2020-21 Trump Watch News & Commentary

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Shown below is a list of recent news stories reporting on probes of the Trump Administration. 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 by President Trump, his 2016 campaign and the current administration.

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

-- Andrew Kreig / Justice Integrity Project editor

 

2021

capitol noose shay horse nurphoto via getty

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

 

Donald Trump, shown in a 2020 campaign hat.

September

Sept. 26

 

Proof, Investigation: Trump Lawyer Admits Trump's Legal Team Was Seeking An Emergency Injunction Against Certification of Biden's Win As Trump Incited a Riot seth abramson graphicto Delay the Joint Session of Congress, Seth Abramson, left, Sept. 26, 2021. New revelation confirms the actions of Trump's legal team in the Willard "war room"—whose occupants were in direct contact with Trump—were designed to dovetail with the violent attack on the Capitol.

Introduction: On March 10, 2021, Proof published an article entitled “Here Is the Twelve-Point Plan Donald Trump Had for January 6.” Based on two seth abramson proof logomonths of research relating to January 6, Proof concluded that Trump’s plan for January 6 was built on the following foundation....

In a new interview with far-right activist and propagandist Stew Peters, Powell admits that Trump’s legal team filed for an injunction against Congress in the first days of January.

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

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

 

steve bannon billionaire guo wengui

Guo Wengui, a Chinese billionaire wanted by the government of China for bribery, kidnapping, money laundering, fraud and rape, is shown above with Trump ally and former 2016 campaign CEO Steve Bannon. Guo funds through his GTV Media Group conglomerate Bannon's "War Room" podcast and "Real America's Voice" Internet television broadcast and other propaganda supporting the January 6th insurrection in Washington and the overthrow of the the U.S. government, which is giving him political asylum in New York City and elsewhere.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: International fascist collusion to overthrow the U.S. government, Wayne Madsen, left, Sept. 26, 2021 (authorized for republication in wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallan excerpt form after first pubication on Sept. 9 behind the paywall of the Wayne Madsen Report. The author is national security expert who has appeared on all but one major U.S. broadcast and cable news networks. He is a former Navy Intelligence Officer and NSA analyst, and author of 20 books, including the forthcoming, "The Rise of the Fascist Fourth Reich: The Era of Trumpism and the Far-Right."

Not since the planned 1934 fascist coup against the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt by various right-wing, fascist, and Nazi forces, backed by wealthy Wall Street interests, has the United States faced a coordinated plot by Americans and foreign interests to overthrow democracy in the United States.

wayne madesen report logoIn 1933 and 1934, the fascist coup planning, which was exposed by retired Marine Corps General Smedley Butler, were directly linked to Adolf Hitler's Germany, Benito Mussolini's Italy, and French Croix de Feu fascist political leaders. Groups supporting a coup against FDR included groups ranging from the pro-Mussolini American Legion to Nazi organizations like the Silver Legion of America, the German American Bund, Friends of New Germany, the Ku Klux Klan, the Sentinels of the Republic, and the Crusaders.

Today, substitute the government of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Chinese expatriate billionaire Guo Wengui, and groups like the Proud Boys, Three Percenters, Oath Keepers, Boogaloo Bois, and Falun Gong, and you will see that history is merely repeating itself with different countries and groups involved in establishing a fascist dictatorship in America, Brazil, and other nations.

Steve Bannon's effort to create an international fascist movement, which is known as simply as "The Movement," has brought together Donald Trump loyalists with the Brazilian government of Bolsonaro and his family. Trump and Bolsonaro loyalists are actively attempting to corrupt and destroy the electoral underpinnings of democratic rule in the United States, Brazil, and third countries, for example, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, and others.

Bolsonaro's son, Eduardo Bolsonaro, a member of Brazil's Chamber of Deputies, the Latin American leader of Bannon's Movement, and Trump's personal choice but failed nominee as Brazil's ambassador in Washington, was very active with the attempted January 6 coup attempt in Washington.

Eduardo Bolsonaro participated in an insurrection eve "War Council" held at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC. Other participants in the war council included Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, Rudolph Giuliani, MyPillow's Mike Lindell, disgraced ex-National Security Adviser under trump Lt. General Michael Flynn, and lawyer Sidney Powell. Eduardo Bolsonaro also held a meeting at the White House on January 4 with Ivanka Trump and separately with expatriate Brazilian fascist political adviser and astrologer Olavo de Carvalho. Carvalho, who has been dubbed the "Rush Limbaugh" of Brazil, lives south of Richmond, Virginia in Dinwiddie County. Carvalho, a close associate of Bannon, is a "flat earther," climate change and Covid-19 pandemic denier, and anti-vaccine (anti-vaxx) proponent.

The House Select Committee on the January 6 insurrection would do well to cooperate with Brazilian Senator Jacques Wagner (PT-Bahia) of the Workers' Party of former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Wagner is conducting a Senate investigation of Eduardo Bolsonaro's role in the January 6 coup attempt at the U.S. Capitol. Wagner asked the then-Brazilian Foreign Minister, Ernest Araujo, someone who has erroneously called Nazism a "leftist" movement, to answer eight questions [right] dealing with the roles played by Bolsonaro's son and the Brazilian Embassy in Washington, DC into the January 5 war council at the Trump hotel and additional meetings between Eduardo Bolsonaro and "several other members of the Republican Party."

Those who diminish the importance of the January 6 coup attempt by calling it a "riot" or a "violent protest" fail to understand that it is the subject of formal legislative investigations by the U.S. House and the Brazilian Senate. That fact, alone, points to the January 6 event being a vast international conspiracy.

Bannon's operations, including his own involvement in the January 6 insurrection, have been financed by Guo Wengui and Lindell, as well as previously by the multi-billionaire hedge fund father-daughter team of Robert and Rebekah Mercer.

On August 10, 2021, Eduardo Bolsonaro was back in the United States attending Lindell's kooky "cyber symposium" in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Bannon emceed the live-streamed symposium. Bolsonaro gave Lindell a "Make America Great Again" hat signed by Donald Trump. Bolsonaro said he had met Trump at his Bedminster, New Jersey on August 9 and Trump asked him to give the hat to Lindell. Bolsonaro gave a speech on how Brazil's election system was as "rigged" as that of the United States. Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly threatened that he might cancel the 2022 presidential election, which polls currently indicate that he would lose to the leftist Lula da Silva in a landslide.

Former Trump White House adviser Jason Miller, the CEO of the right-wing social media platform GETTR, participated in the September 3-4 Conservative Political Action Conference Brasil (CPAC Brasil) conference in Brasilia, the nation's capital. On September 7, Jair Bolsonaro urged tens of thousands of his supporters who gathered in Brasilia to storm the Brazilian Supreme Court and imprison the justices, including Alexandre de Moraes, who has been leading an investigation of President Bolsonaro and members of his family, including Eduardo, for corruption. Miller and his delegation met with Jair and Eduardo Bolsonaro in Brasilia.

The House January 6 committee should also invite Justice Moraes to share on a confidential basis any information he has gleaned on the Bolsonaros involvement with the attempted January 6 coup in Washington. Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly threatened a military coup in Brazil to cement his rule over the country.

The Fourth Reich movement of Donald Trump and his fellow fascists is the focus of the forthcoming editor's book titled, "The Rise of the Fascist Fourth Reich: The Era of Trumpism and the Far-Right."

washington post logoWashington Post, Election fraud, QAnon, Jan. 6: Extremists in Germany read from a pro-Trump script, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Sept. 26, 2021 (print ed.). Apocalyptic messages circulating ahead of German elections on Sunday import conspiratorial rhetoric from the United States.

One message advocated “occupying election offices.”

Another warned of “coronavirus tyranny.”

And a third extolled former president Donald Trump and Q, the shadowy oracle of the extremist ideology QAnon, for inspiring a new social movement prepared to take back power from the state. “America is waking up and ready to fight,” it vowed.

The calls to action came not in anticipation of the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol. Rather, they emerged this month in Germany, within a far-right group on the messaging app Telegram, where neo-Nazis and doomsday preppers foresee what’s known as “Day X” — the collapse of the German state and assassination of high-ranking officials.

Such apocalyptic messages — posted in the run-up to German elections on Sunday — import conspiratorial, anti-government rhetoric broadcast in the U.S., according to screenshots of the since-deleted chatroom reviewed by The Washington Post.

  capitol noose shay horse nurphoto via getty

A crowd of Trump supporters surrounded a newly erected set of wooden gallows outside the Capitol Building on Jan. 6. "Hang Mike Pence!" members of the crowd shouted at times about the Republican Vice President who had announced that he could not comply with the president's call to block election certification that day. The wooden gallows near the Capitol Reflecting Pool

american flag upside down distress

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Our constitutional crisis is already here, Robert Kagan, right, Brookings Institution fellow, best-selling author and former State Department official, Sept. 26, 2021 (print ed.). The United States is heading into its greatest political and constitutional robert kagan looking leftcrisis since the Civil War, with a reasonable chance over the next three to four years of incidents of mass violence, a breakdown of federal authority, and the division of the country into warring red and blue enclaves. The warning signs may be obscured by the distractions of politics, the pandemic, the economy and global crises, and by wishful thinking and denial. But about these things there should be no doubt:

First, Donald Trump will be the Republican candidate for president in 2024. The hope and expectation that he would fade in visibility and influence have been delusional. He enjoys mammoth leads in the polls; he is building a massive campaign war chest; and at this moment the Democratic ticket looks vulnerable. Barring health problems, he is running.

Second, Trump and his Republican allies are actively preparing to ensure his victory by whatever means necessary. Trump’s charges of fraud in the 2020 election are now primarily aimed at establishing the predicate to challenge future election results that do not go his way. Some Republican candidates have already begun preparing to declare fraud in 2022, just as Larry Elder tried meekly to do in the California recall contest.

Meanwhile, the amateurish “stop the steal” efforts of 2020 have given way to an organized nationwide campaign to ensure that Trump and his supporters will have the control over state and local election officials that they lacked in 2020. Those recalcitrant Republican state officials who effectively saved the country from calamity by refusing to falsely declare fraud or to “find” more votes for Trump are being systematically removed or hounded from office. Republican legislatures are giving themselves greater control over the election certification process. As of this spring, Republicans have proposed or passed measures in at least 16 states that would shift certain election authorities from the purview of the governor, secretary of state or other executive-branch officers to the legislature. An Arizona bill flatly states that the legislature may “revoke the secretary of state’s issuance or certification of a presidential elector’s certificate of election” by a simple majority vote. Some state legislatures seek to impose criminal penalties on local election officials alleged to have committed “technical infractions,” including obstructing the view of poll watchers.

The stage is thus being set for chaos. Imagine weeks of competing mass protests across multiple states as lawmakers from both parties claim victory and charge the other with unconstitutional efforts to take power. Partisans on both sides are likely to be better armed and more willing to inflict harm than they were in 2020. Would governors call out the National Guard? Would President Biden nationalize the Guard and place it under his control, invoke the Insurrection Act, and send troops into Pennsylvania or Texas or Wisconsin to quell violent protests? Deploying federal power in the states would be decried as tyranny. Biden would find himself where other presidents have been — where Andrew Jackson was during the nullification crisis, or where Abraham Lincoln was after the South seceded — navigating without rules or precedents, making his own judgments about what constitutional powers he does and doesn’t have.

Today’s arguments over the filibuster will seem quaint in three years if the American political system enters a crisis for which the Constitution offers no remedy.

Most Americans — and all but a handful of politicians — have refused to take this possibility seriously enough to try to prevent it. As has so often been the case in other countries where fascist leaders arise, their would-be opponents are paralyzed in confusion and amazement at this charismatic authoritarian. They have followed the standard model of appeasement, which always begins with underestimation. The political and intellectual establishments in both parties have been underestimating Trump since he emerged on the scene in 2015. They underestimated the extent of his popularity and the strength of his hold on his followers; they underestimated his ability to take control of the Republican Party; and then they underestimated how far he was willing to go to retain power. The fact that he failed to overturn the 2020 election has reassured many that the American system remains secure, though it easily could have gone the other way — if Biden had not been safely ahead in all four states where the vote was close; if Trump had been more competent and more in control of the decision-makers in his administration, Congress and the states. As it was, Trump came close to bringing off a coup earlier this year. All that prevented it was a handful of state officials with notable courage and integrity, and the reluctance of two attorneys general and a vice president to obey orders they deemed inappropriate.

These were not the checks and balances the Framers had in mind when they designed the Constitution, of course, but Trump has exposed the inadequacy of those protections. The Founders did not foresee the Trump phenomenon, in part because they did not foresee national parties. They anticipated the threat of a demagogue, but not of a national cult of personality. They assumed that the new republic’s vast expanse and the historic divisions among the 13 fiercely independent states would pose insuperable barriers to national movements based on party or personality. “Petty” demagogues might sway their own states, where they were known and had influence, but not the whole nation with its diverse populations and divergent interests.

Such checks and balances as the Framers put in place, therefore, depended on the separation of the three branches of government, each of which, they believed, would zealously guard its own power and prerogatives. The Framers did not establish safeguards against the possibility that national-party solidarity would transcend state boundaries because they did not imagine such a thing was possible. Nor did they foresee that members of Congress, and perhaps members of the judicial branch, too, would refuse to check the power of a president from their own party.

Robert Kagan, author of the long column excerpted above, is the Stephen & Barbara Friedman Senior Fellow with the Project on International Order and Strategy in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings. He is a contributing columnist at the Washington Post. His new book is The Jungle Grows Back: America and Our Imperiled World” (Knopf, 2018). He previously wrote the New York Times bestseller, The World America Made (Knopf, 2012), as well as other books about history and global affairs.

For his writings, Politico Magazine named Kagan one of the “Politico 50” in 2016, the “thinkers, doers and visionaries transforming American politics in 2016.” His most recent pieces include The Twilight of the Liberal World Order” in “Brookings Big Ideas for America” and “Backing into World War III in Foreign Policy. He served in the State Department from 1984 to 1988 as a member of the policy planning staff, as principal speechwriter for Secretary of State George P. Shultz, and as deputy for policy in the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs. He is married to longtime State Department official Victoria Nuland and holds a doctorate in American history from American University.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fallout begins for far-right trolls who trusted Epik to keep their identities secret, Drew Harwell, Hannah Allam, Jeremy B. Merrill and Craig Timberg, Sept. 26, 2021 (print ed.). The colossal hack of Epik, an Internet-services company popular with the far right, has been called the “mother of all data lodes” for extremism researchers. In the real world, Joshua Alayon worked as a real estate agent in Pompano Beach, Fla., where he used the handle “SouthFloridasFavoriteRealtor” to urge buyers on Facebook to move to “the most beautiful State.”

epik logoBut online, data revealed by the massive hack of Epik, an Internet-services company popular with the far right, signaled a darker side. Alayon’s name and personal details were found on invoices suggesting he had once paid for websites with names such as racisminc.com, whitesencyclopedia.com, christiansagainstisrael.com and theholocaustisfake.com.

The information was included in a giant trove of hundreds of thousands of transactions published this month by the hacking group Anonymous that exposed previously obscure details of far-right sites and launched a race among extremism researchers to identify the hidden promoters of online hate.

After Alayon’s name appeared in the breached data, his brokerage, Travers Miran Realty, dropped him as an agent, as first reported by the real estate news site Inman. The brokerage’s owner, Rick Rapp, told The Washington Post that he didn’t “want to be involved with anyone with thoughts or motives like that.”

Alayon told The Post that he does not own the ‘racisminc,’ Holocaust-denial or other Web addresses but declined to say if he had owned them in the past; the records were hacked earlier this year. But in a screenshot of his Epik account, which he sent to The Post, the information for four other domains he currently owns matches the private records that can be found in the Epik breach.

Asked why his name, email address and other personal information were listed in company invoices for the ‘racisminc’ and Holocaust-denial domains, Alayon said the data was “easily falsifiable,” that he was the possible victim of extortion and that The Post was “fake news.”

The breach of Epik’s internal records has cast a spotlight on a long-hidden corner of the Internet’s underworld, and researchers expect it could take months before they can process the full cache — the equivalent of tens of millions of pages. Many are digging for information on who owns and administers extremist domains about which little was previously known.

Epik, based outside Seattle, said in a data-breach notice filed with Maine’s attorney general this week that 110,000 people had been affected nationwide by having their financial account and credit card numbers, passwords and security codes exposed. An earlier data-breach letter from the company, filed to comply with Montana law, was signed by the “Epic Security Team,” misspelling the company’s name. An Epik spokesperson said it was a simple typo.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: The nation faces financial calamity. Republicans will be to blame, Editorial Board, Sept. 26, 2021 (print ed.). The White House on Thursday instructed federal agencies to prepare for an imminent government shutdown, in case Congress fails to pass a stopgap funding bill by Sept. 30. Government shutdowns are expensive and disruptive, and they deservedly sully the nation’s image and sense of self-respect. But at this point a lapse in government services should be the least of Americans’ worries. The nation faces an epochal financial disaster if Congress fails to raise the debt limit, forcing the country to default on its obligations and inviting a global financial panic.

Mitchell_McConnellIf that happens, there will be no doubt about who is at fault: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), left, and his Republican caucus, who are playing games with the full faith and credit of the United States.

Democrats joined with Republicans to suspend the debt ceiling during the Trump administration. But Mr. McConnell suddenly declares that the majority is solely responsible for performing this unattractive task, even though he pioneered the routine use of the filibuster to force any and all Senate legislation to overcome a 60-vote threshold. With only 50 votes, and Republicans unwilling to lift a finger to avoid financial calamity, Democrats’ only option would be to use the arcane “reconciliation” procedure. Senate experts believe this would be possible, but it would require a couple of weeks of complex parliamentary maneuvering and some Republican cooperation in the Senate Budget Committee. Meanwhile, the treasury is on the verge of running out of money.

Other than sticking it to Democrats, what is the point? Using reconciliation, Democrats would have to raise the debt limit by a specific dollar amount, not just suspend it for a time, as Republicans did under President Donald Trump. This would enable Republicans to run attack ads blasting Democrats for expanding the debt by some large, specific number. Never mind that raising the debt limit does not approve any new spending; it merely permits the treasury to finance the spending Congress already has okayed.

Sept. 23

Sept. 22

Trump Watch

djt maga hat speech uncredited Custom

seth abramson proof logoProof, Investigative Commentary: Why Donald Trump Is Again Interfering in Georgia's Electoral Process, Seth Abramson, left, Sept. 20-21, 2021. Trump is up to his old seth abramson graphiccrimes—bribery, witness tampering, and obstruction—as well as the basic graft for which he's well known. His latest scheme is a dangerous long-term play that we can't ignore.

That’s right: Trump is up to his old tricks (which in some instances have actually been crimes) in Georgia. CNN reports that Trump has just again initiated a communication with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which the corrupt ex-POTUS rehashes the “Big Lie” about the November presidential election and tries to convince Raffensperger to “decertify” the 2020 election results in Georgia—which georgia mapof course he knows (and Raffensperger knows) neither the State of Georgia nor anyone in it can do.

If you’re thinking Trump is up to something else here besides the obvious, you’re right.

In fact, it’s reasonably transparent: Trump is in the midst of trying to help one of the top insurrectionist leaders in America, Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), become the Secretary of State in Georgia so that Trump—or his handpicked 2024 Republican presidential candidate—can steal the 2024 election in that state through new administrative regs, the redeployment of voting machines away from majority-minority precincts, various draconian machinations involving early voting and poll hours and ID presentments, and, if necessary, open election fraud.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump sues New York Times and niece Mary Trump over tax records story, Katerina Ang, Sept. 22, 2021. The suit alleges that Mary Trump, the New York Times and at least three of the newspaper’s reporters participated in an “insidious plot” to obtain records about the former president’s finances.

Former president Donald Trump has sued his niece, Mary L. Trump, and the New York Times over the publication of a 2018 article detailing allegations that he “participated in dubious tax schemes … including instances of outright fraud” that allowed him to receive over $413 million from his father, Fred Trump Sr., while significantly reducing taxes.

The suit, filed in a Dutchess County, N.Y., court on Tuesday, alleges that Mary Trump, the New York Times and at least three of its reporters “engaged in an insidious plot to obtain confidential and highly-sensitive records” about the former president’s finances. According to the lawsuit, Donald Trump suffered at least $100 million in damages as a result of the alleged actions.

Trump, unlike every other major-party presidential nominee in recent history, has declined to make his tax records public.

In a statement about the suit Wednesday, the former president said, “More to come, including on other people, and Fake News media.”

The New York Times and the three reporters named in the suit — David Barstow, Susanne Craig and Russ Buettner — won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting for their 18-month investigation that culminated in the article. Their work “debunked [Trump’s] claims of self-made wealth and revealed a business empire riddled with tax dodges,” according to the Pulitzer Prize board.

After the article’s publication, Trump dismissed the story as a “hit piece” that was “boring.”

Sept. 21 Trump-allied attorney Sidney Powell, right, with allied attorney Jenna Ellis in the background last fall.

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

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Campaign Knew Lawyers’ Voting Machine Claims Were Baseless, Memo Shows, Alan Feuer, Sept. 21, 2021. Days before lawyers allied with Donald Trump gave a news conference promoting election conspiracy theories, his campaign had determined that many of those claims were false, court filings reveal.

Two weeks after the 2020 election, a team of lawyers closely allied with Donald J. Trump held a widely watched news conference at the Republican Party’s headquarters in Washington. At the event, they laid out a bizarre conspiracy theory claiming that a voting machine company had worked with an election software firm, the financier George Soros and Venezuela to steal the presidential contest from Mr. Trump.

But there was a problem for the Trump team, according to court documents released on Monday evening.

By the time the news conference occurred on Nov. 19, Mr. Trump’s campaign had already prepared an internal memo on many of the outlandish claims about the company, Dominion Voting Systems, and the separate software company, Smartmatic. The memo had determined that those allegations were untrue.

The court papers, which were initially filed late last week as a motion in a defamation lawsuit brought against the campaign and others by a former Dominion employee, Eric Coomer, contain evidence that officials in the Trump campaign were aware early on that many of the claims against the companies were baseless.

The documents also suggest that the campaign sat on its findings about Dominion even as Sidney Powell and other lawyers attacked the company in the conservative media and ultimately filed four federal lawsuits accusing it of a vast conspiracy to rig the election against Mr. Trump.

According to emails contained in the documents, Zach Parkinson, then the campaign’s deputy director of communications, reached out to subordinates on Nov. 13 asking them to “substantiate or debunk” several matters concerning Dominion. The next day, the emails show, Mr. Parkinson received a copy of a memo cobbled together by his staff from what largely appear to be news articles and public fact-checking services.

Even though the memo was hastily assembled, it rebutted a series of allegations that Ms. Powell and others were making in public. It found:

That Dominion did not use voting technology from the software company, Smartmatic, in the 2020 election.

That Dominion had no direct ties to Venezuela or to Mr. Soros.

And that there was no evidence that Dominion’s leadership had connections to left-wing “antifa” activists, as Ms. Powell and others had claimed.

As Mr. Coomer’s lawyers wrote in their motion in the defamation suit, “The memo produced by the Trump campaign shows that, at least internally, the Trump campaign found there was no evidence to support the conspiracy theories regarding Dominion” and Mr. Coomer.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Serious new legal trouble for everyone involved with Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign, Bill Palmer, Sept. 21, 2021. Dominion Voting Systems has already brought individual civil cases against numerous lawyers associated with Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign, over the phony conspiracy theories they touted about imaginary election fraud. The big question was whether there would end up being enough evidence to prove that they knew these claims were false when they made them, and whether Trump himself would end up being targeted by Dominion as well.

bill palmer report logo headerNow we’re getting some answers. The New York Times is reporting that after Donald Trump was declared the loser of the 2020 election, his campaign immediately crafted an internal memo admitting that there was no voting machine fraud. This is bad for the Trump cartel on two levels.

First, it means that the likes of Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani are really screwed. They’ll have a nearly impossible time convincing anyone that they somehow weren’t aware of this Trump campaign internal memo, meaning Dominion now has the smoking gun it needs to very likely win its cases against them.

Second, it means that Donald Trump and his 2020 campaign leaders all knew that Powell and Giuliani were lying when they went out there to make these claims on behalf of the campaign. It means Trump and his campaign people are looking at serious legal culpability in civil court, once Dominion inevitably files suit against them. It also raises the possibility of a criminal conspiracy to commit election fraud.
In the interim, Iran has continued to expand the quantity and quality of its uranium enrichment, leading some experts to conclude it is now even closer to possessing enough fissile material to build a bomb than the two or three months the Biden administration has publicly estimated. At the same time, Iran has repeatedly sparred with the International Atomic Energy Agency over monitoring of its nuclear activities originally agreed in the 2015 deal.

For its part, the administration has continued to warn that negotiating time is running out, without saying how much time is left or what it will do if it expires. Some answers may emerge this week, when the Tehran government says Iran’s new foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, plans to hold bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Britain, Germany and France at the annual United Nations General Assembly.

washington post logoWashington Post, Huge hack reveals embarrassing details of who’s behind Proud Boys and other far-right websites, Drew Harwell, Craig Timberg and Hannah Allam, Sept. 21, 2021. Researchers say it will allow them to gain important new insights into how extremists operate online.

Epik long has been the favorite Internet company of the far-right, providing domain services to QAnon theorists, Proud Boys and other instigators of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol — allowing them to broadcast hateful messages from behind a veil of anonymity.

But that veil abruptly vanished last week when a huge breach by the hacker group Anonymous dumped into public view more than 150 gigabytes of previously private data — including user names, passwords and other identifying information of Epik’s customers.

Extremism researchers and political opponents have treated the leak as a Rosetta Stone to the far-right, helping them to decode who has been doing what with whom over several years. Initial revelations have spilled out steadily across Twitter since news of the hack broke last week, often under the hashtag #epikfail, but those studying the material say they will need months and perhaps years to dig through all of it.

“It’s massive. It may be the biggest domain-style leak I’ve seen and, as an extremism researcher, it’s certainly the most interesting,” said Megan Squire, a computer science professor at Elon University who studies right-wing extremism. “It’s an embarrassment of riches — stress on the embarrassment.”

Epik, based in the Seattle suburb of Sammamish, has made its name in the Internet world by providing critical Web services to sites that have run afoul of other companies’ policies against hate speech, misinformation and advocating violence. Its client list is a roll-call of sites known for permitting extreme posts and that have been rejected by other companies for their failure to moderate what their users post.

Online records show those sites have included 8chan, which was dropped by its providers after hosting the manifesto of a gunman who killed 51 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019; Gab, which was dropped for hosting the antisemitic rants of a gunman who killed 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018; and Parler, which was dropped due to lax moderation related to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

TheDonald’s owner speaks out on why he finally pulled plug on hate-filled site

Epik also provides services to a network of sites devoted to extremist QAnon conspiracy theories. Epik briefly hosted the neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer in 2019 after acquiring a cybersecurity company that had provided it with hosting services, but Epik soon canceled that contract, according to news reports. Epik also stopped supporting 8chan after a short period of time, the company has said.

Earlier this month, Epik also briefly provided service to the antiabortion group Texas Right to Life, whose website, ProLifeWhistleblower.com, was removed by the hosting service GoDaddy because it solicited accusations about which medical providers might be violating a state abortion ban.

An Epik attorney said the company stopped working with the site because it violated company rules against collecting people’s private information. Online records show Epik was still the site’s domain registrar as of last week, though the digital tip line is no longer available, and the site now redirects to the group’s homepage.

Epik founder Robert Monster’s willingness to provide technical support to online sanctuaries of the far-right have made him a regular target of anti-extremism advocates, who criticized him for using Epik’s tools to republish the Christchurch gunman’s manifesto and live-streamed video the killer had made of the slaughter.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: How serious is the threat to democracy, and how do we defeat it? Jennifer Rubin, right, author of the new book Resistance published this week and shown below, Sept. 21, 2021. Election law guru Richard L. Hasen jennifer rubin new headshothas published a law review article explaining the danger of subverted elections and violence after millions have been brainwashed to believe the “big lie” that the 2020 election was stolen.

The piece is particularly timely, given the new reporting that two supposedly “responsible” Republicans, Sens. Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina and Mike Lee of Utah, had reviewed the disgraced former president’s fraud claims in January and confirmed they were total bunk. Despite this, the senators have refused to separate their party from the instigator of the Jan. 6 insurrection and voted against a bipartisan commission to review the violent day.

jennifer rubin book resistanceHasen warns: “Of greatest concern is that the activities of Trump and his allies from the November 2020 election through January 7, 2021 served as dress rehearsal for how to subvert election results in 2024 or in other future elections.” He outlines three main risks to our elections.

The first risk arises from the “independent state legislature" doctrine. As Hasen explains, this is “[t]he argument that Article II and Article I, section 4 give state legislatures virtually unlimited powers over the rules for running presidential and congressional elections — even if it means violating the state’s own Constitution.” He points out that if courts were to accept this doctrine, it would "create a potential earthquake in American election law by upending everything from voter initiatives setting the rules for congressional primaries to normal election administration decisions of state and local election administrators — not to mention, rendering state constitutional protections for voting rights a nullity in congressional and presidential election.”

Democrats have warned that electing a GOP House majority in 2022 would open the door to abuse of this process and refusal to recognize voters’ presidential choice in preference for state lawmakers’ pick. Hasen writes:

The 2020 election shattered the illusion that bipartisan norms insulated our elections in a way that less mature democracies could not. Instead, it’s now clear we have one party that would gladly swap U.S. democracy for a tin-pot dictatorship with its champion at the helm. Behind that party is an army of disgraceful, right-wing media outlets, pundits and think tanks that eagerly legitimize anti-democratic subversion for the sake of a buck. A recently-surfaced, six-point plan from lawyer John Eastman advising how the vice president could unilaterally pull off a coup underscores the seriousness of the threat and just how deceitful and un-American are MAGA’s enablers. (It should also highlight the need for disciplinary action against lawyers plotting to overturn our democracy.)

washington post logoWashington Post, Two GOP operatives indicted for allegedly routing money from Russian national to support Trump campaign, Felicia Sonmez and Isaac Stanley-Becker, Sept. 21, 2021. A political strategist who was pardoned by the former president after being convicted in a 2012 campaign finance scheme is facing new charges related to an alleged 2016 plot to illegally funnel donations made by a Russian national to support then-candidate Donald Trump’s White House bid.

Jesse Benton, 43, who was previously a top aide to former congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and later ran a pro-Trump super PAC, was charged this month, according to a federal indictment in Washington unsealed Monday. Also charged is Roy Douglas “Doug” Wead, 75, a conservative author and former special assistant to President George H.W. Bush.

According to the indictment, in the months before the 2016 presidential election, Benton and Wead solicited a U.S. campaign donation from a Russian national in violation of federal law, then filed false campaign finance reports to make it seem that the donation was from Benton.

Federal disclosures from that period make clear the donation went to support Trump’s election, though the recipient is not named in the indictment. Authorities allege Benton arranged for the Russian national to attend a fundraiser “and get a photograph with” the candidate, “in exchange for a political contribution.”

Benton and Wead “concealed the scheme from the candidate, federal regulators, and the public,” according to the indictment.

The court filing does not name Trump, but details in the indictment match a $25,000 donation that Benton made in the fall of 2016 to a committee that jointly raised money for the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee, campaign finance records show.

The unnamed Russian national, who is described as a business associate of Wead, wired a total of $100,000 from a bank account in Vienna, Austria, to a political consulting firm owned by Benton, authorities allege.

In return, Benton and Wead allegedly arranged for the Russian national to attend a September fundraiser in Philadelphia. The following month, Benton used his credit card to pay the $25,000 cost of the Russian national’s ticket to the event and told a consultant for the related campaign committees that he had “bought the tickets and gifted them” to Wead and the individual.

Benton then paid off the $25,000 on his card using the funds wired by the individual to his consulting company. He kept the remaining $75,000, the indictment alleges.

washington post logoWashington Post, Treasury Department will sanction crypto exchanges that help channel payments to hackers, Gerrit De Vynck, Sept. 21, 2021. The Biden administration is also warning companies that paying ransoms to hackers might be illegal The U.S. government is stepping up its efforts to disrupt the infrastructure hackers use to make money from breaking into and holding hostage computer networks, announcing sanctions against one virtual currency exchange and warning U.S. companies it could be legally risky for them to pay off hackers that hit their systems.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions Tuesday against Suex, an exchange that lets people buy and sell virtual currencies with regular credit cards, according to its website. The government said as much as 40 percent of known transactions run by Suex were criminal. Other exchanges could be hit with sanctions, too.

“We are going to continue to look at the ecosystem and look for actors that are taking similar actions,” Anne Neuberger, the White House’s deputy national security adviser on cybersecurity, said during a call with reporters.

Ransomware attacks, where hackers lock out a company or organization from its computer system and demand a ransom payment to restore access, more than doubled from 2019 to 2020. The government sees them as both a criminal menace, and a national security threat. In February, a hack on the Colonial Pipeline fuel-delivery network led to fuel shortages up and down the East Coast. President Biden has told Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country is known to host many of the ransomware gangs responsible for the surge, that he would take “any necessary action” to defend critical infrastructure against cyberattacks.

The anatomy of a ransomware attack

Still, the hacks keep coming. On Monday, Iowa-based New Cooperative, a major buyer and distributor of grain and feed, said it had been hit by a ransomware attack, though it was able to find a workaround to keep most of its business running.

The announcement Tuesday is part of the government’s attempts to lower the frequency and profitability of ransomware attacks. It has urged companies to increase their cybersecurity practices, such as requiring all employees to use two-factor authentication. Legislators have proposed new rules requiring private companies that operate critical infrastructure to meet minimum security standards.
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Sanctioning crypto exchanges might also make it riskier for companies to pay ransoms even if they want to. Right now, many companies hire third-party consultants to negotiate and help pay ransoms, ensuring that computer systems get back up and running quickly. But if the exchanges used to facilitate those ransom payments are sanctioned, the hacked companies and their consultants could now both be breaking the law by paying.

“Companies that facilitate ransomware payments to cyber actors on behalf of victims, including financial institutions, cyber insurance firms, and companies involved in digital forensics and incident response, not only encourage future ransomware payment demands but also may risk violating OFAC regulations,” the Treasury Department said in its statement. “The U.S. government strongly discourages all private companies and citizens from paying ransom or extortion demands.”

FBI held back ransomware decryption key from businesses to run operation targeting hackers

If companies feel they must make a payment, the best course of action is to tell law enforcement ahead of time, Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said on the call.

“If a company determines that it’s in their interest to pay these demands, the OFAC guidance makes clear that the best way to protect that company from the risk of paying a sanctioned entity is to report the fact that they have been attacked to law enforcement,” Adeyemo said.

The White House has also been pushing cyber-insurance providers to craft policies that incentivize companies to take security more seriously. Some hackers have specifically targeted companies they know have robust cyber-insurance. The government wants stricter rules on who gets to access that insurance.

“In order to get home insurance, you have to have installed smoke detectors or have an alarm system,” Neuberger said. “So when we look at cybersecurity, what we’re grappling with is what seems to be the lack of incentives for companies to make the investment to have to modernize their defenses to meet the threat.”

Sept. 18

Proof via Substack, Investigation: January 6 Was a Violent Nationwide Insurrection—Not One Attack on One Building in Washington, Seth Abramson, left, Sept. 18, seth abramson graphic2021. Many Americans don't realize that Trump's plan for a January 6 attack on American democracy was national in scope—and continues to be. As his insurgency continues, capitals across America are at risk.

Introduction: One of the gravest misunderstandings about January 6 is that it was a localized event involving a single target: the United States Capitol. In fact, it was a decentralized plot that involved dozens of individual attacks around the country and which—moreover—the President of the United States at the time, Donald Trump, publicly acknowledged he knew was a diffuse network of attacks on American democracy. Indeed, Trump said all of the following in his speech the White House Ellipse on Insurrection Day:

seth abramson proof logo• That in addition to the crowd in front of him, he was well aware his speech was being heard by “hundreds of thousands of American patriots who are committed to the honesty of our elections and the integrity of our glorious republic”, a reference to Trumpist insurrectionists gathering “live” in other locations outside D.C. (as any reference to a TV audience would have accounted it in the millions rather than the hundreds of thousands);

• That the purpose of the upcoming march on the Capitol, among other things, was to convince Vice President Mike Pence to “send it [the results of the Electoral College votes in the fifty states] back to the states to re-certify [them]”, a plot Trump believed would lead to the de-certification of Joe Biden’s electors and which he knew would only be aided if massive protests occurred in the states Trump was claiming wanted to revisit their Electoral College votes;

• That “in addition to challenging the certification of the election, I’m calling on…state legislatures to quickly pass sweeping election reforms, and you better do it before we have no country left”;

• That he was “looking out all over this country and seeing fantastic crowds” (emphasis supplied), a confession that he was tracking January 6 events across America;

• That the supposed theft of the 2020 presidential election was very much a state-by-state issue, with the former president spending time in his speech at the Ellipse discussing not just the national outcome of the November vote but specific events in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Pennsylvania (as well as, in the same speech, falsely characterizing the 2020 election results in Ohio, Texas, Florida, and projecting his false claims of election theft forward into future elections in Wyoming and New York); and

• “If this happened to the Democrats, there’d be hell all over the country going on, there’d be hell all over the country” (emphasis supplied), a repetition of a calculated phrase pointing toward a nationwide protest against democracy, and another attempt to send a message to pro-Trump insurrectionists outside D.C. unsure about how violent they had the sitting president’s permission to get so far from what was (at the time) seen as the epicenter of the January 6 spectacle.

With all of the foregoing in mind, America needs a comprehensive summary of what happened on January 6 outside the nation’s capital.

washington post logoWashington Post, Court hearings, guilty pleas belie right-wing recasting of Jan. 6 defendants as persecuted patriots, Spencer S. Hsu, Tom Jackman, Ellie Silverman and Rachel Weiner, Sept. 18, 2021 (print ed.). There are about 73 pleas, with roughly 600 charged and dozens still jailed. Ahead of the Justice for J6 rally, a look at where the defendants stand.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice for J6 rally sees a sparse crowd and tight security, Emily Davies, Marissa J. Lang, Teo Armus, Peter Jamison and Katie Mettler, Sept. 18, 2021. A small band of right-wing protesters decrying the treatment of the mob that overran the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was dwarfed by hundreds of police and news reporters. Police said they made four arrests and seized two weapons.

The most anticipated visit by right-wing activists to the nation’s capital since a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 ended with a whimper Saturday, as demonstrators supporting the rioters found themselves far outnumbered by police, journalists and counterprotesters.

Although the protesters returned to the scene of a historically grievous attack on American democracy, it was immediately obvious that much had changed. The Capitol grounds — where poorly prepared police fought a losing, hand-to-hand battle against President Donald Trump’s supporters just over eight months ago — were secured Saturday with metal fences and hundreds of officers. The halls of Congress were all but deserted. No president, or former president, delivered a bellicose speech urging that his election loss be overturned.

Capitol Police said Saturday afternoon that between 400 and 450 people had been observed at some point inside the protest zone. But many of them were journalists and other bystanders.

washington post logoWashington Post, Oath Keepers founder draws scrutiny from federal officials and followers for role in Jan. 6 riot, but he remains free and uncharged, Hannah Allam and Spencer S. Hsu, Sept. 18, 2021 (print ed.). It depends on who’s talking.

To some, Stewart Rhodes is a paramilitary commander enlisting thousands of foot soldiers to overthrow the government.

stewart rhodesTo others, he’s a couch-surfing grifter — and the most shocking thing about the involvement of his Oath Keepers group in the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol was that some members actually showed up.

To federal prosecutors, Rhodes, 56, is “Person One,” which is how he is referenced in court filings for roughly 22 Oath Keepers associates charged in connection with the Capitol attack, including 18 who are accused of conspiracy in the largest single indictment of the probe. Five have pleaded guilty.

In the prosecution’s timeline, Rhodes coordinated with participants, allegedly giving advice about what weapons to bring and speaking with one who was part of the “stack” formation implemented moments before the group charged into the Capitol — one of the most salient images of the day.

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: California shows US future once again! Webster G. Tarpley, right, Sept. 18, 2021. Newsom’s landslide win in California recall marks failure for webster tarpley 2007GOP‘s anti-social ”health freedom” demagogy: Silent Majority of Vaccinated emerges despite media focus on loudmouth rejection front; Time for Dems to take gloves off!

In Virginia gubernatorial debate, Wall Street’s GOP candidate Youngkin showcases his plan for avoiding Larry Elder‘s fate: LYING!
Gen. Milley provides much-needed model of patriotism;

Playing small ball, FDA advisory board backs covid boosters for over-65s;

Definitively refuting trickle-down economics, 2020 direct stimulus payments cut US poverty rate by unprecedented 2.7% despite pandemic and closures; now make Child Tax Credit permanent!

Sept. 17

Proof via Substack, Investigative Commentary: A Secretive Summit That Trump Attended in December of 2020 May Explain Both Trump's Role in the January 6 seth abramson graphicInsurrection and Why Both CJCS Milley and China Feared Trump Would Start a War, Seth Abramson (left, attorney, professor, Newsweek columnist, metajournalist, and New York Times bestselling author), Sept. 16-17, 2021.

Introduction: On December 27, 2020, fresh off receiving one of the most controversial presidential pardons in U.S. history—from then-president Donald Trump, the very man he had committed federal felonies to protect—Roger Stone traveled to Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach to “thank[ ]” his patron and criminal co-conspirator.

seth abramson proof logoOnly a few U.S. media outlets covered the astonishingly brazen meeting at the time, and surprisingly that didn’t change nine days later—when a “movement” co-led by Stone, Stop the Steal, coordinated with the 2020 Trump Campaign in a sequence of events resulting in armed insurrection and a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Back in December 2020, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reported on the meeting in a way that should have, but didn’t, lead to it becoming a focus of sustained national attention: per the paper, Stone went to see Trump on December 27 not just to “deliver a personal thank you to the president” but also, critically, to “counsel the president on how he could ‘ensure that Donald Trump continues as our president.’” This was during the same period that, as Proof has reported, Stone recorded a video seeking donations for arms and armor for Proud Boys and Oath Keepers planning to travel to Washington on January 6—the precise conduct Proud Boy “sergeant-at-arms” and Stone associate Ethan Nordean would later be arrested for.

So there can be no doubt that when Stone met Trump just nine days before January 6 to discuss how that day could lead to an overturning of the November 2020 election, Stone’s focus was on the Stop the Steal–cosponsored March to Save America that he was personally involved in coordinating at a logistical as well as strategic level.

The Sun-Sentinel report noted that, after posting a picture of (and commentary upon) the strange golf club meeting on Parler, Stone subsequently thought better of it and deleted all reference to the event on the far-right social media platform. At the time, he claimed it was to honor a policy supposedly in place at Trump’s golf club to prevent guests from posting pictures of the club; journalists have not yet been able to verify that any such policy exists, and a Google Image search certainly suggests it doesn’t (especially when the photograph promotes Donald Trump in any way). In any case, Stone had by then deleted not only photos of the meeting but also any reference to it on social media—and thereafter would refuse to discuss it with journalists. It did not, therefore, seem like a reticence related to an eldritch country club photography policy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Oath Keepers founder draws scrutiny from federal officials and followers for role in Jan. 6 riot, but he remains free and uncharged, Hannah Allam and Spencer S. Hsu, Sept. 17, 2021. It depends on who’s talking.

To some, Stewart Rhodes is a paramilitary commander enlisting thousands of foot soldiers to overthrow the government.

To others, he’s a couch-surfing grifter — and the most shocking thing about the involvement of his Oath Keepers group in the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol was that some members actually showed up.

To federal prosecutors, Rhodes, 56, is “Person One,” which is how he is referenced in court filings for roughly 22 Oath Keepers associates charged in connection with the Capitol attack, including 18 who are accused of conspiracy in the largest single indictment of the probe. Five have pleaded guilty.

In the prosecution’s timeline, Rhodes coordinated with participants, allegedly giving advice about what weapons to bring and speaking with one who was part of the “stack” formation implemented moments before the group charged into the Capitol — one of the most salient images of the day.

washington post logoWashington Post, Disclosures on Milley’s Trump pushback could further politicize the military, Missy Ryan, Sept. 17, 2021. Supporters say the country’s top officer sought to protect the Constitution, but some fear his actions could compound existing problems. New revelations showing how Gen. Mark A. Milley, the nation’s top military officer, quietly maneuvered to check President Donald Trump reveal the lengths that top officials went to prevent potentially rash action, but the disclosures also threaten to thrust the military deeper into the partisan fray, former officials said.

mark milley army chief of staffA series of dramatic inside-the-room accounts, including one in which the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, right, promised to alert China’s top officer if Trump was preparing to launch an attack, provides new insight into military leaders’ response to the previous administration’s fraught final period.

But Kori Schake, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said the revelations that Milley covertly acted to counter his commander in chief are “bad for the military as an institution.”

“It encourages people to do what Americans are already doing, which is viewing the military as they view the Supreme Court: apolitical when they agree with them, partisan when they don’t,” she said.

Biden comes to Milley’s defense after revelation that top general, fearing Trump, conferred with China to avoid war

The latest exposé comes in a book by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, who write that Milley, alarmed by the possibility Trump might strike China as he tried to stay in power, reached out to Gen. Li Zuocheng in the months surrounding the 2020 election in order to dismiss any Chinese fears of a preemptive American attack, they said.

That followed other dramatic accounts involving Milley, including in a book by Washington Post journalists Carol D. Leonnig and Philip Rucker, which said the general likened the circumstances around the election to those of Nazi-era Germany.

washington post logoWashington Post, Milley says calls to Chinese counterpart were ‘perfectly within the duties and responsibilities’ of his job, John Wagner, Sept. 17, 2021. Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Friday that calls he made late in the Trump administration to his Chinese military counterpart were “perfectly within the duties and responsibilities” of his job and that he would explain his actions in greater detail during an upcoming appearance before Congress.

Milley, who has come under fire after a new book revealed the conservations aimed at averting armed conflict, described the calls as “routine” and said they were done “to reassure both allies and adversaries in this case in order to ensure strategic stability.”

“I think it’s best that I reserve my comments on the record until I do that in front of the lawmakers who have the lawful responsibility to oversee the U.S. military,” Milley said, according to the Associated Press. “I’ll go into any level of detail Congress wants to go into in a couple of weeks.”

The AP reported that Milley, the Pentagon’s top uniformed officer, made his comments to reporters traveling with him to Europe. Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are scheduled to testify Sept. 28 before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden comes to Milley’s defense after revelation top general, fearing Trump, conferred with China to avert war, Karoun Demirjian and John Wagner, Sept. 17, 2021 (print ed.). Critics of Gen. Mark Milley contend he should be removed as Joint Chiefs chairman after a new book disclosed the extent of his alarm that Trump might order a strike on China in the waning days of his presidency.

mark milley army chief of staffPresident Biden on Wednesday threw his full support behind the Pentagon’s top uniformed officer, right, who has come under fire after a new book revealed he privately conferred with his Chinese counterpart Gen. Li Zuocheng, left, to avert armed conflict late in the Trump administration.

Gen. Li Zuocheng“I have great confidence in General Milley,” Biden told reporters at the White House, following calls from former president Donald Trump and his Republican allies on Capitol Hill for the removal of Gen. Mark A. Milley as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Biden’s declaration, coinciding with efforts by the chief spokespersons for the White House and the Pentagon to stage a similar defense of the embattled general, effectively ends speculation that Milley’s assignment may be cut short. But the controversy surrounding his fitness for the job rages on — and thus far is falling mostly along party lines.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump gave six months extra Secret Service protection to his kids, three officials. It cost taxpayers $1.7 million, David A. Fahrenthold and Carol D. Leonnig, Sept. 17, 2021. The former president required the Secret Service to devote agents and money to wealthy adults with no role in government, whom the agents trailed to ski vacations, weekend houses, a resort in Cabo San Lucas and business trips abroad.

In June, former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin visited Israel to scout investments for his new company, then flew to Qatar for a conference. At the time, Mnuchin had been out of office for five months.

But, because of an order given by President Donald Trump, he was still entitled to protection by Secret Service agents. As agents followed Mnuchin across the Middle East, the U.S. government paid up to $3,000 each for their plane tickets, and $11,000 for rooms at Qatar’s luxe St. Regis Doha, according to government spending records.

In all, the records show U.S. taxpayers spent more than $52,000 to guard a multimillionaire on a business trip.

These payments were among $1.7 million in additional government spending triggered by Trump’s highly unusual order — which awarded six extra months of Secret Service protection for his four adult children and three top administration officials — according to a Washington Post analysis of new spending documents.

That $1.7 million in extra spending is still tiny in comparison to the Secret Service’s $2.4 billion budget.

But, as the records show, Trump’s order required the Secret Service to devote agents and money to an unexpected set of people: wealthy adults, with no role in government, whom the agents trailed to ski vacations, weekend houses, a resort in Cabo San Lucas, and business trips abroad.

“Who wouldn’t enjoy continuing their free limo service and easy access to restaurant tables?” said Jim Helminski, a former Secret Service executive, who said the decision appeared to show Trump giving a public service as a private benefit to his inner circle. “Even if there was a credible risk to family and associates of Trump, these people are now private citizens who can afford to hire some very talented private security firms for their personal protection.”

New York Times, Ohio House Republican, Calling Trump ‘a Cancer,’ Bows Out of 2022, Jonathan Martin, Sept. 17, 2021 (print ed.). Representative Anthony Gonzalez, one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump, is the first of the group to retire rather than face a stiff primary challenge.

Calling former President Donald J. Trump “a cancer for the country,” Representative Anthony Gonzalez, Republican of Ohio, said in an interview on Thursday that he would not run for re-election in 2022, ceding his seat after just two terms in Congress rather than compete against a Trump-backed primary opponent.

anthony gonzalezMr. Gonzalez, right, is the first, but perhaps not the last, of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Trump after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot to retire rather than face ferocious primaries next year in a party still in thrall to the former president.

The congressman, who has two young children, emphasized that he was leaving in large part because of family considerations and the difficulties that come with living between two cities. But he made clear that the strain had only grown worse since his impeachment vote, after which he was deluged with threats and feared for the safety of his wife and children.

Mr. Gonzalez said that quality-of-life issues had been paramount in his decision. He recounted an “eye-opening” moment this year: when he and his family were greeted at the Cleveland airport by two uniformed police officers, part of extra security precautions taken after the impeachment vote.

“That’s one of those moments where you say, ‘Is this really what I want for my family when they travel, to have my wife and kids escorted through the airport?’” he said.

Mr. Gonzalez, who turns 37 on Saturday, was the sort of Republican recruit the party once prized. A Cuban American who starred as an Ohio State wide receiver, he was selected in the first round of the N.F.L. draft and then earned an M.B.A. at Stanford after his football career was cut short by injuries. He claimed his Northeast Ohio seat in his first bid for political office.

Mr. Gonzalez, a conservative, largely supported the former president’s agenda. Yet he started breaking with Mr. Trump and House Republican leaders when they sought to block the certification of last year’s presidential vote, and he was horrified by Jan. 6 and its implications.

Still, he insisted he could have prevailed in what he acknowledged would have been a “brutally hard primary” against Max Miller, a former Trump White House aide who was endorsed by the former president in February.

Yet as Mr. Gonzalez sat on a couch in his House office, most of his colleagues still at home for the prolonged summer recess, he acknowledged that he could not bear the prospect of winning if it meant returning to a Trump-dominated House Republican caucus.

“Politically the environment is so toxic, especially in our own party right now,” he said. “You can fight your butt off and win this thing, but are you really going to be happy? And the answer is, probably not.”

For the Ohioan, Jan. 6 was “a line-in-the-sand moment” and Mr. Trump represents nothing less than a threat to American democracy.

“I don’t believe he can ever be president again,” Mr. Gonzalez said. “Most of my political energy will be spent working on that exact goal.”

 

washington post logoWashington Post, Durham grand jury indicts lawyer whose firm represented Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Devlin Barrett and Spencer S. Hsu, Sept. 17, 2021 (print ed.). A grand jury working with special counsel John Durham’s office handed up an indictment Thursday of lawyer Michael Sussmann, who prosecutors have accused of making false statements to the FBI during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Sussmann, the indictment charges, “lied about the capacity in which he was providing ... allegations to the FBI” of potenmichael sussmann perkins youngertial cyber links between a Russian bank and a company owned by former president Donald Trump.

An attorney at Perkins Coie, a prominent law firm tied to the Democratic party, Sussmann, right, had been bracing for possible indictment.

  • Read the indictment: U.S. v. Michael Sussmann

Charging him marks a strange twist in the special counsel’s probe championed by Trump and his Republican allies, and which to date has resulted in a single conviction of a low-level FBI lawyer.

john durham CustomDurham, right, was tasked with finding crimes that may have been committed at the FBI and elsewhere in the federal government, but in charging Sussmann, the special counsel is in essence arguing that the FBI was the victim of a crime.

In a statement issued Wednesday, ahead of the indictment, lawyers for Sussmann insisted their client committed no crime.

“Michael Sussmann is a highly respected national security and cyber security lawyer, who served the U.S. Department of Justice during Democratic and Republican administrations alike,” his lawyers Sean Berkowitz and Michael Bosworth said in a joint statement. “Any prosecution here would be baseless, unprecedented, and an unwarranted deviation from the apolitical and principled way in which the Department of Justice is supposed to do its work. We are confident that if Mr. Sussmann is charged, he will prevail at trial and vindicate his good name.”

Durham grand jury examines if anyone presented false evidence to FBI

In recent months, Durham’s team has questioned witnesses about how the allegation of a possible digital tie between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank Justice Department log circularwas presented to the FBI. Durham also has examined the authenticity of data given to the FBI.

Durham is pursuing a prosecutorial theory that Sussmann was secretly representing Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, which was a client of Sussmann’s firm, these people said.

It was not immediately clear how an individual lying to the FBI’s top lawyer would square with the Justice Department’s historical practice of charging false-statements cases. Typically, such cases are charged when a witness knowingly lies to a special agent conducting an investigation.

Sept. 16

Palmer Report, Opinion: Here come the January 6th superseding indictments, Bill Palmer, Sept. 16, 2021. “They’ve gotten away with it all!” It’s the rallying cry of defeatists everywhere who are so eager to feel outrage, they’ve baselessly convinced themselves that the January 6th attackers are off the hook. Meanwhile back in the real world, the indictments continue to come down – and now we’re getting into superseding indictments.

bill palmer report logo headerFor instance, prosecutors handed down superseding indictments today against Capitol attackers Ronald Sandlin and Nathaniel DeGrave, who had already been hit with lesser January 6th charges. It’s a reminder that as the evidence continues to add up, and people start cutting plea deals and ratting each other out, the indictments are continuing to get more serious.

The criminal indictments in relation to January 6th are still just getting started. That’s a fact made clear by the evidence. How high up will these indictments go, and will they reach the likes of Roger Stone and Donald Trump? We’ll see. But the narrative that they’ve “gotten away with it all” is simply fiction.

 

djt evander holyfield vitor belfortMediaite, Trump-Announced Evander Holyfield Boxing Match Reportedly a Box Office Dud, Nets a Paltry 150k Pay-Per-View Buys, Brandon Contes, Sept. 16, 2021. Former US President Donald Trump poses for a photo prior to the fight between Evander Holyfield and Vitor Belfort during Evander Holyfield vs. Vitor Belfort presented by Triller at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on September 11, 2021 in Hollywood, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

In a fight that never should have happened, Evander Holyfield was embarrassed in his return to the ring last week against Vitor Belfort, getting KO’d in the first round. But the real loser might be Triller Fight Club.

According to boxing journalist Dan Rafael, sources say the fight generated around 150,000 PPV buys. If that number holds, it will represent a massive fail for Triller, who promoted and sold the PPV event for $49.99.

Per sources, #HolyfieldBelfort event totaled about 150k PPV buys between linear & digital platforms, which would make it a massive $ loser for Triller. At 150k it would gross about $7.5M from ppv, not remotely close to covering even the purses, not to mention rest of expenses.

— Dan Rafael (@DanRafael1) September 16, 2021

In comparison, Mike Tyson’s return to the ring against Roy Jones Jr. last year surpassed a reported 1.6 million PPV buys, or more than 10 times the reported amount of Triller’s Holyfield bout.

Triller brought former president Donald Trump on board last week, in a desperate attempt to add juice to the fight and provide alternate commentary of the event. The former president’s boxing prowess dates back decades, having welcomed some of the world’s best fighters to Trump Plaza in Atlantic City long before the dying venue imploded earlier this year.

But even Trump, who loves to falsely criticize other sports for their dwindling popularity by invoking the “go woke, go broke” narrative, wasn’t enough of a draw to help this dud of a boxing match. While the NBA and NFL watch their TV ratings start to bounce back from a deplorable 2020, the Triller-Trump partnership just oversaw an epic fail for boxing.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Turns out Donald Trump’s boxing match stunt was a money losing disaster for everyone involved, Bill Palmer, Sept. 16, 2021. Given Donald Trump’s treasonous acts against the United States, anyone who even tries to do business with him should be financially shunned by every mainstream American on principle alone. Even as we continue working toward that goal, it turns out Trump’s own inherent toxicity and crappiness is working to make sure his financial partners end up punished.

bill palmer report logo headerTake for instance, the disgusting decision to allow career criminal Donald Trump to provide pay per view commentary for a boxing match this past week. Mediaite is reporting that just a relative handful of people paid to tune in for Trump’s incoherent commentary, and the whole thing has apparently turned into a major financial loss for the promoters. In other words, the promoters got exactly what they deserved.

Hopefully this will send a message to anyone else who thinks about partnering with anti-American traitor Donald Trump going forward. His base is comparatively small, and even they seem increasingly uninterested in his ramblings. And the vast majority of the country wants nothing to do with Trump, or with anyone disgusting enough to partner with Trump. The traitor is a terrible financial bet. Then again, he always has been.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘CUT HIM OFF NOW!’ Newsmax Host Short-Circuits After Guest Commits Unforgivable Sin of Criticizing Trump, Ken Meyer, Sept. 16, 2021. Newsmax’s Grant Stinchfield had a major-league meltdown where he screamed and cut off a guest on his show for mildly criticizing Donald Trump over the former president’s approach to Afghanistan.

Stinchfield spoke on Wednesday night with Joe Saboe, an Iraq War veteran who recently made headlines for his efforts to help people flee Afghanistan in light of the Taliban’s national takeover.

During the interview, Stinchfield and Saboe had a dispute about whether the current state of affairs in Afghanistan is a “hostage situation,” and the Newsmax host eventually made the argument that Trump would’ve never let this happen.

I can tell you, this didn’t happen under President Trump, and I know there’s a lot of people on the Left that want to try to blame President Trump. He wanted out of Afghanistan real bad. He was real frustrated, not being able to get out, but he didn’t pull out because he knew this would happen. In fact, we all did.

Stinchfield moved to dismiss Saboe from the show, but before he could, Saboe offered a counterpoint by saying “we followed this closely from multiple administrations. We know that Trump’s administration’s efforts here were fairly weak, that they were trying to limit the number of people that would get out…”

At that moment, Stinchfield claimed he was “low on time” and once again moved to terminate the segment. Saboe kept on speaking though, which caused Stinchfield to repeatedly shout “Cut him off now!”

“You’re not gonna blame this on President Trump on my show!” He exclaimed. “Don’t come on this program and take the talking points of the left and blame President Trump! That’s not helping anybody!”

Stinchfield concluded by shouting that “the Biden administration screwed this up from the very start,” and he also took some parting shots at Saboe for disagreeing with his “hostage situation” commentary.

Sept. 14

les wexner mansion jeffrey epstein wmr graphic mariaWayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Bannon's involvement with Epstein reflects on a past littered with ties to pedophiles, Wayne Madsen, Sept. 14, 2021. According to a new book by Donald Trump biographer Michael Wolff, former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon coached the late pedophile and child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein for a planned CBS "60 Minutes" interview in the months prior to Epstein's arrest by federal authorities in 2019.

According to Wolff's book, Too Famous: The Rich, the Powerful, the Wishful, the Notorious, the Damned," Bannon conducted 15 hours of practice interviews with Epstein at his Manhattan townhouse [known as the Wexner Mansion, named for Epstein's benefactor Leslie Wexner, the clothing retailing mogul and shown above in a WMR graphic].

We have previously reported that Epstein's New York residence was the scene of the 1994 rape of two girls, one 12 and the other 13, by Epstein and Trump. Bannon has, for quite some time, been under our radar for his past association with pedophiles. In 2005, Bannon was affiliated with a Hong Kong-based company alexander acosta o cropped Customcalled Internet Gaming Entertainment (IGE) [whose silent partner included Marc Collins-Rector].

There is a common thread that extends far and wide within Trump's circle of friends and associates. U.S. Attorney in Miami Alex Acosta, right, whom Trump named as his Labor Secretary, the government's chief monitor for underage sex trafficking, was more interested in burying the criminal activities of pedophiles like Epstein, Trump, and Rector than in protecting children from predators with large bank accounts.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s “serious mental decline,” Bill Palmer, right, Sept. 14, 2021. As 2020 went on, we all watched Donald Trump become more bill palmerdesperate, more deranged, and more incoherent in his public behavior. By the time he lost and then tried to falsely declare himself the winner, and then turned around and incited the January 6th Capitol attack, no one was surprised at his worsening behavior. But it turns out he was even further off the deep end than we knew.

bill palmer report logo headerBob Woodward and Robert Costa have written a new book which says that Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley was “certain that Trump had gone into a serious mental decline in the aftermath of the election,” screaming and ranting all day about whacked out conspiracy theories. Milley went so far as to hold a secret meeting in order to preempt any potential nuclear strikes that Trump might order.

The book also reveals that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called General Milley after January 6th and urged him to get a handle on things, adding that Trump was “crazy.” Milley’s response to Pelosi: “I agree with you on everything.”

Sept. 13

Best-selling author Michael Wolff's two 2021 books:

Best-selling author Michael Wolff's two 2021 books: "Landslide" and "Too Famous."

ny times logoNew York Times, Commentary: Why Our Monsters Talk to Michael Wolff, Ben Smith, Sept. 13, 2021 (print ed.). In his new book, the author of “Fire and Fury” continues his specialty: teasing out stories from men in power, our media columnist Ben Smith writes.

It’s early 2019, a few months before Jeffrey Epstein will be arrested on sex charges, and he is sitting in the vast study of his New York mansion with a camera pointed at him as he practices for a big “60 Minutes” interview that would never take place.

The media trainer is a familiar figure: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s campaign guru and onetime White House adviser. Mr. Bannon is both conducting the interview and coaching Mr. Epstein on the little things, telling him he will come across as stupid if he doesn’t look directly into the camera now and then, and advising him not to share his racist theories on how Black people learn. Mainly, Mr. Bannon tells Mr. Epstein, he should stick to his message, which is that he is not a pedophile. By the end, Mr. Bannon seems impressed.

“You’re engaging, you’re not threatening, you’re natural, you’re friendly, you don’t look at all creepy, you’re a sympathetic figure,” he says.

This explosive, previously unreported episode, linking a leader of the right with the now-dead disgraced financier, is tucked away at the end of a new book by Michael Wolff, Too Famous: The Rich, the Powerful, the Wishful, the Notorious, the Damned. Mr. Bannon confirmed in a statement that he encouraged Mr. Epstein to speak to “60 Minutes” and said that he had recorded more than 15 hours of interviews with him.

michael wolff folded armsMr. Wolff, 68, left, has been at this since before I had a byline, infuriating his rivals by the access he gets, the stories he tells and the gleeful way he tells them. And he has been the subject of pieces like this one — scolding profiles of the journalist enfant terrible and New York media scenester — for decades.

He has managed to stay at the top of his game because of his undying interest and expertise in a particular subject: big, bad men. What Oprah Winfrey is to tearful celebrities and earnest royals, Mr. Wolff is to louche power players. The litany is astounding: Roger Ailes, Rupert Murdoch, Harvey Weinstein, Boris Johnson, Mr. Bannon, Mr. Trump. All appear in his new book, a collection of profiles, some previously published, some not.

Magnates seem to think Mr. Wolff gives them their best shot at a sympathetic portrait. He writes, in “Too Famous,” that Mr. Weinstein called him during his 2020 rape trial to propose a biography. “This book is worth millions,” Mr. Weinstein told him, according to Mr. Wolff. “You keep domestic, I’ll take foreign.” As for Mr. Epstein? “He wanted me to write something about him — a kind of a book — it wasn’t clear why,” Mr. Wolff told me.

Few women appear in “Too Famous.” Tina Brown, Arianna Huffington and Hillary Clinton are the exceptions. “These are the women, and there are not too many, who have done exactly what men would do,” he said. And Democrats rarely talk to him. “They don’t have a sense of play,” he said.

Sept. 12

djt evander holyfield vitor belfort

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Trump Talked as Holyfield Got Pummeled. Just Another Day in Boxing’s Absurd Summer, Kevin Draper, Sept. 12, 2021. Of course it was a circus (shown in a promotional ad above) — the kind that makes sense in boxing these days.

In a single zany sentence, this is how the once-promising summer of boxing ended: Triller, a social video app that is a much less popular version of TikTok, put on a pay-per-view fight between a 58-year-old Evander Holyfield (who hasn’t fought in a decade) and a 44-year-old mixed martial artist, Vitor Belfort — and paid former President Donald J. Trump and Donald Trump Jr. to serve as live commentators, all on the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The result of the (legally) professional fight is mostly beside the point — Belfort won by a technical knockout in the first round, after the referee stopped the bout because of how clear it was that Holyfield never should have been allowed into the ring — but it served to underscore what could have been.

Earlier this year, Triller won the right to promote Teófimo López’s lightweight title defense against George Kambosos Jr. The app paid more than $6 million for the privilege, after the fight went to an open bid because López and his promoter, Top Rank, could not agree on a deal.

Triller had burst onto the boxing scene last winter, with an exhibition fight between Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. The internet celebrity Jake Paul knocked out a former N.B.A. player, Nate Robinson, on the undercard, and the rappers Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa and French Montana all performed between fights.

An optimist could see an evolution in how boxing was being presented: a brash entrant aiming to attract a new type — and a new generation — of fans to a sport that has been the subject of a thousand obituaries.

The López-Kambosos fight, then, was Triller’s chance to show that it was serious. That its foray into boxing was not just an expensive, attention-grabbing marketing strategy for its app — though it was definitely that — and that its flashy presentation would work for real fights, too, and that it had figured out something that traditional promoters like Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions had not.

As if to punctuate its seriousness, on June 1, Triller announced that it had hired the Boxing Hall of Fame announcer Jim Lampley to call the fight. Cast aspersions on Triller all you want, but Lampley calling a López title bout is a strong way to present a legitimate draw.

Alas, that announcement would be the high point.

The fight, scheduled for June 19, was pushed back to August after López tested positive for the coronavirus. It was moved again, to September, onto the same card featuring Oscar De La Hoya — who has not fought since George W. Bush was president — fighting Belfort. But that date did not work out — in theory, López will now fight in October — and then, last week, De La Hoya was hospitalized with the coronavirus, in what he said was a breakthrough infection.

On a week’s notice, Holyfield stepped in to fight Belfort instead. The bout, originally to take place in Los Angeles, was moved across the country to Florida after the California State Athletic Commission refused to sanction it — even as an exhibition. (In Florida, it counted as a pro fight.)

But we are not done yet. On Tuesday, Triller announced that Trump and Trump Jr. would commentate the fight. The next day, Lampley, objecting to the presence of the Trumps even though they were to be on a separate commentating stream, pulled out.

That is how Triller’s big summer showcase, to be voiced by Lampley, became three hours of Trump recalling different boxers he’d known and been friends with, before two depressing top bouts, both over in the first round, each of which featured one washed-up fighter beating another.

“They say there is a lot of people watching,” the former president said with a smile between fights. “I can’t imagine why.” The night was one of Trump’s highest-profile, and lengthiest, public appearances since leaving office, and a fairly rare event in light of his suspension from a number of social media sites.

CBS Boxing, Analysis: Holyfield vs. Belfort fight results: Ex-MMA star knocks out Evander Holyfield, while Anderson Silva shines, Brian Campbell

evander holyfield vitor belfort cbs boxingCBS Boxing, Analysis: Holyfield vs. Belfort fight results: Ex-MMA star knocks out Evander Holyfield, while Anderson Silva shines, Brian Campbell, Sept. 12, 2021. The two quick fights headlined an event that will also be remembered for some odd moments.

Well, the good news is that no one got seriously injured. That's about the best thing one can say about Saturday's Triller Fight Club pay-per-view card from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel in Hollywood, Florida.

MMA legend Vitor Belfort, above right, knocked out 58-year-old former heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield, left, in the main event and Anderson Silva continued to raise his stock on the boxing side of his post-UFC combat career in one of the most bizarre fight cards in recent memory.

Let's take a closer look at what we learned following this circus from south Florida.

  1. Triller is the bottom of the combat sports food chain
  2. Let's be happy for Holyfield it wasn't much worse
  3. Consider Anderson Silva the new face of the celebrity boxing era

Sept. 11

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Yes, the Jan. 6 insurrectionists were terrorists. George W. Bush just indicted them, Jennifer Rubin, right, Sept. 11, 2021. Few jennifer rubin new headshotAmericans expected wisdom from former president George W. Bush on the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Even fewer expected wisdom on the current state of our politics. That is nevertheless what we got from his remarks in Shanksville, Pa., today.

In perhaps the most important words spoken in his political career, Bush in his remarks at the crash site of United Airlines Flight 93 drew a straight line between the 9/11 terrorists and the 1/6 terrorists.

“We have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders but from violence that gathers within,” he said. “There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home. But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit." He added, "It is our continuing duty to confront them.” Bush’s words were an indictment not only of the violent MAGA insurrectionists but also, implicitly, of his party that coddles them and the leader whom the 1/6 terrorists wanted to install by force.

The violent insurrectionists carried symbols of the Confederacy (the traitors whose rebellion resulted in more than 600,000 American deaths) in the Capitol, where they trashed the citadel of democracy and tried to hunt down House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The Capitol, of course, was the suspected target of Flight 93; the heroes on board that plane spared the lawmakers and others who worked there from the fate of occupants of the twin towers and the Pentagon. The 1/6 terrorists breached the building the 9/11 terrorists could not. Both the 9/11 terrorists and the domestic 1/6 terrorists sought to destroy our democracy in service to a crazed ideology of intolerance.

When viewed in that context, the actions of the former president and his party should horrify all decent Americans. One can imagine how their actions and rhetoric would have sounded if the other “children of the same foul spirit” were radical Islamists.

“We love you; you’re very special,” then-President Donald Trump told the Jan. 6 terrorists as their assault on democracy continued. Later, he declared, "These were peaceful people, these were great people.” He insisted, “The crowd was unbelievable and I mentioned the word ‘love,’ the love in the air, I’ve never seen anything like it.” No president and no party could have survived if the object of his remarks were foreign rather than domestic terrorists. No president could have avoided prosecution if the crowd he inspired to march on the Capitol had been radical Muslims ready to kill elected leaders and stop democracy in its tracks.

And the Republican Party continues to minimize, deflect and ignore the 1/6 terrorist attack. Can one imagine in the wake of 9/11 Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asking senators as a "favor” not to investigate the 9/11 attacks? Consider the reaction had House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy insisted we not bother investigating 9/11 because the other side was simply seeking to score political points. One can only imagine the reaction if, after a foreign attack premised on the big lie, Sens. Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and the other Republicans proceeded to make challenges to the democratic process based on the same conspiracy theory advanced by foreign terrorists.

