2020 Trump Watch News & Commentary

 

 JIPLogo

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.

Andrew Kreig / Justice Integrity Project editor

2020-21

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).

 

June 2021

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 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 

 

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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.

Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free

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.

jacob chansley shaman costume and mugThe 33-year-old Phoenix resident (shown at right in his costume and in a mug shot) quickly became one of the most recognizable people charged in the Capitol riot, in part because of the eccentric costume he wore while sitting in Vice President Mike Pence’s chair. His connection to QAnon, an extremist ideology that spreads a sprawling set of false claims, has also highlighted the movement’s role in the Jan. 6 riot.

He made headlines soon after his arrest when he asked to be fed only organic foods, citing his obscure religious beliefs, and begged to be released after Watkins said he lost 20 pounds in jail. Watkins also made a public plea for a pardon from President Donald Trump, which was ignored. Chansley has filed multiple motions for release before his trial, but none have succeeded.

Last week, he made another public appeal on “60 Minutes+,” without permission from the jail, the U.S. Marshals Service or the court — a move that led Lamberth to scold him and his attorney in a hearing on Friday.

On Monday, Lamberth, a fiery presence in D.C. courts appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1987, eviscerated the alleged rioter’s claims one by one.

March 6

Reuters, Exclusive: Georgia prosecutor probing Trump taps leading racketeering attorney, Linda So, March 6, 2021. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has enlisted the help of Atlanta lawyer John Floyd, who wrote a national guide on prosecuting state racketeering cases. Floyd was hired recently to “provide help as needed” on matters involving racketeering, including the Trump investigation and other cases, said the source, who has direct knowledge of the situation.

djt march 2020 CustomThe move bolsters the team investigating Trump as Willis prepares to issue subpoenas for evidence on whether the former president and his allies broke the law in their campaign to pressure state officials to reverse his Georgia election loss. Willis has said that her office would examine potential charges including “solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local governmental bodies, conspiracy, racketeering” among other possible violations.

A representative for Trump did not respond to requests for comment.

georgia mapFloyd’s appointment signals that racketeering could feature prominently in the investigation. It’s an area of law where Willis has extensive experience -- including a high-profile Atlanta case where she won racketeering convictions of 11 public educators for a scheme to cheat on standardized tests.

The investigation of Trump focuses in part on his phone call to Georgia’s secretary of state, asking the secretary to “find” the votes needed to overturn Trump’s election loss, based on false voter-fraud claims.

Willis - a Democrat who in January became the county’s first Black woman district attorney - will have to navigate a fraught political landscape. She faces pressure from Democrats in Atlanta and nationally to pursue an aggressive prosecution, along with scrutiny from Republicans in a state historically dominated by that party.

Floyd declined to comment when asked about the appointment but spoke to Reuters about his past experiences working with Willis.

In 2014, when Willis was an assistant district attorney in Atlanta, Floyd was brought in as a special prosecutor for the racketeering case that grew out of the schools cheating scandal.

“It was very much a team effort,” Floyd said of working with Willis.

The cheating case could provide clues to her strategy for investigating Trump, legal experts say, while stressing that the probe is still in its early stages.

If she pursues racketeering charges, Willis will need to prove a pattern of corruption by Trump, alone or with his allies, aimed at overturning the election results to stay in power. While racketeering is typically pursued by prosecutors in cases involving such crimes as murder, kidnapping, and bribery, the Georgia statute defines racketeering more broadly to include false statements made to state officials.

The federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) was originally passed in 1970 to help tie Mafia bosses to the crimes of their underlings by allowing prosecutors to argue they conspired together in a “criminal enterprise.” Over the years, however, its reach has grown to include businesses and other organizations as enterprises subject to the law.

Willis specifically listed racketeering and lying to public officials in detailing the possible crimes her office intended to investigate in a Feb. 10 letter to four Republican state officials, asking them to preserve records related to the case.

“That letter was really a signal to the public that she was going after a number of possibilities,” said Clark Cunningham, a Georgia State University law professor.

Georgia lawyers familiar with the state RICO law said Willis may be considering whether it would apply to alleged false statements made by Trump and his allies as they sought to influence state officials to reverse his election loss.

“It’s not a stretch to see where she’s taking this,” said Cathy Cox, the dean of Mercer University’s law school in Macon, Georgia and a former Georgia secretary of state. “If Donald Trump engaged in two or more acts that involve false statements - that were made knowingly and willfully in an attempt to falsify material fact, like the election results - then you can piece together a violation of the racketeering act.”

Racketeering, a felony in Georgia, can carry stiff penalties including up to 20 years in prison and a hefty fine. “There are not a lot of people who avoid serving prison time on a racketeering offense,” said Cox.

In a Jan. 2 phone call, Trump urged Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, to “find” just enough votes to allow him to win. In the hour-long call, Trump repeated false voter-fraud claims, insisting he won Georgia by a landslide and that Democrat Joe Biden received thousands of votes from people who were out-of-state, unregistered, or dead. Trump made another phone call in late December to Georgia’s chief elections investigator, urging the official to “find the fraud.”

brian kemp CustomOn Dec. 5, Trump called the state’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, left, to urge him to hold a special session of the legislature to overturn the election results. Three days later, Trump called Georgia’s Republican attorney general, Chris Carr, warning him not to interfere with a Texas lawsuit that challenged the election results in Georgia and other states.

Carr stated publicly that he opposed the Texas lawsuit. The offices of Kemp and Carr did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

Willis’ office has indicated it is also examining efforts to influence the election by Trump’s allies, including a November phone call made by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham to Raffensperger to discuss mail-in ballots; false election fraud claims made by Trump’s then personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, in testimony at state legislative hearings; and the abrupt removal of Byung J. “BJay” Pak, a U.S. attorney in Georgia who angered Trump by not doing enough to investigate his unfounded fraud claims.

Legal experts say prosecutors could use the pattern of false statements in a pressure campaign to build a RICO case, but that Willis would face the burden of proving Trump knew his fraud allegations were false. In a trial, Trump could argue that he did not deliberately break the law because he truly believed he had been cheated, said Kurt Kastorf, an Atlanta attorney and former U.S. Justice Department prosecutor.

“Trump’s lawyers could reasonably point to portions of the call with the Secretary of State where Trump seems to be making clear that the reason they need to do something is because there is fraud in the election,” he said. “Prosecutors would need to respond with evidence that this asserted reason is insincere.”
CONSPIRACY TO CHEAT

As an assistant district attorney in Atlanta, Willis employed the state’s racketeering statute in the complex test-cheating case - leading to a six-month trial, the longest in Georgia history.

Willis led a team of prosecutors in laying out the case that educators had operated a criminal enterprise within the public school system in a conspiracy to cheat, winning convictions in April 2015. Willis and her team walked jurors through months of testimony in the intricate case, which accused 12 former teachers, principals and administrators of inflating scores on standardized tests to secure promotions and cash bonuses. Eleven were convicted; some got prison time.

“I’ve worked on some pretty intense cases over the years,” said Floyd, the RICO expert. “But as far as duration and complexity, that would be hard to match.”

As a private attorney, Floyd is widely respected in legal circles for his expertise and experience litigating complex RICO cases. In addition to the cheating case, he helped convict a former sheriff of Georgia’s DeKalb County for ordering the murder of his elected successor. Floyd successfully defended the conviction, which included racketeering offenses, all the way to Georgia’s Supreme Court.

Anti-racketeering laws are a powerful tool for prosecutors, but building a successful case requires meeting a complex set of legal requirements, according to Floyd, who wrote the book, “RICO State by State: A Guide to Litigation Under the State Racketeering Statutes.”

In 1985, he joined the Atlanta law firm Bondurant Mixson & Elmore LLP, where he still works. Prior to joining the firm, Floyd clerked for a federal judge where he was introduced to RICO cases. “I worked on a few of them there, and my interest grew,” Floyd said

 

March 4

washington post logoWashington Post, D.C. Guard chief says ‘unusual’ restrictions slowed deployment of backup during Capitol riot, Paul Sonne, Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, March 4, 2021 (print ed.). The commanding general of the D.C. National Guard told lawmakers Wednesday how restrictions the Pentagon placed on him in the run-up to the Capitol riot prevented him from more quickly sending forces to help quell the violence.

william walker resized proofMaj. Gen. William J. Walker, right, said he did not receive approval to change the D.C. Guard’s mission and send his forces to the Capitol on Jan. 6 until three hours and 19 minutes after he first received an emotional call from the Capitol Police chief requesting urgent backup.

Walker described the Pentagon’s restrictions as “unusual,” noting that he did not have such limitations last summer, when the D.C. Guard was tasked with responding to local racial-justice protests after the killing of George Floyd.

Walker, who previously detailed the restrictions placed on him ahead of Jan. 6 in an interview with The Washington Post, told lawmakers that had he not been operating under those limitations, he could have sent about 150 soldiers to the Capitol hours earlier — and got them there within 20 minutes of being asked.

“I believe that number could have made a difference,” Walker said during Wednesday’s hearing before the Senate’s Rules Committee and its Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “We could have helped extend the perimeter and helped push back the crowd.”

In addition to Walker, city officials and Capitol Police leaders have asserted that they were frustrated by a slow Defense Department response as the Capitol was breached. Defense officials have countered that the city requested only minimal assistance from the Guard in the run-up to the Jan. 6 riot event and tried to limit the military presence in the city, while the Capitol Police requested no military assistance ahead of the event, even though the Pentagon specifically asked whether it was necessary.

Robert G. Salesses, the Pentagon’s acting assistant secretary for homeland defense and global security, testified that defense officials’ tight control over the response to the Capitol — and reluctance to issue quick approvals — was shaped by controversy they faced in responding to civil unrest surrounding racial-justice protests last year.

“There was a lot of things that happened in the spring that the department was criticized for,” he said.

Much of the hearing focused on how long it took the Pentagon to give the members of the D.C. Guard who were already deployed that day a new mission and send them to the Capitol.

Though the acting defense secretary called up the full D.C. Guard shortly after 3 p.m. in response to the riot, he did not give the members of the D.C. Guard who were already deployed that day a new mission and send them to the Capitol until 4:32 p.m., Salesses said. He acknowledged, however, that the D.C. Guard did not receive that change in assignment until 5:08 p.m., more than half an hour later.

roy blunt official Small“How is that possible?” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), right, asked incredulously, noting the time gap.

“I think that’s an issue,” Salesses said, offering no explanation.

The Guard arrived at the premises at 5:20 p.m.

The absence of Pentagon officials responsible for making decisions on Jan. 6 at Wednesday’s hearing irritated committee members, including some who expressed concern that the Department of Defense sent Salesses to testify even though he was not one of the key decision-makers that day.

 

william walker resized proof

Proof via Substack, Commentary: Annotated Testimony of William J. Walker (shown above), Commanding General of the D.C. National Guard, Seth Abramson, left, March 3, 2021. Before the Senate Homeland seth abramson headshotSecurity and Governmental Affairs and Senate Rules and Administration Committees, opening statement—focused on the January 6 insurrection.

I was sickened by the violence and destruction I witnessed that fateful day and the physical and mental harm that came to the U.S. Capitol Police officers and MPD [the Metropolitan Police Department of D.C.], some of whom I met with later that evening and I could see the injuries they sustained. It is my hope that my recollection of events and presentation of the facts as I know them will help your Committees in its investigation and prevent such tragic events from ever occurring again.

seth abramson proof logoFirst, I think it is critical to understand what the D.C. National Guard’s mission was on January 6, to include what civilian agency we were supporting and how requests for support of other civilian authorities were handled.

On December 31, 2020, the D.C. National Guard [PROOF annotation: later “DCNG”] received written requests from District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser and her Director of D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency Dr. Christopher Rodriguez. The requests sought D.C. National Guard support for traffic control and crowd management for planned demonstrations in DC from January 5 through [January] 6.

After conducting mission analysis to support the District request, I sent a letter to then Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, dated January 1, requesting approval. I received approval in a letter dated January 5 from Secretary McCarthy granting support of the MPD with 340 total personnel to include 40 personnel assigned to a Quick Reaction Force.

{PROOF annotation: Note that it took four days before Trump’s Pentagon to respond to the Democratic leadership of D.C., meaning that the District got “approval” for National Guard assistance on one of the very two days it had urgently asked for help on—January 5. Not only did this approval come too late for January 5 aid, it left under 24 hours for aid for January 6 to be readied.}

The DCNG provides support to MPD, the U.S. Park Police, U.S. Secret Service and other District and federal law enforcement agencies in response to planned rallies, marches, protests and other large scale first amendment activity on a routine basis.

A standard component of such support is the stand up of an offsite Quick Reaction Force (QRF), an element of guardsmen held in reserve equipped with civil disturbance response equipment (helmets, shields, batons, etc.) and postured to quickly respond to an urgent and immediate need for assistance by civilian authorities. The Secretary of the Army’s Jan. 5th letter withheld authority for me to employ the Quick Reaction Force....

{PROOF annotation: It is now clear that when Capitol Police issued an urgent request for help on January 6, there was absolutely no chance help would be forthcoming in any timely fashion—not because of delays on January 6, though there were many—but primarily because of the actions Trump’s Pentagon had taken prior to January 6 in taking so long to respond to Democratic officials in the District and then denying them the sort of aid those officials had every reason to expect. Media’s exclusive focus on January 6 itself continues to be misplaced; so much of what happened on January 6 was inevitable based on what had happened prior to January 6. In particular, the fact that Trump had installed loyalists Kash Patel and Ezra-Cohen Watnick immediately after learning he’d lost the November 2020 election, and that these two men were essentially controlling Trump defense secretary Chris Miller in the days before the insurrection, according to Vanity Fair, have produced a significant concern that Trump and his agents coordinated the Pentagon’s refusal of Democratic officials’ urgent pleas both before and during the insurrection.}

steve sund recroppedImmediately after the 1:49PM call with Chief [Steven] Sund (right), I alerted the Army Senior Leadership of the request. The approval for Chief Sund’s request would eventually come from the Acting Secretary of Defense and be relayed to me by Army Senior Leaders at 5:08PM—3 hours and 19 minutes later. We already had Guardsmen on buses ready to move to the Capitol. Consequently, at 5:20PM—in under 20 minutes—the District of Columbia National Guard arrived at the Capitol. We helped to re-establish the security perimeter at the east side of the Capitol to facilitate the resumption of the Joint Session of Congress.

{PROOF annotation: This is stunning. Commander Walker is saying that had he received approval from the Pentagon at 1:49PM on January 6, he could have had Guardsmen at the Capitol by somewhere between 2:05PM and 2:08PM—in time to quell the worst of the insurrection—but instead he heard nothing from Miller, Patel, and Cohen-Watnick, the Trump Pentagon power center, until 5:08PM. Meanwhile, the boss of Mssrs. Miller, Patel, and Cohen-Watnick, was gleefully watching events from the White House and refusing to contact his men at the Pentagon. There is no chance that Miller, Patel, and Cohen-Watnick would have missed the clear signal from (at the very least) Trump’s silence, if not some White House communication we don’t yet know about: don’t do anything until I tell you. By the time the Pentagon acted, Trump had issued public statements about wanting the insurrectionists to leave the Capitol grounds. It was only then that his men at the Pentagon responded to the urgent pleas for aid from the Capitol.}

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

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

March 1

ny times logoNew York Times, Prosecutors Investigating Trump Focus on His Finance Chief, Ben Protess, William K. Rashbaum and Maggie Haberman, March 1, 2021. State prosecutors in Manhattan who are investigating former President Donald J. Trump and his family business are sharpening their focus on the company’s long-serving chief financial officer, asking witnesses questions about his dealings at the company, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

allen weisselberg croppedThe increased focus on the executive, Allen H. Weisselberg, right, could step up pressure on him to cooperate with the investigation if the prosecutors unearth evidence of wrongdoing on his part. He has served as the Trump Organization’s financial gatekeeper for more than two decades and could be a vital source of information for the government about the inner workings of the company.

In recent weeks, the prosecutors working for the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., have been interviewing witnesses who know Mr. Weisselberg and have asked at least one witness about Mr. Weisselberg’s sons, Barry and Jack Weisselberg, according to two of the people with knowledge of the matter.

Barry Weisselberg has been the property manager of Trump Wollman Rink in Central Park, and Jack works at Ladder Capital, one of Mr. Trump’s biggest lenders.

The district attorney’s office has not accused Mr. Weisselberg or his sons of any wrongdoing, and there is no indication that the sons are a focus of the investigation.

If the prosecutors were to secure Allen Weisselberg’s cooperation, it might provide a significant boost to the long-running investigation and deliver a blow to Mr. Trump, who has long depended on Mr. Weisselberg’s unflinching loyalty.

 djt cpac 2021 cspan

 Donald Trump at CPAC on Feb. 28 in Orlando, Florida. Photo: Courtesy of C-SPAN.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump rules out third party as he moves to firm up control of GOP, David Weigel and Michael Scherer, March 1, 2021 (print ed.). Making his first speech since leaving the White House, former president Donald Trump hinted he was contemplating another run in 2024.

Former president Donald Trump declared Sunday that he is considering a presidential run in 2024, has ruled out forming a third party and will devote himself to building up Republican efforts to take on Democrats and others he claimed have targeted his movement.

The address before an ebullient crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference marked Trump’s first political speech since leaving the White House. It was staged as a public declaration of Trump’s intention to play a dominant political role in controlling the GOP through the 2022 election — and to potentially set himself up for a third campaign for the White House.

“We began it together four years ago, and it is far from being over,” Trump said of the political journey launched by his 2016 campaign. “Let there be no doubt we will be victorious, and America will be stronger and greater than ever before.”

republican elephant logoTrump’s speech came as he has been putting the finishing touches on a new political structure that he intends to use to cement his dominance over the GOP.

“We are not starting new parties,” he said. “We have the Republican Party. It is going to unite and be stronger than ever before.”

Trump also launched an expected attack on President Biden, echoing many of the themes of the Republican’s winning 2016 presidential campaign and its losing sequel in 2020. He alleged that Biden had “the most disastrous first month of any president in modern history,” before attacking the president for his position on border security policy, his erasure of Trump executive orders and his energy policies.

He predicted withering Democratic losses in the 2022 midterms and a Democratic loss of the White House four years from now, prompting a standing ovation and chants of “USA!” and “Four more years!”

He repeated his false claims about the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, which Biden won.

 

February 2021 Update

Feb. 26

washington post logoWashington Post, Riot defendants facing jail have regrets. Judges aren’t buying it, Rachel Weiner and Spencer S. Hsu, Feb. 27, 2021 (print ed.). For many accused of trying to block Congress from confirming the winner of the U.S. presidential election on Jan. 6, arrest was a reality check. Now they are getting another.

As defendants charged in the Capitol siege have been coming through court, some have been shifting blame onto former president Donald Trump, downplaying their actions or expressing remorse. But federal judges — particularly those who work a few blocks from the Capitol — aren’t buying it.

One judge called a defendant’s claim of civil disobedience “detached from reality.” Another verbally smacked down an attorney who tried to use QAnon — the sprawling set of false claims that have coalesced into an extremist ideology — to explain his client shouting “Kill them all!” Other judges have been giving defendants civics lessons on how democracy works.

beryl howellU.S. District Judge Beryl Howell, left, the chief federal jurist for the District of Columbia, responded incredulously to one defense attorney who said his client believed Trump requested his unlawful conduct. She said that if a president could authorize overturning an election he would be no different from “a king or a dictator,” and “that is not how we operate here.”

When the attorney added that the man, the accused leader of a Proud Boys group, had been “chastened rather than emboldened” by the federal charges and that his anti-government “fever has broken,” Howell clapped back.

“Essentially, that’s what your argument is, saying, ‘Whoops,’ now?” Howell asked. “Has he expressed any remorse or rejection of his membership in the Proud Boys, a gang of nationalist individuals? Does he reject the fantasy the election was stolen? Does he regret the positions that animated the mob on January 6th? Is there anything on the record about any of those things?”

“Whoops” is, essentially, what many of the accused are now saying.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump is building a political operation to cement his hold on the GOP, Josh Dawsey and Michael Scherer, Feb. 27, 2021. Ahead of his first major post-White House address at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the former president is making plans to launch a super PAC, has begun endorsing candidates and is plotting a possible 2024 run.

Any lingering doubts about Donald Trump’s primacy in the Republican Party have been settled in recent weeks by the parade of petitioners he has welcomed to his Florida social club.

republican elephant logoThe party chairwoman, the top two House Republicans, the senior senator from South Carolina and a coterie of other former aides and advisers have all made appearances at Mar-a-Lago, offering their counsel and seeking the favor of a former president who many believe controls the short-term fortunes of GOP candidates up and down the ballot — and has made it clear he plans to use that power.

Over meals and many Diet Cokes, Trump has already started building his post-White House political operation and cementing his role as the party’s de facto leader. He has begun to formalize a structure of political advisers around him and made plans to start a new super PAC — capable of raising donations of any size — to support candidates he favors. His team is looking to formalize a process for vetting endorsement prospects, assessing what candidates have said and done for Trump in the past.

He has also discussed drafting a new “America First” agenda — like the 1994 “Contract with America,” but focused on issues such as border security and trade — to steer the party’s direction, according to Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.).

“He is going to be very involved,” Graham said.

Trump’s politics hurt his businesses. Will he sell as he looks to a potential 2024 campaign?

It’s not just about shaping the GOP from the sidelines. Trump is keenly focused on his long-term political comeback, quizzing allies about how to launch a 2024 bid and who his most formidable challengers would be, advisers said.

To the relief of party strategists, the former president has abandoned for now talk of starting a third party, according to several people, who, like others interviewed for this story, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.

He has begun intervening to pick favorites in GOP primaries, endorsing on Friday a former aide challenging a House member who voted for his impeachment. But he is not planning to go up against every Republican who defied him, they said. “What’s the point of a civil war in a party you basically control?” joked one Republican operative close to Trump.

Feb. 24

couy griffin facebook

In a now-deleted Facebook post, New Mexico county official Couy Griffin, above, predicted of Inauguration Day at the Capitol, “blood will run out of the building.”

washington post logoWashington Post, FBI alert on possible ‘war’ on Congress reached police on eve of attack, deepening questions, Beth Reinhard and Matt Zapotosky, Feb. 24, 2021 (print ed.).  A joint hearing by two Senate committees spotlighted the stark warnings issued before the Jan. 6 riot.

Around 7 p.m. on Jan. 5, less than 24 hours before an angry mob overran the U.S. Capitol, an FBI bulletin warning that extremists were calling for violent attacks on Congress landed in an email inbox used by the D.C. police department. That same evening, a member of the Capitol Police received the same memo.

FBI logoBut the alert was not flagged for top officials at either agency, according to congressional testimony Tuesday — deepening questions about the breakdowns that contributed to massive security failures on Jan. 6.

steve sund recroppedBoth acting D.C. police chief Robert J. Contee III and former Capitol Police chief Steven Sund, left, said the intelligence community at large failed to detect key information about the intentions of the attackers and adequately communicate what was known in the run-up to the Capitol riot.

“I would certainly think that something as violent as an insurrection at the Capitol would warrant a phone call or something,” Contee told lawmakers.

Sund cast the Capitol Police as a “consumer” of intelligence from 18 federal agencies.

“If they were finding efforts that this was a coordinated attack, that had been coordinated among numerous states for some time in advance of this, that’s the information that would have been extremely helpful to us,” Sund said, adding, “That type of information could have given us sufficient, advance warning to prep, plan for an attack such as what we saw.”

But Tuesday’s joint hearing by two Senate committees also spotlighted the stark warnings that were issued before Congress met in a joint session to formalize President Biden’s victory.

 

Former Trump 2016 Campaign CEO and White House advisor Steve Bannon after his arrest last August 21 on a fugitive Chinese billionaire's yacht, portrayed in the background.

Former Trump 2016 Campaign CEO and White House advisor Steve Bannon after his arrest last August 21 on a fugitive Chinese billionaire's yacht, portrayed in the background. President Trump pardoned Bannon from federal charges alleging that he profited from a scheme to bilk pro-Trump donors hoping to build a "Wall" at the U.S.-Mexico border with private funds.

 wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Key indicators that January 6 was an attempted coup d'etat, Wayne Madsen (left, author of 18 books, former Navy intelligence officer and wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallNSA analyst), Feb. 24,2021. The history of modern political era coups and coup plots provides a great deal of insight in forming a conclusion that what occurred at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 was no mere "riot" or protest "gone wild."

Recent disclosures in federal charging documents of insurrection participants and leaders, as well as the feeble attempt by the Capitol's three top law enforcement officials -- who either resigned or were fired after the melée -- to blame others for the lack of security all point to a coordinated operation involving the Trump White House, the political leadership of the Pentagon, far right extremist groups, and last, but not least, GOP Congressional insiders, including Senators and U.S. Representatives and their staffs.

It can also be ascertained what sort of post-constitutional government Donald Trump and his collaborators planned to form after eliminating the legislative branch of the federal government as a threat.

What is being largely missed by the corporate media is the fact that former and, reportedly, current Trump political adviser Steve Bannon is in league with far-right fascist parties around the world that seek to oust existing democratic governments and replace them with far-right regimes. Bannon's efforts are being financially supported by Rebekah Mercer, the deep-pocketed billionaire daughter of hedge fund mogul and major alt-right media financier Robert Mercer; exiled Chinese billionaire and would-be fascist warlord of a post-Communist Chinese state, Guo Wengui; and right-wing, anti-Pope Francis elements of the fascist Roman Catholic order Opus Dei.

washington post logoWashington Post, Major Trump backer Rebekah Mercer orchestrates Parler’s second act, Rachel Lerman, Feb. 24, 2021. The daughter of a major Republican donor is a founding investor of the social media network, where she reportedly is pulling strings.

When social media website Parler’s founding CEO John Matze was pushed out last month, it was at the direction of a quiet but powerful political megadonor backing the right-leaning site.

parler logoRebekah Mercer, right, the 47-year-old daughter of major Republican donor Robert Mercer, is a founding investor of Parler. She increasingly pulls the strings at the company, according to people familiar with the company who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private business matters. She holds the majority stake in Parler and rebekah mercercontrolled two of three board seats as of early February — a board to which she recently appointed allies.

The social media company started garnering a name for itself last year as a friendly gathering spot for Republican politicians and pundits turned off by fact-checking and moderation on sites like Facebook and Twitter. But Parler, which publicly extolled itself as a free-speech-focused network with minimal rules, became a breeding ground for conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election. The site was knocked offline shortly after the riot at the U.S. Capitol for its alleged role in allowing the rioters to plan and egg each other on.

Now Mercer, who is credited with helping get Donald Trump elected president in 2016, is working to revive the site. It came back online last week with her new handpicked CEO, former tea party patriots leader, Mark Meckler, at the helm. It’s the latest in a long line of maneuvers by the Mercer family to create an alternative media industry that pushes a version of the news that fits with their right-wing, populist political agenda — while keeping a low profile themselves.

Palmer Report, Opinion: They’re either lying, or they were in on it, Bill Palmer, right, Feb. 24, 2021. We all knew that a ton of deranged Trump supporters would be outside the Capitol on January bill palmer6th. Everyone paying attention to the news cycle knew it. Anyone reading Trump’s tweets knew it.

bill palmer report logo headerWe just expected it not to go anywhere, because we presumed that law enforcement leaders would prepare for it, in which case the invasion never would have happened. It would have merely been a bunch of angry goons yelling stupid things outside the building, and nothing more.

During Tuesday’s congressional hearings, we kept hearing from law enforcement leaders who claim they had no idea Trump’s goons were going to be outside the Capitol on January 6th. But any law enforcement leader who says they didn’t see it coming is lying – or in on it.

Part of the reason these kinds of congressional hearings take place is that they force the people involved in the scandal to publicly stake themselves to a position on what happened, which can then point criminal investigators in the right direction when it comes to uncovering what really happened. The law enforcement leaders who are currently playing dumb are the ones who have something to hide.

ny times logoNew York Times, Retired N.Y.P.D. Officer Who Guarded City Hall Charged in Capitol Riot, Jonah E. Bromwich, Feb. 23, 2021. Thomas Webster turned himself in on charges that he assaulted a Washington police officer with a flagpole during the Jan. 6 attack on Congress.

A retired New York police officer who once was part of the security detail at City Hall was charged on Tuesday with assaulting a police officer with a metal flagpole during the pro-Trump riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

thomas webster resized headshotThe former officer, Thomas Webster, shown in an FBI photo, served in a New York Police Department unit that provided security for the mayor, Gracie Mansion and City Hall, according to a law enforcement official. He retired from the force in 2011.

Mr. Webster, 54, a former Marine, surrendered to the F.B.I. on Monday and was charged with six counts relating to the attack on an officer from the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., and his participation in the violent attempt to stop Congress from certifying the presidential election results.

A federal prosecutor said there were videos of Mr. Webster attacking the Washington officer, first with a metal flagpole that earlier had flown a Marine Corps flag, and then with his bare hands.

According to court documents, after the officer wrestled the flagpole away from Mr. Webster, the former Marine tackled the officer, pinned him to the ground, straddled him and attempted to rip off his face shield and gas mask — an attack that left the officer unable to breathe.

“These videos shock the conscience,” the prosecutor, Benjamin A. Gianforti, said. He said Mr. Webster had shown an utter lack of compassion and had pursued the officer he attacked “like a junkyard dog.” The government did not immediately identify the officer.

washington post logoWashington Post, Life amid the ruins of QAnon: ‘I wanted my family back,’ Greg Jaffe and Jose A. Del Real, Feb. 24, 2021 (print ed.). An epidemic of conspiracy, fanned by social media and self-serving politicians, is tearing families apart.

She bought ammunition, camping gear, a water purifier and boxes of canned food. Then, Tyler’s mother started wearing a holstered pistol around the house, convinced that 10 days of unrest and mass power outages were coming.

The chaos would culminate, she assured her son, in former president Donald Trump’s triumphant return to power on March 4, the original Inauguration Day before the passage of the 20th Amendment in 1932.

Tyler, 24, had been living with his mother an hour north of Minneapolis since he graduated college in 2019. The paranoia and fear that had engulfed his home had become unbearable in the months since Trump began to falsely claim that the 2020 election had been stolen from him.

ny times logoNew York Times, Behind Nashville Bombing, a Conspiracy Theorist Stewing Over Government, Steve Cavendish, Neil MacFarquhar, Jamie McGee and Adam Goldman, Feb. 24, 2021.  Anthony Warner, who was obsessed with an outlandish tale about lizard aliens and other plots, had been planning the Christmas Day bombing for months.

Mr. Warner, the authorities said, drove his booby-trapped white recreational vehicle to Second Avenue North in the pre-dawn hours. The detonation damaged some 50 buildings, collapsing a few and shearing the antique brick facades off others that will require years and tens of millions of dollars to restore. Two months later, the blast area remains a confused, desolate patchwork of boarded-up buildings, cyclone fencing and uneven reconstruction efforts.

The explosion, in front of an AT&T hub, crippled cellular, internet and cable service across several states for two days and underscored the vulnerability of such common yet unprotected facilities.

