Trump Watch, Capitol Siege News

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

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

-- Andrew Kreig / Justice Integrity Project editor

 

2021-22

capitol noose shay horse nurphoto via getty

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

 

Donald Trump, shown in a 2020 campaign hat.

 

January 2022

Jan. 18

 

 

Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani hawking their false claims that they could prove election fraud caused Democratic nominee Joe Biden's presidential victory in 2020.

Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani hawking their false claims that they could prove election fraud caused Democratic nominee Joe Biden's presidential victory in 2020.

washington post logoWashington Post, House Jan. 6 committee subpoenas Trump-allied attorneys Giuliani, Powell and others, Jacqueline Alemany, Jan. 18, 2022. Rudolph W. Giuliani was Trump’s personal attorney, and Sidney Powell led a legal charge to overturn the 2020 election. Two other Trump allies were also subpoenaed.

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection issued subpoenas to members of former president Trump’s outside legal team on Tuesday, including Trump’s former personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani, former White House aide Boris Epshteyn, and lawyers Jenna Ellis and Sidney Powell.

“The four individuals we’ve subpoenaed today advanced unsupported theories about election fraud, pushed efforts to overturn the election results, or were in direct contact with the former President about attempts to stop the counting of electoral votes,” Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) said in a statement.

Thompson’s statement added, “We expect these individuals to join the nearly 400 witnesses who have spoken with the Select Committee as the committee works to get answers for the American people about the violent attack on our democracy.”

Giuliani and Epshteyn were part of the group of Trump advisers who coalesced at a “command center” at the Willard Hotel in the lead up to the Jan. 6 rally on the Ellipse and the counting of electoral votes, the Washington Post has reported.

In a letter transmitting notice of the subpoenas, Thompson cites Giuliani’s involvement in seeking to convince state legislators to take steps to overturn the election results, his urging of Trump to seize voting machines across the country, and his contact with Trump in the days ahead of Jan. 6 “regarding jenna ellis cropped screenshotstrategies for delaying or overturning the results of the 2020 election.”

Thompson’s letter to Epshteyn references his presence at the Willard Hotel in the days leading up to Jan. 6, along with his participation on a call with Trump on the morning of Jan. 6 where options were discussed to delay the certification of election results.

In a letter accompanying the subpoena to Ellis, right, Thompson notes her involvement in preparing and circulating two memos “purporting to analyze the constitutional authority for the Vice President to reject or delay counting electoral votes from states that had submitted alternate slates of electors.”

Jan. 17

 

Former president Donald Trump endorses the 2022 re-election of Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in Des Moines, Iowa on Oct. 9, 2021.

Former president Donald Trump endorses the 2022 re-election of Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in Des Moines, Iowa on Oct. 9, 2021.

Proof, Investigation:The Coming Collapse of Donald Trump’s January 6 Conspiracy, Part 4: Chuck Grassley, Seth Abramson, left, Jan. 16-17, 2022 (Excerpt from a much longer article). This shocking seth abramson graphicnew PROOF series details mounting evidence that Trump's seditious January 6 conspiracy is at the point of collapse because of the cowardice, fear, and perfidy of his co-conspirators.

Introduction: There’s simply no other way to put this: the bizarre, still unexplained Insurrection Eve statement issued to U.S. media by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)—a stark declaration concerning the anticipated whereabouts of sitting Vice President of the United States Mike Pence over the coming 24 hours—remains one of the most sinister moments in the whole of the January 6 insurrection timeline.

seth abramson proof logoYet it appears as though no one in the DOJ, the FBI, or even the House of Representatives is seriously looking into it. The following Proof report attempts to remove any “fuzz” from the key facts regarding Grassley’s statement.

As you read this report, keep in mind the photograph atop this article: Donald Trump’s October 9, 2021 endorsement of Sen. Grassley for re-election to the United States Senate in 2022.

2022? Yes. Donald Trump travelled to Iowa over a year before the 2022 midterms to endorse Grassley for an election Grassley intends to run in but could easily, given his age and his health, find himself deciding against. Trump, out of office and spreading seditious rhetoric at every opportunity, is intent on drawing the senior senator from Iowa as close to him as possible.

Why would Trump care so much about the political fate of an extremely elderly United States senator surely in his final or second-to-last Senate term? Perhaps because Trump knows that, if the GOP regains control of the Senate in January 2023, Grassley will again chair the Senate Judiciary Committee rather than being (as he is now) merely its ranking member.

Grassley’s prospective 2023 role on the Senate Judiciary Committee would not only have been vital to Trump in a second term in office, but may still be now in the event any issues touching upon Trump’s legal liabilities somehow come before that body— for instance, issues relating to Trump’s rampant misconduct while in the Oval Office.

And yet, even all this might not have been enough to make Trump care about Grassley in October 2021. But at the time Trump went to Iowa to stump with Grassley, the aged senator was just weeks removed from being hounded by U.S. media (see below) as to another component of his Senate service: his past role as Senate president pro tempore. I

In endorsing the 88 year-old Grassley—the second-oldest human in Congress—in October 2021, Trump not only brazenly blew smoke about him (“He’s a very young guy”) but called Grassley a “patriot” (a term now used as code for “insurrectionist”); more importantly, he dropped a line which, in retrospect, seems telling: “When I’ve needed [Senator Grassley] for help, he was always there.” And Donald Trump desperately needed Chuck Grassley’s help on January 6, 2021.

The question now is whether Grassley is linked to Trump in ways that are much less evident—and relate not to 2022 but January 6, 2021. All of the Following Things Are True About Grassley’s Infamous Insurrection Eve Declaration About Pence (1) Grassley’s January 5 statement that Pence would not be overseeing the certification of the 2020 election was definitive and unambiguous. Grassley’s statement, The Hill reported at the time, “sent shock waves” through D.C., and did so on the eve of what would turn out to be the worst attack on Washington since the American Civil War.

Grassley’s claim caused “chaos” in the nation’s capital, wrote The Hill, forcing reporters to suddenly “grapple with [the question of] whether Pence had pulled out of the joint session”—and in effect giving Pence an opportunity to choose that option if he hadn’t been inclined to do so previously, it having been laid so neatly on the table for him by an esteemed senior member of the Republican Party.

Conclusion: Whereas Kevin McCarthy is now dissembling about the content of his January 6, 2021 conversation with Donald Trump, at least he previously (and repeatedly) was candid about it. In contrast, it appears that Chuck Grassley and his staff have been lying from the start about what could’ve been even more consequential contacts with Team Trump

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, The Justice Dept. alleged Jan. 6 was a seditious conspiracy. Now will it investigate Trump? Matt Zapotosky, Josh Dawsey, Tom Hamburger and Rachel Weiner, Jan. 17, 2022 (print ed.). The Justice Department’s decision to charge Oath Keepers with seditious conspiracy last week makes clear that prosecutors consider the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol part of an organized assault to prevent the peaceful transfer of presidential power.

But so far the department does not appear to be directly investigating the person whose desperate bid to stay in office motivated the mayhem — former president Donald Trump — either for potentially inciting a riot or for what some observers see as a related pressure campaign to overturn the results of the election.

The House select committee on Jan. 6 is investigating both matters, separate from the Justice Department, and has aggressively pursued information about Trump and those closest to him. But FBI agents have not, for example, sought to interview or gather materials from some of Trump’s most loyal lieutenants about their strategy sessions at the Willard hotel on how to overturn the results of the 2020 election, according to participants in those meetings or their representatives.

The department has not reached out to the Georgia secretary of state’s office about Trump urging its leader to “find” enough votes to reverse his defeat, a person familiar with the office said, even as a local district attorney investigates that matter.

The Trump campaign has not received requests for documents or interviews from the FBI or Justice Department related to Jan. 6 or the effort to overturn the election results, and federal prosecutors have not sought to interview those with knowledge of Trump’s consideration of a plan to install an attorney general more amenable to his unfounded claims of massive voter fraud, according to people familiar with the matter. The Justice Department inspector general is investigating the aborted plan and could ultimately ask prosecutors to consider whether crimes were committed.

Attorney General Merrick Garland has vowed to hold accountable all those responsible for the Jan. 6 riot — whether they were at the Capitol or committed related crimes. “The actions we have taken thus far will not be our last,” Garland said in a Jan. 5 speech marking the anniversary of the Capitol breach.

But some legal analysts say they worry Garland might be moving too cautiously.

“The other shoe has yet to drop — that is: When will the Justice Department promptly and exhaustively investigate the part of the coup attempt that I believe came perilously close to ending American constitutional democracy, basically, without a drop of blood?” said Harvard Law School Professor Laurence Tribe, a constitutional scholar and outspoken Trump critic.

Trump friend and advisor Roger Stone, center, poses with members of the radical right group Oath Keepers (File photo).

Trump friend and advisor Roger Stone, center, poses with members of the radical right group Oath Keepers (File photo).

Palmer Report, Commentary: Confirmed: DOJ is targeting Roger Stone, Rudy Giuliani, and Trump world in relation to Capitol attack, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 2022.  bill palmerWhen major newspapers publish lengthy articles about political scandals, the good news is that they often contain crucial pieces of inside information that no one else has been able to uncover. The bad news is that these articles are typically put together by trading editorial favors with inside sources, and are thus often presented in a manner that borders on fiction.

bill palmer report logo headerNow that the DOJ has arrested the entire Oath Keepers leadership for seditious conspiracy in relation to the January 6th Capitol attack, the media fallout is underway. This has led the Washington Post to publish a piece which is one of the most dishonestly constructed major newspaper articles in recent memory, yet still manages to give away a key piece of crucial information. Notably, the one important revelation in the article manages to disprove the premise of the entire rest of the article.

The article is titled “The Justice Dept. alleged Jan. 6 was a seditious conspiracy. Now will it investigate Trump?” It goes on to loudly insist that the DOJ is not investigating Trump or Trump world, but offers no actual evidence of this. Instead it’s written almost entirely from the point of view of alleged January 6th participants and their defense attorneys, all of whom are claiming innocence. It also quotes some potential witnesses within the Trump Justice Department log circularregime who say they haven’t been contacted by the DOJ about any investigation into Trump. But this is meaningless because the probe wouldn’t have reached this point yet anyway.

The WaPo article also includes the usual round of attention-seeking legal experts who like to put on a good show of wringing hands about how our democracy is going to die because nothing is being done. But then the article goes on to admit that when it comes to the DOJ, “much could be happening in secret.” So even this article is admitting that the legal experts it’s quoting are full of it, because no one knows for sure what the DOJ has going on behind the scenes.

Well, actually a handful of people do know what the DOJ is up to. The entire premise of the first thirty paragraphs of this WaPo article is that if the DOJ were investigating Trump world, we’d know it, because well, the DOJ would be asking other January 6th figures for information about them. But in the thirty-first paragraph, the article reveals that according to an attorney representing several Oath Keepers, the DOJ is “interested” in “close Trump allies Rudy Giuliani and Roger Stone.”

Oh, so the DOJ is investigating Donald Trump’s inner circle in relation January 6th. It only took the Washington Post thirty-one paragraphs to drop this major bombshell, after having first spent thirty paragraphs trying to vaguely scare everyone into believing that it’s not happening.

This is just weird, and yet par for the course. Major newspaper articles of this type always come off as having been constructed like Frankenstein’s monster, with one misleading paragraph being inserted here because a source demands that a certain slant be presented in exchange for inside information, and then another paragraph further down the page that confirms the real truth, buried so deep that the source perhaps won’t bother to read that far and thus won’t end up being pissed off.

In any case, while this Washington Post article is a painful reminder that journalism is dying in much the same way that they want us to believe democracy is dying, it’s almost worth having to slog through this kind of misleading agenda-driven nonsense just to get the bombshell confirmation that the DOJ is targeting Rudy Giuliani and Roger Stone in relation to January 6th.

Given Roger Stone’s close ties to the Oath Keepers on January 6th, this strongly suggests that the DOJ’s arrest of the Oath Keepers leadership this past week was indeed about getting to Roger Stone. It also suggests that the ongoing DOJ criminal probe into Rudy Giuliani, which included a raid of his home last year, also includes his role in January 6th.

This comes on top of Mike Lindell’s claim this weekend that his bank is forcing him to close his accounts in relation to a subpoena threat from the Feds, and it’s becoming clear that the DOJ is targeting Donald Trump’s inner circle from all sides. If the DOJ is going to indict Trump, it’ll do so by first indicting and flipping one or more members of his inner circle. The process we’re seeing play out right now is exactly what it would look like. This doesn’t prove that the DOJ will indict Trump. But it overwhelmingly disproves the popular legal pundit claim that the DOJ has decided not to go after Trump.

Jan. 16

merrick garland new

Palmer Report, Opinion: What a difference 48 hours has made, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 16, 2022. For months there was a popular narrative in political punditry that bill palmerMerrick Garland, above, and his Department of Justice were doing “nothing” about Trump world and January 6th. This was obviously false; no serious person would ever believe that the Garland DOJ was simply doing nothing. But plenty of pundits opportunistically pushed this nonsense to take advantage of the fact that no one could see what the DOJ was doing; after all, fear mongering sells. But over the past 48 hours we’ve finally started getting to see what the DOJ has been doing behind the scenes all this time.

bill palmer report logo headerFirst came the DOJ’s arrest of a double digit number of Oath Keepers leaders on Friday for seditious conspiracy, the most severe criminal charge that anyone could have hoped would be brought. This means that the DOJ has been painstakingly building these criminal cases in overwhelmingly comprehensive fashion for some time. In addition the DOJ’s decision to wait for all of the cases to be completed, before rounding them up at once, suggests it’s pitting them against each other to push one or more of them to flip quickly before the others can. And of course they’d be flipping on the next rung up on the ladder in the January 6th criminal conspiracy, which would mean people along the lines of Roger Stone and Alex Jones – in other words, key people in Trump world. But that was just the half of it.

Justice Department log circularOn Saturday, key Donald Trump sedition ally Mike Lindell announced that his bank is closing down all his accounts due to reputational risk, in relation to a subpoena threat from the Feds. In other words, the DOJ appears to be following the January 6th Trump world money trail through Lindell. This comes on top of earlier reports that the DOJ was following the money trail through former Trump election lawyer Sidney Powell.

So within a span of 48 hours we’ve gone from having no real sense of what the DOJ was doing about Trump world and January 6th behind the scenes, to now seeing what appears to be the DOJ’s plan to take down the likes of Stone, Jones, Powell, and Lindell. Throw in the earlier raid against former Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Victoria Toensing, and the federal criminal indictment against Trump money man Tom Barrack, and we’re starting to see that the DOJ really has been targeting Trump world from all sides.

This comes on top the revelation from earlier this week that that DOJ has begun having January 6th Capitol attackers formally confess that they were invading the Capitol because they believed Donald Trump wanted them to. Now we can suddenly see that the DOJ has been overwhelmingly targeting Trump and his people behind the scenes.

This still doesn’t prove that the DOJ is going to end up criminally indicting Donald Trump. The way these things work, the DOJ will need to continue successfully flipping people upward in order to get to Trump himself. But it fully disproves the ridiculous claim that the DOJ has been doing “nothing.” The pundits who spent months making this claim certainly knew better. There’s really no reason to ever listen to them again.

Jan. 15

 

oan logo

washington post logoWashington Post, DirecTV says it will sever ties with far-right network One America News, Timothy Bella, Jan. 15, 2022. The conservative channel’s contract with DirecTV expires in early April. DirecTV announced Friday evening that it will sever ties with One America News later this year, pulling the conservative news channel from millions of homes and dealing a significant blow to the pro-Trump network.

att logoThe channel, which rose to prominence during the Trump administration and has promoted conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election and coronavirus pandemic, will be dropped from DirecTV in early April when its contract expires. OAN’s sister channel, A Wealth of Entertainment, will also be removed from the satellite provider. Both channels are owned by Herring Networks and founded by Robert Herring Sr., below left.

robert herring sr“We informed Herring Networks that, following a routine internal review, we do not plan to enter into a new contract when our current agreement expires,” a DirecTV spokesperson said in a statement to The Washington Post.

The move figures to be a big financial loss for the fringe network. An OAN accountant reported in 2020 that 90 percent of the channel’s revenue in the previous year stemmed from subscriber fees paid by DirecTV and other AT&T-owned platforms, according to Reuters. AT&T has been repeatedly criticized for playing a foundational role in building up OAN into a Trump-friendly alternative to Fox News. Though DirecTV is now its own company, AT&T owns 70 percent of the satellite provider.

Without the estimated tens of millions of dollars in revenue from AT&T, an OAN accountant said in sworn testimony that the network’s value “would be zero,” reported Reuters.

Related story:

Reuters, Special Investigative Report: How AT&T helped build far-right One America News, John Schiffman, Oct. 6, 2021 (First of two stories). As it lauded former President Donald Trump and spread his unfounded claims of election fraud, One America News Network saw its viewership jump. Reuters has uncovered how America’s telecom giant nurtured the news channel now at the center of a bitter national divide over politics and truth.

One America News, the far-right network whose fortunes and viewership rose amid the triumph and tumult of the Trump administration, has flourished with support from a surprising source: AT&T Inc, the world's largest communications company.

reuters logoA Reuters review of court records shows the role AT&T played in creating and funding OAN, a network that continues to spread conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and the COVID-19 pandemic.

OAN founder and chief executive Robert Herring Sr. has testified that the inspiration to launch OAN in 2013 came from AT&T executives. “They told us they wanted a conservative network,” Herring said during a 2019 deposition seen by Reuters. “They only had one, which was Fox News, and they had seven others on the other [leftwing] side. When they said that, I jumped to it and built one.”

Since then, AT&T has been a crucial source of funds flowing into OAN, providing tens of millions of dollars in revenue, court records show. Ninety percent of OAN’s revenue came from a contract with AT&T-owned television platforms, including satellite broadcaster DirecTV, according to 2020 sworn testimony by an OAN accountant.

Herring has testified he was offered $250 million for OAN in 2019. Without the DirecTV deal, the accountant said under oath, the network’s value “would be zero.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden White House forces resignation of former Trump aide who promoted baseless Jan. 6 theories, Mariana Alfaro, Jan. 15, 2022 (print ed.). The Biden administration on Friday forced out Darren Beattie, who was a member of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, along with six other members appointed by Trump.

The Biden White House has forced the resignation of a Trump-appointed member of a U.S. commission who has promoted the baseless claim that the FBI planted agents among the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Darren Beattie was named by former president Donald Trump to the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad in November 2020. In a letter Friday, Gautam Raghavan, deputy director of the White House office of presidential personnel, told Beattie that he must turn in his resignation by the end of business Friday and if he did not, his position would be terminated.

A spokesman for the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Beattie confirmed the White House’s letter in a Friday afternoon tweet, saying the request for his resignation was “better than a Pulitzer [Prize].”

“You’ve been fired by better people than this,” commented Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), an outspoken conservative.

As a member of the commission, Beattie was serving a three-year term and would have had the option of retaining his post until replaced. Members of the commission aren’t paid for their service.

FBI logoThe White House move comes days after Beattie’s actions as a right-wing blogger attracted attention from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack. The panel dismissed the “unsupported” claim that the FBI helped to incite the insurrection, a theory perpetuated by right-wing media and some Republicans looking to absolve the pro-Trump mob that attacked the building.

The committee’s statement came after it interviewed Ray Epps, an Arizona man who encouraged others to break into the Capitol on Jan. 5 and was seen on the Capitol grounds the day of the attack. In the interview with the committee, Epps denied any involvement with the FBI or any other law enforcement agency.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Seditious conspiracy charges means January 6th has been recognized as a coup attempt, Wayne Madsen, left, Jan. 14-15, 2022. The investigation of January 6th by both the Department of Justice and the House Select Committee on January 6th has entered a wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallnew phase: the planning, coordination, financing, and other matters relating to the insurrection.

This new direction of the investigation of the coup could find its way into the Trump White House; the Pentagon; the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, and Interior; the wayne madesen report logoDirectorate of National Intelligence; and, as previously reported by WMR, a few foreign embassies in Washington, including those of Brazil, Russia, and Hungary.

The Justice Department's recognition that January 6 was no mere spontaneous riot but a carefully-planned coup attempt, refocuses the criminality of January 6 on propagandists and rabble rousers and like [Alex] Jones, Fox's Tucker Carlson, and Steve Bannon; financiers like Jenkins Fancelli and Bannon's exiled Chinese billionaire friend and chief funder Guo Wengui; and GOP state Attorneys General like Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton; Missouri's Eric Schmitt, a current candidate for the U.S. Senate; and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, as well as RLDF war games participant, Kansas Chief Deputy Attorney General Jeff Chanay.

The recent indictments are also the first to charge conspirators for actions planned after January 6, including preventing the peaceful transfer of power from Trump to President-elect Joe Biden on January 20, 2021.
 

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.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Roger Stone’s final move, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 15, 2022. It’s difficult to live your life so stupidly that even after getting your bill palmersentence commuted and later getting pardoned, you still end up dying in prison.

But with yesterday’s criminal indictment of the entire Oath Keepers leadership for seditious conspiracy, Roger Stone is next in line to be bill palmer report logo headerindicted for the same charges. This means that Donald Trump’s mid 2020 commutation of Stone, and Trump’s late 2020 pardon of Stone, won’t stop Stone from spending the rest of his natural life in prison.

What’ll be particularly interesting is what Roger Stone decides to do once it hits him that his life is essentially over.

Will he cut a deal against Donald Trump? On the one hand, such a deal would represent Stone’s only hope of tasting fresh air again at some point. On the other hand, Stone is 69 years old and seemingly in frail health – so would he ever get out of prison even with a plea deal? Would the DOJ be willing to give Stone immunity in exchange for giving up everything on his decades long friend Trump?

These may stop being mere hypothetical questions soon, as this DOJ probe continues to move up the hierarchy.

Jan. 14

 

stewart rhodes

ny times logoNew York Times, Oath Keepers Leader Arrested in First Sedition Charge in Jan. 6 Inquiry, Alan Feuer and Adam Goldman, Jan. 14, 2022 (print ed.). The F.B.I. arrested Stewart Rhodes, above, the founder of the far-right militia, in a major step forward in the investigation into the attack on the Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump.

Stewart Rhodes, the leader and founder of the far-right Oath Keepers militia, was arrested on Thursday and charged with seditious conspiracy for organizing a wide-ranging plot to storm the Capitol last Jan. 6 and disrupt the certification of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s electoral victory, federal law enforcement officials said.

The arrest of Mr. Rhodes was a major step forward in the sprawling investigation of the Capitol attack and the case marked the first time that prosecutors had filed charges of sedition. According to his lawyer, Jonathon Moseley, Mr. Rhodes was arrested at shortly before 1 p.m. Read the indictment here.

Mr. Rhodes, a former Army paratrooper who went on to earn a law degree at Yale, has been under investigation for his role in the riot since at least last spring when, against the advice of his lawyer, he sat down with F.B.I. agents for an interview in Texas. He was at the Capitol on Jan. 6, communicating by cellphone and a chat app with members of his team, many of whom went into the building. But there is no evidence that he entered the Capitol.

The Oath Keepers, along with the Proud Boys, have emerged as the most prominent far-right extremists to have taken part in the assault on the Capitol. Prosecutors have collected reams of evidence against them, including encrypted cellphone chats and recordings of online meetings. They have charged its members not only with forcing their way into the building in a military-style “stack,” but also with stationing an armed “quick reaction force” at a hotel in Virginia to be ready to rush into Washington if needed.

roger stone hatThrough their lawyers, members of the Oath Keepers who are already facing charges have said they converged on Washington just before Jan. 6 as part of a security detail hired to protect conservative celebrities like Roger J. Stone, Jr., the longtime ally of former President Donald J. Trump.

In an interview with The New York Times this summer, Mr. Rhodes expressed frustration that several members of his group had “gone off mission” by entering the Capitol on Jan. 6, quickly adding, “There were zero instructions from me or leadership to do so.”

But at least four Oath Keepers who were at the Capitol that day and are cooperating with the government have sworn in court papers that the group intended to breach the building with the goal of obstructing the final certification of the Electoral College vote.

Mr. Rhodes has also attracted the attention of the House select committee investigating Jan. 6, which issued him a subpoena in November. In a letter at the time, House investigators noted that Mr. Rhodes had taken part in several events intended to question the integrity of the 2020 presidential election throughout that fall and winter.

On Election Day, according to the letter, Mr. Rhodes said that an “honest” count of the votes could only result in a victory for Mr. Trump and called on members of his group to “stock up on ammo” and prepare for a “full-on war in the streets.”

Within a week of Election Day, Mr. Rhodes had told the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones that he had men stationed outside Washington prepared to act at Mr. Trump’s command.

Around the same time, federal prosecutors say, he urged his fellow Oath Keepers at an online meeting to support Mr. Trump, calling him the “duly elected president” and adding: “You can call it an insurrection or you can call it a war or fight.”

The drumbeat continued through the winter, prosecutors say, as Mr. Rhodes appeared at a pro-Trump rally in Washington on Dec. 12, 2020, and called on Mr. Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act, suggesting that a failure to do so would result in a “much more bloody war.” At the rally, Mr. Rhodes acknowledged in a television interview that he and members of his group were there to provide security for celebrity speakers along with another shadowy paramilitary organization, the First Amendment Praetorian.

On Jan. 4, just two days before the storming of the Capitol, Mr. Rhodes posted an article on the Oath Keepers website calling on “all patriots” to “stand tall in support of President Trump’s fight to defeat the enemies foreign and domestic who are attempting a coup.”

djt handwave file

Palmer Report, Opinion: The DOJ’s January 6th due diligence has now landed it two steps from Donald Trump’s doorstep, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 14, 2022. The bill palmerDOJ didn’t wake up yesterday and randomly decide to arrest the Oath Keepers leadership on a lark. In reality the DOJ spent all year painstakingly working through the lower level grunts involved in January 6th and flipping people upward – while most pundits insisted it was doing “nothing” – so it could be in position to take out Oath Keepers leadership yesterday.

No serious person would ever have thought that the Garland DOJ was doing “nothing” about the January instigators (sorry, but pundits who talk like that are a joke). The real questions were what the DOJ was specifically doing behind the scenes, whether it would succeed, and whether we’d end up agreeing with the strategy. Now we’re getting some answers.

bill palmer report logo headerDOJ managed to flip so many people upward, it was able to build slam dunk seditious conspiracy charges against all twelve of these Oath Keepers leaders. That’s due diligence right there. What stands out is that the DOJ apparently decided to wait until all twelve cases were ready, then arrested them all at once yesterday. Now these twelve Oath Keepers leaders will each feel pressure to hurry up and flip before any of the eleven others can. Typically there’s only one truly lenient plea deal available in situations like this, and their lawyers are all explaining this to them.

Justice Department log circularIt’s overwhelmingly likely that one or more of these twelve will flip fairly quickly, which in turn will take down the people on the next rung up of the January 6th criminal conspiracy – people like Roger Stone and Alex Jones, who were allegedly acting as liaisons between the Trump administration and the Oath Keepers.

In any massive criminal conspiracy, any given person usually only has direct evidence against the people one rung up from them. But now that the DOJ has wiped out the Oath Keepers leadership, if the next rung up is indeed Roger Stone, then the next rung up from him is Donald Trump.

Of course even if one or more of these Oath Keepers leaders cuts a deal tomorrow, it’ll still take the DOJ time to use their cooperation to complete the cases against the next rung up. So the “are we there yet” folks will still have plenty to complain about. But the DOJ is now just two steps from Donald Trump’s doorstep.

Jan. 12

ap logoAssociated Press, 1/6 panel requests interview from GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, Farnoush Amiri and Eric Tucker, Jan. 12, 2022. The House panel investigating the U.S. Capitol insurrection requested an interview and records from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday, seeking first-hand details from members of Congress on former President Donald Trump’s actions as hundreds of his supporters brutally beat police, stormed the building and interrupted the certification of the 2020 election.

kevin mccarthyMississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, Democratic chairman of the panel, requested that McCarthy, R-Calif., right, provide information to the nine-member panel regarding his conversations with Trump “before, during and after” the riot. The request also seeks information about McCarthy’s communications with former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in the days before the attack.

“We also must learn about how the President’s plans for January 6th came together, and all the other ways he attempted to alter the results of the election,” Thompson said in the letter. “For example, in advance of January 6th, you reportedly explained to Mark Meadows and the former President that objections to the certification of the electoral votes on January 6th ‘was doomed to fail.’”

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary, House Select Committee on 1/6 is the most important in the history of the nation, Wayne Madsen, left, Jan. wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Small11-12, 2022. The House of Representative's Select Committee on the January 6, 2021 insurrection is the most important congressional investigative panel in the history of the nation, eclipsing, by far, the Senate Watergate Committee that investigated abuses of power by the administration of Richard Nixon.

wayne madesen report logoThe major difference between the January 6th and Watergate committees is that the Donald Trump administration attempted to carry out a coup d'état, whereas the Nixon administration abused power to cover up a cloak-and-dagger break-in by its so-called Plumbers Unit of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex. Exacerbating the Watergate scandal was Nixon's firing of the Watergate Independent Counsel, Archibald Cox after the top tier of the Department of Justice resigned in protest.

richard nixon o new CustomTo be sure, what Nixon, left, did was illegal and unconstitutional and he resigned as Congress was preparing to impeach and remove him from office. His successor, Gerald Ford, willingly appeared as president before the House Judiciary Committee to answer questions about his pardon for Nixon. Although the historical record indicates that there was nervousness at the Pentagon about Nixon attempting a military coup in his final days in office, it is known that Defense Secretary James Schlesinger and White House chief of staff General Alexander Haig took steps to prevent any such action.

The commonly used phrase by Washington's pundits after Nixon's resignation was that "our constitutional system worked." Most subpoenas issued to witnesses by the Senate Watergate Committee, officially known as the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, were honored.

Some members of the House January 6th committee have promised a similar cavalcade of star witnesses appearing before it for televised hearings beginning in February.

To say that the January 6th hearings are the most important in American history is no overstatement. Watergate may have resulted in a constitutional crisis, particularly in October 1973 in the "Saturday Night Massacre" that saw Nixon fire Cox with the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General resigning in protest, but January 6th almost saw the abrogation of the U.S. Constitution; the assassinations of the Vice President, the Vice President-elect, and Speaker of the House; and a declaration by Trump of a national security emergency and a declaration of martial law.

One fact remains in the history of congressional investigations. Not one hearing sponsored by the Republicans meant a hill of beans when it came to high-level corruption.

Whether it was the 1950-1954 Senate Committee on Government Operations and the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations hearings of Republican chairman Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin, the Whitewater nonsense targeting President Bill Clinton in the 1990s, the Benghazi hearings during which self-congratulating buffoons like Republicans Jim Jordan of Ohio or Darrell Issa of California played their game of "gotcha" with officials of the Barack Obama administration, nothing of any substance came out of any these investigations.The only thing that was discovered was that the Republicans had a knack for wasting millions of dollars on useless investigations and that the only information that came out of the McCarthy hearings was that a bizarre homosexual love triangle existed between his staff counsel Roy Cohn, Army Private G. David Schine, and McCarthy.

Another McCarthy, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California has promised similar Republican monkeyshine against Democrats if he takes over as House Speaker next year.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Here’s the thing about the January 6th Committee’s big wins, Bill Palmer, Jan. 12, 2022. The January 6th Committee just keeps racking up wins. It’s now becoming clear that it’s obtained mountains of damning evidence against Donald Trump and his associates. It’s also increasingly clear that key inside witnesses have privately sold Trump out to the committee, and will do so again publicly during televised hearings.

Keep in mind that the committee has achieved all of these wins through the use of smart and savvy investigative strategy, including interviewing hundreds of lower level witnesses and using the information they’ve provided as leverage against higher level witnesses who otherwise might not have been pressured into cooperating.

bill palmer report logo headerNone of the committee’s wins have been achieved through “aggression” or “urgency” or “growing a spine” or “showing passion” or any of the other terms that the doomsday pundits out there have used while criticizing the committee. That’s because these kinds of reality show style terms are mere gibberish that don’t actually mean anything in the real world, and therefore couldn’t possibly ever produce a cooperating witness, uncover a key piece of evidence, or form the basis of an actionable criminal referral.

republican elephant logoAs it becomes more clear that the January 6th Committee is winning, and doing so via good old fashioned detective work, these doomsday pundits will only get more loud and urgent with their hyperbolic insistence that the committee has failed and “lacks a spine” (or whatever trendy nonsense terms they’re tossing around this week).

We’re talking about the kind of pundits who have based their entire brand on painting themselves as being smarter and savvier than the committee, which means they need the committee to fail – or at least be seen as a failure – in order to keep their brand intact. As it becomes more difficult for them to sell this narrative, they’ll resort to attacking the committee more hyperbolically and dishonestly. A big part of your job, as an actual political activist, is to push back against these doomsday fraudsters and prevent them from poisoning the well.

Daily Beast, Kayleigh McEnany Reportedly Meets With Jan. 6 Committee, Staff Report, Jan. 12, 2022. The committee subpoenaed the former Trump flack and current Fox News host back in November, expressing interest in her public statements pushing the Big Lie.

daily beast logoFormer White House press secretary and current Fox News host Kayleigh McEnany appeared virtually before the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack on Wednesday, according to CNN.

McEnany, who was both then-President Donald Trump’s spokesperson and a senior advisor to Trump’s campaign during the 2020 election, was subpoenaed in November. The committee’s subpoena expressed interest in McEnany’s public remarks pushing Trump’s election lies following President Joe Biden’s electoral victory, stating that her comments contributed to the election denialism that fueled the insurrection.

McEnany did not appear on Wednesday's broadcast of Fox News’ Outnumbered, the midday opinion show she co-hosts. She’s not the only Fox News personality that’s become ensnared in the Jan. 6 probe: the committee has also called on host Sean Hannity to cooperate, citing his many texts with the Trump White House related to the riots and the ex-president’s plans to overturn the election.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump abruptly ends NPR interview after he is pressed on baseless election fraud claims, John Wagner, Jan. 12, 2022. Former president Donald Trump abruptly ended an interview with NPR on Tuesday after he was pressed on his baseless claims of election fraud and repeated contention that the 2020 election was “rigged” against him.

Trump hung up on “Morning Edition” host Steve Inskeep nine minutes into what NPR said was scheduled to be a 15-minute interview that was broadcast Wednesday.

After several lines of questioning related to Trump’s widely debunked election claims, Inskeep asked Trump whether he would endorse only Republican candidates this year who are pressing his case that the 2020 contest against Joe Biden was stolen from him.

“Is that an absolute?” Inskeep asked.

Trump responded that the candidates “that are smart” are going to press his case, citing Kari Lake, a Republican gubernatorial candidate in Arizona. Lake, a former news anchor, has parroted Trump’s baseless claims about election fraud.

Trump calls GOP senator a ‘jerk’ after he rejects former president’s false claims of widespread election fraud

“She’s very big on this issue,” Trump said. “She’s leading by a lot. People have no idea how big this issue is, and they don’t want it to happen again. . . . And the only way it’s not going to happen again is you have to solve the problem of the presidential rigged election of 2020.”

As Inskeep sought to interject, Trump said, “So, Steve, thank you very much. I appreciate it.” He then hung up, prompting Inskeep to protest.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, I have one more question,” Inskeep said, adding that he wanted to talk about a court hearing related to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol.

Earlier in the interview, Inskeep had challenged Trump multiple times on his claims of election fraud.

Inskeep asked, for example, why election officials in Arizona had accepted the findings of a Republican-ordered audit that uncovered no issues that would have altered the result of the 2020 presidential race in the state.

“Because they’re RINOs, and frankly, a lot of people are questioning that,” Trump said, referring to the term “Republicans in name only.”

Pressed on why most U.S. senators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), have not backed his election fraud claims, Trump replied, “Because Mitch McConnell is a loser.”

Jan. 10

 

capitol right full crowd uncredited

A mob attacking the Capitol on Jan. 6 last year. During a speech earlier that day, President Donald J. Trump told the crowd to “fight like hell” and march to the building.

ny times logoNew York Times, Civil Suits Against Trump Seek Damages for Jan. 6 Attack, Luke Broadwater and Alan Feuer, Jan. 10, 2022. Lawyers argued that the cases against the former president should be allowed to go forward because he inflamed a mob and failed to stop the violence it wrought.

Members of Congress, police officers and government watchdog groups argued in federal court on Monday that Donald J. Trump was liable for major financial damages for his role in inspiring the Jan. 6 attack on Congress, pressing an array of civil suits against the former president amid mounting frustration that he has faced no penalty for the riot.

Over nearly five hours in the United States District Court for Washington, lawyers laid out their cases against Mr. Trump, contending that he deserved to be held responsible for inflaming a violent mob, despite what are typically wide immunity protections for a president’s speech and actions while in office.

capitol riot nyt jan 7 2021“Mr. Trump dispatched the crowd that he assembled,” said Joseph Sellers, the lawyer for a group of House Democrats, including Representatives Barbara Lee of California, Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey and Hank Johnson of Georgia. “After he saw that they were engaged in breaking into the Capitol, instead of trying to calm them, he retweeted his incendiary remarks from the rally before.”

During a hearing over whether the suits can move forward, Judge Amit P. Mehta, right, focused on why Mr. Trump did not act more amit mehta Customquickly to call off the mob. He asked lawyers for Mr. Trump whether the president’s slow response was not evidence he agreed with the siege after telling the crowd to “fight like hell” and march to the Capitol.

“You have an almost two-hour period in which the president doesn’t take to Twitter or to any other type of communication and say: ‘Stop. Get out of the Capitol,’” the judge said, adding, “If my words were misconstrued and they led to violence, wouldn’t a reasonable person whose words were being misconstrued come out and say: ‘Wait a minute. Stop’?”

Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Jesse R. Binnall, argued that the suits should be dismissed because his remarks inflaming the crowd were protected by presidential immunity and his First Amendment right to free speech. He asserted that Mr. Trump had told the crowd to “peacefully and patriotically” march on the Capitol.

“These cases should be dismissed because they never should have been brought in the first place,” Mr. Binnall said. “The complaints themselves are void of any legal basis. Instead, they’re chock-full of propaganda that’s meant to achieve a political rather than a legal objective.”

Judge Mehta also invoked a lawsuit against organizers of the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in the Charlottesville, Va., noting that the allegations against the white nationalist Richard Spencer and other defendants included inciting violence and then failing to stop it. Jurors in that case found the organizers liable under state law for injuries to counterprotesters, awarding more than $25 million in damages.

But Judge Mehta wrestled openly on Monday with the constitutional issues of trying to hold a president accountable through the civil courts. He noted that presidents could be prosecuted criminally only after leaving office, but he said the Supreme Court had granted “even broader” immunity protections from civil suits.

“This is not an easy case,” the judge said. “I’ve struggled with a lot of these issues because they raise a lot of important constitutional questions.”

The House Democrats’ suit accuses Mr. Trump, his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and two militia groups, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, of conspiring to incite violence on Jan. 6. (Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, had been a plaintiff in the suit but withdrew after he was named chairman of the House committee investigating the attack.)
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A second suit was filed by Representative Eric Swalwell, Democrat of California, against Mr. Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr., Mr. Giuliani and Representative Mo Brooks, Republican of Alabama, accusing them of inciting the mob violence.

A third was filed by two Capitol Police officers who argued that Mr. Trump was responsible for the physical and emotional injuries they had suffered as a result of the day’s events.

Mr. Brooks, who wore body armor onstage at a rally preceding the violence as he told the crowd to “start taking down names and kicking ass,” represented himself at Monday’s hearing after the Justice Department declined to do so. He argued that his own efforts to undermine the 2020 election were no different from tactics used by Democrats, who objected to previous presidential certifications.

“This was not to inspire people to attack the Capitol,” he said of his speech.

The lawsuits are an effort to subject Mr. Trump to some sort of accountability a year after the attack.

By a vote of 43 to 57 last year, the Senate acquitted Mr. Trump of inciting insurrection, falling short of the two-thirds needed to convict him.

Jan. 9

 

Insurrectionists loyal to Donald Trump rioted at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 (AP photo by José Luis Magaña).Insurrectionists loyal to Donald Trump rioted at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 (AP photo by José Luis Magaña).

The Guardian, Capitol attack panel investigates Trump over potential criminal conspiracy, Hugo Lowell, Jan. 9, 2022 (print ed.). Messages between Mark Meadows and others suggest the Trump White House coordinated efforts to stop Joe Biden’s certification.

The House select committee investigating the Capitol attack is examining whether Donald Trump oversaw a criminal conspiracy on 6 January that connected the White House’s scheme to stop Joe Biden’s certification with the insurrection, say two senior sources familiar with the matter.

joe biden hands out 1 6 22 speechThough Biden never mentioned Trump by name, he was explicit in blaming the former president for fomenting the violence of a year ago. (Biden condemns Trump’s ‘web of lies’ a year on from deadly Capitol assault.)

The committee’s new focus on the potential for a conspiracy marks an aggressive escalation in its inquiry as it confronts evidence that suggests the former president potentially engaged in criminal conduct egregious enough to warrant a referral to the justice department.

House investigators are interested in whether Trump oversaw a criminal conspiracy after communications turned over by Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows and others suggested the White House coordinated efforts to stop Biden’s certification, the sources said.

djt march 2020 CustomThe select committee has several thousand messages, among which include some that suggest the Trump White House briefed a number of House Republicans on its plan for then-vice president Mike Pence to abuse his ceremonial role and not certify Biden’s win, the sources said.

The fact that the select committee has messages suggesting the Trump White House directed Republican members of Congress to execute a scheme to stop Biden’s certification is significant as it could give rise to the panel considering referrals for potential crimes, the sources said.

Members and counsel on the select committee are examining in the first instance whether in seeking to stop the certification, Trump and his aides violated the federal law that prohibits obstruction of a congressional proceeding – the joint session on 6 January – the sources said.

The select committee believes, the sources said, that Trump may be culpable for an obstruction charge given he failed for hours to intervene to stop the violence at the Capitol perpetrated by his supporters in his name.

But the select committee is also looking at whether Trump oversaw an unlawful conspiracy that involved coordination between the “political elements” of the White House plan communicated to Republican lawmakers and extremist groups that stormed the Capitol, the sources said.

That would probably be the most serious charge for which the select committee might consider a referral, as it considers a range of other criminal conduct that has emerged in recent weeks from obstruction to potential wire fraud by the GOP.

liz cheney screengrab capitolThe vice-chair of the select committee, the Republican congresswoman Liz Cheney, left, referenced the obstruction charge when she read from the criminal code before members voted unanimously last November to recommend Meadows in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify.

The Guardian previously reported that Trump personally directed lawyers and political operatives working from the Willard hotel in Washington DC to find ways to stop Biden’s certification from happening at all on 6 January just hours before the Capitol attack.

But House investigators are yet to find evidence tying Trump personally to the Capitol attack, the sources said, and may ultimately only recommend referrals for the straight obstruction charge, which has already been brought against around 275 rioters, rather than for conspiracy.

The justice department could yet charge Trump and aides separate to the select committee investigation, but one of sources said the panel – as of mid-December – had no idea whether the agency is actively examining potential criminality by the former president.

A spokesperson for the select committee declined to comment on details about the investigation. A spokesperson for the justice department declined to comment whether the agency had opened a criminal inquiry for Trump or his closest allies over 6 January.