In every case, had the terrorists been foreigners, we would have labeled their Republican apologists as anti-American, if not traitorous. There is no difference, as Bush pointed out, when the terrorists carry Confederate flags or a radical Islamist flag. As he said, “It is our continuing duty to confront them” — not to sympathize with them, not to turn them into martyrs.

In musing about what has become of a country where “every disagreement [turns] into an argument, and every argument into a clash of cultures," Bush decried politics that is no more than “a naked appeal to anger, fear and resentment.” Only one party matches that description. Bush used a powerful refrain, one that also serves as a rebuke to the racist, antidemocratic MAGA movement:

At a time when religious bigotry might have flowed freely, I saw Americans reject prejudice and embrace people of Muslim faith. That is the nation I know.
At a time when nativism could have stirred hatred and violence against people perceived as outsiders, I saw Americans reaffirm their welcome of immigrants and refugees. That is the nation I know.

Bush’s bluntness was a refreshing antidote to the usual blasé treatment of a radicalized Republican Party that embraces “children of the same foul spirit” as the 9/11 terrorists. The press, the ecosystem of donors, activists and operatives, and even, to an extent, the Democrats all treat Republicans as a normal political party within our democratic system, rather than as the enablers of a “foul spirit” and violent extremism. They shy away from labeling Republicans as “1/6 truthers” when the GOP’s effort to direct blame away from the actual terrorists is no better than claiming 9/11 was an inside job. (McCarthy and his cohorts insist it’s Pelosi who should be investigated.)

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump May Be Gone, but the Fight Against His Border Wall Goes On, Edgar Sandoval, Sept. 11, 2021. Residents in Los Ebanos, Texas, thought a Biden victory would end fears of losing their property for President Trump’s wall. It hasn’t worked out that way.

Sept. 5

 

ritz carlton hotel pentagon city amazonThe Ritz Carlton–Pentagon City in Northern Virginia, the site of a significant, unreported international meeting on January 5 — Insurrection Eve.

Proof via Substack, Investigation: Evidence of Foreign Entanglement in January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol Emerges, Seth Abramson, left, Sept. 5, 2021. A top Trump ally met foreign nationals in seth abramson graphicVirginia hours before the Capitol attack. The potential links between this meeting and the transnational conspiracy theory that animated the attack are clear.

“If it [the January 6 attack] [had been] organized, they would have taken the Capitol and made demands that had already been established by the group. They would have [had] the firepower to assure nobody [among the rioters] would die. [They would have] kill[ed] all the cops inside [the Capitol]—or the congressmen they hate so much. When the right is 10% as organized as the left, we will have civil wars in every Western country.”

—Trump ally Eduardo Bolsonaro, in comments The Brazilian Report called “chilling”

seth abramson proof logoIntroduction: In a series of Facebook livestreams and interviews with far-right media outlets on January 5 and January 6, informal Trump adviser Michael Lindell underscored that he believed January 6 would be a turning point in American history—in fact, he said more than once, he believed it would be the most significant moment in the United States since the end of the American Civil War.

Lindell’s militant view of the joint session of Congress scheduled for January 6, 2021 provides some context for his decision to be one of the benefactors of the Stop the Steal “movement” following the November 2020 presidential election. So the matter of who Lindell was meeting with on January 5, and where and why—especially as it was on that day that Lindell published what amounted to a declaration of civil war—is now of very significant interest to federal investigators.

Read more at the Proof site to see the revelations....

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

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

Sept. 4

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump Tower’s key tenants have fallen behind on rent and moved out. But Trump has one reliable customer: His own PAC, Shayna Jacobs, David A. Fahrenthold, Jonathan O'Connell and Josh Dawsey, Sept. 4, 2021 (print ed.). Inside Trump Tower, swank suit-maker Marcraft Clothes once rented the entire 18th floor, outfitting its offices with fireplaces, mahogany-lined closets and two bars for schmoozing customers.

But then Marcraft fell $664,000 behind on rent and went out of business last year — its assets having dwindled to $40.75 in a checking account and “1,200 damaged coats,” according to court filings.

One floor up, a business school once led by Kardashian family matriarch Kris Jenner was consumed by lawsuits, falling $198,000 behind on payments to Trump Tower by October 2020, according to court papers. And on the 21st and 22nd floors, the company that made Ivanka Trump shoes racked up $1.5 million in unpaid rent, according to a lawsuit that the Trump Organization filed this year.

But through all that — as Trump Tower has dealt with imploding tenants, political backlash and a broader, pandemic-related slump in Manhattan office leasing since last year — it has been able to count on one reliable, high-paying tenant: former president Donald Trump’s own political operation.

Starting in March, one of his committees, Make America Great Again PAC, paid $37,541.67 per month to rent office space on the 15th floor of Trump Tower — a space previously rented by his campaign — according to campaign-finance filings and a person familiar with the political action committee.

This may not be the most efficient use of donors’ money: The person familiar with Trump’s PAC said that its staffers do not regularly use the office space. Also, for several months, Trump’s PAC paid the Trump Organization $3,000 per month to rent a retail kiosk in the tower’s lobby — even though the lobby was closed.

Campaign-finance experts said the payments do not appear to be illegal. This kind of PAC has very few restrictions and no expiration date, so Trump is free to spend its money at his own properties as long as he wants.

Axios, Trump in advanced talks to sell D.C. hotel, Jonathan Swan and Dan Primack, Sept. 4, 2021. Former President Trump is in advanced talks to sell rights to his Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., sources tell Axios.

axios logoWhy it matters: The removal of Trump’s big, golden name from Pennsylvania Avenue would be a symbolic bombshell savored by opponents.

The historic building became a prop and symbol for both sides in the political wars.
The hotel was a central setting during his chaotic presidency, with Trump preening at his personal table, and supporters and supplicants thronging the lobby bar and restaurants to curry favor.

How it would work: Trump would sell the leasing rights to a real estate developer, who in turn would negotiate with hotel companies that would manage the property and rebrand it.

Details of the deal’s terms aren't yet known but Trump’s representatives have been in talks with major hotel chains and investors.
Trump, who initially tried to sell the leased federal property in the fall of 2019, declined Axios' request for comment.
Sources said the former president is likely to get less than the $500 million he was reportedly seeking in 2019.

The backstory: The hotel is housed in the 122-year-old Old Post Office building.

Three years before Trump was elected, the General Services Administration (GSA), the federal landlord, announced a 60-year lease agreement with the Trump Organization. Under the 2013 agreement, $200 million of private money was to be spent to restore the building and convert it into a luxury development.
The Trump Organization has been paying $250,000 a month in base rent, GSA said in 2017. The rent was to rise with inflation.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Go ahead Donald Trump, make my day, Bill Palmer, right, Sept. 4, 2021. Multiple people around Donald Trump are now publicly insisting that he’ll bill palmerenter the 2024 presidential race within days. My response: good, go ahead, make my day. No really, bring it on.

Here’s the thing. No one actually enters the 2024 election in the year 2021. If Trump announces a “campaign” this far out, it’ll only be because his ego needs the headlines, his wallet needs the money, and he needs a distraction from his worsening legal situation in New York – which now reportedly includes the cooperating testimony of Matthew Calamari Jr.

bill palmer report logo headerFunctionally, beyond holding a few idiotic rallies that he’s already been holding anyway, Donald Trump wouldn’t actually be running for anything by announcing a 2024 campaign in 2021. But here’s what would happen. It would convince Trump’s base that he’s going to be the 2024 Republican nominee. They’d come to accept nothing less. And by the time Trump is indicted in New York, or passes away from his visibly worsening physical health, or becomes more senile and can no longer leave the house, his supporters are going to see it as a bait and switch when they get stuck with some other Republican as their 2024 nominee.

djt maga hatNot only will Trump gain little to nothing by “entering” the 2024 race right now (other than in the wallet), he’ll end up hurting the Republicans’ prospects in 2024. Of course Trump doesn’t care about how much he hurts the GOP when it comes to pursuing his own selfish goals, as we’ve seen time and again.

The only potential downside to Trump launching a fake 2024 campaign in 2021 is that the mainstream media might be tempted to chase ratings and page views by pretending his fake campaign is real. Then again, if the media sees that it can’t hold your attention by trying to scare you with the specter of a magical Trump comeback, it’ll then have to admit that his “campaign” isn’t real and move on.

We’d all prefer that Donald Trump would just go away and never come back. But if he wants to insist on launching a fake 2024 presidential campaign this month, then by all means, please proceed. It’ll force the Republican Party to even more slavishly cater to his demands at the expense of its own viability, and when Trump inevitably “exits” the race because he was never really in it to begin with, it’ll leave the Republicans holding the bag.

Related Recent Headlines

Sept. 3

 

mike lindell screengrab

Proof via Substack, Investigation: On Insurrection Eve, Trump Adviser Michael Lindell Both Proposed Civil War in a 15-Page Manifesto and Met in Virginia with a seth abramson graphicCorrupt Foreign National, Seth Abramson, left, Sept. 2-3, 2021. In this second entry of the Proof series on lightly reported or non-reported pre-insurrection meetings involving insurrectionist kingpins, we discuss a secretive January 5 dinner in Virginia. 

Introduction: Proof long ago reported on Michael Lindell’s claims that he met with the corrupt son of corrupt Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro on January 5. That reporting in turn led to two additional significant Proof reports on the possible value of the Bolsonaros to Trump’s coup attempt; the connection between other Trump war room participants (such as the Becks of Idaho) and the Bolsonaros; and other visits Eduardo Bolsonaro made during his consistently-thereafter-lied-about trip to D.C.—including not just one but two visits to see the Trump family at the White House, one before Insurrection Day and one shortly afterward.

seth abramson proof logoThe reports linked to above contain photographs of these key meetings. Ultimately, reports at Proof about Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Michael Lindell (shown above in a file photo), Team Kraken, Daniel Beck, Doyle Beck, Eduardo and Jair Bolsonaro, and Donald Trump led to an ongoing Congressional inquiry in Brazil, as detailed (with links) in the history of this publication.

Brazilian media has now covered the possible involvement of the Brazilian government in Team Trump’s fraudulent “election fraud” accusations against Brazil’s foremost enemy—Venezuela—in a way that U.S. media has not.

And some members of Team Trump and its offshoot Team Kraken, such as Sidney Powell, have maintained their lies about Venezuela in a way that must be extremely pleasing to the increasingly unstable, perpetually embattled neo-fascist Bolsonaro government.

Proof can now report much more on what Lindell was doing on Insurrection Eve than it already has—though this is a developing story, and there is doubtless much more to learn. But the urgency of uncovering what Lindell has been up to has only grown since his insurrectionist August “conference” in South Dakota; his past claims that Trump will be reinstated as President of the United States (which would have seen Trump back in the White House on August 13, per Lindell); and the upcoming Justice for J6 rally in D.C. on September 18, during which insurrectionists like Lindell will return to the scene of past offenses via a rally law enforcement fears could spawn new violence.

Read more at the Proof site to see the revelations....

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

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Liz Cheney appointed vice chair of panel investigating Jan. 6 Capitol attack, Adela Suliman, Sept. 3, 2021 (print ed.). Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) has been appointed as vice chair of the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, according to a statement on Thursday from the panel.

liz cheney o“Every member of this committee is dedicated to conducting a non-partisan, professional, and thorough investigation of all the relevant facts regarding January 6th and the threat to our Constitution we faced that day," Cheney said in a statement. “I have accepted the position of Vice Chair of the committee to assure that we achieve that goal."

The move further cements Cheney, who was ousted by fellow House Republicans from her leadership position in May over her challenge of former president Donald Trump’s false claim that the presidential election was stolen, as a major player in the investigation. She was originally tapped to join the committee in July.

Cheney’s position will boost Democrats’ arguments the probe is bipartisan even as many Republicans oppose it – with some GOP lawmakers even going so far as to threaten telecommunications and social media companies that comply with its requests.

bennie thompson headshotRep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), left, the select committee’s chair, welcomed Cheney’s appointment and said her presence “underscores the bipartisan nature” of the effort to get to the bottom of events that saw an attack on the Capitol earlier this year.

“Representative Cheney has demonstrated again and again her commitment to getting answers about January 6th, ensuring accountability, and doing whatever it takes to protect democracy for the American people,” Thompson said in a statement.

The Jan. 6 committee is tasked with investigating the facts related to the attack on the Capitol that saw pro-Trump rioters involved in deadly clashes with police and threatened the orderly certification of President Biden’s electoral victory.
In June, House Speaker Pelosi announced the formation of a select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol after Senate Republicans blocked an effort to form an independent, bipartisan commission.

Cheney, 55, has called her decision to publicly fight Trump a matter of principle, warning that allowing him to falsely claim that the election was stolen amounts to an attack on democracy and is destructive to the GOP and its values.

Trump has previously publicly reveled in Cheney’s ouster, calling her “a bitter, horrible human being,” in a statement and stating that she was “bad” for the Republican Party.

On Monday, the committee asked 35 companies to retain phone records and other information related to the attack as it ramps up its investigation ahead of the return of Congress next month. Several of the companies indicated this week that they intend to comply with the panel’s requests. However, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Republicans “will not forget” the actions of telecommunications and social media companies that comply with the committee’s request.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Kevin McCarthy emerges as a demagogue in his own right, Michael Gerson, right, Sept. 3, 2021 (print ed.). House Minority Leader Kevin michael gerson file photoMcCarthy’s threat that Republicans “will not forget” if telecommunications companies comply with requests for email and phone records by the Jan. 6 committee marks a coming out of sorts.

kevin mccarthyFor years, McCarthy (R-Calif.), left, has been former president Donald Trump’s factotum — a groveler and sniveler, held in obvious contempt by the object of his loyalty. You can usually identify the minority leader in a picture by his hunted expression.

But now McCarthy is emerging as a demagogue in his own right. His obstruction of a congressional inquiry is probably a violation of House ethics rules, and maybe even a violation of federal law. But that is presumably the point: McCarthy wants to show his chest hair and spitting skills in a party where toxic masculinity has become the dominant political philosophy.

douglas jensen mugDouglas Jensen

washington post logoWashington Post, QAnon ‘poster boy’ for Capitol riot sent back to jail after violating court order to stay off Internet, Spencer S. Hsu, Sept. 3, 2021 (print ed.).A self-described “poster boy” for the Jan. 6 Capitol riot was sent back to jail Thursday after violating a federal judge’s order to stay off the Internet — a lapse his lawyer attributed to his seeming addiction to the QAnon cult.

Douglas Jensen, 42, of Des Moines became one of the most recognized members of the mob that day when he was recorded on widely shared video pursuing U.S. Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman up two flights of stairs inside the Capitol while searching for the just-evacuated Senate chamber, according to prosecutors.

Jensen — wearing a black T-shirt emblazoned with a large “Q” and an eagle — came to Washington believing that members of Congress and Vice President Mike Pence were going to be arrested for opposing President Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election, U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly said at a hearing Thursday. The judge was in D.C., and Jensen appeared from Des Moines via video link.

“He was at the forefront of a mob deep inside the Capitol because he wanted a front row to see what would happen. . . . He wanted to be part of a revolution,” Kelly said, citing Jensen’s own statements.

Kelly said it was a “close call” when he released Jensen from jail July 13. At the time, the judge said he believed the assertion by Jensen that after being behind bars since Jan. 8, he recognized he had been deceived by “a pack of lies.”

Capitol riot defendants’ lawyer apparently hospitalized with covid leaves clients without counsel, prosecutors say

Jensen agreed to abide by the judge’s order imposing conditions for his release, including not accessing the Internet or using Internet-capable devices, including cellphones. The court’s point was to separate Jensen from the far-right QAnon ­conspiracy theory, which the FBI has warned could encourage violence among some believers of its false foundational claim that a cabal of Satan-worshipping “global elites” and “deep state” international child-sex traffickers were engaged in plots to conduct a coup against Trump.

jacob chansley shaman costume and mug

washington post logoWashington Post,‘QAnon Shaman’ Jacob Chansley, face of pro-Trump Capitol riot, to plead guilty, Spencer S. Hsu, Sept. 3, 2021 (print ed.). One of the most visible participants in the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol is set to plead guilty Friday, as a federal judge scheduled a plea hearing for Jacob Anthony Chansley, often referred to as the “QAnon Shaman.”

Shown above, Chansley, 33, of Phoenix was photographed shirtless and wearing horns, a fur-lined headdress and red, white and blue face paint while carrying a flag-draped spear in the Capitol, where prosecutors said he sat in the vice president’s chair and left Mike Pence a note after the Senate chamber was evacuated.

On Thursday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth set a plea hearing for 11 a.m. Friday. A calendaring notice filed in the court’s electronic docketing system did not specify charges or whether Chansley had entered a plea deal with prosecutors. A guilty plea is not final until it has been entered in court and approved by a judge.

Recent Headlines:

Sept. 2

 

August 2021

Aug. 29

Forbes, Commentary: Here’s Why Trump’s Hotel Just Banned Me For Life, Zach Everson, Aug. 28, 2021. I went to the Trump International Hotel in Washington Thursday evening to do some investigating. The rates that night started at $2,400, well above the usual $400 to $700, and I wanted to find out why. Upon entering, I saw a big sign that read “Arrow Exterminators.” I confirmed that the exterminators were customers rather than contractors, and, with that assignment checked, settled in at the bar to see if any swamp people of note were still showing up with Trump out of power.

One $17 prosecco and no dignitaries later, I got up to leave, taking photos of the place to capture the scene. I then beat my usual exit path, walking the length of the lobby to people watch before heading to the restroom to wash my hands and snag a fresh tissue. Twenty seconds of scrubbing later, I was still in the restroom, texting, when the hotel’s director of security, Ernest Wojciech, opened the door, took a quick look around, and left.

Text sent, I exited the restroom and turned left to swing by the hotel ballroom before leaving. From several feet away, however, Wojciech beckoned, informing me that I was walking the wrong way. I did an about-face and, when I reached Wojciech, was notified that I was being told to leave.

While escorting me out, Wojciech explained that the ejection was for taking photos without permission. Once outside, he told me the ban was permanent, then declined to elaborate. Higher-ups in the Trump Organization also didn’t feel like explaining. When Forbes reached out to ask whether one of its reporters had, in fact, been banned from the hotel for life, a spokesperson did not respond.

The real reason they kicked me out probably wasn’t the photos though. For nearly five years, I’ve been reporting on the hotel, largely using social media to do things like track who was hanging out in the lobby (unsurprisingly, a lot of lobbyists) and who was using the hotel as an office (just Rudy Giuliani). I even started a newsletter, named 1100 Pennsylvania after the hotel’s address, to document the goings-on inside the building.

Some of my reporting may have been embarrassing to the hotel, as well as to the former president. And apparently the Trump Organization, which once offered me a complimentary glass of Veuve Clicquot champagne when I showed up to report on the hotel for Condé Nast Traveler, didn’t appreciate my coverage anymore. That might explain why the hotel’s director of marketing was standing by as the security guard escorted me out the front door.

Aug. 26

michael byrd

NBC News, Officer who shot Ashli Babbitt during Capitol riot breaks silence: 'I saved countless lives,' Rich Schapiro, Anna Schecter and Chelsea Damberg, Aug. 26, 2021. In an exclusive interview with NBC News, Lt. Michael Byrd (above) said he opened fire only as a “last resort” after the rioters failed to comply with his commands.

In the chaotic minutes before he shot and killed Ashli Babbitt during the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, Lt. Michael Byrd focused his attention on the glass doors leading into the lobby of the House of Representatives chamber.

About 60 to 80 House members and staffers were holed up inside, and it was Byrd’s job to protect them.

As rioters rampaged through the Capitol, Byrd and a few other officers of the U.S. Capitol Police set up a wall of furniture outside the doors.

“Once we barricaded the doors, we were essentially trapped where we were,” Byrd said in an exclusive interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt, speaking publicly for the first time since the riot. “There was no way to retreat. No other way to get out.

“If they get through that door, they’re into the House chamber and upon the members of Congress,” added Byrd, who gave NBC News permission to use his name after authorities had declined to release it.

Byrd’s connection to what was going on outside and inside the building was his police radio. For several minutes, it crackled with a cascade of alarming messages.

There were shouts of officers down. Screams from his colleagues under attack by rioters with chemical agents. A report that an officer’s fingertips were blown off.

“It was literally broadcast over the air,” Byrd said. “I said, ‘OK, this is getting serious.’”

Soon a horde of demonstrators arrived. Byrd, a 28-year veteran of the Capitol Police, took a defensive posture with his gun drawn as rioters smashed the glass doors.

He said he yelled repeatedly for them to get back. But the mob kept pressing forward, and then a lone rioter tried to climb through one of the doors.

What happened next was captured on video: Byrd fired one shot, striking Babbitt in the shoulder.

Babbitt, 35, an Air Force veteran and ardent supporter of former President Donald Trump, fell to the ground; she died from her injuries later.

Her death became a rallying cry for the far right, which described Babbitt as a martyr. Trump himself declared that she had been murdered and suggested, falsely, that the officer who shot her worked for a high-ranking Democrat.

For Byrd, who is Black, the incident turned his life upside down. He has been in hiding for months after he received a flood of death threats and racist attacks that started when his name leaked onto right-wing websites.

But in his interview with Holt, Byrd said he has no doubt that he made the right decision in light of the circumstances.

“I know that day I saved countless lives,” Byrd said. “I know members of Congress, as well as my fellow officers and staff, were in jeopardy and in serious danger. And that’s my job.”

washington post logoWashington Post, House Jan. 6 panel issues wide-ranging records request, John Wagner, Aug. 26, 2021 (print ed.). Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), the committee chairman, signaled that an expansive investigation is underway, touching not only on what happened Jan. 6 but also on former President Donald ivanka eric don jr trump CustomTrump’s efforts to subvert the election.

washington post logoWashington Post, Seven Capitol Police officers sue Trump, right-wing groups over injuries from Jan. 6 riot, Paul Duggan and Spencer S. Hsu, Aug. 26, 2021. Seven U.S. Capitol Police officers on Thursday sued former president Donald Trump and more than a dozen alleged participants in the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, saying the defendants are responsible for the officers being “violently assaulted, spat on, tear-gassed, bear-sprayed, subjected to racial slurs and epithets, and put in fear for their lives.”

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, alleges that Trump, by falsely claiming the presidential election was rigged, incited a mob of his supporters to storm the Capitol in an effort to stop Congress from confirming President Biden’s victory.

The complaint describes an array of abuse endured by the seven officers, who collectively “have dedicated more than 150 years” to protecting Congress “so that it can carry out its constitutional responsibilities safely and openly.”

While hundreds of demonstrators besieged the historic building, many of them armed with bludgeons, cans of noxious spray and other weapons, the lawsuit says, Trump “reportedly was watching live television coverage” and “refused to call off the attackers, whom he had personally directed to the Capitol just moments before.”

The complaint says Trump and other defendants “encouraged and supported acts of violence, knowing full well that among his supporters were such groups and individuals as the Proud Boys, who had demonstrated their propensity to use violence” against Trump critics.

washington post logoWashington Post, D.C. judges vent frustration about leniency in Capitol riot cases, Rachel Weiner, Aug. 26, 2021. Judges are asking prosecutors why defendants aren’t paying more to cover the cost of damage to the Capitol, why the court can’t order additional supervision of many defendants beyond a brief prison term and why more do not face heftier charges.Trump attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani (file photo)

Trump attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani (file photo)

Palmer Report, Opinion: This court ruling is even worse for Sidney Powell than you think, Jesse Green, Aug. 26, 2021. As was reported yesterday, Judge Linda Parker of the Eastern District of Michigan recently entered an order sanctioning the Kraken lawyer Sidney Powell and Lin Wood (the MAGA Lawyers) for their antics following the 2020 election.

I started to read through the document before realizing the thing was 110 pages long. It goes into detail about what the MAGA lawyers did and why they were bill palmer report logo headerwrong to do what they did and how the court had to sanction them and refer them for disbarment. If the sanctions and the disciplinary actions all stick it will help deter other attorneys who may want to repeat what they did and attack the very foundations of democracy.

lin wood gage skidmoreOn Lowering the Bar, writer Kevin Underhill had an interesting take on the order. He noted that printed out on standard paper the order would weigh over a pound. Mr. Underhill said, “if someone has moved to sanction you, and the judge’s order on that motion weighs more than a pound, that’s not good news for you.”

The MAGA lawyers decided to fight the sanctions. Wood, right, claims he shouldn’t be sanctioned because he didn’t participate in the actions, and Powell claims she was never given the chance to prove the allegations.

BradBlog & BradCast, Commentary: Accountability Rising for Trump's Failed Attempt to Steal the 2020 Election, Brad Friedman, Aug. 26, 2021.  Trump lawyers sanctioned, will face disbarment probes; Capitol officers sue Trump; Terror suspect sentenced in MI Guv kidnap plot; House files massive 1/6 records requests; TX AG Paxton clears TX AG Paxton.

Donald Trump tried to steal the 2020 election. We really must stop describing his efforts and those by his supporters as "questioning the results" or "claiming fraud" or "trying to overturn the election." The fact is, Trump tried to steal it. He used every means at his disposal to try and do so. Thankfully, he is largely a failure at pretty much everything, so it didn't work, though we now know it came exceedingly close. So, let's start calling it for what it is: An unprecedented attempted by a President of the United States to try and steal a Presidential election. To that end, accountability is now happening. Slowly but quite assuredly, along with a number of other related accountability stories on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the stories covered on today's program...

• The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) released its 2020 post-election survey [PDF] of various voting and election-related data from all 50 states last year. While The Guardian's Sam Levine characterizes the report as proving the election was "a remarkable success," we explain why that may be a bit of an overstatement. That said, the data does reveal yet again that, while there were far too many rejections of absentee and mail-in ballots (as is always the case, but especially amid pandemic voting last year), there is still no evidence at all to even suggest that the Presidential election was stolen in any way, shape or form by Joe Biden, the Democrats or anyone else. Not that Donald Trump didn't try (and fail) to do exactly that, of course;

• More accountability for Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election, specifically for the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol that he incited as part of that effort. Seven Capitol Police officers on Thursday filed a lawsuit [PDF] against Trump, several far-right extremist groups charged with aiding the deadly plot, and even against Trump associates like Roger Stone. It is, as the New York Times describes it, "the most expansive civil effort to date seeking to hold Mr. Trump and his allies legally accountable." Trump is already facing two other similar lawsuits filed by the NAACP and by Rep. Eric Swalwell. But, no doubt, the disgraced former President and his supporters will see this new complaint differently, because it is filed by police officers and, as you know, Republicans always "back the blue", right?;

• That lawsuit follows just one day after the bi-partisan U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6th attack issued a massive series of records requests to at least 8 different federal agencies for documents related to Trump's movements, actions and meetings on January 6th, and in the weeks and months both before and after. The requests were sent to, among others, the FBI, Dept. of Homeland Security and National Archives, where Presidential White House records are stored. Trump is apparently livid about the effort, describing it as a "partisan exercise" being carried out by a "Leftist" House Committee. (That may come as a surprise to "Leftist" Committee members Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger);

• In still more accountability news today, tangentially related to Trump's attempt to steal last year's election in Michigan: The sentence for the first domestic terrorist, among some 13 charged in the plot to kidnap Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last year, was handed down on Wednesday. A 25-year old man who, according to Justice Department prosecutors, cooperated with the investigation after initially pleading not guilty, changed his plea and was sentenced to more than 6 years in prison on charges of providing material support for terrorist acts and felony firearms charges. The failed conspiracy, according to the FBI and Whitmer, sprang from Trump's attempt to vilify the Governor for her science-based handling of the COVID pandemic, in a year in which Trump was willing to say and do anything to win the important battleground state. (He lost it by 150,000 votes instead);

Aug. 24

 

alex jones screen shot 2020 05 01 at 12.02.06 pm

Alex Jones, host and founder of the Texas-based Infowars show (file photo).

Wayne Madsen Report, Opinion: Is Qanon driven by military-grade PSYOPs subliminal programming? Wayne Madsen, left (author of 20 books and former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst), Aug. 24, 2021. There remains an wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smalluncomfortable fact with Qanon. The amorphous freewheeling cult is not losing adherents but, in fact, gaining them as a result of the Covid pandemic.

Qanon might be dismissed if its only followers were uneducated individuals prone to believing whatever nonsense was slickly-presented to them by conniving masters of deception -- those like the charlatans who sell "prosperity gospel" religion and miracle "medical" cures. But that is not the case. Qanon believers include those with college educations, including people with advanced degrees, military and intelligence community veterans, and, yes and very wayne madesen report logounfortunately, journalists.

There are some indications that Qanon is the product of those who have expertise in military psychological warfare operations (psyops) and that large masses of people around the world are being manipulated and coerced for some end game. What is the goal?

Judging from the effects this potential psyop is having on political stability, the ultimate target may be democratic governance.

barry bennett djtWall Street Journal, Republican Lobbyist Barry Bennett Comes Under DOJ Scrutiny, Byron Tau, Aruna Viswanatha and Julie Bykowicz, Aug. 24, 2021. One-time Trump campaign senior adviser faces probe into whether he set up an undisclosed lobbying effort to embarrass Qatar’s adversaries, people familiar with the matter say.

wsj logoFederal prosecutors are investigating Barry Bennett, a Republican lobbyist and one-time unpaid campaign adviser to former President Donald Trump, over allegations that he secretly set up and funded a U.S.-based advocacy group without disclosing its ties to the government of Qatar, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Bennett, shown above at left in a 2016 file photo, founded his lobbying firm, Avenue Strategies, soon after Mr. Trump’s election and signed on to represent Qatar a few months later, according to the firm’s federal lobbying disclosure records. The tiny Gulf nation, which hosts a large U.S. Air Force base, was at the time embroiled in a diplomatic and political conflict with its regional rivals Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

djt maga hatThe Embassy of Qatar paid Mr. Bennett’s firm about $3 million total between July 2017 and July 2018 for work that included developing “a long-term plan to create closer ties between the United States and the State of Qatar,” according to the records.

Prosecutors have presented evidence to a grand jury alleging that Mr. Bennett set up and funded a political group called Yemen Crisis Watch, according to the people familiar with the matter, as a way to embarrass Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E., which at the time were enmeshed in a military campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen. That war has since left thousands dead and fueled what the United Nations described in 2019 as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Yemen Crisis Watch never registered with the U.S. government, as it would have been obligated to do under the Foreign Agents Registration Act if representing foreign interests. Mr. Bennett didn’t report that he set up and funded the organization, a review of FARA filings shows. Qatar gave Avenue Strategies $250,000 in October 2017 earmarked “for use in supporting the relief of humanitarian suffering in Yemen,” according to a lobbying document.

Mr. Bennett declined to comment. A spokesman for the Justice Department declined to comment. The Qatar Embassy didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Yemen Crisis Watch had an active social-media presence in late 2017. A prominent evangelical minister and a Kansas Republican politician took up its cause, placing op-eds in a Washington newspaper and participating in a congressional briefing in late December. On Twitter, the group said it intended to “promote awareness of the atrocities and humanitarian crisis unfolding in Yemen.”

Igor Fruman, top left, and Lev Parnas, two Soviet-born associates of Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney at bottom of a Wall Street Journal graphic above by Laura Kammermann, appear to be deeply involved in the Ukraine scandal.

Trump Counsel Rudolph Giuliani, center, with businessman Lev Parnas, above right, and their colleague Ignor Fruman, with Parnas and Fruman arrested while boarding a flight to Vienna from Dulles Airport.

Palmer Report, Opinion: This is what you’ve been waiting for, Bill Palmer, right, Aug. 24, 2021. During a stretch of just a few hours yesterday, several big names in Trump bill palmerworld suddenly decided to loudly turn against several other big names in Trump world. It might have caught you off guard if you haven’t been paying attention these past few months. But in reality, everything we saw yesterday was the direct or indirect result of the incremental collapse of Trump world that we’ve been seeing throughout 2021.

bill palmer report logo headerYesterday it was revealed in court filings that Igor Fruman has decided to plead guilty, meaning he’s very likely going to cooperate in the prosecution of Rudy Giuliani. This didn’t come out of nowhere. Last week we brought you the news that the court-appointed special master phase of the criminal case against Giuliani was nearing completion, meaning his arrest could come within weeks. This meant that if Fruman was ever going to get a favorable deal, he’d have to do it now – and so he’s apparently doing just that.

Yesterday we also saw Alex Jones suddenly lash out at his hero Donald Trump, calling him a “dumbass.” Jones claimed it was in reference to Trump’s recent decision to finally recommend the COVID vaccine to his supporters. But given the timing, this is more likely about the fact that Jones’ top lieutenant Owen Shroyer was indicted over the weekend for his role in the insurrection that Trump incited. Now that Jones has to worry he’s about to be the next to get indicted for Trump’s insurrection, suddenly he’s lashing out at Trump in frustration. In other words, these past months of the Feds bringing January 6th-related charges against people incrementally further up the chain is finally prompting movement at the top.

Yesterday we also saw Roger Stone suddenly decide to reignite his long standing feud with Steve Bannon. But this probably didn’t just come out of nowhere, either. Stone now has to worry about Shroyer flipping on him, or Shroyer flipping on Jones who in turn could flip on Stone. And so now Stone is trying to change the subject by calling for Bannon’s arrest. Or just maybe this is Stone’s way of offering himself up as a witness against Bannon, in case Stone ends up needing to curry favor with prosecutors.

The thing is, the big movement we saw yesterday – the kind of stuff you’ve been waiting for – wasn’t spontaneous. It wasn’t as if these ongoing criminal cases and investigations were sitting dormant until they suddenly came to life yesterday. Rather, the details we’ve been steadily bringing you about these probes all year are what led to yesterday’s big fireworks. Even as the defeatists insist on referring to incremental progress as “nothing being done,” the reality is that Trump world is now eating itself alive, as a direct result of everything that has been done thus far in 2021.

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge wants Justice Dept. to detail decision on charging Infowars host accused in Jan. 6 riot, Rachel Weiner, Aug. 24, 2021. Prosecutors say guidelines involving the media were followed in charging Jonathan Owen Shroyer.

A federal judge wants prosecutors to explain whether they considered a correspondent for the right-wing website Infowars a member of the media when charging him with participating in the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Magistrate Judge Zia M. Faruqui said in an order Tuesday that he is not questioning the decision to prosecute Jonathan Owen Shroyer, only whether the Justice Department followed its own protocols in doing so.

“The events of January 6 were an attack on the foundation of our democracy,” Faruqui wrote. “But this does not relieve the Department of Justice from following its own guidelines, written to preserve the very same democracy.”

Shroyer was arrested this week on charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct on the Capitol grounds. Shroyer, prosecutors say, violated an agreement not to engage in such behavior that he signed after being removed from a 2019 impeachment hearing for heckling a Democratic lawmaker.

On the day of the riots, he marched with a crowd toward the Capitol shouting, “We aren’t going to accept it!” and later appeared on the building’s steps, prosecutors allege in court records.

Several people charged in the Capitol riot have described themselves as members of the press, but prosecutors have argued in the past that there is no evidence those defendants engaged in journalism. The government did not explain whether it concluded that Shroyer was not a member of the media.

Shroyer hosts a talk show on Infowars, which is banned by major social media platforms for promoting conspiracy theories. Like founder Alex Jones, he has falsely accused a pizza restaurant in Northwest Washington of harboring pedophiles and the parents of children killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting of lying.

Justice Department guidelines require approval from the attorney general to investigate or charge a member of the news media with a crime, to ensure that law enforcement does not impinge upon freedom of the press. Those guidelines were recently strengthened after the Justice Department revealed that under President Donald Trump, records were secretly subpoenaed from several news organizations.
In a letter to the court, prosecutors say guidelines protecting the media have been “scrupulously followed.” But the government said the Justice Department is not required to detail that process for the court.

“Such inquiries could risk impeding frank and thoughtful internal deliberations within the Department about how best to ensure compliance with these enhanced protections for Members of the News Media,” wrote John Crabb, who leads the Criminal Division of the U.S. attorney’s office in D.C.

ny times logoNew York Times Magazine, He Was the ‘Perfect Villain’ for Voting Conspiracists, Susan Dominus, Aug. 24, 2021. Eric Coomer had an election-security job at Dominion Voting Systems. He also had posted anti-Trump messages on Facebook. What happened next ruined his life.

dominion voting systemsThe Trump campaign and its allies have introduced more than 60 lawsuits claiming election fraud in this country, but no court has found persuasive evidence to support the idea that Coomer, Dominion or anyone else involved in vote-counting changed the election results.

Bipartisan audits of paper ballots in closely contested states such as Georgia and Arizona confirmed Biden’s victory; and prominent Republicans, including Attorney General Bill Barr and Trump’s official in charge of election cybersecurity, have reaffirmed the basic facts of the election: Over all, the results were accurate, the election process was secure and no widespread fraud capable of changing the outcome has been uncovered.

Joe.My.God, FCC Fines Jacob Wohl And Jack Burkman $5.1 Million, Joe MG, Aug. 24, 2021. First, a reminder about the case:

jacob wohl aug 2020Jacob Wohl, left, a conservative activist known for his largely bumbling attempts to stage political scandals, has been charged with running a robocalling scheme to spread false election information. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed four felony charges today against Wohl and his partner Jack Burkmanjack burkman w. They’re accused of targeting Detroit residents with calls that discouraged voting, including false claims that mail-in ballots would let health agencies “track people for mandatory vaccines.”

Wohl and Burkman allegedly targeted voters in Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois, making a total of around 85,000 calls in August. The calls claimed to come from a group called “Project 1599, a civil rights organization founded by Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl,” and they were aimed at areas with large Black populations, urging them to not “be finessed into giving your private information to the man.”

And today, this.

‼️ Whoa! The FCC just announced a massive $5 million fine for illegal robocalling against conspiracy theorists John Burkman and Jacob Wohl pic.twitter.com/6ZPgpV0tLu

— Cristiano Lima (@viaCristiano) August 24, 2021

The pair are also facing a $2.75 million lawsuit from the NY AG https://t.co/IXQZydavHt

— Tonya Riley (@TonyaJoRiley) August 24, 2021

Aug. 19

Proof via Substack, Investigation: New Pre-Insurrection Strategy Meetings #1: Reps. Mo Brooks and Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows, Donald Trump, and 50 seth abramson graphicHouse Republicans, Seth Abramson, left, Aug. 19, 2021. In this new entry in a Proof series focused on lightly or non-reported pre-insurrection meetings involving insurrectionist kingpins, we discuss a secretive GOP-caucus call no one seems to be aware of.

Introduction: Most Americans don’t yet realize how much planning Congressional Republicans did prior to January 6 to ensure that that seth abramson proof logoterrible day would be as chaotic as possible.

The lightly and in some cases unreported meetings that top Washington Republicans held between January 2 and January 5—including White House meetings—explain why the Republican Party writ large can under no circumstances cooperate with the new House January 6 Committee. It is now a certainty that if that committee conducts a comprehensive review of top Republicans’ movements in the 120 hours preceding the January 6 attack on the Capitol, it will discover an institutionalized insurrectionist conspiracy the GOP must hide from voters if it is to take back the House in late 2022.

Proof previously began the process of reporting on largely or entirely unreported pre-insurrection strategy sessions with this article, among whose stunning revelations was a national conference call held by Donald Trump with state GOP officials on January 2. That call, which included nearly 300 such officials and was both highly irregular and conducted on a weekend, would have been more than enough covert insurrectionist business for a President of the United States to conduct a single day. But it turns out that it wasn’t the only major pre-insurrection meeting Donald Trump chaired that day.

This article is about a second such meeting.

Read more at the Proof site to see the revelations....

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

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

Aug. 16

afghanistan trump troops 2020American System Network, Commentary: Afghan collapse started under Trump in February 2020, Webster G. Tarpley, left, Aug. 16, 2021. Trump’s Doha pullout pledge webster tarpley 2007to Taliban triggered surrender deals by tribal and province chiefs, setting stage for disintegration of Afghan army.

williams burns 20057,000 US troops are enough for Afghan redout to hold airport enclave, airlift Americans and friends to Guam over coming weeks.

Biden should fire failed Doha negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad, the Bush-Trump retread who disoriented US government, and hold NSC’s Jake Sullivan and CIA’s William Burns, right, accountable.

Breaking: Biden speech follows JFK after Bay of Pigs by saying I am President, the buck stops here; President should also study JFK’s ouster of CIA boss Allen Dulles and his clique for lying and incompetence.

Responsible Statecraft, Analysis: America leaves Afghanistan, and the regional geopolitics take over, Graham E. Fuller, left, Aug. 16, 2021. There will Graham Fullerlikely be a return to a much more historically normal state of global affairs in which multiple players are engaged.

 The final end of the government in Kabul is at hand as the inexorable logic of regime collapse gains momentum. It seems more of a surprise to current policymakers than to those many observers with a long-time familiarity with the country’s dynamics. It will not be pleasant to watch, but it has long been inevitable given the utterly unrealistic ambitions and poor policy execution that Washington has maintained in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, those darker, but more insightful views on the entire enterprise have long been largely stifled by our media.

The neo-imperialist neoconservatives all argue that the American departure and the subsequent collapse of the Kabul government are deeply destructive to American “credibility” as a superpower in the world. The underlying ideology of this view is of course the cherished concept that the United States must serve as global policeman everywhere and that a failure to do so is a sign of weakness and decline.

This line of thinking is precisely backwards: it is the overall decline of America domestically and geopolitically that is the telltale sign of its deeper weakness; there is an increasing international belief that the United States is living inside a fantasy bubble of denial about maintaining its global hegemony. If the 20-year U.S. military presence in Afghanistan had actually ever shown any serious concrete advancement towards concrete goals, that would be one thing. But the neocons are ever content to throw good money after bad in the blind pursuit of hegemony — even in the very heart of “the graveyard of empires.”

On a human level, of course, it indeed matters what fate the Afghans will meet under a new Taliban government. The Afghan people have been suffering under repeated and constant warfare and military intervention since 1978, starting with a domestic coup by Afghan communists, followed by the Soviet invasion, the subsequent years of fighting to expel the Soviets by U.S.-supported mujahedin groups, the subsequent civil war among the mujahideen that followed and to which the Taliban finally put an end by restoring national order and discipline — with a rough and ready kind of justice.

But Washington’s focus on Afghanistan in reality has had very little to do with establishing a better and more equitable society for the Afghans. The ostensible impulse for the American invasion was nominally to destroy the presence of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. But the deeper and more profound reason for the American invasion and lengthy occupation was more pointedly to establish a military and geopolitical foothold in Central Asia on the very borders of Russia and China. That ambition was never nakedly articulated but was clearly understood by all regional forces. The “nation-building and humanitarian” aspects of the American occupation were largely window dressing to cover Washington’s geopolitical ambitions. Those ambitions still have not fully died among American neocons and liberal interventionists.

Like it or not, a key feature of the new “post-American geopolitics” will be a return to a much more historically normal state of global affairs in which multiple players are engaged. And in this case, multiple players will also have the greatest influence over Afghanistan’s future — probably for the better. The reality is that all three countries which the United States perceives as enemies – Iran, Russia, and China — actually all share with Washington the same major goals for Afghanistan’s future: stability and an end to bloodshed and jihadism. But all three of these countries also unite in vigorous opposition to American intervention and dominance in Afghanistan and Central Asia.

While in another era, the Taliban might have cared little about the views of these neighboring countries, today Central Asia is a different place. Afghanistan is in tatters, and no matter what the social policies of the Taliban are, they also need to restore the country to a minimal degree of prosperity and peace. China, in particular, has the greatest political and economic leverage to assist in Afghanistan’s future. Afghanistan figures in China’s ambitious and visionary plan of the Belt and Road Initiative across Central Asia in a re-creation of an economically linked Central Asian that has not been so linked since the days of Genghis Khan. China will make great efforts to try to ensure that the Taliban maintain stability and avoid any support to radical movements which not only hugely affect China in Xinjiang, but also affect Russia in the Caucasus and Central Asia, and the security of Shi’ite Iran — a regular target of Sunni jihadi ideology.

None of these states — Iran, China, or Russia — wishes to see the United States establish itself militarily in the heart of Central Asia and are thus happy to see Washington floundering in that occupation. Once U.S. military influence is removed from the heart of Central Asia, a prosperous and stable Afghanistan is in the interest of all.

Pakistan remains something of a wild card, but Pakistan’s dominant interest is to ensure that its eastern border with Afghanistan remains safe and friendly. Especially since Pakistan’s western neighbor — India — poses the greatest strategic threat to Islamabad. Pakistan cannot tolerate unfriendly powers on both borders. It will do whatever it takes to maintain decent working relations with Kabul. And, of course, China has Pakistan’s back as a key link in the Eurasian Belt and Road Initiative. Pakistan must also be attentive to the Pashtun character of the Taliban movement; after all, there are more Pashtuns in eastern Pakistan than there are in Afghanistan itself. And resurgent Pashtun nationalism poses a constant concern to Islamabad as well.

Washington will have to lick its wounds in departing Afghanistan in defeat after 20 feckless years of occupation but cannot persist in a costly and losing policy. And only a fool would try to ward off the geopolitical power of Russia and China, and even Iran, across the vast stretches of Eurasia. Furthermore, while Washington has essentially employed military instruments to attempt to impose its hegemony around the world, Moscow and Beijing are working the diplomatic route — with far greater success.

What might be the nature of a Taliban-dominated government in Afghanistan? Hard to say, but this is a new generation of Taliban leaders who have traveled, seen the world, and dealt with many other governments. One would hope they have learned something in the course of their exile; they have little other option than to recognize the reality of now living in an international environment of mainly of non-Muslim powers. And if Taliban social policies are distasteful to Americans, they might wish to reflect upon Saudi Arabia in the same context. Of course, Riyadh and Saudi money still seem to enjoy vast influence in Washington that the Taliban cannot exert.

President Biden deserves at least some measure of credit in finally closing the spigots on U.S. blood and treasure in Afghanistan after 20 years. Hopefully it is the beginning of a sign of greater realism on the part of Washington’s geopolitical thinkers about the new limits of American power. And the need for a far more modest vision of what truly comprises American interests.

Palmer Report, Opinion: CNN and MSNBC are failing us today, Bill Palmer, Aug. 16, 2021. Today is not exactly a banner day for the media. MSNBC’s Mika msnbc logo CustomBrzezinski and CNN’s Jake Tapper have spent the day inaccurately trying to put all the blame on President Biden for the Afghanistan debacle, while essentially pretending that Bush, Cheney, and Trump didn’t set up this outcome long ago. Meanwhile NPR is giving airtime to John Bolton, the last guy who should be given a voice when it comes to Middle East war fallout.

bill palmer report logo headerToday is a sad reminder that while Fox News and other right wing propaganda outlets are by far the most egregious about it, mainstream media outlets like CNN and MSNBC are also TV ratings factories that are at times willing to push dishonest or even false narratives in the CNNhope of hitting their ratings marks for the day.

We urge the media to do better. Of course better journalism often doesn’t translate to better ratings, so it makes for a conundrum. Keep in mind that you, the audience, have the final vote: your remote control. If you simply turn off any coverage that you know is dishonest, it’ll hit the media in the ratings department, and they’ll be forced to adjust accordingly.

Aug. 14

Proof via Substack, Investigation: New Revelations on An Insurrection Eve White House Meeting Suggest It Should Be at the Center of the Congressional January 6 seth abramson graphicInvestigation, Seth Abramson, left, Aug. 13-14, 2021. Trump hosted a meeting at the White House hours before the January 6 insurrection. Congress and media must give it significant scrutiny — as it increasingly looks like pre-insurrection planning.

Introduction: Back in late March, Proof authored an exclusive report revealing that dangerous far-right internet troll Rogan O’Handley attended a secret meeting at the White House just hours before the attack on the United States Capitol.

seth abramson proof logoProof termed the meeting “secret” because—by O’Handley’s own admission—that’s what it was. Indeed, when he spoke to a large insurrectionist mob at Freedom Plaza immediately after leaving the event at the White House, he told them that he “can’t” reveal even a single attendee of the Insurrection Eve meetup he’d just attended at the People’s House.

That O’Handley was admitted to the White House with a number of unknown parties hours before the worst attack on our nation’s capital since 1814 was deemed by Proof especially harrowing because of what O’Handley, either directed or merely inspired by his White House meeting, told the mob at Freedom Plaza.

As Proof noted in publishing its report on the secret White House meeting, here, with emphasis supplied, is some of what O’Handley said fresh from his visit to the White House (at a time he was sharing a stage—literally—with domestic terrorist Ali Alexander):

It may be forty degrees out here, but it sure feels like 1776. I was just at the White House. I can’t tell you who I was meeting with, but they’re optimistic. They think something good is going to happen tomorrow. All I gotta say is, “It damn well better happen,” because I don’t want to see these patriots more pissed off than they already are—in DC, right next to Congress….If you want to see what patriots do when they get in an uprising, then vote to certify the fraud tomorrow. But you better make the right decision tomorrow, or you're gonna have a whole lot of pissed off patriots in DC.

Here’s the video of O’Handley’s inciting speech, which includes the shouted message to members of the U.S. Congress, “YOU SHOULD BE AFRAID OF US! WE ARE NOT GOING ANYWHERE! NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS [TOMORROW]!” Right Wing Watch @RightWingWatch "If you want to see what patriots do when they get in an uprising, then vote to certify the fraud tomorrow."

Rogan O’Handley, aka DC Draino, fired up crowd the night before the insurrection. He said he'd come from the White House where they expected "something good" the next day.

Read more at the Proof site to see what's new....

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

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

 

Aug. 12

washington post logoWashington Post, What Rosen told U.S. senators: Trump applied ‘persistent’ pressure to get Justice to discredit election, Ann E. Marimow and Josh Dawsey, Aug. 12, 2021. Former president Donald Trump’s last attorney general has told U.S. senators his boss was “persistent” in trying to pressure the jeffrey rosenJustice Department to discredit the results of the 2020 election.

In closed-door testimony Saturday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Jeffrey Rosen said he had to “persuade the president not to pursue a different path” at a high-stakes January meeting in which Trump considered ousting Rosen as the nation’s most powerful law enforcement officer.

According to a person familiar with the testimony, Rosen’s opening statement also characterized as “inexplicable” the actions of his Justice Department colleague, Jeffrey Clark, who was willing to push Trump’s false claims of election fraud and whom Trump considered installing as acting attorney general to replace Rosen.

Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis alleged 2020 election fraud during a post-election hearing before Michigan's legislature.

Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis alleged 2020 election fraud during a post-election hearing before Michigan's legislature.

washington post logoWashington Post, Giuliani told agents it was okay to ‘throw a fake’ during political campaign, Devlin Barrett, Aug. 12, 2021. Rudolph W. Giuliani’s promise of a “big surprise” to help Donald Trump’s election in October 2016 led to Democratic accusations the FBI was feeding him secrets about an investigation of Hillary Clinton.

But a newly obtained transcript shows the former New York mayor, right, told federal agents it was okay to “throw a fake” when campaigning, to which his then-law partner added, “there’s no obligation to tell the truth.”

rudy giuliani recentGiuliani’s comments came in a 2018 interview with agents for the Justice Department inspector general, conducted in a room at Trump’s hotel in downtown Washington. The Project on Government Oversight, a government watchdog group, sued for a copy of the interview transcript and provided it to The Washington Post on Wednesday.

djt maga hatGiuliani’s private defense of his actions has come to light as he and other Trump lawyers face discipline and possible court sanctions for their unfounded statements surrounding the 2020 election, raising questions about lawyers’ integrity in a democracy.

During the February 2018 interview to try to determine if FBI agents had leaked him sensitive information, Giuliani’s then-law partner and counselor, Marc Mukasey, opined that the standards for truth-telling are different in electoral politics than in legal matters.

“In the heat of a political campaign, on television, I’m not saying Rudy necessarily, but everybody embellishes everything,” Mukasey said.

bj pak djtPalmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump and his goons are having a no good, very bad, horrible day, Bill Palmer, right, Aug. 12, 2021. Yesterday the news broke that the bill palmerScottish courts approved a money laundering probe into Donald Trump’s golf properties. The news also broke that federal prosecutors have reportedly decided to criminally indict Matt Gaetz, and are pressuring him to flip on others. Then last night the courts ruled that Dominion’s civil suit against Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and Mike Lindell could move ahead.

bill palmer report logo headerOf course this came even as Donald Trump was releasing new inflammatory statements about January 6th, Matt Gaetz was bragging about upcoming rallies, and Mike Lindell was holding a “symposium” about supposed election fraud. These folks really don’t know when to quit while they’re behind. But then that’s the point, isn’t it? With Trump no longer in office, he’s no longer in position to protect himself or his goon squad. They’re all in the process of being dismantled, even as they continue to do the only things they know how to do, even knowing it’s not working for them anymore.

The news will keep getting uglier. Yesterday former U.S. Attorney BJay Pak (shown above at left) testified to Congress about Trump’s illegal election tampering, the third highly credible witness to do so in the past week, after Jeffrey Rosen and Richard Donoghue. No amount of rhetoric or rallies on the part of Team Trump is going to stop the legal process from moving forward against them. It’s been a bad week for Trump and his people. It’s only going to get worse for them.

Aug. 8

ny times logoNew York Times, Former Acting Attorney General Testifies About Trump’s Efforts to Subvert Election, Katie Benner, Aug. 8, 2021 (print ed.). The testimony highlights the former president’s desire to batter the Justice Department into advancing his personal agenda.

Justice Department log circularJeffrey A. Rosen, who was acting attorney general during the Trump administration, has told the Justice Department watchdog and congressional investigators that one of his deputies tried to help former President Donald J. Trump subvert the results of the 2020 election, according to a person familiar with the interviews.

jeffrey rosenMr. Rosen, left, had a two-hour meeting on Friday with the Justice Department’s office of the inspector general and provided closed-door testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Saturday.

The investigations were opened following a New York Times article that detailed efforts by Jeffrey Clark, the acting head of the Justice Department’s civil division, to push top leaders to falsely and publicly assert that ongoing election fraud investigations cast doubt on the Electoral College results. That prompted Mr. Trump to consider ousting Mr. Rosen and installing Mr. Clark at the top of the department to carry out that plan.

Mr. Trump never fired Mr. Rosen, but the plot highlights the former president’s desire to batter the Justice Department into advancing his personal agenda.

Mr. Clark, who did not respond to requests for comment, said in January that all of his official communications with the White House “were consistent with law,” and that he had engaged in “a candid discussion of options and pros and cons with the president.”

Mr. Rosen did not respond to requests for comment. The inspector general’s spokesman declined to comment.

Mr. Rosen has emerged as a key witness in multiple investigations that focus on Mr. Trump’s efforts to undermine the results of the election. He has publicly stated that the Justice Department did not find enough fraud to impact the outcome of the election.

Mr. Rosen on Friday told investigators from the inspector general’s office about five encounters with Mr. Clark, including one in late December during which his deputy admitted to meeting with Mr. Trump and pledged that he would not do so again, according to a person familiar with the interview.

Palmer Report, Jeffrey Rosen’s testimony is a bodyblow to Donald Trump and Jeffrey Clark, Bill Palmer, Aug. 7, 2021(PM). It’s a big deal that former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen has, according to the New York Times, eagerly testified this past week to both the DOJ and Congress about the Trump-Clark plot to overthrow the election. Rosen’s cooperation will hand the DOJ an easy criminal case against Trump and Jeffrey Clark both.

bill palmer report logo headerOne thing to watch for: the recent mainstream media reporting on the Trump-Clark election plot has pointed to Rosen and former DOJ official Richard Donoghue having played the hero role in stopping the Trump-Clark plot. Now that Rosen has raced to testify before anyone could try to stop him, will Donoghue do the same? If so, it’ll be a sign that there are two credible cooperating witnesses in play.

In any case this is all getting interesting rather quickly. Just a couple days ago the January 6th Committee revealed that it was incorporating the Trump-DOJ election plot into its Capitol attack probe, and now Jeffrey Rosen – the head of the DOJ at the time of the election plot – has already given his cooperating testimony.

Aug. 7

donald trump money palmer report Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Trump’s Donation Tactics Led to Millions in Refunds Into 2021, Shane Goldmacher, Aug. 7, 2021. Donald Trump and the Republican Party returned $12.8 million to donors in the first half of the year, a sign that their aggressive fund-raising tactics ensnared many unwitting contributors.

The aggressive fund-raising tactics that former President Donald J. Trump deployed late in last year’s presidential campaign have continued to spur an avalanche of refunds into 2021, with Mr. Trump, the Republican Party and their shared accounts returning $12.8 million to donors in the first six months of the year, newly released federal records show.

The refunds were some of the biggest outlays that Mr. Trump made in 2021 as he has built up his $102 million political war chest — and amounted to roughly 20 percent of the $56 million he and his committees raised online so far this year.

Trailing in the polls and facing a cash crunch last September, Mr. Trump’s political operation began opting online donors into automatic recurring contributions by prechecking a box on its digital donation forms to take a withdrawal every week. Donors would have to notice the box and uncheck it to opt out of the donation. A second prechecked box took out another donation, known as a “money bomb.”

djt maga hat speech uncredited CustomThe Trump team then obscured that fact by burying the fine print beneath multiple lines of bold and capitalized text, a New York Times investigation earlier this year found.

The maneuver spiked revenues in the short term — allowing Mr. Trump to spend money before the election — and then caused a cascade of fraud complaints to credit cards and demands for refunds from supporters. The refunded donations amounted to an unwitting interest-free loan from Mr. Trump’s supporters in the weeks when he most needed it.

New Federal Election Commission records from WinRed, the Republican donation-processing site, show the full scale of the financial impact. All told, more than $135 million was refunded to donors by Mr. Trump, the Republican National Committee and their shared accounts in the 2020 cycle through June 2021 — including roughly $60 million after Election Day.

“It’s pretty clear that the Trump campaign was engaging in deceptive tactics,” said Peter Loge, the director of the Project on Ethics in Political Communication at George Washington University. “If you have to return that much money you are doing something either very wrong or very unethical.”

Aug. 4

U.S. Insurrection Probes, Commentaries

Proof via Substack, Investigation: Three Obscure Pre-Insurrection Meetings Require Immediate Congressional Investigation, Seth Abramson, left, Aug 3-4, 2021. seth abramson graphicBeyond the key meetings already outlined by Proof, these virtually unreported ones—involving, variously, Trump, members of Congress, and domestic terrorists—require media and Congressional attention.

Introduction: Proof has now written at great length about several pre-insurrection meetings only lightly reported elsewhere. This article adds three even more obscure — but possibly even more important — meetings to that roster. The roster presently includes the following events (see prior Proof reporting for articles on all 15 of these meetings and confirmation from various eyewitnesses to the meetings that all of them occurred):

seth abramson proof logoA December 18, 2020 meeting in the Oval Office at the White House;
• a December 21, 2020 meeting in the Oval Office at the White House;
• a December 28, 2020 meeting in Donald Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago;
• a January 3, 2021 meeting in the Oval Office at the White House;
• a January 4, 2021 meeting in Ivanka Trump’s office at the White House;
• a January 5, 2021 afternoon meeting in Trump International Hotel;
• a January 5, 2021 meeting at the Vice Presidential Residence in Washington;
• a January 5, 2021 meeting in the InfoWars suite at the Willard Hotel;
• a January 5, 2021 Stop the Steal meeting in the Downtown Marriott Hotel DC;
• a January 5, 2021 White House-Pentagon conference call;
• a January 5, 2021 meeting of social media influencers in the White House;
• a January 5, 2021 VIP area meeting at Stop the Steal’s Freedom Plaza event;
• a January 6, 2021 VIP area meeting at the White House Ellipse event;
• January 5 and January 6, 2020 meetings in Roger Stone’s Willard Hotel suite;
• January 5, January 6, and January 8, 2020 meetings in Rudy Giuliani’s suite (the Team Trump “war room”) at the Willard Hotel in Washington.

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

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

Aug. 2Trump ally Steve Bannon, left, with his billionaire partner Guo Wengui, a fugitive from China.

Trump ally Steve Bannon, left, indicted last year in a massive fraud scheme but pardoned by Trump, with his billionaire partner Guo Wengui, a fugitive from China.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Foreign cash bought the White House for Trump, Wayne Madsen (left, author of 20 books and former Navy intelligence officer), Aug. 2, 2021. Projection sums up the entire wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallfour years of Donald Trump's chaotic administration in that while he and his cohorts were trying to convince the world that Joe Biden was tied financially in some way to Ukraine and China, his administration was bought and wayne madesen report logopaid for by foreign interests.

In addition to cash outlays to Team Trump, Steve Bannon's international bloc of fascist parties and individuals contributed in kind with social media gaslighting and other propaganda campaigns designed to perpetuate unfounded rumor on Biden, Covid-19, and other subjects.

Repeated attempts by Congress to close campaign finance loopholes that permit foreign money to flow into the campaign coffers of American political candidates have met with failure. For the most part, it has been Trump loyalists in the U.S. Senate, many there due to foreign money helping to pay for their seats, that have deep-sixed repeated bills originating in both the House and the Senate designed to stop foreign money infusion into U.S. campaigns. 

Trump ally and Trump ally and "Stop the Steal" promoter Roger Stone, with (from left) allies Jacob Engels, Christina Engelstad and Joseph Greco last January (Photo via Proof).

Proof via Substack, Investigation: Trump Adviser Roger Stone Was Closely Attended By a Leading Proud Boy Just Before a Proud Boy Arson, a Proud Boy Riot, and the Proud Boys' Capitol Attack, Seth seth abramson graphicAbramson, left, Aug. 2, 2021. Images confirm that Stone had a level of access to January 6 insurrectionists well beyond what has been reported by major media, and during a period the longtime Trump adviser was in touch with Trump.

seth abramson proof logoIntroduction: As Proof has reported, longtime Donald Trump friend and adviser Roger Stone has consistently lied about every aspect of his trip to Washington in early January 2021, even as he refuses to reveal details about what he discussed with Trump at Mar-a-Lago when the two met there on December 28, 2020 — just nine days before the insurrection. Of late, Stone has been particularly focused on establishing who was or was not in his suite at the Willard Hotel on Insurrection Day. Perhaps to counterbalance the fact that he was rooming with convicted felon Kristin M. Davis, Stone has emphasized the fact that also in his suite at the Willard were two pastors, Randy Coggins II and Mark Burns.

Less clear is why Stone was walking the halls of the hotel on Insurrection Day with a binder of information, as Proof has reported, or why Davis now says Stone was hanging out with “literally fifty” insurrectionists at the Willard on January 6. Davis, who holds herself out as Stone’s PR flack, wrote an apologia for Stone in July that was soon deleted from the fake-news site that published it, a seeming acknowledgment that, as FBI investigators appear to be closing in on Stone as a potential insurrection kingpin, the less he or his team say about January 6 the better.

And yet Stone himself has already lied about that day so many times that anything he tells the FBI now will directly contradict at least two or three of prior public statements.

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

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Biden cannot sit back and let our democracy sink. He’s now showing us he gets that, E.J. Dionne Jr., right, Aug. 2, 2021 (print ed.). ej dionne w open neckPresident Biden’s infrastructure bill defied predictions of its impending death again and again and again. Voting rights and political reform have been the subject of early obituaries even more dire. To protect our democracy, Biden has no choice but to prove these wrong, too.

The broad bipartisan vote to move forward on a physical infrastructure bill really was a big deal. It marked a decisive break from the dominance of a form of conservative politics that cast even the most basic forms of government action as wasteful. In tandem with the larger Democrats-only bill, it could herald a new era of social reform and public investment.

But if Biden has been right in saying that our democracy’s health depends on the political system demonstrating its capacity to undertake ambitious projects, Joe Biden portrait 2our democracy’s success also requires — well, that it remain a democracy.

That’s in question as Republican states (18 at last count) enact laws to limit access to the ballot and, in many cases, corrupt the election process itself by undercutting independent, nonpartisan ballot counting.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosThus the importance of Friday’s White House meeting, in which Biden joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) to craft a strategy to enact political reform and voting rights bills.

The meeting reflected a growing awareness inside the Biden camp that it cannot hang back and let democracy legislation founder while offering false hope that political organizing can overcome voter suppression and extreme gerrymandering.

As Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) told me, after Biden’s “intimate engagement” in negotiating the bipartisan infrastructure bill with the Senate, the administration cannot now claim the filibuster is purely that chamber’s business.
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Reflecting a view widely held by civil rights leaders, Jones argued that Biden must match the energy he devoted to infrastructure with an equally spirited push on voting rights, including — if needed — a willingness to back a change in Senate rules.

A White House statement after the meeting did not mention the filibuster. But it declared that “passing legislation to protect against voter suppression, electoral subversion, dark money and partisan gerrymandering” was a “moral imperative.”

Jones described Pelosi as “enormously strong” on the issue because she “gets that everything is at stake.” That was the message the speaker sent after the White House encounter: “This is of the highest priority for us.”

Schumer, too, has gone on offense, hosting efforts by Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Raphael G. Warnock (Ga.), Joe Manchin III (W.Va.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.) and others to write a new version of the political reform bill rooted in many of Manchin’s suggestions for easier ballot access. The bill will also include new provisions to try to stop partisan bodies from pushing aside local election officials and nullifying election results.

 Aug. 1

 

Trumpenstein monster (Image by ABananaPeeled.com licensed under DMCA)

 washington post logoWashington Post, Trump has more than $100 million in political cash after first six months of 2021, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Anu Narayanswamy, Aug. 1, 2021 (print ed.). The massive haul reveals how the former president has reaped financial rewards while claiming the election was stolen from him.

Former president Donald Trump’s proved himself his party’s most powerful fundraiser in the first six months of the year, amassing a political treasure chest of President Donald Trump official$102 million by the end of June, according to filings made public on Saturday.

His aides said he had raised $82 million in that period, though some of the money came in the form of transfers from accounts soliciting funds last year.

The sums, which are extraordinary for an ex-president who has been booted off social media, testify to the power of Trump’s online donor base and the deep financial reservoir available to him if he chooses to seek the White House a third time. They also reveal how the former president has reaped financial rewards while claiming the election was stolen from him.

Since leaving office, Trump has continued to vigorously solicit donations from supporters, based mostly on false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election. His reported haul eclipsed that of his party’s House and Senate campaign arms, and was outpaced only slightly by the Republican National Committee, which raised $84 million in the first half of the year.

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 panel faces choice of whether to call GOP lawmakers to testify, Karoun Demirjian, Marianna Sotomayor and Jacqueline Alemany, Aug. 1, 2021 (print ed.). Several congressional Republicans have admitted to having contact with President Donald Trump during the Capitol insurrection or in the days leading up to it, making their testimony potentially key to the panel’s stated goal of being ‘guided solely by the facts.’

The Jan. 6 panel’s chairman, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), said in an interview that there is “no reluctance to subpoena” any member of Congress “whose testimony is germane to the mission of the select committee” if they resist cooperating voluntarily.

Thompson said the panel will be seeking the White House telephone and visitor logs to further scrutinize which members were in touch with the White House on Jan. 6.

“I would say between noon and 6 p.m., any call that went to the White House, you assume had to be something that had to do with it,” he said.

But legal experts said there is little precedent for forcing lawmakers to testify as part of a congressional inquiry if they resist a subpoena, an issue members of the Jan. 6 panel said they have yet to fully investigate or plan for as they plot out the next steps of their probe.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Will Trump ever be held accountable? The Justice Department just increased the odds, Laurence H. Tribe (professor of constitutional law emeritus at Harvard Law School), Aug. 1, 2021 (print ed). Donald Trump managed to evade legal accountability throughout his presidency. That might be about to change — and the newest sign comes in a brief filed by the Justice Department. It doesn’t directly address the former president, yet has ominous implications for his ability to avoid responsibility for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

The Justice filing came in a lawsuit in which Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and a number of Capitol Police officers have sued Trump and others for their roles in the insurrection. One of those named in the suit, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), claimed that he is immune from personal liability under a law known as the Westfall Act, which shields federal officials acting within the scope of their employment.

Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel and former President Trump (file photos).

Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel and former President Trump (file photos).

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: G.O.P. Strives to Turn Jan. 6 Riot Events Upside Down, Lisa Lerer and Nicholas Fandos, Aug. 1, 2021 (print ed.).  In the Republicans’ disinformation campaign, the arrested Capitol rioters are political prisoners and Speaker Nancy Pelosi is to blame for the attack.

In the hours and days after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, rattled Republican lawmakers knew exactly who was to blame: Donald J. Trump. Loyal allies began turning on him. Top Republicans vowed to make a full break from his divisive tactics and dishonesties. Some even discussed removing him from office.

rnc logoBy spring, however, after nearly 200 congressional Republicans had voted to clear Mr. Trump during a second impeachment proceeding, the conservative fringes of the party had already begun to rewrite history, describing the Capitol riot as a peaceful protest and comparing the invading mob to a “normal tourist visit,” as one congressman put it.

This past week, amid the emotional testimony of police officers at the first hearing of a House select committee, Republicans completed their journey through the looking-glass, spinning a new counternarrative of that deadly day. No longer content to absolve Mr. Trump, they concocted a version of events in which those accused of rioting were patriotic political prisoners and Speaker Nancy Pelosi was to blame for the violence.

Their new claims, some voiced from the highest levels of House Republican leadership, amount to a disinformation campaign being promulgated from the steps of the Capitol, aimed at giving cover to their party and intensifying the threats to political accountability.

republican elephant logoThis rendering of events — together with new evidence that Mr. Trump had counted on allies in Congress to help him use a baseless allegation of corruption to overturn the election — pointed to what some democracy experts see as a dangerous new sign in American politics: Even with Mr. Trump gone from the White House, many Republicans have little intention of abandoning the prevarication that was a hallmark of his presidency.

Rather, as the country struggles with the consequences of Mr. Trump’s assault on the legitimacy of the nation’s elections, leaders of his party — who, unlike the former president, have not lost their political or rhetorical platforms — are signaling their willingness to continue, look past or even expand his assault on the facts for political gain.

The phenomenon is not uniquely American.

“This is happening all over the place — it is so much linked to the democratic backsliding and rising of authoritarian movements,” said Laura Thornton, the director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. “It’s about the same sort of post-truth world. You can just repeat a lie over and over and, because there’s so little trust, people will believe it.”

Behind the Republican embrace of disinformation is a calculus of both ambition and self-preservation. With members of the select committee hinting that they could subpoena Trump aides, allies on Capitol Hill and perhaps Mr. Trump himself, the counterfactual counterattack could pre-emptively undercut an investigation of the riot. 

capitol noose shay horse nurphoto via getty

A crowd of Trump supporters surrounded a newly erected set of wooden gallows outside the Capitol Building on Jan. 6. "Hang Mike Pence!" members of the crowd shouted at times about the Republican Vice President who had announced that he could not comply with the president's call to block election certification that day. The wooden gallows near the Capitol Reflecting Pool.

washington post logoWashington Post, Federal judge berates riot suspect who refuses to wear mask: ‘When did you go to medical school?’ Rachel Weiner, Aug. 1, 2021 (print ed.). Daniel Goodwyn could go to jail for failing to comply with the requirement.

A federal judge in D.C. erupted in anger at a Jan. 6 riot defendant and his lawyer Friday afternoon for refusing to cooperate with court officials on covid-19 safety requirements.

“You may not believe in this virus even though 600,000 people have died,” said U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton. “I’m not going to be a part of spreading this virus because of what you don’t believe.”