Though Mr. Warner’s motive remains shrouded in mystery, false information and outlandish tales had poisoned his mind, apparently driving him to spectacular violence. This mind-set has become alarmingly familiar to law enforcement officials now reckoning with the destructive force of conspiracy theories that mutate endlessly online and played a role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Mr. Warner, who was 63 when he died, was not among the angry QAnon followers who came to believe the unlikely theory that Donald J. Trump would hold onto power by defeating a satanic cabal. He was a computer specialist with a deep distrust of government, according to his own writings and to those who knew him. A loner, he had made at least one female friend feel manipulated and frightened. And he had cultivated a bizarre obsession with shape-shifting alien lizards and a dense thicket of other peculiar ideas.

Feb. 22

  supreme court Custom

djt resized joe biden

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court refuses to hear GOP challenge in light of Trump’s election loss in Pennsylvania, Robert Barnes, Feb. 22, 2021. The Supreme Court on Monday turned away Republican challenges to the presidential elections results in Pennsylvania, refusing to take up a months-long dispute over extending the deadline in that state for receiving mail-in ballots.

pennsylvania map major citiesIt was part of a purge of sorts. The high court formally dismissed a range of suits filed by Donald Trump and his allies in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia and Arizona — all states won by Democrat Joe Biden. The court’s intent in most of those had been signaled when Democratic-Republican Campaign logosit refused to expedite consideration of them before Biden was inaugurated as president.

The case about deadlines for receiving mail-in ballots was different, though. Three justices — Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch — said it deserved the court’s attention, even though the number of votes at issue would not call into question Biden’s victory.

“A decision in these cases would not have any implications regarding the 2020 election,” Alito wrote. “But a decision would provide invaluable wisconsin map with largest cities Customguidance for future elections.”

It takes the votes of four justices to accept a case for review. Although changing election rules because of the pandemic has been a theme of Republican challenges in the wake of Trump’s defeat, the rest of the conservative majority was silent.

Neither Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. nor two of the three justices nominated by Trump signed on to dissents from Thomas and Alito. Besides Gorsuch, Trump chose Justices Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

The issue is whether state courts or other officials have the right to change voting procedures set by the legislature where federal elections are at stake. In extending the right to a mail-in ballot to all voters, Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled legislature said the ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on election day to be counted.

But the state’s Democrats challenged that. Citing the pandemic and concerns about the Postal Service’s ability to deliver mail on time, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court extended the receipt deadline until three days after the election. It cited a provision in the state constitution promising fair elections.

In a pre-election challenge, the Supreme Court was deadlocked, meaning the extension applied. In the end, it affected fewer than 10,000 votes, and Biden won by about 80,000.

But the question of who decides voting procedures has become an important one for Republicans, who control more of the state’s legislatures.

Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh all endorsed a view that the Constitution’s command that the “legislature” design the rules of elections means that state courts and agencies do not have a free hand in making changes to state laws. They say federal courts have a role in overseeing the state court decisions.

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court again rejects Trump’s bid to shield tax returns, other records from Manhattan prosecutor, Robert Barnes, Feb. 22, 2021. The Supreme Court on Monday rejected former president Donald Trump’s last-chance effort to keep his private financial records from the Manhattan district attorney, ending a long and drawn-out legal battle.

After a four-month delay, the court denied Trump’s motion in a one-sentence order with no recorded dissents.

District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. has won every stage of the legal fight — including the first round at the Supreme Court — but has yet to receive the records he says are necessary for a grand jury investigation into whether the president’s companies violated state law.

irs logoVance responded to the court decision with a three-word tweet: “The work continues.”

The current fight is a follow-up to last summer’s decision by the high court that the president is not immune from a criminal investigation while he holds office.

“No citizen, not even the president, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority in that 7 to 2 decision.

But the justices said Trump could challenge the specific subpoena, as every citizen may, for being overbroad or issued in bad faith.

Supreme Court says Manhattan prosecutor may pursue Trump’s financial records, denies Congress access for now

A district judge and a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York found neither was the case.

Trump’s complaints “amount to generic objections that the subpoena is wide-ranging in nature,” the unanimous 2nd Circuit panel wrote. “Again, even if the subpoena is broad, the complaint does not adequately allege that it is overbroad. Complex financial and corporate investigations are broad by default.”

Similarly, the panel said, “we hold that none of the president’s allegations, taken together or separately, are sufficient to raise a plausible inference that the subpoena was issued out of malice or an intent to harass.”

Vance is seeking eight years of the former president’s tax returns and related documents as part of his investigation into alleged hush-money payments made ahead of the 2016 election to two women who said they had affairs with Trump years before. Trump denies the claims.

Investigators want to determine whether efforts were made to conceal the payments on tax documents by labeling them as legal expenses.

But Vance says there are other aspects of the investigation that have not been publicly disclosed. Court filings by the prosecutors suggest the investigation is looking into other allegations of impropriety, perhaps involving tax and insurance fraud.

djt handwave file

Proof via Substack, Investigative Commentary: Leading Republican Candidate for Governor of Virginia Met with Insurrectionists and Discussed Armed Rebellion the Day Before the January 6 seth abramson headshotInsurrection, Seth Abramson, left, Feb. 22, 2021 (republished from subscription site with permission). Recorded discussion included consideration of Donald Trump raising a personal army of more than a million combat veterans to help him retain control of the White House.

In the Republican gubernatorial primary in Virginia, State Senator Amanda Chase, below right, has a healthy lead of 7% over her nearest competitor. The bad news for Chase is that just 48 hours ago she lost a lawsuit seeking to compel the Republican Party of Virginia to hold a conventional primary rather than—as the party is now considering, and has until Tuesday to decide upon—a state “convention” at which the party’s 2021 gubernatorial candidate would be selected by a committee of just 72 party members.

Chase, who has been called “controversial” by local media, even “the Donald Trump of Virginia politics” by one source, certainly has reason to fear that her party’s leaders, as opposed to amanda chase resizedVirginia’s Trumpist voter base, might not select her to be their standard bearer for the November 2, 2021 gubernatorial election.

And it now appears that there’s very good reason for Virginia’s Republican leaders not to do so.

A no-longer-publicly-available social media thread allegedly depicting a January 5, 2021 Facebook Live event involving Chase and several infamous insurrectionists is now getting renewed attention. In the video (originally posted on a Facebook page that Facebook on January 8 suspended for 60 days) Chase speaks with Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers, and Joshua Macias, head of Vets for Trump. CNN notes that the FBI is investigating many of Rhodes’ associates in the Oath Keepers, and has arrested some of them in a plot detailed by the Wall Street Journal as involving gassing all of Congress to death in the tunnels beneath the United States Capitol. As for Macias, he was arrested on gun charges during the counting of seth abramson proof logovotes in Philadelphia and was later charged with felony election interference in November of 2020.

At one point in the video, with Senator Chase sitting between them, Macias and Rhodes have the following incredible exchange (made all the more harrowing because it comes just hours before Insurrection Day):

MACIAS: “…[t]he most well-trained—crucible-trained—combat veterans this world has ever seen….there are veterans out there that are well-trained, that can immediate [sic] president be brought in as a special group and be utilized—in any way, shape or form—at his [the president’s] disposal. And we have a million just in Vets for Trump right now, standing at the ready, let alone those within one degree of separation, and the six million that didn’t even vote before [in 2016], that now voted in the 2016 [sic] election. So here we sit [on January 5] at a precipice of change, where we have the community that’s ready to step in, do what is needed, we have those that are—the president has all the power and the authority to do so—and he has all the backing of “we the people” and the 80 million that voted for him.

RHODES: In fact, us veterans, until age 65, under federal statute, still are subject to being called up as a militia. It goes from 17 to 45 if you’re not a veteran; if you’re a veteran, because of our prior experience and training, it goes to age 65. He could call us up right now as a militia—

MACIAS: Right now!

RHODES: —and put us to work.

MACIAS: And he has the ability—with special groups—that he can pull them in in other ways as well, and we can intake all of them, and place them wherever he needs it. So he has, standing at the ready, well-trained—crucible-trained—veteran volunteers that are at the ready right now.

At another point in his comments, Macias spreads anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about George Soros controlling the U.S. criminal justice system and opines that “the Communists have taken over so many places in our country.” At several points in the Vets for Trump leader’s diatribe, Senator Chase visibly nods.

Less than two weeks later, Macias would, alongside Latinos for Trump—whose leader Bianca Gracia not only also appears in the January 5 video alongside Chase, Rhodes, and Macias, but had also appeared at the Stop the Steal/Rally to Save America that day—seek a Temporary Restraining Order in federal court in Texas to try to keep Joe Biden from being inaugurated. {Note: Other speakers at the January 5 rally included Roger Stone and Alex Jones, both of whom say—see the prior articles in Proof on this subject—that they were in touch with Trump or the White House in the days leading up to the insurrection.} 

djt maga hatSenator Chase attended the January 6 Stop the Steal/March to Save America event that incited the armed insurrection that day, and indeed recorded a video from the event in which she confirmed that “everyone” at the event was a Trump supporter and that there were “no counter-protestors”—a statement that, as of February 21, 2021, 58% of Trump voters disagree with (they claim, instead, per a USA Today poll, that it was “mostly an antifa-inspired attack that only involved a few Trump supporters”). In fact, New York Times cell phone tracking data confirms that the same group that attended the Trump rally at the White House Ellipse, which Chase denominated in her video as composed wholly of Trump supporters, thereafter stormed the Capitol.

Chase’s personal Facebook page, which has not yet been suspended by Facebook, includes the January 6 video but not the January 5 video of her discussion with several insurrectionists. In the January 6 video, which Chase closes with the words “stay tuned”, she can be seen wearing a lanyard around her neck that is attached to some sort of identification badge or access pass whose contents can’t readily be determined.

The New York Times calls Amanda Chase a Trump loyalist; Chase has called herself “Trump in heels.” Now that Chase’s hob-knobbing with insurrectionists to discuss—among other matters, like anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and false claims of a Communist takeover in the United States—armed insurrection is publicly known, it becomes a key question in American politics whether Trump will publicly endorse her. Per the Times, Chase called the January 6 insurrectionists “patriots” and “was still arguing with less than a week left in Mr. Trump’s presidency that he could yet be inaugurated for a second term.” At stake, therefore, in Virginia right now is whether Trump plans to make an active play to get insurrectionists into positions of power in 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).

 

Feb. 20

New York Magazine, Commentary: An Ex-KGB Agent Says Trump Was a Russian Asset Since 1987. Does it Matter? Jonathan Chait, Feb. 20, 2021. In 2018, I became either famous or notorious — depending on your point of view — for writing a story speculating that Russia had secret leverage over Trump (which turned out to be correct). The story’s most controversial suggestion was that it was plausible, though hardly certain, that Russia’s influence over Trump might even date back as far as 1987.

I conceded it was probably just a coincidence that Trump came back from his trip to Russia and started spouting themes that happened to dovetail closely with Russia’s geopolitical goal of splitting the United States from its allies. But there was a reasonable chance — I loosely pegged it at 10 or 20 percent — that the Soviets had planted some of these thoughts, which he had never expressed before the trip, in his head.

If I had to guess today, I’d put the odds higher, perhaps over 50 percent. One reason for my higher confidence is that Trump has continued to fuel suspicion by taking anomalously pro-Russian positions. He met with Putin in Helsinki, appearing strangely submissive, and spouted Putin’s propaganda on a number of topics including the ridiculous possibility of a joint Russian-American cybersecurity unit. (Russia, of course, committed the gravest cyber-hack in American history not long ago, making Trump’s idea even more self-defeating in retrospect than it was at the time.) He seemed to go out of his way to alienate American allies and blow up cooperation every time they met during his tenure.

A second reason is that reporter Craig Unger, left, got a former KGB spy to confirm on the record that Russian intelligence had been working Trump for decades. In his new book, “American craig unger twitterKompromat,” Unger interviewed Yuri Shvets, who told him that the KGB manipulated Trump with simple flattery. “In terms of his personality, the guy is not a complicated cookie,” he said, “his most important characteristics being low intellect coupled with hyperinflated vanity. This makes him a dream for an experienced recruiter.”

craig unger resized american kompromatThat’s quite similar to what I suggested in my story:

Russian intelligence gains influence in foreign countries by operating subtly and patiently. It exerts different gradations of leverage over different kinds of people, and uses a basic tool kit of blackmail that involves the exploitation of greed, stupidity, ego, and sexual appetite. All of which are traits Trump has in abundance.

This is what intelligence experts mean when they describe Trump as a Russian “asset.” It’s not the same as being an agent. An asset is somebody who can be manipulated, as opposed to somebody who is consciously and secretly working on your behalf.

Shvets told Unger that the KGB cultivated Trump as an American leader, and persuaded him to run his ad attacking American alliances. “The ad was assessed by the active measures directorate as one of the most successful KGB operations at that time,” he said, “It was a big thing — to have three major American newspapers publish KGB soundbites.”

To be clear, while Shvets is a credible source, his testimony isn’t dispositive. There are any number of possible motives for a former Soviet spy turned critic of Russia’s regime to manufacture an indictment of Trump. But the story he tells is almost exactly the possibility I sketched out. And it fits the known facts about how Russian intelligence works and what Trump has done pretty tightly.

One thing I have changed my mind on since my story ran is the effect any this would have on the American public even if it were proven.

If something like the most sinister plausible story turned out to be true, how much would it matter? Probably not that much. Don’t get me wrong: Russia having secret channels of leverage over an American president isn’t good. I have merely come to think that even if we could have confirmed the worst, to the point that even Trump’s supporters could no longer deny it, it wouldn’t have changed very much. Trump wouldn’t have been forced to resign, and his Republican supporters would not have had to repudiate him. The controversy would have simply receded into the vast landscape of partisan talking points — one more thing liberals mock Trump over, and conservatives complain about the media for covering instead of Nancy Pelosi’s freezer or antifa or the latest campus outrage.

One reason I think that is because a great deal of incriminating information was confirmed and very little in fact changed as a result. In 2018, Buzzfeed reported, and the next year Robert Mueller confirmed, explosive details of a Russian kompromat operation. During the campaign, Russia had been dangling a Moscow building deal that stood to give hundreds of millions of dollars in profit to Trump, at no risk. Not only did he stand to gain this windfall, but he was lying in public at the time about his dealings with Russia, which gave Vladimir Putin additional leverage over him. (Russia could expose Trump’s lies at any time if he did something to displease Moscow.)

Mueller even testified that this arrangement gave Russia blackmail leverage over Trump. But by the time these facts had passed from the realm of the mysterious to the confirmed, they had become uninteresting.

We don’t know what other sources of leverage Russia had, or how far back it went. Ultimately, whatever value Trump offered to Russia was compromised by his incompetence and limited ability to grasp firm control even of his own government’s foreign policy. It was not just the fabled “deep state” that undermined Trump. Even his own handpicked appointees constantly undermined him, especially on Russia. Whatever leverage Putin had was limited to a single individual, which meant there was nobody Trump could find to run the State Department, National Security Agency, and so on who shared his idiosyncratic Russophilia.

Feb. 15

Top Headlines

 

Potential Next Steps On 1/6 Probes

 

Top Stories

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s acquittal widens GOP divide, Amy B Wang, Feb. 15, 2021 (print ed.). Republicans continued to diverge on what the future of their party should be, with a chasm widening between those who want nothing to do with the former president and those who openly embrace him.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden is winning GOP support for his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan. Just not in Washington, Griff Witte, Feb. 15, 2021 (print ed.). GOP mayors and governors say the spending is urgently needed to help struggling cities and states.

ny times logoNew York Times, First They Guarded Roger Stone. Then They Joined the Capitol Attack, Christiaan Triebert, Ben Decker, Derek Watkins, Arielle Ray and Stella Cooper, Feb. 15, 2021 (print ed.). We combed through hundreds of videos and photos and drew on research from an online monitoring group to track the six men who protected Mr. Stone.

donald trump money palmer report Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Donations for a voter fraud probe shed light on how baseless claims led to hundreds of millions in gifts, Shawn Boburg and Jon Swaine, Feb. 15, 2021. The Trump campaign and the Republican Party collected $255 million in two months, saying the money would support legal challenges to an election marred by fraud. Financier Fred Eshelman gave $2.5 million to True the Vote, a group seeking to press the case in court. Now he wants his money back.

Like many Trump supporters, conservative donor Fred Eshelman awoke the day after the presidential election with the suspicion that something wasn’t right. His candidate’s apparent lead in key battleground states had evaporated overnight.

The next day, the North Carolina financier and his advisers reached out to a small conservative nonprofit group in Texas that was seeking to expose voter fraud. After a 20-minute talk with the group’s president, their first-ever conversation, Eshelman was sold.

“I’m in for 2,” he told the president of True the Vote, according to court documents and interviews with Eshelman and others.

“$200,000?” one of his advisers on the call asked.

“$2 million,” Eshelman responded.

Over the next 12 days, Eshelman came to regret his donation and to doubt conspiracy theories of rampant illegal voting, according to court records and interviews.

The story behind the Eshelman donation — detailed in previously unreported court filings and exclusive interviews with those involved — provides new insights into the frenetic days after the election, when baseless claims led donors to give hundreds of millions of dollars to reverse President Biden’s victory.

Trump’s campaign and the Republican Party collected $255 million in two months, saying the money would support legal challenges to an election marred by fraud. Trump’s staunchest allies in Congress also raised money off those false allegations, as did pro-Trump lawyers seeking to overturn the election results — and even some of their witnesses.

True the Vote was one of several conservative “election integrity” groups that sought to press the case in court. Though its lawsuits drew less attention than those brought by the Trump campaign, True the Vote nonetheless sought to raise more than $7 million for its investigation of the 2020 election.

Documents that have surfaced in Eshelman’s litigation, along with interviews, show how True the Vote’s private assurances that it was on the cusp of revealing illegal election schemes repeatedly fizzled as the group’s focus shifted from one allegation to the next. The nonprofit sought to coordinate its efforts with a coalition of Trump’s allies, including Trump attorney Jay Sekulow and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), the documents show.

Eshelman has alleged in two lawsuits — one in federal court has been withdrawn and the other is ongoing in a Texas state court — that True the Vote did not spend his $2 million gift and a subsequent $500,000 donation as it said it would. Eshelman also alleges that True the Vote directed much of his money to people or businesses connected to the group’s president, Catherine Engelbrecht.

 

Potential Next Steps On 1/6 Probes

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Could Trump be disqualified through other means? Jennifer Rubin, Feb. 15, 2021. Having witnessed the unflinching partisanship of Senate Republicans, the American people have two avenues left to hold the disgraced former president accountable for inciting insurrection.

Both Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who whiffed when presented with the chance to disqualify former president Donald Trump, recognized that criminal prosecution is still in the cards. Cheney noted in an interview recently that a “massive criminal investigation” was underway that could provide answers as to the extent of his involvement. McConnell practically invited a prosecutor with the spine he lacks to take on the case. “President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office, as an ordinary citizen, unless the statute of limitations has run. … Didn’t get away with anything yet,” he said.

The benefit of a criminal trial is that witnesses can be subpoenaed (e.g., former vice president Mike Pence). House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) under penalty of perjury could be required to recall his conversation pleading for help. The venue of the trial, Washington, might be favorable to the prosecution. Lawyers who behaved as defense counsel did in the impeachment would be held in contempt. The jury will not be “fixed” in advance.

Beyond a criminal prosecution (and an investigation in Georgia is already underway into Trump’s alleged effort to intimidate the Georgia secretary of state), there is another means of holding him accountable. Democrats could bring a bill or a concurrent resolution (which cannot be filibustered) to affirm that, according to the 14th Amendment, Section 3, the former president is ineligible to hold office. That provision states that someone who engaged in “insurrection” or had “given aid or comfort” to those who did cannot hold federal office. That Civil War provision prohibited Confederate officials and military officers from serving in the Union unless granted a reprieve by a two-thirds vote.

McConnell has already confirmed on the floor that the former president was responsible for a violent insurrection. While there is scant precedent, it is almost certainly true that the presidency from which he would be disqualified is covered by “any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State” in Section 3. (It would be bizarre if one could be excluded from running for the House but not the presidency.)

Congress could go even further and, as one lawyer exploring this avenue told me, “expressly authorize the Attorney General to bring an action to enforce Section Three against President Trump before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals (or a three-judge federal district court panel) and allow for immediate and expedited appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

tom kean lee hamilton

washington post logoWashington Post, 9/11 commission leaders call for bipartisan probe into Capitol attack, Dan Balz, Feb. 15, 2021 (print ed.). A traumatic moment for the country will not quickly fade, nor should it, not after an attack on the symbol of democracy and democracy itself.

Saturday’s 57-to-43 vote brought an end to Congress’s formal effort to hold former president Donald Trump accountable for the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. But that traumatic moment for the country will not quickly fade, nor should it, not after an attack on the symbol of democracy and democracy itself.

The Senate vote left multiple questions still to be answered, including some that the president’s legal team deflected during the trial. Chief among them: Exactly what did Trump know as the attacks were unfolding, and why he didn’t he do anything to protect Vice President Mike Pence or order immediate reinforcements to the beleaguered law enforcement officers at the Capitol? Trump could yet face judgment in court, whether criminal or civil, but the full story of what happened and how it happened remains untold.

One vehicle for fact finding that could lead to protecting the Capitol, those who work there and the democratic institutions they are sworn to defend is the kind of commission that Tom Kean, above left, the former Republican governor of New Jersey, and Lee Hamilton, above right, the former Democratic House member from Indiana, headed after 9/11 and now are advocating to investigate the Jan. 6 events.

On Friday, Kean and Hamilton sent a letter to President Biden and to the bipartisan leaders in the House and Senate urging the establishment of a commission that would be both independent and bipartisan. In a time of partisanship and, among most Republicans tribal loyalty to Trump, it will be a challenge to assemble a group that meets those criteria, but the two leaders say it is, nonetheless, essential to try.

In the letter, the two wrote, “The shocking and tragic assault of Jan. 6th on the U.S. Capitol requires thorough investigation, to ensure that the American people learn the truth of what happened that day. An investigation should establish a single narrative and set of facts to identify how the Capitol was left vulnerable, as well as corrective actions to make the institution safe again.”

Neither Kean nor Hamilton sought to make a direct comparison with the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and those of Jan. 6. But as Kean put it in an interview: The Capitol attack “was a wound to democracy itself. . . . If the people we elect cannot be safe when they’re trying to do their work, then the country’s in trouble and will remain in trouble, and we’ve got to therefore get to the bottom of it.”

The police officer Eugene Goodman is shown also holding off the pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6 (Photo by Igor Bobic of HuffPost via Storyful).

The police officer Eugene Goodman is shown also holding off the pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6 (Photo by Igor Bobic of HuffPost via Storyful).

ny times logoNew York Times, Calls Grow for Commission to Investigate Capitol Riot, Emily Cochrane, Feb. 15, 2021 (print ed.). Lawmakers are increasingly pushing for a 9/11-style panel that would examine failures and make recommendations. It could also be a final chance for Congress to hold Donald J. Trump to account.

Lawmakers fresh off the impeachment acquittal of former President Donald J. Trump are issuing growing calls for a bipartisan commission to investigate the administrative and law enforcement failures that led to the mob attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6 and recommend changes to prevent another siege.

Such a commission appears to be the primary remaining option for Congress to try to hold Mr. Trump to account for his role in the assault. Top lawmakers have quashed the idea of a post-impeachment censure of the former president, and the possibility of barring him from future office under the 14th Amendment, which prohibits any official involved in “insurrection or rebellion” from holding office, seems remote.

madeleine dean oLawmakers in both parties have called for a commission modeled on the bipartisan panel established after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Representative Madeleine Dean, right, Democrat of Pennsylvania and an impeachment manager, described it on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday as “an impartial commission, not guided by politics, filled with people who would stand up to the courage of their conviction.”

President George W. Bush signed a law establishing the 9/11 Commission in 2002, mandated to investigate what caused the attack and what might have stopped it, and to outline how to prevent a similar attack. After a 20-month investigation, the commission offered three dozen recommendations for how to reshape intelligence coordination and congressional oversight.

“We need a 9/11 Commission to find out what happened and make sure it never happens again, and I want to make sure that the Capitol footprint can be better defended next time,” Senator Lindsey Graham, left, Republican of South Carolina, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

In the House, rank-and-file lawmakers in both parties have introduced legislation that would establish a commission, with some Democrats proposing a broader examination of the federal government’s response to domestic terrorism and violent extremism.

Nancy Pelosi “We will have an after-action review,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, left, told reporters late last month. “There will be a commission.” She has since been briefed repeatedly by retired Gen. Russel L. Honoré, who has been tapped to examine security on Capitol Hill, which remains surrounded by fences lined with razor wire and under the watch of National Guard troops.

“In the near future, Congress needs to smartly transition to a more sustainable security presence,” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, said in late January. “Keeping the Capitol safe cannot and will not require huge numbers of uniformed troops and vast systems of emergency fencing to remain in place forever.”

Democrats, who abruptly dropped what had been a successful demand for witnesses during the final day of the trial on Saturday, framed a possible commission on Sunday as a way to not only understand the failures that had led to the breach of the Capitol but also to underscore Mr. Trump’s role in the events.

chris coons o“There’s still more evidence that the American people need and deserve to hear,” Senator Chris Coons, right, Democrat of Delaware, said on “This Week,” adding that a commission would “make sure that we secure the Capitol going forward and lay bare the record of just how responsible” Mr. Trump was for the attack.

Before the impeachment proceedings, there had been discussion of a bipartisan censure resolution in lieu of a trial. But lawmakers quickly abandoned the idea as the trial moved forward, in part because Democrats had demanded stronger language than what Republicans were comfortable with. Asked about the chances for a resolution intended to keep Mr. Trump from running for office again, Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Republican, said, “I don’t think that’ll go anywhere.”

“Every senator has had the opportunity to express his or her views,” said Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, who had been involved in the discussions.

Ms. Pelosi, speaking a news conference on Saturday, declared such a resolution to be “a slap in the face of the Constitution.”

“We censure people for using stationery for the wrong purpose,” she said. “We don’t censure people for inciting insurrection that kills people in the Capitol.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Chaos before Trump’s acquittal: Inside Democrats’ 11th-hour witness dilemma, Mike DeBonis and Tom Hamburger, Feb. 14, 2021 (print ed.). House impeachment managers backed away from a final push to call witnesses and extend the trial of former president Donald Trump, but not before exposing long-simmering tensions among Democrats over how aggressively to hold him accountable.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: 9 witnesses who would give important testimony at Trump’s impeachment trial, Aaron Blake, Feb. 14, 2021 (print ed.). Trump won't testify in his impeachment trial; Former president Donald Trump's lawyers on Feb. 4 rejected a request from Democrats for Trump to testify at his impeachment trial.

The second impeachment trial of Donald Trump might include witnesses after all. Shortly after the trial began Saturday, lead House impeachment manager Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) said he would like to subpoena Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.).

Beutler, who was one of 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump last month, confirmed overnight that Trump declined House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) request to more forcefully call off his supporters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.

“When McCarthy finally reached the president on Jan. 6 and asked him to publicly and forcefully call off the riot, the president initially repeated the falsehood that it was antifa that had breached the Capitol,” Beutler said. “McCarthy refuted that and told the president that these were Trump supporters. That’s when, according to McCarthy, the president said, ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.’”

For more than a week, it has been reported that it was unlikely the trial would include any witnesses. It’s still not clear that it will. Witnesses are subject to votes of the Senate, and Trump’s team has threatened to call many witnesses in response. Trump lawyer Michael van der Veen angrily responded to Raskin’s call by suggesting he would need depositions of more than 100 people. He mentioned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Vice President Harris specifically.

But with the prospect of witnesses suddenly very real, it’s worth going through who could shed light.

1. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler
2. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.)
3. The Capitol rioters who cited Trump
4. The Trump aides involved in planning the rally

Media News

Columbia Journalism Review, Opinion: Thread Man: Seth Abramson’s viral meta-journalism unreality, Lyz Lenz, Published eletronically on Feb. 11, 2021, with a dateline of Feb. 15). For four years, America has been ruled by the tyranny of tweets, and the news media has been tangled in threads. Twitter threads are a way for journalists to gather information and to promote their work; Virginia Heffernan wrote in Politico that they have become the “literary form of the Trump era.”

One of the most prominent Twitter-thread stars is Seth Abramson, who came to the fore around 2017, as the American press was choking on news about Russian interference in the presidential election.

Every story was cloaked in subterfuge: The hacking of the Democratic National Committee. That time Ivanka Trump sat in Vladimir Putin’s chair. When Donald Trump grabbed an interpreter’s notes and crumpled them up. The Miss Universe pageant. Cable news anchors sputtered out names: Maria Butina, George Papadopoulos, Paul Manafort. What did it all mean? If the frenzy of scoops presented a vast evidence board of clues and suspects, we needed someone to connect all the pieces into some kind of meta-narrative.

Enter Abramson, on Twitter, arguing that out in the open was all the proof required to see the truth about our wildest fears and hopes: crimes had been committed, and the evidence was already being reported on by major media outlets. He was the man uniquely capable of pulling the loose threads together.

Lyz Lenz is a writer based in Iowa. Her writing has appeared in Pacific Standard, Marie Claire, Jezebel, and the Washington Post.

Twitter, @SethAbramson via Twitter response to CJR. Seth Abramson—author, professor, lawyer, investigative reporter—responded on Feb. 15 to the article excerpted above with an extended Twitter thread describing the piece as defamatory and biased. That 31-part Twitter thread's top few items are excerpted below.

Abramson, shown at right in a photo showing the cover of one of his three recent books about Donald Trump, also rebuked New York Times White House reporter Maggie Haberman for retweeting the CJR piece, also as excerpted below. Additionally, he published on Feb. 18 via Substack a lengthy overview of the changing media industry, entitled, Twelve Things You Need to Know About Metajournalism. This previewed a book on the topic planned for publication in 2022.

·
Feb 15:

(THREAD) On February 11, CJR published a piece on me by Lyz Lenz (@LyzL. It [CJR] had been informed in writing months earlier—before Lenz began her work—that Lenz felt malice toward me. I requested a different interviewer. The request was ignored. This is the story of what came next.
·
1/ I tell this story not just because it's shocking, but for three other reasons. Columbia University wishes for me to itemize my complaints with the piece—having already declared it will make no changes to it—and I see no reason why I should do so privately rather than publicly.

2/ Second, what happened to me at the hands of CJR—defamation—has happened to many other independent journalists at the hands of other media outlets. Right now there is a needless war between Old Media and New Media, and Old Media is fighting dirty. It has to stop, and right now.

3/ Third—and this is impossible to explain fully if you've never had a major-media hit-piece about you filled almost exclusively with provable lies go viral—it's traumatic and scary and one of the worst things to happen in the life of those it happens to. Folks need to know this.

4/ The bulk of this thread hereafter will be screenshots of my response to the Office of the General Counsel at Columbia University. I apologize in advance that the text will be small. You will need to (a) read it on a desktop computer, and (b) click on the image to enlarge it.

5/ If you want to know what really lies behind the hit-pieces you see in major media that convince you to unfollow someone or never again respect them, please read this thread. You will understand that these publications are lying to you about their standards and their practices.

6/ Those who want to know my personal and professional background—which includes being a journalism professor, a lawyer, and someone who's been in journalism as a practitioner for 27 years—can read my bio below to get a better sense of my view/experience.