Still, the select committee appears to be moving towards making at least some referrals – or alternatively recommendations in its final report – that an aggressive prosecutor at the justice department could use to pursue a criminal inquiry, the sources said.

corey lewandowski testimony proofProof, Investigative Commentary: The Coming Collapse of Donald Trump’s January 6 Conspiracy, Part 3: Corey Lewandowski, Seth Abramson, left, Jan. 9, 2022. seth abramson graphicThis shocking new Proof series details mounting evidence that Trump's seditious January 6 conspiracy is at the point of collapse because of the cowardice, fear, and perfidy of his co-conspirators. Note: This is Part 3 of an ongoing series in the January 6 section of Proof. Part 4 is due soon, and will focus on Stop the Steal co-organizer Ali Alexander. Part 1 is here, and Part 2 is here.

seth abramson proof logoIntroduction: There were many—indeed one might say innumerable—reasons for Donald Trump to fire Corey Lewandowski (shown above in a file photo) as his campaign manager during the presidential campaign of 2016.

Lewandowski was accused of assaulting reporter Michelle Fields; fought relentlessly and unprofessionally with campaign chairman Paul Manafort—the Kremlin agent who was in contact with Russian intelligence during the 2016 GOP primaries and general election, and who Trump for some reason gave over his entire campaign to despite the fact that Manafort (normally paid well over a million dollars a year) was quite suspiciously not asking for any payment—and, put bluntly, simply didn’t know what he was doing. Corey Lewandowski was clearly out of his league trying to run a successful national presidential campaign, which is probably why Fields ultimately derided him, in public, as little more than Donald Trump’s “body man.”

This is, in essence, correct—as this article will show. And it’s a fact that could now benefit the House January 6 Committee (hereafter the “HJ6C”) more than it realizes. Almost no one has been as close to Trump since mid-2015, which is one reason Trump has always exhibited an almost proprietary interest over the mercurial Massachusetts native. Corey Lewandowski simply knows too much to be left swinging in the wind.

But Trump has left him swinging, anyway. There’s more on that later on in this article.

After Lewandowski’s firing in mid-June 2020, it quickly became clear that—despite the said dissolution of his formal relationship with the Trump campaign—he never really left it. Just as Manafort continued being a top Trump political adviser for many, many months after he himself was fired in August of 2016 (see the bestselling Proof trilogy for much more on this), Lewandowski never ceased to be one of Trump’s foremost confidants and political advisers following his separation from the 2016 Trump campaign. It’s for this reason that his activities on Insurrection Eve, nearly five years later, should remain of intense interest to FBI and House investigators.

But it’s not just Lewandowski’s status and reputation as a leading Trump advisor that makes him an important witness for the HJ6C now—it’s what we already know he was doing during the first week of January 2021, and on Insurrection Eve in particular.

What Proof Has Reported

In late January 2021, Proof reported that Lewandowski had been spotted in Trump’s “war house” on Insurrection Eve, along with much of Trump’s inner circle (including Donald Trump Jr.). Eyewitnesses have confirmed, on video, that the purpose of the hours-long January 5 meeting at Trump International Hotel’s “Trump Town House” was to continue plotting (and outlining for third parties) a comprehensive January 6 strategy.

So what was Lewandowski really doing on Insurrection Eve? And—in addition to the President of the United States—with whom was he meeting, and why?

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

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

Palmer Report, Opinion: The January 6th Committee’s plan to refer Donald Trump for criminal prosecution, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 9, 2022. Last month, in a leak bill palmerthat could only have come from the January 6th Committee itself, the New York Times reported that the committee was looking at referring Donald Trump to the DOJ for criminal prosecution on crimes including obstruction of Congress and wire fraud.

Now, in a new leak that could also have only come from the committee itself, the Guardian is reporting ( Capitol attack panel investigates Trump over potential criminal conspiracy, Hugo Lowell) that the committee is looking at also referring Trump for a criminal conspiracy to overthrow the election.

With these leaks, the committee is giving away a lot about what it’s currently sitting on, and how it intends to play this. First, if you’re a congressional committee, you don’t leak you’re even “considering” a criminal referral against the former President of the United States unless you already have more than enough evidence to make the criminal referral legitimate in the eyes of the law and in the court of public opinion.

bill palmer report logo headerSecond, by leaking that different kinds of charges are being considered, the committee is laying the groundwork for demonstrating that Trump committed a broad swath of crimes in relation to January 6th. It’s not simply a question of whether Trump, recklessly or intentionally, incited the Capitol attack. It’s that the moment in question was part of an ongoing crime spree.

But the most intriguing part of these leaks may be the fact that the January 6th Committee obviously knows the Department of Justice is paying Justice Department log circularattention. While the DOJ has been very quiet about what if any criminal avenues it’s pursuing against Donald Trump, the committee is now giving the DOJ a very blatant heads up about the kinds of criminal referrals it could end up receiving against Trump.

This is notable because even if the DOJ has been pursuing January 6th and/or Donald Trump from very different directions, it’ll have to take immediate notice if Congress hands it a comprehensive criminal case against Trump from these specific directions. Now that the DOJ is aware that it could soon be receiving a criminal referral against Trump on the kinds of charges that the committee is leaking, the DOJ has time to steer its own efforts in those general directions. This doesn’t guarantee the DOJ will bring charges against Trump. But if the committee hands over a complete criminal case that’s likely to win at trial, the DOJ would have a hard time – from a legal standpoint and a perception standpoint – not bringing the charges.

Steady, Commentary: It Ain't Over, Dan Rather, right, Jan. 9, 2021. The lingering threat of January 6. Like almost every other journalist or journalistic dan rather 2011organization this week, we marked the one year anniversary of the insurrection of January 6 here on Steady. We talked about the dangers of that day, what preceded it, and what has followed. We considered the many unanswered questions that remain. Our tone was one of apprehension and sadness. Across America, there was no shortage of eloquent and urgent reflections.

But of course there are also counter narratives engulfing almost the entirety of the Republican Party. Tens of millions of our fellow citizens fervently believe that what happened that day was not that big a deal, a one-off mob, or, and this is bone-chilling, something to actually celebrate.

Under these arguments, drawing comparisons between January 6 and other days of infamy, such as Pearl Harbor or 9/11, is outrageous because the level of violence, the loss of life, and the immediate threats each posed to American existence are not in the same universe. To be sure, the nature of analogies is that they far from perfect. But attacks aren’t always physical, although there was certainly a lot of physical harm done to the police officers on 1/6. Our communal soul, our hopes, our confidence, the mechanisms that make our governance and way of life possible can also be assaulted. And they were. Grievously.

I am not one that believes we are headed into a widespread violent civil conflict, although we must always be alert to the possibility. Rather, what we saw, and have continued to see, is one of our two major political parties is infused with a motivating energy that at best can be called anti-democratic. Much of it is downright authoritarian, with elements of white nationalism bubbling towards the surface.

All of this means that even as the dates of the calendar move forward, we cannot allow ourselves to turn the page on January 6. Yes the protective barriers around the Capitol have come down, but the guardrails for our democracy remain tenuous.

Jan. 8

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump suddenly has a money problem with his own henchmen, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 8, 2022. Everyone who’s followed Donald bill palmerTrump over the years, whether in politics or in real estate before that, knows that he does everything he can to avoid paying his bills. Yet the ambitious suckers who attach themselves to him always end up thinking they’ll somehow be the one person Trump comes through for.

bill palmer report logo headerFor instance, when it became clear that Trump’s top political advisers were going to be targeted and/or prosecuted in relation to January 6th, Trump promised to pay their legal bills – a tactic generally used to keep them loyal to him.

But now the New York Times says that some of Trump’s former and current staffers are learning that Trump is not going to pay their legal bills, and some of them are considering taking legal action against Trump in order to get those bills paid.

This is yet another tale of Trump screwing everyone who’s remained loyal to him; that’s nothing new. But the real story here is that if Trump doesn’t pay these folks’ legal bills, it could prompt some of them to cooperate with prosecutors, in the hope of reducing their legal bills. After all, if he’s showing no loyalty, why should they? We’ll see who cracks and when.

Jan. 6

Proof, Investigation: The Coming Collapse of Donald Trump’s January 6 Conspiracy, Part 2: Roger Stone, Seth Abramson, left, Jan. 6, 2022. This shocking new seth abramson graphicPROOF series details mounting evidence that Trump's seditious January 6 conspiracy is at the point of collapse because of the cowardice, fear, and perfidy of his co-conspirators. This is Part 2 of an ongoing series in the January 6 section of Proof. Part 3 is due soon, and will focus seth abramson proof logoon Stop the Steal co-organizer Ali Alexander. Part 1 in the series is here.

Introduction: While we don’t yet know if the walls are closing in on Donald Trump—for the former president to be in significant legal trouble it would take a degree of commitment and verve from AG Merrick Garland that we’ve seen little public evidence of yet—it can now be said that Trump is facing abandonment from his friends. It’s a sign that they, at least, believe the end is nigh for Trump politically and (perhaps) as a matter of law.

bennie thompson headshotAs 2021 turned to 2022, we heard Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), left, and Liz Cheney (R-WY)—chair and vice chair of the House January 6 Committee (hereafter the HJ6C)—boast of having spoken to over 300 fact witnesses in their investigation of January 6, making Trumpist dead-enders Steve Bannon and Mark Meadows, right, who’ve both defied their congressional subpoenas, seem like outliers. Mark Meadows(Bannon, a top adviser to Trump in the days leading up to January 6, faces a federal Contempt of Congress trial later this year, while Congress referred former Trump chief of staff Meadows to the DOJ for potential prosecution via the same charge).

In just the last 72 hours, Thompson and Cheney have gotten even more explicit than this, disclosing that they’ve spoken to “multiple” witnesses with “firsthand knowledge” of Trump’s movements on January 6. Such individuals would have to have been very close to the former president indeed on both Insurrection Day and the days immediately preceding it.

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

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

mike pence djt side by side

Axios, Mike Pence’s team helping Jan. 6 committee, Alayna Treene, Jan. 5, 2022. People in and around former Vice President Mike Pence's office have been particularly cooperative as the Jan. 6 select committee focuses on what former President Trump was doing during the more than three hours the Capitol was under attack, sources familiar with the testimony tell Axios.

Why it matters: At the one-year mark of the insurrection, the committee is piecing together a definitive timeline of how Trump resisted pleas from his own advisers, allies, family members and lawmakers to halt the violence down Pennsylvania Avenue. The committee is axios logoramping up its closed-door work with the goal of holding public hearings as early as this spring.

Some Pence-world witnesses have testified without a subpoena, according to one source with direct knowledge of the closed-door hearings. Both Pence's former chief of staff Marc Short, and former press secretary Alyssa Farah, who later served as communications director to Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, are among those cooperating with the committee. Keith Kellogg also has given a deposition. One source familiar with their involvement said Short, who was subpoenaed by the committee, would not have cooperated without the approval of Pence.

Jan. 4

 

sean hannity uncreditedPalmer Report, Opinion: It’s Sean Hannity’s time in the barrel, Bill Palmer, right, Jan. 4, 2022. Fox News host Sean Hannity often manages to find himself bill palmerconnected to various Donald Trump scandals, sometimes tangentially, sometimes in the thick of it. But Hannity seems to be just slippery enough to avoid getting dragged down in the process. However, he may have finally bitten off more than he can chew.

Adam Schiff now says that the January 6th Committee has requested Sean Hannity’s cooperation with regard to the text messages he was bill palmer report logo headersending Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows during the January 6th Capitol attack. Talk about a no-win situation for Hannity.

Keep in mind that the committee surely already has some or all of Hannity’s text messages to Meadows, or it wouldn’t be targeting fox news logo Smallhim like this. If Hannity’s texts reveal that he was in on the January 6th plot, then he’s screwed for obvious reasons. And even if Hannity is innocent in all of this and his texts were merely pleading with Meadows to have Trump call off the Capitol attackers, Hannity will lose badly in the eyes of his own audience by testifying to as much.

If you’re wondering which way Hannity is leaning, longtime Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow is representing him in the matter, suggesting Hannity is trying to figure out how not to cooperate.

Jan. 3

ny times logoNew York Times, Another Far-Right Group Is Scrutinized in Effort to Aid Trump, Alan Feuer, Jan. 3, 2022. The organization, called 1st Amendment Praetorian, is not as well known as the Oath Keepers or the Proud Boys, but it worked closely with pro-Trump forces in the months after the 2020 election.

Days after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 last year, federal law enforcement officials pursued two high-profile extremist groups: the far-right nationalist Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers militia. Members of both organizations were quickly arrested on attention-grabbing charges, accused of plotting to interfere with the certification of the 2020 vote count.

Now congressional investigators are examining the role of another right-wing paramilitary group that was involved in a less publicly visible yet still expansive effort to keep President Donald J. Trump in power: the 1st Amendment Praetorian.

Known in shorthand as 1AP, the group spent much of the postelection period working in the shadows with pro-Trump lawyers, activists, business executives and military veterans to undermine public confidence in the election and to bolster Mr. Trump’s hopes of remaining in the White House.

By their own account, members of the 1st Amendment Praetorian helped to funnel data on purported election fraud to lawyers suing to overturn the vote count. They guarded celebrities like Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, at “Stop the Steal” rallies, where huge crowds gathered to demand that Mr. Trump remain in office. And they supported an explosive proposal to persuade the president to declare an emergency and seize the country’s voting machines in a bid to stay in power.

The organization is not as well known as the Oath Keepers or the Proud Boys, but it worked closely with pro-Trump forces after the 2020 election.

None of 1AP’s top operatives have been arrested in connection with the Capitol riot, and it remains unclear how much influence they exerted or how seriously criminal investigators are focused on them. Still, the group had men on the ground outside the building on Jan. 6 and others at the Willard Hotel, near some of Mr. Trump’s chief allies. And in the days leading up to the assault, 1AP’s Twitter account posted messages suggesting that the group knew violence was imminent.

“There may be some young National Guard captains facing some very, very tough choices in the next 48 hours,” read one message posted by the group on Jan. 4.

Last month, citing some of these concerns, the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack issued a subpoena to Robert Patrick Lewis, the leader of 1AP. On the same day, it sent similar requests to Enrique Tarrio, the chairman of the Proud Boys, and Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the Oath Keepers.

washington post logoWashington Post, Capitol Police see sharp increase in threats to Congress, departure of dozens of officers, Tom Jackman, Jan. 3, 2022. Chief Thomas Manger seeks to rebuild force, add resources after after Jan. 6 breakdowns.

In the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot, the U.S. Capitol Police force saw its workforce decline and its morale plummet, but its workload continued to soar. While the force maintained its protective and patrol duties, the number of threats aimed at members of Congress or the Capitol itself rose again in 2021 to roughly 9,600, Chief Thomas Manger said. The trajectory began with less than 4,000 threats in 2017 and increased to more than 8,600 threats in 2020.

“The threats against Congress have grown exponentially over the last five years,” Manger said in an interview before his testimony on Capitol Hill this week before the Senate Rules and Administration Committee. “And the workload, assigning somebody to look into all these cases is important.”

As he spoke, Manger said, a threat on Twitter directed toward a senator came in, reading, “idk I will kill @Sen.” He did not reveal the name.

“Out of 18,000 police departments, the U.S. Capitol Police is unique,” said Manger, who took over in July after retiring as Montgomery County, Md., police chief. “Nobody does what we do — protecting the Capitol of the United States and the members of Congress,” while also patrolling the campus, handling constant demonstrations and investigating threats. In response to an inspector general’s suggestion that the department focus more on being a protective agency, Manger said, “I don’t know where we can say, well, we can do a little less traditional policing.”

Jan. 2

 

liz cheney screengrab capitol

Raw Story, Liz Cheney reveals Ivanka visited Donald Trump 'at least twice' on Jan. 6 to stop the violence, David Edwards, Jan. 2, 2022. Liz Cheney, above, reveals Ivanka visited Donald Trump 'at least twice' on Jan. 6 to stop the violence.

Former President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka visited at least twice on Jan. 6, 2020 in an effort to stop the attack on the U.S. Capitol, according to Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY).

During an interview on ABC, Cheney explained why the Jan. 6 Select Committee could consider criminal charges for Trump.

raw story logo square"We are learning much more about what former President Trump was doing while the violent assault was underway," Cheney told ABC host George Stephanopoulos. "The Committee has firsthand testimony now that he was sitting in the dining room next to the Oval Office watching the attack on television as the assault on the Capitol occurred."

"The briefing room at the White House is just a mere few steps from the Oval Office," she continued. "The president could have at any moment walked those very few steps into the briefing room, gone on live television and told his supporters who were assaulting the Capitol to stop, he could have told them to stand down, he could have told them to go home and he failed to do so."

Cheney said that there was "no question" that Trump's failure to act was a "dereliction of duty."

"But I think it's also important for the American people to understand how dangerous Donald Trump was," she asserted. "We know, as he was sitting there in the dining room next to the Oval Office, members of his staff were pleading with him to go on television, to tell people to stop. We know Leader [Kevin] McCarthy was pleading with him to do that."

"We know members of his family," she added, "we know his daughter -- we have firsthand testimony that his daughter Ivanka went in at least twice to ask him to please stop this violence. Any man who would not do so, any man who would provoke a violent assault on the Capitol to stop the counting of electoral votes, any man who would watch television as police officers were being beaten, as his supporters were invading the Capitol of the United States is clearly unfit for future office, clearly can never be anywhere near the Oval Office ever again."

washington post logoWashington Post, Poll: Democrats and Republicans split over Jan. 6 attack, Trump’s culpability, Dan Balz, Scott Clement and Emily Guskin, Jan. 2, 2022 (print ed.). Partisan divisions related to Jan. 6 and the 2020 presidential election color most issues in The Washington Post-University of Maryland survey.

One year after the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, Republicans and Democrats are deeply divided over what happened that day and the degree to which former president Donald Trump bears responsibility for the assault, amid more universal signs of flagging pride in the workings of democracy at home, according to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosPartisan divisions related both to the Jan. 6 assault and the 2020 presidential election color nearly every issue raised in the survey, from how much violence occurred at the Capitol that day to the severity of the sentences handed down to convicted protesters to whether President Biden was legitimately elected. Only on a question about injured law enforcement officers is there broad bipartisan agreement.

The percentage of Americans who say violent action against the government is justified at times stands at 34 percent, which is considerably higher than in past polls by The Post or other major news organizations dating back more than two decades. Again, the view is partisan: The new survey finds 40 percent of Republicans, 41 percent of independents and 23 percent of Democrats saying violence is sometimes justified.

On Jan. 6, the day Congress was to ratify the 2020 electoral college vote, Trump claimed at a rally near the White House that the election had been rigged and urged his followers to “fight like hell” to stop what he said was a stolen outcome. Many of his supporters walked to the Capitol from the rally and took part in the violence.

 

robert palmer

This image provided by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia shows Robert S. Palmer, of Largo, Fla., hurling a fire extinguisher at police in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. (U.S. District Court for District of Columbia/U.S. District Court)

washington post logoWashington Post, 1 in 3 Americans say there can be justified violence against government, citing fears of political schism, pandemic, Meryl Kornfield and Mariana Alfaro, Jan. 2, 2022 (print ed.). The Post-UMD poll, coming a year after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, marks the largest share of Americans to hold that view since the question was first asked more than two decades ago.

Phil Spampinato had never contemplated the question of whether violence against the government might be justified — at least not in the United States. But as he watched Republicans across the country move to reshape election laws in response to former president Donald Trump’s false fraud claims, the part-time engineering consultant from Dover, Del., said he began thinking differently about “defending your way of life.”

“Not too many years ago, I would have said that those conditions are not possible, and that no such violence is really ever appropriate,” said Spampinato, 73, an independent.

The notion of legitimate violence against the government had also not occurred to Anthea Ward, a mother of two in Michigan, until the past year — prompted by her fear that President Biden would go too far to force her and her family to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

“The world we live in now is scary,” said Ward, 32, a Republican. “I don’t want to sound like a conspiracy theorist but sometimes it feels like a movie. It’s no longer a war against Democrats and Republicans. It’s a war between good and evil.”

A year after a pro-Trump mob ransacked the Capitol in the worst attack on the home of Congress since it was burned by British forces in 1814, a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll finds that about 1 in 3 Americans say they believe violence against the government can at times be justified.

The findings represent the largest share to feel that way since the question has been asked in various polls in more than two decades. They offer a window into the country’s psyche at a tumultuous period in American history, marked by last year’s insurrection, the rise of Trump’s election claims as an energizing force on the right, deepening fissures over the government’s role in combating the pandemic, and mounting racial justice protests sparked by police killings of Black Americans.

The percentage of adults who say violence is justified is up, from 23 percent in 2015 and 16 percent in 2010 in polls by CBS News and the New York Times.

A majority continue to say that violence against the government is never justified — but the 62 percent who hold that view is a new low point, and a stark difference from the 1990s, when as many as 90 percent said violence was never justified.

While a 2015 survey found no significant partisan divide when it comes to the question of justified violence against the government, the new poll identified a sharper rise on the right — with 40 percent of Republicans and 41 percent of independents saying it can be acceptable. The view was held by 23 percent of Democrats, the survey finds.

American Flag

washington post logoWashington Post, Shaken by Jan. 6 attack, Capitol workers quit jobs that once made them proud, Paul Schwartzman and Peter Jamison, Jan. 2, 2022 (print ed.). “The idea that you’re in a place where your life is at risk was just — on top of everything else — the clinching factor for me,” said Rich Luchette, 35, a former senior adviser to Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.). “It becomes overwhelming at some point.”

A sign of the enduring trauma, Luchette said, occurred a week or so after the insurrection, when the sounds of partying neighbors woke him up in his Navy Yard apartment. As he opened his eyes, his first thought was: “Are there Proud Boys out in the hallway?”

Luchette had considered looking for a new job before Jan. 6. By July, he had found one.

In any given year, staff turnover at the Capitol is constant, making it difficult to quantify the number of employees who quit or retired because of the insurrection. More than 100 U.S. Capitol Police officers had departed as of early December, a figure that was a sharp increase over the previous year.

On a typical day, the 290-acre Capitol complex is a veritable city unto itself, spread out over multiple blocks, with its own subway system, an array of cafeterias and a workforce approaching 30,000 people.

Jan. 6 was anything but typical, with the coronavirus having kept many employees at home. Yet, no matter where they were as the insurrection unfolded, Capitol employees could not help but feel violated as they saw rioters invade and vandalize their workplace.

Another former House staffer, a Democrat who quit months after Jan. 6, said the toll of that day grew as time passed.

“I got to the point where my mental health just took an absolute nose dive because I was still trying to process all this stuff,” said the former aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because she fears retribution from Trump supporters.

Death threats continued to arrive daily by phone from constituents who were convinced that Democrats had stolen the election. “It absolutely broke me to know that people would be fine if my boss was dead, if I was dead, if my co-workers were dead,” she said. “The American people stopped believing in the institution. And if they don’t believe in it, what the hell are any of us doing working for it?”

Recent Headlines

 

December

Dec. 27

peter navarro white house imageDaily Beast, Trump Advisor Peter Navarro Lays Out How He and Bannon Planned to Overturn Biden’s Electoral Win, Jose Pagliery, Dec. 27, 2021. “It started out perfectly. At 1 p.m., Gosar and Cruz did exactly what was expected of them…”

A former Trump White House official says he and right-wing provocateur Steve Bannon were actually behind the last-ditch, coordinated effort by rogue Republicans in Congress to halt certification of the 2020 election results and keep President Donald Trump in power earlier this year, in a plan dubbed the “Green Bay Sweep.”

daily beast logoIn his recently published memoir, Peter Navarro, then-President Donald Trump’s trade advisor, details how he stayed in close contact with Bannon as they put “Green Bay Sweep” in motion with help from members of Congress loyal to the cause.

But in an interview last week with The Daily Beast, Navarro shed additional light on his role in the operation and their coordination with politicians like Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX).

“We spent a lot of time lining up over 100 congressmen, including some senators. It started out perfectly. At 1 p.m., Gosar and Cruz did exactly what was expected of them,” Navarro told The Daily Beast. “It was a perfect plan. And it all predicated on peace and calm on Capitol Hill. We didn’t even need any protestors, because we had over 100 congressmen committed to it.”

That commitment appeared as Congress was certifying the 2020 Electoral College votes reflecting that Joe Biden beat Trump. Sen. Cruz signed off on Congressman Gosar’s official objection to counting Arizona’s electoral ballots, an effort that was supported by dozens of other Trump loyalists.

Staffers for Cruz and Gosar did not respond to requests for comment. There’s no public indication whether the Jan. 6 Committee has sought testimony or documents from Sen. Cruz or Rep. Gosar. But the committee has only recently begun to seek evidence from fellow members of Congress who were involved in the general effort to keep Trump in the White House, such as Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA).

This last-minute maneuvering never had any chance of actually decertifying the election results on its own, a point that Navarro quickly acknowledges. But their hope was to run the clock as long as possible to increase public pressure on then-Vice President Mike Pence to send the electoral votes back to six contested states, where Republican-led legislatures could try to overturn the results. And in their mind, ramping up pressure on Pence would require media coverage. While most respected news organizations refused to regurgitate unproven conspiracy theories about widespread election fraud, this plan hoped to force journalists to cover the allegations by creating a historic delay to the certification process.

“I never spoke directly to him about it. But he was certainly on board with the strategy. Just listen to his speech that day. ”

“The Green Bay Sweep was very well thought out. It was designed to get us 24 hours of televised hearings,” he said. “But we thought that we could bypass the corporate media by getting this stuff televised.”

Navarro’s part in this ploy was to provide the raw materials, he said in an interview on Thursday. That came in the form of a three-part White House report he put together during his final weeks in the Trump administration with volume titles like, “The Immaculate Deception” and “The Art of the Steal.”

“My role was to provide the receipts for the 100 congressmen or so who would make their cases… who could rely in part on the body of evidence I'd collected,” he told The Daily Beast. “To lay the legal predicate for the actions to be taken.” (Ultimately, states have not found any evidence of electoral fraud above the norm, which is exceedingly small.)

The next phase of the plan was up to Bannon, Navarro describes in his memoir, In Trump Time.

“Steve Bannon’s role was to figure out how to use this information—what he called ‘receipts’—to overturn the election result. That’s how Steve had come up with the Green Bay Sweep idea,” he wrote.

“The political and legal beauty of the strategy was this: by law, both the House of Representatives and the Senate must spend up to two hours of debate per state on each requested challenge. For the six battleground states, that would add up to as much as twenty-four hours of nationally televised hearings across the two chambers of Congress.”

His book also notes that Bannon was the first person he communicated with when he woke up at dawn on Jan. 6, writing, “I check my messages and am pleased to see Steve Bannon has us fully ready to implement our Green Bay Sweep on Capitol Hill. Call the play. Run the play.”

Navarro told The Daily Beast he felt fortunate that someone cancelled his scheduled appearance to speak to Trump supporters that morning at the Ellipse, a park south of the White House that would serve as a staging area before the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol building.

“It was better for me to spend that morning working on the Green Bay Sweep. Just checking to see that everything was in line, that congressmen were on board,” he said during the interview. “It was a pretty mellow morning for me. I was convinced everything was set in place.”

Later that day, Bannon made several references to the football-themed strategy on his daily podcast, War Room Pandemic.

"We are right on the cusp of victory,” Bannon said on the show. “It's quite simple. Play's been called. Mike Pence, run the play. Take the football. Take the handoff from the quarterback. You've got guards in front of you. You've got big, strong people in front of you. Just do your duty."

This idea was weeks in the making. Although Navarro told The Daily Beast he doesn’t remember when “Brother Bannon” came up with the plan, he said it started taking shape as Trump’s “Stop the Steal” legal challenges to election results in Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin fizzled out. Courts wouldn’t side with Trump, thanks to what Navarro describes in his book as “the highly counterproductive antics” of Sydney Powell and her Kraken lawsuits. So instead, they came up with a never-before-seen scheme through the legislative branch.

Navarro starts off his book’s chapter about the strategy by mentioning how “Stephen K. Bannon, myself, and President Donald John Trump” were “the last three people on God’s good Earth who want to see violence erupt on Capitol Hill,” as it would disrupt their plans.

When asked if Trump himself was involved in the strategy, Navarro said, “I never spoke directly to him about it. But he was certainly on board with the strategy. Just listen to his speech that day. He’d been briefed on the law, and how Mike [Pence] had the authority to it.”
“The Green Bay Sweep was very well thought out. It was designed to get us 24 hours of televised hearings.”

Indeed, Trump legal advisor John Eastman had penned a memo (first revealed by journalists Robert Costa and Bob Woodward in their book, Peril) outlining how Trump could stage a coup. And Trump clearly referenced the plan during his Jan. 6 speech, when he said, “I hope Mike is going to do the right thing. I hope so. I hope so… all Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify and we become president and you are the happiest people.”

alex jones screen shot 2020 05 01 at 12.02.06 pm

Proof, Investigation: The Coming Collapse of Donald Trump’s January 6 Conspiracy, Part 1: Alex Jones, Seth Abramson, left, Dec. 27, 2021. This shocking new seth abramson graphicPROOF series details mounting evidence that Trump's seditious January 6 conspiracy is at the point of collapse because of the cowardice, fear, and perfidy of his co-conspirators. Note: This is Part 1 of an ongoing series in the January 6 section at Proof. Part 2 is due soon.

Introduction: One difficulty journalists face in writing about Alex Jones (shown above in a screenshot) is that the man produces so much content daily that sifting through it all is nearly impossible. Those who do are richly rewarded, however; on Jones’s nightly Infowars program (The Alex Jones Show) and in other venues, seth abramson proof logothe infamous far-right conspiracy theorist and self-described “performance artist” has made so many controversial and even self-incriminating statements that one could craft an endless breaking news cycle just by finding obscure video and audio of Jones in which he discusses the January 6th insurrection and his role in it.

Proof has already reported on some of the most shocking statements Jones has made about the attack on the U.S. Capitol, including interviews he has conducted with his Stop the Steal “movement” co-conspirators, domestic terrorist Ali Alexander and longtime Trump friend and political adviser Roger Stone. You can find a few of these reports (in chronological order) here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

A less commonly discussed component of Jones’s carefully constructed public persona is the incredibly delicate state of his relationship with the man who he agreed to lead the march on the Capitol for: Donald Trump. Jones has never been a particularly loyal Trumpist, which makes him a potential weak spot in Trump’s January 6 conspiracy and the ongoing effort to steal the 2024 presidential election linked to that conspiracy.

On November 22, 2021, Congress’s House January 6 Committee (hereafter “HJ6C”) subpoenaed Jones. The subpoena launched a raft of speculation about whether Jones would cooperate with Congress in order to save his own skin—and precisely how far he would be willing to go, and how much damage he would be willing to do to Trump, in an attempt to do so.

Alex Jones and Donald Trump: A Troubled History

The relationship between Jones and Trump has always been an uneasy one, but it’s been especially bad since the attack on the Capitol on January 6. On March 3, 2021, leaked video of a Jones tirade about Trump in 2019—which Jones did not appear to realize was being recorded—was published by a number of media outlets. In the video, Jones says the following of his nominal ally (emphasis supplied):

It’s the truth, and I’m just going to say it—that I wish I never would have fucking met Trump. I wish it never would’ve happened. And it’s not the attacks I’ve been through. I’m so sick of fucking Donald Trump. God, I’m fucking sick of him. And I’ve not doing this [carrying water for him] because, like, I’m kissing his fucking ass, you know. It’s, like, I’m sick of it.

In a longer version of the video, according to Caolan Robertson, who leaked it to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Jones derides his audience for being willing to “buy anything” and boasts about earning tens of millions of dollars—not just millions—via his far-right, often pro-Trump rhetoric.

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).

Dec. 25

djt handwave file

Palmer Report, Opinion: It’s Christmas morning for everyone who wants to see Donald Trump taken down, Bill Palmer, right, Dec. 25, 2021. There’s a metaphor in bill palmerpolitics – it even made its way into the pilot episode of The West Wing – about it being “Christmas morning” for someone when their opponent unwittingly hands them a political gift. Of course right now it’s literally Christmas morning. Accordingly, Trump and certain Republicans appear to be in the process of handing us a rather sizable gift.

bill palmer report logo headerThe kicker is that at this point they don’t appear to be able to avoid handing us that gift. In reality they handed it to us nearly a year ago. Trump had already lost the election, the courts had already laughed at his appeals, and there was literally zero chance he was going to remain in office. But because he knew that the rest of his life would consist of civil and criminal consequences if he did leave office, he did something desperate and stupid – and he dragged large chunks of his own party into it.

Yes, at this point it’s accurate (if dark and brutal) to refer to Trump’s post-election criminal antics as a political gift. He had a number of his Republican allies commit election tampering in various states. He had a number of them get involved in planning January 6th. None of this had any chance whatsoever of helping Trump or the GOP. But because Trump was going to lose everything anyway, he demanded that the GOP follow him off that particular cliff – and many of them did.

Moreover, they all did it in remarkably stupid fashion. Trump got himself banned from social media, at a time when he was going to need his social media voice more than ever if he wanted to remain relevant. The Trump supporters who invaded the Capitol finally showed mainstream Americans in the middle that everything the anti-Trump people in their lives had been saying about pro-Trump people for four years really was true. More crucially, Team Trump left a trail of gigantic breadcrumbs that are now being used to take them down.

It’s not a coincidence that the letters the January 6th Committee sent this week to House Republicans Jim Jordan and Scott Perry just happen to focus on January 6th-related crimes that they allegedly committed with Donald Trump. The committee spent 2021 doing the ton of research and investigation required to learn every move these folks took, which is what you have to do before even engaging them. Let them know they’re nailed on certain things. Try to scare them into cooperating. Or bait them into lying during their testimony, then use a perjury referral to either send them to prison or scare them into caving. Or just ring them up for criminal contempt if they never do cooperate.

Yes, that’s right, there is now a distinct possibility that Jim Jordan and certain other House Republicans will be arrested for contempt in early 2022. Let that sink in. They’d be going on criminal trial right around the time the midterm elections heat up. Try to imagine the chaos for the Republican Party as it tries to find substitute candidates in those races, or defend its decision to let people seek reelection while they’re on criminal trial. Picture certain House Republicans in swing districts trying to figure out whether and how to distance themselves from their fellow House Republicans who are in the process of becoming convicted criminals.

That’s all before getting to the scenario where the January 6th Committee follows through on its stated goal and refers Donald Trump for criminal prosecution on charges like obstruction of Congress and Big Lie wire fraud. Yes, that’s right, the Republicans could find themselves trying to compete in the midterms while an indicted, arrested, obviously guilty, and howling mad Trump prepares to go on criminal trial.

It’s too early to predict precisely how all of this will play out. But it’s now abundantly clear how the January 6th Committee intends for things to play out. And if Team Trump wants to accuse the committee of making this political, then too bad, because the felonies that Trump and his people committed were overwhelmingly political to begin with. With its idiotic response to Trump’s 2020 loss, Trump and the GOP unwittingly handed everyone else a huge gift. It’s Christmas morning indeed.

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Christmas 2021 in the shadow of fascist coup, dictatorship, and civil war, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Dec. 25, 2021. Garland is webster tarpley 2007massively derelict in his duty to defend the US Constitution; AG’s soft on fascism policy cannot enable the rule of law; Public outcry demands decisive action against coup plotters past, present, and future; Non-feasance equals appeasement of totalitarian forces;

Reactionary economist Glenn Hubbard reveals GOP inflation demagogy is camouflage for brutal deflationary austerity on the Volcker model; Warren and other senators mull blocking nomination of Powell;
Desperate demagogue Putin doubles down on threats to West, pointing once again to his severe domestic problems;
This year’s holiday reading might include: Malaparte, Luttwak, Agamben, Carl Schmitt;

Corrupt US media are drowning in corporate greed and the cynical nihilism of many reporters; Time to think like Grant, not McClellan! Merry Christmas to listeners and friends of World Crisis Radio!

Dec. 24

 

 

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, Opinion: Will Donald Trump Get Away With Inciting an Insurrection? Laurence H. Tribe, Donald Ayer and Dennis Aftergut, Mr. Tribe taught constitutional law at Harvard for 50 years. Merrick Garland was one of his students. Mr. Ayer oversaw criminal prosecutions and investigations as Ronald Reagan’s U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of California. He later served as deputy attorney general. Mr. Aftergut handled a number of complex investigations and prosecutions as a federal prosecutor in San Francisco.

merrick garlandIn his nine months in office, Attorney General Merrick Garland, right, has done a great deal to restore integrity and evenhanded enforcement of the law to an agency that was badly misused for political reasons under his predecessor. But his place in history will be assessed against the challenges that confronted him. And the overriding test that he and the rest of the government face is the threat to our democracy from people bent on destroying it.

Mr. Garland’s success depends on ensuring that the rule of law endures. That means dissuading future coup plotters by holding the leaders of the insurrection fully accountable for their attempt to overthrow the government. But he cannot do so without a robust criminal investigation of those at the top, from the people who planned, assisted or funded the attempt to overturn the Electoral College vote to those who organized or encouraged the mob attack on the Capitol. To begin with, he might focus on Mark Meadows, Steve Bannon, Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman and even Donald Trump — all of whom were involved, in one way or another, in the events leading up to the attack.

Justice Department log circularAlmost a year after the insurrection, we have yet to see any clear indicators that such an investigation is underway, raising the alarming possibility that this administration may never bring charges against those ultimately responsible for the attack.

While the Justice Department has filed charges against more than 700 people who participated in the violence, limiting the investigation to these foot soldiers would be a grave mistake: As Joanne Freeman, a Yale historian, wrote this month about the insurrection, “Accountability — the belief that political power holders are responsible for their actions and that blatant violations will be addressed — is the lifeblood of democracy. Without it, there can be no trust in government, and without trust, democratic governments have little power.”

The legal path to investigate the leaders of the coup attempt is clear. The criminal code prohibits inciting an insurrection or “giving aid or comfort” to those who do, as well as conspiracy to forcibly “prevent, hinder or delay the execution of any law of the United States.” The code also makes it a crime to corruptly impede any official proceeding or deprive citizens of their constitutional right to vote.

Based purely on what we know today from news reports and the steady stream of revelations coming from the House select committee investigating the attack, the attorney general has a powerful justification for a robust and forceful investigation into the former president and his inner circle. As White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows was intimately involved in the effort to overturn the election. He traveled to Georgia last December, where he apparently laid the groundwork for the phone call in which the president pressured Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, to “find 11,780 votes.” Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio reportedly promoted a scheme to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to reject duly certified Joe Biden electors. And from their war room at the Willard Hotel, several members of the president’s inner circle hatched the legal strategy to overturn the results of the election.

The president himself sat back for three hours while his chief of staff was barraged with messages from members of Congress and Fox News hosts pleading with him to have Mr. Trump call off the armed mob whose violent passion he had inflamed. That evidence, on its own, may not be enough to convict the former president, but it is certainly enough to require a criminal investigation.

And yet there are no signs, at least in media reports, that the attorney general is building a case against these individuals — no interviews with top administration officials, no reports of attempts to persuade the foot soldiers to turn on the people who incited them to violence. By this point in the Russia investigation, the special counsel Robert Mueller had indicted Paul Manafort and Rick Gates and secured the cooperation of George Papadopoulos after charging him with lying to the F.B.I. The media was reporting that the special counsel’s team had conducted or scheduled interviews with Mr. Trump’s aides Stephen Miller and Mr. Bannon, as well as Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Of course, there is no way to know for sure whether Mr. Garland’s Department of Justice is investigating the leaders of the attack behind closed doors. Justice Department policy does not permit announcing investigations, absent exceptional circumstances. Mr. Garland, unlike his predecessor, plays by the book, keeping quiet about investigations until charges are filed. But the first of the rioters to plead guilty began cooperating with the Justice Department back in April. If prosecutors have been using their cooperation to investigate the top officials and operatives responsible for the siege of the Capitol and our democracy, there would likely be significant confirmation in the media by now.

It is possible that the department is deferring the decision about starting a full-blown investigative effort pending further work by the House select committee. It is even conceivable that the department is waiting for the committee’s final report so that federal prosecutors can review the documents, interviews and recommendations amassed by House investigators and can consider any potential referrals for criminal prosecution.

But such an approach would come at a very high cost. In the prosecution business, interviews need to happen as soon as possible after the events in question, to prevent both forgetfulness and witness coordination to conceal the truth. A comprehensive Department of Justice probe of the leadership is now more urgently needed than ever.

It is also imperative that Mr. Trump be included on the list of those being investigated. The media has widely reported his role in many of the relevant events, and there is no persuasive reason to exclude him.

First, he has no claim to constitutional immunity from prosecution. The Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel has recognized such immunity only for sitting presidents because a criminal trial would prevent them from discharging the duties of their office. Mr. Trump no longer has those duties to discharge.

Nor is exclusion of the former president remotely justified by the precedent President Gerald Ford set in pardoning Richard Nixon to help the country “heal” from Watergate. Even our proud tradition of not mimicking banana republics by allowing political winners to retaliate against losers must give way in the wake of violence perpetrated to thwart the peaceful transition of power. Refusing to at least investigate those who plot to end democracy — and who would remain engaged in efforts to do so — would be beyond foolhardy.

Furthermore, the pending state and local investigations in New York and Atlanta will never be able to provide the kind of accountability the nation clearly needs. The New York case, which revolves around tax fraud, has nothing to do with the attack on our government. The Atlanta district attorney appears to be probing Mr. Trump’s now infamous call to Mr. Raffensperger. But that is just one chapter of the wrongdoing that led up to the attack on the Capitol.

Significantly, even if the Atlanta district attorney is able to convict Mr. Meadows and Mr. Trump for interfering in Georgia’s election, they could still run for office again. Only convicting them for participating in an insurrection would permanently disqualify them from office under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.

Some have expressed pessimism that the Department of Justice would be able to convict Mr. Trump. His guilt would ultimately be for a jury to decide, and some jurors might believe he deluded himself into believing his own big lie and thus genuinely thought he was saving, rather than sabotaging, the election. But concerns about a conviction are no reason to refrain from an investigation. If anything, a federal criminal investigation could unearth even more evidence and provide a firmer basis for deciding whether to indict.

To decline from the outset to investigate would be appeasement, pure and simple, and appeasing bullies and wrongdoers only encourages more of the same. Without forceful action to hold the wrongdoers to account, we will likely not resist what some retired generals see as a march to another insurrection in 2024 if Mr. Trump or another demagogue loses.

Throughout his public life, Mr. Garland has been a highly principled public servant focused on doing the right thing. But only by holding the leaders of the Jan. 6 insurrection — all of them — to account can he secure the future and teach the next generation that no one is above the law. If he has not done so already, we implore the attorney general to step up to that task.

 

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

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s last stand, Bill Palmer, right, Dec. 24, 2021. When the U.S. Court of Appeals swiftly ruled that the National Archives must bill palmerturn over incriminating evidence against Donald Trump to the January 6th Committee, it was a given that Trump would appeal to the Supreme Court. Yesterday he did precisely that. Here’s the thing.

Even this Supreme Court isn’t going to allow itself to get dragged into Donald Trump’s last stand, just as it made a point of steering clear of bill palmer report logo headerhis baseless 2020 election claims. Trump has no claim of privilege and therefore has no case, as the appeals court has already spelled out. So the Supreme Court is either going to refuse to hear his case at all, or 2) hear the case but swiftly rule against him. Either way, this will be over within weeks.

This comes even as the January 6th Committee has pretty clearly been gearing up to hold publicly televised hearings in the new year. As we predicted back when this court battle first began, the committee will end up receiving the National Archives evidence against Donald Trump right around the time it was planning to go at Trump with its public hearings.

This is shaping up to be Donald Trump’s last stand. He seems to know it too, given how desperately he’s trying to fight this losing battle in court, even knowing that it won’t help him in any real way, or somehow magically “run out the clock.” He simply has no choice but to fight a losing battle on this, knowing he’s screwed anyway.

