bill palmer report logo headerTrump just announced on his failed social network that while the FBI was carrying out the search warrant, it seized his three passports. Of course Trump claims the FBI “stole” his passports. For that matter we’re not sure why he has three passports, even if he is strangely announcing that one of the three is expired. Wouldn’t that mean two active passports? Is one of them from Russia? Is one of them for John Barron, or another of Trump’s aliases?

But here’s what we do know. The Feds wouldn’t have taken Trump’s passports unless they were legally authorized to do so. And the legal basis for seizing someone’s passports is that they’re considered a potential flight risk. This doesn’t mean that the Feds uncovered evidence Trump was planning to flee the country, only that the specifics of his crimes point to the potential for fleeing. Given that Trump reportedly stole nuclear secrets among other things, and his significant financial ties to Saudi Arabia and other nations, it’s not shocking to think he might panic and try to flee. But now he can’t.

djt looking upTwo things stand out here. First, this means Trump is almost certainly going to be criminally indicted by the DOJ. That was already obvious, but this helps nail it down. Second, why is Trump just now belatedly throwing a fit about his seized passports having been seized, a week after they were taken? Why did he just put that together today? Why was he looking for his passports, or asking his legal team about his passports, today? So many questions, so much intrigue, but it all firmly points to Trump in handcuffs.

On the other hand, it’s possible that Trump could be lying about this and making it up. He does lie constantly. But why would he make up such a weird and oddly specific lie that only makes him look even more guilty? It’s theoretically possible he asked his lawyers for his passports, and they tried to keep him from fleeing by lying to him and claiming the Feds had seized them. But that all seems less likely than the scenario in which the Feds really did seize Trump’s passports, as one would expect at this stage of this kind of criminal probe.

 

Shown above is the receipt for property that was seized during the execution of a search warrant by the FBI at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. on Aug. 12, 2022 (Associated Press Photo by Jon Elswick).

Shown above is the receipt for property that was seized during the execution of a search warrant by the FBI at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. on Aug. 12, 2022 (Associated Press Photo by Jon Elswick).

ny times logoNew York Times, Some Republicans Make a More Restrained Case for Defending Trump, Luke Broadwater, Aug. 15, 2022 (print ed.). When some G.O.P. members of Congress attacked the nation’s top law enforcement agencies immediately after the F.B.I.’s search of Mar-a-Lago, it underscored deep fissures within the party.

As Republicans continued on Sunday to defend former President Donald J. Trump after an unprecedented F.B.I. search of his residence in Florida, deep fissures were visible in the party’s support for law enforcement amid a federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s handling of top secret documents.

Immediately after the search, congressional Republicans, including members of leadership, reacted with fury, attacking the nation’s top law enforcement agencies. Some called to “defund” or “destroy” the F.B.I., and others invoked the Nazi secret police, using words like “gestapo” and “tyrants.”

On Sunday, more moderate voices in the party chastised their colleagues for the broadsides against law enforcement, making a more restrained case for defending Mr. Trump while also carrying out oversight of the Justice Department.

 

djt hands up mouth open CustomPalmer Report, Analysis: How the DOJ beat Donald Trump to the punch, Bill Palmer, Aug. 15, 2022. The DOJ had to know that once it carried out the search and seizure warrant against Donald Trump, he would try this “I thought I had already declassified all the documents I took” defense. So, based on how various legal experts have assessed the unsealed warrant and listed charges, it appears the DOJ carefully crafted its criminal probe such that Trump wouldn’t be off the hook even if the documents were declassified. This is why it takes time for these kinds of cases to come to fruition. It’s also why Trump will be convicted.

bill palmer report logo headerImagine if the DOJ had based the search warrant on a more simplistic argument that Trump was merely in illegal possession of classified documents. In such case he’d tell the jury that he honestly thought he’d declassified them, and if the jury saw it as a valid reasonable doubt argument, Trump would go free.

So the DOJ built its case on the premise that Trump wasn’t allowed to have these documents at his home, and refused to give them back, and lied about not having them, and voila, Trump is automatically guilty of espionage and obstruction. Whether anything was “classified” doesn’t even matter.

Obviously, if it turns out Trump stole nuclear secrets (reported), or particularly if he tried to sell them (unknown), that would merit additional, even more severe charges. But that would just be piling on. The point is to make certain that Trump is nailed on more straightforward charges, such as being illegally in possession of documents and obstruction.

As things now stand, based just on what’s in the unsealed search warrant, the Feds already have a jury-proof criminal case against Trump on multiple serious charges. We just don’t know if the DOJ will indict Trump on this now and then indict on January 6th-related and election fraud-related charges later, or if the DOJ will wait until it’s ready to bring all of the charges at once.

Trump and his people are making a big mistake if they think they can defeat an airtight federal criminal case by fighting it in the media. Criminal trials don’t work that way. Ask Steve Bannon. He seemed to think he could beat the rap by running his mouth. The judge and jury ended up seeing it differently.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Walker, Pollard, Hanssen, Trump . . . America's most traitorous spies, Wayne Madsen, left, author of 22 books, former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst, Aug. 15, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Small2022. Donald Trump, with his affectation for Eastern European models during the Cold War, should have registered with the FBI early on as a potential spy for America's enemies.

wayne madesen report logoCzechoslovak State Security (ŠtB) certainly believed that to be the case when they tripled their efforts to ensure that their two assets, Ivana Zelníčková and her father, Miloš Zelníček, applied a full-court press on Trump beginning in 1976 when Ivana first met Trump.

A year later, ŠtB asset Ivana Zelníčková married Trump. The first Mrs. Trump and Warsaw Pact intelligence asset worked her way into top-level executive jobs in the Trump Organization, including president of the Trump Castle Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, later becoming the manager of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. These positions and her marriage to Donald Trump gave Ivana, and the ŠtB and, by default, the Soviet KGB, important access to the movers and shakers of American politics, business, and media.

Ivana Trump, the mother of Donald Trump, Jr., Eric, and Ivanka, would continue to have access to her ex-husband and his business and political operations long after their divorce in 1992. These benefits included her use of Mar-a-Lago for one month a year pursuant to her divorce settlement with Donald.

[Documentation here.]

Since Trump's circle of acquaintances over the years has included notorious spies and sex blackmailers, where does that place Trump in the world of espionage against the United States? We know that Trump has stolen the nation's most sensitive secrets, but for how long has this gone on?

washington post logoWashington Post, Graham must testify in Ga. probe of effort to overturn 2020 election, judge rules, Eugene Scott, Aug. 15, 2022. A federal judge on Monday denied Sen. Lindsey O. Graham’s (R-S.C.) request to quash his subpoena in Georgia prosecutors’ investigation into potential criminal interference in the 2020 presidential election by President Donald Trump and his allies, signaling he must testify in the probe.

Graham had argued that he should be exempt from testifying because of speech or debate clause protections, sovereign immunity and his position as a high-ranking government official. U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May rejected all three arguments.

“The Court finds that the District Attorney has shown extraordinary circumstances and a special need for Senator Graham’s testimony on issues relating to alleged attempts to influence or disrupt the lawful administration of Georgia’s 2022 elections,” the judge wrote.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis (D) requested a special grand jury earlier this year. It began meeting in June and has identified more than 100 people of interest. The panel has already heard testimony from Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) and his staff, Georgia Attorney General Christopher M. Carr (R), state lawmakers and local election workers.

GOP fake electors ‘targets’ in Georgia election fraud inquiry

Graham is of interest to the committee for phone calls he made to Raffensperger about Georgia’s election system. Willis claims Graham made multiple phone calls to Raffensperger and his staff after the election requesting that they reexamine certain absentee ballots “to explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome for former president Donald Trump.”

Politico, Opinion: Espionage Isn’t the Strongest Case Against Trump. It’s Simpler Than That, Renato Mariotti (Legal Affairs Columnist for Politico Magazine, and a former federal prosecutor), Aug. 15, 2022 (print ed.). He kept sensitive documents when he was told he shouldn’t and that’s a chargeable crime.

politico CustomWhile Trump repeatedly evaded criminal liability for acts he committed while in office, in part because the office he held provided him with potential defenses, he is no longer president. | Yuki Iwamura/AP Photo

Former president Donald Trump’s stubborn refusal to return highly classified material forced the Justice Department’s hand, resulting in the execution of a search warrant at his residence. But while it is possible the DOJ merely wanted to retrieve and secure the material that Trump refused to give back to the government, if they decide to press forward with charges, their case looks quite strong.

djt maga hatThe government initially treated Trump with kid gloves when he took government property, including classified documents, with him after he left office. The National Archives negotiated with Trump’s attorneys, securing 15 boxes of documents improperly taken by Trump in January, some of which contained classified information.

In June, the DOJ’s top counterintelligence official and other federal officials traveled to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate and viewed additional material kept there by Trump, and they issued a subpoena demanding the return of classified material.

If you or I had some 21 boxes of potentially classified information in our home, the Feds wouldn’t ask for it politely or even issue a subpoena. They would have taken possession of that material right away, and we would face serious charges. The DOJ’s decision to wait and only obtain a search warrant after they received information that Trump had not relinquished all of the material was likely motivated by deference to the former president. Ironically this deference has likely strengthened a potential criminal prosecution of Trump.

Justice Department log circularMuch of the initial reaction to the search warrant focused on the Espionage Act, which was cited in the search warrant. While the title of that over 100-year-old law sounds like it has to do with spying, it is possible to violate the Espionage Act just by improperly retaining national defense information and failing to return it to the United States government when it is demanded.

That statute, along with one of the other statutes cited in the search warrant, require the prosecution to prove “willfulness.” In other words, they require the government to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intended to break the law. It is often difficult to meet this burden, and one strategy I used as a federal prosecutor was to have agents serve targets of investigations with a notice indicating that what they were doing was breaking the law. If the target continued to violate the law after receiving the notice, we had the proof we needed.

DOJ’s repeated requests and demands to Trump and his team served the same purpose. It will be difficult for Trump to claim that he did not realize that the records he kept were national security secrets that rightfully belonged to the government, given that the government repeatedly told him so and demanded their return. Moreover, Trump was present when the DOJ visited Mar-a-Lago to meet with his lawyers and demand the records.

Despite Trump’s insistence that if the government wanted the records back, “all they had to do was ask,” the government repeatedly asked for the records and Trump refused to give them back, giving them only “what he believed they were entitled to.” Although Trump may believe that highly classified defense secrets are his own personal property, or that he could keep Top Secret documents because he informally “declassified” them without following established procedures, it will be difficult to convince jurors that he had a legitimate reason to keep such sensitive national security information at his Florida resort.

While Trump repeatedly evaded criminal liability for acts he committed while in office, in part because the office he held provided him with potential defenses, he is no longer president. And unlike other outside-the-box acts he allegedly engaged in, like ordering that the special counsel who investigated him be fired (which his White House counsel disregarded), or inciting a mob to attack the Capitol, taking classified material and concealing it from the government is a crime that is regularly charged and straightforward to prove. Government employees are charged, convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms for doing what Trump did.
‘I will not stand by silently’: Garland defends FBI, DOJ

Trump’s defense appears to be that he “had a standing order” declassifying every document he brought to his residence.

But because the government is not required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the materials in question were classified, Trump’s “defense” that he declassified the materials would not itself defeat the government’s claim that the information was closely held national defense information, as required by the statutes.

Aug. 14

 

Shown above is the receipt for property that was seized during the execution of a search warrant by the FBI at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. on Aug. 12, 2022 (Associated Press Photo by Jon Elswick).

Shown above is the receipt for property that was seized during the execution of a search warrant by the FBI at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. on Aug. 12, 2022 (Associated Press Photo by Jon Elswick).

washington post logoWashington Post, Mar-a-Lago search shows how records dispute became a national security probe, Josh Dawsey, Rosalind S. Helderman, Jacqueline Alemany and Devlin Barrett, Aug. 14, 2022 (print ed.). Donald Trump was huddled with lawyers in New York on an unrelated investigation when they learned FBI agents had arrived in Palm Beach, Fla., with a warrant, authorized to search for any and all evidence a crime had been committed.

As FBI agents pulled up to Donald Trump’s Florida club Monday morning to conduct a search for top-secret government documents — approved by a federal judge and requested by the attorney general of the United States — the former president was by chance already huddled with his lawyers in Trump Tower in New York, a thousand miles to the north.

So distressing was the search that the usually loquacious Trump team stayed mum for much of the day — until 6:51 p.m., when Trump himself confirmed the raid in a bombastic statement that declared it unjustified and politically motivated. “They even broke into my safe!” he announced.

The court-authorized search was a remarkable moment even for Trump, who has been under investigation by state and federal prosecutors nearly continuously since he swore the oath of office in 2017. What began as a low-level dispute over the Trump White House’s chaotic and haphazard record-keeping had morphed into a deeply serious probe of whether the ex-president had endangered national security by hoarding highly classified documents, some potentially related to nuclear weapons.

The past week’s events — which began with the raid and continued with Attorney General Merrick Garland’s rare move Thursday to publicly defend the FBI against partisan criticism and misinformation, take personal responsibility for the search and announce he wanted the warrant unsealed by a court — marked a turning point in the Justice Department’s posture toward Trump.

Garland had vowed to erect a sturdy wall between politics and law enforcement, and he had faced grinding criticism from Trump’s critics that he had been too cautious in holding the former president to account. Now he was the face of a law enforcement action that threatened to further cleave the nation, as some of Trump’s allies likened the FBI’s search to a political persecution more common in a “banana republic” or even under Nazi rule.

For Trump, the episode opened a new chapter in his tormented relationship with legal authorities, confirming that his vulnerabilities expanded beyond the better publicized and ongoing probes into his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and his personal business.

washington post logoWashington Post, Lawmakers call for intelligence officials to conduct damage assessment of the documents found at Trump’s club, Jacqueline Alemany, Aug. 14, 2022 (print ed.). In a letter, Maloney and Schiff call for intelligence officials to conduct a damage assessment of the highly classified information found at Trump’s club.

The House Democrats’ top investigators on Saturday asked the director of National Intelligence to conduct a review and damage assessment of the boxes of highly classified information seized by the FBI this week from former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

The letter was sent to National Intelligence Director Avril Haines by House Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) and cites the search warrant cataloguing the classified documents of various levels of sensitivity found at Mar-a-Lago.

“Former President Trump’s conduct has potentially put our national security at grave risk,” the two wrote, asking also for a classified briefing on the assessment as soon as possible. “This issue demands a full review, in addition to the ongoing law enforcement inquiry.”

The two also voiced concern that the FBI is looking in part at highly classified documents related to nuclear weapons, as first reported by The Washington Post.

“If this report is true, it is hard to overstate the national security danger that could emanate from the reckless decision to remove and retain this material,” the letter states.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Lawyer Told Justice Dept. That Classified Material Had Been Returned, Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush, Aug. 14, 2022 (print ed.). The lawyer signed a statement in June that all documents marked as classified and held in boxes in storage at Mar-a-Lago had been given back. The search at the former president’s home on Monday turned up more.

Justice Department log circularAt least one lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump signed a written statement in June asserting that all material marked as classified and held in boxes in a storage area at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and club had been returned to the government, four people with knowledge of the document said.

The written declaration was made after a visit on June 3 to Mar-a-Lago by Jay I. Bratt, the top counterintelligence official in the Justice Department’s national security division.

The existence of the signed declaration, which has not previously been reported, is a possible indication that Mr. Trump or his team were not fully forthcoming with federal investigators about the material. And it could help explain why a potential violation of a criminal statute related to obstruction was cited by the department as one basis for seeking the warrant used to carry out the daylong search of the former president’s home on Monday, an extraordinary step that generated political shock waves.

It also helps to further explain the sequence of events that prompted the Justice Department’s decision to conduct the search after months in which it had tried to resolve the matter through discussions with Mr. Trump and his team.

An inventory of the material taken from Mr. Trump’s home that was released on Friday showed that F.B.I. agents seized 11 sets of documents during the search with some type of confidential or secret marking on them, including some marked as “classified/TS/SCI” — shorthand for “top secret/sensitive compartmented information.” Information categorized in that fashion is meant to be viewed only in a secure government facility.

The search encompassed not just the storage area where boxes of material known to the Justice Department were being held but also Mr. Trump’s office and residence. The search warrant and inventory unsealed on Friday did not specify where in the Mar-a-Lago complex the documents marked as classified were found.

Mr. Trump said on Friday that he had declassified all the material in his possession while he was still in office. He did not provide any documentation that he had done so.

The search warrant said F.B.I. agents were carrying out the search to look for evidence related to possible violations of the obstruction statute as well as the Espionage Act and a statute that bars the unlawful taking or destruction of government records or documents. No one has been charged in the case, and the search warrant on its own does not mean anyone will be.

The lawyer signed a statement in June that all documents marked as classified and held in boxes in storage at Mar-a-Lago had been given back. The search at the former president’s home on Monday turned up more.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Distinguished persons of the week: They are patriots, unlike the MAGA cult, Jennifer Rubin, right, Aug.14, 2022. As jennifer rubin new headshotMAGA thugs are wont to do, their reaction to the lawful search at former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, which we now know might have been related to nuclear secrets (which Trump has denied), amounted to an stream of insults and threats designed to whip up unhinged, violent characters.

While the exact motives of the person who attacked FBI offices in Cincinnati on Thursday remain unknown, reports indicate he christopher wray owas in D.C. in the days leading up the Jan. 6 insurrection and might have been at the U.S. Capitol that day. The GOP’s cycle of incitement and violence continues.

FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, left, was properly outraged. “Unfounded attacks on the integrity of the FBI erode respect for the rule of law and are a grave disservice to the men and women who sacrifice so much to protect others,” he said in a written statement on Thursday. “Violence and threats against law enforcement, including the FBI, are dangerous and should be deeply concerning to all Americans. Every day I see the men and women of the FBI doing their jobs professionally and with rigor, objectivity, and a fierce commitment to our mission of protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution. I am proud to serve alongside them.”

Politico, Opinion: Espionage Isn’t the Strongest Case Against Trump. It’s Simpler Than That, Renato Mariotti (Legal Affairs Columnist for POLITICO Magazine, and a former federal prosecutor), Aug.14, 2022. He kept sensitive documents when he was told he shouldn’t and that’s a chargeable crime.

politico CustomWhile Trump repeatedly evaded criminal liability for acts he committed while in office, in part because the office he held provided him with potential defenses, he is no longer president. | Yuki Iwamura/AP Photo

Former president Donald Trump’s stubborn refusal to return highly classified material forced the Justice Department’s hand, resulting in the execution of a search warrant at his residence. But while it is possible the DOJ merely wanted to retrieve and secure the material that Trump refused to give back to the government, if they decide to press forward with charges, their case looks quite strong.

djt maga hatThe government initially treated Trump with kid gloves when he took government property, including classified documents, with him after he left office. The National Archives negotiated with Trump’s attorneys, securing 15 boxes of documents improperly taken by Trump in January, some of which contained classified information.

In June, the DOJ’s top counterintelligence official and other federal officials traveled to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate and viewed additional material kept there by Trump, and they issued a subpoena demanding the return of classified material.

If you or I had some 21 boxes of potentially classified information in our home, the Feds wouldn’t ask for it politely or even issue a subpoena. They would have taken possession of that material right away, and we would face serious charges. The DOJ’s decision to wait and only obtain a search warrant after they received information that Trump had not relinquished all of the material was likely motivated by deference to the former president. Ironically this deference has likely strengthened a potential criminal prosecution of Trump.

Much of the initial reaction to the search warrant focused on the Espionage Act, which was cited in the search warrant. While the title of that over 100-year-old law sounds like it has to do with spying, it is possible to violate the Espionage Act just by improperly retaining national defense information and failing to return it to the United States government when it is demanded.

That statute, along with one of the other statutes cited in the search warrant, require the prosecution to prove “willfulness.” In other words, they require the government to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intended to break the law. It is often difficult to meet this burden, and one strategy I used as a federal prosecutor was to have agents serve targets of investigations with a notice indicating that what they were doing was breaking the law. If the target continued to violate the law after receiving the notice, we had the proof we needed.

DOJ’s repeated requests and demands to Trump and his team served the same purpose. It will be difficult for Trump to claim that he did not realize that the records he kept were national security secrets that rightfully belonged to the government, given that the government repeatedly told him so and demanded their return. Moreover, Trump was present when the DOJ visited Mar-a-Lago to meet with his lawyers and demand the records.

Despite Trump’s insistence that if the government wanted the records back, “all they had to do was ask,” the government repeatedly asked for the records and Trump refused to give them back, giving them only “what he believed they were entitled to.” Although Trump may believe that highly classified defense secrets are his own personal property, or that he could keep Top Secret documents because he informally “declassified” them without following established procedures, it will be difficult to convince jurors that he had a legitimate reason to keep such sensitive national security information at his Florida resort.

While Trump repeatedly evaded criminal liability for acts he committed while in office, in part because the office he held provided him with potential defenses, he is no longer president. And unlike other outside-the-box acts he allegedly engaged in, like ordering that the special counsel who investigated him be fired (which his White House counsel disregarded), or inciting a mob to attack the Capitol, taking classified material and concealing it from the government is a crime that is regularly charged and straightforward to prove. Government employees are charged, convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms for doing what Trump did.
‘I will not stand by silently’: Garland defends FBI, DOJ

Trump’s defense appears to be that he “had a standing order” declassifying every document he brought to his residence.

But because the government is not required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the materials in question were classified, Trump’s “defense” that he declassified the materials would not itself defeat the government’s claim that the information was closely held national defense information, as required by the statutes.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: If Trump is charged, it should be for the worst of his crimes, Claire O. Finkelstein and Richard W. Painter, Aug. 14, 2022 (print ed.). ‘Seditious conspiracy’ and ‘insurrection’ are more fitting charges than ‘interfering with an official proceeding’ or ‘defrauding the U.S.’

Prosecuting a former president of the United States is a tricky business. It’s not like prosecuting Al Capone, the notorious gangster who was charged with tax evasion rather than the more fitting charges of murder and racketeering. A technical charge such as tax evasion may be suitable for obtaining the conviction of a mobster, but hardly sufficient for an occupant of the Oval Office who tried to overthrow the U.S. government.

Donald Trump has millions of supporters and the weight of precedent behind him. Of course Trump should face consequences for tax evasion if he merits it, but it is critical for public perception, for history — for the preservation of democracy — that if he is charged, it is first and foremost with the crimes that best reflect the gravity of the danger he posed to the country.

On Monday, the FBI searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida for any presidential records that may have been improperly removed from the White House. On Wednesday, Trump sat for a deposition in the New York attorney general’s office, which is conducting a civil investigation into his business practices. A federal indictment may or may not arise from these investigations, but it is Trump’s role in the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, that warrants the greatest scrutiny — and the gravest charges — from a Justice Department exercising its prosecutorial discretion under such historic circumstances.

The two most serious crimes for which Trump may stand accused, and which most clearly describe his conduct on Jan. 6 and in the weeks leading up to it, are insurrection and seditious conspiracy. If the facts and evidence support them, they are what Attorney General Merrick Garland should charge, whatever other charges he includes.

The significance of Jan. 6 shouldn’t be obscured by legalese before a public contending with the seduction of insurrectionist rhetoric. Charging Trump only with narrowly defined crimes could backfire, and Garland should resist, even if that’s what the House select committee investigating Jan. 6 ends up recommending.

At least until the surprise search at Mar-a-Lago, many commentators defended Garland’s seeming inaction with regard to the former president and his associates. Among other arguments, they suggested that seditious conspiracy would be particularly difficult to prosecute, given the need to prove intent.

Yet was Trump’s intent on and before Jan. 6 really so hard to discern? Would it be more difficult to prove the requisite state of mind for Trump than to prove the intent of Stewart Rhodes, Thomas Caldwell or Joseph Hackett, all members of the Oath Keepers who participated in the insurrection and whose indictments on charges of seditious conspiracy are premised on a pattern of conduct not unlike Trump’s? Rhodes, Caldwell, Hackett and others have been accused of conspiring “to oppose the lawful transfer of presidential power by force, by preventing, hindering, or delaying by force the execution of the laws governing the transfer of power, including the Twelfth and Twentieth Amendments to the Constitution.”

Didn’t Trump do the same? And with the same intent or purpose?

Claire O. Finkelstein is a professor of law and philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is the faculty director of the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law; Richard W. Painter is a professor of law at the University of Minnesota and was the chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush.

Aug. 13

Palmer Report, Analysis: DOJ has Mar-a-Lago surveillance footage of Trump’s people moving boxes of classified evidence, Bill Palmer, Aug. 13, 2022. When the DOJ sent the FBI into Donald Trump’s home to take classified documents that Trump had stolen, it was a safe bet that the DOJ had all its ducks in a row. Merrick Garland’s DOJ has consistently shown itself to be overwhelmingly prepared in these situations, even if it doesn’t move as quickly as some observers would like.

bill palmer report logo headerSure enough, the unsealed search warrant, and the details that have surfaced in the media, are making it very clear that the Feds have Trump absolutely nailed. In fact, the DOJ has obtained surveillance footage showing that after it contacted Trump about the boxes of classified documents, someone at Mar-a-Lago began moving the boxes in and out of the storage room, per the New York Times.

Trump’s team is already trying to spin this in innocent fashion. But let’s be real here. If Trump were having his people pull the boxes out of storage so they could be returned, they would have been returned. But we know that many of the boxes were not returned, even as Trump claimed that he had returned all of the boxes, prompting the search warrant. So why were these boxes being moved around? Were Trump and Justice Department log circularhis people assessing the value of the classified documents, and deciding which ones to illegally keep?

In any case, this will go a very long way to proving the DOJ’s obstruction of justice case. When the Feds demand that you turn over evidence, and you respond by moving that evidence around and then falsely claiming you don’t have it, and there’s video footage proving that you moved the boxes around, you’re in deep legal trouble.

This also raises questions about who was moving the boxes around. We can’t imagine Donald Trump – elderly and in poor physical condition – was slinging dozens of boxes of documents around on his own. Whoever helped him move the boxes is a material witness if they didn’t know what was in the boxes, and a criminal co-conspirator if they did know what was in the boxes. And at least some of those people are on camera having moved those boxes. This just keeps getting uglier for Trump and his people.

World Crisis Radio, Commentary: What did Don plan to do with these secrets? Webster G. Tarpley, right, Ph.D., Aug. 13, 2022 (93:29 mins.). Eleven sets of classified webster tarpley 2007documents seized by FBI at Trump’s chateau include top secret/sensitive compartmented information (TS/SCI), with possible violations of Espionage Act and Atomic Energy Act; Garland shows signs of life.

Media exaggerate the rally round the Don effect among Republicans deriving from raid, with skepticism growing as his legal position deteriorated during the week;

Ill-considered ultra-left slogan of defunding the police was one of the most effective demagogic issues for GOP in November, but calls for violent attacks, defunding and breakup of the FBI for enforcing the law against Trump have completely thrown away that advantage; Republicans are left as the party of tax evaders and antinomians;

The mass psychology of fascist violence examined; Degenerate former party of law and order faces grim and lawless autumn, defeat at the hands of horrified voters;

Ukraine beginning offensive to capture Kherson; Russian air base in Novofedorivka in Crimea largely destroyed, leaving Putin’s Black Sea fleet without air cover; Biden sending another $1 billion in weaponry, especially HIMARS and possibly ATACMs;

GOP shows contempt for American people by rejecting $35 monthly maximum for insulin;

House passes Inflation Reduction Act, 220-207, with 15% minimum tax for large corporations, subsidy for nuclear power generation, lower prices for Medicare drugs, and maintenance of Obamacare subsidies; Trump Org CFO Alan Weisselberg will go on trial in Manhattan, suggesting that dormant criminal case against Donald may resume;

The great lesson of the American Civil War: Never again! Those who advocate domestic hostilities must be speedily crushed.

 

On May 3, 2020, at the opening of a Trump town hall event, Trump greeted Fox anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum by saying, “We never had a more beautiful set than this did we?” according to a transcript (Associated Press photo by Evan Vucci).

On May 3, 2020, at the opening of a Trump town hall event, Trump greeted Fox anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum by saying, “We never had a more beautiful set than this did we?” according to a transcript (Associated Press photo by Evan Vucci).

washington post logoWashington Post, Documents show how Trump landed Lincoln Memorial for Fox News event, Jonathan O'Connell, Aug. 13, 2022. President Donald Trump’s 2020 “town hall” was held inside the memorial, an area where events have long been barred by federal regulations.

In the spring of 2020, National Park Service personnel were preparing for an event President Donald Trump was holding with Fox News to address the nascent covid-19 pandemic from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, site of historic protests and inaugural concerts.

But, first, they had to brief Trump on the plans.

“As of now we’re looking at an event at base of Lincoln from 6-8 or so Sunday night. No event in chamber. I will see if that holds once POTUS is briefed later today,” Jeff Reinbold, the Park Service’s superintendent for the National Mall and Memorial Parks, wrote in an April 28, 2020, email to other agency officials.

By the next morning, the virtual “town hall” was no longer to be held at the base, the documents show. Trump’s two-hour sit-down with Fox News anchors would take place inside the memorial’s main chamber, on the landing in the shadow of the marble statue of a seated Lincoln. With the exception of an annual birthday tribute to Lincoln, federal regulations bar events from being held in that area.

The email is among hundreds of pages of newly released government documents that help fill in the picture of how officials from multiple government agencies worked to engineer the event at the Lincoln, one of the many norm-defying moments of the Trump presidency. They show that the Park Service provided security personnel at a cost of nearly $150,000 and that a U.S. Secret Service official apologized to colleagues for the planning process, calling it a “$#!t show.”

After the event, officials noted that the memorial itself — then 98 years old — had sustained scratches and gouges in its pink marble floor, according to a final memorandum.

In the end, the Trump-appointed interior secretary, David Bernhardt, relaxed the rules by finding that the venue was appropriate, given the president’s need to communicate with the American people during a “grave time of national crisis.” That finding has been previously reported.

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, the executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice, a progressive group that acquired the documents through a public-records request, said she believes Bernhardt exceeded his authority and allowed Trump to use “the Lincoln Memorial as his stage set.”

“They’re trying to find a way, it looks like, to give him the chamber when there is no legal way to give him the chamber,” she said.

Verheyden-Hilliard’s group often litigates on behalf of those seeking access to public spaces, pressing the government to properly allow free-speech activities and protests along Pennsylvania Avenue and elsewhere.

On May 3, 2020, at the opening of the town hall, Trump greeted Fox anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum by saying, “We never had a more beautiful set than this did we?” according to a transcript.

The hosts asked about criticism that had already surfaced about the use of the memorial as the site for the event.

“What can you criticize? It’s — I don’t think it’s ever been done, what we’re doing tonight here,” Trump said. “And I think it’s great for the American people to see.”

ap logoAssociated Press, FBI seized top secret documents in Trump estate search, Michael Balsamo, Zeke Miller and EricTucker, Aug. 13, 2022. The FBI recovered “top secret” and even more sensitive documents from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, according to court papers released Friday after a federal judge unsealed the warrant that authorized the sudden, unprecedented search this week.

A property receipt unsealed by the court shows FBI agents took 11 sets of classified records from the estate during a search on Monday.

The seized records include some marked not only top secret but also “sensitive compartmented information,” a special category meant to protect the nation’s most important secrets that if revealed Justice Department log circularpublicly could cause “exceptionally grave” damage to U.S. interests. The court records did not provide specific details about information the documents might contain.

The warrant says federal agents were investigating potential violations of three different federal laws, including one that governs gathering, transmitting or losing defense information under the Espionage Act. The other statutes address the concealment, mutilation or removal of records and the destruction, alteration or falsification of records in federal investigations.

The property receipt also shows federal agents collected other potential presidential records, including the order pardoning Trump ally Roger Stone, a “leatherbound box of documents,” and information about the “President of France.” A binder of photos, a handwritten note, “miscellaneous secret documents” and “miscellaneous confidential documents” were also seized in the search.

Trump’s attorney, Christina Bobb, right, who was present at Mar-a-Lago when the agents conducted the search, signed two property receipts — one that was two pages long and christina bobb resizedanother that is a single page.

In a statement earlier Friday, Trump claimed that the documents seized by agents were “all declassified,” and argued that he would have turned them over if the Justice Department had asked.

While incumbent presidents generally have the power to declassify information, that authority lapses as soon as they leave office and it was not clear if the documents in question have ever been declassified. And even an incumbent’s powers to declassify may be limited regarding secrets dealing with nuclear weapons programs, covert operations and operatives, and some data shared with allies.

Trump kept possession of the documents despite multiple requests from agencies, including the National Archives, to turn over presidential records in accordance with federal law.

The Mar-a-Lago search warrant served Monday was part of an ongoing Justice Department investigation into the discovery of classified White House records recovered from Trump’s home earlier this year. The Archives had asked the department to investigate after saying 15 boxes of records it retrieved from the estate included classified records.

It remains unclear whether the Justice Department moved forward with the warrant simply as a means to retrieve the records or as part of a wider criminal investigation or attempt to prosecute the former president. Multiple federal laws govern the handling of classified information, bruce reinhart wikipediawith both criminal and civil penalties, as well as presidential records.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart, right, the same judge who signed off on the search warrant, unsealed the warrant and property receipt Friday at the request of the Justice Department after Attorney General Merrick Garland declared there was “substantial public interest in this matter,” and Trump said he backed the warrant’s “immediate” release. The Justice Department told the judge Friday afternoon that Trump’s lawyers did not object to the proposal to make it public.

In messages posted on his Truth Social platform, Trump wrote, “Not only will I not oppose the release of documents ... I am going a step further by ENCOURAGING the immediate release of those documents.”

The Justice Department’s request was striking because such warrants traditionally remain sealed during a pending investigation. But the department appeared to recognize that its silence since the search had created a vacuum for bitter verbal attacks by Trump and his allies, and felt that the public was entitled to the FBI’s side about what prompted Monday’s action at the former president’s home.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Lawyer Told Justice Dept. That Classified Material Had Been Returned, Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush, Aug. 13, 2022. The lawyer signed a statement in June that all documents marked as classified and held in boxes in storage at Mar-a-Lago had been given back. The search at the former president’s home on Monday turned up more.

At least one lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump signed a written statement in June asserting that all material marked as classified and held in boxes in a storage area at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and club had been returned to the government, four people with knowledge of the document said.

The written declaration was made after a visit on June 3 to Mar-a-Lago by Jay I. Bratt, the top counterintelligence official in the Justice Department’s national security division.

The existence of the signed declaration, which has not previously been reported, is a possible indication that Mr. Trump or his team were not fully forthcoming with federal investigators about the material. And it could help explain why a potential violation of a criminal statute related to obstruction was cited by the department as one basis for seeking the warrant used to carry out the daylong search of the former president’s home on Monday, an extraordinary step that generated political shock waves.

It also helps to further explain the sequence of events that prompted the Justice Department’s decision to conduct the search after months in which it had tried to resolve the matter through discussions with Mr. Trump and his team.

An inventory of the material taken from Mr. Trump’s home that was released on Friday showed that F.B.I. agents seized 11 sets of documents during the search with some type of confidential or secret marking on them, including some marked as “classified/TS/SCI” — shorthand for “top secret/sensitive compartmented information.” Information categorized in that fashion is meant to be viewed only in a secure government facility.

The search encompassed not just the storage area where boxes of material known to the Justice Department were being held but also Mr. Trump’s office and residence. The search warrant and inventory unsealed on Friday did not specify where in the Mar-a-Lago complex the documents marked as classified were found.

Mr. Trump said on Friday that he had declassified all the material in his possession while he was still in office. He did not provide any documentation that he had done so.

In an appearance on Fox News on Friday night, the right-wing writer John Solomon, whom Mr. Trump has designated as one of his representatives to interact with the National Archives, read a statement from the former president’s office claiming that Mr. Trump had a “standing order” that documents taken out of the Oval Office and brought to the White House residence “were deemed to be declassified the moment he removed them.”

A spokesman for the former president, Taylor Budowich, said on Saturday, “Just like every Democrat-fabricated witch hunt previously, the water of this unprecedented and unnecessary raid is being carried by a media willing to run with suggestive leaks, anonymous sources and no hard facts.”

The search warrant said F.B.I. agents were carrying out the search to look for evidence related to possible violations of the obstruction statute as well as the Espionage Act and a statute that bars the unlawful taking or destruction of government records or documents. No one has been charged in the case, and the search warrant on its own does not mean anyone will be.

Trump Lawyer Told Justice Dept. That Classified Material Had Been Returned

The lawyer signed a statement in June that all documents marked as classified and held in boxes in storage at Mar-a-Lago had been given back. The search at the former president’s home on Monday turned up more.

washington post logoWashington Post, Under fire, Homeland Security watchdog delays probe of Secret Service texts — with GOP help, Lisa Rein, Aug. 13, 2022 (print ed.). The White House has faced mounting questions about a decision by the Department of Homeland Security inspector general’s office to abandon attempts to recover missing Secret Service texts from Jan. 6, 2021. President Biden, in response, has signaled his intention to stay out of the process as an independent watchdog investigates the inspector general.