7/ Before we get to the screenshots, I want to close this part of the thread by saying that this thread will cost this feed thousands of subscribers. That's how it works. I'm willing to pay the price for telling the truth about a hit-piece many in major media gleefully retweeted.

8/ Now to the letter....

Feb. 14

Proof via Substack, Investigative Commentary: Some Say the Criminal Justice System Will Save Us From Trump — But Can It? Seth Abramson, left, Feb. 14, 2021. The "New Big Lie" is a bait-and-switch involving the indictment of Donald Trump.
seth abramson headshot

Having spent nearly a decade working in state and federal criminal justice systems — including as a criminal investigator in the federal justice system in D.C. and a criminal defense attorney in Massachusetts and New Hampshire — I have as many opinions as everyone else about what our justice system is equipped to handle and what it is not.

Right now we have many D.C. politicians, particularly powerful Republicans like Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), telling us the appropriate forum for disqualifying a politician from future office is the federal criminal justice system. They sagely aver that if we will just accept that the proper jurisdiction for litigating a President of the United States inciting armed insurrection against the government in the waning days of his administration is the federal courthouse in D.C. — not, say, the chambers of Congress—all will be well. America will be rid of the scourge of Trump.

Except, per usual, they’re lying. But this lie is far more pernicious than many realize.

seth abramson proof logoFirst, understand while our justice systems can indict, prosecute, and incarcerate citizens for countless statutory crimes, they struggle to do so in a timely fashion — sometimes at all — if a defendant is rich, particularly if he’s also powerful and famous. There are many reasons for this, perhaps foremost among them that prosecutors in the United States are not apolitical. In fact, for reasons passing understanding, we created state and federal justice systems in which the most politically oriented prosecutors flourish — those who avoid pushing cases that are or may become politically unpopular, corner a defendant with powerful allies, or lead to a precedent that disadvantages the already advantaged.

Donald Trump is almost the Platonic case of a prospective federal defendant who, if disposed of in the same way any of the rest of us would be, could destroy not just the professional futures but also the personal lives of anyone who takes him on. Why should an ambitious prosecutor hoping to leverage that career track into some future political office take the risk of becoming a pariah to about half of the voters they may ultimately need to rely upon? Why risk losing a high-profile case someone above you in the hierarchy believes should have been won, and therefore losing your job rather than being vaulted even higher into the ranks of high-visibility public servants? And why do any of this when the very scions of public service you most wish to impress — the folks who work in D.C. and, in that group, particularly those in the White House — have already publicly decided not to pursue any action against Donald Trump, even a slam-dunk campaign finance case in which he remains an unindicted co-conspirator?

Second, the simple fact is that our criminal justice systems have no authority at all to bar someone from future office. Their only option, instead, is to incarcerate people for such a long period of time that they will die before they can run for office again. Is this what McConnell and Rubio would have us think they believe may happen here? That Trump — a seventy-something with no prior record; enough money to delay any case almost indefinitely through frivolous legal action (and a track record of always doing so successfully); at least 74 million supporters who wanted him to be the most powerful man in America not 120 days ago, many of whom (more than half) think he’s currently America’s rightful president; and access to legions of domestic terrorists likely to threaten and perhaps harm any prosecutor who juror who takes any adverse action against him—is going to be not just indicted and prosecuted and caged but for so long his political career will be effectively over? At a moment his popularity within the Republican Party remains well over 70%?

It won’t happen. It would be a miracle surpassing human understanding — and defying hundreds of years of history within the federal justice system—if, in prospective cases in Washington and Georgia, Trump were to be charged at all, let alone successfully prosecuted and then imprisoned. America has no track record of incarcerating a man of Trump’s notoriety, stature, and authority, let alone in a way that incapacitates him for a long period of time. Even the friends of men as powerful as Trump — think Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, or Steve Bannon — consider themselves immune from any long-term consequences for their actions; history has proven their presumption to be correct.

Donald Trump has recourses no other federal defendant would have, for instance to convincingly claiming that any prosecution of him is “political,” or having legions of powerful Republicans with ready access to the media saying as much at all hours of the day; he has civilian supporters he can effortlessly marshal to so intimidate any federal prosecutors, investigators, law enforcement officials, judges, or juries pursuing him as to make successfully convicting him (let alone caging him) so distant a possibility that only the most devout left-wing wish-casters can fathom it. Do I wish it were otherwise? Have I argued daily for years that it should be otherwise? Did I and millions of others work in the justice system at various points in our lives in part as an effort to ensure that all defendants are treated fairly, no matter their resources? Yes, yes, and again yes. Which is why I can report that anyone in D.C. now claiming that Trump will be dealt with properly by our legal system is lying to you. Our system isn’t equipped to do it.

Third, we must understand that the only reason men like McConnell and Rubio are pointing toward federal courts in D.C. and Georgia, or the state courts in New York, as the appropriate venues for disposing of Trump post-impeachment, is because they want to (a) distract us, (b) move the goalposts of accountability, (c) remove themselves from responsibility for whatever happens.

Per the Constitution, the body with the power to disqualify an elected official from holding future office is Congress — not the federal courts. We find this power enshrined, in both of its two instances frustratingly vaguely, in both the Impeachment Clause and Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In the former case, the disqualification vote requires only a majority of members of Congress, but it remains unclear whether this vote can be taken, during an impeachment proceeding, whether or not the respondent in such a proceeding is convicted. While the issue hasn’t been litigated in the past, to date both Democrats and Republicans have seemed to presume that you can’t be disqualified from future office until you’ve been convicted of having committed malfeasance in your present (or recent) office. It’s an argument that doesn’t explain why the vote threshold required is different in the two instances, or for that matter why senators are allowed to use whatever standard of proof they wish in either of the two inquiries.

Even though we know the Constitution is silent on the standard of proof in an impeachment proceeding, politicians have — perhaps to better protect themselves—decided a senator can’t deem the bar for conviction to be higher than the bar for disqualification from future office.

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).

Feb. 10

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 More On Trump Trial

 

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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).

ny times logoNew York Times, Senate Votes to Allow Trump Impeachment Trial to Proceed, Peter Baker, Feb. 10, 2021 (print ed.). Trial of Former President Is Found Constitutional, With 6 G.O.P. Votes, Senate Votes to Proceed With Trump’s 2nd Impeachment Trial.

The Senate voted on Tuesday to proceed with the impeachment trial of former President Donald J. Trump, rejecting his defense team’s claim that it would be unconstitutional to prosecute a president after leaving office. But the final tally signaled that his Republican allies could muster enough support to potentially block the two-thirds necessary for conviction.

The 56-to-44 vote, with six Republicans joining all 50 Democrats, paved the way for the House Democrats trying the case to formally open their arguments on Wednesday afternoon as they seek to prove that Mr. Trump incited an insurrection by encouraging supporters who stormed the Capitol last month and disrupted the counting of Electoral College votes.

But the 44 Republicans who agreed with Mr. Trump’s claim that a former president cannot be subject to an impeachment trial seemed to all but guarantee that he would have the 34 votes he needs on the final verdict to avoid conviction. To succeed, the House managers would need to persuade at least 11 Republican senators to find Mr. Trump guilty in a trial that they have deemed unconstitutional.

The vote came after House managers, arguing to proceed with the trial, presented the Senate with a vivid and graphic sequence of footage of Mr. Trump’s backers assaulting the Capitol last month.

american flag upside down distressThe managers wasted no time moving immediately to their most powerful evidence: the explicit visual record of the deadly Capitol siege that threatened the lives of former Vice President Mike Pence and members of both houses of Congress juxtaposed against Mr. Trump’s own words encouraging members of the mob at a rally beforehand.

The scenes of mayhem and violence — punctuated by expletives rarely heard on the floor of the Senate — highlighted the drama of the trial in gut-punching fashion for the senators who lived through the events barely a month ago and now sit as quasi-jurors. On the screens, they saw enraged extremists storming barricades, beating police officers, setting up a gallows and yelling, “Take the building,” “Fight for Trump” and “Pence is a traitor! Traitor Pence!”

jamie raskin feb 10 resized senate“You ask what a high crime and misdemeanor is under our Constitution,” Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, right, the leader of the House Democrats prosecuting the case, told the senators after playing the video. “That’s a high crime and misdemeanor. If that’s not an impeachable offense, then there’s no such thing.”

Mr. Trump’s lawyers responded by arguing that his words at the rally on Jan. 6 constituted free speech akin to typical political language and hardly incited the violence. They characterized the impeachment as yet another partisan attack driven by animus that will set a precedent for political retribution as power changes with each election.

“The political pendulum will shift one day,” Bruce L. Castor Jr., the lawyer leading off for the former president, told the Senate. “This chamber and the chamber across the way will change one day and partisan impeachments will become commonplace.”

The second trial of Mr. Trump opened in the crime scene itself, the same chamber occupied on Jan. 6 by the mob that forced senators to evacuate in the middle of counting the Electoral College votes ratifying President Biden’s victory.

Never before has a president been tried by the Senate twice, much less after his term has expired, but Mr. Trump’s accusers argue that his actions in his final days in power were so egregious and threatening to democracy that he must be held accountable.

“What you experienced that day, what we experienced that day, what our country experienced that day, is the framers’ worst nightmare come to life,” Representative Joe Neguse, Democrat of Colorado and another impeachment manager, told the senators. “Presidents can’t inflame insurrection in their final weeks and then walk away like nothing happened.”

Even though Mr. Trump can no longer be removed from office, conviction would stand as a statement of repudiation for history and permit the senators to bar him from running for federal office again.

The managers maintained that there must be no “January exception” for presidents to escape repercussions through impeachment on their way out of office and cited a series of writings by the nation’s framers as well as contemporary conservative scholars.

 ny times logoNew York Times, What to Watch For on Day 2 of Trump’s Impeachment Trial, Zach Montague, Feb. 10, 2021. House Democrats will make their case for convicting former President Trump in what could be an exceptionally short impeachment trial. Senators narrowly voted on Tuesday to move ahead with the trial, an indication that Mr. Trump is likely to be acquitted. Here’s what to expect today.

House Democrats will lay out the case for convicting former President Donald J. Trump on Wednesday as the Senate forges ahead with what could well become the fastest presidential impeachment trial in history.

After a compact debate on Tuesday over the constitutionality of the proceeding, senators narrowly voted to move ahead with the trial to decide whether Mr. Trump is guilty of inciting a deadly mob of his supporters to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6.

The central question facing lawmakers on Tuesday was whether a former president could be tried by the Senate for high crimes and misdemeanors. By a 56-to-44 vote, senators found that the body did have jurisdiction to do so.

The Senate will convene again at noon Wednesday.

How quickly will this go?

Under the rules agreed to by both sides, the prosecution and defense each have up to 16 hours to present their cases.

jamin raskin american university Custom 2Both the House managers, led by Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, right, and Mr. Trump’s defense lawyers will be limited to eight hours on any given day of the trial.

Neither side is expected to fully use the allotted time, as both parties appear eager to conclude the proceedings as quickly as possible, particularly given that Mr. Trump seems headed toward an all but certain acquittal.

This was reflected in the latest draft of the trial rules, which has senators scheduled to meet for a rare Sunday session if no verdict has been reached before then. The trial had already been set to continue into the weekend after Mr. Trump’s lawyers withdrew a request to break on Friday evening in observance of the Jewish Sabbath.

Mr. Trump’s first impeachment trial, last year, lasted only 21 days, but his second could move even faster.

Wednesday’s arguments may very well establish the pace for the rest of the proceedings.

How will House prosecutors connect the dots?

House prosecutors set the tone for their opening arguments on Tuesday by sharing an arresting video montage of the violence at the Capitol last month, laying out a chronological account of the rampage as it unfolded.

The 13-minute clip showed scenes of brutality and mayhem, laced with profanities, forcing some television networks to add content warnings and many of those present in the chamber to relive the assault on the Capitol on Jan. 6 as they met to affirm President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s election victory.

The House managers appear to have at least two goals: dredging up vivid and emotional memories from that day, and hammering home their point that Mr. Trump was personally responsible for igniting the violence. 

jamie raskin feb 10 resized senate

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Jamie Raskin won the impeachment trial before it began, Jennifer Rubin, Feb. 9, 2021. Raskin, above, delivers emotional jennifer rubin new headshotrecollection of Capitol attack. “Winning” the impeachment trial means removing any reasonable doubt in the minds of Americans that President Donald Trump incited a riot, that he let it continue in desperate attempt to keep power and that Republicans simply do not care. The House impeachment managers did a masterful job on all points in their opening arguments on Tuesday.

Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.), the lead House manager, demolished the notion that presidents get a free pass to commit high crimes in the waning days of their terms. On its face, Raskin explained, it’s absurd to argue that “conduct that would be a high crime and misdemeanor in your first year as president and your second year as president and your third year as president and for the vast majority of your fourth year as president, you can suddenly do in your last few weeks in office without facing any constitutional accountability at all,” he said, adding that it would have been the Founders’ “worst nightmare.”

Let’s not forget that the only reason the impeachment, which the House voted on before Trump left office, was not sent to trial immediately was because then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his fellow Republicans stalled. They break the hypocrisy meter by turning around and claiming that the Senate, therefore, cannot try Trump now.

Beyond conclusively establishing the trial’s constitutionality, Raskin brought back to life the horrifying hours of Jan. 6 when insurrectionists, hyped-up on Trumpian fury, assaulted the Capitol. The Post reported: “Almost every senatorial eye in the chamber was glued to the screens as lead House manager Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) played a 13-minute video depicting the events of Jan. 6 to introduce the impeachment case against [former president Donald Trump] — with a few notable exceptions.” It was obvious why Republican Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Rick Scott (Fla.), and Rand Paul (Ky.) cravenly averted their gaze: The scenes were so disturbing as to render their defense of the former president a moral abomination.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trial begins with clash over proceedings’ constitutionality, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz and Felicia Sonmez, Feb. 10, 2021 (print ed.). Senators hear debate over trying a former president.

  • Raskin, overcome with emotion, pleads: ‘People died that day. Senators, this cannot be our future'
  • Trump ‘sided with the insurrectionists,’ Rep. Cicilline says
  • Rep. Neguse says Jan. 6 was ‘the framers’ worst nightmare come to life’
  • Rep. Neguse cites historical precedents, views of conservative legal scholars
  • As video of Capitol riot played, some GOP senators turned away
  • Constitutional expert quoted by Trump’s attorneys says his views are ‘misrepresented’

 

djt handwave file

ny times logoNew York Times, Meandering Performance by Defense Lawyers Enrages Trump, Maggie Haberman, Feb. 10, 2021 (print ed.) The former president was particularly angry at Bruce L. Castor Jr., one of his lawyers, for acknowledging the effectiveness of the House Democrats’ presentation.

On the first day of his second impeachment trial, former President Donald J. Trump was mostly hidden from view on Tuesday at Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Palm Beach, Fla., moving from the new office that aides set up to his private quarters outside the main building.

bruce castorMr. Trump was said to have meetings that were put on his calendar to coincide with his defense team’s presentation and keep him occupied. But he still managed to catch his two lawyers, Bruce L. Castor Jr., right, and David I. Schoen, on television — and he did not like what he saw, according to two people briefed on his reaction.

Mr. Castor, the first to speak, delivered a rambling, almost somnambulant defense of the former president for nearly an hour. Mr. Trump, who often leaves the television on in the background even when he is holding meetings, was furious, people familiar with his reaction said.

On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the angriest, Mr. Trump “was an eight,” one person familiar with his reaction said.

And while he was heartened that his other lawyer, Mr. Schoen, gave a more spirited performance, Mr. Trump ended the day frustrated and irate, the people familiar with his reaction said.

Unlike his first Senate impeachment trial, just over a year ago, Mr. Trump has no Twitter feed to do what he believes he does better than anyone else — defend himself — and to dangle threats of retaliation over the heads of Republican senators who serve on the impeachment jury.

So the former president was forced to rely on a traditional method of defense — lawyers in the well of the Senate chamber, and allies spreading word about their plans to defend him against the charge of “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the deadly assault on the Capitol on Jan. 6 by a mob of supporters.

In the lead-up to the trial this week, Mr. Trump’s allies and advisers said he seemed to be taking his second impeachment more or less in stride, preoccupied with his golf game and his struggling business, and trying to ignore what was happening in Washington.

But the fact that he struggled to retain a full team of lawyers for the trial was a source of concern to some of his aides. None of the lawyers from the first impeachment trial who defended Mr. Trump returned for the second round. And most of the team he initially hired abruptly parted ways with him days before the trial began.

capitol peter stager

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Why Democrats must make the full case against Trump, Megan McArdle, right, Feb. 10, 2021 (print ed.). If Donald Trump directly megan mcardlecaused the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6 (shown above), then Democrats need to prove it.

To be clear, I believe Trump deserves to be convicted of grave crimes against the republic and barred from ever again running for office. But I also believe that asserting these things will not suffice; Americans need to see all the evidence. And I’m worried that Democrats won’t supply enough of it.

Citizens need testimony and documentation that painstakingly lays out the theory of the case: how Trump planned to claim fraud well before the election and how he followed through afterward, using false statements and frivolous lawsuits to deceive his followers into believing that he hadn’t really lost; how his political team helped bring the angriest and most extreme of those followers to D.C. on the day the results were being certified and whipped the crowd into a rage; how Trump himself then pointed that mob at Congress; and how the president both demonstrated and magnified his complicity by refusing to intervene for long hours as his supporters rampaged through the U.S. Capitol.

Yet as I write, opening arguments have begun in Trump’s Senate trial, and Democrats aren’t even sure whether they’re going to call witnesses.

Despite the gravity of the charges, already the situation looks similar to what happened in Trump’s first Senate trial: Democrats accuse Trump of outrage after outrage, and Republicans call this a frivolous political witch hunt, until finally proceedings end in a mostly party-line vote that Trump will use to claim persecution. The only difference is that this time a few more brave Republicans may vote to convict.

Why, then, do I think that meticulous case must nonetheless be made, even if it takes weeks and means losing momentum for other items on the Biden agenda?

djt maga hatOne reason is to put the powerful people who colluded with Trump on the record, under penalty of perjury. People who made baseless claims of election fraud, or helped assemble that volatile mob on the day of the certification, are more responsible for what happened than the deluded fanatics who followed their lead; they should be more accountable. Force them to acknowledge what they did, or let history record their refusal to do so.

More important is to lay out the entire case before the large number of Americans who haven’t understood exactly how the events of Jan. 6 unfolded or how much Trump and his allies did to foment that insurrection. That is, those Americans who support impeachment, but weakly, should be left in no doubt that they are on the right side. And Republicans who support Trump, but weakly, should be given every chance to change their minds.

ny times logoNew York Times, Georgia Prosecutors Open Criminal Investigation of Trump Call, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, Feb. 10, 2021. Prosecutors are investigating former President Trump’s January phone call to the Georgia secretary of state asking him to “find” votes.

georgia mapProsecutors in Fulton County have initiated a criminal investigation into former President Donald J. Trump’s attempts to overturn Georgia’s election results, including a phone call he made to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which Mr. Trump pressured him to “find” enough votes to help him reverse his loss.

brad raffenspergerOn Wednesday, Fani Willis, the recently elected Democratic prosecutor in Fulton County, sent a letter to numerous officials in state government, including Mr. Raffensperger, left, requesting that they preserve documents related to Mr. Trump’s call, according to a state official with knowledge of the letter. The letter explicitly stated that the request was part of a criminal investigation, said the official, who insisted on anonymity to discuss internal matters.

The inquiry comes as Mr. Trump faces a second impeachment trial in Washington this week, on a charge of “incitement of insurrection” for his role in stirring up the mob that attacked the Capitol on Jan 6. The violence that day followed weeks of false claims by the former president that election fraud deprived him of victory, including in Georgia, where he lost by about 12,000 votes.

For two months after Joseph R. Biden Jr. was declared the winner, Mr. Trump relentlessly attacked election officials in Georgia, including Mr. Raffensperger and the Republican governor, Brian Kemp, claiming they were not doing enough to uncover instances of voting fraud that might change the outcome. In addition to the phone call to Mr. Raffensperger, he also called Gov. Brian Kemp in early December and pressured him to call a special legislative session to overturn his election loss. Later that month, Mr. Trump called a state investigator and pressed the official to “find the fraud,” according to those with knowledge of the call.

The inquiry makes Georgia the second state after New York where Mr. Trump faces a criminal investigation. And it comes in a jurisdiction where potential jurors are unlikely to be hospitable to the former president; Fulton County encompasses most of Atlanta and overwhelmingly supported President Biden in the November election.

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Bars Trump From Receiving Intelligence Briefings, Citing ‘Erratic Behavior,’ David E. Sanger, Updated Feb. 10, 2021. President Biden said there was “no need” for former President Donald J. Trump to get the briefings, traditionally given to ex-presidents as a courtesy and to keep them informed if their advice is needed.

joe biden flag profile uncredited palmerPresident Biden said on Friday that he would bar his predecessor, Donald J. Trump, from receiving intelligence briefings traditionally given to former presidents, saying that Mr. Trump could not be trusted because of his “erratic behavior” even before the Jan. 6 attack on the CIA LogoCapitol.

The move was the first time that a former president had been cut out of the briefings, which are provided partly as a courtesy and partly for the moments when a sitting president reaches out for advice. Currently, the briefings are offered on a regular basis to Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Mr. Biden, speaking to Norah O’Donnell of CBS News, said Mr. Trump’s behavior worried him “unrelated to the insurrection” that gave rise to the second impeachment of Mr. Trump.


“I just think that there is no need for him to have the intelligence briefings,” Mr. Biden said.

Adam Schiff“What value is giving him an intelligence briefing?” Mr. Biden added. “What impact does he have at all, other than the fact he might slip and say something?”

The White House said this week that it had been reviewing whether the former president, whose impeachment trial in the Senate begins on Tuesday, should receive the briefings. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam B. Schiff, left, said last month, just before Mr. Biden’s inauguration, that Mr. Trump’s access to any classified information should be cut off.

“There is no circumstance in which this president should get another intelligence briefing, not now and not in the future,” said Mr. Schiff, Democrat of California, who was the House manager for Mr. Trump’s first impeachment trial, a year ago.

More On Trump Trial

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

Proof via Substack, Investigative Commentary: Solving the Biggest Mystery of January 6, Seth Abramson, left, Feb. 10, 2021. Unraveling contacts between the seth abramson headshotWhite House and three Stop the Steal coordinators is the key to the House managers' case. But it appears that no one is looking into it.

The Mystery

seth abramson proof logoTeam Trump wanted Stop the Steal to tell the mob on January 6 that Trump was going to the Capitol, even though Team Trump knew that wasn’t true. And Trump told the mob directly that he was going to the Capitol during his January 6 speech, even though he knew that wasn’t true.

And the result of these actions is that the Stop the Steal organizers of the March to Save America told thousands and thousands of people that it was okay to trespass on the Capitol grounds because Trump would be joining them there. In other words, it was lies by Team Trump, including those very close to him and possibly the man himself, that not only brought the mob to D.C. but go the mob to trespass on the Capitol grounds.

We have no idea if the FBI has spoken to Kimberly Guilfoyle, and Ali Alexander is currently in hiding. Meanwhile, we know that the third Stop the Steal organizer, Roger Stone, below left, somehow had enough concern about the march that after raising money for “protective equipment” for the Proud Boys and Oath roger stone hands waving no credit from stone cold CustomKeepers who would on January 6 be marching to the Capitol, Stone declined (after being asked, he said, though he does not say by whom) to lead the march. And indeed he never went to the Capitol.

This leaves open the distinct possibility that Stone knew, perhaps even from Trump himself—the two men speak by phone regularly—that Trump was lying to the Stop the Steal organizers in order to swell and encourage and embolden the mob that he knew would head to the Capitol on January 6.

This would explain the now-ubiquitous, universal major-media reporting confirming that Trump was thrilled as he watched the insurrection from the White House.

Why does all this matter? Because we learned during Day 1 of the impeachment trial that a part of Trump’s defense will be that the breach of the Capitol was pre-planned. But now we have evidence that Team Trump was part of that planning — through both lies, omissions, and disinformation about Trump’s January 6 movements. Do the House managers have sufficient information in their hands to make this argument? I hope so.

The Twist

On the evening of Day 1 of Trump’s second impeachment trial, the director of Jason Rink’s Stop the Steal documentary, Paul Escandon—the documentary is simply called “The Steal”—contacted this writer to say that in fact the Stop the Steal organizers never believed Trump was coming to their event at the Capitol (see tweets below). So now we have a battle of potential federal witnesses: Paul Escandon says one thing, Alex Jones and Ali Alexander seem to say another, and two witnesses who could clarify things — Roger Stone and Kimberly Guilfoyle — are not, it seems, in contact with the FBI. So what’s going on here, exactly? This is the key mystery in the federal case of the century and it’s not clear that anyone is tracking down answers.

So Team Trump wanted Stop the Steal to tell the mob on January 6 that Trump was going to the Capitol, even though Team Trump knew that wasn’t true. And Trump told the mob directly that he was going to the Capitol during his January 6 speech, even though he knew that wasn’t true. And the result of these actions is that the Stop the Steal organizers of the March to Save America told thousands and thousands of people that it was okay to trespass on the Capitol grounds because Trump would be joining them there. In other words, it was lies by Team Trump, including those very close to him and possibly the man himself, that not only brought the mob to D.C. but go the mob to trespass on the Capitol grounds.

We have no idea if the FBI has spoken to Kimberly Guilfoyle, and Ali Alexander is currently in hiding. Meanwhile, we know that the third Stop the Steal organizer, Roger Stone, somehow had enough concern about the march that after raising money for “protective equipment” for the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers who would on January 6 be marching to the Capitol, Stone declined (after being asked, he said, though he does not say by whom) to lead the march. And indeed he never went to the Capitol.

This leaves open the distinct possibility that Stone knew, perhaps even from Trump himself—the two men speak by phone regularly—that Trump was lying to the Stop the Steal organizers in order to swell and encourage and embolden the mob that he knew would head to the Capitol on January 6.
This would explain the now-ubiquitous, universal major-media reporting confirming that Trump was thrilled as he watched the insurrection from 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).

Feb. 9

capitol weare the storm flyer resized

Sample promo, entitled #WeAreTheStorm, for the pro-Trump riots that killed five on Jan. 6 in the effort to halt the U.S. presidential election certification.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s impeachment trial will tackle constitutional questions, Ann E. Marimow and Tom Hamburger, Feb. 9, 2021.  His attorneys’ arguments in the trial beginning today are expected to revolve around a First Amendment defense of his fiery speech before the violent Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and a challenge to the legality of putting a former president on trial.

The arguments by opposing lawyers in the Senate impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump this week are expected to revolve largely around a pair of constitutional questions: A First Amendment defense of his fiery speech ahead of the violent Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and a challenge to the legality of putting a former president on trial.

Trump is the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice, and the only one to be tried in the Senate after leaving office. While an impeachment proceeding is distinct from a typical criminal trial, with a different set of rules, Trump’s case will feature broad legal questions about whether his actions violate the Constitution.

Most legal scholars who have studied the issue think post-presidential impeachment and conviction are allowed based on history and past practice in Congress. “The overwhelming scholarly consensus supports this argument,” said Steve Vladeck, a constitutional law professor at the University of Texas School of Law.

A prominent conservative lawyer added political and legal heft to the Democrats’ argument that Trump can be tried in the Senate even after he has left office. The assertion from Republican lawyer Charles J. Cooper in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece published Sunday undercuts the central argument embraced by most GOP lawmakers that it is unconstitutional to convene the Senate trial because Trump is no longer president.

Proof via Substack, Investigative Analysis: A Comprehensive Analysis of Trump's January 6 "Incitement to Insurrection" Speech: Part III, Seth Abramson, Feb. 8, 2021. This breakdown of one of the most dangerous presidential addresses in American history confirms the need for a Senate conviction and rigorous criminal investigation.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: The Senate must convict Donald Trump, Editorial Board, Feb. 9, 2021 (print ed.). The Senate will begin considering Tuesday whether to convict Donald Trump following the House’s unprecedented second impeachment of the former president. Mr. Trump’s lawyers, as well as many Republicans, deny that the proceedings are legitimate. They are wrong. The Senate must hold its trial, and the right vote is for conviction.

The House was able to impeach Mr. Trump quickly in the final days of his presidency because he betrayed the nation on live television. The House impeachment managers’ brief is damning, even though it reveals little that was not already in the public record.

After Mr. Trump lost the Nov. 3 presidential election, he conducted a persistent campaign of lies alleging that Joe Biden’s victory was fraudulent. His campaign escalated after he failed in court; he suggested Senate Republicans should “fight to the death.” He asked supporters to descend on Washington on Jan. 6, the day Congress was to count electoral votes. Some of those supporters responded by planning to attack the Capitol.

On the morning of Jan. 6, Mr. Trump instructed the crowd to go to the Capitol and warned, “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” Supporters screamed, “Take the Capitol right now!” That is what they did after Mr. Trump stopped speaking. Mr. Trump watched as a mob chanting, “Hang Mike Pence” stormed the building, resulting in multiple deaths, the interruption of the electoral vote counting and the desecration of the nation’s seat of government. Some in the mob reported that they were following Mr. Trump’s directions. Mr. Trump eventually issued meek statements designed as much to justify the mob’s rage as to pacify it.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers claim that the former president was just exercising his First Amendment rights. But public officials are accountable for the things they say; Mr. Trump would have fired any member of his Cabinet who had, say, publicly denounced him. Mr. Trump is responsible for whipping extremists into a frenzy with lies, encouraging violence and directing those extremists to the chambers in which members of Congress were overseeing the transfer of power. He betrayed his oath to faithfully execute his duties and defend the Constitution; indeed, he disrupted the core operations of the constitutional system.

Many Republicans avoid saying much about Jan. 6, instead claiming that the Senate cannot try to convict Mr. Trump after he has left office. This is a convenient but faulty interpretation. The Constitution contemplates two potential punishments for impeached officials: removal and barring from further service. If former officials could not be impeached and convicted, those facing impeachment could resign quickly and avoid being blacklisted. Historically, Congress has avoided this nonsensical view. What’s more, the House impeached Mr. Trump while he was still in office, and the Constitution states unambiguously that “the Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments.”

Senators must not hide behind fig-leaf arguments. They should listen to the nearly 400 congressional staffers who wrote them a letter about the trauma they endured on Jan. 6, begging them to convict Mr. Trump. And they should think about the precedent they set. As the House managers put it, “Failure to convict would embolden future leaders to attempt to retain power by any and all means — and would suggest that there is no line a President cannot cross.”

Feb. 8

washington post logoWashington Post, As impeachment trial nears, court documents cite Trump’s rage-fueling rhetoric, Rosalind S. Helderman, Rachel Weiner and Spencer S. Hsu, Feb. 8, 2021 (print ed.). Evidence to bolster the Democratic case has already emerged in federal criminal cases filed against more than 185 people so far in the aftermath of the insurrection.

Storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was no spur-of-the-moment decision for Jessica Marie Watkins, an Ohio bartender and founder of a small, self-styled militia, federal prosecutors allege.