Dec. 21

 

Trump-supporting former law school dean John Eastman, left, helps Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani inflame pro-Trump protesters in front the White House before the insurrection riot at the U.S. Capitol to prevent the presidential election certification of Joe Biden's presidency on Jan. 6, 2021 (Los Angeles Times photo). Trump-supporting former law school dean John Eastman, left, helps Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani inflame pro-Trump protesters in front the White House before the insurrection riot at the U.S. Capitol to prevent the presidential election certification of Joe Biden's presidency on Jan. 6, 2021 (Los Angeles Times photo). 

washington post logoWashington Post, Lead Capitol riot charge is constitutional, judges find, Rachel Weiner, Dec. 21, 2021. Three federal judges have agreed that the most serious charge faced by those accused of participation in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol is constitutional, a victory for the Justice Department and a blow to the defendants fighting those accusations.

The ruling came Monday evening from U.S. District Judge Amit B. Mehta, who is overseeing the prosecutions of more than a dozen people associated with the Oath Keepers, a self-styled militia group. Mehta joins judges Dabney L. Friedrich and Timothy J. Kelly, both of whom have moved to uphold the obstruction charges in other cases.

The same legal challenge has been raised by defendants in various Capitol riot prosecutions, from single-person indictments to sprawling conspiracy cases. One judge who has questioned the use of the obstruction charge has yet to rule on the issue.

Without that felony charge, prosecutors would be left with only minor charges against many they view as playing a major role in the riot. The Justice Department has avoided charges of sedition, a rarely used law, and not all those accused of acting as key instigators were seen assaulting police officers.

What crime might Trump have committed on Jan. 6? Liz Cheney points to one.

The ruling also has broader implications. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) has suggested former president Donald Trump could be charged with obstruction of an official proceeding.

Mehta had previously expressed concern that it was unclear what conduct counted as felony “obstruction of an official proceeding” as opposed to misdemeanor disruption of a congressional hearing — a difference between a potential sentence of six months and 20 years behind bars.

Lead felony charge against Jan. 6 defendants could be unconstitutionally vague, U.S. judge warns

But after months of consideration and legal arguments on both sides, Mehta ruled that the government had it right.

“Their alleged actions were no mere political protest,” he wrote. “They stand accused of combining, among themselves and with others, to force their way into the Capitol building, past security barricades and law enforcement, to ‘Stop, delay, and hinder the Certification of the Electoral College vote.’ ”

Defendants had argued that it was unclear whether the certification of President Biden’s victory counted as an “official proceeding.” Charging participants in the Jan. 6 riot with obstruction, they warned, could turn even peaceful protesters into potential felons.

Right wing and liberal vigils planned for in D.C. on anniversary of Capitol riot

Mehta said the “plain text” of the obstruction law covered the group’s actions, and that “even if there were a line of ambiguity ... their alleged acts went well beyond it.” Because the law requires the obstruction to be undertaken “corruptly,” he added, it does not imperil constitutionally protected free speech.

  • Washington Post, Right-wing, liberal vigils planned in D.C. on anniversary of Capitol riot

 

Dec. 20

washington post logoWashington Post, Donald Trump’s endorsed candidate struggles as old and new Republican parties clash in Alabama Senate race, Michael Scherer, Dec. 20, 2021. Rep. Mo Brooks leaves little doubt about how he hopes to win the Republican primary for Alabama’s open U.S. Senate seat next year. The words “Endorsed by Trump” precede his name in his campaign logo, and the same message is printed in his Twitter handle.

But eight months after receiving the former president’s highest blessing in one of the nation’s reddest states, Brooks is still struggling to win Trump’s approval behind the scenes, and his standing has begun to fade in the state amid fierce competition.

As a result, Alabama is once again set up to host one of the most suspenseful Senate primaries in the country, with outside groups and candidates preparing to spend millions in a contest that will help shape the tone and tenor of the Republican caucus and the future face of conservative governance in the Deep South.

On one side of the divide is Brooks, a Freedom Caucus firebrand and one of the GOP’s most vocal supporters of overturning the 2020 election results. On the other is Katie Britt, a former business association president and former aide to retiring Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), a giant in Alabama politics who has told others that he is willing to spend $5 million of his own campaign funds on her election.

The faceoff reprises historic divisions that have long bedeviled Republican primaries in the South, pitting the conservative economic development wing of the party, exemplified by Britt and Shelby, who has served as the most powerful Republican Senate appropriator since 2018, and a fiercer brand of conservatism, represented by Brooks, that seeks to disrupt the U.S. Capitol to force more conservative policies. It’s a split that often has less to do with policy positions in a state that Trump won with 62 percent of the vote — all the candidates in the race are Bible-believing conservatives — than style.

“It’s country club versus country,” said David Mowery, a Montgomery, Ala.-based political consultant who has worked for both Republicans and Democrats. “There is a weird dynamic where a lot of your business folks are also social conservatives. They just don’t want to be gauche about it. Wearing a .44 on your belt, a Ten Commandments T-shirt and a tricorner hat is outré.”

Complicating matters further is the late entry of a third candidate, wealthy businessman and celebrity military veteran Mike Durant, who spent $1.2 million on ads since mid-October months to introduce himself, according to the ad-tracking firm Medium Buying. Before founding his defense contracting business, Pinnacle Solutions, Durant made headlines when his Special Forces helicopter was shot down by Somali militia and he was held as a prisoner for 11 days.

Trump, a guiding light for the rural-working-class wing of the party, has also inserted himself as an unpredictable influence in the state. After Brooks spent much of 2020 warning of election theft by Democrats, the congressman ingratiated himself with Trump by helping to lead the effort to overturn the results and rally protesters to the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Dec. 19

 djt steve bannon

Donald Trump, left, and Steve Bannon, who has been quoted as backing the idea of a Trump reinstatement, saying that the "return of Trump" will be in "2022 or maybe before."

Daily Beast, The Steve Bannon Problem Isn’t Going Away for Joe Biden, Jose Pagliery, Dec. 19, 2021. Bannon’s strategy of slow-walking and exposing the White House was dealt a blow in court. Unfortunately, that isn’t the end of Bannon’s gambit.

daily beast logoRight-wing provocateur Steve Bannon is going full-steam ahead with a plan to turn his criminal case into a one-man reconnaissance mission involving the White House, the Justice Department, and the Jan. 6 Committee, where he hopes to find anything that’ll smear Democrats who’ve come after him.

Earlier this month, The Daily Beast laid out Bannon’s strategy to find any evidence that this is merely a political prosecution, or—as some have commented—generate enough suspicion to besmirch the whole thing.

The DOJ cast the strategy as an underhanded ploy to harm the Jan. 6 Committee’s ongoing investigation into the causes of the insurrection by exposing its inner workings and witnesses who’ve secretly cooperated, and the gambit seemed to be stymied when the federal judge overseeing the case issued a protective order on Dec. 10 limiting what kinds of documents Bannon could make public.

Not so fast.

Bannon’s team is interpreting the judge’s order as a greenlight to dig into the Biden administration and expose what they find, according to a person familiar with Bannon’s case.

“Was this a politically motivated prosecution? The communications will show that… we’re going to ask for specific documents,” said the source, who spoke to The Daily Beast on condition of anonymity. “The judge will allow us behind the curtain.”

The legal team plans to publicly file damning documents they get, the source said. What would be a cut-and-dry misdemeanor case could become an unwelcome peek into the Biden administration.

“We’re not completely restricted,” the source said.

Jared Carter, a professor at Vermont Law School who reviewed the judge’s order on The Daily Beast’s behalf, said “it does create a place” for Bannon to start filing acquired documents in court and turn his prosecution into an all-out assault on those coming after him.

“Clearly their strategy is: The best defense is a good offense. And what we're seeing is the defense team trying to employ that strategy, trying to put the government and Biden administration on its heels,” Carter said. “That can be a very effective strategy.”

Bannon’s game plan falls right in line with the comments he made on Nov. 15, the day he turned himself into the FBI and appeared in court.

“We're taking down the Biden regime,” he said on his way into the FBI’s Washington field office.

And on his way out of court a few hours later: “We’re gonna go on the offense. We’re tired of playing defense.”

Bannon’s claim that this is a political prosecution relies, in part, on remarks President Joe Biden made shortly after Marine One landed on the White House south lawn.

When asked about Bannon and other witnesses who defied congressional subpoenas to testify, he said, “I hope that the committee goes after them and holds them accountable criminally.” When asked if the Justice Department should prosecute them, the president agreed.

Here’s how Bannon tried to frame it back on that day in November: “Joe Biden ordered Merrick Garland to prosecute me from the White House lawn when he got off Marine One.”

That’s a hefty accusation with no real evidence to back it up. But Trump’s former White House adviser plans to demand memos and internal communications at the White House, Justice Department, and Jan. 6 Committee to prove it.

The point is to show that this entire prosecution was poisoned from the start.

But this isn’t like the time the Drug Enforcement Administration was caught making 179 arrests over a decade in New York without a single white defendant. Legal scholars said Bannon isn’t being singled out because of his race or gender, so he doesn’t fit into what’s considered a protected class.

Only three Jan. 6 Committee witnesses have refused to testify. And while only Bannon has been criminally charged, Congress has already referred former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows to the Justice Department for prosecution—and ex-DOJ official Jeffrey Clark might not be too far behind.

“They have to prove that in insurrection cases held by this DOJ they've chosen not to go forward. But Bannon and Meadows are the only ones saying they’re not going to do it. The selective prosecution model fails,” said Joshua E. Kastenberg, a professor at University of New Mexico’s law school.

Legal scholars also said Bannon’s mission for embarrassing memos borders on what they call “discovery abuse,” when one side uses a court battle to make unreasonable requests for evidence.

David Schultz, a law professor at the University of Minnesota, said the judge should severely limit this case to its core premise: Bannon got a subpoena to testify, and he didn’t show up.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Ali Alexander hits the panic button after testifying to the January 6th Committee, Bill Palmer, Dec. 18, 2021. “Stop the Steal” bill palmerorganizer Ali Alexander recently came out of hiding and announced his intention to cooperate with the January 6th Committee because (in his words) he didn’t want to go to prison for contempt. Then after several hours of testimony, he emerged and told the cameras that he and Donald Trump were innocent. But the committee didn’t publicly state any dissatisfaction with his testimony, so it left us wondering just how cooperative he was.

bill palmer report logo headerNow Alexander is hitting the panic button. His lawyers are revealing that he admitted to the committee that he spoke by phone with House Republican Paul Gosar, right, and texted with House Republican Mo Brooks, below at left. The kicker is that his lawyers have revealed this information in a lawsuit they’ve filed to try to block Verizon from turning over his phone records to the January 6th Committee. Oops.

paul gosarSo what’s this guy trying to do here? Logically speaking, he’d only want to keep his own phone records suppressed if he’s either 1) lying to the committee about his phone records, or 2) afraid his phone records will incriminate him. Then again, this suit is guaranteed to quickly fail, so it could just be an attempt on his part at giving off the public appearance that he’s fighting against the committee, even as he seemingly cooperated behind the scenes. Even more strangely, Politico says Alexander turned over all of his texts – so why is he taking legal action to block his carrier from turning them over?

mo brooks oAli Alexander better be careful here. Mark Meadows already learned the hard way that partial or aborted cooperation with the committee is still grounds for being referred for criminal contempt. Alexander is making a panic move here. But is it because he’s afraid of what he said to the committee, or because he’s afraid Trump world will find out what all he said to the committee?

In any case, if Alexander’s phone records do indeed implicate the likes of Gosar and Brooks, then it’s all going to come out before much longer one way or the other. And if Alexander is being untruthful or uncooperative in any aspect of this, then he’s headed to prison for contempt. Alexander’s only chance of surviving this is if he’s being fully truthful and cooperative – in which case he’d need to give up everyone else.

Dec. 17

 

robert palmer

This image provided by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia shows Robert S. Palmer, of Largo, Fla., hurling a fire extinguisher at police in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. (U.S. District Court for District of Columbia/U.S. District Court)

washington post logoWashington Post, Fla. man sentenced to 5 years for attacking police, the longest Jan. 6 riot sentence yet, Tom Jackman, Dec. 17, 2021. Robert S. Palmer watched and cheered rioters, then joined front of mob and hurled fire extinguisher, plank and long pole at police.

A man who watched and cheered the Capitol riot, then moved to the front of the mob and hurled a fire extinguisher, a plank and a long pole at officers, was sentenced Friday to more than five years in federal prison, the longest sentence given so far to someone charged in the Jan. 6 attack.

Robert S. Palmer, 54, of Largo, Fla., pleaded guilty in October to assaulting law enforcement officers with a dangerous weapon, and his original plea agreement called for a sentencing range of 46 to 57 months. But after his plea, and his entry into the D.C. jail, Palmer arranged to make an online fundraising plea in which he said he did “go on the defense and throw a fire extinguisher at the police” after being shot with rubber bullets and tear gas.

That was a lie, Palmer admitted Friday. He had thrown a fire extinguisher — twice — a large plank and then a four- to six-foot pole at police before he was struck with one rubber bullet. The lie indicated a failure to accept responsibility for his actions, prosecutors argued, and when U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan agreed, she increased his sentencing range to 63 to 78 months, ultimately imposing a 63-month term.

“Look behind you,” Chutkan instructed Palmer in the courtroom. “Those are U.S. marshals. They ran from this courthouse. They put themselves in danger to protect the occupants of the Capitol. That’s what they’re sworn to do. They’re the patriots. The people working in the Capitol that night, they are patriots. Doing what they get paid to do, they didn’t know if they were going to come out of there alive that night.”

Palmer said, “I’m really, really ashamed of what I did.”

He said that while in jail he saw footage of himself on an MSNBC news program.

“I was horrified, absolutely devastated to see myself on there,” Palmer said.

In a letter to the judge last month, he wrote, “I realize that we, meaning Trump supporters, were lied to by those that at the time had great power, meaning the sitting president as well as those acting on his behalf.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge rejects Fox News request to dismiss Dominion Voting’s defamation lawsuit over election claims, Timothy Bella, Dec. 17, 2021. A judge on Thursday rejected a request from Fox News to dismiss a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems over baseless claims made against the company during the 2020 presidential election, allowing the suit to move forward.

Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric M. Davis said it was “reasonably conceivable” for the Denver-based voting-machine company to have a defamation claim.

“The Court can infer that Fox intended to avoid the truth,” Davis wrote in a 52-page ruling. “Whether Dominion ultimately will prove Fox’s actual malice by clear and convincing evidence is irrelevant on a motion to dismiss. … Accordingly, Fox’s Motion should be denied.”

dominion voting systemsDominion filed the lawsuit against Fox News earlier this year, claiming that some of its highest-profile on-air talent helped elevate false charges that the company had changed votes to favor Joe Biden over then-President Donald Trump. The lawsuit claims that hosts such as Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro brought Trump allies onto their shows to spread lies asserting that Dominion was using algorithms in voting machines that were created in Venezuela to rig multiple elections for Hugo Chávez, the late president.

Dominion alerted Fox News and its anchors to information disproving the false claims being broadcast against the company, according to the judge. The allegations from Dominion in the lawsuit show that Fox was given “signs indicating the reports were false,” Davis wrote.

“Fox possessed countervailing evidence of election fraud from the Department of Justice, election experts, and Dominion at the time it had been making its statements,” the judge wrote. “The fact that, despite this evidence, Fox continued to publish its allegations against Dominion, suggests Fox knew the allegations were probably false.”

In a statement, Fox News Media said it would continue to fight Dominion’s defamation lawsuit.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The January 6th Committee has finally turned the corner – and turned things upside down, Bill Palmer, right, Dec. 17, 2021. Now that the bill palmerJanuary 6th Committee has unearthed enough dirt for the media to want to run with it daily as a Trump/GOP scandal, the media no longer feels compelled to make up phony Biden scandals for ratings, and President Biden’s approval rating is ticking upward accordingly. Funny how that works.

Keep in mind that the mainstream media (with the exception of Fox News) doesn’t really want to have to rely on phony Biden scandals for ratings. That causes credibility issues for them, and it turns out phony Biden scandals don’t boost ratings much anyway. It’s just all they’ve had to work with lately.

bill palmer report logo headerTrump is under criminal investigation in three jurisdictions, two of which have reached the grand jury stage. The likelihood of Trump being indicted on the state level is a huge, pivotal story with widespread implications. But information and details publicly surface so slowly at this stage of a criminal probe, the media can’t do daily stories on it, and so instead the media mostly just ignores it.

And for quite awhile the 1/6 committee was in information gathering mode with lower level witnesses, which is what gives you dirt on the bigger fish and allows you to make a run at them. But that also produced very little public information during that timeframe, so the media saw the topic as not particularly viable for producing daily ratings.

Now that the 1/6 probe has unearthed dirt about Donald Trump, Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan, and other big names, and now that it’s clear more dirt will surface every day for awhile going forward, the media seems comfortable settling in with this as its main daily narrative. The media is still throwing in some doomsday hyperbole for good measure. But fake Biden scandals are apparently no longer needed.

This is lucky for the media, because not only did the fake Biden scandals not really boost ratings, they’re becoming non-viable. No one is still talking about the Afghanistan pullout, as we predicted. And average U.S. gas prices have been dropping steadily for six weeks now, so the media can’t keep getting away with falsely telling audiences they’re rising, as it did for the first few weeks that average gas prices were dropping.

It’s important to keep in mind that the people in the mainstream media are not the “good guys”, but nor are they cartoon villains. Major media types just consider it their job to hit their ratings marks no matter what – and then the more honest among them will try to include some truth and knowledge within that ratings framework if they can.

Now that the January 6th Committee is finally in a position to be able to keep putting increasingly juicy and damning news out there on a daily basis with regard to Donald Trump, the Republican Party, and January 6th, here’s hoping that the media is willing to keep running with all of this in honest fashion, and therefore doesn’t feel compelled to pummel audiences with either doomsday hysteria or phony scandals about Joe Biden. While the point of the 1/6 probe is to hold people accountable for a treasonous plot, it’s starting to have the interesting side effect of steering the media away from some of its worst habits.

washington post logoWashington Post, House Jan. 6 committee subpoenas retired Army colonel who worked for Trump’s outside legal team, Jacqueline Alemany and Tom Hamburger, Dec. 17, 2021 (print ed.). The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob announced Thursday it had issued a subpoena to retired Army Col. Phil Waldron as it investigates the causes of the insurrection.

Waldron worked with Trump’s outside legal team and circulated and briefed members of Congress on a PowerPoint presentation that outlined various proposals to overturn the results of the 2020 election. A version of the presentation that Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows handed over to the committee surfaced last week after the panel made some of its findings public.

phil waldron georgia senateThe subpoena requested that Waldron, right, appear for a deposition on Jan. 17 and provide documents to the committee by Jan. 10.

“Mr. Waldron reportedly played a role in promoting claims of election fraud and circulating potential strategies for challenging results of the 2020 election,” Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), the committee’s chairman, said in a statement. “He was also apparently in communication with officials in the Trump White House and in Congress discussing his theories in the weeks leading up to the January 6th attack. The document he reportedly provided to Administration officials and Members of Congress is an alarming blueprint for overturning a nationwide election.”

Election denier who circulated Jan. 6 PowerPoint says he met with Meadows at White House

The committee has issued over 50 subpoenas and has interviewed more than 250 people, but further interest in Waldron comes as the committee has homed in on Meadows, who the House voted to hold in contempt of Congress this week, as an integral part of President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the election.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Forbes testifies to New York grand jury about Donald Trump’s falsified asset valuations, Bill Palmer, Dec. 17, 2021. Even as we all bill palmerfocus on the January 6th Committee’s seeming intent to have the Department of Justice bring up Donald Trump on federal criminal charges, it’s easy to forget that Trump is under confirmed criminal investigation in New York for his finances, and in Georgia for election tampering. Now we’re getting big news out of New York.

bill palmer report logo headerForbes Magazine just announced that it testified yesterday to the New York grand jury about articles it had previously published about Donald Trump’s falsified net worth, and Trump’s falsified valuation of one of his apartments. Forbes said that it didn’t want to have to testify, and that it only did so after it lost a subpoena battle – but it nonetheless testified.

This new testimony comes within the context of recent major media reports that the Manhattan District Attorney has empaneled a grand jury over Donald Trump’s overall pattern of falsification of asset values. To be clear, if it can be proven that he intentionally lied about the values of his properties on documents like mortgage applications, that’s the kind of felony that people go to prison for.

It’s been clear for some time that Manhattan DA Cy Vance is looking to bring criminal charges against Donald Trump over his finances. It’s notable that Vance is retiring in a couple weeks, at which point the case will be taken over by incoming Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, who has vowed to hold Trump accountable.

This late-December grand jury testimony suggests that Vance may be trying to criminally indict Donald Trump before he leaves office. So even though we’re heading into the holidays, it’s worth keeping an eye on the Manhattan DA’s office over these next two weeks. Will Vance indict Trump this month, or will he wait and let Bragg indict Trump in the new year? Stay tuned.

Recent Related Headlines:

Dec. 14

 

abraham lincoln military commission

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Punishment for U.S. coup leaders must be as severe as that which befell Lincoln assassination plotters, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallWayne Madsen, left, Dec. 14, 2021. In WMR's December 7, 2021 report, we predicted that we are now in a situation of experiencing "Watergate-level of back-to-back developments." The recent revelations by the House Select Committee on the January 6th sedition, now deemed an attempted coup d'état by Donald Trump and his circle of conspirators, bears out our earlier assessment.

It was Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, Attorney General James Speed, and Advocate General of the Army Joseph Holt who successfully argued that the Lincoln assassination conspirators should be tried by a military commission. Those who plotted to kill Lincoln were, according to several historical records, continuing to follow orders from the remnants of the Confederate government, even though its Army chief, General Robert E. Lee, had surrendered his forces to the United States on April 9, 1865.

abraham lincoln alexander gardner library of congress getty imagesWhen Lincoln, right, was assassinated on April 14, 1865, members of the Confederate government and its Bureau of Special and Secret Service continued to be active around the nation. It was important for the federal government to send a message to the Confederate holdouts and the summary military commission trial and sentencing of the Lincoln assassination cabal sent that very message: continue to wage war and the consequences will be swift and harsh.

That same message must be vigorously delivered by the federal government to those who planned and carried out the coup attempt of January 6th.

A modern-day military commission that would handle the sedition trials of Donald Trump, Mark Meadows, Rudolph Giuliani, and other conspirators, could follow the same path as the 1865 tribunal. The lackadaisical attitude of Attorney General Merrick Garland toward the January 6th coup attempt demands why he and his department -- continued to be infiltrated by Trump right-wing loyalists like Alexander Haas, the director of the Civil Division’s Federal Programs Branch and Curtis Gannon, the Deputy Solicitor General -- not be relied upon or trusted to ensure that the coup plotters are dealt with effectively and, if found guilty of seditious conspiracy, severely.

merrick garlandIf Garland does not want to "look backward," as he has stated, then it must be a military commission that looks forward in bringing the judicial hammer down on the seditious conspirators of January 6th. Garland, left, can watch the commission's proceedings on television if he so wishes.

In dealing with our country's worst case of sedition since the Civil War, justice for the main perpetrators and planners must be dealt with by thinking "out of the box." The coup plotters had definitely been creative when it came to interpreting election laws and the Constitution by proposing bogus presidential electors, killing off the major leaders of Congress, and declaring a "national security emergency" and imposing martial law.

America must send a clear message to the world: when our democracy is attacked from within, including by the President of the United States, justice is swift and certain.

And, if that means Donald Trump is found guilty of seditious conspiracy and related crimes against the nation and its Constitution, capital punishment should be a primary option for a special military commission to consider. Had the Trump coup been successful, there is no doubt that Trump and his cronies would have been merciless in dealing with those who opposed his attempted seizure of dictatorial power. This nation will not get a second chance to deal with the coup plotters in a determined and swift manner.

Dec. 13


 mark meadows hands out

Politico, Meadows Jan. 5 email indicated National Guard on standby to ‘protect pro Trump people,’ investigators say, Kyle Cheny and Nicholas Wu, Dec. 13, 2021 (print ed.). Mark Meadows, shown above in a file photo, indicated in a Jan. 5 email that the National Guard was on standby to “protect pro Trump people,” according to documents obtained by the House committee investigating the Capitol riot, which the panel described in a public filing Sunday night.

politico CustomThe context for the message is unclear, but it comes amid intense scrutiny of the Guard’s slow response to violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and conflicting timelines about their efforts from the Pentagon and National Guard leadership.

It's unclear who Meadows, the former White House chief of staff to Donald Trump, relayed the information to or whether it was the result of any insight provided by the Defense Department.

But the exchange is of high interest to congressional investigators probing whether Trump played a role in the three-hour delay between the Capitol Police's urgent request for Guard support and their ultimate arrival at the Capitol, which had been overrun by pro-Trump rioters. The comment also aligns christopher miller official.jpgwith testimony from former Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, right, who said that in a Jan. 3 conversation with Trump, the then-president told him to "do whatever was necessary to protect the demonstrators that were executing their constitutionally protected rights."

The description of the message is part of a 51-page document released Sunday by the select panel a day before it is set to vote to hold Meadows in contempt of Congress. The full House is expected to vote to hold Meadows in criminal contempt of Congress on Tuesday.

In other messages described by the committee, Meadows appears to have asked members of Congress to help connect Trump with state lawmakers shortly after his defeat in November.

“POTUS wants to chat with them,” Meadows said, according to documents obtained by the Jan. 6 committee and described publicly Sunday evening.

The messages also describe numerous contacts with members of Congress about Trump’s efforts to recruit state lawmakers and encourage them to help overturn the election results. They also included questions about Meadows’ exchanges with members of Congress as they pressed him urgently to issue a statement telling rioters on Jan. 6 to exit the Capitol.

Meadows’ attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The messages are the clearest insight yet into the conversations Trump was having with senior advisers in the chaotic months after his defeat in which President Donald Trump officialhe sought to cling to power in increasingly desperate ways. Though Meadows turned over thousands of text messages and emails, he has declined to sit for a deposition to discuss those messages, claiming he is barred by executive privilege. The committee and Meadows had reached a tentative agreement for him to come in for an interview, but the pact collapsed last week.

Instead, the committee held a closed-door deposition without Meadows present and described the questions they would have asked him. The transcript of that closed session was appended to the panel’s contempt report, describing the details of the documents Meadows had provided.

“We would have asked him about text messages sent to and received from a Senator regarding the Vice President’s power to reject electors, including a text in which Mr. Meadows recounts a direct communication with President Trump who, according to Mr. Meadows in his text messages, quote, ‘thinks the legislators have the power, but the VP has power Too,’” the panel’s investigators noted.

Meadows' comments on the National Guard's readiness to defend Trump supporters align with concerns that have wracked investigators for months. POLITICO reported in May that a Capitol Police leader similarly encouraged officers to focus on anti-Trump forces within the Jan. 6 crowd, prompting concerns about intelligence failures even as the pro-Trump mob encroached on the Capitol.

The committee pointed out that many of the messages he shared already appeared to violate privilege by describing his own contacts with Trump. He mark meadows book chief chiefalso revealed many of those contacts in his recently released book (shown at right).

The committee described a slew of other messages it obtained from Meadows including:

— Text messages with a “media personality” who had encouraged Trump to issue a statement asking those at the Capitol to “peacefully leave.”

— A text “sent to one of — by one of the President’s family members indicating that Mr. Meadows is, quote, ‘pushing hard,’ end quote, for a statement from President Trump to, quote, ‘condemn this shit.’”

— Texts in December 2020 regarding efforts to install Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark as acting attorney general.

— Texts to and from a member of Congress in November 2020 seeking contact information for the attorney general of Arizona to discuss claims of election fraud.

— Texts to and from organizers of the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the violent attack on the Capitol.

— Texts “reflecting Mr. Meadows’ skepticism about public statements regarding allegations of election fraud put forth by Sidney Powell and his skepticism about the veracity of claims of tampering with Dominion voting machines.”

Powell, who briefly worked with Trump's campaign legal team before leading her own series of lawsuits intended to overturn the election results, was the most notable purveyor of outlandish claims of election fraud. She huddled with Trump at the White House in December 2020. Trump briefly considered naming her a "special counsel" to pursue election fraud.

The context for the message is unclear, but it comes amid scrutiny of the Guard’s slow response to the Jan. 6 violence at the Capitol.

 

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

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: The PowerPoint that speaks the truth, Wayne Madsen, left (author of 21 books, syndicated columnist and former Navy intelligence officer), Dec. 13, 2021. Let’s talk about the January 5, 2021 PowerPoint slide show that wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smalldescribes the plot by Donald Trump to cancel the 2020 election and call out the National Guard to enforce a staged re-do of the election, one that would have ensured a Trump win over the actual victor, Joe Biden.

wayne madesen report logoThis has its roots in the info-sphere of Trump's far-right network of retired military officers. That includes former Army psychological operations Lieutenant Colonel Phil Waldron and former Lt. General Michael Flynn, who once led the Defense Intelligence Agency and served as Trump's later-disgraced White House national security adviser.

The PowerPoint was shared by former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows with the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th insurrection. The “insurrection” should properly be called “an attempted coup d'état” involving military and law enforcement assets.

Because the Trump cabal seems to like PowerPoint presentations, WMR has drawn up its own on the Trump-led attempted coup. Widest dissemination of this .PDF is encouraged.

CLICK HERE FOR POWERPOINT

Press Run, Opinion: Slow-walking the coup PowerPoint, Eric Boehlert, right, Dec. 13, 2021. Twelve months after the press shied away from calling Trump’s coup eric.boehlertattempt a “coup,” the Beltway media continue to go slow on the latest revelation about how deeply enmeshed the White House was in its blatant push to sabotage democracy following the Republican’s lopsided loss to Joe Biden.

The discovery of a pro-coup PowerPoint circulating within the White House last winter, designed to nullify millions of American votes, ought to be covered nonstop today, and used as proof that Trump is not suitable to hold office in this country. Instead, the PowerPoint has received mostly passing, disinterested coverage.

Titled “Election Fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for 6 JAN,” the 38-page presentation is a rocket ship ride into the Big Lie abyss. The proposed plan was for Trump to declare a national emergency and for all electronic voting to be rendered invalid, citing foreign “control” of electronic voting systems. The chilling PowerPoint came to light recently when Trump’s fourth and final chief of staff, Mark Meadows, turned the electronic presentation over to investigators at the January 6 Committee. Days later, Meadows stopped cooperating with the panel.

The PowerPoint included plans for Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 6 to reject electors from “states where fraud occurred.” It also included a proposal in which the certification of Biden’s victory would be delayed, and U.S. marshals and National Guard troops would help “secure” and count paper ballots in supposedly disputed states.

A criminal conspiracy to overthrow last year’s election, the PowerPoint is a heavy-handed plot twist that most Hollywood scriptwriters would dismiss as not being believable. Yet here we are, as Trump plans his re-election run and we learn more about the runaway criminal enterprise he oversaw as president.

We’re learning about it slowly though, and what seems to be reluctantly by the Beltway press, which instead of touting the PowerPoint as a smoking gun that reveals the GOP’s proudly anti-democratic ways, are treating the proposal timidly — an oddity that doesn’t demand much attention. Virtually none of the coverage I’ve seen has included key context, such as quotes from experts on authoritarianism regarding the stunning implications of a White House likely consulting a sabotage plan like that.

“PowerPoint Sent to Mark Meadows Is Examined by Jan. 6 Panel,” was the ho-hum headline the New York Times produced over the weekend. As of Sunday night, there had been no Times follow-up on the story, suggesting the paper does not see the PowerPoint as being overly important or worthy of ongoing coverage.

The coup blueprint still has not appeared on the front page of single major American newspaper, nor has any influential editorial page weighed in. Republican members of Congress have not been repeatedly pressed to explain the document and why, twelve months ago, the president’s chief of staff took a meeting with the author of the unhinged PowerPoint. Or why members of the author’s conspiracy team, just days before the deadly January 6 insurrection, spoke to a group of Republican senators and House members, briefing them on the bogus claims of foreign interference in the election.

As of Sunday afternoon, “PowerPoint” had been mentioned just 20 times on CNN in the previous week, 50 times on MSNBC, and to nobody’s surprise, 0 times on Fox News. There has not been a single network evening news mention, according to a search of Nexis.

The media’s shoulder shrug response has left Democrats perplexed and enraged. “Can someone explain to me why this isn’t the only thing in the news?” tweeted Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI). “I deeply respect the fourth estate, but, holy shit they had a plan to just end democracy, and is the press gonna just be like “are democrats using the wrong words again?”

There’s a long and disturbing history of the press sleepwalking through this coup story. The press embraced a timid storyline immediately following Trump's defeat as he unleashed a vicious campaign against free and fair elections in America.

Instead of detailing his treasonous, post-election behavior surrounding the would-be coup as a power-hungry authoritarian out to steal an election, news consumers received updates about Trump’s “tactics,” his vague “moves” and “chicanery”; his legal “strategy” and “power play” while he was “sulking” and “brooding” inside the White House.

One Politico dispatch at the time dismissed Trump’s anti-democratic behavior as merely “bad sportsmanship.”

Back in October 2020, when he was asked whether he would agree to the peaceful transfer of power if he lost, Trump became the first president in American history to balk at the centerpiece of our democratic tradition. The Times placed the story inside the paper on page 15, gently noting that Trump had "declined an opportunity on Wednesday to endorse” the idea. "Trump Won't Commit to Peaceful Transfer of Power" should have been the headline on the front page of every major newspaper in America. It didn't appear on a single one.

Now they’re sleepwalking past the coup.

Dec. 12

Palmer Report, Opinion: Mark Meadows email blows open January 6th National Guard scandal, Bill Palmer, right, Dec. 12, 2021. One of the biggest unanswered bill palmerquestions surrounding the January 6th Capitol attack was the delayed response of the Washington DC National Guard. Various people have made various excuses for the hours-long delay, all of which have sounded suspicious – raising the question of whether the Trump White House may have delayed sending in the National Guard on purpose in order to protect the pro-Trump people who attacked the Capitol.

bill palmer report logo headerNow we appear to be getting an answer. The January 6th Committee just released a fifty-plus page document recommending that White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows be referred for criminal contempt. In that document, the committee spells out various things it would have asked Meadows if he’d shown up and testified. One of those questions is why Meadows sent an email on January 5th stating that the National Guard was on standby to “protect pro Trump people.”

Mark MeadowsSo what does this even mean? The darkest interpretation would be that the Trump White House knew the January 6th Capitol attack was coming, and decided that if the National Guard was going to be used at all, it would only be on the side of the pro-Trump terrorists.

Meadows, right, and his defense lawyers might try to argue that the National Guard was really on standby to protect against “Antifa” or other anti-Trump groups. But in such case, why would the National Guard be protecting pro-Trump people from anti-Trump people? Wouldn’t it still be protecting the Capitol from anti-Trump people?

The most obvious interpretation here is that Donald Trump refused to send in the National Guard to fend off the Capitol attackers because he’d already decided to use the National Guard to help protect the Capitol attackers from other law enforcement personnel. Keep in mind that the DC National Guard is technically part of the U.S Army. So if this is the proper context for the Meadows email, then it means Trump directed the U.S. military to side with domestic terrorists and against the United States Congress.

If it comes down to it, Donald Trump will try to pin the entire thing on Mark Meadows. At that point Meadows would have to flip on Trump just to avoid potentially spending the rest of his life in prison, and Meadows had better hope he’s got evidence up his sleeve that proves the orders came from Trump.

Of course that’s all getting a few steps ahead. For now Mark Meadows is being referred for criminal contempt, and based on how serious the referral is, the Department of Justice is highly likely to indict and arrest Meadows for contempt. That’s all before getting to whatever underlying criminal charges Meadows (and others, including Trump) might end up facing as a result of the criminal activity documented in evidence such as these emails.

Dec. 12

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

Palmer Report, Opinion: Mark Meadows email blows open January 6th National Guard scandal, Bill Palmer, right, Dec. 12, 2021. One of the biggest unanswered bill palmerquestions surrounding the January 6th Capitol attack was the delayed response of the Washington DC National Guard. Various people have made various excuses for the hours-long delay, all of which have sounded suspicious – raising the question of whether the Trump White House may have delayed sending in the National Guard on purpose in order to protect the pro-Trump people who attacked the Capitol.

bill palmer report logo headerNow we appear to be getting an answer. The January 6th Committee just released a fifty-plus page document recommending that White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows be referred for criminal contempt. In that document, the committee spells out various things it would have asked Meadows if he’d shown up and testified. One of those questions is why Meadows sent an email on January 5th stating that the National Guard was on standby to “protect pro Trump people.”

Mark MeadowsSo what does this even mean? The darkest interpretation would be that the Trump White House knew the January 6th Capitol attack was coming, and decided that if the National Guard was going to be used at all, it would only be on the side of the pro-Trump terrorists.

Meadows, right, and his defense lawyers might try to argue that the National Guard was really on standby to protect against “Antifa” or other anti-Trump groups. But in such case, why would the National Guard be protecting pro-Trump people from anti-Trump people? Wouldn’t it still be protecting the Capitol from anti-Trump people?

The most obvious interpretation here is that Donald Trump refused to send in the National Guard to fend off the Capitol attackers because he’d already decided to use the National Guard to help protect the Capitol attackers from other law enforcement personnel. Keep in mind that the DC National Guard is technically part of the U.S Army. So if this is the proper context for the Meadows email, then it means Trump directed the U.S. military to side with domestic terrorists and against the United States Congress.

If it comes down to it, Donald Trump will try to pin the entire thing on Mark Meadows. At that point Meadows would have to flip on Trump just to avoid potentially spending the rest of his life in prison, and Meadows had better hope he’s got evidence up his sleeve that proves the orders came from Trump.

Of course that’s all getting a few steps ahead. For now Mark Meadows is being referred for criminal contempt, and based on how serious the referral is, the Department of Justice is highly likely to indict and arrest Meadows for contempt. That’s all before getting to whatever underlying criminal charges Meadows (and others, including Trump) might end up facing as a result of the criminal activity documented in evidence such as these emails.

djt march 2020 Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, In Bid for Control of Elections, Trump Loyalists Face Few Obstacles, Charles Homans, Dec. 12, 2021 (print ed.). A movement animated by Donald J. Trump’s 2020 election lies is turning its attention to 2022 and beyond. When thousands of Trump supporters gathered in Washington on Jan. 6 for the Stop the Steal rally that led to the storming of the U.S. Capitol, one of them was a pastor and substitute teacher from Elizabethtown, Pa., named Stephen Lindemuth.

Mr. Lindemuth had traveled with a religious group from Elizabethtown to join in protesting the certification of Joseph R. Biden’s victory. In a Facebook post three days later, he complained that “Media coverage has focused solely on the negative aspect of the day’s events,” and said he had been in Washington simply “standing for the truth to be heard.”

Shortly after, he declared his candidacy for judge of elections, a local Pennsylvania office that administers polling on Election Day, in the local jurisdiction of Mount Joy Township.

Mr. Lindemuth’s victory in November in this conservative rural community is a milestone of sorts in American politics: the arrival of the first class of political activists who, galvanized by Donald J. Trump’s false claim of a stolen election in 2020, have begun seeking offices supervising the election systems that they believe robbed Mr. Trump of a second term. According to a May Reuters/Ipsos poll, more than 60 percent of Republicans now believe the 2020 election was stolen.

This belief has informed a wave of mobilization at both grass-roots and elite levels in the party with an eye to future elections. In races for state and county-level offices with direct oversight of elections, Republican candidates coming out of the Stop the Steal movement are running competitive campaigns, in which they enjoy a first-mover advantage in electoral contests that few partisans from either party thought much about before last November.

And legislation that state lawmakers have passed or tried to pass this year in a number of states would assert more control over election systems and results by partisan offices that Republicans already decisively control.

A movement animated by former President Trump’s 2020 election lies is turning its attention to 2022 and beyond.

Dec. 11

Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis claim fraud during a Michigan hearing about the 2020 presidential election.

Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis claim fraud during a Michigan hearing about the 2020 presidential election.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis freaks out after realizing she’s in real trouble, Bill Palmer, right, Dec. 11, 2021. Back when Jenna Ellis publicly distanced bill palmerherself from the likes of Sidney Powell, Lin Wood, Rudy Giuliani, and other Trump election lawyers, it appeared she’d managed to insulate herself from the election fraud that they went on to commit. But now, new evidence suggests that Ellis could be in more trouble than any of them.

bill palmer report logo headerPolitico is reporting that Jenna Ellis authored two memos claiming that then-Vice President Mike Pence could somehow overthrow the 2020 election results. Not only were these memos inaccurate, they were arguably an instruction manual on how to commit felony election tampering.

Ellis, below at right, responded to the news by tweeting this: “Wondering how @politico thinks it’s responsible or ethical journalism to publish attorney-client privileged documents. They admit they are the first to publish in their entirety the two Ellis memos, which both have the banner ‘ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGED.’ Trump hatred persists.”

Ellis’ freak-out on Twitter suggests that she’s concerned about where this may be heading. Notably, Ellis is not refuting that she wrote the memos, and jenna ellis cropped screenshotinstead appears to be acknowledging their authenticity. As for attorney-client privilege, that doesn’t apply if the attorney and client are plotting criminal activity together. So if the legal system does end up deciding that these memos were part of a criminal election tampering plot, they would be allowed as evidence at trial.

Last month it was reported that the DOJ has had Sidney Powell under grand jury investigation for months, in relation to her 2020 election overthrow antics. While there’s no known DOJ investigation into Jenna Ellis, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it isn’t investigating her.

In the meantime, the January 6th Committee has already reportedly targeted communications that Jenna Ellis may have had with Steve Bannon. Based on this new reporting, it seems a given that the committee will subpoena Ellis for documents and testimony – and as usual, if she doesn’t cooperate she’ll be referred for criminal contempt. Trump’s people are increasingly finding themselves in no-win situations of their own making, and Ellis seems to be just the latest.

ny times logoNew York Times, Jan. 6 Committee Examines PowerPoint Document Sent to Meadows, Luke Broadwater and Alan Feuer, Dec. 11, 2021 (print ed.). Mark Meadows’s lawyer said the former White House chief of staff did not act on the document, which recommended that President Donald J. Trump declare a national emergency to keep himself in power.

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol is scrutinizing a 38-page PowerPoint document filled with extreme plans to overturn the 2020 election that Mark Meadows, the last chief of staff to President Donald J. Trump, has turned over to the panel.

The document recommended that Mr. Trump declare a national emergency to delay the certification of the election results and included a claim that China and Venezuela had obtained control over the voting infrastructure in a majority of states.

A lawyer for Mr. Meadows, George J. Terwilliger III, said on Friday that Mr. Meadows provided the document to the committee because he merely received it by email in his inbox and did nothing with it.

“We produced the document because it wasn’t privileged,” Mr. Terwilliger said.

Col. Phil Waldron (Georgia Senate)Phil Waldron, left, a retired Army colonel and an influential voice in the movement to challenge the election, said on Friday from a bar he owns outside Austin, Texas, that he had circulated the document — titled “Election Fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for 6 JAN” — among Mr. Trump’s allies and on Capitol Hill before the attack. Mr. Waldron said that he did not personally send the document to Mr. Meadows, but that it was possible someone on his team had passed it along to the former chief of staff.

It is unclear who prepared the PowerPoint, but it is similar to a 36-page document available online, and it appears to be based on the theories of Jovan Hutton Pulitzer, a Texas entrepreneur and self-described inventor who has appeared with Mr. Waldron on podcasts discussing election fraud.

Mr. Waldron said he was not surprised that Mr. Meadows had received a version of the document, which exists in varied forms on internet sites.

“He would have gotten a copy for situational awareness for what was being briefed on the Hill at the time,” Mr. Waldron said.