But Joseph V. Cuffari and his staff have refused to release certain documents and tried to block interviews, effectively delaying that probe, which has now stretched for more than 15 months and evolved into a wide-ranging inquiry into more than a dozen allegations of misconduct raised by whistleblowers and other sources, according to three people familiar with the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an open investigation.

us dhs big eagle logo4Some Republican senators have also raised stiff resistance to the investigation — which is being overseen by a panel of federal watchdogs from the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) — questioning the need for a full probe into the Trump administration appointee.

Led by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) the senators have demanded that investigators scale back records requests from Cuffari’s office and pressed them on their motives, according to congressional aides and documents.

joseph cuffariCuffari, left, and his staff have complained to the senators of a politically motivated fishing expedition designed to undermine him, according to sources familiar with the investigation and congressional aides. In a written response to questions from House lawmakers last summer, Cuffari said the probe “will destroy” his office. He accused investigators of “undermining my attempts to clean up DHS OIG.”

One person close to the process described a “war of attrition” between Cuffari and the panel known as the Integrity Committee that is overseeing the inquiry, undermining oversight designed to hold inspectors general to the same standards as the federal agency officials they monitor.

“Watchdogs need to be held to the highest standards if they are to be credible,” said Nick Schwellenbach, a senior investigator with the nonprofit Project On Government Oversight, which advocates for a stronger federal watchdog system and last week called on Biden to fire Cuffari. “There’s a pattern of Cuffari resisting the kind of oversight that other federal employees face.”

ny times logoNew York Times, A judge declined to throw out a tax evasion case against the Trump Organization and its longtime chief financial officer, Jonah E. Bromwich, Ben Protess, William K. Rashbaum and Lola Fadulu, Aug. 13, 2022 (print ed.). Allen H. Weisselberg, who was indicted last summer, and the Trump Organization are scheduled to stand trial in October.

A Manhattan state court judge on Friday declined to throw out the criminal case against Donald J. Trump’s family business and its longtime chief financial officer, Allen H. Weisselberg, right, clearing the way for a trial in the case scheduled for the fall.

allen weisselberg croppedMr. Weisselberg and the business, the Trump Organization, were charged last year by the Manhattan district attorney’s office with having engaged in a 15-year scheme in which executives were compensated with hidden benefits so that they could evade taxes. The charges stemmed from the office’s long-running investigation into the company’s business practices.

In February, Mr. Weisselberg and the company filed motions to dismiss the charges, arguing that the case was politically motivated and that the defendants were charged only because of their link with former president Donald J. Trump.

The decision marked the latest legal blow to Mr. Trump in a week full of them.

On Monday, the F.B.I. searched his Florida home in connection with an unrelated criminal investigation. And on Wednesday the former president invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in an interview with the New York state attorney general, which is conducting a civil inquiry into some of the same practices that are being examined by the Manhattan district attorney.

The judge, Juan Merchan, granted a significant victory to the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg. His prosecutors argued in May, in response to the motion to dismiss, that there was nothing extraordinary about the charges: Mr. Weisselberg had violated the law in failing to pay his taxes and was being prosecuted for it, they said.

Daily Beast, Ex-Trump Aide Sics MAGA Fans on Alleged FBI Agents’ Families, Zachary Petrizzo, Updated Aug. 13, 2022. Garrett Ziegler posted the personal info of purported FBI agents—along with links to one of their kids’ social media accounts.

daily beast logoJust hours after a list began circulating among right-wing media of FBI agents who signed off on the search warrant for Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property, a former Trump aide tried to sic MAGA fans on the family members of the purported agents.

Garrett Ziegler, who recently went on a sexist tear against former White House colleagues, took to Telegram to post the personal information of men he identified as agents.

"This is one of the two feds who signed the ‘Receipt for Property’ form, which detailed—at a very high level—the fishing expedition that the FBI performed at Mar-a-Lago,” Ziegler said on both Truth Social and Telegram.

The former Trump administration staffer that worked under White House trade adviser Peter Navarro further listed out the FBI agents’ date of birth, work emails and linked to alleged family members’ social media accounts.

“Hope he doesn’t get a good night’s sleep for the rest of 2022,” Ziegler wrote on Truth Social, responding to another Truth Social user’s photos of one of the alleged FBI officials who signed off on the inventory receipts on the warrant.

The inventory receipt section of the warrant was additionally signed by Trump lawyer Christina Bobb and listed out what the FBI had taken from Trump’s home.

The FBI declined to comment on this story when reached by The Daily Beast.

Shortly after Ziegler had posted what he believed to be the first FBI agent’s information to Truth Social, it was taken down.

“[Truth Social] Just took down the post for ZERO reason,” he said. “Didn’t violate 18 USC 119 or anything else.” (A Truth Social spokesperson didn’t return The Daily Beast’s request for comment.)

Speaking on the encrypted messaging app Telegram, Ziegler doubled down on his posting of information he claims to be that of the agents.

“We have to have faces,” he said. “There are people ruining America, and they have names, and emails, and addresses.”

Multiple attempts to reach Ziegler for comment were unsuccessful on Friday night.

The targeting by a former Trump administration aide follows CNN reporting that the FBI now faces “unprecedented” newfound threats against their agency.

“We work closely with our law enforcement partners to assess and respond to such threats, which are reprehensible and dangerous,” the FBI told CNN in a statement. “As always, we would like to remind members of the public that if they observe anything suspicious to report it to law enforcement immediately.”

It all comes as right-wing media has encouraged a protest to occur in front of the FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. Sunday, and continued calls for a civil war ring out from right-wing users on social media.

washington post logoWashington Post, FBI attacker was prolific contributor to Trump’s Truth Social website, Drew Harwell and Meryl Kornfield, Aug. 13, 2022 (print ed.). Civil war and violence in support of the former president were frequent topics on an account opened in April and bearing the shooter’s name and photo.

In the minutes after an armed man in body armor tried to breach an FBI field office in Cincinnati, an account with the suspect’s name, Ricky Shiffer, posted to former president Donald Trump’s social network, Truth Social: “If you don’t hear from me, it is true I tried attacking the F.B.I.”

The Shiffer account appeared to be one of Truth Social’s most prolific posters, writing 374 messages there in the past eight days — mostly to echo Trump’s lies about election fraud and, in the hours after FBI agents searched Trump’s Florida home, calling for all-out war. “Be ready to kill the enemy,” Shiffer had posted on Tuesday. “Kill [the FBI] on sight.”

ricky shifferShiffer, left, was killed Thursday in a shootout, police said, and the Truth Social account has since been taken down. But the calls for pro-Trump violence are still a common presence online — including on Truth Social, where the top “trending topics” Friday morning were “#FBIcorruption” and “DefundTheFBI.”

Truth Social’s parent company, Trump Media & Technology Group, did not respond to requests for comment.

The Cincinnati shooting offers a glimpse at the real-world dangers of constant attacks from Trump and allied Republicans against federal officials in the days since FBI agents searched Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Palm Beach estate and the center of his post-presidential operations.

It also showcased how such violent anger could be encouraged in plain sight in loosely moderated online refuges like Truth Social, where Trump supporters frequently tear down perceived enemies and call for civil war.

Gunman ID’d in FBI field office attack, but motive remains unresolved

Trump has repeatedly attacked the FBI and Justice Department officials in public messages, including on Truth Social, where he told his more than 3 million followers Thursday that the Mar-a-Lago search was “a surprise attack, POLITICS, and all the while our Country is going to HELL!”

People familiar with the investigation told The Washington Post that the FBI had searched the home while seeking classified documents relating to nuclear weapons that could pose a grave harm to national security.

A Twitter account with Shiffer’s name included many messages mimicking Trump’s false claims of a stolen election. But a review of his social media accounts show Shiffer was most active recently on Truth Social, the Twitter clone Trump created after most social networks blocked him in the aftermath of the U.S. Capitol riots on Jan. 6, 2021. In April, Shiffer tweeted at Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., that he had just opened his account there, adding, “I’m just waiting for your Dad.”

Authorities declined to comment on whether Shiffer was connected to Truth Social and Twitter accounts, but both featured his name, photo and general location and had been active before the shooting.

A law enforcement official familiar with the investigation told The Post that agents are investigating Shiffer’s possible ties to extremist groups, including the Proud Boys — a far-right group whose leaders are accused of helping launch the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

On Aug. 5, he posted, “This country has never had a worse enemy. 1776 was for far less, even World War II was for less.” That day, he also wrote, “Save ammunition and be ready and willing to hit the road as soon as you hear it has started. Someone who wanted to be a hero could not have lived in a better time period.” The post was ‘liked’ 24 times.

Shiffer’s posts appeared to regard the Mar-a-Lago search as a triggering event. On Aug. 8, the day of the search, he posted, “People, this is it. … This is your call to arms from me. Leave work tomorrow as soon as the gun shop … opens, get whatever you need to be ready for combat. We must not tolerate this once.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Gunman in FBI attack was Navy veteran who had served on submarine, Alex Horton, Annie Gowen, Derek Hawkins and James Bikales, Aug. 13, 2022 (print ed.). The Navy veteran who tried to breach the FBI’s Cincinnati field office Thursday once handled highly classified material years ago while posted on an attack submarine, but had been on the bureau’s radar for months for possible extremist behavior, authorities said Friday.

FBI logoRicky Shiffer, 42, was fatally shot by police Thursday after leading officers on a chase that led to a six-hour standoff on a rural road, the Ohio State Highway Patrol said — an incident that rang alarm bells as threats of violence against the FBI from far-right factions have increased in recent days online.

Federal authorities said they had been trying to determine whether he had participated in the Jan. 6, 2021, breach of the U.S. Capitol after he posted on Twitter that “I was there” in reply to a photograph showing rioters scaling the building’s walls, a law enforcement official said.

World Crisis Radio, Commentary: What did Don plan to do with these secrets? Webster G. Tarpley, right, Ph.D., Aug. 13, 2022 (93:29 mins.). Eleven sets of classified webster tarpley 2007documents seized by FBI at Trump’s chateau include top secret/sensitive compartmented information (TS/SCI), with possible violations of Espionage Act and Atomic Energy Act; Garland shows signs of life.

Media exaggerate the rally round the Don effect among Republicans deriving from raid, with skepticism growing as his legal position deteriorated during the week;

Ill-considered ultra-left slogan of defunding the police was one of the most effective demagogic issues for GOP in November, but calls for violent attacks, defunding and breakup of the FBI for enforcing the law against Trump have completely thrown away that advantage; Republicans are left as the party of tax evaders and antinomians;

The mass psychology of fascist violence examined; Degenerate former party of law and order faces grim and lawless autumn, defeat at the hands of horrified voters;

Ukraine beginning offensive to capture Kherson; Russian air base in Novofedorivka in Crimea largely destroyed, leaving Putin’s Black Sea fleet without air cover; Biden sending another $1 billion in weaponry, especially HIMARS and possibly ATACMs;

GOP shows contempt for American people by rejecting $35 monthly maximum for insulin;

House passes Inflation Reduction Act, 220-207, with 15% minimum tax for large corporations, subsidy for nuclear power generation, lower prices for Medicare drugs, and maintenance of Obamacare subsidies; Trump Org CFO Alan Weisselberg will go on trial in Manhattan, suggesting that dormant criminal case against Donald may resume;

The great lesson of the American Civil War: Never again! Those who advocate domestic hostilities must be speedily crushed.

msnbc logo CustomMSNBC, Opinion: Republicans who chanted 'Lock her up!' cry that the DOJ is being too political, Michael A. Cohen, Aug. 13, 2022. Trump suggested his Department of Justice investigate more than two dozen people he considered opponents.

Since the FBI executed a legally obtained search warrant on the home of former President Donald Trump Monday, there’s been an apparent race by the former president’s supporters to determine, as far as I can see, who can make the most irresponsible statement defending him.

There's been an apparent race by the former president’s supporters to determine who can make the most irresponsible statement defending him.

Without evidence, Trump’s supporters have accused the leadership of the Justice Department and FBI of engaging in a political vendetta against Trump and planting incriminating evidence at his home. They’ve called for defunding the FBI, impeaching Attorney General Merrick Garland and used inflammatory language, such as suggesting that the search was an act of “war” against Trump.

But the words of Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., are perhaps the most chilling:

“If the FBI can raid a U.S. President, imagine what they can do to you.”

On the surface, this might sound anodyne. But the implications of what Stefanik is suggesting are frightening: Anybody who is or has been president of the United States should never be investigated for a crime.

The fact that a former president is no less immune from prosecution than any other resident is not a bug of American democracy, it’s one of its greatest features. It means that all Americans, no matter their station, are equal under the law. But for Stefanik, it appears treating the president as if he’s no different from an ordinary citizen is a bridge too far.

msnbc logo CustomMSNBC, Commentary: Attorney Shoots Down Trump’s ‘Insane’ New Document Defense, Lawrence O’Donnell, Aug. 13, 2022 (7:31 mins.), 
MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell speaks to Neal Katyal, former acting U.S. Solicitor General, Andrew Weissmann, former FBI General Counsel, and Bradley Moss, a national security attorney, about what we can learn from the newly released Trump search warrant and why Donald Trump’s newest explanation for the classified documents found at Mar-A-Lago makes no sense.

 

Then President Barack Obama, right, meets with Vice President Biden and other members of his National Security staff in a meeting on Aug. 30, 2013 (White House Photo).

washington post logoWashington Post, National Archives counters Trump’s baseless claims about Obama records, John Wagner, Aug. 13, 2022 (print ed.). The National Archives and Records Administration issued a statement Friday in an attempt to counter misstatements about former president Barack Obama’s presidential records after several days of misinformation that had been spread by former president Donald Trump and conservative commentators.

nara logoSince the FBI search of his Florida home and club this week for classified documents, Trump has asserted in social media posts that Obama “kept 33 million pages of documents, much of them classified” and that they were “taken to Chicago by President Obama.”

In its statement, NARA said that it obtained “exclusive legal and physical custody” of Obama’s records when he left office in 2017. It said that about 30 million pages of unclassified records were transferred to a NARA facility in the Chicago area and that they continue to be maintained “exclusively by NARA.”

Classified records from Obama are kept in a NARA facility in Washington, the statement said.

“As required by the [Presidential Records Act], former President Obama has no control over where and how NARA stores the Presidential records of his Administration,” the statement said.

Despite the official statement, Trump continued to peddle his false claims in light of The Washington Post report that classified documents relating to nuclear weapons were among the items FBI agents sought in a search of Trump’s Florida residence Monday, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Within minutes of the statement from the Archives, Trump again pushed his evidence-free claim in response to the latest reports, saying, “What are they going to do with the 33 million pages of documents, many of which are classified, that President Obama took to Chicago?”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Republicans went crazy over the Trump search. Now they look idiotic, Max Boot, right, Aug. 12, 2022. The more we learn max boot screen shotabout the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago, the sillier — and more sinister — the overcaffeinated Republican defenses of former president Donald Trump look.

A genius-level spinmeister, Trump set the tone with a Monday evening statement announcing: “These are dark times for our Nation, as my beautiful home, Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents. Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before.”
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That description allowed his followers to imagine a scene straight out of a Hollywood action picture, with agents in FBI jackets busting down the doors and holding the former president and first lady at gunpoint while they ransacked the premises. Although Trump’s team had a copy of the search warrant, he gave no hint of why the FBI might have been there, claiming, “It is … an attack by Radical Left Democrats who desperately don’t want me to run for President in 2024.”

His followers — which means pretty much the whole of the Republican Party — took up the cry based on no more information than that. Fox News host Mark Levin called the search “the worst attack on this republic in modern history, period.” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) called it “corrupt & an abuse of power.” Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) compared the FBI to “the Gestapo.” Not to be outdone, former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Whackadoodle) said the FBI was the “American Stasi,” and compared its agents to wolves “who want to eat you.” “Today is war,” declared Steven Crowder, a podcaster with a YouTube audience of 5.6 million people. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) tweeted “DEFUND THE FBI!” Former Trump aide Stephen K. Bannon, among many others, suggested that the FBI and the Justice Department (“essentially lawless criminal organizations”) might have planted evidence.

Politico, GOP contorts itself in defense of Trump as new FBI search details emerge, Andrew Desiderio, Aug. 12-13, 2022. Republicans who days ago united in preemptive defense of Donald Trump are struggling to stay on the same page following new questions about documents that the former president was holding at his Florida residence.

republican elephant logoThe FBI’s daylong search at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate this week, personally approved by Attorney General Merrick Garland, sparked near-universal GOP outrage and allegations of a politicized Justice Department. In the wake of reports that the search was tied to concerns Trump may have improperly taken highly classified White House documents related to nuclear weapons and so-called special access operations, however, Republicans are politically diverging.

Some Republicans are leaving open the possibility that former President Donald Trump acted inappropriately.

brought to a hospital with lesions across his face and limbs ― a suspected case of chickenpox.

 

On May 3, 2020, at the opening of a Trump town hall event, Trump greeted Fox anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum by saying, “We never had a more beautiful set than this did we?” according to a transcript (Associated Press photo by Evan Vucci).

On May 3, 2020, at the opening of a Trump town hall event, Trump greeted Fox anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum by saying, “We never had a more beautiful set than this did we?” according to a transcript (Associated Press photo by Evan Vucci).

washington post logoWashington Post, Documents show how Trump landed Lincoln Memorial for Fox News event, Jonathan O'Connell, Aug. 13, 2022. President Donald Trump’s 2020 “town hall” was held inside the memorial, an area where events have long been barred by federal regulations.

In the spring of 2020, National Park Service personnel were preparing for an event President Donald Trump was holding with Fox News to address the nascent covid-19 pandemic from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, site of historic protests and inaugural concerts.

But, first, they had to brief Trump on the plans.

“As of now we’re looking at an event at base of Lincoln from 6-8 or so Sunday night. No event in chamber. I will see if that holds once POTUS is briefed later today,” Jeff Reinbold, the Park Service’s superintendent for the National Mall and Memorial Parks, wrote in an April 28, 2020, email to other agency officials.

By the next morning, the virtual “town hall” was no longer to be held at the base, the documents show. Trump’s two-hour sit-down with Fox News anchors would take place inside the memorial’s main chamber, on the landing in the shadow of the marble statue of a seated Lincoln. With the exception of an annual birthday tribute to Lincoln, federal regulations bar events from being held in that area.

The email is among hundreds of pages of newly released government documents that help fill in the picture of how officials from multiple government agencies worked to engineer the event at the Lincoln, one of the many norm-defying moments of the Trump presidency. They show that the Park Service provided security personnel at a cost of nearly $150,000 and that a U.S. Secret Service official apologized to colleagues for the planning process, calling it a “$#!t show.”

After the event, officials noted that the memorial itself — then 98 years old — had sustained scratches and gouges in its pink marble floor, according to a final memorandum.

In the end, the Trump-appointed interior secretary, David Bernhardt, relaxed the rules by finding that the venue was appropriate, given the president’s need to communicate with the American people during a “grave time of national crisis.” That finding has been previously reported.

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, the executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice, a progressive group that acquired the documents through a public-records request, said she believes Bernhardt exceeded his authority and allowed Trump to use “the Lincoln Memorial as his stage set.”

“They’re trying to find a way, it looks like, to give him the chamber when there is no legal way to give him the chamber,” she said.

Verheyden-Hilliard’s group often litigates on behalf of those seeking access to public spaces, pressing the government to properly allow free-speech activities and protests along Pennsylvania Avenue and elsewhere.

On May 3, 2020, at the opening of the town hall, Trump greeted Fox anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum by saying, “We never had a more beautiful set than this did we?” according to a transcript.

The hosts asked about criticism that had already surfaced about the use of the memorial as the site for the event.

“What can you criticize? It’s — I don’t think it’s ever been done, what we’re doing tonight here,” Trump said. “And I think it’s great for the American people to see.”

Aug. 12

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Trump's infamous predecessors in the world of misuse and theft of classified intelligence, Wayne wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallMadsen, left, author of 22 books and former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst, Aug. 12-13, 2022.

Donald Trump is not the first scoundrel who decided to either monetize or gain favor with a foreign hostile power by unlawfully stealing or disclosing classified information.

From the archives of the Directorate of National Intelligence, these are some of the men and women who are recorded in the official record of infamous spies and traitors. Donald John Trump, the 45th president of the United States and the most senior wayne madesen report logolevel U.S. government employee to have been implicated in a compromise of classified national security information, may soon join this list of America's most disloyal citizens.

[WMR's survey is shown here of nearly a score of espionage cases of U.S. military and law enforcement personnel, some high-ranking in the CIA, FBI or Navy intelligence, who were convicted of transferring secrets to foreign powers.]

When thinking about the espionage committed by an entire family, ponder for a moment the charges about ties to foreign intelligence agencies that have been leveled in the press about the Trump family, including Jared Kushner, as well as the Michael Flynn family.

During the 1980s, this editor, while a U.S. Naval Officer assigned to various Navy commands in Washington, as well as NSA, was closely involved in the damage assessments on the Pollard, Walker [Michael Pollard, John Anthony Walker and his son Michael Lance Walker], and other espionage cases in what became known as the "Decade of the Spies."

Trump commuted Pollard's life imprisonment sentence. Pollard now lives in Israel, which granted him citizenship while he was still in federal prison.

These cases involving U.S. intelligence and law enforcement personnel stealing classified material, in some cases huge amounts of it, are merely the tip of the iceberg.

There were many others, FBI counterintelligence official Robert Hanssen and NSA employee Ronald Pelton being among them. Yet, these individuals, although they did great damage by providing intelligence to foreign powers on what they were able to obtain, with security constraints like compartmentalization preventing them from "selling the entire store," were in no position to carry out the degree of harm potentially done by Trump and his aides, two of which have been identified as Kashyap Patel and journalist John Solomon.

Presidents generally have access to everything in the U.S. intelligence holdings -- everything! If Trump has been selling the entire store, his punishment should be commensurate with the crimes.

Aug. 11

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, Garland Moves to Unseal Warrant Used in Trump Search, Glenn Thrush and Charles Savage, Aug. 11, 2022. Says He Personally Signed Off on Decision to Search Mar-a-Lago. Attorney General Merrick Garland described the F.B.I.’s search for files at former President Trump’s Florida home and said he would unseal the warrant. Mr. Garland’s public appearance is an extraordinary moment, as the Justice Department’s inquiry into Mr. Trump gains momentum. Here’s the latest.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland on Thursday moved to unseal the search warrant used in the search of former President Donald J. Trump’s residence in Mar-a-Lago and said he personally approved of the decision to execute the warrant.

Mr. Garland, who declined to comment on the warrant until he addressed the media at the department’s headquarters, said he decided to go public with his actions because Mr. Trump had already confirmed the action and because doing so would serve the “public interest.”

Mr. Garland’s decision to make a public appearance came at an extraordinary moment in the department’s 152-year history, as the sprawling investigation of a former president who remains a powerful political force gains momentum, with prosecutors from an array of the department’s divisions and regional offices taking new actions, seemingly every day.

Mr. Garland, a laconic former judge, had come under increasing pressure this week to provide more public information about why the Justice Department decided that a search was necessary and who approved it — or at least to offer an explanation of the legal processes undertaken by his subordinates.

Mr. Trump’s aides and allies have questioned why a search was necessary, saying the former president was cooperating with requests to return the materials he had taken with him when he left the White House. Several prominent Republicans, including former Vice President Mike Pence, had called upon Mr. Garland to offer an explanation of his actions.

The Justice Department has provided no information about the precise nature of the material it has been seeking to recover but has signaled that it involved classified information of a sensitive nature.

A White House official said President Biden had not been given any advance notice of Mr. Garland’s remarks.

The search at Mr. Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Florida, added an explosive new dimension to the array of investigations into Mr. Trump, including separate inquiries by the Justice Department into his efforts to remain in office despite his loss at the polls in 2020.

On Wednesday, Mr. Trump asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when he was questioned by New York’s attorney general in a civil case about his business practices.

A senior White House official said that neither President Biden, nor any of his top staff, were given advance notice of the attorney general’s remarks and learned about it through the media.

The Justice Department is not asking the judge to unseal the affidavit investigators filed along with their request for the search warrant. That affidavit would explain what they were investigating and what evidence they had assembled to date in support of the idea that they would find more evidence if the search warrant were granted. So even if a judge granted the department's request, the public would not see the most important legal document associated with it.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Was Subpoenaed for Documents Months Before F.B.I. Searched His Home, Maggie Haberman, Ben Protess and Glenn Thrush, Aug. 11, 2022. The Justice Department subpoenaed Donald Trump this spring for documents that officials believed he improperly took after leaving office, people familiar with the matter said.

Former President Donald J. Trump received a subpoena this spring in search of documents that federal investigators believed he had failed to turn over earlier in the year, when he returned boxes of material he had improperly taken with him upon moving out of the White House, three people familiar with the matter said.

The existence of the subpoena helps to flesh out the sequence of events that led to the search of Mr. Trump’s Florida home on Monday by F.B.I. agents seeking classified material they believed might still be there, even after efforts by the National Archives and the Justice Department to ensure that it had been returned.

The subpoena suggests that the Justice Department tried methods short of a search warrant to account for the material before taking the politically explosive step of sending F.B.I. agents unannounced to Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s home and members-only club.

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Amid tumultuous week, Trump takes the Fifth on hundreds of questions, Shayna Jacobs, Josh Dawsey and Devlin Barrett, Aug. 11, 2022 (print ed.). The former president spent hours in a deposition with the New York attorney general and refused more than 400 times to answer questions about his businesses, property valuations, and loans, according to a person with knowledge of the discussion.

letitia james public advocateDonald Trump spent hours in a deposition Wednesday with the New York attorney general, right, and repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to answer questions, the latest in a series of ominous legal developments that would have once been considered devastating for a former president considering another run for the White House.

Trump emerged from the question-and-non-answer session with praise for the “very professional” way Attorney General Letitia James’s team handled the meeting, in which he refused more than 400 times to answer questions about his businesses, property valuations and loans, according to a person with knowledge of the discussion. This person, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe the closed session, said Trump stated his name, formally declared his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself, and from then on replied to many questions with two words: “Same answer.”

Less than two years after leaving office, Trump faces legal jeopardy from multiple directions, with criminal probes into his possible withholding of classified documents and efforts to overturn the 2020 election results; James’s civil probe; and congressional inquiries into his taxes and his conduct related to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot.

In a lengthy statement on Wednesday, the former president denied any wrongdoing and accused the U.S. government of unfairly targeting him in multiple ways. Incredibly, his deposition marked just the halfway point of what has been a frenetic week for Trump and his lawyers.

On Monday, FBI agents searched his residence and office space at his home in Mar-a-Lago, a Florida resort property. People familiar with that investigation said the agents were seeking classified documents and other presidential records amid a months-long disagreement between federal officials and Trump’s advisers about whether he withheld important files or items that belonged to the government.

One of Trump’s lawyers said agents removed about a dozen boxes of material that had not been brought back to Washington in January, when the government first asked Trump to return what he had taken to comply with the Presidential Records Act.

 

Former U.S. President Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower in Manhattan for his scheduled testimony on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022 (Associate Press photo by Julia Nikhinson).

Former U.S. President Trump leaves Trump Tower in Manhattan for his scheduled testimony on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022 (Associate Press photo by Julia Nikhinson). He answered only one question during four hours of them in an interview with the New York State attorney general, his lawyer said.

New York State Attorney Gen. Leticia James (Photo by Todd Heisler of the New York Times).

 New York State Attorney Gen. Leticia James (Photo by Todd Heisler of the New York Times).

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump and James sat across from each other for hours as he said ‘same answer’ again and again, Jonah E. Bromwich, Aug. 11, 2022 (print ed.). The New York State attorney general, Letitia James, sat across from Donald J. Trump as he repeatedly declined to answer questions, invoking his right against self-incrimination during a deposition on Wednesday, according to one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers.

The lawyer, Ronald P. Fischetti, said that over the course of about four hours, with several breaks, Mr. Trump answered only one question, about his name, toward the beginning of the interview.

Then he read a statement into the record in which he called the inquiry a continuation of “the greatest witch hunt in the history of our country” and accused Ms. James of having “openly campaigned on a policy of destroying me.”

Ms. James did not visibly react, Mr. Fischetti said in an interview.

After that, Mr. Trump repeated the words “same answer” from about 9:30 a.m. to around 3 p.m., with a long break for lunch and several shorter breaks.

“They asked a lot of questions about valuations and golf clubs and all that stuff,” Mr. Fischetti said. He said that Mr. Trump did not diverge from that answer, offering the same response until the interview was over.

Ms. James read an introduction at the opening of the interview but left the questioning to one of her office’s lawyers, Kevin Wallace. A number of other lawyers from her office were present, and Mr. Fischetti said he was joined by another of Mr. Trump’s attorneys, Alina Habba.

The attorney general’s office had not been alerted in advance that Mr. Trump was going to take the fifth, Mr. Fischetti said, in part because the decision was made only shortly before the interview and Mr. Trump had to be persuaded not to answer the questions substantively.

ap logoAssociated Press, Trump’s bond with GOP deepens after primary wins, FBI search, Steve Peoples, Aug. 11, 2022. Donald Trump’s pick for governor in the swing state of Wisconsin easily defeated a favorite of the Republican establishment.

In Connecticut, the state that launched the Bush family and its brand of compassionate conservatism, a fiery Senate contender who promoted Trump’s election lies upset the state GOP’s endorsed candidate. Meanwhile in Washington, Republicans ranging from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to conspiracy theorist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene defended Trump against an unprecedented FBI search.

And that was just this week.

The rapid developments crystalized the former president’s singular status atop a party he has spent the past seven years breaking down and rebuilding in his image. Facing mounting legal vulnerabilities and considering another presidential run, he needs support from the party to maintain his political career. But, whether they like it or not, many in the party also need Trump, whose endorsement has proven crucial for those seeking to advance to the November ballot.

washington post logoWashington Post, Historians privately warn Biden that U.S. democracy is teetering, Michael Scherer, Ashley Parker and Tyler Pager, Aug. 11, 2022 (print ed.). When Biden met with historians last week at the White House, they compared the threat facing America to the pre-Civil War era and to pro-fascist movements before World War II.

President Biden paused last week, during one of the busiest stretches of his presidency, for a nearly two-hour private history lesson from a group of academics who raised alarms about the dire condition of democracy at home and abroad.

The conversation during a ferocious lightning storm on Aug. 4 unfolded as a sort of Socratic dialogue between the commander in chief and a select group of scholars, who painted the current moment as among the most perilous in modern history for democratic governance, according to multiple people familiar with the discussions who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a private meeting.

Aug. 10

Politico, Breaking: Trump takes the Fifth, Kelly Hooper, Aug. 10, 2022. The former president invoked his constitutional right against self-incrimination in a deposition with the office of New York Attorney General Tish James.

Preview: “In New York City tonight. Seeing racist N.Y.S. Attorney General tomorrow, for a continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in U.S. history!” Trump wrote in a post on Truth Social just after midnight on Wednesday. “My great company, and myself, are being attacked from politico Customall sides. Banana Republic!”

Trump will take questions from the New York attorney general’s team amid that office’s three-year-long investigation into whether the Trump Organization had misstated the value assets on financial statements. Trump had tried for months to avoid Wednesday’s deposition — which comes at a high stakes moment for the former president just two days after the FBI raided his Florida home in an investigation into the alleged mishandling of White House records.

The former president is also the subject of a parallel criminal investigation being conducted by the Manhattan district attorney’s office into whether he fraudulently inflated property values.

A state appeals court ruled in May that Trump and his two eldest children would have to sit for depositions under oath in the attorney general’s probe, denying an appeal from Trump to overturn a ruling enforcing the subpoenas. The former president’s meeting on Wednesday comes just days after the attorney general’s office questioned Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump.

James’ office has said that it uncovered “significant evidence” that the Trump Organization fraudulently valued multiple assets and misrepresented them to mislead financial institutions. But Trump has denied any wrongdoing and claimed the investigation is politically motivated.

The former president’s deposition on Wednesday could represent a final stage of James’ civil investigation, after which she could file a lawsuit against Trump or negotiate a settlement with Trump’s lawyers to obtain a quicker financial payout.

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, Trump to Be Questioned as New York Investigation Nears End, Jonah E. Bromwich, Ben Protess and William K. Rashbaum, Aug. 10, 2022. Questioning by the office of Attorney General Letitia James could be a turning point in a civil inquiry into Donald Trump’s businesses. Follow updates.

Donald J. Trump will face questioning under oath from the New York attorney general’s office on Wednesday, a crucial turning point in a long-running civil investigation into his business practices.

The stakes for Mr. Trump are uncommonly high. While he has sat for numerous depositions over the years, he fought for months to avoid the testimony this week, which could shape the outcome of the investigation into the former president and his family real estate business, the Trump Organization.

The deposition comes at a legally perilous moment for Mr. Trump. Two days ago, while he was at his golf club in New Jersey, the F.B.I. searched his Florida home as part of an investigation into sensitive material that Mr. Trump took when he left the White House.

letitia james public advocateHe has denied wrongdoing and lashed out at the F.B.I. search as “an assault” that “could only take place in broken, Third-World Countries.” He has also called the investigation by the New York attorney general, Letitia James, right, a politically motivated witch hunt.

He repeated his criticism on his Truth Social account. “In New York City tonight. Seeing racist N.Y.S. Attorney General tomorrow, for a continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in U.S. history!” he wrote. “My great company, and myself, are being attacked from all sides. Banana Republic!”

Since March 2019, Ms. James’s lawyers, assembling an encyclopedic understanding of the Trump business, have scrutinized whether Mr. Trump and his company improperly inflated the value of his hotels, golf clubs and other assets.

Early this year, Ms. James said in a court filing that the company’s business practices were “fraudulent or misleading,” but added that her office needed to question Mr. Trump and two of his adult children to determine who was responsible for that conduct.

The deposition of Mr. Trump — which comes days after the attorney general’s office questioned Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. — represents the final stage of Ms. James’s investigation.

Because her investigation is civil, Ms. James can sue Mr. Trump but cannot file criminal charges. Still, the specter of criminal charges hangs over the deposition: The Manhattan district attorney’s office had been conducting a parallel criminal investigation into whether Mr. Trump fraudulently inflated valuations of his properties.

And depending on Mr. Trump’s answers to Ms. James’s questions on Wednesday, his testimony could breathe new life into that investigation, which lost momentum earlier this year. If Mr. Trump stumbles — or incriminates himself — Ms. James’s office could alert the district attorney’s office, which has said that it will closely monitor the interview.

Mr. Trump is also contending with a litany of other criminal investigations. Along with the F.B.I. search this week of Mar-a-Lago, his home and private club in Palm Beach, Fla., federal prosecutors are questioning witnesses about his involvement in efforts to reverse his election loss; a House committee held a series of hearings tying him more closely to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol; and a district attorney in Georgia is investigating potential election interference on the part of Mr. Trump and his allies.

Ms. James’s inquiry could wrap up sooner than those investigations. Rather than file a lawsuit that would take years to resolve, she could first pursue settlement negotiations with the former president’s lawyers to obtain a swifter financial payout. But if she ultimately sues Mr. Trump — and if Ms. James prevails at trial — a judge could impose steep financial penalties on Mr. Trump and restrict his business operations in New York.

In seeking to fend off a lawsuit from Ms. James, Mr. Trump’s lawyers are likely to argue that valuing real estate is a subjective process, and that his company simply estimated the value of his properties, without intending to artificially inflate them. While Ms. James has contended in court papers that the Trump Organization provided bogus valuations to banks to secure favorable loans, Mr. Trump’s lawyers might argue that those were sophisticated financial institutions that turned a hefty profit from their dealings with Mr. Trump.

It is unclear whether Mr. Trump will raise that argument at his deposition.

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, The F.B.I.’s search of former President Trump’s home put a conflict over possibly classified information into public view, Maggie Haberman, Ben Protess, Michael S. Schmidt, Luke Broadwater and William K. Rashbaum, Aug. 10, 2022 (print ed.). Justice Department officials were worried that the former president had not fully complied with requests to return material taken from the White House that included possible classified information.

FBI logoThe search carried out on Monday by the F.B.I. at former President Donald J. Trump’s Florida home, shown above, a law enforcement action with explosive legal and political implications, was the culmination of a lengthy conflict between a president proud of his disdain for rules and officials charged with protecting the nation’s records and secrets.

On one side were officials from the National Archives, which is responsible for making sure all presidential records are preserved according to the law, and the Justice Department, which some people familiar with the inquiry said had grown concerned about the whereabouts of possible classified information and whether Mr. Trump’s team was being fully forthcoming.