In documents charging her with conspiracy and other crimes for her role in the insurrection, they say she began planning such an operation shortly after President Donald Trump lost the November election, ultimately helping recruit and allegedly helping lead dozens of people who took violent action to try to stop congressional certification of the electoral college vote last month.

In text messages cited in court documents, Watkins was clear about why she was heading to Washington. “Trump wants all able bodied patriots to come,” she wrote to one of her alleged co-conspirators on Dec. 29, eight days before prosecutors say they invaded the building.

The question of what exactly motivated Watkins and other alleged rioters — and when their plans took shape — will be among the central questions of Trump’s impeachment trial this week, when the Senate will consider whether to convict the former president on charges that he incited the crowd to attack the Capitol.

The nine House impeachment managers leading Trump’s prosecution made clear in an 80-page brief filed last week that they will argue that his role in inspiring the crowd to action began long before the 70-minute speech he gave that day.

They assert that the violence was virtually inevitable after Trump spent months falsely claiming that the election had been stolen from him.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates: Trump attorneys call Senate trial over deadly Capitol riot a ‘brazen political act’ by Democrats, John Wagner and Paulina Firozi, Feb. 8, 2021. Attorneys for Donald Trump asked the Senate to dismiss the impeachment case against him in a brief filed Monday that contends the Constitution does not permit a trial of a former president and accuses Democrats of a “hunger for this political theater.”

President Biden, who returned to Washington from Delaware on Monday morning, plans to take a virtual tour of a professional football stadium in Arizona that has been turned into a mass coronavirus vaccination site as he continues to focus on combating the pandemic.

Here’s what to know:

  • Rep. Ron Wright (R-Tex.) has died after contracting covid-19. In a statement, Wright’s office said the 67-year-old lawmaker, who had been battling cancer, will be “remembered as a constitutional conservative.”
  • Two in 3 Americans approve of Biden’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a poll by ABC News-Ipsos that also shows widespread support for his efforts to pass a relief bill.

Filmmaker, libertarian, and avid Ron Paul supporter Jason Rink, left, working with

Filmmaker, libertarian, and avid Ron Paul supporter Jason Rink, left, working with "Stop the Steal" organizer Ali Alexander (Screenshot).

Proof, Investigative Commentary: Trump Told Stop the Steal Organizers He Would Speak at the Front of the Capitol After His January 6 Speech at the Ellipse, seth abramson headshotSeth Abramson, left, Feb. 8, 2021. New revelations about Trump's schedule for January 6 confirm that the White House was indispensable to the events that led to an armed assault on the U.S. Capitol.

In November 2020, filmmaker, libertarian, and avid Ron Paul supporter Jason Rink produced a short video romanticizing the then-nascent post-election Stop the Steal movement led by convicted felon and far-right activist Ali Alexander.

seth abramson proof logoAlexander quickly sent Rink his thanks for the short, and afterward the two continued their conversation via email, with Rink agreeing to go to Georgia to produce a one-day documentary on Alexander’s operation. That one day expanded into several days, and eventually into a feature-length documentary, The Steal, that Rink hopes to release by mid-2021. {Note: Ali Alexander claims to have planned the pre-breach events of January 6 along with three Trump Congressional allies: Reps. Mo Brooks, Paul Gosar, and Andy Biggs.} 

A trailer of The Steal—a still from which tops this article—reveals that Jason Rink’s weeks of shadowing Alexander, whom he now calls a “friend”, involved him also getting substantial footage of the pre-insurrection activities of Trump adviser and Stop the Steal organizer (as well as “Stop the roger stone hands waving no credit from stone cold CustomSteal” phrase-coiner) Roger Stone, left, in addition to footage of conspiracy theorist, InfoWars host, and third Stop the Steal organizer Alex Jones. It appears, too, that insurrectionist and far-right activist Nick Fuentes, often referred to as a white supremacist, is featured in Rink’s documentary.

Following the insurrection, Rink conducted a January 13, 2021 podcast interview with fellow libertarian Tatiana Moroz, during which chat he made the following striking statement (see 34:10 in this video; emphasis supplied):

“I was actually right at the front of the breach [of the Capitol] because I left Trump’s speech like 15 minutes into it [approximately 12:13 PM on January 6] because I was helping to set up a stage that was permitted [had received a permit to be erected] on the other side [the front] of the Capitol. And so I walked over early....[and] when I got to the Capitol, I actually have a little video clip, when people started first coming up to the gates and people started jumping over the fence to get onto the Capitol lawn. And it was kind of, like, regular angry MAGA people trying to get to the Capitol steps, is what I saw. And there was very little security out front of there. Surprisingly little.”

Those who haven’t been tracking the shocking statements made by Ali Alexander, Roger Stone, and Alex Jones on January 6 and January 7 may not immediately see why Rink’s statement is so striking, so I’ll unpack it in five steps

Feb. 6

djt looking up

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s access to sensitive briefings will be determined by intelligence officials, White House clarifies, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Feb. 6, 2021. The statement clarifies comments from President Biden to "CBS Evening News" expressing reluctance about making the briefings available to his predecessor.

The White House on Saturday said President Biden’s comment that his predecessor should not receive intelligence briefings was not a final decision on the matter, which will instead be resolved by intelligence officials.

Biden made his views known during an appearance on “CBS Evening News” with Norah O’Donnell. Asked whether former president Donald Trump should receive the briefings, as is customary for ex-presidents, Biden said, “I think not.”

“What value is giving him an intelligence briefing?” Biden said in a portion of the interview aired Friday. “What impact does he have at all, other than the fact he might slip and say something?” (See previous story: New York Times, Biden Bars Trump From Receiving Intelligence Briefings, Citing ‘Erratic Behavior,’ David E. Sanger.)

Biden has the unilateral authority to deny intelligence access to anyone he chooses, and his remarks seemed to suggest he considered Trump enough of a risk to do so. But his aides said he would leave that decision to his intelligence team.

“The president was expressing his concern about former president Trump receiving access to sensitive intelligence, but he also has deep trust in his own intelligence team to make a determination about how to provide intelligence information if at any point the former president Trump requests a briefing,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement issued Saturday.

Former presidents do not receive the same classified daily briefing as a sitting commander in chief. Still, their briefings are typically delivered by current intelligence officers — partly out of respect and convention and partly to prepare them if their advice is solicited or if they’re representing the administration abroad.

The response made clear that Biden’s concerns go beyond the events of Jan. 6, which are core to the Senate impeachment trial set to begin in a few days. As president, Trump selectively revealed highly classified information to attack his adversaries, gain political advantage and impress or intimidate foreign governments, in some cases jeopardizing U.S. intelligence capabilities.

Proof, Investigative Commentary:  If You Love America, You Want Donald Trump Convicted. Here's Why, Seth Abramson, below left, Feb. 5, 2021. Far more is at stake now than the fate of a single political party or former president.

seth abramson headshotSome on both the left and right of American politics say that the main reason not to hold a trial of Donald Trump isn’t some fraudulent constitutional dodge cooked up by Trump, his lawyers, and Congressional Republicans — namely the canard, rejected by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, that the Senate can’t convict former presidents — but rather that an acquittal would signal our acquiescence to insurrection.

I don’t know what sort of backwards thinking this country’s intelligentsia has come to that it would embrace the paradox that upholding American rule of law undermines it; that way lies madness.

seth abramson proof logoIndeed, the very fact that an acquittal would signal the country’s acquiescence to insurrection is the reason to hold a trial. Nations hold trials as much to hold themselves accountable to their first principles as to hold defendants accountable.

american flag upside down distressThe jury in Trump’s upcoming trial is ostensibly the senators of the 117th Congress, but in fact it’s you, me, and every patriotic American. A conviction of Donald Trump for incitement to insurrection would be a vote by all of us to continue moving toward the America we wish to become, away from a dark period in our history of which so many of us are deeply ashamed.

By comparison, an acquittal would open the door to a return to that darkness in 2024, in the form of an embossed invitation for Trump to run for president again and to undoubtedly sow insurrection again.

Those in media today, and it is far too many, whose focus of late has not been on the future of our country but the daily political “horserace” that pays their salaries — and who, in inconsequence, have spent each hour of each day telling us that the verdict in this trial has already been determined — should be ashamed of themselves. And they should be shamed in the eyes of the tens of millions of Americans who understand that convicting Donald Trump of the most grave crime against an Oath of Office that any American president has ever committed is not a game, but a national imperative.

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).

 From left, Roy Cohn and Donald Trump attend the Trump Tower opening in New York on Oct. 1, 1983 (Sonia Moskowitz / Getty Images).

NBC News, Opinion: David L. Marcus Trump may survive impeachment. But like my cousin Roy Cohn, he's lost New York's respect, David L. Marcus (author and NBC News logodjt roy cohn tuxedos sundance film sonia moskowtizjournalist), Feb. 6, 2021. New York remembers my cousin not as a master of the universe, but as a lonely and discredited figure. That should be a warning to his favorite apprentice.

Donald Trump spent the last four years at the center of the world. Holed up in Florida, he is about to face down the Senate in a historic second impeachment trial. He probably won't be convicted, and he remains beloved by his rabid fan base. But he's surely lost forever the chance to get what he really craved: respect in the boardrooms, clubrooms and newsrooms of Manhattan.

As a New York Daily News cover phrased it, "DON'T COME BACK!"

In the past few months, Trump suffered humiliating defeats from voters, judges, social media gatekeepers and even PGA tournament organizers. But surely the hometown rejection stings. He loved to show off his gilded triplex penthouse atop Trump Tower; he drew energy from the paparazzi who tailed him on Fifth Avenue; he gloried in seeing his name on hotels and residential buildings in elite neighborhoods.

I know this because I had a front-row seat to observe Trump during his dizzying ascent in the 1970s and 1980s. As a college student and then a young journalist, I spent time with Roy Marcus Cohn, the fixer who mentored Trump. Roy was my father’s cousin, so I saw the Cohn-Trump bullying and corner-cutting.

As I watched Trump with Cohn at parties in Manhattan and the Hamptons, I realized that their intense friendship was forged out of their common resentment of New Yorkers who seemed more successful, more established, more accepted.

Trump and Cohn grew up in the city’s outer boroughs, their faces pressed against the window of society, hoping to join in.

Trump and Cohn grew up in the city’s outer boroughs, their faces pressed against the window of society, hoping to join in. Later, Trump would spin fables about his real estate prowess, like his $1.2 billion Taj Mahal casino, “the eighth wonder of the world” (until it went bankrupt). But deep down, he knew he was just an heir from a Queens family that owned undistinguished housing complexes. Cohn was born in the Bronx, raised by a mother who yearned for approval in Manhattan.

I understand. I spent my early childhood in East Harlem, while friends and relatives lived in glitzy neighborhoods, tantalizingly close by. New Yorkers know that the span of a few blocks means a world of difference in status.

Cohn wasn't much of a lawyer, but he was an unrelenting connector and charlatan. He introduced Trump to the tax-evading owners of Studio 54, the corrupt politicians who eased zoning restrictions, the Mafia bosses who allegedly ensured a steady supply of concrete for Trump Tower during a strike.

Trump shows no signs of having learned from his most important apprenticeship. In 1986, Roy Cohn was dying of AIDS complications in his 33-room townhouse off Park Avenue. One powerful New Yorker after another deserted him — including Donald Trump.

Today, New York remembers my cousin not as a master of the universe, but as a broken, lonely figure who was disbarred and discredited. That should be a warning to his favorite apprentice.

NBC News, Opinion: David L. Marcus Trump may survive impeachment. But like my cousin Roy Cohn, he's lost New York's respect, David L. Marcus (author and journalist), Feb. 6, 2021. New York remembers my cousin not as a master of the universe, but as a lonely and discredited figure. That should be a warning to his favorite apprentice.

Donald Trump spent the last four years at the center of the world. Holed up in Florida, he is about to face down the Senate in a historic second impeachment trial. He probably won't be convicted, and he remains beloved by his rabid fan base. But he's surely lost forever the chance to get what he really craved: respect in the boardrooms, clubrooms and newsrooms of Manhattan.

As a New York Daily News cover phrased it, "DON'T COME BACK!"

In the past few months, Trump suffered humiliating defeats from voters, judges, social media gatekeepers and even PGA tournament organizers. But surely the hometown rejection stings. He loved to show off his gilded triplex penthouse atop Trump Tower; he drew energy from the paparazzi who tailed him on Fifth Avenue; he gloried in seeing his name on hotels and residential buildings in elite neighborhoods.

I know this because I had a front-row seat to observe Trump during his dizzying ascent in the 1970s and 1980s. As a college student and then a young journalist, I spent time with Roy Marcus Cohn, the fixer who mentored Trump. Roy was my father’s cousin, so I saw the Cohn-Trump bullying and corner-cutting.

As I watched Trump with Cohn at parties in Manhattan and the Hamptons, I realized that their intense friendship was forged out of their common resentment of New Yorkers who seemed more successful, more established, more accepted.

Trump and Cohn grew up in the city’s outer boroughs, their faces pressed against the window of society, hoping to join in.

Trump and Cohn grew up in the city’s outer boroughs, their faces pressed against the window of society, hoping to join in. Later, Trump would spin fables about his real estate prowess, like his $1.2 billion Taj Mahal casino, “the eighth wonder of the world” (until it went bankrupt). But deep down, he knew he was just an heir from a Queens family that owned undistinguished housing complexes. Cohn was born in the Bronx, raised by a mother who yearned for approval in Manhattan.

I understand. I spent my early childhood in East Harlem, while friends and relatives lived in glitzy neighborhoods, tantalizingly close by. New Yorkers know that the span of a few blocks means a world of difference in status.

Cohn wasn't much of a lawyer, but he was an unrelenting connector and charlatan. He introduced Trump to the tax-evading owners of Studio 54, the corrupt politicians who eased zoning restrictions, the Mafia bosses who allegedly ensured a steady supply of concrete for Trump Tower during a strike.

Trump shows no signs of having learned from his most important apprenticeship. In 1986, Roy Cohn was dying of AIDS complications in his 33-room townhouse off Park Avenue. One powerful New Yorker after another deserted him — including Donald Trump.

Today, New York remembers my cousin not as a master of the universe, but as a broken, lonely figure who was disbarred and discredited. That should be a warning to his favorite apprentice.

Feb. 5

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Bars Trump From Receiving Intelligence Briefings, Citing ‘Erratic Behavior,’ David E. Sanger, Feb. 5, 2021. Mr. Biden said there was “no need” for former President Donald J. Trump to get the briefings, traditionally given to ex-presidents as a courtesy and to keep them informed if their advice is needed.

President Biden said on Friday that he would bar his predecessor, Donald J. Trump, from receiving intelligence briefings traditionally given to former presidents, saying that Mr. Trump could not be trusted because of his “erratic behavior” even before the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

The move was the first time that a former president had been cut out of the briefings, which are provided partly as a courtesy and partly for the moments when a sitting president reaches out for advice. Currently, the briefings are offered on a regular basis to Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Mr. Biden, speaking to Norah O’Donnell of CBS News, said Mr. Trump’s behavior worried him “unrelated to the insurrection” that gave rise to the second impeachment of Mr. Trump.


“I just think that there is no need for him to have the intelligence briefings,” Mr. Biden said.

“What value is giving him an intelligence briefing?” Mr. Biden added. “What impact does he have at all, other than the fact he might slip and say something?”

The White House said this week that it had been reviewing whether the former president, whose impeachment trial in the Senate begins on Tuesday, should receive the briefings. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam B. Schiff, said last month, just before Mr. Biden’s inauguration, that Mr. Trump’s access to any classified information should be cut off.

“There is no circumstance in which this president should get another intelligence briefing, not now and not in the future,” said Mr. Schiff, Democrat of California, who was the House manager for Mr. Trump’s first impeachment trial, a year ago.

Feb. 4

Top Headlines

 

Trump Impeachment, Election Claims, Fund-raising, Riots

 

Top Stories

washington post logoWashington Post, McCarthy moves to keep House GOP intact, with protection for Cheney, Greene, Mike DeBonis and Paul Kane, Feb. 4, 2021 (print ed.). Kevin McCarthyThe top House Republican leader moved Wednesday to keep his splintering party intact — declining to take concrete action against a freshman lawmaker whose extremist rhetoric prompted widespread outrage, while also moving to protect a senior party leader who faced calls for her ouster after backing Donald Trump’s impeachment.

The moves from Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), right, reflected the delicate path the GOP is blazing through the post-Trump political landscape as it seeks to regain power in Washington.

U.S. House logoOn one hand, the party needs to regain its appeal with traditional Republicans — a wing of the party exemplified by Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), right, the No. 3 House GOP leader and daughter of a former vice president who trashed Trump’s conduct surrounding the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. After McCarthy argued strongly on Cheney’s behalf in a private meeting Wednesday evening, liz cheney oRepublicans voted 145 to 61 to reject a call for her resignation backed by Trump loyalists.

On the other hand, the GOP risks losing the support of Trump’s most fervent supporters, many of whom increasingly subscribe to outlandish, baseless claims — such as those espoused by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who is facing a Democratic-led vote Thursday on whether to expel her from committee assignments.

While McCarthy on Wednesday condemned Greene’s comments questioning the veracity of school shootings, encouraging political violence and promulgating anti-Semitic falsehoods, he said he would not bow to demands that she be removed from her committees. Instead, he accused Democrats of pursuing a “partisan power grab” by seeking to control the minority party’s internal decision-making.

Trump friend and

Trump friend and "Stop the Steal" organizer Roger Stone, center, displays a "White Power" sign with a group of Proud Boys whom he had hired as a personal security force to accompany him while he attended a 2018 Republican conference ini Oregon, according to an Oregon news report and the Snopes fact-checking site.

Proof, Investigative Commentary: Federal Prosecutors Appear to Be Closing In on Roger Stone, Seth Abramson, below left, Feb. 4, 2021. New federal cases suggest Stone is an unindicted co-conspirator who will eventually face arrest—bringing the insurrection investigation directly to Trump's doorstep.

seth abramson headshotDuring the Robert Mueller investigation, the Office of the Special Counsel found that Donald Trump was using his old friend and campaign adviser Roger Stone as a regular sounding board even during those periods he said he wasn’t.

At Stone’s subsequent trial, prosecutors presented significant evidence that Stone lied to Congress about his communications with Trump, and that indeed “protecting” Trump was Stone’s primary goal in committing a rash of federal felonies. Those felonies eventually landed Stone with a federal prison sentence—which Trump quickly commuted before pardoning the Florida man with whom he’d had so many secret conversations. The clear impression left on the American people at the time was that the content of Stone and Trump’s conversations was so illicit that it was both worth Stone going to prison to protect and Trump delivering to his longtime ally a corrupt commutation and pardon to obscure.

seth abramson proof logoAll of which is to say that, now that Trump is no longer president and can no longer issue corrupt commutations and pardons to hide illicit conversations with advisers, Roger Stone is the top “get” for federal prosecutors who’d like to know what Donald Trump was saying telephonically to his top allies in the run-up to Insurrection Day. Proof has already discussed at length the role that Stone had in the planning of the January 6 insurrection—including an update that revealed that, a week before the armed assault on the Capitol, Stone recorded a video seeking money for “protective equipment” for the January 6 events—so the question of whether Stone was providing updates to Trump about these preparations is of paramount importance to federal investigators.

This article discusses new developments that suggest Roger Stone is now a target of federal prosecutors, but may not be indicted in time for information gleaned from Stone to be of use in Trump’s rapidly approaching second impeachment trial, which begins on February 9.

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, Investigation: Were the Capitol Riot Suspects Trained Militants? What the Arrests Show, Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, Grace Ashford, Denise Lu, Eleanor Lutz, Alex Leeds Matthews and Karen Yourish, Feb. 4, 2021. Our review of federal cases suggests that many of those in the mob were not organized, but some groups, like the Proud Boys, came prepared for battle.

In the weeks since the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, federal prosecutors have announced criminal charges against more than 175 people — less than a quarter of those involved in the melee, but enough to provide a rough portrait of the mob and the sprawling investigation into its actions.

At least 21 of those charged so far had ties to militant groups and militias, according to court documents and other records. At least 22 said they were current or former members of the military. More than a dozen were clear supporters of the conspiracy theory QAnon. But a majority expressed few organizing principles, outside a fervent belief in the false assertion that President Donald J. Trump had won re-election.

The accused came from at least 39 states, as far away as Hawaii. At least three were state or local officials, and three were police officers. Some were business owners; others were unemployed or made their living as conservative social media personalities. Many made comments alluding to revolution and violence, while others said the protests had been largely peaceful.

A New York Times review of federal cases through the end of January suggests that many of those in the horde were likely disorganized, but some groups and individuals came to the events of Jan. 6 trained and prepared for battle. The early charges set the stage for those to come as the Justice Department promises to prosecute even those accused of misdemeanor trespass and also devotes resources to more serious crimes, like conspiracy and homicide.

Prosecutors have said some of the people involved in the riot could face charges of seditious conspiracy, which requires proof that rioters planned to use force to oppose the authority of the United States government or to hinder the execution of its laws. Such cases are complex because they require evidence not only of planning but also intent, and no such charges have yet been filed.

washington post logoWashington Post, Politics Updates: Impeachment manager asks Trump to testify, John Wagner and Felicia Sonmez, Feb. 4, 2021. Members call for new laws to fight domestic terrorism as experts warn it will plague the country for the next ’10 to 20 years’; Senate Committee advances Biden nominees Rouse marcia fudge oand Fudge (right); Pence to join Heritage Foundation, organization announces; Pelosi says Trump impeachment trial ‘will honor the Constitution by establishing justice..

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the lead House impeachment manager, asked former president Donald Trump on Thursday to provide testimony under oath “either before or during” his Senate trial scheduled for next week. In a letter, Raskin asked for testimony about Trump’s conduct on Jan. 6, when a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol in a deadly assault.

In other news:

During his first major foreign policy speech, President Biden on Thursday announced an end to U.S. support for offensive operations in Yemen and a freeze on troop redeployments from Germany. The announcements are part of an address at the State Department signaled a desire to strengthen alliances and reengage with multinational institutions.

 

More On U.S. Riots, Terrorism, Impeachment

 

 FBI suspects Nicholas Ochs, left, a founder of Hawaii’s chapter of the Proud Boys and Nicholas DeCarlo, a 30-year-old Texas man, pose in front of the slogan

FBI suspects Nicholas Ochs, left, a founder of Hawaii’s chapter of the Proud Boys and Nicholas DeCarlo, a 30-year-old Texas man, pose in front of the slogan "Murder the Media" written on a Capitol doorway during the pro-Trump insurrection riot in Washington, DC on Jan. 6, 2021 (photo via FBI). 

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Department Unveils Further Charges in Capitol Riot, Katie Benner and Alan Feuer, Feb. 4, 2021 (print ed.). Two men were charged with conspiracy and another with leading a mob of 100 people who stormed the building on Jan. 6.

The Justice Department continued building cases on Wednesday against people accused of storming the Capitol, arresting a leader of the far-right group the Proud Boys and charging two men with conspiracy in an effort to block certification of President Biden’s victory in the election.

Ethan Nordean, the self-described “sergeant of arms” of the Seattle chapter of the Proud Boys, was arrested on Wednesday morning, federal prosecutors said. He had been under investigation for more than a week after prosecutors named him in court papers as a chief organizer of a mob of about 100 other members of the group that marched through Washington on Jan. 6, ending at the Capitol building.

Separately, Nicholas DeCarlo, a 30-year-old Texas man, and Nicholas Ochs, a founder of Hawaii’s chapter of the Proud Boys, were charged with conspiring with one another and unnamed co-conspirators to stop the certification of Mr. Biden’s Electoral College win as part of last month’s riot at the Capitol, according to the indictment.

The case against Mr. DeCarlo and Mr. Ochs was announced by John C. Demers, the head of the Justice Department’s national security division, the U.S. attorney in Washington and the F.B.I.’s Washington field office.

Justice Department log circularTheir indictments highlighted the government’s effort to bring more serious charges against some of the scores of people who were initially charged with lesser crimes after the attack. The two men had earlier been charged with unlawful entry and obstructing an official proceeding.

Mr. DeCarlo and Mr. Ochs were charged in an indictment with conspiring with others to create a plan to stop Congress, raising money online to fund travel to Washington to carry out their plan, crossing state lines to obstruct Congress and forcibly storming the Capitol building.

Combined with the separate charges against Mr. Nordean, the indictment against Mr. Ochs and Mr. DeCarlo also underscored the increasingly prominent role that the Proud Boys is accused of playing in the assault.

Leaders of the Proud Boys have sought to distance themselves from the riots, even as federal investigators scrutinize them as they seek to determine the full scope of the group’s involvement.

In the indictment against Mr. DeCarlo and Mr. Ochs, prosecutors said the men carved the words “MURDER THE MEDIA” into the Capitol’s Memorial Door.

The case is part of a strike force created by Michael R. Sherwin, the U.S. attorney in Washington, to examine violent actions that targeted members of the news media, the Justice Department said. Mr. Sherwin said at a recent news conference that it was “the height of hypocrisy” to attack journalists while invoking the First Amendment to justify illegally entering the Capitol.

Mr. DeCarlo was also seen in photos taken inside the Capitol during the riots wearing a shirt and hat that said “MT Media,” which investigators said stands for “Murder the Media.”

Prosecutors say that Mr. Nordean, carrying a bullhorn, led a 100-person mob and entered the Capitol with another top-ranking Proud Boys leader, Joseph Biggs, who is also facing charges in connection with the attack.

just security logo

Just Security, Movie at the Ellipse: A Study in Fascist Propaganda, Jason Stanley, Feb. 4, 2021. Scholars on the Nazis and anti-Semitism have seen this before.

On January 6, Trump supporters gathered at a rally at Washington DC’s Ellipse Park, regaled by various figures from Trump world, including Donald Trump Jr. and Rudy Giuliani. Directly following Giuliani’s speech, the organizers played a video. To a scholar of fascist propaganda, well-versed in the history of the National Socialist’s pioneering use of videos in political propaganda, it was clear, watching it, what dangers it portended. In it, we see themes and tactics that history warns pose a violent threat to liberal democracy. Given the aims of fascist propaganda – to incite and mobilize – the events that followed were predictable.

Before decoding what the video presents, it is important to take a step back and discuss the structure of fascist ideology and how it can mobilize its most strident supporters to take violent actions.

I. The Fascist Framework

Increasingly central to Trumpism is the QAnon conspiracy theory, which, as many commentators have now pointed out, closely resembles Nazi anti-Semitic myths. QAnon is just the most obvious manifestation of the increasing parallels between Trumpism and Hitler’s framework itself. Indeed, several contemporary fascist and white supremacist movements find similar roots in the framework Hitler developed, even if they did not culminate in such extreme actions as the Nazis.

Fascist thought

Chapter 2 of Mein Kampf, Hitler’s first and most famous book, is entitled “Years of Study and Suffering in Vienna.” In it, he documents what he describes as his gradual realization that behind the various institutions of power were the Jews. His enlightenment supposedly begins with the entertainment industry, where he remarks that “[t]he fact that nine tenths of all literary filth, artistic trash, and theatrical idiocy can be set to the account of a people, constituting hardly one hundredth of all the country’s inhabitants, could simply not be talked away; it was plain truth.” But it was, Hitler writes, when he “recognized the Jew as the leader of the Social Democracy” that “the scales fell from [his] eyes.” Hitler describes a growing sense, foundational to the ideology the book delineates, the ideology of Nazism, that Jews were controlling the apparatus of the state, both as important party politicians in the Social Democratic Party, and as operators behind the scenes of the press and other institutions.

In Nazi ideology, Jews are represented by an unholy alliance between Jewish capitalists and Jewish communists. The goal of the Jewish plot is to destroy national states, replacing them by a world government run by Jews. This diabolical Jewish plot involves destroying the character of individual nations, by flooding them with immigrants, and empowering minority populations. Hitler describes the German loss in World War I as part of this plan, a “stab in the back” of the German people by Jewish traitors seeking the ruin of the nation. In Nazi ideology, liberal democracy is represented as a corruption, a mask for this takeover by a global elite. Hitler reveals his true attitude toward liberalism in Mein Kampf, when he writes (in the characteristically sexist terms of Nazi ideology):

Like the woman, whose psychic state is determined less by grounds of abstract reason than by an identifiable emotional longing for a force which will complement her nature, and who, consequently, would rather bow to a strong man than dominate a weakling, likewise the masses love a commander more than a petitioner…

Fascism is a patriarchal cult of the leader, who promises national restoration in the face of supposed humiliation by a treacherous and power-hungry global elite, who have encouraged minorities to destabilize the social order as part of their plan to dominate the “true nation,” and fold them into a global world government. The fascist leader is the father of his nation, in a very real sense like the father in a traditional patriarchal family. He mobilizes the masses by reminding them of what they supposedly have lost, and who it is that is responsible for that loss – the figures who control democracy itself, the elite; Nazi ideology is a species of fascism in which this global elite are Jews.

The future promised by the fascist leader is one in which there are plentiful blue collar jobs, reflecting the manly ideals of hard work and strength. In Nazi propaganda, many white collar jobs, the domain of Jews – running department stores, banking – were for the idle. And the fascist nation’s heart and soul is the military – as Hitler writes, “[w]hat the German people owes to the army can be briefly summed up in a single word, to wit: everything.” The fascist future is a kind of restoration of a glorious past, but a modern version – replete with awesome technology that glorifies the nation to the world. The German V-2 rocket was a characteristic representation of Nazi might. The fascist future is, in the famous description of Jeffrey Herf, a kind of reactionary modernism.

Politico, Biden White House: We can't release Trump's visitor logs, Natasha Bertrand, Feb. 4, 2021 (print ed.). The records could reveal a lot about the ex-president's time in office. But, for now, they're controlled by the National Archives.

democratic donkey logoThe Biden White House said it cannot unilaterally release visitor logs from the Trump White House, amid questions about whether anyone who participated in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol visited the former president in the days leading up to it.

“Under the Presidential Records Act, all Trump White House visitor logs are under the control and legal custody of the National Archives and Records Administration, and cannot be unilaterally released by the Biden White House,” a White House spokesperson said on Wednesday, following inquiries from reporters during a press briefing the day before.

The Presidential Records Act, which requires a sitting president to preserve and ultimately make public all records relating to the performance of their official duties, was passed 42 years ago in response to President Richard Nixon’s attempts to hide the White House tapes that led to his downfall. The law makes presidential records available to the public via the Freedom of Information Act beginning five years after the end of an administration.

The National Archives defines presidential records as any documentary materials “created or received” by the president, their immediate staff or anyone in the Executive Office of the President “whose function is to advise or assist the President” in the course of carrying out official duties.

The Trump White House said in April 2017 that it would not release the names of the president's guests, arguing that it was a matter of national security. Former President Barack Obama also sought to keep some of the visitor records secret during his tenure, but ultimately he voluntarily released roughly six million such records by the end of his time in office.

The visitor logs have come under renewed scrutiny following the Jan. 6 attack by Trump supporters on the Capitol complex which left five people dead, including Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick. Some Democrats have raised questions about potential coordination between some of the insurrectionists and elected Republican officials. They have pointed to guided tours of the building that occurred the day before the attack and have demanded an investigation.