But he did not immediately incarcerate Daniel Goodwyn, a San Francisco webpage designer accused of taking part in the assault on the Capitol. The judge said he would give Goodwyn one more chance to comply, even as the defendant insisted he would not.
reggie b walton

The judge, right, also warned Goodwyn’s lawyer, John Hull, that he could be held in contempt for repeatedly interrupting the proceedings and for calling a pretrial services officer “prissy” and “arrogant” in an email.

The clash in court came as concerns over the delta variant of the coronavirus and shifting masking guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised questions about the country’s pandemic recovery.

Goodwyn — charged with felony obstruction of an official proceeding and related misdemeanors — was first arrested in January at his parent’s home in Corinth, Tex.

During the arrest, according to prosecutors, FBI agents learned that someone in the home was believed to have covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, but Goodwyn refused to take a coronavirus test or wear a mask. When they put one on him, he chewed it and tried to spit it out; they went through five masks before getting him into quarantine at a nearby jail, prosecutors said.

Goodwyn was released in February but has since violated the conditions of his release multiple times, prosecutors said, including by refusing to wear a mask and failing to show up to meetings or report his location.

Hull said in court that Goodwyn had been diagnosed by a counselor as on the autism spectrum, which made it hard for him to wear a face covering and to handle rules he finds arbitrary. Some autistic people can’t tolerate face masks because of sensitivity to touch and texture. When asked why he wouldn’t wear a mask, Goodwyn said only that “it stresses me out,” then indicated that he does not believe in asymptomatic covid transmission or in the ability of masks to block that transmission. There is robust scientific evidence of both.

 

July 2021

July 31

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Newly revealed notes drag congressional Republicans into Trump’s election-subversion effort, Philip Bump, July 31, 2021 (print ed.). President Donald Trump officialPresident Donald Trump called acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen, below left, on Dec. 27 last year to discuss the issue at the center of his concerns. Not the 2,200 people a day dying of covid-19 at that point but, instead, his desperate attempts to cling to power after losing the presidential election on Nov. 3.

jeffrey rosenBefore digging into that call, it’s worth remembering the context. The election was called for Joe Biden on Nov. 7, as it became apparent that Trump had no path to victory. The Trump campaign and Trump himself tried to block states from certifying their results, without success.

On Dec. 11, the Supreme Court rejected the Texas attorney general’s flailing effort to toss vote totals from Biden-voting states. Three days after that, electors met in every state to cast their final ballots for president and vice president. By Dec. 27, Trump and an increasingly fringe group of allies had tried to gin up myriad conspiracy theories about the vote, each of which was quickly debunked or facially ridiculous. But here was Trump, insisting that Rosen do something.

Notes taken by Rosen’s deputy Richard Donoghue reveal Trump’s plan, such as it was.

Trump appears to have suggested that he was better versed on the situation than the top Justice Department official, because, he said, Rosen and his team Justice Department log circular“may not be following the internet the way I do.” (As a nation, we can be grateful that they were not.)

“[U]nderstand that the DOJ can’t + won’t snap its fingers + change the outcome of the election, doesn’t work that way,” Rosen said to Trump, according to Donoghue’s summary.

“[D]on’t expect you to do that,” Trump said in response, “just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R. Congressmen.”

Everything until those last four words was pretty well-established. It was clear from the first hours after polls closed on Nov. 3 that Trump was grasping at every conspiracy theory that popped up on websites or in conservative media, a habit that continues unabated.

 

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Merrick Garland: how do you like me now? Bill Palmer, right, July 31, 2021. For the first few months Attorney General Merrick Garland, above, was on the bill palmerjob, pundit after pundit insisted that he was either doing “nothing” or that he was part of some wacky conspiracy to protect Donald Trump.

These claims were always asinine on their face. But for awhile it was difficult to make an effective counter argument, because the Attorney General and the DOJ tend to be deliberate with their actions and careful with their words. In other words we had to wait until the crux of Garland’s DOJ finally began to spill over into the public eye – but now that’s beginning to happen.

bill palmer report logo headerThis past week alone has been a barnburner. Garland’s DOJ told the Treasury Department to give Trump’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee, making clear that it’s not trying to “cover up” anything. Garland’s DOJ also refused a request from Mo Brooks to represent him in civil action he’s facing for his actions on January 6th – setting a clear precedent that insurrectionist politicians are in a legally precarious position. Garland also took action against rogue Texas Governor Greg Abbott over an illegal executive order.

Impatient observers, who don’t have much of a sense for how these things actually work, are now remarking that Garland is “finally doing something.” But in reality, all we usually get to see out of the DOJ is the end result of any given lengthy internal legal process, and it just so happens that some of these processes happen to be spilling into public view at the same time. Arguing that Garland was doing “nothing” prior to this week is akin to arguing that the chef has been doing “nothing” right up until the moment your food comes out. Legal positions and criminal cases take time to cook as well.

All along Palmer Report has been pointing out that we had far too little data to work with when it came to evaluating Merrick Garland; most of the negative opinions of his work were based on a handful of poorly understood DOJ positions, or the lack of publicly visible results. Now we’re finally starting to get some real evidence of what Garland has been up to these past months, and it turns out most “Resistance” types are happy with most of what he’s been doing.

There’s plenty more to be done. Last month Garland laid out a DOJ comprehensive plan to protect voting rights, but it’s largely going to consist of civil suits against red states, meaning it’ll take time to play out. Hanging insurrectionist politicians out to dry is a good start, but now that hundreds of lower level Capitol attackers have been indicted, more of them need to be flipped so viable criminal cases can be brought against the insurrectionist politicians directly. And while the arrest of Tom Barrack and the raid of Rudy Giuliani are progress, this needs to culminate in a criminal case against Donald Trump himself.

And the lone “bad” ruling out of the Garland DOJ thus far – its decision to continue representing Trump in the civil suit brought by E. Jean Carroll – should be reversed. But given the DOJ’s refusal to represent Trump’s allies in January 6th litigation, it now appears that the Garland DOJ’s decision to continue representing Trump against Carroll was based solely on the fact that the DOJ was already representing Trump in this case before Garland got there.

But for now, Merrick Garland seems to have fended off the teeming hordes of angry people with pitchforks who were demanding that he be fired simply because… well, even they probably aren’t even sure why at this point. Of course that could change on a dime again, depending on whether the DOJ’s next move happens to be something like the arrest of Matt Gaetz, or whether it happens to be a legal position on an arcane matter that’s poorly understood and spun inaccurately by pundits. But if anything, this week should teach us that sizing up a new Attorney General requires taking a longer view of things, and not merely basing that assessment on which way the wind is blowing.

July 30

donald trump money palmer report Custom

Palmer Report, Commentary: DOJ makes major ruling against Donald Trump on his tax returns, Bill Palmer, right, July 30, 2021. New York prosecutors already have bill palmerDonald Trump’s tax returns as part of the criminal case they’re building against him and the Trump Organization. But those tax returns still haven’t become public, because Congress’ ongoing attempts at acquiring them never did work out – until now.

bill palmer report logo headerThe Department of Justice determined today that the Treasury Department should give Trump’s tax returns to Congress. There is every reason to expect that the Treasury will comply. This means that the House Ways and Means Committee is about to have the tax returns, and will surely hold public hearings exposing the most corrupt and criminal aspects of the returns – particularly the parts that show Trump’s personal finances overlapping with his political moves while in office.

The precise timeframe for the returns being handed over, and the resulting hearings, isn’t immediately clear. But we now know that it will almost certainly happen. So the public is about to find out what New York prosecutors already know: what dark and dirty secrets Donald Trump has been hiding in his tax returns all along.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: It’s a good thing Republican election-stealers are so incompetent, Paul Waldman, right, July 30, 2021. The Arizona election audit, a kind paul waldmanof Renaissance fair for deranged conspiracy theorists and Donald Trump dead-enders, has finally wound down its work, returning nearly 2.1 million ballots to county officials after they were massaged, squinted at, passed under UV lights and examined for traces of bamboo to see if they might have come from Asia (I kid you not). We await the final report, which may at last reveal that it was aliens from the planet Xerpdorp, working with George Soros and D.B. Cooper, who stole the state’s election.

You might say that I shouldn’t joke about this, since it’s part of a wide-reaching attack on the U.S. system of elections. But that’s just the point: The preservation of our democracy may depend in no small part on Republicans continuing to be too incompetent to steal future elections.

Not all Republicans, of course; there are lots of people in the GOP who are quite smart. But the ones working hardest on undermining our system are the looniest bunch the party could find.

arizona mapThe Maricopa County audit, which Trump has insisted all along would show that he really won the state, has been such a farce that even many Arizona Republicans have tried to distance themselves from it. GOP state senators are feuding with one another over whose fault it is; the governor says, “I don’t think we should spend any more time thinking about 2020”; and the whole thing has proved to be a gigantic embarrassment.

Yet Republicans in other states, from Pennsylvania to Michigan, are trying to organize similar “audits,” causing more internal disarray. To which Democrats could almost breathe a sigh of relief. If the GOP is going to keep trying to steal elections, better if they assign their worst and dimmest to the task.

To understand just how much the Republican Party has changed, it’s instructive to think back to the last contested election before 2020, in 2000. When the results in Florida were thrown into uncertainty, the GOP mobilized its smartest and most ruthless operatives to make sure the outcome was secured in George W. Bush’s favor. The enterprise was run by the cool and efficient James Baker, who had been a Cabinet secretary and chief of staff to two presidents.

Baker assembled a team of the party’s best lawyers, including three future Supreme Court justices — John G. Roberts Jr., Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — to fight the battle in state and federal courts. There was no “release the Kraken” courtroom buffoonery and no Four Seasons Total Landscaping-style face plants. The drama may have been chaotic, but inside the chaos was a highly competent group of Republican professionals who navigated it all the way to the Supreme Court, where five Republican justices handed the victory to Bush.

Now imagine if people like them — rather than Rudolph W. Giuliani, a bunch of QAnon believers and the MyPillow guy — were the ones trying to steal elections today.

 

djt handwave file

Palmer Report, Opinion: Is the dam finally breaking? Bill Palmer, right, July 29, 2021. Donald Trump publicly encouraged Republican Senators to vote against the bill palmerbipartisan portion of President Biden’s infrastructure package. Fifteen Republican Senators voted last night to advance it anyway. Even as Trump’s grip on the Republican House seems to be nearly as intact as ever, Trump’s grip on the Republican Senate seems to be slipping pretty severely. So what’s going on?

Consider that the Republican House is led by Kevin McCarthy, a political idiot who owes his current job to Trump, and who may therefore be inclined to continue following Trump’s lead no matter how poorly is goes for him. Also consider that the Republican Senate is led by Mitch McConnell, who is overwhelmingly corrupt in his own right, but who cares a whole lot more about his own ambitions than about protecting Trump.

bill palmer report logo headerBut is the difference between the Republican House and the Republican Senate really as straightforward as the difference in leadership? We may soon find out. McCarthy made an awfully dumb move by refusing to put any of his own House Republicans on the January 6th Committee, which as a result will carry out a very honest investigation led by six Democrats plus Republicans Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. As this investigation goes on, will House Republicans in general begin to realize they’ve made a mistake by following McCarthy, right, down this Trump-led rabbit hole?

kevin mccarthyThere are plenty of House Republicans who still believe that they need Donald Trump’s blessing – or that they at least need to avoid his wrath – in order to keep their own seats in 2022. But in this week’s Texas special election for a U.S. House seat, the Trump-endorsed Republican lost by seven points to another Republican candidate. Trump’s support doesn’t seem to be of that much help to Republican politics these days, even in a red state like Texas.

Then there’s the reality that as the January 6th investigation continues, things are likely to get a lot uglier for Donald Trump and his fellow insurrectionists. House Republicans like Jim Jordan and Mo Brooks will likely be called as witnesses. If they lawyer up and try to fight the subpoenas, it’ll mean that they fear criminal prosecution.

The public will grow angrier about January 6th, and voters in the middle may look to take out their frustrations on Republicans in the midterms. If that’s the direction this heads in, House Republicans who aren’t directly connected to the Capitol attack may begin looking for a way to insulate themselves from it by publicly standing against the insurrectionists. They could turn against McCarthy in the process. So maybe the dam really is about to break.

washington post logoWashington Post, Did Trump follow his pledge to donate the last 6 months of his presidential pay? It’s a mystery, David A. Fahrenthold, July 30, 2021 (print ed). Donald Trump promised to give away his $400,000 presidential salary. And he kept that promise, publicly announcing each gift — at least, for his first three President Donald Trump officialand a half years in office.

Then, in the middle of last year, the announcements stopped.

Trump’s White House never said where — or even if — he donated the last $220,000 of his salary, covering the final six months of 2020 and the first 20 days of 2021.

Now, six months after he left office, it’s not clear where Trump donated that remaining salary — or if he donated it at all.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Appeals court rules against Donald Trump, Ron Leshnower, July 30, 2021. Donald Trump’s many misdeeds are continuing to catch up to him. Justice can’t come quickly enough to right the wrongs, compensate the victims, and expose the full truth behind the evils of the man who occupied the Oval Office for four years longer than he deserved. Yet, justice is coming for the proud miscreant in many ways.

One way came this week in the form of an appellate court ruling that was overshadowed by coverage of more pressing Trump-influenced events, including the January 6 attack and the rising pandemic death toll. In addition to shining greater light on Trump’s fraudulent schemes and making victims whole, this new ruling could produce bombshell videos that are said to be far more damaging than the infamous Access Hollywood tape.

In a 3-0 unanimous decision, the Second Circuit rejected Trump’s appeal trying to limit the victims of the desktop video phone service scheme he promoted on “Celebrity Apprentice” to arbitration. In 2018, investors filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the Trump family and the Trump Organization for losses suffered after Trump, Don Jr., Eric, and Ivanka promoted the fraud for a decade.

In April 2020, a district court judge ruled the investors were only bound to arbitrate with ACN (the marketing company behind the fraudulent phone service). There was no legal basis for giving the Trumps the benefit of an arbitration agreement that they never signed, and so the judge ruled they must defend themselves in court against fraud, false advertising, and unfair competition claims.

To enable the investors to proceed against the Trumps, the judge also ordered Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) to show them hundreds of hours of recordings from two episodes of “The Celebrity Apprentice” that were never broadcast. According to former contestants, this footage contains an offensive treasure trove of Trump’s racist and sexist speech, which prompted former producer Bill Pruitt to tweet in the wake of the Access Hollywood tape release in 2016 that these recordings are “far worse.”

Robbie Kaplan, a partner at the law firm representing the defrauded investors, hailed the victory on Twitter. She then announced her firm’s intention to move forward with obtaining the tapes from MGM and taking depositions of the Trump family “ASAP.” Although it may resemble the proverbial tortoise more than the hare, justice is coming for Donald Trump.

capitol noose shay horse nurphoto via getty

A crowd of Trump supporters surrounded a newly erected set of wooden gallows outside the Capitol Building on Jan. 6. "Hang Mike Pence!" members of the crowd shouted at times about the Republican Vice President who had announced that he could not comply with the president's call to block election certification that day. The wooden gallows near the Capitol Reflecting Pool.

michael fanone

 washington post logoWashington Post, D.C. officer who had a heart attack during Capitol riot received vulgar, threatening voice mail for testifying, Jaclyn Peiser, July 29, 2021. As D.C. police officer Michael Fanone, above, sat before nine House lawmakers Tuesday morning recounting his harrowing and traumatizing tale of defending the U.S. Capitol from a pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6, his phone rang on silent mode. The unknown caller left a voice mail.

“I wish they would have killed all you scumbags, ’cause you people are scum,” the man said, referring to the police officers.

“Too bad they didn’t beat ... you more,” he added.

Fanone shared the full, uncensored voice mail — riddled with racist and homophobic expletives — Tuesday on CNN’s “Don Lemon Tonight.” The caller, who has not been publicly identified, also repeated former president Donald Trump’s false claims of a stolen election and accused Fanone of lying.

“They stole the election from Trump and you know that, you scumbag,” he said.

Fanone said he wanted to share the voice mail to remind people that many Americans believe the false, downplayed retelling of the events on Jan. 6 by Trump and several GOP lawmakers.

“Unfortunately, I’ve come to expect this type of response,” Fanone told Lemon. “It’s not the first time that people have expressed similar opinions to me. … There is an element in this country that believes that.”

Former New York Republican State Senate candidate Daniel Christmann, shown circled in yellow inside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection via an FBI photo.

Former New York Republican State Senate candidate Daniel Christmann, shown circled in yellow inside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection via an FBI photo.

washington post logoWashington Post, A former New York senate candidate stormed the Capitol, then asked friends to delete video evidence, feds say, Andrea Salcedo, July 30, 2021 (print ed.). Daniel Christmann faces multiple charges over his role in the Capitol insurrection, according to a criminal complaint that was unsealed Wednesday. ( Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) )

Moments after Daniel Christmann climbed through an open window to get into the Capitol on Jan. 6, the former New York state senate candidate took out his phone to record the insurrection for his Instagram followers, prosecutors said.

That afternoon, Christmann walked around the building taking videos he posted to his @dannyforsenate account, according to a 19-page criminal complaint that was unsealed Wednesday.

In the following days, private messages obtained by federal authorities show Christmann bragged about participating in the riot, explaining to those messaging him on Instagram how he reached unauthorized areas.

When Christmann later became aware that authorities arrested two people he knew who were inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, he began reaching out to Facebook friends to ask them to delete any videos showing him on the grounds that day, prosecutors said.

“Please remove those videos,” Christmann wrote, according to a screenshot in the complaint. “My friend jake got taken in and my campaign manager from this summer got taken in. Its go time on the end of times.”

The Monroe, N.Y., man is among hundreds of people who have been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection, including many turned in by relatives, friends and co-workers after they posted about the riot on social media.

Christmann, who was charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds; disorderly and disruptive conduct; and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building, was arrested Wednesday. His arrest came a day after four Capitol police officers delivered emotional testimony during a congressional hearing of the insurrection, detailing the abuse they endured while attempting to hold back the mob of President Donald Trump supporters on Jan. 6.

 

July 29

sworn capitol officers gty ps 210727 1627395009035 hpMain 16x9 992

 From left, Sgt. Aquilino Gonell of the U.S. Capitol Police, Officer Michael Fanone of the D.C. Metropolitan Police, Officer Daniel Hodges of the D.C. Metropolitan Police and Private First Class Harry Dunn of the U.S. Capitol Police are sworn in to testify before the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on U.S. Capitol on July 27, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Jan. 6 police officers give a master class on the dangers of right-wing extremism, E.J. Dionne Jr., right, July 29, 2021 (print ed.). Four law enforcement heroes made abundantly ej dionne w open neckclear at Tuesday’s inaugural hearing of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol why this inquiry is essential and why so many Republicans wanted to keep it from happening.

Their dramatic, heartfelt testimony also made an airtight case that right-wing extremism is a clear and present danger to the United States.

“What makes the struggle harder and more painful is to know so many of my fellow citizens, including so many of the people I put my life at risk to defend, are downplaying or outright denying what happened,” D.C. police officer Michael Fanone said.

“I feel like I went to hell and back to protect them and the people in this room,” he went on, “but too many are now telling me that hell doesn’t exist, or that hell actually wasn’t that bad.”

His next point was devastating as a commentary on what large sections of the Republican Party are committed to doing — and in its accuracy.

“The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful,” he said, “nothing, truly nothing, has prepared me to address those elected members of our government who continue to deny events of that day. And in doing so betray their oath of office.”

Yes, they do.

At Tuesday’s hearing, D.C. police officers Fanone and Daniel Hodges, Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn and Sgt. Aquilino Gonell made clear why so many Republicans want us to forget what happened on Jan. 6.

Republicans don’t want us to focus on “the hit man,” in Dunn’s resonant phrase.

They want to let Donald Trump off the hook.

And they resolutely do not want to do what Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) rightly said the committee must do: try to account for “what happened every minute of that day in the White House — every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during and after the attack.”

What happened on Jan. 6 was monstrous, the product of a dangerous, anti-democratic sickness haunting parts of the American right. This is the sort of event that a free nation must come to terms with, not ignore; investigate, not sweep under the rug; and understand, not dismiss as a one-off display of violence. That’s why this committee’s work is so important.

washington post logoWashington Post, As Trump sought probes of 2020 election, he called acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen almost daily, Josh Dawsey and Devlin Barrett, July 29, 2021 (print ed.). President Donald Trump called his acting attorney general nearly every day at the end of last year to alert him to claims of voter fraud or alleged improper vote counts in the 2020 election, according to two people President Donald Trump officialfamiliar with the conversations.

The personal pressure campaign, which has not been previously reported, involved repeated phone calls to acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen in which Trump raised various allegations he had heard about and asked what the Justice Department was doing about the issue. The people familiar with the conversations spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive legal and political issues that are not yet public.

jeffrey rosenRosen, left, told few people about the phone calls, even in his inner circle. But there are notes of some of the calls that were written by a top aide to Rosen, Richard Donoghue, who was present for some of the conversations, these people said.

Donoghue’s notes could be turned over to Congress in a matter of days, they added, if Trump does not file papers in court seeking to block such a handover. In addition, both Rosen and Donoghue could be questioned about the conversations by congressional committees examining Trump’s actions in the days after the election.

Justice Department log circularThe Justice Department recently notified Rosen, Donoghue and others who were serving there during the end of Trump’s presidency that the agency would not seek to invoke executive privilege if they are asked about their contacts with the president during that period.

That posture — which the letter to Rosen calls a departure from normal agency practice — means that individuals who are questioned by Congress would not have to say the conversations with the president were off-limits. They would be able to share details that give a firsthand account of Trump’s frantic attempts to overturn the 2020 election and involve the Justice Department in that effort.

 

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U.S. Attorney Gen. Merrick Garland (file photo).

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Be careful, Arizona Republicans. The DOJ just made clear your phony election audit is on thin ice, Jennifer Rubin, right, July 9, 2021. The Justice Department stepped up its visibility jennifer rubin new headshoton the enforcement of voting rights on Wednesday, issuing new guidance on efforts by Republicans to curb access to the ballot and to stage phony election audits.

That part on audits is the most intriguing, as it attempts to keep Republicans from undermining or even changing election results. The Justice Department zeroed in on Section 20701 of Title 52 in the U.S. Code, which requires election officials to maintain custody of all election related materials for 22 months.

“Election audits are exceedingly rare. But the Department is concerned that some jurisdictions conducting them may be using, or proposing to use, procedures that risk violating the Civil Rights Act,” the department found. “The duty to retain and preserve election records necessarily requires that elections officials maintain the security and integrity of those records and their attendant chain of custody, so that a complete and uncompromised record of federal elections can be reliably accessed and used in federal law enforcement matters.”

It means that, even when private “auditors” are given access, state election officials still must preserve their integrity. (Enforcing this part of the law something voting-rights groups have called on the administration to do.)

arizona mapIn a swipe at the unprofessional audit underway in Maricopa County, Ariz., the department stated: “Where election records leave the control of elections officials, the systems for maintaining the security, integrity and chain of custody of those records can easily be broken.” It added that the “risk of the records being lost, stolen, altered, compromised, or destroyed . . . is exacerbated if the election records are given to private actors who have neither experience nor expertise in handling such records and who are unfamiliar with the obligations imposed by federal law.”

The department also made clear it is prepared to enforce criminal penalties for violation of these document retention requirements. That is clearly a shot across the bow of the Arizona Republicans, who have allowed an inexperienced outfit led by conspiracy theorists to rifle through ballots and despoil voting machines.

Further, the department warned against various forms of voting intimidation that violate federal law, again signaling that phony GOP audits, especially Arizona’s, are on thin ice.

“There have been reports, with respect to some of the post-2020 ballot examinations, of proposals to contact individuals face to face to see whether the individuals were qualified voters who had actually voted,” the department stated, referencing Cyber Ninjas, the outfit that has proposed canvassing Arizona voters in search of voter fraud. “This sort of activity raises concerns regarding potential intimidation of voters. . . . Jurisdictions that authorize or conduct audits must ensure that the way those reviews are conducted has neither the purpose nor the effect of dissuading qualified citizens from participating in the electoral process. If they do not, the Department will act to ensure that all eligible citizens feel safe in exercising their right to register and cast a ballot in future elections.”

The directive is not a lawsuit, but it provides a clear predicate should Arizona or other jurisdictions flout voting laws. Given the uphill climb for new voting-rights legislation, aggressive enforcement of existing laws is critical. Attorney General Merrick Garland seems willing to combat fake audits, something not covered by legislation under consideration in Congress.

When coupled with this other developments at the Justice Department regarding matters related to Jan. 6, it seems Garland is attempting to dispel the impression that he intends to be a passive observer of an assault on voting rights. He does not have a lot of arrows in his quiver thanks to the filibuster and the Supreme Court’s cramped view of voting rights, but he sounds ready to make the most of what he has. That’s a development all Americans should cheer.

washington post logoWashington Post, Charlie Kirk’s pro-Trump youth group stokes vaccine resistance as covid surges again, Isaac Stanley-Becker, July 29, 2021. Turning Point USA and its affiliates are urging students to resist mandates and spreading baseless claims about ‘medical raids’ as part of a bid for donations.

charlie kirk hostA young emergency room doctor stood before dozens of students in a Tampa convention center this month and gave them a script for resisting coronavirus vaccines.

“You say, ‘I’m 18 years old. I have no health conditions. Based on the five-year mortality data, I have a highly likelihood of dying from flu vs. covid, and I don’t get the flu vaccine, so I’m not going to get this one,’" Sean Ochsenbein, a 33-year-old attending physician in Johnson City, Tenn., told students gathered for a summit hosted by the conservative youth group Turning Point USA, according to a recording of the session obtained by The Washington Post. “Drop the mic. You’re done. That’s it.”

That presentation is just one way the group led by Charlie Kirk, 27, has recently sought to rally young people against vaccine mandates. Kirk, a college dropout who gained further clicks and notoriety by using his podcast to claim the much-honored gymnast Simone Biles was a "sociopath" for dropping out of events at the Olympics, is shown above.

Text messages announcing Kirk as their author warn that President Biden is “sending goons DOOR-TO-DOOR to make you take a covid-19 vaccine.” Facebook ads from Kirk’s tax-exempt nonprofit insist the government has “NO RIGHT to force you to inject yourself with an experimental vaccine,” and say the best response to outreach about the shots is to, “LOCK YOUR DOORS, KIDS!!”

djt handwave file

Palmer Report, Opinion: Is the dam finally breaking? Bill Palmer, right, July 29, 2021. Donald Trump publicly encouraged Republican Senators to vote against the bill palmerbipartisan portion of President Biden’s infrastructure package. Fifteen Republican Senators voted last night to advance it anyway. Even as Trump’s grip on the Republican House seems to be nearly as intact as ever, Trump’s grip on the Republican Senate seems to be slipping pretty severely. So what’s going on?

Consider that the Republican House is led by Kevin McCarthy, a political idiot who owes his current job to Trump, and who may therefore be inclined to continue following Trump’s lead no matter how poorly is goes for him. Also consider that the Republican Senate is led by Mitch McConnell, who is overwhelmingly corrupt in his own right, but who cares a whole lot more about his own ambitions than about protecting Trump.

bill palmer report logo headerBut is the difference between the Republican House and the Republican Senate really as straightforward as the difference in leadership? We may soon find out. McCarthy made an awfully dumb move by refusing to put any of his own House Republicans on the January 6th Committee, which as a result will carry out a very honest investigation led by six Democrats plus Republicans Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. As this investigation goes on, will House Republicans in general begin to realize they’ve made a mistake by following McCarthy, right, down this Trump-led rabbit hole?

kevin mccarthyThere are plenty of House Republicans who still believe that they need Donald Trump’s blessing – or that they at least need to avoid his wrath – in order to keep their own seats in 2022. But in this week’s Texas special election for a U.S. House seat, the Trump-endorsed Republican lost by seven points to another Republican candidate. Trump’s support doesn’t seem to be of that much help to Republican politics these days, even in a red state like Texas.

Then there’s the reality that as the January 6th investigation continues, things are likely to get a lot uglier for Donald Trump and his fellow insurrectionists. House Republicans like Jim Jordan and Mo Brooks will likely be called as witnesses. If they lawyer up and try to fight the subpoenas, it’ll mean that they fear criminal prosecution.

The public will grow angrier about January 6th, and voters in the middle may look to take out their frustrations on Republicans in the midterms. If that’s the direction this heads in, House Republicans who aren’t directly connected to the Capitol attack may begin looking for a way to insulate themselves from it by publicly standing against the insurrectionists. They could turn against McCarthy in the process. So maybe the dam really is about to break.

 

capitol noose shay horse nurphoto via getty

A crowd of Trump supporters surrounded a newly erected set of wooden gallows outside the Capitol Building on Jan. 6. "Hang Mike Pence!" members of the crowd shouted at times about the Republican Vice President who had announced that he could not comply with the president's call to block election certification that day. The wooden gallows near the Capitol Reflecting Pool.

 washington post logoWashington Post, D.C. officer who had a heart attack during Capitol riot received vulgar, threatening voice mail for testifying, Jaclyn Peiser, July 29, 2021. As D.C. police officer Michael Fanone sat before nine House lawmakers Tuesday morning recounting his harrowing and traumatizing tale of defending the U.S. Capitol from a pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6, his phone rang on silent mode. The unknown caller left a voice mail.

“I wish they would have killed all you scumbags, ’cause you people are scum,” the man said, referring to the police officers.

“Too bad they didn’t beat ... you more,” he added.

Fanone shared the full, uncensored voice mail — riddled with racist and homophobic expletives — Tuesday on CNN’s “Don Lemon Tonight.” The caller, who has not been publicly identified, also repeated former president Donald Trump’s false claims of a stolen election and accused Fanone of lying.

“They stole the election from Trump and you know that, you scumbag,” he said.

Fanone said he wanted to share the voice mail to remind people that many Americans believe the false, downplayed retelling of the events on Jan. 6 by Trump and several GOP lawmakers.

“Unfortunately, I’ve come to expect this type of response,” Fanone told Lemon. “It’s not the first time that people have expressed similar opinions to me. … There is an element in this country that believes that.”

Former New York Republican State Senate candidate Daniel Christmann, shown circled in yellow inside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection via an FBI photo.

Former New York Republican State Senate candidate Daniel Christmann, shown circled in yellow inside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection via an FBI photo.

washington post logoWashington Post, A former New York senate candidate stormed the Capitol, then asked friends to delete video evidence, feds say, Andrea Salcedo, July 29, 2021). Daniel Christmann faces multiple charges over his role in the Capitol insurrection, according to a criminal complaint that was unsealed Wednesday. ( Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) )

Moments after Daniel Christmann climbed through an open window to get into the Capitol on Jan. 6, the former New York state senate candidate took out his phone to record the insurrection for his Instagram followers, prosecutors said.

That afternoon, Christmann walked around the building taking videos he posted to his @dannyforsenate account, according to a 19-page criminal complaint that was unsealed Wednesday.

In the following days, private messages obtained by federal authorities show Christmann bragged about participating in the riot, explaining to those messaging him on Instagram how he reached unauthorized areas.

When Christmann later became aware that authorities arrested two people he knew who were inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, he began reaching out to Facebook friends to ask them to delete any videos showing him on the grounds that day, prosecutors said.

“Please remove those videos,” Christmann wrote, according to a screenshot in the complaint. “My friend jake got taken in and my campaign manager from this summer got taken in. Its go time on the end of times.”

The Monroe, N.Y., man is among hundreds of people who have been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection, including many turned in by relatives, friends and co-workers after they posted about the riot on social media.

Christmann, who was charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds; disorderly and disruptive conduct; and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building, was arrested Wednesday. His arrest came a day after four Capitol police officers delivered emotional testimony during a congressional hearing of the insurrection, detailing the abuse they endured while attempting to hold back the mob of President Donald Trump supporters on Jan. 6.

 

 capitol riot shutterstock capitol

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP Rep. Clyde stands by comparison of Jan. 6 mob to ‘tourists’ when pressed by Democratic Rep. Raskin, John Wagner, July 29, 2021. The fiery clash between Raskin, Clyde on Jan. 6 ‘tourist’ label.

Rep. Andrew S. Clyde (R-Ga.), who infamously compared the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol to “a normal tourist visit,” steadfastly stood by his contention Tuesday night during an extended spirited exchange with Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.), rightjamin raskin american university Custom 2.

The clash came during a Rules Committee meeting several hours after Raskin had taken part in a House select committee hearing with four police officers who were on the scene when a violent mob of supporters of President Donald Trump breached the Capitol.

andrew clydeDuring the earlier hearing, Raskin questioned one of the officers, Daniel Hodges of the D.C. force, about Clyde’s comparison. Hodges rejected it, instead repeatedly using the word “terrorists” to describe those who took part in the riot.

During the Rules Committee meeting, Raskin pressed Clyde on whether he had watched the testimony of the officers earlier in the day.

Clyde, left, said that question was “absolutely irrelevant” to the matter in front of the Rules Committee.

“He refuses to say whether or not he heard the Capitol officers who risked their lives and have experienced traumatic medical injuries,” Raskin said. “That’s his prerogative.” Raskin then noted that the “tourist” comparison was rejected by Hodges.

July 28

Law & Crime, Trump Family Loses Big Appeals Court Fight to Force Fraud and Deceptive Practices Lawsuit into Secret Arbitration, Colin Kalmbacher, July 28, 2021. Former president Donald Trump, his prized family business, the Trump Organization, and three of his adult children, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump, all suffered a significant legal setback in a federal appeals court opinion issued Wednesday morning.

For years the Trump family and its namesake entity have fought to keep a potentially ugly pyramid scheme lawsuit from being litigated in the public sphere. The 45th first family’s weapon of choice to keep those details under wraps was private and compelled arbitration clauses.

In a 43-page opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denied the Trump family’s request to settle the numerous complaints against them behind the veil, and with the help, of arbitrators.

“The truth or falsity of the plaintiffs’ allegations is not before us,” Circuit Judge Robert D. Sack wrote. “We neither express nor imply any views with respect to them. The only question before us is whether this case should be resolved before the district court or an arbitrator.”

An attorney for the plaintiffs praised the court’s decision via Twitter.

“We look forward to resuming discovery in this case about a fraud on hard-working Americans perpetrated by Donald Trump and three of his adult children,” Roberta Kaplan tweeted. “We’re eager to receive the documents etc. requested from ACN, MGM and the parties so that we can begin taking depositions ASAP.”

Procedural in nature, the ruling is still a solid victory for the plaintiffs. And, though the court insisted the merits were not at stake, the alleged facts and details of the case loom large in the panel’s decision here.

Asserting myriad claims including “racketeering,” conspiracy and fraud, several class action plaintiffs originally sued the Trumps in October 2018 alleging the defendants – by way of “videos, print and online media” – promoted and endorsed a sure-fire loser of a multi-level marketing, or pyramid, scheme known as ACN Opportunity, LLC.

Those endorsements came, the anonymous plaintiffs allege, even though the various Trumps at issue failed to conduct due diligence about the likelihood of economic losses and the slim probability of commercial success from such schemes. And, as it turns out, each of the plaintiffs produced evidence to show that the vast majority of people who were convinced to become “Independent Business Owners” for ACN went on to suffer losses or earned minimal profits.

Instead, the plaintiffs claim, the Trump family simply parroted ACN’s allegedly untrue claims because they were being paid millions of dollars. And those pay-for-play payments to the Trumps were not publicly disclosed at the time their endorsements were made.

From the court’s opinion:

The four pseudonymous plaintiffs are persons of modest financial means who maintain that they fell victim to the defendants’ allegedly fraudulent scheme to induce consumers to invest in ACN by making false and misleading promotional statements about ACN’s business. The defendants allegedly concealed the fact that they were paid handsomely by ACN for what purported to be unsolicited endorsements.

More specifically, the plaintiffs allege that in exchange for millions of dollars in secret payments from ACN to the defendants between 2005 and 2015, the defendants fraudulently promoted and endorsed ACN as offering legitimate business opportunities that were likely to afford IBOs success. The defendants allegedly misled consumers, including the plaintiffs, to believe that: (1) IBOs would have a reasonable likelihood of commercial success if they invested in ACN; (2) the defendant Donald J. Trump was independently promoting and endorsing the ACN business opportunity because he thought that it offered a reasonable probability of commercial success for investors; and (3) Mr. Trump’s endorsement was predicated on the defendants’ due diligence, familiarity with ACN and its business, and personal experience with ACN. The defendants conveyed this message in various forums, including at ACN events, in ACN recruiting publications and videos, and on two episodes of “The Celebrity Apprentice” television show, where contestants seeking a job at the Trump Organization promoted ACN. The defendants’ message was critical, the plaintiffs assert, in convincing consumers – including them – to invest in ACN as IBOs.

“This message, however, was allegedly materially false,” Sack’s opinion goes on. “Contrary to the defendants’ representations that ACN’s business opportunity was a low-risk entrepreneurial venture that offered investors a viable source of income, investigations by regulatory agencies allegedly have demonstrated that ACN’s business was high-risk and that investors had a minimal likelihood of commercial success.”

The alleged facts are only cited by the court as relevant background to explain the basis of the legal claims. And, again, the merits (or lack thereof) viz. those allegations are not really what the court relied on here. This is, at the present stage, a procedural battle. But those facts are important to note because of the case’s procedural history.

At first, the Trumps litigated the lawsuits in the court system and successfully batted away a few of the causes of action – including the headline-generating racketeering claim. After winning those victories, however, and failing to secure a motion to dismiss, the Trumps moved to have the remaining claims settled by secretive arbitration.

Last April, a district court in New York City declined to allow the arbitrators newfound purview over the matter.

“These wins and benefits on the defense side represent defeats and prejudice on the Plaintiffs’ side,” Judge Lorna G. Schofield noted. “Now that Defendants have extracted what they can from the judicial proceedings, they seek to move to a different forum. This conduct is both substantively prejudicial towards Plaintiffs and seeks to use the [Federal Arbitration Act (FAA)] as a vehicle to manipulate the rules of procedure to Defendants’ benefit and Plaintiffs’ harm.”

The next month, a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York refused to stay the decision pending appeal. So, the lawsuit moved forward.

July 23

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: Was Pegasus used by Trump and Kushner to blackmail U.S. politicians? Wayne Madsen, July 23, 2021. Revelations by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that Israeli wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallsales of NSO Group's Pegasus smart phone surveillance program closely matched the foreign trips of former Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu have raised the possibility that Jared Kushner, who participated in Netanyahu's diplomatic trips to countries using Pegasus, also used Pegasus to eavesdrop on the communications of Republicans who, virtually overnight, became loyalists of Donald Trump.

As more details emerge about the political intelligence uses of Pegasus, the Israeli government and NSO Group are trying to contain the public relations damage caused by Israel's sale of the surveillance system to some of the world's most repressive regimes, including Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, the lindsey graham judiciary chairmanUnited Arab Emirates, Hungary, and Morocco. All have close ties to Israel.

mitch mcconnell elaine chaoPegasus does not merely allow an eavesdropper to listen in on smart phone conversations but allows the phone's microphone and camera to be used as an espionage device, even when the phone is turned off. Pegasus has been termed a "digital predator."

Trump's possible use of Pegasus to provide surveillance information on those whose Apple and Microsoft data were subpoenaed by Trump's Justice Department and on those whose data was not subpoenaed opens the door to Trump using embarrassing information to blackmail Republicans who, on a dime, went from being Trump critics to his most loyal supporters. Blackmail in politics usually involves sex, money, or a combination of the two.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: A Foreign Agent in Trump’s Inner Circle? Michelle Goldberg, right, July 23, 2021. Once upon a time, it would have been huge news if the chairman of the former president’s imichelle goldberg thumbnaugural committee was indicted on charges of acting as an agent of a foreign power.

Donald Trump’s presidency, however, has left us with scandal inflation. At this point many of the leading figures from his 2016 campaign have been either indicted or convicted, even if they were later pardoned. The C.F.O. of Trump’s company was charged with tax fraud less than a month ago.

tom barrackheadshotSo when the billionaire real estate investor Tom Barrack, left, one of Trump’s biggest fund-raisers, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with acting as an unregistered agent of the United Arab Emirates along with other felonies, it might have seemed like a dog-bites-man story. Barrack was once described by longtime Trump strategist uae embassy sealRoger Stone — a felon, naturally — as the ex-president’s best friend. If you knew nothing else about Barrack but that, you might have guessed he’d end up in handcuffs.

Nevertheless, Barrack’s arrest is important. Trump’s dealings with the Emirates and Saudi Arabia deserve to be investigated as thoroughly as his administration’s relationship with Russia. So far that hasn’t happened. When Robert Mueller, the former special counsel, testified before Congress, Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said to him, “We did not bother to ask whether financial inducements from any Gulf nations were influencing U.S. policy, since it is outside the four corners of your report, and so we must find out.” But we have not found out.

 

July 21

Pro-Trump Insurrection, Finances

Trump advisor and Jan. 6 insurrection participant Roger Stone poses at center with leaders of the Oath Keepers.

Trump advisor Roger Stone poses at center with leaders of the Oath Keepers.

washington post logoWashington Post, In new Capitol riot guilty plea, Tampa man admits intending to block Congress with Oath Keepers, Spencer S. Hsu, July 21, 2021 (print ed.). A Tampa man pleaded guilty Tuesday to joining a “stack formation” of Oath Keepers members and associates who allegedly breached the Capitol on Jan. 6, becoming the latest to cooperate with prosecutors and the first among the formation to specify that he intended to hinder Congress that day using intimidation and coercion.

Caleb Berry, 20, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of obstructing an official proceeding.

In a plea deal, prosecutors agreed to request lowering an estimated prison term of 51 to 63 months under federal guidelines for Berry, who has no criminal record and is one of the youngest defendants charged in the Capitol riots, in exchange for his substantial assistance.

U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta of Washington accepted the plea after Berry acknowledged that he coordinated plans and discussed the need to bring firearms for Jan. 6 in the nation’s capital with Oath Keepers members.

In plea papers, Berry admitted driving to Washington from Florida with other co-conspirators, meeting them the morning of Jan. 6 at a rally for President Donald Trump at the White House Ellipse and marching to the Capitol. They later walked single-file up the Capitol steps in camouflage, body armor and tactical gear and forced entry through the East Rotunda doors about 2:40 p.m., Berry admitted.

At least two other Oath Keepers associates — Graydon P. Young, 55, of Florida, who also admitted being part of the “stack,” and Mark Grods, 54, of Mobile, Ala., who said he entered minutes later — have also pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against others, describing encrypted communications and efforts to bring and store firearms at a hotel in nearby Arlington, Va.

The timing of Berry’s plea — he was charged July 9 under seal — could also be calculated to step up pressure on remaining defendants. Seven U.S. prosecutors entered appearances in Berry’s case, from offices including the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington and the Justice Department’s national security division.

U.S. prosecutors have now charged all but one of 14 people associated with the “stack” or just trailing behind them, including Berry and Young, according to an online group of Internet sleuths calling itself Capitol Terrorists Exposers that has provided information to journalists and investigators that prosecutors have cited in court filings.

Some have said they were in Washington to provide security for Republican VIPs including Roger Stone, or to support Trump in case he invoked the Insurrection Act and mobilized a citizen militia to pursue his unfounded claim that the election was stolen.

washington post logoWashington Post, Allen Weisselberg resigned from the top of the Trump Organization. So who’s running the company now?  David A. Fahrenthold, Josh Dawsey and Jonathan O'Connell, July 21, 2021 (print ed.). When Weisselberg resigned his position on the trust that controls the Trump Organization, Donald Trump Jr. officially became the company's most powerful officer.

allen weisselberg croppedEarlier this month, Allen Weisselberg, right — the Trump Organization’s most powerful employee not named “Trump” — resigned his post in the company’s leadership. Weisselberg had been one of two trustees at the trust that owns and controls former president Trump’s company. But Weisselberg gave up that post, and dozens of others at Trump subsidiaries, after he was charged with running a tax-fraud scheme inside the company.

Weisselberg still works at the company, according to one person familiar with the Trump Organization. But his resignation from those formal posts means that the company’s already small executive ranks have shrunk even further, at a time when the company faces a raft of financial and legal problems.

Here’s what we know — and what we don’t — about what’s happening at the Trump Organization now:

donald trump jr gage skidmore CustomOfficially, its most powerful officer is now Donald Trump Jr., shown at left in a Gage Skidmore photo.

The Trump Organization is controlled by the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust — a legal entity to which Trump transferred his hundreds of companies when he took office in 2017. The trust, in turn is controlled by trustees. Previously, there were two. But after Weisselberg resigned, just one was left: Trump Jr., according to papers the company filed in New Jersey this month.

In a practical sense, people familiar with the company say, the company’s day-to-day leaders are Trump Jr., 43, and his younger brother Eric, 37. Eric, who lives in New York, usually plays a more active role, the people said, since Trump Jr. has moved to Florida and become more involved in politics.

July 18

Trump Rallies, Claims, Probes, Riot

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: To Trump’s hard-core supporters, his rallies weren’t politics. They were life, Michael C. Bender (a reporter for the Wall Street Journal and the author of “Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost,” from which this article is adapted), July 18, 2021 (print ed.). What 2020 looked like from the front row on the campaign trail.

They were mostly older White men and women who lived paycheck to paycheck with plenty of time on their hands — retired or close to it, estranged from their families or otherwise without children — and Trump had, in a surprising way, made their lives richer. The president himself almost always spent the night in his own bed and kept few close friends. But his rallies gave the Joes a reason to travel the country, staying at one another’s homes, sharing hotel rooms and carpooling. Two had married — and later divorced — by Trump’s second year in office.

In Trump, they’d found someone whose endless thirst for a fight encouraged them to speak up for themselves, not just in politics but also in relationships and at work. His rallies turned arenas into modern-day tent revivals, where the preacher and the parishioners engaged in an adrenaline-fueled psychic cleansing brought on by chanting and cheering with 15,000 other like-minded loyalists. Saundra Kiczenski, a 56-year-old from Michigan, compared the energy at a Trump rally to the feelings she had as a teenager in 1980 watching the “Miracle on Ice” — when the U.S. Olympic hockey team unexpectedly beat the Soviet Union.

“The whole place is erupting, everyone is screaming, and your heart is beating like, just, oh my God,” Kiczenski told me. “It’s like nothing I’ve experienced in my lifetime.”

donald trump jr gage skidmore CustomPalmer Report, Opinion: The unraveling of Donald Trump Jr is reaching a particularly dangerous level, Bill Palmer, right, July 18, 2021. The fallout from the Trump bill palmerOrganization criminal indictment thus far has been incremental in some instances, but it’s definitely underway. Allen Weisselberg has “resigned” from the trust that controls the Trump Organization, meaning he’s either trying to distance himself from Trump, or Trump is trying to distance himself from Weisselberg. But the real movement thus far in terms of fallout may be with Donald Trump Jr. (shown above in a file photo by Gage Skidmore).

The removal of Weisselberg from the Trump Organization trust has actually served to elevate Donald Trump Jr’s position of control over the company. That’s not good particularly good timing, given how badly Junior has been unraveling lately.

bill palmer report logo headerMost of you have seen the recent videos released by Donald Trump Jr, in which he’s come off as increasingly erratic, jittery, incoherent, and paranoid. Well, maybe he’s not being paranoid, given that he probably is going to end up criminally indicted in all this. But now Junior is taking things in an even uglier direction.

Earlier this week Donald Trump Jr suggested that God must have a sense of humor after lightning destroyed a memorial for murder victim George Floyd. Then yesterday Donald Trump Jr suggested that God must have a sense of humor after three Texas Democrats tested positive for COVID, a deadly disaster.

Donald Trump Jr has reached the point where he’s not only openly rooting for harm to come to anyone he perceives as not siding with the Trump family, he’s convinced that God is somehow carrying out revenge on behalf of the Trump family. This is a particularly dangerous and disturbing line of thinking, for a number of obvious reasons. This guy is unraveling by the day.

washington post logoWashington Post, Two Fla. police officers charged in new Proud Boys indictment in Capitol riot, Spencer S. Hsu, July 18, 2021 (print ed.). The indictments of a father and son — former and current police officers — bring the number of off-duty law enforcement officers charged in the Capitol mob to at least 20

A father and son, who are current and former Florida police officers, and a North Carolina man have been charged with joining alleged Proud Boys members in the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, according to a new, five co-defendant indictment unsealed in Washington on Friday.

Kevin “Tito” Tuck, 51, and Nathaniel A. Tuck, 29, of central Florida were arrested and released on $25,000 unsecured bond Thursday by a U.S. magistrate judge in Tampa, court records show.

Edward George Jr. was also arrested Thursday and was scheduled to appear in federal court Friday in Raleigh, according to court records.

The charges bring the number of off-duty law enforcement officers charged in the Capitol mob to at least 20, and the defendants’ ties to several central Florida police agencies highlight the continued pressure on sheriffs and police chiefs nationwide to scrub their ranks of members with links to white supremacist and far-right armed groups.

 July 17

washington post logoWashington Post, The media scramble within Trump Book Summer, Paul Farhi, July 17, 2021. The peak of Trump Book Summer, the moment of maximum media intensity, may have come last Wednesday, when reporters scrambled to match a story about a story contained in one of those books.

Around 3 p.m. that day, New York magazine published an article based on a revelation its writer had discovered in the pages of I Alone Can Fix It, one of the entries in the current spate of Trump Studies, a copy of which the magazine said it had “obtained” before its official release.

The gist of the magazine’s report — that the book would reveal that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, feared Trump would precipitate a coup to maintain power — was so hot that it in turn triggered a nearly immediate follow-up report on CNN.com, written by no less than five reporters. Which in turn prompted The Washington Post to chase down the same nugget — which was kind of ironic considering the book that produced the scoop was written by two Post reporters and had already generated a prominent excerpt in the paper, with a second to come days later.

michael wolff landslideThe media-on-media scramble, a kind of Russian nesting doll of reportage, attested to both the profound import of the Milley anecdote and the cultural heat of the new syllabus of Trump books.

On the same day, I Alone, written by The Post’s Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig, was the best-selling book on Amazon, which includes preorders for not-yet-released books.

The third and fourth bestsellers were also dishy Trump titles, Landslide, by the independent journalist Michael Wolff, and Frankly, We Did Win This Election, by the Wall Street Journal’s Michael C. Bender, respectively.

A fourth book, Nightmare Scenario, about Trump’s handling of the pandemic by two other Post reporters, Damian Paletta and Yasmeen Abutaleb, had climbed up the lists the week before.

July 16

washington post logoWashington Post, Book Excerpt: Behind the scenes on Jan. 6: Delay at the Pentagon, resistance in the Oval Office as Ivanka Trump, advisers pleaded with Trump (Part II), Philip Rucker and Carol D. Leonnig, July 16, 2021. Part two of an excerpt from I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year. Rucker and Leonnig will discuss this book during a Washington Post Live event on July 20.

carol leonnig philip rucker trump2 coverAs the sun rose over Washington on Jan. 6, electricity hung in the air. The big day had come.

Thousands of President Trump’s supporters began gathering on the Ellipse to stake out a good spot from which to see the president, who was scheduled to address the “Save America” rally around noon. Organizers had obtained a federal permit for 30,000 people, but it looked as if the crowd would be even larger than that. Thousands more prepared to make their way toward the Capitol to protest the certification of Joe Biden’s election.

At the White House, Trump set the tone for the day with an 8:17 a.m. tweet: “States want to correct their votes, which they now know were based on irregularities and fraud, plus corrupt process never received legislative approval. All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!”

Pro-Trump Jan. 6 Insurrectionpaul allard hodgkins

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. seeks prison term for first felony defendant to be sentenced in Capitol breach, citing domestic terrorism threat, Spencer S. Hsu, July 16, 2021. U.S. prosecutors on Wednesday urged a federal judge to impose an 18-month prison term on the first defendant to face sentencing for a felony in the Jan. 6 Capitol breach, citing the need to deter domestic terrorism.

“The need to deter others is especially strong in cases involving domestic terrorism, which the breach of the Capitol certainly was,” Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Mona Sedky said in a government sentencing request for Tampa crane operator Paul Allard Hodgkins, 38, above, who carried a Trump flag into the well of the Senate.

Hodgkins’s sentencing, scheduled for Monday, could set the bar for what punishment 100 or more defendants might expect to face as they weigh whether to accept plea offers by prosecutors or take their chances at a trial by jury.

About 800 people entered the building, U.S. officials have said, with more than 500 individuals charged to date and charges expected against at least 100 others.

About 20 people have pleaded guilty, and one misdemeanor defendant has been sentenced to probation.

In Hodgkins’s case, Sedky cited FBI Director Christopher A. Wray’s testimony in March to the Senate that the problem of homegrown violent extremism is “metastasizing,” with some actors growing emboldened by the Capitol riot.

“The need to deter others is especially strong in cases involving domestic terrorism, which the breach of the Capitol certainly was,” Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Mona Sedky said in a government sentencing request for Tampa crane operator Paul Allard Hodgkins, 38, who carried a Trump flag into the well of the Senate.

The court filing marked one of the Justice Department’s bluntest statements to date of its view of the Capitol breach, in which members of a mob supporting President Donald Trump stormed barricades, assaulted nearly 140 police officers, and forced the evacuation of a joint session of Congress meeting to confirm the results of the 2020 election.

josiah colt rioter getty

washington post logoWashington Post, Man who dangled from Senate balcony pleads guilty in Capitol riots, will cooperate against others, Spencer S. Hsu, July 16, 2021 (print ed.). An Idaho man photographed (above via Getty images) hanging from the Senate balcony and sitting in the presiding officer’s chair in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot pleaded guilty Wednesday to felony obstruction of Congress, admitting to joining a group of people who came to Washington with firearms, knives and body armor to support President Donald Trump.

Josiah B. Colt, 34, became the latest defendant to agree to cooperate in the breach investigation, seeking to pare down a possible recommended five-year prison sentence.

Though Colt is not accused of being part of a larger militia-like group, he admitted in plea papers to joining at least two men from Nevada and Tennessee who arranged travel, raised funds, bought paramilitary gear and recorded themselves before breaking into the building and rushing to the Senate chamber just evacuated by lawmakers.

“My fellow patriot Josiah Colt sleeping ready for the boogaloo Jan 6,” one of the others, alleged QAnon follower Ronald Sandlin, posted on Facebook on Jan. 4, according to plea papers. The post included a picture of Colt in a bed holding a handgun, and used a term taken up by fringe groups referring to civil war, Colt acknowledged in plea papers.

In a group video recorded before the riot, Sandlin “urge[d] other patriots” watching to “take the Capitol” and said “there is going to be violence,” according to plea papers.

“We are going to be there [the Capitol] back by one o’clock when it is action time it is game time,” Sandlin added, according to plea documents. That hour, prosecutors said, was the time Congress convened to certify the 2020 presidential election results and the moment members of the pro-Trump mob began confronting police and charging barricades outside the building.

In a plea hearing, U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan of Washington read from Colt’s signed statement of facts and plea deal in which prosecutors agreed to drop three misdemeanor charges in exchange for his full cooperation.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Don’t let the hysteria get to you, Bill Palmer, right, July 16, 2021.Yesterday we learned from the Guardian that the Kremlin really was holding blackmail material against Donald Trump all bill palmeralong, meaning Trump really was a Russian puppet all along. Yesterday we also learned from Michael Wolff’s book that General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, viewed Trump in terms of Adolf Hitler.

This is a lot to take in. This comes after weeks of increasingly ugly revelations about how Trump and his co-conspirators criminally meddled in the 2020 election results. As the floodgates of inside information continue to open, we’ll no doubt see even uglier bombshells about how Trump was abusing his power.

It’s now more important than ever to remember that all of these crimes and atrocities took place while Trump was still in office. None of these things are new; they’re just newly reported. None of them are happening right now; we’re just learning about them right now.

bill palmer report logo headerIt’s even more crucial to remember that Trump is no longer in power. It’s easy to read all of these increasingly ugly revelations and fall victim to the kind of hysteria that leads you to unconsciously convince yourself that he’s still in power and he’s still doing these things as we speak.

The reality is that Trump has been ousted from office. He’s been ousted from social media. He has no remaining voice. He’s now the metaphorical equivalent of a guy living in his mom’s basement. He’s desperate to get back into power, but he has no idea how to even approach that notion. In his rare public appearances, he appears to have lost a step (or two or three) in the cognitive department. He’s under active criminal investigation in three different states, two of which have gone to grand jury, one of which has begun issuing indictments. There’s a reason so much dirt is now coming out about Trump’s time in office. He’s weak, vulnerable, and of little remaining value to those around him; the people leaking these stories are looking to finish him off.

As the headlines about Trump’s time in office continue to grow uglier, and it becomes even more clear how maniacally out of control he was while serving as President, don’t let yourself fall into the trap of thinking you need to cower to him. He’s not in power anymore. There’s nothing he can do to you right now.

If these new headlines about Donald Trump are going to motivate you, let it motivate you to work even harder to make sure that he has no future. Help spread the word about his criminal scandals and criminal prosecution. Help make sure he remains on track for prison before we even get to 2024. And make sure his favorability rating remains too deep in the toilet for him to be remotely viable for any future election anyway. At this point Trump should be scared of you, not the other way around.

djt as chosen oneWayne Madsen Report, The aspirant American führer: A Bill of Rights carve out for Nazism needed, Wayne Madsen, left, July 16, 2021. We should all appreciate the collegiate liberal arts undergraduate and wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallpost-graduate educations of two generals, current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Mark Milley, and retired Marine Corps General John Kelly.

Thanks to them, the public is now aware of something this editor always had a gut feeling about: that Donald Trump is a Nazi admirer of Adolf Hitler and that his Ku Klux Klan-member wayne madsen cafe vaterlandfather, Fred Trump (shown below at left with his son), was an unrepentant pro-Nazi member of the German-American Bund in the 1930s and, very likely, a German spy used by the Gestapo and Abwehr to spy on American and Canadian troop transports departing from U.S. ports.

According to Carol Leonnig's and Phil Rucker's just-released book, I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump's Catastrophic Final Year -- one of several new books that expose Donald Trump's plans to establish a far-right dictatorship with him as the dictator -- Trump said, pointing to a framed photograph of his father in the Oval Office, "I know the fucking krauts . . . I was raised by the biggest kraut of them all."

djt fred trump daily bast photo illustationIt was the naked Nazism displayed by father and son Trump that inspired me to write my first novel, Café Vaterland, an alternate history of the United States had Hitler obtained a nuclear weapon and intercontinental delivery missile before the United States. The book's cover photo [left] depicts a meeting of Bund leaders with Hitler in Berlin in 1936. Based on contemporaneous photos of Fred Trump, I believe that it is he who is standing behind Bund führer Fritz Kuhn, farthest right].

The Bill of Rights does not confer the freedom to murder, commit arson, riot, or commit coups. Nor should it enable Nazis like Trump and his supporters to have any rights to engage in hate fests and violent speech.

 washington post logoWashington Post, A man in a gladiator costume filmed the Jan. 6 mob for his mother, feds say: ‘Here comes the riot police, Mom,’ Katie Shepherd, July 16, 2021. When Nathan Wayne Entrekin joined a crowd of rioters that pushed its way into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, he donned a Roman gladiator costume over jean shorts and a T-shirt despite the winter chill, federal investigators say. As the mob chanted, Entrekin allegedly filmed videos on his cellphone, narrating the action for his mother, who was back in Arizona.

“Wow, Mom. I wish you were here with me,” Entrekin said in one video, according to a criminal complaint. “It’s really exciting in here. It’s joyful and it’s sad at the same time. We can’t let Biden … be our president. We can’t … there’s no way.”

Federal prosecutors on Thursday arrested Entrekin, of Cottonwood, Ariz., for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection, during which he allegedly defied police orders, entered the U.S. Capitol and witnessed people looting offices. During an interview, Entrekin told investigators that “the calls of former president Donald Trump inspired him to attend the rally,” the complaint states.

He faces charges of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. His next court appearance has not yet been set, according to court records.

Entrekin joins more than 500 people charged by federal prosecutors for participating in the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot, including members of several far-right groups like the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys. Many of those arrested recorded their actions and later posted the videos and photos to social media or shared them with family and friends. Several others also wore recognizable costumes during the riot. 

Joseph Biggs, left, and Ethan Nordean near the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 (Photo by Carolyn Kaster of the Associated Press).Joseph Biggs, left, and Ethan Nordean near the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 (Photo by Carolyn Kaster of the Associated Press).

Daytona Beach News-Journal, Volusia County Proud Boys leader threatened at Seminole County Jail, attorney says, Frank Fernandez, July 16, 2021 (print ed.). A Volusia County Proud Boys leader being held in the Seminole County Jail has been threatened by inmates and will likely be threatened again as they seek to test him, his attorney said during a federal hearing on Thursday.

Joseph R. Biggs, 37, was a leader among the Proud Boys in planning “an organized and violent attack” upon the country’s democracy and its Capitol building on Jan. 6, according to federal prosecutors.

And word that Biggs is locked up in a subsection of the Seminole County Jail, which holds about 150 federal inmates in other cases, has been getting around, according to J. Daniel Hull, who represents Biggs.

“I do worry about somebody wanting to test Joe Biggs' mettle,” Hull said. “I think that’s going to be coming up more and more.”

Biggs, whose home is in Volusia County near Ormond Beach, has been held at the Seminole County Jail since he turned himself in to U.S. Marshals on April 22.

joe biggs mugHull said that Biggs, right, is also having problems with an old injury for which he previously received surgery. Hull said on Thursday that he does not want Biggs moved to a detention facility in Washington, D.C.

Biggs and three other Proud Boys have been indicted together on six counts: conspiracy; obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting; obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder and aiding and abetting; destruction of government property and aiding and abetting; entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds; and disorderly conduct in a restricted building or grounds.

The Proud Boys is a far-right nationalist organization that describes itself as a “pro-Western fraternal organization for men who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world; aka Western Chauvinists,” according to a federal criminal complaint.

The Proud Boys strongly supported former president Donald Trump. In recent years, the group has increasingly confronted protesters on the left, including antifa, in places like Portland, sometimes leading to street fights.

Biggs’ case has been closely tied to Ethan “Rufio Panman” Nordean (shown above), another Proud Boys leader who is being held in Washington state. Nordean’s attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the charges against him. Biggs’ attorney joined that motion, which hasn't yet been heard by a judge.

July 15

ny times logoNew York Times, Book Reviews: Two Accounts of Donald Trump’s Final Year in Office, One More Vivid and Apt Than the Other, Dwight Garner, July 15, 2021. Two new books about the final year of Donald J. Trump’s presidency are entering the cultural bloodstream. The first, Landslide,”by the gadfly journalist Michael Wolff, is the one to leap upon, even though the second, I Alone Can Fix It, from the Washington Post journalists Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, is vastly more earnest and diligent, to a fault.

michael wolff landslideThis is Wolff’s third book about Trump in as many years. It’s Leonnig and Rucker’s second, after the excellent A Very Stable Genius, which appeared in early 2020. This one, alas, reads like 300 daily newspaper articles taped together so that they resemble an inky Kerouacian scroll. Each article longs to jump to Page A28 on a different scroll, in another room.

Perhaps it’s not the authors’ fault that I Alone Can Fix It is grueling. It may be that a reader, having survived Covid-19, “stop the steal” and the bear-spray wielders, and feeling carol leonnig philip rucker trump2 covera certain amount of relief — relief, John Lanchester has said, is the most powerful emotion — is uneager to rummage so soon through a dense, just-the-facts scrapbook of a dismal year.

A primary and not insignificant achievement in I Alone Can Fix It, however, is its bravura introduction of a new American hero, a man who has heretofore not received a great deal of attention: Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. A better title for this book might have been “Mr. Milley Goes to Washington.”

There tend not to be a lot of people to root for in Trump books. Reading them is like watching WWE fights in which all the wrestlers are heels, smashing each other with folding chairs. Milley provides Leonnig and Rucker not just with an adult in the room, but a human being with a command of facts, a long view of history, a strong jaw and a moral center.

Milley (shown at right in uniform in a previous post as Army chief of staff) explains the Constitution to Trump. He delivers cinematic, Eisenhower-worthy monologues, such as: “Everything’s going to be OK. We’re going to have a peaceful transfer of power. We’re going to land this plane safely. This is America.” In one meeting he tells the egregious Stephen Miller to “shut the [expletive] up.”

mark milley army chief of staffWe were, Milley suggests, closer than we knew to the precipice. A crucial moment in this book details the final weeks of Trump’s presidency, when the stitching was really coming off the ball. Milley told aides he feared a coup, and, Leonnig and Rucker write, “saw parallels between Trump’s rhetoric of election fraud and Adolf Hitler’s insistence to his followers at the Nuremberg rallies that he was both a victim and their savior.” Milley told aides: “This is a Reichstag moment.”

About the Proud Boys and their ilk, he tells military and law enforcement leaders: “These are the same people we fought in World War II.”

There’s a vast amount more in I Alone Can Fix It. It’s an almost day-by-day accounting of Trump’s last year in office, from the fumbled Covid response to the second impeachment to Rudy Giuliani’s public self-immolations. There are apocalyptic scenes of Trump dressing down and humiliating those around him, including former Attorney General William P. Barr.

A final scene worth mentioning occurred during the siege on January 6. The congresswoman Liz Cheney called Milley the following day to check in. She described being with the Trump dead-ender Representative Jim Jordan during the attack on the Capitol, and how he said to her, “We need to get the ladies away from the aisle. Let me help you.” Cheney responded, the authors write, by slapping his hand away and telling him, “Get away from me. You [expletive] did this.”

Wolff has scenes Leonnig and Rucker don’t. These include election night details, such as the freak-out in Trump world when Fox News called Arizona early for Biden. Wolff, who wrote a biography of Rupert Murdoch, describes the frantic phone calls that flew back and forth before the word came down from the old Dirty Digger himself: “[Expletive] him.”

In this accounting, Trump belittles his followers. “Trump often expressed puzzlement over who these people were,” Wolff writes, “their low-rent ‘trailer camp’ bearing and their ‘get-ups,’ once joking that he should have invested in a chain of tattoo parlors and shaking his head about ‘the great unwashed.’”

djt validimir putin

Palmer Report, Opinion: Who’s leaking these new Trump-Russia details? TR Kenneth, July 15, 2021. Apparently, Putin can’t plug up his leaks because Trump’s been outed now as the Russian asset we’ve all known him to be. The documents confirming this were highly classified and direct from the Kremlin, as newly reported by the Guardian.

Right now, there’s lots of speculation as to why this is coming out. Is it more disinformation intentionally coming from Russia? Is it something the US has had and is finally releasing?

bill palmer report logo headerIf the Kremlin is “leaking” the documents to damage Trump, then Putin is signaling their relationship is done and Trump’s on his own. This could be significant, given Biden’s recent conversation with Putin about not interfering with the US.

If the US Intel community is outing the document, it could also signal Trump is cooked and should be investigated for treason. If the document is faked, then we can ride the speculation train all the way up to the mob and Semion Mogilevich.

July 14

 

stephen calk paul manafort file

Chicago banker and Trump campaign donor Stephen Calk, right, has been convicted of bribery-related crimes on behalf of former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, above let, to whom Calk's bank gave millions of dollars in fraudulent loans as Calk sought payback via an appointment to a high-ranking Pentagon job or prestigious ambassadorship, as testimony in Manafort's Virginia corruption trial showed.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump associate convicted in court, Bill Palmer, right, July 14, 2021. The most surefire way of nailing Donald Trump bill palmerfor his crimes is to begin by nailing his underlings and associates for their related crimes.

This brings us to Stephen Calk, who was convicted this week of bribing Paul Manafort with millions of dollars in illegitimate loans in exchange for an appointed position in the Trump regime. Calk didn’t get the job, but bribery is still bribery even when it doesn’t succeed. So why does this matter?

bill palmer report logo headerCalk is now heading to prison for what will likely be several years. This means he’s a prime candidate to cut a plea deal. And while he may not have any dirt on Trump, he could certainly flip on Manafort, who accepted the bribe and attempted to get Calk the job.

On his way out the door, Trump did give Manafort a pardon. But there’s no such thing as a pardon for every crime you’ve ever committed. Manafort’s pardon merely focused on the crimes that landed him in prison to begin with. So it’s entirely conceivable that the Feds could turn around and indict Manafort for taking this bribe – particularly if Calk ends up cooperating.

Unless Paul Manafort wants to go back to prison, he would in turn have to flip on Donald Trump. Manafort refused to do this last time around, but that was back when Trump was dangling an eventual pardon in exchange for his silence. Trump can’t pardon Manafort this time, and Manafort knows it.

July 13

Trump attorneys Sidney Powell, left, and Rudy Giuliani falsely claim in November 2020 that the 2020 election was stolen from him without being able to prevail on the claim in more than 60 court decisions around the nation.

Trump attorneys Sidney Powell, left, and Rudy Giuliani falsely claimed in November 2020 that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump without being able to prevail on the claim in more than 60 court decisions around the nation.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘This is really fantastical’: Federal judge in Michigan presses Trump-allied lawyers on 2020 election fraud claims in sanctions hearing, Rosalind S. Helderman, July 13, 2021 (print ed.). The latest effort to hold former president Donald Trump and his allies accountable for months of baseless claims about the 2020 election played out Monday in a Michigan courtroom, where a federal judge asked detailed and skeptical questions of several lawyers she is considering imposing sanctions against for filing a suit seeking to overturn the results.

linda parkerU.S. District Court Judge Linda V. Parker, right, said she would rule on a request to discipline the lawyers in coming weeks. But over and over again during the more than five-hour hearing, she pointedly pressed the lawyers involved — including Trump allies Sidney Powell and L. Lin Wood (shown at left below with Trump last year in the Oval Office) — to explain what steps they had taken to ensure their court filings in the case filed last year had been accurate. She appeared astonished by many of their answers.

Attorney Lin Wood with President Trump at the White House (March 2020).While their suit aimed to create a broad impression that the vote in Michigan — and specifically Detroit’s Wayne County — had been troubled, the affidavits filed to support those claims included obvious errors, speculation and basic misunderstandings of how elections are generally conducted in the state, Parker said.

“There’s a duty that counsel has that when you’re submitting a sworn statement . . . that you have reviewed it, that you had done some minimal due diligence,” she said.

As the hearing concluded, a defiant Powell told the judge that she took “full responsibility” for the case’s pleadings and said she would file them again. She and the other lawyers “had a legal obligation to the country” to raise issues with the election, Powell said.

djt maga hatIf Parker decides to discipline the lawyers, she could require them to pay the fees of their opponents in the case, the city of Detroit and Michigan state officials. But she could also go further — assessing additional monetary penalties or recommending grievance proceedings be opened that could result in banning the attorneys from practicing in Michigan or disbarring them altogether.

The Michigan hearing is part of a broad move underway nationally to hold responsible Trump and his backers who spread falsehoods about the election, the so-called “big lie” that led to the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

The push for accountability has been advancing in the nation’s courts in recent months, even as Republicans have embraced Trump’s baseless claims and blocked an independent commission to scrutinize the failures that contributed to the Jan. 6 riot.

The effort, playing out in several states, includes attempts to punish attorneys who pursued dozens of failed efforts to use the courts to overturn the election, the filing of defamation lawsuits against key figures who falsely claimed voting machine manufacturers tipped the election, and the launch of criminal investigations examining whether Trump and his allies broke the law by trying to interfere with the official administration of the election.

One of the first substantial repercussions came last month, when a committee of judges in New York state suspended the law license of former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who served as rudy giuliani recentTrump’s personal attorney. The committee found that Giuliani, right, had “communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large” in violation of his ethical obligations as an attorney.