On the other was Mr. Trump, who, in apparent contravention of the Presidential Records Act, had taken a trove of material with him to his home at Mar-a-Lago when he left the White House that included sensitive documents — and then, in the Justice Department’s view, had failed to fully comply with requests that he return the disputed material.

After the investigation bubbled along largely out of public view for months, word that agents had arrived early Monday morning at the gates of Mar-a-Lago with a search warrant raised new questions about Mr. Trump’s vulnerability to prosecution and fueled further partisan division.

Mr. Trump’s aides and allies intensified their criticism of the search on Tuesday, calling it unnecessary and asserting, without citing any evidence, that it was a brazen use of prosecutorial power for political purposes. On his social media site on Tuesday, Mr. Trump cast the search as part of “a coordinated attack” that also includes local and state prosecutors, alluding to investigations into him being carried out in Georgia and New York.

Christina Bobb, a lawyer and aide to Mr. Trump who said she received a copy of the search warrant, told one interviewer that the agents were looking for “presidential records or any possibly classified material.”

At the White House, President Biden’s press secretary said he had no advance word of the decision to carry out the search, and at the Justice Department, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland maintained public silence about the momentous step.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Scott Perry’s phone was seized. Here’s what that tells us, Jennifer Rubin, Aug. 10, 2022. Less than a day jennifer rubin new headshotafter the FBI executed a search warrant at former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, bureau investigators have seized the cellphone of Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.). That tells us a few things.

scott perryWe have heard about Perry, left, before. To begin with, the Senate Judiciary Committee last year called him out by name for further inquiry in its report on the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. And the House select committee investigating the attempted insurrection apparently listened: Perry has come up several times in the select committee’s hearings.

According to hearing testimony, Perry acted as a bridge between then-assistant attorney general Jeffrey Clark and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, pushing Clark forward as a possible replacement for acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen, who was resisting Trump’s fake-elector scheme. Without Perry’s intervention, it’s not clear Clark could have made a move to take Rosen’s job.

Perry also pushed to Meadows the nutty conspiracy that Italian satellites were used to change Trump votes to votes for Joe Biden. And Perry allegedly attended a Dec. 21, 2020, meeting at the White House with other MAGA hard-liners to discuss Trump retaining power. To top it all off, he later asked for a pardon, according to testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson. (Perry has denied this allegation.)

The seizure is an unusual step, given long-standing concerns about congressional protection under the Constitution’s “speech and debate” clause, which shields members for things they say during the course of their legislative duties (although in criminal cases, this has not slowed down law enforcement).

norman eisen Small“To anyone who in past 24 hours indicated the Department of Justice was principally interested in document removal,” impeachment co-counsel Norman Eisen told me, this should be a wake-up call. “[Trump’s] documents are one strand, but this is a reminder there is another important strand.” The phony-elector scheme and the events of Jan. 6 remain squarely in the department’s view.

Eisen, right, noted that given concerns about the speech and debate clause, seizing a phone “from a sitting member of Congress indicates the level of probable cause [the DOJ possesses] as to the false-elector scheme.” In short, investigators must have had powerful evidence to obtain a search warrant.

Republicans seem bent on turning the upcoming elections into a referendum on whether Trump and conspirators can be investigated and held accountable for alleged crimes. Originally, they thought inflation was the winning issue to land them in the majority, but that issue has moved to the back burner thanks to Republican screeching about Trump.

Palmer Report, Analysis: No wonder House Republicans threw such a panicked fit over the DOJ’s big move against Donald Trump, Bill bill palmerPalmer, right, Aug. 10, 2022. When the DOJ had the FBI carry out a search and seizure warrant at Donald Trump’s home on Monday, no one would have expected Trump’s political allies to have been pleased about it. But House Republicans, instead of accepting the reality that Trump is going down and they’d be better off moving on and pretending they barely ever knew him, ended up having a hysterically over the top reaction.

bill palmer report logo headerKevin McCarthy, right, the highest ranking House Republican, immediately began publicly vowing retaliation against Attorney General Merrick Garland. Other Trump allies in the House began making even more asininely over the top threats. You’d have thought the DOJ had targeted House Republicans themselves.

Then came Tuesday, when the DOJ did target a House Republican, by having the FBI seize the cellphone of Rep. Scott Perry. It takes kevin mccarthya lot to get a federal judge to sign off on a search and seizure warrant against anyone, let alone a member of Congress. And while there’s still no way to predict precisely what the DOJ will do or when it’ll do it, given just how many House Republicans were involved in Trump’s election overthrow plot, it’s exceedingly difficult to imagine that the DOJ will stop with just Perry.

So if House Republicans had that panicked over the top reaction when they saw the Feds going into Trump’s house because they feared they were next, it looks like they were right after all. The DOJ carried out a warrant against one of them just 24 hours later. Who’s next, and when? No wonder House Republicans had the reaction they did. They feared that once the DOJ was knocking on Trump’s door, it was going to start taking them down as well – and for once they were proven correct about something.

Aug. 9

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, F.B.I. Searches Trump’s Home in Florida, Focus Appears to Be on Material Taken From White House, Maggie Haberman, Ben Protess and Adam Goldman, Aug. 9, 2022 (print ed.). Former President Donald J. Trump said on Monday that the F.B.I. had searched his Palm Beach, Fla., home and had broken open a safe — an account signaling a dramatic escalation in the various investigations into the final stages of his presidency.

The search, according to multiple people familiar with the investigation, appeared to be focused on material that Mr. Trump had brought with him to Mar-a-Lago, his private club and residence, when he left the White House. Those boxes contained many pages of classified documents, according to a person familiar with their contents.

FBI logoFormer President Trump said the F.B.I. searched Mar-a-Lago, his club and home in Palm Beach, and broke open a safe. He was in the New York area at the time.

The search seemed to center on documents taken from the White House. It would almost surely have required sign off from top officials. Follow updates.

The raid came as Donald Trump is weighing another run for the presidency. President Biden’s top aides found out about the F.B.I.’s search of Mar-a-Lago from reports on Twitter and had no advance notice, according to a Democratic source familiar with the matter. Senior White House officials saw the news via former President Trump’s statement, released shortly before 7 p.m.

The National Archives discovered in January that at the end of his term, former President Donald J. Trump had taken to his home at the Mar-a-Lago resort 15 boxes from the White House that contained government documents, mementos, gifts and letters. The boxes included material subject to the Presidential Records Act, which requires that all documents and records pertaining to official business be turned over to the archives.

After Mr. Trump returned the boxes to the National Archives, its archivists found documents containing “items marked as classified national security information,” the agency told Congress in February.

Federal law enforcement officials obtain search warrants when they need to move quickly on a criminal investigation, or are concerned that sensitive materials they need might be in danger of being moved, concealed, altered or destroyed.

The request for a search warrant is made by a federal law enforcement agency if officials conclude that information, often documents or electronic devices, related to a criminal investigation can be found at someone’s residence, business, car or other property.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine Live Updates: Explosion Rocks Russian Air Base in Crimea, Michael Schwirtz, Aug. 9, 2022. An official said the blast on the Russian-occupied peninsula was the result of a Ukrainian strike. Moscow said only that munitions had exploded. In Washington, President Biden signed a measure giving U.S. approval to Sweden and Finland’s bid to join NATO.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Explosions kill 1 and injure 9 at a Russian air base in Crimea.New
  • Biden signs measure giving U.S. approval to Sweden and Finland’s bids to join NATO.New
  • A Ukrainian official calls for U.N. monitors to visit a nuclear plant occupied by Russia.New
  • Russia says oil flows to three European Union members have been halted.New
  • Russia helps Iran launch a satellite, a sign of closer cooperation.
  • After being trapped for months, ships loaded with grain have left Ukraine. Where are they going?
  • Canada and Sweden join a British-led effort to train Ukrainian forces.New

A series of explosions rocked a key Russian air base on the Kremlin-occupied Crimean Peninsula on Tuesday, sending up huge plumes of smoke, killing at least one person and sowing confusion among local officials about what exactly had occurred.

As Russian and occupation officials scrambled to determine the cause, raising the terrorist threat level in the area, a senior Ukrainian military official with knowledge of the situation said that Ukrainian forces were behind the blast at the Saki Air Base on the western coast of Crimea.

“This was an air base from which planes regularly took off for attacks against our forces in the southern theater,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive military matters. The official would not disclose the type of weapon used in the attack, saying only that “a device exclusively of Ukrainian manufacture was used.”

A Ukrainian attack on Russian forces in the Crimean Peninsula would represent a significant expansion of Ukraine’s offensive efforts, which until now have been largely limited to pushing Russian troops back from territories occupied after Feb. 24, when the invasion began.

It would also be an embarrassment for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, who often speaks of Crimea, which he illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014, as if it were hallowed ground.

Ukraine possesses few weapons that can reach the peninsula, aside from aircraft that would risk being shot down immediately by Russia’s heavy air defenses in the region. The air base, which is near the city of Novofederivka, is nearly 200 miles from the nearest Ukrainian military position.

The senior Ukrainian official said the attack involved partisan resistance forces loyal to the government in Kyiv, but he would not disclose whether those forces carried out the attack or assisted regular Ukrainian military units in targeting the base, as has sometimes occurred in other Russian-occupied territories.

ny times logoNew York Times, Republican officials reacted with fury to news of the search, Alan Feuer, Aug. 9, 2022 (print ed.). Top Republicans and prominent conservatives reacted with outrage on Monday night to the news that the F.B.I. had searched the private residence of former President Donald J. Trump, with some suggesting that federal agents should be arrested and others hinting that the court-approved law-enforcement action against Mr. Trump was pushing the country toward political chaos.

kevin mccarthy“I’ve seen enough,” Representative Kevin McCarthy, right, the House minority leader, wrote in a statement that he posted online. “The Department of Justice has reached an intolerable state of weaponized politicization.”

Hinting at a possible congressional investigation into the sitting attorney general if Republicans take control of the House in the midterm elections, Mr. McCarthy added, “Attorney General Garland, preserve your documents and clear your calendar.”

republican elephant logoThe attacks on the search of Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s beachfront domain in southern Florida, continued a longstanding reflex among his supporters to assail federal law-enforcement officials as biased and corrupt.

Mr. Trump and his allies have relentlessly disparaged the F.B.I. for taking the lead in the investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. And more recently, the former president’s allies in Congress and the media have sought to deflect blame from him by baselessly depicting the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol as a “false flag” operation run by the bureau and abetted by the Justice Department.

One of the most strident attacks on federal law-enforcement on Monday night came from the Florida state lawmaker Anthony Sabatini, who is running for Congress as a Republican in a district near Orlando.

“It’s time for us in the Florida Legislature to call an emergency legislative session & amend our laws regarding federal agencies,” Mr. Sabatini wrote on Twitter. “Sever all ties with DOJ immediately. Any FBI agent conducting law enforcement functions outside the purview of our State should be arrested upon sight.”

In a post last week, Ric Grenell, who served as Mr. Trump’s acting director of national intelligence, said that if the former president were to be re-elected, he must “clean out the FBI and DOJ.”

The Republican response to the search also sought to instill fear in ordinary people by suggesting that they too could be targeted by federal agents.

“If they can do it to a former President, imagine what they can do to you,” the Twitter account for the House Republican caucus wrote.

On Fox News, the host Jesse Watters described the search of Mr. Trump’s property as “insane” and called for Christopher A. Wray, the director of the F.B.I., to be fired for being “corrupt.”

Other right-wing pundits took an even darker view, hinting that the search of Mar-a-Lago could lead to unrest in the streets.

“There is suddenly a very real risk of violent political instability in this country for the first time in more than 150 years,” Joel B. Pollak, a senior editor at the right-wing outlet Breitbart News, wrote on Twitter.

ap logoAssociated Press, Trump says FBI searched estate in major escalation of probe, Eric Tucker, and Michael Balsam, Aug. 9, 2022. The FBI searched Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate as part of an investigation into whether he took classified records from the White House to his Florida residence, people familiar with the matter said Monday, a move that represents a dramatic and unprecedented escalation of law enforcement scrutiny of the former president.

Trump, disclosing the search in a lengthy statement, asserted that agents had opened up a safe at his home and described their work as an “unannounced raid” that he likened to “prosecutorial misconduct.”

FBI logoThe search intensifies the months-long probe into how classified documents ended up in boxes of White House records located at Mar-a-Lago earlier this year. It occurs amid a separate grand jury investigation into efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and adds to the potential legal peril for Trump as he lays the groundwork for another run.

Familiar battle lines, forged during a a four-year presidency shadowed by FBI and congressional investigations, quickly took shape again Monday night.

Trump and his allies sought to cast the search as a weaponization of the criminal justice system and a Democratic-driven effort to keep him from winning another term in 2024 — even though the Biden White House said it had no prior knowledge of it, and the current FBI director, Christopher Wray, was appointed by Trump five years ago and served as a high-ranking official in a Republican-led Justice Department.

Aug. 8

NBC News, FBI search at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home tied to classified material, sources say, Marc Caputo and Ryan J. Reilly, Aug. 8, 2022. In a lengthy statement Monday night, Trump said, “They even broke into my safe!”

NBC News logoFormer President Donald Trump said Monday that the FBI "raided" his Florida home at Mar-a-Lago and even cracked his safe, with a source familiar with the matter telling NBC News that the search was tied to classified information Trump allegedly took with him from the White House to his Palm Beach resort in January 2021.

Trump also claimed in a written statement that the search — unprecedented in American history — was politically motivated, though he did not provide specifics.

“These are dark times for our Nation, as my beautiful home, Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents,” Trump said in a lengthy email statement issued by his Save America political committee.

djt hands up mouth open Custom“After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate,” Trump said before bemoaning: “They even broke into my safe!”

Trump lawyer Christina Bobb, who said she was present for Monday’s search, told NBC News that Trump and his team have been “cooperative with FBI and DOJ officials every step of the way,” while adding that the bureau “did conduct an unannounced raid and seized paper.”

One senior government official told NBC News that the FBI was at Mar-A-Largo “for the majority of the day,” and confirmed that the search warrant was connected to the National Archives.

Trump earlier this year had to return 15 boxes of documents that were improperly taken from the White House, the National Archives said in February.

“In mid-January 2022, NARA (National Archives and Records Administration) arranged for the transport from the Trump Mar-a-Lago property in Florida to the National Archives of 15 boxes that contained Presidential records, following discussions with President Trump’s representatives in 2021,” the National Archives said in a Feb. 7 statement.

That same month, the National Archives and Records Administration asked the Justice Department to examine whether Trump’s handling of White House records violated federal law, a story first reported by The Washington Post and subsequently confirmed by NBC News sources.

Axios Sneak Peek, 1 Big Thing Analysis: Trump's FBI nightmare, Alayna Treene, Hans Nichols and Zachary Basu, Aug. 8-9, 2022. The FBI today searched Mar-a-Lago — a stunning escalation of a federal investigation into a former president with no historical parallels.

axios logoIn a blistering statement, Trump — who called it a "raid" — accused Democrats of weaponizing the justice system to undermine Republicans in the midterms and stop him from running in 2024.

“They even broke into my safe!" he wrote. The FBI and Justice Department had yet to issue a statement or confirm details of the search by the time this newsletter was sent.

Driving the news: Two sources familiar with the matter told Axios' Jonathan Swan it was their understanding that the search was related to documents Trump took from the White House that may have been classified.

Trump was not in Florida when the search took place, another source familiar with the matter told Axios' Alayna Treene.

Flashback: The National Archives in January retrieved 15 boxes of documents and other items from Mar-a-Lago — including correspondence with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and other world leaders — that should have been handed over when Trump's presidency ended.

Between the lines: The FBI cannot execute a search warrant without approval from a federal judge. That means the Justice Department — which is engaged in multiple investigations into Trump and his allies — has probable cause that a crime was committed and that evidence exists at Mar-a-Lago.

Trump is also under federal scrutiny for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, in addition to various criminal and civil investigations at the state level.

The big picture: This unprecedented development — and the closely watched prosecutorial steps that will follow — has the potential to tear the country apart. Trump remains the dominant force in the Republican Party and the favorite to win the GOP presidential nomination in 2024.

Trump allies will seize on the search to accuse the Biden Justice Department of a political "witch hunt."

DOJ typically does not carry out politically sensitive law enforcement activity close to an election, though the timeframe for that guidance is ambiguous. The midterms are in 92 days.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland rarely discusses Trump investigations, but he stressed last week that no one — including the former president — is above the law.

The bottom line: "Taken together, this is one of the most significant, sensitive, and politically explosive actions the US Justice Department and FBI has ever taken — one of a tiny handful of times it's ever investigated a president," tweeted journalist and historian Garrett Graff

Palmer Report, Analysis: So much for Trump 2024, Bill Palmer, Aug. 8, 2022. Donald Trump has spent the past year and a half hinting that he’s going to run for President in 2024, and raking in quasi-campaign donations the whole time.

bill palmer report logo headerBut even after he spent the past six months repeatedly leaking to the media that he was planning to imminently announce his campaign, he never did. Then the media confirmed last month that the DOJ had been investigating Trump for several months, meaning Trump missed the window of opportunity to announce a campaign before the average person found out he was only doing it to distract from the criminal investigation he was under. Now Trump has really missed the window.

The DOJ had the FBI carry out a search warrant at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home today, making abundantly clear to the average American that Trump is under federal criminal investigation, and that he’s more likely to be in prison by 2024 than in a presidential race. Trump’s base will squeal, but they’re irrelevant to the process. With mainstream Americans now understanding that any Trump 2024 campaign will be nonsense, the mainstream media won’t try to take any such campaign seriously. But there’s more.

This raid wasn’t a part of the DOJ’s investigation into Donald Trump’s fake elector scheme, but instead part of the DOJ’s separate investigation into Donald Trump’s theft of highly classified documents. Marc Elias noted that under the law, anyone who’s convicted of stealing classified evidence is disqualified from office. It’s actually one of the relatively few things under the law that can disqualify you from office.

So if Trump were to be convicted of stealing documents – and that’s now likely, given that the DOJ already would have needed to have strong evidence of his guilt just to obtain today’s warrant – he wouldn’t be allowed to become President in 2024 even if he did announce he was running. Any Trump 2024 campaign was just going to be a scam anyway. But this would completely delegitimize any notion of Trump 2024, thus perhaps discouraging Trump from even pretending he’s running.

Aug. 4

 

Alex Jones, the founder of right-wing media group Infowars, addresses a crowd of pro-Trump protesters after they storm the grounds of the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC (Photo by Jon Cherry via Getty Images).Alex Jones, the founder of right-wing media group Infowars, addresses a crowd of pro-Trump protesters after they storm the grounds of the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC (Photo by Jon Cherry via Getty Images).

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: In the GOP, the paranoid fringe is becoming the establishment, Dana Milbank, Aug. 4, 2022 (print ed.). 
dana milbank newestEarlier this week, Arizona’s attorney general tried to lay to rest the Trump-fueled fiction that hundreds of dead people voted in the 2020 election.

Mark Brnovich reported that, of the 282 deceased voters alleged by Cyber Ninjas, the clownish firm Republicans enlisted to do an election “audit,” only one was actually dead on Election Day. “Our agents investigated all individuals that Cyber Ninjas reported as dead, and many were very surprised to learn they were allegedly deceased,” he wrote, calling such allegations “insufficient and not corroborated.”
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But Brnovich was only half right. While the dead might not be voting in large numbers in Arizona, the brain-dead are. Evidently, such voters are now a majority of the Republican primary electorate.

The day after the attorney general’s attempted debunking of the dead-voter fallacy, Brnovich lost Arizona’s Republican Senate primary to an election denier, Blake Masters. Another election denier, Kari Lake, who calls President Biden “illegitimate,” was leading in her bid for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. An election denier prevailed in the attorney general primary, too. And Arizona Republicans, by a large margin, chose as their nominee for secretary of state — the person in charge of elections — one Mark Finchem, a man who:

  • Was at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 (he says he didn’t go inside) and is a self-proclaimed member of the Oath Keepers, the extremist militia group whose leaders are facing charges of seditious conspiracy in the coup attempt.
  • Is a QAnon conventiongoer who called the coronavirus vaccine a “crime against humanity” and the pandemic itself a “manufactured illusion.”
  • Touted his endorsement by the antisemitic head of far-right social media site Gab, and claimed that the violent, neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville in 2017 had “Deep State PSYOP written all over it.”
  • Was Arizona coordinator of the Coalition of Western States, which supported the armed (and ultimately violent) occupation of federal land in Oregon in 2016.
  • Played a key role in the Trump campaign’s fake-elector scheme in Arizona, attempted to decertify the election results, wants to outlaw voting machines and empower state legislators to overturn elections, and has called for the arrests of the current secretary of state and of his Democratic opponent.

It was bound to happen sooner or later. After several years in which the Republican establishment admitted more and more extremists into the mainstream, the lunatic fringe has now become the establishment. With Arizona’s Republican primary voters nominating a full slate of election saboteurs, it cannot be denied that democracy is on the ballot in November.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Faces Questions About His Net Worth in Interview He Tried to Avoid, Ben Protess, Jonah E. Bromwich and William K. Rashbaum, Aug. 3, 2022 (print ed.). Former President Donald Trump has embraced the verbal sparring of legal depositions in the past, but now faces significant risk.

For decades, Donald J. Trump has boasted with impunity about a subject close to his heart and ego: his net worth.

“I look better if I’m worth $10 billion than if I’m worth $4 billion,” he once said when disputing his ranking on the Forbes billionaires list. In a court case, he acknowledged that when it came to describing the value of his brand, “I’m as accurate as I think I can be.” And when he described his self-aggrandizing style in his book, “The Art of the Deal,” he chose a phrase that has followed him ever since: “truthful hyperbole.”’

But now, Mr. Trump will face questions under oath about that pattern of embellishment in an investigation that may shape the future of his family real estate business. The former president and his eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, are expected to be questioned later this month by the New York State attorney general’s office, which has been conducting a civil investigation into whether he and his company fraudulently inflated the value of his assets. His son, Donald Trump Jr., was interviewed last week, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

 

Fox News host Tucker Carlson shares quality time with former President Trump at the LIV Golf event over the weekend in Bedminster, NJ.djt

mediaite square logoFox News host Tucker Carlson shares quality time with former President Trump at the LIV Golf event over the weekend in Bedminster, NJ. Mediaite, NYT Reporter Says Tucker Carlson Trashes Trump in Private: He ‘Thinks Very Little’ of His Audience, Kipp Jones, Aug. 1, 2022. Jeremy Peters of the New York Times claimed Monday night to have the inside track on how Fox News host Tucker Carlson truly feels about former President Donald Trump.

Recent Headlines

Aug. 3

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Faces Questions About His Net Worth in Interview He Tried to Avoid, Ben Protess, Jonah E. Bromwich and William K. Rashbaum, Aug. 3, 2022 (print ed.). Former President Donald Trump has embraced the verbal sparring of legal depositions in the past, but now faces significant risk.

For decades, Donald J. Trump has boasted with impunity about a subject close to his heart and ego: his net worth.

“I look better if I’m worth $10 billion than if I’m worth $4 billion,” he once said when disputing his ranking on the Forbes billionaires list. In a court case, he acknowledged that when it came to describing the value of his brand, “I’m as accurate as I think I can be.” And when he described his self-aggrandizing style in his book, “The Art of the Deal,” he chose a phrase that has followed him ever since: “truthful hyperbole.”’

But now, Mr. Trump will face questions under oath about that pattern of embellishment in an investigation that may shape the future of his family real estate business. The former president and his eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, are expected to be questioned later this month by the New York State attorney general’s office, which has been conducting a civil investigation into whether he and his company fraudulently inflated the value of his assets. His son, Donald Trump Jr., was interviewed last week, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Aug. 2

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The latest Trump grift? Burying Ivana at their golf club, Dana Milbank, right, Aug. 2, 2022 (print ed.). In his forced (and, dana milbank newesthe hopes, temporary) retirement, defeated former president Donald Trump has come up with a new undertaking. He’s undertaking.

Technically, his Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., is now acting as a “cemetery company.” (Suggested slogan: “People are dying to get into Bedminster!”) And he has already landed his first occupant: He just buried his late ex-wife, Ivana Trump, right near the first tee.

The former president has shown little interest in conventional post-presidency pursuits, such as building a presidential library; he’s not much for reading, and he’s trying to hide his presidential papers, not display them. But why would he bury himself in, of all things, the interment trade?

Simple: He has seemingly turned his late ex-wife (and his oldest kids have turned their late mother) into a tax dodge. Dartmouth professor Brooke Harrington, a specialist in tax optimization, checked the New Jersey tax code and reported that operating a cemetery at the Trump National offers “a trifecta of tax avoidance. Property, income & sales tax, all eliminated.” She tweeted that it “looks like one corpse will suffice to make at least 3 forms of tax vanish.”

It wasn’t clear then how much a cemetery tax break on part of the property would help Trump because he had already avoided taxes by getting local authorities to declare the larger, wooded site a farm — on grounds that some trees there were turned into mulch.

But in his post-presidency, Trump has exhumed all manner of grift techniques. The Post reports that he used the presidential seal, apparently illegally, during last week’s Saudi-sponsored golf tournament at the Bedminster course. Trump has also milked his supporters for $121 million in campaign cash but, Republican operative Karl Rove complains, has not been using much of it to help GOP candidates.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump endorses ‘ERIC’ in Missouri primary, a name shared by rivals, David Weigel, Aug. 2, 2022 (print ed.). The former president’s unusual endorsement added uncertainty to an already tumultuous race.

The Republicans competing for the U.S. Senate nomination in Tuesday’s primary here spent their final day of campaigning in a familiar state of suspense — checking their phones for a statement from Donald Trump.

But by day’s end, the former president injected more chaos into an already tumultuous race, simply endorsing “ERIC” — a first name shared by two rival candidates — former governor Eric Greitens and state Attorney General Eric Schmitt — as he suggested he was leaving it to voters to choose between them.

“There is a BIG Election in the Great State of Missouri, and we must send a MAGA Champion and True Warrior to the U.S. Senate, someone who will fight for Border Security, Election Integrity, our Military and Great Veterans, together with having a powerful toughness on Crime and the Border,” Trump wrote in a statement. “I trust the Great People of Missouri, on this one, to make up their own minds, much as they did when they gave me landslide victories in the 2016 and 2020 Elections, and I am therefore proud to announce that ERIC has my Complete and Total Endorsement!”

The unusual statement came hours after Trump wrote on Truth Social: “I will be endorsing in the Great State of Missouri Republican race (Nomination) for Senate sometime today!” In recent days, several of the candidates to replace retiring Sen. Roy Blunt (R) made an 11th-hour pitch for the nod in the bitterly contested race.

Aug. 1

 

fox upside down news

washington post logoWashington Post, The Murdochs and Trump aligned for mutual benefit. That may be changing, Sarah Ellison and Jeremy Barr, Aug. 1, 2022 (print ed.). In the frenzied coverage of the Jan. 6 House committee hearings, Fox News has been the outlier. While every other major network carried the first public testimony live in prime time in June, Fox relegated the feed to its little-watched business channel.

fox news logo SmallThe network has aired midday hearings live, but Trump-boosting opinion hosts have tended to downplay revelations. When former White House aide Cassidy Hutchison gave bombshell testimony a month ago, Laura Ingraham called it “bad acting.”

But the owner of Fox News, Rupert Murdoch, right, has been watching the hearings with a less dismissive eye. And there are signs that the proceedings have helped convince him that the former president is losing his political rupert murdoch newexpediency.

Speculation over the 91-year-old media executive’s thinking crescendoed after the first set of hearings concluded this month and two of his papers published nearly simultaneous editorials. “Trump’s silence on Jan. 6 is damning,” the New York Post declared. “Character is revealed in a crisis,” the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board concluded. “Mr. Trump utterly failed his.”

new york post logoMurdoch’s support for Donald Trump has been crucial to his political career and at times to his efforts to reverse his 2020 election loss. But as Trump inches closer to a third presidential run under the glare of criminal, civil and governmental investigations, multiple associates of Murdoch told The Washington Post that it appears he has lost his enthusiasm for Trump.

But Murdoch, who controls a vast swath of the political media world, has spent decades learning to ride the waves of U.S. politics and hedge his bets on candidates. Fox has tried to pull away from the 45th president before, only to return in the face of Trump’s fury.

 

Fox News host Tucker Carlson shares quality time with former President Trump at the LIV Golf event over the weekend in Bedminster, NJ.djt

Fox News host Tucker Carlson shares quality time with former President Trump at the LIV Golf event over the weekend in Bedminster, NJ.

Mediaite, NYT Reporter Says Tucker Carlson Trashes Trump in Private: He ‘Thinks Very Little’ of His Audience, Kipp Jones, Aug. 1, 2022. Jeremy Peters of the New York Times claimed Monday night to have the inside track on how Fox News host Tucker Carlson truly feels about former President Donald Trump.

mediaite square logoHe shared some of those insights from his reporting with Newsmax TV host Eric Bolling. Peters’ book Insurgency: How Republicans Lost Their Party and Got Everything They Ever Wanted was released in February.

According to the reporter and author, Carlson personally holds Trump in contempt, but is more than happy to align himself with him publicly to siphon support and viewers.

On The Balance Monday, Bolling noted Carlson was at Trump’s Bedminster, New Jersey golf club over the weekend, where the pair was photographed together.

liv golf logo“I saw a lot of pictures floating around the internet of Trump and Tucker Carlson kind of yucking it up a little bit in the Trump box,” Bolling said.

Bolling asked Peters why he feels Carlson would be seen with Trump, despite Peters’ assessment that cable’s top-rated host is not a fan.

Peters was blunt in his response:

I think you know as well as I do that Tucker, in private, what he says about Trump is very different than what he says about Trump in public, and it benefits him to be seen having photos taken with Trump at the golf course and everything. I would not be surprised at all to see Tucker, I quoted him in my book, he said, “I am voting for Kanye West.”

This is in 2020 so… he didn’t vote for Trump as far as we know. I mean, I don’t know, I wasn’t there with him in the in the ballot box, but we know that Tucker Carlson is one of these people who benefits from having the Trump audience on his side, but thinks very little of the people who make up that audience.

Bolling stated he believes Carlson might have presidential ambitions, and if he ran, he would need Trump’s voters to get him there.

He turned the segment over to Peters for a final thought.

“I think there are a lot of people, Eric, who snicker behind Trump’s back, who say that they support him publicly and they like his ideas, and they like him,” Peters said. “But privately, it’s a different story, and that to me is the ultimate fallacy of the conservative media.”

 

July

July 30

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Homeland Security watchdog halted plan to recover Secret Service texts, records show, Maria Sacchetti and Carol D. Leonnig, July 30, 2022 (print ed.). The Homeland Security watchdog came up with a plan to recover text messages exchanged around the time of the Jan. 6, 2021, siege on the Capitol, and then abandoned it.

us dhs big eagle logo4The Department of Homeland Security’s chief watchdog scrapped its investigative team’s effort to collect agency phones to try to recover deleted Secret Service texts this year, according to four people with knowledge of the decision and internal records reviewed by The Washington Post.

In early February, after learning that the Secret Service’s text messages had been erased as part of a migration to new devices, staff at Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari’s office planned to contact all DHS agencies offering to have data specialists help retrieve messages from their phones, according to two government whistleblowers who provided reports to Congress.

But later that month, Cuffari’s office decided it would not collect or review any agency phones, according to three people briefed on the decision.

The latest revelation comes as Democratic lawmakers have accused Cuffari’s office of failing to aggressively investigate the agency’s actions in response to the violent attack on the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump on Jan. 6, 2021.

Cuffari wrote a letter to the House and Senate Homeland Security committees this month saying the Secret Service’s text messages from the time of the attack had been “erased.” But he did not immediately disclose that his office first discovered that deletion in December and failed to alert lawmakers or examine the phones. Nor did he alert Congress that other text messages were missing, including those of the two top Trump appointees running the Department of Homeland Security during the final days of the administration.

Late Friday night, Cuffari’s spokesman issued a statement declining to comment on the new discovery.

“To preserve the integrity of our work and consistent with U.S. Attorney General guidelines, DHS OIG does not confirm the existence of or otherwise comment about ongoing reviews or criminal investigations, nor do we discuss our communications with Congress,” the statement read.

Cuffari, a former adviser to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R), has been in his post since July 2019 after being nominated by Trump.

DHS spokeswoman Marsha Espinosa said the agency is cooperating with investigators and “looking into every avenue to recover text messages and other materials for the Jan. 6 investigations.”

Jan. 6 texts missing for Trump Homeland Security’s Wolf and Cuccinelli

After discovering that some of the text messages the watchdog sought had been deleted, the Federal Protective Service, a DHS agency that guards federal buildings, offered their phones to the inspector general’s investigators, saying they lacked the resources to recover lost texts and other records on their own, according to three people familiar with the plan who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive investigation.

A senior forensics analyst in the inspector general’s office took steps to collect the Federal Protective Service phones, the people said. But late on the night of Friday, Feb. 18, one of several deputies who report to Cuffari’s management team wrote an email to investigators instructing them not to take the phones and not to seek any data from them, according to a copy of an internal record that was shared with The Post.

Staff investigators also drafted a letter in late January and early February to all DHS agencies offering to help recover any text messages or other data that might have been lost. But Cuffari’s management team later changed that draft to say that if agencies could not retrieve phone messages for the Jan. 6 period, they “should provide a detailed list of unavailable data and the reason the information is unavailable,” the three people said.

World Crisis Radio, Commentary: Concrete signals emerge that Department of Justice is finally investigating the actions of Trump and his faction! Webster G. webster tarpley twitterTarpley, Ph.D., right, July 30, 2022. Pence staffers Short and Jacob testify to federal grand jury; contents of Eastman’s phone under FBI scrutiny; ex-Pentagon chief Miller says Defense Department never got order to post 10,000 guardsmen on Hill for January 6;

Under Trump’s court of miracles, Secret Service deep-sixed critical emails; Communications of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and deputy Cuccinelli have also disappeared; Many subpoenas needed to restore order; Dems call joseph cuffarifor ouster of DHS IG Joseph Cuffari, left.

A right-wing extremist government in Rome with Meloni-Salvini-Berlusconi would be worse than the Orban regime in Hungary; Orban’s tirade against the so-called mongrelization of the races has been condemned by one of his former associates as worthy of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels; But the Magyar dictator will be welcome to cavort with Trump at CPAC Texas next week!

GOP has antagonized women, parents, blacks, gays, veterans, golfers, 9/11 families, while gratifying MAGAt hooligans, armed militias and racist fanatics; Trump snubbed by Fox News, who declined to carry his latest rally, while the ever-faithful OANN may soon cease to exist;

Synthesis of recent polls suggests that Senate is leaning Democratic, with promising leads in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia and other states; House generic ballot gives Democrats more than a fighting chance; Radical Trump stooge Mastriano in Pennsylvania falls behind Shapiro;

$280 billion CHIPS bill will guarantee US leadership in semiconductors, AI, and other strategic production; This bill formally marks the end of Globalization (1990-2022);

Manchin-Schumer anti-inflation measure contains kilowatt-hour subsidy to keep existing US nuclear power plants producing; Bill includes a nuclear power production credit based on plant revenue;

Xi threatens Biden with old saw that those who play with fire will perish; Arrogance and impudence of chauvinist butchers of Beijing grows intolerable; Pelosi should feel free to visit Taiwan during her Asia trip!

Yale research group led by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld shows crippling impact of departure of 1,000 foreign firms representing 40% of GDP plus toughest economic sanctions on Putin’s war economy; Russia’s position as a commodity exporter is permanently weaker, while imports have collapsed; Pipelines go to Europe, not China; Performance of Moscow financial markets is world’s worst!

 

House Jan. 6 Select Investigating Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS.) (Photo via NBC News).

House Jan. 6 Select Investigating Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS.) ((Photo via NBC News).

washington post logoWashington Post, The status of key investigations involving former president Donald Trump, Matt Zapotosky, Matthew Brown, Shayna Jacobs, Devlin Barrett and Jacqueline Alemany, Updated July 30, 2022. Probes of the ex-president’s conduct in politics, government and business are underway in multiple places.

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

The probes threaten Trump with criminal or financial penalties, or plain old public embarrassment, as he remains a dominant presence in his party and weighs a 2024 bid to return to the White House. Here’s a list of the key investigations and where they stand.

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

washington post logoWashington Post, The Murdochs and Trump aligned for mutual benefit. That may be changing, Sarah Ellison and Jeremy Barr, July 30, 2022. In the frenzied coverage of the Jan. 6 House committee hearings, Fox News has been the outlier. While every other major network carried the first public testimony live in prime time in June, Fox relegated the feed to its little-watched business channel.