One lawyer told POLITICO late last year that the Biden administration would not have “carte blanche” access to Trump administration records and would be required to make a request to NARA to locate a particular record.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Misogynistic ‘Dating Coach’ Who Was Charged in the Capitol Riot, Sarah Maslin Nir, Feb. 4, 2021. Samuel Fisher left a long trail of videos and social media posts that reflect the views of a fringe faction of disgruntled men who became fixated on President Donald J. Trump.

For $150, Brad Holiday’s customers could purchase and download a package of dating tips and tricks he called his “Attraction Accelerator.” The batch of files featured advice from Mr. Holiday, a self-styled Manhattan dating coach, about things like the best facial serums and pickup lines, and his thoughts on the viciousness of the opposite sex.

But tucked between videos denigrating women and reviews of height-boosting shoes were other guides: how to defeat Communists, expose what he claimed were government pedophilia cabals, and properly wield a Glock.

samuel fisher timesOn Jan. 20, F.B.I. agents arrested the man, whose real name is Samuel Fisher (left, shown in a photo via the FBI), outside his apartment on the Upper East Side in connection with his involvement in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Stashed in his Chevrolet Tahoe, parked on East 88th Street, investigators found a shotgun, machetes and more than a thousand rounds of ammunition, according to court records.

Like many of the roughly 175 people arrested after the riot, Mr. Fisher left a trail of social media posts about his exploits. “People died,” but it was great, Mr. Fisher wrote online after the attack, according to court records. “Seeing cops literally run … was the coolest thing ive ever seen in my life.”

After his arrest, Mr. Fisher was ordered held without bail, according to Tamara Giwa, a federal public defender appointed to his case. Court records show he is to be moved to Washington to face charges of disorderly conduct and unlawful entry.

ny times logoNew York Times, No, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did not make up her experience during the Capitol riots, Maggie Astor, Feb. 4, 2021.  Since Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the New York Democrat, took to Instagram Live on Monday to describe what the Jan. 6 riot was like from inside the Capitol complex, critics have claimed that she wasn’t where she said she was, or that she couldn’t have experienced what she described from her location.

These claims are false.

While Ms. Ocasio-Cortez was not in the main, domed Capitol building when the rioters breached it, she never said she was. She accurately described being in the Cannon House Office Building, which is part of the Capitol complex and is connected to the main building by tunnels.

alexandra ocasio cortes instagram attack croppedIn her livestream, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, right, recalled hiding in a bathroom and thinking she was going to die as unknown people entered her office and shouted, “Where is she?” They turned out to be Capitol Police officers who had not clearly identified themselves, and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said so on Instagram. She did not claim that they were rioters — only that, from her hiding spot, she initially thought they were.

During the riot, reporters wrote on Twitter that the Cannon building was being evacuated because of credible threats, and that Capitol Police officers were running through the hallways and entering offices just as Ms. Ocasio-Cortez described.

The false claims about her statements have spread widely online, much of the backlash stemming from an article on the conservative RedState blog and a livestream from the right-wing commentator Steven Crowder. On Thursday, Representative Nancy Mace, Republican of South Carolina, tweeted, “I’m two doors down from @aoc and no insurrectionists stormed our hallway.”

But Ms. Ocasio-Cortez never said insurrectionists had stormed that hallway, and Ms. Mace herself has described being frightened enough to barricade her own door.

“As the Capitol complex was stormed and people were being killed, none of us knew in the moment what areas were compromised,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez tweeted in response to Ms. Mace’s post. (A spokeswoman for Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said the lawmaker had no additional comment.)

Others have corroborated Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s account and confirmed that the Cannon building was threatened, even though the rioters did not ultimately breach it.

Ari Rabin-Havt, a deputy manager for Senator Bernie Sanders’s 2020 presidential campaign, tweeted that he was in the Capitol tunnels during the attack. As Mr. Rabin-Havt moved toward the Cannon building, he wrote, members of a SWAT team yelled at him to find a hiding place.

And Representative Katie Porter, Democrat of California, said on MSNBC that after the Cannon building was evacuated, she and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez sheltered in Ms. Porter’s office in another building. She said Ms. Ocasio-Cortez was clearly terrified, opening closets to try to find hiding places and wishing aloud that she had worn flats instead of heels in case she had to run.

Legal Schnauzer, Opinion: Ali Alexander apparently finds life on the run gets expensive, so he has set up a P.O. Box at a UPS store in Forth Worth, TX, to accept donations from supporters, Roger Shuler, Feb. 4, 2021. Ali (Akbar) Alexander, right, the right-wing extremist who organized a pro-Trump rally that turned into an ali akbar alexander schnauzer smileassault on the U.S. Capitol, is on the run from federal authorities.

But like any good Republican, he is still trying to raise money. From a report at the Fort Worth Star Telegram, by Kaley Johnson and Nichole Manna:

A man with Fort Worth ties who helped organize the rally that preceded the Capitol riot is asking supporters to send him money to a UPS box on Golden Triangle Boulevard after he was banned from major social media platforms.

Ali Alexander, 35, was a leader of the 2020 “Stop the Steal” movement, which spread false claims about fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Alexander attended Fossil Ridge High School and has lived in Fort Worth, but his whereabouts following the Capitol riot are unknown.

The day before the Jan. 6 riot, Alexander was captured on video leading chants outside the U.S. Capitol, including one in which he raised his fist and yelled, “Victory or death!” He has been linked to far-right extremists and key figures in the storming of the U.S. Capitol.

Alexander's attorney is Baron Coleman, and an amateur sleuth might wonder if the FBI is monitoring communications to and from Coleman's office in Montgomery, AL. Now, it looks like agents also have a lead in Fort Worth, TX:

In a video posted to his social media, he said he “was the person who came up with the Jan. 6 idea” along with three congressmen.

“We four schemed up a maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting,” he says in the video, which was deleted from his social media but reposted on Twitter.

In interviews before the Jan. 6 “March to Save America” rally, Alexander pushed the idea that the right-wing movement was fighting against a common enemy that wanted to kill and enslave its followers. He suggested the solution was to fight — “to punch the left in the nose,” “do brave acts,” and “have vengeance if we have traitors,” according to interviews tracked and collected by Media Matters.

He coordinated planning for the rally with Caroline Wren, a Trump fundraiser, according to the Wall Street Journal. He also continues to sell merchandise on Gumroad, including mugs and T-shirts with his face on them.

In November, Alexander attended election protests in Austin alongside radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and claimed to have organized the armed protest in Maricopa County, Arizona, where volunteers were counting votes on Nov. 5.

Alexander’s accounts on PayPal and Venmo have been suspended, as well as his Twitter. He has been banned from Facebook, where he was one of the organizers of the “Stop the Steal” Facebook group, according to Politico.

Living on the lam apparently can get expensive, so Alexander is trying to drum up cash:

A donation campaign on the Christian crowdfunding site GiveSendGo asks for money for the “protection and team” for Ali. On Jan. 15, a post signed by Alexander said he could no longer access the GiveSendGo donations, and instead asked people to mail checks to the UPS store in Fort Worth.

A spokeswoman said UPS is investigating and will work with local agencies if needed.

“The UPS Store condemns the violence at the U.S. Capitol,” a statement from UPS said. “We provide business services for many thousands of customers across the country, but have no direct affiliation with those businesses and are not privy to their interests. However, The UPS Store strictly abides by all local, state and federal laws and regulations, and our customers must do the same to maintain their service.”

The Fort Worth connection of Alexander’s fundraiser was first publicized Monday on Twitter by author and political activist Don Winslow.

We have written extensively about Alexander's work in Alabama's GOP swamp, his ties to right-wing money men Robert Mercer and Foster Friess, and even his connections to the one and only Karl Rove.

 

 

January

Jan. 29

ny times logoNew York Times, McCarthy Seeks Thaw With Trump as G.O.P. Rallies Behind Former President, Maggie Haberman, Jan. 29, 2021 (print ed.). The top House Republican sought to present a united front after saying Mr. Trump bore responsibility for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

kevin mccarthyTwo weeks after Representative Kevin McCarthy, left, the top House Republican, enraged Donald J. Trump by saying that he considered the former president responsible for the violent mob attack at the Capitol, the two men met on Thursday for what aides described as a “good and cordial” meeting, and sought to present a united front.

The meeting at Mr. Trump’s private club in Palm Beach, Fla., came two weeks after Mr. McCarthy, in a speech on the House floor, said that the former president “bears responsibility” for the events of Jan. 6, when a throng of his supporters stormed the Capitol after a rally in which Mr. Trump urged them to “fight like hell” against his election defeat.

It was the latest evidence that top Republicans, many of whom harshly criticized Mr. Trump after the assault, have quickly swung back into line behind him and are courting his support as he faces a second impeachment trial.

republican elephant logoWhile Mr. McCarthy, Republican of California, voted against the impeachment article, Mr. Trump was infuriated by the speech that he delivered just before doing so, advisers said.

Aides to both men have been trying to broker a thaw between the two ever since, even as Mr. Trump has targeted other Republicans who criticized him more harshly for his role in the Capitol breach and voted in favor of impeaching him. They included Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 Republican, who joined nine others in the party who voted in support of impeaching Mr. Trump on a charge of “incitement of insurrection.”

U.S. Capitol Riot, Insurrection Probes

 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California (Screengrab on Jan. 8, 2021, two days after the Trump mob attacked the Capitol to prevent certification of national presidential voting).

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California (Screengrab on Jan. 8, 2021, two days after the Trump mob attacked the Capitol to prevent certification of national presidential voting).

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: As Senate prepares speedy impeachment trial, some urge slower approach, Paul Kane, Jan. 29, 2021 (print ed.). A small, vocal group wants Democrats to bolster their case for a conviction.

The Senate is hurtling toward an impeachment trial that will accomplish almost nothing by design and likely leave everyone with a bitter aftertaste.

Democratic voters will be furious that GOP senators refused to hold former president Donald Trump accountable for his role in encouraging supporters to march to the Capitol on Jan. 6. Republicans will be upset that congressional Democrats went through with an impeachment trial three weeks after Trump left the White House.

And independent voters, more focused on the health and economic crises fueled by the coronavirus pandemic, will wonder why Congress prioritized an impeachment process at all.

Mitchell_McConnellThat’s the almost inevitable outcome of the Senate trial crafted by Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), particularly after McConnell, right, and 44 other Republicans stuck by Trump’s side in an initial procedural vote.

With House managers now facing an almost impossible task in reaching 67 total votes to convict, some Trump critics are now debating whether to even hold the trial.

tim kaineSen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) has been the most outspoken on this front, calling for the Senate to approve a resolution censuring Trump instead. Though Kaine, right, would vote to convict Trump, he said he believes that time might be better spent focusing on moving pandemic relief legislation.

But a vast majority of Democrats have signaled that they support the emerging Schumer-McConnell approach of a shortened impeachment trial that skips some of the phases that produced a three-week trial of Trump last year.

sheldon whitehouse“I think the sooner we get on to solving covid and solving climate, the better. So I think if this gets drawn out too much, it doesn’t help anybody,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), one of the more liberal members of the caucus, said Wednesday.

It’s a stunning reversal for a Democratic caucus that cried out for witnesses and documents during last year’s trial, focused on Trump’s attempt to force Ukrainian officials to announce an investigation into the Biden family.

They didn’t have the majority during that trial, so McConnell could muscle through his wishes. Now, with 50 members of Schumer’s caucus, plus a handful of Republicans who voted against Trump in Tuesday’s proxy vote, Democrats have a working majority to actually call witnesses and subpoena documents.

A small but vocal group would like to at least give that a try, given the severity of events in a riot that left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer who died after engaging with the mob, and at least 140 officers injured, some quite seriously.

Mitchell_McConnell“We just had one of the most terrifying incidents in American history that put in question the viability of our democracy,” Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.), right, told Politico on Wednesday. “How much time do you think we should spend on that?”

Coons is a close Biden ally who wants to quickly move on to the new president’s agenda. Yet at the same time, he is angry about how angus kingmany senators are prepared to move past the Jan. 6 attack in a speedy trial.

“There’s still evidence that we need,” Sen. Angus King (Maine), left, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, said Wednesday of Trump’s Jan. 6 actions. “The evidence that I’m particularly interested in is: What did he know about the intention of that crowd when he was addressing them? What did he have in the way of intelligence that may or may not have put him on notice that this was a dangerous situation? And then secondly, what I am interested in is, what did he do that afternoon when it was unfolding?”

  djt as chosen one

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: ‘The Capitol Insurrection Was as Christian Nationalist as It Gets,’ Thomas B. Edsall, Jan. 29, 2021 (print ed.). Religious resentment has become a potent recruiting tool for the hard right.

It’s impossible to understand the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol without addressing the movement that has come to be known as Christian nationalism.

 

pennsylvania map major cities

ny times logoNew York Times, Why Pennsylvania G.O.P. Leaders Are All-In for Trump More Than Ever, Trip Gabriel, Jan. 29, 2021 (print ed.). Pennsylvania Republican leaders have made loyalty to the defeated ex-president the key criteria that would-be candidates must demonstrate.

As a second impeachment trial for Donald J. Trump approaches next month, Republicans in states across the country are lining up behind the former president with unwavering support.

republican elephant logoPerhaps no state has demonstrated its fealty as tenaciously as Pennsylvania, where Republican officials have gone to extraordinary lengths to keep Trumpism at the center of their message as they bolster the president’s false claims of a “stolen” election.

Eight of nine Republicans in Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation voted to throw out their state’s own electoral votes for President Biden on Jan. 6, just hours after a mob had stormed the Capitol.

A majority of Republicans in the state legislature had endorsed that effort.

And one House member from the state, Scott Perry, was instrumental in promoting a plan in which Mr. Trump would fire the acting attorney general in an effort to stay in office.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden administration halts effort to install Trump loyalists on Pentagon advisory boards, Dan Lamothe, Jan. 29, 2021 (print ed.). The Biden administration has halted an effort to install several Trump loyalists on Defense Department advisory boards, Pentagon officials said Wednesday, as the new administration considers a series of unusual appointments that were made in the waning days of the Trump administration.

david bossie gage skidmoreAt least temporarily, the decision affects appointees that include Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie (shown at right in a Gage Skidmore photo), both of whom served as campaign managers for former president Donald Trump. They were named to the Defense Business Board in December, as the Trump administration also abruptly dismissed other members with a form letter from what historically had been a nonpartisan panel advising the defense secretary.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is weighing his options, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Wednesday night.

“The Secretary, as you would expect, is reviewing current policies in place across the Department to determine if any changes are necessary, to include the advisory boards,” Kirby said in a statement. “No final decisions have been made with respect to board Department of Defense Sealmembership. But we will make the information available should that change.”

A senior defense official familiar with the halt, first reported by Politico, said Wednesday night that several appointees the Trump administration named had not yet completed their paperwork to join a board.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said the halt affects the processing of all new appointments and renewals, and that related financial and security reviews have been put on hiatus.

republican elephant logoNeither Lewandowski nor Bossie had been sworn in on the business board yet. But others on the boards also serve at the pleasure of the defense secretary, allowing Austin to oust anyone with whom he is not comfortable.

In one effort in December, eight appointments were announced to the Defense Policy Board, including former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R.-Ga.), former Republican congressman J. Randy Forbes of Virginia, and Scott O’Grady, a former fighter pilot who became famous after getting shot down over Bosnia and in recent months insisted falsely that Trump beat President Biden “in a landslide.”

ronna mcdaniel djt Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, RNC chair Ronna McDaniel is steering a GOP that has to reckon with Trump and his legacy, Josh Dawsey and Manuel Roig-Franzia, Jan. 29, 2021. Caught between the party’s warring factions, McDaniel, above, one of the longest-serving GOP chairs in history, faces no “easy task.”

In the months and, perhaps, years to come, McDaniel, now 47 and one of the longest-serving GOP chairs in history, faces the unenviable task of steering a Republican Party that will have to reckon with Trump and the divisive and uncivil legacy of Trumpism. She heads a party that has lost the House, the Senate and the White House under her leadership and is riven by infighting over whether she should defend Trump more forcefully — or at all.

Over the past four years, McDaniel has grown so close to Trump that some Republicans feared her judgment could be impaired by friendship, even as his presidency was imploding and the prospect of him becoming a disruptive force for the party in his post-presidency seemed certain.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Trump from beyond the grave, Robert Harrington, right, Jan. 29, 2021. By now it ought to be a commonplace that the death of irony is robert harringtnn portraitinversely proportional to the rise of hypocrisy. Keep in mind it wasn’t all that long ago that “The Squad” (also known as “AOC plus 3”) was regarded as radical. That was because they believed in really radical stuff, like universal healthcare and racial equality and dreadful things like that.

With the gun-packing Marjorie Taylor Greene’s past coming back to haunt her — videos of her menacing David Hogg, trying to get Ilan Omar and Rashida Tlaib to retake their Congressional oaths on a Bible instead of a Qu’ran, advocating the murder of Democrats on Facebook, etc. — the word “radical” has now been redefined.

bill palmer report logo headerBut it has a Republican redefinition, and that makes this particular stripe of radicalism somehow okay. Well, maybe not okay, but just not as bad and a whole lot mellower — at least in the unique perspective of current Republican leadership. It didn’t stop them from giving Greene a coveted spot on the House Education Committee. You read that right. Education. Of America’s youth. Meanwhile Republicans are still blushing — all the way to the bank.

marjorie taylor greene headshotGreene, right, came out swinging (of course). It’s part of the new Republican playbook: when caught doing something shameful, play the victim. CNN, according to Greene, is “fake news” because they quoted her past Facebook posts and showed a video of her harassing David Hogg.

Think of Marjorie Taylor Greene and her QAnon-believing colleague Lauren Boebert as mini-Trumps, the inevitable consequence of the one-term loser’s toxic tenure. Think of Republican response as tacit approval of their antics, in lockstep with Trump’s acquittal last year and his coming acquittal this year.

This is why Donald Trump and many of his followers must go to prison. Nothing short of a stiff sentence will do, preferably prison for the rest of his life. Failing that Trumpism will thrive and flourish and poison the American government to the point that America will become unrecognisable in a few short years.

wayne madesen report logo

 Wayne Madsen Report, Opinion: Trump fascism in the U.S. will get worse before it is defeated, Wayne Madsen, left, Jan. 29, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Small2021. Donald Trump's fascist reconstruct, formerly known as the Republican Grand Old Party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower, now inherently represents white minority rule in the United States.

The Republican Party of Trump is only ensured political power into the near future, with its minority of voter support, because of constitutionally-guaranteed Senate seats that grant sparsely-populated North Dakota, Wyoming, and Idaho as much strength in the djt smiling fileSenate as California, New York, and Illinois. In addition, GOP gerrymandering has given the Trump Republicans far more seats in the House of Representatives than their actual electoral strength would provide if congressional districts were drawn cleanly.

The Trump Republicans are facing an eventual and certain political demise. To discover what eventually happens to a party whose strength comes from a rapidly-dwindling minority, one only has to look at minority-ruled South Africa, Rhodesia, South-West Africa, and the often overlooked Portuguese colonies of Mozambique and Angola to understand what will eventually befall the Trump Republicans.

Before it takes its final dying breath, Trump Republicanism will lash out in dramatically racist and violent ways, continuing what it attempted during the past year in state houses in Lansing and Richmond and at the U.S. Capitol.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ex-FBI lawyer avoids prison after admitting he doctored email in investigation of Trump’s 2016 campaign, Matt Zapotosky, Jan. 29, 2021. The former FBI lawyer who admitted to doctoring an email that other officials relied upon to justify secret surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser was sentenced Friday to 12 months of probation, with no time behind bars.

kevin clinesmithProsecutors had asked that Kevin Clinesmith, 38, right, spend several months in prison for his crime, while Clinesmith’s attorneys said probation would be more appropriate.

Clinesmith pleaded guilty last summer to altering an email that one of his colleagues used in preparing an application to surreptitiously monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page during the bureau’s 2016 investigation of Russia’s election interference.

Justice Department logoU.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg said that Clinesmith’s conduct had undermined the integrity of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which approved the FBI’s flawed applications to surveil Page. “Courts all over the country rely on representations from the government, and expect them to be correct,” Boasberg said.

But Boasberg also said he agreed with a prior finding by the Justice Department Inspector General that Clinesmith and other FBI officials’ actions were not motivated by political bias, and he believed Clinesmith’s contention that he thought, genuinely but wrongly, the information he was inserting into the email was accurate. On top of his probation sentence, Boasberg ordered Clinesmith to perform 400 hours of community service.

The case against Clinesmith is the first and only criminal allegation to arise from U.S. Attorney John Durham’s review of the FBI’s Russia case, and it has become a political lightning rod.

FBI logoClinesmith’s lawyers have argued his altering the email was a mistake meant to save Clinesmith time and personal embarrassment. But former president Donald Trump and his political allies have highlighted the case as part of their allegations that the bureau was biased and seeking to undermine Trump with the investigation that explored possible ties between Russia and his campaign. The case was ultimately taken over by robert mueller full face filespecial counsel Robert S. Mueller III, left.

Clinesmith said in a lengthy statement in court that he took “full responsibility” for what he termed a “lapse in judgment.”

“I let the FBI, Department of Justice, my colleagues, the public, and my family down. I also let myself down,” he said, adding later, “Please do not let my error reflect on those who continue to serve our country.”

In arguing that Clinesmith deserved to go to prison, Durham’s team highlighted anti-Trump texts Clinesmith had sent and argued that it was “plausible that his strong political views and/or personal dislike of [Trump] made him more willing to engage in the fraudulent and unethical conduct to which he has pled guilty.” Clinesmith was suspended for two weeks over the messages.

“While it is impossible to know with certainty how those views may have affected his offense conduct, the defendant plainly has shown that he did not discharge his important responsibilities at the FBI with the professionalism, integrity, and objectivity required of such a sensitive job position,” prosecutors wrote.

Prosecutor Anthony Scarpelli said in court that Clinesmith’s conduct was “more egregious” than that of George Papadopoulos, whose offhand remark in a London bar in May 2016 helped trigger the Russia investigation and who later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. He was sentenced to 14 days in prison.

Federal sentencing guidelines in Clinesmith’s case called for a penalty of anywhere from zero to six months in prison, though the U.S. Probation Office recommended a term of probation, according to court filings.

Justin Shur, justin shurleft, Clinesmith’s lawyer, argued that probation was appropriate. C

The basic facts of the case are not in dispute, though prosecutors and defense attorneys seem to disagree on what motivated Clinesmith and how sinister his actions were. Clinesmith was an FBI attorney helping investigators on the Russia investigation, and in June 2017, he was asked to clarify whether Page carter page pbs screenshotwas ever a source for the CIA. That was important because the FBI — with approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court — had been surveilling Page as a possible agent of a foreign government, and was applying for permission to keep that surveillance going.

If Page was a CIA source, though, that would have to be disclosed to the court, as it would raise significant questions about whether he should be tracked as a possible foreign agent.

Page had provided information to the CIA as “operational contact,” and when Clinesmith sought clarity, a CIA liaison told him as much, using jargon and pointing to documents that made his role clear. But, according to Clinesmith’s lawyers, Clinesmith believed Page was not a direct source, but rather, a subsource of the agency.

In the wake of the Justice Department inspector general’s findings about Clinesmith, along with other significant errors in the applications to surveil Page, lawmakers have questioned whether the FBI should maintain its authority under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Under pressure from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the bureau has vowed and implemented reforms. Clinesmith apologized in court for imposing that “additional burden” on his john durham o portrait 2 croppedformer colleagues.

Durham’s investigation is ongoing, though it is unclear who beyond Clinesmith, if anyone, might face criminal exposure, or what public findings it may ultimately produce. In his final months as Trump’s attorney general, William P. Barr appointed Durham, right, as a special counsel, giving him extra legal and political protection from being relieved of his assignment in the Biden administration.

Former President Donald J. Trump’s Seven Springs family estate in Westchester County, N.Y., is one focus of an investigation by New York’s attorney general (New York Times photo by Tony Cenicola).

Former President Donald J. Trump’s Seven Springs family estate in Westchester County, N.Y., is one focus of an investigation by New York’s attorney general (New York Times photo by Tony Cenicola).

ny times logoNew York Times, Legal Pressure on Trump Increases With Judge’s Order in Fraud Inquiry, Ed Shanahan and William K. Rashbaum, Jan. 29, 2021. The order, answering a demand for documents by New York’s attorney general, rejected a bid to shield the records with attorney-client privilege.

A New York judge on Friday increased pressure on former President Donald J. Trump’s family business and several associates, ordering them to give state investigators documents in a civil inquiry into whether the company misstated assets to get bank loans and tax benefits.

It was the second blow that the judge, Arthur F. Engoron of State Supreme Court in Manhattan, had dealt to Mr. Trump’s company in recent weeks.

In December, he ordered the company, the Trump Organization, to produce records that its lawyers had tried to shield, including some related to a letitia james o headshotWestchester County, N.Y., property that is among those being scrutinized by the New York State attorney general, Letitia James, left.

On Friday, Judge Engoron went further, saying that even more documents, as well as communications with a law firm hired by the Trump Organization, had to be handed over to Ms. James’s office. In doing so, he rejected the lawyers’ claim that the documents at issue were covered by attorney-client privilege.

The ruling was a fresh reminder that Mr. Trump — who left office about a week ago under the cloud of impeachment and is headed for a Senate trial on a charge of “incitement of insurrection” after his supporters stormed the Capitol in a violent rampage — faces significant legal jeopardy as a private citizen.

The most serious threats confronting the former president include a criminal investigation by the Manhattan district attorney and the civil inquiry by the djt michael cohenattorney general into possible fraud in Mr. Trump’s business dealings before he was elected.

Ms. James’s investigation began in March 2019, after Michael D. Cohen, right, the former president’s onetime lawyer, told Congress that Mr. Trump had inflated his assets in financial statements to secure bank loans and understated them elsewhere to reduce his tax bill.

Investigators in Ms. James’s office have focused their attention on an array of transactions, including a financial restructuring of the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago in 2010 that resulted in the Fortress Credit Corporation forgiving debt worth more than $100 million.

Ms. James’s office has said in court documents that the Trump Organization — Mr. Trump’s main business vehicle — had thwarted efforts to determine how that money was reflected in its tax filings, and whether it was declared as income, as the law typically requires.

An analysis of Mr. Trump’s financial records by The New York Times found that he had avoided federal income tax on almost all of the forgiven debt.

Ms. James’s office is also examining whether the Trump Organization used inflated appraisals when it received large tax breaks after promising to conserve land where its development efforts faltered, including at its Seven Springs estate in Westchester County.

 

Jan. 26

Steve Bannon at a 2013 Tea Party Rally (Photo via C-SPAN)

Steve Bannon at a 2013 Tea Party Rally (Photo via C-SPAN)

Wayne Madsen Report, Commentary: The battle against fascism and a looming World War III, Wayne Madsen, right, Jan. 26, 2021. The threat of international wayne madsen screen shotfascism is now so great, the world's democracies must declare total war on the leadership, militias, political constructs, and infrastructure of global fascism.

On January 25, the House of Commons in Canada got the ball rolling by unanimously voting for a motion put forth by the New Democratic Party (NDP) that canadian flagdeclares the pro-Donald Trump Proud Boys a terrorist organization and bans it from operating on Canadian soil.

The U.S. government should awake to the dangers of the global fascist movement.

Two overseas organizations that involve Americans, The Movement and The Base, should be squeezed politically and financially by the Biden administration. The Movement, which is headquartered in Brussels and is Steve Bannon's fledgling Fascist International, has managed to secure funding guo wen gui 2017from exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui, left -- who has replaced Robert and Rebekah Mercer as Bannon's primary sugar daddy -- and moneyed interests in the Roman Catholic Church that are affiliated with the fascist religious order Opus Dei.

Guo has provided Bannon with media platforms, including a television network, that are being used to rally the extreme right around the United States and the world. Guo was granted political asylum by the Trump administration after China issued a warrant for his arrest for epoch timesseveral counts of financial fraud in China.

Guo and Bannon have linked their media efforts with those of the religious cult Falun Gong, which publishes the pro-Trump and far-right conspiracy newspaper Epoch Times. Bannon's strategy is to infiltrate existing political parties with far-right activists. So far, Bannon's ploy has seen success with the Republican Party, especially its state-level party organizations in Arizona, Oregon, Maine, Texas, and Hawaii that have been largely taken over by conspiracy theorists touting Qanon inanity.

Proof via Substack, Investigation: January 5 Meeting at Trump International Hotel Could Hold the Key to the January 6 Insurrection, Seth Abramson, Jan. 26, seth abramson proof logo2021. The night before the insurrection, a large group of Trump family and advisers held an urgent meeting with January 6 organizers at the president's private residence in DC.

Well after dark on January 5, 2021 — just 15 hours before an insurrection against the United States government incited by the President of the United States — Nebraska Republican Charles W. Herbster, at the time the National Chairman of the Agriculture and Rural Advisory Committee for the Trump administration, attended a private meeting of Trump family members, Trump administration officials, Trump campaign advisers, January 6 organizers, and at least one member of the United States Senate at Trump International Hotel in Washington.

In attendance at the large and only recently uncovered meeting, conducted “in the private residence of the President” at his hotel, were, according to Herbster’s account, the following individuals (Note: Donald Trump’s presence at the meeting, either in person or via speakerphone, as yet remains unclear, so his name is temporarily absent from this listing):

  • Donald Trump Jr., eldest son of the president
  • Eric Trump, second-eldest son of the president
  • Michael Flynn, former National Security Advisor to the president
  • Peter Navarro, Assistant to the President, Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, and National Defense Production Act Policy Coordinator
  • Corey Lewandowski, 2016 Trump campaign manager
  • David Bossie, 2016 Trump deputy campaign manager
  • Adam Piper, executive director of the Republican Attorneys General Association
  • Tommy Tuberville, United States senator from the State of Alabama

According to research by political strategist and regular CNN, MSNBC, The Hill, CBS, and Fox News contributor Cheri Jacobus, Txtwire CEO Daniel Beck claims he was at the January 5 meeting also, and that additional attendees at the gathering included the following three people:

  • Rudy Giuliani, personal attorney to the President of the United States
  • Kimberly Guilfoyle, girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr.
  • Michael Lindell, Trump donor and MyPillow CEO

In a Facebook post, Beck claims that there were “fifteen of us [who] spent the evening [January 5]” at Trump International Hotel in DC, a statement that tracks with the nine attendees listed by Herbster, the additional three referenced by Beck himself, and a photograph Beck took on January 5 in which he appears outside the hotel with an unidentified woman and three unidentified men, two wearing red “Make America Great Again” caps:

Guilfoyle’s presence at the meeting is critical given that Stop the Steal coordinator Ali Alexander claims he received a call from Guilfoyle during the evening of January 5 — when she would have been with Trump’s family and advisers at Trump International. As for Tuberville, he now claims, contrary to the statements of Herbster and Beck, that he was never at the Trump International Hotel on January 5.

An Instagram photograph from January 5, taken at Trump International Hotel in DC, appears to show Senator Tuberville on-site, as described by both Beck and Herbster:

In Charles Herbster’s Facebook post detailing the meeting — a post that looks forward with anger and trepidation to the upcoming January 6 certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory, and has since been hidden and reposted, along with all photos of the Trump family on Herbster’s Facebook account posted from December 2020 through January 2021 — the Nebraska Republican writes of the “battles and blood” that in the past have been required to “protect our way of life”, as well as his own decision “[not to] choose the easy path” but instead “fight” the “widespread voter fraud that happened on November 3.”