Representatives for Giuliani have called the action “unprecedented” and expressed confidence that his law license will be restored after a hearing to determine whether to revoke his license permanently.

In Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers (D) has asked a federal judge to order Trump and three of his attorneys to pay the state’s attorneys’ fees in a case the former president filed in December unsuccessfully challenging President Biden’s win there. Trump and his lawyers told a judge in a court filing Monday that the request for attorney’s fees was “untimely and unwarranted.”t

Authorities in several states have also opened criminal probes related to the post-election period, including in Fulton County, Ga., where District Attorney Fani Willis launched a criminal investigation in February, in the wake of Trump’s calls to state officials to try to persuade them reverse Biden’s victory in the state.

Palmer Report, Sidney Powell is going through some things today, Bill Palmer, July 12, 2021. The wheels of justice turn way too slowly, but they nonetheless turn. Trump-adjacent lawyers including Sidney Powell and Lin Wood were forced to appear before a judge in Michigan today, in an initial hearing to determine whether they should be disbarred and/or face other court imposed sanctions. It didn’t go well for them.

The Judge systematically dismantled the ridiculous lawsuit that Sidney Powell and her pals filed late last year, which used phony evidence to claim that Donald Trump won Michigan. Yet even as this played out today, Powell incredibly made the claim that she stood by the suit and that she’d file it all over again if given the chance.

bill palmer report logo headerMeanwhile Powell’s associate Julia Haller was reduced to tears during the hearing. Lin Wood spent the entire time insisting that he had no idea he had even been a part of the election lawsuit; it’s still not entirely clear if he’s just playing dumb or if he really is psychologically unraveling this badly.

In any case, this hearing went poorly for all of the lawyers who were involved in the phony suit, but particularly badly for Sidney Powell. The Judge ended up giving them two weeks from today to file whatever they want to file that they think might help their case. But if the tenor of today’s hearing was an accurate indicator, then Powell and her pals appear headed for disbarment.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump Organization removes indicted top finance officer Allen Weisselberg from leadership roles at dozens of subsidiaries, David A. Fahrenthold and Shayna Jacobs, July 13, 2021 allen weisselberg cropped(print ed.). The Trump Organization has removed indicted chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, right, from his leadership roles at more than 40 subsidiary companies, according to corporate filings in the United States and Scotland.

The changes were made Thursday and Friday, a week after a grand jury in Manhattan indicted Weisselberg on 15 felony counts, including grand larceny and tax fraud. Weisselberg was accused by New York prosecutors of helping run a 15-year scheme to evade income taxes by concealing executives’ salaries — including more than $1.7 million of his own income — from tax authorities. Two Trump corporate entities were indicted alongside Weisselberg.

On Thursday, the Trump Organization removed Weisselberg as a director of the company that runs its golf course in Aberdeen, Scotland, according to British corporate records.

washington post logoWashington Post, Book Excerpt: ‘I Alone Can Fix It’: Inside Trump’s Election Day and the birth of the ‘big lie,’ Carol D. Leonnig and Philip Rucker, July 13, 2021. At the end of a tumultuous day, the defiant president refused to accept the signs that he was losing the White House contest to Joe Biden. “I won in a landslide and they’re taking it back,” Trump told advisers.

  • Part one of an excerpt from I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year. Leonnig and Rucker will discuss this book during a Washington Post Live event on July 20.

carol leonnig philip rucker trump2 coverFinally, Election Day had arrived. The morning of Nov. 3, 2020, President Trump was upbeat. The mood in the West Wing was good. Some aides talked giddily of a landslide. Several women who worked in the White House arrived wearing red sweaters in a show of optimism, while some Secret Service agents on the president’s detail sported red ties for the occasion. Trump’s voice was hoarse from his mad dash of rallies, but he thought his exhausting final sprint had sealed the deal. He considered Joe Biden to be a lot of things, but a winner most definitely was not one of them. “I can’t lose to this f------ guy,” Trump told aides.

Around noon, his detail whisked Trump across the Potomac River to visit his campaign headquarters in Arlington, where campaign manager Bill Stepien and the senior leadership briefed Trump in the conference room. Stepien outlined what to expect that night — when polls closed in each battleground state, how quickly votes should be tallied and which states would probably have the first projected winners. He explained that because of the huge number of mail-in ballots in many states, it might take long into the night for votes to be counted. Patience was in order.

Stepien explained to Trump that in many battleground states, the first votes to be recorded were expected to be in-person Election Day votes, which could lean Trump, while mail-in votes, which were likely to heavily favor Biden, would be added to the tally later as those ballots were processed. This meant that the early vote totals could well show Trump ahead by solid margins.

washington post logoWashington Post, Texas Democrats arrive in D.C. after leaving their state to block restrictive voting legislation, Amy Gardner and Eva Ruth Moravec, July 13, 2021 (print ed.). Democratic lawmakers in Texas fled the state on Monday, potentially torpedoing an ongoing special session called by Republicans to take up new voting restrictions and other GOP priorities.

texas mapAt least 50 House Democrats landed in Washington late Monday. The exodus denies Republicans the required two-thirds attendance level to conduct business, calling into doubt whether plans to take up voting legislation this week could proceed.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosSpeaking to reporters at Dulles International Airport, Texas Democratic leaders vowed to stay away from the state until Aug. 7, when the 30-day special session would end.

“We are determined to kill this bill,” House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner said.

In a statement, Turner and other leaders also pledged to pressure Congress to pass new federal voting protections.

washington post logoWashington Post, The Republican Party’s top lawyer called election fraud arguments by Trump’s lawyers a ‘joke’ that could mislead millions, Josh Dawsey, July 13, 2021 (print ed.). The Republican Party’s top lawyer warned in November against continuing to push false claims that the presidential election was stolen, calling efforts by some of the former president’s lawyers a “joke” that could mislead millions of people, according to an email obtained by The Washington Post.

Justin Riemer, the Republican National Committee’s chief counsel, sought to discourage a Republican Party staffer from posting claims about ballot fraud on RNC accounts, the email shows, as attempts by Donald Trump and his associates to challenge results in a number of states, such as Arizona and Pennsylvania, intensified.

“What Rudy and Jenna are doing is a joke and they are getting laughed out of court,” Riemer, a longtime Republican lawyer, wrote to Liz Harrington, a former party spokeswoman, on Nov. 28, referring to Trump attorneys Rudolph W. Giuliani and Jenna Ellis. “They are misleading millions of people who have wishful thinking that the president is going to somehow win this thing.”

The email from Riemer to Harrington, which came about six weeks before a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, shows key figures in the party were privately disturbed by the false claims being made about the election by Trump and his supporters — even if they did not say so publicly.

rnc logorudy giuliani recentRiemer said Ellis and Giuliani, left, were damaging a broader Republican Party push on “election integrity” issues, according to the email. Riemer had led the party’s legal efforts for months ahead of and after the November election, particularly limiting the expansion of mail-in ballots. But Riemer was skeptical internally of some of the most conspiratorial theories and did not believe many of the claims from Giuliani and others about fraud, according to people who talked to Reimer and, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.

Some Trump allies, including Giuliani, sought to have Riemer fired after learning of the email, according to people familiar with the matter, but he remains employed at the RNC.

“I led the RNC legal team in over 55 lawsuits on behalf of the President’s reelection, winning a majority of them, including the only successful post-election lawsuit. Any suggestion that I did not support President Trump or do everything in my power to support the RNC’s efforts to reelect President Trump is false,” Riemer said in a statement. “I will say publicly now what I then said privately: I take issue with individuals who brought lawsuits that did not serve President Trump well and did not give him the best chance in court.”

Harrington, who is now a spokeswoman for Trump, continued to push voter-fraud allegations and left the RNC at the end of 2020. As the former president’s spokeswoman, she continues to post false claims of election fraud on social media and helps draft and disseminate the former president’s false claims about the election.

“The only thing that’s a joke is the idea that Joe Biden got 81 million votes,” Harrington said when asked about Riemer’s email on Monday afternoon.

ronna mcdaniel djt CustomIn recent weeks, some Trump allies have targeted the RNC and its chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, left, arguing they did not do enough in the aftermath of the Nov. 3 election to help Trump overturn the results. Ellis has led many of the attacks, tweeting “#RonnaMustGo.”

Conservative nonprofit group challenging election results around the country has tie to Trump legal adviser Jenna Ellis

Ellis and Giuliani were brought in by Trump to handle his election challenges within two weeks of the election, amid his growing dissatisfaction with his traditional legal team. Many of those lawyers stepped back in mid-November, when Trump appointed Giuliani and others to take charge. But Giuliani and Ellis were also unable to overturn the results, and Trump has complained about both of them in recent weeks, according to multiple people familiar with the former president’s remarks. Ellis has launched a group on voting, but Trump has not yet backed it publicly.

The RNC has also declined, according to multiple people familiar with the matter, to pay any of Giuliani’s legal bills — a point of contention among some Giuliani associates. “Rudy Giuliani has never worked for the RNC and he has never acted at our direction,” a party spokeswoman said.

ny times logoNew York Times, As Republicans Take Aim at Voting, Democrats Search for a Response, Michael Wines, July 13, 2021 (print ed.). A speech by President Biden on Tuesday could be a signal of how hard the Democrats will fight to protect voting rights.

 

GOP Opposition To Vaccines

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: GOP anti-vaxxers are sacrificing citizens’ lives for political gain, Michael Gerson (right, former chief speechwriter for GOP President George W. Bush), July 13, 2021 (print ed.). michael gerson file photoHere is perhaps the most important medical and political fact of our time: 99.5 percent of all covid-19-related deaths in the United States occur among unvaccinated people; 0.5 percent of covid deaths occur among vaccinated people. If you tell people not to be vaccinated, you add to the former category.

In this light, the recent outbreak of applause at the Conservative Political Action Conference for the United States’ failure to meet its vaccination target was macabre. Here were political activists — many of whom would call themselves “pro-life” — cheering for the advance of death. How did we get to such a strange, desperate place?

I don’t want to discount the possibility that some people are just badly misinformed. They think the vaccines come with itsy-bitsy tracking chips, or make you magnetic, or render you infertile — all of which are pure rubbish. Ignorance is a form of moral mitigation, but it is still, well, ignorance.

There are also some who oppose vaccination out of a tragically misapplied libertarianism. They somehow think the defense of freedom requires the rejection of sound medical advice from the government. They seek a rarefied form of liberation — liberation from rational rules, from prudent precautions, from scientific reality and from moral responsibility for their neighbors’ well-being. This is the degraded version of a proud tradition: Live free and let someone else die.

But others in conservative media and elected office must know precisely what they’re doing. They’re rational enough to recognize the timeline the rest of us inhabit, on which we desperately needed miraculous vaccines, miraculously got them and expeditiously distributed them to the willing.

fox news logo SmallIn the case of Fox News celebrities in particular, they must know that discouraging vaccination — by exaggerating risks, highlighting unproven alternative therapies and normalizing anti-vaccine voices — will result in additional, unnecessary deaths. This is hard to get my head around. If someone were to pay me as a columnist to argue that cigarette smoking is healthy for children, or to encourage teenagers to take naps on railroad tracks after underage drinking, I don’t think I could make an ethical case for accepting the deal. Should it matter if I belonged to a news network where producing child smokers and trisected teens were institutional policies? Or if one-half of a major political party endorsed such goals? I don’t see why.

For years, I’ve been saying to myself that GOP politics can’t go lower. I am perpetually wrong. Americans should never forget this moment — or let guilty Republicans forget it. When Republican activists cheered for death at CPAC, they were cheering for disproportionately Republican deaths. When elected Republicans feed doubts about safe, effective vaccines, they are making it more physically dangerous to be a Republican in America.

July 9

washington post logoWashington Post, Constitutional lawyers call Trump’s First Amendment defense against Jan. 6 lawsuits ‘spurious,’ Spencer S. Hsu, July 9, 2021. Committee investigating Jan. 6 Capitol attack will hold first hearing later this month.

Former president Donald Trump’s claim that the First Amendment shields his conduct leading up to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot is legally “spurious” and should be rejected as a federal court considers lawsuits that allege he incited the violence, four prominent First Amendment lawyers and scholars argued Thursday.

Targeting a key defense raised by lawyers for Trump and co-defendants including Rudolph W. Giuliani and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), the legal experts said that courts have long recognized that speech central to a crime — such as the political intimidation of voters, lawmakers and government officials — is barred and not protected by the Constitution.

In a 23-page proposed friend-of-the-court brief filed Thursday in a case brought by members of Congress and Capitol police, the legal scholars argued that courts must strike a balance between protecting freedom of political speech and preventing political intimidation.

“Granting constitutional protection to the statutorily proscribed acts of political intimidation in the guise of ‘speech’ would render the government incapable of carrying out its functions, including its core democratic function of protecting the ability of all eligible citizens to engage freely and without coercion in the democratic process, whether by voting or by supporting and advocating for candidates,” the scholars wrote.

The four signers were First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams, who has fought several precedent-making cases in court, Berkeley law school dean Erwin Chemerinsky, former Harvard Law School dean Martha Minow and noted constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe.

Swalwell, a former House impeachment manager, argued the Trump speakers “all conspired with … each other, and others to subvert the will of the people in the 2020 election.” Swalwell’s suit said the defendants violated the Reconstruction-era Ku Klux Klan Act, which was passed to prohibit violent interference in Congress’s constitutional duties such as the Klan’s reign of terror to disenfranchise Black citizens and White supporters after the Civil War.

Now part of a civil rights statute known as “Section 1985,” the law authorizes lawsuits against people who conspire to interfere with government, obstruct justice or deprive others of equal protection under the law, such as by threatening voters, candidates, or the courts.

Rep. Eric Swalwell sues Trump over Jan. 6 riot, alleging he poses risk of ‘inciting future political violence’

The First Amendment scholars noted in their brief that courts historically have defended inflammatory political speech absent evidence that it incited imminent lawless action, or that a speaker seriously intended a “true threat” of violence — lines they argue Trump’s statements almost certainly crossed.

However, relying on such grounds could result in weakening First Amendment protections, while simultaneously “devastating” enforcement if courts interpret political intimidation laws as requiring proof of perpetrators’ intent, they wrote. Rather than apply those First Amendment tests with potentially harmful and unintended consequences to democracy, it would be better to shore up political-intimidation laws, they said, since many modern forms of intimidation do not involve threats of imminent violence but coercion of voters and elections officials.

“Although the January 6 insurrection may be the most spectacular example of incitement and ‘true threat’ in American history, modern political intimidation often takes subtler forms …,” the constitutional scholars wrote, such as “aggressive poll-watching, anonymous threats of harm, frivolous and excessive voter registration challenges, and coercion by employers,” as well as baseless threats of legal harm.

Carving out a “categorical” exception from the First Amendment for speech integral to political intimidation, they concluded, “also will preserve the efficacy of the political-intimidation statutes on which the health of our democracy depends.”

Before Trump’s impeachment acquittal in February, three of the four who wrote the amicus brief signed on to letters joined by more than 100 constitutional scholars earlier this year agreeing that the First Amendment did not prevent the Senate from convicting and disqualifying him from holding future office.

Read Rep. Swalwell’s opposition to Trump, Giuliani motions to dismiss here

In a separate filing, lawyers for Swalwell raised similar arguments, warning that Trump’s legal interpretation would weaken civil rights laws “beyond recognition,” adding that the former president was not “petitioning the government for redress,” but “unleash[ing] a violent mob at the Capitol to prevent Congress from carrying out its constitutional duties.”

Trump and others conspired “through a months-long campaign of lies and deceit that culminated in violence-laced calls to save a country they claimed was being stolen,” knowing the propensity of some listeners to engage in violence, that Trump approved of such violence and had pressured election officials and Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the results, attorneys wrote.

They concluded, “And when hordes of Trump’s supporters did just that, Donald Trump reportedly was happy with the result.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s growing hatred of Ron DeSantis could derail his 2022 reelection chances in Florida, Bill Palmer, July 9, 2021. Large chunks of the mainstream media have spent the first half of 2021 trying to build up Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as some kind of frontrunner for President in 2024. It’s not clear that DeSantis actually has any such prospects. But he’s incompetent and corrupt and assholish, and that means the media can scare people into staying tuned in by pushing the notion that DeSantis is inevitable.

ron desantis oPalmer Report predicted that because of this early media attention and the scrutiny that comes with it, DeSantis,right, would end up melting under the spotlight long before 2024. Sure enough, DeSantis is running into trouble already, thanks to – and we should have seen this part coming – Donald Trump.

bill palmer report logo headerDespite his toxically low favorability rating, lack of social media presence, and advancing criminal investigations, Trump is surely still fantasizing about running for President again in 2024. Because the media has moved on from pretending that Trump is the 2024 frontrunner, and is now pretending that Ron DeSantis is the 2024 frontrunner, it turns out Trump is enraged at him.

Vanity Fair says that Trump now “f—ing hates” DeSantis – and we all know how this is likely to play out from here. (Vanity Fair, “There’s Going to Be a Blowup”: Trump and DeSantis Are on a Collision Course, Gabriel Sherman.) ,Trump inevitably ends up lashing out at and sabotaging anyone he sees as a threat, even if that person is a loyalist.

Here’s the interesting part about where this is headed. New York has begun issuing criminal indictments against the Trump Organization, with a grand jury that’s empaneled for another four and a half months. This points to Donald Trump himself being indicted sometime in late 2021, with his criminal trial taking place in perhaps mid to late 2022.

In other words, just as Donald Trump will finally be facing the prospect of being sentenced to prison, and his entire life is unraveling, Ron DeSantis will be up for reelection. DeSantis is already facing two solid Democratic challengers, in the form of Nikki Fried and Charlie Crist.

Given that DeSantis only won the race for Governor of Florida by 0.4 points in 2018 to begin with, he’s already vulnerable. Now he’s got his would-be biggest ally Donald Trump, a guy he shares a largely overlapping support base with, jealous of him and sniping at him. That sniping will only get worse as Trump’s life continues to be further dismantled. DeSantis has a real problem here.

July 8

Proof via Substack, Investigation: Sgnificant New Evidence Emerges That the Arizona "Audit" Now Aimed at Discrediting the 2020 Election May Be a Criminal Conspiracy Born in Florida and Involving seth abramson graphicDonald Trump, Seth Abramson, left, July 7, 2021. New information about the Cyber Ninjas' connections to the Florida Republican Party quickly produces a chain of evidence that leads directly to the former President of the United States.

No less an august journalistic body than the Associated Press has asked whether the mysterious firm now running an “audit” of the 2020 presidential election in Arizona— the Cyber Ninjas, a firm run by Doug Logan—might be little more than “grifters.”

According to the AP, before its hire by Arizona’s Republican state senate president Karen Fann, Cyber Ninjas
…had not placed a formal bid for the [Arizona] contract and had no experience with election audits. Senate President Karen Fann says she can’t recall how she found the firm.

seth abramson proof logoWhat the Associated Press appears to get wrong, however, is its diagnosis of how Fann came to select Logan and his firm, with the news agency writing that “Cyber Ninjas’ chief ap logoexecutive officer [Logan] had tweeted support for conspiracy theories claiming Republican Donald Trump, and not Democrat Joe Biden, had won Maricopa County and Arizona.” While this is true, and important, Logan being a far-right conspiracy theorist doesn’t explain how he came onto Fann’s radar—simply that, once he did, he cut a likely figure as someone willing to aid Donald Trump in discrediting the 2020 presidential election at any cost.

What Proof can now report is the apparent means by which Fann found Logan—a wild story that leads directly to the doorstep of Trump himself. It’s a story, too, that is far more than merely academic, for as many media outlets have noted, if Logan and his firm can cast further doubt on the 2020 election in the minds of Trump voters, it could light a fire under Trump’s domestic insurgency while also leading to a) even louder calls for Trump to be (illegally) “reinstated” as president—as has been proposed by former Trump legal adviser Sidney Powell, top Trump ally Michael Lindell, former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn, and even Trump himself—and b) an outbreak of partisan, fraudulent post-election “audits” in states Trump lost.

If these audits turn out the way Trump wants them to—and in the case of the Arizona audit, may well have engineered it to in advance—the result could be chaos across America.  

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

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

AZ Central / Arizona Republic, Did Trump and his allies interfere with the Maricopa County election? Secretary of State Katie Hobbs wants an inquiry, Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, July 8, 2021 (print ed.). Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs on Wednesday asked Attorney General Mark Brnovich to open a criminal investigation into possible efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to influence Maricopa County supervisors as the ballots were still being tallied.

Hobbs said some of the communications “involve clear efforts to induce supervisors to refuse to comply with their duties,” which could violate Arizona law. She cited The Arizona Republic’s reporting last week on text messages and voicemails from the White House, Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward to the Republican members of the Board of Supervisors.

“The reporting also includes firsthand statements from the victims of this potential crime,” Hobbs said. She cited at least one potential felony charge under Arizona law.

Brnovich did not immediately comment on Hobbs’ request, which was emailed directly to the attorney general shortly after 1 p.m.

Late Wednesday, Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., called on U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to examine the possibility of "an extremely serious crime" in what Gallago called a "pressure campaign" exerted by the Trump campaign and party officials.

Their efforts "reflect a disturbing trend following the 2020 election of Trump advisors and allies, and even former President Trump himself, committing potential crimes to overturn the election," Gallego wrote.

The U.S. Justice Department did not have an immediate response earlier Wednesday when asked whether it might look into the matter.

The request for a legal review is freighted with political overtones.

Hobbs, a Democrat, is running for governor next year. She created a national profile for defending Arizona’s election administration efforts when November presidential election results were among the closest in the country. Arizona was spotlighted by Trump and his allies as they promoted the false narrative of a stolen election.

Brnovich, a Republican, is running for the U.S. Senate next year. Trump has criticized Brnovich for not supporting the state Senate’s ongoing ballot review. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an Arizona law Brnovich defended that makes voting more difficult, something he has cast as part of his commitment to preserving election integrity.

Now, he has been asked to investigate Trump and his GOP allies on that very issue.

The Guardian, Trump told chief of staff Hitler ‘did a lot of good things’, book says, Martin Pengelly, July 8, 2021 (print ed.). Remark shocked John Kelly, author Michael Bender reports. Book details former president’s ‘stunning disregard for history.’

john kelly o dhsOn a visit to Europe to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the first world war, Donald Trump insisted to his then chief of staff, John Kelly: “Well, Hitler did a lot of good things.”

The remark from the former US president on the 2018 trip, which reportedly “stunned” Kelly, left, a retired US Marine Corps general, is reported in a new book by Michael Bender of the Wall Street Journal.

Frankly, We Did Win This Election has been widely trailed ahead of publication next week. The Guardian obtained a copy.

Bender reports that Trump made the remark during an impromptu history lesson in which Kelly “reminded the president which countries were on which side during the conflict” and “connected the dots from the first world war to the second world war and all of Hitler’s atrocities”.

Bender is one of a number of authors to have interviewed Trump since he was ejected from power.

In a statement a Trump spokesperson, Liz Harrington, said: “This is totally false. President Trump never said this. It is made-up fake news, probably by a general who was incompetent and was fired.”

But Bender says unnamed sources reported that Kelly “told the president that he was wrong, but Trump was undeterred”, emphasizing German economic recovery under Hitler during the 1930s.

“Kelly pushed back again,” Bender writes, “and argued that the German people would have been better off poor than subjected to the Nazi genocide.”

Bender adds that Kelly told Trump that even if his claim about the German economy under the Nazis after 1933 were true, “you cannot ever say anything supportive of Adolf Hitler. You just can’t.”

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Fascist leaders deserve the most extreme punishment available, Wayne Madsen, July 7-8, 2021. Wayne Madsen, left, is a syndicated columnist, the author of 20 wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallbooks, including two about Donald Trump, and is a former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst.

Donald Trump's January 6 attempt to overthrow the constitutional government of the United States continues to play out in state capitals around the nation as his fascist forces wayne madsen cafe vaterlandundermine the democratic electoral process and purge disloyal leaders of the Republican Party from its ranks.

There is little wonder in the revelation in a revelatory book by Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender that Trump, on a 2017 trip to France to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, told White House chief of staff John Kelly that "Hitler did a lot of good things.”

This editor's novel, Café Vaterland, deals with the Ku Klux Klan and pro-Nazi German-American Bund activities of Trump's father, Fred Trump, prior to and after the outbreak of World War II. Donald Trump's fascination for Hitler can be directly linked to his father's Nazi sympathies.

Trump should be tried by a military commission in the same manner that the co-conspirators of John Wilkes Booth were dealt with in Washington, DC after Booth's assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

The Hitler-praising Trump is no mere insurrectionist. His obvious links to foreign actors in overthrowing the constitutional government of the United States are no different than the activities of various fascist puppet rulers in Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II. It is a useful reminder to consider how these fascist puppets were dealt with after the German surrender in 1945.

Vanity Fair, “There’s Going to Be a Blowup”: Trump and DeSantis Are on a Collision Course, Gabriel Sherman, July 8, 2021. Trump and DeSantis Are on a Collision Course.In public it’s all smiles, but behind the scenes, Republicans are already preparing themselves for a showdown between former president Donald Trump and Florida governor Ron DeSantis.

Florida is the gravitational center of Donald Trump’s MAGA-ified Republican Party, so it’s not surprising that the Sunshine State’s pugnacious Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, right,wants to be Trump’s ron desantis orightful heir. Since his 2018 election, DeSantis has thrilled the GOP base by governing like a mini Trump. He defied public health guidelines during the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic last year and kept Florida virtually free of a statewide lockdown. In May he perpetuated Trump’s 2020 election lie and signed a restrictive voting rights bill live on Fox News. And last month he dispatched Florida law enforcement agents to Texas to “secure [the] southern border.” According to one recent conservative poll, DeSantis beat Trump with a 74% approval rating (Trump scored 71%).

djt maga hatBut in the wake of the Surfside condo collapse, DeSantis’s claim to the MAGA mantle is facing its biggest test, with DeSantis putting management of the tragedy ahead of Trump’s need for blind loyalty.

On June 30, the conservative Washington Examiner reported that DeSantis’s team was furious that Trump intended to hold a MAGA rally in Florida while the search for survivors continued (DeSantis didn’t attend the rally). On July 1, DeSantis appeared alongside President Joe Biden and praised him for the federal government’s response to the tragedy. (The moment recalled the greeting between New Jersey governor Chris Christie and Barack Obama after Hurricane Sandy.)

In recent days I spoke with a half dozen GOP insiders about the recent flare-ups between DeSantis’s and Trump’s camps. The sources agreed that DeSantis and Trump are on an inevitable collision course as the 2024 GOP field takes shape. “There’s going to be a blowup,” a prominent Republican said. “Trump fucking hates DeSantis. He just resents his popularity,” a Trump confidant told me. Asked for comment, Trump spokesperson Liz Harrington said: “Governor DeSantis has shown great respect.”

DeSantis needs to walk a tightrope as he seeks to position himself for a 2024 run. According to a source, DeSantis has told donors that he won’t openly campaign in Iowa or New Hampshire before his 2022 Florida reelection campaign. But he’s clearly in a strong position. “Heading into 2024, DeSantis is primed to push Trump off the throne,” former Trump adviser Sam Nunberg told me. “Trump surely sees this coming and will ultimately offer Governor DeSantis a joint ticket.”

 July 7

The Guardian, Trump told chief of staff Hitler ‘did a lot of good things’, book says, Martin Pengelly, July 7, 2021. Remark shocked John Kelly, author Michael Bender reports. Book details former president’s ‘stunning disregard for history.’

On a visit to Europe to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the first world war, Donald Trump insisted to his then chief of staff, John Kelly: “Well, Hitler did a lot of good things.”

The remark from the former US president on the 2018 trip, which reportedly “stunned” Kelly, a retired US Marine Corps general, is reported in a new book by Michael Bender of the Wall Street Journal.

Frankly, We Did Win This Election has been widely trailed ahead of publication next week. The Guardian obtained a copy.

Bender reports that Trump made the remark during an impromptu history lesson in which Kelly “reminded the president which countries were on which side during the conflict” and “connected the dots from the first world war to the second world war and all of Hitler’s atrocities”.

Bender is one of a number of authors to have interviewed Trump since he was ejected from power.

In a statement a Trump spokesperson, Liz Harrington, said: “This is totally false. President Trump never said this. It is made-up fake news, probably by a general who was incompetent and was fired.”

But Bender says unnamed sources reported that Kelly “told the president that he was wrong, but Trump was undeterred”, emphasizing German economic recovery under Hitler during the 1930s.

“Kelly pushed back again,” Bender writes, “and argued that the German people would have been better off poor than subjected to the Nazi genocide.”

Bender adds that Kelly told Trump that even if his claim about the German economy under the Nazis after 1933 were true, “you cannot ever say anything supportive of Adolf Hitler. You just can’t.”

djt michael cohenPalmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s “nine lives have expired,” Bill Palmer, right, July 7, 2021. If you ask the defeatists why they think Donald Trump will “get away bill palmerwith it all” in the New York criminal probe, their answer is usually the same: “he’s always gotten away with it all.”

This is factually untrue; over the past several months he’s lost the presidency, lost his Twitter account, his financial house of cards is in real trouble, and he’s found himself on track to face criminal indictment for the first time in his life. But because none of these are definitive punishments, it’s understandable that some defeatists see him as incapable of being toppled.

bill palmer report logo headerHere’s the thing, though. The only reason Donald Trump escaped criminal punishment the previous four years was that he had the protections of the presidency in his pocket. He controlled the federal prosecutors who wanted to bring him justice. And even if states had indicted him, they likely couldn’t have physically arrested him anyway. But that’s all changed now.

Donald Trump is once again doing his usual stupid, spiteful thing of cutting off his top lieutenants once they get into legal trouble for doing his criminal bidding. He’s done this to people like Michael Cohen and gotten away with it because he was President at the time. But now Trump is doing it to Rudy Giuliani, a guy who also appears to know a ton of Trump’s dirty secrets. Someone on Twitter asked Cohen, above left, why Trump is doing this.

Michael Cohen’s response: “Because Trump doesn’t think past his nose and has never had to take responsibility for any of his dirty deeds. Thus, no fear of Rudy. Plus, Rudy is as batshit crazy as Donald. Rest assured, Donald’s 9 lives have expired!”

 

U.S. Law, Courts, Crime  

washington post logoWashington Post, Rep. Mo Brooks says he can’t be sued for inciting Capitol riot, because he is a federal employee, Spencer S. Hsu, July 7, 2021 (print ed.). The Alabama Republican said he acted as member of Congress in a fiery speech on Jan. 6 urging the overturning of presidential election results.

mo brooks oRep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), right, has asked to be dismissed from a federal lawsuit alleging that he incited the Jan. 6 mob assault on the U.S. Capitol, claiming that he can’t be held liable because he was acting as a federal employee while challenging the 2020 election results in a fiery speech just before the riot began.

Brooks said in a motion Friday that he should be dropped as a defendant or represented by the Justice Department in the case, filed March 5 by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.).

The lawsuit names former president Donald Trump, Brooks, Donald Trump Jr. and Rudolph W. Giuliani and seeks damages in connection with their statements to a crowd near the White House that the former president told to march to the Capitol.

“Today is the day American patriots start taking down names,” Brooks said, echoing Trump’s unfounded claims that the election was rigged. Brooks told people in the crowd that they were victims of a historic theft and asked whether they were ready to sacrifice their lives for their country.

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta in Washington on Monday directed the Justice Department and Swalwell to respond to Brooks’s claims. The judge also dismissed without prejudice Swalwell’s request that the court enter a default judgment against Brooks, who had previously failed to meet a deadline to respond to the suit.

In his filing Friday, Brooks invoked a 1988 law that protects federal employees from personal liability while acting within the scope of their office or employment. He argued that his speech, tweets and related conduct “were indisputably made in the context of and preparation for” a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6 to confirm the results of the presidential election. Trump has asked the judge to dismiss the case on similar grounds, claiming that as president he has absolute immunity from lawsuits over his official actions and was free to urge Congress to take actions favorable to him in its electoral count.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump friend and golfing partner charged with misdemeanor indecent assault, David A. Fahrenthold, July 7, 2021 (print ed.). A friend and golfing partner of former president Donald Trump — who gained notoriety for using that friendship to lobby Trump’s administration — was charged with indecent assault last week in Pennsylvania on allegations he groped one of his dental patients, according to court documents.

Albert Hazzouri Jr., a 65-year-old dentist from Scranton, Pa., is best known for a 2017 note he wrote Trump, using stationery from Trump’s own Mar-a-Lago Club, to push a proposal for an oversight committee on dental spending.

The note, which addressed Trump as “Dear King,” came to symbolize the way that Trump blended business with government, giving his customers and friends an audience to lobby for their private causes.

In charging documents filed last week, police said Hazzouri had groped a female patient after a dental procedure in May.  In an affidavit, Scranton Police Detective Dina Albanesi wrote that Hazzouri offered to walk the woman to her car. Then — when the two were in a stairwell — Hazzouri allegedly told the patient to “get on his back.”

The woman told him no, police said. “Hazzouri backed up into her, wrapped his hands around her and grabbed her buttocks and squeezed them,” Albanesi wrote. At the bottom of the stairs, she wrote, Hazzouri also grabbed the woman’s breasts and groin.

The woman went to police headquarters the same day, according to a police affidavit. Albanesi had the woman call Hazzouri on a recorded line. “He stated it was a mistake and [he] didn’t realize he did it until after it was over,” the detective wrote. “He apologized and offered her free dental needs as long as she lives.”

The three misdemeanor charges against Hazzouri each carry a penalty of up to two years in prison, or up to a $5,000 fine. He was released on $75,000 bail, according to court records, and his next hearing is July 20. The charges against Hazzouri were first reported by the Times-Tribune newspaper in Scranton.

Trump counsel Rudy Giuliani leads a news conference at Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, DC on Nov. 19, 2020.

Trump counsel Rudy Giuliani leads a news conference at Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, DC on Nov. 19, 2020. At left above is attorney Sidney Powell, whom the Trump White House announced earlier in November as one of its lawyers before firing.

Law&Crime, Michigan Judge Refuses to Allow Sidney Powell, Lin Wood, and Other ‘Kraken’ Attorneys to Skip Sanctions Hearing, Adam Klasfeld, July 7, 2021. Right-wing attorneys Sidney Powell and Lin Wood at the so-called Stop the Steal rally.

Mere hours after lawyers for the so-called “Kraken” litigation to overturn the 2020 presidential election asked to skip attending an upcoming sanctions hearing, a federal judge in Michigan refused to budge from her earlier order.

Those “Kraken” lawyers must personally attend those proceedings via Zoom.

One of the most visible efforts to torpedo the 2020 presidential election results, the “Kraken” team is the name given by pro-Donald Trump lawyer Sidney Powell to lawsuits meant to overturn President Joe Biden’s victories in Michigan, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Georgia. The emphatic failure of that heady and multi-armed legal offensive has left a hangover—with potential serious consequences—for every lawyer who participated in it. The State of Michigan and the City of Detroit have requested heavy sanctions for the “Kraken” lawyers, up to their referral for disbarment proceedings.

Scheduling a hearing to consider those motions, U.S. District Judge Linda Parker wrote a terse order last month: “Each attorney whose name appears on any of Plaintiffs’ pleadings or briefs shall be present at the motions hearing.”

Originally scheduled for last week, Judge Parker pushed the hearing back two weeks to accommodate the July 4th vacation plans of one of the lawyers, Stefanie Junttila. After Junttila won that brief allowance, her colleagues Powell, Lin Wood, Scott Hagerstrom, Julia Haller, Brandon Johnson, Howard Kleinhendler, and Gregory Rohl sought to avoid appearing entirely, other than through their lawyer.

“Since the Court entered that order, however, Movants retained counsel,” their lawyer Donald Campbell wrote in a motion on Wednesday. “They therefore ask the Court to indicate whether they may appear via counsel.”

Judge Parker rejected the request without fanfare hours later via in a minute order which proclaimed the request was “DENIED.”

In December, Judge Parker was similarly straightforward in rejecting those lawyers’ requests to overturn the election results in Michigan.

“Plaintiffs ask this court to ignore the orderly statutory scheme established to challenge elections and to ignore the will of millions of voters,” she wrote in a ruling late last year. “This, the Court cannot, and will not, do.”

“The People have spoken,” she added.

At the heart of the Michigan “Kraken” lawsuit—filed in the names of six Michigan residents, led by Timothy King—was an idea that the judge found antagonistic to the nation’s democratic experiment. The lawsuit, King v. Whitmer, took the names of that plaintiff resident and of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D).

“The right to vote is among the most sacred rights of our democracy and, in turn, uniquely defines us as Americans,” Parker’s 36-page opinion stated. “The struggle to achieve the right to vote is one that has been both hard fought and cherished throughout our country’s history. Local, state, and federal elections give voice to this right through the ballot. And elections that count each vote celebrate and secure this cherished right.”

Detroit’s lawyer David Fink accused lawyers for the “Kraken” team of “lies,” “unhinged conspiracy theories,” and “fraud on the court.”

The “Kraken” in strict parlance is a mythical, octopus-like monster. It received the Hollywood treatment in various iterations over the years under the name “Clash of the Titans.” The creature was quickly slain in the movies — and in the courts.

The sanctions hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday, July 13.

July 5

washington post logoWashington Post, On path to 2022, GOP candidates center pitches on Trump’s false election claims, Amy Gardner, July 5, 2021 (print. ed.). Across the country, Republican contenders at every level are echoing fraud claims as the 2020 election becomes a central issue for the 2022 midterm elections.

djt melania epstein maxwell headshot

From left: American real estate developer Donald Trump and his girlfriend (and future wife), former model Melania Knauss, financier (and future convicted sex offender) Jeffrey Epstein, and British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell pose together at the Mar-a-Lago club, Palm Beach, Florida, February 12, 2000. Getty Images.

Business Insider, Trump took a 'sudden interest' in Ghislaine Maxwell when discussing who to pardon, according to a new book, Thomas Colson, July 5, 2021. Donald Trump took a "sudden interest" in Ghislaine Maxwell's case as he was considering who to pardon in the final week of his presidency, journalist Michael Wolff alleges in a new book.

Maxwell, a close associate of Jeffrey Epstein, is awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges, to which she has pleaded not guilty. Epstein died in jail last year while he was awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.

According to Wolff's new book Landslide— his second detailing the Trump presidency — the former president's attention turned to Maxwell and her case as he looked for potential candidates for a presidential pardon, according to an extract published by the Times of London.

michael wolff folded armsAccording to Wolff, right, Trump was "bored" by the "process and details" of pardoning individuals but was determined to use the executive power granted to presidents before he departed the White House.

Wolff said he would frequently interrupt conversations to ask: "Why do you think should be pardoned? Give me one person — who's your top pick?"

Of Maxwell, he asked "Has she said anything about me?" according to the book. Wolff reports that he added: "Is she going to talk? Will she roll on anybody?"

The former president also considered giving himself a federal pardon, telling aides that "they say I can. Unlimited pardon power," but was dissuaded from doing so due to the risk of triggering individual states to pursue prosecutions, Wolff alleges.Trump socialized with Maxwell on at least one occasion in 2000, when he was photographed with his wife Melania as well as Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein. He sent her well-wishes in July last year after she was arrested and did so again the following month.

When asked "why you would wish such a person well" by Axios reporter Jonathan Swan, Trump replied: "She's now in jail, so yeah, I wish her well. I would wish you well. I would wish a lot of people well. Good luck. Let them prove somebody was guilty."

Trump ultimately did not pardon Maxwell. His former chief strategist Steve Bannon and the rapper Lil Wayne were among those he did pardon.

ny times logoNew York Times, Talk: Rep. Adam Kinzinger on the Big Lie, Interview by David Marchese, July 5, 2021 (print ed.). “If you’re scared to tell the truth to people, I understand, but you need to find a different line of work.”

adam kinzinger twitterSince the horrifying events at the Capitol on Jan. 6, Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, right, has been a consistent, if lonely, Republican voice speaking out against the big lie that the presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump.

After the sidelining of Representative Liz Cheney from leadership, Kinzinger, a 43-year-old Air Force veteran who was first elected to the House in 2010, was further entrenched as one of the most influential sitting Republican politicians willing to regularly and publicly denounce that dangerous fiction.

Inhabiting that position is just about the last thing Kinzinger ever imagined his job would entail. “I made the decision early in my career that I would be willing to take a potentially career-ending vote,” says Kinzinger, one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for inciting the attempted insurrection. “But I thought that vote would be for something like a Social Security reform bill. I never thought it would be for defending democracy.”

How does it feel to have your job these days? I could imagine there’s an even greater sense of purpose. I could also imagine it being demoralizing.

You pretty much nailed it. The job has changed because there is so much mistrust. Both within the party and between parties. But yes, there is a sense of aggressive purpose. On the one hand, it’s important for me to do what I’m doing and to speak out. On the other hand, you look around since the election and not many more people have joined me in speaking out about the big lie, and that is a little discouraging.

Have you had any meaningful communication with party leadership — Kevin McCarthy, Elise Stefanik, Steve Scalise — since Liz Cheney was voted out of her position? In May, House Republicans voted to remove Cheney, who pushed back against Trump’s claims of a stolen election, from her position as conference chair. She had been the party’s third-highest-ranking member in the House.

No. I haven’t had meaningful communication since Jan. 6. Kevin gave a great speech the week after that, and then he went to Mar-a-Lago and charged the paddles and brought Trump back to life.2

On Jan. 13, McCarthy, the House minority leader, said that Trump “bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters.” On Jan. 28, he met with Trump in Florida — smiling for a posed photo — to discuss Republican strategy for the 2022 midterm elections.

That’s the moment when I realized, Oh, man, this is a problem. You come to understand that when the party and party leaders talk about unity, and in the same breath say that Donald Trump is the leader of the Republican Party, what they’re talking about isn’t unity. They’re talking about capitulation. When under the guise of unity, you act like Jan. 6 was just whatever you want to make of it, that is capitulating to a false narrative and to a dangerous attack on democracy. I will certainly talk to Kevin if he wants to. But I don’t see how we’re ever going to come eye-to-eye on this until there is a recognition that we can’t be the party of insurrection.

djt rudy giuliani headshots Custom

Palmer Report, Commentary: Rudy Giuliani has been marooned by Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, right, July 5, 2021. Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani aren’t bill palmerexactly having a good time of it lately. Trump’s company and CFO were just criminally indicted in New York, in an obvious first step toward indicting Trump himself. Giuliani’s home has been raided by the Feds, and a court appointed special master is turning over his communications to prosecutors. At this point it’s a question of whether Trump or Giuliani is arrested first.

bill palmer report logo headerAs often ends up being the case with a ship where everyone is sinking, it turns out it’s every man for himself on Team Trump. Rudy Giuliani, who appears to be broke, is still trying to get his legal bills paid by Donald Trump. But according to a new expose by Michael Wolff, Trump has cut Rudy off instead.

Trump has a habit of usually cutting off his own henchmen once it’s clear they’re going down for his dirty work. But Trump has made rare exceptions, going out of his way to praise and prop up a handful of his henchmen (Roger Stone, etc), presumably because he thinks they have the goods to take him down.

Rudy Giuliani has always been one of that handful. But with Donald Trump now cutting him off, it suggests that Trump is now facing too many problems of his own to try to keep Rudy afloat. In turn it opens the door to Rudy cutting a plea deal once he’s indicted, and giving up Trump to try to save himself. These two deserve each other.

matt gaetz djt resized amazon public images rally

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican representing the Panhandle region of Florida, has been a fervant supporter of Donald Trump, who reportedly refused Gaetz's request for an open-ended pardon to cover unspecified matters and other associates, according to news reports.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Matt Gaetz is just about out of time, Bill Palmer, right, July 5, 2021. It’s always tricky to try to predict when the target of a long running bill palmercriminal investigation might be indicted – except in instances where prosecutors just flat out say when it’s going to happen. For instance, when New York prosecutors began telling people about the timeframe for the initial Trump Organization indictments and the media printed it, sure enough, it happened in that timeframe. This brings us to Matt Gaetz.

bill palmer report logo headerThe escalating criminal case against Donald Trump and the Trump Organization has deservedly dominated the headlines over the past few weeks. But it’s managed to overshadow the ongoing federal criminal investigation into Matt Gaetz, which has reportedly involved a number of alleged crimes, including underage sex trafficking. Notably, back in mid-June, ABC News reported that if Gaetz is going to be indicted, it was expected to happen in July.

It’s worth pointing out that we’re now five days into July. This means that we’re looking Matt Gaetz being indicted and arrested somewhere between zero and four weeks from now. That’s not a lot of remaining time, given that the criminal investigation has been public knowledge for a few months, and has reportedly been going on behind the scenes since last year.

Matt Gaetz may still be holding out hope that the Feds end up announcing they weren’t able to make a criminal case against him after all. That’s theoretically possible. But given that the Feds have Joel Greenberg and Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend as cooperating witnesses against him, let’s just say that they wouldn’t have been given leniency unless they were able to show that they had something of value on Gaetz.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump Jr. just made things even worse, Shirley Kennedy, July 5, 2021. Huffington Post reported that Don Jr. — who is obviously stupid — is doing damage control, and let’s say it is not going to well.

One can only wonder how bright the Trump boys are when they say such absurd things. The mouth works, and the brain kicks in later. They are not even apologetic about saying stupid things.

As Huff Post reported, Don Jr. admitted his father’s guilt in the pending New York investigation. He admitted that his father paid for private school for Allen Weisselberg’s grandchildren “because he’s a good guy.” No, he was buying Weisselberg’s silence and bill palmer report logo headercooperation.

Don Jr. is either in denial or stupid (or both).

huffington post logoAccording to Huff Post, Ari Melber of MSNBC said that Don Jr. “may have made things worse.” “May?” It sounds more like “definitely.”

According to the indictment filed against Weisselberg and the Trump Organization, that tuition was paid to replace part of Weisselberg’s salary to lower his tax liability. The indictment alleges that the Trump Organization was engaged in a “wide-ranging scheme to defraud the government of taxes” by giving Weisselberg a like kind exchange for a portion of his salary, on which he would have otherwise owed income tax.

The federal prosecutor obviously contradicts Don Jr.’s claim that Trump is just “a good guy” who paid the tuition out of the kindness of his heart. First, Donald Trump does not have a heart. Second, you best believe that anytime Trump gives anyone anything, there is something in it for him. Other than in those instances, Trump keeps his ill-gotten gains for himself and his family.

The most pathetic thing about all of this is that the Trump Organization kept records that detailed these types of payment. If you are doing something you know to be illegal, why in the world would you maintain records on the illegal activity? Are these people really that dense?

Huff Post further details that the Trump Organization’s “questionable compensation schemes” also likely involves his children, to which the other not-so-bright Trump (Eric) responded: “We’ve always lived amazingly clean lives.” There are those who inherit, those who had a great idea and made a lot of money from that idea, and those who grift. The Trumps fall squarely into the latter category. Trump has spent his life opening and bankrupting businesses. We know for a fact that he had paid little or no income taxes over the years. Clean lives my ass.

July 3

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s company cloaked him in gilded fame. Now it faces felony charges, debt and a tainted brand, Jonathan O'Connell, David A. Fahrenthold and Josh Dawsey, July 3, 2021 (print ed.). djt apprenticeDonald Trump’s business brought him international fame, a hit television show (with a graphic parody shown at right) and a presidential résumé. On Thursday, it brought forth an indictment in New York state court that could damage his financial and political future.

The full impact on Trump’s business of the 10 felony counts brought against it by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. (D) — as well as 15 felony counts against his chief financial officer — remains to be seen. The company and CFO Allen Weisselberg pleaded not guilty to all the charges. Trump was not charged in the case.

The indictment comes after nearly six years of his company enduring one blow after another wrought by Trump’s political career. That trajectory began with the loss of merchandising deals during the early days of his first campaign, continued with the loss of branding and management agreements during his presidency and culminated with a wave of partners vowing to no longer do business with him after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

ny times logoNew York Times, In Case Against Trump’s Company, Echoes of His Father’s Tactics on Taxes, Mike McIntire and Russ Buettner, July 3, 2021. The first criminal prosecution involving former President Trump’s business hearkens back to Fred Trump’s $16,135 purchase of boilers in the 1990s.

ny times logoNew York Times, As president, Donald Trump is said to have called an Arizona official who was being pressured to investigate election fraud claims, Michael Wines and Reid J. Epstein, July 3, 2021 (print ed.). President Donald J. Trump twice sought to talk on the phone with the Republican leader of Arizona’s most populous county last winter as the Trump campaign and its allies tried unsuccessfully to reverse Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s narrow victory in the state’s presidential contest, according to the Republican official and records obtained by The Arizona Republic, a Phoenix newspaper.

But the leader, Clint Hickman, then the chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, said in an interview on Friday that he let the calls — made in late December and early January — go to voice mail and did not return them. “I told people, ‘Please don’t have the president call me,’” he said.

At the time, Mr. Hickman was being pressed by the state Republican Party chairwoman and Mr. Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani to investigate claims of fraud in the county’s election, which Mr. Biden had won by about 45,000 votes.

Liz Harrington, a spokeswoman for Mr. Trump, said in a statement that “it’s no surprise Maricopa County election officials had no desire to look into significant irregularities during the election,” though there is no evidence of widespread problems with Arizona’s election. She did not directly address the calls reportedly made by Mr. Trump. Two former campaign aides said they knew nothing about the outreach to the Maricopa County official.

The Arizona Republic obtained the records of the phone calls from Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani after a Freedom of Information Act request.

washington post logoWashington Post, Alleged Oath Keeper arrested in Capitol riot turned over firearm, Spencer S. Hsu, July 3, 2021 (print ed.). Another alleged Oath Keepers associate was arrested Friday in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, accused of joining a “stack formation” of organized members who prosecutors say marched up the east steps and entered the Rotunda in camouflage and tactical gear.

David Moerschel, 43, of Punta Gorda, Fla., was charged by criminal complaint Thursday with three counts, including conspiracy and obstructing Congress. Moerschel joined some defendants who prosecutors allege staged in advance at an Arlington hotel, where they say weapons were stored for a “Quick Reaction Force” site.

His arrest makes him at least the 18th alleged Oath Keeper in a group whose members prosecutors have accused of plotting and communicating in advance to breach the Capitol and disrupt Congress that day.

The FBI in charging papers included several photographs of a person alleged to be Moerschel taken from surveillance, news and other video footage in and around the Capitol that day, as well as the Comfort Inn Ballston.

FBI agents met and identified Moerschel in May and recovered from his attorney on June 14 a long black jacket, black flak vest, duffel bag and rifle case, including a firearm, consistent with clothes he wore and objects he was photographed with in the images, the FBI said.

U Interview, Melania Trump’s Sister, Ines Knauss, Posts Anti-Trump Tweets On Secret Account, Madeline Hoverkamp, July 3, 2021. Melania Trump’s sister, Ines Knauss, has a private Twitter account where she has seemingly reacted to her brother-in-law’s political career – often unfavorably.

Melania’s family is usually private, avoiding the spotlight that Trump’s presidency put them under. However, the 53-year-old Knauss has been active on Twitter, posting and liking tweets critical of the 45th president.

Journalist Ashley Feinberg, who found Knauss’ account, also previously unearthed the secret social media accounts of fired FBI Director James Comey and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah).

Melania Trump Twitter photoKnauss liked tweets that criticized Trump’s impeachment attorney, as well as one that poked fun at the former president’s Twitter account being suspended after the U.S. Capitol riot on January 6.

Though the account is private, Feinberg was “able to get a look at her feed through a third party.”

djt looking upThe existence of Knauss’ private Twitter account was noted before in Mary Jordan’s 2020 book The Art of Her Deal, which details Melania’s journey toward becoming First Lady.

Melania’s sister has shared supportive tweets, as well. She offered her sister and brother-in-law well wishes after they tested positive for COVID-19 in October. Ines’ tweets show that she attempts to support Melania, shown at left; she liked one that read, “We should all congratulate Melania Trump for her successful campaign against cyberbullying.”

The relationship between Ines and her brother-in-law is less clear, though. Along with her history of liking critical tweets, on January 6 she posted a tweet of a conversation with her father, Viktor, which roughly translates to, “Are you watching CNN?” Viktor responded with a heart emoji, saying that he was in fact watching the network.

Family is reportedly incredibly important to Melania. Ines was Melania’s maid of honor at her wedding to Trump. The former First Lady’s parents live with their daughter and grandson Baron now. Melania’s sister and parents are reportedly upset about the fallout from the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and the former president’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

 

July 1

 

 nancy pelosi nbc sept 26 19 impeachment

washington post logoWashington Post, Pelosi names Cheney to select committee investigating Jan. 6 attack, Felicia Sonmez and Marianna Sotomayor, July 1, 2021. The move to form the committee comes more than one month after Senate Republicans blocked an effort to create an independent, bipartisan commission.

liz cheney oHouse Speaker Nancy Pelosi (shown above in a file photo) announced Thursday that Rep. Liz Cheney, right, an outspoken critic of former president Donald Trump, will serve on a select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

Pelosi (D-Calif.) also tapped Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), left, to chair the 13-member panel and announced her other appointments. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who opposed the committee, has repeatedly declined to say whether he plans to appoint members; at a news conference Thursday morning, he dodged questions on the bennie thompson headshotsubject.

Cheney (R-Wyo.) was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for “incitement of insurrection” for the attack that resulted in five deaths , injured some 140 members of law enforcement and was the worst assault on the Capitol in centuries.

The House approved legislation Wednesday establishing the 13-member committee, with all but two Republicans — Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) — opposing the measure.

The move to form the committee comes more than one month after Senate Republicans blocked an effort to create an independent, bipartisan commission.

Addressing reporters after the group held its first meeting Thursday afternoon, Thompson said that the lawmakers selected plan to begin by inviting police officers who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6 to testify at an initial hearing.

“The select committee is determined to assemble a comprehensive and authoritative report on the events constituting the January 6th insurrection, the relevant causes of the insurrection and policy recommendations necessary to prevent any reoccurrence of this nightmare in the future,” Thompson said. “Although we eagerly await the arrival of our five other colleagues, many of us hope to begin the process with a hearing in which Capitol Police officers themselves could be able to testify about their experiences.”

The House approved legislation Wednesday establishing the 13-member committee, with all but two Republicans — Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) — opposing the measure.

The move to form the committee comes more than one month after Senate Republicans blocked an effort to create an independent, bipartisan commission.

Addressing reporters after the group held its first meeting Thursday afternoon, Thompson said that the lawmakers selected plan to begin by inviting police officers who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6 to testify at an initial hearing.

“The select committee is determined to assemble a comprehensive and authoritative report on the events constituting the January 6th insurrection, the relevant causes of the insurrection and policy recommendations necessary to prevent any reoccurrence of this nightmare in the future,” Thompson said. “Although we eagerly await the arrival of our five other colleagues, many of us hope to begin the process with a hearing in which Capitol Police officers themselves could be able to testify about their experiences.”

In addition to Thompson and Cheney, Pelosi announced six other appointees to the panel Thursday: Democratic Reps. Zoe Lofgren (Calif.), Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), Pete Aguilar (Calif.), Stephanie Murphy (Fla.), Jamie B. Raskin (Md.) and Elaine Luria (Va.).

Schiff and Raskin were the lead impeachment managers during Trump’s first and second impeachment trials, respectively; Lofgren also was an impeachment manager.

Pelosi designed the Jan. 6 select committee to have 13 members, five of whom would be appointed “after consultation with” McCarthy. That means she will maintain the power to overrule any McCarthy pick whom Democrats consider objectionable.

“It was our hope that we could have done this with the bipartisan outside commission,” Pelosi said at a news conference Thursday morning. “Maybe one day that will be possible. … But I’m very proud. And, as I say, decisions are liberating. They enable you to go to the next step. And the next step for us has always been to seek and find the truth.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Day of Rage: An Investigation of How a Mob Stormed the Capitol, Staff Report, July 1, 2021 (print ed.). (video). We spent six months reviewing thousands of videos to reconstruct the most complete picture of the Capitol riot, finding at least eight places where rioters broke in. Our 40-minute visual investigation maps out what else happened — and why. Watch it here, and scan through some of our key findings.

In the six months since an angry pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, immense efforts have been made not only to find the rioters and hold them accountable, but also — and perhaps more important — to dig into the details of Jan. 6 and slowly piece together what actually happened that day.

Congressional committees have looked into police and intelligence failures. The Justice Department has launched a nationwide investigation that has now resulted in more than 500 arrests. And while Republicans in Congress blocked the formation of a blue-ribbon bipartisan committee, House Democrats are poised to appoint a smaller select committee.

Even now, however, Republican politicians and their allies in the media are still playing down the most brazen attack on a seat of power in modern American history. Some have sought to paint the assault as the work of mere tourists. Others, going further, have accused the F.B.I. of planning the attack in what they have described — wildly — as a false-flag operation.

The work of understanding Jan. 6 has been hard enough without this barrage of disinformation and, hoping to get to the bottom of the riot, The Times’s Visual Investigations team spent several months reviewing thousands of videos, many filmed by the rioters themselves and since deleted from social media. We filed motions to unseal police body-camera footage, scoured law enforcement radio communications, and synchronized and mapped the visual evidence.

What we have come up with is a 40-minute panoramic take on Jan. 6, the most complete visual depiction of the Capitol riot to date. In putting it together, we gained critical insights into the character and motivation of rioters by experiencing the events of the day often through their own words and video recordings. We found evidence of members of extremist groups inciting others to riot and assault police officers. And we learned how Donald J. Trump’s own words resonated with the mob in real time as they staged the attack.

Here are some of the major revelations: 

  • Multiple Points of Attack
  • A Delay Turns Deadly
  • The Makeup of the Mob

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump went to the border to attack Biden — but he mainly talked about himself, Tyler Pager, July 1, 2021 (print ed.).  The former president did not fully ignore the issue of immigration during djt hands up mouth open Customhis trip to the U.S.-Mexico border — he just mainly focused on himself.

Former president Donald Trump traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border here Wednesday for a trip billed as an opportunity to assail President Biden on immigration — an issue core to Trump's political identity and one Republicans view as a weakness for Democrats.

But Trump often got sidetracked from the day’s message, instead launching into grievance-filled rants.

He tried to re-litigate the results of the 2020 election. He questioned whether Biden would pass the mental acuity test that he has often used to boast about his own mental fitness.

And he introduced and provided commentary on most of the more than two dozen House Republicans who traveled to see him at the border, often touting the electoral significance of his endorsements of them. He complimented the physical appearance of Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), the medical acumen of Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Tex.) — his former White House doctor — and the auctioneering abilities of Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.), with Trump asking him to put them on display by jokingly selling the border wall.

 

June 2021

June 30

 

 

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wsj logoWall Street Journal, Trump Organization and CFO Allen Weisselberg Expected to Be Charged Thursday, Corinne Ramey, Updated June 30, 2021. The Manhattan district attorney’s first charges in three-year probe will focus on alleged tax-related crimes at former president’s company.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office is expected to charge the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer with tax-related crimes on Thursday, people familiar with the matter said, which would mark the first criminal charges against the former president’s company since prosecutors began investigating it three years ago.

allen weisselberg croppedThe charges against the Trump Organization and Allen Weisselberg, right, the company’s longtime chief financial officer, are a blow to former President Donald Trump, who has fended off multiple criminal and civil probes during and after his presidency. Mr. Trump himself isn’t expected to be charged, his lawyer said. Mr. Weisselberg has rejected prosecutors’ attempts at gaining his cooperation, according to people familiar with the matter.

The defendants are expected to appear in court on Thursday afternoon, the people said.

The Trump Organization and Mr. Weisselberg are expected to face charges related to allegedly evading taxes on fringe benefits, the people said. For months, the Manhattan district attorney’s office and New York state attorney general’s office have been investigating whether Mr. Weisselberg and other employees illegally avoided paying taxes on perks—such as cars, apartments and private-school tuition—that they received from the Trump Organization.

If prosecutors could show the Trump Organization and its executives systematically avoided paying taxes, they could file more serious charges alleging a scheme, lawyers said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Bill Cosby to be released from prison after sexual assault conviction vacated by Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Sonia Rao and Paul Farhi, June 30, 2021. Bill Cosby will be released from prison after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court announced Wednesday that his sexual-assault conviction was to be overturned. The entertainer had served more than two years after being convicted of sexual assault in one of the most high-profile trials of the #MeToo era.

The court issued an opinion written by Justice David Wecht that, according to the Associated Press, said Cosby, 83, could not be charged in the case because of a previous agreement with a prosecutor.

bill cosby“Everyone’s mind is blown right now,” former federal prosecutor Neama Rahman told The Daily Beast. “This is extremely rare. This is unprecedented.”

Cosby was convicted on three counts of sexual assault in April 2018 and sentenced to three to 10 years in state prison that September. The charges stemmed from a 2004 incident in which he was accused of drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand, an operations director for women’s basketball at Temple University. She testified that Cosby, who served on Temple’s board of trustees, had given her a pill that made her unable to control her limbs, and that he violated her at his estate in the Philadelphia suburbs.Advertisement

Dozens of women have alleged Cosby sexually assaulted them, dating back as far as the 1960s, when Cosby was a rising young comedian and co-star of the TV program “I Spy.” Cosby’s early stardom made him a breakthrough figure, one of the first Black performers to achieve mass popularity.

He went to star in a long series of humorous TV commercials, write best-selling books dispensing fatherly advice and headline other TV shows. The peak of his national acclaim was between 1984 and 1992, the years in which he appeared as Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” on NBC. The sitcom dominated TV ratings and helped revive its ailing network.

It also was a breakthrough of its own kind, portraying a Black upper-middle class family in the same familiar and heartwarming ways that family sitcoms had long portrayed White families. Some critics later drew a straight line between the fictional Huxtables and the real-life Obama family when Barack Obama was elected president in 2008.

ny times logoNew York Times, Security in Afghanistan Is Decaying, U.S. General Says as Forces Leave, Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Eric Schmitt, Updated June 30, 2021. “Civil war is certainly a path that can be visualized,” said Gen. Austin S. Miller, commander of the U.S.-led forces. “That should be a concern for the world.”

The commander of the U.S.-led mission in Afghanistan warned on Tuesday that the country could be on a path to chaotic civil war as American and other international troops prepare to leave in the coming weeks.

His assessment, in a rare news conference at the headquarters of U.S. and NATO command in Kabul, will likely be one of the last publicly delivered by an American four-star general in Afghanistan, where recent events have included a Taliban offensive that has seized around 100 district centers, left dozens of civilians wounded and killed, and displaced thousands more.

nato logo flags name“Civil war is certainly a path that can be visualized if it continues on the trajectory it’s on,” the commander, Gen. Austin S. Miller, told reporters during the news conference. “That should be a concern for the world.”

With some intelligence estimates saying that the Afghan government could fall in six months to two years after a final American withdrawal, General Miller’s comments were a window into recent tension between the White House and the Pentagon.

For months, Pentagon leaders argued for some sort of lasting American military presence in Afghanistan, citing counterterrorism concerns and the need to provide a check on the Taliban’s advance. President Biden’s response, in April, was final: All American forces except for an embassy garrison will be gone by Sept. 11.

Speaking from a garden adjacent to the circle of flagpoles that once displayed the flags of the 36 countries that contributed to the U.S.-led NATO mission — now reduced to Turkey, Britain and the United States — General Miller said the troop withdrawal was reaching a point where he would soon end his command, which began in September 2018, and in turn, say goodbye to Afghanistan.

“From a military standpoint it’s going very well,” General Miller said of the U.S. withdrawal. He did not offer a timeline for when the withdrawal will be complete. The Taliban, for the most part, have not attacked U.S. or international forces as they have departed, instead focusing the brunt of the violence on the Afghanistan security forces and the civilians caught in the crossfire.

washington post logoWashington Post, Donald Rumsfeld (1932–2021) Dies, Bradley Graham, June 30, 2021. Influential but controversial defense secretary who led two invasions dies at 88.

Donald H. Rumsfeld, whose roles overseeing the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and efforts to transform the U.S. military made him one of history’s most consequential as well as controversial Pentagon leaders, died June 29 at his home in Taos, N.M. He was 88.

The cause was multiple myeloma, said his former chief of staff Keith Urbahn.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s political prominence stretched back to the 1960s and included stints as a rebellious young Republican congressman, favored counselor to President Richard M. Nixon, right-hand man to President Gerald R. Ford and Middle East envoy for President Ronald Reagan. He also scored big in business, helping to pioneer such products as NutraSweet and high-definition television and earning millions of dollars salvaging large troubled firms.

His greatest influence and notoriety came during a six-year reign as defense secretary under President George W. Bush. Mr. Rumsfeld was initially hailed for leading the U.S. military to war in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, but his handling of the Iraq War eventually led to his downfall. In the invasion’s aftermath, he was criticized for being slow to draft an effective strategy for countering an Iraqi insurgency. He also failed to set a clear policy for the treatment of prisoners.

Donald H. Rumsfeld, whose roles overseeing the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and efforts to transform the U.S. military made him one of history’s most consequential as well as controversial Pentagon leaders, died June 29 at his home in Taos, N.M. He was 88.

The cause was multiple myeloma, said his former chief of staff Keith Urbahn.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s political prominence stretched back to the 1960s and included stints as a rebellious young Republican congressman, favored counselor to President Richard M. Nixon, right-hand man to President Gerald R. Ford and Middle East envoy for President Ronald Reagan. He also scored big in business, helping to pioneer such products as NutraSweet and high-definition television and earning millions of dollars salvaging large troubled firms.

His greatest influence and notoriety came during a six-year reign as defense secretary under President George W. Bush. Mr. Rumsfeld was initially hailed for leading the U.S. military to war in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, but his handling of the Iraq War eventually led to his downfall. In the invasion’s aftermath, he was criticized for being slow to draft an effective strategy for countering an Iraqi insurgency. He also failed to set a clear policy for the treatment of prisoners.

Dogged for months by mounting calls for Mr. Rumsfeld’s removal, Bush finally let him go in late 2006 — 3 1/2 years into the Iraq War and just after an election in which the Republicans lost control of both houses of Congress. Mr. Rumsfeld’s forced exit under clouds of blame and disapproval cast a shadow over his previously illustrious career.

Nevertheless, in a statement on Wednesday Bush praised Mr. Rumsfeld as “a man of intelligence, integrity, and almost inexhaustsible energy” who “never paled before tough decisions, and never flinched from responsibility.”

None of Mr. Rumsfeld’s predecessors had come into the Pentagon’s top job with as much relevant experience. Having served as defense secretary once before under Ford, Mr. Rumsfeld was the only person ever to get a second shot at the position. He held the record as the youngest Pentagon leader, then under Bush, he became the oldest.

Devastated Miami condo (Photo by Amy Beth Bennett of the Associated Press).

Devastated Miami condo (Photo by Amy Beth Bennett of the Associated Press).

washington post logoWashington Post, Grand jury will examine Surfside condominium collapse, prosecutor says, Lori Rozsa, Kim Bellware, Mark Berman and Griff Witte, June 30, 2021 (print ed.). Miami's top prosecutor pledged Tuesday to have a grand jury examine last week's collapse of an oceanfront high-rise, suggesting that even as the search continues for survivors, the focus was quickly shifting to accountability for a disaster likely to go down as one of the country's worst.

The announcement by Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle did not address whether criminal charges could ultimately be filed, as they have been in other mass-casualty events that were found to be a result of negligence or incompetence.

But while Fernandez Rundle raised the prospect of “potential criminal investigations,” she said the grand jury inquiry would be used to determine “what steps we can take to safeguard our residents.”

“[T]his is a matter of extreme public importance, and as the State Attorney elected to keep this community safe, I will not wait,” she said in a statement.

washington post logoWashington Post, Condo board’s head warned damage was ‘accelerating’; death toll rises to 12 as Biden makes plans for visit, Rebecca Tan, Beth Reinhard and Tim Craig, June 30, 2021 (print ed.).  New documents show the Champlain Towers South condo building was badly damaged and needed millions of dollars in repairs to fix problems that continued to worsen in the months before last week's collapse of the 40-year-building.

In an April letter, the president of the Champlain Towers South condo association warned residents that damage to the structure's concrete support system was "accelerating" and "would begin to multiply exponentially" in coming years. The letter, written by president Jean Wodnicki, also offered a broad explanation of why residents were being asked to fund more than $15 million in repairs.

“When you can visually see the concrete spalling [cracking], that means that the rebar holding it together is rusting and deteriorating beneath the surface,” Wodnicki wrote. “Please note that the original scope of work in the 2018 report has expanded. The concrete deterioration is accelerating.”

In related news: 

ny times logoNew York Times, Security in Afghanistan Is Decaying, U.S. General Says as Forces Leave,Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Eric Schmitt, Updated June 30, 2021. “Civil war is certainly a path that can be visualized,” said Gen. Austin S. Miller, commander of the U.S.-led forces. “That should be a concern for the world.”

The commander of the U.S.-led mission in Afghanistan warned on Tuesday that the country could be on a path to chaotic civil war as American and other international troops prepare to leave in the coming weeks.

His assessment, in a rare news conference at the headquarters of U.S. and NATO command in Kabul, will likely be one of the last publicly delivered by an American four-star general in Afghanistan, where recent events have included a Taliban offensive that has seized around 100 district centers, left dozens of civilians wounded and killed, and displaced thousands more.

“Civil war is certainly a path that can be visualized if it continues on the trajectory it’s on,” the commander, Gen. Austin S. Miller, told reporters during the news conference. “That should be a concern for the world.”

With some intelligence estimates saying that the Afghan government could fall in six months to two years after a final American withdrawal, General Miller’s comments were a window into recent tension between the White House and the Pentagon.

For months, Pentagon leaders argued for some sort of lasting American military presence in Afghanistan, citing counterterrorism concerns and the need to provide a check on the Taliban’s advance. President Biden’s response, in April, was final: All American forces except for an embassy garrison will be gone by Sept. 11.

Speaking from a garden adjacent to the circle of flagpoles that once displayed the flags of the 36 countries that contributed to the U.S.-led NATO mission — now reduced to Turkey, Britain and the United States — General Miller said the troop withdrawal was reaching a point where he would soon end his command, which began in September 2018, and in turn, say goodbye to Afghanistan.

“From a military standpoint it’s going very well,” General Miller said of the U.S. withdrawal. He did not offer a timeline for when the withdrawal will be complete. The Taliban, for the most part, have not attacked U.S. or international forces as they have departed, instead focusing the brunt of the violence on the Afghanistan security forces and the civilians caught in the crossfire.

Associated Press via U.S. News, Lawyer: Newspaper Gunman Insane, Not Criminally Responsible; Md. Capital Gazette News Case, Staff Report, June 30, 2021.  The man who killed 5 people at a Maryland newspaper was delusional and believed the state's judicial system was conspiring with the Capital Gazette to persecute him and ruin his life, his attorney told a jury Tuesday, trying to make the case that Jarrod Ramos, right, is not criminally responsible for the crimes due to mental illness.

jarrod ramosHours after hearing that, jurors saw photographs of the dead from shotgun blasts in their own newsroom. They saw Wendi Winters collapsed in a hallway after she had just charged at Ramos with a trash can. They saw Gerald Fischman crumpled under his desk. They saw Rob Hiaasen dead in his cubicle. They also saw John McNamara dead at the back of the newsroom. Rebecca Smith died later at a hospital.

They also saw an officer's body camera video, showing Ramos emerging from under a desk in the newsroom and police officers later leading him out. Three years and a day after the attack on the newspaper, the 2nd phase of a trial started for Ramos, who pleaded guilty- but not criminally responsible- to the June 28, 2018 slayings. The plea is Maryland's version of an insanity defense.