On Jan. 4, members of Mr. Waldron’s team — he did not identify them — spoke to a group of senators and briefed them on the allegations of supposed election fraud contained in the PowerPoint, Mr. Waldron said. The following day, he said, he personally briefed a small group of House members; that discussion focused on baseless claims of foreign interference in the election. He said he made the document available to the lawmakers.

Mr. Meadows is not known to have worked directly with Mr. Waldron, who has described his military background as involving “information warfare.” However, Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer as he fought to stay in power, has cited Mr. Waldron as a source of information for his legal campaign.

Mr. Meadows remains in a legal battle with the Jan. 6 committee, which is moving forward with holding him in criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to appear for a scheduled deposition or to turn over documents he believes could violate Mr. Trump’s assertions of executive privilege. Mr. Trump has filed suit claiming he still has the power to keep White House documents secret, an assertion several courts have rejected, though the case appears headed for the Supreme Court.

Mr. Meadows has responded by filing suit in an attempt to persuade a federal judge to block the committee’s subpoenas. His lawsuit accuses the committee of issuing “two overly broad and unduly burdensome subpoenas” against him, including one sent to Verizon for his phone and text-message data.

Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the committee, has cited the 38-page PowerPoint as among the reasons he wants to question Mr. Meadows under oath.

washington post logoWashington Post, Election denier who circulated Jan. 6 PowerPoint says he met with Meadows at White House, Emma Brown, Jon Swaine, Jacqueline Alemany, Josh Dawsey and Tom Hamburger, Dec. 11, 2021. A retired U.S. Army colonel who circulated a proposal to challenge the 2020 election, including by declaring a national security emergency and seizing paper ballots, said that he visited the White House on multiple occasions after the election, spoke with President Donald Trump’s chief of staff “maybe eight to 10 times” and briefed several members of Congress on the eve of the Jan. 6 riot.

Col. Phil Waldron (Georgia Senate)Philip Waldron, the retired colonel, was working with Trump’s outside lawyers and was part of a team that briefed the lawmakers on a PowerPoint presentation detailing “Options for 6 JAN,” Waldron told The Washington Post. He said his contribution to the presentation focused on his claims of foreign interference in the vote, as did his discussions with the White House.

A version of the presentation made its way to the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, on Jan. 5. That information surfaced publicly this week after the congressional committee investigating the insurrection released a letter that said Meadows had turned the document over to the committee.

“The presentation was that there was significant foreign interference in the election, here’s the proof,” Waldron said. “These are constitutional, legal, feasible, acceptable and suitable courses of action.”

The PowerPoint circulated by Waldron included proposals for Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 6 to reject electors from “states where fraud occurred” or replace them with Republican electors. It included a third proposal in which the certification of Joe Biden’s victory was to be delayed, and U.S. marshals and National Guard troops were to help “secure” and count paper ballots in key states.

Although Trump at the time was pressuring Pence to delay certifying Biden’s victory, it is not clear how widely the PowerPoint was circulated or how seriously the ideas in it were considered. A lawyer for Meadows, George J. Terwilliger III, said on Friday that there was no indication that Meadows did anything with the document after receiving it by email. “We produced it [to the committee] because it was not privileged,” Terwilliger said. A Meadows spokesman, Ben Williamson, declined to comment. Waldron said he was not the person who sent the PowerPoint to Meadows.

Still, Waldron’s account of his interactions with the White House, together with a 36-page version of the presentation that surfaced online this week and was reviewed by The Post, shed new light on the wild theories and proposals that circulated among the people advising Trump as they worked to overturn his election defeat, causing a crisis at the heart of government. They suggest that Meadows, who also pressed senior Justice Department leaders to investigate baseless conspiracy theories about election fraud, was more directly in contact with proponents of such theories than was previously known.

Proof, Investigative Commentary: Previously Unreported Insurrection Eve Video Confirms Stop the Steal Plot to Occupy the United States Capitol Long-Term Beginning on January 6, Seth Abramson, left, Dec. 11, 2021. Ali Alexander—who was just deposed by Congress for eight hours—appears to seth abramson graphichave confessed on January 5 that his "movement" indeed intended to not only storm the Capitol but occupy it on January 6.

Alexander declares, on January 5, that the U.S. Capitol will soon be “Fort Trump.”

Introduction: Yesterday the House January 6 Committee subpoenaed someone who very few people in America have heard of: Kimberly seth abramson proof logoFletcher, a leader of the far-right insurrectionist group Moms for America. According to domestic terrorist Ali Alexander—one of the primary Stop the Steal leaders, along with Trump friend and adviser Roger Stone and Trump ally Alex Jones—Fletcher was integral to Stop the Steal’s organizing efforts in November of 2020, following Trump’s defeat in the November 3 presidential election.

But it’s a nexus between Fletcher and Alexander on Insurrection Eve—January 5, 2021—that may be the most important component of the testimony Fletcher is now likely to provide to Congress in January 2022: specifically, what was said between her and Alexander before and after she invited him to speak to her group outside the Capitol.

 Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Trump's crazy election theft conspiracy is largely copied from a past serious electoral caper, Wayne wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallMadsen, left, author of 21 books and former Navy intelligence officer, Dec. 10-11, 2021. The Trump fringe theory is illustrated in a PowerPoint presentation dated January 5, 2021 and which was among the documents that former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, below right, Mark Meadowshanded over to the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attempted coup d'état by Trump.

The first "talking point" in the PowerPoint slide show states: "The Chinese systematically gained control over our election system constituting a national security emergency." The Chinese connection was to have been used by Trump to declare a "national security emergency," cancel the outcome of the 2020 election by declaring "electronic voting in all states invalid," and declare martial law.

Although the PowerPoint presentation is an example of fictional buffoonery, the ramifications are quite serious. The talking points provide additional information on Trump's ultimate goal of declaring himself re-elected by establishing a dictatorship. That fact, alone, should be ample reason to put Trump in a federal Supermax prison for the rest of his life.

The Trump talking points contain a number of false pretenses that he and his administration were willing to use to cancel the election and assume dictatorial powers.

The Trump conspiracy then veers off into a global caper with all sorts of foreign actors involved in an operation so vast, it would have involved thousands of potential witnesses and whistleblowers. Yet, no such credible individual came forward.

The talking points also include what can only be described as Trump's plan to have Joe Biden and Kamala Harris arrested after his declaration of a national emergency and martial law:

One slide details Trump's past and potential future plans to militarize American elections. This is, perhaps, the most dangerous aspect to Trumpism witnessed to date:

• A Trusted Lead Counter will be appointed with authority from the POTUS to direct the actions of select federalized National Guard units and support from DOJ, DHS and other US government agencies as needed to complete a recount of the legal paper ballots for the federal elections in all 50 states.
•  US Marshals will immediately secure all ballots and provide a protective perimeter around the locations in all 50 states.
•  DHS will use their emergency response logistic capabilities to support the effort. They will integrate the IT support that will include separating out the legal from the counterfeit ballots and communications with all supporting the effort and cameras (Possibly cell phones) imaging each and every ballot. These images will be distributed to the Internet.
•  The federalized National Guard in each state will be supplied detailed processes and be responsible for counting each legitimate paper ballot. Teams made up of three (first couple counties will be five) National Guard members will do the counting. As the counting occurs each ballot will be imaged and the images placed on the Internet so any US citizen can view them and count the ballots themselves. The process will be completely transparent.

Vice President Mike Pence's role in the coup - which he rejected -- is also outlined in the PowerPoint. It would have included declaring invalid millions of votes cast by electronic means.

 

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

washington post logoWashington Post, House committee subpoenas six people linked to Jan. 6 rally, including Trump-backed Ohio congressional candidate, Mariana Alfaro, Dec. 11, 2021 (print ed.). Max Miller, a former Trump White House aide, met with the former president on Jan. 4 to discuss the rally at the Ellipse, the committee said.

The House select committee investigating the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob issued subpoenas Friday to six people involved in the planning of the rally on the Ellipse that preceded the insurrection.

Among those subpoenaed were Max Miller, who was an aide to President Donald Trump and is now an Ohio congressional candidate who the committee says met with Trump on Jan. 4 to discuss rally details, and another Trump aide, Robert “Bobby” Peede Jr., who also attended the meeting.

In a statement, the committee said it is seeking information from people involved with the rally’s planning or who witnessed the coordination of these plans.

“Some of the witnesses we subpoenaed today apparently worked to stage the rallies on January 5th and 6th, and some appeared to have had direct communication with the former president regarding the rally at the Ellipse directly preceding the attack on the U.S. Capitol,” Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the committee, said in the statement. “The Select Committee expects these witnesses to join the hundreds of individuals who have already cooperated with our investigation as we work to provide the American people with answers about what happened on January 6th and ensure nothing like that day ever happens again.”

In the worst attack on the Capitol since the War of 1812, a mob of Trump supporters stormed the building to try to stop the affirmation of Joe Biden’s electoral college win. The riot resulted in five dead and injuries to some 140 members of law enforcement.

The bipartisan committee is investigating the attack over the objections of many Republicans, including Trump.

Others subpoenaed include former Trump aide Brian Jack, now an adviser to the political operation of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.); Stop the Steal movement organizer Ed Martin; and Kimberly Fletcher, a leader of Moms for America, the group that helped organize the Jan. 5 rally at Freedom Plaza and the rally at the Ellipse. The panel also subpoenaed Bryan Lewis, who obtained the permit for the rally.

Miller is running in Ohio’s 13th Congressional District and has received Trump’s endorsement, as well as the support of more than a dozen other prominent Republicans and Trump allies, including Reps. Ronny Jackson (Tex.) and Billy Long (Mo.), former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

In an op-ed published in The Washington Post in October, Miller’s ex-girlfriend Stephanie Grisham — a former Trump White House press secretary — accused a former partner of being violent toward her during their time working in the White House. Grisham didn’t name the individual in her op-ed, but within hours of the piece’s publication online, Miller sued her, alleging defamation.

In a letter to Miller, Thompson said the committee had “reason to believe” that he communicated, on or before Jan. 1, 2021, with then-Deputy Interior Secretary Katharine MacGregor and then-acting director of the National Park Service Margaret Everson about the permit process for the rally. Specifically, Thompson said Miller or someone acting on his behalf “sought to have those officials intervene with career employees who had declined to allow the stage for the rally to be placed in the center of the Ellipse.”

This denial, Thompson noted, was due to the NPS’s long-standing practice of not allowing event structures to be placed within the vista sightline between the White House’s Truman Balcony and the Jefferson Memorial. After the intervention, the career employees reversed the decision. After that, Miller exchanged texts with a rally organizer about the decision to build the stage in that spot, Thompson said.

Dec. 10

 

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Trump's crazy election theft conspiracy is largely copied from a past serious electoral caper, Wayne wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallMadsen, left, author of 21 books and former Navy intelligence officer, Dec. 10, 2021. The Trump fringe theory is illustrated in a PowerPoint presentation dated January 5, 2021 and which was among the documents that former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, below right, Mark Meadowshanded over to the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attempted coup d'état by Trump.

The first "talking point" in the PowerPoint slide show states: "The Chinese systematically gained control over our election system constituting a national security emergency." The Chinese connection was to have been used by Trump to declare a "national security emergency," cancel the outcome of the 2020 election by declaring "electronic voting in all states invalid," and declare martial law.

Although the PowerPoint presentation is an example of fictional buffoonery, the ramifications are quite serious. The talking points provide additional information on Trump's ultimate goal of declaring himself re-elected by establishing a dictatorship. That fact, alone, should be ample reason to put Trump in a federal Supermax prison for the rest of his life.

The Trump talking points contain a number of false pretenses that he and his administration were willing to use to cancel the election and assume dictatorial powers.

The Trump conspiracy then veers off into a global caper with all sorts of foreign actors involved in an operation so vast, it would have involved thousands of potential witnesses and whistleblowers. Yet, no such credible individual came forward.

The talking points also include what can only be described as Trump's plan to have Joe Biden and Kamala Harris arrested after his declaration of a national emergency and martial law:

One slide details Trump's past and potential future plans to militarize American elections. This is, perhaps, the most dangerous aspect to Trumpism witnessed to date:

• A Trusted Lead Counter will be appointed with authority from the POTUS to direct the actions of select federalized National Guard units and support from DOJ, DHS and other US government agencies as needed to complete a recount of the legal paper ballots for the federal elections in all 50 states.
•  US Marshals will immediately secure all ballots and provide a protective perimeter around the locations in all 50 states.
•  DHS will use their emergency response logistic capabilities to support the effort. They will integrate the IT support that will include separating out the legal from the counterfeit ballots and communications with all supporting the effort and cameras (Possibly cell phones) imaging each and every ballot. These images will be distributed to the Internet.
•  The federalized National Guard in each state will be supplied detailed processes and be responsible for counting each legitimate paper ballot. Teams made up of three (first couple counties will be five) National Guard members will do the counting. As the counting occurs each ballot will be imaged and the images placed on the Internet so any US citizen can view them and count the ballots themselves. The process will be completely transparent.

Vice President Mike Pence's role in the coup - which he rejected -- is also outlined in the PowerPoint. It would have included declaring invalid millions of votes cast by electronic means.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Here’s the thing about the PowerPoint slideshow that’s blown the Trump election overthrow plot wide open, Bill Palmer, right, Dec. 10, bill palmer2021. When Mark Meadows briefly decided to cooperate with the January 6th Committee before changing his mind, a lot of observers took it as some kind of bluff. But it’s now being reported that while he was briefly cooperating, Meadows gave the committee his own incriminating text messages, along with a PowerPoint document that incriminates the entire Trump White House in the election overthrow plot.

bill palmer report logo headerThis proves Meadows is an idiot for giving up this kind of evidence against himself and others, only to then back out and gain no leniency for his cooperation, while also managing to put himself on a path to criminal indictment for contempt. But the PowerPoint document itself proves two things in its own right.

First, the sloppy and idiotically delusional plan contained in the PowerPoint document proves that the election overthrow plot was hilariously inept and had zero chance of even coming close to working. Even if they’d succeeded in killing VP Mike Pence, for instance, it wouldn’t have resulted in Trump somehow magically remaining in power. The whole thing was guaranteed to fail.

Second, the fact that the Trump White House Chief of Staff and others were circulating a PowerPoint slide show documenting how they intended to overthrow the election, proves that this was indeed a treason plot involving the uppermost levels of the Trump regime.

Mark MeadowsBelieve it or not, both these things can simultaneously be true. Just because someone commits a crime like treason or election fraud in an ineptly stupid way that has zero chance of achieving any of the stated goals, it doesn’t mitigate the crime that was committed. It’s still treason and election fraud – even though they were the Keystone Traitors.

All that said, it’s now more clear than ever that Donald Trump and his White House carried out a treason plot against the United States, and must therefore be criminally charged accordingly.

The good news is that the January 6th Committee, and thus by default the Department of Justice, now have the incriminating evidence that Mark Meadows stupidly turned over before flip flopping. Because the evidence has been turned over, it’ll make it a whole lot easier for the DOJ to prosecute the Trump White House for it. And because the evidence is public, it’ll make it a whole lot harder for the DOJ not to prosecute the Trump White House.

Palmer Report, Opinion: January 6th Committee says Donald Trump privately met with January 6th organizers on January 4th at the White House, Bill Palmer, Dec. 10, 2021. The January 6th Committee has spent a long time working its way up the hierarchy of witnesses, interviewing and collecting evidence along the way, in order to use it against higher level witnesses and piece together the entire puzzle when it comes to Donald Trump’s involvement. Now the committee is moving in on Trump very closely.

According to a letter posted to the January 6th Committee’s official website, it’s subpoenaed Robert Peede and Max Miller to testify. In the letter, the committee says that the two men privately met with Donald Trump at the White House on January 4th, in order to discuss the details of the January 6th rally.

By subpoenaing these two individuals, the January 6th Committee is clearly attempting to get them to flip on Donald Trump by providing testimony and evidence of what went on during this January 4th meeting. If they fail to give up Trump, they’ll surely be referred for criminal contempt.

In any case, the committee’s discovery of this January 4th meeting directly ties Donald Trump to the planning of the January 6th debacle. It also suggests that some other witness has been cooperating thoroughly enough to have told the committee about the existence of the January 4th meeting to begin with. After having spent a long time building its case from the bottom up, the committee is now finally able to begin pinning January 6th directly on Donald Trump himself.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: What was acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf really doing in the Middle East during the wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallattempted coup? Wayne Madsen, left, Dec 9-10, 2021. As the House Select Committee on the January 6th insurrection begins to drill down on subpoenaing relevant witnesses to the attempted coup d'état by Donald Trump's "Stop the Steal" putschists, it should not forget to subpoena Trump's acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf.

chad wolfWolf, right, the most partisan secretary to lead the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and his deputy, Ken Cuccinelli, were both serving illegally in acting capacities at the time of the insurrection.

Wolf and Cuccinelli were known to be among the most loyal of Trump's political acolytes and their placement within one of the key departments charged with protecting the federal government from threats such as the January 6th insurrection was so controversial, two federal judges and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) had ruled during 2020 that their acting appointments by Trump were illegal in that they violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act.

Just as the cabal of Trump political operatives at the Pentagon refused initial requests from the U.S. Capitol Police for District of Columbia National Guard reinforcements, so, too, did DHS with regard to rapid reaction security forces at its disposal.

ny times logoNew York Times, Appeals Court Rejects Trump’s Bid to Shield Material From Jan. 6 Inquiry, Charlie Savage, Dec. 10, 2021 (print ed.). A three-judge panel held that Congress’s oversight powers outweighed former President Trump’s residual secrecy powers.

A federal appeals court ruled on Thursday that Congress may see White House records of former President Donald J. Trump’s communications and movements related to the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, rejecting his claim that the material should remain secret.

In a 68-page ruling, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia held that Congress’s oversight powers, backed by President Biden’s decision not to invoke executive privilege over the material, outweighed Mr. Trump’s residual secrecy powers.

“On the record before us, former President Trump has provided no basis for this court to override President Biden’s judgment and the agreement and accommodations worked out between the political branches over these documents,” Judge Patricia A. Millett wrote. “Both branches agree that there is a unique legislative need for these documents, and that they are directly relevant to the committee’s inquiry into an attack on the legislative branch and its constitutional role in the peaceful transfer of power.”

Mr. Trump is almost certain to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.

The appeals court panel, which had earlier issued a short-term injunction to block the National Archives from turning over the records while it considered the matter, said that it would lift that injunction in two weeks to give the former president’s legal team time to ask the high court to intervene.

The case has raised novel and untested constitutional questions about the scope and limits of a former president’s ability to keep records from his administration secret when his successor declines to invoke executive privilege.

In response to the attack, Mr. Biden and Congress “have each made the judgment that access to this subset of presidential communication records is necessary to address a matter of great constitutional moment for the Republic,” Judge Millett wrote. “Former President Trump has given this court no legal reason to cast aside President Biden’s assessment of the executive branch interests at stake or to create a separation of powers conflict that the political branches have avoided.”

The courts have been grappling with what general rule or legal test should govern not only this dispute but any future ones in which a sitting president and a former one disagree over whether to invoke executive privilege over particular documents.

There is no clear Supreme Court precedent to determine what should happen in such a dispute, which arose when the House committee investigating the Capitol attack subpoenaed the National Archives for records showing Mr. Trump’s communications and movements leading up to and during the crisis.

After Mr. Biden declined to invoke executive privilege to block the subpoena, saying it was in the national interest for the oversight committee to see the records in light of the circumstances, Mr. Trump filed a lawsuit seeking to keep the files secret. A Federal District Court judge ruled in November that Congress should receive the files, prompting Mr. Trump to appeal.

More On U.S. Attacks On Capitol, Democracy

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Congress must act to protect democracy from presidential abuse, just as it did after Nixon, Adam Schiff, Dec. 10, 2021 (print ed.). Adam Schiff, a Democrat representing California in the U.S. House, is chair of the House Intelligence Committee and author of “Midnight in Washington: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could.”

In the wake of presidential abuses of power during the Nixon administration, Congress responded with a broad set of reforms to strengthen the institutions of our democracy. The same must be done following the Trump administration.

That is why the House on Thursday passed the Protecting Our Democracy Act to shore up our institutions against presidential abuses. It is essential the Senate does the same.

After President Richard M. Nixon resigned, Congress implemented new campaign finance and ethics laws, transparency requirements and mandatory financial disclosures. It stood up inspector general offices to search out corruption and malfeasance. It also organized committees to oversee the intelligence agencies and circumscribed the president’s power to declare war.

These post-Watergate reforms and others did a great deal to preserve the balance of power for much of the past half-century, even if successive presidents wore them down.

Then came the election of Donald Trump. During the course of his four years in office, many of the Nixon-era norms were broken down, exposing new vulnerabilities to our democracy. The wall separating the White House from the Justice Department, for example, was obliterated as Attorney General William P. Barr acted on the president’s urging to reduce the sentence of a man convicted of lying to Congress as part of the Russia investigation. Barr also made a case go away completely against another of the president’s men, who lied to the FBI to cover up his own contacts with the Russian government.

Members of the administration not only violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits the use of federal employees and federal property as instruments of a presidential campaign, but also did so proudly and flagrantly. For example, Trump held the Republican Party’s 2020 convention on White House grounds to accept his party’s nomination. And when a special counsel said that presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway violated the law and should be fired, she scoffed at the finding. “Blah, blah, blah,” was her contemptuous reply.

The emoluments clause of the Constitution proved impossible to enforce effectively, and Trump paved the way for future presidents to enrich themselves while in office as he bridled at the idea of divesting his family business of interests patronized by foreign powers bent on currying favor with the first family.

The list of Trump administration presidential abuses is nearly endless: violations of the Impoundment Act and usurpation of Congress’s power of the purse; the temporary appointment of Senate-confirmable positions to evade the need for Senate approval; the abuse of presidential emergency declarations; Trump’s gleeful acceptance of foreign help in one election and efforts to coerce another foreign power into helping him in the next (which led to the first of his two impeachments).

This is why Congress needs a new set of democracy-affirming reforms. Indeed, because the Trumpian abuses of power are far more sweeping than anything undertaken by Nixon — and ultimately led to a violent attack on our Capitol — the need for stronger guardrails is greater than ever.

The Protecting our Democracy Act would address many of the vulnerabilities that Trump’s years in office exposed. Of particular significance, the bill would expedite enforcement of congressional subpoenas, the necessity for which is being demonstrated in real time as top officials from the former administration once again seek to stonewall subpoenas and prevent the public from learning of their role in the Jan. 6 insurrection. A Congress that cannot enforce its subpoenas is no more a Congress than a court would remain a court without the power to compel witnesses to testify at trial. Instead, it becomes a kind of plaything for a despot.

Although Trump’s presidency demonstrated the need for a wholesale reinforcement of our democratic institutions, the bill is less about the past than it is about the future. The bill’s provisions address each of the deficiencies identified above and more, not as a punishment of the last president, who is now beyond legislative reach, but to guard against any future president of either party who may be tempted to make himself a king.

Many of the protections in the bill have had bipartisan support in the past; in fact, many of these provisions had once been authored by Republicans. One would expect the GOP to embrace such reforms as desirable limits on the current Democratic administration. But Republicans may fear the reforms will alienate the former president and bring his disdain upon them. Once again, they will have to answer the question: Does their devotion to our Constitution outweigh their fear of Trump? For the sake of our country, we must hope that it does.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The damage done by Joe Manchin is likely to get much worse, Greg Sargent, right, Dec. 10, 2021. Something important just greg sargenthappened in Washington, but it created little more than a passing media ripple. The House passed a far-reaching political reform package late Thursday, but because it’s simply assumed that Republicans will filibuster it, this is a second-tier story.

Which provides an occasion to consider anew the damage that Sen. Joe Manchin III’s opposition to seriously reforming or ending the filibuster threatens to inflict over time. It won’t just constrain passage of the Democratic agenda. It could also constrain efforts to protect and reform our political system and institutions at a moment of generational urgency.

The window for a once-in-a-generation set of political reforms, such as those implemented after Watergate, is rapidly closing. It’s not clear when it will open again.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Jan. 6 committee needs to get louder. Much louder, Eugene Robinson, right, Dec. 10, 2021 (print ed.). The House select eugene robinson headshot Customcommittee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol will fail us if it quietly goes about its important work. It needs to be louder. Much louder.

Eleven months ago, a seditious mob used brownshirt-style violence to prevent Congress from certifying the results of a free and fair election. This rip in the fabric of our democracy was patched within hours, but it was not fully mended — and cannot be until there is a full accounting of how and why the attack happened.
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The committee, led by Reps. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) and Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), is doing the right things. But most of its work is out of sight — which, for most Americans, means out of mind. Many Republicans would like to pretend Jan. 6 was just “one day in January,” as former vice president Mike Pence (whose own life the rioters threatened) shamefully put it. Nothing to see here, folks.

But the insurrection was an unprecedented event in our life as a nation, and we must not allow it to be minimized. Members of Congress hid under seats in the House chamber and put on gas masks as angry mobs tried to smash their way inside. Police officers defending the Capitol were savagely beaten. Our democracy’s citadel was defiled by rioters whose intent was to keep defeated incumbent Donald Trump in power. When I saw this sort of thing happen in other countries, it was called an attempted coup d’etat.

The committee has subpoenaed the right witnesses: Stephen K. Bannon, Trump’s on-again-off-again Rasputin; Jeffrey Clark, the Justice Department official willing to concoct “evidence” to back up Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud; Mark Meadows, the chief of staff who spent Jan. 6 at Trump’s side.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump goes berserk about Netanyahu as it all falls apart for him, Bill Palmer, right, Dec. 10, 2021. Donald Trump has had bill palmernothing but bad days in 2021.

Yesterday New York Attorney General Letitia James subpoenaed Donald Trump to testify in her civil case against the Trump Organization, leaving Trump with the no-win choice of testifying and risking incriminating himself in James’ separate criminal case against him, or refusing to testify and handing James a victory in the civil case which would allow her to seize Trump’s assets. Separately, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the National Archives must turn over incriminating evidence against Donald Trump to the January 6th Committee.

bill palmer report logo headerThat all added up to Trump having had one of his worst days yet. So naturally, he’s lashing out. But in a bizarre turn of events, Trump is lashing out specifically at former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a key Trump ally who predictably turned against Trump after the 2020 election in a selfish and failed attempt at saving himself.

While the Netanyahu thing is out of left field, it does continue Trump’s pattern of lashing out specifically at people on his own side Israel Flagwhom he deems to have been insufficiently loyal in the end, and whom he thus blames for his downfall.

It’s also notable that Benjamin Netanyahu is on criminal trial in Israel as we speak, with the distinct possibility that he’ll be convicted and sent to prison. Donald Trump surely understands he’s ultimately looking at a similar fate here in the United States, where he’s under criminal investigation in three different jurisdictions (Manhattan New York, Fulton County Georgia, Westchester New York), two of which have reached the grand jury stage.

Trump is probably trying to convince himself that Netanyahu is only going down because he failed to remain loyal to Trump. But that kind of rationalization isn’t going to get Trump anywhere. The reality is that Trump is watching Netanyahu go down and realizing he’s going down in the same way.

washington post logoWashington Post, An alleged rioter bragged about drinking beer inside the Capitol on Jan. 6. The FBI arrested him this week, Timothy Bella, Dec. 10, 2021. As Thomas Paul Conover allegedly joined others in the pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, a Coors Light was his drink of choice for the insurrection.

After the rioters “took the Capitol,” he said, the Texas man posed for photos inside the building, took selfies and recorded videos, all while proudly holding his beer can.

“I don’t always storm the Capitol of the United States of America, but when I do, I prefer Coors Light,” Conover said in one video posted to Facebook, according to authorities.

But bragging on social media about his role in the Jan. 6 riot led to his arrest this week after the Facebook photos and videos got the attention of one follower he didn’t anticipate: the FBI.

Conover, 53, was arrested Wednesday and charged on misdemeanor counts of entering a restricted building and disorderly conduct. The resident of Keller, Tex., was released the same day following a court appearance in Fort Worth.

Dec. 9

 

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

ny times logoNew York Times, Rally Planner With Ties to G.O.P. Is Cooperating in Jan. 6 Inquiry, Alan Feuer and Luke Broadwater, Dec. 9, 2021 (print ed.). Ali Alexander, who helped organize the gathering that drew Trump supporters to Washington on Jan. 6, could shed light on efforts by the former president and his allies to overturn the election.

Ali Alexander, a prominent organizer of Stop the Steal rallies with ties to far-right members of Congress who sought to invalidate the 2020 election results, is cooperating with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, pledging to deliver a trove of documents that could shed light on the activities that preceded the attack.

The participation of Mr. Alexander, who is scheduled to be deposed by the panel on Thursday, could provide insight into the nature and extent of the planning by President Donald J. Trump and his Republican allies in Congress for their bid to overturn the election on Jan. 6. It could also help clarify whether and to what degree the prospect of violence was discussed or contemplated before or during the rampage.

Members of the panel said they wanted to dig into Mr. Alexander’s communications with Republican members of Congress and White House officials.

Mr. Alexander, a provocateur who rose in right-wing circles in the chaotic aftermath of the 2020 presidential election, was one of a handful of planners who put together marches and rallies around the country protesting the outcome. The events culminated with the one in Washington on Jan. 6 that

He attended Mr. Trump’s incendiary speech at the Ellipse near the White House that day, then marched with the crowd toward the Capitol, along with the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones of Infowars. Mr. Alexander arrived, as he put it in his prepared remarks to the panel, “in the early stages of the lawbreaking.”

Mr. Alexander, who has been banned from Twitter for spreading false statements about the election, denies he was to blame for the violence.

“Anyone who suggests I had anything to do with the unlawful activities on Jan. 6 is wrong,” Mr. Alexander wrote in a memo to the committee. “They’re either mistaken or lying.”

On Jan. 6, 2021, a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol.

What Happened: Here’s the most complete picture to date of what happened — and why.

Late last month, the House committee issued subpoenas for both Mr. Alexander and Mr. Jones, suggesting that they might have knowledge of how the Stop the Steal rallies on Jan. 6 came together.

“We need to know who organized, planned, paid for and received funds related to those events, as well as what communications organizers had with officials in the White House and Congress,” Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the committee chairman, said at the time.

Mr. Alexander planned to use his deposition on Thursday to proclaim his innocence, telling the select committee that he had “nothing to do with any violence or lawbreaking” that day and accusing other rally organizers of having done little or nothing as the mob stormed the Capitol, according to a copy of his opening statement obtained by The New York Times.

He also accused them of removing from an event program important instructions for where the crowd was to go and partying in an upscale Washington hotel during the violence.

“While I was actively trying to de-escalate events at the Capitol and end the violence and lawlessness, it’s important to note that certain people were nowhere to be found,” Mr. Alexander planned to tell investigators, promising to turn over documents to respond to a congressional subpoena. “Press reports suggest they may have had their feet up drinking donor-funded champagne in a war room in the Willard. I don’t know where they were. But they weren’t working with police trying to de-escalate the chaos like I was.”

It is not clear where Mr. Alexander was or what he was doing during the riot. But in the weeks before the attack, Mr. Alexander repeatedly referred during Stop the Steal events to the possible use of violence to achieve his organization’s goals. He claimed to have been in communication with the White House and members of Congress about events planned to undermine Congress’s official count of the Electoral College results, the committee said.
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Mr. Alexander has said that he, along with Representatives Mo Brooks of Alabama, Paul Gosar of Arizona and Andy Biggs of Arizona, all Republicans, set the events of Jan. 6 in motion.

“We four schemed up of putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting,” Mr. Alexander said in a since-deleted video posted online, “so that who we couldn’t lobby, we could change the hearts and the minds of Republicans who were in that body, hearing our loud roar from outside.”

Mr. Brooks, who wore body armor onstage on Jan. 6 as he told the crowd to “start taking down names and kicking ass,” and Mr. Biggs, who provided a video message for Mr. Alexander to play at a Dec. 19 rally, have denied coordinating event planning with Mr. Alexander.

Mr. Gosar’s chief of staff called Mr. Alexander “a solid organizer,” but said his office merely promoted Stop the Steal events and was not involved in planning them.

In his opening statement to the committee, Mr. Alexander planned to give a flavor of his personal biography — his mother was Black and lived in public housing; his father, an Arab, disappeared from his life at a young age — and to suggest that he had become a target for those looking to blame the violence of Jan. 6 on someone.

A key issue yet untested. Donald Trump’s power as former president to keep information from his White House secret has become a central issue in the House’s investigation of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Amid an attempt by Mr. Trump to keep personal records secret and the indictment of Stephen K. Bannon for contempt of Congress, here’s a breakdown of executive privilege:

What is executive privilege? It is a power claimed by presidents under the Constitution to prevent the other two branches of government from gaining access to certain internal executive branch information, especially confidential communications involving the president or among his top aides.

What is Trump’s claim? Former President Trump has filed a lawsuit seeking to block the disclosure of White House files related to his actions and communications surrounding the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. He argues that these matters must remain a secret as a matter of executive privilege.

Is Trump’s privilege claim valid? The constitutional line between a president’s secrecy powers and Congress’s investigative authority is hazy. Though a judge rejected Mr. Trump’s bid to keep his papers secret, it is likely that the case will ultimately be resolved by the Supreme Court.

Is executive privilege an absolute power? No. Even a legitimate claim of executive privilege may not always prevail in court. During the Watergate scandal in 1974, the Supreme Court upheld an order requiring President Richard M. Nixon to turn over his Oval Office tapes.

May ex-presidents invoke executive privilege? Yes, but courts may view their claims with less deference than those of current presidents. In 1977, the Supreme Court said Nixon could make a claim of executive privilege even though he was out of office, though the court ultimately ruled against him in the case.

Is Steve Bannon covered by executive privilege? This is unclear. Mr. Bannon’s case could raise the novel legal question of whether or how far a claim of executive privilege may extend to communications between a president and an informal adviser outside of the government.

What is contempt of Congress? It is a sanction imposed on people who defy congressional subpoenas. Congress can refer contempt citations to the Justice Department and ask for criminal charges. Mr. Bannon has been indicted on contempt charges for refusing to comply with a subpoena that seeks documents and testimony.

“It is not uncommon in the aftermath of historic chaos and disruption to look for a boogeyman,” his opening statement says. “After all, someone must be held accountable, right?”

Mr. Alexander also intended to describe some of the bitter rivalries that divided the small group of planners that put together large pro-Trump events in Washington last November, December and January. According to the prepared statement, he planned to fault Amy Kremer and her daughter Kylie Kremer, who ran a group called Women for America First that helped to organize the Jan. 6 events.

He said the leaders of the event at the Ellipse removed instructions from the program telling attendees exactly where to go and what to do after the event concluded.

And Mr. Alexander said the event that he scheduled never took place, because the crowd from the Ellipse had already turned into a mob.

 

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Heiress who is largest known funder of Jan. 6 rally may face public scrutiny, Beth Reinhard, Jacqueline Alemany and Josh Dawsey, Dec. 9, 2021 (print ed.). The House panel investigating the insurrection seeks to expose the funding for the rally that preceded the riot at the U.S. Capitol. Julie Fancelli, a Publix supermarkets heiress, said she did not expect or support violence that day.

Eight days before the Jan. 6 rally in Washington, a little-known Trump donor living thousands of miles away in the Tuscan countryside quietly wired a total of $650,000 to three organizations that helped stage and promote the event.

publix logoThe lack of fanfare was typical of Julie Fancelli, the 72-year-old daughter of the founder of the Publix grocery store chain. Even as she has given millions to charity through a family foundation, Fancelli has lived a private life, splitting time between her homes in Florida and Italy, and doting on her grandchildren, according to family members and friends.

Now, Fancelli is facing public scrutiny as the House committee investigating the insurrection seeks to expose the financing for the rally that preceded the riot at the U.S. Capitol. Fancelli is the largest publicly known donor to the rally, support that some concerned relatives and others attributed to her enthusiasm for conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

The Washington Post previously reported that on Dec. 29, 2020, Fancelli donated $300,000 to Women for America First, a nonprofit group that helped organize the Jan. 6 rally, and $150,000 to the nonprofit arm of the Republican Attorneys General Association, which paid for a robocall touting a march to “call on Congress to stop the steal.”

On the same day, Fancelli gave $200,000 to State Tea Party Express, according to Sal Russo, a top consultant to the conservative group. Russo told The Post last week that he gave the House committee records of Fancelli’s donation, which he said was used for radio ads and social media urging supporters of President Donald Trump to attend the rally and subsequent march. He condemned the violence at the Capitol.

On Wednesday, Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Washington posted on its website tax filings from the group that showed the donation. The tea party group also provided the filing to The Post.

 

At top, Richard Kofoed, his wife Stacey Kofoed at right pose in August 2020 with Donald Trump and their children, and other photos with Donald Trump Jr and Kimberly Guilfoyle (Photos via Facebook).

 

At top, Richard Kofoed, his wife Stacey Kofoed at right pose in August 2020 with Donald Trump and their children, and other photos with Donald Trump Jr and Kimberly Guilfoyle (Photos via Facebook).

Forbes, Investigation: Trump Donor Allegedly Used Embezzled Money To Support The Former President’s Campaign And Lead A Lavish Lifestyle, Zach Everson 

Richard Kofoed, a serial entrepreneur from California, looks like a big shot on social media. One photo shows him sipping rare bourbons, including Old Rip Van Winkle and George T. Stagg, with Kentucky Senator Rand Paul in the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. Another picture captures him mingling with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. A third post shows Kofoed and his wife, Stacy, posing with a line of dead pheasants they hunted with Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota. Then there’s the shot that every hard-core Trump supporter wants: a picture of Kofoed and his family standing alongside a beaming Donald Trump, who is flashing his signature thumbs up. “The below post truly sums it up for me in 2020!” Kofoed wrote in the caption.
Richard and Stacey Kofoed with Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle

A Facebook post Richard Kofoed made in August 2020 showed him, Stacy and their four children with Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle. FACEBOOK/RICHARD KOFOED

Social media doesn’t always tell the full story. In fact, Kofoed started out 2020 by filing for personal bankruptcy. When the pandemic was surging two months later, he started a business and began working with two other companies to sell personal protective equipment. One of those business associates ended up filing a lawsuit against Kofoed, alleging that he embezzled millions and used it to fund his lavish lifestyle.

By the end of 2020, Kofoed had donated more than $800,000 of cash and air travel to Republicans. He then reportedly shepherded Kim Guilfoyle out of D.C. on a private jet on January 6. To top it off, he moved into one of Donald Trump’s Palm Beach homes, right next door to Mar-a-Lago.

Kofoed and his attorneys acknowledged receiving Forbes’ inquiries, but Kofoed and his lawyers did not address any of the allegations described in this article. In court filings in the civil suit, Kofoed denied accusations that he stole his business associate’s money. But there’s no denying Kofoed’s sudden rise, from a financially distressed businessman to a Republican power player. The most interesting part of his tale is the larger story it tells about American politics today. Turns out, it’s incredibly easy to gain access to some of the most-powerful people in the country. 

Kofoed liked to live large even before 2020. His January 2020 bankruptcy petition, which was dismissed after a creditor objected, showed $1.3 million of debt and $1.8 million of assets—almost entirely accounted for by his $1.7 million, 4,600-square-foot home on a natural preserve 30 miles north of downtown San Diego.

In January 2020, Richard Kofoed filed for bankruptcy. He valued his assets at $1.8 million and liabilities at $1.3 million.

Things didn’t go according to plan. In a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court in October 2020, Krystal Ventures alleges that Kofoed just kept the profits for himself rather than splitting them. Kofoed denied those accusations and filed a countersuit, claiming his business associates misrepresented their ability to acquire PPE and defrauded his company with padded invoices.

What’s not in dispute: Shortly after the PPE venture launched, Kofoed started funneling large amounts of money to politicians. On July 9, 2020, he made his first contribution to a federal political campaign in 12 years, donating $64,000 to support Donald Trump’s re-election and the Republican National Committee. His wife, Stacy, did the same that day. They were just getting started. Over the next five months, the Kofoeds and SNS Global USA donated at least $701,000 in cash, plus another $128,000 of air travel. It all went to Republicans.

Other beneficiaries included Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and 13 state GOP committees. The Kofoeds also donated to at least one state campaign, kicking in $8,000 to support the re-election of South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.

Money has a way of opening doors. On her now-private Instagram account, Kofoed’s wife shared the VIP treatment she and her husband received around the Republican National Convention. In addition to spending time with McCarthy and Paul, they got to watch Trump’s speech at the convention from the White House lawn.

Kofoed’s business partners took note of the flashy photos appearing on social media. On October 16, 2020, Krystal Ventures filed its aforementioned lawsuit, alleging that Kofoed had bought access with stolen money from their venture. “Kofoed has retained (or diverted from SNS Global) all or almost all of the profits from these PPE sales for himself,” Krystal Ventures’ attorney wrote in the complaint. “Kofoed has spent that money funding a lavish lifestyle, including family vacations and trips on private jets around the country, including to the 2020 Republican National Convention, and on substantial political donations. In short, Kofoed has absconded with the profits due to Krystal Ventures under the agreement and is using them for personal gain.”

The suit is now going through pre-trial motions. Neither Kofoed, nor his attorneys, would comment on it. The case doesn’t seem to have stopped his networking in Washington, however. Eight of his family’s 50 contributions, totaling $49,000, came after he was served with the lawsuit.

Even though Kofoed’s full story—complete with the bankruptcy filing, lawsuit and new address—has never been told, Kofoed’s proximity to the first family has earned him a few passing mentions in media reports.

Meanwhile, out of the public eye, the Kofoeds’ troubles keep mounting.

Dec. 7

 

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Trump's coup attempt involved the military, Wayne Madsen, left, author of 21 books and former Navy Intelligence officer and National Security Agency analyst, Dec. 7, 2021. December 6, 2021 may prove wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallto be a consequential date as far as bringing to justice those elements that attempted to overthrow the government of the United States on January 6th.

Army Colonel Earl Matthews, the former staff judge advocate for District of Columbia National Guard Commander Major General William Walker, wrote in a 36-page memorandum to the House January 6th Select Committee that two Army Lieutenant Generals, Charles Flynn and Walter Piattwalter piatt, right, and a Brigadier General, Christopher LaNeve, below left, were involved in a massive cover-up of the Department of Defense's failure to act to prevent the storming and occupation of the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. Matthews also alleged that Flynn and Piatt lied to Congress about their activities on that fateful day. The Matthews memo appears to have been christopher laneveleaked to Politico.

Flynn, the brother of retired Lieutenant General Mike Flynn, the convicted former national security adviser under Donald Trump and disseminator of insane conspiracy theories, was the deputy chief of staff for operations for the Army on January 6th. Piatt was the director of the Army staff and LaNeve was the director of operations, readiness, and mobilization, for the Army deputy chief of staff.

The involvement of the three general officers in aiding and abetting Trump's attempted coup d'état is, thanks to the Matthews memo, the first concrete indication that the January 6th putsch involved senior officials of the Pentagon in what now appears to have been a real-life "Seven Days in May" scenario.

Matthews also attacked a Department of Defense Inspector General report on January 6th, issued in November and titled "Review of the DoD’s Role, Responsibilities, and Actions to Prepare For the Protest and Its Aftermath at the U.S. Capitol Campus on January 6, 2021," as "a revisionist tract worthy of the best Stalinist or North Korea propagandist." Matthews wrote that January 6th was not a "protest" but as "assault on our democracy," one of many inaccuracies he cited about the IG Report.

What remains concerning is that the current Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, a retired Army general, is standing by the flawed Pentagon IG report Sean O'Donnell[by Trump-appointed Acting Inspector General Sean O'Donnell, right] and rejecting the allegations made by both Colonel Matthews and General Walker.