The network has aired midday hearings live, but Trump-boosting opinion hosts have tended to downplay revelations. When former White House aide Cassidy Hutchison gave bombshell testimony a month ago, Laura Ingraham called it “bad acting.”

But the owner of Fox News, Rupert Murdoch, has been watching the hearings with a less dismissive eye. And there are signs that the proceedings have helped convince him that the former president is losing his political expediency.

Speculation over the 91-year-old media executive’s thinking crescendoed after the first set of hearings concluded this month and two of his papers published nearly simultaneous editorials. “Trump’s silence on Jan. 6 is damning,” the New York Post declared. “Character is revealed in a crisis,” the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board concluded. “Mr. Trump utterly failed his.”

Murdoch’s support for Donald Trump has been crucial to his political career and at times to his efforts to reverse his 2020 election loss. But as Trump inches closer to a third presidential run under the glare of criminal, civil and governmental investigations, multiple associates of Murdoch told The Washington Post that it appears he has lost his enthusiasm for Trump.

But Murdoch, who controls a vast swath of the political media world, has spent decades learning to ride the waves of U.S. politics and hedge his bets on candidates. Fox has tried to pull away from the 45th president before, only to return in the face of Trump’s fury.

Politico, The RNC ‘election integrity’ official appearing in DOJ’s Jan. 6 subpoenas, Betsy Woodruff Swan, July 30, 2022. In addition to a group of former President Donald Trump’s top lawyers, the Justice Department’s Jan. 6 probe is also seeking communications to and from a Republican National Committee staffer in a sensitive role.

politico CustomAt least three witnesses in DOJ’s investigation of so-called alternate electors in the 2020 election — two in Arizona and another in Georgia — have received subpoenas demanding communications to and from Joshua Findlay, who is now the RNC’s national director for election integrity.

rnc logoPolitico reviewed the subpoena sent to the Georgia witness after the Washington Post published copies of two Arizona subpoenas. Findlay’s appearance in the documents means the Justice Department has taken interest in his communications as part of its probe related to pro-Trump GOP officials and activists who presented themselves as legitimate electors from states where Joe Biden won.

Findlay worked for Trump’s 2020 campaign in multiple capacities. In January 2019, the campaign announced he was joining the team that would handle the 2020 Republican National Convention. After the convention, he worked as an attorney on the Trump campaign’s legal team.

 

  Donald Trump greets Phil Mickelson on the driving range during Day One of the LIV Golf Invitational—Bedminster at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster on July 29, 2022 (Photo by Charles Laberge for LIV Golf via Getty Images).

Donald Trump greets Phil Mickelson on the driving range during Day One of the LIV Golf Invitational—Bedminster at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster on July 29, 2022 (Photo by Charles Laberge for LIV Golf via Getty Images).

ny times logoNew York Times, On Golf: At LIV Tournament, Thin Crowds and a Tense Start, Bill Pennington, Photographs by Doug Mills, July 30, 2022 (print ed.). The controversy over the series, which is backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, isn’t going away. But fans enjoyed the camaraderie among players.

liv golf logoStanding over his ball on Friday, Phil Mickelson, the prized acquisition of the new, Saudi-backed LIV Golf series, lined up his opening tee shot in the breakaway circuit’s event at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster.

Just as Mickelson, who reportedly received an upfront $200 million signing bonus to join the insurgent tour, was set to begin his swing, a fan 15 yards to his right yelled: “Do it for the Saudi royal family!”

Mickelson backed away from the shot as a security official approached the fan and told him he would be removed from the grounds if there was another outburst.

 

Donald Trump and Yasir al-Rumayyan, head of the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia, look on from the second tee during the pro-am prior to the LIV Golf Invitational—Bedminster at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster on July 28, 2022 (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

Donald Trump and Yasir al-Rumayyan, head of the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia, look on from the second tee during the pro-am prior to the LIV Golf Invitational—Bedminster at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster on July 28, 2022 (Photo by Cliff Hawkins via Getty Images).

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump uses presidential seal at N.J. golf club amid ethics complaints, Mariana Alfaro, Rick Maese and Ellen Francis, July 30, 2022 (print ed.). Former president Donald Trump was spotted using the presidential seal on multiple items during the LIV Golf tournament at his Bedminster, N.J., golf course.

The seal was plastered on towels, golf carts and other items as the former president participated in the pro-am event of the Saudi-sponsored tournament Thursday.

It is against federal law to use the presidential and vice-presidential seals in ways that could convey “a false impression of sponsorship or approval by the Government of the United States.”

While violating this law could result in imprisonment of “not more than six months,” a fine or both, these punishments are rarely doled out.

This is not the first time the display of the seal has been reported at Trump properties. The logo appeared on a marker at his golf course in West Palm Beach, Fla., in an Instagram post earlier this year, according to Forbes. WNYC and ProPublica reported in 2018 that the Trump Organization ordered golf course tee markers with the emblem on them.

Last year, a D.C.-based watchdog group accused his Bedminster golf club of profiting from using images of the presidential seal.

“Unlawful use of the presidential seal for commercial purposes is no trivial matter, especially when it involves a former president who is actively challenging the legitimacy of the current president,” Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said when it filed the 2021 complaint.

As Trump teed off Thursday in the pro-am at the latest LIV Golf Invitational Series tournament, the event was closed to the public but open to media. This week marks the third event of the Saudi-funded LIV Golf series, with which Trump has joined forces in Bedminster in the face of criticism, and its second in the United States.

 

 Former president Donald Trump's golf bag and towel are seen during the pro-am of the LIV Golf tournament at his club in Bedminster, N.J. (Photo by Seth Wenig for the Associated Press).

Former president Donald Trump's golf bag and towel are seen during the pro-am of the LIV Golf tournament at his club in Bedminster, N.J. (Photo by Seth Wenig for the Associated Press).

 

vicky ward investigatesVicky Ward Investigates: “He's Setting Himself Up as a Shadow President,” Vicky Ward, above, July 29, 2022. Former White House Ethics Czar Richard Painter on why it matters that Donald Trump is reportedly using the presidential seal for the Saudi-backed LIV golf tour.

I’ve been fascinated by the tensions caused by the emergence of the Saudi-backed LIV golf tour, a tournament currently being hosted at Bedminster, one of Donald Trump’s courses. This is partly because Trump’s long-standing feud with the PGA (who broke with him over January 6) is in my reporting wheelhouse, but also simply because I love playing the game of golf.

pga tour logoIt’s occurred to me as I’ve read the reporting about the rifts between golfers such as Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, and Bryson DeChambeau—who have reportedly taken individual payments between $90 million and $200 million from LIV Golf (whose major shareholder is the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia)—and those who have stuck with the PGA that, if you’re not a golfer, you might not understand the full thorniness of this.

But complicating all this, in the way that only he can complicate things, is Trump. His alliance with LIV and his bad-mouthing of the PGA (after their desertion of his golf courses) has led to accusations of blood-money and complaints from families of victims of 9/11.

And now we have today’s news: Trump has reportedly plastered the presidential seal on towels, on golf carts, and on other items at Bedminster—which the Washington ethics group CREW believes to be a federal crime.

richard painterBut what does this mean? Will anything happen as a result? Or like so many of the ethics breaches we saw in the Trump administration—and which I reported on—will everyone just carry on as if nothing had happened?

I turned, as usual, to former Bush ethics czar Richard Painter for his opinion. If you read what Painter says closely, you’ll see he says that what matters is who is in attendance at Bedminster. Are there any foreign leaders? If there are, “it’s serious,” says Painter.

What follows is edited and condensed for clarity. Take a read.

ny times logoNew York Times, Fox News, Once Home to Trump, Now Often Ignores Him, Jeremy W. Peters, July 29, 2022. Former President Trump hasn’t been interviewed on the network in more than 100 days, and other Republicans often get the attention he once did.

The network, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch and boosted Mr. Trump’s ascension from real estate developer and reality television star to the White House, is now often bypassing him in favor of showcasing other Republicans.

In the former president’s view, according to two people who have spoken to him recently, Fox’s ignoring him is an affront far worse than running stories and commentary that he has complained are “too negative.” The network is effectively displacing him from his favorite spot: the center of the news cycle.

On July 22, as Mr. Trump was rallying supporters in Arizona and teasing the possibility of running for president in 2024, saying “We may have to do it again,” Fox News chose not to show the event — the same approach it has taken for nearly all of his rallies this year. Instead, the network aired Laura Ingraham’s interview with a possible rival for the 2024 Republican nomination, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida. It was the first of two prime-time interviews Fox aired with Mr. DeSantis in the span of five days; he appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show shortly after talking to Ms. Ingraham.

When Mr. Trump spoke to a gathering of conservatives in Washington this week, Fox did not air the speech live. It instead showed a few clips after he was done speaking. That same day, it did broadcast live — for 17 minutes — a speech by former Vice President Mike Pence.

Mr. Trump has complained recently to aides that even Sean Hannity, his friend of 20 years, doesn’t seem to be paying him much attention anymore, one person who spoke to him recalled.

July 29

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 texts missing for Trump Homeland Security’s Wolf and Cuccinelli, Carol D. Leonnig and Maria Sacchetti, July 29, 2022 (print ed.). Text messages for former President Donald Trump’s acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, right, and acting chad wolfdeputy secretary Ken Cuccinelli are missing for a key period leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, according to four people briefed on the matter and internal emails.

This discovery of missing records for the senior-most homeland security officials, which has not been previously reported, increases the volume of potential evidence that has vanished regarding the time around the Capitol attack.

us dhs big eagle logo4It comes as both congressional and criminal investigators at the Department of Justice seek to piece together an effort by the president and his allies to overturn the results of the election, which culminated in a pro-Trump rally that became a violent riot in the halls of Congress.

The Department of Homeland Security notified the agency’s inspector general in late February that Wolf’'s and Cuccinelli’s texts were lost in a “reset” of their government phones when they left their jobs in January 2021 in preparation for the new Biden administration, according to an internal record obtained by the Project on Government Oversight and shared with The Washington Post.

The office of the department’s undersecretary of management also told the government watchdog that the text messages for its boss, undersecretary Randolph “Tex” Alles, the former Secret Service director, were also no longer available due to a previously planned phone reset.

joseph cufari testimony

The office of Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari, above, did not press the department leadership at that time to explain why they did not preserve these records, nor seek ways to recover the lost data, according to the four people briefed on the watchdog’s actions. Cuffari also failed to alert Congress to the potential destruction of government records.

The revelation comes on the heels of the discovery that text messages of Secret Service agents — critical firsthand witnesses to the events leading up to Jan. 6 — were deleted more than a year ago and may never be recovered.

The news of their missing records set off a firestorm because the texts could have corroborated the account of a former White House aide describing the president’s state of mind on January 6. In one case, the aide, Cassidy Hutchinson said a top official told her that Trump had tried to attack a senior Secret Service agent who refused to take the president to the Capitol with his supporters marching there.

In a nearly identical scenario to that of the DHS leaders’ texts, the Secret Service alerted Cuffari’s office seven months ago, in December 2021, that the agency had deleted thousands of agents’ and employees’ text messages in an agency-wide reset of government phones. Cuffari’s office did not notify Congress until mid-July, despite multiple congressional committees’ pending requests for these records.

ken cuccinelliThe telephone and text communications of Wolf and Cuccinelli, left, in the days leading up to Jan. 6 could have shed considerable light on Trump’s actions and plans. In the weeks before the attack on the Capitol, Trump had been pressuring both men to help him claim the 2020 election results were rigged and even to seize voting machines in key swing states to try to “re-run” the election.

“It is extremely troubling that the issue of deleted text messages related to the January 6 attack on the Capitol is not limited to the Secret Service, but also includes Chad Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli, who were running DHS at the time,” House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson said in a statement.

“It appears the DHS Inspector General has known about these deleted texts for months but failed to notify Congress,” Thompson said. “If the Inspector General had informed Congress, we may have been able to get better records from Senior administration officials regarding one of the most tragic days in our democracy’s history.”

Neither Cuccinelli nor Wolf responded to requests for comment. DHS’s Office of Inspector General did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Palmer Report, Commentary: The Trump Secret Service text messages, BIll Palmer, right, July 29, 2022. When it was revealed that the Secret Service bill palmerhad deleted January 6th-related text messages after Congress asked for them, the Homeland Security Inspector General launched a criminal investigation into the matter.

But even after that, multiple congressional committee chairs demanded the resignation of the Homeland Security Inspector General, alleging that he’d failed to do his job. Now we’re getting a clearer sense of just how badly the Inspector General failed at his job – and just how deep this rabbit hole goes.

bill palmer report logo headerCongress is alleging that the Inspector General knew months ago that the Secret Service had deleted the text messages in question, and that the Inspector General waited until just recently to finally inform Congress about it. Now it’s even uglier.

The Washington Post is reporting that the January 6th-related text messages from Donald Trump’s acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and his top deputy Ken Cuccinelli are also conveniently missing. More to the point, the Homeland Security Inspector General has reportedly known about this since February, but failed to notify Congress.

The implications here are staggering. Who deleted the January 6th text messages of the top two Homeland Security officials, and why? These guys are both staunch Trump loyalists. What were they texting about? After all, in their role as the leaders of Homeland Security, they oversaw the Secret Service. And why would the Homeland Security Inspector General, of all people, help cover up the fact that these text messages were deleted?

This all just keeps getting uglier, in terms of who all might have been involved, what all was covered up, and who might have covered it up. The January 6th Committee (and at this point presumably the DOJ) will get to the bottom of this one way or the other, because conspiracies and coverups that involve this many people always start crumbling once it’s discovered that a coverup took place. At this rate Donald Trump’s election plot is going to end up making the Watergate scandal look like a mere overdue library book in comparison.

 

  Donald Trump greets Phil Mickelson on the driving range during Day One of the LIV Golf Invitational—Bedminster at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster on July 29, 2022 (Photo by Charles Laberge for LIV Golf via Getty Images).

Donald Trump greets Phil Mickelson on the driving range during Day One of the LIV Golf Invitational—Bedminster at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster on July 29, 2022 (Photo by Charles Laberge for LIV Golf via Getty Images).

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump uses presidential seal at N.J. golf club amid ethics complaints, Mariana Alfaro, Rick Maese and Ellen Francis, July 29, 2022. Former president Donald Trump was spotted using the presidential seal on multiple items during the LIV Golf tournament at his Bedminster, N.J., golf course.

The seal was plastered on towels, golf carts and other items as the former president participated in the pro-am event of the Saudi-sponsored tournament Thursday.

It is against federal law to use the presidential and vice-presidential seals in ways that could convey “a false impression of sponsorship or approval by the Government of the United States.”

While violating this law could result in imprisonment of “not more than six months,” a fine or both, these punishments are rarely doled out.

This is not the first time the display of the seal has been reported at Trump properties. The logo appeared on a marker at his golf course in West Palm Beach, Fla., in an Instagram post earlier this year, according to Forbes. WNYC and ProPublica reported in 2018 that the Trump Organization ordered golf course tee markers with the emblem on them.

Last year, a D.C.-based watchdog group accused his Bedminster golf club of profiting from using images of the presidential seal.

“Unlawful use of the presidential seal for commercial purposes is no trivial matter, especially when it involves a former president who is actively challenging the legitimacy of the current president,” Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said when it filed the 2021 complaint.

As Trump teed off Thursday in the pro-am at the latest LIV Golf Invitational Series tournament, the event was closed to the public but open to media. This week marks the third event of the Saudi-funded LIV Golf series, with which Trump has joined forces in Bedminster in the face of criticism, and its second in the United States.

 

Donald Trump and Yasir al-Rumayyan, head of the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia, look on from the second tee during the pro-am prior to the LIV Golf Invitational—Bedminster at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster on July 28, 2022 (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

Donald Trump and Yasir al-Rumayyan, head of the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia, look on from the second tee during the pro-am prior to the LIV Golf Invitational—Bedminster at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster on July 28, 2022 (Photo by Cliff Hawkins via Getty Images).

 

vicky ward investigatesVicky Ward Investigates: “He's Setting Himself Up as a Shadow President,” Vicky Ward, above, July 29, 2022. Former White House Ethics Czar Richard Painter on why it matters that Donald Trump is reportedly using the presidential seal for the Saudi-backed LIV golf tour.

I’ve been fascinated by the tensions caused by the emergence of the Saudi-backed LIV golf tour, a tournament currently being hosted at Bedminster, one of Donald Trump’s courses. This is partly because Trump’s long-standing feud with the PGA (who broke with him over January 6) is in my reporting wheelhouse, but also simply because I love playing the game of golf.

pga tour logoIt’s occurred to me as I’ve read the reporting about the rifts between golfers such as Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, and Bryson DeChambeau—who have reportedly taken individual payments between $90 million and $200 million from LIV Golf (whose major shareholder is the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia)—and those who have stuck with the PGA that, if you’re not a golfer, you might not understand the full thorniness of this.

But complicating all this, in the way that only he can complicate things, is Trump. His alliance with LIV and his bad-mouthing of the PGA (after their desertion of his golf courses) has led to accusations of blood-money and complaints from families of victims of 9/11.

And now we have today’s news: Trump has reportedly plastered the presidential seal on towels, on golf carts, and on other items at Bedminster—which the Washington ethics group CREW believes to be a federal crime.

richard painterBut what does this mean? Will anything happen as a result? Or like so many of the ethics breaches we saw in the Trump administration—and which I reported on—will everyone just carry on as if nothing had happened?

I turned, as usual, to former Bush ethics czar Richard Painter for his opinion. If you read what Painter says closely, you’ll see he says that what matters is who is in attendance at Bedminster. Are there any foreign leaders? If there are, “it’s serious,” says Painter.

What follows is edited and condensed for clarity. Take a read.

ny times logoNew York Times, Fox News, Once Home to Trump, Now Often Ignores Him, Jeremy W. Peters, July 29, 2022. Former President Trump hasn’t been interviewed on the network in more than 100 days, and other Republicans often get the attention he once did.

The network, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch and boosted Mr. Trump’s ascension from real estate developer and reality television star to the White House, is now often bypassing him in favor of showcasing other Republicans.

In the former president’s view, according to two people who have spoken to him recently, Fox’s ignoring him is an affront far worse than running stories and commentary that he has complained are “too negative.” The network is effectively displacing him from his favorite spot: the center of the news cycle.

On July 22, as Mr. Trump was rallying supporters in Arizona and teasing the possibility of running for president in 2024, saying “We may have to do it again,” Fox News chose not to show the event — the same approach it has taken for nearly all of his rallies this year. Instead, the network aired Laura Ingraham’s interview with a possible rival for the 2024 Republican nomination, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida. It was the first of two prime-time interviews Fox aired with Mr. DeSantis in the span of five days; he appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show shortly after talking to Ms. Ingraham.

When Mr. Trump spoke to a gathering of conservatives in Washington this week, Fox did not air the speech live. It instead showed a few clips after he was done speaking. That same day, it did broadcast live — for 17 minutes — a speech by former Vice President Mike Pence.

Mr. Trump has complained recently to aides that even Sean Hannity, his friend of 20 years, doesn’t seem to be paying him much attention anymore, one person who spoke to him recalled.

July 27

 

djt jan 6 speech

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. Asking Witnesses About Trump in Its Jan. 6 Investigation, Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush, July 27, 2022 (print ed.). Federal prosecutors sought information about the former president’s role in the efforts to overturn the election as the inquiry accelerates.

Federal prosecutors have directly asked witnesses in recent days about former President Donald J. Trump’s involvement in efforts to reverse his election loss, a person familiar with the testimony said on Tuesday, suggesting that the Justice Department’s criminal Justice Department log circularinvestigation has moved into a more aggressive and politically fraught phase.

Mr. Trump’s personal role in elements of the push to overturn his loss in 2020 to Joseph R. Biden Jr. has long been established, both through his public actions and statements and evidence gathered by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack.

But the Justice Department has been largely silent about how and even whether it would weigh pursuing potential charges against Mr. Trump (shown above speaking on Jan. 6, 2021), and reluctant even to concede that his role was discussed in senior leadership meetings at the department.

capitol riot nyt jan 7 2021Asking questions about Mr. Trump in connection with the electors plot or the attack on the Capitol does not mean the Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into him, a decision that would have immense political and legal ramifications.

The department’s investigation into a central element of the push to keep Mr. Trump in office — the plan to name slates of electors pledged to Mr. Trump in battleground states won by Mr. Biden — now appears to be accelerating as prosecutors with the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington ask witnesses about Mr. Trump and members of his inner circle, including the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, the person familiar with the testimony said.

Among House committee themes:

Making a case against Trump. The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack is laying out a comprehensive narrative of President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Here are the main themes that have emerged so far from eight public hearings:

An unsettling narrative. During the first hearing, the committee described in vivid detail what it characterized as an attempted coup orchestrated by the former president that culminated in the assault on the Capitol. At the heart of the gripping story were three main players: Mr. Trump, the Proud Boys and a Capitol Police officer.

Creating election lies. In its second hearing, the panel showed how Mr. Trump ignored aides and advisers as he declared victory prematurely and relentlessly pressed claims of fraud he was told were wrong. “He’s become detached from reality if he really believes this stuff,” William P. Barr, the former attorney general, said of Mr. Trump during a videotaped interview.

Pressuring Pence. Mr. Trump continued pressuring Vice President Mike Pence to go along with a plan to overturn his loss even after he was told it was illegal, according to testimony laid out by the panel during the third hearing. The committee showed how Mr. Trump’s actions led his supporters to storm the Capitol, sending Mr. Pence fleeing for his life.

Fake elector plan. The committee used its fourth hearing to detail how Mr. Trump was personally involved in a scheme to put forward fake electors. The panel also presented fresh details on how the former president leaned on state officials to invalidate his defeat, opening them up to violent threats when they refused.

Strong arming the Justice Dept. During the fifth hearing, the panel explored Mr. Trump’s wide-ranging and relentless scheme to misuse the Justice Department to keep himself in power. The panel also presented evidence that at least half a dozen Republican members of Congress sought pre-emptive pardons.

The surprise hearing. Cassidy Hutchinson, ​​a former White House aide, delivered explosive testimony during the panel’s sixth session, saying that the president knew the crowd on Jan. 6 was armed, but wanted to loosen security. She also painted Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, as disengaged and unwilling to act as rioters approached the Capitol.

Planning a march. Mr. Trump planned to lead a march to the Capitol on Jan. 6 but wanted it to look spontaneous, the committee revealed during its seventh hearing. Representative Liz Cheney also said that Mr. Trump had reached out to a witness in the panel’s investigation, and that the committee had informed the Justice Department of the approach.

A “complete dereliction” of duty. In the final public hearing of the summer, the panel accused the former president of dereliction of duty for failing to act to stop the Capitol assault. The committee documented how, over 187 minutes, Mr. Trump had ignored pleas to call off the mob and then refused to say the election was over even a day after the attack.

In April, before the committee convened its series of public hearings, Justice Department investigators received phone records of key officials and aides in the Trump White House, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.

Two top aides to Vice President Mike Pence testified to the federal grand jury in the case last week, and prosecutors have issued subpoenas and search warrants to a growing number of figures tied to Mr. Trump and the campaign to forestall his loss.

 

joseph cufari testimony

washington post logoWashington Post, Key Dems want DHS inspector general removed from Secret Service probe, Carol D. Leonnig and Maria Sacchetti, July 27, 2022 (print ed.). A pair of key congressional Democrats called on Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Cuffari, shown above in a file photo, to step aside from his office’s investigation into the Secret Service on Tuesday, saying the Trump appointee knew earlier than has been reported that the agency deleted text messages from around the time of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

carolyn maloney oReps. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), right, who heads the House committee that oversees inspectors general, and Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the Jan. 6 committee and the Homeland Security Committee, said the inspector general’s office admitted in congressional briefings that it became aware that agents’ text messages were erased in December 2021 — two months earlier than reported. But Cuffari did not report that to Congress until this month.

us dhs big eagle logo4The lawmakers said these and other omissions have broken their faith in Cuffari’s ability to lead the investigation, and they urged the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, an independent entity in the executive branch, to appoint another inspector general to handle the Secret Service probe.

“Due to the nature and importance of this investigation, there must be no doubt that the Inspector General leading this investigation can conduct it thoroughly and with integrity, objectivity, and independence,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter. “We do not have confidence that Inspector General Cuffari can achieve those standards.”

Cuffari and the council did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the letter, which was sent to Cuffari and to Allison Lerner, the council’s chair. The lawmakers asked for a response by Aug. 9.

Watchdog launches criminal probe over missing Secret Service messages

The letter comes days after Cuffari opened a criminal investigation into the Secret Service’s allegedly missing texts, halting the agency’s efforts to retrieve the records itself in response to a subpoena from the Jan. 6 committee.

Cuffari sent a letter to the House and Senate Homeland Security Committees this month accusing the agency of erasing text messages from the time around the assault on the Capitol and after he had asked for them for his own investigation.

The Secret Service said that any “insinuation” that they maliciously deleted text messages is false and that the deletions were part of a preplanned “system migration” of its phones. They said none of the texts Cuffari’s office was seeking had disappeared.

In their letter, Thompson and Maloney also faulted the Secret Service for deleting messages that could offer eyewitness accounts of the Capitol attack and the actions of President Donald Trump, whose supporters raided the building in an attempt to stop lawmakers from certifying election results.

The lawmakers said several House committees investigating the attack had sought records from DHS and other agencies 10 days later. Since they protect the president and vice president and other top officials, the Secret Service records could offer a close accounting of their actions that day.

“Despite the legal obligation to preserve these records, the Secret Service reportedly undertook a system migration process on January 27, 2021, that caused the erasure of text messages related to January 6,” the lawmakers wrote.

Cuffari’s office also requested records from the Secret Service on Feb. 26, 2021, for its own investigation into the Capitol attack. But the lawmakers said in the letter that he did not tell them that he had trouble getting the Secret Service’s text messages in his semiannual reports to Congress and considered issuing an alert that would have warned them and the public about the missing information, but decided that “this warning was unnecessary.”

Cuffari also did not alert the agency head, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, of the problem, as required under the Inspector General Act of 1978, which triggers a requirement that the agency head notify congressional committees.

“The DHS IG’s failure to promptly report and escalate the Secret Service’s stonewalling calls into question whether Inspector General Cuffari has the professional judgment and capacity to effectively fulfill his duties in this investigation,” the lawmakers wrote.

washington post logoWashington Post, As Trump speaks in Washington, his allies prepare for a second term, Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey, July 27, 2022 (print ed.). A constellation of think tanks, political committees and other Trump supporters are already working on a government-in-waiting if he wins reelection in 2024.

Former president Donald Trump returned to Washington on Tuesday for the first time since leaving office to deliver a dystopian speech that encouraged “tough,” “nasty” and “mean” new responses to violent crime and the forcible relocation of homeless people to quickly-built tent cities in the suburbs.

The address — dripping with violent imagery of “streets riddled with needles and soaked with the blood of innocent victims,” death penalty sentences for drug dealers and detailed tales of rape and murder — marked a return to the shocking rhetoric that Trump deployed in his 2016 campaign, as he considers launching another presidential bid as early as this fall.

“Now, some people say, ‘Oh, that’s so horrible.’ No, what’s horrible is what’s happening now,” he said of his plan to relocate homeless people to the outskirts of urban areas. He proposed additional funding for police, additional jail time for immigration violations, a return of “stop and frisk,” an end to most early or electronic voting, and new restrictions on medical treatment for transgender youths.

Taken together, the apparatus of Republican groups are laying plans to transform the federal government, slashing the administrative power of agencies, making it easier to fire career civil employees, cutting the roster of those working for the government and vetting a generation of new loyalists to take positions to enact conservative change.

One of several Trump-inspired think tanks founded since the 2020 election, AFPI was created by the group’s president, Brooke Rollins, and former White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow using a policy plan that the two officials had initially drafted on the assumption that Trump would win reelection. The group, which does not disclose its donors, has an annual budget of $25 million and 150 people on the payroll.

July 26

joe biden fascism war

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden slams Trump for watching Jan. 6 riot on television as police faced ‘medieval hell,’ Amy B Wang, July 26, 2022. President Biden made rare comments Monday about testimony presented by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, sharply criticizing former president Donald Trump for his reported inaction as the attack on the Capitol unfolded.

In a prime-time hearing Thursday, the committee showed evidence that Trump resisted multiple pleas from senior aides to call off the mob attacking the Capitol in his name, even as members of the security detail for Vice President Mike Pence feared for their lives. Trump largely spent his time during the attack watching television, committee members said.

Biden referred to this Monday in virtual remarks to the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives conference, first recounting how law enforcement officers on Jan. 6 were “assaulted before our very eyes — speared, sprayed, stomped on, brutalized” as a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol to stop the certification of Biden’s electoral college win. The siege resulted in five deaths and left some 140 members of law enforcement injured.

Trump removed speech lines calling for Jan. 6 rioters’ prosecution

“And for three hours, the defeated former president of the United States watched it all happen as he sat in the comfort of the private dining room next to the Oval Office,” Biden said. “While he was doing that, brave law enforcement officers were subject to the medieval hell for three hours — dripping in blood, surrounded by carnage, face to face with a crazed mob that believed in the lies of the defeated president.”

July 25

 

liz cheney screengrab capitol

Politico, Cheney: Jan. 6 panel prepared to consider subpoena for Ginni Thomas, Jesse Naranjo, July 24, 2022. “We hope she'll agree to come in voluntarily," said Rep. Liz Cheney (shown above in a file photo).

politico CustomRep. Liz Cheney said Sunday the committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol is prepared to consider subpoenaing Virginia Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, if she does not appear voluntarily.

“The committee is engaged with her counsel,” Cheney (R-Wyo.) said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” when asked if the panel planned to speak with her about efforts to overturn the 2020 election. “We hope she’ll agree to come in voluntarily. The committee is fully prepared to contemplate a subpoena if she does not.”

ginni thomas gage skidmoreCheney is the vice chair of the nine-member panel. Her statement was the most direct indication of the importance the panel attached to the testimony of Virginia Thomas, right, who is known as Ginni and whose lobbying on the election raised ethical questions because of her marriage to the Supreme Court’s current longest-serving justice.

A lawyer for Thomas previously said the conservative activist would not appear voluntarily before the committee. Thomas’ role in efforts to overturn the election made headlines in March when the Jan. 6 panel published text messages between her and former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in which she urged him to fight harder to challenge the election’s results.

The committee requested testimony from Thomas in June, around the same time as news reports of her communications with White House officials and informal advisers, namely Trump attorney John Eastman, about efforts to overturn the election began to proliferate.

Asked to respond to Cheney’s comments — and whether it sets a dangerous precedent to subpoena the spouse of a high court justice — on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” panel member Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said: “There are lines that shouldn’t be crossed, but those lines involve sitting Supreme Court justices not presiding or appearing or taking action in cases in which their spouse may be implicated.”

“And in this case for Clarence Thomas to issue a decision in a case — a dissent in a case where Congress was trying to get documents and those documents might involve his own wife, that’s the line that’s been crossed.”

Schiff was referring to Clarence Thomas’ support of Trump’s efforts to block the Jan. 6 panel from gaining access to pertinent White House records. Thomas was the only justice who supported Trump’s request for an injunction in the January 2022 ruling.

 

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: The Claremont Institute ascended in the Trump years. Then came Jan. 6., Marc Fisher and Isaac Stanley-Becker, July 25, 2022 (print ed.). After Trump helped revolutionize Claremont from a minor academic outfit to a key Washington player, the think tank is facing blowback for standing by lawyer John Eastman after he counseled Trump on overturning the 2020 election.

claremont institute logoEarly in 2016, as Donald Trump’s march toward the Republican presidential nomination gathered the air of inevitability, alumni of a conservative think tank nestled here at the base of Southern California’s San Gabriel Mountains received an email with a tough question: Was it time for supporters of the Claremont Institute to help make Trump president?

“I’d sooner cut off my arm with a rusty spoon!” replied Nathan Harden, an editor at RealClearEducation, an offshoot of the political site RealClearPolitics, according to emails obtained by The Washington Post.

Others were interested, however. “I’m graduating this May and would very much like to get involved,” wrote Darren Beattie, a philosophy graduate student who would later work in Trump’s White House, until he was fired in 2018, after revelations that he had attended a conference with white nationalists. Harden declined to comment. Beattie did not respond to requests for comment.

The next four years would revolutionize the role of the Claremont Institute and a handful of other intellectual institutions that preach an America-first, originalist ideology. The institute — along with its journal, the Claremont Review of Books, as well as related journals such as American Greatness, and allied organizations, including Michigan’s Hillsdale College — gained influence during Trump’s tenure, funneling ideas and personnel to the administration despite Trump’s lifelong suspicion of academics and other experts.

July 24

djt hands open amazon safe

ny times logoNew York Times, Georgia Inquiry Into Trump’s Election Interference Casts Wide Net, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, July 24, 2022 (print ed.). The criminal inquiry into efforts by former President Trump and his allies to overturn his loss in Georgia appears to be targeting multiple defendants.

The criminal investigation into efforts by former President Donald J. Trump and his allies to overturn his election loss in Georgia has begun to entangle, in one way or another, an expanding assemblage of characters:

A United States senator. A congressman. A local Cadillac dealer. A high school economics teacher. The chairman of the state Republican Party. The Republican candidate for lieutenant governor. Six lawyers aiding Mr. Trump, including a former New York City mayor. The former Fani T. Willis, the Atlanta area district attorney, is bringing a case against the former president’s supporters that may involve racketeering charges  (New York Times Photo by Nicole Craine). president himself. And a woman who has identified herself as a publicist for the rapper Kanye West.

Fani T. Willis, the Atlanta area district attorney, has been leading the investigation since early last year. But it is only this month, with a flurry of subpoenas and target letters, as well as court documents that illuminate some of the closed proceedings of a special grand jury, that the inquiry’s sprawling contours have emerged.

Fani T. Willis, right, the Atlanta area district attorney, is bringing a case against the former president’s supporters that may involve racketeering charges  (New York Times Photo by Nicole Craine).

For legal experts, that sprawl is a sign that Ms. Willis is doing what she has indicated all along: building the framework for a broad case that could target multiple defendants with charges of conspiracy to commit election fraud, or racketeering-related charges for engaging in a coordinated scheme to undermine the election.

“All of these people are from very disparate places in life,” Anthony Michael Kreis, a constitutional law professor at Georgia State University, said of the known witnesses and targets. “The fact that they’re all being brought together really suggests she’s building this broader case for conspiracy.”

georgia mapWhat happened in Georgia was not altogether singular. The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol has put on display how Mr. Trump and his allies sought to subvert the election results in several crucial states, including by creating slates of fake pro-Trump electors. Yet even as many Democrats lament that the Justice Department is moving too slowly in its inquiry, the local Georgia prosecutor has been pursuing a quickening case that could pose the most immediate legal peril for the former president and his associates.

Whether Mr. Trump will ultimately be targeted for indictment remains unclear. But the David-before-Goliath dynamic may in part reflect that Ms. Willis’s legal decision-making is less encumbered than that of federal officials in Washington by the vast political and societal weight of prosecuting a former president, especially in a bitterly fissured country.

But some key differences in Georgia law may also make the path to prosecution easier than in federal courts. And there was the signal event that drew attention to Mr. Trump’s conduct in Georgia: his call to the secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, whose office, in Ms. Willis’s Fulton County, recorded the president imploring him to “find” the 11,780 votes needed to reverse his defeat.

 sarah matthews

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: In Jan. 6 Hearings, Gender Divide Has Been Strong Undercurrent, Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman, July 24, 2022 (print ed.). An investigation that revealed grave threats to democracy, plotted and carried out mostly by men, has been told by women who have paid a public price.

Before Sarah Matthews, above, a former deputy White House press secretary, even opened her mouth to testify on Thursday before the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, the House Republican Conference attacked her on Twitter as a “liar” and a “pawn” of Democrats.

The group did not mention the man seated beside her, Matthew Pottinger, the former deputy national security adviser, who was also there to issue a scathing indictment of President Donald J. Trump’s behavior on the day of the riot. Nor did Mr. Trump himself mention Mr. Pottinger when he lashed out hours later with a statement calling Ms. Matthews a fame-seeker who was “clearly lying.”

The contrast highlighted how, in a series of revelatory hearings that have focused on issues of democracy, the rule of law and the peaceful transfer of power, another, less-discussed theme has emerged: the gender dynamics that have been a potent undercurrent.

In the course of exposing Mr. Trump’s elaborate effort to overturn the 2020 election, the House committee has relied on the accounts of several women who came forward to publicly tell their stories. Their statements, and the attacks that ensued, laid bare how women often still pay a higher price than men for speaking up.

Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming and the vice chairwoman of the panel — a woman who herself has suffered heavy consequences for her insistence on publicly condemning Mr. Trump’s conduct — has been explicit about the role of gender in the proceedings. She has positioned herself as the champion of the women who have agreed to testify in person, comparing them favorably with the many men who have refused to do so.

At the committee’s prime-time hearing on Thursday, Ms. Cheney wore a white jacket, the color of the women’s suffrage movement. She invoked Margaret Thatcher, the first woman to serve as prime minister of Britain, and the fight by American women to secure the right to vote as she described the women who had publicly appeared during the panel’s investigation as “an inspiration to American women and American girls.”

 

Matt Pottinger, former deputy national security adviser, and Sarah Matthews, former White House deputy press secretary, are sworn in on Thursday Matt Pottinger, former deputy national security adviser, and Sarah Matthews, former White House deputy press secretary, are sworn in on Thursday

washington post logoWashington Post, Hearings test Trump’s clout and GOP’s wish to ‘forget about Jan. 6,’ Isaac Stanley-Becker and Josh Dawsey, July 24, 2022 (print ed.). Polling and interviews suggest the committee’s work is distrusted by Republicans but could accelerate the party’s search for an alternative to Donald Trump.

Over eight televised hearings revealing the fullest account yet of President Donald Trump’s role in provoking the carnage at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, the House panel examining the attack has made clear its primary target audience: Republicans.

The star witnesses have been Republicans. The Democratic committee members have gone out of their way to praise Republicans who stood up to Trump, chiefly his vice president, Mike Pence. And the committee’s vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), has openly appealed to Republican voters. On Thursday night she beseeched them to drop the man they have long revered — a man who “preyed on their patriotism,” she said, by lying to them about a stolen election.

“Can a president who is willing to make the choices Donald Trump made during the violence of January 6 ever be trusted with any position of authority in our great nation?” she asked in her closing statement.

But it’s not yet apparent whether Republicans are listening.

Polls show GOP views of Jan. 6 have barely budged. And at the summer meeting of the Republican Governors Association — held in Aspen, Colo., this week — the hearings hardly came up.

Even Larry Hogan, the anti-Trump Republican governor of Maryland who is considering a White House bid in 2024, offered a measured assessment of the committee’s influence. Among the subset of Republicans following the proceedings, Hogan said in an interview on the sidelines of the summit, “it is having an impact because they’re hearing from people in the White House and members of the administration and supporters who are giving facts that are eye-opening.”

But most Republicans, he noted, “are not watching and not paying attention, and it’s not going to impact them.”

  • Capitol rioter who said she wanted to shoot Pelosi is headed to prison
  • Bannon, after contempt conviction, attacks committee in Fox News interview

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: It’s not only what Trump didn’t do on Jan. 6. It’s also what he did do, Dan Balz, right, July 24, 2022 (print ed.). Donald dan balz column portraitTrump threw gasoline on the flames at the Capitol rather than calling for an end to the fire. And he couldn’t bring himself to say the election was over. He still can’t.

Thursday night’s hearing by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol was billed as a session that would describe in detail what President Donald Trump did not do during a day of violence and mayhem.

More revealing — and damning — was what he did do.

The Future of Freedom Foundation, The Secret Service’s Obstructions of Justice, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, July 22-24, 2022. According to an article jacob hornberger newon the website Alternet, “Former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner is calling for a “criminal investigation” into the U.S. Secret Service‘s deleted text messages” relating to the congressional investigation into the January 6 protests at the Capitol.

future of freedom foundation logo squareUnfortunately, this is not the first time that the Secret Service has engaged in obstruction of justice in this way. As I point out in my new book An Encounter with Evil: The Abraham Zapruder Story, the Secret Service did the same thing early in the the term of the Assassination Records Review Board back in the early 1990s.

Even though the official narrative had been that a lone nut killed President Kennedy, the Pentagon, the CIA, and the Secret Service had spent 30 years fiercely guarding the secrecy of their assassination-related records, which, needless to say, was a bit suspicious.

The ARRB was charged by Congress with enforcing the JFK Records Act, which mandated that all federal agencies, including the Pentagon, the CIA, and the Secret Service, release and disclose their assassination-related records to the public.

The matter was particularly relevant insofar as the Secret Service was concerned, owing to the unusual actions of Roy Kellerman, the Secret Service agent in the passenger seat of the limousine in which the president was riding when he got shot. After the first shot rang out, which was not fatal, Kellerman took no action to jump over the seat and use his body to shield the president, as he was supposed to john_f_kennedy_smilingdo. Instead, he just sat there like a bump on a log, waiting until the fatal shot that hit Kennedy in the head.

As I detail in my new book, as well as in my previous book The Kennedy Autopsy, after Kennedy, right, was declared dead, the Dallas County Medical Examiner, Dr. Earl Rose, announced that he was going to conduct an autopsy on the president’s body. That’s because state law required him to do so, given that this was a murder case under Texas state law.

secret service logoAt that point, a team of Secret Service agents, headed by none other than Roy Kellerman, went into action and stated in no uncertain terms that they were not going to permit Rose to conduct an autopsy. When Rose stood his ground and insisted on conducting the autopsy, they brandished guns and screamed, yelled, emitted profanities, initiated force against Rose, and forced their way out of Parkland Hospital with the president’s body. Medical personnel at Parkland later said that they were scared to death.

Later that night Kellerman participated in a casket-switching scheme at Bethesda Naval Medical Center, where the military was conducting an autopsy on Kennedy’s body. As I detail in both my books, the autopsy that the military conducted on the president’s was fraudulent, which is how we know for certain the assassination was a national-security regime-change operation. As I have repeatedly emphasized over the years, there is no innocent explanation for a fraudulent autopsy. None. No one has ever come up with one. No one ever will. A fraudulent autopsy necessarily means criminal culpability. There is no way around it.

After the JFK Records Act was enacted, the National Archives informed Secret Service officials that the law required them to preserve their assassination-related records. Nonetheless, as Douglas Horne details in volume 5, pages 1451–1458, of his book Inside the Assassination Records Review Board, Secret Service officials knowingly and deliberately destroyed “protective service reports” or “trip reports” for 23 of Kennedy’s trips in the fall of 1963….

The Secret Service’s intentional destruction of those records, after being told not to destroy such records, ensured that the American people would never get to see the information contained in them and that the ARRB would be unable to get a complete picture of the Secret Service’s protection of President Kennedy. As Horne put it, “Their destruction occurred long after the Secret Service was initially briefed on the requirements of the JFK Records Act in December of 1992 by the NARA [National Archives] staff, and required willful action by officials within that agency; it was hardly an accident. The Secret Service clearly didn’t want the ARRB poking into its past procedures and practices; the agency had been the recipient of severe criticism in the HSCA’s 1979 Report, and apparently did not wish to repeat that experience, or to have its sealed records released to the Archives for placement in the JFK Records Collection, for all JFK researchers to peruse in the future.”

doug horneHorne, left, writes in his watershed five-volume book Inside the Assassination Records Review Board, which I cannot recommend too highly, that the ARRB’s general counsel Jeremy Gunn was furious over the Secret Service’s intentional destruction of its assassination-related records after specifically being advised to preserve such records.

But the Secret Service obviously was convinced that there was nothing that Gunn and the ARRB would do about it.

The ARRB should have gone after Secret Service officials with a criminal indictment for obstruction of justice. But the Secret Service turned out to be right. The ARRB let them off the hook with only some expressions of anger and outrage.

It was a fateful decision, one that no doubt left the Secret Service with the conviction that they could destroy records in official investigations with impunity and that nothing would happen to them except maybe a tongue-lashing. No doubt the Secret Service had in mind how it got away with its obstruction of justice in the Kennedy assassination when it intentionally destroyed its records relating to the January 6 protest at the Capitol.

Former federal prosecutor Kirschner is right. Service Service officials should be criminally indicted and prosecuted for their obstruction of justice. Otherwise, they’ll just keep doing it again in the future.

  • An Encounter with Evil: The Abraham Zapruder Story.
  • The Kennedy Autopsy.
  • The Kennedy Autopsy 2.
  • JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated.

World Crisis Radio, Commentary: Trump’s in-house strategist Bannon convicted on two counts of contempt of Congress, and now faces 2 to 24 months in prison! webster tarpley twitterWebster G. Tarpley, right, July 23, 2022. Ukrainian diplomacy successful in lifting Putin‘s genocidal blockade of Black Sea grain ships leaving Odessa and other ports; Accord mediated by Guterres and Erdogan, who provides safe exit through Bosporus; 5 million tons of grain per month will alleviate world shortage;

Bannon is first member of Trump‘s inner cabal convicted in wake of January 6 autogolpe;

Final hearings in current series draw audience of 18 million (about 100 million viewers for 8 sessions) without benefit of Fox News;

Hearings confirm Cassie Hutchinson‘s account of Trump‘s dispute with Secret Service over trip to Hill; Secret Service probe about deleted text messages of January 5-6 is now criminal; Recent history of this acutely troubled agency includes brothel blackouts in Thailand, cocaine-fueled orgies in Colombia, bullets left in hotel room, and other scandals; A thorough purge is in order, with immediate special measures to guarantee Biden‘s security;

Still unaddressed: why no re-enforcements until late afternoon; Key problem is Pentagon conference call with Army Sec. McCarthy, Gens. Piatt and Flynn, which denied troops for several hours; DC National Guard officers accuse Army and Pentagon IG of blatant lying on North Korean model; Ginni Thomas has escaped scrutiny so far;

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Right-wing rhetoric today is the same as that of the Nazis and fascists 90 years ago, Wayne wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallMadsen, left (longtime commentator, author of 22 books, including The Rise of the Fascist Fourth Reich below, and former Navy intelligence officer), July 22-24, 2022. Donald Trump and his fellow far-right Republican candidates for national, state, and local office are relying upon the same politically-charged rhetoric used by Adolf Hitler and his Nazis in Germany and Benito Mussolini's fascists in Italy in the years leading up to and during World War II.

wayne madesen report logoTerms like "radical left socialists," "Marxists," "black radicals," and "anarchists" match almost exactly the far-right propaganda lexicon manufactured by Joseph Goebbels' Ministry of Propaganda in Berlin and Dino Alfieri's Ministry of Popular Culture in Rome. During Trump's last year as president, he repeatedly attempted to have "antifa," which is an acronym for anti-fascism philosophy, declared a "terrorist group." Trump, like Hitler and Mussolini before him, has no problem with right-wing terrorism.

Moreover, Trump's and his supporters' use of Nazi German rhetoric were encouraged by two of the would-be U.S. dictator. White House wayne madsen fourth reich coveraides. They were Stephen Miller, who is Jewish, and Andrew Veprek, a supporter of Miller's unbridled neo-Nazi and white supremacist political views.

The alt-right's stock phrases and terms, including "Great Replacement," "foreigner invasion," and "lying media," have often been cited in manifestos and social media posts by mass killers. These include Anders Breivik in Norway, Jared Loughner in Tucson, Dylann Storm Roof in Charleston, James Fields in Charlottesville, Brenton Tarrant in Christchurch, Elliott Rodger in Santa Barbara, Patrick Crusius in El Paso, Nikolas Cruz in Parkland, Robert Bowers in Pittsburgh, John Earnest in Poway, Robert Crimo in Highland Park, and Jonathan Sapirman at the Greenwood Park Mall in Indiana. The phrases used by the killers had been echoed on white supremacist and neo-Nazi websites, as well as frequently by Fox News and its resident fascist ideologue, Tucker Carlson.

The Republican Party is now the party of seditious conspiracy, white nationalism, and Donald Trump-level graft and corruption. It should be consigned to history, along with its political forbears, the Whigs, Federalists, and Know Nothings.

July 21

 

djt jan 6 twitter

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Secret Service watchdog knew in February that texts had been purged, Carol D. Leonnig and Maria Sacchetti, July 21, 2022 (print ed.). A watchdog agency learned in February that the Secret Service had purged nearly all cellphone texts from around the time of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, but chose not to alert Congress, according to three people briefed on the internal discussions.

secret service gold logoThat watchdog agency, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, also prepared in October 2021 to issue a public alert that the Secret Service and other department divisions were stonewalling it on requests for records and texts surrounding the attack on the Capitol, but did not do so, the people briefed on the matter said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal investigations.

The previously unreported revelation about the inspector general’s months-long delay in flagging the now-vanished Secret Service texts came from two whistleblowers who have worked with Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari, the people knowledgeable about the internal discussions said.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Elaine Luria prepares to lead Jan. 6 hearing, connect Trump to violence, Meagan Flynn and Jacqueline Alemany, July 21, 2022 (print ed.). The Virginia Democrat has her defining moment on the committee as she faces her toughest election yet.

She couldn’t forget the time: 1:46 p.m.

It was the moment Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) evacuated her office on Jan. 6, 2021, after police found pipe bombs on Capitol Hill. A year later, on Jan. 6, 2022, it was the exact same time Luria announced her reelection campaign — unmistakably linking her bid for a third term representing a swing district on the Virginia coast to her service on the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol.

Now, Luria is preparing for her most defining moment on the committee yet: At the committee’s finale of this summer’s series of hearings, she and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) will detail what former president Donald Trump did and didn’t do over 187 minutes as the U.S. Capitol was under attack, and as Luria and hundreds of colleagues took cover.

Their presentation is expected to squarely place the blame for the violence on Trump after his months of false claims of voter fraud and will examine his reluctance to condemn the attack — culminating in what the panel plans to describe as a dereliction of duty and violation of his oath. It’s an assignment that people involved with the committee’s work say Luria specifically sought — even as she gears up for her toughest reelection campaign yet in a district that got redder after redistricting.

Trump’s choices escalated tensions and set U.S. on path to Jan. 6, panel finds

But with an air of defiance, the former Navy commander has said she is unconcerned about any potential political consequences that her role in unspooling the former president’s inaction on Jan. 6 could have in her own political future — a message that, rather than whispered to confidants, she has put front and center in her campaign.

“Getting this right, getting the facts out there and making some change in the future so that this doesn’t happen again, it’s so much bigger than whether you’re reelected or not,” Luria said in an interview. “I don’t want to make my bid for reelection seem petty, but that’s inconsequential. Does that make sense? And if I win, it will be a very strong statement about the work of the committee.”

July 20

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 Committee Hearings: Trump’s choices set nation on path to Jan. 6 violence, committee shows, Rosalind S. Helderman, July 20, 2022. Take a look: 15 times that Trump chose to escalate rather than dial down tensions; The latest: Sen. Leahy undergoes additional hip surgery. Across seven hearings, the panel’s findings have illustrated how the president repeatedly escalated tensions following his election defeat.

Donald Trump had already been told by his campaign manager, his top campaign lawyer and his lead data analyst that he had lost the presidential election when he was visited by his attorney general on Dec. 1, 2020.

William P. Barr was a steadfast Trump ally. But in the Oval Office that afternoon, he had no solace to offer the president. He told Trump that claims of 2020 voter fraud were “complete nonsense,” “crazy stuff,” “a grave disservice to the country,” he later recounted. They were “bullshit.”

In an interview with the Associated Press that day, he offered the country the same conclusion, though in less profane terms: The Justice Department had found no evidence sufficient to overturn Joe Biden’s election win.

Trump could have accepted what Barr later termed “reality.”

But inside the White House, the AP story was met with presidential fury. Sitting inside the ornate West Wing dining room, Trump threw his lunch, shattering a porcelain dish and leaving ketchup dripping down the wall.

That account came from a White House aide who testified to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, which over seven public hearings this summer has laid out an elaborate case with a stark conclusion: It was Donald Trump himself who repeatedly set the nation on the path to violence in the weeks after he lost reelection.

Trump is knowingly—and falsely—doing all of the things listed above.

Proof, Investigative Commentary: A January 6 Secret Service Scandal Is Brewing, Seth Abramson, left, March 25, 2021 (removed from  paywall on seth abramson graphicJuly 20, 2022.). Evidence of a seditious conspiracy involving officials who remain in the Secret Service is growing as the Secret Service's role in the insurrection comes under new scrutiny.

On the last day of 2020, under a week before the January 6 insurrection, a strange story about the United States Secret Service that has never since been augmented hit both domestic and international media. Though it was widely re-reported by major media outlets—without expansion or further analysis—at the time, this particular Washington Post report quickly became one of American media’s many “orphans”:" news articles that might well have been relevant to subsequent events and journalistic revelations, but were so quickly forgotten after their publication that they disappeared from the collective consciousness of all but the most ardent politicos and curatorial journalists.

seth abramson proof logoFor at least one such “orphan” news report, however, things may be about to change.

New information about the insurrection may alter significantly how a long-forgotten December 2020 Washington Post report is understood—and what it portends for both the Biden administration and Congress’s scrutiny of the clandestine machinations behind the January 6 armed assault on the U.S. Capitol could be considerable. Indeed, it is not too much to say that what follows is the outline of a potential scandal at the Secret Service the likes of which America has never before seen or even contemplated.

The December Purge

On New Year’s Eve of 2020, almost two weeks after Donald Trump began promoting on Twitter the Stop the Steal/March to Save America event that would eventually launch an armed insurrection on January 6, The Washington Post reported that, within president-elect Biden’s inner circle, there was “concern[ ]…that some current members [of the United States Secret Service] were politically aligned with President Trump.”

In itself, this vague concern might not have raised that many eyebrows in Washington. While the Secret Service has always pledged to protect every President of the United States without favor or prejudice, one always assumes certain agents are—in private—either Republican- or Democratic-leaning, and therefore harbor special affinities for politicians from the two major political parties that (blessedly) in no way affect how they execute their sacred duty to protect the life of America’s president with their own.

The fears of “Biden allies” in December 2020 were apparently of a different character, however, such that they breached the high walls of the Biden Transition Team and—moreover—quickly resulted in actually significant proposed staffing changes at the Secret Service.

The Post noted at the time that while “staff changes [at the Secret Service] are typical with the arrival of a new president and are designed to increase the trust and comfort the incoming president feels with his protective agents”, the leak to media by someone on or close to the Biden Transition Team in December 2020 revealing that the team would be making such changes was different, as by December 2020 “some in the Secret Service…[had come] under criticism…for appearing to embrace [Trump’s] political agenda.”

You might suspect these concerns merely related to Secret Service agents’ attitudes toward mask-wearing during the COVID-19 pandemic, but you’d be wrong. While the Post indeed notes that “some presidential detail members urged other agents and Secret Service officers not to wear masks on presidential trips this year, against the administration’s own public health guidance”, of far greater concern to the incoming Biden administration was apparently the fact that “the Secret Service [under Trump] also took the unprecedented step of allowing [a] former detail leader to temporarily leave his job to become a White House political adviser.”

That detail leader, Anthony Ornato, was, per the Post, “hired as White House deputy chief of staff [in 2020]. In that role, he helped coordinate a controversial June photo opportunity in which Trump strode defiantly across Lafayette Square to pose with a Bible after the park was forcibly cleared of peaceful protesters.”

The Biden Team’s concern in December 2020 was therefore not merely that certain agents had expressed an affinity for Trump’s politics, or even the more startling fact that certain agents had left the Service to work on Trump’s political team, but specifically that the latter fact had led to individuals connected to the Secret Service “help[ing] coordinate” controversial Trump events that involved (1) violence against civilians, and (2) situations in which the health and safety of civilians was generally placed at risk.

Indeed, the Post writes that Ornato, the former Secret Service presidential detail head, “helped coordinate numerous rallies across the country during the pandemic, per Trump’s wishes. The mass gatherings were blamed for increasing the spread of the coronavirus in some of the communities where they took place and left many in the ranks of the Secret Service infected or exposed.”

This latter revelation by the Post reveals a key additional concern within Team Biden: that individuals connected to the Secret Service had helped Trump coordinate events that ran contrary to conventional Secret Service protocols—suggesting that Ornato or an Ornato agent had successfully leveraged his prior role within the Secret Service to order his former peers to engage in dangerously nonstandard (and also highly political) conduct.

How could Ornato, shown below, have exercised such power, given that, after leaving the president’s detail within the Secret Service, he had become a civilian executive-branch employee?

anthony ornatoBecause—as the Post explains—Ornato was “slated to return to the Secret Service [after January 20, 2021]”, meaning that he still would have had authority within the Secret Service (perceived, if not actual) in the final year of Trump’s presidential term. While the Secret Service post to which the Ornato was initially slated to return was never reported by the Post, the newspaper strongly implies that the decision to make Ornato “the assistant director overseeing the agency’s Rowley Training Center…[a] prestigious [posting] but outside of the president’s immediate protection team”, was not made by the outgoing Trump administration but by the Biden Transition Team.

When asked about Ornato by the Post, the Trump White House declined to comment. And the Biden Transition Team declined to comment. And the Secret Service declined to comment. Tellingly, however, the Service did give a statement to the Washington Post declaring that it “remains steadfastly dedicated to a standard of excellence in [all its protective] operations, wholly apolitically and unaffiliated with the political parties of protectees.”

The Secret Service’s protestation notwithstanding, the fact that Ornato—specifically—was Team Biden’s concern would quickly become clear.

As the Post reported, the Biden Transition Team didn’t swap out all of the agents who had worked with Trump. Indeed, it did quite the opposite, elevating the “second-in-command of the [presidential] protective detail during the Trump administration”, David Cho, to Ornato’s prior job. At the same time, it clearly was not only Ornato that concerned Team Biden, for, as the Guardian would report, someone inside the Secret Service had clearly made the “unprecedented” decision to “permit former detail leader Anthony Ornato to temporarily leave his role and serve as White House deputy chief of staff” (emphasis supplied). This suggests that Ornato’s actions were enabled by a superior either in the Secret Service or the Service’s parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security, and that Team Biden’s concerns started at the detail head of the presidential protective team and went up to Ornato’s bosses, rather than down to Cho.

These fears would soon reveal themselves to be richly warranted.

This is not an academic or merely administrative matter. Donald Trump’s increasingly obvious pre-insurrection conspiracy of silence about his actual plans for January 6 (a conspiracy we now know the Secret Service was at the heart of, per Reuters) appears to have been the proximate cause of many insurrectionists believing Donald Trump was physically with them during their attack on the Capitol—which misapprehension was aided not just by Alex Jones and his Stop the Steal compatriots, but the apprehensions that Jones had, and perhaps even key Oath Keepers and Proud Boys had, because of the former’s contact with the Secret Service. How can it be anything like acceptable if even one such insurrectionist remains on Biden’s protective detail, or indeed in the Secret Service at any level? While such an individual wouldn’t necessarily be a direct physical danger to the president, Secret Service protocols would very likely treat them as such.

The greater danger, of course, is that such a person might continue to feed intelligence to Donald Trump’s allies or agents in precisely the same fashion they did on January 6.

Thus far we’ve heard nothing from Congress on this; nothing from the White House on this, and nothing from major media on this. It is presumed, incredibly, that Ornato was the sole bad apple in Trump’s Secret Service, so much so that even his second-in-command is apparently thought to have had so little idea what his superior was doing that he deserved to be promoted by Biden in December and have his promotion maintained.

It is almost unthinkable that Biden’s political team should already have concluded by December 2020—note, prior to Inauguration Day and prior to Insurrection Day, when its ability to conduct a full investigation was zero, and its basis for such investigation hadn’t yet arisen—that Ornato was a “lone wolf” bad actor whose reassignment would end any inquiry into the possibility of a seditious conspiracy inside the Secret Service.

And we must be clear on the fact that this is what Alex Jones and Jessica Watkins—notably, two pro-Trump activists—describe: a conspiracy involving Trump’s political team and agents within the Secret Service to deliberately create confusion and a conspiracy of silence around Trump’s January 6 plans, to facilitate the march on the Capitol, and to maintain a conspiracy of silence around these clandestine activities even after it was clear that (a) Trump’s lies about his plans had fomented an armed rebellion, and (b) individuals with whom the Secret Service had broken protocol to coordinate with turned out to be (per DOJ prosecutors) not just insurrectionists but insurrectionist leaders.

Despite all this, a Google News search for Anthony Ornato’s name conducted on March 24, 2021 reveals zero English-language news articles about the man in the last month. Expanding the search to include all articles since January 6 returns just one English-language article, from Bloomberg, which only notes that “Trump’s outgoing deputy chiefs of staff, Tony Ornato and Chris Liddell, the transition director, were among a skeleton crew who remained in the final hours of Trump’s administration.”

These deeply troubling revelations indicate that, for all the recent focus by Congress on the actions of the House and Senate sergeants-at-arms, the U.S. Capitol Police, the D.C. Metropolitan Police, and officials (including Trump stooges Kash Patel and Ezra Cohen-Watnick and would-be Trump-appointed Defense Policy Board member Corey Lewandowski) at and around the Pentagon, the real action in any investigation of an “inside job” related to the executive branch of the U.S. government must focus, first and foremost, on the U.S. Secret Service—a group whose agents were closer than any other to then-President Trump when he launched an armed rebellion against America.

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

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Election 2022: Trump-backed Cox projected to win Maryland’s GOP gubernatorial primary, Erin Cox, Ovetta Wiggins and Antonio Olivo, July 20, 2022 (print ed.). Republican voters chose Dan Cox over Kelly Schulz, a former Cabinet secretary in Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration. On the Democratic side, Wes Moore and Tom Perez led a crowded field. Author Wes Moore, former labor secretary Tom Perez and Comptroller Peter Franchot lead crowded Democratic field. But with hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots uncounted, full results are likely to take days.

Maryland Republicans picked Del. Dan Cox, a first-term delegate who embraced Donald Trump’s rhetoric and tried to impeach Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, as their nominee for governor Tuesday, according to an Associated Press projection, elevating him into a contentious fight to keep control of the governor’s mansion in a deeply Democratic state.

The Republican primary race for governor tested the potency of the former president’s influence in a state that’s also backed the pragmatic conservatism of term-limited Hogan, who won twice by appealing to independents and Democrats. Outside Democratic groups flooded the airwaves with ads tying Cox to Trump in the final days of the race, hoping it would boost a candidate they viewed as ultimately easier to defeat.

“This is a fantastic night for freedom everywhere,” Cox told a cheering crowd as he declared victory.

Democrats, who are seeking to win back the governor’s mansion after eight years under Hogan, chose from a field of nine active candidates who presented voters a choice between a progressive with far-reaching goals on crime, climate, inflation and abortion rights or a moderate candidate more certain to win in November.

Best-selling author and political newcomer Wes Moore took an early lead over former U.S. labor secretary Tom Perez and Comptroller Peter Franchot. Hundreds of thousands of Democratic votes, including mail-in ballots, were uncounted.

July 19

washington post logoWashington Post, Secret Service cannot recover texts; no new details for committee, Carol D. Leonnig, right, and Maria Sacchetti, Also, carol leonnigthe National Archives sought more information on “the potential unauthorized deletion” of agency text messages.

The U.S. Secret Service has determined it has no new texts to provide Congress relevant to its Jan. 6 investigation, and that any other texts its agents exchanged around the time of the 2021 attack on the Capitol were purged, according to a senior official briefed on the matter.

Also, the National Archives on Tuesday sought more information on “the potential unauthorized deletion” of agency text messages. The U.S. government’s chief record-keeper asked the Secret Service to report back to the Archives within 30 days about the deletion of any records, including describing what was purged and the circumstances of how the documentation was lost.

The law enforcement agency, whose agents have been embroiled in the Jan. 6 investigation because of their role shadowing and planning President Donald Trump’s movements that day, is expected to share this conclusion with the Jan. 6 committee in response to its Friday subpoena for texts and other records.

capitol riot nyt jan 7 2021The agency, which made this determination after reviewing its communication databases over the past four days, will provide thousands of records, but nearly all of them have been shared previously with an agency watchdog and congressional committees, the senior official said. None is expected to shed new light on the key matters the committee is probing, including whether Trump attacked a Secret Service agent, an account a senior White House aide described to the Jan. 6 committee.

Many of its agents’ cellphone texts were permanently purged starting in mid-January 2021 and Secret Service officials said it was the result of an agencywide reset of staff telephones and replacement that it began planning months earlier. Secret Service agents, many of whom protect the president, vice president and other senior government leaders, were instructed to upload any old text messages involving government business to an internal agency drive before the reset, the senior official said, but many agents appear not to have done so.

The result is that potentially valuable evidence — the real-time communications and reactions of agents who interacted directly with Trump or helped coordinate his plans before and during Jan. 6 — is unlikely to ever be recovered, two people familiar with the Secret Service communications system said. They requested anonymity to discuss sensitive matters without agency authorization.

 

djt steve bannon

Politico, Bannon trial opened Tuesday as jury selection winds down, Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney, July 19, 2022 (print ed.). Prosecutors say the trial of the former Trump adviser, above right, on charges of contempt of Congress related to a subpoena from the Jan. 6 committee, should be complete before the weekend.

Opening arguments are scheduled to begin Tuesday in the criminal trial of former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon, after a federal judge selected 22 potential jurors to sit in the contempt-of-Congress case.

politico CustomThe selection of a prospective jury on Monday — capping a full day of vetting to screen out anyone who seemed particularly biased against or hostile to Bannon — clears the way for opening arguments to begin Tuesday in a trial that prosecutors say should be complete before the weekend.

Bannon has repeatedly inveighed against the criminal case, vowing to make it “the misdemeanor from hell” for the White House and Justice Department, and he has vowed to punish Democrats for their roles leading to his prosecution for refusing to comply with a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the attack on the Capitol. Bannon has contended that his contacts with former President Donald Trump rendered him entirely immune from subpoena, a position the Jan. 6 committee and the Justice Department have argued is baseless.

carl nicholsBannon’s attorneys have questioned whether it’s possible for him to receive a fair trial given the intense media scrutiny around Bannon and the select committee. But U.S. District Court Judge Carl Nichols, right, a Trump appointee, rejected those concerns, saying he would revisit the matter after thorough interviews of prospective jurors to ensure they could judge the case fairly.

On Tuesday morning, prosecutors and defense attorneys will whittle the 22 potential jurors to 14 — 12 jurors and two alternates — before opening arguments begin.

Politico, A criminal probe of Trump could complicate Jan. 6 cases, Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney, July 19, 2022 (print ed.). Defense attorneys for other defendants could demand evidence DOJ gathers against Trump.

politico CustomAttorney General Merrick Garland, right, is under pressure to investigate Donald Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection, but a move against the former president could complicate many of the hundreds of other criminal cases related to the storming of the merrick garlandCapitol.

Even if investigations into Trump and his inner circle are expanded — a slew of grand jury subpoenas and search warrants in recent weeks suggest prosecutors are circling his allies — the momentous decision about whether to charge Trump with a crime is months away, if not longer.

But if the Department of Justice starts assertively mounting a criminal investigation of Trump, it could create delays in other Jan. 6-related trials because defense attorneys for hundreds of defendants could demand access to much of the evidence against Trump as part of the discovery process.

Justice Department log circular“It’s messy. It’s a headache. And it’s a huge undertaking,” said Pace University law professor Bennett Gershman, a leading expert on so-called discovery practices in criminal cases.

Under longstanding Supreme Court precedents, court rules and Justice Department policies, defense attorneys for current Jan. 6 defendants could demand almost real-time access to any evidence gathered in a probe of Trump’s actions on and around Jan. 6, arguing that his alleged incitement of the crowd that day — both in person and online — undercuts the culpability of those already charged.

“It seems to me if you’re going through the Trump stuff or [Rudy] Giuliani stuff” and you find something useful to existing defendants “you’ve got to turn it over,” Gershman said. “They would have to turn over information to them that is colorably favorable or would be something a defense attorney would want to see.”

Rolling Stone, Trump Tells Team He Needs to Be President Again to Save Himself from Criminal Probes, Asawin Suebsaeng and Adam Rawnsley, July 18-19, 2022. The former president is planning on running for the White House — and away from the law.

rolling stone logoWhen Donald Trump formally declares his 2024 candidacy, he won’t just be running for another term in the White House. He’ll be running away from legal troubles, possible criminal charges, and even the specter of prison time.

In recent months, Trump has made clear to associates that the legal protections of occupying the Oval Office are front-of-mind for him, four people with knowledge of the situation tell Rolling Stone.

Trump himself seems to acknowledge potential problems. He “said something like, ‘[prosecutors] couldn’t get away with this while I was president,’” another one of the four sources recalls. “It was during a larger discussion about the investigations, other possible 2024 [primary] candidates, and what people were saying about the Jan. 6 hearings … He went on for a couple minutes about how ‘some very corrupt’ people want to ‘put me in jail.’”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Why we should care about the 187 minutes, Jennifer Rubin, right, July 19 2022. The House Jan. 6 select committee jennifer rubin new headshoton Thursday will provide a blow-by-blow account of the 187 minutes that passed during the Capitol siege in which Donald Trump did nothing to rescue lawmakers and his own vice president from the mob he unleashed. It’s critical to understand what purpose this evidence will — and will not — serve.

Start with the non-legal aspects of the committee’s job. The committee set out to tell the complete story of Jan. 6 to provide a definitive historical account and assist in formulating suggestions to prevent a repeat in future elections. This effort is also critical for the public and the Republican Party to understand the depth of Trump’s betrayal and his egregious refusal to perform his duties as commander in chief.

If Trump, as president, failed to activate the armed services during a foreign attack on our homeland — or worse, put out tweets praising the attackers — it would be tantamount to treason. In the face of domestic terrorism, his obligation to act was no less clear.

The GOP’s refusal to prevent him from seeking office again (first by failing to convict him at his impeachment trial and now by declining to oppose his participation in the primaries) amounts to ratification of Trump’s treachery. It is also an indication of the depths of the party’s depravity. Forcing GOP voters and politicians to grapple with a potential second Trump term remains one of the committee’s critical functions.

As for the legal significance of the 187 minutes, the public should understand that “dereliction of duty” under Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice applies to those in the military, not to civilians — including the civilian commander in chief. It may have been grounds for impeachment (which could have resulted in removal from office and a bar against holding future office). And it might be grounds for civil liability (i.e., Trump had a legal obligation to act and failed to do so when others were in harm’s way). But there is no criminal theory against Trump based on that charge.

This does not mean the 187 minutes are without legal significance. To the contrary, the full telling of this part of the saga can shore up evidence (virtually all from Republicans) that Trump corruptly sought to defraud the United States and to corruptly obstruct congressional proceedings.

ny times logoNew York Times, Pulitzer Board Rejects Trump Request to Toss Out Wins for Russia Coverage, Katie Robertson, July 19, 2022 (print ed.). The board said it had found nothing to discredit the entries after reviewing the prize submissions from The New York Times and The Washington Post. The board of the Pulitzer Prizes, the most prestigious award in journalism, on Monday rejected an appeal by former President Donald J. Trump to rescind a prize given to The New York Times and The Washington Post for coverage of Russian interference in the 2016 election and Russian ties to Mr. Trump’s campaign and members of his administration.

The board said in a statement that two independent reviews had found nothing to discredit the prize entries, for which the two news organizations shared the 2018 Pulitzer for national reporting.

The reviews, part of the formal process that the Pulitzers use to examine complaints about winning entries, were conducted after the board heard from Mr. Trump and other complainants.

“Both reviews were conducted by individuals with no connection to the institutions whose work was under examination, nor any connection to each other,” the board said. “The separate reviews converged in their conclusions: that no passages or headlines, contentions or assertions in any of the winning submissions were discredited by facts that emerged subsequent to the conferral of the prizes.”

The winning entries included 20 articles from The Post and The Times on evidence of links between Russian interference and Mr. Trump’s campaign and administration, and efforts by Mr. Trump to influence investigations into those connections.

Mr. Trump, who has pushed back against any implication that Russia helped him defeat Hillary Clinton, has repeatedly called for the prizes to be rescinded. In a letter in October, he said the coverage “was based on false reporting of a nonexistent link between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign.” On May 27, in a letter to Marjorie Miller, the administrator of the prizes, Mr. Trump threatened to sue for defamation if the awards were not rescinded.

ny times logoNew York Times, One of former President Trump’s national security aides is expected to testify at Thursday’s Jan. 6 hearing, July 19, 2022. Matthew Pottinger, who was deputy national security adviser under President Donald J. Trump and the highest-ranking White House official to resign on Jan. 6, 2021, is expected to testify about that day at the House select committee’s prime-time hearing on Thursday, people familiar with the planning said.

Mr. Pottinger, who was in the White House much of the day of the riot, is one of the live witnesses for the hearing, which is expected to focus on the more than three hours in which Mr. Trump watched the violence unfold without taking any substantial steps to call off his supporters even as they threatened Vice President Mike Pence.

Mr. Pottinger and Sarah Matthews, a former White House deputy press secretary who also resigned on Jan. 6, are expected to help narrate what was unfolding inside the West Wing during those 187 minutes, in a hearing that the committee sees as the capstone to a series of public sessions in which it has laid out in detail Mr. Trump’s efforts to remain in office despite his defeat and how they led to the storming of the Capitol.