Katy O'Donnell told jurors her client "is guilty of having committed these offenses, and his act was willful, deliberate and premeditated.” But, she said, mental health experts for the defense will tell them he is not criminally responsible under the law due to mental illness. “Mr. Ramos is guilty, and he is also not criminally responsible,” she said. Ramos believed that he was being intentionally persecuted after the newspaper wrote about a case in which he pleaded guilty to harassing a former high school classmate.

 

Jan. 6 Pro-Trump Insurrection 

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Day of Rage: An Investigation of How a Mob Stormed the Capitol, Staff Report, June 30, 2021 (video). We spent six months reviewing thousands of videos to reconstruct the most complete picture of the Capitol riot, finding at least eight places where rioters broke in. Our 40-minute visual investigation maps out what else happened — and why. Watch it here, and scan through some of our key findings.

In the six months since an angry pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, immense efforts have been made not only to find the rioters and hold them accountable, but also — and perhaps more important — to dig into the details of Jan. 6 and slowly piece together what actually happened that day.

Congressional committees have looked into police and intelligence failures. The Justice Department has launched a nationwide investigation that has now resulted in more than 500 arrests. And while Republicans in Congress blocked the formation of a blue-ribbon bipartisan committee, House Democrats are poised to appoint a smaller select committee.

Even now, however, Republican politicians and their allies in the media are still playing down the most brazen attack on a seat of power in modern American history. Some have sought to paint the assault as the work of mere tourists. Others, going further, have accused the F.B.I. of planning the attack in what they have described — wildly — as a false-flag operation.

The work of understanding Jan. 6 has been hard enough without this barrage of disinformation and, hoping to get to the bottom of the riot, The Times’s Visual Investigations team spent several months reviewing thousands of videos, many filmed by the rioters themselves and since deleted from social media. We filed motions to unseal police body-camera footage, scoured law enforcement radio communications, and synchronized and mapped the visual evidence.

What we have come up with is a 40-minute panoramic take on Jan. 6, the most complete visual depiction of the Capitol riot to date. In putting it together, we gained critical insights into the character and motivation of rioters by experiencing the events of the day often through their own words and video recordings. We found evidence of members of extremist groups inciting others to riot and assault police officers. And we learned how Donald J. Trump’s own words resonated with the mob in real time as they staged the attack.

Here are some of the major revelations: 

  • Multiple Points of Attack
  • A Delay Turns Deadly
  • The Makeup of the Mob

June 27

 

donald trump money palmer report Custom

Palmer Report, Opinion: Legal expert says upcoming Trump Organization indictments are just the start of things, Bill Palmer, right, June 27, 2021. If the bill palmerreporting from the New York Times is correct, then the Manhattan District Attorney’s office will criminally indict the Trump Organization this upcoming week. But that’s not the same thing as indicting Donald Trump and his family members individually. So what’s really going on?

bill palmer report logo headerFormer Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Signorelli believes that the criminal indictments will end up being for much more serious matters than mere untaxed fringe benefits. He also says that it’s “likely that the initial indictment will not be the final indictment” – a sentiment that Palmer Report has been driving home all weekend. Multi-tiered criminal investigations nearly always start at the bottom and work their way up.

As for where the New York criminal case is heading, Signorelli says that “There is no question in my mind that Trump himself, along with his vile adult children, are the ultimate targets.”

This lines up with what Palmer Report has been saying about the New York criminal case from the start: the DA’s office didn’t make this much noise just to nail a peon like Allen Weisselberg for a financial violation and then call it a day. This massive, years-long criminal case was always about taking down Donald Trump and potentially his family members. It’s now becoming clear just how far along the DA’s office is in this process – but the real fireworks are still yet to come after the initial indictments.

 

djt maga hat speech uncredited Custom

ny times logoNew York Times,Trump, Seeking to Maintain G.O.P. Sway, Holds First Rally Since Jan. 6, Jeremy W. Peters June 27, 2021 (print ed.). The former president’s speech in Ohio, made on behalf of a challenger to a Republican congressman who voted to impeach Mr. Trump, reflected both his power over the party and his diminished status.

Former President Donald J. Trump returned to the rally stage on Saturday evening after a nearly six-month absence, his first large public gathering since his “Save America” event on Jan. 6 that resulted in a deadly riot at the Capitol.

On Saturday, the same words — “Save America” — appeared behind Mr. Trump (shown above in a file photo) as he addressed a crowd of several thousand at a county fairgrounds in Wellington, Ohio, about 35 miles southwest of Cleveland.

anthony gonzalez oHe repeated familiar falsehoods about fraudulent 2020 votes. He attacked Republican officials for refusing to back his effort to overturn the election results — including Representative Anthony E. Gonzalez of Ohio, right, who voted to impeach Mr. Trump, and whose primary challenger, Max Miller, was the reason for Mr. Trump’s visit. The former president praised Mr. Miller as they appeared onstage together.

djt maga hatMr. Trump remains the most powerful figure in the Republican Party, with large numbers of G.O.P. lawmakers parroting his lies about a stolen 2020 election and fearful of crossing him, and many in the party waiting to see whether he will run again for the White House in 2024.

Yet in the audience and on the stage, the scene in Ohio on Saturday was reflective of how diminished Mr. Trump has become in his post-presidency, and how reliant he is on a smaller group of allies and supporters who have adopted his alternate reality as their own. One of the event’s headliners was Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, the far-right Republican who has promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory.

Mr. Trump’s speech — low-key, digressive and nearly 90 minutes long — fell flat at times with an otherwise adoring audience. Scores of people left early as he bounced from topic to topic — immigration, Israel, Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s protective mask.

“Do you miss me?” Mr. Trump asked in one of his biggest applause lines. “They miss me,” he declared.

In interviews, many in the crowd expressed steadfast belief in Mr. Trump’s election falsehoods, and indulged his rewriting of history on the Capitol mob attack.

June 26

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Organization Could Face Criminal Charges in D.A. Inquiry, William K. Rashbaum, Ben Protess and Jonah E. Bromwich, June 26, 2021 (print ed.). The Manhattan district attorney’s office has informed former President Trump’s lawyers that it is considering criminal charges against his family business. 

The Manhattan district attorney’s office has informed Donald J. Trump’s lawyers that it is considering criminal charges against his family business, the Trump Organization, in connection with fringe benefits the company awarded a top executive, according to several people with knowledge of the matter.

The prosecutors had been building a case for months against the executive, Allen H. Weisselberg, as part of an effort to pressure him to cooperate with a broader inquiry into Mr. Trump’s business dealings. But it was not previously known that the Trump Organization also might face charges.

If the case moves ahead, the district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., could announce charges as soon as next week, the people said. Mr. Vance’s prosecutors have been conducting the investigation along with lawyers from the office of the New York State attorney general, Letitia James.

Any indictment would be the first to emerge from the long-running investigation and would raise the startling prospect of a former president having to defend the company he founded, and has run for decades, against accusations of criminal behavior.

Prosecutors recently have focused much of their investigation into the perks Mr. Trump and the company doled out to Mr. Weisselberg and other executives, including tens of thousands of dollars in private school tuition for one of Mr. Weisselberg’s grandchildren, as well as rents on apartments and car leases.

They are looking into whether those benefits were properly recorded in the company’s ledgers and whether taxes were paid on them, The New York Times has reported.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers met on Thursday with senior prosecutors in the district attorney’s office in hopes of persuading them to abandon any plan to charge the company, according to several people familiar with the meeting. Such meetings are routine in white-collar criminal investigations, and it is unclear whether the prosecutors have made a final decision on whether to charge the Trump Organization, which has long denied wrongdoing.

“In my more than 50 years of practice, never before have I seen a district attorney’s office target a company over employee compensation or fringe benefits,” said Ronald P. Fischetti, a personal lawyer for Mr. Trump. “It’s ridiculous and outrageous.”

Several lawyers who specialize in tax rules have told The New York Times that it would be highly unusual to indict a company just for failing to pay taxes on fringe benefits. None of them could cite any recent example, noting that many companies provide their employees with benefits like company cars.
Still, an indictment of Mr. Trump’s company could deal a blow to the former president just as he has started to hold rallies and flirt with a return to politics. The Trump Organization is inseparable from Mr. Trump, acting as the corporate umbrella for a portfolio of hotels, golf clubs and other real estate, most of which are branded with his name.

It is unclear whether Mr. Trump will ultimately face charges himself. The investigation, which began three years ago, has been wide-ranging, examining whether the Trump Organization manipulated the value of its properties to obtain favorable loans and tax benefits, people with knowledge of the matter have said.

The inquiry is also examining the organization’s statements to insurance companies about the value of various assets and any role that its employees — including Mr. Weisselberg — may have played in hush-money payments to two women during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Palmer Report, Opinion: This is why you read Palmer Report, Bill Palmer, right, June 26, 2021. Over the past few days we’ve seen a remarkable series of political developments, from major movement in bill palmerCongress, to ground shifting developments in the takedown of the Trump cartel. If you’ll allow me a moment of indulgence, I’d like to point out a pattern in all of these developments.

A few weeks ago, when most of the media was implying that there would be no congressional investigation of the Capitol attack, Palmer Report pointed out that Nancy Pelosi would nancy pelosi horizontal uncredited older Customrather obviously appoint a 1/6 select committee if the 1/6 bipartisan commission failed. Sure enough, this week Pelosi did precisely that.

When most media pundits were suggesting that President Biden would never get his infrastructure deal, or that he was going to “cave” to the Republicans on a much smaller deal, Palmer Report pointed out that Biden is much more savvy than this, and that he’d likely find a way to eventually get most or all of what he wanted. Sure enough, a two track infrastructure plan was unveiled this week that appears to have the votes.

Even as most of the media spent the entire first half of 2021 insisting that Donald Trump and his associates were going to get away with all of their criminal antics, Palmer Report instead kept documenting the advancements in the legal proceedings against them. Sure enough, this week Rudy Giuliani was suspended from practicing law, and that ended up being a warm-up act for yesterday’s news that the Trump Organization will be criminally indicted as soon as this upcoming week.

bill palmer report logo headerThese are all instances in which Palmer Report spent weeks or months factually explaining why a given thing was likely or certain to happen, even as most of the media tried to scare you into staying tuned in by pretending like those things were never going to happen. This is part of a larger, consistent pattern going back years. If you’ve been reading Palmer Report long enough, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you’re new here, you’re probably starting to get the gist of it as well.

I’m not Nostradamus. I don’t have ESP. I don’t generally work with inside information. Instead, I just look at the facts, and the way politics tends to work, and I explain what’s likely or obviously going to end up happening. It’s how the entire media should operate. Sadly, too much of the media likes to play dumb on what it knows is coming down the pike, so it can play ratings games in the meantime. Then the media acts like it’s some shocking surprise when the obvious thing that was always going to happen, ends up happening.

If you read Palmer Report, you tend to know what’s going to happen days or weeks or even months before anyone else does. 

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Aides Prepared Insurrection Act Order During Debate Over Protests, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, June 26, 2021 (print ed.). President Donald Trump never invoked the act, but fresh details underscore the intensity of his interest last June in using active-duty military to curb unrest.

Responding to interest from President Donald J. Trump, White House aides drafted a proclamation last year to invoke the Insurrection Act in case Mr. Trump moved to take the extraordinary step of deploying active-duty troops in Washington to quell the protests that followed the killing of George Floyd, two senior Trump administration officials said.

The aides drafted the proclamation on June 1, 2020, during a heated debate inside the administration over how to respond to the protests. Mr. Trump, enraged by the demonstrations, had told the attorney general, William P. Barr, the defense secretary, Mark T. Esper, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley, that he wanted thousands of active-duty troops on the streets of the nation’s capital, one of the officials said.

Mr. Trump was talked out of the plan by the three officials. But a separate group of White House staff members wanted to leave open the option for Mr. Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act to call in the military to patrol the streets of the capital.

They decided it would be prudent to have the necessary document vetted and ready in case the unrest in Washington worsened or the city’s mayor, Muriel Bowser, declined to take measures such as a citywide curfew, which she ultimately put in place.

According to one former senior administration official, Mr. Trump was aware that the document was prepared. He never invoked the act, and in a statement to The New York Times he denied that he had wanted to deploy active-duty troops. “It’s absolutely not true and if it was true, I would have done it,” Mr. Trump said.

But the new details about internal White House deliberations on a pivotal day in his presidency underscore the intensity of Mr. Trump’s instinct to call on the active-duty military to deal with a domestic issue. And they help to flesh out the sequence of events that would culminate later in the day with Mr. Trump’s walk across Lafayette Park to St. John’s Church so he could pose in front of it holding a Bible, a move that coincided with a spasm of violence between law enforcement and protesters camped near the White House.

June 22

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. judge tosses most claims against Trump in clearing of Lafayette Square, Spencer S. Hsu, June 22, 2021 (print ed.). Dabney L. Friedrich of Washington called allegations that federal officials conspired to enable a photo op of President Donald Trump holding a Bible too speculative.

A U.S. judge on Monday dismissed most claims filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of D.C., Black Lives Matter and others in lawsuits that accused the Trump administration of authorizing an unprovoked attack on demonstrators in Lafayette Square last year.

dabney friedrich nbcThe plaintiffs asserted the government used unnecessary force to enable a photo op of President Donald Trump holding a Bible outside of the historical St. John’s Church. But U.S. District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich of Washington, right, called allegations that federal officials conspired to make way for the photo too speculative.

The judge’s decision came in a 51-page opinion after the Justice Department requested she toss four overlapping lawsuits naming dozens of federal individual and agency defendants, as well as D.C. and Arlington police, in the June 2020 incident.

Friedrich also ruled that federal defendants such as then-Attorney General William P. Barr and then-acting Park Police chief Gregory T. Monahan are immune from civil suits and could not be sued for damages, and that Black Lives Matter as a group could not show it was directly injured by actions against individual demonstrators.

The judge did allow litigation to go forward challenging federal restrictions on protests and other First Amendment activity at Lafayette Square across from the White House, and against local D.C. and Arlington County police agencies that supported the operation.

The lawsuits stem from confrontations last June when military personnel along with federal and local law enforcement officers forcibly cleared the square. Officials used batons, clubs and spray and fired projectiles as more than 1,000 largely peaceful demonstrators gathered to protest the killing of George Floyd. Images of violence before Trump made his way to the church drew a national backlash and the nation’s top military official later apologized for walking with Trump before television cameras that day.

djt michael cohenPalmer Report, Opinion: New York prosecutors are now closing in on Donald Trump from all sides, Bill Palmer, June 22, 2021. When it comes to the criminal justice proceedings in New York that are now playing out against Donald Trump and the Trump Organization, it’s important to keep two things in mind as a baseline. First, Michael Cohen (above left)) – who has met with Manhattan prosecutors more than ten times regarding the case – has publicly stated that there’s more than enough evidence to take Trump down whether anyone flips on him or not. Second, the way these kinds of proceedings always work is that prosecutors try to flip as many people as possible, in order to have them pile on for good measure.

It’s within this context that things have suddenly gotten really interesting in the past 24 hours. First came the story about prosecutors closing in on Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg. Then bill palmer report logo headercame the story about prosecutors closing in on Trump Organization COO Matthew Calamari. This one-two punch makes two things clear.

First, Manhattan prosecutors are targeting everyone under Donald Trump in order to try to get one or more of them to flip on Trump. If they’re simultaneously squeezing the CFO and COO of Trump’s company, then they’re surely squeezing everyone in between. And keep in mind that a lower ranking Trump Organization official, Jeff McConney, has already testified to the grand jury. This means that, by legal definition in New York, he got immunity in exchange for testifying to the grand jury. It makes you wonder who else may have jumped at the chance to get automatic immunity by testifying in this case.

Second, the Manhattan criminal probe has clearly reached the point where prosecutors are ready to begin having the grand jury issue criminal indictments against Trump’s underlings who don’t flip. Yesterday’s media blitz feels like a last call for those who want to cut a deal. That doesn’t mean indictments will start coming down tomorrow, or this week. The legal process doesn’t move that swiftly. But it was reported last week that the Weisselberg indictment could come “this summer” – and we are now officially two days into summer.

The upshot is this. Regardless of how much evidence New York prosecutors have amassed against Donald Trump – and Cohen says they have more than enough – they’re in the process of squeezing everyone in Trump’s life in order to build the most bulletproof criminal case possible. They’ve got Cohen, McConney and perhaps others. They want Weisselberg, Calamari, and surely others. They’re going to indict and arrest whoever necessary in order to complete the job of nailing Donald Trump – and they’re closing in on him from all sides.

June 21

Proof via Substack, Investigation and Commentary: A Comprehensive Overview of All Five of Donald Trump's January 6 War Rooms, Seth Abramson, June 21, 2021. During Insurrection Week, Trump's seth abramson graphicinsurrectionists had at least five secretive war rooms inside Washington. Here's everything we know about each of them so far.

Research by Proof into the January 6 insurrection reveals that Team Trump opened five “war rooms” during Insurrection Week. Trump lawyer John Eastman was the first to call his own space (of the seth abramson proof logofive) a “war room”; another participant in the same room, Joe Oltmann, called it a “command center”; and at another point Eastman noted that he had been working in a “communications coordination.” The five spaces that answer to such descriptions are summarized below and then discussed in more detail.

#1: The Trump International War Room; Location: Trump Townhouse in Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC; Occupants: 19+.

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).

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Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Trump's connection to the KGB highlighted in full-page ads in 1987, Wayne Madsen, left (author and former Navy Intelligence officer and NSA analyst), June 21, 2021. Donald Trump's role as an intelligence asset for the wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallSoviet Committee for State Security (KGB) and Czechoslovak State Security (StB) in the 1970s and 80s was revealed in WMR's August 19, 2020 article, "Trump likely a KGB/Czechoslovak StB intelligence asset as early as 1976."

wayne madesen report logoFurther information revealed to The Guardian of the UK by former KGB agent Yuri Shvets indicates that the Trump Organization's full-page ad run in the September 2, 1987 editions of The New York Times, Washington Post and Boston Globe was actually crafted and paid for by the KGB.

At a critical time for U.S. foreign policy, with the Soviet bloc showing significant signs of unraveling and Iran posing a threat to shipping in the Persian Gulf, Trump's full-page ad was titled "There's nothing wrong with America's Foreign Defense Policy that a little backbone can't cure."

The current probe of the Trump Organization's finances, particularly the firm's longtime chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, by the Manhattan District Attorney's office, may yield information on Trump's receipt of KGB financing for the three newspaper ads and other purposes via a KGB business front on Fifth Avenue, Joy-Lud electronics store, run by Soviet Ukrainian emigré Semyon Kislin, a "spotter agent" or recruiter for the KGB.

Axios, Scoop: Trump works refs ahead of book barrage, Mike Allen, June 21, 2021. Former President Trump has given at least 22 interviews for 17 different books since leaving office, with authors lining up at Mar-a-Lago as he labors to shape a coming tsunami of Trump tomes, Axios has learned.

axios logoWhy it matters: Trump advisers see the coming book glut as proof that interest in "POTUS 45," as they call him, has never been higher. These advisers know that most of the books will paint a mixed picture, at best. But Trump is working the refs with charm, spin and dish.

Offering Diet Cokes and dressed in suit and tie, Trump spent an average of about 90 minutes with each of the authors, some of whom were invited to stay and eat dinner at Mar-a-Lago (although not with him).

The interviews are mostly on the record, for use when the books publish. So Trump, who has rarely been heard on non-Fox outlets since leaving office, will see himself quoted constantly over the next year.

Between the lines: Sources tell me Trump makes each author feel they're getting something special. And some of them are: Many of the nuggets will definitely make news. But there appears to be quite a bit of overlap in the "scoops" Trump is dishing out.

There's intense jockeying among the authors over several publishing-date logjams in the coming 18 months, with Michael Wolff's Landslide currently in pole position (July 27). The book many Trump insiders are awaiting most is Maggie Haberman's, due next year.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Told you Roger Stone was going down for the January 6th Capitol attack, Bill Palmer, June 21, 2021. Weeks ago, federal prosecutors brought conspiracy charges against two “Oath Keepers” employees of Roger Stone, for their roles in the January 6th Capitol attack. At the time, Palmer Report explained that under these circumstances the main reason to bring conspiracy charges against them was so that conspiracy charges could also be brought against Stone.

bill palmer report logo headerSure enough, Harry Litman of the LA Times tweeted on Sunday night that the Feds are in fact investigating Roger Stone for the Capitol attack. This comes as no real surprise. Video evidence has been circulating for months that showed Stone interacting and plotting with these same Oath Keepers on the morning of the attack. And while that alone wouldn’t be enough to get a criminal conviction against Stone, it was more than enough for the Feds to dig in and uncover the entire evidence trail.

FBI logoWhat stands out is that the Feds are now allowing the media to find out that they’re targeting Roger Stone in the January 6th investigation. The Feds know that this will only place additional pressure on them to bring charges against Stone before too much longer – so this can be taken as a sign that Stone’s indictment likely isn’t too far off. It’s worth asking if this is a sign that one or more of Stone’s Oath Keepers pals may be cutting a plea deal against him.

It’s also worth pointing out that Roger Stone’s pardon from Donald Trump was issued before the Capitol attack, and therefore can’t possibly get him off the hook for it. Stone is fully vulnerable to whatever criminal charges end up being brought against him related to January 6th. Trump’s commutation and pardon were the only thing that kept Stone out of prison the last time around. This time there’s nothing to protect Stone.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: If the Justice Department won’t investigate itself, Congress should, Jennifer Rubin, right, June 21, 2021. Democrats and other critics of the disgraced former president’s reign jennifer rubin new headshotof corruption and politicization over the criminal justice system are losing patience with Attorney General Merrick Garland. Appearing on CBS News’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, spoke out about the Trump Justice Department’s attempt to target his email records:

I had to hear from Apple and not the Justice Department about what had gone on in the last four years. The inspector general is doing an investigation. I talked with the attorney general about going beyond that. I think he really needs to do a wholesale review of all of the politicization of the department over the last four years. What happened to our committee, what happened to members of the press, that’s just a subset.

The direct intervention by the president and the attorney general in specific criminal cases implicating the president, like that of Roger Stone, one of his aides whose sentence was reduced before he was pardoned, [and] Mike Flynn, another presidential national security adviser whose case was made to completely go away. These are gross abuses of the independence of the Justice Department, and we don’t know how far . . . they run. And our new attorney general has to find out.

Several points deserve emphasis. First, we do not know what other victims of Justice Department abuse are out there because we do not know the full scope of the previous administration’s “national security” witch hunts. Second, we do not know who within the Justice Department objected to any direction they found unethical or illegal or who complied with directions they knew were wrong. We therefore lack a full picture of events and have no way of knowing whether any attorney deserves censure, termination or even prosecution. 

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. Garland tries to untangle the Trump legacy at Justice Dept., Devlin Barrett, June 21, 2021. Merrick Garland has been criticized by some Democrats over recent legal decisions, but the new attorney general insists he is plotting a straight course.

Three months into his new job, judge-turned-attorney general Merrick Garland, who inherited a demoralized and politicized Justice Department, is facing criticism from some Democrats that he is not doing enough to quickly expunge Trump-era policies and practices.

On a host of issues ranging from leak investigations to civil and criminal cases involving former president Donald Trump, Garland has been beset by a growing chorus of congressional second-guessers, even as he insists he is scrupulously adhering to the principles of equal justice under the law.

How he charts his way through the current controversies and still-unresolved politically sensitive cases is likely to determine how much of a long-term impact the Trump presidency has on the Justice Department.

“It’s a difficult situation to navigate. The Department of Justice is an institution like an ocean liner — it doesn’t turn around easily,” said Ronald Weich, who served as an assistant attorney general in the early days of the Obama administration.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump and his CFO Allen Weisselberg stay close as prosecutors advance case, Jonathan O'Connell, Shayna Jacobs, David A. Fahrenthold and Josh Dawsey, June 21, 2021. The former president and his trusted lieutenant both head to Trump Tower as prosecutors press Allen Weisselberg to turn on his boss.

If Donald Trump was looking for some good news on his 75th birthday last Monday, it arrived at 8:15 a.m. by way of a blue Mercedes slipping into Trump Tower’s private garage entrance on West 56th Street.

Behind the wheel was Allen Weisselberg, Trump’s longtime confidant and Trump Organization chief financial officer, whom the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has pressed to turn on the former president as they investigate Trump’s business dealings.

Every day that Weisselberg arrives for work at Trump Tower — as he did that day, steering in from his Upper West Side apartment across town — could be seen as a public signal that he is sticking with Trump and deflecting investigators’ advances.

 June 17 

Jan. 6 Pro-Trump Capitol Insurrection Trump attorney and former Justice Department Deputy Attorney Gen. Rudy Giuliani, his colleague and significant other Maria Ryan, and One America Network White House correspondent Christina Bogbb are shown working in a Willard Hotel

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

Proof via Substack, Investigation: We Now Know What the Willard Hotel War Room Was For—and You're Not Going to Believe It, Seth Abramson, June 16-17-2021. The revelation of the seventh person in seth abramson graphicTrump's Willard Hotel war room leads to the strangest discovery of the January 6 investigation so far, one so bizarre that it must be read to be believed.

When I discovered that the seventh identifiable figure in the photographs of Donald Trump’s Willard Hotel command center (photographs which had been posted on Instagram by Trump associate Robert Hyde) was Rudy Giuliani girlfriend Maria Ryan, the news meant little to me. It would, I felt, merit little interest from anyone else, either.

I now realize that I couldn’t have been more mistaken, as sometimes mundane discoveries lead to appalling ones—something you’d think I’d recall from my experience as a federal-system criminal investigator and then a state criminal defense attorney.

seth abramson proof logoAs the identification of Maria Ryan as the seventh entrant into the Willard war room was underway, a Proof reader sent me a January 5 “interview” Ryan had conducted with One America News (OAN) propagandist Christina Bobb. I put the word “interview” in quotes here because, as the above photo confirms, and as Proof has already reported at great length, Bobb was, with Ryan, a member of Trump’s secretive insurrection-week team at the Willard — and therefore her on-air discussion with Ryan on January 5 was in no way a real interview. Note: Bobb didn’t disclose her association with Ryan during their chat.

Even odder than the truth of the Bobb-Ryan “interview” was its timing: Insurrection Eve.

Indeed (and this was the first sign of the strange story I was about to find myself immersed in as a journalist and researcher) on January 5, 2021, Maria Ryan was being interviewed from the very war room that Bobb was a member of—meaning that Bobb had at some point left the war room, gone in to work at OAN’s television studio, and then conducted an “interview” with the very legal team she was a part of with a fellow team member who was sitting in the very war room that Bobb herself had been using.

 

andrew clyde left jan 6 201

A frightened U.S. Congressman, Andrew Clyde, left, Republican of Georgia, is defended by Capitol security during the pro-Trump insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021.

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP congressman refuses to shake hands with D.C. police officer who protected the Capitol on Jan. 6, Colby Itkowitz and Peter Hermann, June 17, 2021.Rep. Andrew S. Clyde (R-Ga.), who voted against awarding police officers the Congressional Gold Medal for their bravery in protecting the U.S. Capitol against violent, pro-Trump rioters on Jan. 6, refused to shake hands with D.C. police officer Michael Fanone on Wednesday.

Fanone was beaten unconscious after he voluntarily rushed to the Capitol to help defend it from those who breached the building. He suffered a concussion and a mild heart attack. In the months since, Fanone has been one of the leading voices pushing back against Republicans who have sought to downplay the severity of what happened Jan. 6.

Fanone, joined by Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, returned to the Capitol on Wednesday, the day after 21 House Republicans voted against the Gold Medal resolution, in an effort to meet them and tell his story.

andrew clydeHe said he recognized Clyde, right, at an elevator and that he and Dunn hopped in with the congressman.

“I simply extended my hand and said, “How are you doing today, Congressman.’ I knew immediately he recognized me by the way he reacted. He completely froze. He just stared at me,” Fanone said in an interview.

Fanone said Clyde did not motion to shake his hand in return.

“I said, ‘I’m sorry, you’re not going to shake my hand?’ ” Fanone said he told Clyde.

He said Clyde answered, “I don’t know who you are.”

Fanone said he responded, “’I’m sorry, sir, my name is Michael Fanone. I’m a D.C. police officer and I fought to defend the Capitol on Jan. 6.” He said he described being stunned repeatedly in the back of the neck and beaten unconscious, stripped of his badge and radio.

capitol riot shutterstock capitol

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Pure insanity’: How Trump and his allies pressed Justice Dept. to help overturn election, Matt Zapotosky, Rosalind S. Helderman, Amy Gardner and Karoun Demirjian, June 17, 2021 (print ed.). New documents and emails reveal how far President Donald Trump and his supporters were willing to go.

Justice Department log circularThe Justice Department leaders were losing their patience.

For weeks, President Donald Trump and his allies had been pressing them to use federal law enforcement’s muscle to back his unfounded claims of voter fraud and a stolen election.

They wanted the Justice Department to explore false claims that Dominion Voting Systems machines had been manipulated to alter votes in one county in Michigan. They asked officials about the jeffrey rosenU.S. government filing a Supreme Court challenge to the results in six states that Joe Biden won. The president’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, even shared with acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen, left, a link to a YouTube video that described an outlandish plot in which the election had been stolen from Trump through the use of military satellites controlled in Italy.

“Pure insanity,” Rosen’s deputy Richard Donoghue wrote to him privately. The new details laid out in hundreds of pages of emails and other documents released Tuesday by the House Oversight and Reform Committee show how far Trump and his allies were willing to go in their attempts to use the Justice Department to overturn Biden’s win — a campaign whose full contours are still coming into view five months after Trump left office.

The endeavor involved the White House chief of staff and an outside attorney, who peppered department officials with requests that they said came on behalf of Trump himself to investigate baseless claims of election fraud. Their efforts intensified in the days before Congress was set to formally recognize the election results Jan. 6 — and culminated in an Oval Office showdown Jan. 3.

This account is based on those documents as well as interviews with several people involved in or briefed on the events of late 2020 and early 2021. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a politically sensitive matter.

Alan Hostetter, left, with fellow ultra-right advocate Russ Taylor on Jan. 6 in Washington, DC.

Alan Hostetter, left, with fellow ultra-right advocate Russ Taylor on Jan. 6 in Washington, DC.

washington post logoWashington Post, He was at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Now, feds say he used his nonprofit to advocate violence, Jaclyn Peiser, June 17, 2021. A few months before Alan Hostetter stood in triumph on the U.S. Capitol’s upper West Terrace, proclaiming that the people had “taken back their house” as rioters stormed the building, the California native launched a nonprofit that promised to protect citizens’ rights, educate people on vaccines and call out media misinformation.

But in the months that followed, his nonprofit, the American Phoenix Project, instead organized rallies to support President Donald Trump’s false claims of a stolen election and used it “as a platform to advocate violence against certain groups and individuals that supported the 2020 presidential election results,” federal prosecutors said in an indictment filed June 10.

As Hostetter faces felony charges of obstructing official proceedings and breaching restricted government property, federal prosecutors also say the 56-year-old might have run afoul of IRS regulations on nonprofits’ political activities.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Tucker Carlson’s wild, baseless theory blaming the FBI for organizing the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, Aaron Blake, June 17, 2021 (print ed.). The latest Jan. 6 conspiracy theory, courtesy of Carlson: That the FBI was behind the Capitol riot. There is no evidence of this.

It’s been more than five months since President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, and those seeking to deflect blame still can’t figure out exactly how to do so. First, the idea was that the riot was provoked by antifa. Then it was that it was preplanned, so Trump couldn’t have incited it. Then it was that the riots weren’t really that bad or that they were even “peaceful,” despite the violence and deaths. None of those arguments is borne out by the evidence available.

But now we’ve got a new entry in this long-running quest for a conspiracy theory that will stick: That perhaps the riot was actually the work … of the FBI?

tucker carlsonFox News host Tucker Carlson, right, wove just such a tangled, conspiratorial web Tuesday night.

Carlson’s theory is essentially that the presence of unindicted co-conspirators in the Capitol riot indictments means those people are government agents and that this, in turn, means the FBI was involved in organizing the riot. The idea has since caught on with conspiratorially minded congressional Republicans.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary, America's first "Beer Hall Putsch" meeting may have been as early as July 17, 2016, Wayne Madsen, June 17, 2021. On the evening of July 17, 2016, Tucker Carlson, who is increasingly using his Fox News program to tout lunatic conspiracy theories, hosted a hush-hush strictly invitation-only dinner meeting at the downtown Hilton Hotel (in Cleveland at the Republican National Convention).

From what I was told, Carlson's dinner was no normal "meet and greet" affair. Rather, it involved some key players and provocateurs in the 2016 and 2020 elections, with a few, including Alex Jones, having their fingerprints on the January 6 seditious revolt against Congress.

Legal Schnauzer, Commentary: Rioters at U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 were driven largely by fears that whites will be replaced as the American majority, according to U of Chicago research findings, Roger Shuler, June 17, 2021. Robert A. Pape, a professor of political science and director of the Chicago Project on Security and Threats, conducted an analysis of 377 Americans arrested or charged in the Capitol insurrection.

His findings were unsettling, showing that rioters largely were driven over concerns about what has become known as "The Great Replacement Theory," a topic Tucker Carlson has ranted about on Fox News recently.

What about specifics from the Pape study? Here they are:

The Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol by a violent mob at the behest of former president Donald Trump was an act of political violence intended to alter the outcome of a legitimate democratic election. That much was always evident.

What we know 90 days later is that the insurrection was the result of a large, diffuse and new kind of protest movement congealing in the United States.

The Chicago Project on Security and Threats (CPOST), working with court records, has analyzed the demographics and home county characteristics of the 377 Americans, from 250 counties in 44 states, arrested or charged in the Capitol attack.

Those involved are, by and large, older and more professional than right-wing protesters we have surveyed in the past. They typically have no ties to existing right-wing groups. But like earlier protesters, they are 95 percent White and 85 percent male, and many live near and among Biden supporters in blue and purple counties.

The charges have, so far, been generally in proportion to state and county populations as a whole. Only Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, and Montana appear to have sent more protesters to D.C. suspected of crimes than their populations would suggest.

Nor were these insurrectionists typically from deep-red counties. Some 52 percent are from blue counties that Biden comfortably won. But by far the most interesting characteristic common to the insurrectionists’ backgrounds has to do with changes in their local demographics: Counties with the most significant declines in the non-Hispanic White population are the most likely to produce insurrectionists who now face charges.

For example, Texas is the home of 36 of the 377 charged or arrested nationwide. The majority of the state’s alleged insurrectionists — 20 of 36 — live in six quickly diversifying blue counties such as Dallas and Harris (Houston). In fact, all 36 of Texas’s rioters come from just 17 counties, each of which lost White population over the past five years. Three of those arrested or charged hail from Collin County north of Dallas, which has lost White population at the very brisk rate of 4.3 percent since 2015.

The same thing can be seen in New York state, home to 27 people charged or arrested after the riot, nearly all of whom come from 14 blue counties that Biden won in and around New York City. One of these, Putnam County (south of Poughkeepsie), is home to three of those arrested, and a county that saw its White population decline by 3.5 percent since 2015.

Here is where it gets really interesting:

When compared with almost 2,900 other counties in the United States, our analysis of the 250 counties where those charged or arrested live reveals that the counties that had the greatest decline in White population had an 18 percent chance of sending an insurrectionist to D.C., while the counties that saw the least decline in the White population had only a 3 percent chance. This finding holds even when controlling for population size, distance to D.C., unemployment rate, and urban/rural location. It also would occur by chance less than once in 1,000 times.

Put another way, the people alleged by authorities to have taken the law into their hands on Jan. 6 typically hail from places where non-White populations are growing fastest.

Pape's deep dive then gets even deeper:

CPOST also conducted two independent surveys in February and March, including a National Opinion Research Council survey, to help understand the roots of this rage. One driver overwhelmingly stood out: fear of the “Great Replacement.” Great Replacement theory has achieved iconic status with white nationalists and holds that minorities are progressively replacing White populations due to mass immigration policies and low birthrates. Extensive social media exposure is the second-biggest driver of this view, our surveys found. Replacement theory might help explain why such a high percentage of the rioters hail from counties with fast-rising, non-White populations.

While tracking and investigating right-wing extremist groups remains a vital task for law enforcement, the best intelligence is predictive. Understanding where most alleged insurrectionists come from is a good starting point in identifying areas facing elevated risks of further political violence. At the very least, local mayors and police chiefs need better intelligence and sounder risk analysis.

To ignore this movement and its potential would be akin to Trump’s response to covid-19: We cannot presume it will blow over. The ingredients exist for future waves of political violence, from lone-wolf attacks to all-out assaults on democracy, surrounding the 2022 midterm elections

washington post logoWashington Post, Paul Gosar demands name of Capitol officer who killed rioter Ashli Babbitt, saying she was ‘executed,’ Julian Mark, June 17, 2021 (print ed.). In a hearing on Tuesday, Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) abruptly turned his questions for FBI Director Christopher A. Wray toward the Capitol Police officer who fatally shot Ashli Babbitt, below left, an Air Force veteran who tried to leap through a window during the Jan. 6 insurrection.

paul gosarGosar, right, demanded to know why the FBI hasn’t disclosed the name of the officer, who was cleared of wrongdoing by prosecutors in April.

ashli babbitt“It’s disturbing,” Gosar told Wray, while claiming Babbitt was “executed.” “The Capitol Police officer that did that shooting appeared to be hiding, lying in wait and then gave no warning before killing her.”

His comments, which came the same day he joined 20 other House Republicans in voting against awarding Congressional Gold Medals to the officers who protected the Capitol on Jan. 6, have gone viral on social media and drawn swift rebukes from critics and some colleagues who accused him of downplaying the severity of the insurrection.

 

June 11

 

djt william barr doj photo march 2019

ny times logoNew York Times, Hunting Leaks, Trump Officials Focused on Democrats in Congress, Katie Benner, Nicholas Fandos, Michael S. Schmidt and Adam Goldman, June 11, 2021 (print ed.). The Justice Department seized records from Apple for metadata of House Intelligence Committee members, their aides and family members.

As the Justice Department investigated who was behind leaks of classified information early in the Trump administration, it took a highly unusual step: Prosecutors subpoenaed Apple for data from the accounts of at least two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, aides and family members. One was a minor.

adam schiff squareAll told, the records of at least a dozen people tied to the committee were seized in 2017 and early 2018, including those of Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, right, then the panel’s top Democrat and now its chairman, according to committee officials and two other people briefed on the inquiry. Representative Eric Swalwell of California said in an interview Thursday night that he had also been notified that his data had subpoenaed.

american flag upside down distressProsecutors, under the beleaguered attorney general, Jeff Sessions, were hunting for the sources behind news media reports about contacts between Trump associates and Russia. Ultimately, the data and other evidence did not tie the committee to the leaks, and investigators debated whether they had hit a dead end and some even discussed closing the inquiry.

But William P. Barr, shown above, revived languishing leak investigations after he became attorney general a year later. He moved a trusted prosecutor from New Jersey with little relevant experience to the main Justice Department to work on the Schiff-related case and about a half-dozen others, according to three people with knowledge of his work who did not want to be identified discussing federal investigations.

The zeal in the Trump administration’s efforts to hunt leakers led to the extraordinary step of subpoenaing communications metadata from members of Congress — a nearly unheard-of move outside of corruption investigations. While Justice Department leak investigations are routine, current and former congressional officials familiar with the apple logo rainbowinquiry said they could not recall an instance in which the records of lawmakers had been seized as part of one.

Moreover, just as it did in investigating news organizations, the Justice Department secured a gag order on Apple that expired this year, according to a person familiar with the inquiry, so lawmakers did not know they were being investigated until Apple informed them last month.

Prosecutors also eventually secured subpoenas for reporters’ records to try to identify their confidential sources, a move that department policy allows only after all other avenues of inquiry are exhausted.

anthony fauci graphic Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Daily Distortions: No, Fauci is not profiting from a coming book on lessons he’s learned from his public service, Davey Alba, June 11, 2021. In the past few days, after the listing for a coming book by Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the Biden administration’s top adviser on Covid-19, was taken down from Amazon’s and Barnes & Noble’s websites, right-wing outlets and social media commentators spread the rumor that the it had been removed because of public backlash to the idea of Dr. Fauci’s “profiteering” from the pandemic.

In truth, Dr. Fauci (shown above in a file photo) is not making any money from the book, which is about lessons he has learned during his decades in public service, and the listing was pulled for a simple reason: the publisher had posted it too early.

Dr. Fauci “will not earn any royalties from its publication and was not paid” for the book, Expect the Unexpected, said Ann Day, a spokeswoman for National Geographic Books, its publisher. She said Dr. Fauci also would not earn anything for a related documentary. (Dr. Fauci did not respond to a request for comment.)

The book, which compiles interviews and speeches given by Dr. Fauci during his 37 years as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was taken off the websites because “it was prematurely posted for presale,” Ms. Day said. She added that proceeds would “go back to the National Geographic Society to fund work in the areas of science, exploration, conservation and education and to reinvest in content.”

In a statement, the national institute noted that the book had not been written by Dr. Fauci himself. The institute also confirmed that he would not earn any royalties from its publication.

The falsehood about the book and Dr. Fauci spread widely online. On May 31, the right-wing outlet The Daily Caller published an article about the book’s appearing for presale online. Some conservative Republicans, including Representatives Andy Biggs of Arizona and Dan Bishop of North Carolina, seized on the article and claimed without evidence that Dr. Fauci would be profiting from the book.

washington post logoWashington Post, FBI director berated for Jan. 6 failures and Giuliani probe as he testifies before House committee, Matt Zapotosky, June 11, 2021 (print ed.).  Democrats and Republicans lobbed withering questions at the FBI as Director Christopher A. Wray testified before the House Judiciary Committee Thursday, though their concerns diverged significantly along partisan lines. 

Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) blasted Wray for the bureau’s failure to detect in advance and respond to the mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, while ranking Republican Jim Jordan (Ohio) accused the bureau of intruding on Americans’ civil liberties in an eclectic mix of circumstances.

The hearing made clear that Democrats and Republicans could hardly be further apart on what the FBI should and shouldn’t be doing. But on this much, they seemed to agree: the nation’s premier federal law enforcement institution had significant problems that needed to be addressed.

christopher wray oFor his part, Wray, right, sought to highlight how the bureau seeks to root out violence — no matter what motivates it — and is careful not to tread on Americans’ First Amendment rights.

In his opening statement, the FBI director highlighted the “extremist violence” of Jan. 6 in which more than 100 officers were injured in just a few hours and asserted that law enforcement had made more than 500 arrests.

But he also noted the bureau saw extremist violence during last summer’s civil unrest associated with racial justice protests. While he asserted that “most citizens made their voices heard through peaceful lawful, protests,” he said that others attacked federal buildings and left officers injured, and thousands had been arrested across the country.

“That is not a controversial issue that should force anyone to take sides,” he said, adding later in response to questions, “I don’t care whether you’re upset at our criminal justice system, or upset at our election system, violence, assaults on federal law enforcement, destruction of property, is not the way to do it. That’s our position.”

FBI report warned of ‘war’ at Capitol, contradicting claims there was no indication of looming violence

FBI logoNadler and other Democrats pressed Wray on the intelligence the bureau had gathered in advance of Jan. 6, and the actions it took that day as rioters stormed the Capitol. Nadler noted that a report from the bureau’s Norfolk field office from the day before seemed to predict what was going to happen, and it was forwarded to the field office in Washington. He questioned why — in the days after the riot — the head of that office insisted the bureau had no intelligence anything would happen beyond activity protected by the First Amendment.

“Did the FBI simply miss the evidence, or did it see the evidence and fail to piece it together?” Nadler asked.

Wray, as he and others have in the past, said the document was “raw, unverified” intelligence, and asserted that it nonetheless was shared with law enforcement partners, including the Capitol Police, in multiple ways.

“We tried to make sure that we got that information to the right people,” Wray said. He added that, among those arrested and charged so far in the Capitol attack, “almost none” were previously under investigation.

Federal agents execute search warrant at Giuliani’s home

Democrats also sought to get Wray to stress the seriousness of the Jan. 6 attack, while Republicans focused more on the summer’s unrest. Though Wray stressed the seriousness of both, he noted that with the summer’s violence across the country, it was often easier for prosecutors to pursue local charges, while the mayhem at the Capitol produced more federal offenses.

  • Proof via Substack, Investigation: Inside the Willard Hotel on January 6, Seth Abramson, left, June 8-9, 2021. One of Washington's most expensive hotels (above) was the nerve center for theinsurrection—and a playground for seditious kingpins media and the FBI seem content to ignore for now. Proof takes a look inside.

alan hostetter left russ taylor right

Alleged "Three Percenters" leaders  Alan Hostetter, left, a former police chief, and Russell Taylor are shown above in Washington, DC before the January insurrection at the Capitol.

ny times logoNew York Times, 6 Men Said to Be Tied to Three Percenters Movement Charged in Capitol Riot, Alan Feuer and Matthew Rosenberg, June 11, 2021 (print ed.). The indictment marks the first charges lodged against conspirators linked to the radical gun rights group.

Federal prosecutors filed a wide-ranging conspiracy indictment on Thursday accusing six California men said to be connected to a radical gun rights movement called the Three Percenters with plotting to assault the Capitol on Jan. 6, in the first charges lodged against anyone involved with planning any of the political events held the week of the attack.

Justice Department log circularThe 20-page indictment was also the first to be brought against a group of alleged Three Percenters, a loosely organized movement that takes its name from the supposed 3 percent of the U.S. colonial population that fought against the British. The new charges, filed in Federal District Court in Washington, came on the same day that Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, testified in front of a House committee that prosecutors were pursuing additional conspiracy charges against some of the rioters who stormed the Capitol.

Investigators have said for months that several extremist groups were involved in the attack, but while the Three Percenters have been occasionally mentioned in court filings, most accused extremists have come from two other groups: the Oath Keepers militia and the far-right nationalist group the Proud Boys. The new charges could suggest that prosecutors have started to pay attention not only to those who directly took part in the Capitol attack, but also to those who helped foment the assault.

The two top defendants in the indictment — Alan Hostetter, 56, a former police chief turned yoga instructor; and Russell Taylor, 40, a wealthy graphic designer with a taste for red Corvettes — were already under scrutiny by the government after the F.B.I. raided their homes in January. Mr. Hostetter and Mr. Taylor were leaders of a group called the American Phoenix Project, which was founded to fight the “fear-based tyranny” of coronavirus-related restrictions. The group later embraced former President Donald J. Trump’s lies about a stolen election, and helped organize a well-attended rally outside the Supreme Court on Jan. 5, where the speakers included Roger J. Stone Jr., a former adviser to Mr. Trump.

Mr. Hostetter’s wife, Kristine, a schoolteacher, also attracted national attention this year after she attended “Stop the Steal” rallies in Washington, setting off a furor in their hometown, San Clemente, Calif., that prompted an investigation by the school board into whether she had attacked the Capitol. She was cleared by the district in March.

seth pendley facebook

washington post logoWashington Post, He brought a sawed-off rifle to the Capitol on Jan. 6. Then he plotted to bomb Amazon data centers, Katie Shepherd, June 11, 2021 (print ed.). For weeks this spring, 28-year-old Seth Aaron Pendley had plotted an attack on Amazon data centers in Virginia. He had already taken a sawed-off rifle to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Now, he hoped to cripple much of the Internet and take down government networks.

Last April, he finally arranged a meeting with a man promising to provide the C-4 explosive devices. When they met in Fort Worth, Tex., the man showed Pendley how to arm and detonate the powerful bombs.But just as Pendley placed the devices into his Pontiac, federal agents swarmed in and arrested him. The bomb seller was actually an FBI plant who had helped unravel a plan Pendley believed could “kill off about 70 percent of the internet.”

On Wednesday, Pendley (shown above in a Facebook photo) pleaded guilty to planning to bomb Amazon facilities in an attempt to undermine the U.S. government and to spark a rebellion against the “oligarchy” he believed to be running the country.

amazon logo smallThe case underscores the dramatic rise in domestic terrorism driven by right-wing extremists and raises concerns about those who participated in the Jan. 6 insurrection plotting new attacks. Domestic attacks peaked in 2020, mostly driven by white-supremacist, anti-Muslim and anti-government extremists. Those far-right attacks have killed 91 people since 2015, according to an analysis by The Washington Post.

Justice Department officials on Wednesday said Pendley’s plans could have injured or killed workers at the Amazon facilities if the FBI hadn’t intervened.

“Due in large part to the meticulous work of the FBI’s undercover agents, the Justice Department was able to expose Mr. Pendley’s twisted plot and apprehend the defendant before he was able to inflict any real harm,” Prerak Shah, the acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas, said in a statement. “We may never know how many tech workers’ lives were saved through this operation — and we’re grateful we never had to find out.”

Pendley’s plot against the government began to take shape in January, according to investigators. He said he traveled to D.C. on Jan. 6 with a sawed-off rifle concealed in a backpack. As a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, he decided to leave the gun in his car and never entered the building, according to court records. But he later boasted about taking a piece of broken glass from the federal building home to Texas with him.

Under his plea agreement, Pendley faces between five and 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and three years of probation and will be banned from owning firearms.

ny times logoNew York Times, Texas Attorney General Is Being Investigated by State Bar Association, Dave Montgomery, June 11, 2021 (print ed.). Attorney General Ken Paxton is accused of filing a frivolous lawsuit when he challenged President Biden’s victory.

The State Bar of Texas is investigating whether Attorney General Ken Paxton committed professional misconduct by challenging President Biden’s victory in the courts, which a complaint called a “frivolous lawsuit” that wasted taxpayer money.

texas mapThe investigation, which could result in discipline ranging from a reprimand to disbarment, is the latest obstacle for Mr. Paxton, who has been at the center of bribery and corruption accusations and was indicted in 2015 on allegations of securities fraud in a case that has not been resolved.

Mr. Paxton, left, a Republican, is also being challenged by a member of the Bush family in next year’s primary for attorney general, the state’s highest law enforcement office ken paxton mugand a position that has served as a political springboard. He was preceded in office by Gov. Greg Abbott and Senator John Cornyn.

After it became clear that Mr. Biden won the election, Mr. Paxton filed a lawsuit in early December that was ridiculed by many legal experts and ultimately rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court. He had asked the court to extend a deadline for the certification of presidential electors, arguing that election irregularities in four other states — Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — warranted further investigation.

That month, Kevin Moran, a retired Houston Chronicle reporter and president of the Galveston Island Democrats, filed a grievance to the Texas State Bar. In his filing, Mr. Moran contended that Mr. Paxton knew the lawsuit lacked legal merit and that any unelected lawyer would face disciplinary action for filing a frivolous lawsuit.

“Knowing that the national election had NOT been rigged or stolen, he acted in a way to stoke those baseless conspiracy theories nationwide,” Mr. Moran wrote.

The State Bar of Texas said it was prohibited by statute from discussing any pending matters, and the attorney general’s office did not reply to a request for comment.

Mr. Paxton’s campaign spokesman, Ian Prior, denounced the complaint as a “low-level stunt” and “frivolous allegation,” adding that “Democrats in Texas keep showing just how much they can’t stand election integrity.”

The complaint was initially dismissed by the state bar’s chief disciplinary counsel’s office but later revived by its Board of Disciplinary Appeals, which is appointed by the Texas Supreme Court. The 12-member board notified Mr. Moran in late May that it had granted his appeal after “finding that the grievance alleges a possible violation” of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Misconduct.

Mr. Moran, 71, said on Thursday that he had filed the complaint as “an upset citizen” — not as a Democratic official — because he was outraged by the attorney general’s lawsuit, particularly after a multitude of judges had upheld Mr. Biden’s victory.

“With his track record, I believe he should be disbarred,” he said of Mr. Paxton.

After receiving a letter from the state bar in January that dismissed his complaint, Mr. Moran filed an appeal that he said he was somewhat surprised to see granted.

Mr. Paxton, in his second term as the Texas attorney general, faces a tough re-election campaign against George P. Bush, the state’s land commissioner as well as the grandson of former President George H.W. Bush and the son of Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida. Both candidates are vying for an endorsement from former President Donald J. Trump, who still wields influence over Texas Republicans.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Merrick Garland’s big day, Bill Palmer, right, June 11, 2021. Merrick Garland has refrained from giving high profile speeches since he became Attorney General, preferring to simply do bill palmerhis job rather than publicly posturing. But his silence has allowed procedural court filings – and a number of really cranky liberal pundits – to write his story for him. Now that’s changing today.

Garlan is giving a major speech this afternoon about how he and the Department of Justice intend to take specific legal steps to protect the voting rights of all Americans. It sounds a lot like he’s going to announce legal action against the red states that have passed blatantly unconstitutional voter suppression laws thus far this year.

bill palmer report logo headerThis will be a huge swing for Garland, , below at right, because he’ll be trying fix the voting rights mess through the court system that Congress is still struggling to fix through legislation. It’s Garland’s responsibility to go this route, as the DOJ has a legal duty to challenge the actions of states that it feels are unconstitutional. It’ll also prove to be very popular with liberal merrick garlandactivists, who have been demanding that “somebody do something” about voting rights.

Of course Merrick Garland’s speech today very likely won’t address why the DOJ has made a series of procedural court filings that have been interpreted by liberal activists as protecting Donald Trump and Bill Barr. In reality these court filings may be mere formalities, as the judge in each instance is likely to rule against the DOJ anyway. But with Garland now about to very publicly tackle voting rights and voter suppression, this should take the heat off him long enough for us to all find out where he really stands on bringing the previous regime to justice.

 

jason miller djt

Palmer Report, Opinion: Even Jason Miller is now bailing on Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, right, June 11, 2021. Donald Trump’s disastrous rally speech last weekend gave away the real reason his remaining bill palmerloyalists had been trying so hard to keep him off the stage thus far in 2021: he now comes off as half senile and three quarters dead. Appearing in public like that is a good way to unwittingly let the public know that you’re definitely not making a magic comeback in 2024.

bill palmer report logo headerSure enough, the next morning, longtime Trump loyalist Corey Lewandowski appeared on cable news and admitted that Trump lost the 2020 election fairly and squarely. It seemed fairly clear that Lewandowski was now trying to move beyond Trump’s sunken ship, in the hope of carving out some kind of new future for himself. Now it’s turned into a pattern.

Jason Miller (above right) has resigned today as Donald Trump’s spokesman. Miller was the one longtime Trump political adviser who had still been actively working with Trump to try to make him relevant again. But then Trump’s blog revealed that just about no one cared to hear what he had to say anymore, and Trump’s rally proved to the general public that he’s finished – and now Miller is bailing.

It’s worth noting that due to various nasty personal scandals that have spilled over into the public, Jason Miller is unemployable just about anywhere else on the planet outside of Mar-a-Lago.

Yet here he is quitting anyway. He says he’s doing a tech startup. We’ll see what, if anything, comes of that. But you know Trump has no remaining relevance or future when even an unemployable guy is quitting his Trump job because there’s nothing to stick around for.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden administration keeps long-sought Trump hotel documents under wraps, Jonathan O'Connell and David A. Fahrenthold, June 11, 2021. The Trump administration blocked Democrats’ efforts to unearth documents related to his leased D.C. hotel. Not much has changed under Biden.

For Donald Trump’s entire presidency, top congressional Democrats used every tool at their disposal to investigate the Washington hotel he leased from the federal government, issuing subpoenas, holding hearings and filing a lawsuit to try to bring the inner workings of Trump’s luxury property to light.

The efforts were framed as a defense of democracy itself. Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.) said the Trump administration’s refusal to provide documents “was not just disconcerting but an affront to the democratic institutions that the United States has been founded upon.” Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) said the lawsuit, filed in federal court, was “in pursuit of justice to make sure our committee can fulfill its duty to the American people.”

None of it worked — a testament to Trump’s willingness to fight at every turn. But now, with the Biden administration in place, Democrats’ efforts to unearth and make public the information haven’t gone much better.

Biden’s team has steadfastly defended some of the protections the Trump administration put in place to conceal Trump’s financial interests. The Justice Department under Biden is appealing a lower court judgment in favor of the congressional Democrats in their suit, another move by the agency to defend Trump-era legal positions. Biden’s General Services Administration, which holds the lease for the Trump International hotel, has provided only a portion of the documents Congress is seeking and asked that none of them be disclosed publicly.

Trump’s company puts D.C. hotel lease up for sale, again

And as an investigation into Trump’s business dealings by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. advances, GSA staff has also declined to say whether the agency has been subpoenaed or contacted by investigators.

Government watchdogs say they are disappointed at the Biden administration’s unwillingness to hold Trump accountable for a unique — and in their view highly problematic — arrangement in which Trump’s administration managed a contract to a business entity he still owned and that his adult sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, oversaw.

June 10

Proof via Substack, Investigation: Trumpist Insurrectionists Have Now Created a Systematized Mechanism for "Cancelling" People and Groups—and It's the Most Comprehensive Cancel Culture America Has Ever Seen seth abramson graphic, Seth Abramson, left, June 10, 2021. The number of brands explicitly targeted for cancellation by Patriot.Win is staggering, representing a cultist/militant rejection of both the American free-market system and American democracy itself.

The most ardent adherents to a self-described billionaire’s “populist” movement claim to be animated by what they say is the worrying spread of “cancel culture” in America. If their complaint seems not just hypocritical but even delusionally self-contradictory, do remember that that’s the point: Trumpism is about attributing to one’s opponents whatever it is one is doing oneself that one cannot defend, whether it’s encouraging violent attacks on persons and property, undermining U.S. elections, or “cancelling” so many companies, websites, media outlets and persons through concerted digital action and even (see below) a systematized protocol for cancelling entities that there can no longer be any doubt that Patriot.Win is now the chief “canceller” in the United States.

The Patriot.Win Website: Patriot.Win is an insurrectionist outgrowth of the now-defunct pro-sedition website TheDonald.Win, which latter address now redirects to America.Win. Patriot.Win has two badges it uses to warn its users about companies, sites, media outlets and persons:

    • The Orange “Warning” Badge
    • The Red “Cancellation” Badge 

 

dan mcgahn djt

Palmer Report, Opinion: Don McGahn has finally publicly confessed to Donald Trump’s obstruction of justice crimes, Bill Palmer, right, June 10, 2021. It shouldn’t have taken this long. It’s been sabotaged by bill palmercorrupt bad actors at every turn for years. But once Donald Trump lost the election, it was always going to happen inevitably. And sure enough, former White House Counsel Don McGahn has finally publicly confessed to Trump’s obstruction of justice crimes.

McGahn (above right) testified about these crimes to the Mueller team long ago – but as we all remember – the most important parts of the Mueller report were illegally buried by Bill Barr and then the media inexplicably took Barr at his word. But now McGahn has testified about Trump’s obstruction crimes to Congress, and while it took place behind closed doors, McGahn knew the transcript would be released shortly after his testimony.

bill palmer report logo headerSure enough, that happened yesterday. The public transcript reveals that while Don McGahn wasn’t the most cooperative of witnesses, he did specifically state that Donald Trump ordered him to do things to interfere with the Mueller probe that he refused to do, because he viewed the orders as illegal. This is a confession on McGahn’s part that he witnessed Trump commit felony obstruction of justice.

Why does this matter? Here’s the thing. Donald Trump is already facing grand jury indictment in New York, and he’s on a glide path to state prison. But that will be for his financial crimes, many of which took place before he took office. The big question is whether Trump will also be federally criminally charged for the crimes he committed in his role as President.

McGahn’s confession to Trump’s guilt will make it a heck of a lot easier for the Feds to criminally charge Trump with obstruction of justice, if they want to. Also, the public release of this testimony should help ramp up public demand for Trump’s federal prosecution, which will help put pressure on the Feds to charge him even if they’d rather not.

Because McGahn’s testimony emerged as a transcript and not live on television (something that McGahn would never have agreed to and would have instead fought in court for another few years), the impact of his testimony won’t be immediate. But we’re already seeing the McGahn transcript filter its way into media coverage, which will help gradually educate the public about Trump’s obstruction crimes, which could finally get the ball rolling on obstruction charges.

Again, Donald Trump is already earmarked for prison for financial crimes in New York. And frankly, it’ll be infinitely easier to get a jury to convict Trump for straightforward financial crimes than it will be to get a jury to convict Trump for something as qualitative as obstruction of justice. But if you believe that the Feds must criminally charge Trump for his crimes in office, suffice it to say that those odds – while still unknown – certainly just went up.

Proof via Substack, Investigation: A tranche of texts between Alexander and an insurrectionist Arizona politician reveals new bombshells, including the location of the insurrectionists' war room on January seth abramson graphic6—just 240 feet from Trump's, Seth Abramson, left, June 9-10, 2021. Two United States Senators Were in Direct Telephone Contact with Now-in-Hiding Domestic Terror Leader Ali Alexander on Insurrection Eve.

Introduction: A large tranche of text communications between Arizona state representative Mark Finchem and domestic terror leader Ali Alexander, the latter of whom is presently in hiding from seth abramson proof logofederal authorities, reveal that Alexander was in direct telephone contact with multiple United States senators on January 5, 2021—just 24 hours before what former United States Capitol Police chief Steven Sund has now called “a coordinated violent attack on the United States Capitol by thousands of well-equipped armed insurrectionists” and “a coordinated military style attack involving thousands.”

Alexander, the leader of the Stop the Steal “movement,” coordinated the events that produced the January 6 attack after repeatedly threatening violence against the U.S. government in December 2020 and in the days immediately preceding January 6. Among Alexander’s public threats from December 2020 and January 2021 are these:

• “I pray that I am the tool to stab these motherfuckers [in the U.S. government].”
• “When I do unleash [my] plan, I will unleash a legion of angels to bring hell to my enemies.”
• “One of our [Stop the Steal] organizers in one state said, ‘We’re nice patriots, we don’t throw bricks.’ I leaned over [to him] and I said, ‘Not yet. Not yet!’

Alexander is also on video leading a chant of “Victory or death!” in Freedom Plaza in Washington on Insurrection Eve.

willard hotel

  • Proof via Substack, Investigation: Inside the Willard Hotel on January 6, Seth Abramson, left, June 8-9, 2021. One of Washington's most expensive hotels (above) was the nerve center for the insurrection—and a playground for seditious kingpins media and the FBI seem content to ignore for now. Proof takes a look inside.

seth abramson proof logo

washington post logoWashington Post, FBI director berated for Jan. 6 failures and Giuliani probe as he testifies before House committee, Matt Zapotosky, June 10, 2021. Democrats and Republicans lobbed withering questions at the FBI as Director Christopher A. Wray testified before the House Judiciary Committee Thursday, though their concerns diverged significantly along partisan lines. 

Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) blasted Wray for the bureau’s failure to detect in advance and respond to the mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, while ranking Republican Jim Jordan (Ohio) accused the bureau of intruding on Americans’ civil liberties in an eclectic mix of circumstances.

The hearing made clear that Democrats and Republicans could hardly be further apart on what the FBI should and shouldn’t be doing. But on this much, they seemed to agree: the nation’s premier federal law enforcement institution had significant problems that needed to be addressed.

For his part, Wray sought to highlight how the bureau seeks to root out violence — no matter what motivates it — and is careful not to tread on Americans’ First Amendment rights.

In his opening statement, the FBI director highlighted the “extremist violence” of Jan. 6 in which more than 100 officers were injured in just a few hours and asserted that law enforcement had made more than 500 arrests.

But he also noted the bureau saw extremist violence during last summer’s civil unrest associated with racial justice protests. While he asserted that “most citizens made their voices heard through peaceful lawful, protests,” he said that others attacked federal buildings and left officers injured, and thousands had been arrested across the country.

“That is not a controversial issue that should force anyone to take sides,” he said, adding later in response to questions, “I don’t care whether you’re upset at our criminal justice system, or upset at our election system, violence, assaults on federal law enforcement, destruction of property, is not the way to do it. That’s our position.”

FBI report warned of ‘war’ at Capitol, contradicting claims there was no indication of looming violence

Nadler and other Democrats pressed Wray on the intelligence the bureau had gathered in advance of Jan. 6, and the actions it took that day as rioters stormed the Capitol. Nadler noted that a report from the bureau’s Norfolk field office from the day before seemed to predict what was going to happen, and it was forwarded to the field office in Washington. He questioned why — in the days after the riot — the head of that office insisted the bureau had no intelligence anything would happen beyond activity protected by the First Amendment.

“Did the FBI simply miss the evidence, or did it see the evidence and fail to piece it together?” Nadler asked.

Wray, as he and others have in the past, said the document was “raw, unverified” intelligence, and asserted that it nonetheless was shared with law enforcement partners, including the Capitol Police, in multiple ways.

“We tried to make sure that we got that information to the right people,” Wray said. He added that, among those arrested and charged so far in the Capitol attack, “almost none” were previously under investigation.

Federal agents execute search warrant at Giuliani’s home

Democrats also sought to get Wray to stress the seriousness of the Jan. 6 attack, while Republicans focused more on the summer’s unrest. Though Wray stressed the seriousness of both, he noted that with the summer’s violence across the country, it was often easier for prosecutors to pursue local charges, while the mayhem at the Capitol produced more federal offenses.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s election fraud claims propelled them to the Capitol on Jan. 6. His ongoing comments are keeping them in jail, Rachel Weiner and Spencer S. Hsu, June 10, 2021 (print ed.). Many of those charged in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol have blamed former president Donald Trump for their actions, saying he riled them with his claims of election fraud and his promises to join them in fighting it.

Now, Trump’s continued refusal to accept the results of the 2020 election is helping to keep some of those supporters behind bars.

“The steady drumbeat that inspired defendant to take up arms has not faded away; six months later, the canard that the election was stolen is being repeated daily on major news outlets and from the corridors of power in state and federal government, not to mention the near-daily fulminations of the former President,” U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson wrote recently in denying bond to a Colorado man. The man is accused of driving to Washington with two firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition after threatening to kill House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D).

Although Trump has been blocked from major social media platforms and recently shut down his own blog, he is still monitoring and promoting false claims of election fraud. Citing Trump’s ongoing comments, federal judges have shared fears that those defendants accused of the worst violence or threats of violence that day remain a danger to public safety.
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“Unfortunately,” said Judge Amit Mehta in detaining a man accused of throwing a hatchet and a desk during the riot, the “political dynamics that gave way to January 6th have not faded.”

Push to undermine election in Pennsylvania ‘like this rogue thing’

In keeping a Trump supporter and felon in jail in Michigan pending trial, Jackson highlighted a message in which the man said he was in D.C. on Jan. 6 because “Trump’s the only big shot I trust right now.”

The man has been charged with obstructing a congressional proceeding and related crimes, and his “promise to take action in the future cannot be dismissed as an unlikely occurrence given that his singular source of information . . . continues to propagate the lie that inspired the attack on a near daily basis,” Jackson wrote.

At least half a dozen defendants detained on riot-related charges have been released in recent weeks in part by arguing that the insurrection was a singular event that could not be re-created. That argument was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which found that the dangerousness of any individual defendant had to be considered in light of the fact that “the specific circumstances of January 6” created “a unique opportunity to obstruct democracy.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: The disbarment of House GOP stooge Mo Brooks, Shirley Kennedy, June 9, 2021. What can be said about Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks? Certainly, nothing good. He was one of the people who spoke at Trump’s insurrection rally on January 6. He was talking like such a tough guy, encouraging people to “take down names and kick ass.”

Now, he is whining like a baby about being served with Eric Swalwell’s lawsuit. Brooks is a typical bully who talks a big game until he is confronted. Then, he tucks his tail between his legs, lowers his head, and hopes no one notices him. We notice him alright — we notice him as one more person who has no right being in the seat of our government. Brooks is not the type of congressman anyone deserves, even Alabama.

bill palmer report logo headerAccording to CBS News, Brooks was served Sunday after some effort by Swalwell. Trump, Trump Jr., and Giuliani all waived service, but Brooks refused. After getting an extension from the court to get Brooks served, Swalwell’s process service perfected service on Brooks’ wife.

mo brooks oBrooks, right, claims that Swalwell’s process servers criminally trespassed on his property: “HORRIBLE Swalwell’s team committed a CRIME by unlawfully sneaking INTO MY HOUSE & accosting my wife!” Dude, that is how service works. The law allows service on an any adult residing in the residence, and the court accepts that as personal service. Though Brooks is probably not much of a lawyer, he is one, and he should know the rules of litigation. He is just mad because they finally got him. Swalwell is not the only one after Brooks.

Southern Poverty Law Center (“SPLC”) filed a bar complaint against Brooks in March with the Alabama Bar. The organization wants him disbarred for his involvement in the Capitol insurrection. The 203-page complaint accuses Brooks of “treason by levying war against the United States” for his words at the rally, which SPLC believes led directly to the insurrection. SPLC also accused Brooks of sedition, attempted overthrow of the government, incitement of a riot, and conspiracy to engage in treason. According to SPLC’s examination of reports and evidence, Brooks “may have committed at least eight state and federal crimes,” which, if proven, violate the Alabama Bar’s Rules of Professional Conduct.

While SPLC is unlikely to get Brooks disbarred, they can certainly create problems for him, which is the organization’s intent. Brooks’ defense to SPLC’s complaint is that his words have “been misrepresented by Democrats for political gain,” according to the Washington Times. He further claims that he was merely giving a “pep talk for the next election cycle.” What sense does this make? He is trying rev people up for an election that was, at the time, at least two and up to four years away. He gives the attendees too much credit. Most will not even remember what he said by the time the next election rolls around.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: My Fellow Republicans, Stop Fearing This Dangerous and Diminished Man, Barbara Comstock, right, June 10, 2021 (print ed.). Republicans must authorize an investigation of Jan. 6.  When Donald Trump, the patron saint of sore losers, appeared at a Republican event on Saturday night and compared the 2020 election to a “third-world-country election like we’ve never seen before,” it wasn’t just another false rant from the former president. His words also described his attempted subversion of democracy in the run-up to the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

barbara comstockConsider Mr. Trump’s remarks at his rally just before the attack: “If Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election,” he said. “All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify and we become president.”

Or consider Mr. Trump’s harassment of Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, with the request to “find” him votes, or his relentless harassment of other election officials and governors.

Many Republicans want to move on from the Jan. 6 attack. But how is that possible when the former president won’t move on from the Nov. 3 election and continues to push the same incendiary lies that resulted in 61 failed lawsuits before Jan. 6, led to an insurrection and could lead to yet more violence?

If you doubt that a threat of violence exists, look at the recent poll from the Public Religion Research Institute and the Interfaith Youth Core, which shows that a dangerous QAnon conspiracy theory is believed by 15 percent of our fellow Americans — including almost one in four Republicans, 14 percent of independents and even 8 percent of Democrats.

Republicans, instead of opposing a commission to investigate the events of Jan. 6, need to be at the forefront of seeking answers on the insurrection and diminishing the power of QAnon and the other conspiracy theories that Mr. Trump has fueled. While he is still popular within the party, Mr. Trump is a diminished political figure: 66 percent of Americans now hope he won’t run again in 2024, including 30 percent of Republicans. He is not the future, and Republicans need to stop fearing him. He will continue to damage the party if we don’t face the Jan. 6 facts head-on.

 

Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Election Denial and $16 Spritzers: Lured south by sunshine, golf, and money, the former president’s allies and hangers-on have formed an alternate universe that revolves around Mar-a-Lago, Joshua Green; Photographer: Bryan Cereijo for Bloomberg Businessweek, June 10, 2021. Since he left Washington in turmoil in January, Donald Trump has spent the bulk of his brief, contentious post-presidency holed up in what Karl Rove calls his “Fortress of Solitude”—Mar a Lago, his private club in Palm Beach. It’s an odd sort of isolation: Although he’s largely cut off from the outside world, Trump is hardly alone.