Herbster is, as of January 26, not yet speaking to media about January 5, nor about Senator Tuberville’s contrary account of the events of that evening in DC.

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

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

Palmer Report, Opinion: Removing Louis DeJoy, Rob Partridge, Jan. 26, 2021. Dr. Benjamin Franklin established America’s postal service in 1775, operating out of a small storefront that still exists on Market Street in Philadelphia. Time-honored and highly popular, the USPS oath remains: “Neither rain, nor sleet, nor dark of night shall stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

bill palmer report logo headerWith the Trump campaign staring at a likely presidential election loss, could it be that a sinister Roger Stone inspired heist was planned focused on derailing the USPS?

What if a mere 3% of the mail could be delayed by a month or more – especially in ‘blue’ cities such as Philadelphia, Detroit, Milwaukee and Atlanta? In that case the mail-in ballot option driven by COVID-19, and utilized far more by Democratic Party and Independent voters, might be muted. Voting center deadlines for mail arrival would pass with millions of such votes rendered ineligible to be counted under state laws. A mere 3%.

The problem with that plan might have emerged when Louis DeJoy was appointed as Postmaster General and used a sledgehammer on the USPS rather than a scalpel. High speed sorting machines were disabled and thousands of the ubiquitous blue mail boxes were removed from local street corners. Thousands of veterans saw their needed medicines delayed. Millions of Social Security check deliveries were late. Everyone noticed, Congress got involved, and small but important corrections were forced just in time.

The House and Senate must subpoena Mr. DeJoy at the earliest possible date to investigate his role in that debacle. Concurrently, the entirety of the Trump-appointed Postal Board of Governors must resign, so that a new Board can be appointed, and quickly relieve Mr. DeJoy of his post.

 

Jan. 25

Proof via Substack, Investigation: The Fingerprints of Top Trump Adviser Roger Stone Are All Over the January 6 Insurrection, Seth Abramson, Jan. 26, 2021. seth abramson proof logoStone says he wasn't involved, but the evidence suggests he's lying — yet again.

Roger Stone’s fingerprints are all over the January 6 insurrection.

And the fact that no Trump friend, ally, or adviser granted clemency by the former president was more attentively aided by him — Trump first commuted Stone’s 40-month prison sentence in July 2020, then later pardoned him — raises the question of whether Trump needed Stone both out of prison and beholden to him as part of the president’s own plans: specifically, a scheme to overturn the November 2020 election.

The evidence that has emerged since January 6 — discussed at length here, and fully sourced via major-media investigative reporting — suggests that’s just what happened.

Trump would have known in advance of his commutation of Roger Stone’s prison sentence in July 2020 exactly what Stone would start doing thereafter, as Stone had coined the phrase “Stop the Steal” in the lead-up to the 2016 election, declaring at the time that “If this election is close, THEY WILL STEAL IT” (emphasis in original, both here and in every all-caps quotation that appears hereafter). Stone’s 2016 “Stop the Steal” effort was a massive fundraising scam that would see its echo in Trump’s 2020 post-election Save America PAC, an “election defense” fund that raised hundreds of millions of dollars via hundreds of November and December emails to frustrated Trump voters.

While we don’t know where the money Stone needlessly raised in 2016 went, we do know that virtually none of the hundreds of millions raised by Trump in 2020 via his Save America PAC went to election defense. The most recent assessment puts the percentage of the money raised that went to Trump lawsuits at under 10%. The rest went to either the RNC or, to a far greater degree, a political fund that Trump can now draw from in the future for almost any purpose, including domestic and international travel self-declared by the man himself as being for “political” purposes.

Roger Stone’s “Stop the Steal” tagline was picked up, during Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, by a man he describes as a “good friend”, far-right activist Ali Alexander. Stone, at the time, was under the scrutiny of the federal justice system and was constricted in his political activities.

Beginning in midsummer 2020, however — just in time for the start of the 2020 general election — Stone was unleashed, thanks to Trump, thereafter conjoining his efforts with Alexander’s even as the latter bolstered his ties with a group with which Roger Stone has been associated: the Proud Boys, a far-right neofascist “club” for men.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel has gone so far as to call the infamous white supremacist organization “affiliated with” Roger Stone, and vice versa. This is significant, given that blaze orange-hatted Proud Boys were, per the Wall Street Journal, at the forefront of the breach of the Capitol on January 6.

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

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

Jan. 24

Top Stories

 

U.S. Politics, Elections

 

 Top Stories

capitol ties

A heavily disguised rioter invades the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 as part of the pro-Trump "Stop the Steal" protest carrying plastic "ties," which are normally used by law enforcers and terrorists to bind the wrists of suspects or, in the case of terrorists, hostages.

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Pennsylvania Lawmaker Played Key Role in Trump’s Plot to Oust Acting Attorney General, Katie Benner and Catie Edmondson, Jan. 23, 2021 (print ed.).  The congressman’s involvement underlined how far the former president was willing to go to overturn the election, and Democratic lawmakers are beginning to call for investigations into those efforts.

When Representative Scott Perry joined his colleagues in a monthslong campaign to undermine the results of the presidential election, promoting “Stop the Steal” events and supporting an attempt to overturn millions of legally cast votes, he often took a back seat to higher-profile loyalists in President Donald J. scott perryTrump’s orbit.

But Mr. Perry, left, an outspoken Pennsylvania Republican, played a significant role in the crisis that played out at the top of the Justice Department this month, when Mr. Trump considered firing the acting attorney general and backed down only after top department officials threatened to resign en masse.

It was Mr. Perry, a member of the hard-line Freedom Caucus, who first made Mr. Trump aware that a relatively obscure Justice Department official, Jeffrey jeffrey clark oClark, right, the acting chief of the civil division, was sympathetic to Mr. Trump’s view that the election had been stolen, according to former administration officials who spoke with Mr. Clark and Mr. Trump.

Mr. Perry introduced the president to Mr. Clark, whose openness to conspiracy theories about election fraud presented Mr. Trump with a welcome change from the acting attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen, who stood by the results of the election and had repeatedly resisted the president’s efforts to undo them.

republican elephant logoMr. Perry’s previously unreported role, and the quiet discussions between Mr. Trump and Mr. Clark that followed, underlined how much the former president was willing to use the government to subvert the election, turning to more junior and relatively unknown figures for help as ranking Republicans and cabinet members rebuffed him.

Mr. Perry’s involvement is also likely to heighten scrutiny of House Republicans who continue to advance Mr. Trump’s false and thoroughly debunked claims of election fraud, even after President Biden’s inauguration this week and as Congress prepares for an impeachment trial that will examine whether such talk incited the Capitol riot.

Background:

 Justice Department logo

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump and Justice Dept. Lawyer Said to Have Plotted to Oust Acting Attorney General, Katie Benner, Jan. 23, 2021 (print ed.). Trying to find another avenue to push his baseless election claims, Donald Trump considered installing a loyalist, and had the men make their cases to him.

The Justice Department’s top leaders listened in stunned silence this month: One of their peers, they were told, had devised a plan with President Donald J. jeffrey rosenTrump to oust Jeffrey A. Rosen, right, as acting attorney general and wield the department’s power to force Georgia state lawmakers to overturn its presidential election results.

Palmer Report, Opinion: House Republican Scott Perry in deep trouble for role in Trump’s DOJ election criminal scandal: Report, Bill Palmer,  Jan. 23, 2021. The thing about criminal conspiracies is that once they’re finally caught onto, they have a way of continuing to unravel.

Last night we all learned that prior to January 6th, Donald Trump had criminally conspired with DOJ official Jeffrey Clark to try to overthrow the election. Now it turns out that plot included a certain House Republican. bill palmer report logo headerIt was House Republican Scott Perry who played matchmaker between Trump and Clark, letting Trump know that Clark was potentially open to conspiring with him, according to an expose tonight from the New York Times.

 

garret miller with flag us court photo1

A man identified by federal authorities as Garret Miller is shown in the photos filed the photo above and below right in U.S. District Court as part of an indictment alleging that he threated to assassinate a member of Congress and a Capitol Hill policeman. 

ny times logoNew York Times, A Texas man who stormed the Capitol threatened to assassinate Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Michael Levenson, Jan. 24, garret miller photo facebook us district court2021 (print ed.). Garret Miller, right, who was among those who stormed the Capitol, also threatened the officer who fatally shot a Trump supporter, saying he would “hug his neck with a nice rope,” prosecutors said.

A Trump supporter who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 threatened on social media to assassinate Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (shown below in a file photo) that day and also threatened the Capitol Police officer who fatally shot a woman as she tried to enter the Speaker’s Lobby, federal prosecutors alexandria ocasio cortez resized yoho speech july 23 2020 house tv via apsaid.

The man, Garret Miller, 34, of Richardson, Texas, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with, among other things, threats, knowingly entering a restricted building and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, according to a criminal complaint.

Surveillance video from inside the Capitol, a selfie and a video posted by Mr. Miller and comments he made on social media showed that he had been part of a crowd that had pushed past the police to enter the Capitol, disrupting Congress as it was certifying President Donald J. Trump’s loss to Joseph R. Biden Jr., the complaint states.

 

capitol guns drawn

Police with guns drawn watch as rioters and vandals break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite) (Source: J. Scott Applewhite/AP).

brian sicknickA California woman was warned and then fatally shot as she and others in the mob shattered glass and tried to crawl up and through the hole in the door to enter the chamber where congressional members and staff had huddled for safety during the rampage. Dying also were four others, including Brian D. Sicknick, above, a Capitol Hill police officer murdered while trying to protect government workers during the pro-Trump insurrection. President Trump failed to order federal flags flown at half-mast in his honor, although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did so over the flags she controls at the Capitol.

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: A Lunge, Then a Gunshot: Inside the Deadly Capitol Shooting, Adam Goldman and Shaila Dewan, Jan. 24, 2021 (print ed.).  At a crucial moment in the Jan. 6 riot, as the mob closed in on lawmakers, a Capitol Police lieutenant fatally shot a woman vaulting through a window. Videos taken of the episode, legal documents and witness accounts point to a dire set of circumstances and an officer left to confront a mob.

During the four-and-a-half-hour attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, one of the moments when the mob came closest to the lawmakers they were pursuing took place just after 2:30 p.m.

On one side of a set of antique wood and glass doors were dozens of lawmakers and their aides trying to evacuate the House chamber.

On the other were rioters yelling “Stop the steal” as they hammered the panes with a flagpole, a helmet and even a bare fist.

ashli babbittIn between was a Capitol Police lieutenant, scrambling to pile tables and chairs into a makeshift barricade. He had 31 rounds for his service weapon, and he has told others that he feared he might need them all.

At the height of the standoff, a woman named Ashli Babbitt, right, tried to vault through a window. The lieutenant, his weapon already extended, pulled the trigger once, killing her in a confrontation that was captured on video and widely viewed around the world. (Excerpt continued below in section "Capitol Riot Followups.")

ny times logoNew York Times, How Democrats Planned for Doomsday Scenarios, Alexander Burns, Jan. 24, 2021. The organized left anticipated former President Donald Trump’s postelection schemes, including his attempt to claim a win he had not achieved.

The video call was announced on short notice, but more than 900 people quickly joined: a coalition of union officials and racial justice organizers, civil rights lawyers and campaign strategists, pulled together in a matter of hours after the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill.

They convened to craft a plan for answering the onslaught on American democracy, and they soon reached a few key decisions. They would stay off the streets for the moment and hold back from mass demonstrations that could be exposed to an armed mob goaded on by President Donald J. Trump.

They would use careful language. In a presentation, Anat Shenker-Osorio, a liberal messaging guru, urged against calling the attack a “coup,” warning that the word could make Mr. Trump sound far stronger than he was — or even imply that a pro-Trump militia had seized power.

And they would demand stern punishment for Mr. Trump and his party: Republicans at every level of government who incited the mob “must be removed or resign,” read one version of the group’s intended message, contained in Ms. Shenker-Osorio’s presentation and reviewed by The New York Times.

The meeting was no lucky feat of emergency organizing, nor was the highly disciplined and united front that emerged from it.

Instead, it was a climactic event in a long season of planning and coordination by progressives, aimed largely at a challenge with no American precedent: defending the outcome of a free election from a president bent on overturning it.

By the time rioters ransacked the Capitol, the machinery of the left had already been primed to respond — prepared by months spent sketching out doomsday scenarios and mapping out responses, by countless hours of training exercises and reams of opinion research.

Interviews with nearly two dozen leaders involved in the effort, and a review of several hundred pages of planning documents, polling presentations and legal memorandums, revealed an uncommon — and previously unreported — degree of collaboration among progressive groups that often struggle to work so closely together because of competition over political turf, funding and conflicting ideological priorities.

For the organizers of the effort, it represents both a good-news story — Mr. Trump was thwarted — and an ominous sign that such exhaustive efforts were required to protect election results that were not all that close.

For the most part, the organized left anticipated Mr. Trump’s postelection schemes, including his premature attempt to claim a victory he had not achieved, his pressure campaigns targeting Republican election administrators and county officials and his incitement of far-right violence, strategy documents show.

 

U.S. Politics, Elections

washington post logoPresident Donald Trump officialWashington Post, Trump jumps into a divisive battle over the Republican Party — with a threat to start a ‘MAGA Party,’ Josh Dawsey and Michael Scherer, Jan. 24, 2021 (print ed.). Former president Donald Trump threw himself back into politics this weekend by publicly endorsing a devoted and divisive acolyte in Arizona who has embraced his false election conspiracy theories and entertained the creation of a new "MAGA Party."

In a recorded phone call, Trump offered his “complete and total endorsement” for another term for Arizona state party chairwoman Kelli Ward, a lightning rod who has sparred with the state’s Republican governor, been condemned by the business community and overseen a recent flight in party registrations. She narrowly won reelection, by a margin of 51.5 percent to 48.5 percent, marking Trump’s first victory in a promised battle to maintain political relevance and influence after losing the 2020 election.

U.S. Law, Courts, Crime

washington post logoWashington Post, Virginia moves toward banning capital punishment, in a shift for prolific death penalty state, Laura Vozzella and Gregory S. Schneider, Jan. 24, 2021 (print ed.). Virginia, which carried out its first execution in 1608 and put colonists to death for such infractions as stealing grapes and killing chickens, has been the nation’s most prolific death penalty state over the past four centuries.

Virginia, a state that has executed more prisoners than any other in the country, appears poised to eliminate the death penalty — a seismic shift for the state legislature, which just five years ago looked to the electric chair and secret pharmaceutical deals to keep the ultimate punishment alive.

ralph northam file headshotThe former capital of the Confederacy would become the first Southern state to abolish capital punishment if a bill on track to pass the Senate gets out of the House and over to the desk of Gov. Ralph Northam (D), right, who has promised to sign it.

A ban in Virginia could help sweep in change across the South, according to experts who say racial disparities in the death penalty’s application have roots in the region’s history of slavery and Jim Crow segregation.

“Just as Confederate monuments are being dismantled, this vestige of Confederate law is also facing dismantling,” said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center. “That historical context is a central part of the repeal. And repeal offers a real opportunity for racial healing.”

As recently as last year, as Democrats took full control in Richmond for the first time in a generation and ushered in vast changes on many fronts, efforts to ban or restrict the death penalty sputtered.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept., FBI debate not charging some Capitol rioters, Devlin Barrett and Spencer S. Hsu, Jan. 24, 2021 (print ed.). Law enforcement officials are considering forgoing charges against those who went into the building but are not linked to violence, threats or destruction.

Federal law enforcement officials are privately debating whether they should decline to charge some of the individuals who stormed the U.S. Capitol this month — a politically loaded proposition but one alert to the practical concern that hundreds of such cases could swamp the local courthouse.

The internal discussions are in their early stages, and no decisions have been reached about whether to forgo charging some of those who illegally entered the Capitol on Jan. 6, according to multiple people familiar with the discussions.

Justice Department officials have promised a relentless effort to identify and arrest those who stormed the Capitol that day, but internally there is robust back-and-forth about whether charging them all is the best course of action. That debate comes at a time when officials are keenly sensitive that the credibility of the Justice Department and the FBI are at stake in such decisions, given the apparent security and intelligence failures that preceded the riot, these people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss legal deliberations.

washington post logoWashington Post, Union chief says 38 Capitol Police employees have tested positive for coronavirus since Jan. 6 riot, Tom Jackman, Jan. 24, 2021 (print ed.). Since the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, 38 U.S. Capitol Police employees have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the head of the officers’ union said Saturday. Cases are also climbing among members of the D.C. National Guard stationed around the Capitol.

Meantime, the Justice Department said five more people have been arrested in the Capitol riot, including a county jail guard from New Jersey who took an “emergency holiday” from work to travel to Washington and a Federal Aviation Administration employee from California who is a QAnon follower, court records stated.

In another development, two police officers from rural Virginia who had admitted their participation in the Capitol siege were suspended without pay by their department after a search warrant affidavit disclosed that one told a friend on Jan. 10: “I’m going to war . . . DC on the 20th for sure.”

The head of the labor committee for the Capitol Police officers’ Fraternal Order of Police chapter, Gus Papathanasiou, said he had been told by the police chief’s office that 38 employees tested positive for the virus. He said there was no breakdown on how many were officers at the Capitol on Jan. 6, but he noted that most civilian employees in the department telework and would not have been there during the riot.

 
Capitol Riot Fallout

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: A Lunge, Then a Gunshot: Inside the Deadly Capitol Shooting, Adam Goldman and Shaila Dewan, Jan. 24, 2021 (print ed.).   (Continued from above). At the height of the standoff, a woman named Ashli Babbitt, right, tried to vault through a window. The lieutenant, his weapon already extended, pulled ashli babbittthe trigger once, killing her in a confrontation that was captured on video and widely viewed around the world. (Excerpt continued below in section "Capitol Riot Followups.")

At least three investigations into the security response on Jan. 6 are underway, and officials have not provided the full details of Ms. Babbitt’s death.

But videos taken of the episode, legal documents and witness accounts point to a dire set of circumstances and an officer left to confront a mob. The officer, a lieutenant who has not been publicly named, has been placed on administrative leave while his actions are reviewed by federal authorities.

The use of deadly force by officers is considered legally justified if they have an “objectively reasonable” fear of serious, imminent harm to themselves or others. Several policing experts said that video of the encounter was not enough for them to offer an opinion on the shooting. But interviews with two people with direct knowledge of the officer’s account suggest he will make the case that he acted to protect lawmakers from harm.

“I could look them in the eyes,” said Representative Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts, who had been presiding in the speaker’s chair and was one of the last to leave as the mob attempted to break through the doors. “I mean, that’s how close they were.”

He added: “I don’t even know what would have happened had they breached that area.”

Ms. Babbitt’s husband, Aaron, told a Fox affiliate on the day of the riot that he had seen his wife die on the news.

“She didn’t have any weapons on her, I don’t know why she had to die in the People’s House,” he said, adding, “She was voicing her opinion and she got killed for it.”

He did not respond to an email requesting comment. One of Ms. Babbitt’s brothers, reached by phone, declined to comment.

Ms. Babbitt was one of five people who lost their lives at the Capitol that day. A Capitol Police officer was overpowered and beaten by rioters. A Georgia woman appeared to have been killed in a crush of fellow rioters. One man had a stroke, and another a heart attack.

The lieutenant had heard on the news that Trump supporters like Ms. Babbitt would be converging on Washington, according to his account. But the first time the protests were discussed at work came only when he arrived early that morning; according to his account, he had been given no advance planning to counter a violent riot or an invasion of the building.

That afternoon both the House and the Senate were in session, with hundreds of lawmakers debating challenges to the certification of the Electoral College vote when the mob fought its way past lines of Capitol Police officers outside and forced their way into the building. Some said they merely wanted to halt the proceedings while others carried weapons, climbing gear and zip ties that could be used as restraints.

The crowd was peppered with far-right nationalists, military veterans and militia members, and adherents of a dangerous conspiracy. Rioters hurled invectives at police officers and called them traitors while threatening to kill former Vice President Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House.

The lieutenant, a veteran officer, was regularly assigned to the Speaker’s Lobby, an enclosed hallway and waiting area in the inner sanctum of the Capitol where access is highly restricted. The lobby runs directly behind the House chamber and is lined with portraits of the House’s past leaders. It is bound by two sets of old wooden doors with windows, one on the Democratic side and one on the Republican side.

 

Jan. 23

Top Stories


Top Stories

Justice Department logo

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump and Justice Dept. Lawyer Said to Have Plotted to Oust Acting Attorney General, Katie Benner, Jan. 23, 2021 (print ed.). Trying to find another avenue to push his baseless election claims, Donald Trump considered installing a loyalist, and had the men make their cases to him.

The Justice Department’s top leaders listened in stunned silence this month: One of their peers, they were told, had devised a plan with President Donald J. jeffrey rosenTrump to oust Jeffrey A. Rosen, right, as acting attorney general and wield the department’s power to force Georgia state lawmakers to overturn its presidential election results.

The unassuming lawyer who worked on the plan, Jeffrey Clark, left, had been devising ways to cast doubt on the election results and to bolster Mr. Trump’s continuing legal battles and the pressure on Georgia politicians. Because Mr. Rosen had refused the president’s entreaties to jeffrey clark ocarry out those plans, Mr. Trump was about to decide whether to fire Mr. Rosen and replace him with Mr. Clark.

The department officials, convened on a conference call, then asked each other: What will you do if Mr. Rosen is dismissed?

The answer was unanimous. They would resign.

Their informal pact ultimately helped persuade Mr. Trump to keep Mr. Rosen in place, calculating that a furor over mass resignations at the top of the Justice Department would eclipse any attention on his baseless accusations of voter fraud. Mr. Trump’s decision came only after Mr. Rosen and Mr. Clark made their competing cases to him in a bizarre White House meeting that two officials compared with an episode of Mr. Trump’s reality show “The Apprentice,” albeit one that could prompt a constitutional crisis.

georgia mapThe previously unknown chapter was the culmination of the president’s long-running effort to batter the Justice Department into advancing his personal agenda. He also pressed Mr. Rosen to appoint special counsels, including one who would look into Dominion Voting Systems, a maker of election equipment that Mr. Trump’s allies had falsely said was working with Venezuela to flip votes from Mr. Trump to Joseph R. Biden Jr.

dominion voting systemsThis account of the department’s final days under Mr. Trump’s leadership is based on interviews with four former Trump administration officials who asked not to be named because of fear of retaliation.

Mr. Clark said that this account contained inaccuracies but did not specify, adding that he could not discuss any conversations with Mr. Trump or Justice Department lawyers. “Senior Justice Department lawyers, not uncommonly, provide legal advice to the White House as part of our duties,” he said. “All my official communications were consistent with law.”

nancy pelosi chuck schumer cropped jan 8 2019 screengrab

 washington post logoWashington Post, Senate reaches deal to start Trump’s trial Feb. 9, Mike DeBonis, Jan. 23, 2021 (print ed.). The majority leader said the wait would allow the Senate to make further progress on President Biden’s nominations and his $2 trillion pandemic relief proposal.

The impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump will begin Feb. 9 under a deal reached Friday by top Senate leaders — delaying by two weeks the us senate logohigh-stakes proceedings over whether Trump incited the violent Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The agreement was made by Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), above left, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), right, following a standoff over the timing of the trial, which could permanently bar Trump from holding public office.

mitch mcconnellThe House on Jan. 13 passed a sole impeachment article, alleging “incitement of insurrection.” House leaders could have forced the Senate to begin the trial immediately by transmitting the papers across the Capitol. But a delay serves the former and current presidents: Trump has struggled to assemble a legal team and muster a defense, and President Biden needs the Senate to confirm most of his Cabinet appointees.

McConnell pushed Thursday for a three-week delay, but Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), above right, on Friday morning announced their intention to deliver the impeachment papers Monday — setting up a trial as soon as Tuesday. Later in the day, Biden publicly called for a delay, saying, “the more time we have to get up and running to meet these crises, the better.”

Announcing the two-week timetable Friday, Schumer said the wait would allow the Senate to make further progress on Biden’s nominations and his $2 trillion pandemic relief proposal — the centerpiece of his early legislative agenda — before shifting to Trump.

“We all want to put this awful chapter in our nation’s history behind us, but healing and unity will only come if there is truth and accountability, and that is what this trial will provide,” he said.

Palmer Report, Opinion: House Republican Scott Perry in deep trouble for role in Trump’s DOJ election criminal scandal: Report, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 23, 2021. The bill palmerthing about criminal conspiracies is that once they’re finally caught onto, they have a way of continuing to unravel. Last night we all learned that prior to January 6th, Donald Trump had criminally conspired with DOJ official Jeffrey Clark to try to overthrow the election. Now it turns out that plot included a certain House Republican.

bill palmer report logo headerIt was House Republican Scott Perry who played matchmaker between Trump and Clark, letting Trump know that Clark was potentially open to conspiring with him, according to an expose tonight from the New York Times. We’ve seen various House Republicans play various roles in Trump’s election overthrow plot with various degrees of criminal culpability, but this takes the cake.

scott perryScott Perry, right, knowingly entered into a criminal conspiracy to commit election fraud with Donald Trump and Jeffrey Clark. Perry and Clark republican elephant logoare both looking at federal prison time over this, and because Trump has already left office, it’s too late for him to pardon them.

Our guess is that either Perry or Clark can get a generous plea deal by flipping on everyone else involved. We’ll see which of the two of them has the sense to cut a deal first. In any case, Perry’s career in the U.S. House of Representatives surely won’t last long after this.

ny times logoNew York Times, White House Orders Assessment on Violent Extremism in the U.S., Julian E. Barnes and Hailey Fuchs, Jan. 23, 2021 (print ed.). President Biden on Friday ordered the director of national intelligence to work with the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the threat from domestic violent extremism, a sign of how seriously the new administration is taking the issue in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

The request comes only days after Avril D. Haines, the newly installed director of national intelligence, pledged to members of Congress during her confirmation hearing that she would help with just such an assessment.

FBI logoThe new intelligence work began as people charged in the mob attack on the Capitol by supporters of former President Donald J. Trump continued to appear in court. On Friday, a federal magistrate judge in Dayton, Ohio ordered Donovan Crowl, an accused rioter linked to the far-right group the Oath Keepers, detained until his trial, citing the safety of the community.

Domestic terrorism and violent groups are a thorny issue for intelligence agencies like the C.I.A., which are limited to tracking attempts by foreign governments or organizations to influence extremist groups in America. The F.B.I. and Department of Homeland Security have more leeway to investigate domestic groups and homegrown terrorism.

But Friday’s order will have practical as well as symbolic import. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said the assessment would help Mr. Biden hone his policies aimed at curbing violent extremism in the United States.

“This assessment will draw on the analysis from across the government and, as appropriate, nongovernmental organizations,” Ms. Psaki said. “The key point here is that we want fact-based analysis upon which we can shape policy.”

In recent years, some parts of the intelligence community have been working to increase their focus on the threat of domestic terrorism, particularly by doing more to track growing foreign influence operations on domestic groups. The C.I.A. also has officers in its counterterrorism section who specialize in tracking racially-motivated violent extremists overseas.

The order for the evaluation from the intelligence community comes as judges continue to deny bail for suspects in the Capitol riot.

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP opposition to stimulus relief intensifies, Erica Werner, Seung Min Kim and Jeff Stein, Jan. 23, 2021 (print ed.). President Biden may find he can get a big plan or a bipartisan plan — but not both.

President Biden’s pitch for bipartisan unity to defeat the coronavirus and resurrect the economy is crashing into a partisan buzz saw on Capitol Hill, where Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on ground rules for running the Senate — let alone pass a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill.

Biden’s relief package is being declared dead on arrival by senior Senate Republicans, some of whom say there has been little, if any, outreach from the Biden team to get their support. Liberals are demanding the president abandon attempts to make a bipartisan deal altogether and instead ram the massive legislation through without GOP votes. And outside groups are turning up the pressure for Biden and the Democrats who control Congress to enact economic relief quickly, even if it means cutting Republicans out of the deal.

In the face of these competing pressures, Biden may discover he can get a big covid-19 stimulus bill or a bipartisan deal — but not both. The path Biden chooses with his first major piece of legislation could set the tone for the remainder of his first term in office, revealing whether he can make good on his promise to unify Congress and the country.

elizabeth warren o purple“It’s important that Democrats deliver for America. If the best path to that is to do it in a way that can bring Republicans along, I’m all in favor of that,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), right, said. “But if Republicans want to cut back to the point that we’re not delivering what needs to be done, then we need to be prepared to fight them. Our job is to deliver for the American people.”

Publicly, top aides insist Biden is serious about wanting a bipartisan deal on the relief bill. They say this should be achievable given the magnitude of the economic and health-care crisis besetting the nation a year after the pandemic began, with more than 412,000 dead and the economy newly shedding jobs. Some Democrats have expressed optimism that GOP frustration with how the Trump administration ended could convince some Republicans to be more open to a fresh start with a Democratic president, especially since longtime lawmakers know Biden from his decades in the Senate and as vice president.

 

U.S. Politics, Governing

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Majority of Americans Want Trump Convicted and Barred Forever from Holding Federal Office, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Jan. 24, webster tarpley 20072021. Majority of Americans Want Trump Convicted and Barred Forever from Holding Federal Office; Zero Tolerance Here for Fascist Coup d’État and Dictatorship; Some GOP Intrigues Want Trump Gone.

In Spirit of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Hundred Days, Biden Launches 30 Executive Orders and Actions to Defeat Pandemic and Worsening Economic Conjuncture; On Friday, Biden Established $15 Minimum Wage for Federal Workers and Contractors, Plus More Money for Food Stamps and Meals for School Kids;
16 Senators Set to Meet with Biden’s Top Economist Deese; Goal Must Be Full $2 Trillion Pandemic Relief and Stimulus Bill;

1% Wall Street Sales Tax on Turnover of Stocks, Bonds and Derivatives, plus 0% Century Bonds Bought by Fed Are Key to Financing Recovery and Reconstruction Programs;

Trump Economy’s Farewell Week Came with 900,000 New Jobless, Exposing Once Again the Catastrophe of Trump’s Policies; This is Worst Labor Market in Recent US History, Far Worse than the 700,000 per Month Faced by Obama-Biden in 2009 Depression; GOP Lunatic Fringe in Flux After Q Fails to Deliver Stormy Putsch; Some Groups Turn Against Trump;

Merchants of Death: US Exceeds Death Toll of World War II under Trump; British Count Under Johnson Exceeds Civilians Killed in World War II.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden administration weighs turning over Trump tax returns to House Democrats, Spencer S. Hsu, Jan. 23, 2021 (print ed.).  House Democrats have renewed their long-stalled demand for Donald Trump’s federal tax records, but the Biden administration has not decided whether it will drop its predecessor’s objections and release the Treasury Department records to investigators, Justice Department attorneys told a federal judge Friday.