 July 18

 truth social logo

ny times logoNew York Times, Word of Trump Media Deal Is Said to Have Leaked Months in Advance, Matthew Goldstein, July 18, 2022. Federal authorities are investigating a surge in trading that preceded the announcement of a $300 million deal with the former president’s media company.

Months before former President Donald J. Trump’s social media company unveiled an agreement to raise hundreds of millions of dollars last fall, word of the deal leaked to an obscure Miami investment firm, whose executives began plotting ways to make money off the imminent transaction, according to people familiar with the discussions.

The deal — in which a so-called special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, would merge with Mr. Trump’s fledgling media business — was announced in October. It sent shares of the SPAC soaring.

Employees at the Miami investment firm, Rocket One Capital, had learned of the pending deal over the summer, long before it was announced, according to three people familiar with the firm’s internal discussions. Two of the people said that Rocket One officials at the time talked about ways to profit off the soon-to-be-announced transaction with Trump Media & Technology Group by investing in the SPAC, Digital World Acquisition Corporation.

A top Rocket One executive, Bruce Garelick, was on the board of Digital World until he resigned in recent weeks.

In the days before the Trump Media deal became public, there was a surge in trading in a type of security known as warrants, which entitled investors to buy shares of Digital World at a preset price in the future.

Federal prosecutors and regulators are now investigating the merger between Digital World and Trump Media, including the frenzied trading in the SPAC’s warrants, according to people familiar with the investigation and public disclosures. Digital World said in a recent regulatory filing that a federal grand jury in Manhattan had issued subpoenas seeking information about Rocket One, among other things.

July 17

Proof, Investigative Commentary: Two Men Very Close to Ginni Thomas—One of Them One Step Removed From Trump’s Coup Plot—Come seth abramson graphicUnder New Scrutiny, Seth Abramson, left, July 16-17, 2022. New evidence strongly suggests that it’s more imperative than ever that the House January 6 Committee get sworn testimony from the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas—and do so quickly.

Introduction: In early September of 2020, during the same several-week period that Ginni Thomas friend and Donald Trump lawyer Cleta Mitchell was successfully recruiting Ginni Thomas friend and former Clarence Thomas law clerk John Eastman to also become a Trump lawyer, Eastman was the head of the far-right Claremont Institute Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence.

seth abramson proof logoAround this time—September 9—a member of Trump’s National Security Council, Michael Anton, authored a truly stunning article entitled “The Coming Coup?” The document is profoundly unsettling in retrospect, given Anton’s high position within Trumpworld’s intelligence apparatus.

In “The Coming Coup?”, Anton imagined the following scenario:

Violence around the time of the 2020 election propagated by left-wing groups; requiring the invocation of the Insurrection Act by then-President Trump....

Note that this very same sequence of events could equally be triggered if Trump and his political team were to stage a televised act of violence and chaos and then blame it on left-wing agitators in a premeditated way—which, in the event, is exactly what Trump used the Rudy Giuliani-Steve Bannon-John Eastman “war room” at the Willard Hotel in Washington to do during Insurrection Week.

Despite no evidence whatsoever that either Black Lives Matter activists or participants in the loose antifa movement had been present at the United States Capitol on that dark day, Trumpist partisans insisted that they had been—and immediately after the Capitol was cleared began pushing Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act on these (fraudulent) grounds.

[B]y September of 2020 it was Trump’s longtime friend, attorney, confidant, and fixer Michael Cohen who had told Congress and all America under oath that he knew for a fact that Donald Trump was not going to concede the 2020 presidential election no matter what happened in it.

Just days ago, a Mother Jones investigative report confirmed Cohen’s revelation with secretly recorded pre-election audio of Bannon—of Trump’s Insurrection Week Willard Hotel war room, which he shared with the Claremont Institute’s Eastman—confirming that in fact it was Trump who’d all along planned to execute the plot Anton wrote of for Eastman’s Claremont Institute back in September, just after Eastman came aboard Trump’s legal team at Ginni Thomas friend Cleta Mitchell’s invitation.

So Michael Cohen was right. And if you’re of the camp that believes—on significant evidence—that every accusation by Trumpworld is fact a confession, you can see in the coup plot outlined above by Trump adviser Anton precisely the sequence of events that would quite nearly be carried out by Bannon, Giulian, Eastman, Sidney Powell, Michael Lindell, Patrick Byrne, and Michael Flynn.

Within 90 days of Anton’s essay, Eastman would be working on making the seditious vision of Trump’s intel guru (which the Claremont Institute had eagerly published) a reality—though for Donald Trump, of course, rather than Joe Biden. Indeed, once Ginni Thomas friend Eastman joined Trump presidential adviser Ginni Thomas and the aforementioned Ginni Thomas friend and presidential adviser Cleta Mitchell as a Trump adviser, he appears to mostly have focused on executing Anton’s hypothetical.

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

July 16

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Trump threatens the American people with another lunge for the White House! Webster G. Tarpley, Ph.D., right, 
webster tarpley 2007July 16, 2022 (64:30 mins.). He says his decision is already made, but the date for the announcement is not yet set; Bring it on, well before the mid-term elections, and set up a referendum on the fading MAGAt Duce!

Atlanta DA Willis has reportedly sent target letters to Republican bigwigs involved in fabricating fake slates of Electors in December 2020, informing them they will soon be indicted;

Purge of troubled Secret Service is likely necessary after crude attempt to discredit Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony, followed by illegal wiping of cell phone records; Are stay-behind Trump moles involved? Does this tell us something about the paralysis of the Department of Justice? House committee must fight it out on this line all the way to September;

In Israel, Biden views Iron Beam, a laser-powered system to shoot down drones; More powerful lasers are the key to the urgently needed crash program of strategic defense that can turn Putin’s vaunted missiles into a pile of junk;

Proposals for negotiations with Putin followed by plebiscite are idiotic in the extreme, given the Kremlin dictator’s obvious refusal to be bound by treaties and agreements; Italy’s Draghi government holding on despite sabotage by pro-Russian useful idiots of Grillo’s Five-Star movement; Many Five-Stars refuse to support Ukraine against invaders;

GOP’s attempts to interfere with interstate travel by women seeking abortions resemble the internal passport system of the Soviet Union;

Breaking: Obama AG Eric Holder predicts criminal indictments for January 6 coup leaders!

 

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 committee subpoenas Secret Service for missing records, Jacqueline Alemany and Maria Sacchetti, July 16, 2022 (print ed.). Earlier this week, a government watchdog accused the agency of erasing text messages from Jan. 5 and 6, 2021, after his office requested them.

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol issued a subpoena to the U.S. Secret Service on Friday requesting records after a government watchdog accused the agency of erasing texts from Jan. 5 and 6 after his office requested them.

Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), in a letter transmitting notice of the subpoena, wrote that the panel sought relevant text messages and reports issued in any way related to the attack on the Capitol.

“The Select Committee has been informed that the USSS erased text messages from Jan. 5 and 6, 2021 as part of a ‘device-replacement program.’ In a statement issued July 14, 2022, the USSS stated that it ‘began to reset its mobile phones to factory settings as part of a pre-planned, three-month system migration. In that process, data resident on some phones was lost.’ However, according to that USSS statement, ‘none of the texts [the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General] was seeking had been lost in the migration,” Thompson wrote.

The subpoena is the first the committee has issued to an executive branch agency.

The text messages could provide insight into the actions of the agency and potentially those of President Donald Trump on the day of the insurrection. Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified during a hearing last month that Trump wanted to lead the mob from the Ellipse to the Capitol, despite knowing they were armed, and said that she was told by an agent that Trump physically assailed the Secret Service agent who informed him he could not go to the Capitol.

Secret Service spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Thursday that the agency did not maliciously delete text messages following the request from DHS’s Office of Inspector General. The Washington Post previously reported that the Secret Service began a preplanned, agency wide replacement of staff telephones a month before the Office of Inspector General’s request, according to two people briefed on the document request.

Secret Service erased texts from Jan. 5 and 6, 2021, official says

Joseph Cuffari, the DHS’s inspector general, briefed members of the committee on Friday after sending a letter to lawmakers this week notifying them that the text messages were erased following the inspector general’s request. The Intercept and CNN led media reports of the matter.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s fundraising dips, trailing DeSantis, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Isaac Arnsdorf, July 16, 2022 (print ed.). His fundraising fell below $50 million in a six-month period for the first time since he left the White House. His haul is behind that of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a possible contender for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination.

The former president’s PAC raised about $36 million in the first half of the year, down 29% from the prior six months.

July 15

washington post logoWashington Post, Watchdog signals that missing texts are part of a pattern of resistance to oversight, Maria Sacchetti and Carol D. Leonnig, Updated July 15, 2022.  A government watchdog accused the U.S. Secret Service of erasing texts from Jan. 5 and 6, 2021, after his office requested them as part of an inquiry into the U.S. Capitol attack, according to a letter sent to lawmakers this week.

Joseph V. Cuffari, head of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, wrote to the leaders of the House and Senate Homeland Security committees indicating that the text messages have vanished and that efforts to investigate the Jan. 6, 2021, attack were being hindered.

 

Ivana Trump during Fashion Week in New York in September 2007 (Associated Press photo by Jason DeCrow/).

washington post logoWashington Post, Ivana Trump’s death was accident, caused by injuries to torso, medical examiner says, Adela Suliman and Shayna Jacobs, July 16, 2022 (print ed.). Ivana Trump, the first wife of former president Donald Trump, died of “blunt impact injuries” to her torso, according to a report from the New York City chief medical examiner Friday. The manner of death was classified as an accident, the report added.

The Trump family announced that Ivana, 73, mother of Ivanka, Eric and Donald Jr., had died at home in Manhattan on Thursday.

“I am very saddened to inform all of those that loved her, of which there are many, that Ivana Trump has passed away at her home in New York City,” the former president said in a post on his social medial platform Truth Social.

Ivana Trump was found unconscious on a staircase in her East 64th Street home near Central Park after police received an emergency call at 12:40 p.m., and she was pronounced dead at the scene, according to two law enforcement officials with knowledge of the event. New York police detectives began an investigation and found no sign of forced entry or obvious sign of trauma suggesting criminality.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Ivana Trump's sudden death fits a pattern for those who pose a threat when Trump is under wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallinvestigation, Wayne Madsen, left, author of 22 books and former Navy intelligence officer, July 15, 2022. Ivana Trump's sudden death fits a pattern for those who pose a threat when Trump is under investigation.

Ivana Trump, like so many others in Donald Trump’s personal orbit, died suddenly leaving questions, in her case at the age of 73 of what was initially reported as a heart attack.

wayne madesen report logoHowever, Trump’s first wife and the mother of Donald Trump, Jr, Eric Trump, and Ivanka Trump, was no distant hostile ex-wife. Donald Trump continued to maintain a business relationship with Ivana long after their divorce in 1992.

Ivana Trump even enjoyed, courtesy of Donald, a one-month a year membership at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump ensured that Ivana was never in need of cash. He also wanted to ensure that his ex-wife stayed away from publishers to avoid any more embarrassing revelations such as those published in Mrs. Trump’s post-divorce “kiss and tell” book, Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump. In that book, Ivana accused her ex-husband of spousal rape, a charge that resurfaced during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump also managed to grift off Ivana's death, sending a condolence text out on his Truth Social platform mourning his first wife's death while also appealing for cash for his "Save America" online panhandling contrivance.

The Trumps’ three children, all set to testify under oath in a civil deposition on the business practices of the Trump Organization ordered by New York Attorney General Letitia James, were also in close contact with their mother. And that makes the fact that the first Mrs. Trump was found “unresponsive” at the foot of a flight of stairs in her Upper East Side luxury apartment all the more suspicious.

Ivana Trump was found dead after police were called to her apartment for a "wellness check." In keeping with the inherent corruption of the New York Police Department, police said Ivana Trump's death "was not considered suspicious." If we accept the NYPD's conclusion, anytime a body is found at the foot of the stairs, foul play can be immediately ruled out. Perhaps homicide detectives should re-evaluate its initial conclusion and actually investigate whether Ivana Trump was pushed down the stairs.

It is the Trump Organization, for which Ivana Trump was once a high-level official, that is under the investigation lens of the New York Attorney General’s office. Mrs. Trump’s sudden death may deprive state investigators of valuable information on the business, particularly when considering that Ivana Trump was a one-time high-level corporate officer in the Trump Organization.

 

Donald Trump and his then-wife, Ivana, pose outside the Federal Courthouse in 1988 after she was sworn in as a United States citizen (Associated Press photo).

Donald Trump and his then-wife, Ivana, pose outside the Federal Courthouse in 1988 after she was sworn in as a United States citizen (Associated Press photo).

ny times logoNew York Times, Ivana’s New York, Dodai Stewart, Updated July 16, 2022. In the 1980s and ’90s, Ivana Trump was on a first-name basis with a city transfixed by fame and fashion.

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective: Without Ivana Trump, there would be no Donald Trump, Paul Farhi, July 15, 2022. Donald Trump's rise to fame was fueled as much by first wife Ivana's brash charisma as his own heat-seeking swagger and ambition.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump looks to fall launch for 2024, potentially upending midterms, Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey, July 15, 2022 (print ed.). Some Republicans fear a Trump announcement will undercut them when they have a strong chance of retaking the House and Senate.

For nearly a year, a kitchen cabinet of Donald Trump confidants have told the former president not to announce his 2024 comeback candidacy before the midterms, arguing that he could be a drag on 2022 candidates and would be blamed if Republicans underperformed.

But Trump has continued to regularly push for an early announcement in private meetings, as potential 2024 rivals become more aggressive amid signs of weakening support among his base. Now an increasing number of allies are urging him to follow his instincts as a way to shore up his standing in the party and drive turnout to help the GOP take over the House and Senate next year.

The former president is now eyeing a September announcement, according to two Trump advisers, who like some others interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.

July 14

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump looks to fall launch for 2024, potentially upending midterms, Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey, July 14, 2022. Some Republicans fear a Trump announcement will undercut them when they have a strong chance of retaking the House and Senate.

For nearly a year, a kitchen cabinet of Donald Trump confidants have told the former president not to announce his 2024 comeback candidacy before the midterms, arguing that he could be a drag on 2022 candidates and would be blamed if Republicans underperformed.

But Trump has continued to regularly push for an early announcement in private meetings, as potential 2024 rivals become more aggressive amid signs of weakening support among his base. Now an increasing number of allies are urging him to follow his instincts as a way to shore up his standing in the party and drive turnout to help the GOP take over the House and Senate next year.

The former president is now eyeing a September announcement, according to two Trump advisers, who like some others interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations. One confidant put the odds at “70-30 he announces before the midterms.” And others said he may still decide to announce sooner than September.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Ivana Trump, former wife of Donald Trump, dies at 73, Washington Post Staff, July 14, 2022. Ivana Trump, a former wife of Donald Trump, has died at age 73, her family said Thursday.

The former president announced her death in a post on Truth Social:

“I am very saddened to inform all of those that loved her, of which there are many, that Ivana Trump has passed away at her home in New York City. She was a wonderful, beautiful, and amazing woman, who led a great and inspirational life. Her pride and joy were her three children, Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric. She was so proud of them, as we were all so proud of her. Rest In Peace, Ivana!”

Ivana Trump was the former president’s first wife. The cause of death was unknown.

Born under Communist rule in the former Czechoslovakia to an engineer and a telephone operator, Ivana Marie Zelníčková Trump was a skier and fashion model who immigrated to the Americas in the 1970s, first arriving in Canada.

According to a New York Magazine article from the time, Ivana Trump met Donald Trump during a trip to New York, in which she was working as a model to promote the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal. They married in 1977 and divorced in 1992. She kept his surname.

July 13

 

djt as chosen one

Proof, Investigative Commentary: Did Donald Trump Commit Treason on December 18, 2020? The Arguments on Both Sides of a Suddenly seth abramson graphicPressing Question, Seth Abramson, left, July 13, 2022. The July 12 House January 6 Committee hearing was filled with shocking testimony. Perhaps the most shocking testimony has thus far gone overlooked by major media analyses—but it may point to Treason.

seth abramson proof logoThe position of Proof since its founding on January 14, 2021, has been that Donald Trump did not commit treason on January 6, 2021, or at any time before then—not because he’s a loyal American citizen, because he is not, but because Treason (the federal criminal statute) comprises a set of evidentiary elements a prosecutor must prove at trial.

It has been the view of this former criminal defense attorney that the facts of the January 6 insurrection, as heinous as they are, simply do not match the language of the Treason statute. Maybe the statute has blind-spots and should be rewritten; certainly Trump should be indicted for any crimes he committed (and is still trying to commit, apparently) related to January 6; but criminal statutes cannot and should not be retroactive. Therefore, the thinking here has been, Trump is not eligible to be federally prosecuted for Treason.

Or so Proof thought, until yesterday’s televised House January 6 Committee hearing.

Yesterday the strictly legal question of whether Trump is a traitor to the United States—that is, whether he committed statutory treason—became a viable one for the first time. And though I searched cable news and other news sources last night in the hope of finding some analysis of this question, I couldn’t find any, so I’m providing it here.

Proof will here offer the case both “for” and “against” former President Trump having committed the crime of Treason on December 18, 2020. I’ll be citing the new evidence from yesterday’s highly disturbing Congressional hearing as well as evidence formerly disclosed by Congress and/or Proof.

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

July 11

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 hearing to focus on Trump’s ‘siren call’ to violent extremists, Amy B Wang and Olivier Knox, July 11, 2022 (print ed.). On Dec. 19, 2020, President Donald Trump posted on Twitter one of his many baseless claims about the presidential election, alleging that it was “statistically impossible” for him to have lost to Joe Biden and alerting his supporters to a Washington protest in the coming weeks.

“Big protest in D.C. on January 6th,” Trump tweeted then. “Be there, will be wild!”

That tweet would serve as an invitation to far-right militant groups such as the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers as well as other violent extremists who were part of the pro-Trump mob that overran the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to block the certification of Biden’s electoral college win, members of the House select committee investigating the insurrection said Sunday.

The effect of that tweet — as well as other messages from Trump and his allies — will be explored this week as the committee resumes its public hearings. Tuesday’s session will focus on Trump’s connections to those far-right and political extremist groups.

“People are going to hear the story of that tweet, and then the explosive effect it had in Trumpworld, and specifically among the domestic violent extremist groups, the most dangerous political extremists in the country at that point,” Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) said on CBS News’s “Face the Nation.”

Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), who is scheduled to lead Tuesday’s hearing with Raskin, said on NBC News’s “Meet the Press” that the Dec. 19 tweet was a “siren call” to those groups that Jan. 6 would be a “last stand” to keep Trump in power.

Trump had already mounted a broad and ongoing pressure campaign — on Vice President Mike Pence, the Justice Department and state election officials — to help overturn the election results, she added, and his tweet amounted to a call for those violent groups to provide “additional support” leading up to Jan. 6.

Committee members also confirmed Sunday that they had received a letter from a lawyer for former Trump chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon stating that Bannon will waive his claim of executive privilege and testify at a public hearing. Bannon was indicted on charges of contempt of Congress last year after refusing to comply with the committee’s subpoena.

Bannon could still assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and may insist on conditions, such as testifying on live TV rather than in a closed-door deposition, that committee members may not want to agree to.

Raskin said Sunday that the committee would be “very interested” in hearing from Bannon, but indicated it was unlikely that his initial testimony would be public.

The hearing on Tuesday will be the committee’s first since Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, gave bombshell testimony about Trump’s rage and inaction on the day of the Capitol attack. Hutchinson testified on June 28 that Trump knew that some of his supporters were armed but urged them to march on the Capitol anyway, and that Trump had told Meadows to talk to some of his aides who had relationships with far-right militia groups.

 

Former Trump White House staffer and House Jan. 6 Committee witness Cassidy Hutchinson, center, and Representative Liz Cheney, left, the vice chairwoman of the committee, have developed an unlikely bond (New York Times photo by Doug Mills).

Former Trump White House staffer and House Jan. 6 Committee witness Cassidy Hutchinson, center, and Representative Liz Cheney, left, the vice chairwoman of the committee, have developed an unlikely bond (New York Times photo by Doug Mills).

ny times logoNew York Times, Why the Jan. 6 Committee Rushed Cassidy Hutchinson’s Testimony, Robert Draper, July 11, 2022 (print ed.).  Committee members were so alarmed by what they considered a clear case of witness tampering that they decided to hold an emergency public hearing.

The day before Cassidy Hutchinson was deposed for a fourth time by the Jan. 6 committee, the former Trump White House aide received a phone message that would dramatically change the plans of the panel and write a new chapter in American politics.

On that day in June, the caller told Ms. Hutchinson, as Liz Cheney, the committee’s vice chairwoman, later disclosed: A person “let me know you have your deposition tomorrow. He wants me to let you know he’s thinking about you. He knows you’re loyal. And you’re going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition.”

At Ms. Hutchinson’s deposition the next day, committee members investigating the attack on the Capitol were so alarmed by what they considered a clear case of witness tampering — not to mention Ms. Hutchinson’s shocking account of President Donald J. Trump’s behavior on Jan. 6, 2021 — that they decided in a meeting on June 24, a Friday, to hold an emergency public hearing with Ms. Hutchinson as the surprise witness the following Tuesday.

The speed, people close to the committee said, was for two crucial reasons: Ms. Hutchinson was under intense pressure from Trump World, and panel members believed that getting her story out in public would make her less vulnerable, attract powerful allies and be its own kind of protection. The committee also had to move fast, the people said, to avoid leaks of some of the most explosive testimony ever heard on Capitol Hill.

In the two weeks since, Ms. Hutchinson’s account of an unhinged president who urged his armed supporters to march to the Capitol, lashed out at his Secret Service detail and hurled his lunch against a wall has turned her into a figure of both admiration and scorn — lauded by Trump critics as a 21st-century John Dean and attacked by Mr. Trump as a “total phony.”

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

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

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

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

What Independent State Legislature Doctrine (ISL)?

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

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

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

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

July 8 

 

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

The Guardian, Film offers inside look at Roger Stone’s ‘Stop the Steal’ efforts before January 6, Hugo Lowell, July 8, 2022. Footage shows key moments of planning with fellow activist Ali Alexander to overturn election results in Trump’s favor.

Weeks before the Capitol attack, top Republican political activists Roger Stone and Ali Alexander identified the January 6 congressional certification as the final chance for Donald Trump to attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

The focus on the congressional certification, according to sources familiar with the matter, was one of several areas they marked as potential flashpoints to exploit as leaders of the “Stop the Steal” movement to help Trump reverse his defeat to Joe Biden.

As Stone and Alexander mounted their political operation, their activities were recorded by two conservative film-makers in the post-2020 election period and in the weeks before January 6.

The access meant the film-makers, Jason Rink and Paul Escandon, captured footage of the leaders of the Stop the Steal movement and their interactions with top Trump allies, according to a teaser for the documentary titled The Steal.

In following Stop the Steal, the film-makers’ project documented key moments in the timeline leading up to the Capitol attack, including an “occupation” of the Georgia state capitol in November, and rallies in Washington that almost seemed like dry runs for January 6.

They also caught on camera public and private moments at Stop the Steal events. Among others who appear in the documentary are the House Republican Paul Gosar, former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

At one point, the footage reviewed by the Guardian shows, Alexander appears to presage the flashpoint that would be January 6, saying of Biden: “The House and the Senate must certify the electoral college. There is no president-elect until the electoral college meets.”

July 6

 

capitol weare the storm flyer resizedcapitol riot shutterstock capitol

ny times logoNew York Times, Jan. 6 Hearings to Resume Next Week With Focus on Domestic Extremists, Luke Broadwater, July 6, 2022 (print ed.). The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol plans to hold a hearing next Tuesday to reveal its findings about the connections between former President Donald J. Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election and the domestic violent extremist groups that helped to organize the siege on Congress.

The panel announced that the session would take place on July 12 at 10 a.m. It is expected to be led by Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland, and Representative Stephanie Murphy, Democrat of Florida, who plan to chart the rise of the right-wing domestic violent extremist groups that attacked the Capitol and how Mr. Trump amassed and inspired the mob. The panel also plans to detail known links and conversations between political actors close to Mr. Trump and extremists.

The hearing will be the first since the explosive, surprise testimony last week by Cassidy Hutchinson, a junior-level aide in Mr. Trump’s White House who came forward to provide a damning account of the president’s actions on Jan. 6, 2021. She recounted how Mr. Trump, knowing his supporters were armed and threatening violence, wanted to relax security measures to allow them to move around Washington freely, urging them to march to the Capitol and seeking to join them there.

She testified to having overheard a conversation in which Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff and her boss at the time, said that Mr. Trump had privately sided with the rioters as they stormed the building and called for the hanging of Vice President Mike Pence, saying that he deserved it and that his supporters were doing what they should be doing.

The select committee has held seven public hearings to date, beginning with one last year in which it highlighted the testimonials of four police officers who battled the mob and helped secure the Capitol.

After conducting more than 1,000 interviews, the committee began a series of public hearings last month to lay out the findings of its investigation, including one in which it focused heavily on the role the Proud Boys extremist group played in the storming of the building.

The next session focused on how Mr. Trump spread the lie of a stolen election even as he was told repeatedly that the vote was legitimate, ripping off his donors and deceiving his supporters in the process. Subsequent hearings focused on how Mr. Trump pressured Mr. Pence, state officials and the Justice Department in a barrage of increasingly desperate efforts to overturn the election.

In a recent interview with The New York Times, Mr. Raskin declined to provide specific details about communications between political actors close to Mr. Trump and militia groups. But he said it was clear that no mob would have come to Washington or descended on the Capitol were it not for Mr. Trump’s direction.

 

djt jan 6 twitter

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Kinzinger, on Jan. 6 panel, shares profane threats sent to his office, Eugene Scott, July 6, 2022 (print ed.). Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) on Tuesday shared profanity-filled threats and other obscenities that his office has received during the hearings by the House select committee into the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by a mob of Donald Trump supporters.

“Threats of violence over politics has increased heavily in the last few years,” Kinzinger tweeted. “But the darkness has reached new lows. My new interns made this compilation of recent calls they’ve received while serving in my DC office.”

Kinzinger and Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), the two Republicans on the bipartisan panel, have been on the receiving end of much of the criticism from the former president’s supporters for their focus on Trump’s culpability for the insurrection and warnings that Trump is a threat to democracy. Seizing on Trump’s false claims of a rigged election, the mob tried and failed to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential win.

In February, the Republican National Committee censured Kinzinger and Cheney for serving on the Jan. 6 committee, saying the panel was persecuting “ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.”

Kinzinger tweeted some of the recordings compiled by high school and college students interning for him this summer and invited readers to listen to the attacks. One caller said he hopes Kinzinger dies quickly, while another called him a lying backstabber for his participation on the committee. Callers left racist comments and disputed the facts of the investigation while wishing harm on the lawmaker’s family.

“Going to come protest in front of your house this weekend,” one message said. “We know where your family is.”

“Gonna get your wife. Gonna get your kids,” the caller added.

Other angry voice mails threatened Kinzinger’s mother, while another targeted Cheney.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept. sues Arizona over requiring proof of citizenship to vote, David Nakamura and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, July 6, 2022 (print ed.). Justice officials say the law flouts a 2013 Supreme Court ruling that struck down a similar attempt from Arizona arizona mapto enact a proof-of-citizenship requirement.

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging an Arizona law that requires voters in presidential elections to show proof of citizenship, setting up a fight over a provision similar to one the Supreme Court called unconstitutional in 2013.

State Republicans, who passed the new measure in March on a party-line vote, said the law is a safeguard against voter fraud, which supporters of then-President Donald Trump falsely claimed was a factor in him losing the state to President Biden in 2020. Arizona’s attorney general said in April that his office investigated allegations of voter fraud in the state’s largest county and found no evidence of any widespread irregularities that would have affected the presidential election.

Democrats have lambasted House Bill 2492 as another of the state GOP’s long-standing efforts to restrict voting and make it more difficult for some residents, including naturalized immigrants, to take part in elections.

 

fox upside down news

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: The Republican Party joins a list of other disreputable puppet parties, Wayne Madsen, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallleft, author of 22 books, longtime journalist and former Navy intelligence officer, July 5-6, 2022. Not since the puppet parties of Quisling and Vichy France has the world seen a political apparatus as foreign-controlled as the Republicans.

Like many political parties totally dependent on one or more outside powers for ideological direction, the U.S. Republican Party, founded in Ripon, Wisconsin in 1854 by abolitionists, has become a puppet party expressing the fascist principles espoused by leaders in Russia, Hungary, Brazil, Turkey, India, and Israel.

wayne madesen report logoFinancial support for the Republicans has not only come from offshore contrivances linked to the Russian, Hungarian, Turkish, Brazilian, Israeli, Indian, and other like-minded governments but domestic wealthy fascist ideologues like Peter Thiel, Charles G. Koch, Rupert Murdoch, John Childs (Childs was arrested in the same 2019 solicitation for prostitution sting in Jupiter, Florida, which involved human sex trafficking, that also tagged New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft), Tatnall Hillman, Ken Griffin, Lewis Topper, Richard Uihlein, and Robert and Rebekah Mercer.

Perhaps the worst form of dynastic fascism exists within the media. NewsCorp's Rupert Murdoch, who was largely responsible for the rise of right-wing governments in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, where he has maintained large media holdings in newspapers and television, has turned the reins of power over to his son, Lachlan Murdoch. The Trump presidency could not have been possible without the constant din of propaganda masquerading as legitimate journalism from Fox News.

Politico, Aide's testimony that Trump was told of weapons could boost civil suits, Josh Gerstein, July 5, 2022 (print ed.). The revelation at a House Jan. 6 hearing could be fodder for cases arguing that Trump knew violence was likely when he sent backers to the Capitol.

politico CustomDonald Trump faces at least six civil suits over Jan. 6 that could gain traction from testimony by the aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, that Trump was told many of his supporters had weapons and that he urged they be allowed through metal detectors anyway. | Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images

A White House aide’s bombshell testimony on Tuesday about then-President Donald Trump’s actions and statements on Jan. 6, 2021, could give a major boost to a series of civil lawsuits against Trump over his liability for the violence that broke out that day.

Trump faces at least six civil suits over Jan. 6 that could gain traction from testimony by the aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, that Trump was told many of his supporters had weapons and that he urged they be allowed through metal detectors anyway.

Hutchinson told the House Jan. 6 select committee that prior to his speech at the Ellipse that day, Trump was mad that the area closest to the stage wasn’t full. Aides told him that was because some of his supporters were choosing not to proceed through Secret Service-staffed magnetometers because they didn’t want to have to give up weapons they had.

“Take the f-ing mags away,” Trump reportedly said. “They’re not here to hurt me.”

A lawyer pressing a suit against Trump and others on behalf of 10 Democratic House members, Joseph Sellers, said the testimony could bolster their case because it supports the idea that Trump was aware violence was likely when he urged his backers to march to the Capitol.

‘They’re not here to hurt me’: Key witness says Trump OK’d weapons at Jan. 6 rally

“The testimony that came today I think was very powerful confirmation that Trump knew and expected the crowd that was assembled was going to engage in violent action directed at the Capitol with the intention of interfering with the ability to ratify the results of the election,” Sellers said in an interview.

The new information also seems to dovetail with U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta’s explanation of why he was turning down Trump’s bid to dismiss three of the suits. Mehta said it was plausible Trump countenanced the violence on Jan. 6 through a combination of his public exhortation to the crowd to march to the Capitol and his later resistance to issuing a statement calling on his supporters to retreat.

 sarah matthews cnnCNN,

, Ryan Nobles, July 6, 2022. Sarah Matthews, above, who served as deputy press secretary in the Trump White House until resigning shortly after the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, has been subpoenaed by the House select committee investigating the insurrection and has agreed to testify at an upcoming hearing, according to two sources with knowledge of the investigation.

Recent Headlines

 

July 5

 

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

 ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Allies Are Subpoenaed in Georgia Criminal Investigation, Danny Hakim, July 5, 2022. Rudy Giuliani, Lindsey Graham, John Eastman and several others in former President Trump’s orbit were subpoenaed in the election meddling inquiry.

Seven advisers and allies of Donald J. Trump, including Rudolph W. Giuliani and Senator Lindsey Graham, were subpoenaed on Tuesday in the ongoing criminal investigation in Georgia of election interference by Mr. Trump and his associates. The move was the latest sign that the investigation has entangled a number of prominent members of Mr. Trump’s orbit, and may cloud the future for the former president himself.

The subpoenas underscore the breadth of the investigation being conducted by Fani T. Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, which encompasses most of Atlanta. She is weighing a range of charges, according to legal filings, including racketeering and conspiracy, and her inquiry has encompassed witnesses from beyond the state’s borders. The latest round of subpoenas was reported earlier by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

A subpoena is not an indication that someone is a subject of an inquiry, though some of the latest recipients are considered at risk in the case, in particular Mr. Giuliani, a personal lawyer for Mr. Trump who has emerged as a central figure in the grand jury proceedings in the Georgia investigation. Mr. Giuliani spent several hours speaking before state legislative panels in December 2020, where he peddled false conspiracy theories about corrupted voting machines and a video that he claimed showed secret suitcases of Democratic ballots. He told members of the State House at the time, “You cannot possibly certify Georgia in good faith.”

Ms. Willis’s office, in its subpoena, said Mr. Giuliani “possesses unique knowledge concerning communications between himself, former President Trump, the Trump campaign, and other known and unknown individuals involved in the multistate, coordinated efforts to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.”

Though the subpoenas were issued Tuesday, not all had necessarily been received. Robert J. Costello, a lawyer for Mr. Giuliani, said, “We have not been served with any subpoena, therefore we have no current comment.”

Others sent subpoenas included Jenna Ellis, a lawyer who worked closely with Mr. Giuliani to overturn the 2020 election results; John Eastman, the legal architect of a plan to keep Mr. Trump in power by using fake electors, and Mr. Graham, the South Carolina Republican who called the Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, days after the election to inquire about the rules for discarding mail-in ballots.

 

Trump Attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis raising claims of 2020 election fraud at a hearing in Michigan in December 2020.

Trump Attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis raising claims of 2020 election fraud at a hearing in Michigan in December 2020.

Another prominent lawyer who received a subpoena, Cleta Mitchell, was on a Jan. 2, 2021, call that Mr. Trump made to Mr. Raffensperger where he asked him to find enough votes to reverse the state’s results. The subpoena to her said, “During the telephone call, the witness and others made allegations of widespread voter fraud in the November 2020 election in Georgia and pressured Secretary Raffensperger to take action in his official capacity to investigate unfounded claims of fraud.”

Two other Trump lawyers were also subpoenaed: Jacki Pick Deason, who helped make the Trump team’s case before the Georgia legislature, and Kenneth Chesebro.

Most of those subpoenaed could not be immediately reached for comment. A spokesman for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, where Ms. Deason is a senior fellow, declined to comment.

Much attention is focused on the hearings being held in Washington by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. There is also an intensifying investigation by the Department of Justice into a scheme to create slates of fake presidential electors in 2020. But it is the Georgia investigation that is the most visible criminal inquiry underway.

And the subpoenas offered some clues about where it is focused.

Mr. Eastman was a key witness at one of the December 2020 legislative hearings that were led by Mr. Giuliani. Ms. Willis’s office said in its subpoena to Mr. Eastman that during the hearing he had “advised lawmakers that they had both the lawful authority and a ‘duty’ to replace the Democratic Party’s slate of presidential electors, who had been certified as the duly appointed electors for the State of Georgia after the November 2020 election, due to unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud within the state.”

Palmer Report, Analysis: Looks like Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony against Trump and Mark Meadows may have already set off a chain bill palmerreaction with prosecutors, Bill Palmer, right, July 5, 2022. When Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’ former top aide Cassidy Hutchinson gave public testimony last week that proved Trump and Meadows guilty of multiple felonies, that kind of development always sets off a chain reaction of events behind the scenes.

But because the public doesn’t get to see most of the moves that are made by prosecutors, we’re left trying to piece together what’s going on based on the isolated pieces of information that do surface.

bill palmer report logo headerAs soon as Hutchinson was finished testifying, every prosecutor investigating Trump world surely reached out to her, seeking her immediate cooperation with their criminal probes. Hutchinson would have known this was coming, and thus was likely already set up to swiftly comply with such requests.

Now, just a week after Hutchinson’s public testimony against Trump and Meadows, Fulton County Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis has subpoenaed everyone in Trump world who was reportedly involved in the Georgia election tampering – except Trump and Meadows. Willis has subpoenaed Lindsey Graham, Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, and others to testify to the grand jury. But she’s left Trump and Meadows out of it.

Trump’s exclusion makes sense. He’s the criminal target in Georgia. The DA is presumably giving the likes of Graham, Giuliani, and Ellis the opportunity to avoid indictment if they help take Trump down by testifying against him (she can still indict them if they refuse to cooperate, or lie to the grand jury).