In many respects, Austin and Attorney General Merrick Garland appear to be slow walking their respective departments in aggressively dealing with what was an attempted coup involving top officials of the White House, including Trump, and officials of the Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security.

Lloyd Austin's Pentagon may be living in a dream world, but events that took place on December 6 have taken on similarities to rapid-paced resignations and firings during the Watergate scandal. After details of the Matthews memo were reported, the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA). announced that he was resigning before the end of his term to become the CEO of Trump's new social media company, Trump Media & Technology Group.

mike pence djt side by sidePalmer Report, Opinion: Mike Pence aide sells out Trump world to January 6th Committee, Bill Palmer, Dec. 7, 2021. From the very beginning it’s been clear bill palmerto us that the January 6th Committee started off by subpoenaing Steve Bannon, knowing he wouldn’t cooperate because he has too many other legal problems going on, so it could make an example out of him by having him indicted and arrested for contempt. The point was to scare other, more skittish witnesses into cooperating, for fear of also ending up indicted.

bill palmer report logo headerWe’re not surprised that Mark Meadows has been flip flopping back and forth between cooperating and not cooperating, both because he’s a Trump loyalist and because he’s under criminal investigation for election tampering in Georgia. But what about key witnesses who have no such loyalty to Trump, and who have no existing criminal liability? We predicted from the start that it would be these types who would end up cooperating with the committee.

Sure enough, CNN is now reporting that Mike Pence’s former Chief of Staff Marc Short, right, has been secretly cooperating with the January 6th Committee for a few weeks. It’s the length of time that matters here, because if Short’s cooperation were insufficient or incomplete, the committee would marc short white house file Customhave begun contempt proceedings against him by now. The fact that Short’s cooperation has lasted for weeks means that it must be the real deal.

The secrecy is also notable. If Marc Short has been secretly cooperating all this time, which other key witnesses have also been secretly cooperating? Witnesses who have no underlying criminal liability, and can walk away scot-free just by fully cooperating with the committee, are going to be inclined to do so. Short’s cooperation is proof of this. There will be more such cooperating witnesses.

The timing of this reveal is also notable. Presumably, only the 1/6 Committee members themselves knew that Short was cooperating with them. This means the committee itself was most likely the source of today’s leak. This in turn means that the committee has now decided that it wants other witnesses to know that Short has been in there giving up the goods against them, thus leaving them with little option but to also cooperate. This is all escalating quickly now – and it’s becoming clear that the committee has been a few steps ahead of the public all along.

Dec. 6

 

capitol riot shutterstock capitol

Politico, 'Absolute liars': Ex-D.C. Guard official says generals lied to Congress about Jan. 6, Betsy Woodruff Swan and Meridith McGraw, Dec. 6, 2021. In a 36-page memo to the Capitol riot committee, Col. Earl Matthews also slams the Pentagon's inspector general, Sean O'Donnell [also the Trump-appointed Inspector General for the Environmental Protection Agency], for what he calls an error-ridden report about the riot, shown above.

earl matthewsA former D.C. National Guard official is accusing two senior Army leaders of lying to Congress and participating in a secret attempt to rewrite the history of the military's response to the Capitol riot.

politico CustomIn a 36-page memo, Col. Earl Matthews, right,who held high-level National Security Council and Pentagon roles during the Trump administration, slams the Pentagon's inspector general for what he calls an error-riddled report that protects a top Army official who argued against sending the National Guard to the Capitol on Jan. 6, delaying the insurrection response for hours.

Matthews' memo, sent to the Jan. 6 select committee this month and obtained by POLITICO, includes detailed recollections of the insurrection response as it calls two Army generals — Gen. Charles Flynn, who served as deputy chief of staff for operations on Jan. 6, and Lt. Gen. Walter Piatt, the director of Army staff — “absolute and unmitigated liars” for their characterization of the events of that day. Matthews has never publicly discussed the chaos of the Capitol siege.

william walker resized proofOn Jan. 6, Matthews was serving as the top attorney to Maj. Gen. William Walker, right, then commanding general of the D.C. National Guard. Matthews’ memo defends the Capitol attack response by Walker, who now serves as the House sergeant at arms, amplifying Walker's previous congressional testimony about the hourslong delay in the military’s order for the D.C. National Guard to deploy to the riot scene.

“Every leader in the D.C. Guard wanted to respond and knew they could respond to the riot at the seat of government” before they were given clearance to do so on Jan. 6, Matthews’ memo reads. Instead, he said, D.C. guard officials “set [sic] stunned watching in the Armory” during the first hours of the attack on Congress during its certification of the 2020 election results.

charles flynn oMatthews' memo levels major accusations: that Flynn, left, and Piatt lied to Congress about their response to pleas for the D.C. Guard to quickly be deployed on Jan. 6; that the Pentagon inspector general’s November report on Army leadership’s response to the attack was “replete with factual inaccuracies”; and that the Army has created its own closely held revisionist document about the Capitol riot that’s “worthy of the best Stalinist or North Korea propagandist.”

The memo follows Walker’s own public call for the inspector general to retract its detailed report on the events of Jan. 6, as first reported by The Washington Post. Walker told the Post he objected to specific allegations by the Pentagon watchdog that Matthews’ memo also criticizes, calling the inspector general’s report “inaccurate” and “sloppy work.”

Reached for comment on Matthews’ memo, Walker, the former head of the D.C. Guard, said the report speaks for itself and that he had nothing further to add. A Jan. 6 committee spokesperson declined to comment.

The new memo from Matthews, who now serves in the Army reserves, emerges as officials involved in the response that day try to explain their decision-making to investigators. The House select committee has probed the attack for months, and earlier this year top officials testified before the House oversight panel.

Reached for comment, Matthews said the memo he wrote is entirely accurate. “Our Army has never failed us and did not do so on January 6, 2021,” he said. “However, occasionally some of our Army leaders have failed us and they did so on January 6th. Then they lied about it and tried to cover it up. Department of Defense SealThey tried to smear a good man and to erase history.”

Flynn, now the commanding general of the U.S. Army Pacific, and Piatt didn't respond to messages. Army spokesperson Mike Brady said in a statement that the service's "actions on January 6th have been well-documented and reported on, and Gen. Flynn and Lt. Gen. Piatt have been open, honest and thorough in their sworn testimony with Congress and DOD investigators."

“As the Inspector General concluded, actions taken ‘were appropriate, supported by requirements, consistent with the DOD’s roles and responsibilities for DSCA, and compliant with laws, regulations, and other applicable guidance," Brady added. “We stand by all testimony and facts provided to date, and vigorously reject any allegations to the contrary. However, with the January 6th Commission’s investigation still ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

steve sund recroppedMatthews’ memo begins by focusing on a 2:30 p.m. conference call on Jan. 6 that included senior military and law enforcement officials, himself and Walker among them. Then-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, left, “pleaded” on the call for the immediate deployment of the National Guard to the Capitol, Matthews recalled, saying that rioters had breached the building’s perimeter. Walker has also told Congress that Sund made that plea then. According to Matthews, Flynn and Piatt both opposed the move.

At the time, Piatt was the director of Army staff, one of the top generals in the Pentagon, and Flynn was the Army’s director of operations. The two men were the highest-ranking Army officials who spoke on the 2:30 call, according to Matthews.

“LTG Piatt stated that it would not be his best military advice to recommend to the Secretary of the Army that the D.C. National Guard be allowed to deploy to the Capitol at that time,” Matthews wrote, adding: “LTGs Piatt and Flynn stated that the optics of having uniformed military personnel deployed to the U.S. Capitol would not be good."

Piatt and Flynn suggested instead that Guardsmen take over D.C. police officers’ traffic duties so those officers could head to the Capitol, Matthews continues.

In addition to Matthews’ memo, POLITICO also obtained a document produced by a D.C. Guard official and dated Jan. 7 that lays out a timeline of Jan. 6. The D.C. Guard timeline, a separate document whose author took notes during the call, also said that Piatt and Flynn at 2:37 p.m. “recommended for DC Guard to standby,” rather than immediately deploying to the Capitol during the riot.

Four minutes later, according to that Guard timeline, Flynn again “advised D.C. National Guard to standby until the request has been routed” to then-Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and then-acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller.

Everyone on the call was “astounded” except Piatt and Flynn, Matthews wrote.

 

Charles Flynn, left, and his brother, Michael Flynn, are shown during their service in Afghanistan

Gen. Charles Flynn, left, and his brother, then-Gen. Michael Flynn, are shown during their service in Afghanistan.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Michael Flynn is “engaging” with the January 6th Committee amid new accusations against his brother, Bill Palmer, right, Dec. 6, 2021. bill palmerLast night we pointed out that Michael Flynn was on the January 6th Committee’s schedule to testify today. While the committee puts subpoenaed witnesses on the calendar whether they intend to testify or not, it was notable in that Flynn hadn’t yet publicly said whether or not he was going to show up.

Then early this morning, Politico reported that former D.C. National Guard official Col. Earl Matthews is now accusing Gen. Charles Flynn – brother of Michael Flynn of having lied about the events of January 6th.

bill palmer report logo headerEven as we wait for the other shoe to drop as far as what was really going on and who’s really telling the truth, NBC is reporting that the January 6th Committee has decided at the last minute to give Michael Flynn a “short postponement” so he can “engage” with the investigation.

So what’s going on here? That’s far from clear. This leaves us with a lot of questions.

Michael Flynn, left, has burned investigators before, cutting a plea deal michael flynn state department Customwith the Mueller team and pleading guilty in court, before changing his mind and backing out of his cooperation. So if Flynn is suddenly offering to cooperate on some level, the committee surely wouldn’t just take him at his word, unless he’s given them something of value to buy himself a few days. And of course the bigger question is whether this last minute maneuvering with Michael Flynn’s testimony is related to this morning’s reporting about his brother, or if that’s mere coincidence.

In any case, if Michael Flynn is suddenly panicking over this report about his brother and has decided to give the committee something of use… well, the committee might as well take it. If it ends up being of insufficient value, or nothing at all, the January 6th Committee can still quickly refer him for indictment for criminal contempt and move on with actual cooperating witnesses.

 

Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani hawking their false claims that they could prove election fraud caused Democratic nominee Joe Biden's presidential victory in 2020.

Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani hawking their false claims that they could prove election fraud caused Democratic nominee Joe Biden's presidential victory in 2020.

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Sidney Powell nonprofit raised $14 million spreading falsehoods, Emma Brown, Rosalind S. Helderman, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Josh Dawsey, Dec. 6, 2021. Records also detail acrimony between the lawyer and her top lieutenants over how the money — now a focus of inquiries by federal prosecutors and Congress — was being handled.

In the months after President Donald Trump lost the November election, lawyer Sidney Powell raised large sums from donors inspired by her fight to reverse the outcome of the vote. But by April, questions about where the money was going — and how much there was — were helping to sow division between Powell and other leaders of her new nonprofit, Defending the Republic.

On April 9, many members of the staff and board resigned, documents show. Among those who departed after just days on the job was Chief Financial Officer Robert Weaver, who in a memo at the time wrote that he had “no way of knowing the true financial position” of Defending the Republic because some of its bank accounts were off limits even to him.

republican elephant logoRecords reviewed by The Washington Post show that Defending the Republic raised more than $14 million, a sum that reveals the reach and resonance of one of the most visible efforts to fundraise using baseless claims about the 2020 election. Previously unreported records also detail acrimony between Powell and her top lieutenants over how the money — now a focus of inquiries by federal prosecutors and Congress — was being handled.

The split has left Powell, who once had Trump’s ear, isolated from other key figures in the election-denier movement. Even so, as head of Defending the Republic, she controlled $9 million as recently as this summer, according to an audited financial statement from the group. The mistrust of U.S. elections that she and her former allies stoked endures. Polls show that one-third of Americans — including a majority of Republicans — believe that Trump lost because of fraud.

Matt Masterson, a former senior U.S. cybersecurity official who tracked 2020 election integrity for the Department of Homeland Security, said Powell’s fundraising success demonstrates one reason so many people continue to spread falsehoods about the 2020 election: It can bring in cash.

“Business is good and accountability is low, which means we’re just going to see continued use of this playbook,” Masterson said. “Well-meaning folks that have been told that the election was stolen are giving out money that they might not otherwise be able to give.”

For Trump advocate Sidney Powell, a playbook steeped in conspiracy theories

Last week, The Post reported that federal prosecutors have subpoenaed financial and other documents related to Defending the Republic and a political action committee by the same name, also headed by Powell. The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection sees Powell as a leading beneficiary of election-related falsehoods and has been seeking to determine how much money she raised, said a person familiar with the committee’s work who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential conversations.

 

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Seven days: Following Trump’s coronavirus trail, Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey, Dec. 6, 2021 (print ed.). From the day of his first positive test until his hospitalization last year, the president came in contact with more than 500 people in proximity to him or at crowded events, according to a Washington Post analysis.

mark meadows book chief chiefWhen he first learned he had tested positive for the corona­virus, President Donald Trump was already aboard Air Force One, en route to a massive rally in Middletown, Pa.

With him on the plane that Saturday evening were dozens of people — senior aides, Air Force One personnel, junior staffers, journalists and other members of the large entourage typical for a presidential trip — all squeezed together in the recirculating air of a jetliner.

“Stop the president,” White House physician Sean Conley told Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, right, according to a new book by Meadows set to publish Tuesday that was obtained by the Guardian newspaper. “He just tested positive for covid.”

cdc logo CustomBut Meadows asserts in his book, right, that it was too late to stop Trump and that a second rapid antigen test — apparently done using the same sample — came back negative. But under guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Trump should have taken a more accurate polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to confirm whether he had the coronavirus.

“Had I been there, and Dr. Conley would have told me they would have received a positive test, I would have assumed it was accurate and frankly canceled everything right away,” said John F. Kelly, one of Trump’s previous chiefs of staff, adding that he also would have rushed Trump to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. “To do anything else would be irresponsible.”

In fact, Trump was hospitalized at Walter Reed about a week later. From the day he tested positive until his hospitalization, Trump came in contact with more than 500 people, either those in proximity to him or at crowded events, not including rallygoers, according to a Washington Post analysis of the president’s interactions during that period.

That seven-day window reveals a president and chief of staff who took a reckless, and potentially dangerous, approach to handling the coronavirus, including Trump’s own positive test.

 

Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani hawking their false claims that they could prove election fraud caused Democratic nominee Joe Biden's presidential victory in 2020.

Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani hawking their false claims that they could prove election fraud caused Democratic nominee Joe Biden's presidential victory in 2020.

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Sidney Powell nonprofit raised $14 million spreading falsehoods, Emma Brown, Rosalind S. Helderman, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Josh Dawsey, Dec. 6, 2021. Records also detail acrimony between the lawyer and her top lieutenants over how the money — now a focus of inquiries by federal prosecutors and Congress — was being handled.

In the months after President Donald Trump lost the November election, lawyer Sidney Powell raised large sums from donors inspired by her fight to reverse the outcome of the vote. But by April, questions about where the money was going — and how much there was — were helping to sow division between Powell and other leaders of her new nonprofit, Defending the Republic.

On April 9, many members of the staff and board resigned, documents show. Among those who departed after just days on the job was Chief Financial Officer Robert Weaver, who in a memo at the time wrote that he had “no way of knowing the true financial position” of Defending the Republic because some of its bank accounts were off limits even to him.

Records reviewed by The Washington Post show that Defending the Republic raised more than $14 million, a sum that reveals the reach and resonance of one of the most visible efforts to fundraise using baseless claims about the 2020 election. Previously unreported records also detail acrimony between Powell and her top lieutenants over how the money — now a focus of inquiries by federal prosecutors and Congress — was being handled.

The split has left Powell, who once had Trump’s ear, isolated from other key figures in the election-denier movement. Even so, as head of Defending the Republic, she controlled $9 million as recently as this summer, according to an audited financial statement from the group. The mistrust of U.S. elections that she and her former allies stoked endures. Polls show that one-third of Americans — including a majority of Republicans — believe that Trump lost because of fraud.

Matt Masterson, a former senior U.S. cybersecurity official who tracked 2020 election integrity for the Department of Homeland Security, said Powell’s fundraising success demonstrates one reason so many people continue to spread falsehoods about the 2020 election: It can bring in cash.

“Business is good and accountability is low, which means we’re just going to see continued use of this playbook,” Masterson said. “Well-meaning folks that have been told that the election was stolen are giving out money that they might not otherwise be able to give.”

For Trump advocate Sidney Powell, a playbook steeped in conspiracy theories

Last week, The Post reported that federal prosecutors have subpoenaed financial and other documents related to Defending the Republic and a political action committee by the same name, also headed by Powell. The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection sees Powell as a leading beneficiary of election-related falsehoods and has been seeking to determine how much money she raised, said a person familiar with the committee’s work who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential conversations.

washington post logoWashington Post, Seven days: Following Trump’s coronavirus trail, Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey, Dec. 6, 2021 (print ed.). From the day of his first positive test until his hospitalization last year, the president came in contact with more than 500 people in proximity to him or at crowded events, according to a Washington Post analysis.

When he first learned he had tested positive for the corona­virus, President Donald Trump was already aboard Air Force One, en route to a massive rally in Middletown, Pa.

With him on the plane that Saturday evening were dozens of people — senior aides, Air Force One personnel, junior staffers, journalists and other members of the large entourage typical for a presidential trip — all squeezed together in the recirculating air of a jetliner.

Mark Meadows“Stop the president,” White House physician Sean Conley told Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, right, according to a new book by Meadows set to publish Tuesday that was obtained by the Guardian newspaper. “He just tested positive for covid.”

cdc logo CustomBut Meadows asserts in his book that it was too late to stop Trump and that a second rapid antigen test — apparently done using the same sample — came back negative. But under guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Trump should have taken a more accurate polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to confirm whether he had the coronavirus.

“Had I been there, and Dr. Conley would have told me they would have received a positive test, I would have assumed it was accurate and frankly canceled everything right away,” said John F. Kelly, one of Trump’s previous chiefs of staff, adding that he also would have rushed Trump to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. “To do anything else would be irresponsible.”

In fact, Trump was hospitalized at Walter Reed about a week later. From the day he tested positive until his hospitalization, Trump came in contact with more than 500 people, either those in proximity to him or at crowded events, not including rallygoers, according to a Washington Post analysis of the president’s interactions during that period.

That seven-day window reveals a president and chief of staff who took a reckless, and potentially dangerous, approach to handling the coronavirus, including Trump’s own positive test.

Dec. 5

washington post logoWashington Post, Book Review: David Cay Johnston’s colorful, thorough book doesn’t grapple with the legacy of Jan. 6, James Kwak, Dec. 5, 2021 (print ed.). James Kwak is the Jesse Root Professor of Law at the University of Connecticut and the author, most recently, of “Take Back Our Party: Restoring the Democratic Legacy.”

On June 16, 2015, Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign in front of an audience of paid extras who cheered his remarks — incoherent, preposterous or racist — 43 times in exchange for “$50 CASH at the end of the event.” Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski lied about the payments. The campaign did not pay the company that recruited the actors (through a subcontractor) for four months and did not report the transaction david cay johnston big cheatuntil seven months after the event, in violation of federal campaign regulations.

Veteran journalist David Cay Johnston tells this story, which he calls “Lie One,” in the first chapter of his new book, The Big Cheat: How Donald Trump Fleeced America and Enriched Himself and His Family. “This foundational lie . . . of a mass upwelling of popular support,” Johnston writes, “was the corrupt seed that grew into mighty crowds at rallies.”

Few people are as well positioned to write an exposé of the former president as Johnston, right, who has reported on Trump since he began covering the david cay johnston headshotAtlantic City casino industry in the 1980s. 

The Big Cheat is a guided tour of the Trump circus in 18 colorful vignettes. There are the ways the first family used the White House to enrich themselves, from the Old Post Office hotel in D.C. where foreign leaders made sure the president knew they were paying handsomely for their rooms, to the Trump Organization’s overseas projects that were greenlighted by favor-seeking governments, to the hundreds of millions of dollars that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner made while serving as administration officials. There are the motley hangers-on, like Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who spent her time in office promoting her family’s shipping business, and relatively minor players such as Brian Kolfage, who was indicted on charges that he pocketed money he had raised to “build the wall.” And there are the Trump administration policies that abandoned his campaign promises and sold out the working people he claimed to represent in favor of the wealthy and large corporations.

But we’ve all spent too much time gawking at this circus. The Big Cheat compiles as wide-ranging a catalogue as one is likely to find — in book form, at least — of the misdeeds and failings of Trump and his coterie of enablers and swindlers. It throws wheelbarrows full of red meat to people who love to hate the former president and his cronies. The inept business deals that have to be bailed out by corrupt foreign billionaires, the unthinking disregard for norms of behavior, the buffoonish lawbreaking that somehow never gets punished, the undisguised contempt for ordinary people — all are on display like performers in a tasteless freak show.

The real importance of Donald Trump, however, lies elsewhere. What was it that was truly transformational about the Trump phenomenon? It wasn’t the economic policies that helped the rich and hurt the poor, which have been a staple of Republican administrations for decades. It wasn’t the lies, which were so comically absurd that they weren’t even meant to deceive; the George W. Bush administration launched a devastating war with a fictional claim about weapons of mass destruction delivered so skillfully that people believed it. It wasn’t the corruption, which differed at most in its brazenness from historical tradition; if Trump had used his presidency only to make his family rich, America would be in much better shape than it is today.

Instead, Trumpism fundamentally changed our country in three ways. First, it legitimized and unleashed overt racist ideology. Dog whistles have been a core tactic in the Republican playbook since the days of Richard Nixon and the Southern strategy — note the crucial role that the critical race theory boogeyman played in Glenn Youngkin’s victory in Virginia — but no modern president before Trump appealed so openly to racial resentment.

Second, while many politicians have told lies, Trump’s falsehoods were taken up by legions of imitators and stirred together by the attention-maximizing algorithms of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to create an alternate reality in which tens of millions of people now live — and which continues to kill thousands of people who hold fantastic beliefs about coronavirus vaccines. Trump’s gift for generating engagement is unparalleled among politicians, but his ability to distort reality depended heavily on the social media titans he likes to vilify.

Third, and most important, no president before had attempted to use executive power to overturn an election and hold office by force. Politicians routinely use their power to try to win the next election. But gerrymandering, voter-suppression bills and taxpayer-financed photo opportunities are one thing; pressuring the Justice Department and state officials to interfere in completed elections is another.

 

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

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: What Biden Isn’t Saying About Trump’s Positive Covid Test, Jamelle Bouie, right, Dec. 5, 2021 (print ed.). This week, we learned jamelle bouiethat Donald Trump had tested positive for Covid before his first presidential debate with Joe Biden. He may well have been positive, and infectious, during his Rose Garden celebration with his final Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, as well as during his meeting with Gold Star military families.

Trump appears to have exposed dozens, if not hundreds, of people, including his 77-year-old opponent, to a potentially deadly illness. It was a remarkable demonstration of his selfish indifference to the health and welfare of everyone around him. And in the same way that he refused to act on his own infection — until it was almost too late — he also refused to act to stem a pandemic that, at the time of his positive test, had killed more than 200,000 Americans.

When asked about this news, on Wednesday, President Biden said, simply, that he did not “think about the former president.”

In keeping with the tone of his administration thus far, Biden wanted to show that he was more concerned with the work of governing than the antics of his predecessor. But I think this dismissal is a mistake.

No matter how well you govern, no matter how popular your policies, politics is not a game you can win from above the fray. And in the modern political environment, one must use every available opportunity to seize the attention of the media (and of voters) and force a conversation that happens on your terms, with your aims in mind.

The news of Trump’s decision to endanger everyone around him was an opportunity to do just that. It was a chance for Biden to emphasize the many and overlapping disasters he inherited from the former president and how both Trump and his party were poor stewards of the United States and the American people. A sharp remark would have put Trump’s failure back in the news and forced other Republicans to respond to it — on Biden’s terms.

Instead, by speaking as if he’s above the controversy, the president has, in effect, defused it.

Biden does not have to be like Trump — he does not have to try to dominate the public’s attention every minute of every day — but he should at least throw a jab when his opponents open themselves up to the hit. There is no reward for taking the high road in politics; there is only a lost opportunity to leave a mark.

jeffrey clark nyt

Palmer Report, Opinion: What’s really going on with Jeffrey Clark and the January 6th Committee? Bill Palmer, right, Dec. 5, 2021. Former Trump DOJ official bill palmerJeffrey Clark, shown in a file photo above, appeared to be fine with letting the January 6th Committee refer him to the DOJ for criminal contempt, until deciding at the last minute that he wanted to rush in and testify on a Saturday just so he could plead the fifth. But then MSNBC reported that Clark’s election tampering letter to Georgia officials had White House metadata on it, meaning someone in the Trump White House was conspiring with Clark on the letter, and suddenly Clark developed a serious medical condition at the last second and couldn’t testify.

bill palmer report logo headerNow the committee says that Clark has provided sufficient evidence of his medical problem, and his testimony has been rescheduled for December 16th, according to CNN. Wait a minute, that’s quite a ways off. So what’s really going on here?

Did Clark suddenly develop a medical condition that he knows will take nearly two weeks to get over? It’s possible, but it seems unlikely. It seems more likely that the committee is no longer in a hurry to hear from him, and has decided to put him at the back of the line while it hears from more willing witnesses first. This would be interesting given that two days ago the committee voted to recommend that the full House hold Clark in contempt.

Given this new revelation that Clark’s election tampering in Georgia had help from within the Trump White House, perhaps the committee has now decided to focus on nailing down the full story. If Clark isn’t willing to give up the name of his co-conspirator, either the electronic evidence or a willing witness may be able to pinpoint this person’s identity in the meantime. Then by the time Clark comes in on the 16th, presumably with the intent of still pleading the fifth, the committee would be able to confront him with the fact that it already knows what he’s been trying to hide, so he might as well just cooperate.

We’ll see what happens. But while many of the finer details are still unknown, it’s becoming clear that the January 6th Committee has the upper hand. When witnesses are trying to decide whether to plead the fifth or let themselves be indicted for contempt, it means they’re panicking. And if the committee has electronic proof that a Trump White House official was conspiring with Clark on felony election tampering, then the committee surely has a lot more evidence up its sleeve that it’ll strategically roll out in order to get the witnesses to panic even more.

Keep in mind that when a witness pleads the fifth, it’s because that witness fears or expects to be indicted for the underlying crime. The Fifth Amendment isn’t a magic wand; invoking it is essentially saying “I know I’m going down for this, but I don’t want to make it easier for prosecutors to nail me for it.” And if a witness lies to the committee and gets caught, that’s arguably the best case scenario, because the committee can then dangle the threat of a felony perjury referral in order to pressure that witness to cave.

The committee wants its hostile witnesses to panic, whether it’s to try lying, or to try pleading the fifth, because panicky witnesses are more likely to give something away in the process. The more frantically witnesses like Jeffrey Clark run in circles trying to figure out how to magically save themselves, the more quickly they end up realizing they have no way out but to cut some kind of deal and cooperate.

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective: Trump’s lawyers are pleading the Fifth. Congress can still make them talk, Norman Eisen, right, E. Danya Perry and Joshua norman eisen SmallPerry, Dec. 5, 2021 (print ed.). The committee investigating Jan. 6 has options to test Jeffrey Clark and John Eastman’s assertions of privilege.

It’s rare when lawyers — as opposed to their clients — take the Fifth Amendment. But Jeffrey Clark, the former Justice Department lawyer who reportedly tried to help Donald Trump overturn the 2020 presidential election, is now claiming the privilege against self-incrimination to avoid testifying before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. He has just been joined in that posture by one of Trump’s main outside legal advisers, John Eastman.

Their fear of incrimination could well be justified: There can be serious state and federal criminal consequences for trying to fraudulently interfere with an election. But merely invoking the Fifth isn’t a blanket protection against every form of accountability. The committee has options to test manipulative assertions of privilege.

Clark is set to appear in mid-December (updated) for his second appearance before the committee. In his first appearance, on Nov. 5, he flatly refused to cooperate, invoking what the committee’s chairman, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), called “vague claims” of executive privilege.

Since then, it’s become increasingly hard for Trump’s associates to credibly hide behind executive privilege. On Nov. 9, U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan handed down a decision eviscerating Trump’s claim that records of the White House’s involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection are somehow privileged. Three days later, the Justice Department indicted Stephen K. Bannon, the right-wing media personality and Trump consigliere, alleging contempt of Congress, after Bannon cited the privilege in his own refusal to testify. In the face of all that, former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows has apparently shelved his erstwhile claims of privilege and is cooperating with the committee.

So Clark has come up with a new privilege to invoke. He now says that he’s protected by the Fifth Amendment, which forbids the government from compelling self-incriminating testimony. In light of that claim, the committee‚ which had unanimously approved a report recommending that the House cite him for contempt after his earlier antics, agreed to give him another chance to answer questions.

Trump has serious federal and state criminal exposure, and we don’t discount the possibility that Clark might also face prosecution for his reported conduct. In Atlanta, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is investigating whether Trump and his cronies broke the law by trying to overturn the election. And Clark is reportedly the Justice Department official who proposed sending a deeply dishonest letter to Georgia officials citing utterly unsupported fraud claims and urging the state legislature to consider naming bogus electors in defiance of the popular vote. Don’t just take our word for the criminal risk: This week, a federal judge became the latest to imply that Trump and insurrection ringleaders should be held liable.

The big flaw in Trump’s legal strategy: Ex-presidents have no power

But the Fifth Amendment protects against self-incrimination — not against public condemnation. The mere invocation of the amendment by a former high-ranking Justice Department official before a congressional committee investigating an attempt to overturn the election is a scarlet letter. It is one now affixed to Trump, his entire White House and his administration’s Justice Department. If nothing else, Clark’s gambit underscores the critical mission of the committee — and that it is on to something.

Committee members aren’t powerless merely because Clark gestures toward the Fifth Amendment. They must take the Constitution’s protections seriously, and they’ve already signaled that they do, by giving Clark another chance. But they don’t have to throw up their hands and automatically give him a pass.

The committee is entitled to probe the validity of Clark’s latest excuse. He may have waived the Fifth by failing to assert it the first time he refused to testify. Although the committee members seem disinclined to press that point, they shouldn’t be too hasty in giving it up. The committee also should explore whether there’s a sufficient basis for Clark to invoke — or whether this is just another manipulation. The timing of this last-minute assertion seems to be evidence of the latter.

Taking the Fifth doesn’t absolve Clark from the requirement to show up and reply to questions. He can invoke his rights against self-incrimination on a carefully considered, question-by-question basis — but it’ll be another sign of bad faith if he simply refuses to talk at all.

The Fifth Amendment also doesn’t protect Clark against the committee’s demand that he produce at least some documents. That’s because the Supreme Court has held that the amendment protects against disclosing documents only if the act of production would somehow be incriminating — for instance, a subpoena to a counterfeiter for counterfeit bills. But the Fifth doesn’t protect Clark from disclosing, for example, previously created memos or emails about the alleged election fraud scheme in his possession.

Finally, even if Clark does have a valid Fifth Amendment privilege, federal law allows the committee to seek a judicial ruling immunizing him for his testimony. That would overcome the Fifth Amendment privilege and force Clark to answer the committee’s questions without fear of self-incrimination.

The lawyers who pushed Trump’s falsehoods may soon be done lawyering

Immunity would mean that none of his congressional testimony could be used against him in any prosecution, federal or state. It would not technically protect him against prosecution for any underlying criminal conduct. But prosecutors would have to be careful to make sure that the immunized testimony in no way infects their process. The legal procedure of immunizing Clark could take some time, but it could be worth it — especially if the committee believes that he has information about Jan. 6 and its run-up that nobody else can provide, and if it determines that as a practical matter, there is a low likelihood of Clark ever being criminally prosecuted.

The situation with Eastman, who has just announced his determination to “take Five,” is much less developed. But the same analysis applies. He must explain the basis for his assertion. He must appear at his deposition and assert the privilege as to specific questions. If the privilege does not apply or he has waived it — for example, through prior disclosures on a topic — he must answer. He must produce documents not covered by the privilege. And then the committee should consider next steps — forceful ones, if necessary.

As attorneys, Clark and Eastman reportedly tried to use their law licenses to help Trump’s effort to attack and overturn the 2020 election and deprive voters of a most sacred civil right. Now they seek shelter behind the critically important civil liberty guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment. That may be their prerogative, however ironic. But it does not shield their testimony and their documents from scrutiny. Congress has the tools to drive accountability forward. It should use them.

Dec. 3

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Trump counsel Rudy Giuliani leads a news conference at Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, DC on Nov. 19, 2020.

Trump counsel Rudy Giuliani leads a news conference at Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, DC on Nov. 19, 2020. At left above is attorney Sidney Powell, whom the Trump White House announced earlier in November as one of its lawyers before firing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recent Headlines

Dec. 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recent Headlines

Dec. 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

capitol riot deposition list

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

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

jeffrey clark nyt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

November

Nov. 29jeffrey clark nyt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 27

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

You can read more here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 25

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

cy vance resized djt

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

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

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

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

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

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chris christie republican rescue cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 24

 enrique tarrio mic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 23

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 21

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

Nov. 18

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reached by phone, Pierson declined to comment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

djt mike lindell frank tv still

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  jacob chansley howling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump, Russia, Steele, Durham

Other Relevant Headlines

Investigations

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reached by phone, Pierson declined to comment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 6 Had Far More Money Behind It Than We Knew

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

djt mike lindell frank tv still

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  jacob chansley howling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump, Russia, Steele, Durham

Other Relevant Headlines

Nov. 16

Trump Attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis raising claims of 2020 election fraud at a hearing in Michigan in December 2020.

Trump Attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis raising claims of 2020 election fraud at a hearing in Michigan in December 2020.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Trump-supporting former law school dean John Eastman, left, helps Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani inflame pro-Trump protesters in front the White House before the insurrection riot at the U.S. Capitol to prevent the presidential election certification of Joe Biden's presidency on Jan. 6, 2021 (Los Angeles Times photo). Trump-supporting former law school dean John Eastman, left, helps Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani inflame pro-Trump protesters in front the White House before the insurrection riot at the U.S. Capitol to prevent the presidential election certification of Joe Biden's presidency on Jan. 6, 2021 (Los Angeles Times photo). 

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

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

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

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

enrique tarrio mic

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 15

 

steve bannon rally source unstated

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

steve bannon billionaire guo wengui

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s why Trump should lose:

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

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

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

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

Nov. 12

 

djt steve bannon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Nov. 11brad parscale walmart hiring

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

 kayleigh mcenany djt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 8

 

michael flynn djt

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

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

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

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

 

Trump-supporting former law school dean John Eastman, left, helps Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani inflame pro-Trump protesters in front the White House before the insurrection riot at the U.S. Capitol to prevent the presidential election certification of Joe Biden's presidency on Jan. 6, 2021 (Los Angeles Times photo). Trump-supporting former law school dean John Eastman, left, helps Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani inflame pro-Trump protesters in front the White House before the insurrection riot at the U.S. Capitol to prevent the presidential election certification of Joe Biden's presidency on Jan. 6, 2021 (Los Angeles Times photo). 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

igor danchenko john durham

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ronna mcdaniel djt Custom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Nov. 4

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani with Donald Trump in August last year. Prosecutors consider each one of Giuliani and the other lawyers’ acts to be crucial evidence of a potential violation of law, according to sources close to the investigation (Photo by Sarah Silbiger via Reuters).

Trump Attorney Rudy Giuliani, at center, with Donald Trump in August last year. Prosecutors consider each one of Giuliani and the other lawyers’ acts to be crucial evidence of a potential violation of law, according to sources close to the investigation (Photo by Sarah Silbiger via Reuters). 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

John Solomon, Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing

 Trump attorneyJoe diGenova, center, his wife and law partner Victoria Toensnig, and pro-Trump conspiracy theorist John Solomon, at left (file photo). Prosecutors consider each one of Giuliani and the other lawyers’ acts to be crucial evidence of a potential violation of law, according to sources close to the investigation. Prosecutors believe Giuliani and two others may have violated law over agreement that would have seen them win lucrative contracts.

 

Justice Department logo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His lawyer declined to speak to reporters outside the courtroom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

cy vance resized djt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Nov. 3

 

jeanine djt jeanine pirro 2018 book

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 1

capitol weare the storm flyer resizedcapitol riot shutterstock capitol

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

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

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

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

Key findings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

October

Oct. 30

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct. 28

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

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

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

donald trump money palmer report Custom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

...

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

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

 

Oct. 27

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct. 26

 

deborah birx djt white house photo cropped

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct. 25

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"During 1/6, I, like many, texted loved ones goodbye. Countless people have asked if I've been ok since & I've always answered truthfully that i was fine. But this article was triggering. How could colleagues be traitors? This makes my blood boil."

Rolling Stone, Jan. 6 Protest Organizers Say They Participated in ‘Dozens’ of Planning Meetings With Members of Congress and White House Staff, Hunter Walker, Oct. 24, 2021. Hunter Walker is the author of the politics newsletter The Uprising. He previously spent the entirety of the Trump administration as a White House correspondent for Yahoo News. Walker has also written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, NBC News, Vanity Fair's HIVE website, and New York Magazine, among others.

Two sources are communicating with House investigators and detailed a stunning series of allegations to Rolling Stone, including a promise of a “blanket pardon” from the Oval Office.

Rolling Stone reports "planners of the pro-Trump rallies that took place in Washington, D.C., have begun communicating with congressional investigators and sharing new information about what happened when the former president's supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. Two of these people have spoken to Rolling Stone extensively in recent weeks and detailed explosive allegations that multiple members of Congress were intimately involved in planning both Trump's efforts to overturn his election loss and the Jan. 6 events that turned violent."

Oct. 23

 

The Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington, DC (Photo by Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK via WikiMedia Commons).

The Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington, DC (Photo by Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK via WikiMedia Commons).

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Ahead of Jan. 6, Willard hotel in downtown D.C. was a Trump team ‘command center’ for effort to deny Biden the presidency, Jacqueline Alemany, Emma Brown, Tom Hamburger and Jon Swaine, Oct. 23, 2021. They called it the “command center,” a set of rooms and suites in the posh Willard Hotel a block from the White House where some of President Donald Trump’s most loyal lieutenants were working day and night with one goal in mind: overturning the results of the 2020 election.

The Jan. 6 rally on the Ellipse and the ensuing attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob would draw the world’s attention to the quest to physically block Congress from affirming Joe Biden’s victory. But the activities at the Willard that week add to an emerging picture of a less visible effort, mapped out in memos by a conservative pro-Trump legal scholar and pursued by a team of presidential advisers and lawyers seeking to pull off what they claim was a legal strategy to reinstate Trump for a second term.

They were led by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani. Former chief White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon was an occasional presence as the effort’s senior political adviser. Former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik was there as an investigator. Also present was John Eastman, the scholar, who outlined scenarios for denying Biden the presidency in an Oval Office meeting on Jan. 4 with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

The effort underscores the extent to which Trump and a handful of true believers were working until the last possible moment to subvert the will of the voters, seeking to pressure Pence to delay or even block certification of the election, leveraging any possible constitutional loophole to test the boundaries of American democracy.

ny times logoNew York Times, Internal Alarm, Public Shrugs: Facebook’s Employees Dissect Its Election Role, Ryan Mac and Sheera Frenkel, Oct. 23, 2021 (print ed. ).  Company documents show that employees repeatedly raised red flags about the spread of misinformation before and after the contested November vote; he internal dispatches reveal the degree to which Facebook knew of extremist movements and groups on its site that were trying to polarize American voters.

Sixteen months before last November’s presidential election, a researcher at Facebook described an alarming development. She was getting content about the conspiracy theory QAnon within a week of opening an experimental account, she wrote in an internal report.

On Nov. 5, two days after the election, another Facebook employee posted a message alerting colleagues that comments with “combustible election misinformation” were visible below many posts.

Four days after that, a company data scientist wrote in a note to his co-workers that 10 percent of all U.S. views of political material — a startlingly high figure — were of posts that alleged the vote was fraudulent.

In each case, Facebook’s employees sounded an alarm about misinformation and inflammatory content on the platform and urged action — but the company failed or struggled to address the issues. The internal dispatches were among a set of Facebook documents obtained by The New York Times that give new insight into what happened inside the social network before and after the November election, when the company was caught flat-footed as users weaponized its platform to spread lies about the vote.

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Facebook documents show how platform fueled rage ahead of Jan. 6 attack on Capitol, Craig Timberg, Elizabeth Dwoskin and Reed Albergotti, Oct. 23, 2021 (print ed.). Thousands of internal documents turned over to the SEC show what Facebook knew about the growth of the Stop the Steal movement on its platform in the weeks before a pro-Trump mob overran the Capitol — and the anger that many employees felt at their company’s failure to stop the Jan. 6 violence.

Relief flowed through Facebook in the days after the 2020 presidential election. The company had cracked down on misinformation, foreign interference and hate speech — and employees believed they had largely succeeded in limiting problems that, four years earlier, had brought on perhaps the most serious crisis in Facebook’s scandal-plagued history.

facebook logo“It was like we could take a victory lap,” said a former employee, one of many who spoke for this story on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive matters. “There was a lot of the feeling of high-fiving in the office.”

Many who had worked on the election, exhausted from months of unrelenting toil, took leaves of absence or moved on to other jobs. Facebook rolled back many of the dozens of election-season measures that it had used to suppress hateful, deceptive content. A ban the company had imposed on the original Stop the Steal group stopped short of addressing dozens of look-alikes that popped up in what an internal Facebook after-action report called “coordinated” and “meteoric” growth. Meanwhile, the company’s Civic Integrity team was largely disbanded by a management that had grown weary of the team’s criticisms of the company, according to former employees.

But the high fives, it soon became clear, were premature.

On Jan. 6, Facebook staffers expressed their horror in internal messages as they watched thousands of Trump supporters shouting “stop the steal” and bearing the symbols of QAnon — a violent ideology that had spread widely on Facebook before an eventual crackdown — thronged the U.S. Capitol. Many bashed their way inside and battled to halt the constitutionally mandated certification of President Biden’s election victory.

How one of America’s ugliest days unraveled inside and outside the Capitol
The face of President Donald Trump appears on large screens as supporters participate in a rally in Washington. (John Minchillo/AP)

Measures of online mayhem surged alarmingly on Facebook, with user reports of “false news” hitting nearly 40,000 per hour, an internal report that day showed. On Facebook-owned Instagram, the account reported most often for inciting violence was @realdonaldtrump — the president’s official account, the report showed.

Facebook has never publicly disclosed what it knows about how its platforms, including Instagram and WhatsApp, helped fuel that day’s mayhem. The company rejected its own Oversight Board’s recommendation that it study how its policies contributed to the violence and has yet to fully comply with requests for data from the congressional commission investigating the events.

But thousands of pages of internal company documents disclosed to the Securities and Exchange Commission by the whistleblower Frances Haugen offer important new evidence of Facebook’s role in the events. This story is based on those documents, as well on others independently obtained by The Washington Post, and on interviews with current and former Facebook employees. The documents include outraged posts on Workplace, an internal message system.

“This is not a new problem,” one unnamed employee fumed on Workplace on Jan. 6. “We have been watching this behavior from politicians like Trump, and the — at best — wishy washy actions of company leadership, for years now. We have been reading the [farewell] posts from trusted, experienced and loved colleagues who write that they simply cannot conscience working for a company that does not do more to mitigate the negative effects on its platform.”

djt march 2020 Custom

Medium, Personal Communications Commentary: When old friends choose MAGA over morality it’s time to say goodbye, James Stephens, Oct. 23, 2021. Ironically, it was Facebook ( of all places ) that shined the light of truth.

facebook logoI’m not sorry that our Facebook posts about the pandemic ended our friendship.