U.S. District Judge Trevor N. McFadden declined Friday to lift a stay on a pending House lawsuit. Instead, the judge agreed to give Treasury and Justice Department officials two weeks to report back to him, acknowledging that President Biden’s team was just settling in after the inauguration this week.

trevor mcFadden CustomMcFadden, left, also kept in place an order requiring the government to give the former president’s lawyers 72 hours’ notice before releasing his tax return information to allow them to file a request to block the release.

Separation-of-powers issues that have slowed the case “may fall out” now that Trump is no longer in office, the judge noted.

“It would be a former president trying to stop a political branch, rather than one branch suing another. At least that’s my instinct,” said McFadden, a 2017 Trump appointee to the federal bench in Washington.

House General Counsel Douglas N. Letter agreed, saying, “We’re not dealing with a president anymore. We’re dealing with a former president.”

 

Jan. 22

Top Stories

 

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Signs Executive Orders for Covid Response, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Jan. 22, 2021 (print ed.). Biden rolls out ‘full-scale, wartime’ coronavirus strategy, including requiring masks on some planes, trains and buses.

joe biden kamala harrisPresident Biden, pledging a “full-scale wartime effort” to combat the coronavirus pandemic, signed a string of executive orders and presidential directives on Thursday aimed at combating the worst public health crisis in a century, including new requirements for masks on interstate planes, trains and buses and for international travelers to quarantine after arriving in the United States.

“History is going to measure whether we are up to the task,” Mr. Biden declared in an appearance in the State Dining Room of the White House, with Vice President Kamala Harris and Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, his chief Covid-19 medical adviser, by his side.

With thousands of Americans dying every day from Covid-19, a national death toll that exceeds 400,000 and a new, more infectious variant of the virus spreading quickly, the pandemic poses the most pressing challenge of Mr. Biden’s early days in office. How he handles it will set the tone for how Americans view his administration going forward, as Mr. Biden himself acknowledged.

In a 200-page document released earlier Thursday called “National Strategy for the Covid-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness,” the new administration outlines the kind of centralized federal response that Democrats have long demanded and that President Donald J. Trump refused.

Calls for unity were already fraying a day into the new administration. On Capitol Hill, Representative Steve Scalise, the No. 2 House Republican, accused the Biden team of offering “old Washington spin.” And the new president took a shot at his predecessor, saying, “For the past year we couldn’t rely on the federal government to act with the urgency and focus and coordination that we needed, and we have seen the tragic cost of that failure.”

washington post logoWashington Post, In first full day in office, Biden faces multiple crises, Ashley Parker and Matt Viser, Jan. 22, 2021 (print ed.). The president spoke in somber tones as he unveiled a covid-19 plan, comparing the situation to a war and warned that deaths could top 500,000 next month.

President Biden raced Thursday to show he was addressing the array of crises awaiting him on his first day in office, issuing executive orders aimed at combating the coronavirus and preparing measures to take on the struggling economy and other problems.

Biden and his team found themselves immediately on what the president called a “wartime” footing, describing fighting the coronavirus as “a national emergency.” Against an already calamitous backdrop of a pandemic that has left more than 408,000 Americans dead, an additional 900,000 people filed new unemployment claims last week, underlining a devastated job market.

In remarks in the White House State Dining Room, Biden outlined a new national strategy for combating the virus, signing 10 executive orders and other documents to streamline the federal government response, move toward reopening schools and businesses, ensure safer travel, and increase vaccinations, among other goals.

He called on Americans to “mask up” for the next 100 days, saying that doing so could save more than 50,000 lives. Biden’s tone was notably sober, contrasting not only with former president Donald Trump’s rhetoric, which was often full of superlatives and grand promises, but also with the tone of other presidents on many occasions.

“Let me be very clear: Things are going to continue to get worse before they get better,” Biden said, adding that the death toll would probably top 500,000 next month. “And let me be equally clear: We will get through this. We will defeat this pandemic.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Senate Strikes Deal to Delay Trump’s Impeachment Trial for 2 Weeks, Staff reports, Jan. 22, 2021. The House still plans to deliver the charge against former President Trump on Monday, but the Senate would then pause until the week of Feb. 8.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump and Justice Dept. Lawyer Said to Have Plotted to Oust Acting Attorney General, Katie Benner, Jan. 22, 2021. ETTrying to find another avenue to push his baseless election claims, Donald Trump considered installing a loyalist, and had the men make their cases to him.

The Justice Department’s top leaders listened in stunned silence this month: One of their peers, they were told, had devised a plan with President Donald J. Trump to oust Jeffrey A. Rosen as acting attorney general and wield the department’s power to force Georgia state lawmakers to overturn its presidential election results.

The unassuming lawyer who worked on the plan, Jeffrey Clark, had been devising ways to cast doubt on the election results and to bolster Mr. Trump’s continuing legal battles and the pressure on Georgia politicians. Because Mr. Rosen had refused the president’s entreaties to carry out those plans, Mr. Trump was about to decide whether to fire Mr. Rosen and replace him with Mr. Clark.

The department officials, convened on a conference call, then asked each other: What will you do if Mr. Rosen is dismissed?

The answer was unanimous. They would resign.

Their informal pact ultimately helped persuade Mr. Trump to keep Mr. Rosen in place, calculating that a furor over mass resignations at the top of the Justice Department would eclipse any attention on his baseless accusations of voter fraud. Mr. Trump’s decision came only after Mr. Rosen and Mr. Clark made their competing cases to him in a bizarre White House meeting that two officials compared with an episode of Mr. Trump’s reality show “The Apprentice,” albeit one that could prompt a constitutional crisis.

The previously unknown chapter was the culmination of the president’s long-running effort to batter the Justice Department into advancing his personal agenda. He also pressed Mr. Rosen to appoint special counsels, including one who would look into Dominion Voting Systems, a maker of election equipment that Mr. Trump’s allies had falsely said was working with Venezuela to flip votes from Mr. Trump to Joseph R. Biden Jr.

This account of the department’s final days under Mr. Trump’s leadership is based on interviews with four former Trump administration officials who asked not to be named because of fear of retaliation.

Mr. Clark said that this account contained inaccuracies but did not specify, adding that he could not discuss any conversations with Mr. Trump or Justice Department lawyers. “Senior Justice Department lawyers, not uncommonly, provide legal advice to the White House as part of our duties,” he said. “All my official communications were consistent with law.”

Bloomberg, Organizers of Trump Rally Had Been on Campaign’s Payroll, Bill Allison, Jan. 22, 2021. Former President Donald Trump’s campaign paid more than $2.7 million over two years to individuals and firms that organized the Jan. 6 rally that led to rioters storming the U.S. Capitol, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The payments, which span Trump’s re-election campaign, show an ongoing financial relationship between the rally’s organizers and Trump’s political operation. They were all made through Nov. 23, the most recent date covered by Federal Election Commission filings, which is before the rally was publicly announced.

Eight paid Trump campaign officials were named on the permit issued on by the National Park Service for the rally, including Maggie Mulvaney, the niece of Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s former chief of staff who resigned his position as special envoy to Northern Ireland after the riot. Maggie Mulvaney was paid $138,000 by the campaign through Nov. 23.

After the rally, in which the president encouraged them to march on the Capitol, Trump supporters stormed the building, disrupting the count of Electoral College votes in an event that ultimately killed five people. Lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding over what is normally a ceremonial event, were forced to flee.

President Joe Biden was blamed for firing the White House chief usher on his first day on the job, but his predecessor actually did the deed -- apparently to spite the incoming first family.

Donald and Melania Trump sent White House ushers home early on Inauguration Day in one of their last acts in a tense presidential transition, a well-placed official not associated with the Biden team told the National Journal.

"The Trumps sent the butlers home when they left so there would be no one to help the Bidens when they arrived," the official said. "So petty."
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Other knowledgable sources confirmed to the Journal that chief usher Timothy Harleth, a former executive of Trump Hotels hired by Melania Trump, was summarily fired by the outgoing president and first lady -- and not by the Bidens, as was widely reported afterward.

Harleth was already gone by the time Joe and Jill Biden arrived at the White House on Wednesday afternoon, leaving no one in place to open the doors for their inaugural entry and leading to an awkward pause.

"It's a big protocol breach for the president to ever stand in front of a closed door at the White House," said a veteran White House social expert. "That may be why there was nobody to open the doors to the Bidens. You couldn't expect the Biden staff to know to do that. Doors are opened and closed by ushers. There are rules about all these things and everyone has their job."

The rest of the usher staff was back on the job Thursday, but Harleth -- considered to be a Trump loyalist -- was not expected to be retained by the Bidens for long.

A Trump campaign adviser said the campaign had no role in organizing, operating or paying for the rally. No campaign staff worked on it, said the adviser, who asked not to be named. He added that any employees or contractors who worked on the event did not do so at the campaign’s direction.

Megan Powers, listed as one of two operations managers on the permit, was paid $290,000 by the Trump campaign from February 2019 through the most recent filing period. She served as director of operations for Trump’s campaign.

Caroline Wren, a top GOP fundraiser who was listed on the permit as an adviser to the rally and Ronald Holden, the backstage manager, were also paid by the campaign.

The biggest recipient of campaign funds according to the report, was Event Strategies Inc., which was paid more than $1.7 million by Trump’s campaign and joint fundraising committee. The firm’s owners, Justin Caporale and Tim Unes, served as rally production manager and stage manager, respectively.

Women for America First, the nonprofit organization that requested the permit on Nov. 24, originally for an event to be held on Jan. 23, had a financial relationship with America First Policies, the pro-Trump nonprofit formed to advance his agenda shortly after he took office, according to the report. America First Policies made a $25,000 grant to Women for America First in 2019, its most recent tax return shows.

ny times logoNew York Times, White House Orders Assessment on Violent Extremism in the U.S., Julian E. Barnes and Hailey Fuchs, Jan. 22, 2021. President Biden on Friday ordered the director of national intelligence to work with the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the threat from domestic violent extremism, a sign of how seriously the new administration is taking the issue in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

The request comes only days after Avril D. Haines, the newly installed director of national intelligence, pledged to members of Congress during her confirmation hearing that she would help with just such an assessment.

The new intelligence work began as people charged in the mob attack on the Capitol by supporters of former President Donald J. Trump continued to appear in court. On Friday, a federal magistrate judge in Dayton, Ohio ordered Donovan Crowl, an accused rioter linked to the far-right group the Oath Keepers, detained until his trial, citing the safety of the community.

Domestic terrorism and violent groups are a thorny issue for intelligence agencies like the C.I.A., which are limited to tracking attempts by foreign governments or organizations to influence extremist groups in America. The F.B.I. and Department of Homeland Security have more leeway to investigate domestic groups and homegrown terrorism.

But Friday’s order will have practical as well as symbolic import. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said the assessment would help Mr. Biden hone his policies aimed at curbing violent extremism in the United States.

“This assessment will draw on the analysis from across the government and, as appropriate, nongovernmental organizations,” Ms. Psaki said. “The key point here is that we want fact-based analysis upon which we can shape policy.”

In recent years, some parts of the intelligence community have been working to increase their focus on the threat of domestic terrorism, particularly by doing more to track growing foreign influence operations on domestic groups. The C.I.A. also has officers in its counterterrorism section who specialize in tracking racially-motivated violent extremists overseas.

The order for the evaluation from the intelligence community comes as judges continue to deny bail for suspects in the Capitol riot.

washington post logoWashington Post, To fight impeachment, Trump turns to ‘Butch’ Bowers, a S.C. lawyer at a small firm who has defended state Republicans, Michael Kranish and Josh Dawsey, Jan. 22, 2021. When Republican politicians in South Carolina have faced possible impeachment, ethics charges or other serious accusations, they have often turned to Karl S. “Butch” Bowers Jr., a lawyer with a military background, taciturn demeanor and a small office near the State House in Columbia.

Now Bowers is taking on his biggest case yet: defending former president Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial, this time against a charge that he incited a mob to attack the U.S. Capitol.

The longtime GOP attorney is little known outside of South Carolina and has no powerhouse law firm behind him. Colleagues say he is better known for behind-the-scenes negotiations than courtroom oratory.

In Bowers, Trump is getting a seasoned lawyer at a time when prominent Washington litigators have little interest in working for the former president — and a measured figure who offers a sharp contrast to attorneys Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sidney Powell, who spent the past several months unspooling wild conspiracy theories that the election was rigged.

“When I was threatened with the specter of impeachment, he was able and professional,” said former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford, recalling how Bowers successfully fought off efforts to remove him from office. “From his vantage point, it is a good business decision. It substantially raises your profile on a national and international basis.”

In addition to his work for Sanford, Bowers defended then-South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley during an ethics investigation, and he played a key role in the campaigns of some of the state’s most prominent Republican politicians. His law office is in a small white building that also houses the firm of current Gov. Henry McMaster.

“He is the first call that every Republican campaign makes for a legal team,” said South Carolina political consultant Tim Pearson, who has worked alongside Bowers on gubernatorial campaigns and shares office space with him. “It doesn’t surprise me he is willing to do the work. He is a lawyer’s lawyer in the sense that I think he believes that everybody deserves representation.”

Bowers did not respond to a request for comment.

Bowers, 55, a graduate of Tulane Law School, was recommended to Trump by Sen. Lindsey O. Graham, the South Carolina Republican, who said that he expects that Trump might bring on other lawyers.

 

U.S. Transfer of Power

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP pushes for delay in impeachment trial to give Trump time to craft defense, Mike DeBonis and Seung Min Kim, Jan. 22, 2021 (print ed.). Senate Republicans on Thursday pushed to delay the impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump for at least three weeks because he is struggling to recruit a legal team and assemble a defense against the accusation that he incited the deadly Jan. 6 invasion of the Capitol.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) floated postponing the start of the trial until mid-February, telling colleagues that Trump deserved more time to prepare his case and file briefs with the Senate. A conviction could bar Trump from public office in the future.

The proposal came as a key Trump ally, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), disclosed that the former president had secured a lead defense counsel for the trial: Butch Bowers, a Columbia, S.C., attorney known for his prominent role in litigating political and election matters for North and South Carolina Republicans.

Palmer Report, Opinion: To the victor belong the spoils, Robert Harrington, right, Jan. 22, 2021. We will be dissecting the ironies of this election for years. I, for one, robert harringtnn portraitplan to put my own scalpel to good use. Beginning in any old random place, how about the irony that the former toxic president (Trump) employed another former toxic president (Andrew Jackson) as his mascot? The slogan that ushered in the Jacksonian era, “to the victor belong the spoils,” is now being used against Trump with the same scorched earth relentlessness of one ancient Egyptian pharaoh erasing another.

bill palmer report logo headerTrump’s own use of the presidency was exclusively twofold, his self glorification and as the ultimate tool of revenge. As he set about to erase the legacy of President Barack Obama with a little man’s zeal he soon realized it was easier said than done. Trump’s goal was to exact vengeance on a man (a black man, no less) who frustrated and ultimately humiliated his efforts to prove Obama wasn’t born in the United States. (That racist lie became so toxic to Trump that it was even largely abandoned by all but his most zealous followers.)

On his first day in office Joe Biden signed 15 executive orders — a new record. The orders range from rescinding Trump’s Muslim ban to rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement to dismantling the declaration of a national emergency used to justify funding for of a wall on the US-Mexico border. In rapid succession much of the Trump legacy was wiped out in a single day. Such was the impermanent sand upon which it was built.

The Republican response was predictable. Sean Hannity claims it’s hypocrisy to call for unity then to turn around and make such a “disunifying” assault on the legacy of Donald Trump. In other words, Hannity is inventing rules to keep our President from doing the job the American people elected him to do. Sorry, Sean, but it doesn’t work that way.

Besides, “to the victor belong the spoils.” That’s straight from Andy Jackson. By the way, Jackson’s portrait was removed from the Oval Office. The victor also gets that power, too.

 

Trump Watch

djt looking up

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump steps out of the White House and into a company in crisis, David A. Fahrenthold and Jonathan O'Connell, Jan. 22, 2012 (print ed.). New financial disclosures show the depth of his financial problems, compounded by his role in the Capitol riot. Donald Trump returns to his company this week as it faces a deepening crisis, with key properties bleeding revenue and its bankers, lawyers and customers fleeing the company.

djt march 2020 CustomFinancial disclosure forms, filed by the former president as he left office, revealed that his hotels, resorts and other properties had lost more than $120 million in revenue last year, as the pandemic forced long-term closures and kept customers home.

Those losses were worst in the places where Trump could least afford it: His Washington hotel, which has a $170 million loan outstanding, saw revenue drop more than 60 percent. His Doral resort in Miami — also carrying a huge debt load — saw a 44 percent drop.

On Thursday, the company’s troubles grew: One of its banks and one of its law firms said they would cut their ties with the Trump Organization. They are the latest in a string of vendors and customers who severed their relationships with the company after Jan. 6, when a mob of Trump supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol directly after he addressed them at a rally.

New York Times, Can Someone Please Open the Door? Annie Karni and Katie Rogers, Jan. 22, 2021 (print ed.). The Bidens waited for an awkward moment in front of a closed door when they arrived at their new residence, a protocol breach that turned out to be a small but curious bit of disarray.

It was the culminating moment of a transfer of power: President Biden and the first lady, Jill Biden, walked up the driveway to their new home on Wednesday, ascended the steps to the North Portico, waved to the crowd as a military band played “Hail to the Chief,” turned to head inside — and came face-to-face with a closed door.

As the world watched and a small crowd of Biden family members came up behind them, the first couple waited.

Was the president supposed to open the pair of big wooden doors himself? Had former President Donald J. Trump, who had left eight hours earlier, locked him out?

Soon enough the doors were swung open, and the Bidens entered. The awkward moment had lasted only a handful of seconds — about 10, if you time it — but it did not go unnoticed in Washington.

“There was a protocol breach when the front doors were not held open for the first family as they arrived at the North Portico,” said Lea Berman, who served as a White House social secretary for President George W. Bush.

The breach turned out to be a small but curious bit of disarray in the chaotic two-and-a-half months between Election Day and Inauguration Day. Nothing was normal in the transition from the Trump to the Biden administration, and turning over the White House to new occupants was no exception.

Palmer Report, 'So petty': Donald and Melania Trump fired chief usher before leaving White House to spite Bidens, Travis Gettys, January 22, 2021.

 

U.S. Law, Courts, Civil Rights

Palmer Report, Opinion: Turns out Trump screwed up Paul Manafort’s pardon, Bill Palmer, Jan. 21, 2021. Right around the time Trump began issuing his first post-election pardons, Palmer Report pointed out that it probably wouldn’t be that difficult for the post-Trump DOJ to work around the pardons. After all, broad or preemptive pardons are legally flimsy, and Trump’s team of legal advisers were mostly idiots.

bill palmer report logo headerSure enough, Andrew Weissman, who helped bring the original criminal case against Paul Manafort as part of the Mueller probe, is now revealing that Trump’s pardon of Manafort is indeed written poorly and easily worked around. Weissman explained that the pardon only covered the crimes that Manafort was convicted of, not the additional crimes that Manafort confessed to during his brief cooperation phase.

As Rachel Maddow noted on air tonight, even though Manafort’s pardon was issued weeks ago, Weissman waited until after Trump left office to point out the mistake, so that Trump couldn’t go back and fix it. This means the DOJ can indeed bring criminal charges against Manafort and steer him back toward prison. We’re guessing Manafort isn’t the only pardon that Trump screwed up.

ny times logoNew York Times, For Prosecutors, Trump’s Clemency Decisions Were a ‘Kick in the Teeth,’ Eric Lipton, Jan. 22, 2021 (print ed.). Commutations in high-profile Medicare fraud cases have elicited anger among those who spent years pursuing complex prosecutions.

It was New Year’s Eve, and dance music was pulsating from the backyard of a multimillion-dollar home here co-owned by Philip Esformes, a former nursing home executive who orchestrated one of the biggest Medicare frauds in United States history.

Just days after being granted clemency by President Donald J. Trump and released after serving four years of his 20-year sentence, Mr. Esformes was under a disco ball celebrating his daughter’s wedding.

Not far away, in Hialeah, Fla., Judith Negron, 49, who had been convicted in a separate scheme to siphon off hundreds of millions of dollars in fraudulent Medicare payments, was also at home for the holidays instead of in federal prison. Thanks to a commutation by Mr. Trump, she had been released after serving eight years of a 35-year sentence and was relieved of any remaining obligation to pay her share of $87 million in court-ordered restitution.

This was hardly the outcome that Paul E. Pelletier expected when he and a team of other top Justice Department prosecutors and federal investigators set out to expose what Mr. Esformes and Ms. Negron had done.

After years of painstaking work and millions of dollars spent to investigate and prosecute the cases, the remainders of the sentences being served by the two convicted felons — participants in a type of fraud that costs taxpayers billions of dollars — had been wiped away by the stroke of a presidential pen.

In explaining his decisions, Mr. Trump said that Ms. Negron was a “wife and mother” and had dedicated her time in prison to “improving her life and the lives of her fellow inmates.” Mr. Esformes, he said, spent his time in prison “devoted to prayer and repentance and is in declining health,” and others had raised claims of misconduct by prosecutors in his case.

The presidential rationales did not hold much weight with those who had sought to hold Mr. Esformes and Ms. Negron accountable.

“It is an incredible kick in the teeth to the agents and prosecutors who toil away every day under very difficult circumstances to achieve justice and some restitution to the taxpayers from the billions of dollars that has literally been stolen from them,” Mr. Pelletier said.

His frustration is shared by many current and former Justice Department officials who spent years working on these cases, considered two of the most important taken up in the nationwide effort to combat widespread Medicare fraud.

“It is disheartening, demoralizing,” said Wifredo A. Ferrer, a former United States attorney for the Southern District of Florida, speaking generally about presidential commutations in Medicare fraud cases. “We are doing these cases to control health care costs and save lives and make sure legitimate health care centers don’t have to compete with the crooks.”

White House Advisor Mercedes Schlapp and her husband, prominent attorney and Trump defender Matt Schlapp flank U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh

White House Advisor Mercedes Schlapp and her husband, prominent Trump ally Matt Schlapp flank U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Axios, Trump ally Matt Schlapp got $750k in unsuccessful pardon push, Lachlan Markay, Jan 22, 2021. The lobbying firm run by Trump ally Matt Schlapp brought in $750,000 in the final two weeks of 2020 from a former top Trump fundraiser and convicted fraudster who retained Schlapp to lobby — unsuccessfully — for a presidential pardon.

Why it matters: The substantial sum that the former fundraiser, Georgia's Parker "Pete" Petit, paid to Schlapp's Cove Strategies shows how valuable connections to Donald Trump were in his final days in office for wealthy felons seeking clemency from the outgoing president.

What's new: Lobbying disclosure records filed on Thursday said Schlapp, a close informal Trump adviser, worked on a "request for a pardon and other public policy issues relating to criminal justice."

The disclosure filing, which covered the last two weeks of 2020, said that Schlapp had contacted just one government office on Petit's behalf: the Executive Office of the President.
Petit was not on the list of the nearly 150 pardons and commutations that the White House released during Trump's final days in office.
Schlapp didn't respond to inquiries about the other policy work he reported performing on the account.

The backstory: Petit, a former Atlanta health care executive, co-chaired the Trump campaign's 2016 fundraising operation in Georgia.

A federal court convicted him of securities fraud in November. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Be smart: A host of federal convicts retained lobbyists to try to win clemency from Trump in his final days. But even the most lucrative lobbying contracts didn't guarantee success.

Jan. 20

julian assange screenshot arrest (Ruptly)

London police arresting the bearded WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (screenshot from Ruptly video).

Information Clearing House, No Pardons For Edward Snowden Or Julian Assange, Kevin Gosztola, Jan. 20, 2021. Although several long shot campaigns were mounted, President Donald Trump did not pardon any whistleblowers who were indicted or prosecuted under the United States Espionage Act. He also declined to pardon the only journalist ever to be indicted under the World War I-era law.

djt on wikileaksWikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, right, were not offered clemency because Trump "did not want to anger Senate Republicans who will soon determine whether he's convicted during his Senate trial."

"Multiple GOP lawmakers had sent messages through aides that they felt strongly about not granting clemency to Assange or Snowden," according to CNN.

NSA whistleblower Reality Winner, who was the first to be prosecuted under the Espionage Act under Trump, and former CIA officer John Kiriakou pursued pardons. They were effectively denied as well.

wikileaks logo2On January 17, the New York Times reported that an associate of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani told Kiriakou a pardon would cost him $2 million.

"I laughed. Two million bucks—are you out of your mind?" Kiriakou told the Times. "Even if I had two million bucks, I wouldn't spend it to recover a $700,000 pension."

The report exposed a sliver of the corruption around pardons in the final days of the Trump presidency, as "several people with connections" to Trump apparently "accepted large sums of money" in return for clemency.

Kiriakou, right, said Trump was not the only president in history to encourage this kind of behavior. "Certainly, Bill Clinton did at the end of his administration well. john kiriakouBut this just highlights how the pardon process in the United States is broken."

Throughout the past three months, prominent supporters of Assange, like Pamela Anderson and Glenn Greenwald, were frequent guests on Fox News during primetime in order to communicate the case for a pardon directly to Trump.

A few Republicans in Congress, like Senator Rand Paul and Representative Matt Gaetz, crafted a partisan pitch for pardoning Snowden that went something like Democratic allies, such as former director of national intelligence James Clapper, persecuted him.

“He revealed that James Clapper, the highest-ranking, most powerful spy in the world, was spying on Americans and lied to us about it,” Paul declared. “So I think what Snowden, right, did was a service to the American people and he ought to be pardoned.”

Edward SnowdenBut Snowden did not have millions of dollars to pay off Trump nor was he ever going to do Trump any political favors.

Snowden responded, "Reports that Trump has let himself be bullied out of pardoning Assange, mistakenly believing Senate Republicans won't vote to impeach him if he caves. Once he's out of power, they're going to vote to impeach him anyway. Which, well—that's one way to be remembered."

"Trump will either be remembered as the first president since JFK, who from his first to last day in office was hated by the NSA, CIA, and FBI, or as the one who caved to pressure at the very last moment," Snowden further suggested.

He constantly bashed the "deep state" during his campaign and presidency, but whenever he needed to challenge national security institutions and stand up to their apparatchiks in the Republican Party, he showed there was nothing behind it.

"[The rhetoric] ended up not really serving anybody," Kiriakou contended.

Which is not to say the pardon campaigns by Assange, Snowden, Winner, Kiriakou, and others were a waste of time. Nobody would have predicted President Barack Obama would commute U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning's sentence in 2017 during the final days of his administration.

Assange, who was indicted under Trump, will remain in Belmarsh, a high-security prison in London where COVID-19 has recently spread through his unit. reality winner mug CustomThe Biden Justice Department is expected to pursue an appeal of a British court’s decision to deny the U.S. government's extradition request against Assange.

With a newborn, Snowden and his wife, Lindsay Mills, will remain in Moscow. They will live in exile at least until Snowden can return and defend his whistleblowing acts in a courtroom in the Eastern District of Virginia. (Significant reform is necessary for that to happen.)

Winner, shown at right in prison garb, will be able to leave Federal Medical Center Carswell and go to a halfway house as early as November 2021. However, she also must worry about COVID-19 outbreaks at Carswell.

Because Kiriakou completed his sentence several years ago, his circumstances are far less dire. He still would like to reclaim his pension.

In the end, a president who built up a brand of standing up to the so-called swamp did not want to take any heat for pardoning individuals loathed by the very establishment that despises him. He was spineless and weak.

Trump risked a scandal over pardons for his son-in-law or any one of his cronies. He was not willing to take the same risk for Assange, Snowden, or Kiriakou.

"No president wants to really be involved in a controversy. Donald Trump [was] no different," Kiriakou concluded.

Jan. 19

Below, National Guardsman arrive and then rest in a Senate building on their first evening of deployment to protect the Capitol against pro-Trump mobs.

Top Headlines

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 capitol national guard

 

Top Stories

djt i dont take responsibility at all

President Trump in remarks on the coronavirus last May.

ny times logoNew York Times, A Year of Coronavirus Devastation: How the U.S. Ensured Its Own Failure, Sarah Mervosh, Mike Baker, Patricia Mazzei and Mark Walker, Jan. 19, 2021 (print ed.). The Trump administration largely delegated responsibility for controlling the virus and reopening the economy to governors, fracturing the U.S. response. As the country hurtles toward 400,000 deaths, interviews with more than 100 health, political and community leaders offer a picture of what went wrong.

The path to beating the coronavirus was clear, but Kelley Vollmar had never felt so helpless.

As the top health official in Missouri’s Jefferson County, Ms. Vollmar knew a mandate requiring people to wear masks could help save lives. She pressed the governor’s office to issue a statewide order, and hospital leaders were making a similar push. Even the White House, at a time when President Trump was sometimes mocking people who wore masks, was privately urging the Republican governor to impose a mandate.

mike parsonStill, Gov. Mike Parson, right, resisted, and in the suburbs of St. Louis, Ms. Vollmar found herself under attack. A member of the county health board called her a liar. The sheriff announced that he would not enforce a local mandate. After anti-mask activists posted her address online, Ms. Vollmar installed a security system at her home.

“This past year, everything that we’ve done has been questioned,” said Ms. Vollmar, whose own mother, 77, died from complications of the coronavirus in December. “It feels like the Lorax from the old Dr. Seuss story: I’m here to save the trees, and nobody is listening.”

For nearly the entire pandemic, political polarization and a rejection of science have stymied the United States’ ability to control the coronavirus. That has been clearest and most damaging at the federal level, where Mr. Trump claimed that the virus would “disappear,” clashed with his top scientists and, in a pivotal failure, abdicated responsibility for a pandemic that required a national effort to defeat it, handing key decisions over to states under the assumption that they would take on the fight and get the country back to business.

But governors and local officials who were left in charge of the crisis squandered the little momentum the country had as they sidelined health experts, ignored warnings from their own advisers and, in some cases, stocked their advisory committees with more business representatives than doctors.

washington post logoWashington Post, Most Americans say pandemic is out of control, despite Trump’s assertions, Post-ABC poll finds, Amy Goldstein and Emily Guskin, Jan. 19, 2021. As President Trump is leaving office, just over 1 in 10 Americans say the coronavirus pandemic in the United States is mostly under control, despite the departing president’s assertions that record case levels are exaggerations, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The nationwide survey shows that large majorities of people of all political affiliations say they think the deadly virus, which arrived in the country nearly a year ago, is only somewhat under control or not at all controlled.

About 1 in 5 Republicans say they think the pandemic is at least mostly under control, with fewer than 1 in 20 regarding it as completely controlled, the survey finds. Democrats are more than twice as likely as those identifying with the GOP to say they perceive the virus as not at all under control.

Overall, the survey also shows interest among a majority of Americans in getting a coronavirus inoculation now that the government is allowing two manufacturers’ vaccines for emergency use. Forty percent say they definitely will get a shot once it becomes available to them and another 23 percent say they probably will. Still, partisan differences exist on vaccine attitudes, too, with about half of Democrats saying they definitely will get vaccinated, compared with about one-quarter of Republicans.

washington post logolloyd austin resized uniform fileWashington Post, Transition Live Updates: Senate holding five confirmation hearings ahead of inauguration, John Wagner, Jan. 19, 2021. At confirmation hearing for Haines, Sen. Rubio focuses on threat from rising China; Sen. Warner takes aim at Trump’s attacks on intelligence us senate logoagencies; Sen. Portman revisits past criticism of Mayorkas at start of Homeland nominee’s confirmation hearing; America doesn’t need inaugural balls. But there’s something lost when they disappear.