Prosecutors can’t force a criminal target to testify against himself, so it makes sense that the DA hasn’t subpoenaed Trump. But the exclusion of Meadows is fascinating, given that Meadows’ former top aide just finished spelling out Meadows’ guilt on live national television. Cassidy Hutchinson did not get into the full details of how Meadows tampered in the Georgia election results, but major media reports have long pointed to Meadows as having had the greatest criminal culpability in Georgia of anyone.

So what’s really taken place behind the scenes over the past week? One straightforward scenario would be that DA Willis asked Hutchinson for her testimony, and as a result Willis has decided to indict Trump and Meadows, thus explaining why Meadows isn’t being subpoenaed.

This is all presuming Meadows hasn’t started cutting deals with prosecutors in the week since he got nailed on witness tampering. Criminal targets often finally realize they’re going to prison once they get caught on these kinds of process crimes, which make for comparatively easy convictions. So it’s at least theoretically possible that Meadows has spent the past week cooperating.

 

djt jan 6 twitter

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

Politico, Aide's testimony that Trump was told of weapons could boost civil suits, Josh Gerstein, July 5, 2022 (print ed.). The revelation at a House Jan. 6 hearing could be fodder for cases arguing that Trump knew violence was likely when he sent backers to the Capitol.

politico CustomDonald Trump faces at least six civil suits over Jan. 6 that could gain traction from testimony by the aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, that Trump was told many of his supporters had weapons and that he urged they be allowed through metal detectors anyway. | Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images

A White House aide’s bombshell testimony on Tuesday about then-President Donald Trump’s actions and statements on Jan. 6, 2021, could give a major boost to a series of civil lawsuits against Trump over his liability for the violence that broke out that day.

Trump faces at least six civil suits over Jan. 6 that could gain traction from testimony by the aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, that Trump was told many of his supporters had weapons and that he urged they be allowed through metal detectors anyway.

Hutchinson told the House Jan. 6 select committee that prior to his speech at the Ellipse that day, Trump was mad that the area closest to the stage wasn’t full. Aides told him that was because some of his supporters were choosing not to proceed through Secret Service-staffed magnetometers because they didn’t want to have to give up weapons they had.

“Take the f-ing mags away,” Trump reportedly said. “They’re not here to hurt me.”

A lawyer pressing a suit against Trump and others on behalf of 10 Democratic House members, Joseph Sellers, said the testimony could bolster their case because it supports the idea that Trump was aware violence was likely when he urged his backers to march to the Capitol.

‘They’re not here to hurt me’: Key witness says Trump OK’d weapons at Jan. 6 rally

“The testimony that came today I think was very powerful confirmation that Trump knew and expected the crowd that was assembled was going to engage in violent action directed at the Capitol with the intention of interfering with the ability to ratify the results of the election,” Sellers said in an interview.

The new information also seems to dovetail with U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta’s explanation of why he was turning down Trump’s bid to dismiss three of the suits. Mehta said it was plausible Trump countenanced the violence on Jan. 6 through a combination of his public exhortation to the crowd to march to the Capitol and his later resistance to issuing a statement calling on his supporters to retreat.

 

donald trump money palmer report Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump cracks down on deceptive fundraising done in his name, Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey, July 5, 2022 (print ed.). While being known for his own false and misleading emails, Trump faces armies of unaffiliated fundraisers who ape his message and sometimes threaten Republicans in Trump’s name.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich has spent months groundlessly telling Republicans that they can be on “Trump’s Team” or “Endorse Trump for President in 2024” by giving to his U.S. Senate campaign.

“Are you turning your back on Pres. Trump?” one Brnovich fundraising ad asked last year. “Renew your 2022 membership before it is too late.”

Such appeals pushed the actual team of advisers around Trump to a breaking point in June, after Trump endorsed Brnovich’s rival, Blake Masters, for the Senate seat in Arizona. In a cease-and-desist letter obtained by The Washington Post, an attorney for Save America, Trump’s political action committee, threatened legal action if Brnovich did not stop using Trump’s image and name in misleading ways.

Trump’s lawyer pointed to a recent email with the subject line “ACCOUNT TERMINATION NOTICE” that threatened potential donors with losing “[a]ny chance of continuing to receive our Trump polls, Trump rally alerts, and 2024 Endorsement opportunities” if they did not give money to Brnovich.

The letter was one of dozens of demands that Trump’s attorneys and aides have sent in recent years. But those efforts have not stopped the deceptive solicitations that flood Republican phones and inboxes daily. Eighteen months after leaving office, Trump remains the biggest draw for GOP donors, especially those who give small contributions. While he continues to rake in money, he also faces armies of unaffiliated fundraisers who ape or mimic Trump appeals and sometimes threaten or bully Republicans in Trump’s name to get money.

At the same time, Trump himself is no stranger to misleading fundraising appeals. His team often sends a dozen or more appeals in a day to gin up money, often with suspect claims, like saying donations will be matched 700 percent.

July 4

 

djt march 2020 Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: New Insights Into Trump’s State of Mind Chip Away at Doubts, Peter Baker, July 4, 2022 (print ed.). Former President Trump has long been able to keep his intentions under wraps, but recent testimony revealed a man willing to do almost anything to hang onto power.

He was not speaking metaphorically. It was not an offhand comment. President Donald J. Trump had every intention of joining a mob of supporters he knew to be armed and dangerous as it marched to the Capitol. And there had even been talk of marching into the House chamber himself to disrupt Congress from ratifying his election defeat.

For a year and a half, Mr. Trump has been shielded by obfuscations and mischaracterizations, benefiting from uncertainty about what he was thinking on Jan. 6, 2021. If he truly believed the election had been stolen, if he genuinely expected the gathering at the Capitol would be a peaceful protest, the argument went, then could he be held accountable, much less indicted, for the mayhem that ensued?

But for a man who famously avoids leaving emails or other trails of evidence of his unspoken motives, any doubts about what was really going through Mr. Trump’s mind on that day of violence seemed to have been eviscerated by testimony presented in recent weeks by the House committee investigating the Capitol attack — especially the dramatic appearance last week of a 26-year-old former White House aide who offered a chilling portrait of a president willing to do almost anything to hang onto power.

July 3

 

liz cheney screengrab capitol

washington post logoWashington Post, Multiple criminal referrals of Trump possible, Cheney says, Amy B Wang, July 3, 2022. The Republican Party cannot survive with Trump as 2024 presidential nominee, she adds.

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection could make multiple criminal referrals to the Justice Department of former president Donald Trump over his role in the U.S. Capitol attack, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the committee’s vice chair (shown above in a file photo), said in an interview that aired Sunday.

“The Justice Department doesn’t have to wait for the committee to make a criminal referral,” Cheney said on ABC’s “This Week.” “And there could be more than one criminal referral.”

Cheney emphasized that the committee’s aims were not political, but also that the Justice Department should not refrain from prosecuting Trump out of concerns about political optics if the evidence warrants criminal prosecution.

“I think it’s a much graver constitutional threat if a president can engage in these kinds of activities, and the majority of the president’s party looks away, or we as a country decide we’re not actually going to take our constitutional obligations seriously,” Cheney said.

Cheney went on to express grave concerns about the idea of Trump running as the GOP presidential nominee for a third time.

“I think there’s no question, I mean, a man as dangerous as Donald Trump can absolutely never be anywhere near the Oval Office ever again,” Cheney said.

The Republican Party, she said, could not survive if Trump were its 2024 presidential nominee.

“Millions of people, millions of Republicans have been betrayed by Donald Trump. And that is a really painful thing for people to recognize and to admit, but it’s absolutely the case,” Cheney said. “And they’ve been betrayed by him, by the big lie, and by what he continues to do and say to tear apart our country and tear apart our party.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: We can no longer avoid a criminal investigation into Donald Trump, Editorial Board, July 3, 2022 (print ed.). After another week of riveting testimony before the House Jan. 6 committee, it is natural to wonder: How many laws were broken, by whom, and will there be prosecutions?

The public needs more information. That requires the committee to hear from more witnesses, which in turn requires the Justice Department to prosecute those, such as Mr. Meadows, who have defied committee subpoenas. It also means the department should examine seriously concerns that Trump allies are trying to influence Jan. 6 committee witnesses.

And, yes, the department should conduct a criminal investigation of Mr. Trump himself. Attorney General Merrick Garland appears to be treating this prospect with a high degree of care, and appropriately so.

On the other hand, if Mr. Trump is clearly, unquestionably guilty of committing a serious crime — not just arguably so — the department might have little choice. Central to our system of justice is the principle that no one is above the law.

The Justice Department has investigative powers that the Jan. 6 committee does not, and there are critical questions that remain unanswered. Mr. Garland should have no higher priority than using these powers to investigate all of those involved in one of the darkest days in American history.

July 2

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Eyes Early 2024 Announcement as Jan. 6 Scrutiny Intensifies, Michael C. Bender, Reid J. Epstein and Maggie Haberman, July 2, 2022 (print ed.). Former President Trump has accelerated his campaign planning, hoping a White House bid will blunt damaging revelations. Some Republicans are worried.

Republicans are bracing for Donald J. Trump to announce an unusually early bid for the White House, a move designed in part to shield the former president from a stream of damaging revelations emerging from investigations into his attempts to cling to power after losing the 2020 election.

While many Republicans would welcome Mr. Trump’s entry into the race, his move would also exacerbate persistent divisions over whether the former president is the party’s best hope to win back the White House. The party is also divided over whether his candidacy would be an unnecessary distraction from midterm elections or even a direct threat to democracy.

Mr. Trump has long hinted at a third consecutive White House bid and has campaigned for much of the past year. He has accelerated his planning in recent weeks just as a pair of investigations have intensified and congressional testimony has revealed new details about Mr. Trump’s indifference to the threat of violence on Jan. 6 and his refusal to act to stop an insurrection.

Mr. Trump has also watched as some of his preferred candidates have lost recent primary elections, raising hopes among his potential Republican competitors that voters may be drifting from a politician long thought to have an iron grip on the party.

Rather than humble Mr. Trump, the developments have emboldened him to try to reassert himself as the head of the party, eclipse damaging headlines and steal attention from potential rivals, including Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a rising favorite of donors and voters. Republicans close to Mr. Trump have said he believes a formal announcement would bolster his claims that the investigations are politically motivated.

 

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 ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Media Is Subpoenaed in Federal Inquiry of Truth Social Deal, Matthew Goldstein July 2, 2022 (print ed.). The investigation threatens to delay a merger that would provide Trump Media and its platform, Truth Social, with up to $1.3 billion. The investigation by federal prosecutors and securities regulators into a proposed merger between a cash-rich blank check company and former President Donald J. Trump’s social media company has gotten closer to Mr. Trump’s end of the deal.

republican elephant logoFederal prosecutors served grand jury subpoenas on Trump Media & Technology Group and “certain current and former TMTG personnel,” according to a regulatory filing on Friday by Digital World Acquisition, the special purpose acquisition company that has a tentative deal to merge with Trump Media.

Grand jury subpoenas are typically issued in connection with a potential criminal investigation. The filing said the Securities and Exchange Commission also served a subpoena on Trump Media this week.

securities exchange commission sealJust days earlier, Digital World revealed that it, too, had received a grand jury subpoena from federal prosecutors in Manhattan along with similar subpoenas served on its board of directors.

The grand jury subpoenas appear related to earlier S.E.C. subpoenas on Digital World that sought communications concerning potential merger talks with representatives of Trump Media before Digital World’s initial public offering in September.

The regulatory filing on Friday said the grand jury subpoenas served on Trump Media were “seeking a subset of the same or similar documents demanded in subpoenas to Digital World and its directors.”

The expanding investigation threatens to delay the completion of the merger, which would provide Mr. Trump’s company and its social media platform, Truth Social, with up to $1.3 billion in capital, in addition to a stock market listing.

The S.E.C. investigation has focused on whether there were serious discussions between the leadership of Digital World and Trump Media before the special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, went public in September and, if so, why those talks were not disclosed in regulatory filings. SPACs, which raise money to go public in the hopes of finding a merger candidate, are not supposed to have an acquisition target in mind when they raise money from investors.

ny times logoNew York Times, Jan. 6 Witness Anthony Ornato Is at the Center of a Battle Over Credibility, Maggie Haberman and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, July 2, 2022 (print ed.). Mr. Ornato, who was Donald Trump’s deputy chief of staff for operations, has become a key figure in a dispute over testimony from the Jan. 6 committee’s star witness.

Anthony M. Ornato had left his role as the Secret Service agent in charge of President Donald J. Trump’s protective detail in late 2019 when the culture of internal strife that Mr. Trump fostered throughout his term left the president’s top advisers frantically searching for a candidate to fill a key role: deputy White House chief of staff for operations.

The title does not fully capture the significance of the job, which entails ensuring the continuity of government and overseeing the logistics of the president’s movements outside the White House, security and the military office.

Intent on ensuring it went to someone qualified and with few options available, the person leaving the role, Dan Walsh, and Lindsay Reynolds, the chief of staff to Melania Trump, the first lady, quickly settled on Mr. Ornato, who was well known to Mr. Trump.

Mr. Ornato did not want the job, according to three former White House officials. By that point he was happily working at Secret Service headquarters. Like many agents, he had served previous administrations across party lines, first protecting President George W. Bush’s daughter Barbara and later working on President Barack Obama’s detail. And in any case, it would be highly unusual for an official from an avowedly apolitical agency to take a high-ranking job inside the White House.

But when Mr. Trump called to tell him he was putting him in the job, he believed he had no choice but to take it, according to those officials. For the remainder of Mr. Trump’s presidency, Mr. Ornato was at the heart of the West Wing, occupying an office steps down the hall from the Oval Office and adjacent to the office of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser.

Now, Mr. Ornato is at the center of a dispute over events during the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. He is both a witness to key developments and a figure in what is either a legitimate battle over credibility or, in the view of some critics, an attempt to muddy the devastating account of the actions of Mr. Trump and his aides provided to the House Jan. 6 committee this week by Cassidy Hutchinson, another former White House aide.

In her public testimony, Ms. Hutchinson said she learned from Mr. Ornato of a stunning scene in the back of the presidential vehicle on Jan. 6, soon after a speech by Mr. Trump at the Ellipse outside the White House ended.

She testified that Mr. Ornato told her that Mr. Trump tried to force the Secret Service to drive him to the Capitol to join his supporters. In her recounting, Mr. Ornato said Mr. Trump tried to grab the steering wheel of the armored vehicle.

Ms. Hutchinson also said Mr. Ornato told her the president “lunged” at his lead Secret Service agent, Robert Engel. Mr. Engel, Ms. Hutchinson testified, was present as Mr. Ornato related the story to her and did not correct Mr. Ornato’s account.

Secret Service officials have said Mr. Ornato, Mr. Engel and the driver of the vehicle are prepared to testify that such an incident did not happen. (The committee already had interviewed Mr. Ornato and Mr. Engel, before Ms. Hutchinson’s appearance this week.)

The officials do not dispute that Mr. Trump angrily demanded to be taken to the Capitol. On the day of the riot, Trump administration officials told The New York Times that the president was in a fury while he was at the rally.

One Secret Service official, asking that his name not be used to describe the potential testimony, acknowledged a conversation took place with Ms. Hutchinson but said it played out differently than she described.

Officials with the Jan. 6 committee have sought to bolster Ms. Hutchinson’s credibility, saying they found inconsistencies in Mr. Ornato’s testimony, although they did not release the transcripts in question. A former colleague, Alyssa Farah Griffin, accused him on Twitter of lying about an encounter they had during the 2020 protests in Lafayette Square outside the White House.

Representative Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois and a member of the committee, wrote on the social media site, “There seems to be a major thread here… Tony Ornato likes to lie.”

A native of a town outside New Haven, Conn., Mr. Ornato’s family owned a tavern in the city that was a generational haunt for local police officers and firefighters. He worked in the New Haven Secret Service office in 2000 as Mr. Bush was running for president. When Mr. Bush won, Mr. Ornato joined his daughter’s protective detail. He stayed on under Mr. Obama, and was promoted a handful of times.

People who worked with Mr. Ornato in the Trump White House said they had never seen him talking about his political opinions, even when the former president sought his views, as Mr. Trump was prone to do with almost everyone around him.

But some officials were uncomfortable with the decision to name a member of the Secret Service, which has long tried to maintain the image of nonpartisanship, to deputy chief of staff of operations at the White House.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheney described another call received by a witness. “[A person] let me know you have your deposition tomorrow. He wants me to let you know he’s thinking about you. He knows you’re loyal and you’re going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition,” she said, quoting the witness.

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

Related stories below:

 

June

June 30

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 committee subpoenas former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, Jacqueline Alemany and Josh Dawsey, June 30, 2022 (print ed.). The decision follows testimony from former aide Cassidy Hutchinson that identified the lawyer as having firsthand knowledge of potential criminal activity in the Trump White House. Committee members have come to believe that the former counsel’s testimony could be critical to their investigation.

pat cipollone file croppedThe House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection issued a subpoena to former White House counsel Pat Cipollone on Wednesday evening after blockbuster testimony from a former aide identified the lawyer as having firsthand knowledge of potential criminal activity in the Trump White House.

The decision followed extensive negotiations between Cipollone, right, and the committee, as well as sharply escalating pressure on him in recent days to come forward and testify. Committee members have come to believe that the former counsel’s testimony could be critical to their investigation, given his proximity to Trump and presence during key moments before, during and after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The subpoena is likely to trigger a lengthy legal battle.

Cipollone sat for an informal interview with the committee on April 13, according to a letter from the panel’s chairman, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), but he has declined to cooperate further.

June 29

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

djt jan 6 twitter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The bipartisan U.S. House Jan. 6 insurrection investigating committee opened its hearings on June 9, 2022 (Photo by Win McNamee via Getty Images).The bipartisan U.S. House Jan. 6 insurrection investigating committee opened its hearings on June 9, 2022 (Photo by Win McNamee via Getty Images).

ny times logoNew York Times, Guest Essay: Cassidy Hutchinson Changes Everything, Norman Eisen (right, was special counsel to the House Judiciary norman eisen SmallCommittee during the first impeachment of Donald Trump), June 29, 2022. Tuesday’s testimony by Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to Mark Meadows, the final chief of staff for President Donald Trump, snapped attention back to the Jan. 6 committee in a striking finale to the first stretch of the hearings, which are expected to resume in July.

Ms. Hutchinson’s testimony was certainly a surprise — delivering shocking and consequential revelations — but it has hardly been the only one. The hearings have been packed with them.

Committee members said they wouldn’t play prosecutor before they started. That bit of misdirection has sharpened the surprise of what can plausibly be considered the committee’s prosecutorial approach against the former president.

The committee has repeatedly referred to criminal law and did so again with Ms. Hutchinson’s testimony. For example, she recounted an exchange with the White House counsel Pat Cipollone in which he urged her to make sure Mr. Trump did not go to the Capitol, worried that if he went, it might provoke “charges of every crime imaginable.”

In each hearing, the committee has skillfully built on a foundation of fact.

Is there sufficient evidence for a seditious conspiracy criminal case related to Mr. Trump’s actions and inaction on Jan. 6, like those brought against the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and their leaders? The evidence is powerful but is not yet sufficient to overcome the very high bar of proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Mr. Trump agreed with the rioters to attack the Capitol. But the new testimony advances proving other possible crimes, like obstruction of Congress, with Mr. Trump’s role in the violence as the culmination of that scheme.

Each hearing has saved a surprise for the end. Last Thursday’s, for example, ended with the revelations that six members of Congress had sought presidential pardons. On Tuesday it was screenshots, presented by Representative Liz Cheney, of messages presumably from supporters of Mr. Trump to witnesses, insinuating that Mr. Trump was watching and “does read transcripts” and “knows you’re loyal.” They showed possible witness tampering and potential obstruction of justice.

The hearings have very gradually introduced villains, first focusing on Mr. Trump, then on legal helpers for his attempted coup, John Eastman and Jeffrey Clark. On Tuesday we met a fourth, Mr. Meadows. That is part of how the committee has been so shrewd; it has slowly expanded the cast of characters.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of all is that the hearings seem to be having an impact. That is what polls suggest: In one, three-quarters of voters had heard or read about the investigation, and 60 percent supported it, including a third of Republicans. In another, 58 percent of Americans believed that the former president should be charged with crimes related to his actions on and before Jan. 6. That’s up six percentage points from before the hearings started, and includes almost 20 percent of Republicans.

June 25

 

Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani hawking their false claims that they could prove election fraud caused Democratic nominee Joe Biden's presidential victory in 2020.

Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani hawking their false claims that they could prove election fraud caused Democratic nominee Joe Biden's presidential victory in 2020.

washington post logoWashington Post, Oath Keepers’ defense ordered to disclose if Sidney Powell is funding attorneys, Spencer S. Hsu, June 25, 2022 (print ed.). Oath Keepers’ defense ordered to disclose if Sidney Powell is funding attorneys.

A federal judge on Friday ordered defense attorneys for alleged members of the Oath Keepers charged with seditious conspiracy to disclose whether their legal fees are being paid by anyone other than their clients after prosecutors warned of potential conflicts of interest if former Donald Trump attorney Sidney Powell is helping raise money for some of the legal defense as reported.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta of Washington came during a week of rapid developments in the Justice Department investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, which appears to have expanded into broader alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

On Wednesday, federal agents conducted a search at the home of former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, who played a key role in Trump’s efforts to get law enforcement officials to challenge Joe Biden’s election victory. That same day, agents delivered subpoenas and took other investigative steps probing efforts by Trump, Clark and supporters to undo Biden’s victories in a half-dozen key states by creating bogus slates of alternate electors in Georgia, Michigan, Arizona and elsewhere.

In the latest move Friday, Ali Alexander, a right-wing activist who helped organize the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally that drew Trump supporters to Washington, appeared before a federal grand jury in Washington. He had testified in private in December to a House panel investigating the events of Jan. 6.

“I have been asked to appear before the Grand Jury today to testify about the same subject matter as my prior testimony before the Committee,” Alexander said in a statement released by his attorney Paul Kamenar, who accompanied him at both events. Alexander noted he has filed a lawsuit opposing a House subpoena for his and a volunteer’s phone records, but “out of respect for the Grand Jury process” declined further comment on his testimony.

In a since-deleted video on Periscope weeks before the Jan. 6 rally, Alexander said he and hard-line Republican Trump supporters Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Mo Brooks (Ala.) and Paul A. Gosar (Ariz.) “schemed up of putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting” to change the minds of those who wouldn’t go against certifying Biden’s win.

At the time of this committee testimony, Alexander said in a statement that he “did not plan or participate in any illegal activity.” He said in the statement that he was assured when he received a grand jury subpoena that he “was not a target but a fact witness,” and was asked to testify because the committee has not given prosecutors transcripts of its witness interviews.

In the Oath Keepers criminal case, the Justice Department asked the court this week to probe possible financial relationships between attorneys for defendants accused of trying to prevent Joe Biden from becoming president and a nonprofit entity run by Powell, who as Trump’s representative spread false election claims and filed a series of failed lawsuits to overturn the results.

Prosecutors expressed concern that support from Powell’s group could give Oath Keepers attorneys a reason to oppose clients’ cooperation that could be damaging to Trump’s interests or make plea deals less likely, which could be against the interest of a particular defendant. The government asked Mehta to ensure there was no outside “interference with the lawyer’s independence … or with the client-lawyer relationship.”

June 23

 

House Jan. 6 Select Investigating Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS.) (Photo via NBC News).

House Jan. 6 Select Investigating Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS.) ((Photo via NBC News).

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

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

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

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

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

 

jeffrey clark nyt

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

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

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

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

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

 

 Alex Holder is a British documentary filmmaker show at left with Donald J. Trump. Mr. Holder’s footage has been subpoenaed by the House committee investigating the Capitol riot (Photo via Alex Holder).

Alex Holder is a British documentary filmmaker show at left with Donald J. Trump. Mr. Holder’s footage has been subpoenaed by the House committee investigating the Capitol riot (Photo via Alex Holder).

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

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

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

 

djt jan 6 twitter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Politico, Book bombs: Trump aide tell-alls fail to sell, Daniel Lippman, Meridith McGraw and Max Tani,  A number of top aides to the 45th president churned out books after his presidency ended. The public isn’t buying. Multiple book editors and publishers interviewed for this politico Customstory said the hefty advances doled out to the authors before publication – for some, in the millions, like Kellyanne Conway and Bill Barr – might not be made back by the publisher with sales.

A year after Donald Trump lost the 2020 election, his former chief of staff Mark Meadows, right, released a tell-all book about his 10 Mark Meadowsmonths in the White House that promised to be a “frank, candid account” of running Trump’s chaotic West Wing.

The buzz around it was heavy. But in the publishing world, it was a bust.

mark meadows book chief chiefThe Chief’s Chief has sold only 21,569 books, according to NPD Bookscan, a market research firm that tracks book sales. And it’s not the only book by an ex-Trump aide that has failed to fly off the shelves.

The memoir of Deborah Birx, the Covid response coordinator under Trump, has sold fewer than 6,000 copies; Dr. Scott Atlas’ book sold 27,013 copies; Dr. Ben Carson’s book sold 21,786 copies; former White House press secretary turned Trump critic Stephanie Grisham sold 38,249 books; counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway has sold 42,273 books since it was published in late May; and former defense secretary Mark Esper sold 20,900 books.

Former attorney general Bill Barr sold 64,103 books.

But the one Trump post-White House book sales that did best appears to be Peter Navarro’s, whose In Trump Time has sold 80,218 copies of his book so far. The book, unlike the others, is less a revelation about life inside the former administration than an ode to Trump’s approach to governance. Perhaps for that reason, it has earned extensive publicity in MAGA circles and is currently advertised on Steve Bannon’s The War Room website.

June 21

 

Wandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss, a former Georgia election worker, testifies June 21 at the fourth public hearing of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack (Photo by Jabin Botsford for The Washington Post).

Wandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss, a former Georgia election worker, testifies June 21 at the fourth public hearing of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack (Photo by Jabin Botsford for The Washington Post).

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s pressure drew violence, threats to resistant officials, committee reveals, Rosalind S. Helderman and Jacqueline Alemany, June 21, 2022. In its fourth public hearing, the House committee shared new evidence of President Donald Trump’s involvement in organizing the false elector strategy.

In the weeks after the 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump engaged in an unrelenting campaign targeting state and local officials — many of them fellow Republicans — riling up his supporters and putting in physical danger officials who refused to help overturn his election loss, according to new information outlined Tuesday by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

At its fourth public hearing, the committee laid out how menace and violence trailed Trump’s election falsehoods, afflicting everyone who resisted, from high-level elected officials to ordinary election workers. And it showed how a several ominous episodes foreshadowed the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, as Trump’s supporters invaded a state legislative building in Arizona, barged into the home of an election worker’s grandmother in Georgia to make a “citizen’s arrest,” and sent thousands of threatening text messages to officials around the country.

The committee Tuesday disclosed new evidence of Trump’s personal involvement in one element of the effort to overturn the election: Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, testified that Trump himself called to ask for the party’s help organizing the false elector strategy.

This hearing included some of the most emotional testimony so far. Mother-and-daughter election workers in Georgia, Ruby Freeman and Wandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss, described how their lives were upended after Trump falsely accused them of engaging in fraud while counting votes on election night at an arena in Atlanta. Moss became tearful as she testified, as did Freeman, who was seated in the hearing room immediately behind her daughter.

“Do you know how it feels to have the president of the United States target you?” asked Freeman, whom Trump named 18 times during a Jan. 2, 2021, phone call to Georgia’s secretary of state. “The president of the United States is supposed to represent every American, not to target one. But he targeted me.”

ny times logoNew York Times, State Officials Recount Resisting Trump’s Pressure to Overturn Election, Luke Broadwater, June 21, 2022. Republican state officials testified about the pressure they faced from Donald J. Trump and his campaign to overturn election results, and on the threats of violence they faced from his followers.

Former President Donald J. Trump was directly involved in a scheme to put forward slates of false pro-Trump electors in states won by Joseph R Biden Jr., the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol revealed Tuesday during a hearing delving into his pressure campaign on state officials to help him invalidate his defeat.

The committee played deposition video from Ronna McDaniel, the Republican National Committee chairwoman, who testified that Mr. Trump had personally called her about helping further the scheme. Mr. Trump put conservative lawyer John Eastman on the phone with Ms. McDaniel “to talk about the importance of the R.N.C. helping the campaign gather these contingent electors,” she testified.

The revelation came during the fourth of the panel’s hearings this month, in which it called Republican state officials from Arizona and Georgia who testified about how Mr. Trump clung to claims of election fraud that he knew — or should have known — were false, relentlessly pressured them to embrace the lies and overturn the election results, and knowingly put them at risk when they refused to go along.

Among the committee’s findings revealed Thursday:

  • Rusty Bowers, the Republican speaker of Arizona’s House of Representatives, recounted how he resisted intensive pressure by Mr. Trump and his lieutenants to overturn his loss in the state.
  • “I didn’t want to be used as a pawn,” Mr. Bowers testified, explaining why he refused to call a hearing to examine the possibility of removing electors for Mr. Biden and replacing them with electors for Mr. Trump. He told the panel that he had refused two entreaties from Mr. Trump and several more from his legal advisers, who said repeatedly that they had evidence of fraud sufficient to reverse the election outcome, but never produced any. “You are asking me to do something against my oath, and I will not break my oath.”
  • The committee emphasized that Mr. Trump and his top lawyers knew they didn’t have evidence of widespread election fraud. Mr. Bowers testified that Mr. Giuliani also admitted he had not uncovered evidence of widespread fraud, he said. “We’ve got lots of theories. We just don’t have the evidence,” Mr. Bowers recalled Mr. Giuliani saying.
  • At another point, Mr. Eastman, another outside lawyer instrumental in the plan to submit fake electors for Mr. Trump, responded to Mr. Bowers questioning how he could legally participate in the scheme by saying, “Just do it and let the courts work it out.”
  • Mr. Trump and his allies didn’t care that election workers were facing death threats because of their false claims of fraud. Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming and the vice chairwoman of the committee, played video of Gabriel Sterling, a Georgia election official who also testified in person on Tuesday, warning about the threats election workers were facing.
  • Mr. Bowers testified that a man affiliated with the Three Percenters militia group, carrying a gun, threatened his neighbor.
  • “Donald Trump didn’t care about the threats of violence. He did not condemn them, he made no effort to stop them; he went forward with his fake allegations anyway,” Ms. Cheney said.
  • Mr. Trump’s lawyers were deeply involved in his scheme to stay in power. The panel played a montage of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, including Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Eastman and Cleta Mitchell, as they worked to overturn the election. Mr. Giuliani held hearings and made calls to Republican lawmakers around the country. The scheme to use fake electors is the subject of a Justice Department investigation.

The Republican National Committee helped the Trump campaign arrange the slates of fake electors, the committee showed. Trump lawyer Justin Clark said in a deposition video that he told Kenneth Chesebro, a fellow Trump lawyer: “I don’t think this is the right thing to do.”

Mr. Bowers said Mr. Giuliani tried to use party loyalty as an argument for overturning the election in Arizona. “Aren’t we all Republicans here?” Mr. Bowers said Mr. Giuliani told him.

In another new revelation implicating Republican members of Congress, the committee showed texts from an aide to Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, to an aide of former Vice President Mike Pence, indicating that Mr. Johnson on Jan. 6 wanted to hand deliver a slate of fake electors from Wisconsin to Mr. Pence. Mr. Pence’s aide responded: “Do not give that to him.”

On the morning on Jan. 6, 2021, Representative Andy Biggs, Republican of Arizona, called his state’s House speaker, Rusty Bowers, and asked him to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, Mr. Bowers testified on Tuesday.

Later that day, Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, sought to hand deliver fake electors from his state and from Michigan to Vice President Mike Pence, texts released by the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack showed. An aide to Mr. Pence, told of Mr. Johnson’s intention, responded to an aide to the senator, “Don’t give that to him.”

Politico, Unseen Trump tapes subpoenaed by House panel investigating Jan. 6, Eugene Daniels and Ryan Lizza, June 21, 2022. The House select committee investigating Jan. 6 sent a subpoena last week to Alex Holder, a documentary filmmaker who was granted extensive access to then-President Donald Trump and his inner circle.

Holder shot interviews with the then-president both before and after Jan. 6. The existence of this footage is previously unreported.

politico CustomA source familiar with the project told POLITICO on Monday night that Holder began filming on the campaign trail in September 2020 for a project on Trump’s reelection campaign. Over the course of several months, Holder had substantial access to Trump, Trump’s adult children and Mike Pence, both in the White House and on the campaign trail.
This scoop first ran on Playbook

According to the subpoena, which was obtained exclusively by POLITICO, the committee has subpoenaed “any raw footage you or your colleagues took in Washington, D.C., on January 6, 2021”; raw footage of interviews he conducted with Trump, Pence, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump and son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner; and raw footage “pertaining to discussions of election fraud or election integrity surrounding the November 2020 presidential election.”

Holder is expected to fully cooperate with the committee in an interview scheduled for Thursday.

The move comes as the committee is set to meet on Tuesday afternoon for a hearing that centers on the pressure campaign Trump and his allies mounted to get state officials to overturn the 2020 election, including attempts to advance slates of “alternate electors” to flip the results.

washington post logoWashington Post, Speaker at meeting of Ginni Thomas group called Biden’s win illegitimate long after Jan. 6, video shows, Emma Brown, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Rosalind S. Helderman, June 21, 2022. Two months after rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to help President Donald Trump stay in office, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, right, attended a gathering ginni thomas gage skidmoreof right-wing activists where a speaker declared to roaring applause that Trump was still the “legitimate president,” a video recording of the event shows.

“There is a robbery that is going on in this country right now,” pastor and conservative radio personality C.L. Bryant told the crowd, according to video posted to Facebook by an attendee. “In fact, I say it to you and I’ll say it loud and clear, and I’m not ashamed to say it. I won’t bite my tongue. I do believe that Donald John Trump is the only legitimate president.”

The event on March 6, 2021, was a meeting of Frontliners for Liberty. The group vaulted from obscurity to national attention last week with the disclosure that Thomas had invited pro-Trump lawyer John Eastman to speak to its members in December 2020.

The revelation, originating from emails that a judge ordered Eastman to turn over to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, showed that Thomas was in contact with Eastman, a key legal architect of the attempt to subvert the election. The judge, David O. Carter of the Central District of California, wrote in a June 7 opinion that the emails, including two in which the group’s “high-profile leader” invited Eastman to speak — were relevant to the committee’s work.

While text messages and emails unearthed in recent weeks have shown that Thomas was involved in those efforts before Jan. 6, her attendance at the Orlando gathering indicates that her alliance with election deniers continued even after Joe Biden was inaugurated. Frontliners has hosted hard-right lawmakers, insisted on strict secrecy and proclaimed that the nation’s top enemy is the “radical fascist left,” according to social media posts, court filings and interviews with several people involved in the group.

One photograph from the Orlando event shows Bryant posing with Thomas. Others show Thomas wearing a name tag decorated with a yellow ribbon she and others wore saying “Trouble Maker.”

  • Analysis: 6 video clips to catch up on from the Jan. 6 hearings so far
  • Panel seeks footage from filmmaker with access to Trump

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Another reason for the Jan. 6 hearings: The GOP is still attacking democracy, Jennifer Rubin, right, June 21, 2022. jennifer rubin new headshotRetired federal judge J. Michael Luttig warned at the House Jan. 6 committee’s hearing last Thursday that Donald Trump and his supporters remain a “clear and present danger” to our democracy. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the vice chair of the committee, has similarly warned about the “ongoing threat” the defeated former president poses.

This is not hyperbole. In fact, three vivid examples in recent days show that the radicalized GOP no longer subscribes to the basic principles of democracy.

The first came from Trump at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s gathering last week. Apparently oblivious to the potential crimes to which he was confessing, Trump declared, “Mike Pence had a chance to be great. He had a chance to be frankly historic. But just like [former attorney general ] Bill Barr and the rest of these weak people, Mike — and I say it sadly because I like him — but Mike did not have the courage to act.” In other words, Trump has no qualms about attempting to pressure his vice president or the Justice Department to undo an election.

Does anyone believe he and his supporters wouldn’t pull out all the stops once more to persuade the House of Representatives not to certify the 2024 election if the Democratic nominee won? Trump has shown absolutely no hesitation that he is willing to deploy similar tactics in future elections. In fact, he still wrongly insists there is historical precedent for his coup attempt (even though John Eastman, his chief insurrection plotter, reportedly confessed in Trump’s presence that none exists).

Trump has also vowed political retribution against those who seek to hold him accountable, calling for an investigation into the Jan. 6 committee. “The first people to receive subpoenas should be crazy Nancy Pelosi and warmonger Liz Cheney, who by the way is, they say, down by 35 points in the great state on Wyoming.”