I grieve, but I’m not sorry.

Your posts are the evidence I didn’t want but needed.

You aren’t the person I thought you were.

donald trump twitterIt turns out much of what I thought we had in common was only superficially true. The ties that bind weren’t holding anything together. It appeared that way because nothing ever tested us — until recently.

Trump and Covid have laid bare the truth.

I see a blessing in that.

God can cause good to spring forth from bad circumstances.

Until the next day, around January 7th of 2021, I thought you were a loyal citizen of the United States of America, even if I didn’t understand your devotion to Donald Trump. I didn’t like it, but I could blame Fox News for your misguided beliefs about MAGA, and Covid, and all the rest. I know you’re a busy person with inadequate time to digest it all. Besides, you’ve always voted for Republicans, and it wasn’t a problem between us.

It appeared that we had religion in common.

For me, aspiring to live the teachings of Jesus is the pinnacle of the virtues I want in a friend. We attended the same kind of evangelical church services, so I assumed we were in one accord in the moral primacy of Christ.

But, the pandemic showed me your true motivation.

The aftermath of the presidential election confirmed my dismay.

I was shocked to find out we worshipped different gods. I am devoted to the God who is Love, and you the god of callous selfishness and fear.

These two cannot co-exist.

Like the Holocaust, there is no other side of this story for future history teachers to balance. All they can do is try to explain how so many Americans became enthralled and bewitched by self-centeredness and racism.

You seem to think Uncle Sam is a sacred being, and that Trump is his prophet.

I can’t go along with that.

“Q” looks like an upside-down noose.

You tell me that I’m a sheep, and I don’t know the real truth. But you keep spreading The Big Lie. You tell me that you won’t live in fear, but you’re terrified by vaccine myths. You tell me that wearing a mask is a sign of capitulation to tyranny, but you are willing to lie, kill, and die for that orange tyrant.

I used to think you meant well.

Things have changed us into obvious enemies.

Oct. 22

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s Rule 23 conundrum, Robert Harrington, right, Oct. 22, 2021. The new era of liberty has at last arrived. Finally, a social network where you can say what you like, when robert harrington twitteryou like, about anything you like, and never fear the social media politically correct police. We have our freedom and it comes directly from the hand of Don. Free at last. Free at last. Thank God almighty. We’re free at last.

Yes, Donald Trump has created the quintessential unfettered social media group called “Truth Social.” According to his shouty son, Don Junior, at Truth Social you will now be “free to exercise your First Amendment rights.”

bill palmer report logo headerExcept for one thing. Rule 23 of the Terms of Service. You are not allowed to “disparage, tarnish, or otherwise harm, in our opinion, us and/or the Site.” In other words, welcome to Taliban Social. The last time we had this kind of “Truth” it was spelled “Pravda.”

Once again we see in microcosm what we have seen all along. When Republicans want freedom what they really want is freedom for them and not for us. Freedom to attack us and we have to sit there and take it. Freedom to Benghazi Investigation us and we can’t Insurrection Hearing them back. The relevant part of rule 23 — Catch-23, if you will — are the words “in our opinion.” Put another way, anything you say that they don’t like can be interpreted as a disparagement against them — in their opinion.

It is the first rule of despotism that you cannot criticize the despot. Republicans simply cannot stop themselves from being despotic. It is so deep in their natures that, for them, the very right to free speech comes with heavily freighted conditions.

But this is all what the British call a storm in a teacup, of course. Trump’s new social media platform is just another joke, and it will remain a joke. No one is going to care about what is being said there. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, those are the social media platforms people are interested in. No one is going to give a crap about some racist rant over on some radical right hangout with the pretentious name of “Truth Social.” You don’t need to be a Wall Street guru or business boffin to predict it. “Truth Social” has got failure written all over it.

Say what you like about Facebook — and I do, all the time. Which is finally the point. While it’s true I have many Facebook friends who’ve done their time in Facebook jail (and for reasons that I honestly don’t understand, I’ve never spent a night there) we can still post memes critical of Mark Zuckerberg with impunity. Such freedom is gone forever — let’s call it what it is — on “Trump Social.” Because nothing good can or ever will come from Trump. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

Oct. 21

djt steve bannon

Donald Trump, left, and Steve Bannon, who has been quoted as backing the idea of a Trump reinstatement, saying that the "return of Trump" will be in "2022 or maybe before."

washington post logoWashington Post, House votes to hold Bannon in contempt for refusing to comply with Jan. 6 subpoena, Felicia Sonmez, Marianna Sotomayor and Jacqueline Alemany, Oct. 21, 2021. Former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon (shown above in a file photo) has argued through his attorney that he can’t respond to the subpoena because of executive privilege asserted by former president Donald Trump. The matter now goes to the Justice Department, which will decide whether to pursue the contempt referral.

U.S. House logoThe House voted Thursday to hold former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress for his refusal to comply with a subpoena issued by the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

The measure was approved on a 229-to-202 vote, with nine Republicans joining all Democrats present in voting “yes.” Thursday’s full House vote comes days after the members of the bipartisan select committee voted unanimously in favor of the resolution.

Bannon has previously argued through his attorney that he can’t respond to the subpoena because of executive privilege asserted by former president Donald Trump.

Justice Department log circularThe matter now goes to the Justice Department, which will decide whether to pursue the contempt referral. Contempt of Congress is a misdemeanor criminal offense that can result in up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

Asked at a House Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday how the Justice Department would handle such a referral, Attorney General Merrick Garland said it “will do what it always does in such circumstances — it will apply the facts and the law.”

Legal experts have cast doubt on the merit of Bannon’s defense of his defiance of the subpoena and say the former president’s immunity from congressional subpoena extends only to his closest White House advisers — and not to private citizens like Bannon.

Trump’s sweeping claims of executive privilege to shield his activities and his aides and allies from congressional scrutiny have also been questioned by constitutional experts and lawyers.

Trump filed a 26-page lawsuit on Monday to block the House committee from receiving records for its inquiry from the National Archives, arguing that the committee’s document request serves no legislative purpose, that it undermines Trump’s executive privilege, and that the committee has provided Trump’s legal team with insufficient time to review the records requests.

 

Trump-supporting former law school dean John Eastman, left, helps Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani inflame pro-Trump protesters in front the White House before the insurrection riot at the U.S. Capitol to prevent the presidential election certification of Joe Biden's presidency on Jan. 6, 2021 (Los Angeles Times photo). Trump-supporting former law school dean John Eastman, left, helps Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani inflame pro-Trump protesters in front the White House before the insurrection riot at the U.S. Capitol to prevent the presidential election certification of Joe Biden's presidency on Jan. 6, 2021 (Los Angeles Times photo). 

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Move over Watergate, here comes Willardgate, Wayne Madsen (left, author of 21 books, including the forthcoming Trump's Fourth Reich, widely published commentator and former Navy intelligence officer), Oct. 21, 2021. Long the king of Washington wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallpolitical scandals, the Watergate office, residential, and hotel complex stands to be eclipsed by "Willardgate."

Watergate lent its name to countless other political "gate" scandals due to its being the location where the Democratic National Committee headquarters was burglarized by Richard Nixon re-election henchmen, an act that ultimately brought down the administration of Richard Nixon. Willardgate, however, may replace Watergate as the granddaddy of all DC scandals because, as with Guy Fawkes Day in England, Willardgate has become synonymous with "Treason and Plot."

wayne madesen report logoThe Willard Hotel, which is a mere few blocks from the White House and lies in-between the Executive Mansion and the Trump International Hotel, was the scene of a January 6th eve "War Council" meeting involving top Trump advisers. Documents subpoenaed by the House Select Committee on the January 6th insurrection point to the Willard War Council as planning the storming of the Capitol the next day in order to delay or suspend the certification of Joe Biden's presidential election victory.

It is also becoming clearer that the Willard Hotel served as a nexus between the Oval Office and insurrection perpetrators, many of whom were staying at Trump's hotel, with a few others at the J.W. Marriott Hotel, which is across 14th street from the Willard. The Willard apparently acted as a relay point for a "sneaker net" in order to limit the electronic communications of the conspirators. E-mail and phone call records could and would be made available to law enforcement as "smoking gun" evidence if the plotters' plan failed, which, of course, it did.

There is a major difference between how the Watergate and Willard have gone down in American history. The Watergate scandal demonstrated that the Nixon White House was not above the law and the affair ultimately cost Nixon his presidency. Willardgate, on the other hand, has thus far shown that Trump may get away with almost having carried out a coup.

washington post logoWashington Post, Pranksters have already defaced Trump’s new social network, Drew Harwell, Oct. 21, 2021. Truth Social has some unusual rules for a Trump-run site: It reserves the right to ban users and safeguard itself from lawsuits with Section 230 protections. It also prohibits ‘excessive use of capital letters.’

Former president Donald Trump and his team declared Wednesday night that they would soon launch a “media powerhouse” that would help them triumph in their long-running war against Big Tech. But within hours, pranksters found what appeared to be an unreleased test version and posted a picture of a defecating pig to the “donaldjtrump” account.

trump truth platformThe site has since been pulled offline — evidence that Trump is likely to face a daunting challenge in building an Internet business that can stand on its own.

Banned by all major social networks after his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, Trump has for months agitated to regain the online megaphone that once blasted his voice around the world. In a presentation released Wednesday by his new media company, Trump Media & Technology Group, his team hailed the new social network as the first tentpole for a Trump-led media, news and Internet empire that would one day compete with Disney, CNN and Facebook.

But the site’s early hours revealed lax security, rehashed features and a flurry of bizarre design decisions. An open sign-up page allowed anyone to use the site shortly after it was revealed, sparking the creation of the “donaldjtrump” account and the pig posting. A Washington Post reporter was able to register and post under the account name “mikepence” without any stops in place. New sign-ups were blocked shortly after.

The site looks almost entirely like a Twitter clone: A user can post Truths, which are like tweets, or Re-Truths, which are retweets. There’s also a news feed, called the Truth Feed, a notification system so users can know “who’s interacting with your TRUTH’s,” the social network’s App Store profile states.

trump defecating pig

Lawyers, Guns, Money, Opinion: Of chumps and pig dumps, Shakezula, Oct. 21, 2021. Is this a picture of a pooping pig or Truth Social?

Former president Donald Trump and his team declared Wednesday night that they would soon launch a “media powerhouse” that would help them triumph in their long-running war against Big Tech. But within hours, pranksters found what appeared to be an unreleased test version and posted a picture of a defecating pig to the “donaldjtrump” account.

The site has since been pulled offline — evidence that Trump is likely to face a daunting challenge in building an Internet business that can stand on its own.

donald trump twitterYeah. No. The evidence it will face daunting challenges is that Orangefinger is involved in it in any way. Merry pranksters are a delightful extra.

The site’s code shows it runs a mostly unmodified version of Mastodon, the free, open-source software launched in 2016 that anyone can use to run a self-made social networking site.

I’m not saying it would be impossible to build a “news and Internet empire that would one day compete with Disney, CNN and Facebook,” on open-source code. I am saying that the klutzes, putzes and yutzes who would be allowed to work for TFG couldn’t do it even if they didn’t have a coke-addled clown giving them new instructions every five seconds.

parler logoThe site is likely to undermine other conservative-friendly social media alternatives, such as Gettr, Gab and Parler, that have sought to win over pro-Trump audiences.

This is an understatement. Being on the original official MAGA platform will be a huge draw for his fans. Plus, the competing sites will be treated to all the venom he’s capable of spraying.

Assuming the platform doesn’t collapse under the combined weight of bots, pranksters, constant format changes, and incompetence. Which it will. So never mind. The next scene will be blaming Big Tech for his failure and demanding money from the rubes.

Oct. 20

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Organization, Already Under Indictment, Faces New Criminal Inquiry, William K. Rashbaum and Ben Protess, Oct. 20, 2021. The investigation, by the Westchester County district attorney’s office, increases the legal scrutiny of the former president and his family business.

Former President Donald J. Trump’s family business, which is already under indictment in Manhattan, is facing a criminal investigation by another prosecutor’s office that has begun to examine financial dealings at a golf course the company owns, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

In recent months, the district attorney’s office in suburban Westchester County, N.Y., has subpoenaed records from the course, Trump National Golf Club Westchester, and the town of Ossining, which sets property taxes on the course, a sprawling private club that is perched on a hill north of New York City and boasts a 101-foot waterfall.

The full scope of the investigation could not be determined, but the district attorney, Mimi E. Rocah, appears to be focused at least in part on whether Mr. Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, misled local officials about the property’s value to reduce its taxes, one of the people said.

Ms. Rocah, a Democrat, has not accused anyone at the company of wrongdoing, and it is unclear whether the investigation is examining Mr. Trump’s conduct or if it would ultimately lead to any charges. Still, the Westchester inquiry intensifies the law enforcement scrutiny on Mr. Trump and his family business. Both have been the subject of a long-running criminal investigation by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which is examining a range of potential financial and tax improprieties.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Interviewed for 4.5 Hours in Protesters’ Lawsuit, Jonah E. Bromwich, Oct. 20, 2021 (print ed.). The former president was deposed as part of a lawsuit accusing his security guards of roughing up protesters in 2015.

djt hands up mouth open CustomFormer President Donald J. Trump was deposed under oath for four and a half hours this week in connection with a lawsuit filed by a group of protesters who said his bodyguards attacked them in 2015.

The questioning took place in a conference room on the 25th floor of Trump Tower in Manhattan on Monday, according to one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers, Benjamin N. Dictor.

Mr. Dictor said that the former president had been asked about his relationship with other defendants — including his longtime personal bodyguard Keith Schiller — as well as a witness in the case, Matthew Calamari. Mr. Calamari is an executive at the Trump Organization who prosecutors at the Manhattan district attorney’s office have been weighing whether to charge as part of their long-running investigation into Mr. Trump and his family business.

“We think that the fact that Donald J. Trump sat for deposition yesterday is a significant point, simply because this is the first time that the former president has been subject to judicial process since taking office,” Mr. Dictor said.

In a statement released on Monday, Mr. Trump called the suit “baseless,” and said that the plaintiffs “have no one to blame but themselves.” But he added that he had been “pleased to have had the opportunity to tell my side of this ridiculous story.”

Mr. Dictor, a labor lawyer, also represents the New York NewsGuild, a union representing the employees of various news publications including The New York Times.

Other topics that may have arisen in the deposition could also be of interest to investigators and to the general public, including any discussion of the former president’s net worth, which is relevant to the case because the plaintiffs have asked for punitive damages.

The protesters’ lawsuit has had a long life span. It was filed in 2015, shortly after the demonstration at Trump Tower, in which the five plaintiffs, disturbed by Mr. Trump’s campaign trail comments about Mexican people, showed up at Trump Tower holding signs that said “Make America Racist Again.”

Oct. 16

djt jeffrey epstein headshots

Palmer Report, Opinion: The ghost of Jeffrey Epstein is coming back to haunt Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Oct. 16, 2021. Jeffrey Epstein’s remaining secrets died with him in that prison cell – or did they? We’ve all been waiting to see whether or not the ongoing criminal case against Epstein’s longtime sidekick Ghislaine Maxwell ends up unearthing Epstein’s remaining secrets. But in the meantime, Epstein’s ghost is resurfacing in a new and strange way.

bill palmer report logo headerMichael Wolff’s new insider book claims that Steve Bannon was terrified of the secrets that Jeffrey Epstein was holding onto about Donald Trump, and that Bannon in fact admitted as much to Epstein. Of course this kind of insider chatter always raises questions about just who would have told Wolff about this, why this source would have such information, what their motivation would be for providing it, and how slanted it might be as a result.

But those questions aside, you can’t overlook the timing. Steve Bannon is just a couple days away from facing federal criminal prosecution for his failure to testify to the January 6th Committee – and he’s trying to dodge that testimony because he’s afraid of further incriminating himself in the ongoing criminal case against him in New York.

Bannon is on track for prison either way, and we can’t imagine he’s willing to take the fall by himself. If anything, a snake like Bannon will end up spilling his guts around everyone and everything in order to try to reduce or eliminate his own prison time. So if Bannon really does know what Epstein knew about Trump, he may end up giving it up as he tries to get himself off the hook. The thing about these types is they’re never loyal to each other for any longer than they have to be.

Oct. 15

michael wolff too famous landslide coversDaily Beast, Jeffrey Epstein Bragged Bill Barr was in Charge, Not Trump, Lachlan Cartwright, Oct. 15, 2021. The pedophile told Ehud Barak he had “direct knowledge” that Barr was in charge in DC, according to a new book that also claims Steve Bannon gave Epstein advice on his PR strategy.

daily beast logoA controversial new book from the journalist Michael Wolff claims that the pedophile Jeffrey Epstein bragged that Bill Barr was the man in charge during Trump’s time in office and that the president “lets someone else be in charge, until other people realize that someone, other than him, is in charge. When that happens, you’re no longer in charge.”

The tome, Too Famous: The Rich, the Powerful, the Wishful, the Notorious and the Damned, also claims that Steve Bannon and former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak tried to help Epstein rehabilitate his image, even suggesting that he try to get favorable coverage on Rachel Maddow or 60 Minutes.

According to Wolff—who reportedly tried to buy New York Magazine with Epstein and disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein—Barak asked Epstein the million-dollar question of who was in charge at the White House. “‘What I want to know from you all-knowing people is: Who is in charge, who is,’ [Barak] said, putting on an American accent over his own often impenetrable Israeli one, ‘calling the shots?’ This was a resumption of the reliable conversation around Epstein: the ludicrousness and vagaries of Donald Trump—once among Epstein’s closest friends. ‘Here is the question every government is asking. Trump is obviously not in charge because he is—’”

Wolff claims that Epstein interrupted the former politico and called Trump—his former playboy party pal—a “moron,” then confided, “At the moment, Bill Barr is in charge.” The pedophile financier continued: “It’s Donald’s pattern...he lets someone else be in charge, until other people realize that someone, other than him, is in charge. When that happens, you’re no longer in charge.”

Barak allegedly pressed, “But let me ask you, why do you think this Barr took this job, knowing all this?”

“The motivation was simple: money,” Epstein replied. “Barr believes he’ll get a big payday out of this ... If he keeps Donald in office, manages to hold the Justice Department together, and help the Republican Party survive Donald, he thinks this is worth big money to him. I speak from direct knowledge. Extremely direct. Trust me.”

The book also claims that Epstein and Barak, along with Epstein’s lawyer Reid Weingarten, called Steve Bannon—“a new friend [who] had been introduced in December 2017”—and talked over a PR strategy with him to rehabilitate Epstein’s image after the damaging expose by The Miami Herald dredged up allegations that Epstein had molested and raped dozens of underage girls at his properties in Palm Beach, New York, and on his private island in the Caribbean. (Bannon told The New York Times that he disputed Wolff’s account of the conversation and that he “never media-trained anyone.”)

Wolff claims that Bannon laughed to Epstein, “You were the only person I was afraid of during the campaign,” and that Epstein replied, “As well you should have been.”

The pair had “deeply bonded,” the book says, “partly out of a shared incredulity about Donald Trump ... Bannon was often astonished by what Epstein knew.”

Wolff paints Bannon as a man who was eager to advise Epstein on rehabbing his image, despite the many serious accusations against him that he’d serially preyed on very young and very vulnerable girls. “‘So where is the comms piece in this?’” the book quotes Bannon as asking. “‘Who is handling it? Who’s on point? Are these your people, Reid?’”

The book says Bannon pressed Weingarten, Epstein and Barak about why there was “no communications team” and asked “What was the response from Jeffrey’s side to the Florida story? Who engaged? ... He probably can’t be hated any more. We’ve flatlined on this. He can’t get deader. While the chances of reviving him are remote, what’s the alternative?”

Oct. 14

djt phone amazon public images

seth abramson graphicProof via Substack, Investigation and Commentary: Revelation Involving January 2 Call Between Trump and Insurrectionist Leaders Confirms That Trump Coordinated the January 6 Coup Personally, Seth Abramson, left, Oct. 13-14, 2021 (excerpt continued below). In view of this new information, there can no longer be any doubt that the former president (shown above at the White House in a file photo), his lawyers, and top White House advisers were intimately involved in coordinating the chaos of January 6.

Oct. 12

 

john eastmanProof via Substack, Investigation: Trump Lawyer John Eastman Speaks Out About January 6—and Makes Everything Worse for Trump, Seth Abramson, Oct. 11-12, seth abramson graphic2021. In an op-ed for the Sacramento Bee, Eastman, above—one of Trump's lawyers on January 6 and a participant in the former president's Willard Hotel war room—offers a stunning defense of Trump's coup conspiracy.

By January 6, 2021, not a single state legislature in the United States—whether GOP-led or otherwise—had voted to de-certify its presidential electors. Indeed, every state had certified its 2020 election results, including every GOP-led state legislature that sent Biden electors to D.C. for the joint session of Congress scheduled for January 6.

There was, in short, no way for Trump to receive a second term as President of the United States as dawn broke on January 6 and his legal team, including Giuliani and Eastman, met in the Willard Hotel to stage what one participant (domestic extremist Joe Oltmann) would call a “war room.”

seth abramson proof logoIn his Sacremento Bee op-ed, Eastman admits, stunningly, that on January 6 Trump was suffering from the “absence of certifications of alternate Trump electors from the contested states’ legislatures.” In other words, he admits the “Trump electors” he and Giuliani and Trump’s campaign brought to D.C. had no legal status or significance.

Every time Trump or his allies open their mouths to speak about January 6, they bury themselves and the former president further. No wonder Trump had engaged in such extraordinary actions to try to keep his advisers quiet. In Eastman’s case, Trump may have believed that the fact that Eastman was his lawyer on January 6 would keep him quiet; certainly, with the help of Robert Costello, Trump had successfully kept Rudy Giuliani quiet about the most sensitive components of his coup plotting with Trump.

But now that Eastman has spoken, what he’s said cannot be ignored: not by the FBI, not by the House January 6 Committee, and not by the American people. Eastman’s words confirm that the Trumpist coup conspiracy of January 6—which encompassed Trump’s legal team, political staffers, and top advisers within the White House—was centered on extra-legal actions that could only be accomplished by the very paramilitary entities Trump had just spoken with hours earlier.

In the next 72 hours, Proof will issue a breaking news report explaining this last sentence. It’s being written up right now.

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books and edited five anthologies.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the Ph.D. program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include a Trump trilogy: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020); Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019); and Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018).

 

djt handwave file

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: We still don’t know if Trump’s aides will comply with Jan. 6 subpoenas, Jacqueline Alemany and Theodoric Meyer, Oct. 12, 2021. Will they or won't they? The select committee probing the Jan. 6 insurrection has commanded several prominent aides to former president Donald Trump appear this week before lawmakers.

But with just two days to go until the first ex-adviser is scheduled to appear, it's unclear whether any of them will show.

Mark MeadowsThe select panel ordered Mark Meadows, right, Trump's last White House chief of staff, along with ex-Trump advisers Kash Patel and Stephen Bannon, to this week submit depositions surrounding the storming of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob aiming to overturn President Biden's election.

Meadows and Patel are scheduled to provide testimony on Oct. 15 and 14, respectively, according to Sept. 23 letters transmitting subpoenas from the committee. And despite Trump's demands his former allies not comply with congressional investigators, the committee confirmed last week the two former aides are “engaging” with them.

If they don't show, the panel's chair and ranking member say they will rapidly consider criminal contempt of Congress. Which, to say the least, would dramatically escalate the situation.

Investigators were delayed in serving a subpoena to longtime Trump adviser Dan Scavino, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, potentially putting Scavino on a delayed timetable to provide documents and testimony.

Bannon, however, is not cooperating. He said last week he would not comply with the Jan. 6 panel's sweeping request for documents and testimony, setting up a legal and political battle as the committee seeks to uncover what Trump and his aides did during the Jan. 6 attack and the events leading up to it.

 

djt tump int hotel

wsj logoWall Street Journal, Trump Close to a Deal to Sell Marquee Washington, D.C., Hotel, Staff Report, Oct. 12, 2021. Miami-based CGI Merchant Group in talks to pay ex-president’s family company around $370 million for property in former Old Post Office. The Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., attracted supporters of Donald Trump, Republican lawmakers, lobbyists and others with business before the Trump administration.

djt hands up mouth open CustomFormer President Donald Trump’s family company is in advanced discussions to sell the rights to its opulent Washington, D.C., hotel in a deal worth more than $370 million, say people familiar with the matter.

CGI Merchant Group, a Miami-based investment firm, is in talks to acquire the lease on the hotel, these people said. The Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C., is located in the former Old Post Office, a short walk down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House in a building featuring some of the largest guest rooms in the capital.

The property is owned by the federal government, but with extensions the lease runs close to 100 years. CGI has also entered into discussions with hotel operators, including Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc.’s Waldorf Astoria luxury brand, about removing the Trump name in favor of that of another hotel manager, these people said.

The lease deal could ultimately fetch closer to $400 million, which would represent roughly a doubling of the money the Trump Organization spent to convert the government building into a luxury hotel, said one of the people familiar with the matter.

The Trump Organization initially hoped to sell the lease for close to $500 million, a person familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal in 2019.

The hotel sales talks have been heating up as Democratic-controlled House committees have been investigating and holding hearings on potential conflicts of interest and emoluments issues surrounding Mr. Trump.

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform has been examining the lease terms between the Trump Organization and the federal government’s General Services Administration for use of the Old Post Office. The deal predates Mr. Trump’s entry into national politics, but the committee is probing how well Mr. Trump managed conflicts of interest while president.

A Friday report from the House committee said the hotel lost more than $70 million between its opening in 2016 and last year, leading the company to inject at least $24 million in aid.

The Trumps have disputed those findings, though their government filings show a slowdown in business. The hotel generated about $150 million in revenue over four years, according to Mr. Trump’s financial disclosures while president. His most recent disclosure, which covered all of 2020 and the first few weeks of 2021, showed the hotel’s revenue fell to $15 million, compared with $40 million in 2019.

The Washington, D.C., hotel has been a jewel in the Trump family portfolio. In 2012, the Trumps beat out some of the most experienced and deepest-pocketed names in the lodging business, including Marriott International Inc. and Hilton, for the rights to the lease.

The family’s pledge to spend about $200 million renovating and converting the 19th century post office into a modern luxury hotel was the highest offer, say people familiar with the matter.

About two years ago, the Trumps decided to test the sales market for the hotel’s lease. The family initially hoped it could sell the lease for close to $500 million, a person familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal at the time.

Oct. 11 djt steve bannon

Donald Trump, left, and Steve Bannon, who has been quoted as backing the idea of a Trump reinstatement, saying that the "return of Trump" will be in "2022 or maybe before."

Proof via Substack, Investigative Commentary: If You Know Who Steve Bannon's Lawyer Is, You Understand How Closely Trump Is Linked to the Cover-Up of His Own seth abramson graphicRole in the January 6 Conspiracy, Seth Abramson, left, Oct. 10-11, 2021. Suspicious, possibly corrupt conduct by lawyer Robert Costello confirms Trump is doing more than using public declarations to obstruct the January 6 investigation—he's using his usual backroom ploys.

seth abramson proof logoIntroduction: Perhaps no top Donald Trump adviser was more important to the former president’s January 6 attack on our democracy than Steve Bannon. Whereas Kimberly Guilfoyle, Katrina Pierson, and Peter Navarro acted as adjuncts to Trump’s will, Bannon’s role was to shape it—to give his patron a vision of what was possible if he’d simply cease thinking (or continue not to think) of the future of the United States or its rule of law.

We know that Bannon recently revealed, in a conference call with GOP leaders, a plan to “control this country” via “20,000 shock troops”—neo-fascists personally recruited by Bannon and ready to seize control of America’s ship of state as soon as the GOP is again in power.

And we know that Bannon now claims the power to defy Congressional subpoenas, with his fig-leaf in asserting this unprecedented right being the absurd declaration that anyone who speaks to a president is protected from ever having to reveal what was said in such a conversation—whether or not they were a member of the federal executive branch when the conversation occurred. It’s rank nonsense, of course (and dangerous nonsense, at that).

But what Americans must now understand is how closely coordinated with Trump Bannon’s defiance of U.S. law appears to be—and how vital to Trump’s own interests it is that Bannon remain quiet, given the white supremacist Trump adviser’s infamous Insurrection Eve claim that “all hell is going to break loose [on January 6].”

Robert Costello Is Either Donald Trump’s Lawyer or the Equivalent

On December 11, 2020, the then-under-indictment Bannon hired Robert J. Costello as his criminal defense lawyer. Thirteen months earlier, in November 2019, Costello had been hired by Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani, who was then facing—and still faces—a federal criminal investigation of his own.
It took under six weeks for Trump’s lawyer’s lawyer to get Trump to pardon Bannon.

You might think that Bannon’s ease in getting a pardon from Trump was due in part to him working for Trump as an adviser during the period he was seeking that pardon, and you’d be right.

But what you might not realize is that Bannon’s connection to Trump came not just in phone calls with the then-president or meetings with the president’s attorney, but via his own lawyer Robert Costello—who, it turns out, is effectively Trump’s advocate as much as he is Bannon’s. And Costello doesn’t just seem to work for Trump, his specific task appears to be getting men who have dirt on Trump to stay quiet in exchange for Trump’s aid.

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books and edited five anthologies.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the Ph.D. program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include a Trump trilogy: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020); Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019); and Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018).

 

oan logo

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective: Trump’s favorite channel, One America News, was never ‘news’ at all, Margaret Sullivan, right, Oct. 11, 2021 (print ed.). A stunning margaret sullivan 2015 photoReuters exposé demonstrates that for OAN, “it was never, never the full truth” when covering Trump.

The whitewashing and denialism of the Jan. 6 insurrection started at One America News on that very same day.

As President Donald Trump tried to overturn the legitimate results of the presidential election — inciting a deadly riot along the way — the cable robert herring sr croppedchannel’s brass were sending an all-too-clear message to their team about how to cover this horrifying event.

“Please DO NOT say ‘Trump Supporters Storm Capitol. . . .’ Simply call them demonstrators or protestors. . . . DO NOT CALL IT A RIOT!!!” came the impassioned email directive from a news director to the staff.

The next day, OAN’s top boss, founder Robert Herring Sr., left, ordered producers to get in line behind the president, as he floated the conspiracy theory that it wasn’t Trump supporters breaking those windows and storming those barricades — that it was the leftist movement reuters logoantifa instead.

When Reuters, the global news agency, published its two-part investigation last week of OAN, the most startling finding was that AT&T indirectly provided 90 percent of the channel’s revenue, after letting it be known that it was eager to host a new conservative cable network.

att logoYes, the world’s largest communications company played a major role in creating and sustaining the far-right channel that spins wacky ideas, promotes fraudulent covid-19 cures and, in its fervor, makes the pro-Trump market leader, Fox News, look almost reasonable. (AT&T has challenged aspects of Reuters’ reporting and said that the company, through its offshoot, DirecTV, provides “viewpoints across the political spectrum.”)

But just as noteworthy as AT&T’s involvement was the way Reuters’s John Shiffman pulled back the curtain on how the San Diego-based network operates, relying in part on court documents.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The fight between Biden and Trump over executive privilege should be decided in favor of the sitting president, Laurent Sacharoff (law professor at the University of Arkansas School of Law), Oct. 11, 2021 (print ed.). Whose privilege is it anyway?

The Jan. 6 select committee’s investigation has escalated along two main fronts. It has demanded Trump-era documents from the National Archives and subpoenaed his former aides to testify.

In the past few days, former president Donald Trump has objected to both inquiries by asserting executive privilege, in a formal letter to the National Archives and by way of individual letters to each potential witness. He is doing so, he has said, “in defense of the Office of the Presidency.”

President Biden has said that the extraordinary circumstances of the Jan. 6 inquiry justify waiving claims of privilege, at least over the archive documents. As for witnesses, Biden has hinted that he will not assert the privilege over most information central to the inquiry into the Jan. 6 attack.

These inconsistent positions raise two questions: Do former presidents have constitutional authority to invoke executive privilege to keep private their communications with top advisers? If so, what happens if the incumbent president disagrees and they end up in court?

The answer in this murky corner of constitutional law isn’t entirely clear — executive privilege itself isn’t mentioned in the Constitution and there have only been a few Supreme Court cases on the subject.

My view is that a president’s ability to invoke executive privilege ends with the presidency. After all, the framers were crafting a chief executive whose power was limited in tenure, unlike the British monarch. As a practical matter, the incumbent president’s interest in safeguarding the institutional interests of the presidency should provide sufficient protection.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: One more time Trump tried to undo the will of the voters, Ruth Marcus, right, Oct. 10, 2021 (print ed.). Jeffrey Clark asked the attorney ruth marcus twitter Customgeneral for a lift on the way to topple him.

It was Sunday evening, Jan. 3. Clark, a previously obscure Justice Department official, had caught President Trump’s eye as a willing accomplice jeffrey rosenin seeking to overturn the election results — a role that Jeffrey Rosen, left, the acting attorney general, had shown he was unwilling to play.

So Trump, meeting with Clark behind Rosen’s back, had offered to install him in the top job. Clark, then the acting head of the civil division — and a colleague of Rosen’s stretching back decades in government and private practice — told Rosen he’d let him stay on, as the department’s number two.

Now, Rosen and Clark were headed to the White House for a hastily scheduled showdown with the president. Could Clark get a ride in the AG’s motorcade?

Justice Department log circular“Maybe this was ungracious of me, but I declined,” Rosen told Senate Judiciary Committee investigators in an interview transcript released Thursday.

The interviews, with Rosen and others, were included in a committee report that offers new details — some amusing, others chilling — of the slow-motion coup gathering steam inside the Trump administration even before the public insurrection of Jan. 6. The new material underscores the imperative of hearing from Clark himself. What did the president say to him in their private meetings? How did Clark get connected with Rep. Scott Perry, the Pennsylvania Republican who introduced him to Trump? Who else was involved? The last best hope of obtaining Clark’s testimony appears to be the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.

As outlined in the report, the White House meeting opened with Trump brazenly summarizing the choice before him. “One thing we know is you, Rosen, aren’t going to do anything to overturn the election,” Trump said, according to Rosen. Let that sink in: A sitting president, in the Oval Office no less, announcing that he wants an attorney general who will use the Justice Department to undo the will of the voters.

Specifically, Clark was willing to do what Rosen wouldn’t: send a letter to officials in Georgia — to be replicated with other contested states — declaring that the Justice Department had “taken notice” of “irregularities” in the election and calling on the state to convene a special session of the legislature. This was so preposterously outside the department’s purview that Rosen had summarily refused Clark’s entreaties. Clark, for his part, told Rosen that he’d turn down Trump’s offer to become attorney general if Rosen would simply send the letters himself.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. Capitol Police’s failure to share intelligence internally crippled its Jan. 6 response, former official says, Mariana Alfaro, Oct. 11, 2021. In a joint statement responding to the criticism, members of the Capitol Police’s executive team said many of the problems described in the letter have been addressed.

A former senior official in the U.S. Capitol Police accused two of the department’s top officials of failing to properly share vital intelligence in the days ahead of the Jan. 6 insurrection, crippling the response to the attack.

yogananda pittmanIn a blistering letter to Congress, the former official claims that Assistant Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman, right, and acting assistant chief Sean Gallagher received an intelligence report on Dec. 21 that had specific warnings and information about a potential riot similar to a report that the FBI later provided to the department on Jan. 5.

In the 16-page letter, dated Sept. 28, the former official claims that Pittman and Gallagher deliberately never shared this December intelligence report with other department officials or used it to update security assessments provided to Capitol Police officers.

Sharing that information, the former official alleges, could have “changed the paradigm of that day” and “would have provided the documentation needed to support securing the National Guard and other allied agency manpower for January 6th.” It also would have provided the intelligence needed to procure hard gear and other weapons.

A pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 to try to stop the counting of electoral college votes affirming President Biden’s win. In the worst attack on the seat of democracy since the War of 1812, four people died and an officer who had been sprayed with a powerful chemical irritant, Brian D. Sicknick, suffered a stroke and died the following day. Some 140 members of law enforcement were injured as rioters attacked them wielding flagpoles, baseball bats, stun guns, bear spray and pepper spray.

The individual, who sought anonymity for privacy reasons, declined to comment Monday beyond the letter, saying he wants the focus on the allegations he raised. “This is not about me,” the former official said.

In a joint statement responding to the criticism, members of the Capitol Police’s executive team — which includes Pittman and Gallagher along with Chief of Police J. Thomas Manger — said that while “there is more work to do, many of the problems described in the letter have been addressed.”

The former official claims Pittman lied to Congress when she claimed that the critical information detailed in that December report was shared with assistant chiefs and deputy chiefs. The information contained warnings that individuals online were sharing maps of the Capitol campus and were planning on confronting members of Congress while armed. Pittman told Congress that senior officials in the department were aware of these reports, but the former official claims that this is “unconditionally false.”

“It was never sent or shared. It also was never used to update any intelligence brief forwarded to the commanders,” the official writes, claiming that Gallagher and Pittman were the only officials who had “all the intelligence information” on Jan. 6.

 Related Recent Headlines

Oct. 10

 MIDNIGHT IN WASHINGTON: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could

By Adam Schiff. Random House. 510 pp. $30.

adam schiff march 20 2019 hearing cnn screenshot

washington post logoWashington Post, Book Review: Adam Schiff points to a second insurrection — by members of Congress themselves, Carlos Lozada, Oct. 10, 2021 (print ed.). In his memoir, the House Intelligence Committee chair (shown above) argues America barely passed Trump’s “stress test” of American democracy .

How do you know when democracy is threatened?

Well, an actual physical assault is a good tip-off. “Be prepared to don your gas mask in the event the room is breached,” a Capitol Police officer warned Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and his fellow lawmakers in the House chamber on Jan. 6, as rioters penetrated the building. “Be prepared to get down under your chairs if necessary.”

Schiff begins his memoir, Midnight in Washington, with scenes of that day, recalling that, as they huddled in a secure location within the Capitol complex, some of his colleagues were already considering whether to impeach President Donald Trump for inciting the attack. But the violence against the Capitol — carried out when lawmakers gathered to certify the 2020 election results — was not the only offensive against the American experiment that Schiff witnessed. “What took place inside our chamber, with the challenge to the electors, was every bit as much an attack on our democracy,” he asserts. “We can reinforce the doors and put up fences. But we cannot guard our democracy against those who walk the halls of Congress, have taken an oath to uphold our Constitution, but refuse to do so.”

In effect, there were two insurrections, not one, Schiff argues, and he is more interested in the insurrectionists wearing suits and ties than in the shirtless ones in buffalo horns. “We came so close to losing our democracy,” he writes, looking back on the varied political and legalistic efforts to overturn the 2020 vote and to convince the public that the contest was illegitimate. “The system held, if barely.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: One more time Trump tried to undo the will of the voters, Ruth Marcus, right, Oct. 10, 2021 (print ed.). Jeffrey Clark asked the attorney ruth marcus twitter Customgeneral for a lift on the way to topple him.

It was Sunday evening, Jan. 3. Clark, a previously obscure Justice Department official, had caught President Trump’s eye as a willing accomplice jeffrey rosenin seeking to overturn the election results — a role that Jeffrey Rosen, left, the acting attorney general, had shown he was unwilling to play.

So Trump, meeting with Clark behind Rosen’s back, had offered to install him in the top job. Clark, then the acting head of the civil division — and a colleague of Rosen’s stretching back decades in government and private practice — told Rosen he’d let him stay on, as the department’s number two.

Now, Rosen and Clark were headed to the White House for a hastily scheduled showdown with the president. Could Clark get a ride in the AG’s motorcade?

Justice Department log circular“Maybe this was ungracious of me, but I declined,” Rosen told Senate Judiciary Committee investigators in an interview transcript released Thursday.

The interviews, with Rosen and others, were included in a committee report that offers new details — some amusing, others chilling — of the slow-motion coup gathering steam inside the Trump administration even before the public insurrection of Jan. 6. The new material underscores the imperative of hearing from Clark himself. What did the president say to him in their private meetings? How did Clark get connected with Rep. Scott Perry, the Pennsylvania Republican who introduced him to Trump? Who else was involved? The last best hope of obtaining Clark’s testimony appears to be the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.

As outlined in the report, the White House meeting opened with Trump brazenly summarizing the choice before him. “One thing we know is you, Rosen, aren’t going to do anything to overturn the election,” Trump said, according to Rosen. Let that sink in: A sitting president, in the Oval Office no less, announcing that he wants an attorney general who will use the Justice Department to undo the will of the voters.

Specifically, Clark was willing to do what Rosen wouldn’t: send a letter to officials in Georgia — to be replicated with other contested states — declaring that the Justice Department had “taken notice” of “irregularities” in the election and calling on the state to convene a special session of the legislature. This was so preposterously outside the department’s purview that Rosen had summarily refused Clark’s entreaties. Clark, for his part, told Rosen that he’d turn down Trump’s offer to become attorney general if Rosen would simply send the letters himself.

Oct. 9

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Time to aggressively prosecute Trump machine to the fullest extent of the law! Webster Griffin Tarpley, right, Oct. 9, 2021. House AND Senate webster tarpley twittercommittees close in on GOP crimes of January 6 and in months-long effort to use Department of Justice to subvert November vote count; Mitch blinks on debt default;

Jobless rate falls from 5.2% to 4.8% in a month, but Wall Street’s controlled media can‘t contain their ”disappointment”;

Rejecting unrealistic advice from outside ”experts,” Biden signals abundant booster availability in US while increasing vaccine exports;
Defeatist essay by neocon prince Kagan unleashes wave of fashionable panic among liberals: he calls for popular front against fascism with ”zombie” GOPers like Romey informed by ”republican virtue” (!!);

”Mr. Globalization” Thomas Friedman challenges Dems to show the courage of Liz Cheney, but cannot see this would be devastating for working-class base; New York Times resident reactionary Douthat foolishly downplays danger of Trump dictatorship;

Jonathan Chait does better, judging that ”anybody fighting Biden now is helping Trump’s next coup,” since ”all Republican politics is now functionally authoritarian”; But all fall short of calling for outright extinction of Republican Party, the surest way to defend Constitutional government.

Oct. 8

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Tells Former Aides to Defy Subpoenas From Jan. 6 Panel, Luke Broadwater and Maggie Haberman, Oct. 8, 2021 (print ed.). Former President Trump’s instruction raises the prospect of the committee issuing criminal referrals for some of his close advisers as early as Friday.

Former President Donald J. Trump has instructed his former aides not to comply with subpoenas from the special congressional committee investigating the Capitol riot, raising the prospect of the panel issuing criminal referrals for some of his closest advisers as early as Friday.

In a letter reviewed by The New York Times, Mr. Trump’s lawyer asked that witnesses not provide testimony or documents related to their “official” duties, and instead to invoke any immunities they might have “to the fullest extent permitted by law.”

The House committee has ordered four former Trump administration officials — Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff; Dan Scavino Jr., a deputy chief of staff; Stephen K. Bannon, an adviser; and Kash Patel, a Pentagon chief of staff — to sit for depositions and furnish documents and other materials relevant to its investigation. They all faced a Thursday deadline to respond.

Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the select committee, has threatened criminal referrals for witnesses who do not comply with the subpoenas, and said the committee expected witnesses “to cooperate fully with our probe.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Bannon refuses to comply with congressional investigators seeking information about the Jan. 6 insurrection, Tom Hamburger, Oct. 8, 2021. Former White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon has notified the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol that he cannot comply with the panel’s sweeping request for documents and testimony, according to a letter Bannon’s attorney sent to the committee.