Tossed from the White House, banished from Facebook and Twitter, Trump has never seemed more distant from public consciousness. But while he can’t broadcast out, those same platforms offer a surprisingly intimate glimpse into his new life, thanks to the prolific posting of the club’s guests. At every moment of his day, Trump is bathed in adulation. When he enters the dining room, people stand and applaud.

When he returns from golf, he’s met with squeals and selfie requests. When he leaves Mar-a-Lago, he often encounters flag-waving throngs organized by Willy Guardiola, a former professional harmonica player and anti-abortion activist who runs weekly pro-Trump rallies in Palm Beach. “Give me four hours and I can pull together 500 people,” Guardiola says. Trump recently invited the self-proclaimed “biggest Trump supporter in the country” for a private consultation at his club.

In this gilded Biosphere, Trump encounters no one who isn’t vocally gratified by his presence. When he speaks extemporaneously, so many guests post footage that you can watch the same weird scene unfold from multiple vantage points, like the Japanese film Rashomon.

Trump seems so comfortable, the journalist and Instagram sleuth Ashley Feinberg has noted, that he’s taken to wearing the same outfit for days on end. Blue slacks, white golf shirt, and red MAGA cap are to the former president what the black Mao suit is to his old frenemy Kim Jong Un. Club members say his new lifestyle agrees with him.

“Presidents when they finish always look so much older,” says Thomas Peterffy, the billionaire founder of Interactive Brokers LLC, who lives three doors down from Mar-a-Lago. “Not true for Trump.”

He’ll show up to anything. In recent weeks, Trump has popped into engagement parties and memorial services. A Mar-a-Lago member who recently attended a club gathering for a deceased friend was surprised when Trump sauntered in to deliver remarks and then hung around, apparently enjoying himself.

This insular feedback loop, amplified by the worshipful validation he gets for doing Newsmax or OAN TV hits, doesn’t appear likely to diminish as he settles into his New Jersey golf club for the summer and prepares to resume his trademark rallies. “Donald Trump needs the adulation of the crowd the way you or I need oxygen to breathe,” says Michael Cohen, his estranged former lawyer. By all accounts, Trump’s life after the White House doesn’t resemble that of a typical ex-president so much as a foreign monarch cast into exile—like Napoleon at Elba, but with golf and a bigger buffet.

When Trump left Washington, people wondered whether he’d maintain his iron grip on the Republican Party or dwindle into colorful insignificance, like Sarah Palin. Now we know: Trump isn’t dwindling. As shown by the defenestration of Representative Liz Cheney, the blocking of a Jan. 6 commission in Congress, and the wave of new voter restrictions Republicans across the country are pushing in the name of “election integrity,” Trump’s grip is stronger than ever. He’s used it to force elected Republicans to bend to his warped version of reality.

Anyone who refuses risks banishment. As a recent trip to Florida revealed, every segment of the party—activists, donors, ex-staffers, local pols—has come to accommodate and, to one degree or another, depend on this reality. Together, these party actors form a power structure that extends and reinforces Trump’s primacy, even as he faces the looming threat (real, not fake) of indictment in New York’s criminal investigation of his business empire. If Trump feels entitled to dominate the GOP as if he were still president, it may be because so many of the same people still surround him and treat him as if he is. Instead of moving beyond Trump, much of the party moved to Florida to join him.

Washingtonian.com, The Newsletter Reporter Who Covered The Trump Hotel Full Time Is Finally Moving On, Jessica Sidman, June 10, 2021. Zach Everson is retiring his 1100 Pennsylvania newsletter for a Forbes job covering money in politics.

Former travel writer Zach Everson made a full time job out of following the ins and outs and who’s who of DC’s Trump hotel with his newsletter, 1100 Pennsylvania, over the past few years.

Now, with Donald Trump out of office and the hotel’s lease up for sale again, Everson is moving on to a new beat. He recently joined Forbes, where he’ll be investigating money in politics (and starting a new newsletter called Checks & Imbalances).

Few people have followed the Republican haven as closely as Everson, so we asked him about his best ‘spotted,’ that time he had dinner next to Trump, and what he thinks the future of the hotel will hold.

How did you end up covering the Trump hotel full-time in the first place?

I was a travel writer for over a decade and I had the assignment to cover the opening for Fox News’s website in the travel section. It was clearly different than any other hotel function I’d been to. None of them had a presidential candidate show up with his entourage and spend the time belittling his opponent. It just hit me that this was going to be a very different hotel than any other hotel I’d been to, and it was going to be the travel story in DC.

You kept a tally of how often certain people went to the hotel?

Oh yeah. Trump had 37 confirmed members of his Cabinet throughout his presidency. We have photos of 28 of them at the hotel. That is astounding. Sixty-five Republicans served in the Senate during Trump’s tenure, 35 of them were either seen at the hotel or spent campaign funds there. And representatives from 33 different governments have been spotted there.

What’s your sense of what the biggest story that connected to the hotel was over these past four years?

The Ukraine scandal. So many of those meetings took place there. I was told Rudy Giuliani was hanging with these two guys who you should probably pay attention to. So I had my eye out. I had already looked for pictures of Rudy with Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas before their names came up. It turns out I’d actually already published one. I didn’t know it at the time, but I published a photo of Parnas standing there with Trump on the stage at a fundraiser in the ballroom a year before Parnas was on anybody’s map.

What’s the scene at the hotel been like since Biden took office?

It’s empty. I would go days without seeing any new pictures posted on Instagram.

 

June 7

willard hotel

Proof via Substack, MAJOR BREAKING NEWS: Team Trump Had a Second Pre-Insurrection War Room, Seth Abramson, left, June 6-7, 2021. An investigation of who was in this second Insurrection Eve war seth abramson graphicroom has now begun.

Introduction: As this publication has exclusively and exhaustively detailed, on the eve of the January 6 insurrection Team Trump convened a 23-person war council at Trump International seth abramson proof logoHotel in D.C. to plot out—as attendees have since confessed—what would happen the following day. It is now clear that a second, contemporaneous pre-insurrection war council was held at a nearby Washington hotel and that it may well have been linked, through either phone or video conferencing, to the first.

This previously unreported news could significantly swell the size of Donald Trump’s pre-insurrection planning team, even as it remains possible (indeed, a possibility that has been extensively investigated here at Proof) that any remote conferencing that occurred the night before the January 6 insurrection also included the White House.

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 4

djt march 2020 Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Facebook Says Trump’s Ban Will Last at Least 2 Years, Mike Isaac and Sheera Frenkel, June 4, 2021. Facebook said on Friday that Donald J. Trump’s suspension from the service would last at least two years, clarifying a timeline on the ban that the company put in place in January.

The company said Mr. Trump (shown in a file photo) would be eligible for reinstatement in January 2023, when it will then look to experts to decide “whether the risk to public safety has receded,” Facebook said. The company barred the former president from the service after comments he made about the Capitol riots.

“Given the gravity of the circumstances that led to Mr. Trump’s suspension,” Nick Clegg, vice president of global affairs at Facebook, wrote in a company blog post, “we believe his actions constituted a severe violation of our rules which merit the highest penalty available under the new enforcement protocols.”

If reinstated, Mr. Trump will be subject to a set of “rapidly escalating sanctions” if he committed further violations, up to and including the permanent suspension of his account.

Facebook also said it was ending a policy that treated content by politicians differently from that of other users. The policy had previously been used to allow Mr. Trump, and other global leaders, to post content that violated Facebook’s rules.

Threats To U.S. Democracy  

Proof via Substack, Investigative Commentary: BREAKING NEWS: New Trump Fundraising Push May Violate Federal Law By Strongly Implying Trump Is the Nation's Real President, Seth Abramson, left, June seth abramson graphic3-4, 2021. Language in texts and survey sent to Trump voters raises question of whether Trump has gone beyond telling friends and allies he'll be reinstalled as POTUS in August and into federal criminal conduct.

On June 2 and June 3, 2021, countless Americans reported on social media receiving a text from the Trump campaign that read as follows: Pres. Trump: Before I give my Presidential speech on June 5th, I need your input, friend. You have 1HR. Take Prep Survey NOW. These Americans reported that the text had a link to a bizarre and deeply unsettling survey.

seth abramson proof logoIt is one thing for Trump to refer to himself as “President Trump” seven times in one survey; it’s one thing for him to refer to President Biden as simply “Joe Biden” four times in the survey; but given that Trump is telling friends and allies that he will be reinstalled in the White House in August, an action would require a military coup, and given that (via the “Big Lie”) Trump is daily implying to his voters that he is the only legitimate President of the United States, not only does all of the foregoing take on a very different cast, but a survey question like this one, below, becomes profoundly problematic:

It’s inexplicable that dozens of bands and musicians have now formally demanded that Trump stop playing their songs without permission but somehow the Department of Justice and/or FBI logothe Federal Bureau of Investigation and/or the United States Secret Service can’t tell Donald Trump to stop fraudulently pretending he’s President of the United States.

Trump Is Committing a Crime—and a Dangerous One. Under the provisions of U.S. federal law (specifically, 18 U.S. Code § 912), “Whoever falsely assumes or pretends to be an officer or employee acting under the authority of the United States or any department, agency or officer thereof, and acts as such, or in such pretended character demands or obtains any money, paper, document, or thing of value, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”

Trump is knowingly—and falsely—doing all of the things listed above.

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).

ny times logoNew York Times, Facebook Plans to End Hands-Off Approach to Politicians’ Posts, Mike Isaac, June 4, 2021 (print ed.). The social network, under pressure since barring former President Donald J. Trump, will no longer automatically give world leaders special treatment. The policy change is a stark one for Facebook, whose chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, previously said he didn’t want the company to be an arbiter of speech.

Facebook plans to announce on Friday that it will no longer keep posts by politicians up on its site by default if their speech breaks its rules, said two people with knowledge of the company’s plans, reversing how it has allowed posts from political figures to remain untouched on the social network.

facebook logoThe change, which is tied to Facebook’s decision to bar former President Donald J. Trump from its site, is a retreat from a policy introduced less than two years ago, when the company said speech from politicians was newsworthy and should not be policed.

Under the change, politicians’ posts will no longer be presumed newsworthy, said the people with knowledge of the plans, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Politicians will be subject to Facebook’s content guidelines that prohibit harassment, discrimination or other harmful speech, they said.

If Facebook does decide speech from politicians is newsworthy, it can be exempt from being pulled down, under a standard the company has used since at least 2016. Starting on Friday, the people with knowledge of the plans said, Facebook will disclose when it has applied the newsworthiness clause to rule-breaking posts.

Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesman, declined to comment. The Verge reported earlier on Facebook’s change.

The change is stark because of how Facebook’s leaders previously pledged not to interfere with political speech. Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive, said in a 2019 speech at Georgetown University that the company wouldn’t be an arbiter of speech “because I believe we must continue to stand for free expression.” Nick Clegg, who leads Facebook’s public affairs, has also said all speech from politicians “should, as a general rule, be seen and heard” on the platform.

Yet Facebook has grappled with a backlash against that stance by lawmakers, civil rights activists and even its own employees, especially when Mr. Trump used social media to rally a crowd that ended up storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. A day after the riot, Facebook said it would block Mr. Trump because the risks of allowing him to use the platform were too great.

Since then, Mr. Trump’s allies and supporters have challenged the company, saying Facebook engaged in censorship and had too much power over who could say what online. To defuse the situation, the social network sent its decision to block Mr. Trump to a company-appointed oversight board for review. Last month, the board upheld the ban of Mr. Trump but also kicked the case back to the company.

The board said that an indefinite suspension of Mr. Trump was “not appropriate” because it was not a penalty defined in Facebook’s policies and that the company should apply a standard punishment, such as a time-bound suspension or a permanent ban. The board also said Facebook must respond by Friday to its recommendations for how to handle potentially dangerous posts from world leaders.

Around the world, political leaders have also tried to curtail Facebook’s power over online speech, while using social media to advance their own agendas. Russia, India and other countries have recently ordered Facebook to pull down posts, even as some of their own politicians have tried to influence citizens with Facebook posts.

In the United States, Florida last month became the first state to regulate how companies like Facebook moderate speech online, by imposing fines on companies that permanently bar political candidates in the state.

 

U.S. Sen. Krysten Sinema (D-Arizona) used an emphatic thumbs-down gesture on March 5 of this year as she voted against the inclusion of a $15 an hour minimum wage hike in the covid relief bill.  She was one of eight members of the Senate Democratic caucus opposing the measure.

U.S. Sen. Krysten Sinema (D-Arizona) used an emphatic thumbs-down gesture on March 5 of this year as she voted against the inclusion of a $15 an hour minimum wage hike in the covid relief bill.  She was one of eight members of the Senate Democratic caucus opposing the measure. 

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Sinema and Manchin’s Nihilistic Bipartisanship, Michelle Goldberg, right, June 4, 2021. We are in the eye of the storm of American democratic collapse. There is, outwardly, a michelle goldberg thumbfeeling of calm. The Biden administration is competent and placid. The coronavirus emergency is receding nationally, if not internationally. Donald Trump, once the most powerful man on earth and the emperor of the news cycle, is now a failed blogger under criminal investigation.

Yet in red states, Trump’s party, motivated by his big lie about his 2020 loss, is systematically changing electoral rules to make it harder for Democratic constituencies to vote and, should Democrats win anyway, easier for Republicans to overturn elections.

You’ve probably heard the details already — Democrats are repeating them ad nauseam, with a growing sense of desperation.

Republicans have an excellent chance of gerrymandering their way to control of the House in 2022, whether or not they increase their vote share. A Republican-dominated House is unlikely to smoothly ratify even a clear Democratic presidential victory in 2024. We may be living through a brief interregnum before American democracy is strangled for a generation.

Two Democratic senators, Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, could save us by joining their colleagues in breaking the filibuster and passing new voting rights legislation. But they prefer not to.

On Tuesday, Sinema, touring migrant facilities with her Texas Republican colleague John Cornyn, defended the filibuster by spouting an alternative history nearly as delusional as Trump’s claims to have actually won the election. “The idea of the filibuster was created by those who came before us in the United States Senate to create comity and to encourage senators to find bipartisanship and work together,” she said.

This is nonsense. The filibuster was created by mistake when the Senate, cleaning up its rule book in 1806, failed to include a provision to cut off debate. (A so-called cloture rule allowing two-thirds of senators to end a filibuster was adopted in 1917; the proportion was reduced to three-fifths in 1975.) The filibuster encouraged extremism, not comity: It was a favorite tool of pro-slavery senators before the Civil War and segregationists after it.

It is impossible to know whether Sinema believes what she said, or whether she simply doesn’t care. Both she and Manchin are committed to bipartisanship as a supreme good, which in practice means bowing to the wishes of a party that doesn’t believe Joe Biden is a legitimate president and wants above all to see him fai

Talking Points Memo, ‘You Are Full Of Poop’: A Proud Boy-Fueled Power Struggle Divides Portland-Area GOP, Matt Shuham, June 4, 2021. “First of All, James Ball III, you are full of poop,” wrote one Republican Party functionary to another in a bitter, paramilitary-tinged rift over the future of the GOP in Multnomah County, Oregon. “That is a legal term used by bible believing Christians,” the email continued, “who want to say something much much stronger but err on the side of caution.”

djt maga hatThe author was Tim Sytsma, a precinct committee person, or PCP, for the Multnomah County Republican Party who helped arrange for an associate of the Proud Boys, the right-wing street gang, to provide security for a recent meeting in which the county chair was recalled. The target of his email, Ball, is also a PCP, though he’s stuck by ousted chair Stephen Lloyd and has led the effort to get him back in power.

republican elephant logoThe beef — aired out in a series of stories over the past month by the Portland-based Willamette Week (WW) — is part of a pattern playing out in some form around the country: Fringe and even violent movements like the Proud Boys are muscling their way into internal Republican Party politics.

The story in Multnomah County, which is home to both Democrat-dominated Portland and a strong contingent of right-wing militia types, started with anger and frustration over Lloyd’s effort to make the party “open to everyone,” including with more public-facing meetings.

At press time Friday, Lloyd was still listed as county GOP chair on the Oregon Republican Party’s website. But the party will need to make a more explicit choice soon, Ball said: On Saturday, the ORP is having a statewide meeting, and will need to determine which Multnomah County Republican Party delegation is legitimate.

“The ORP will have to choose one,” he said. “So that’s probably where this ends.”

capitol riot shaman

Two of the pro-Trump insurrectionists who took over the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 to prevent congressional election-certification of President-elect Joe Biden.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Don’t let Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin off the hook, Bill Palmer, right, June 4, 2021. Here’s the thing about Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin. They’re selfishly bill palmerholding up progress and putting democracy at risk, so they deserve all the criticism you can heap on them. But there’s a huge difference between going at them in a way that will allow us to win, and going at them in a way that will ultimately just make it easier for them to get off the hook.

bill palmer report logo headerIf you’re yelling around about how Manchin and Sinema have destroyed democracy because they’ll never cave on the filibuster, then you’re doing it wrong. Why? Because you just let them off the hook. You stated your expectation that they’re never going to cave, which means you just told them that you’re not even trying to get them to cave.

Instead, we should actively work to pressure Manchin and Sinema to cave, and – this is crucial – we should presume going in that we’re going to be successful in making them cave. Let them know that you’re not going to let them get away with not caving.

Keep in mind that it doesn’t matter what comes out of their mouths. President Biden just publicly called Manchin and Sinema to the carpet over voting rights. Now they’re both being louder than ever in insisting that they’ve never cave on the filibuster. But this doesn’t mean anything.

95% of politics takes place behind closed doors. When politicians speak publicly, it’s only ever to try to influence what’s going on behind the scenes. Politicians take what they’d like to do, or what they wish were going to happen, and publicly state it as fact. It’s your job to ignore their their public proclamations about how they’ll never cave no matter what, and to keep pushing them harder than ever to cave.

sean mchugh police bodycam photo capitol insurrection

CNN, Alleged US Capitol rioter who heckled police for 'protecting pedophiles' served jail time for statutory rape of 14-year-old girl, Marshall Cohen and Hannah Rabinowitz, June 4, 2021. A Trump supporter accused of storming the US Capitol and heckling police officers for "protecting pedophiles" previously served jail time after being convicted in the statutory rape of a 14-year-old girl, according to court records reviewed by CNN and lawyers involved in the cases.

Federal prosecutors say Sean McHugh of Auburn, California, fought with police as they fended off the massive mob of Trump supporters outside the Capitol on January 6. During the scuffle, McHugh was recorded by police body-worn cameras heckling the officers with a megaphone.

According to prosecutors' description of the footage, McHugh (shown above in a photo via a police bodycam) allegedly shouted, "You guys like protecting pedophiles?" "you're protecting Communists," "I'd be shaking in your little s--t boots too," and, "there is a Second Amendment behind us, what are you going to do then?"

His comments about "pedophiles" are particularly striking, considering his criminal history.

McHugh was convicted in 2010 on a state charge of unlawful sex with a minor, according to California court records reviewed by CNN and lawyers involved in McHugh's cases. McHugh was sentenced to 240 days in jail -- though he served less -- and got four years of probation.

There was DNA evidence that connected McHugh to the girl, former prosecutor Todd Kuhnen told CNN. The victim was 14 years old and McHugh was 23 when the crime occurred, Kuhnen said. The victim also alleged that she was intoxicated when the incident occurred.

McHugh pleaded no contest to the underage sex charge. Kuhnen said he didn't take the case to trial because he didn't want to "run the victim through the ringer again," and said that the victim and her mother signed off to the plea agreement as part of California's victims' rights law.

McHugh has been charged with eight federal crimes tied to the Capitol insurrection, including trespassing charges and the more serious counts of obstructing congressional proceedings and assaulting police officers with a dangerous weapon. He hasn't yet entered a plea in court.

Prosecutors allege that McHugh used a megaphone to incite other rioters outside the Capitol by calling on the crowd to advance on a police line. As the rioters grew more hostile, McHugh allegedly grabbed a large metal Trump sign and urged the mob to push it into the officers.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The GOP should think twice before it tries to mess with elections, Jennifer Rubin, right, June 4, 2021. In addition to a slew of efforts to impair access to the ballot, Republicans jennifer rubin new headshotthroughout the country are attempting to shift control of elections away from local authorities or nonpartisan officials and toward partisan GOP operatives. But they should think twice before proceeding with such tactics; they might be venturing into some dangerous territory.

To be blunt, these efforts open up the potential for partisan Republicans to overthrow legitimate election results. That is, these laws could allow them to stage a coup, just as the MAGA crowd attempted in 2020. Arizona’s circuslike election “audit” conducted by Republican partisans provides a glimpse of the horror show that could result if partisan Republicans were counting the votes rather than trying to delegitimize the vote after the fact.

This sort of election rigging is difficult to combat at the federal level, even if Democrats manage to pass voting reforms protecting access to the ballot or paper audit trails. (Audits are not much help if the auditors are partisan toadies.) Nevertheless, legal barriers exist that might deter election rigging or a shift in control of elections from nonpartisan to partisan control.

For starters, it is worth remembering that it is illegal under state and federal law to change vote outcomes.

This is the basis for the ongoing investigation of the former president’s phone call with Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, in which the election’s loser pleaded with the Republican official to “find” sufficient votes to change the state’s outcome. Georgia prosecutors sent a letter to state officials in February noting potential violations of state law, including “the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local governmental bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election’s administration.”

 washington post logoWashington Post, FBI investigating Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in connection with his political fundraising, Matt Zapotosky and Jacob Bogage, June 4, 2021 (print ed.). The FBI is investigating Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, right, in connection with campaign fundraising activity involving his former business, according to people familiar with the matter and a spokesman for DeJoy.

louis dejoy CustomFBI agents in recent weeks interviewed current and former employees of DeJoy and the business, asking questions about political contributions and company activities, these people said. Prosecutors also issued a subpoena to DeJoy himself for information, one of the people said.

That person, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe an ongoing and politically sensitive investigation.

Mark Corallo, a DeJoy spokesman, confirmed the investigation in a statement but insisted DeJoy had not knowingly violated any laws.

FBI logo“Mr. DeJoy has learned that the Department of Justice is investigating campaign contributions made by employees who worked for him when he was in the private sector,” Corallo said. “He has always been scrupulous in his adherence to the campaign contribution laws and has never knowingly violated them.”

us mail logoThe inquiries could signal impending legal peril for the controversial head of the nation’s mail service — though DeJoy has not been charged with any crimes and has previously asserted that he and his company followed the law in their campaign fundraising activity.
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Spokesmen for the FBI and Justice Department declined to comment. A spokesman for the Postal Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

DeJoy — who was appointed to run the Postal Service by its board of governors last May — has been dogged by controversy for almost his entire time in office. Soon after starting in the job, he imposed cost-cutting moves that led to a reduction in overtime and limits on mail trips that mail carriers blamed for creating backlogs across the country.

Democrats accused the prominent GOP fundraiser, who personally gave more than $1.1 million to the joint fundraising vehicle of President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign and the RepublicanParty, of trying to undermine his own organization because of Trump’s distrust of mail-in voting. Two Democratic lawmakers, Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to the FBI asking agents to investigate whether DeJoy or the Postal Service’s governing board “committed any crimes” in stalling mail.

In a congressional hearing last year, DeJoy disputed he was trying to affect the vote.

“I am not engaged in sabotaging the election,” DeJoy said at the time. “We will do everything in our power and structure to deliver the ballots on time.”

In early September, The Washington Post published an extensive examination of how employees at DeJoy’s former company, North Carolina-based New Breed Logistics, alleged they were pressured by DeJoy or his aides to attend political fundraisers or make contributions to Republican candidates, and then were paid back through bonuses.

Such reimbursements could run afoul of state or federal laws, which prohibit “straw-donor” schemes meant to allow wealthy donors to evade individual contribution limits and obscure the source of a candidate’s money. 

carolyn maloney oDeJoy has adamantly disputed that he broke the law. 

When The Post later published its report, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), right, said the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which she chairs, would begin an inquiry and asserted DeJoy may have lied to the panel under oath.

Corallo noted in his statement about the FBI investigation that DeJoy “fully cooperated with and answered the questions posed by Congress regarding these matters.”

“The same is true of the Postal Service Inspector General’s inquiry which after a thorough investigation gave Mr. DeJoy a clean bill of health on his disclosure and divestment issues,” Corallo said. “He expects nothing less in this latest matter and he intends to work with DOJ toward swiftly resolving it.”

June 2

Vice, Investigation: QAnon Has a Disturbing Takeover Plot to ‘Eliminate’ Elected Officials, David Gilbert, June 2, 2021. A known grifter and QAnon supporter who claims she can time-travel has amassed an army of thousands of loyal followers to carry out a plot to oust elected officials across the country and replace them with QAnon believers—and she’s using game-streaming platform.

Terpsichore Maras-Lindeman has spent the last four months building an intricate network of groups in all 50 states, urging followers to dig up information about elected officials and cough up hundreds of dollars to take part in her scheme.

Maras-Lindeman has promised her followers that the plot will bring about “retaliation” for what she believes was a stolen election last November, and ultimately see the return of former president Donald Trump to the White House.

All the while, Maras-Lindeman, who streams under the name Tore Says, has grown her subscriber base massively, raking in tens of thousands of dollars since the beginning of the year. She even managed to convince her supporters to cough up over $87,400 in a crowdfunding campaign, which she used to buy a new Tesla.

Maras-Lindeman is part of a growing ecosystem of grifters and hucksters who are leveraging the widespread belief that Trump’s election loss was somehow orchestrated by shadowy figures and companies tied to the Democrats. This so-called “Big Lie” has taken hold within the mainstream Republican Party, and fringe figures like Maras-Lindeman have succeeded in carving out a niche that’s proving to be highly lucrative.

When President Joe Biden was inaugurated on January 20, QAnon supporters were distraught—after all, they were promised that would never happen.
Building the army on Twitch

For some it was the final straw, but others, who had spent years devoted to the conspiracy movement, needed something to latch onto—and Maras-Lindeman provided that.

A week after Biden’s inauguration, Maras-Lindeman outlined an audacious plan to oust sitting lawmakers across the country and replace them with Q believers who were tired of having elections stolen from them.

And they were going to begin with Ohio.

“Ohio’s gonna be lit, next week we’re gonna be setting some serious fires,” she told viewers on her Twitch channel, ToreSays, on Jan. 29. Then, she issued a warning to the lawmakers: “You want a great reset? Here it is. We’re gonna do it our way, and that’s by eliminating you.”

The plan was relatively simple: Maras-Lindeman claimed that vote-counting equipment used in states across the country were not properly certified and that as a result, all elected officials—both Democrat and Republican—were illegitimate. This opens the door for anyone to file what’s known as a “quo warranto” lawsuit, an arcane legal action that requires a person to show by what warrant an office or franchise is held, claimed, or exercised.

But so far neither Maras-Lindeman nor any of her supporters has provided evidence to back up their claims that the voting machines are invalid.

“From what I can discern, the final step is meeting at the Ohio Supreme Court, where they’ll look to have Ms. Lindeman filing their election fraud warrants, in an effort to remove the ‘illegally elected’ representatives, and take their place,” Genevieve Oh, a livestreaming analyst who has been closely tracking Maras-Lindeman’s activity on Twitch for months, told VICE News.

“Looking at her followers’ messages and reactions, she seems to have legitimately convinced her viewers they’re going to take Ohio Senate and House of Representatives’ seats through this movement,” Oh added.

So far over 60 people in Ohio alone have signed up to take part in this mass lawsuit filing, according to an online spreadsheet used by the group and seen by VICE News.

Over the course of the next four months, Maras-Lindeman’s support base grew dramatically on her Twitch channel. In parallel, she organized state-specific groups on the encrypted messaging app Telegram to allow citizens in those states to coordinate their efforts and get people to sign up to challenge elected officials.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Administration Secretly Seized Phone Records of Times Reporters, Charlie Savage and Katie Benner, June 2, 2021. The admission by the Biden Justice Department followed similar recent disclosures to The Washington Post and CNN.

The Trump Justice Department secretly seized the phone records of four New York Times reporters spanning nearly four months in 2017 as part of a leak investigation, the Biden administration disclosed on Wednesday.

It was the latest in a series of revelations about the Trump administration secretly obtaining reporters’ communications records in an effort to uncover their sources. Last month, the Biden Justice Department disclosed Trump-era seizures of the phone logs of reporters who work for The Washington Post and the phone and email logs for a CNN reporter.

Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The Times, condemned the action by the Trump administration.

“Seizing the phone records of journalists profoundly undermines press freedom,” he said in a statement. “It threatens to silence the sources we depend on to provide the public with essential information about what the government is doing.”

Last month, after the disclosures about the seizures of communications records involving Post and CNN reporters, President Biden said he would not allow the department to take such a step during his administration, calling it “simply, simply wrong.”

Referring to that declaration, Mr. Baquet added: “President Biden has said this sort of interference with a free press will not be tolerated in his administration. We expect the Department of Justice to explain why this action was taken and what steps are being taken to make certain it does not happen again in the future.”

Anthony Coley, a Justice Department spokesman, said that law enforcement officials obtained the records in 2020, and added that “members of the news media have now been notified in every instance” of leak investigations from the 2019-2020 period in which their records were sought.

The department informed The Times that law enforcement officials had seized phone records from Jan. 14 to April 30, 2017, for four Times reporters: Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Eric Lichtblau and Michael S. Schmidt. The government also secured a court order to seize logs — but not contents — of their emails, it said, but “no records were obtained.”

The Justice Department did not say which article was being investigated. But the lineup of reporters and the timing suggested that the leak investigation related to classified information reported in an April 22, 2017, article the four reporters wrote about how James B. Comey, then the F.B.I. director, handled politically charged investigations during the 2016 presidential election.

Discussing Mr. Comey’s unorthodox decision to announce in July 2016 that the F.B.I. was recommending against charging Hillary Clinton in relation to her use of a private email server to conduct government business while secretary of state, the April 2017 article mentioned a document obtained from Russia by hackers working for Dutch intelligence officials. The document, whose existence was classified, was said to have played a key role in Mr. Comey’s thinking about the Clinton case.

The document has been described as a memo or email written by a Democratic operative who expressed confidence that the attorney general at the time, Loretta Lynch, would keep the Clinton investigation from going too far. Russian hackers had obtained the document, but it is apparently not among those that Russia sent to WikiLeaks, intelligence officials concluded.

Mr. Comey was said to be worried that if Ms. Lynch were to be the one who announced a decision not to charge Mrs. Clinton, and Russia then made the document public, it would be used to raise doubts about the independence of the investigation and the legitimacy of the outcome.

The Times reported in January 2020 that Trump-era investigators had pursued a leak investigation into whether Mr. Comey had been the source of the unauthorized disclosure in that 2017 article.

Mr. Comey had been under scrutiny since 2017, after Mr. Trump fired him as the director of the F.B.I. After his dismissal, Mr. Comey engineered — through his friend Daniel Richman, a Columbia University law professor — the disclosure to The Times of accounts of several of his conversations with the president related to the Russia investigation.

The inquiry into Mr. Comey, according to three people briefed on that investigation, was eventually code-named Arctic Haze. Its focus was said to evolve over time, as investigators shifted from scrutinizing whether they could charge Mr. Comey with a crime for disclosing his conversations with Mr. Trump, to whether he had anything to do with the disclosure of the existence of the document.

As part of that effort, law enforcement officials had seized Mr. Richman’s phone and computer, according to a person familiar with the matter. They are said to have initially searched them for material about Mr. Comey’s conversations with Mr. Trump, and later obtained a court’s permission to search them again, apparently about the Russia document matter.

Separately, according to a person briefed on the investigation, the F.B.I. is also said to have subpoenaed Google in 2020, seeking information relevant to any emails between Mr. Richman and The Times. A spokesman for Google did not respond to a request for comment.

But by November 2020, some prosecutors felt that the F.B.I. had not found evidence that could support any charges against Mr. Comey, and they discussed whether the investigation should be closed.

At the beginning of this year, prosecutors were informed that the F.B.I. was not willing to close the case — in part because agents still wanted to interview Mr. Comey, according to a person familiar with the F.B.I.’s inquiry. Interviewing the subject of an investigation is typically considered a final step before closing a matter or bringing charges.

Last month, the F.B.I. asked Mr. Comey’s lawyer whether he would be willing to sit down for an interview, a request that Mr. Comey declined, according to a person familiar with the case.

Starting midway through the George W. Bush administration, and extending through the Barack Obama and Donald Trump administrations, the Justice Department became more aggressive about pursuing criminal leak investigations.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s blog just shut down. Without the mainstream media, he’s starving, Paul Waldman, right, June 2, 2021. The heyday of blogging may have been 15 years ago or so, but paul waldmanthere are always those who try to find success in the old forms. Alas, it doesn’t always work out, as a certain prominent media figure just discovered:

Former president Donald Trump’s blog, celebrated by advisers as a “beacon of freedom” that would keep him relevant in an online world he once dominated, is dead. It was 29 days old.

Upset by reports from The Washington Post and other outlets highlighting its measly readership and concerns that it could detract from a social media platform he wants to launch later this year, Trump ordered his team Tuesday to put the blog out of its misery, advisers said.

On its last day, the site was shared or commented on on Facebook and Twitter just 1,500 times — a staggering drop for someone whose every tweet once garnered hundreds of thousands of reactions.

Maybe he should have tried Substack? I hear that’s the next big thing.

Through Trump’s presidency, it was often noted that he had a unique ability to command the nation’s attention, even more so than previous presidents. He was a constant presence in our consciousness, every hour and every minute, forcing himself in front of our eyes with a barrage of tweets, outrageous comments and never-ending controversies.

But his current travails demonstrate how much Trump was always dependent on the mainstream media he both hated and sought the approval of. Like a tree falling in the forest, Trump barely makes a sound unless those supposedly stodgy legacy outlets are there to amplify him.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump has grown increasingly consumed with ballot audits as he pushes falsehood that election was stolen, Josh Dawsey and Rosalind S. Helderman, June 2, 2021. Former president Donald Trump remains relentlessly focused on the false claim that the November election was stolen from him and is increasingly consumed with the notion that ballot reviews pushed by his supporters around the country could prove that he won, according to people familiar with his comments.

Trump has rebuffed calls from some advisers to drop the matter, instead fixating on an ongoing Republican-commissioned audit in Arizona and plotting how to secure election reviews in other states, such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Georgia, according to advisers. He is most animated by the efforts in Fulton County, Ga., and Maricopa County, Ariz., according to two advisers who, like others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.

Trump’s interest has been fueled by conversations he has had with an array of figures who have publicly touted false claims of election fraud. Among them, according to advisers, is Christina Bobb, a host at the One America News network who has privately discussed the Arizona audit with the former president and his team; Mike Lindell, the chief executive of the company MyPillow; and Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R), who urged the state’s congressional delegation to reject Biden’s victory there last fall.
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Trump has become so fixated on the audits that he suggested recently to allies that their success could result in his return to the White House this year, according to people familiar with comments he has made. Some advisers said that such comments appear to be just offhand musings.

Trump’s deepening preoccupation with post-election audits has created a singular situation, one in which a former president is regularly attacking the electoral legitimacy of his successor. And it comes as a coterie of his most devoted supporters have intensified their own rhetoric, making allusions to undemocratic actions that could result in Trump’s return.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s company will try again to sell lease for its D.C. hotel, Jonathan O'Connell and Shayna Jacobs, June 2, 2021 (print ed.). The former president’s company previously considered selling the lease to its luxury Washington hotel before covid struck.

Former president Donald Trump’s company has again hired a broker to sell the lease to its D.C. hotel, according to two people familiar with the discussions, a second attempt to unload the property after the pandemic thwarted a previous effort.

The Trump Organization previously listed the Pennsylvania Avenue hotel, in the federally owned Old Post Office Pavilion, in the fall of 2019. When covid-19 struck, many hotels closed either completely or partially due to government shutdowns, and the company pulled the property off the market.

Now, with Trump under investigation by prosecutors in New York and the economy beginning to take off, his company is trying again, hiring the brokerage firm Newmark Group to market the lease, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share private business discussions.
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Representatives for the Trump Organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A representative of Newmark Group declined to comment.

The hotel, which Trump’s company leases from the General Services Administration, has suffered financially from both the toll covid has taken on luxury travel and the damage Trump’s brand has endured due to his politics, with many liberal, corporate and international clients unwilling to book rooms or events at the hotel.

 

May 2021

May 31

Proof via Substack, Investigation: Insurrection Update #2, Seth Abramson, left, May 30-31, 2021. A comprehensive review of recent developments in Donald Trump's rebellion against the people of the seth abramson graphicUnited States and their democratically elected federal government.

seth abramson proof logo“Insurrection Update” is an ongoing series at Proof. You can find an archive of entries in the series here. The series curates the most significant news in the ongoing insurrection led by former president Donald Trump.

A link to all ongoing federal criminal cases relating to the insurrection can be found here.

May 30: At a QAnon conference in Dallas (see “May 29” entry, below), former Trump legal adviser Sidney Powell falsely declares that “Trump can simply be reinstated” as president — and Joe Biden summarily “told to move out of the White House” — once the fraudulent “audits” of the 2020 presidential election being run by GOP partisans in several battleground states reveal that Trump really “won” last year’s general election. Meanwhile, in an even more shocking statement, former Trump National Security Advisor and current top Trump political adviser Michael Flynn tells the crowd of QAnon-inspired insurrectionists that there “should” be a violent military coup of the Joe Biden administration right now, just as there’s a violent military coup happening in Myanmar at the moment.

May 30: After Nashville’s HatWRKS makes headlines for selling Holocaust-style Star of David patches reading “Not Vaccinated” — a nod to anti-Semitic insurrectionist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who says that city masking ordinances are the same as being sent at gunpoint to a concentration camp via cattle car and then gassed to death on arrival — a citizen journalist reviewing HatWRKS’ social media accounts finds the store’s owner is an avowed insurrectionist who was at the Capitol on January 6. Companies are now pulling their hats from HatWRKS, including, notably, Stetson.

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, Four more indicted in alleged Jan. 6 Oath Keepers conspiracy to obstruct election vote in Congress, Spencer S. Hsu, May 31, 2021 (print ed.). Four more Oath Keepers associates have been indicted and three were arrested in Florida in recent days in the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol, bringing the number of co-defendants charged in the largest conspiracy case from that day to 16, court records show.

Joseph Hackett, 51, of Sarasota, Fla., Jason Dolan, 44, of Wellington, Fla., and William Isaacs, 21, of Kissimmee, Fla., each face multiple counts in an indictment handed up Wednesday and unsealed Sunday in Washington. The three appeared Thursday before U.S. magistrates in Tampa, West Palm Beach and Orlando.

The name of a fourth defendant not known to be in custody was redacted.

U.S. prosecutors have criminally charged at least 19 alleged Oath Keepers or associates in the Capitol riots, including Jon Ryan Schaffer, an Indiana rock musician who is the only defendant known to have pleaded guilty.

Prosecutors say the Oath Keepers, a loose network of groups founded in 2009 that includes some self-styled citizen militias, target law enforcement and military members for recruitment with an apocalyptic vision of the U.S. government careening toward totalitarianism. Its members have provided security to some conservative politicians and causes in recent years.

The four new defendants are charged with conspiring to obstruct Congress’s confirmation of the 2020 presidential election in joint session on Jan. 6. They are accused of forcing entry through the Capitol’s East Rotunda doors after marching single-file up the steps wearing camouflaged combat uniforms, tactical vests with plates, helmets, eye protection and Oath Keepers insignia.

Prosecutors alleged members of the group were in contact with Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes — usually identified as “Person One” by the government in court documents — and organized by charged co-defendants, including Ohio militia founder and bar owner Jessica Watkins, 38; former Navy intelligence officer Thomas E. Caldwell, 65, of Berryville, Va.; and Florida car dealer Kelly Meggs, 52.

Rhodes has not been charged and is not accused of wrongdoing.

washington post logoWashington Post, A Nashville hat shop apologizes after advertising anti-vaccine yellow Star of David badges, Lateshia Beachum, May 31, 2021 (print ed.). A Nashville hat store is facing backlash after announcing on social media that it was selling yellow patches similar to the Star of David with the words “NOT VACCINATED,” sparking widespread condemnation, a protest and severed business ties.

Iconic hat company Stetson announced Saturday that it will stop selling its merchandise at HatWRKS, the company at the center of the controversy. Goorin Bros., another prominent hat company, also announced its distribution with HatWRKS would end immediately.

“Stetson condemns antisemitism and discrimination of any kind,” the company said in a statement. “As a result of the offensive content and opinions shared by HatWRKS in Nashville, Stetson and our distribution partners will cease the sale of all Stetson products.”

The incident, which came after a Republican congresswoman compared the House’s mask rules to the Nazis’ oppression of Jews, is the latest flare-up over vaccines in the United States and follows a recent spate of anti-Jewish attacks connected to the conflict between Israel and Hamas. The Instagram post advertising the badges has since been deleted by the company, but not after many people, including descendants of Holocaust victims, weighed in on the matter.

Gigi Gaskins, who is listed as HatWRKS’s owner in public records, apologized Saturday on Instagram for the merchandise resembling the badges the Nazis forced Jews to wear during the Holocaust.

“In NO WAY did i intend to trivialize the Star of David or disrespect what happened to millions of people,” she wrote. “My hope was to share my genuine concern & fear, and to do all that i can to make sure that nothing like that ever happens again.”

Previously, Gaskins had said people should be “outraged by tyranny” in the world and blamed her detractors for not understanding what is happening around them. In another post, she alluded to concerns about coronavirus restrictions and stated that she was a “target of the mob.”

Protesters gathered outside the store Saturday with a large sign that read, “No Nazis in Nashville.” Others sang that they didn’t want the hats or the hate.

“To me, it’s willful ignorance,” Roger Abramson, an attorney, told WSMV. “The information is out there. People are willfully ignoring facts, information and history because it doesn’t fit what they want to believe or it doesn’t fit some narrative they have.”

  • Washington Post, Anarchists and an increase in crime hijack Portland’s social justice movement, Scott Wilson

Daily Beast, Commentary: Michael Flynn Calls for Myanmar-Style Coup in the U.S., Tracy Connor, May 31, 2021. Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn—now firmly entrenched in the lunatic fringe—told a QAnon conference this weekend that he supports a violent military coup in the U.S.

daily beast logoVideo from the Dallas confab posted on social media shows Flynn was asked by an audience member “why what happened in Myanmar can’t happen here?”

As the audience of conspiracy theorists cheered, Flynn responded: “No reason. I mean, it should happen here.” Myanmar’s military in February seized control of the country, detaining leaders Aung San Suu Kyi and Win Myint, claiming their election was fraudulent. The junta has since killed 800 people in a brutal crackdown. Flynn’s public support for an American version had critics on social media calling for the former Army general to be court-martialed.

Here is the video of former national security advisor Michael Flynn saying that he thinks a coup like the coup in Myanmar should happen in the US. pic.twitter.com/7mGYjfXg18
— Mamie 😌 (@MC_Hyperbole) May 30, 2021

Palmer Report, Opinion: Michael Flynn may have finally given the Feds a way to work around his pardon and put him in prison, Bill Palmer, May 30, 2021. Of all the last-minute pardons that Donald Trumphanded out to his cronies, the one he gave to Michael Flynn was the broadest and most legally competently worded – which tells you whom Trump feared the most. Flynn now appears to Michael Flynn Harvard 2014believe he’s above the law, but he may have just blown it for himself.

During a particularly deranged far right event this weekend, Michael Flynn, right, said that there was “no reason” why a coup shouldn’t happen in the United States. He then added for emphasis: “It should happen here."

bill palmer report logo headerMake no mistake: this is not only a direct call to violence, it’s a direct call for the violent overthrow of the United States government. Given Michael Flynn’s status as a retired U.S. Military General, and the role he helped play in inciting the January 6th Capitol attack, Flynn’s words this weekend have to be seen as a felony.

Pardons don’t cover crimes that are committed after the pardon was issued. We’ve already been waiting to see if the ongoing DOJ investigation into the Capitol attack ends up taking Flynn down. But now that Flynn is openly and specifically calling for another violent insurrection against the United States, the Feds have a clear path for taking him down. He won’t be able to argue that his words prior to January 6th were taken out of context or misunderstood, given that he just called for another insurrection. The sooner Flynn is arrested, the better.

May 30

Actor James Stewart, at right, as a freshman congressman in an iconic scene from the film

Actor James Stewart, at right, as a freshman congressman in an iconic scene from the film "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington."

WMR's Hollywood, Memorial Weekend Commentary: Those who actually fought in combat, Wayne Madsen, left, May 30, 2021. Movies depicting war have featured actors whose film careers were buoyed by wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smalltheir being typecast as the heroic warfighter. John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, Randolph Scott, and Robert Mitchum all spring to mind. While none of these actors had any actual combat experience -- Wayne, Scott, and Mitchum not serving in the military for various reasons and Reagan consigned to the back lot at Warner Brothers making training films while an Army Reservist -- others saw actual wartime combat.

wayne madesen report logoJimmy Stewart flew his B-24 on several bombing missions over Germany in World War II. In 1944, Stewart's plane was hit by German anti-aircraft fire but he managed to fly his B-24 back to England with the plane breaking apart upon landing but with his crew unscathed. Stewart was promoted to colonel in 1945.

....

There are many other Hollywood actors and actresses who served in combat during wartime situations in Korea, Vietnam, and other theaters. The next time some cowardly draft dodger like Donald Trump or Rudy Giuliani or lily-livered avoiders of military service like Ted Cruz or Rand Paul criticize the "liberal elite" of Hollywood, they should be reminded that many of Hollywood's greatest served in uniform while they hid behind fake medical conditions or claims of being "too busy" for military service.

May 27

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump tried to end Spygate probe of NFL’s Patriots with bribe, late senator’s son alleges, Timothy Bella, May 27, 2021 (print ed.). Donald Trump allegedly attempted to stop a congressional probe of the Spygate case involving the New England Patriots by offering a bribe to then-Sen. Arlen Specter, right, the late senator’s son claimed Wednesday.

arlen specterAn ESPN report detailed how Trump, nearly a decade before he became president, allegedly acted on behalf of Patriots owner Robert Kraft when he met with Specter in 2008 to espn logooffer him “a lot of money in Palm Beach” if the then-Republican senator from Pennsylvania dropped his investigation into the team.

Shanin Specter, the senator’s son, said to ESPN that Trump intervened in the probe, while Charles Robbins, the senator’s longtime communications aide, told The Washington Post that he surmised Trump to be the person who offered Arlen Specter the bribe.

nfl logoIn a Wednesday email to The Post, Shanin Specter confirmed that his father, who died in 2012, explicitly indicated to him that Trump had attempted to bribe the senator, then the ranking Republican of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in exchange for dropping the investigation of the Patriots illegally filming an opponent’s hand signals.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Public Deserves to See This Legal Memo About Donald Trump, Neal K. Katyal, right, May 27, 2021 (print ed.). The Biden Justice Department appears to be making a serious mistake by trying to keep secret a Trump-era document about former Attorney General William P. Barr’s decision to clear his boss, former President Donald Trump, of obstructing justice.

neal katyal oThe American people have a right to see the memo. Then they can decide whether Mr. Barr used his power as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer as a shield to protect the president.

This month, Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the U.S. District Court in Washington ordered it released. Were this an ordinary criminal case, her order would represent a remarkable intrusion into prosecutorial secrecy, and I would have appealed when I was acting solicitor general.

But the document is anything but ordinary. It concerns attempts at the highest levels of government to shield the attorney general’s boss from criminal liability. It is, in essence, the people’s memo, and with its appeal, the Justice Department is attempting to hide it from public scrutiny.

Faced with a Freedom of Information Act request from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington to release the document, Judge Jackson engaged in a thorough review of the material. Her conclusion was startling: Mr. Barr was “disingenuous.” And the affidavits the Justice Department used to justify withholding the materials “are so inconsistent with evidence in the record, they are not worthy of credence.”

As an institutionalist, I believe the long-term interests of the Justice Department generally do not swing from one administration to the next. My tenure in the Obama administration running the Solicitor General’s office, which decides for the federal government whether it will appeal judicial orders, was devoted to that principle.

So it’s understandable how the Justice Department reached its decision in this case. We generally don’t want prosecutors to have their internal analysis released to the public, for fear of undermining ongoing law enforcement investigations and for chilling frank advice and discussion. That is, I suspect, why the Justice Department authorized the appeal. It doesn’t want the Freedom of Information Act to be used as a weapon to undermine prosecutors.

But in this case, absent additional information, that rationale seems wrong. The appearance, if not the reality, of what Mr. Barr did to the Justice Department cannot be ignored: He used his mighty prosecution powers to protect the Trump administration and its friends, including the president.

That is what Judge Jackson’s opinion, in the end, was all about. After reading a full set of documents related to the memo, she said: “So why did the attorney general’s advisers, at his request, create a memorandum that evaluated the prosecutorial merits of the facts amassed by the special counsel? Lifting the curtain reveals the answer to that too: getting a jump on public relations.”

These shenanigans came after Mr. Barr was revealed to have written a memo for Mr. Trump while a private citizen, a long document that concluded that, yes, you guessed it, the president was not guilty of obstruction of justice.

The Justice Department is the one cabinet agency that has a value in its name — “justice.” Its iconography — a blindfolded Lady Justice — underscores the idea that everyone has to play by the same rules. Mr. Barr appears to have desecrated that cardinal principle. The public has a right to know what he and his Justice Department lawyers did and why they did it.

We already had one by-the-book official, the special counsel, Robert Mueller, try to apply regular principles to a deeply abnormal presidency, and we witnessed the result: a distorted impeachment and the nullification of potential criminal charges.

The problem for the new Justice Department is: What does it do now? Should it depart from ordinary rules because the last administration did so? If it doesn’t appeal Judge Jackson’s decision, isn’t the department allowing a precedent to be set that private litigants can ask for and get all sorts of prosecutorial materials?

No. Good surgeons don’t always operate, and good appeals lawyers don’t always appeal. Here, Justice Department lawyers could have safeguarded the department’s interests by saying they disagreed with the decision, but because it was a trial court decision, it was not precedential for other cases and not appropriate to appeal.

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: An indictment of Trump is anything but certain, Philip Allen Lacovara and John S. Martin,  May 27, 2021 (print ed.). Those who are hoping to see former president Dald Trump indicted may well be disappointed. Signs are piling up that the investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. has taken a serious turn, but there are reasons for caution about whether Trump himself will be indicted, much less convicted.

Vance may have documents suggesting that financial fraud occurred within the Trump Organization, but the crucial question is whether the district attorney can show that Trump himself was party to any alleged fraud. Even Trump’s signature on documents employed in a fraud might not be sufficient to show knowledge of the fraud itself.

The cold reality of the jury system itself could be a critical factor in the decision regarding a Trump indictment. A criminal conviction requires a unanimous guilty verdict. For practical reasons as well as the interests of justice, prosecutors ordinarily will not seek an indictment unless they are satisfied both that they have evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and that there is a substantial probability that all 12 jurors will agree to convict.

All of this may give Vance pause. Even in New York City there are plenty of Trump fans — his support rose from 18.2 percent in 2016 to 22.6 percent in 2020. Even in Manhattan, the source of any eventual jury pool, 1 out of 8 voters wanted Trump reelected. A skilled defense attorney would be able to use the jury selection process with confidence that at least one or two jurors would be sympathetic toward Trump.

Trump supporters are overwhelmingly inclined to accept his version of events, even when they fly in the face of documented, objective reality. Even if Vance believes there is sufficient evidence to show that Trump is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, he would face two unenviable alternatives: decline to indict, because it is unlikely that a jury containing Trump supporters would convict; or indict, so that a trial lays out for the public a record of Trump’s conduct, even if conviction is unlikely.

Philip Allen Lacovara, a former president of the D.C. Bar, served as counsel to the Watergate special prosecutor. John S. Martin is a former U.S. attorney and former U.S. district judge for the Southern District of New York.

May 26

Palmer Report, Opinion: Here’s the thing that’s being glossed over about Donald Trump’s indictment, Bill Palmer, right, May 26, 2021. The part that’s still being glossed over is that the Manhattan DA criminal bill palmerinvestigation into Trump has been going since late 2019. This isn’t some new probe coming out of nowhere. This is the final stage of a long running process that the media largely ignored until yesterday.

The DA has already empaneled at least one grand jury in the case against Trump, to subpoena Trump’s tax returns. This new grand jury is solely for endgame indictments. The criminal case has already been built and is ready to go.

In fact the 2019 subpoena of Trump’s tax returns proved that the Manhattan criminal case has been serious for quite some time. The media heavily covered the resulting supreme court battle over Trump’s returns, but largely sidestepped the underlying criminal case against Trump.

bill palmer report logo headerSo why is this “endgame” grand jury empaneled for the next six months? It’ll likely indict Weisselberg, below at right, first, push him to flip and testify against Trump, and so on. And Trump will likely be indicted on numerous charges. Each one is a separate presentation to the grand jury.

allen weisselberg croppedWhat are the odds the DA will ask the grand jury to indict Trump? 100%. He wouldn’t have empaneled a special grand jury if he were only looking to indict underlings. What are the odds the grand jury will agree to indict him? 99%, given how the process usually goes.

So we’re looking at a near-certain Trump indictment sometime in the second half of 2021, followed by trial sometime in 2022. We’ll see if the media starts claiming Trump’s downfall will somehow magically make him viable in 2024. If so, it’ll just be fictional hype for ratings.

In any case, since people are asking how CNN can be reporting tonight that this “new” criminal probe is an “advanced stage,” the answer is that it’s not remotely new. It’s an 18 month probe nearing the finish line. Just as Palmer Report spent the past 18 months documenting.

 

robert kraft djt

Donald Trump and Boston Patriots owner Robert Kraft, right, are shown in a file photo.

ESPN, Investigation: Senator's son: Trump tried to stop Spygate probe, Don Van Natta Jr. and Seth Wickersham, May 26, 2021. In the spring of 2008, the NFL was in crisis. A hard-charging United States senator from Pennsylvania named Arlen Specter had launched an investigation into the Spygate scandal. He tried to determine how many games the New England Patriots' illegal videotaping operation of arlen specteropposing coaches' signals had helped the team win and learn why the NFL, under the orders of commissioner Roger Goodell, had destroyed all evidence of the cheating.

By May, Specter -- right, a former Philadelphia district attorney and a lifelong Eagles fan -- was so angry at the "stonewalling" of his inquiry by the league and the Patriots that he called for an independent investigator, similar to the Mitchell investigation of steroid use in professional baseball. League executives and coaches might be forced to testify under espn logooath. The prospect sent the league, and its new commissioner, into panic. "If it ever got to an investigation," Goodell said at one point, "it would be terrible for the league."

The NFL tried to combat the Specter inquiry with public statements from teams that were the primary victims of New England's spying saying the league had done its due diligence. It wasn't working.

But there was one man, a mutual friend of Specter and Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who believed that he could make the investigation go away. He was a famous businessman and reality television star who routinely threw money at politicians to try to curry favor, whether it worked or not. He had been a generous political patron of Specter's for two decades.

One day in early 2008, Specter had dinner with the man in Palm Beach at his palatial club, not far from Kraft's Florida home. A phone call followed. The friend offered Specter what the senator felt was tantamount to a bribe: "If you laid off the Patriots, there'd be a lot of money in Palm Beach."

In October 2017, an ESPN reporter visited the University of Pittsburgh's Archives & Special Collections, housed in a five-story brick building in a neighborhood of warehouses and auto repair shops. nfl logoFor two days, the reporter sifted through Sen. Arlen Specter's letters, speeches, memos, notes and calendars, accumulated across a half-century career in public life, searching for evidence identifying the friend who had offered cash if the senator would shut down his pesky Spygate inquiry.Two autumns earlier, the reporter had received a tip about the mutual friend's name. At the time, the man had just launched an outside and underdog campaign for president. But the tip was hard to confirm.

Among Specter's papers, the reporter found a few clues but nothing conclusive. Before and after the visit to Pittsburgh, the reporter made more than a dozen calls to confidants of Specter, who died in October 2012 of complications from non-Hodgkin lymphoma, but had failed to turn up anything definitive. Another ESPN reporter visited Washington, D.C., meeting with Specter's former staffers at fashionable Beltway gossip venues BLT Steak and Off the Record. Nothing conclusive turned up.

But recently and unexpectedly, there's been movement in the quest. Follow-up conversations with the people closest to Arlen Specter -- his oldest son, Shanin, a Philadelphia personal injury and medical malpractice attorney, and Charles Robbins, Specter's trusted longtime communications aide and the ghostwriter of two Specter memoirs -- revealed this: The man who dangled campaign cash if Specter were to drop the Spygate inquiry was none other than Donald J. Trump.

robert kraft twitterNot only that: Trump had told Specter he was acting on behalf of Robert Kraft.Kraft, shown in a Twitter photo at right, and Trump, both responding to ESPN through spokespeople, denied involvement in any effort to influence Specter's investigation.

"This is completely false," said Jason Miller, a senior adviser to Trump. "We have no idea what you're talking about." Miller declined to answer a series of follow-up questions. A Patriots spokesman said Kraft "never asked Donald Trump to talk to Arlen Specter on his behalf."

"Mr. Kraft is not aware of any involvement of Trump on this topic and he did not have any other engagement with Specter or his staff," the spokesman said via email.

Sen. Arlen Specter, shown speaking during a 2008 news conference on Spygate, took on the investigation in part because he wondered whether the Patriots had cheated to beat his beloved Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX in February 2005.

The alleged Spygate connections among Arlen Specter, Donald Trump and Robert Kraft came up almost by accident. On July 1, 2010, Specter sat down with Robbins for one of their tape-recorded discussions to prepare for the writing of Specter's third and final book, a memoir titled "Life Among the Cannibals." Only six weeks earlier, Specter, who famously switched parties from Republican to Democratic, had lost a hard-fought Democratic primary to Congressman Joe Sestak. The defeat effectively ended Specter's five-term tenure in the U.S. Senate.

May 24

Proof via Substack, Major New Revelations About Donald Trump's January 5 Pre-Insurrection War Council (Part III), Seth Abramson, left, May 23-24, 2021. Introduction to Part III: The most chilling sentence seth abramson graphicinAli Alexander’s chilling January 13 interview with the chillingly named Church Militant of Michigan is this one: “We [Stop the Steal] own all of [the government of] Arizona except katie hobbsfor the Secretary of State [Katie Hobbs, right].

”In the interview, Alexander credits one man with ensuring that Stop the Steal could take over Arizona’s government: Arizona state representative and Oath Keeper Mark Finchem, the man Trump praised in Georgia on January 4 as a “great political leader.”

As Oath Keepers like Finchem get arrested by the dozens, and Finchem’s presence at the Capitol in a golf cart becomes national news, and Finchem faces the possibility of a state ethics investigation and there is a steady drumbeat of calls for his resignation or expulsion from not just Arizona Democrats but even journalists, it is becoming harder and harder for Finchem to find reliable allies in Phoenix.

A notable exception is a fellow Arizona Republican state representative who is, like Finchem, a self-described Oath Keeper: Wendy Rogers. Rogers, who spent January 6 at a massive Stop the Steal rally in Phoenix, watched with glee on January 4 as the President of the United States name-checked her friend Mark Finchem.

seth abramson proof logoProof via Substack, Major New Revelations About Donald Trump's January 5 Pre-Insurrection War Council (Part II), Seth Abramson, left, May 23-24, 2021. Introduction to Part II: The mystery of the strange conclave at Trump's private residence at Trump International Hotel is unraveling — revealing new evidence about the Oath Keepers, U.S. senators likely in attendance, and more.

These are Parts II and III of a three-part exposé on the pre-insurrection war council held on January 5, 2021, at Donald Trump’s private residence in Trump International Hotel in Washington.

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

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Lawmakers worry the toxic mood on Capitol Hill will follow them home, Marianna Sotomayor and Paul Kane, May 24, 2021 (print ed.). House members head out of Washington for three weeks, anger at each other is turning into fear of what could await them back home.

Tensions among lawmakers have been running high since the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob and have only increased in recent weeks. The two parties are clashing over how to investigate what transpired that day and whether, or how, to ease precautions put in place to keep members and staff safe during the pandemic.

The tenor of the debate has been highly personal, with Democrats expressing a sense of distrust toward their Republican colleagues with regard to their personal safety and health, while many GOP members are accusing Democrats of using the tragedies of the attack and the pandemic to score political points.

Now, several Democrats said they are concerned that the toxic political culture on Capitol Hill could greet them back home as their communities open up, with the pandemic waning and vaccination rates rising, and there is pressure to hold more in-person events.

“Obviously we’re going to return to more outward-facing live, in-person things and I’m thrilled about that. I want to do that,” said Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.). “I think we’re going to have to be very cautious. I think there’s going to have to be some ramped-up security. Hopefully it’s going to be low key, I don’t want people to feel like they’re walking into an armed event, but I imagine doing a lot of events in parks, in the daytime, staffers and local police are around.”

Bitter anger over Jan. 6 riots lingers in the House, prompting a week of tense standoff and legislative stalemate

Several Democratic members have privately expressed their concerns to leadership about security back home as threats have risen, according to people familiar with the discussions who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the conversations. Some of these Democrats said they have paid out of their own pocket to increase security at their district offices or install security systems in their homes out of an abundance of caution.

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Commerce Dept. security unit became counter-intelligence-like operation, Shawn Boburg, May 24, 2021. An obscure security unit tasked with protecting the Commerce Department’s officials and facilities has evolved into something more akin to a counterintelligence operation that collected information on hundreds of people inside and outside the department, a Washington Post examination found.

The Investigations and Threat Management Service (ITMS) covertly searched employees’ offices at night, ran broad keyword searches of their emails trying to surface signs of foreign influence and scoured Americans’ social media for critical comments about the census, according to documents and interviews with five former investigators.

In one instance, the unit opened a case on a 68-year-old retiree in Florida who tweeted that the census, which is run by the Commerce Department, would be manipulated “to benefit the Trump Party!” records show.

commerce dept logoIn another example, the unit searched Commerce servers for particular Chinese words, documents show. The search resulted in the monitoring of many Asian American employees over benign correspondence, according to two former investigators.

The office “has been allowed to operate far outside the bounds of federal law enforcement norms and has created an environment of paranoia and retaliation at the Department,” John Costello, a former deputy assistant secretary of intelligence and security at Commerce in the Trump administration, said in a statement for this story.

ITMS “rests on questionable legal authority and has suffered from poor management and lack of sufficient legal and managerial oversight for much of its existence,” Costello said.

Concerns have long simmered internally about the Commerce unit, which was led for more than a decade by career supervisor George D. Lee.

The unit’s tactics appear as if “someone watched too many ‘Mission Impossible’ movies,” said Bruce Ridlen, a former supervisor.

Investigators lodged complaints with supervisors, and the department’s internal watchdog launched multiple inquiries, documents show. In an internal memo laying out his concerns about the unit, Costello described an inspector general’s investigation that he said had found it had no legal authority to conduct criminal investigations.

Incoming Commerce leaders from the Biden administration ordered ITMS to pause all criminal investigations on March 10, and on May 13 ordered the suspension of all activities after preliminary results of an ongoing review, according to a statement issued by department spokeswoman Brittany Caplin.

May 23

djt as chosen one

Wayne Madsen Report's Hollywood, Film Commentary: Screen treatment of mind control cults, Wayne Madsen, May 23, 2021. Hardly an American has not been touched, in some way, by a close relative or longtime friend joining the cult of Donald Trump while also advocating against coronavirus public health measures such as the wearing of masks or getting vaccinated against the deadly virus.

Hollywood has amply dealt with the plague of cults in a number of films, including comedies. Big and small screen offerings include the three aspects inherent with any cult: a lavishly worshiped and adored leader; use of threats and coercion to convince others to join the cult; and pyramidal financial, sexual, or psychological exploitation of cult members.

Hollywood's first major treatment of cults was with 1934's "The Black Cat," which starred horror film staples Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. The leader of a group of Satan-worshipers, Karloff, plans to sacrifice a woman but to her rescue comes none other than Lugosi, famed more for his perennial roles as Count Dracula rather than a movie hero.

In 1943's "The Seventh Victim," which starred Jean Brooks and Kim Hunter, focused its plot on a Greenwich Village-based Satanic cult. Appearing in a minor role was Hugh Beaumont, better known to later television audiences as Ward Cleaver, the father in "Leave it to Beaver."

Proof via Substack, Major New Revelations About Donald Trump's January 5 Pre-Insurrection War Council (Part III), Seth Abramson, left, May 23, 2021. Introduction to Part III: The most chilling sentence seth abramson graphicin Ali Alexander’s chilling January 13 interview with the chillingly named Church Militant of Michigan is this one: “We [Stop the Steal] own all of [the government of] Arizona except for the Secretary of State [Katie Hobbs].”

seth abramson proof logoIn the interview, Alexander credits one man with ensuring that Stop the Steal could take over Arizona’s government: Arizona state representative and Oath Keeper Mark Finchem, the man Trump praised in Georgia on January 4 as a “great political leader.”

As Oath Keepers like Finchem get arrested by the dozens, and Finchem’s presence at the Capitol in a golf cart becomes national news, and Finchem faces the possibility of a state ethics investigation and there is a steady drumbeat of calls for his resignation or expulsion from not just Arizona Democrats but even journalists, it is becoming harder and harder for Finchem to find reliable allies in Phoenix.

A notable exception is a fellow Arizona Republican state representative who is, like Finchem, a self-described Oath Keeper: Wendy Rogers. Rogers, who spent January 6 at a massive Stop the Steal rally in Phoenix, watched with glee on January 4 as the President of the United States name-checked her friend Mark Finchem.

This is Part III of a three-part exposé on the pre-insurrection war council held on January 5, 2021, at Donald Trump’s private residence in Trump International Hotel in Washington. 

May 22

Proof via Substack Major New Revelations About Donald Trump's January 5 Pre-Insurrection War Council (Part I), Seth Abramson, right, May 22, 2021. The mystery of the strange conclave at Trump's private seth abramson graphicresidence at Trump International Hotel is unraveling — revealing new evidence about the Oath Keepers, U.S. senators likely in attendance, and more.

Introductseth abramson proof logoion: The mystery of which three Unites States senators attended Donald Trump’s secret pre-insurrection war council has remained only one-third resolved for months, with only Alabama senator Tommy Tuberville admitting—after being forced to do so by reporting at Proof—that he attended, though his confession included a passel of new lies about the event, anyway.

The other two U.S. senators present at the war council alongside Trump family members, aides, and advisers at Trump’s “private residence” in Trump International Hotel have remained a mystery, and (inexplicably) one that U.S. media thus far has made no effort to unravel.

This is Part I of a three-part exposé on the pre-insurrection war council held on January 5, 2021, at Donald Trump’s private residence in Trump International Hotel in Washington. Part II of the series can be found at this link. Part III will be published at Proof very shortly. 

May 21

Palmer Report, Opinion: The real reason Donald Trump abandoned Mar-a-Lago, Bill Palmer, right, May 21, 2021.Just a week or two ago, numerous media pundits were pushing the silly false ratings-driven bill palmernarrative that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis could somehow magically block Donald Trump from being extradited to New York. But now that Trump has packed up and relocated to New Jersey anyway, the pundits have abandoned the fictional narrative that remaining in Florida was somehow going to keep him from being arrested.

The thing is, this now raises the question of why he went to New Jersey. It almost certainly has nothing to do with his inevitable arrest. Federal law and court ruling make clear that there’s no such thing as blocking extradition across state lines. So wherever Trump is in the U.S. at the time New York indicts him, he’ll be arrested and shipped back to New York, and that’ll be that. But why leave Mar-a-Lago?

bill palmer report logo headerHere’s the thing about South Florida: it’s highly seasonal. A whole crop of seasonal residents called “snowbirds” pack up and head to South Florida for the winter months, and then head back to the northeast for the summer. Local businesses tend to plan around these seasons.

Mar-a-Lago is no different. Plenty of its members are surely snowbirds who simply aren’t in town during the summer months. So with Mar-a-Lago shutting down for the summer anyway, it makes more sense from a cost standpoint for Trump to relocate to a property that’s booming this time of year, such as his golf property in New Jersey.

That’s not the most exciting or controversial explanation, but it’s the most logically sound one, if a mundane one. There are a couple important takeaways, however. Given that Trump is now bragging about having finally secured his first bank loan in quite awhile, it’s clear that he’s in a tight financial spot. Even if he wanted to remain at Mar-a-Lago while it’s closed to members for the summer, he probably couldn’t afford to. Second, it’s clear that even Trump understands that being located in one state and not another state isn’t going to magically save him from being extradited to New York once he’s indicted.

washington post logoWashington Post, Since leaving office, Trump has charged Secret Service more than $40,000 to use space at Mar-a-Lago, David A. Fahrenthold and Josh Dawsey, May 21, 2021 (print ed.).Former president Donald Trump charged the Secret Service more than $40,000 this spring for rooms that Trump’s own protective detail used while guarding him at his Mar-a-Lago Club, according to federal spending records.

The records show that Trump’s club charged the Secret Service $396.15 every night starting Jan. 20, the day he left the White House and moved full-time into his Palm Beach, Fla., club.

Receipts: Charges to Secret Service from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club

Those charges, ultimately paid by taxpayers, continued until at least April 30, the spending records show, for a total of $40,011.15. The charges were for a single room used as a workspace by Secret Service agents, according to one person familiar with the payments.

The Secret Service released spending records up to April 30. Trump stayed at Mar-a-Lago more than a week beyond that before moving to his Bedminster, N.J., club for the summer. It was unclear whether he continued to charge the Secret Service into May.

 

May 19 

 

capitol riot shutterstock capitol

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Special Investigative Report and Commentary: The failed bloody fascist coup of 2021, Wayne Madsen, May 19, 2021. Had the coup plotters of January 6, 2021 been wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallsuccessful, today the United States would have been under the rule of dictator Donald Trump. The traitorous retired General Michael Flynn would be Vice President and be granted by Trump with unlimited powers to order arrests, seize private property, and rule states and cities by decree. Political purges of the armed forces, state and local governments, the courts, and corporations would be de rigueur.

Because it is now known that the director of the U.S. Secret Service tolerated the politicization of his agency under Trump to the point that agents, including those who are sworn to protect the President, Vice President, and other designated "protectees," became full-blown MAGA-hatted racists and far-right partisans.

wayne madesen report logoFor example, in December 2019, Trump appointed Deputy Assistant Director of the Secret Service Anthony Ornato [left], a anthony ornatocareer civil service member, to the political post of Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, a position that entailed Ornato assisting in Trump's re-election. Secret Service Director James Murray raised no objections to Ornato being tapped for such a political position.

Murray continues to remain in his job under President Biden. And, as if that is not enough of a reason for concern, Ornato is back at the Secret Service as Assistant Director in the Office of Training.

Washington Post reporter Carol Leonnig has published a book on the Secret Service, titled Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service, that delves into the right-wing radicalization of the Secret Service.