Confirmation hearings are being held Tuesday for Avril Haines as director of national intelligence, Alejandro Mayorkas as homeland security secretary, Antony Blinken as secretary of state, Janet L. Yellen as treasury secretary and Lloyd J. Austin III, above right, as defense secretary.

washington post logoWashington Post, Yellen to urge lawmakers to ‘act big’ on stimulus relief at Senate confirmation hearing, Erica Werner and Jeff Stein, Jan. 19, 2021. Janet Yellen, President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for treasury secretary, urged lawmakers Tuesday to “act big" on economic relief for the coronavirus pandemic as she appeared before a Senate committee for her confirmation hearing.

janet yellen o“I think there is a consensus now: Without further action, we risk a longer, more painful recession now — and long-term scarring of the economy later,” Yellen, right, said in written testimony submitted to the Senate Finance Committee ahead of the hearing.

She faced immediate pushback from Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), who used his opening statement to slam the Biden relief plan as a “laundry list of liberal structural economic reforms” that would not be appropriate to enact.

Yellen, 74, spent years as a professor before entering politics as head of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers in the late 1990s. She chaired the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018, playing a key role in the economic recovery from the Great Recession with a studied approach that helped push down the unemployment rate over time. President Trump broke with tradition when he opted not to reappoint her to the top Fed job.

She was the first woman to chair the Fed and will become the first female treasury secretary if confirmed by the Senate. She would replace Trump’s treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin.

ny times logoNew York Times, McConnell, Weighing Impeachment, Says Capitol Mob Was ‘Provoked’ by Trump, Nicholas Fandos, Jan. 19, 2021. Senator Mitch McConnell said the mob that stormed the Capitol “was fed lies,” referring to attempts by President Trump to overturn the election based on bogus claims of voter fraud. The president is expected to issue dozens of pardons.

mitch mcconnellSenator Mitch McConnell, right, the Republican leader, said on Tuesday that the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 had been “provoked by the president and other powerful people,” stating publicly for the first time that he holds President Trump at least partly responsible for the assault.

“The mob was fed lies,” Mr. McConnell said, referring to attempts by Mr. Trump to overturn the election based on bogus claims of voter fraud. “They were provoked by the president and other powerful people. And they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government which they did not like.”

Mr. McConnell made the remarks on his last full day as majority leader, speaking on the eve of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s inauguration and as the Senate was bracing to receive a single article of impeachment from the House charging Mr. Trump with “incitement of insurrection.”

The Kentucky Republican has indicated privately that he believes that Mr. Trump committed impeachable offenses, but he has said he has yet to decide whether to vote to convict the president, and many senators in his party are awaiting a sign from Mr. McConnell before making their own judgments. It would take 17 Republicans joining all 50 Democrats to find the president guilty, which would allow the Senate to hold a second vote to disqualify Mr. Trump from public office in the future.

Mr. McConnell’s remarks came hours before he was set to meet face to face with his Democratic counterpart, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, to work out a set of rules for the trial and the coming Senate session, when the chamber will be split 50-50 between the parties. Democrats will hold control because Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will have the power to break Senate ties, but Mr. Schumer will need at least some cooperation from Mr. McConnell to run the chamber and get things done.

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

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Lawmakers who objected to election results have been cut off from 20 of their 30 biggest corporate PAC donors, Douglas MacMillan and
Jena McGregor, Jan. 19, 2021. U.S. executives continue to grapple with political bloodshed and its ripple effects on the corporate landscape.

djt biden resized smilesThe 147 Republican lawmakers who opposed certification of the presidential election this month have lost the support of many of their largest corporate backers — but not all of them.

The Washington Post contacted the 30 companies that gave the most money to election-objecting lawmakers’ campaigns through political action committees. Two-thirds, or 20 of the firms, said they have pledged to suspend some or all payments from their PACs.

Meanwhile, nine companies said only that they would review their political giving or did not commit to take any action as a result of this month’s events. One other top donor did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

American FlagThe split between company responses shows how U.S. executives are still grappling with the recent political bloodshed and its ripple effects across the corporate landscape. The attempted insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6 led to calls for companies and wealthy donors to disavow support for lawmakers who continue to propagate dangerous myths about the election and has prompted a broader rethinking of the role of PAC giving among the nation’s top companies.

The 30 corporate PACs that donated the most money to the 147 election objectors gave them a total of $36 million from 2015 to 2020, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks campaign finance and lobbying records. Of that amount, nearly att logo$26 million came from companies that now say they have suspended donations. About $10 million came from companies that have not committed to any changes to PAC contributions.

comcast logoSome of the strongest repudiations of the Republican lawmakers came from AT&T, Comcast, Honeywell, PricewaterhouseCoopers, General Electric, KPMG and Verizon. These firms all said they would suspend donations to members of Congress who voted against certifying Joe Biden as president.

 pentagon dc skyline dod photo

ny times logoNew York Times, Pentagon Accelerates Efforts to Root Out Far-Right Extremism in the Ranks, Eric Schmitt, Jennifer Steinhauer and Helene Cooper, Jan. 19, 2021 (print ed.). The examination is a change of direction for the Pentagon after the F.B.I. identified at least six suspects with military links involved in the Capitol siege. Federal officials are also vetting thousands of National Guard troops arriving in Washington to help secure the inauguration.

The Pentagon is intensifying efforts to identify and combat white supremacy and other far-right extremism in its ranks as federal investigators seek to determine how many military personnel and veterans joined the violent assault on the Capitol.

Department of Defense SealIn the days since a pro-Trump mob breached the Capitol on Jan. 6, senior leaders of the 2.1 million active-duty and reserve troops have been grappling with fears that former or current service members will be found among the horde.

The F.B.I. investigation into the Capitol siege, still in its very early stages, has identified at least six suspects with military links out of the more than 100 people who have been taken into federal custody or the larger number still under investigation. They include a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel from Texas, an Army officer from North Carolina and an Army reservist from New Jersey. Another person with military service was shot and killed in the assault.

The military’s examination of its ranks marks a new urgency for the Pentagon, which has a history of downplaying the rise of white nationalism and right-wing activism, even as Germany and other countries are finding a deep strain embedded in their armed forces.

washington post logoWashington Post, The Trump administration bailed out prominent anti-vaccine groups during a pandemic, Elizabeth Dwoskin and Aaron Gregg, Jan. 18, 2021. Five groups got more than $850,000 in PPP loans to help small businesses through the pandemic.

Five prominent anti-vaccine organizations that have been known to spread misleading information about the coronavirus received more than $850,000 in loans from the federal Paycheck Protection Program, raising questions about why the government is giving money to groups actively opposing its agenda and seeking to undermine public health during a critical period.

Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore portrait)The groups that received the loans are The National Vaccine Information Center, Mercola Com Health Resources LLC, Informed Consent Action Network, Children’s Health Defense Co., and the Tenpenny Integrative Medical Center, according to the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a U.K.-based advocacy group that fights misinformation, which conducted the research using public documents. The group relied on data released in early December by the Small Business Administration in response to a lawsuit from The Washington Post and other news organizations.

Several of the Facebook pages of these organizations have by penalized by the social network, including being prohibited from buying advertising, for pushing misinformation about covid-19.

Vaccines are largely considered safe and effective, and clinical trials for both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines did not raise serious safety concerns. But many Americans hold skeptical attitudes about vaccination, attitudes public health experts have said are attributable in part to misinformation. Nearly 40% of Americans say they definitely or probably would not get the vaccine, according to a December survey by Pew Research Center. Certain groups, including Republicans and Black Americans, are even more skeptical, Pew found.

 

U.S. Transfer of Power

mike lindell screengrab

washington post logoWashington Post, Dominion Voting threatens MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell with lawsuit over ‘false and conspiratorial’ claims, Hannah Knowles and Emma Brown, Jan. 19, 2021 (print ed.). The election technology company has warned Lindell, a major Republican donor who promoted baseless claims of a rigged vote, of “imminent” litigation.

Lawyers for election technology company Dominion Voting Systems have warned prominent Trump ally and MyPillow chief executive Mike Lindell of “imminent” litigation over “false and conspiratorial” claims that the firm somehow rigged the 2020 election against President Trump, demanding in letters late last year and this month that Lindell make a public apology.

dominion voting systemsMore than 150 people — including Kelli Ward, the staunchly pro-Trump chair of the Arizona GOP — were sent cease-and-desist notices and warnings to preserve documents in a recent wave of letters to those who provided affidavits in election lawsuits, according to Hamilton Place Strategies, a communications firm representing Dominion that shared copies of letters and a list of recipients Monday. Dominion also sent a follow-up retraction demand to Rudolph W. Giuliani, the Trump lawyer at the forefront of the president’s fruitless efforts to overturn the election in court.

Lindell, a major Republican donor who has touted his relationship with the president, has made frequent appearances on right-wing media to promote baseless claims — rejected by court after court — of a rigged election. Last week, The Washington Post’s Jabin Botsford photographed parts of notes Lindell carried as he went to meet with Trump, capturing phrases such as “election issues” and “martial law if necessary.” He told The Post that the notes were written by a lawyer that he refused to identify.

Lindell said on Monday that he welcomes a lawsuit. “Could they do it tomorrow? Could they do it today?” he told a reporter. Almost shouting over the phone, he suggested a lawsuit would help him show “the American people” the evidence supporting his claims, but shared only a copy of a post alleging foreign hacking that appears to no longer be online.

 

Capitol Riot Fallout

 capitol peter stager

In one scene from the Capitol riot, an Arkansas man, Peter Francis Stager (shown at center in a screengrab, the man with a beard and holding a flag), was arrested last week on charges of beating a Capitol Hill policeman being stomped by the mob.

washington post logoWashington Post, Texas man at Capitol riot allegedly threatened to kill his kids if they turned him in: ‘Traitors get shot,’ Jaclyn Peiser, Jan. 19, 2021. Two days after Guy Reffitt joined the rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, federal officials said, he returned home to Wylie, Tex., and proudly told his family of his escapade. But by Jan. 11, when Reffitt learned the FBI was on to him, he changed his tune, according to an affidavit.

“If you turn me in, you’re a traitor and you know what happens to traitors … traitors get shot,” Reffitt, 48, said to his son and daughter, according to his wife, who recounted the conversation to the FBI, which did not name the relatives.

FBI logoOn Saturday, the FBI caught up to him. Reffitt, an oil worker with ties to self-styled militia and right-wing extremist groups, was arrested and charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly threatening his family and unlawful entry into the Capitol.

Reffitt is one of more than 100 individuals who have been charged with breaching the Capitol earlier this month. In recent days, the FBI has arrested several with alleged connections to extremist groups, signaling the investigation into the violence at the Capitol is homing in on people who were more prepared, organized and encouraged violence, The Washington Post reported.

Robert Gieswein, a 24-year-old charged on Saturday with assaulting police, civil disorder and obstruction of police and government, is allegedly linked to three extremist groups: the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and Three Percenters. Jessica Watkins, a 38-year-old bartender and Army veteran who was arrested on Saturday, founded the “Ohio State Regular Militia,” a unit of the Oath Keepers, the FBI said.

Reffitt’s wife told federal agents that her husband is also a member of the Three Percenters, a right-wing movement founded on the false belief that only 3 percent of colonists fought the British during the Revolutionary War.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The numbers are in on Trump’s removal from Twitter, Patricia Lee, Jan. 19, 2021. The Washington Post recently indicated a massive drop twitter bird Customin misinformation on Social Media since the termination of Donald Trumps social media accounts. According to research firm Zignal Labs the number of tweets discussing election fraud after his account loss dropped 73%.

bill palmer report logo headerBut did one man post 73% of all misinformation? No. What dropped was tweets discussing election fraud, not Trump tweets. We need to know how Twitter works to harness its power; as it stands Democrats (you, me, all of us) are responsible for a large part of disseminating misinformation. How? Easy.

When you “LIKE” tweets, you give them relevance. When you “SHARE” tweets, you give them heightened relevance. When you “COMMENT” on tweets, you give them yet more relevance.

donald trump twitterWhen you “SHARE and COMMENT” you commit the ultimate in moving info up the ladder.

The worst news agencies base success on pissing you off to get a reaction, and when you give them one, they make more lures just like those that worked before, including Trump coverage. Eyeballs sell ads and any reaction is proof of eyeballs.

That’s it. That’s how it works. If it gets no reaction it gets no repeat.

Algorithm doesn’t care why you commented, shared or liked; it just knows you did. Republicans play this game well; they use us to get their word out.
Bonus for the bad guys? It keeps anything the Democrats have to say well buried too.

It’s tempting to react, but the way to keep Republicans out of the news cycle is never share or answer to any GOP crap that news agencies post. Because of that 73% in misinformation, we were responsible for disseminating a shameful portion of it.

The only ineffective tweet is an ignored one. Related story: Daily Beast, Twitter Deletes 70,000+ QAnon Accounts in Post-Trump Clean-Up, Jamie Ross, Jan. 12, 2021.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. files conspiracy charge against Oath Keeper leader in alleged plot against the Capitol, Spencer S. Hsu and Devlin Barrett, Jan. 19, 2021. U.S. authorities have leveled the first conspiracy charge against an apparent leader of an extremist group in the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol, arresting an alleged Oath Keeper who is accused of plotting to disrupt the electoral vote confirmation of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory and proposing further assaults on state capitols.

Thomas Edward Caldwell, 65, of Clarke County, Va., was taken into custody before 7 a.m. on four federal counts, including conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States in the attack on the Capitol. The conspiracy charge is reserved for offenses interfering with or obstructing the lawful operation of government.

A charging affidavit says he helped organize a group of eight to 10 individuals, including self-styled Ohio militia members apprehended Sunday, who wore helmets and military-style gear and were seen moving purposefully toward the top of the Capitol steps and leading the move against police lines.

Caldwell sent the message, the affidavit said, to Jessica Watkins, a 38-year-old U.S. Army veteran who was arrested late Sunday. Federal authorities accused her of breaching the Capitol with other members of the “Ohio State Regular Militia,” a group she founded in 2019.

Caldwell’s arrest comes as the Justice Department has charged more than 100 people in the two weeks following the riot. This weekend the FBI arrested several people with alleged ties to the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and Three Percenters, which charging documents suggest were among the more prepared, organized and determined groups in the larger mass of rioters.

washington post logoWashington Post, FBI moves on alleged members of extremist groups Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, Devlin Barrett and Spencer S. Hsu, Jan. 19, 2021 (print ed.). Trump supporter arrested near Capitol for carrying gun; woman charged with impersonating police.

A heavy-metal guitarist, the alleged leader of a Colorado paramilitary training group and two self-styled militia members from Ohio have been charged with taking part in the riot at the Capitol last week, as the FBI ratchets up its investigation into the role extremist groups played in storming the building.

FBI logoJon Schaffer, an Indiana musician, turned himself in to the FBI on Sunday afternoon, officials said. On Jan. 6, Schaffer was photographed inside the Capitol, wearing a hat that said “Oath Keepers Lifetime Member.” Schaffer founded Iced Earth, a heavy-metal band, and music fans quickly recognized him as the FBI circulated wanted posters with his face on them.

Schaffer was charged with six counts, including engaging in an act of physical violence. Authorities said Schaffer was among the rioters who targeted U.S. Capitol Police with bear spray.

Also charged in a court filing made public Sunday was Robert Gieswein, 24, of Cripple Creek, Colo. Court papers say that Gieswein is affiliated with an Oath Keepers-related extremist group called the Three Percenters, and that he assaulted federal officers outside the Capitol with bear spray and a baseball bat; “encouraged other rioters as they broke a window of the Capitol building; entered … and then charged through the Capitol building.”

Gieswein runs a private paramilitary training group called the Woodland Wild Dogs, and a patch for that group was visible on a tactical vest he wore during the attack on Congress, an FBI affidavit said.

Wayne Madsen Report, Opinion: Libertarian terrorism, Wayne Madsen, below left, Jan. 19, 2021. The temporary seizure of the U.S. Capitol by far-right supporters of Donald wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallTrump should serve as the political death knell for the libertarian ideological base of "Trumpism."

wayne madesen report logoLibertarians have never achieved serious political rule mainly because they and their philosophy cannot exist in the real world of governance.

The Libertarian Party represents nothing more than parlor room discourse by political party rejects. Libertarians have only achieved political power by nesting themselves inside established political parties having a record of electoral success and governance. This has been the case with Donald Trump, Newt Gingrich, Rand Paul, and Paul's father, Ron Paul, the latter running for President on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1988 before becoming a Republican and being elected to the U.S. House.

Political lunatics like Grover Norquist, who wants to shrink the size of government to where it can be drowned in a bathtub, and Steve Bannon, who advocates beheading government officials and putting their heads on pikes at the White House gates, have no place in serious matters of governance and legislating.

klete keller fbi photo

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘I Let You Down’: Klete Keller’s Path From Olympics to Capitol Riot, Karen Crouse, Jan. 19, 2021 (print ed.). Jan. 6 wasn’t Keller’s first election protest in Washington. But as he makes tearful apologies and faces federal charges, even his closest confidants aren’t sure why he was there at all.

Of the dozens of people now facing charges and possible prison sentences for invading the Capitol, only a handful have drawn more attention than Klete Keller (shown above, center), a three-time Olympian who won two gold medals as a relay teammate of Michael Phelps.

Yet within days after he was spotted in videos of the pro-Trump crowds that assaulted the Capitol, friends and former teammates of Keller, 38, turned him in to the F.B.I. Strangers demanded that he go to prison. And prominent voices called for him to be stripped of his Olympic medals.

To those who know Keller best, it was nothing less than bizarre to see a man who had once stood atop an Olympic medals podium with his hand over his heart during the national anthem — the personification, in that moment, of American greatness and success — acting as a part of a mob bent on disrupting the United States’ democracy. But they could not say they were surprised.

ny times logoNew York Times, Pennsylvania woman accused of taking Nancy Pelosi’s laptop turns herself in to the police, Katie Benner, Jan. 19, 2021 (print ed.). Riley June Williams, a Pennsylvania woman accused by federal law enforcement of taking a laptop from the office of Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the assault on the Capitol this month, turned herself in to the local police on Monday.

riley june williamsMs. Williams, 22, right, was seen on video taking “a laptop computer or hard drive” from the office of Ms. Pelosi, Democrat of California, according to a complaint filed by the Justice Department on Sunday. The authorities accused her of unlawful entry, disrupting the conduct of government business and disorderly conduct.

A former boyfriend of Ms. Williams contacted the F.B.I. to identify her in videos recorded during the attack. According to the court filing, he told the F.B.I. that she had intended to sell the laptop to a friend in Russia, who hoped to sell it to Russia’s foreign intelligence service. He also told the F.B.I. that the sale had fallen through.

Michael R. Sherwin, the U.S. attorney in Washington, has said that the break-in posed a national security risk because rioters had stolen computers, hard drives and files from the offices of lawmakers.

Ms. Williams can also be seen on video directing crowds up a staircase inside the Capitol, yelling, “Upstairs, upstairs, upstairs,” according to the court filing.

Local law enforcement agents in Harrisburg, Pa., told the F.B.I. that Ms. Williams’s father had told them he drove with her to Washington to protest the election results, and that they returned to Pennsylvania together after splitting up during the day.

Her mother told local law enforcement officers that she had since fled, and the police discovered that after the attack she had changed her telephone number and deleted what seemed to be her social media accounts, the F.B.I. said in the court filing.

ali akbar alexander stop the steal

Legal Schnauzer, Opinion: Stop the Steal leader Ali (Akbar) Alexander ratchets up violent images in his rhetoric, speaking of stabbing "motherfu--ers" and making life hell for adversaries, Roger Shuler, Jan. 19, 2021. Is Ali (Akbar) Alexander (shown above), who has been in hiding since organizing the protest that turned into an assault on the U.S. Capitol, a warped and dangerous guy?

A video he reportedly released on Jan. 10 (see above) should erase any doubts. Reports Roger Sollenberger at Salon, under the headline "Stop the Steal denied inciting violence: Now its leader wants to "bring hell" to his enemies: 'I pray that I'm the tool to stab these motherf**kers,'" Ali Alexander says in a new video:

In the aftermath of the [Jan. 6] attack on Congress, Ali Alexander, chief organizer of the "Stop the Steal" election conspiracy movement, rejected any blame for the unprecedented political violence that flowed naturally from his event in Washington.

"I didn't incite anything," Alexander claimed in a video shared to Twitter. "I didn't do anything."

Hours after the riot, Alexander said bluntly: "I do not denounce this."

It's a common refrain for Alexander, a convicted felon who shed his given name Ali Akbar years ago while trying to establish himself as a Muslim face in Tea Party circles.

For the last two months, since the election, Alexander has popped up at "Stop the Steal" rallies around the country, peddling lies and conspiracy theories and telling people he was prepared to die for the cause — denying that he endorsed violence while walking his rally crowds right up to the edge of insurrection. But two days after he shrugged off allegations that he played a central role in the unprecedented political crime last week, with authorities apparently on his trail and his Twitter account suspended, Alexander live-streamed his open embrace and endorsement of political violence.

"Rest assured in this," he says at one point in the 24-minute monologue. "The lord says vengeance is his, and I pray that I am the tool to stab these motherfuckers."

Alexander then descends into otherworldly babble:

At another point in the video — which Alexander appears to have streamed sitting under a dome light in a vehicle moving through the night — the self-styled provocateur, who trades on his association with larger-than-life right-wing personalities such as Alex Jones and Roger Stone, teases viewers that the next step will be violent on a biblical scale.

"When I do unleash the plan, I will unleash ..." Alexander says, then closes his mouth and stares at the camera for seven seconds. He continues: "I will unleash a legion of angels to bring hell to my enemies."

(Alexander often sews talk of "hexes" and mystical beings and QAnon and other fantasy lore into his rambling sermons. At one point in Sunday's video he plunged into the QAnon universe: "The nation is imperiled. They are trying to rape your children. They are closing our churches and keeping us from the sacrament so that they can open a gateway to hell.")

Does anyone have a clue what that means? There is no doubting the use of violent imagery.

The open invocation of violence marks a clear shift from just two days prior, when the co-founder of the original "Stop the Steal" movement pushed back on the firestorm of blame, saying he would not "take an iota of blame that does not belong to me." But while Alexander moves about freely, some of his mo brooks oconnections at the federal level do not have that luxury — such as Republican congressmen Mo Brooks of Alabama and Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar, left, both of Arizona, who Alexander has said collaborated with some of his efforts in Washington.

"We four schemed up putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting," Alexander said in a video posted before the riot.

paul gosarAlexander did an interview with Alex Jones, spouting open threats as authorities across the country pour resources into bringing Capitol attackers to justice and heading off what some people believe is an inevitable second attack.

Officials across the government are still reeling from the catastrophic security failure to assess and prepare for the event, widely publicized on social media, where scores of domestic terrorists came tactically equipped to take hostages, fight riot police and hunt down elected officials. Some of the invaders chanted "Hang Mike Pence" while a noose swung from a makeshift gallows outside one of the world's iconic symbols of democracy.

Now law enforcement is racing against those same groups as they settle on the next target, with President-elect Joe Biden's Inauguration on Jan. 20 being a top choice: "That is the next date on the calendar that the Pro-Trump and other nationalist crowds will potentially converge on the Capitol again," read one message posted to a white supremacist Telegram channel, according to The Washington Post.

What could lie ahead? That question is, and should be, unsettling:

To avoid repeating the Jan. 6 disaster, in which five people were killed, including two Capitol Police officers — one from injuries at the scene and another taking his own life days later — Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy has said that the military will surround the Capitol with unscalable fencing. Upwards of 6,000 National Guard troops are also deploying to help secure the city ahead of the inauguration.

Twitter has also taken precautions, purging bots and accounts that peddle dangerous conspiracy theories. The company permanently suspended Alexander's account on Sunday evening, citing his influence on last week's mayhem and fears that he would use the platform to inspire and organize more violence. In Sunday night's video — which he managed to share via Twitter's broadcast app Periscope, which gave him the boot on Tuesday — Alexander framed the move among others as an act of violence.

"The fact that they keep crawling me out of here to drag my dead body through the streets is very sick and sadistic, but here we are," he said in the video.

"But I want to tell you, please share my GiveSendGo link — I need to raise that $40,000 immediately." (GiveSendGo is a Christian fundraising site that doubles as safe harbor for extremists no longer welcome on other more mainstream platforms — Alexander, for instance, has been banned from PayPal, Venmo and CashApp, but maintains a GiveSendGo. His monetized YouTube page is also still active.)

Alexander then declares that he is so committed to the cause that he will never go back to his previous life as a political consultant — unless he doesn't get that $40,000 in the next week, in which case, he says, he will disappear entirely. The money, he says, is for "security."

 

Trump Pardon Market

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Prepares Pardon Wave for Final Hours, Maggie Haberman, Kenneth P. Vogel and Dana Rubinstein, Jan. 19, 2021 (print ed.). Among those under consideration for grants of clemency are the former New York Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver and the rapper Lil Wayne.

Those under consideration include such disparate figures as Sheldon Silver, the disgraced former New York Assembly speaker, and the rapper Lil Wayne, who pleaded guilty last month to a gun charge. Rudolph W. Giuliani says he does not expect one, and Stephen K. Bannon’s chances seem to have dimmed. Mixed in among the big names, low-level drug offenders are under consideration.

 

Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Attorney Roberta Kaplan is about to make Trump’s life extremely difficult, Karen Heller, Jan. 19, 2021 (print ed.). On the other side of Donald Trump’s turbulent presidency, the lawyers are waiting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Melania Trump spends her last days in the White House focused on her future, while her husband rages about the past, Mary Jordan, Jan. 19, 2021 (print ed.). In her final days as first lady, Melania Trump has largely stayed away from the West Wing. While her husband spends his time there in anger — though aides said his dark mood has lightened since he began planning a rousing military send-off for himself — she has shown no sign of any disappointment for how the president’s era is ending.

Melania Trump Twitter photoInstead, she has been busying herself with finding a new school for Barron in Florida and working on her own farewell video message to the country, which she released Monday.

melania trump i really dont care jacket twitterSeveral people who have been in touch with Melania Trump said she is aware of the intense criticism both she and her husband have gotten since the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot, but that unlike her spouse she appears completely unfazed. They said she would have been happy to attend President-elect Joe Biden’s swearing-in ceremony, as every outgoing president and first lady have for the past 152 years.

But rather than dwell on what could have been, she focuses on what she has control over: choreographing her own exit, trying to cement her legacy as a first lady who devoted much time to renovations of the White House, and making plans to continue her “Be Best” initiative. Quietly, she has also been working with Chief Usher Timothy Harleth to facilitate the move-in of the Bidens.

 

Jan. 18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Prospect of Pardons in Final Days Fuels Market to Buy Access to Trump, Michael S. Schmidt and Kenneth P. Vogel, Jan. 18, 2021 (print ed.). President Trump’s allies have collected tens of thousands of dollars — and potentially much more — from people seeking pardons. The brisk market reflects the access peddling that has defined his presidency as well as his unorthodox approach to exercising unchecked clemency powers.

As President Trump prepares to leave office in days, a lucrative market for pardons is coming to a head, with some of his allies collecting fees from wealthy felons or their associates to push the White House for clemency, according to documents and interviews with more than three dozen lobbyists and lawyers.

The brisk market for pardons reflects the access peddling that has defined Mr. Trump’s presidency as well as his unorthodox approach to exercising unchecked presidential clemency powers. Pardons and commutations are intended to show mercy to deserving recipients, but Mr. Trump has used many of them to reward personal or political allies.

The pardon lobbying heated up as it became clear that Mr. Trump had no recourse for challenging his election defeat, lobbyists and lawyers say.

john kiriakouA onetime top adviser to the Trump campaign was paid $50,000 to help seek a pardon for John Kiriakou, right, a former C.I.A. officer convicted of illegally disclosing classified information, and agreed to a $50,000 bonus if the president granted it, according to a copy of an agreement.

And Mr. Kiriakou was separately told that Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani could help him secure a pardon for $2 million. Mr. Kiriakou rejected the offer, but an associate, fearing that Mr. Giuliani was illegally selling pardons, alerted the F.B.I. Mr. Giuliani challenged this characterization.

After Mr. Trump’s impeachment for inciting his supporters before the deadly riot at the Capitol, and with Republican leaders turning on him, the pardon power remains one of the last and most likely outlets for quick unilateral action by an increasingly isolated, erratic president. He has suggested to aides he wants to take the extraordinary and unprecedented step of pardoning himself, though it was not clear whether he had broached the topic since the rampage.

Legal scholars and some pardon lawyers shudder at the prospect of such moves, as well as the specter of Mr. Trump’s friends and allies offering to pursue pardons for others in exchange for cash.

“This kind of off-books influence peddling, special-privilege system denies consideration to the hundreds of ordinary people who have obediently lined up as required by Justice Department rules, and is a basic violation of the longstanding effort to make this process at least look fair,” said Margaret Love, who ran the Justice Department’s clemency process from 1990 until 1997 as the United States pardon attorney.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s bizarre endgame, Bill Palmer, Jan. 18, 2021. With barely forty-eight hours left in his failed presidency, what is Donald Trump even doing? Surely he doesn’t know, because his endgame moves are looking more and more incoherent, pointless, and frankly just plain weird.

bill palmer report logo headerAt one point this weekend, Trump leaked that he was considering hiring Rudy Giuliani as his impeachment trial lawyer. Then at a later point this weekend, Trump had his lone remaining spokesman announce that he hadn’t yet decided on an impeachment trial lawyer. This comes after reports last week that Trump had cut off Giuliani entirely. At this point Trump appears to simply be indecisive and confused.

Trump is still installing his most inept loyal stooges in positions where they’ll surely be fired the minute President Biden takes office. What’s the strategy here? There doesn’t appear to be one. Perhaps it’s Trump’s way of trying to get them a pension or something. But there is, clearly, no master plan here.

Trump is also whining, through his spokesman, that the only reason he hasn’t done more to condemn political violence is that he’s lost his social media accounts. In reality, the one message that Trump would be able to get out on social media (and the mainstream media) would be if he did properly condemn violence. It’s all odd, and small.

Donald Trump will pardon a boatload of terrible people, many of them also named Trump, and he’ll perhaps make some last ditch grab for narcissistic attention on his way out the door. This is all shaping up to quite a stupid ending for him, even by his standards. If anything is left up his sleeve, it’s a pair of twos. Stay vigilant. Trump has lost. It’s just a matter of how he wants to finish losing.

 

Jan. 16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Jan. 15

capitol mob

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

U.S. Investigative Reports

steve bannon trump

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

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

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

mike lindell anderson cooper aug 18 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Capitol Riot Fallout

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jan. 13

Top Headlines

 

Top Stories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Jan. 12

Top Headlines

 
Capitol Riot Responses

 

Capitol Riot Commentaries

 

U.S. 2021 Elections, Politics

 

U.S. Law, Courts, Crime 

 

Top Stories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

capitol ties

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Capitol Riot Responses

ali alexander resized greg palast

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