The letter from his attorney, Robert Costello, notes that former president Donald Trump’s attorney recently asked Bannon to defy the lawmakers’ request for documents or information citing executive privilege, the doctrine cited by presidents to protect access to notes and communications related to holding the office of the president.

“It is therefore clear to us that since the executive privileges belong to President Trump and he has, through his counsel, announced his intention to assert those privileges...we must accept his direction and honor his invocation of executive privilege,” Costello wrote Thursday, the deadline for responding to subpoena requests.

The committee had also requested documents and interview from other prominent Trump administration officials, including former chief of staff Mark Meadows, former deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino, and Kash Patel, who later went to work at the Pentagon.

The response from Bannon — and the other former Trump officials — is likely to set off a battle in the courts over congressional subpoena power in the face of objections from a former president.

Already, members of the Jan. 6 committee are urging a tough response to those refusing to cooperate with the inquiry.

“This is a matter of the utmost seriousness and we need to consider the full panoply of enforcement sanctions available to us,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) a constitutional law professor who sits on the Select Committee. “And that means criminal contempt citations, civil contempt citations and the use of Congress’s own inherent contempt powers.”

Proof via Substack, Investigative Commentary: New Evidence Emerges About Where Congresswoman Lauren Boebert Was in the Hours Before the January 6 seth abramson graphicAttack, Seth Abramson, left, Oct.7- 8, 2021. While we don't yet know all the details of this newly discovered, secretive Insurrection Eve meeting, what we do know points to it being critical—and suggests it may have been held at the White House.

Introduction: Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) may have one of the most peculiar backgrounds of any person ever to serve in the United States Congress. The New York Post notes that despite being fairly young—Boebert entered Congress at the age of 34—the Colorado politician has, along with her husband Jayson, “racked up arrests” in her home state, and is widely known for “dust-ups” with uniformed police.

The Denver Post called Boebert’s criminal record “unusually long” for anyone seeking public office, let alone someone who loudly and repeatedly professes her love for the police. The Post also adds to the criminal incidents mentioned above another fact-pattern that involved involve allegations of Criminal Harassment and many instances of the now-Congresswoman skipping out on court dates without explanation. During one of her several arrests she loudly declared that the careers of the arresting officers would be ruined once she exposed them through her “friends at Fox News.” A friend of the police Lauren Boebert certainly was not in the years leading up to her implicit encouragement of violence against police officers at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

The congresswoman, who regularly deletes tweets just after posting them, infamously tweeted “Today is 1776” on Insurrection Day, and then not once but twice tweeted out the location of members of Congress, including House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), as the attack unfolded.

Boebert was later accused by her peers of giving a “large” Capitol tour to a group of unidentified persons on Insurrection Eve.

Boebert’s history of deceit, violence, lawlessness, and contempt for rule of law raises the natural question of what role she may have played in encouraging and seth abramson proof logofacilitating the attack on the Capitol on January 6. Because Boebert wasn’t sworn into office until January 3—just 72 hours before the attack—there was little opportunity for her to be actively engaged in a Capitol plot as a congresswoman (that is, at the level potentially available to a newly minted insurrectionist member of the House) until January 4 at the earliest. This makes the question of how Lauren Boebert spent her first 48 hours in Congress—post-January 3, pre-January 6—of great interest to federal investigators.

Due to some fantastic sleuthing by a Proof reader, Proof has new information on this....[reserved for "Proof" subscribers]

With the Guardian reporting that Trump is “preparing to direct” some of his top aides—including former chief of staff Mark Meadows, former Trump political adviser Dan Scavino (who now appears to be missing), and former post-election Trump whisperer Steve Bannon—to defy Congressional subpoenas, the discovery that a non-executive branch employee like Boebert, who can’t claim executive privilege, may have been at one of the most important and secretive insurrection planning meetings could change the scope of the House January 6 Committee investigation considerably. Let’s hope so.

himself has already lied about that day so many times that anything he tells the FBI now will directly contradict at least two or three of prior public statements.

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books and edited five anthologies.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the Ph.D. program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include a Trump trilogy: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020); Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019); and Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018).

washington post logoWashington Post, D.C. Trump hotel made millions from foreign nations but still struggled, documents show, Jonathan O'Connell and David A. Fahrenthold, Oct. 8, 2021. Hundreds of pages of the hotel’s financial documents show that the federally leased hotel lost $71 million while Trump was in office.

Donald Trump’s luxury Washington hotel lost more than $70 million while he was in office despite reaping millions in payments from foreign governments, according to federal documents released by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Friday.

carolyn maloney oThe committee, chaired by Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), right, released hundreds of pages of financial documents on the property Friday that it received from the General Services Administration, the agency that leased the federally owned property to Trump’s company beginning in 2013.

Maloney and Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) allege the documents show that Trump received an estimated $3.7 million from foreign governments and received preferential treatment from Deutsche Bank when the bank allowed Trump to defer payments for six years on the principal of the property’s $170 million loan.

The findings “raise new and troubling questions about former President Trump’s lease with GSA and the agency’s ability to manage the former President’s conflicts of interest during his term in office when he was effectively on both sides of the contract, as landlord and tenant,” the two Democrats said in a news release.

Maloney and Connolly also wrote a 27-page letter Friday to GSA administrator Robin Carnahan saying the documents warranted further investigation.

Previous reporting from The Washington Post showed the 263-room property was running about half empty and losing money, but the documents provide by far the most detailed accounting to date of the hotel and how Trump won the contract for the lease in 2013.

Oct. 7

ny times logoNew York Times, Report Cites New Details of Trump Pressure on Justice Dept. Over Election, Katie Benner, Oct. 7, 2021 (print ed.). A Senate panel fleshed out how Donald Trump pursued his plan to install a loyalist as acting attorney general to pursue unfounded reports of fraud. It provides the most complete account yet of Mr. Trump’s efforts and describes how officials fought them off.

Even by the standards of President Donald J. Trump, it was an extraordinary Oval Office showdown. On the agenda was Mr. Trump’s desire to install a loyalist as acting attorney general to carry out his demands for more aggressive investigations into his unfounded claims of election fraud.

Justice Department log circularOn the other side during that meeting on the evening of Jan. 3 were the top leaders of the Justice Department, who warned Mr. Trump that they and other senior officials would resign en masse if he followed through. They received immediate support from another key participant: Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel. According to others at the meeting, Mr. Cipollone indicated that he and his top deputy, Patrick F. Philbin, would also step down if Mr. Trump acted on his plan.

Mr. Trump’s proposed plan, Mr. Cipollone argued, would be a “murder-suicide pact,” one participant recalled. Only near the end of the nearly three-hour meeting did Mr. Trump relent and agree to drop his threat.

Mr. Cipollone’s stand that night is among the new details contained in a lengthy interim report prepared by the Senate Judiciary Committee about Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure the Justice Department to do his bidding in the chaotic final weeks of his presidency.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Republican election strategy comes out of Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa, Wayne Madsen, left, Oct. 7, 2021. The gerrymandering of U.S. House of Representatives and wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallstate legislative seats, as well as the adoption of restrictive voting laws and partisan vote counting "audits" and unofficial election oversight by pro-Donald Trump GOP hacks, comes straight out of the segregationist policies of minority wayne madesen report logowhite-ruled Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa.

Republicans in states like Texas, Florida, Georgia, Arizona, and other states, fearful of shrinking white populations and the voting clout of non-white groups, have decided to opt for the minority-rule election tricks employed by the two racist regimes in Rhodesia and South Africa. By resorting to the minority-rule and apartheid playbooks, Republicans hope to ensure continued white rule with only a facade of democratic legitimacy.

Oct. 5

 

Former Trump White House Press Secretary and First Lady Chief of Staff and Communications Director Stephanie Grisham in a CNN interview (File photo).

Former Trump White House Press Secretary and First Lady Chief of Staff and Communications Director Stephanie Grisham in a CNN interview (File photo).

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: I told the Trumps my relationship with a White House staffer had turned abusive. They didn’t seem to care, Stephanie Grisham, Oct. 5, 2021. Stephanie Grisham served as chief of staff to the first lady, press secretary and communications director in the Trump White House. Her book “I’ll Take Your Questions Now: What I Saw at the Trump White House” publishes Tuesday.

stephanie grisham coverAfter being by their sides for almost six years, I knew Donald and Melania Trump about as well as anyone, or so I thought. And they knew me. A hungry gossip, the president showed an ongoing interest in my relationship with my boyfriend, a fellow White House staffer, and asked intimate questions about our relationship.

He and the first lady invited us as a couple to events, with Trump conferring on us his stock compliment, “right out of central casting.” They knew when we got a dog for my birthday. They knew when we broke up.

They also knew when the relationship turned abusive — and they didn’t seem to care.

One day, while meeting with Mrs. Trump alone, she asked how I was holding up after our breakup. My eyes started to well up. I had been holding in the fact that the end of our relationship had become violent, reaching its worst point on the day I left. I told the first lady that he got physical with me.

She asked me if I had called the police and I said no, explaining that this close to the election, it wouldn’t be good to have yet another domestic abuse scandal hanging over the administration. I also had no proof. She nodded and did not push the matter further. As far as I know, she told no one.

A few weeks later, after the first presidential debate, I was with President Trump on Air Force One. Noting that my ex was also in our entourage, the president asked me if it was tough to have seen him at the debate. He then began to tell me how broken up my ex had been about the split and expressed sympathy for him.

Oct. 4

donald trump money palmer report Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump, talked out of launching a 2024 bid yet, settles on a wink-and-nod approach, Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey, Oct. 4, 2021. The former president’s advisers fear an early announcement would complicate his fundraising and other activities.

As turmoil in Afghanistan reached a crescendo in August, Donald Trump began talking again with advisers about whether he should announce his 2024 campaign for president right away.

They responded by urging patience, according to three people familiar with the discussions, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. An announcement would force a reshuffling of his newly formed fundraising apparatus, advisers argued, and could complicate his ability to appear on broadcast television without triggering equal time rules.

Some of his advisers were concerned that Democrats might use his announcement in their effort to frame the midterm elections around his candidacy, potentially boosting their own turnout and hampering his plans if Republicans fall short next year. Advisers also argued that he could be more effective electing like-minded Republicans next year if he was not an official candidate himself.

Oct. 3

I’LL TAKE YOUR QUESTIONS NOW: What I Saw at the Trump White House
By Stephanie Grisham. Harper. 329 pp. $28.99

washington post logoWashington Post, Book Review: An aide dishes on the Trump White House. But what does she say for herself? Carlos Lozada, Oct. 3, 2021 (print ed.). One of the saddest and cringiest moments — out of many — in Stephanie Grisham’s memoir of her years in the Trump White House occurs at Mar-a-Lago, in the middle of the Stormy Daniels scandal. Grisham, then communications director for first lady Melania Trump, felt sorry for her boss and proposed that the two take a walk along the beach. Grisham hoped to “comfort her as a friend,” she writes, to “hang out woman to woman,” to give Melania a chance to unburden herself.

“And there will be photographers?” the first lady asked. Melania, Grisham realized, assumed it was just another press event that her aide was setting up. She did not acknowledge, or even recognize, the overture of friendship. “I felt like such an ass to have offered,” Grisham admits.

In that exchange, Grisham committed a mistake that so many Trump acolytes make, and one she would repeat in her years working for the first lady and the president. She thought she belonged. “Everyone just loves you,” Donald Trump assured Grisham when he named her White House press secretary. She came to believe that she was “a trusted and valued member of Trump World.” Right up until she wasn’t.

It’s not easy writing a White House tell-all when it feels like so much about this White House has already been told. The substantive revelations in Grisham’s “I’ll Take Your Questions Now” are matters of detail, coloring in a picture whose contours have long been clear.

Oct. 2

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: Trump forces seen preparing creeping coup against US Constitution! Webster G. Tarpley, right, Oct. 2, 2021. Biden calls for patience to pass webster tarpley twitterbipartisan infrastructure bill; Reconciliation bill likely to shrink below $3.5tr target; Neocons scare liberals with defeatist putsch scenarios, but forget Trump lacks magical powers.

  • Government shutdown averted by continuing resolution that extends federal funding through December 3
  • Democrats eye abolition of debt ceiling, a pernicious device that only serves GOP destabilization of US government; Time to implement Fourteenth Amendment, which makes debt ceiling, default, and national bankruptcy all illegal and unconstitutional!
    German election shows left shift to SPD, but ultra-lefts are decimated and anti-vaccine demagogy falls flat; Anti-immigrant party fares poorly
  • A distant mirror for budget brinksmanship: the March 1933 Weimar debate about funding jobless benefits which brought down the Mueller SPD government; from then on, no government could muster a majority in parliament, speeding advent of Hitler 3 years later

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump asks court to force Twitter to reinstate his account, Adela Suliman, Oct. 2, 2021. The former president seeks a preliminary injunction while his lawsuit against the social media giant proceeds.

Former president Donald Trump has asked a court to mandate that Twitter restore his social media account.

donald trump twitterIn a filing late Friday, Trump asked a federal district judge for a preliminary injunction enabling his return to Twitter while his lawsuit against the social media giant continues.

“Plaintiff Donald J. Trump respectfully moves for a preliminary injunction directing, inter alia, Defendant Twitter, Inc. and all persons acting in concert with Defendant, to reinstate Plaintiff’s access to Defendant’s social media platform(s),” the filing said.

twitter bird CustomIt argued that Twitter was “censoring” Trump by indefinitely banning him from the platform, adding that the company “exercises a degree of power and control over political discourse in this country that is immeasurable, historically unprecedented, and profoundly dangerous to open democratic debate.”

The filing also argued that Twitter had suspended Trump’s account after being “coerced” by his political rivals in Congress.

Twitter banned Trump from its platform on Jan. 8, stating that two of his tweets had violated the company’s policies and citing “the risk of further incitement of violence.” The unprecedented move came after the riot on Jan. 6 in which hundreds of Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attack that resulted in five deaths and left about 140 police officers injured.

 

September

Sept. 30

Jan. 6 Capitol Insurrection

capitol riot jan 6 jose luis magana ap

Rioters wave flags in front of the U.S. Capitol. The Pentagon has faced scorching criticism for taking hours to deploy National Guard units to the Capitol on Jan. 6. | Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo

Wayne Madsen Report, Opinion: Members of the Supreme Court should be investigated for role in insurrection, Wayne Madsen, left, Sept. 30, 2021. At least two wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallmembers of the dominant Trump faction on the Supreme Court are worthy of being investigated for their possible roles in the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Justice Samuel Alito was considered the "go-to" member of the court by one-time Donald Trump election challenge attorney Sidney Powell. wayne madesen report logoPowell, whose veracity on a number of issues has been shown to be severely lacking, may have acted out of character by revealing the game plan behind Trump's encouragement of his supporters halting the congressional certification of the Electoral College count on January 6.

Powell and John Eastman, another Trump election challenge attorney, as well as Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX) were attempting to have Alito issue a Supreme Court emergency injunction halting the January 6 certification process by Congress under the provisions of the 12th Amendment of the Constitution.

Then there is Clarence Thomas. The role of his wife, Ginni Thomas, in promoting the January 6th events on her Facebook page, resulted in her apologizing to her husband's former law clerks.

If need be, Alito, Clarence Thomas, and his wife should be subpoenaed by the House Select Committee on January 6th. If they refuse, they should be charged with contempt of Congress and, of course, they can always just "tell it to the judge."

washington post logoWashington Post, House Jan. 6 committee issues subpoenas for pro-Trump rally organizers, Jacqueline Alemany, Tom Hamburger and Carol D. Leonnig, Sept. 30, 2021. The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol issued subpoenas to 11 people associated with or involved in the planning of pro-Trump rallies that preceded the violent insurrection.

The subpoenas announced on Wednesday evening by the committee come a week after it issued subpoenas targeting two top Trump White House officials, the chief of staff to the acting defense secretary, and longtime Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon.

Several of the newly subpoenaed are rally organizers — including the founders and staff of the pro-Trump Women for America First group — who could face questions about reports that the group had concerns about the “Stop the Steal” rally turning into an illegal and chaotic march on the Capitol. They may also be able to shed light on the degree to which the former president and his senior White House aides knew about their fears of chaos on Jan 6.

The subpoenas ask that Amy Kremer, a stalwart supporter of Trump and the founder of Women for America First — the group that sponsored the Stop the Steal rally on the Ellipse — provide documents and appear for a deposition before the committee.

The best-known person on the list of new subpoenas may be Katrina Pierson, who served as Trump campaign spokesman in 2016, worked with a pro-Trump political organization during the Trump’s term in office, and reportedly served as an informal liaison between the White House and the rally on the Ellipse. The letter sent to her Wednesday cites reports “that you participated in a meeting with President Trump in the Oval Office on Jan. 4., 2021,” about the rallies planned in coming days. The subpoena seeks documents and testimony related to her discussions about the rallies.

The committee is also seeking information from Kremer’s daughter Kylie, who assisted her mother in organizing the rally, along with Maggie Mulvaney, the niece of former acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. Mulvaney was listed as a “VIP Lead” on the permit for the event and served as the director of finance for the Trump campaign.

 

Trump-supporting former law school dean John Eastman, left, helps Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani inflame pro-Trump protesters in front the White House before the insurrection riot at the U.S. Capitol to prevent the presidential election certification of Joe Biden's presidency on Jan. 6, 2021 (Los Angeles Times photo). Trump-supporting former law school dean John Eastman, left, helps Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani inflame pro-Trump protesters in front the White House before the insurrection riot at the U.S. Capitol to prevent the presidential election certification of Joe Biden's presidency on Jan. 6, 2021 (Los Angeles Times photo). 

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: A Trump lawyer wrote an instruction manual for a coup. Why haven’t you seen it on the news? Margaret Sullivan, right, Sept. 30, 2021 (print ed.). margaret sullivan 2015 photoIn a normal world, the “Eastman memo” would be infamous by now, the way “Access Hollywood” became the popular shorthand in 2016 for the damning recording of Donald Trump’s bragging about groping women.

But it’s a good bet that most people have never even heard of the Eastman memo.

That says something troubling about how blasé the mainstream press has become about the attempted coup in the aftermath of the 2020 election — and how easily a coup could succeed next time.

The memo, unearthed in Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s new book, is a stunner. Written by Trump legal adviser John Eastman — a serious Establishment Type with Federalist Society cred and a law school deanship under his belt — it offered Mike Pence, then in his final days as vice president, a detailed plan to declare the 2020 election invalid and give the presidency to Trump.

In other words, how to run a coup in six easy steps.

Pretty huge stuff, right? You’d think so, but the mainstream press has largely looked the other way. Immediately after the memo was revealed, according to a study by left-leaning Media Matters for America, there was no on-air news coverage — literally zero on the three major broadcast networks: ABC, NBC and CBS. Not on the evening newscasts watched by more than 20 million Americans, far greater than the audience for cable news. Not on the morning shows the next day. And when Sunday rolled around, NBC’s “Meet the Press” was the only broadcast network show that bothered to mention it. (Some late-night hosts did manage to play it for laughs.)

The Washington Post reviewed the memo that was obtained for the Woodward-Costa book and wrote about it in a broader news story about the book’s revelations and in a news analysis. CNN got a copy, too, and more than most, gave it its due.

But largely, it fell upon a handful of opinion writers to provide the appropriate outrage.

“The Horrifying Legal Blueprint for Trump’s War on Democracy” read the headline on Jonathan Chait’s piece in New York magazine’s Intelligencer section. And in the New York Times, columnist Jamelle Bouie took it on with “Trump Had a Mob. He Also Had a Plan.” The Post’s Greg Sargent hammered away at it.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s world implodes amid subpoenas and firings, Bill Palmer, right, Sept. 30, 2021. Once Donald Trump was named the loser of the bill palmer2020 election, it was just a matter of time before he and his underlings were dismantled. That process is taking longer than most of us would like. But the reality is that it is in fact happening – and the past twenty-four hours have demonstrated just how ugly it’s getting.

bill palmer report logo headerIt all started yesterday when scandalous former Trump campaign manager (and at this point you have to specify which scandalous former Trump campaign manager you’re talking about) Corey Lewandowski was separately accused of having sexually harassed a Republican donor and of having had an affair with the Governor of South Dakota.

By the time the day was over, Donald Trump’s people announced that Lewandowski had been fired from the Trump Super PAC he’d been running, and that Lewandowski would no longer be associated with “Trump world.” That’s right, they used the term “Trump world.”

In a reminder that there’s simply no shortage of corrupt Trump underlings coming down the pike, Lewandowski was replaced by a different criminal, Pam Bondi, pam biondiright, who once used her position as Florida Attorney General to scuttle the Trump University investigation in exchange for a campaign donation.

But in a reminder that every Trump underling is going to end up facing the music eventually, it was revealed last night that former Trump spokesperson Katrina Pierson is one of the many Trump people who just got subpoenaed by the January 6th Committee. So even people like Pierson, who disappeared from mainstream view after Trump lost, are still on the hook for their Trump-era antics.

We all know that “Trump world” – as it now calls itself – certainly doesn’t fire people over moral or ethical concerns. So the quick firing of Lewandowski tells us that Donald Trump and his remaining people are indeed in a panic over how things are falling apart. They didn’t even hesitate to throw Lewandowski under the bus, in the hope of taking the heat off the Super PACs that Trump is still using to raise “campaign” funds and shove them into his pocket.

Trump world – which sounds like the worst amusement park in history – is imploding. And this all comes even as Rudy Giuliani’s legal troubles have just been revealed to be even worse than we knew, raising questions about when he’ll finally wave the white flag and cut a plea deal against Donald Trump. It’s all falling apart in slow motion, but it’s undeniably falling apart.

Sept. 29

abraham lincoln alexander gardner library of congress getty images

Wayne Madsen Report, Opinion: We need an Executive Order establishing a January 6 military commission, Wayne Madsen, left, author of 20 books and former Navy intelligence officer, Sept. 29-30, 2021. With Donald Trump wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smalland his January 6th co-conspirators using frivolous lawsuits to tie up in the courts subpoenas from the House select committee investigating the insurrection and a lethargic Attorney General in Merrick Garland, President Biden should follow the example of President Andrew Johnson.

After it was determined that the conspirators who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln, above, also intended to assassinate the entire Cabinet and "other officers of the Federal Government," Johnson, on May 1, 1865, signed an executive order creating a military commission to try the accused seditionists and assassins.

wayne madesen report logoIn addition to murdering Lincoln, two of the conspirators stabbed, with the intent of assassinating, Secretary of State William Seward and injured Seward's two sons and his daughter in the process.

In June 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order establishing a military commission to try eight accused German saboteurs who landed in the U.S. by submarine. All of the Germans were found guilty and six of them were executed.

The United States must graduate from its pollyannish attitude of neither imprisoning nor executing for sedition and insurrection guilty past presidents.

No president in American history was ever impeached of crimes even approaching those of Mr. Trump. The mere fact that Trump set such a hideous example for possible future rogue U.S. presidents requires that he be tried for sedition and insurrection and if found guilty, he and his co-conspirators should face the same sentences as those dealt to the Lincoln assassination conspirators.

Sept. 28

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump played tough with Putin in front of cameras, while Putin toyed with his insecurities, says book by Trump press secretary Stephanie Grisham, Jada Yuan and Josh Dawsey, Sept. 28, 2021. Little is known about what happened in the 90-minute conversation between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Osaka, Japan, two years ago. But as journalists were quickly ushered out of the room at the 2019 Group of 20 Summit, Stephanie Grisham once again found herself with a close-up view of the action.

She saw Trump lean toward Putin that day and tell him: “Okay, I’m going to act a little tougher with you for a few minutes. But it’s for the cameras, and after they leave, we’ll talk. You understand.”

It’s just one of many telling interactions detailed by Grisham in her new book, titled, “I’ll Take Your Questions Now.” One of the most senior and longest-serving Trump advisers, she worked as the president’s third press secretary and as first lady Melania Trump’s chief of staff and communications director before she resigned on Jan. 6 during the Capitol riot.

Her 352-page book — obtained by The Washington Post — alleges a litany of misdeeds by the 45th president: from ogling a young female staffer, to orchestrating lies for the public, to attempting to ban the news media from the White House compound. It also gives a rare firsthand look at Melania Trump, who craved her privacy, and a blow-by-blow of how she wound up wearing that “I Really Don’t Care, Do U?” jacket.

Grisham even claims to know dirt on Trump’s hair, which she says he cuts himself with “a huge pair of scissors that could probably cut a ribbon at an opening of one of his properties.”

“The intent behind this book is obvious,” Melania Trump’s office said in a statement after a passage leaked comparing the former first lady to Marie Antoinette. “It is an attempt to redeem herself after a poor performance as press secretary, failed personal relationships, and unprofessional behavior in the White House. Through mistruth and betrayal, she seeks to gain relevance and money at the expense of Mrs. Trump.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Stephanie Grisham’s Book Details Trump’s ‘Terrifying’ Temper, Katie Rogers, Sept. 28, 2021. The former press secretary is reflective in her tell-all: “I should have spoken up more.” Stephanie Grisham’s book was kept a secret from her closest allies in the White House.

President Donald Trump officialStephanie Grisham, the former Trump White House press secretary perhaps best known for never holding a televised briefing with reporters, plans to release a tell-all book next week that accuses President Donald J. Trump of abusing his staff, placating dictators like Vladimir Putin of Russia, and making sexual comments about a young White House aide.

In her book, titled “I’ll Take Your Questions Now,” Ms. Grisham recalls her time working for a president she said constantly berated her and made outlandish requests, including a demand that she appear before the press corps and re-enact a certain call with the Ukrainian president that led to Mr. Trump’s (first) impeachment, an assignment she managed to avoid.

“I knew that sooner or later the president would want me to tell the public something that was not true or that would make me sound like a lunatic,” Ms. Grisham writes, offering a reason for why she never held a briefing.

After serving as press secretary, Ms. Grisham worked in Melania Trump’s office. She resigned on Jan. 6 as a horde of Trump supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol. Her book was kept a secret from her closest allies in the White House, though by the time she departed Washington that number had dwindled. (She writes that, months before the election, she had moved to Kansas.) Her publisher, HarperCollins, calls the book “The most frank and intimate portrait of the Trump White House yet.”

omarosa manigault newman unhinged Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Loses N.D.A. Case Against Omarosa Manigault Newman, Maggie Haberman, Sept. 28, 2021. Donald Trump had filed the case against Ms. Manigault Newman, a former White House aide and “Apprentice” star, after she wrote a tell-all book (shown above) about serving in his administration.

Former President Donald J. Trump has lost an effort to enforce a nondisclosure agreement against Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former White House aide and a star on “The Apprentice” who wrote a tell-all book about serving in his administration.

The decision in the case, which Mr. Trump’s campaign filed in August 2018 with the American Arbitration Association in New York, comes as the former president is enmeshed in a number of investigations and legal cases related to his private company.

“Donald has used this type of vexatious litigation to intimidate, harass and bully for years,” Ms. Manigault Newman said in a statement. “Finally the bully has met his match!”

The decision, dated on Friday and handed down on Monday, calls for her to collect legal fees from the Trump campaign.

Mr. Trump’s campaign filed the case shortly after Ms. Manigault Newman published her book, Unhinged. It claimed that she violated a nondisclosure agreement she had signed during the 2016 campaign stipulating that she would not reveal private or confidential information about his family, business or personal life.

djt ivanka trump jared palmer CustomThe book paints a picture of an out-of-control president who is in a state of mental decline and is prone to racist and misogynistic behavior. Ms. Manigault Newman’s book also casts the former president’s daughter Ivanka Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner (shown at left in a file photo), in a negative light. When Trump advisers tried to cast doubt on Ms. Manigault Newman’s accounts, she released audio recordings that backed up several of her claims.

In a statement on Tuesday morning, Mr. Trump said nothing about the arbitration case, and instead attacked Ms. Manigault Newman in personal terms.

The media- and image-obsessed Mr. Trump has for years used nondisclosure agreements as a way to prevent staff members from speaking about him publicly, and to deter them from making disparaging comments or writing books like Ms. Manigault Newman’s.

The arbitration is confidential, meaning that only the parties involved can release information about the case. In papers made available by Ms. Manigault Newman’s lawyer, John Phillips, the arbitrator, Andrew Brown, said that the definition of the type of comment protected by the nondisclosure agreement was so vague that it had been rendered meaningless. What was more, he wrote, the statements Ms. Manigault Newman had made hardly included privileged information.

“The statements do not disclose hard data such as internal polling results or donor financial information,” Mr. Brown wrote. “Rather, they are for the most part simply expressions of unflattering opinions, which are deemed ‘confidential information’ based solely upon the designation of Mr. Trump. This is exactly the kind of indefiniteness which New York courts do not allow to form the terms of a binding contract.”
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At another point, Mr. Brown wrote that the agreement “effectively imposes on Respondent an obligation to never say anything remotely critical of Mr. Trump, his family or his or his family members’ businesses for the rest of her life.”

The arbitrator added, “Such a burden is certainly unreasonable.”

Mr. Phillips, who is based in Florida, said the lawsuit had been an abuse of power by a sitting president. “It’s over,” he said. “We’ve won in Donald Trump and the Trump campaign’s chosen forum.”

Arbitration decisions do not create a precedent, according to Shira A. Scheindlin, a retired Federal District Court judge for the Southern District of New York. That means that there is no potential impact from the Manigault Newman case on ones filed against other Trump employees.

However, a ruling in one case “may be persuasive” in another, said Cliff Palefsky, a lawyer in San Francisco who is an expert in the arbitration process. In the decision in Ms. Manigault Newman’s case, the arbitrator referred to a ruling in a class-action suit filed in New York by a former Trump campaign aide, Jessica Denson. In that case, a judge ruled that the Trump campaign’s nondisclosure agreements were not enforceable.

Charles Harder, the defamation lawyer who had represented the Trumps over the years and who was handling Ms. Manigault Newman’s arbitration case, parted ways with the Trumps before the decision was issued.

Sept. 27

American Prospect, Opinion: Fight Fascism First, Robert Kuttner, Sept. 27, 2021. Robert Kagan’s must-read essay in The Washington Post, "Our Constitutional Crisis Is Already Here," gets the big picture right, but gets some tactical details seriously wrong.

Kagan is all too accurate when he points out that Trump has captured the Republican Party and that Trumpers are now fully prepared to destroy democracy in order to win the 2022 and 2024 elections. "Trump’s grip on his supporters left no room for an alternative power center in the party," he points out. "One by one, the ‘adults’ resigned or were run off."

He is correct that Democrats, going about the normal business of negotiating their differences on the budget resolution, are not sufficiently mindful of the deeper threat of full-on fascism.

Kagan is also right that the Republicans are playing a double game, behaving as a normal opposition party in trying to block or weaken the governing party’s program, while being enablers of dictatorship, quite like the German conservatives who threw in with Hitler in 1932.

What to do? Here is where the wishful second part of Kagan’s powerful essay contradicts the unflinching first part. He writes that Republicans like Mitt Romney and the six other Republican senators who voted to convict Trump for inciting an insurrection should fashion themselves as Constitutional Republicans who, in the present emergency, are willing to form a national unity coalition in the Senate for the sole purpose of saving the republic.

Sure, that would be swell. But it’s not going to happen. And it won’t happen even if the Democrats reduce Biden’s Build Back Better program to 50 cents to "strive for a temporary governing consensus."

Rather than looking for anti-Trump Republicans, who Kagan accurately reminds us are as dead as dinosaurs, Democrats should be redoubling their efforts to get voting rights legislation, and to use the federal government’s police and prosecutorial powers to give no quarter to fascists seeking to overthrow what remains of our democracy.

Sept. 26

Proof, Investigation: Trump Lawyer Admits Trump's Legal Team Was Seeking An Emergency Injunction Against Certification of Biden's Win As Trump Incited a Riot seth abramson graphicto Delay the Joint Session of Congress, Seth Abramson, left, Sept. 26, 2021. New revelation confirms the actions of Trump's legal team in the Willard "war room"—whose occupants were in direct contact with Trump—were designed to dovetail with the violent attack on the Capitol.

Introduction: On March 10, 2021, Proof published an article entitled “Here Is the Twelve-Point Plan Donald Trump Had for January 6.” Based on two seth abramson proof logomonths of research relating to January 6, Proof concluded that Trump’s plan for January 6 was built on the following foundation....

In a new interview with far-right activist and propagandist Stew Peters, Powell admits that Trump’s legal team filed for an injunction against Congress in the first days of January.

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books and edited five anthologies.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the Ph.D. program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include a Trump trilogy: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020); Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019); and Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018).

 

steve bannon billionaire guo wengui

Guo Wengui, a Chinese billionaire wanted by the government of China for bribery, kidnapping, money laundering, fraud and rape, is shown above with Trump ally and former 2016 campaign CEO Steve Bannon. Guo funds through his GTV Media Group conglomerate Bannon's "War Room" podcast and "Real America's Voice" Internet television broadcast and other propaganda supporting the January 6th insurrection in Washington and the overthrow of the the U.S. government, which is giving him political asylum in New York City and elsewhere.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: International fascist collusion to overthrow the U.S. government, Wayne Madsen, left, Sept. 26, 2021 (authorized for republication in wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallan excerpt form after first pubication on Sept. 9 behind the paywall of the Wayne Madsen Report. The author is national security expert who has appeared on all but one major U.S. broadcast and cable news networks. He is a former Navy Intelligence Officer and NSA analyst, and author of 20 books, including the forthcoming, "The Rise of the Fascist Fourth Reich: The Era of Trumpism and the Far-Right."

Not since the planned 1934 fascist coup against the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt by various right-wing, fascist, and Nazi forces, backed by wealthy Wall Street interests, has the United States faced a coordinated plot by Americans and foreign interests to overthrow democracy in the United States.

wayne madesen report logoIn 1933 and 1934, the fascist coup planning, which was exposed by retired Marine Corps General Smedley Butler, were directly linked to Adolf Hitler's Germany, Benito Mussolini's Italy, and French Croix de Feu fascist political leaders. Groups supporting a coup against FDR included groups ranging from the pro-Mussolini American Legion to Nazi organizations like the Silver Legion of America, the German American Bund, Friends of New Germany, the Ku Klux Klan, the Sentinels of the Republic, and the Crusaders.

Today, substitute the government of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Chinese expatriate billionaire Guo Wengui, and groups like the Proud Boys, Three Percenters, Oath Keepers, Boogaloo Bois, and Falun Gong, and you will see that history is merely repeating itself with different countries and groups involved in establishing a fascist dictatorship in America, Brazil, and other nations.

Steve Bannon's effort to create an international fascist movement, which is known as simply as "The Movement," has brought together Donald Trump loyalists with the Brazilian government of Bolsonaro and his family. Trump and Bolsonaro loyalists are actively attempting to corrupt and destroy the electoral underpinnings of democratic rule in the United States, Brazil, and third countries, for example, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, and others.

Bolsonaro's son, Eduardo Bolsonaro, a member of Brazil's Chamber of Deputies, the Latin American leader of Bannon's Movement, and Trump's personal choice but failed nominee as Brazil's ambassador in Washington, was very active with the attempted January 6 coup attempt in Washington.

Eduardo Bolsonaro participated in an insurrection eve "War Council" held at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC. Other participants in the war council included Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, Rudolph Giuliani, MyPillow's Mike Lindell, disgraced ex-National Security Adviser under trump Lt. General Michael Flynn, and lawyer Sidney Powell. Eduardo Bolsonaro also held a meeting at the White House on January 4 with Ivanka Trump and separately with expatriate Brazilian fascist political adviser and astrologer Olavo de Carvalho. Carvalho, who has been dubbed the "Rush Limbaugh" of Brazil, lives south of Richmond, Virginia in Dinwiddie County. Carvalho, a close associate of Bannon, is a "flat earther," climate change and Covid-19 pandemic denier, and anti-vaccine (anti-vaxx) proponent.

The House Select Committee on the January 6 insurrection would do well to cooperate with Brazilian Senator Jacques Wagner (PT-Bahia) of the Workers' Party of former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Wagner is conducting a Senate investigation of Eduardo Bolsonaro's role in the January 6 coup attempt at the U.S. Capitol. Wagner asked the then-Brazilian Foreign Minister, Ernest Araujo, someone who has erroneously called Nazism a "leftist" movement, to answer eight questions [right] dealing with the roles played by Bolsonaro's son and the Brazilian Embassy in Washington, DC into the January 5 war council at the Trump hotel and additional meetings between Eduardo Bolsonaro and "several other members of the Republican Party."

Those who diminish the importance of the January 6 coup attempt by calling it a "riot" or a "violent protest" fail to understand that it is the subject of formal legislative investigations by the U.S. House and the Brazilian Senate. That fact, alone, points to the January 6 event being a vast international conspiracy.

Bannon's operations, including his own involvement in the January 6 insurrection, have been financed by Guo Wengui and Lindell, as well as previously by the multi-billionaire hedge fund father-daughter team of Robert and Rebekah Mercer.

On August 10, 2021, Eduardo Bolsonaro was back in the United States attending Lindell's kooky "cyber symposium" in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Bannon emceed the live-streamed symposium. Bolsonaro gave Lindell a "Make America Great Again" hat signed by Donald Trump. Bolsonaro said he had met Trump at his Bedminster, New Jersey on August 9 and Trump asked him to give the hat to Lindell. Bolsonaro gave a speech on how Brazil's election system was as "rigged" as that of the United States. Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly threatened that he might cancel the 2022 presidential election, which polls currently indicate that he would lose to the leftist Lula da Silva in a landslide.

Former Trump White House adviser Jason Miller, the CEO of the right-wing social media platform GETTR, participated in the September 3-4 Conservative Political Action Conference Brasil (CPAC Brasil) conference in Brasilia, the nation's capital. On September 7, Jair Bolsonaro urged tens of thousands of his supporters who gathered in Brasilia to storm the Brazilian Supreme Court and imprison the justices, including Alexandre de Moraes, who has been leading an investigation of President Bolsonaro and members of his family, including Eduardo, for corruption. Miller and his delegation met with Jair and Eduardo Bolsonaro in Brasilia.

The House January 6 committee should also invite Justice Moraes to share on a confidential basis any information he has gleaned on the Bolsonaros involvement with the attempted January 6 coup in Washington. Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly threatened a military coup in Brazil to cement his rule over the country.

The Fourth Reich movement of Donald Trump and his fellow fascists is the focus of the forthcoming editor's book titled, "The Rise of the Fascist Fourth Reich: The Era of Trumpism and the Far-Right."

washington post logoWashington Post, Election fraud, QAnon, Jan. 6: Extremists in Germany read from a pro-Trump script, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Sept. 26, 2021 (print ed.). Apocalyptic messages circulating ahead of German elections on Sunday import conspiratorial rhetoric from the United States.

One message advocated “occupying election offices.”

Another warned of “coronavirus tyranny.”

And a third extolled former president Donald Trump and Q, the shadowy oracle of the extremist ideology QAnon, for inspiring a new social movement prepared to take back power from the state. “America is waking up and ready to fight,” it vowed.

The calls to action came not in anticipation of the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol. Rather, they emerged this month in Germany, within a far-right group on the messaging app Telegram, where neo-Nazis and doomsday preppers foresee what’s known as “Day X” — the collapse of the German state and assassination of high-ranking officials.

Such apocalyptic messages — posted in the run-up to German elections on Sunday — import conspiratorial, anti-government rhetoric broadcast in the U.S., according to screenshots of the since-deleted chatroom reviewed by The Washington Post.

  capitol noose shay horse nurphoto via getty

A crowd of Trump supporters surrounded a newly erected set of wooden gallows outside the Capitol Building on Jan. 6. "Hang Mike Pence!" members of the crowd shouted at times about the Republican Vice President who had announced that he could not comply with the president's call to block election certification that day. The wooden gallows near the Capitol Reflecting Pool

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washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Our constitutional crisis is already here, Robert Kagan, right, Brookings Institution fellow, best-selling author and former State Department official, Sept. 26, 2021 (print ed.). The United States is heading into its greatest political and constitutional robert kagan looking leftcrisis since the Civil War, with a reasonable chance over the next three to four years of incidents of mass violence, a breakdown of federal authority, and the division of the country into warring red and blue enclaves. The warning signs may be obscured by the distractions of politics, the pandemic, the economy and global crises, and by wishful thinking and denial. But about these things there should be no doubt:

First, Donald Trump will be the Republican candidate for president in 2024. The hope and expectation that he would fade in visibility and influence have been delusional. He enjoys mammoth leads in the polls; he is building a massive campaign war chest; and at this moment the Democratic ticket looks vulnerable. Barring health problems, he is running.

Second, Trump and his Republican allies are actively preparing to ensure his victory by whatever means necessary. Trump’s charges of fraud in the 2020 election are now primarily aimed at establishing the predicate to challenge future election results that do not go his way. Some Republican candidates have already begun preparing to declare fraud in 2022, just as Larry Elder tried meekly to do in the California recall contest.

Meanwhile, the amateurish “stop the steal” efforts of 2020 have given way to an organized nationwide campaign to ensure that Trump and his supporters will have the control over state and local election officials that they lacked in 2020. Those recalcitrant Republican state officials who effectively saved the country from calamity by refusing to falsely declare fraud or to “find” more votes for Trump are being systematically removed or hounded from office. Republican legislatures are giving themselves greater control over the election certification process. As of this spring, Republicans have proposed or passed measures in at least 16 states that would shift certain election authorities from the purview of the governor, secretary of state or other executive-branch officers to the legislature. An Arizona bill flatly states that the legislature may “revoke the secretary of state’s issuance or certification of a presidential elector’s certificate of election” by a simple majority vote. Some state legislatures seek to impose criminal penalties on local election officials alleged to have committed “technical infractions,” including obstructing the view of poll watchers.

The stage is thus being set for chaos. Imagine weeks of competing mass protests across multiple states as lawmakers from both parties claim victory and charge the other with unconstitutional efforts to take power. Partisans on both sides are likely to be better armed and more willing to inflict harm than they were in 2020. Would governors call out the National Guard? Would President Biden nationalize the Guard and place it under his control, invoke the Insurrection Act, and send troops into Pennsylvania or Texas or Wisconsin to quell violent protests? Deploying federal power in the states would be decried as tyranny. Biden would find himself where other presidents have been — where Andrew Jackson was during the nullification crisis, or where Abraham Lincoln was after the South seceded — navigating without rules or precedents, making his own judgments about what constitutional powers he does and doesn’t have.

Today’s arguments over the filibuster will seem quaint in three years if the American political system enters a crisis for which the Constitution offers no remedy.

Most Americans — and all but a handful of politicians — have refused to take this possibility seriously enough to try to prevent it. As has so often been the case in other countries where fascist leaders arise, their would-be opponents are paralyzed in confusion and amazement at this charismatic authoritarian. They have followed the standard model of appeasement, which always begins with underestimation. The political and intellectual establishments in both parties have been underestimating Trump since he emerged on the scene in 2015. They underestimated the extent of his popularity and the strength of his hold on his followers; they underestimated his ability to take control of the Republican Party; and then they underestimated how far he was willing to go to retain power. The fact that he failed to overturn the 2020 election has reassured many that the American system remains secure, though it easily could have gone the other way — if Biden had not been safely ahead in all four states where the vote was close; if Trump had been more competent and more in control of the decision-makers in his administration, Congress and the states. As it was, Trump came close to bringing off a coup earlier this year. All that prevented it was a handful of state officials with notable courage and integrity, and the reluctance of two attorneys general and a vice president to obey orders they deemed inappropriate.

These were not the checks and balances the Framers had in mind when they designed the Constitution, of course, but Trump has exposed the inadequacy of those protections. The Founders did not foresee the Trump phenomenon, in part because they did not foresee national parties. They anticipated the threat of a demagogue, but not of a national cult of personality. They assumed that the new republic’s vast expanse and the historic divisions among the 13 fiercely independent states would pose insuperable barriers to national movements based on party or personality. “Petty” demagogues might sway their own states, where they were known and had influence, but not the whole nation with its diverse populations and divergent interests.