It now appears that some key members of the Secret Service were either in on the plot by Trump, Flynn, and others to overthrow the government on January 6 or were quiescent in withholding intelligence on the scope of the coup plan.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Enough with this 1/6 congressional commission hand wringing. Merrick Garland’s got this, Bill Palmer, right, May 19, 2021. Now that House and Senate Republican leaders are coming bill palmerout against the creation of a 1/6 congressional commission, some on social media are calling for Attorney General Merrick Garland (shown below at left) to open an investigation into the attack. But here’s the thing: Merrick Garland and the DOJ are already investigating the Capitol attack from a criminal standpoint. That’s well underway and widely documented.

bill palmer report logo headerThis congressional commission has only ever really been for show, as congressional proceedings always tend to be. They’re for fact finding and such. It’s not nearly as important as what the DOJ is already doing.

I’m not saying there isn’t value in a congressional fact finding commission. But if they uncover criminal evidence, they’re just going to refer it to the DOJ anyway. And again, the DOJ is already criminally investigating the Capitol attack. Hundreds of arrests prove this.

merrick garlandIf the Capitol attack leads criminally to any members of Congress, it’ll be the DOJ that criminally charges them – not a congressional commission. But the media has been hyping the congressional commissions because it’s controversial and thus good for ratings.

And yes, there will be a congressional commission whether McCarthy and McConnell support it or not. This is not a time for doomsday panicking. The Republicans aren’t magically going to “get away with it all” and declining to support this commission isn’t going to give them magical authoritarian powers.

We need to stop letting the media goad us into believing that “all hope is lost” every time the Republicans do something antithetical and weird. It’s clear that the Republicans have no idea what they’re even trying to do.

Meanwhile, the DOJ is already doing exactly what it’s supposed to do, which is to bust everyone involved in the bottom rung of the Capitol attack, get some of them to flip on people further up the chain, and then flip those people on the ringleaders. It takes time, but it’s the only way these things work.

Raw Story, Capitol Police send GOP a bombshell letter demanding Jan. 6 Commission to hold criminals responsible — even officials, Sarah K. Burris, May 19, 2021.Capitol Police send GOP a bombshell letter demanding Jan. 6 Commission to hold criminals responsible — even officials.

Capitol Police officers issue a letter on their official letterhead saying that they have a "profound disappointment" with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthy (R-CA), right, for opposing the Jan. 6 Commission.

Citing the "physical trauma" and "mental anguish," the letter also acted as if the Republicans were using their opposition to the Commission to cover for GOP members.

"On Jan. 6 where some officers served their last day in the US Capitol Police uniform, and not by choice, we would hope that the Members whom we took an oath to protect, would at the very minimum, support an investigation to get to the bottom of EVERYONE responsible and hold then 100 percent accountable no matter the title or position they hold or held."

Many Republicans have announced that the attack on the CApitol wasn't that bad on Jan. 6, even going so far as to call the insurrectionists "patriots" or "tourists." It's a sentiment that has infuriated many DC Metro Police officers and Capitol Police, as they said in the letter.

"It is inconceivable that some of the Members we protect would downplay the events of Jan. 6. Members' safety was dependent upon the heroic actions of USCP. It is a privileged assumption for Members to have the point of view that 'It wasn't that bad.' That privilege exists because the brave men and women of the USCP protected you, the Members."

Roll Call, House passes Jan. 6 commission bill but legislation faces Senate hurdles, Chris Marquette, May 19, 2021. The House voted 252-175 Wednesday to create a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by pro-Trump rioters, garnering minimal Republican support in what is a bleak harbinger for the measure's chances in the evenly divided Senate.

Just hours before the House vote, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he opposed the bill, calling the measure "a slanted and unbalanced proposal for another commission to study the events of January the sixth."

The Kentucky Republican's opposition, while not surprising, will make it difficult for Senate Democrats to get the 60 votes needed to move the bill along in that chamber.

But House the vote, in which 35 Republicans voted with Democrats and against their party leadership, was another public sign of bitter fractures within the GOP over former President Donald Trump.

All 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump in January for inciting the insurrection, including former conference chair Liz Cheney of Wyoming who was ousted from leadership by the party last week, voted to support the commission.

Illinois Republican Adam Kinzinger, one of those 10 Republicans who has also blasted GOP leaders for removing Cheney, called the commission "the right thing to do."

"We need answers,” Kinzinger said. Asked what he thinks of Republican leadership’s opposition to the commission, he said, “I think it’s nuts.”

House GOP leadership on Tuesday recommended a "no" vote on the commission legislation, a bipartisan compromise between Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and ranking member John Katko, R-N.Y.

Katko, who worked in federal law enforcement for 20 years, said just prior to the vote that he and Thompson modeled their bill on the 9/11 commission, which he said made the country “infinitely safer” following the attacks in New York and at the Pentagon.

“I ask my colleagues to consider the fact that this commission is built to work and it will be depoliticized and it will get the results we need,” Katko added.

Thompson told reporters Wednesday that the committee kept both Republican and Democratic leadership informed since the beginning of negotiations and made suggested changes to the bill.

Still, GOP leader Kevin McCarthy argued the scope was too narrow and that it would duplicate other ongoing congressional investigations. Kinzinger said Katko was able to negotiate a fairer deal and Republican leadership “moved the goal post.”

“You’ll have to ask Trump why anything happens nowadays in the party,” Kinzinger added.

Thompson alluded to the same. "It's unfortunate that the minority leader has, at the last moment, raised issues that basically we had gone past and there was no issue on his part," Thompson said. "But I guess that's politics."

 daniel paul gray

Daniel Paul Gray of Florida and police officer he shoved down the stairs (Photo: Screen capture/DOJ indictments).

Raw Story, 'Coolest thing I've ever done in my life': Rioter who bragged about pushing female cop down Capitol stairs arrested in Florida, Ray Hartmann, May 19, 2021. 'Coolest thing I've ever done in my life': Rioter who bragged about pushing female cop down Capitol stairs arrested in Florida.

Daniel Paul Gray of Florida was charged today with multiple crimes of violence against police officers at the January 6 Capitol riot. Supporting photographic evidence is a video made by Gray that spells out the goal of "pushing police out the back of the Capitol."

Gray is accused of having altercations with multiple police, one in which he caused a female police officer to fall down the western rotunda stairs "and became visibly injured."

Gray bragged about it all in a self-shot monologue, the FBI said. Gray's pride in having carried out the attack on law enforcement -- and the boast that "this is far from over -- was captured on his video.

Now the video itself has been captured by the FBI. Here are some of the highlights of Gray's monologue, according to its charging document:

"A female cop stole my phone and I got mac'd…and I'm like, you know what, we're doing this and so we literally pushed them from the front steps of the Capitol all the way back.

Gray describes standing in front of a group of officers and saying "Hey stand down, there's too many of us. Go home, go find your wives, go find your kids, you don't want to do this."

Gray states he later stormed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office and came into contact with the female police officer from his earlier encounter. He claims the officer started crying, took off her vest and started running down the stairs.

"We started pushing the police out the back of the Capitol. We pushed them from the front to the back of the Capitol."

"This is far from over, that was the coolest thing I've ever done in my life, so stay tuned."

The FBI complaint details how Gray was among the first to push through lines and confront police. It describes him as backing at one point, beckoning some unknown individuals to come forward toward him, apparently resulting in a larger and more agitated group of rioters taking in part in the attack.

Gray, whose last known place of employment was X3 Fitness, according to the FBI, had used Facebook and Instagram to post about "his dissatisfaction with the election and…improprieties surrounding the election.

Among his Facebook prose on December 12, Gray had stated "F*ck this election this is the biggest scandal of my lifetime" and "militia finna be lit y'all!!" and "Sh*ts about to get lit y'all. I'm actually really excited at the possibility of the insurrection act being implemented."

In a private Facebook message that day, Gray proclaimed, "Bro, I just joined the militia."

Gray faces a longer list of charges than most of the 450 Capitol riot suspects. In addition to the standard charges of unlawful and violent entry, disorderly conduct and disrupting government proceedings, Gray is also charged on multiple counts of physical violence, including attacks on a person "while engaged in the performance of official duties."

You can read the FBI arrest complaint here.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia Republicans oppose measure condemning Atlanta spa shootings, Tia Mitchell, May 19, 2021. All eight Republicans who represent Georgia in the U.S. House voted against a resolution condemning the Atlanta spa shootings.

The 244-180 vote included every House Democrat plus several dozen Republicans. The resolution’s text includes the names and biographical details about the eight victims of the March 16 attack plus language “reaffirming the House of Representatives’ commitment to combating hate, bigotry, and violence against the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community.”

Five of Georgia’s six House Democrats voted in favor of the measure; U.S. Rep. David Scott was not present for the vote.

None of the Georgia Republicans could be immediately reached for comment.

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux hosted a delegation of lawmakers 12 days after shootings, and they visited each of the three Asian spas that were targeted. Bourdeaux, a Democrat from Suwanee, said the resolution would send a message to the loved ones of the eight victims, including six women of Asian descent.

“It is a step in the right direction, but only a step,” she said. “America is and has always been a nation of immigrants, a fact that deserves to be celebrated.”

The vote on the resolution comes a day after the House passed anti-hate crimes legislation, which is now ready to be signed into law by President Joe Biden. The COVID 19 Hate Crimes Act gained momentum after the spa shootings.

Six of the eight Georgia Republicans in the House voted against the hate-crimes measure.

May 16

 

jessica anderson heritage action

Palmer Report, Opinion: The dark money and dark foundation behind voter suppression laws, Robert Harrington, right, May 16, 2021. Remember well the name Jessica Anderson (above). She is the executive director of robert harringtnn portraitHeritage Action for America. On a budget of $24 million, Anderson is leading a titanic campaign to draft and pass model legislation restricting voting access for people of colour. The measures she promotes have been swiftly adopted this year in the battleground states of Georgia, Florida, Arizona, and Iowa.

The money that funds her work is dark money, corporate money, money of the 1%, money with a vested financial bias favouring tax cuts for the rich. Their goal? To put trickery and underhanded methods to work making it harder for people of colour to vote, in the ostensible service of “voter security.” The real goal is to put Republicans in charge of everything, from the White House to the state house. So far their agendas have been met and their sinister ambitions — in getting legislation written and passed — are a singular success.

In a leaked video of a private meeting last month, Anderson let slip some of her more Machiavellian methods. She was remarkably candid in describing how she ensures that her foundation’s voter suppression methods get written into law. “In some cases, we actually draft [the laws] for them,” she said, “or we have a sentinel on our behalf give them the model legislation so it bill palmer report logo headerhas that grassroots, from-the-bottom-up type of vibe.”

That’s just one cynical part of her method, making it look like its origins are of the people instead of the corporation. It’s all supposed to look like it just came straight from the farm, not straight from the boardroom — where it really began.

The claim, of course, is that it’s all being done in the name of keeping America safe from voter fraud. Since voter fraud isn’t a significant problem in America it’s become necessary for Republicans to promote the false idea that it is.

None of this is new, of course. Conservative Washington insiders have been pushing for voter restrictions for decades, with the explicit aim of helping Republicans win elections. The difference now is that Trump’s baseless claims about “massive fraud” in the 2020 presidential election have given new wings to the effort.

This latest incarnation of that old conservative movement is making unprecedented headway in getting Jim Crow-style voting restrictions across the finish line, and it’s attracting dark money from corporations with sinister motives. The more successful Anderson’s group’s efforts are, the more corporations are galvanized into giving Anderson money. And thus does the cycle perpetuate itself.

The good news is that targeted voters are aware of this sinister attempt to frustrate their voting rights. Because Republican methods are so blatant and their motives so pitifully transparent, the very marginalised minority voters Republicans are trying to thwart are now more motivated than ever to do just that— vote. Even so, 2024 is starting to look and feel like 1964. The truth of the matter is we haven’t come very far, and we still have a long, long way to go. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: How Republicans Could Steal the 2024 Election, Michelle Goldberg, right, May 16, 2021 (print ed.). Erica Newland serves as counsel for Protect Democracy, a nonprofit michelle goldberg thumborganization founded in 2017 to fight democratic breakdown in America. Before Joe Biden’s victory was officially confirmed in January, she researched some of the ways that Donald Trump’s allies in Congress might sabotage the process. She came to a harrowing conclusion.

“It occurred to me,” she told her colleagues then, “as I dug into the rules and watched what happened, that if the current Republican Party controls both Houses of Congress on Jan. 6, 2025, there’s no way if a Democrat is legitimately elected they will get certified as the president-elect.”

Liz Cheney’s removal from Republican House leadership is the latest sign that Newland is probably right. Today’s Republican Party has no political philosophy in the normal sense; it is, rather, organized around fealty to Trump and the stab-in-the-back myth that the election was stolen from him. Cheney had to go because she rejects that lie, recognizing it as inimical to democracy, which she continues to value. Her defenestration is one more indication that the party is preparing to do in the next election what it could not do in the last one.

Absent an overwhelming mobilization by Democrats, Republicans have a good chance of winning the House in 2022. Redistricting alone will probably give them several new seats. They could win the Senate as well. If Biden or another Democrat prevails in 2024, a House run by Kevin McCarthy, the craven minority leader who helped push Cheney out, seems likely to collaborate in right-wing schemes to change the result.

Trump’s attempt to steal the 2020 election revealed how much our democracy depends on officials at all levels of government acting honorably. Republicans on state boards of election, like Aaron Van Langevelde in Michigan, had to certify the results correctly. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger had to resist Trump’s entreaties to “find” enough missing votes to put him over the top. Republican state legislatures had to refuse Trump campaign pressure to substitute their own slate of electors for those chosen by the people. Congress had to do its job in the face of mob violence and count the Electoral College votes. Trump’s rolling coup attempt didn’t succeed, but it did reveal multiple points at which our system can fail.

Since the election, Republicans, driven by the lie that is now their party’s central ideology, have systematically attacked the safeguards that protected the last election. They have sent the message that vigorous defense of democracy is incompatible with a career in Republican politics. (Besides losing her leadership role, Cheney could easily lose her House seat.) Michigan Republicans declined to renominate Van Langevelde to the Board of State Canvassers. Raffensperger will most likely face a tough primary challenge in 2022. As Politico reported, in the next election, there will be secretary of state races in five of the 10 closest battleground states. Republican candidates for those offices will have an incentive to pretend to believe that a great injustice was done to Trump in 2020, and pledge to help rectify it. 

ny times logoNew York Times, G.O.P. Pursues Harsher Penalties for Poll Workers in Voting Crackdown, Nick Corasaniti, May 16, 2021 (print ed.). Republicans seeking to restrict voting are proposing strict punishments for election officials and workers who make errors or violate the rules.

Heavy fines, felony charges and jail sentences: Republicans seeking to restrict voting are proposing strict punishments for election officials and workers who make errors or violate the rules.

Anita Phillips has been an election judge in Texas for 17 years, responsible for managing a precinct in Waco, a city of roughly 135,000 people. But over the last four years, the civic duty she prized has become arduous. Harassment by partisan poll watchers has grown increasingly caustic, she has found, and helping voters is ever more treacherous amid a thicket of new rules.

Those regulations are likely to grow stricter: Republican lawmakers in Texas, following in the footsteps of their counterparts across the country, are pressing forward with a voting bill that could impose harsh penalties on election officials or poll workers who are thought to have committed errors or violations. And the nationwide effort may be pushing people like Ms. Phillips to reconsider serving their communities.

“It’s just so taxing,” Ms. Phillips said. “And if me — I’m in my 40s, and I’m having this much stress — imagine every election worker and election judge that is 65 and over with severe health issues. This is supposed to be a way for them to give back. And it’s supposed to be something that makes them feel good about what they’re doing, but now they’re starting to feel like, ‘Are we going to be safe?’”

Ms. Phillips is one of millions of citizens who act as foot soldiers of the American democratic system, working long hours for low pay to administer the country’s elections. Yet this often thankless task has quickly become a key target of Republicans who are propagating former President Donald J. Trump’s lies about the 2020 election. In their hunt for nonexistent fraud, they have turned on those who work the polls as somehow suspect.

That attitude has seeped into new voting laws and bills put forward by Republican-controlled legislatures across the country. More than two dozen bills in nine states, either still making their way through legislatures or signed into law, have sought to establish a rash of harsh new penalties, elevated criminal classifications and five-figure fines for state and local election officials who are found to have made mistakes, errors, oversteps and other violations of election code, according to a review of voting legislation by The New York Times.

The infractions that could draw more severe punishment run the gamut from seemingly minor lapses in attention or innocent mistakes to more clearly willful actions in defiance of regulations. In Texas, taking any action that “would make observation not reasonably effective” for a poll watcher would carry new penalties. In Florida, failing to have an election worker continuously supervise a drop box would result in major fines. Willfully flouting new laws, like ones in states including Iowa and Texas that ban sending absentee ballots to voters who have not requested them, would also lead to tougher penalties.

jon ryan schaffer

washington post logoWashington Post, Hundreds of people stormed the Capitol. Most won’t face hefty prison terms, legal experts say, Tom Jackman and Spencer S. Hsu, May 16, 2021 (print ed.). Though maximum sentences range as high as 20 or 30 years, nearly half the Jan. 6 defendants are only charged with misdemeanors, and only those facing the most serious felonies face years in prison.

Although there was great national outrage at the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters, nearly half of those charged so far in federal court probably will not face any jail time if they are convicted because they are charged only with misdemeanors, a Washington Post analysis shows.

About 44 percent of those accused in federal court as of Monday — 181 of 411 defendants — are charged solely with low-level crimes, primarily trespassing or disorderly conduct on restricted grounds, which typically don’t result in a jail or prison sentence for first-time offenders. Most of the Jan. 6 defendants have no serious criminal records.

The riot “looked awful. It was awful,” said Jay Town, former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, who is not involved in the cases. “But the criminal penalties associated with most of the offenses will not likely result in lengthy prison terms, especially if these individuals plead guilty and cooperate. And that’s how our system is supposed to work.”

Those charged with felonies, such as assaulting police or interfering with the electoral college vote count, face heftier sentences. Even so, the frequently cited maximum sentences of 20 years or 10 years simply don’t apply, according to numerous legal experts. Federal sentencing guidelines set a suggested range of months of incarceration for every crime, based in part on a defendant’s criminahistory and the severity of the crime, and that range rarely ventures close to the maximum possible term.

For example, Jon Ryan Schaffer (shown above), wearing a tactical vest and carrying bear spray, pushed his way through the mob outside the Capitol on Jan. 6 and was among the first group of rioters to breach the building, court records state. The surge overwhelmed a small group of Capitol Police officers, but a blast of irritant spray drove Schaffer back outside after nine minutes, his bear spray still in hand.

washington post logoWashington Post, Bitter anger over Jan. 6 riots lingers in the House, prompting a week of stalemate, tense standoffs, Paul Kane, May 16, 2021 (print ed.). Four and a half months after insurrectionists supporting Donald Trump stormed the Capitol, the House is still consumed by the fallout.

Nancy Pelosi House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), left, announced a major breakthrough Friday with the outlines of bipartisan commission to investigate the events of Jan. 6 after several months of deadlock on the issue.But that achievement got largely overshadowed by a week’s worth of events that demonstrated just how, four and a half months after insurrectionists supporting Donald Trump stormed the Capitol, the House is still consumed by the fallout from that horrific day.

On Wednesday, a freshman Republican used a House hearing investigating the attacks as a platform to compare the insurrection — which left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer, and at least 140 officers injured — to tourists going through the building.

Later that evening, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) — whom some Democrats have accused of aiding the Jan. 6 rioters — stomped out of the House chamber and down the steps screaming at Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) about why she wouldn’t debate her on policy.

 

barry morphew suzanne morphew

In a video posted on Facebook, Barry Morphew (shown above) pleaded for the safe return of his wife, Suzanne (above), after she went missing on May 10, 2020. On Wednesday, law enforcement in Chaffee County, Colo., charged Barry with first degree murder. (Facebook page of "Find Suzanne Morphew.")

washington post logoWashington Post, Man charged with wife’s murder illegally cast her ballot for Trump, officials say, Hannah Knowles and Paulina Villegas, May 16, 2021. The Colorado man was charged this month with murder in the disappearance of his wife. Now he's also accused of illegally voting in her name last fall. "I just thought, give him another vote," he said. 

The county clerk immediately knew something strange was going on last fall. A mail ballot had arrived from Suzanne Morphew — a woman missing since May.

“There’s posters all over our town,” said Lori Mitchell, the clerk and recorder in Chaffee County, a Colorado community of about 20,000 rocked by Morphew’s disappearance last Mother’s Day. “Constant things in the news about her. There’s people at the grocery store passing out fliers.”

The ballot didn’t have Morphew’s signature as required, Mitchell said. But someone had signed on the “witness” line: The woman’s husband, Barry Morphew.

“I was stunned,” Mitchell recalled. “I couldn’t believe it. I was like, what in the world is going on?”

For a long time, she said, it was just something fishy that her office reported to law enforcement. Then Barry Morphew was charged this month with murdering his wife. This week, things got stranger still: Barry was also accused of casting his wife’s ballot in a fraudulent vote for President Donald Trump.

May 5

ny times logoNew York Times, Facebook Oversight Board Upholds Social Network’s Ban of Trump, Mike Isaac, May 5, 2021. A company-appointed panel ruled that the ban was justified at the time but added that the company should reassess its action and make a final decision in six months.

A Facebook-appointed panel of journalists, activists and lawyers on Wednesday upheld the social network’s ban of former President Donald J. Trump, ending any immediate return by Mr. Trump to mainstream social media and renewing a debate about tech power over online speech.

Facebook’s Oversight Board, which acts as a quasi-court over the company’s content decisions, said the social network was right to bar Mr. Trump after he used the site to foment an insurrection in Washington in January. The panel said the ongoing risk of violence “justified” the move.

facebook logoBut the board also said that an indefinite suspension was “not appropriate,” and that the company should apply a “defined penalty.” The board gave Facebook six months to make its final decision on Mr. Trump’s account status.

“Our sole job is to hold this extremely powerful organization, Facebook, to be held accountable,” Michael McConnell, co-chair of the Oversight Board, said on a call with reporters. The ban on Mr. Trump “did not meet these standards,” he said.

The decision adds difficulties to Mr. Trump rejoining mainstream social media, which he had used during his White House years to cajole, set policy, criticize opponents and rile up his tens of millions of followers. Twitter and YouTube had also cut off Mr. Trump in January after the insurrection at the Capitol building, saying the risk of harm and the potential for violence that he created were too great.

But while Mr. Trump’s Facebook account remains suspended for now, he may be able to return to the social network once the company reviews its action. Mr. Trump still holds tremendous sway over Republicans, with his false claims of a stolen election continuing to reverberate. On Wednesday, House Republican leaders moved to expel Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming from her leadership post for criticizing Mr. Trump and his election lies.

In a statement, Mr. Trump did not directly address the Oversight Board’s ruling. But he slammed Facebook, Google and Twitter and called them corrupt. “Free Speech has been taken away from the President of the United States because the Radical Left Lunatics are afraid of the truth,” he said.

Mr. Trump’s continued Facebook suspension gave Republicans, who have long accused social media companies of suppressing conservative voices, new fuel against the platforms. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, has testified in Congress several times in recent years about whether the social network has shown bias against conservative political views. He has denied it.

Senator Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, said the Facebook board’s decision was “extremely disappointing” and that it was “clear that Mark Zuckerberg views himself as the arbiter of free speech.” And Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, said Facebook, which faces antitrust scrutiny, should be broken up.

May 2

U.S. Election Rigging, Capitol Riot, Domestic Terror 

Proof via Substack, Investigation & Commentary: Trump's Insurrection Is in Arizona Now, Seth Abramson, May 2, 2021. This exposé on the aftermath of the January 6 Capitol attack in Arizona reveals that seth abramson headshotthe newest battleground for Trump's domestic insurgency is the Grand Canyon State. Will it turn violent there, too?

The Washington Post has called Kelli Ward, the chair of the Arizona GOP, a “leading voice” in the Stop the Steal “movement” orchestrated by Ali Alexander, Alex Jones, and Roger Stone. But seth abramson proof logoper the Post, days after Ward’s January 2021 reelection as chair of the Arizona GOP—an election Ward won by just 42 votes—she faced calls for an audit of her victory by defeated challenger Sergio Arellano.

Those familiar with Ward won’t be surprised to learn that, despite being the chief proponent of post-election audits in the presidential race, Ward quickly rejected calls for an audit of her election, insisting, per the Arizona Republic, there is “no procedure, process or rule that allows for that.”

But rules had never stopped Ward before. And they’re certainly not stopping her now, as she coordinates the movement of Trump’s insurgency from Washington to Arizona.

Seth Abramson, shown above left 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.

ny times logoNew York Times, G.O.P. Seeks to Empower Poll Watchers, Raising Intimidation Worries, Nick Corasaniti, May 2, 2021 (print ed.). As Republican lawmakers seek to make voting harder and more confusing, they are simultaneously making a push to grant more autonomy to partisan poll watchers.

This effort has raised alarm: In the past, poll watchers have been used to intimidate voters and harass workers, often in ways that target people of color.

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective: The politicians who tried to overturn an election — and the local news team that won’t let anyone forget it, Margaret Sullivan, right, May 2, 2021. While Sunday shows keep margaret sullivan 2015 photobooking the lawmakers who undermined democracy, one public radio station decided it wouldn’t shrug off the damaging lies of election denialism.

The journalists at WITF, an all-news public radio station in Harrisburg, Pa., made a perfectly reasonable decision a few months ago.

They decided they wouldn’t shrug off the damaging lies of election denialism.

They wouldn’t do what too many in Big Journalism have done in recent months: shove into the memory hole the undemocratic efforts by some Republican elected officials to delegitimize or overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Too many Sunday news shows repeatedly book the likes of Kevin McCarthy, Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson without reminding viewers how these members of Congress tried to undo the results of the election — and encouraged the Trumpian lies about election fraud that led to the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol less than four months ago. A rare exception is CNN’s “State of the Union,” which hasn’t booked a single member of the so-called Sedition Caucus since January.

“There’s a kind of clubby atmosphere on these shows, part of the Beltway Bubble mentality, in which it’s become almost impolite to raise the topic of the insurrection,” Princeton University history professor Kevin Kruse told me.

“CBS This Morning,” for example, sent out an email alert last week touting its exclusive interview with Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), one of the seven senators who voted against certifying the election results in Pennsylvania. Scott blasted President Biden for “spending us into oblivion” and mocked him for not achieving bipartisanship — yet interviewer Anthony Mason never mentioned that Scott had literally tried to overturn Biden’s election.

“109 days after Jan. 6, ‘history will remember’ is a complete joke,” Matt Negrin of “The Daily Show” tweeted last week. He added: “These media outlets want you to forget.”

But Harrisburg’s WITF has gone a different route: They want you to remember.

washington post logoWashington Post, Newsmax apologizes to Dominion employee for falsely alleging he manipulated votes against Trump, Amy B Wang, May 2, 2021 (print ed.). The conservative news network Newsmax has apologized to an employee of Dominion Voting Systems for baselessly alleging he had rigged the company’s voting machines and vote counts against President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.

dominion voting systemsIn a statement Friday, Newsmax said it wanted to “clarify” its coverage of Eric Coomer, the director of product strategy and security at Dominion, who filed a defamation lawsuit against the right-wing network in December. After the election, misinformation about Coomer’s supposed role in manipulating the vote proliferated on right-wing sites, including Newsmax. Coomer said he had been forced into hiding after receiving death threats from Trump supporters, who believed Trump’s false assertion that the election had been stolen from him and that Coomer had played a role.

On Friday, Newsmax said there was no evidence such allegations were true.

“There are several facts that our viewers should be aware of,” Newsmax’s statement read. “Newsmax has found no evidence that Dr. Coomer interfered with Dominion voting machines or voting software in any way, nor that Dr. Coomer ever claimed to have done so. Nor has Newsmax found any evidence that Dr. Coomer ever participated in any conversation with members of ‘Antifa,’ nor that he was directly involved with any partisan political organization.”

  • Washington Post, Analysis: Half of Republicans incorrectly think there’s evidence Biden didn’t win legitimately

Newsmax also noted that “many of the states whose results were contested by the Trump campaign after the November 2020 election have conducted extensive recounts and audits, and each of these states certified the results as legal and final.” The statement ended with an apology for any harm caused to Coomer and his family.

In exchange, Coomer has dropped Newsmax from his defamation lawsuit, the Associated Press reported. Representatives for Coomer did not respond immediately Saturday to requests for comment. NPR and Forbes reported that Coomer had reached a settlement with Newsmax, but his attorneys did not disclose the details.

In his lawsuit, Coomer alleged that Newsmax, along with other right-wing news outlets and public figures, had “elevated Dr. Coomer into the national spotlight, invaded his privacy, threatened his security, and fundamentally defamed his reputation across this country.” Other defendants include the Trump campaign, former Trump attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudolph W. Giuliani, conservative podcast host Joseph Oltmann, conservative political commentator Michelle Malkin and the right-wing One America News.

Palmer Report, Opinion: This is a huge gift, Bill Palmer, right, May 2, 2021. Newsmax just formally confessed that the “Big Lie” about the 2020 election is indeed a big lie, and that there was no conspiracy to rig bill palmerthe election against Donald Trump. It now seems likely that other major right wing propaganda outlets will end up having to issue similar confessions.

We can sit back and lament about how the “damage” has already been done. We can lament about how extreme right wingers still aren’t going to believe it, even now that their favorite propaganda outlets are confessing they made it up. But none of that helps us in any way, shape, or form.

bill palmer report logo headerInstead, we can recognize that Newsmax just handed us a huge gift, and we can use it to our advantage. While the extreme right wingers who bathe themselves in these lies may not ever change their minds, we can use the Newsmax confession to make sure that voters in the middle don’t fall prey to the lies being told by extreme right wingers.

Modern elections tend to be decided by whether or not voters in the middle fall for whatever big lie the right wingers (and the worst of major media outlets) are pushing in any given news cycle. In 2016, voters in the middle fell for the lies about Clinton’s emails. In 2020, voters in the middle didn’t fall for the lies about Hunter Biden. It’s a big part of why those two elections had such different results.

So as we head into the 2022 and 2024 elections, let’s put this huge gift from Newsmax (and presumably other upcoming right wing propaganda outlets) to good use. We can use it to educate voters in the middle, so they end up voting wisely. This is how elections are won and progress is delivered – not by lamenting about “damage.”

 

April 2021

April 29 

 

roger stone headshot

Palmer Report, Opinion: Roger Stone caught allegedly seeking $250,000 bribe to get Trump to pardon Matt Gaetz pal Joel Greenberg, Bill Palmer, right, April 29, 2021. This evening the Daily Beast broke the bill palmerbombshell that Joel Greenberg wrote a letter confessing that he and Matt Gaetz both had sex with an underage girl. If Greenberg’s claims can be substantiated, then Gaetz will go to prison for sure. But it turns out Gaetz may not be the only one.

bill palmer report logo headerTwo weeks ago it was reported that Roger Stone, shown above, was hanging out with Greenberg and Gaetz, at Greenberg’s hotel, during the weekend that Greenberg allegedly paid for sex with an underage girl. Then a week ago it was reported that Gaetz paid Stone $5,000 in nonsensical consulting fees, which was a red flag given that Stone is apparently a material witness in the case against Gaetz.Now the Daily Beast is reporting that in late 2020, Joel Greenberg offered Roger Stone $250,000 to convince Donald Trump to pardon Greenberg and Gaetz. Stone replied that “I hope you are prepared to wire me $250,000 because I am feeling confident.” Greenberg committed a crime by offering to pay for a pardon, and Stone committed a crime by acknowledging that he wanted to get paid if he was able to make the pardon happen.

Roger Stone is claiming that the $250,000 was a legal retainer, and that he declined it. But Stone isn’t a lawyer, so this was obviously not a retainer, and the text messages show that Stone made clear that he wanted the money.

Will Stone now claim that he was merely joking, or that his text messages have been fabricated by someone on the other end? This just keeps getting uglier for him.

April 28

 

Trump attorney and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, center, former President Trump, left, and Ukraine President Vlodomyr Zelensky (file photos). 

Trump attorney and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, center, former President Trump, left, and Ukraine President Vlodomyr Zelensky (file photos). 

ny times logoNew York Times, Federal Investigators Search Rudy Giuliani’s Apartment and Office, William K. Rashbaum, Ben Protess and Maggie Haberman, April 28, 2021. Prosecutors obtained the search warrants as part of an investigation into whether Mr. Giuliani broke lobbying laws as President Trump’s personal lawyer. The search warrants mark a major turning point in the long-running investigation against Rudy Giuliani.Federal investigators in Manhattan executed search warrants early Wednesday at the home and office of Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who became President Donald J. Trump’s personal lawyer, stepping up a criminal investigation into Mr. Giuliani’s dealings in Ukraine, three people with knowledge of the investigation said.

Justice Department log circularThe investigators seized Mr. Giuliani’s electronic devices and searched his apartment on Madison Avenue and his office on Park Avenue at about 6 a.m., two of the people said.

The execution of search warrants is an extraordinary action for prosecutors to take against a lawyer, let alone a lawyer for a former president. It was a major development in the long-running investigation into Mr. Giuliani and a remarkable moment in his long arc as a public figure.

As mayor, Mr. Giuliani won national recognition for steering New York through the dark days after the Sept. 11 attacks, and earlier in his career, he led the same U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan that is investigating him now, earning a reputation as a hard-charging prosecutor who took on organized crime and corrupt politicians.
In recent years, however, his image has been tarred by his effort to help Mr. Trump to dig up dirt in Ukraine on President Biden’s son and Mr. Trump’s repeated attempts in court to overturn the results of the 2020 election with baseless claims of widespread fraud.

Mr. Giuliani’s lawyer, Robert J. Costello, called the searches unnecessary because his client had offered to answer prosecutors’s questions, except those regarding Mr. Giuliani’s privileged communications with the former president.

“What they did today was legal thuggery,” Mr. Costello said. “Why would you do this to anyone, let alone someone who was the associate attorney general, United States attorney, the mayor of New York City and the personal lawyer to the 45th president of the United States.”

The federal authorities have largely focused on whether Mr. Giuliani illegally lobbied the Trump administration in 2019 on behalf of Ukrainian officials and oligarchs, who at the time were helping Mr. Giuliani search for damaging information on Mr. Trump’s political rivals, including Mr. Biden, who was then a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination.

F.B.I. agents also executed a search warrant on Wednesday morning at the Washington-area home of Victoria Toensing, a lawyer close to Mr. Giuliani who had dealings with several Ukrainians involved in the hunt for information on the Bidens, according to people with knowledge of that warrant. The warrant was for her cellphone.

Ms. Toensing, a former Justice Department official, has also represented Dmitry Firtash, a Ukrainian oligarch under indictment in the United States whose help Mr. Giuliani sought.

The investigation of Mr. Giuliani grew out of a case against two Soviet-born men who aided his mission in Ukraine to unearth damaging information about Mr. Biden and his son Hunter, who was on the board of an energy company there. Prosecutors charged the men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, and two others with unrelated crimes in 2019, and a trial is scheduled for October.

Prosecutors have examined, among other things, Mr. Giuliani’s potential business dealings in Ukraine and his role in pushing the Trump administration to oust the American ambassador to the country, a subject of testimony at Mr. Trump’s first impeachment trial.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Feds raid Rudy Giuliani’s home – and Donald Trump should be quaking in his boots, Bill Palmer, right, April 28, 2021. This morning the Feds raided Rudy Giuliani’s home in New York bill palmerCity and seized pretty much everything. They didn’t arrest him, but it’s now clear that that’s coming. This is not only bad news for Rudy, it’s bad news for Donald Trump.

Federal criminal investigations tend to take a very long time even when they remain active. But based on how the case against Rudy was reportedly heating up about a year and a half ago, only for nothing to happen since, it’s now clear that the case was on pause until Trump was gone – and now it’s back in action with a vengeance.

bill palmer report logo headerIt’s not clear if the case was on pause because the Feds wanted to wait until after Trump was out of position to pardon Giuliani, or if Bill Barr forced the Feds to put the case on ice. Either way, the New York Times says today’s raid is part of the same dirty foreign money case that the Feds have been building against Rudy since at least 2019.

Here’s the thing about today’s raid. The Feds would already need to have really damning evidence in hand against Giuliani in order to obtain this kind of search and seizure warrant. In other words, they’ve already got him nailed. In fact the Feds have likely already obtained external copies of much of Rudy’s electronic communications that were seized today; this is partially about seeing if he’s tried to destroy that evidence on this end, and whether they can nail him for obstruction, which is an way easy to force him to realize he needs to cut a deal.

rudy giuliani recentSo now Rudy Giuliani, right, whose home has just been raided, whose devices have just been seized, and who ostensibly has just enough lawyer marbles left to know that he’s headed to prison, has to make a decision whether to cut a deal against Trump. Giuliani is 76 years old and in visibly worsening cognitive health; if he goes to prison for any length of time it’ll be a de facto life sentence. His only chance of not going to prison is if he helps send Trump to prison.

Here’s another thing to consider. If Merrick Garland’s DOJ has decided to reactivate the criminal case against Rudy Giuliani, then it’s surely decided to actively pursue criminal cases against all of the Trump era henchmen. This comes shortly after the DOJ filed a multimillion dollar suit against Roger Stone. Are we supposed to believe that the DOJ is now pursuing all of Trump’s henchmen, but not pursuing Trump? It’s time for Trump to be quaking in his boots. This is in addition to the widely documented criminal cases against Trump in New York and Georgia

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump supporter found guilty of threatening to kill members of Congress after Jan. 6 insurrection, Shayna Jacobs, April 28, 2021. Brendan Hunt, an enthusiastic Trump supporter who called for killing members of Congress days after the Jan. 6 insurrection, was found guilty Wednesday of making a death threat against elected officials.

It took the jury in his case about three hours to reach a verdict, finding that comments Hunt, right, made in a disturbing video posted online two days after the U.S. Capitol riot amounted to a genuine threat to murder elected officials in Washington.

He faces up to 10 years in prison.

brendan huntThe jury also concluded that menacing social media posts Hunt made in 2020 — including one directed at Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), then the Senate minority leader, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) — did not rise to the level of criminality.

Trial opens for Trump supporter accused of threatening Democrats in case tied to Jan. 6 insurrection

Hunt, 37, was charged with one count of making a threat to assault and murder a United States official. He was arrested Jan. 19, a day before President Biden’s inauguration, after the FBI received a tip about his video, titled “KILL YOUR SENATORS: Slaughter them all.” The clip had been posted on BitChute, a hosting site popular with far-right conservatives, after the deadly riot in Washington.

The case centered on several disturbing social media posts and uploads that Hunt’s lawyers said were removed from the Internet before his arrest. The defense also argued that the elected officials he targeted were not aware of his comments at the time.

Hunt did not participate in the Capitol riot, nor did he contact their offices or tag the lawmakers’ social media accounts in any of his controversial posts, according to testimony and evidence.

“The fact that they didn’t see any of those posts because he aimed it at them, because he sent it to them, that’s reason to doubt,” Hunt’s attorney Leticia Olivera argued in summations.

Trump supporter argues alleged death threats against leading Democrats were fueled by pandemic boredom

Hunt’s prosecution in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn has been seen as a test of how far violent speech can go before it crosses a line into criminality. His lawyers argued that his comments, made from his Queens home, were constitutionally protected and that, while offensive, they were not legitimate threats.

Prosecutors said at the trial that Hunt’s remarks were specific. He offered detailed descriptions of how he wanted to end the lives of the people he claimed were complicit in “stealing” the election from former president Donald Trump. To support the case, the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn offered evidence that appeared to illustrate Hunt’s deeply rooted racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic beliefs.

Hunt took the witness stand in his defense Tuesday, telling the jury he was not to be taken seriously when he talked about gunning down elected officials. In his testimony, he said his comments were in line with “this sort of rhetoric going on at the time” on the Internet.

ny times logoNew York Times, Prosecutors Are Said to Have Sought Aggressive Approach to Capitol Riot Inquiry, Katie Benner, April 28, 2021 (print ed.). Their proposal was quashed amid concerns that it would violate First Amendment protections, people briefed on the plan said.

In the weeks after the deadly Capitol riot on Jan. 6, federal prosecutors in Washington devised a broad plan to root out possible conspirators, according to two people briefed on it: pull together the names of an array of people who may have known the assailants, and investigate them for ties to the attack.

Justice Department log circularThose lists, the prosecutors proposed, could include organizers of the rally where President Donald J. Trump spoke just before the assault, anyone who helped pay for rioters to travel to Washington and any member of the far-right extremist groups that were represented in the crowd that day.

Two of the prosecutors — trial lawyers leading the riot inquiry — presented the plan to the F.B.I. in late February, along with a document of about 25 pages that laid out the strategy with an eye toward uncovering possible conspiracies between the attackers and others, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an active investigation.The aggressive plan was in keeping with the Justice Department’s public vow to charge those who participated in the attack on the Capitol. But F.B.I. officials balked, citing concerns that the plan appeared to suggest investigating people without any evidence that they had committed crimes and that it violated bureau policy and First Amendment protections. It is not against the law to join organizations, including extremist groups, nor to participate in a protest or fund travel to a rally.

 F.B.I. officials expressed their concerns to officials in the main Justice Department in Washington, who ultimately quashed the plan.

Still, the decision by top F.B.I. and Justice Department officials to overrule task force prosecutors came at a crucial time for the high-profile, sprawling investigation as the public and Biden administration officials were demanding accountability for the riot and a push to combat domestic extremism.

Spokesmen for the Justice Department and the F.B.I. declined to comment.

The proposal also shows the balancing act that the newly confirmed leaders of the Justice Department face as they seek to counter domestic extremism and prevent terrorism without violating Americans’ civil liberties. The F.B.I. has previously faced criticism for its response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, aspects of which were condemned as an assault on civil liberties, and its Cointelpro campaign in the 1950s and 1960s to spy on civil rights leaders and others.

merrick garlandAttorney General Merrick B. Garland, right, said last week that even when he led the investigation into the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing during an earlier stint at the Justice Department, investigators were cognizant that they needed to ensure that Americans’ civil liberties were protected.

“We promised that we would find the perpetrators, that we would bring them to justice and that we would do so in a way that honored the Constitution,” Mr. Garland said.

F.B.I. officials have emphasized the bureau’s efforts to stay within its limits when investigating protected activity. While preventing terrorism in the United States is a priority, “no investigation can be opened based solely on First Amendment protected activity,” Michael McGarrity, then the head of the F.B.I.’s counterterrorism division, said in House testimony in 2019.

The bureau relies in large part on its vast network of informants, who provide tips and intelligence that can be used to open an investigation, current and former members of the F.B.I.’s Joint Terrorism Task Force said. But agents cannot investigate people simply because they are members of groups that espouse violent, racist or antigovernment ideologies.

Prosecutors in Washington ran up against that constraint as they sought to identify and track down people who had participated in the Jan. 6 attack. They were also investigating whether the assault was more than a spontaneous riot that broke out after an emotionally charged rally that was capped by Mr. Trump’s exhortations to his supporters to challenge Congress’s certification that afternoon of the election.

By February, some of the prosecutors began to express frustrations that they were being stymied by top Justice Department officials who were overseeing the inquiry in the weeks before Mr. Garland and other Biden appointees were sworn in.

The prosecutors had wanted to know more about who had been talking to Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers, a militia whose members have figured prominently in conspiracy cases charged by the government in connection with the attack.

In a message on the Oath Keepers’ website, Mr. Rhodes had urged members to come to Washington and “stand tall in support” of Mr. Trump. He was also part of an operation to provide security to Mr. Trump’s close associates, including Roger J. Stone Jr., who spoke at the rally that day.

Prosecutors wanted to obtain a search warrant for Mr. Rhodes. For years, militias like the Oath Keepers and far-right nationalist groups like the Proud Boys had managed to largely evade F.B.I. scrutiny, as their protests and other public activities stayed within the bounds of the law.

But with members of such groups at the Capitol on Jan. 6, some prosecutors expressed hope that they now had cause to investigate their associates and their leaders.

But the law does not prohibit urging people to attend a protest or to support a politician, even if the statements are provocative; and investigators did not find evidence that Mr. Rhodes had helped arrange anything more than bodyguards for the speakers.

Justice Department officials, including Michael R. Sherwin, an official who was overseeing the Jan. 6 inquiry at the time, denied prosecutors’ request to seek a search warrant for Mr. Rhodes, according to two people briefed on the deliberations. They concluded that the prosecutors lacked probable cause to do so without violating his civil liberties and rights

capitol richard barnett jim lo scalzo epa efe rex shutterstock

washington post logoWashington Post, Man photographed with foot on desk in Pelosi’s office released from jail pending trial in Jan. 6 Capitol riot, Spencer S. Hsu, April 28, 2021 (print ed.). A federal judge Tuesday ordered the release from jail pending trial of a man who was photographed with his foot on a desk in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office during the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, citing an appeals court decision making it harder to detain riot defendants not accused of violence.

Richard Barnett, 60, of Gravette, Ark., shown above in Pelosi's office, had been denied bond and jailed for nearly four months on charges including obstructing Congress, violent entry into the Capitol while armed with a stun gun and stealing a piece of government mail that he later displayed to media outlets.

Barnett also left a note that prosecutors said included an apparently misspelled expletive and read, “Hey Nancy, Bigo was here, b----,” though his defense disagrees about what the final word was.

Barnett was arrested on Jan. 8, and Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell of Washington, D.C., upheld his detention on Jan. 28, after he called himself a nationalist prepared for violent death and tried to get rid of his phone, clothes and guns anticipating investigators.

On March 26, however, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled in a case with similar circumstances in favor of a mother and son accused of bringing a stun gun into the Capitol during the riot. Like Barnett, the pair were not accused of other violence and challenged their pretrial detention.

The appeals court panel required judges to spell out the specific future danger posed by otherwise nonviolent defendants or those not involved in planning or coordinating events, saying but for the mob’s presence that day, such people “seemingly would have posed little threat.”

After Barnett filed a new motion for bond, his trial judge said at a hearing Tuesday there did not seem to be “a whole lot of daylight” between the two cases.

Man who posed at Pelosi desk said in Facebook post that he is prepared for violent death

U.S. District Judge Christopher R. “Casey” Cooper warned Barnett against drawing the wrong impression about how the judge might handle sentencing if Barnett pleads guilty or is convicted at trial.

“The notion that the events of Jan. 6 were a legitimate or excusable social protest against ruling elites or worse yet a reaction to some people in society feeling that they have been unfairly scapegoated for racism is, in a word, absurd,” Cooper said.

April 27

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump supporter argues alleged death threats against leading Democrats were fueled by pandemic boredom, Shayna Jacobs, April 27, 2021.A fervent supporter of former president Donald Trump on trial on charges of making death threats to prominent elected Democrats before and shortly after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol insisted Tuesday that his statements on social media and in private messages were not to be taken seriously.

brendan huntBrendan Hunt, right, blamed his comments on pandemic-induced boredom and depression when he took the witness stand to testify in his own defense in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn and was confronted by prosecutors with violent, racist and antisemitic statements that he argued did not reflect his beliefs.

Hunt’s case is seen as a test of how far violent speech can go before it is a crime and is no longer constitutionally protected as free speech. Hunt did not participate in the riot at the Capitol building, but he is one of hundreds of people charged by the Justice Department in response to the attack by Trump supporters.

Hunt was arrested Jan. 19 after a tipster called the FBI about one of his videos. He faces up to a decade in prison if convicted of making threats to assault and murder a United States official.

The 37-year-old Fordham University graduate, a onetime actor and amateur documentarian, said he was “lonely” and “isolated in my apartment” during quarantine and turned to frequent marijuana and alcohol use. Hunt, who had an administrative job in the New York state court system before his arrest, had been mostly working from home, according to his testimony.

Evidence in Trump supporter’s trial suggests he espoused Nazi ideals

Hunt said he was obsessively following news reports and “masking that frustration with a lot of drinking and smoking” when he demanded in a video that “patriots . . . put some bullets” in the heads of members of Congress, according to testimony.

April 20

washington post logoWashington Post, Watchdog nixed probes of Secret Service during Trump era, documents show, Carol D. Leonnig, April 20, 2021. Career staff in the agency had proposed investigations to scrutinize the handling of the George Floyd protests outside the White House in Lafayette Square and the spread of coronavirus in the ranks of agents.

secret service logoThe chief federal watchdog for the Secret Service blocked investigations proposed by career staff last year to scrutinize the agency’s handling of the George Floyd protests in Lafayette Square and the spread of the coronavirus in its ranks, according to documents and people with knowledge of his decisions.

Donald Trump (Defense Department photo by Dominique Pineiro)Both matters involved decisions by then-President Donald Trump that may have affected actions by the agency.

Joseph Cuffari, the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, rejected his staff’s recommendation to investigate what role the Secret Service played in the forcible clearing of protesters from Lafayette Square on June 1, according to internal documents and two people familiar with his decision, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the discussions.

After the sudden charge by police on the largely peaceful protesters, the Secret Service was able to move Trump to a church at the edge of the park, where the White House staged a photo opportunity for the president.

Cuffari also sought to limit — and then the office ultimately shelved — a probe into whether the Secret Service flouted federal protocols put in place to detect and reduce the spread of the coronavirus within its workforce, according to the records.

Hundreds of Secret Service officers were either infected with the coronavirus or had to quarantine after potential exposure last year as Trump continued to travel and hold campaign events during the pandemic.

DHS investigators argued that both investigations were essential to their office’s duty to hold the department and the Secret Service accountable, according to the people.

April 18

washington post logoWashington Post, Book Review: John Boehner on how Congress became ‘Crazytown,’ Kathy Kiely (Lee Hills chair in free press studies at the Missouri School of Journalism and member of the congressional Standing Committee of Correspondents), April 18, 2021 (print ed.). Most political memoirs these days are staid, buttoned-down affairs, written with an eye on a higher office or a place in history. Leave it to former House speaker John Boehner to drop the airbrush. “I was living in Crazytown,” Boehner writes of leading the House Republicans in the 2000s.

john boehner coverThe 71-year-old Ohio Republican’s autobiography, On the House, is already a talker, even before its publication. It’s got plenty of grist for Washington’s gossip mill — now-it-can-be-told tales and score-settling stories. More important, it’s an insider, as-it-happened account of a disturbing and still-unfinished chapter of American history.

Boehner’s more than three decades in public life coincide with his party’s rise to national majority status during the 1980s and ’90s — powered by Ronald Reagan’s takeover of one end of Pennsylvania Avenue and Newt Gingrich’s of the other — followed by its degeneration into a vehicle for White grievance that, as a clearly dismayed Boehner describes it in this unvarnished account, borders on the psychotic.

“I was living in Crazytown,” Boehner writes of his years leading the House Republicans in the 2000s. The House Republican Conference was “a clown car I was trying to drive.”

His party’s loss of the White House in 2008 only made things worse. “Every second of every day since Barack Obama became president, I was fighting one bats--- idea after another.”

There’s an odd and poignant disconnect between the book’s tone and its unsettling subtext. The voice is warm, engaging, occasionally profane — that of a guy who just plopped down on a bar stool next to you, fortified with a glass of his beloved merlot and an unfiltered Camel (both of which feature prominently in Boehner’s portrait on the cover of the book), to tell you about a bunch of interesting people, most of whom he genuinely likes, and an amazing career that he’s still pinching himself to make sure he really had.

It’s as if Boehner himself hasn’t quite processed the transformation of the sunny “morning in America” Republicans he joined in the 1980s into the dark conspiracy theorists who dog-whistled a mob to the Capitol on Jan. 6.

The former speaker doesn’t equivocate when it comes to laying the blame for that. Donald Trump “incited that bloody insurrection for nothing more than selfish reasons,” Boehner writes, adding, “It was especially sad to see some members of the House and Senate helping him.”

His assessments of other members of what he dubs “the Knucklehead caucus” are, if anything, more withering.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) is the “head lunatic.” Two House conservatives turned senior Trump administration officials, Mick Mulvaney and Mark Meadows, get lumped under the sobriquet “jackass.” Former congressman Steve King (R-Iowa), a leader of the GOP’s anti-immigrant wing, is “an a--hole.” Former michele bachmann w 1representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), right, now the dean of the school of government at Regent University, was “a kook” (whom, Boehner confides, he nonetheless steered to the House Intelligence Committee to keep her off the tax-writing Ways and Means panel). The false “birther” theories fomented about Obama by Republicans and conservative talk show hosts were “truly nutty.”

Boehner’s disdain for the ideological purists who took over his party and eventually drove him to resign the speakership and his House seat in 2015 is not exactly breaking news: He called for Trump to resign after the Jan. 6 putsch and rehearsed many of his book’s themes in a lengthy 2017 Politico Magazine interview with Tim Alberta, now with the Atlantic. Still, having his excoriating assessments collected between hard covers makes for a powerful indictment, the more so because Boehner’s book vividly captures the growing horror of a bartender’s kid who evolved from a reflexive Democrat to a Reagan Republican to a tea party whipping boy.

Boehner describes one trip he made to New York to meet with “my longtime friend, Roger Ailes.” He says he pleaded with the then-head of Fox News “to put a leash on some of the crazies he was putting on the air.” In response, he says, Ailes stunned him by sharing a series of complex conspiracy theories involving Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and the financier George Soros, and confiding that he had a “safe room” where the government couldn’t spy on him. “I walked out of the meeting in a daze,” Boehner writes.

Recalling his frantic efforts to round up enough Republicans to approve President George W. Bush’s emergency bailout bill in 2008, as the world teetered on the edge of financial collapse, Boehner says that too many of his colleagues “cared more about what Sean Hannity thought than the secretary of the Treasury.”

djt wind jim watson afp getty

ny times logoNew York Times, One America News Network Stays True to Trump, Rachel Abrams, April 18, 2021. To go by much of the right-wing channel’s reporting, it is almost as if a transfer of power had never taken place. A recent OAN segment said there were “serious doubts about who’s actually president,” and another blamed “anti-Trump extremists” for the Capitol attack.

Months after the inauguration of President Biden, One America News Network, a right-wing cable news channel available in some 35 million households, has continued to broadcast segments questioning the validity of the 2020 presidential election.

“There’s still serious doubts about who’s actually president,” the OAN correspondent Pearson Sharp said in a March 28 report.

That segment was one in a spate of similar reports from a channel that has become a kind of Trump TV for the post-Trump age, an outlet whose reporting has aligned with the former president’s grievances at a time when he is barred from major social media platforms.

Some of OAN’s coverage has not had the full support of the staff. In interviews with 18 current and former OAN newsroom employees, 16 said the channel had broadcast reports that they considered misleading, inaccurate or untrue.

To go by much of OAN’s reporting, it is almost as if a transfer of power had never taken place. The channel did not broadcast live coverage of Mr. Biden’s swearing-in ceremony and Inaugural Address. Into April, news articles on the OAN website consistently referred to Donald J. Trump as “President Trump” and to President Biden as just “Joe Biden” or “Biden.” That practice is not followed by other news organizations, including the OAN competitor Newsmax, a conservative cable channel and news site.

OAN has also promoted the debunked theory that the rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 were left-wing agitators. Toward the end of a March 4 news segment that described the attack as the work of “antifa” and “anti-Trump extremists” — and referred to the president as “Beijing Biden” — Mr. Sharp said, “History will show it was the Democrats, and not the Republicans, who called for this violence.” Investigations have found no evidence that people who identify with antifa, a loose collective of antifascist activists, were involved in the Capitol riot.

Charles Herring, the president of Herring Networks, the company that owns OAN, defended the reports casting doubt on the election. “Based on our investigations, voter irregularities clearly took place in the November 2020 election,” he said. “The real question is to what extent.”

Herring Networks was founded by Mr. Herring’s father, the tech entrepreneur Robert Herring, who at age 79 runs OAN with Charles and another son, Robert Jr. About 150 employees work for the channel at its headquarters in San Diego.

washington post logoWashington Post, How the Republican in charge of winning back the Senate is managing Trump — and his own ambitions, Mike DeBonis, April 18, 2021 (print ed.). When Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) handed former president Donald Trump the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s first-ever “Champion for Freedom Award” this month at Trump’s Palm Beach resort, it was a demonstration of Trump’s power inside the GOP, his importance to the party’s quest to win the Senate majority, and Scott’s own complicated role in between.

rick scottThe 68-year-old former businessman and two-term governor, right, rose to the key role of NRSC chairman just two years after winning a us senate logomassively expensive and razor-close race to join the Senate — and four years before a presidential race he is widely seen to be eyeing.

Just months into his tenure, Scott has undertaken a rapid effort to reorient the party committee toward small-dollar digital fundraising, hired some of Trump’s top campaign operatives, made a controversial decision not to support favored candidates in key primaries, and placed himself at the center of much of the group’s communications — to the point that some GOP operatives have privately snickered that NRSC now stands for the “National Rick Scott Committee.”

Scott has also assumed a role as an emissary from the Senate GOP leadership to Trump, who remains locked in a high-stakes feud with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s grip on GOP looms as support falters for independent probe of Capitol riot, Karoun Demirjian, April 18, 2021 (print ed.).Republicans are facing pressure to disavow that it was supporters of former president Donald Trump who attacked the U.S. Capitol.

Congress’s pursuit of an independent investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection is facing long odds, as bipartisan resolve to hold the perpetrators and instigators accountable erodes, and Republicans face sustained pressure to disavow that it was supporters of former president Donald Trump who attacked the U.S. djt maga hatCapitol.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced late last week that she had drafted a fresh proposal for an outside commission to examine what caused the deadly riot. But in a sign of how delicate the political climate has become, she has yet to share her recommendations with Republican leaders, who shot down her initial approach, labeling it too narrow in scope and too heavily weighted toward Democrats in composition.

“Compromise has been necessary,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to other Democrats, informing them she had begun to share her latest proposal with other Republicans in Congress. “It is my hope that we can reach agreement very soon.”

A spokesman for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) declined to comment on a proposal that the leader had not yet seen, adding that “hopefully the speaker has addressed our basic concerns of equal representation and subpoena authority.”

April 10

mike pence djt side by side

Associated Press, Investigation: ‘Clear the Capitol,’ Pence pleaded, timeline of riot shows, Lisa Mascarfo, Ben Fox and Lolita C. Baldor, April 10, 2021. From a secure room in the Capitol on Jan. 6, as rioters pummeled police and vandalized the building, Vice President Mike Pence tried to assert control. In an urgent phone call to the acting defense secretary, he issued a startling demand.

ap logo“Clear the Capitol,” Pence said.

Elsewhere in the building, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were making a similarly dire appeal to military leaders, asking the Army to deploy the National Guard.

“We need help,” Schumer, D-N.Y., said in desperation, more than an hour after the Senate chamber had been breached.

At the Pentagon, officials were discussing media reports that the mayhem was not confined to Washington and that other state capitals were facing similar violence in what had the makings of a national insurrection.

mark milley army chief of staff“We must establish order,” said Gen. Mark Milley, right, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a call with Pentagon leaders.

But order would not be restored for hours.

These new details about the deadly riot are contained in a previously undisclosed document prepared by the Pentagon for internal use that was obtained by The Associated Press and vetted by current and former government officials.

The timeline adds another layer of understanding about the state of fear and panic while the insurrection played out, and lays bare the inaction by then-President Donald Trump and how that void contributed to a slowed response by the military and law enforcement. It shows that the intelligence missteps, tactical errors and bureaucratic delays were eclipsed by the government’s failure to comprehend the scale and intensity of a violent uprising by its own citizens.

With Trump not engaged, it fell to Pentagon officials, a handful of senior White House aides, the leaders of Congress and the vice president holed up in a secure bunker to manage the chaos.

While the timeline helps to crystalize the frantic character of the crisis, the document, along with hours of sworn testimony, provides only an incomplete picture about how the insurrection could have advanced with such swift and lethal force, interrupting the congressional certification of Joe Biden as president and delaying the peaceful transfer of power, the hallmark of American democracy.

Lawmakers, protected to this day by National Guard troops, will hear from the inspector general of the Capitol Police this coming week.

“Any minute that we lost, I need to know why,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., chair of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, which is investigating the siege, said last month.

The timeline fills in some of those gaps.

At 4:08 p.m. on Jan. 6, as the rioters roamed the Capitol and after they had menacingly called out for Pelosi, D-Calif., and yelled for Pence to be hanged, the christopher miller official.jpgvice president was in a secure location, phoning Christopher Miller, left, the acting defense secretary, and demanding answers.

There had been a highly public rift between Trump and Pence, with Trump furious that his vice president refused to halt the Electoral College certification. Interfering with that process was an act that Pence considered unconstitutional. The Constitution makes clear that the vice president’s role in this joint session of Congress is largely ceremonial.

Pence’s call to Miller lasted only a minute. Pence said the Capitol was not secure and he asked military leaders for a deadline for securing the building, according to the document.

By this point it had already been two hours since the mob overwhelmed Capitol Police unprepared for an insurrection. Rioters broke into the building, seized the Senate and paraded to the House. In their path, they left destruction and debris. Dozens of officers were wounded, some gravely.

Just three days earlier, government leaders had talked about the use of the National Guard. On the afternoon of Jan. 3, as lawmakers were sworn in for the new session of Congress, Miller and Milley gathered with Cabinet members to discuss Jan. 6. They also met with Trump.

In that meeting at the White House, Trump approved the activation of the D.C. National Guard and also told the acting defense secretary to take whatever action needed as events unfolded, according to the information obtained by the AP.

The next day, Jan. 4, the defense officials spoke by phone with Cabinet members, including the acting attorney general, and finalized details of the Guard deployment.

The Guard’s role was limited to traffic intersections and checkpoints around the city, based in part on strict restrictions mandated by district officials. Miller also authorized Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy to deploy, if needed, the D.C. Guard’s emergency reaction force stationed at Joint Base Andrews.

Palmer Report, Opinion: “Clear the Capitol” – Trump busted after military leaders defied Mike Pence’s direct request for help, Bill Palmer, right, April 10, 2021. Today bill palmer report logo headerthe Associated Press bill palmerconfirmed in great detail what had already previously been vaguely reported elsewhere: Vice President Mike Pence directly called U.S. military leaders and instructed them to take control of the Capitol building during the January 6th attack, but they ignored him.

To be clear, the Vice President can’t give a formal order to the military; unless the President is unreachable or indisposed. But as a practical matter, U.S. military would never simply ignore an instruction from the Vice President, unless the President told them to ignore it.ap logoIn other words, this helps confirm that Donald Trump really did order U.S. military leaders to defy Mike Pence’s instructions to come rescue him – and only hours later did the military finally take action. This means that Trump actively worked to protect the insurrectionists inside the Capitol building, which makes him guilty of not just inciting the attack, but conspiring to commit it.

This scandal is just getting started, with hundreds of insurrectionists having been arrested, and some of them cutting plea deals, even as the low level leaders of the attack are now being hit with conspiracy charges. We expect these charges to continue to work their way all the way to the top of the hierarchy – meaning Donald Trump

April 9

 djt virus news conference nyt photo Custom

New disclosures from a U.S. House of Representatives probe reveal how Trump Administration political operatives helped suppress findings from career health officials about the dangers of the coronovirus, thereby helping Trump and his team orchestrate misleading public announcements and imagry, such as the White House news conference last year shown above assembling top health officials (New York Times photo).

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump officials celebrated efforts to change CDC reports on coronavirus, Dan Diamond, April 9, 2021. Even as career government scientists worked to combat the virus, a cadre of Trump appointees was trying to blunt the scientists’ messages, edit their findings and equip the president with alternate talking points, according to material obtained by the House’s select subcommittee on the outbreak.

cdc logo CustomTrump appointees in the Health and Human Services department last year privately touted their efforts to block or alter scientists’ hhs logoreports on the coronavirus to more closely align with then-President Donald Trump’s more optimistic messages about the outbreak, according to newly released documents from congressional investigators.

The documents provide further insight into how senior Trump officials approached last year’s explosion of coronavirus cases in the United States. Even as career government scientists worked to combat the virus, a cadre of Trump appointees were attempting toblunt the scientists’ messages, edit their findings and equip the president with an alternate set of talking points.

Then-science adviser Paul Alexander wrote to then-HHS public affairs chief Michael Caputo, left, on Sept. 9, 2020, touting two examples of where he said officials at michael caputothe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had bowed to his pressure and changed language in their reports, according to an email obtained by the House’s select subcommittee on the coronavirus outbreak.

Pointing to one change — where CDC leaders allegedly changed the opening sentence of a report about spread of the virus among younger people after Alexander pressured them — Alexander wrote to Caputo, calling it a “small victory but a victory nonetheless and yippee!!!”

In the same email, Alexander touted another example of a change to a weekly report from the CDC that he said the agency made in response to his demands. The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports (MMWR), which offer public updates on scientists’ findings, had been considered sacrosanct for decades and scott atlas resized untouchable by political appointees in the past.

Two days later, Alexander appealed to then-White House adviser Scott Atlas, right, to help him dispute an upcoming CDC report on coronavirus-related deaths among young Americans

washington post logoWashington Post, In new book, John Boehner says today’s GOP is unrecognizable to traditional conservatives, Paul Kane, Colby Itkowitz and Aaron Blake, April 9, 2021 (print ed.). John Boehner in a new memoir derides today’s Republican Party as unrecognizable to traditional conservatives like himself, held hostage by both former president Donald Trump and by a conservative media echo chamber that is based on creating “chaos” for its own financial needs.

john boehner coverThe former House speaker said that he was happy to be away from Washington on Jan. 20, 2017, when Trump was sworn in as president and completed his hostile takeover of the party to which the Ohio Republican had dedicated decades of his life.“That was fine by me because I’m not sure I belonged to the Republican Party he created,” Boehner writes in On the House: A Washington Memoir, set to be released Tuesday.

In the epilogue, Boehner flatly states that he is glad to be out of elective politics given the party’s sharp distancing from its onetime heroes.

“I don’t even think I could get elected in today’s Republican Party anyway. I don’t think Ronald Reagan could either,” he writes in the book, a full copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post.

The memoir, coming 5 1/2 years after he left Congress, serves as a rollicking, foul-mouthed recounting of Boehner’s 25 years on Capitol Hill, as well as his thoughts on the past, present and future of the GOP. Although he never held office during the Trump years, Boehner republican elephant logosets the stage for how the Republican Party ended up with the former real estate developer turned reality TV star as its standard-bearer.

Originally finished well before the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, as Congress certified President Biden’s victory, Boehner rewrote portions of the book djt hands up mouth open Customto forcefully blame Trump for what he called “a low point for our country” that left him on the verge of tears.“Trump incited that bloody insurrection for nothing more than selfish reasons, perpetuated by the b------- he’d been shoveling since he lost a fair election the previous November. He claimed voter fraud without any evidence,” Boehner writes.

He draws a direct line from anti-establishment lawmakers he dealt with last decade to Republicans in Congress who supported Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election: “The legislative terrorism that I’d witnessed as speaker had now encouraged actual terrorism.

ny times logoNew York Times, How a Defeated Trump Is Making a Muddle of the G.O.P., Jonathan Martin and Nicholas Fandos, April 9, 2021. Former President Trump’s instincts for red-meat political fights over governing have left party leaders in a state of confusion over what they stand for.President Donald Trump officialRepublican lawmakers are passing voting restrictions to pacify right-wing activists still gripped by former President Donald J. Trump’s lie that a largely favorable election was rigged against them. G.O.P. leaders are lashing out in Trumpian fashion at businesses, baseball and the news media to appeal to many of the same conservatives and voters. And debates over the size and scope of government have been overshadowed by the sort of culture war clashes that the tabloid king relished.

This is the party Mr. Trump has remade.

As G.O.P. leaders and donors gather for a party retreat in Palm Beach this weekend, with a side trip to Mar-a-Lago for a reception with Mr. Trump on Saturday night, the former president’s pervasive influence in Republican circles has revealed a party thoroughly animated by a defeated incumbent — a bizarre turn of events in American politics.

djt maga hatBarred from Twitter, quietly disdained by many Republican officials and reduced to receiving supplicants in his tropical exile in Florida, Mr. Trump has found ways to exert an almost gravitational hold on a leaderless party just three months after the assault on the Capitol that his critics hoped would marginalize the man and taint his legacy.

His preference for engaging in red-meat political fights rather than governing and policymaking have left party leaders in a state of confusion over what they stand for, even when it comes to business, which was once the business of Republicanism. Yet his single term has made it vividly clear what the far right stands against — and how it intends to go about waging its fights.

Having, quite literally, abandoned their traditional party platform last year to accommodate Mr. Trump, Republicans have organized themselves around opposition to the perceived excesses of the left and borrowed his scorched-earth tactics as they do battle. Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority leader, excoriated businesses this week for siding with Democrats on G.O.P.-backed voting restrictions, only to backpedal after seeming to suggest he wanted corporations out of politics entirely.

rnc logoThey are doing relatively little to present counterarguments to President Biden on the coronavirus response, his expansive social welfare proposals or, with the important exception of immigration, most any policy issue. Instead, Republicans are attempting to shift the debate to issues that are more inspiring, and unifying, within their coalition and could help them tar Democrats.

So Republicans have embraced fights over seemingly small-bore issues to make a larger argument: By emphasizing the withdrawal from publication of a handful of racially insensitive Dr. Seuss books; the rights of transgender people; and the willingness of large institutions or corporations like Major League Baseball and Coca-Cola to side with Democrats on voting rights, the right is attempting to portray a nation in the grip of elites obsessed with identity politics.

It’s a strikingly different approach from the last time Democrats had full control of government, in 2009 and 2010, when conservatives harnessed the Great Recession to stoke anger about President Barack Obama and federal spending on their way to sweeping midterm gains. But Mr. Biden, a white political veteran, is not much of a foil for the party’s far-right base and is unlikely to grow more polarizing with the country at large.

Probes Of Trump Associates

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), center, in a 2017 Facebook photo with friends and fellow ardent Trump supporters Roger Stone and Joel Greenberg, the latter a former Florida tax collector now facing trial on multiple federal felony charges alleging sex trafficking.

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), center, in a 2017 Facebook photo with friends and fellow ardent Trump supporters Roger Stone and Joel Greenberg, the latter a former Florida tax collector now facing trial on multiple federal felony charges alleging sex trafficking.

washington post logoWashington Post, Gaetz associate likely to strike plea deal with prosecutors in sex trafficking case, Barbara Liston and Matt Zapotosky, April 9, 2021 (print ed.). An associate of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) who had been charged with sex trafficking of a minor and was suspected of connecting the congressmen to women with whom he could have sex is in plea negotiations to resolve the allegations against him, according to his lawyer and a prosecutor on the case, a potentially ominous sign for Gaetz if the associate ultimately cooperates with prosecutors in a bid for leniency.

joel greenberg seminole county tax collectorJoel Greenberg, right, the former tax collector for Seminole County, Fla., had first been charged last summer in a bare-bones indictment that prosecutors repeatedly superseded to add charges of sex trafficking of a minor, stealing from the tax office and even trying to use fraud to get covid-19 relief money while out on bond. In the course of the investigation into his conduct, people familiar with the matter have said, federal authorities came across evidence that Gaetz might have committed a crime and launched a separate investigation into him.

At a status conference in the case Thursday, federal prosecutor Roger Handberg told a judge he expected the case to end in a plea, though negotiations are ongoing. Fritz Scheller, an attorney for Greenberg, asked the judge to set a deadline of May 15 for the two sides to either reach a deal, or move toward a trial in the summer.

It was not immediately clear how far the negotiations had gotten, or to what extent a plea agreement would require Greenberg to cooperate with investigators. If matt gaetz officialprosecutors were to get Greenberg on their side as a cooperator, it is possible he could help bolster the case against Gaetz, a higher-profile target. A person who pleads guilty in a criminal case can often lessen their potential penalty by providing information that might be helpful to investigators in other matters.