Another kind of the ongoing threat to democracy comes from New Mexico, where the state Supreme Court was compelled to order county commissioners in rural Otero County to certify their June 7 primary election. Commissioner Couy Griffin, a Republican who was sentenced last week for trespassing at the Capitol on Jan. 6, refused to certify the results not because of evidence of fraud but because of “gut feeling and intuition.” This is the Trump standard: It doesn’t matter if there is zero evidence of fraud. Sheer delusion is sufficient to violate election laws.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Why the media and pundit class is shocked that the January 6th public hearings are changing minds about Donald Trump, bill palmerBill Palmer, right, June 21, 2022. For months, we’ve heard large chunks of the media and pundit class insist that no matter how convincing or damning the January 6th Committee public hearings end up being, it won’t matter, because the public’s view of Trump isn’t going to change one way or the other at this late date.

But even as we keep hearing MSNBC talking heads and Twitter pundits insisting that “Everyone’s view of Trump is locked in and no one will ever change their minds,” new polling from ABC News reveals that eight percent of Americans have in fact changed their minds about Trump being prosecuted in the past week alone.

bill palmer report logo headerEight percent may not sound like a lot, until you consider that every competitive election in modern American history has ended up being decided by less than eight points. It’s the difference between winning and losing. And if eight percent of Americans have changed their minds about Trump in the past week, how many of them will end up changing their minds about how they’re going to vote in November, given that Trump’s Republican Party is on the ballot?

The media and pundit class loves to pretend that the nation consists solely of the two bases. This is because it’s the two bases who spend every day tuning in to the media and pundit class, which loves to pander to its audience. But this ignores the fact that a couple hundred million Americans don’t really follow or care about day to day politics, and only occasionally take a side when things are made easy for them.

These January 6th public hearings have clearly been designed to speak to those in the middle who normally don’t care about politics. And all signs, from the huge TV audiences to the stark shift in polling, point to these hearings working. It’s the people who don’t normally care about politics who are persuadable when it comes to this sort of thing. These hearings were never, ever about either base.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Prosecute Trump? Put Yourself in Merrick Garland’s Shoes, Jack Goldsmith, June 21, 2022 (print ed.). The evidence gathered by the Jan. 6 committee and in some of the federal cases against those involved in the Capitol attack poses for Attorney General Merrick Garland one of the most consequential questions that any attorney general has ever faced: Should the United States indict former President Donald Trump?

The basic allegations against Mr. Trump are well known. In disregard of advice by many of his closest aides, including Attorney General William Barr, he falsely claimed that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent and stolen; he pressured Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to count certified electoral votes for Joe Biden during the electoral count in Congress on Jan. 6; and he riled up a mob, directed it to the Capitol and refused for a time to take steps to stop the ensuing violence.

merrick garlandTo indict Mr. Trump for these and other acts, Mr. Garland, right, must make three decisions, each more difficult than the previous, and none of which has an obvious answer.

First, he must determine whether the decision to indict Mr. Trump is his to make. If Mr. Garland decides that a criminal investigation of Mr. Trump is warranted, Justice Department regulations require him to appoint a special counsel if the investigation presents a conflict of interest for the department and if Mr. Garland believes such an appointment would be in the public interest.

If Mr. Garland opens a Trump investigation and keeps the case — decisions he might already have made — the second issue is whether he has adequate evidence to indict Mr. Trump. The basic question here is whether, in the words of Justice Department guidelines, Mr. Trump’s acts constitute a federal offense and “the admissible evidence will probably be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction.”.

If Mr. Garland concludes that Mr. Trump has committed convictable crimes, he would face the third and hardest decision: whether the national interest would be served by prosecuting Mr. Trump. This is not a question that lawyerly analysis alone can resolve. It is a judgment call about the nature, and fate, of our democracy.

A failure to indict Mr. Trump in these circumstances would imply that a president — who cannot be indicted while in office — is literally above the law, in defiance of the very notion of constitutional government. It would encourage lawlessness by future presidents, none more so than Mr. Trump should he win the next election. By contrast, the rule of law would be vindicated by a Trump conviction. And it might be enhanced by a full judicial airing of Mr. Trump’s possible crimes in office, even if it ultimately fails.

Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard law professor and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, is a co-author of “After Trump: Reconstructing the Presidency.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Most Americans think Trump should be prosecuted. It’s not that easy, Philip Bump, June 20, 2022. There’s no question that there would not have been a riot at the U.S. Capitol were it not for President Donald Trump.

What Americans have taken away from the recent public discussion about the riot spurred by the committee’s work, it seems, is that Trump should face criminal charges for his role in spurring it.

Justice Department log circularWriting for the New York Times, former assistant attorney general Jack Goldsmith walks through the questions facing Attorney General Merrick Garland when it comes to charging Trump.

One important question here is whether Trump actually believed his assertions that he thought the election was stolen.

Where Goldsmith’s essay closes, though, is probably the most important point. Not indicting Trump if Garland believed a prosecution was warranted would indicate that presidents are above the law, emboldening future presidents, including, possibly, Trump himself. But prosecuting him would be seen by a large segment of the public as itself an abuse of presidential power and would “further enflame our already-blazing partisan acrimony.”

One imagines that, even as it gathers evidence and considers its path forward, federal law enforcement finds itself in a position similar to the one the Republican Party’s establishment faced for the past seven years: hoping things just sort of fade out in an acceptable way. Do nothing and hope it works out.

It has so far not worked out for the Republican establishment.

Recent Headlines

June 20

 

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

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Trump campaign documents give inside look at fake-elector plan, Rosalind S. Helderman, June 20, 2022. The former president knew the plan was baseless but pursued it anyway.

The convening of the electoral college on Dec. 14, 2020, was supposed to mark the end of the wild, extended presidential election that year.

But when the day arrived, a strange thing happened. In seven swing states won by Joe Biden, when the Democrat’s electors assembled to formally elect him president, Trump supporters showed up, too, ready to declare that their man had actually won.

“The electors are already here — they’ve been checked in,” a state police officer told the group in Michigan, according to a video of the encounter, as he barred the Republicans from the Capitol in a state Biden won by more than 154,000 votes.

In Nevada, a state Biden had won by about 33,600 votes, a photo distributed by the state Republican Party showed Trump supporters squeezing around an undersize picnic table dressed up with a bit of bunting, preparing to sign formal certificates declaring that they were “the duly elected and qualified” electors of their state.

At the time, the gatherings seemed a slapdash, desperate attempt to mimic President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede.

But internal campaign emails and memos reveal that the convening of the fake electors appeared to be a much more concerted strategy, intended to give Vice President Mike Pence a reason to declare the outcome of the election was somehow in doubt on Jan. 6, 2021, when he was to preside over the congressional counting of the electoral college votes.

ny times logoNew York Times, Jan. 6 Panel to Highlight Trump’s Pressure on State Officials, Luke Broadwater, June 20, 2022. The fourth hearing held by the House committee investigating the Capitol attack is set to begin at 1 p.m. and include testimony from state officials in Georgia and Arizona.The hearing at 1 p.m. Eastern will also underscore the suffering election workers endured because of former President Trump’s lies. Get updates on the hearing.

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol on Tuesday plans to detail President Donald J. Trump’s personal involvement in a pressure campaign on state officials to subvert the will of the voters as well as an audacious scheme to put forward false slates of electors in seven states to keep him in power.

At its fourth hearing this month, scheduled for 1 p.m., the committee will seek to demonstrate what has been a repeated point of emphasis for the panel: that Mr. Trump knew — or should have known — that his lies about a stolen election, and the plans he pursued to stay in office, were wrong, but that he pushed ahead with them anyway.

After interviewing more than 1,000 witnesses and assembling well over 140,000 documents, the House committee investigating the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021, is finally unveiling its findings to the public.

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP member of Jan. 6 committee warns that more violence is coming, Rosalind S. Helderman, Updated June 20, 2022. One of two Republican members of the House committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, starkly warned Sunday that his own party’s lies could feed additional violence.

“There is violence in the future, I’m going to tell you,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said on ABC’s “This Week” program. “And until we get a grip on telling people the truth, we can’t expect any differently.”

Kinzinger, who defied party leadership by serving on the Democratic-led committee, described an alarming message he received at home in the mail several days ago threatening to execute him, his wife and their 5-month-old baby.

“I’d never seen or had anything like that. It was sent from the local area,” he said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Texas Republicans Approve Platform Declaring Biden’s Election Illegitimate, Azi Paybarah and David Montgomery, June 20, 2022 (print ed.). The state party made a series of far-right declarations, including embracing the false claim that President Biden was not legitimately elected.

The Republican Party in Texas made a series of far-right declarations as part of its official party platform over the weekend, claiming that President Biden was not legitimately elected, issuing a “rebuke” to Senator John Cornyn for his work on bipartisan gun legislation and referring to homosexuality as “an abnormal lifestyle choice.”

The platform was voted on in Houston at the state party’s convention, which concluded on Saturday.

The resolutions about Mr. Biden and Mr. Cornyn were approved by a voice vote of the delegates, according to James Wesolek, the communications director for the Republican Party of Texas. The statements about homosexuality — as well as additional stances on abortion that called for students to “learn about the Humanity of the Preborn Child” — were among more than 270 planks that were approved by a platform committee and voted on by the larger group of convention delegates using paper ballots. The results of those votes were still pending on Sunday, but Mr. Wesolek said it was rare for a plank to be voted down by the full convention after being approved by the committee.

The resolutions adopting the false claims that former President Donald J. Trump was the victim of a stolen election in 2020 as well as the other declarations were the latest examples of Texas Republicans moving further to the right in recent months. Republicans control both chambers of the legislature, the governor’s mansion and every statewide office, and have used their dominance to push tough anti-abortion legislation, create supply-chain problems by temporarily adding additional state inspections at the border and renominate the Trump-backed state attorney general over a member of the Bush family in a primary runoff in May.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The numbers prove it: January 6th public hearings are shifting America further against Donald Trump and the GOP,  Bill bill palmerPalmer, right, June 20, 2022. Just before the January 6th public hearings began, I said that the whole thing should be considered a “win” if, at the end of the hearings, midterm polling had shifted three points in the Democrats’ favor.'

The point of the hearings is not to get more people to vote Democrat. But if the hearings do their job, some sector of Americans will go from not caring about politics, to concluding that Trump must be punished for his crimes, and that his Republican Party must be voted out for continuing to cover for him.

bill palmer report logo headerWe’re still too early in the public hearings to be looking for shifts in midterm polling. But in the meantime, roughly halfway through the hearings, new polling from ABC News shows that the number of Americans who want Trump criminally charged for January 6th has gone from 52% to 60%.

Eight points may not sound like a big deal on the surface. But we’re talking about a handful of public hearings convincing eight percent of all Americans to go from not wanting Trump charged, to now wanting Trump charged. Given that major elections are usually decided by a lot less than eight points, this has to be considered a major shift.

Justice Department log circularOf course the key is that the public hearings are still ongoing. Each daytime hearing brings new revelations that reverberate into the rest of the day’s news cycle, ensuring that everyone hears about it on the evening news and online. Tuesday’s public hearing is set to feature arguably the most crucial witness yet, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. And the eventual primetime closing hearing, which will summarize and reinforce everything that’s being laid out during the daytime hearings, will bring in a significant audience.

If the hearings continue to be a success, it’ll be reasonable to expect the polls to continue to shift further in favor of criminally charging Donald Trump. The number began at 52% and is now at 60%, so high sixties would be a reasonable expectation by the conclusion of the hearings. This would mean that two-thirds of all Americans want Trump put on criminal trial, which would obviously mean the end of his pipe dream about being a viable candidate in 2024. It would also likely spell some degree of bad news for Republicans in the midterms, as Trump is still firmly associated with the Republican Party in the minds of most Americans.

 

jon schaffer pleading guiltyVoz Wire, Oath Keeper whines about jail conditions. Says inmates throw feces and urine at him, Tammy Marie Rose, June 20, 2022. In an Indiana jail, Iced Earth guitarist Jon Schaffer, above, who pled guilty to crimes relating to the Capitol incident, had feces and urine thrown at him and received death threats, according to his lawyer.

Schaffer was transferred to a Washington, D.C., jail before being released on bail in April after the statements made during a March court hearing were published on Thursday.

Schaffer’s attorney Marc Victor said at the hearing, “My client, who is presumed innocent, has just gone through two months of hell where other people were throwing feces and urine at him and threatening his life in a horrendous, horrible circumstance.”
Change The World One Small Action At A Time

Due to his pub, Schaffer was separated from the rest of the class.
Image via Twitter

Schaffer, a self-described founding member of the Oath Keepers, was the first insurgent to plead guilty and cooperate with federal authorities. He faces a sentence of 3.5-4.5 years in prison.

Schaffer claims to be a founding member of the Oath Keepers and faces a sentence of 3-5 years in prison. Those appear to be severe penalties, but he appears to be in for a rough 18 months or so.

After Schaffer’s arrest, it was announced that Iced Earth was breaking up.

Stu Block and Luke Appleton, the lead singer and bassist for the popular heavy metal band quit after the group’s founder, Jon Schaffer, was arrested for storming the Capitol building during the Donald Trump incited riot on January 6.

Block and Appleton announced on Monday that they had left the band. They cited Schaffer’s role in the deadly insurrection as the reason why they have walked away. Stu, who was the band’s lead singer, stated that the insurrection caused him to re-evaluate his life, work, and future.

Appleton, the group’s bassist, added that he felt he had no choice but to resign after what took place in D.C. on January 6.
Image via Twitter

Both men took to social media to share separate statements regarding their departures.

“In response to recent events and circumstances, I have notified Iced Earth’s management and [guitarist] Jon [Schaffer] that I will be resigning as the Iced Earth bassist with immediate effect,” Appleton wrote. “I would like to thank everyone who has sent me their support and love during this difficult time. Thank you!!!”

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Barry Loudermilk Tour Bus (Jan. 6, 2020).

Barry Loudermilk Tour Bus (Jan. 6, 2020).

Proof, New Revelations Emerge About the Members of the Loudermilk Tour and Their Connections to Leading Republican Elected Officials, Seth seth abramson graphicAbramson, left, June 15, 2022. As more information on the Insurrection Eve Loudermilk Tour is released—including the previously unseen evidence in this Proof report—the breadth and depth of Rep. Loudermilk’s lies only increases.

This is the fourth entry in a series of Proof reports on Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA), below left, and his actions in the days immediately preceding January 6, 2021. You can read the earlier entries in this series here: I, II, III. Expect more reports on this breaking news story to follow.

seth abramson proof logoThe “Fearless Leader” of the Loudermilk Tour In the recently released House January 6 Committee video, the pony-tailed man barry loudermilk owho appears on-camera wielding a sharpened flagpole intended for a “certain person”—it is strongly implied that that person is Rep. Pelosi—is referred to by the man behind the camera as “our fearless leader.”

As it turns out, this isn’t just a coy turn of phrase: the man wielding a weapon on the National Mall on Insurrection Day is indeed the leader of the group of Stop the Steal radicals that morphed into the Loudermilk Tour on Insurrection Eve.

His name is Danny Hamilton. Danny Hamilton is a Georgia Republican in his late sixties who has been awarded the President Donald J. Trump Award from the Cobb County Republican Party and has for many decades (since 1992) run Star Coaches, a luxury bus tour service. During the Trump era, he regularly ran large-scale bus-based events of a political nature using massive buses with Trump’s image and Trump campaign slogans all over them.

As more information on the Insurrection Eve Loudermilk Tour is released—including the previously unseen evidence in this Proof report—the breadth and depth of Rep. Loudermilk’s lies only increases.

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

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

June 14

 

House Jan. 6 Select Investigating Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS.) (Photo via NBC News).

House Jan. 6 Select Investigating Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS.) ((Photo via NBC News).

ny times logoNew York Times, Barr Says Trump Was ‘Detached From Reality’ on 2020 Election Claims, Luke Broadwater and Maggie Haberman, Jan. 14, 2022 (print ed.). In the second day of Jan. 6 panel hearings, Bill Barr said in recorded testimony that former President Trump refused to listen to evidence there was no fraud.

Former President Donald J. Trump’s attorney general testified that he believed the president had grown delusional as he insisted on pushing false claims of widespread election fraud that he was told repeatedly were groundless, according to a videotaped interview played on Monday by the special committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack.

“He’s become detached from reality if he really believes this stuff,” William P. Barr, the former attorney general, told the panel. “There was never any interest in what the actual facts were.”

In a hearing focused on the origins and spread of Mr. Trump’s lie of a stolen election, the panel played excerpts from Mr. Barr’s testimony, as well as that of a chorus of campaign aides and administration officials who recounted, one after the other, how his claims of election irregularities were bogus.

The session began with the testimony of Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman, Bill Stepien, who testified on video that he had told his boss on election night that he had no basis for declaring victory, but Mr. Trump insisted on doing so anyway.

Mr. Trump “thought I was wrong. He told me so,” Mr. Stepien said in his interview.

Then the panel laid out how Mr. Trump’s initial lie gave way to more falsehoods of election fraud, which grew more outlandish as time wore on. It made extensive use of the recorded testimony from Mr. Barr, who said he had told Mr. Trump repeatedly his claims of fraud were “bullshit.”

At one point during his deposition, Mr. Barr could not control his laughter at the absurdity of the claims, which included defense contractors in Italy using satellites to flip votes and a scheme orchestrated by the former Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, who died in 2013.

The panel fleshed out how there was a power struggle after the election among officials in Mr. Trump’s campaign, the White House, the Justice Department — many of whom repeatedly told him there was no evidence of widespread fraud — and outside figures, including his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, who fueled the groundless claims of major irregularities.

On election night, rather than heed Mr. Stepien’s caution, Mr. Trump chose to listen to the advice of an “apparently inebriated Rudy Giuliani” and declare victory, said Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming and the vice chairwoman of the committee.

Mr. Stepien said there were essentially two teams advising Trump. He called his “Team Normal.”

The committee asserted that Mr. Trump used the lie of a stolen election to raise hundreds of millions of dollars, duping his donors and ultimately fooling his supporters into showing up at the Capitol to press his bogus claims of a massive election “steal.”

“The big lie was also a big rip-off,” said Representative Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California, who was leading the presentation on Monday.

Evidence about Mr. Trump’s determination to say groundlessly that he had won was interspersed with testimony from Chris Stirewalt, the former political editor of Fox News, who appeared in person and described in detail his data-driven analysis that concluded on election night that Mr. Trump was losing.

Other witnesses appearing on Monday afternoon included Byung J. Pak, a former U.S. attorney in Atlanta who resigned abruptly after refusing to say that widespread voter fraud had been found in Georgia.

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: More than 100 GOP primary winners back Trump’s false fraud claims, Amy Gardner and Isaac Arnsdorf, June 14, 2022.  A Washington Post analysis shows the former president’s election denialism has become a price of admission in many Republican primaries.

J.R. Majewski marched to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and tweeted a photo with the caption: “It’s going down on 1/6.” Last month, he won the Republican nomination in an Ohio congressional district along Lake Erie.

Monica De La Cruz, an insurance agent, contested her defeat in 2020 by repeating former president Donald Trump’s disproved allegations of mail-ballot fraud. For a second time, De La Cruz is the GOP nominee for a Texas House seat that touches the Mexican border.

In an open primary in a safely Republican Georgia district, all nine candidates questioned the 2020 result. Of the two candidates who advanced to this month’s runoff, lawyer Jake Evans touted his past efforts to “overturn” elections, while physician Rich McCormick emphasized that he refused to concede in a 2018 race.

“No one was hurt by voter fraud more than myself,” McCormick said during a May debate.

About a third of the way through the 2022 primaries, voters have nominated scores of Republican candidates for state and federal office who say the 2020 election was rigged, according to a new analysis by The Washington Post.

District by district, state by state, voters in places that cast ballots through the end of May have chosen at least 108 candidates for statewide office or Congress who have repeated Trump’s lies. The number jumps to at least 149 winning candidates — out of more than 170 races — when it includes those who have campaigned on a platform of tightening voting rules or more stringently enforcing those already on the books, despite the lack of evidence of widespread fraud.

  • Analysis: Inside green groups’ strategies for the midterms
  • On our radar in Nevada: Who is Sam Brown?

 

jeffrey clark nyt

washington post logoWashington Post, Inside the explosive Oval Office confrontation three days before Jan. 6, Michael Kranish, June 14, 2022. Jeffrey Clark, above, a mid-level Justice Department official, wanted Trump to name him attorney general in a plan aimed at potentially overturning the election.

Three days before Congress was slated to certify the 2020 presidential election, a little-known Justice Department official named Jeffrey Clark rushed to meet President Donald Trump in the Oval Office to discuss a last-ditch attempt to reverse the results.

Clark, an environmental lawyer by trade, had outlined a plan in a letter he wanted to send to the leaders of key states Joe Biden won. It said that the Justice Department had “identified significant concerns” about the vote and that the states should consider sending “a separate slate of electors supporting Donald J. Trump” for Congress to approve.

In fact, Clark’s bosses had warned there was not evidence to overturn the election and had rejected his letter days earlier. Now they learned Clark was about to meet with Trump. Acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen tracked down his deputy, Richard Donoghue, who had been walking on the Mall in muddy jeans and an Army T-shirt. There was no time to change. They raced to the Oval Office.

As Rosen and Donoghue listened, Clark told Trump that he would send the letter if the president named him attorney general.

“History is calling,” Clark told the president, according to a deposition from Donoghue excerpted in a recent court filing. “This is our opportunity. We can get this done.”

Donoghue urged Trump not to put Clark in charge, calling him “not competent” and warning of “mass resignations” by Justice Department officials if he became the nation’s top law enforcement official, according to Donoghue’s account.

“What happens if, within 48 hours, we have hundreds of resignations from your Justice Department because of your actions?” Donoghue said he asked Trump. “What does that say about your leadership?”

Clark’s letter and his Oval Office meeting set off one of the tensest chapters during Trump’s effort to overturn the election, which culminated three days later with rioters storming the U.S. Capitol. His plan could have decapitated the Justice Depart

  • Trump’s inner circle warned him election fraud claims were false
  • Analysis: 4 takeaways from the second hearing
  • Star witness Barr says Trump was ‘detached from reality’

 washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine Live Updates: ‘Street fighting’ underway for control of Severodonetsk, Rachel Pannett, Annabelle Timsit, Bryan Pietsch and David Walker, June 14, 2022. Ukrainian forces holding on in Severodonetsk, mayor says; Update from key battlefields: Last bridge to Severodonetsk is destroyed.

Russian and Ukrainian forces are locked in a fierce battle for Severodonetsk, a city key to Moscow’s goal of consolidating control of eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian officials acknowledge that Russian forces, relying on devastating bombardment and massive manpower, have taken the city center. But the mayor said Tuesday that Ukrainian troops are holding on amid heavy “street fighting” and that the city is not yet surrounded.

Severodonetsk was largely cut off Monday, when the last bridge connecting it to Ukrainian resupply routes was destroyed, a local official said. Mayor Alexander Stryuk said Tuesday that it was “quite difficult” to reach the city, but not impossible. More than 500 people remain trapped inside a chemical plant there, according to Stryuk, who said authorities are struggling to help them as the situation on the ground changes by the hour.

The Russian Defense Ministry on Tuesday rejected what it said was Kyiv’s request for a “humanitarian corridor” to evacuate civilians from the plant to Ukrainian territory, calling it a ploy to withdraw combatants. Instead, Moscow offered a corridor for civilians to Russian-held areas and demanded that the fighters surrender.

Three seasons of Ukraine’s wheat harvests are unlikely to reach global markets due to the war, exacerbating a global shortage, Ukrainian Agriculture Minister Mykola Solskyi told Reuters on Tuesday. Kyiv and its allies have accused Russia of blocking exports of grain from Ukrainian ports as a form of leverage in the conflict, a charge the Kremlin denies.

Here’s what else to know

  • The British Defense Ministry said Russian forces “have likely made small advances” around Kharkiv “for the first time in several weeks.”
  • Russia earned nearly $100 billion in revenue from fossil fuel exports in the first 100 days of the war, according to a new report, in a sign of the challenge the West faces in trying to cripple its economy.
  • Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will host a meeting Wednesday in Brussels with defense leaders from other countries that support Ukraine.

The Intercept, Investigation: Elephant in the Room: Meltdowns Have Brought Progressive Advocacy Groups to a Standstill at a Critical Moment in World ryan grim CustomHistory, Ryan Grim, right, June 13, 2022. The progressive advocacy space across the board has, more or less, effectively ceased to function.

The Sierra Club, Demos, the American Civil Liberties Union, Color of Change, the Movement for Black Lives, Human Rights Campaign, Time’s Up, the Sunrise Movement, and many other organizations have seen wrenching and debilitating turmoil in the past couple years.

In fact, it’s hard to find a Washington-based progressive organization that hasn’t been in tumult, or isn’t currently in tumult.

For progressive movement organizations, 2021 promised to be the year they turned power into policy, with a Democratic trifecta and the Biden administration broadcasting a bold vision of “transformational change.” Out of the gate, Democrats pushed ahead with the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, funding everything from expanded health care to a new monthly child tax credit. Republican efforts to slow-walk the process with disingenuous counteroffers were simply dismissed.

And then, sometime in the summer, the forward momentum stalled, and many of the progressive gains lapsed or were reversed. Instead of fueling a groundswell of public support to reinvigorate the party’s ambitious agenda, most of the foundation-backed organizations that make up the backbone of the party’s ideological infrastructure were still spending their time locked in virtual retreats, Slack wars, and healing sessions, grappling with tensions over hierarchy, patriarchy, race, gender, and power.

“So much energy has been devoted to the internal strife and internal bullshit that it’s had a real impact on the ability for groups to deliver,” said one organization leader who departed his position. “It’s been huge, particularly over the last year and a half or so, the ability for groups to focus on their mission, whether it’s reproductive justice, or jobs, or fighting climate change.”

This is, of course, a caricature of the left: that socialists and communists spend more time in meetings and fighting with each other than changing the world. But in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidential election, and then Joe Biden’s, it has become nearly all-consuming for some organizations, spreading beyond subcultures of the left and into major liberal institutions. “My last nine months, I was spending 90 to 95 percent of my time on internal strife. Whereas [before] that would have been 25-30 percent tops,” the former executive director said. He added that the same portion of his deputies’ time was similarly spent on internal reckonings.

 

More On Jan. 6 Insurrection Witnesses, Hearings

 

The bipartisan U.S. House Jan. 6 insurrection investigating committee opened its hearings on June 9, 2022 (Photo by Win McNamee via Getty Images).The bipartisan U.S. House Jan. 6 insurrection investigating committee opened its hearings on June 9, 2022 (Photo by Win McNamee via Getty Images).

ny times logoNew York Times, Rep. Zoe Lofgren said former President Trump’s fundraising off bogus election claims was the “big rip-off,” Michael S. Schmidt, Jan. 14, 2022 (print ed.). As it zoomed in on the origins, spread and consequences of Mr. Trump’s election lie, the House panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol also made the case on Monday that his false claims amounted to a fraud perpetrated on his supporters.

zoe lofgren headshot CustomRep. Zoe Lofgren, right, Democrat of California, wrapped up Monday’s session by laying out how Mr. Trump’s campaign, a related political action committee and his allies raised $250 million by claiming they were fighting widespread election fraud at a time when they knew there was none.

“Throughout the committee’s investigation, we found evidence that the Trump campaign and its surrogates misled donors as to where their funds would go and what they would be used for, so not only was there the big lie, there was the big rip-off,” Ms. Lofgren said. “Donors deserve to know where their funds are really going. They deserve better than what President Trump and his team did.”

She spent much of the hearing playing the videotaped testimony of a chorus of campaign aides who said that Mr. Trump’s claims of widespread voting irregularities were groundless — and that they had told him as much. Then a committee investigator gave a presentation showing how the Trump campaign claimed in emails sent to small donors that their donations would be going to an official election defense fund.

But the panel found that the fund had not existed. In reality, the money ended up being used for a range of other purposes, including a $1 million donation to the personal foundation of Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and $204,857 to Trump hotels, the committee said.

In a taped interview with investigators, Gary Coby, the Trump campaign’s head of digital advertising, agreed with one investigator’s characterization of the electoral fraud claims as a “marketing tactic.”

The campaign raised $100 million in the first week after the election, and it continued simultaneously pushing Mr. Trump’s false claims and fund-raising off them until 30 minutes before the Capitol was breached, said the investigator, Amanda Wick.

Some members of the committee have long believed that they might be able to break through to Mr. Trump’s most loyal supporters if they could show that he used for his own personal gain the money they gave for “Stop the Steal” efforts. And fraudulent fund-raising efforts could be grounds for a possible criminal referral to the Justice Department against Mr. Trump and his allies.

Ms. Lofgren said after the hearing that it was up to others to decide how to hold Mr. Trump accountable for the misleading fund-raising.

“It is clear that he intentionally misled his donors, asked them to donate to a fund that didn’t exist and used the money raised for something other than what he said,” she said in a brief interview. “Now it’s for someone else to decide whether that’s a problem or not. That’s not the purview of a legislative committee.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Rudy Giuliani, drunk on conspiracy theories, Dana Milbank, right, June 14, 2022 (print ed.). President Donald Trump, his dana milbank newestformer aides testified, faced a fateful choice on election night 2020: Heed the best advice of his top political and legal advisers? Or go with the erratic drunk guy?

Trump chose Option No. 2.

“President Trump rejected the advice of his campaign experts on election night,” Vice Chairwoman Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) alleged at the start of Monday’s hearing of the House committee probing the Jan. 6, 2021, attack, “and instead followed the course recommended by an apparently inebriated Rudy Giuliani to just claim he won and insist that the vote counting stop, to falsely claim everything was fraudulent.”

A video of Jason Miller, a senior Trump campaign adviser, flashed on the screen above the dais in the Cannon Caucus Room. “The mayor was definitely intoxicated,” Miller testified, but “I do not know his level of intoxication when he spoke with the president.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: How prosecutors can sidestep the question of Trump’s intent, Jennifer Rubin, right, June 14, 2022. Legal scholars have jennifer rubin new headshotentertained the argument that defeated former president Donald Trump can avoid prosecution for his attempt to overthrow the 2020 election on the grounds that he was so nuts that he believed his own election lies. But that argument can go only so far.

A defendant cannot hide behind “deliberate ignorance.” NBC News explains that a judge can "instruct a jury that it can find that a defendant acted knowingly if the defendant was aware of a high probability that something was true but deliberately avoided learning the truth.” Former attorney general William P. Barr’s testimony before the House Jan. 6 committee shows that Trump was not interested in the facts. His top aides repeatedly told him that none of the allegations of voter fraud were true; he promoted them anyway.

Plus, as constitutional scholar Laurence H. Tribe tells me, it certainly cannot be the case that someone who seeks to obstruct a congressional vote count (e.g., strong-arming his own vice president) is excused from criminal liability simply because he’s “genuinely convinced that Congress will get it wrong.” You do not get to arm-twist officials or send the mob to the Capitol because you really, really think you won.

donald trump money palmer report Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump and Fox News told the ‘big lie’ for profit, Eugene Robinson, right, June 14, 2022 (print ed.). The claim that the 2020 eugene robinson headshot Customelection was stolen was a lie from the very beginning. Donald Trump knew that. Fox News knew it, too.

It is bad enough that this lie led to the violent mob attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. But as the House select committee investigating the insurrection laid out on Monday, this assault was in service of not just political power but also Trump’s grubby, unrelenting pursuit of profit.

The second public hearing, as committee member Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) said Sunday, aimed to prove that Trump “knew privately that he had lost, yet he decided to go out in the public and continue to say that he won.”

Trump’s campaign used the “big lie” to raise $250 million after the election, according to the committee’s findings. Much of the money was supposed to go to an “Official Election Defense Fund,” but no such fund existed. Instead, the big beneficiary was the Save America political action committee that Trump controls. According to Jan. 6 committee researchers, more than $200,000 found its way to the bottom line of the Trump Hotel Collection.

Who could have guessed that a big pot of money would be found at the heart of this whole sordid affair? Anyone remotely familiar with Trump’s modus operandi over his entire career, that’s who.

June 13

 

Shown above is Carolyn Edwards, a Capitol Police officer who opened the House select committee's hearings last week by describing how she suffered a traumatic brain injury during the Jan. 6 insurrection when the mob broke through bike-rack barricades that she and her fellow police officers were using to protect the Capitol and the assembled officials then trying to certify the 2020 presidential election (Photos via ABC News and Getty Images).

Shown above is Carolyn Edwards, a Capitol Police officer who opened the House select committee's hearings last week by describing how she suffered a traumatic brain injury during the Jan. 6 insurrection when the mob broke through bike-rack barricades that she and her fellow police officers were using to protect the Capitol and the assembled officials then trying to certify the 2020 presidential election (Photos via ABC News and Getty Images).

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: The trial, punishment, and burial sites for the leaders of the January 6 sedition plot, Wayne wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallMadsen, Jan. 13-14, 2022. In a nondescript and hidden section of the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery and Memorial near the village of Seringes-et-Nesles in northern France is found a section known only as Plot E.

wayne madesen report logoUnlike the graves of the 6012 fallen American soldiers from World War I, the 96 flat stone grave markers in Plot E bear no names, only numbers. [right] No American flags fly over Plot E nor are the grave markers ever adorned with flags or flowers on Memorial Day or other occasions commemorating America’s war dead.

Plot E is not found on any cemetery brochures or maps because this separate section of the hallowed grounds of Oise-Aisne contains the remains of America’s dishonored dead from World War II. Those buried in Plot E, called the perfect “anti-memorial,” were court-martialed, dishonorably discharged, and executed by hanging or firing squad for untold crimes committed against their fellow soldiers and civilians, including pregnant women and children.

Therefore, Plot E with its numbered marble grave markers the size of index cards, should be the final destination for Trump and his co-conspirators.

Palmer Report, Analysis: The DOJ is about to start showing its hand when it comes to Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, right, June 13, 2022. Reports from bill palmervarious major media outlets have established that the DOJ has had a January 6th grand jury targeting Trump world for at least six months. So it was no surprise when Liz Cheney appeared to reveal during Thursday night’s opening public hearing that the DOJ has been working with unnamed cooperating witnesses against Donald Trump.

bill palmer report logo headerGenerally speaking, the DOJ – especially this DOJ – doesn’t show its hand with ongoing criminal investigations except when it’s forced to. The DOJ believes that silence while building a criminal case gives the best odds of getting a conviction at trial.

One way to glean information is by what the DOJ isn’t willing to say or do. For instance, when Congress tried to obtain certain evidence against Donald Trump a few months ago, the DOJ was forced to admit it’s been criminally investigating Trump for taking classified documents with him when he left office.

Now the DOJ is about to show its hand in a more direct way. Jeffrey Rosen, the Acting Attorney General after Bill Barr resigned, has already privately testified to the January 6th Committee. Now the DOJ has authorized Rosen to publicly testify to the committee this upcoming Wednesday.

Why is this a big deal? The fact that the DOJ had to authorize Rosen to publicly testify means that Rosen is clearly a witness in an ongoing DOJ criminal investigation. Given that Trump tried and failed to get Rosen to commit election related crimes, this is obviously all about the DOJ case against Trump.

Rosen has surely only been authorized to testify publicly about certain aspects of Donald Trump’s crimes, and has been asked by the DOJ to keep some specific details under wraps while the criminal case advances. Rosen’s answers, and non-answers, will give away a lot about what specifically the DOJ is doing against Trump.

In other words, by telling Rosen what he is and isn’t allowed to publicly testify about, the DOJ is showing its hand – or at least a lot more of its hand than we’ve seen up to this point. Rosen is testifying at 10am eastern time on Wednesday, and you should make a point of tuning in.

June 11

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Rep. Liz Cheney tells America why Jan. 6 should terrify them, Paul Kane, Josh Dawsey and Jacqueline Alemany, June 11, 2022 (print ed.). After months of preparation, Cheney tries to convince fellow Republicans and Wyoming voters of a chilling conspiracy.

liz cheney oFor weeks, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), right, has been, in the words of those close to her, “obsessed” with investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.

She has devoted more than half of her working hours to collecting evidence, leafing through thousands of pages of testimony, writing scripts for the hearings and strategizing on how best to convince her constituents and fellow Republicans that the events of that January day were part of a chilling conspiracy overseen by former president Donald Trump to undermine democracy.

On Thursday night, at the first in a series of congressional hearings, Cheney narrated that case with a dispassionate but propulsive presentation of facts, often showing evidence from videotaped depositions from the former president’s inner circle admitting his claims of voter fraud had no merit. She teased the investigation’s biggest findings and sharply criticized her fellow Republicans for the roles that they played — including enabling and continuing to support Trump.