Gaetz, left, known for his fierce allegiance to former president Donald Trump, would boast to people in Florida politics that he met women through Greenberg, and he also showed them videos on his phone of naked or topless women on multiple occasions, including at parties with Greenberg, people familiar with the matter have said.

Greenberg had been a colorful political player in Seminole County, where he unseated a longtime incumbent in the race for tax collector, won a political battle to allow his deputies to carry guns on the job and flaunted his connections to prominent Republicans.

A 2019 photograph that Greenberg posted on Twitter shows him with Gaetz at the White House. He also posted a picture in 2017 of him with Gaetz and Roger Stone, another well-known Trump political ally.

Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL), shown at left above, mocked coronavirus prevention measures last year by wearing a gas mask last year on Capitol Hill.Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL), shown at left above, mocked coronavirus prevention measures last year by wearing a gas mask last year on Capitol Hill.

ny times logoNew York Times, Another aide to Matt Gaetz is said to have quit amid an intensifying Justice Department investigation, Nicholas Fandos and Catie Edmondson, April 9, 2021 (print ed.). A second senior aide to Representative Matt Gaetz quit amid a widening Justice Department inquiry. A second senior aide to Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, abruptly quit in recent days as the congressman tries to fend off a Justice Department sex trafficking investigation and mounting public scrutiny, according to three people familiar with the decision.

The aide, Devin Murphy, resigned as Mr. Gaetz’s legislative director on Friday. He told associates that he was interested in writing bills, not working at TMZ — equating the work that Mr. Gaetz’s aides were now handling to the tabloid publication, according to one of the people, who all asked not to be identified discussing a sensitive personnel matter.

His departure last week came hours after Mr. Gaetz’s communications director, Luke Ball, also resigned. They were among the most senior members of the congressman’s staff in Washington and their exits suggest that even as he vows to remain in the House, Mr. Gaetz may be facing a hollowing-out of his support team.

Mr. Murphy, who had worked for Mr. Gaetz since he came to Congress in 2017, declined to comment on Thursday, but his LinkedIn page recorded that he left his position this month. The congressman’s office also declined to comment. One of the people who confirmed Mr. Murphy’s departure said the parting had not been contentious.

Mr. Gaetz faced another setback on Thursday when lawyers for the government and a key ally ensnared in the scandal, Joel Greenberg, said in court that he was likely to plead guilty, indicating he could cooperate with investigators. The Justice Department is scrutinizing whether Mr. Greenberg and Mr. Gaetz ran afoul of federal sex trafficking laws by paying women for sex and having sex with a 17-year-old girl in exchange for something of value.

With few outside allies coming to his defense, Mr. Gaetz’s office issued a statement on Thursday from women who work for him extolling his respect for them. It was signed simply “The Women of the Office of U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz,” without any named signatories.

“Congressman Gaetz has always been a principled and morally grounded leader,” it said. “At no time has any one of us experienced or witnessed anything less than the utmost professionalism and respect. No hint of impropriety. No ounce of untruthfulness.”

Citing media reports about the Justice Department inquiry, the statement said the women “uniformly reject these allegations as false.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: House Republican Adam Kinzinger stomps on Matt Gaetz, Bill Palmer, April 8, 2021. If the Republican Party were still functioning on any level, it would have called on Congressman Matt Gaetz to resign last week, so it could argue to voters in the middle that it took swift action against him. Instead the House Republican leadership has spent the past week hemming and hawing and trying to pretend Gaetz didn’t exist. Now that the details of the scandal have gotten even uglier, the GOP has missed its opportunity to score any points.

bill palmer report logo headerBut even as the Republican leadership continues to act like none of this is happening, House Republican Adam Kinzinger is now calling for adam kinzinger headshotMatt Gaetz to resign. Kinzinger is notable in that he also voted to impeach Trump, and has taken other stands against his party.

We’re not surprised that Kinzinger, right, is doing this; he appears to have decided awhile ago that he’s just going to do whatever he wants, and he doesn’t care what Republican leadership thinks of him. But it’s truly embarrassing for the Republican Party that Kinzinger is calling for Matt Gaetz’s ouster before anyone in the Republican leadership is.

washington post logoWashington Post, Manhattan district attorney seizes evidence from Trump executive’s former daughter-in-law, Shayna Jacobs and David A. Fahrenthold, April 9, 2021 (print ed.). The move by District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. appears to be the latest sign that Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg has become a key focus of the criminal probe into Donald Trump’s financial dealings.

Investigators from the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, acting on a grand jury subpoena, took possession of financial records Thursday morning from the apartment of Jennifer Weisselberg, the former daughter-in-law of a top Trump Organization officer.

allen weisselberg croppedJennifer Weisselberg was married to Barry Weisselberg — the son of Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, right, — from 2004 to 2018. She has previously said that she had seven boxes of financial records from both her ex-husband and his father, some of which were obtained through divorce litigation. On Thursday, she loaded three boxes and a laptop computer onto a valet cart and wheeled them from her building to a black Jeep with dark-tinted windows that was waiting outside.

In Trump probe, Manhattan district attorney puts pressure on his longtime chief financial officer

The move by District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. appears to be the latest sign that Allen Weisselberg, the company’s highest-ranking corporate officer who is not a member of the Trump family, is a key focus of the ongoing criminal probe into former president Donald Trump’s financial dealings.

The subpoena, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, ordered Jennifer Weisselberg to produce all of the records she possesses for her ex-husband’s bank accounts and credit cards plus his statements of net worth and tax filings. Barry Weisselberg is a Trump Organization employee and manages an ice rink for the company in Manhattan’s Central Park. The subpoena asks specifically for records related to the Trump Organization and Wollman Rink.

“My knowledge of the documents and my voice connect the flow of money from various banks and from personal finances that bleed directly into the Trump Organization,” she said in an interview Thursday. Investigators, she added, now have her ex-husband’s 2019 and 2020 statements of net worth, his tax returns and copies of Wollman Rink checks from private events that she claims were deposited incorrectly.

She has said previously that the documents that were in her possession showed transactions in bank accounts controlled by Barry and Allen Weisselberg jointly.

Manhattan prosecutor hires forensic accounting experts as Trump criminal probe escalates

Vance (D) and New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) — running parallel investigations — have inquired about whether Allen Weisselberg or his son received untaxed benefits from the Trump Organization. Jennifer Weisselberg has previously said, for example, that her family received free use of Trump Organization apartments in Manhattan. Tax experts say that, in some instances, free housing must be counted as “income” for tax purposes. Jennifer Weisselberg has said it was not in this case.

“Jennifer is committed to cooperating with prosecutors, and turning over any documents in her possession that might be helpful,” said Duncan Levin, an attorney for Jennifer Weisselberg. A former prosecutor in the district attorney’s office, Levin has also represented Harvey Weinstein and Seagram’s heiress Clare Bronfman. “At this point,” he added, “she’s given them everything they’ve asked for. But we’re continuing to review documents, and may have supplemental documents to give” later.

washington post logoWashington Post, Video shows Texas GOP official seeking ‘army’ of volunteers to monitor polls in mostly Black and Hispanic Houston precincts, Teo Armus and Derek Hawkins, April 9, 2021 (print ed.). In a leaked video of a recent presentation, a man who identifies himself as a GOP official in Harris County, Tex., says the party needs 10,000 Republicans for an “election integrity brigade” in Houston.

republican elephant logoThen he pulls up a map of the area’s voting precincts and points to Houston’s dense, racially diverse urban core, saying the party specifically needed volunteers with “the confidence and courage to come down here,” adding, “this is where the fraud is occurring.”

texas mapThe official cites widespread vote fraud, which has not been documented in Texas, as driving the need for an “army” of poll watchers to monitor voters at every precinct in the county.

Now the government accountability group Common Cause Texas — which published the footage Thursday — is raising the alarm that such an effort could instead serve to intimidate and suppress voters in metro Houston.

“It’s very clear that we’re talking about recruiting people from the predominantly Anglo parts of town to go to Black and Brown neighborhoods,” Anthony Gutierrez, the group’s executive director, told The Washington Post.

“This is a role that’s supposed to do nothing but stand at a poll site and observe,” he added. So “why is he suggesting someone needs to be ‘courageous’?” Gutierrez asked.

ny times logobrian kemp 2019 CustomNew York Times, How Brian Kemp Is Rebounding Against Trump’s Wrath, Lisa Lerer and Reid J. Epstein, April 8, 2021. Gov. Brian Kemp, right, resisted Donald Trump’s demand to overturn Georgia’s election results. He’s embraced the new voting bill as a way to rebuild his standing.

 

April 8

Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL), shown at left above, mocked coronavirus prevention measures last year by wearing a gas mask last year on Capitol Hill.Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL), shown at left above, mocked coronavirus prevention measures last year by wearing a gas mask last year on Capitol Hill.

Proof via Substack, Investigation: Six Compelling Pieces of Evidence Suggesting Matt Gaetz Was Concerned About Insurrection Planning, Not Sex Trafficking, seth abramson headshotWhen He Sought a Blanket Pardon From Trump, Seth Abramson, left, April 7, 2021. The NYT's theory of Gaetz's unprecedented proposal—taken, the paper concedes, from "Trump associates"—doesn't add up.

seth abramson proof logoAnd it may hide Gaetz's darker motives.Yesterday (April 6), the New York Times issued a stunning report alleging that Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), arguably former president Donald Trump’s most sycophantic congressional ally, asked the then-president for an unprecedented “blanket pardon” in the waning days of the Trump presidency. But behind this excellent reporting by the Times lies a significant journalistic error.

washington post logoWashington Post, Manhattan district attorney seizes evidence from Trump executive’s former daughter-in-law, Shayna Jacobs and David A. Fahrenthold, April 8, 2021. The move by District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. appears to be the latest sign that Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg has become a key focus of the criminal probe into Donald Trump’s financial dealings.

Investigators from the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, acting on a grand jury subpoena, took possession of financial records Thursday morning from the apartment of Jennifer Weisselberg, the former daughter-in-law of a top Trump Organization officer.

allen weisselberg croppedJennifer Weisselberg was married to Barry Weisselberg — the son of Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, right, — from 2004 to 2018. She has previously said that she had seven boxes of financial records from both her ex-husband and his father, some of which were obtained through divorce litigation. On Thursday, she loaded three boxes and a laptop computer onto a valet cart and wheeled them from her building to a black Jeep with dark-tinted windows that was waiting outside.

In Trump probe, Manhattan district attorney puts pressure on his longtime chief financial officer

The move by District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. appears to be the latest sign that Allen Weisselberg, the company’s highest-ranking corporate officer who is not a member of the Trump family, is a key focus of the ongoing criminal probe into former president Donald Trump’s financial dealings.

The subpoena, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, ordered Jennifer Weisselberg to produce all of the records she possesses for her ex-husband’s bank accounts and credit cards plus his statements of net worth and tax filings. Barry Weisselberg is a Trump Organization employee and manages an ice rink for the company in Manhattan’s Central Park. The subpoena asks specifically for records related to the Trump Organization and Wollman Rink.

“My knowledge of the documents and my voice connect the flow of money from various banks and from personal finances that bleed directly into the Trump Organization,” she said in an interview Thursday. Investigators, she added, now have her ex-husband’s 2019 and 2020 statements of net worth, his tax returns and copies of Wollman Rink checks from private events that she claims were deposited incorrectly.

She has said previously that the documents that were in her possession showed transactions in bank accounts controlled by Barry and Allen Weisselberg jointly.

Manhattan prosecutor hires forensic accounting experts as Trump criminal probe escalates

Vance (D) and New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) — running parallel investigations — have inquired about whether Allen Weisselberg or his son received untaxed benefits from the Trump Organization. Jennifer Weisselberg has previously said, for example, that her family received free use of Trump Organization apartments in Manhattan. Tax experts say that, in some instances, free housing must be counted as “income” for tax purposes. Jennifer Weisselberg has said it was not in this case.

“Jennifer is committed to cooperating with prosecutors, and turning over any documents in her possession that might be helpful,” said Duncan Levin, an attorney for Jennifer Weisselberg. A former prosecutor in the district attorney’s office, Levin has also represented Harvey Weinstein and Seagram’s heiress Clare Bronfman. “At this point,” he added, “she’s given them everything they’ve asked for. But we’re continuing to review documents, and may have supplemental documents to give” later.

April 4

Mediaite, Trump Biographer Says ‘Needy’ Former President Is Entering His ‘Fat Elvis’ Period, Josh Feldman, April 4, 2021. CNN’s Jim Acosta mocked former djt golf shirt march 14 2021President Donald Trump on Sunday over his very on-brand Easter messages and recent role as a wedding crasher.

In statements over the weekend, Trump made his usual complaints and false claims about the election, appended with brief “Happy Easter” messages.

Acosta brought on Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio to talk about the former president being a “wedding crasher” using occasions like wedding (illustrated by a photo at right on March 14) and Easter Sunday to “air his grievances.”

D’Antonio said Trump is basically an aging comedian recycling old material, telling Acosta, “We have to suffer through the same nonsense over and over again. And as you said, you do hate to hear it, because at least technically speaking he’s a former president.”

At one point Acosta brought up what several former presidents have done in their post-presidency’s, to ask if Trump is filling his need of “they like me, they really, really like me.”

D’Antonio said Trump is “very needy” and the wedding video showed him “really begging for people to applaud.”

April 3

Proof via Substack, Investigation: A Comprehensive Guide to Those Responsible for the January 6 Insurrection, Seth Abramson, left, April 3, 2021 (excerpted below to about one-fourth published length). This primer also explains, in seth abramson headshotdetail, how and seth abramson proof logowhy the attack on the Capitol occurred.

The Department of Justice calls the FBI investigation into the January 6 assault on the United States Capitol one of the largest criminal probes in American history. One of the reasons the investigation is so historically vast and complex is that it encompasses five discrete yet overlapping classes of potential criminal defendants.

This article details those five classes, establishes the key intersections between each, identifies a small number of key events in the lead-up to the insurrection, and presents an overarching narrative—confirmed by both testimonial and documentary evidence—of how the insurrection occurred.

The Five Classes of Insurrectionists

Paramilitaries: The Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, Boogaloo Bois, QAnoners, and 8kun (an online community of trolls) all had a significant presence at the Capitol on January 6, as well as a patchwork of lesser-known entities that included smaller white supremacist organizations, militias, independently operating trolls from the internet, and heterogeneous breeds of conspiracy theorist.

Grassroots Organizations: This category includes at least six grassroots organizations (Stop the Steal, Women for Trump, Latinos for Trump, Students for Trump, Jericho March, and Women for America First, this last an outgrowth of Women for Trump) as well as a number of pro-Trump PACs or nonprofits (among them Save America PAC, America First Policies, and the Council for National Policy) that were involved in planning, funding, promoting, and/or coordinating the events of January 6.

The Trump Campaign: Officially, the 2020 Trump campaign began dissolving shortly after the 2020 election, but a sufficient number of loyalists and dead-enders remained to seek to assist Trump in overturning the November election. Many of these individuals had longstanding ties to the Trump family, the Trump administration, or a past Trump political campaign.

Independent Agitators and Enablers: Trump’s brand of personal and professional corruption has always attracted a bizarre swarm of persons that includes dissolute grifters, deranged ideologues, and foreign agents—essentially, unscrupulous but sufficiently well-resourced people who see in Trump a means of advancing their fringe designs with relative impunity.

Members of Congress: Trump’s GOP allies in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives did not directly participate in the January 6 insurrection, but nevertheless issued public rhetoric and engaged in actions in their official capacity as members of Congress that helped inspire the false belief that the 2020 election had been stolen—and that with sufficient pressure on Congress on and before January 6, the election result might be overturned. Many individuals listed below attended pre-January 6 strategy sessions with the president and his top advisers, while other spoke at Stop the Steal events and (in a few rare instances) arguably directly incited violence with their irresponsible rhetoric.

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

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

April 2

washington post logoWashington Post, Oath Keepers founder, associates exchanged 19 calls from start of Jan. 6 riot through breach, prosecutors allege, Spencer S. Hsu, April 2, 2021 (print ed.). An new indictment adds two more people to a conspiracy case that now has 12 defendants. Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes has not been charged.

Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, his deputy and three members who guarded Roger Stone exchanged nearly 20 phone calls over three hours on Jan. 6, coinciding with the first assault on police barricades protecting the U.S. Capitol and spanning the time the three members breached the building, prosecutors charged Thursday.

In a new indictment adding previously charged Stone guards Joshua James, 33, of Arab, Ala., and Roberto Minuta, 36, of Prosper, Tex., to an Oath Keepers conspiracy case that now has 12 defendants, prosecutors bluntly laid a path to Rhodes and a person they said he put in charge of his group’s operations that day.

Prosecutors identified that individual only as “Person 10.” Rhodes in interviews has said he tapped a former Army explosives expert and Blackwater contractor nicknamed “Whip” as on-the-ground team leader.

Neither Rhodes nor Person 10, who has not been publicly identified, has been charged or accused of wrongdoing. Efforts by The Washington Post to reach a person matching Rhodes’s description of “Whip” were unsuccessful. The 12 co-defendants face charges of conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding, which carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

James, Minuta and two others have not entered pleas, while eight have pleaded not guilty.

April 1

ny times logoNew York Times, N.Y. Seeks Trump Insider’s Records, in Apparent Bid to Gain Cooperation, Ben Protess, William K. Rashbaum, Jonah E. Bromwich and Maggie Haberman, April 1, 2021 (print ed.). State prosecutors in Manhattan subpoenaed the personal bank records of the Trump Organization’s longtime C.F.O. and are scrutinizing gifts he received from the former president.

allen weisselberg croppedState prosecutors in Manhattan investigating former President Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization have subpoenaed the personal bank records of the company’s chief financial officer and are questioning gifts he and his family received from Mr. Trump, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

In recent weeks, the prosecutors have trained their focus on the executive, Allen H. Weisselberg, in what appears to be a determined effort to gain his cooperation. Mr. Weisselberg, who has not been accused of wrongdoing, has overseen the Trump Organization’s finances for decades and may hold the key to any possible criminal case in New York against the former president and his family business.

Prosecutors working for the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., are examining, among other things, whether Mr. Trump and the company falsely manipulated property values to obtain loans and tax benefits.

It is unclear whether Mr. Weisselberg would cooperate with the investigation and neither his lawyer, Mary E. Mulligan, nor Mr. Vance’s office would comment. But if a review of his personal finances were to uncover possible wrongdoing, prosecutors could then use that information to press Mr. Weisselberg to guide them through the inner workings of the company. The 73-year-old accountant began his career working for Mr. Trump’s father.

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Oath Keepers Stormed the Capitol in Stolen Golf Carts: Indictment, Rachel Olding, April 1, 2021. As they prepared to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6, members of the Oath Keepers militia “prepared themselves for battle” by donning ballistic vests, goggles, helmets, radios and camo gear, prosecutors say. But some members picked unusual vehicles to transport them to the battlefront: stolen golf carts.

In a superseding indictment that accuses several Oath Keepers of conspiring together to breach the Capitol, prosecutors say Robert Minuta, Joshua James, and other militia members swerved around police cars as they rode two stolen buggies towards the Capitol.

“Patriots are storming the Capitol building, there’s violence against patriots by the D.C. police; so we’re en route in a grand theft auto golf cart to the Capitol building right now,” Minuta said, according to the indictment. “It’s literally going down right now.... fucking war in the street.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Four killed, including child, in shooting at Southern California office building, police say, Meghann Cuniff and Teo Armus, April 1, 2021 (print ed.). Police in Orange, Calif., said one additional victim was in critical condition. A suspect was taken into custody.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: What the hardworking women at massage businesses do for the people who know them best, Arthur Tam, April 1, 2021 (print ed.). Arthur Tam is a journalist based in the United States and a former editor at Time Out Hong Kong and Cedar Hong Kong.

As a teenager, I frequently complained about muscle aches. My mother’s immediate instinct was to set up weekly appointments for me to see Alice — a plump, middle-aged Taiwanese acupressurist and qi gong practitioner with bearlike strength and a full head of grey hair. Her long, peppery locks, I was told, were the result of years of lending her qi — her life force — to heal others.

I didn’t believe much in this Chinese philosophy of qi transfer, but nevertheless, Alice worked her magic on me. When she first pressed her hands deep into my muscles, I felt an initial jolt of pain. But then the pain turned into relief and my spirit revitalized. In borrowing some of her strength, I regained mine. Afterward, Alice would sometimes put me in a rice vinegar steam bath to soothe my body and flush out any remaining toxins from my muscles. I ended up smelling like a pickle, but the results were worth it.

Alice was a true entrepreneur. She started her business in her home in the San Gabriel Valley in California, and operated it there until her clientele grew. She became so sought after that she moved her practice into an office space and was able to afford a house for her nephews, who had come to the United States to study. Her own son would go into the family trade and take on additional clients his mother didn’t have time for. It was the American dream: a grandmother transcending her limited English to use her knowledge and experience in a way that benefited herself, her family and her community.

That’s what I want people to think about when they contemplate Asian-owned massage businesses and Asian massage workers. And that’s why when I read about the Atlanta spa shootings and learned about the identity of the victims, I felt the anguish of a crucial connection severed.

Like Alice, these hardworking women, matriarchs and providers, channeled their immigrant grit and determination in their unglamorous workplace.

But that wasn’t the story that initially emerged in the media, in part because the alleged killer spoke about his motivation before all of his victims’ families had been informed and their names released to the public. Because the alleged shooter described himself as having a “sex addiction” and described the businesses he targeted as a source of temptation, too many people assumed that the businesses he targeted were vice-ridden dens.

While it is true that two of the spas were targeted in police prostitution stings, the last such arrest happened in 2013. Jumping to the conclusion that Asian-owned spas provide cover for sex work not only ignores studies that suggest workers are sexually victimized by customers, but reflects the double standards immigrants face all too often.

 

March 2021

March 30

 

djt virus news conference nyt photo Custom

This photo from last year shows President Trump at center, with Vice President Pence and Dr. Deborah Birx directly behind, leading a news conference about the virus and touting the administration's efforts to curtail it and keep workplaces, schools and other venues open.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump officials say coronavirus response was worse than known, Dan Diamond, March 30, 2021 (print ed.). 'That’s what bothers me every day’: Birx and others admit failures that hampered the White House response.

Several top doctors in the Trump administration offered their most pointed and direct criticism of the government response to coronavirus last year, with one of them arguing that hundreds of thousands of covid-19 deaths could have been prevented.

CNNThey also admitted their own missteps as part of a CNN special that aired Sunday night, saying that some Trump administration statements the White House fiercely defended last year were misleading or outright falsehoods.

“When we said there were millions of tests available, there weren’t, right?” said Brett Giroir, who served as the nation’s coronavirus testing czar, referencing the administration’s repeated claims in March 2020 that anyone who sought a coronavirus test could get one. “There were components of the test available, but not the full meal deal.”

“People really believed in the White House that testing was driving cases, rather than testing was a way for us to stop cases,” said Deborah Birx, who served as White House coronavirus coordinator. Birx also said that most of the virus-related deaths in the United States after the first 100,000 in the spring surge could have been prevented with a more robust response. “That’s what bothers me every day,” she said.

deborah birx djt white house photo croppedCNN’s special with Giroir, Birx (shown at right speaking last year at a White House news conference flanked by Trump and fellow advisor Anthony Fauci) and four other senior physicians was pitched as a tell-all with former Trump officials, who are increasingly speaking out about what went wrong after more than 400,000 people in the United States died with the virus during the Trump administration. An additional 130,000-plus have died of covid-19 since President Biden’s inauguration, according to data compiled by The Washington Post

scott atlas resized But the finger-pointing and portrayals of some episodes prompted critics to say that former Trump administration officials who managed the pandemic response have turned to a new project: managing their legacies. Shown above left, Trump advisor Scott Atlas, who minimized dangers from the virus and advocated the economic and political advantages of keeping businesses and schools open.

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Matt Gaetz Is Said to Be Investigated Over Possible Sexual Relationship With a Girl, 17, Michael S. Schmidt and Katie Benner, March 30, 2021. An inquiry into the Florida congressman was opened in the final months of the Trump administration, people briefed on it said.

matt gaetz o CustomRepresentative Matt Gaetz, right, Republican of Florida and a close ally of former President Donald J. Trump, is being investigated by the Justice Department over whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him, according to three people briefed on the matter.

Investigators are examining whether Mr. Gaetz violated federal sex trafficking laws, the people said. A variety of federal statutes make it illegal to induce someone under 18 to travel over state lines to engage in sex in exchange for money or something of value. The Justice Department regularly prosecutes such cases, and offenders often receive severe sentences.

Justice Department log circularIt was not clear how Mr. Gaetz met the girl, believed to be 17 at the time of encounters about two years ago that investigators are scrutinizing, according to two of the people.

The investigation was opened in the final months of the Trump administration under Attorney General William P. Barr, below right,l the two people said. Given Mr. Gaetz’s national profile, senior Justice Department officials in Washington — including some appointed by Mr. Trump — william barr new owere notified of the investigation, the people said.

The three people said that the examination of Mr. Gaetz, 38, is part of a broader investigation into a political ally of his, a local official in Florida named Joel Greenberg, who was indicted last summer on an array of charges, including sex trafficking of a child and financially supporting people in exchange for sex, at least one of whom was an underage girl.

Mr. Greenberg, who has since resigned his post as tax collector in Seminole County, north of Orlando, visited the White House with Mr. Gaetz in 2019, according to a photograph that Mr. Greenberg posted on Twitter.

No charges have been brought against Mr. Gaetz, and the extent of his criminal exposure is unclear.

republican elephant logoMr. Gaetz said in an interview that his lawyers had been in touch with the Justice Department and that they were told he was the subject, not the target, of an investigation. “I only know that it has to do with women,” Mr. Gaetz said. “I have a suspicion that someone is trying to recategorize my generosity to ex-girlfriends as something more untoward.”

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment, as did a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Central Florida.

Mr. Greenberg pleaded not guilty last year and was sent to jail this month for violating the terms of his bail. He is scheduled to go on trial in June in Orlando.

A frequent presence on Fox News and other conservative media, Mr. Gaetz has recently mused with confidants about quitting elected politics and taking a full-time job with the conservative television channel Newsmax or another network, according to a person familiar with the conversations. Axios first reported on Tuesday that Mr. Gaetz was considering leaving Congress.

Matt Gaetz, center, Roger Stone, left, and Joel Greenberg in a 2017 Facebook photo.

Mr. Greenberg maintained ties to controversial figures who have supported Mr. Trump, an examination of court records, social media posts and far-right websites showed. A website run by a member of the far-right group the Proud Boys and a network of fake social media accounts linked to Mr. Trump’s longtime political adviser Roger J. Stone Jr. have promoted false accusations about Mr. Greenberg’s rivals similar to rumors that prosecutors accused Mr. Greenberg of secretly trying to spread.

It was not clear how Mr. Greenberg (shown at right in the photo adjoining) knew either Mr. Gaetz (shown at center) or Mr. Stone (shown at left). He posted a selfie with both in 2017 (shown at left), tweeting, “Great catching up.” The following year, Mr. Gaetz  expressed support for Mr. Greenberg’s successful bid for local office, predicting he would someday make a great member of Congress.

On Capitol Hill, Mr. Gaetz has embraced the role of villain to the left as much as he has served as one of Mr. Trump’s staunchest defenders and enablers, often with theatrical flair. He wore a gas mask on the House floor last year in the early days of the pandemic, insisting he was demonstrating concern for public safety amid accusations he was mocking the seriousness of the spread of the coronavirus.

Mr. Gaetz was first elected to Congress in 2016. As a member of the Florida State Legislature and the scion of a Republican political family, he had initially backed former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida in the Republican presidential primary that year before hitching his political fortunes to Mr. Trump.

It paid off. He won a seat in Congress representing part of the Florida Panhandle, and as one of Mr. Trump’s most flamboyant supporters on Capitol Hill and on cable television, his profile skyrocketed.

Mr. Gaetz invited a right-wing Holocaust skeptic to the State of the Union address in 2018, and attended an event last year where he said the Proud Boys had provided security, though he has distanced himself from the group on his podcast. When Democrats moved in 2019 to impeach Mr. Trump for the first time, Mr. Gaetz and a phalanx of Republicans following him barged past Capitol Police into the secure rooms of the House Intelligence Committee to briefly break up the investigation into the president.

After Mr. Trump’s defeat last year, Mr. Gaetz once again rallied to his side, defending the president’s baseless claims of widespread election fraud. Mr. Gaetz helped organize efforts among lawmakers to challenge President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory during Congress’s certification of it on Jan. 6 that was disrupted for hours by a pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol. Mr. Gaetz later traveled to Wyoming to hold a rally against Representative Liz Cheney, a Republican leader who had voted to impeach Mr. Trump for inciting the riot.

In 2017, Mr. Gaetz was the only member of Congress to vote against a law that gave the federal government more power and money to fight human trafficking.

“Voters in Northwest Florida did not send me to Washington to go and create more federal government,” Mr. Gaetz said in a local television interview at the time. “If anything, we should be abolishing a lot of the agencies at the federal level.”

Mr. Gaetz’s personal life has gained attention before. Last summer, he announced that he had a son, Nestor Galban, 19, though Mr. Gaetz said he was not Mr. Galban’s biological father, nor had he adopted him. Mr. Galban had been 12 when they met and had come to the United States from Cuba; Mr. Gaetz was at the time dating Mr. Galban’s sister.

“He is a part of my family story,” Mr. Gaetz told People magazine in June. “My work with Nestor, our family, no element of my public service could compare to the joy that our family has brought me.”

Mr. Gaetz proposed to his girlfriend, Ginger Luckey, at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club on Dec. 30.

It was unclear how investigators in the Greenberg case began examining Mr. Gaetz’s conduct. Last June, federal prosecutors secured an indictment against Mr. Greenberg, accusing him of stalking a political rival.

Around that time, federal authorities seized Mr. Greenberg’s phone and laptop, according to court records. They discovered evidence that Mr. Greenberg, whose job responsibilities included issuing licenses, was creating fake identification cards for himself and a teenage girl, and was experimenting with holograms used on permits for concealed firearms, according to court documents.

Two months later, he was indicted on the sex trafficking charge. From May to November 2017, prosecutors said, Mr. Greenberg targeted the girl, who was between 14 and 17, saying he “recruited” and “solicited” her for sex acts in exchange for unspecified perks or favors.

Mr. Greenberg worked in advertising before running successfully at the age of 31 in 2016 for tax collector in Seminole County.

Within days of taking office, he fired three employees who had supported his predecessor and began spending more than $1.5 million in taxpayer money on personal expenses, including guns, ammunition, body armor and a drone, as well as on computers for his own cryptocurrency venture, a county audit later revealed.

The following year, according to The Orlando Sentinel, Mr. Greenberg posted a photograph of himself on social media with Milo Yiannopoulos, a right-wing personality who has a history of making racist remarks. The newspaper also detailed Mr. Greenberg’s own misogynist and anti-Muslim comments on Facebook.

In his bid for re-election, Mr. Greenberg turned in late 2019 to clandestine tactics to undermine a possible rival, according to court papers. Prosecutors said he sent an anonymous letter to the school where one potential candidate worked that made unfounded accusations of sexual misconduct with a student and making similar claims on a fake Facebook account.

As the primary race intensified last summer, similar messaging began appearing on fake social media accounts that have been tied to Mr. Stone.

“Watch out Seminole county,” said someone named April Goad on Facebook, warning Floridians “don’t open your door” to the rival candidate, according to Graphika, a company that specializes in analyzing social media.

The post linked to an article about the rival published on Central Florida Post, a website controlled by Mr. Stone’s associates that had written favorable articles about Mr. Greenberg. The website was founded by a member of the Proud Boys who has been linked to security providers for Mr. Stone on Jan. 6 in Washington in the lead-up to the insurrection at the Capitol.

Mr. Greenberg’s re-election efforts quickly evaporated when he was first indicted last June, and he resigned a day later.

Nicholas Fandos contributed reporting. Kitty Bennett and Susan C. Beachy contributed research.

Michael S. Schmidt is a Washington correspondent covering national security and federal investigations. He was part of two teams that won Pulitzer Prizes in 2018 — one for reporting on workplace sexual harassment and the other for coverage of President Trump and his campaign’s ties to Russia. @NYTMike

Katie Benner covers the Justice Department. She was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for public service for reporting on workplace sexual harassment issues. @ktbenner

Axios, Investigation: Rep. Matt Gaetz eyes early retirement from Congress to take job at Newsmax, Alayna Treene, March 30, 2021. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has axios logoprivately told confidants he's seriously considering not seeking re-election and possibly leaving Congress early for a job at Newsmax, three sources with direct knowledge of the talks tell Axios.

Why it matters: Gaetz is a provocative figure on the right who's attracted attention by being a fierce defender of former President Trump. The Republican also represents a politically potent district on the Florida panhandle.

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What we’re hearing: Gaetz has told some of his allies he’s interested in becoming a media personality, and floated taking a role at Newsmax.

One of the sources said Gaetz has had early conversations with the network about what a position could look like.

The backdrop: Many Republicans turned to the network after Fox News called Arizona early for President Biden.

Some critics now say Fox is not conservative enough for their tastes, providing an opening for Newsmax and the One America News Network (OANN).

Gaetz has previously toyed with the idea of running for higher office.

Between the lines: Gaetz, 38, went to Florida State University and received a law degree from the College of William and Mary. He served in the Florida House before being elected to Congress in 2016.

While the party out of power tends to gain seats in midterm elections — creating the possibility of Republicans' taking control of the House in 2022 — a prominent spot in the media could give Gaetz a platform for a future national political role.

Former Fox executives and contributors were among Trump's many senior advisers, including Bill Shine, John Bolton and Larry Kudlow.

Trump has stoked speculation he may seek a second and final term in 2024.

For the record: Gaetz and his spokesman did not immediately respond to several requests for comment.

donald trump apprentice color nbc

Reuters via Yahoo News, Trump must face 'Apprentice' contestant's defamation lawsuit -NY court, Jonathan Stempel, March 30, 2021. New York state's highest court on Tuesday cleared the way for a former contestant on "The Apprentice" to sue Donald Trump for defamation, after the former U.S. president called her a liar for accusing him of sexual assault.

summer zervosTrump (shown above in a publicity photo for the show) had argued before leaving the White House on Jan. 20 that Summer Zervos (shown in a file photo) could not pursue her case because a sitting president could not be sued, but the state Court of Appeals said in a brief order that "the issues presented have become moot."

Zervos' case will now return to a Manhattan trial court, where her lawyers may have an opportunity to question Trump under oath. The case had been on hold during Trump's appeal.

"Now a private citizen, the defendant has no further excuse to delay justice for Ms. Zervos, and we are eager to get back to the trial court and prove her claims," Beth Wilkinson, a lawyer for Zervos, said in an email.

Lawyers for Trump did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Zervos came forward during the 2016 presidential campaign with accusations that Trump subjected her to unwanted kissing and groping after she sought career advice in 2007, two years after her appearance on his reality television show.

She sued Trump in January 2017 after he branded such allegations by women "lies" and retweeted a post calling Zervos' claims a "hoax."

Zervos has sought a retraction or an apology, plus compensatory damages and punitive damages.

Trump has denied Zervos' claims, and called her case politically motivated.

Former Elle magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll is also suing Trump for defamation, after he denied having raped her in the Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan in the mid-1990s.

Trump has also denied claims by several other women of improper sexual conduct.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion, Dominion lawsuit outs Fox News’ disinformation campaign, Erik Wemple, March 30, 2021. Fox News commonly boasts about it fabulous ratings, its huge audience. In this suit from a voting firm, the network's reach is a liability.

fox news logo SmallBack in December, Dominion Voting Systems warned Fox News and other spreaders of election-related conspiracy theories that lawsuits were imminent. For reasons that remain murky, the voting-machine company became a target for those seeking to convince the American public that the presidential election had been stolen from then-President Trump.

dominion voting systemsWith the help of lawyer Sidney Powell and longtime Trump attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani, Fox hosts laundered bogus claims that Dominion had flipped votes from Joe Biden to Trump; that “kickbacks” had been provided to officials in states that used Dominion systems; and that Dominion was owned by voting outfit Smartmatic, a company that has already sued Fox News over election coverage.

In pushing back against Dominion’s threat, a Fox News spokeswoman “pointed to” a pair stories that the network had done on this matter: One was an interview by host Eric Shawn with a Dominion executive who stated that the company’s voting machines hadn’t been involved with fraud and that claims to the contrary were false; the other was the high-profile segment in which host Tucker Carlson said that Powell hadn’t mustered evidence for her allegations.

When asked about a torrent of disinformation, in other words, Fox News highlighted two stories that told the truth. “You can’t get away from defamation by saying the truth in the morning and then lying through your teeth in the afternoon. That doesn’t cut it,” said Stephen Shackelford, a Dominion attorney, on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” Sunday.

Now Dominion — company that provided voting machines in 28 states — has followed through with its suit against Fox News, and it is shoving the Carlson-Shawn segments right down the network’s throat. The segments don’t mitigate the network’s culpability, argues the filing. To the contrary: “some of the strongest evidence proving Fox knew it was spreading lies about Dominion came from the Fox on-air talent who declined to endorse and amplify those lies,” reads the complaint.

 djt hands up mouth open CustomWayne Madsen Report, Opinion; Trump and GOP leaders guilty of "social murder?" Wayne Madsen, left, March 30, 2021. Dr. Deborah Birx, Donald wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallTrump's one-time official Covid-19 death enumerator and White House pandemic response coordinator, told CNN in a recent interview that she believes Trump is responsible for the deaths of 450,000 of the total 550,000 U.S. deaths from the pandemic.

There is a growing belief among legal experts that whether Trump is responsible for 450,000 virus deaths, or half that number, or the total of 550,000, he should face a trial for his negligence as president.

March 25

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sweeping changes to Georgia elections signed into law, Mark Niesse, March 26, 2021 (print ed.). Absentee and runoff voting targeted after 2020 elections. Gov. Brian Kemp quickly signed a vast rewrite of Georgia’s election rules into law Thursday, imposing voter ID requirements, limiting drop boxes and allowing state takeovers of local elections after last year’s close presidential race.

brian kemp 2019 CustomKemp, right, finalized the bill just over an hour after it cleared the General Assembly, leaving no doubt about its fate amid public pressure against voting restrictions.

Republican lawmakers pushed the legislation through both the House and Senate over the objections of Democratic lawmakers. The legislation passed along party lines in both chambers, with votes of 34-20 in the Senate and 100-75 in the House.

Protesters outside the Capitol said the bill would disenfranchise voters, calling it “Jim Crow 2.0.” Supporters of the measure, Senate Bill 202, argued it would protect election integrity.

“Significant reforms to our state elections were needed. There’s no doubt there were many alarming issues with how the election was handled, and those problems, understandably, led to a crisis of confidence in the ballot box here in Georgia,” Kemp said after signing the bill.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosThe elections overhaul in a state with a history of voting rights struggles came after the first victory by Democrat in a presidential election since 1992. Then in January, Democrats won two runoffs for the U.S. Senate, giving them the majority.

Opponents of the bill said it would create obstacles for voting, especially on absentee ballots and in runoffs.

Absentee voters would be required to submit driver’s license numbers or other documentation under a new process for checking their identity, replacing signature matching processes. Over 200,000 Georgia voters lack a driver’s license or state ID number, meaning they would need to submit additional proof of their identities.

In addition, there would as little as one week of early voting before runoffs, down from the current three-week early voting period. The bill calls for runoffs to be held four weeks after general elections, leaving little time for early voting.

“It is unbelievable that there are still some people trying to stop people from voting today. You are changing the rules, cutting the voting hours, and making it more difficult for people to vote,” said state Rep. Erica Thomas, a Democrat from Austell. “Too many people fought, bled and died for our right to vote.”

Proof via Substack, Investigative Commentary, A January 6 Secret Service Scandal Is Brewing, Seth Abramson, March 25, 2021. 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.

CNN, DEA agent says he was wrongly fired and is now under investigation for being at Capitol during insurrection, Adrienne Winston, March 25, 2021. New video appears to show CNNattack on slain officer during Capitol riot.

A US Drug Enforcement Administration agent suspended for being at the US Capitol during the January 6 insurrection said Tuesday that he has since been fired from the agency and is now "the subject of a criminal investigation," even though he claims he "never even stepped foot on the stairs of the Capitol building."

Mark Ibrahim said in an interview with Fox News that after the attack on the Capitol he "got on a flight back to LA. I had my badge and gun taken away from me. I was escorted off the premises to my apartment like a criminal, and I was fired after being suspended for two months, for performance issues."
"Now, I'm actually the subject of a criminal investigation," he told the network.

The Justice Department declined to comment on Ibrahim's assertion that he is under investigation, and Ibrahim's attorney, Darren Richie, declined to provide further information to CNN.

The DEA said in a statement to CNN that per agency policy, it "cannot comment on specific personnel matters" protected by privacy laws.

Ibrahim's firing adds to a growing list of consequences facing people who were present at the US Capitol on January 6 when a pro-Trump mob stormed the building in an attack that left five dead. The government has charged nearly 300 others in connection to the insurrection. The rioters were attempting to stop the Senate from counting the electoral votes to confirm Joe Biden's presidential win.
Ibrahim, who said he is now taking "legal action against the DEA" said in the interview that he was at the Capitol on January 6 because a "friend I served in Iraq with asked me to help him get there for documentation purposes and we were just spectators."

"When the crowd began to be hostile toward law enforcement, me being law enforcement myself, I started to document everything and, via my friend, we handed everything over to the FBI so those criminals could face justice," he said.

His lawyer previously said Ibrahim was at the Capitol to enjoy "an important day in history" and that "Mr. Ibrahim was not part of, affiliated with nor participatory in any trespass or violent acts and vehemently denounces them."

March 22

djt jan 6 twitter

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

washington post logoWashington Post, The rioter next door: How the Dallas suburbs spawned domestic extremists, Annie Gowen, March 22, 2021 (print ed.). The FBI voiced concern that radical ideologies are going mainstream in Texas.

FBI logoHope for Trump's return is fervent in Frisco and across the north Dallas suburbs, an area of rapid growth and rapidly increasing diversity. Nineteen local residents have been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, according to federal authorities, one of the largest numbers in any place in the country.

Many of the rioters came from the "mainstream of society," according to the FBI's Dallas field office, including three real estate agents, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, an oilman and an actor who once appeared on the popular television show "Friday Night Lights." They were driven by a "salad bowl of grievances," the FBI said, including anger over the presidential election, white-supremacist ideology and the discredited extremist ideology QAnon, which holds that Trump will save the world from a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles.

Their groundless claims are being fed by conservative politicians and from the pulpits of large, powerful evangelical churches with teachings that verge on white nationalism, both motivated by fear that they are losing a largely White, conservative enclave that views these changes with suspicion.

More arrests are coming, and North Texas remains a focus for investigators who expect to charge as many as 400 people from across the country in the attack on the Capitol.

Proof via Substack, Investigation: The Five Must-See Insurrection Videos, Seth Abramson, left, March 21, 2021. The next wave of January 6 arrests is seth abramson headshotcoming. These damning videos highlight the actions of several people who orchestrated many of the events of that horrible day.

Thus far, over 320 Trumpists have been arrested for their actions on January 6, 2021, and the DOJ says that more than 100 additional arrests are coming. But what many of us are most anxiously awaiting is not more arrests of lower-middle-class and middle-class Donald Trump supporters—though the massive video archive published by ProPublica confirms that many of these richly deserve indictment and incarceration—but rather the as-yet unaccountable elites who orchestrated the events of January 6.

seth abramson proof logoFor instance, we’ve yet to see what sort of accountability, legal or professional, awaits politicians like Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), or Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), all of whom helped strategize and/or incite the events of January 6.

Likewise, one wonders what will become of those civilians who allegedly organized and/or funded many of the events of January 6, among them staunch GOP allies like Julie Jenkins Fancelli, Bianca Gracia, Caroline Wren, Cindy Chafian, Hannah Salem, Maggie Mulvaney, Arina Grossu, Kyle Jane Kremer, Amy Kremer, Rose Tennet and—most critically—Stop the Steal organizers Ali Alexander, Roger Stone and Alex Jones.

And of course America still waits eagerly for the first signs of justice for the Trumps themselves, along with their closest allies and advisers, a list of insurrection-adjacent figures that includes Trump himself, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Lara Trump, Ivanka Trump, Trump Jr. girlfriend and Trump adviser Kimberly Guilfoyle, Katrina Pierson, Corey Lewandowski, Peter Navarro, Rudy Giuliani, Michael Lindell, Sidney Powell, and Michael Flynn. We know, by and large, what these men and women did on and before January 6; what we don’t know is why the FBI has apparently yet to speak with any of them or seize and search their electronic devices. We don’t know why we are told to cheer the arrests of Trumpist peons even as the powerful, wealthy, and/or influential people who guided their conduct are ignored by federal law enforcement.

As we await the next round of January 6 indictments—hoping that, in the coming weeks and months, we can track advances in the work of the FBI and DOJ by tracing the “operations level” of the defendants they indict (e.g., it is a hopeful sign that more and more conspiracy charges against members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers have been unveiled lately)—here, below, are five videos every American should watch.

 

michael sherwin pool sarah silbiger

Then-Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Michael Sherwin speaks on Jan. 12 at a Justice Department press conference about the Jan. 6 pro-Trump insurrection stage at the U.S. Capitol. He amplified his remarks in a CBS "60 Minutes" interview on March 21, 2021 (pool photo by the Associated Press).

ny times logoNew York Times, Evidence in Capitol Attack Most Likely Supports Sedition Charges, Prosecutor Says, Katie Benner, March 22, 2021 (print ed.). “I personally believe the evidence is trending toward that, and probably meets those elements,” said Michael Sherwin, who had led the Justice Department’s inquiry into the riot.

Evidence the government obtained in the investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol most likely meets the bar necessary to charge some of the suspects with sedition, Michael R. Sherwin, the federal prosecutor who had been leading the Justice Department’s inquiry, said in an interview that aired on Sunday.

The department has rarely brought charges of sedition, the crime of conspiring to overthrow the government.

But in an interview with “60 Minutes,” Mr. Sherwin said prosecutors had evidence that most likely proved such a charge.

“I personally believe the evidence is trending toward that, and probably meets those elements,” Mr. Sherwin said. “I believe the facts do support those charges. And I think that, as we go forward, more facts will support that.”

The last time federal prosecutors brought a sedition case was 2010, when they accused members of a Michigan militia of plotting to provoke an armed conflict with the government. They were ultimately acquitted, and the judge in the case said the Justice Department had not adequately proved that the defendants had entered a “concrete agreement to forcibly oppose the United States government.”

The statute on seditious conspiracy also says that people who conspire to “oppose by force the authority” of the government or use force “to prevent, hinder or delay the execution of any law of the United States” can be charged with sedition.

The government has charged some defendants in the Jan. 6 case with conspiring to derail the final certification of President Biden’s electoral victory.

Mr. Sherwin witnessed the crime as it unfolded. After he dressed in his running clothes and entered the crowd at the rally near the White House, he observed a “carnival environment” of people listening to speeches and selling T-shirts and snacks.

“I noticed there were some people in tactical gear. They were tacked up with Kevlar vests. They had the military helmets on,” he said in the “60 Minutes” interview. “Those individuals, I noticed, left the speeches early.”

“Where it was initially pro-Trump, it digressed to anti-government, anti-Congress, anti-institutional,” Mr. Sherwin said. “And then I eventually saw people climbing the scaffolding. The scaffolding was being set up for the inauguration. When I saw people climbing up the scaffolding, hanging from it, hanging flags, I was like, ‘This is going bad fast.’”

From the start, Mr. Sherwin oversaw the investigation as the acting U.S. attorney in Washington, a role that he ceded to a new interim leader in early March. He stepped down from leading the investigation on Friday and returned to Miami, where he had been a line prosecutor.

Mr. Sherwin told “60 Minutes” that the government had charged more than 400 people. Among them are hundreds accused of trespassing and more than 100 accused of assaulting officers, including Brian D. Sicknick, the Capitol Police officer who died after fighting with rioters.

Mr. Sicknick and two other officers were sprayed with an unidentified chemical agent that one of the assailants said was used to repel bears.

A medical examiner has not determined how Officer Sicknick died, Mr. Sherwin said, so two suspects were charged with assaulting an officer instead of murder. But that could change, he said.

“If evidence directly relates that chemical to his death,” Mr. Sherwin said, “in that scenario, correct, that’s a murder case.”

Mr. Sherwin said that only about 10 percent of the cases so far dealt with more complicated conspiracies planned and executed by far-right extremists — including members of the Oath Keepers, the Three Percenters and the Proud Boys — to organize, come to Washington and breach the Capitol.

He reiterated assertions he made shortly after the attack that prosecutors were examining the conduct of former President Donald J. Trump, who had told his supporters to attend the rally on Jan. 6 and egged them on with baseless claims that he had won the election.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: What Is ‘Sedition’? It Has a Complicated History, Jennifer Schuessler, Jan. 7, 2021. As a mob stormed the Capitol, the word “sedition” was on many people’s lips. Its force is clear, but its echoes across U.S. history are more complex.

March 20

Capitol Riot, Insurrection

jeffrey mckellop fbi photo

A video still from a police officer's bodycam shows who the FBI says is Jeffrey McKellop assaulting an officer with a flagpole on Jan 6. (FBI)

washington post logoWashington Post, Former Green Beret charged in riot threw a flagpole at an officer like a spear, FBI says, Alex Horton, March 20, 2021 (print ed.).  The former Special Forces soldier, who served four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, faces six charges.

A former Army Special Forces soldier charged with a half-dozen crimes stemming from the Capitol riot threw a flagpole at a police officer like a spear and assaulted three other officers, according to the FBI and court documents.

Jeffrey McKellop, 55, who was arrested Wednesday, is among more than 30 veterans charged in the Jan. 6 incident but appears to be the first so far who served in Special Operations, according to service records analyzed by The Washington Post.

McKellop, of Augusta County, Va., faces six charges, among them assaulting a police officer with a deadly or dangerous weapon. He did not enter a plea on Thursday. His attorneys Greg Hunter and Seth Peritz declined to comment on his case.

The former soldier served two enlistments for a total of 22 years, according to his Army service record. His second enlistment, from 1993 to 2010, included time as a mechanic and a Special Forces communications sergeant. The role includes overseeing radios and other communications vital to small team Green Beret missions.

 

Trump Team Troubles

Mark Meadows

Palmer Report, Opinion: We told you Trump stooge Mark Meadows was screwed, Bill Palmer, left, March 20, 2021. Last week a new phone recording surfaced bill palmerwhich captured Donald Trump pressuring another Georgia official to alter the results of the 2020 election. During that call, Trump mentioned that his White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was behind the whole thing, and that Meadows had even traveled to Georgia to meddle in the process. From this, Palmer Report deduced that Meadows was going to be in serious legal trouble.

Sure enough, Reuters is now reporting that the Fulton County District Attorney is indeed investigating Meadows, right, as part of her case into the Georgia election fraud. This is a big deal, because the DA recently hired a racketeering expert and has already begun putting the case in front of a grand jury, meaning serious criminal charges are coming down the pike.

bill palmer report logo headerLast week Palmer Report predicted that the District Attorney would end up pressuring Mark Meadows to flip on Donald Trump. Now we’re more convinced than ever that this is the route the DA will take. Will Meadows end up cutting a deal? We’ll see. Meadows seemed bizarrely loyal to Trump while he was White House Chief of Staff. But is Meadows loyal enough to go to prison for Trump?

 

mar a lago aerial Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club partially closed after staff infected with coronavirus, David A. Fahrenthold, Josh Dawsey and Lori Rozsa, March 20, 2021 (print ed.). Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida has been partially closed after some of its employees were infected with the coronavirus, according to an email sent to club members Friday afternoon.

“As some of our staff have recently tested positive for COVID-19, we will be temporarily suspending service at the Beach Club and à la carte Dining Room,” club management said, according to an email obtained by The Washington Post.

“Banquet and Event services remain open,” the email said.

The Trump Organization declined to say how many workers were affected. The Palm Beach club — which includes the former president’s home as well as restaurants and banquet facilities — has dozens of employees during the winter season.

“Out of an abundance of caution we have quarantined some of the workers and partially closed a section of the club for a short period of time,” a spokeswoman for the Trump Organization said in a statement to The Post.

Lee Lipton, a member at the club, said he received a phone call Friday saying his dinner reservations were canceled for Friday and Saturday nights. “But they said the car show was going on Sunday, and the hotel rooms are fine,” he said.

The partial closure of the club was first reported by the Associated Press.

Palm Beach County, which includes the club, still requires that all guests wear masks, except while “actively consuming food and beverage.”

djt golf shirt march 14 2021Last weekend, Mar-a-Lago hosted two large fundraisers for a charity called Big Dog Ranch Rescue, including one event at which Trump appeared, praising the group.

Photos from those events show that few attendees were wearing masks. Trump, who had covid-19 in the fall and was vaccinated earlier this year, also did not wear a mask. [Trump is shown at the event on March 14 at right, without his usual tan makeup.]

Two people familiar with the club said that Mar-a-Lago waiters wore masks during the events. A spokesperson for the charity declined to comment about the event.

washington post logoWashington Post, Bannon battling prosecutors who won’t dismiss his case after Trump’s pardon, Shayna Jacobs, March 20, 2021 (print ed.). Stephen K. Bannon, the firebrand political strategist and ex-confidant to former president Donald Trump, is fighting to get his federal fraud case formally dismissed over the strong objection of prosecutors, who have argued that his full pardon does not mean his indictment must be wiped from the record.

Bannon, who helped engineer Trump’s 2016 election win before briefly serving as a White House adviser, asked a judge late Thursday to follow others in New York and elsewhere who outright dismissed cases after Trump issued pardons. To support his bid, Bannon cited the post-pardon dismissals of charges against Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser accused of lying about his contacts with Russian officials, and rapper Lil’ Wayne, who was facing gun charges in Florida.

March 19

 

This is the current state of Trump's 757 at Stewart Airport in Orange County, NY: 1 engine broken, the other wrapped (CNN Screenshot).

This is the current state of Trump's 757 in Orange County, NY: 1 engine broken, the other wrapped (CNN Screenshot).

CNN, Investigation: Glory days of Trump's gold-plated 757 seem far away as plane sits idle at a sleepy airport, Kate Bennett and Pete Muntean, March 19, CNN2021. Donald Trump's personal Boeing 757 was always the crown jewel of his wealth -- the ultimate sign that he had made it.

He's used it as a backdrop for sleek photo shoots, campaign rallies, VIP tours, for shots of him eating his Big Macs and KFC, plated, with a knife and fork. Trump loved to show it off -- the customized cream-colored leather seats, gilded bathrooms, the seat buckles layered in 24-karat gold.

But today it sits idle on an airport ramp in Orange County, New York, about 60 miles north of Manhattan.

One engine is missing parts. The other is shrink-wrapped in plastic. The cost to fix and get it flyable could reach well into the high six-figures, a price-tag Trump doesn't appear to be dealing with right now. Though the current state of his finances aren't public, the Covid-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the hospitality industry home to so many of his businesses.

Flight records accessed by CNN show the 757 hasn't been flown at all since Inauguration Day, when Trump's use of Air Force One ended, leaving him to less showy modes of transport.

A representative for the Trump Organization did not immediately return CNN's request for comment as to why the plane is not being used, nor has been fixed -- and whether or not Trump intends to get it in flying shape anytime soon.

A CNN camera crew saw Trump's plane parked on a fenced-off tarmac at the small upstate New York airport on Wednesday, about an hour and a half drive from Trump Tower. The choice to leave it outside at a northeastern airport, exposed to the elements, has baffled aviation experts who spoke with CNN. They note that it's just a few hours' flight to warmer, more arid climes.

Snow, rain, and moisture can lead to metal corrosion of the airframe and the engines -- hard to detect, and, in severe cases, catastrophic. Large airplanes are typically stored for long stretches of time in the desert southwest, where the dry climate makes corrosion nearly impossible.

Trump's 757 is seen at Stewart Airport in New York in March 2021. The right engine wrapped in plastic, while the left engine appears to be removed.

Trump rarely, if ever, admits to losing power. With the 757 apparently out of commission, Trump is left with his much smaller corporate jet, at least for now. According to flight data, Trump's 1997 Cessna 750 Citation X has been in semi-regular rotation for the last few months, often flying between Palm Beach International Airport and LaGuardia Airport in New York.

It was this plane Trump flew on when he made his first post-presidency trip back to Manhattan earlier this month. "The small jet isn't his favorite," says a former White House official who frequently flew with Trump on both planes. With just eight seats, the Citation such as the one Trump is using is a tighter squeeze and far less luxe than the 757.

"It also doesn't have his name on the outside," the source said, noting the gigantic Trump name that the 757 bears across its front section. The Citation does have a small Trump family crest on the fuselage. That's a downgrade for a man who likes to paint his surname on just about everything he owns, from hotels to bottles of wine.

Plane as campaign draw

When Donald Trump bought the used Boeing 757 airplane in 2010 from the late Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen, it swiftly became his favorite toy, as he liked to tell friends. Though it was already almost twenty years old, for the next decade, Trump lauded his plane. He was picky about who got to fly on it, where they would sit and how they could move about, says another frequent flier. None of the regular travelers were willing to speak on the record for fear of retribution.

When he hit the campaign trail in earnest, the 757, aka "Trump Force One," became as much a promotional ploy as billboards or TV ads. Look how successful I am-- was the message Trump was sending to voters, sometimes parking it behind the stage at his rallies.

Trump's flash-and-cash boasting worked all the way to the White House, with many of his supporters lured by the informercial-like, almost hypnotic reel of planes, limos, homes, glamorous women, gold, and quasi-celebrity. His gilded, high-flying brand may be the most valuable thing he owns. The New York Times found his personal brand strategy to be "the most successful part of the Trump business," as part of their September review of Trump tax returns.

A money suck

But, like many Trump accoutrements crafted for the purpose of marketing, the reality of the giant jet was different behind the scenes. It was a money suck, a plane past its prime with decaying mechanics and exorbitant storage fees.

"Flying that thing was so expensive," says the former senior official. "I don't think people realized that just to get it up in the air and make one stop was literally tens of thousands of dollars."

The cost to fly a Boeing 757 is about $15,000 to $18,000 per hour, according to CNN aviation analyst David Soucie. But that's when the plane can actually fly. Trump's 757 is nowhere near flight ready, according to an experienced pilot who saw it this week. The source declined to be identified.

"It's an older engine and parts availability is becoming a challenge so operating costs go up significantly," says Soucie. "Most airlines are retiring the 757 since more cost-effective models are now available."

Before Trump purchased it from Paul Allen, the plane served as a commercial airliner in Mexico in the 1990s, according to a 2016 Times story on the plane.

The pricey extravagance of the jet may now be too much for Trump's finances to handle. His net worth has taken a tumble over the last few years. Trump is personally liable for debts and loans totaling $421 million, according to the New York Times reporting. Most of that debt comes due in the next four years. Some of his best-known business ventures report losing millions, if not tens of millions, of dollars year after year, according to the Times. That includes golf courses that have racked up at least $315 million in losses over the past two decades. The Trump Organization did not respond to requests for comment.

A Bloomberg News report this week estimates that Trump's net worth has fallen by $700 million since February 2016, from $3 billion to $2.3 billion.

Trump could use money in his political action committees to pay for the plane upgrades, or other expenses, experts say. "PACs are often used as slush funds," said Paul S. Ryan, an expert on campaign finance and a top lawyer at Common Cause, a good governance non-profit.

"Campaign finance law doesn't require PAC money to be used for political purposes, leaving open the possibility that Trump could use PAC funds to pay for private plane repairs."

The disclosures for Trump's newest PACs aren't due for some time, so it's unclear if he has spent any of that money on maintaining the plane.

But he has used campaign money in the past for travel. When running for president in 2016, for example, Trump used his campaign funds to pay travel expenses to a Trump-owned entity called Tag Air. In all, he spent $8.7 million with Tag Air in that cycle, according to a CNN tally at the time.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Broke Donald Trump can’t even afford to get his plane fixed, Bill Palmer, March 19, 2021. Even while Donald Trump was in office, it was fairly clear that the money he was pilfering from taxpayers was merely being used to make interest payments on his debts, and that he had no actual cash President Donald Trump officialon hand at any given time. Now that Trump is out of office, we’re seeing more reports that Trump’s struggling businesses are indeed all upside down. Now it turns out things are really bad for Trump.

bill palmer report logo headerYou know his prized 757 jumbo jet with the “Trump” logo on the side that he loved to fly around in during the 2016 campaign? It’s now sitting in disrepair somewhere outside of New York City, according to CNN. How bad off is the plane? One of the engines is missing parts. In other words, Trump can’t even afford to pay to get it fixed.

This could help explain why Trump insisted on leaving Washington DC a few hours before the end of his presidential term. This allowed him to fly down to Mar-a-Lago on Air Force One. If Trump had waited until noon to leave DC that day, he’d no longer have been president, and he’d have needed to provide his own transportation to Florida. That would have been a problem, considering he’s so broke that his personal airplane is in pieces.

 

March 10

 

capitol weare the storm flyer resized

Organizers for the Jan. 6 terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol used as one of their tools the flyer above, distributed widely by partner organizations. See the commentary by Mark Karlin, the founder of BuzzFlash.com: Trump Didn't Just Incite Sedition on January 6. He Aided and Abetted Ongoing Insurrection, Jan. 19, 2021.

seth abramson headshotseth abramson proof logoProof via Substack, Investigation: "Here Is the Twelve-Point Plan Donald Trump Had for January 6," Seth Abramson, shown at left, (best-selling author, attorney, Harvard Law grad, professor), March 10, 2021 (subscription required). "It's time we started talking about the former president's game plan for the armed insurrection of January 6, as all its details are now public — and they're terrifying."

 

 

djt michael cohen

Palmer Report, Opinion: New York prosecutors make major move against Donald Trump; only a “matter of how many days” until he’s indicted, Bill Palmer, March 10, 2021. It’s been widely documented that the Manhattan District Attorney’s office has met with Michael Cohen several times in the criminal case against Donald Trump. In fact large chunks of the New York criminal investigation grew out of the testimony and evidence that Cohen provided during his congressional testimony. Now things appear to have turned a corner.

bill palmer report logo headerCohen met again with the Manhattan DA’s office today, for the seventh time, according to Reuters. The fact that prosecutors are meeting with Cohen over and over again tells us two things. First, it means that they find Cohen to be highly credible, or else they wouldn’t keep going back to him. Second, it points to prosecutors repeatedly uncovering new evidence, and then going back to Cohen each time for guidance on how it fits together.

Notably, this is the first known instance of Manhattan prosecutors meeting with Michael Cohen since they acquired Donald Trump’s tax returns from his accounting firm two weeks ago. This also comes after multiple major media outlets recently reported that prosecutors are looking to squeeze Trump CFO Allen Weisselberg into flipping on Donald Trump and his family. So this meeting with Cohen, within the context of all of the above, has to be seen as a major move against Trump.

John Dean, a key witness in the Watergate scandal, tweeted this in response to the news: “From personal experience as a key witness I assure you that you do not visit a prosecutor’s office 7 times if they are not planning to indict those about whom you have knowledge. It is only a matter of how many days until DA Vance indicts Donald & Co.”

March 9

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden’s Justice Dept. already has split from Trump. Merrick Garland will go even further, Matt Zapotosky, March 9, 2021 (print ed.). Biden nominees Monaco, Gupta face Senate confirmation hearing for high-level Justice Dept. posts.

For nearly two months, the Justice Department has quietly rolled back several Trump-era policies and shifted position in civil cases, moves that officials see as relatively noncontroversial returns to previous ways of doing business.

merrick garlandNow, with federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, right, set to take over as attorney general, the thornier work begins.

Garland, who is expected to be confirmed by the Senate this week, will inherit a Justice Department damaged by President Donald Trump’s efforts to use its power to benefit his friends and hurt his enemies. He’ll inherit a department overseeing several high-profile Justice Department log circularpolitical cases, the outcomes of which probably will leave wide swaths of the country unhappy. And he’ll inherit a department that has for the past four years vigorously implemented Trump’s conservative agenda — instituting an aggressive charging policy and reviving use of the federal death penalty.

Garland, analysts say, will have to improve morale and restore the traditional barriers between his agency and the White House on criminal matters, while shepherding the department’s leftward policy shift that seemed to begin immediately after President Biden took office.

Garland said at his confirmation hearing that his first briefing would focus on the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol and the criminal cases that have emanated from it. Prosecutors have charged more than 300 people in connection with the mayhem, authorities have said, and have been working their way up from those who entered to building to those who might have planned or orchestrated the violence that day.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Here comes Merrick Garland! Bill Palmer, right, March 9, 2021. How afraid are Senate Republicans of Attorney General Merrick Garland? bill palmerThey’ve been using every procedural move in the book to drag out his confirmation process for as long as possible. There was literally nothing President Biden or the Democrats could have done to get Garland confirmed any sooner. But now the Republicans are all out of tricks, and as was always going to be the case, Garland is about to be confirmed.

bill palmer report logo headerThe full Senate is holding a cloture vote on the Garland nomination later today, meaning he’s inches away from his inevitable confirmation. This brings up two equally important issues. The first is what new shoes will drop at the Department of Justice once Garland is officially in place. There are likely federal criminal cases ready to go against everyone from Rudy Giuliani to Donald Trump, waiting for Garland to greenlight them, revise them, or whatever the case may be. We couldn’t begin to guess precisely what day they’ll happen on, but there will be indictments.

republican elephant logoThe second issue at hand is precisely why the Republicans worked so hard to drag out the Merrick Garland nomination for so long. Is it simply that they were trying to delay the federal prosecution of Donald Trump, because it’ll be embarrassing for the GOP? Or do some of these Republicans fear that the DOJ is about to hit them with criminal charges as well? There has to be a reason so many Senate Republicans are suddenly announcing that they’re not seeking reelection. We’ll see.

 

Britain's Prince Harry, his wife Meghan, center, interviewed by Oprah Winfrey for a broadcast airing on March 7, 2021 (screenshot).

Britain's Prince Harry, his wife Meghan, center, interviewed by Oprah Winfrey for a CBS broadcast that aired on March 7, 2021 (screenshot).

washington post logoWashington Post, Meghan and Harry interview has Britain abuzz; critics howl in outrage, Karla Adam, March 9, 2021 (print ed.). Any doubt that Oprah Winfrey's interview with Meghan and Prince Harry was overhyped was quickly put to rest on Monday morning, as Brits caught up with highlights from CBS's two-hour "tell-all" event.

The morning news was filled with the interview highlights about suicidal thoughts, alleged racism within the royal family and the fact that, at one point, Prince Charles stopped taking calls from Harry.

British broadcaster ITV said: “Harry and Meghan loaded up a plane and dropped bomb after heavy bomb on Buckingham Palace in their Oprah interview.”

A review in the Daily Telegraph said: “Sussexes deliver enough bombshells to sink a flotilla.”

Peter Hunt, the BBC’s former royal correspondent, said, “The claim of racism is one that will endure. No Palace spin can erase it from the collective memory.”

In his piece for the Spectator magazine, Hunt added that “the only person to emerge relatively unscathed is the Queen — apart from the minor matter that she is the head of the family that has been subjected to such a battering in this broadcast.”

 wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Harry-Meghan tribulations rooted in assassination of Diana, Wayne Madsen (shown at left, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallcommentator, author and former Navy intelligence officer), March 9, 2021. When Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, says she was scared of the royal threats, believe her.

The trials and tribulations of Harry Windsor and Meghan Markle, while serving up fare for the tabloid-format cable "news" channels, does conjure up memories of the death of Harry's mother, Lady Diana, the former Princess of Wales, Diana's contentious divorce from Charles, the Prince of Wales, Harry's alleged father and heir to the British throne.

This editor investigated Diana's August 31, 1997 death in the weeks after it occurred, traveling to London, Paris and the scene of her death at the Pont d'Alma tunnel, and one of her favorite holiday retreats, the French Riviera. Diana's death was triggered by her planned marriage to Dodi al-Fayad, a Muslim, an act that would have placed their potential Muslim offspring -- future step-siblings of Princes William and Harry -- in the royal line of succession

seth abramson proof logoProof via Substack, Analysis: The Trump-Brazil Scandal: Did Donald Trump "Attend" the January 5 War Council From the White House? Seth Abramson, March 9, 2021. Possibility emerges that one of the oddest social media typos in recent U.S. history wasn't a typo—and that the January 5 meeting was in part a Trump-Brazil summit focused on insurrection.

washington post logoWashington Post, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was in direct contact with rioters before and during Capitol breach, U.S. alleges, Spencer S. Hsu, March 9, 2021. U.S. prosecutors alleged Monday that Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was in direct contact before, during and immediately after the Jan. 6 Capitol breach with members since charged with plotting to prevent Congress from confirming the results of the 2020 presidential election.

In a late-night court filing, prosecutors alleged Rhodes directed Oath Keepers to rally during the riot to the southeast steps of the Capitol, after which several members forcibly entered the east side of the building.

Prosecutors said they had recovered a chat called “DC OP: Jan 6 21” on the encrypted Signal messaging app that “shows that individuals, including those alleged to have conspired with [others], were actively planning to use force and violence.”

Prosecutors said chat participants included Rhodes — identified only as “Person One” in the filing but whom prosecutors named in earlier court papers — and two charged Oath Keepers members, Jessica Watkins, 38, an Ohio leader; and Kelly Meggs, 52, of Florida.

U.S. authorities have charged Watkins, Meggs and seven other individuals who appear to be members or associates of the right-wing anti-government group, alleging a wider conspiracy to obstruct Congress amid rioting that led to five deaths and assaults on about 140 police officers. Charges have been brought against more than 300 defendants, but to date prosecutors led by the U.S. attorney’s office for Washington have not publicly charged anyone other than alleged rioters themselves.

In the court filing, prosecutors said Rhodes, Watkins, Meggs and “regional Oath Keeper leaders from multiple states across the country” discussed plans in the chat for members and affiliates to come to Washington for events on Jan. 5 and 6 to “provide security to speakers and VIPs.”

Prosecutors said they found “no discussion of forcibly entering the Capitol until January 6.”

jacob chansley

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘QAnon Shaman’ stays in jail as judge slams his arguments: ‘So frivolous as to insult the Court’s intelligence,’ Katie Shepherd, March 9, 2021 (print ed.). Jacob Anthony Chansley, often referred to as the “QAnon Shaman” who donned horns and red-white-and-blue face paint to storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 (as shown above), has spent nearly two months pleading with a judge — and with the public in high-profile interviews — to let him go free.

He said on “60 Minutes+” last week that the Capitol riots were “not an attack on this country,” while his attorney has argued that he was actually a peaceful protester and wasn’t really armed when he was filmed storming the building with a spear.

U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth, left, was not impressed.

royce lamberth 2009On Monday, Lamberth denied Chansley’s motion for release in a scathing memorandum that rejected his arguments as “meritless,” “mistaken” and “so frivolous as to insult the Court’s intelligence.” The judge said that Chansley was too dangerous to release and continues to pose a threat to the public.

“The statements defendant has made to the public from jail show that defendant does not fully appreciate the severity of the allegations against him,” Lamberth wrote. “To the contrary, he believes that he — not the American people or members of Congress — was the victim on January 6th.”

Chansley is charged with violently entering the Capitol, among other felony charges, and prosecutors have urged the court to keep him in jail. Chansley’s attorney, Albert Watkins, did not immediately return a request for comment late Monday.