Such checks and balances as the Framers put in place, therefore, depended on the separation of the three branches of government, each of which, they believed, would zealously guard its own power and prerogatives. The Framers did not establish safeguards against the possibility that national-party solidarity would transcend state boundaries because they did not imagine such a thing was possible. Nor did they foresee that members of Congress, and perhaps members of the judicial branch, too, would refuse to check the power of a president from their own party.

Robert Kagan, author of the long column excerpted above, is the Stephen & Barbara Friedman Senior Fellow with the Project on International Order and Strategy in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings. He is a contributing columnist at the Washington Post. His new book is The Jungle Grows Back: America and Our Imperiled World” (Knopf, 2018). He previously wrote the New York Times bestseller, The World America Made (Knopf, 2012), as well as other books about history and global affairs.

For his writings, Politico Magazine named Kagan one of the “Politico 50” in 2016, the “thinkers, doers and visionaries transforming American politics in 2016.” His most recent pieces include The Twilight of the Liberal World Order” in “Brookings Big Ideas for America” and “Backing into World War III in Foreign Policy. He served in the State Department from 1984 to 1988 as a member of the policy planning staff, as principal speechwriter for Secretary of State George P. Shultz, and as deputy for policy in the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs. He is married to longtime State Department official Victoria Nuland and holds a doctorate in American history from American University.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fallout begins for far-right trolls who trusted Epik to keep their identities secret, Drew Harwell, Hannah Allam, Jeremy B. Merrill and Craig Timberg, Sept. 26, 2021 (print ed.). The colossal hack of Epik, an Internet-services company popular with the far right, has been called the “mother of all data lodes” for extremism researchers. In the real world, Joshua Alayon worked as a real estate agent in Pompano Beach, Fla., where he used the handle “SouthFloridasFavoriteRealtor” to urge buyers on Facebook to move to “the most beautiful State.”

epik logoBut online, data revealed by the massive hack of Epik, an Internet-services company popular with the far right, signaled a darker side. Alayon’s name and personal details were found on invoices suggesting he had once paid for websites with names such as racisminc.com, whitesencyclopedia.com, christiansagainstisrael.com and theholocaustisfake.com.

The information was included in a giant trove of hundreds of thousands of transactions published this month by the hacking group Anonymous that exposed previously obscure details of far-right sites and launched a race among extremism researchers to identify the hidden promoters of online hate.

After Alayon’s name appeared in the breached data, his brokerage, Travers Miran Realty, dropped him as an agent, as first reported by the real estate news site Inman. The brokerage’s owner, Rick Rapp, told The Washington Post that he didn’t “want to be involved with anyone with thoughts or motives like that.”

Alayon told The Post that he does not own the ‘racisminc,’ Holocaust-denial or other Web addresses but declined to say if he had owned them in the past; the records were hacked earlier this year. But in a screenshot of his Epik account, which he sent to The Post, the information for four other domains he currently owns matches the private records that can be found in the Epik breach.

Asked why his name, email address and other personal information were listed in company invoices for the ‘racisminc’ and Holocaust-denial domains, Alayon said the data was “easily falsifiable,” that he was the possible victim of extortion and that The Post was “fake news.”

The breach of Epik’s internal records has cast a spotlight on a long-hidden corner of the Internet’s underworld, and researchers expect it could take months before they can process the full cache — the equivalent of tens of millions of pages. Many are digging for information on who owns and administers extremist domains about which little was previously known.

Epik, based outside Seattle, said in a data-breach notice filed with Maine’s attorney general this week that 110,000 people had been affected nationwide by having their financial account and credit card numbers, passwords and security codes exposed. An earlier data-breach letter from the company, filed to comply with Montana law, was signed by the “Epic Security Team,” misspelling the company’s name. An Epik spokesperson said it was a simple typo.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: The nation faces financial calamity. Republicans will be to blame, Editorial Board, Sept. 26, 2021 (print ed.). The White House on Thursday instructed federal agencies to prepare for an imminent government shutdown, in case Congress fails to pass a stopgap funding bill by Sept. 30. Government shutdowns are expensive and disruptive, and they deservedly sully the nation’s image and sense of self-respect. But at this point a lapse in government services should be the least of Americans’ worries. The nation faces an epochal financial disaster if Congress fails to raise the debt limit, forcing the country to default on its obligations and inviting a global financial panic.

Mitchell_McConnellIf that happens, there will be no doubt about who is at fault: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), left, and his Republican caucus, who are playing games with the full faith and credit of the United States.

Democrats joined with Republicans to suspend the debt ceiling during the Trump administration. But Mr. McConnell suddenly declares that the majority is solely responsible for performing this unattractive task, even though he pioneered the routine use of the filibuster to force any and all Senate legislation to overcome a 60-vote threshold. With only 50 votes, and Republicans unwilling to lift a finger to avoid financial calamity, Democrats’ only option would be to use the arcane “reconciliation” procedure. Senate experts believe this would be possible, but it would require a couple of weeks of complex parliamentary maneuvering and some Republican cooperation in the Senate Budget Committee. Meanwhile, the treasury is on the verge of running out of money.

Other than sticking it to Democrats, what is the point? Using reconciliation, Democrats would have to raise the debt limit by a specific dollar amount, not just suspend it for a time, as Republicans did under President Donald Trump. This would enable Republicans to run attack ads blasting Democrats for expanding the debt by some large, specific number. Never mind that raising the debt limit does not approve any new spending; it merely permits the treasury to finance the spending Congress already has okayed.

Sept. 22

Trump Watch

djt maga hat speech uncredited Custom

seth abramson proof logoProof, Investigative Commentary: Why Donald Trump Is Again Interfering in Georgia's Electoral Process, Seth Abramson, left, Sept. 20-21, 2021. Trump is up to his old seth abramson graphiccrimes—bribery, witness tampering, and obstruction—as well as the basic graft for which he's well known. His latest scheme is a dangerous long-term play that we can't ignore.

That’s right: Trump is up to his old tricks (which in some instances have actually been crimes) in Georgia. CNN reports that Trump has just again initiated a communication with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which the corrupt ex-POTUS rehashes the “Big Lie” about the November presidential election and tries to convince Raffensperger to “decertify” the 2020 election results in Georgia—which georgia mapof course he knows (and Raffensperger knows) neither the State of Georgia nor anyone in it can do.

If you’re thinking Trump is up to something else here besides the obvious, you’re right.

In fact, it’s reasonably transparent: Trump is in the midst of trying to help one of the top insurrectionist leaders in America, Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), become the Secretary of State in Georgia so that Trump—or his handpicked 2024 Republican presidential candidate—can steal the 2024 election in that state through new administrative regs, the redeployment of voting machines away from majority-minority precincts, various draconian machinations involving early voting and poll hours and ID presentments, and, if necessary, open election fraud.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump sues New York Times and niece Mary Trump over tax records story, Katerina Ang, Sept. 22, 2021. The suit alleges that Mary Trump, the New York Times and at least three of the newspaper’s reporters participated in an “insidious plot” to obtain records about the former president’s finances.

Former president Donald Trump has sued his niece, Mary L. Trump, and the New York Times over the publication of a 2018 article detailing allegations that he “participated in dubious tax schemes … including instances of outright fraud” that allowed him to receive over $413 million from his father, Fred Trump Sr., while significantly reducing taxes.

The suit, filed in a Dutchess County, N.Y., court on Tuesday, alleges that Mary Trump, the New York Times and at least three of its reporters “engaged in an insidious plot to obtain confidential and highly-sensitive records” about the former president’s finances. According to the lawsuit, Donald Trump suffered at least $100 million in damages as a result of the alleged actions.

Trump, unlike every other major-party presidential nominee in recent history, has declined to make his tax records public.

In a statement about the suit Wednesday, the former president said, “More to come, including on other people, and Fake News media.”

The New York Times and the three reporters named in the suit — David Barstow, Susanne Craig and Russ Buettner — won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting for their 18-month investigation that culminated in the article. Their work “debunked [Trump’s] claims of self-made wealth and revealed a business empire riddled with tax dodges,” according to the Pulitzer Prize board.

After the article’s publication, Trump dismissed the story as a “hit piece” that was “boring.”

Sept. 21 Trump-allied attorney Sidney Powell, right, with allied attorney Jenna Ellis in the background last fall.

Trump-allied attorney Sidney Powell, right, with allied attorney Jenna Ellis in the background last fall, has pushed baseless claims of election tampering.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Campaign Knew Lawyers’ Voting Machine Claims Were Baseless, Memo Shows, Alan Feuer, Sept. 21, 2021. Days before lawyers allied with Donald Trump gave a news conference promoting election conspiracy theories, his campaign had determined that many of those claims were false, court filings reveal.

Two weeks after the 2020 election, a team of lawyers closely allied with Donald J. Trump held a widely watched news conference at the Republican Party’s headquarters in Washington. At the event, they laid out a bizarre conspiracy theory claiming that a voting machine company had worked with an election software firm, the financier George Soros and Venezuela to steal the presidential contest from Mr. Trump.

But there was a problem for the Trump team, according to court documents released on Monday evening.

By the time the news conference occurred on Nov. 19, Mr. Trump’s campaign had already prepared an internal memo on many of the outlandish claims about the company, Dominion Voting Systems, and the separate software company, Smartmatic. The memo had determined that those allegations were untrue.

The court papers, which were initially filed late last week as a motion in a defamation lawsuit brought against the campaign and others by a former Dominion employee, Eric Coomer, contain evidence that officials in the Trump campaign were aware early on that many of the claims against the companies were baseless.

The documents also suggest that the campaign sat on its findings about Dominion even as Sidney Powell and other lawyers attacked the company in the conservative media and ultimately filed four federal lawsuits accusing it of a vast conspiracy to rig the election against Mr. Trump.

According to emails contained in the documents, Zach Parkinson, then the campaign’s deputy director of communications, reached out to subordinates on Nov. 13 asking them to “substantiate or debunk” several matters concerning Dominion. The next day, the emails show, Mr. Parkinson received a copy of a memo cobbled together by his staff from what largely appear to be news articles and public fact-checking services.

Even though the memo was hastily assembled, it rebutted a series of allegations that Ms. Powell and others were making in public. It found:

That Dominion did not use voting technology from the software company, Smartmatic, in the 2020 election.

That Dominion had no direct ties to Venezuela or to Mr. Soros.

And that there was no evidence that Dominion’s leadership had connections to left-wing “antifa” activists, as Ms. Powell and others had claimed.

As Mr. Coomer’s lawyers wrote in their motion in the defamation suit, “The memo produced by the Trump campaign shows that, at least internally, the Trump campaign found there was no evidence to support the conspiracy theories regarding Dominion” and Mr. Coomer.

djt as chosen one

Palmer Report, Opinion: Serious new legal trouble for everyone involved with Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign, Bill Palmer, Sept. 21, 2021. Dominion Voting Systems has already brought individual civil cases against numerous lawyers associated with Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign, over the phony conspiracy theories they touted about imaginary election fraud. The big question was whether there would end up being enough evidence to prove that they knew these claims were false when they made them, and whether Trump himself would end up being targeted by Dominion as well.

bill palmer report logo headerNow we’re getting some answers. The New York Times is reporting that after Donald Trump was declared the loser of the 2020 election, his campaign immediately crafted an internal memo admitting that there was no voting machine fraud. This is bad for the Trump cartel on two levels.

First, it means that the likes of Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani are really screwed. They’ll have a nearly impossible time convincing anyone that they somehow weren’t aware of this Trump campaign internal memo, meaning Dominion now has the smoking gun it needs to very likely win its cases against them.

Second, it means that Donald Trump and his 2020 campaign leaders all knew that Powell and Giuliani were lying when they went out there to make these claims on behalf of the campaign. It means Trump and his campaign people are looking at serious legal culpability in civil court, once Dominion inevitably files suit against them. It also raises the possibility of a criminal conspiracy to commit election fraud.
In the interim, Iran has continued to expand the quantity and quality of its uranium enrichment, leading some experts to conclude it is now even closer to possessing enough fissile material to build a bomb than the two or three months the Biden administration has publicly estimated. At the same time, Iran has repeatedly sparred with the International Atomic Energy Agency over monitoring of its nuclear activities originally agreed in the 2015 deal.

For its part, the administration has continued to warn that negotiating time is running out, without saying how much time is left or what it will do if it expires. Some answers may emerge this week, when the Tehran government says Iran’s new foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, plans to hold bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Britain, Germany and France at the annual United Nations General Assembly.

washington post logoWashington Post, Huge hack reveals embarrassing details of who’s behind Proud Boys and other far-right websites, Drew Harwell, Craig Timberg and Hannah Allam, Sept. 21, 2021. Researchers say it will allow them to gain important new insights into how extremists operate online.

Epik long has been the favorite Internet company of the far-right, providing domain services to QAnon theorists, Proud Boys and other instigators of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol — allowing them to broadcast hateful messages from behind a veil of anonymity.

But that veil abruptly vanished last week when a huge breach by the hacker group Anonymous dumped into public view more than 150 gigabytes of previously private data — including user names, passwords and other identifying information of Epik’s customers.

Extremism researchers and political opponents have treated the leak as a Rosetta Stone to the far-right, helping them to decode who has been doing what with whom over several years. Initial revelations have spilled out steadily across Twitter since news of the hack broke last week, often under the hashtag #epikfail, but those studying the material say they will need months and perhaps years to dig through all of it.

“It’s massive. It may be the biggest domain-style leak I’ve seen and, as an extremism researcher, it’s certainly the most interesting,” said Megan Squire, a computer science professor at Elon University who studies right-wing extremism. “It’s an embarrassment of riches — stress on the embarrassment.”

Epik, based in the Seattle suburb of Sammamish, has made its name in the Internet world by providing critical Web services to sites that have run afoul of other companies’ policies against hate speech, misinformation and advocating violence. Its client list is a roll-call of sites known for permitting extreme posts and that have been rejected by other companies for their failure to moderate what their users post.

Online records show those sites have included 8chan, which was dropped by its providers after hosting the manifesto of a gunman who killed 51 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019; Gab, which was dropped for hosting the antisemitic rants of a gunman who killed 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018; and Parler, which was dropped due to lax moderation related to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

TheDonald’s owner speaks out on why he finally pulled plug on hate-filled site

Epik also provides services to a network of sites devoted to extremist QAnon conspiracy theories. Epik briefly hosted the neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer in 2019 after acquiring a cybersecurity company that had provided it with hosting services, but Epik soon canceled that contract, according to news reports. Epik also stopped supporting 8chan after a short period of time, the company has said.

Earlier this month, Epik also briefly provided service to the antiabortion group Texas Right to Life, whose website, ProLifeWhistleblower.com, was removed by the hosting service GoDaddy because it solicited accusations about which medical providers might be violating a state abortion ban.

An Epik attorney said the company stopped working with the site because it violated company rules against collecting people’s private information. Online records show Epik was still the site’s domain registrar as of last week, though the digital tip line is no longer available, and the site now redirects to the group’s homepage.

Epik founder Robert Monster’s willingness to provide technical support to online sanctuaries of the far-right have made him a regular target of anti-extremism advocates, who criticized him for using Epik’s tools to republish the Christchurch gunman’s manifesto and live-streamed video the killer had made of the slaughter.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: How serious is the threat to democracy, and how do we defeat it? Jennifer Rubin, right, author of the new book Resistance published this week and shown below, Sept. 21, 2021. Election law guru Richard L. Hasen jennifer rubin new headshothas published a law review article explaining the danger of subverted elections and violence after millions have been brainwashed to believe the “big lie” that the 2020 election was stolen.

The piece is particularly timely, given the new reporting that two supposedly “responsible” Republicans, Sens. Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina and Mike Lee of Utah, had reviewed the disgraced former president’s fraud claims in January and confirmed they were total bunk. Despite this, the senators have refused to separate their party from the instigator of the Jan. 6 insurrection and voted against a bipartisan commission to review the violent day.

jennifer rubin book resistanceHasen warns: “Of greatest concern is that the activities of Trump and his allies from the November 2020 election through January 7, 2021 served as dress rehearsal for how to subvert election results in 2024 or in other future elections.” He outlines three main risks to our elections.

The first risk arises from the “independent state legislature" doctrine. As Hasen explains, this is “[t]he argument that Article II and Article I, section 4 give state legislatures virtually unlimited powers over the rules for running presidential and congressional elections — even if it means violating the state’s own Constitution.” He points out that if courts were to accept this doctrine, it would "create a potential earthquake in American election law by upending everything from voter initiatives setting the rules for congressional primaries to normal election administration decisions of state and local election administrators — not to mention, rendering state constitutional protections for voting rights a nullity in congressional and presidential election.”

Democrats have warned that electing a GOP House majority in 2022 would open the door to abuse of this process and refusal to recognize voters’ presidential choice in preference for state lawmakers’ pick. Hasen writes:

The 2020 election shattered the illusion that bipartisan norms insulated our elections in a way that less mature democracies could not. Instead, it’s now clear we have one party that would gladly swap U.S. democracy for a tin-pot dictatorship with its champion at the helm. Behind that party is an army of disgraceful, right-wing media outlets, pundits and think tanks that eagerly legitimize anti-democratic subversion for the sake of a buck. A recently-surfaced, six-point plan from lawyer John Eastman advising how the vice president could unilaterally pull off a coup underscores the seriousness of the threat and just how deceitful and un-American are MAGA’s enablers. (It should also highlight the need for disciplinary action against lawyers plotting to overturn our democracy.)

washington post logoWashington Post, Two GOP operatives indicted for allegedly routing money from Russian national to support Trump campaign, Felicia Sonmez and Isaac Stanley-Becker, Sept. 21, 2021. A political strategist who was pardoned by the former president after being convicted in a 2012 campaign finance scheme is facing new charges related to an alleged 2016 plot to illegally funnel donations made by a Russian national to support then-candidate Donald Trump’s White House bid.

Jesse Benton, 43, who was previously a top aide to former congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and later ran a pro-Trump super PAC, was charged this month, according to a federal indictment in Washington unsealed Monday. Also charged is Roy Douglas “Doug” Wead, 75, a conservative author and former special assistant to President George H.W. Bush.

According to the indictment, in the months before the 2016 presidential election, Benton and Wead solicited a U.S. campaign donation from a Russian national in violation of federal law, then filed false campaign finance reports to make it seem that the donation was from Benton.

Federal disclosures from that period make clear the donation went to support Trump’s election, though the recipient is not named in the indictment. Authorities allege Benton arranged for the Russian national to attend a fundraiser “and get a photograph with” the candidate, “in exchange for a political contribution.”

Benton and Wead “concealed the scheme from the candidate, federal regulators, and the public,” according to the indictment.

The court filing does not name Trump, but details in the indictment match a $25,000 donation that Benton made in the fall of 2016 to a committee that jointly raised money for the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee, campaign finance records show.

The unnamed Russian national, who is described as a business associate of Wead, wired a total of $100,000 from a bank account in Vienna, Austria, to a political consulting firm owned by Benton, authorities allege.

In return, Benton and Wead allegedly arranged for the Russian national to attend a September fundraiser in Philadelphia. The following month, Benton used his credit card to pay the $25,000 cost of the Russian national’s ticket to the event and told a consultant for the related campaign committees that he had “bought the tickets and gifted them” to Wead and the individual.

Benton then paid off the $25,000 on his card using the funds wired by the individual to his consulting company. He kept the remaining $75,000, the indictment alleges.

washington post logoWashington Post, Treasury Department will sanction crypto exchanges that help channel payments to hackers, Gerrit De Vynck, Sept. 21, 2021. The Biden administration is also warning companies that paying ransoms to hackers might be illegal The U.S. government is stepping up its efforts to disrupt the infrastructure hackers use to make money from breaking into and holding hostage computer networks, announcing sanctions against one virtual currency exchange and warning U.S. companies it could be legally risky for them to pay off hackers that hit their systems.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions Tuesday against Suex, an exchange that lets people buy and sell virtual currencies with regular credit cards, according to its website. The government said as much as 40 percent of known transactions run by Suex were criminal. Other exchanges could be hit with sanctions, too.

“We are going to continue to look at the ecosystem and look for actors that are taking similar actions,” Anne Neuberger, the White House’s deputy national security adviser on cybersecurity, said during a call with reporters.

Ransomware attacks, where hackers lock out a company or organization from its computer system and demand a ransom payment to restore access, more than doubled from 2019 to 2020. The government sees them as both a criminal menace, and a national security threat. In February, a hack on the Colonial Pipeline fuel-delivery network led to fuel shortages up and down the East Coast. President Biden has told Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country is known to host many of the ransomware gangs responsible for the surge, that he would take “any necessary action” to defend critical infrastructure against cyberattacks.

The anatomy of a ransomware attack

Still, the hacks keep coming. On Monday, Iowa-based New Cooperative, a major buyer and distributor of grain and feed, said it had been hit by a ransomware attack, though it was able to find a workaround to keep most of its business running.

The announcement Tuesday is part of the government’s attempts to lower the frequency and profitability of ransomware attacks. It has urged companies to increase their cybersecurity practices, such as requiring all employees to use two-factor authentication. Legislators have proposed new rules requiring private companies that operate critical infrastructure to meet minimum security standards.
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Sanctioning crypto exchanges might also make it riskier for companies to pay ransoms even if they want to. Right now, many companies hire third-party consultants to negotiate and help pay ransoms, ensuring that computer systems get back up and running quickly. But if the exchanges used to facilitate those ransom payments are sanctioned, the hacked companies and their consultants could now both be breaking the law by paying.

“Companies that facilitate ransomware payments to cyber actors on behalf of victims, including financial institutions, cyber insurance firms, and companies involved in digital forensics and incident response, not only encourage future ransomware payment demands but also may risk violating OFAC regulations,” the Treasury Department said in its statement. “The U.S. government strongly discourages all private companies and citizens from paying ransom or extortion demands.”

FBI held back ransomware decryption key from businesses to run operation targeting hackers

If companies feel they must make a payment, the best course of action is to tell law enforcement ahead of time, Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said on the call.

“If a company determines that it’s in their interest to pay these demands, the OFAC guidance makes clear that the best way to protect that company from the risk of paying a sanctioned entity is to report the fact that they have been attacked to law enforcement,” Adeyemo said.

The White House has also been pushing cyber-insurance providers to craft policies that incentivize companies to take security more seriously. Some hackers have specifically targeted companies they know have robust cyber-insurance. The government wants stricter rules on who gets to access that insurance.

“In order to get home insurance, you have to have installed smoke detectors or have an alarm system,” Neuberger said. “So when we look at cybersecurity, what we’re grappling with is what seems to be the lack of incentives for companies to make the investment to have to modernize their defenses to meet the threat.”

Sept. 18

Proof via Substack, Investigation: January 6 Was a Violent Nationwide Insurrection—Not One Attack on One Building in Washington, Seth Abramson, left, Sept. 18, seth abramson graphic2021. Many Americans don't realize that Trump's plan for a January 6 attack on American democracy was national in scope—and continues to be. As his insurgency continues, capitals across America are at risk.

Introduction: One of the gravest misunderstandings about January 6 is that it was a localized event involving a single target: the United States Capitol. In fact, it was a decentralized plot that involved dozens of individual attacks around the country and which—moreover—the President of the United States at the time, Donald Trump, publicly acknowledged he knew was a diffuse network of attacks on American democracy. Indeed, Trump said all of the following in his speech the White House Ellipse on Insurrection Day:

seth abramson proof logo• That in addition to the crowd in front of him, he was well aware his speech was being heard by “hundreds of thousands of American patriots who are committed to the honesty of our elections and the integrity of our glorious republic”, a reference to Trumpist insurrectionists gathering “live” in other locations outside D.C. (as any reference to a TV audience would have accounted it in the millions rather than the hundreds of thousands);

• That the purpose of the upcoming march on the Capitol, among other things, was to convince Vice President Mike Pence to “send it [the results of the Electoral College votes in the fifty states] back to the states to re-certify [them]”, a plot Trump believed would lead to the de-certification of Joe Biden’s electors and which he knew would only be aided if massive protests occurred in the states Trump was claiming wanted to revisit their Electoral College votes;

• That “in addition to challenging the certification of the election, I’m calling on…state legislatures to quickly pass sweeping election reforms, and you better do it before we have no country left”;

• That he was “looking out all over this country and seeing fantastic crowds” (emphasis supplied), a confession that he was tracking January 6 events across America;

• That the supposed theft of the 2020 presidential election was very much a state-by-state issue, with the former president spending time in his speech at the Ellipse discussing not just the national outcome of the November vote but specific events in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Pennsylvania (as well as, in the same speech, falsely characterizing the 2020 election results in Ohio, Texas, Florida, and projecting his false claims of election theft forward into future elections in Wyoming and New York); and

• “If this happened to the Democrats, there’d be hell all over the country going on, there’d be hell all over the country” (emphasis supplied), a repetition of a calculated phrase pointing toward a nationwide protest against democracy, and another attempt to send a message to pro-Trump insurrectionists outside D.C. unsure about how violent they had the sitting president’s permission to get so far from what was (at the time) seen as the epicenter of the January 6 spectacle.

With all of the foregoing in mind, America needs a comprehensive summary of what happened on January 6 outside the nation’s capital.

washington post logoWashington Post, Court hearings, guilty pleas belie right-wing recasting of Jan. 6 defendants as persecuted patriots, Spencer S. Hsu, Tom Jackman, Ellie Silverman and Rachel Weiner, Sept. 18, 2021 (print ed.). There are about 73 pleas, with roughly 600 charged and dozens still jailed. Ahead of the Justice for J6 rally, a look at where the defendants stand.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice for J6 rally sees a sparse crowd and tight security, Emily Davies, Marissa J. Lang, Teo Armus, Peter Jamison and Katie Mettler, Sept. 18, 2021. A small band of right-wing protesters decrying the treatment of the mob that overran the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was dwarfed by hundreds of police and news reporters. Police said they made four arrests and seized two weapons.

The most anticipated visit by right-wing activists to the nation’s capital since a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 ended with a whimper Saturday, as demonstrators supporting the rioters found themselves far outnumbered by police, journalists and counterprotesters.

Although the protesters returned to the scene of a historically grievous attack on American democracy, it was immediately obvious that much had changed. The Capitol grounds — where poorly prepared police fought a losing, hand-to-hand battle against President Donald Trump’s supporters just over eight months ago — were secured Saturday with metal fences and hundreds of officers. The halls of Congress were all but deserted. No president, or former president, delivered a bellicose speech urging that his election loss be overturned.

Capitol Police said Saturday afternoon that between 400 and 450 people had been observed at some point inside the protest zone. But many of them were journalists and other bystanders.

washington post logoWashington Post, Oath Keepers founder draws scrutiny from federal officials and followers for role in Jan. 6 riot, but he remains free and uncharged, Hannah Allam and Spencer S. Hsu, Sept. 18, 2021 (print ed.). It depends on who’s talking.

To some, Stewart Rhodes is a paramilitary commander enlisting thousands of foot soldiers to overthrow the government.

stewart rhodesTo others, he’s a couch-surfing grifter — and the most shocking thing about the involvement of his Oath Keepers group in the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol was that some members actually showed up.

To federal prosecutors, Rhodes, 56, is “Person One,” which is how he is referenced in court filings for roughly 22 Oath Keepers associates charged in connection with the Capitol attack, including 18 who are accused of conspiracy in the largest single indictment of the probe. Five have pleaded guilty.

In the prosecution’s timeline, Rhodes coordinated with participants, allegedly giving advice about what weapons to bring and speaking with one who was part of the “stack” formation implemented moments before the group charged into the Capitol — one of the most salient images of the day.

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: California shows US future once again! Webster G. Tarpley, right, Sept. 18, 2021. Newsom’s landslide win in California recall marks failure for webster tarpley 2007GOP‘s anti-social ”health freedom” demagogy: Silent Majority of Vaccinated emerges despite media focus on loudmouth rejection front; Time for Dems to take gloves off!

In Virginia gubernatorial debate, Wall Street’s GOP candidate Youngkin showcases his plan for avoiding Larry Elder‘s fate: LYING!
Gen. Milley provides much-needed model of patriotism;

Playing small ball, FDA advisory board backs covid boosters for over-65s;

Definitively refuting trickle-down economics, 2020 direct stimulus payments cut US poverty rate by unprecedented 2.7% despite pandemic and closures; now make Child Tax Credit permanent!

Sept. 17

Proof via Substack, Investigative Commentary: A Secretive Summit That Trump Attended in December of 2020 May Explain Both Trump's Role in the January 6 seth abramson graphicInsurrection and Why Both CJCS Milley and China Feared Trump Would Start a War, Seth Abramson (left, attorney, professor, Newsweek columnist, metajournalist, and New York Times bestselling author), Sept. 16-17, 2021.

Introduction: On December 27, 2020, fresh off receiving one of the most controversial presidential pardons in U.S. history—from then-president Donald Trump, the very man he had committed federal felonies to protect—Roger Stone traveled to Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach to “thank[ ]” his patron and criminal co-conspirator.

seth abramson proof logoOnly a few U.S. media outlets covered the astonishingly brazen meeting at the time, and surprisingly that didn’t change nine days later—when a “movement” co-led by Stone, Stop the Steal, coordinated with the 2020 Trump Campaign in a sequence of events resulting in armed insurrection and a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Back in December 2020, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reported on the meeting in a way that should have, but didn’t, lead to it becoming a focus of sustained national attention: per the paper, Stone went to see Trump on December 27 not just to “deliver a personal thank you to the president” but also, critically, to “counsel the president on how he could ‘ensure that Donald Trump continues as our president.’” This was during the same period that, as Proof has reported, Stone recorded a video seeking donations for arms and armor for Proud Boys and Oath Keepers planning to travel to Washington on January 6—the precise conduct Proud Boy “sergeant-at-arms” and Stone associate Ethan Nordean would later be arrested for.

So there can be no doubt that when Stone met Trump just nine days before January 6 to discuss how that day could lead to an overturning of the November 2020 election, Stone’s focus was on the Stop the Steal–cosponsored March to Save America that he was personally involved in coordinating at a logistical as well as strategic level.

The Sun-Sentinel report noted that, after posting a picture of (and commentary upon) the strange golf club meeting on Parler, Stone subsequently thought better of it and deleted all reference to the event on the far-right social media platform. At the time, he claimed it was to honor a policy supposedly in place at Trump’s golf club to prevent guests from posting pictures of the club; journalists have not yet been able to verify that any such policy exists, and a Google Image search certainly suggests it doesn’t (especially when the photograph promotes Donald Trump in any way). In any case, Stone had by then deleted not only photos of the meeting but also any reference to it on social media—and thereafter would refuse to discuss it with journalists. It did not, therefore, seem like a reticence related to an eldritch country club photography policy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Oath Keepers founder draws scrutiny from federal officials and followers for role in Jan. 6 riot, but he remains free and uncharged, Hannah Allam and Spencer S. Hsu, Sept. 17, 2021. It depends on who’s talking.

To some, Stewart Rhodes is a paramilitary commander enlisting thousands of foot soldiers to overthrow the government.

To others, he’s a couch-surfing grifter — and the most shocking thing about the involvement of his Oath Keepers group in the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol was that some members actually showed up.

To federal prosecutors, Rhodes, 56, is “Person One,” which is how he is referenced in court filings for roughly 22 Oath Keepers associates charged in connection with the Capitol attack, including 18 who are accused of conspiracy in the largest single indictment of the probe. Five have pleaded guilty.

In the prosecution’s timeline, Rhodes coordinated with participants, allegedly giving advice about what weapons to bring and speaking with one who was part of the “stack” formation implemented moments before the group charged into the Capitol — one of the most salient images of the day.

washington post logoWashington Post, Disclosures on Milley’s Trump pushback could further politicize the military, Missy Ryan, Sept. 17, 2021. Supporters say the country’s top officer sought to protect the Constitution, but some fear his actions could compound existing problems. New revelations showing how Gen. Mark A. Milley, the nation’s top military officer, quietly maneuvered to check President Donald Trump reveal the lengths that top officials went to prevent potentially rash action, but the disclosures also threaten to thrust the military deeper into the partisan fray, former officials said.

mark milley army chief of staffA series of dramatic inside-the-room accounts, including one in which the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, right, promised to alert China’s top officer if Trump was preparing to launch an attack, provides new insight into military leaders’ response to the previous administration’s fraught final period.

But Kori Schake, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said the revelations that Milley covertly acted to counter his commander in chief are “bad for the military as an institution.”

“It encourages people to do what Americans are already doing, which is viewing the military as they view the Supreme Court: apolitical when they agree with them, partisan when they don’t,” she said.

Biden comes to Milley’s defense after revelation that top general, fearing Trump, conferred with China to avoid war

The latest exposé comes in a book by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, who write that Milley, alarmed by the possibility Trump might strike China as he tried to stay in power, reached out to Gen. Li Zuocheng in the months surrounding the 2020 election in order to dismiss any Chinese fears of a preemptive American attack, they said.

That followed other dramatic accounts involving Milley, including in a book by Washington Post journalists Carol D. Leonnig and Philip Rucker, which said the general likened the circumstances around the election to those of Nazi-era Germany.

washington post logoWashington Post, Milley says calls to Chinese counterpart were ‘perfectly within the duties and responsibilities’ of his job, John Wagner, Sept. 17, 2021. Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Friday that calls he made late in the Trump administration to his Chinese military counterpart were “perfectly within the duties and responsibilities” of his job and that he would explain his actions in greater detail during an upcoming appearance before Congress.

Milley, who has come under fire after a new book revealed the conservations aimed at averting armed conflict, described the calls as “routine” and said they were done “to reassure both allies and adversaries in this case in order to ensure strategic stability.”

“I think it’s best that I reserve my comments on the record until I do that in front of the lawmakers who have the lawful responsibility to oversee the U.S. military,” Milley said, according to the Associated Press. “I’ll go into any level of detail Congress wants to go into in a couple of weeks.”

The AP reported that Milley, the Pentagon’s top uniformed officer, made his comments to reporters traveling with him to Europe. Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are scheduled to testify Sept. 28 before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden comes to Milley’s defense after revelation top general, fearing Trump, conferred with China to avert war, Karoun Demirjian and John Wagner, Sept. 17, 2021 (print ed.). Critics of Gen. Mark Milley contend he should be removed as Joint Chiefs chairman after a new book disclosed the extent of his alarm that Trump might order a strike on China in the waning days of his presidency.

mark milley army chief of staffPresident Biden on Wednesday threw his full support behind the Pentagon’s top uniformed officer, right, who has come under fire after a new book revealed he privately conferred with his Chinese counterpart Gen. Li Zuocheng, left, to avert armed conflict late in the Trump administration.

Gen. Li Zuocheng“I have great confidence in General Milley,” Biden told reporters at the White House, following calls from former president Donald Trump and his Republican allies on Capitol Hill for the removal of Gen. Mark A. Milley as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Biden’s declaration, coinciding with efforts by the chief spokespersons for the White House and the Pentagon to stage a similar defense of the embattled general, effectively ends speculation that Milley’s assignment may be cut short. But the controversy surrounding his fitness for the job rages on — and thus far is falling mostly along party lines.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump gave six months extra Secret Service protection to his kids, three officials. It cost taxpayers $1.7 million, David A. Fahrenthold and Carol D. Leonnig, Sept. 17, 2021. The former president required the Secret Service to devote agents and money to wealthy adults with no role in government, whom the agents trailed to ski vacations, weekend houses, a resort in Cabo San Lucas and business trips abroad.

In June, former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin visited Israel to scout investments for his new company, then flew to Qatar for a conference. At the time, Mnuchin had been out of office for five months.

But, because of an order given by President Donald Trump, he was still entitled to protection by Secret Service agents. As agents followed Mnuchin across the Middle East, the U.S. government paid up to $3,000 each for their plane tickets, and $11,000 for rooms at Qatar’s luxe St. Regis Doha, according to government spending records.

In all, the records show U.S. taxpayers spent more than $52,000 to guard a multimillionaire on a business trip.

These payments were among $1.7 million in additional government spending triggered by Trump’s highly unusual order — which awarded six extra months of Secret Service protection for his four adult children and three top administration officials — according to a Washington Post analysis of new spending documents.

That $1.7 million in extra spending is still tiny in comparison to the Secret Service’s $2.4 billion budget.

But, as the records show, Trump’s order required the Secret Service to devote agents and money to an unexpected set of people: wealthy adults, with no role in government, whom the agents trailed to ski vacations, weekend houses, a resort in Cabo San Lucas, and business trips abroad.

“Who wouldn’t enjoy continuing their free limo service and easy access to restaurant tables?” said Jim Helminski, a former Secret Service executive, who said the decision appeared to show Trump giving a public service as a private benefit to his inner circle. “Even if there was a credible risk to family and associates of Trump, these people are now private citizens who can afford to hire some very talented private security firms for their personal protection.”

New York Times, Ohio House Republican, Calling Trump ‘a Cancer,’ Bows Out of 2022, Jonathan Martin, Sept. 17, 2021 (print ed.). Representative Anthony Gonzalez, one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump, is the first of the group to retire rather than face a stiff primary challenge.

Calling former President Donald J. Trump “a cancer for the country,” Representative Anthony Gonzalez, Republican of Ohio, said in an interview on Thursday that he would not run for re-election in 2022, ceding his seat after just two terms in Congress rather than compete against a Trump-backed primary opponent.

anthony gonzalezMr. Gonzalez, right, is the first, but perhaps not the last, of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Trump after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot to retire rather than face ferocious primaries next year in a party still in thrall to the former president.

The congressman, who has two young children, emphasized that he was leaving in large part because of family considerations and the difficulties that come with living between two cities. But he made clear that the strain had only grown worse since his impeachment vote, after which he was deluged with threats and feared for the safety of his wife and children.

Mr. Gonzalez said that quality-of-life issues had been paramount in his decision. He recounted an “eye-opening” moment this year: when he and his family were greeted at the Cleveland airport by two uniformed police officers, part of extra security precautions taken after the impeachment vote.

“That’s one of those moments where you say, ‘Is this really what I want for my family when they travel, to have my wife and kids escorted through the airport?’” he said.

Mr. Gonzalez, who turns 37 on Saturday, was the sort of Republican recruit the party once prized. A Cuban American who starred as an Ohio State wide receiver, he was selected in the first round of the N.F.L. draft and then earned an M.B.A. at Stanford after his football career was cut short by injuries. He claimed his Northeast Ohio seat in his first bid for political office.

Mr. Gonzalez, a conservative, largely supported the former president’s agenda. Yet he started breaking with Mr. Trump and House Republican leaders when they sought to block the certification of last year’s presidential vote, and he was horrified by Jan. 6 and its implications.

Still, he insisted he could have prevailed in what he acknowledged would have been a “brutally hard primary” against Max Miller, a former Trump White House aide who was endorsed by the former president in February.

Yet as Mr. Gonzalez sat on a couch in his House office, most of his colleagues still at home for the prolonged summer recess, he acknowledged that he could not bear the prospect of winning if it meant returning to a Trump-dominated House Republican caucus.

“Politically the environment is so toxic, especially in our own party right now,” he said. “You can fight your butt off and win this thing, but are you really going to be happy? And the answer is, probably not.”

For the Ohioan, Jan. 6 was “a line-in-the-sand moment” and Mr. Trump represents nothing less than a threat to American democracy.

“I don’t believe he can ever be president again,” Mr. Gonzalez said. “Most of my political energy will be spent working on that exact goal.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Durham grand jury indicts lawyer whose firm represented Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Devlin Barrett and Spencer S. Hsu, Sept. 17, 2021 (print ed.). A grand jury working with special counsel John Durham’s office handed up an indictment Thursday of lawyer Michael Sussmann, who prosecutors have accused of making false statements to the FBI during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Sussmann, the indictment charges, “lied about the capacity in which he was providing ... allegations to the FBI” of potenmichael sussmann perkins youngertial cyber links between a Russian bank and a company owned by former president Donald Trump.

An attorney at Perkins Coie, a prominent law firm tied to the Democratic party, Sussmann, right, had been bracing for possible indictment.

  • Read the indictment: U.S. v. Michael Sussmann

Charging him marks a strange twist in the special counsel’s probe championed by Trump and his Republican allies, and which to date has resulted in a single conviction of a low-level FBI lawyer.

john durham CustomDurham, right, was tasked with finding crimes that may have been committed at the FBI and elsewhere in the federal government, but in charging Sussmann, the special counsel is in essence arguing that the FBI was the victim of a crime.

In a statement issued Wednesday, ahead of the indictment, lawyers for Sussmann insisted their client committed no crime.

“Michael Sussmann is a highly respected national security and cyber security lawyer, who served the U.S. Department of Justice during Democratic and Republican administrations alike,” his lawyers Sean Berkowitz and Michael Bosworth said in a joint statement. “Any prosecution here would be baseless, unprecedented, and an unwarranted deviation from the apolitical and principled way in which the Department of Justice is supposed to do its work. We are confident that if Mr. Sussmann is charged, he will prevail at trial and vindicate his good name.”

Durham grand jury examines if anyone presented false evidence to FBI

In recent months, Durham’s team has questioned witnesses about how the allegation of a possible digital tie between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank Justice Department log circularwas presented to the FBI. Durham also has examined the authenticity of data given to the FBI.

Durham is pursuing a prosecutorial theory that Sussmann was secretly representing Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, which was a client of Sussmann’s firm, these people said.

It was not immediately clear how an individual lying to the FBI’s top lawyer would square with the Justice Department’s historical practice of charging false-statements cases. Typically, such cases are charged when a witness knowingly lies to a special agent conducting an investigation.

Sept. 16

Palmer Report, Opinion: Here come the January 6th superseding indictments, Bill Palmer, Sept. 16, 2021. “They’ve gotten away with it all!” It’s the rallying cry of defeatists everywhere who are so eager to feel outrage, they’ve baselessly convinced themselves that the January 6th attackers are off the hook. Meanwhile back in the real world, the indictments continue to come down – and now we’re getting into superseding indictments.

bill palmer report logo headerFor instance, prosecutors handed down superseding indictments today against Capitol attackers Ronald Sandlin and Nathaniel DeGrave, who had already been hit with lesser January 6th charges. It’s a reminder that as the evidence continues to add up, and people start cutting plea deals and ratting each other out, the indictments are continuing to get more serious.

The criminal indictments in relation to January 6th are still just getting started. That’s a fact made clear by the evidence. How high up will these indictments go, and will they reach the likes of Roger Stone and Donald Trump? We’ll see. But the narrative that they’ve “gotten away with it all” is simply fiction.

 

djt evander holyfield vitor belfortMediaite, Trump-Announced Evander Holyfield Boxing Match Reportedly a Box Office Dud, Nets a Paltry 150k Pay-Per-View Buys, Brandon Contes, Sept. 16, 2021. Former US President Donald Trump poses for a photo prior to the fight between Evander Holyfield and Vitor Belfort during Evander Holyfield vs. Vitor Belfort presented by Triller at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on September 11, 2021 in Hollywood, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

In a fight that never should have happened, Evander Holyfield was embarrassed in his return to the ring last week against Vitor Belfort, getting KO’d in the first round. But the real loser might be Triller Fight Club.

According to boxing journalist Dan Rafael, sources say the fight generated around 150,000 PPV buys. If that number holds, it will represent a massive fail for Triller, who promoted and sold the PPV event for $49.99.

Per sources, #HolyfieldBelfort event totaled about 150k PPV buys between linear & digital platforms, which would make it a massive $ loser for Triller. At 150k it would gross about $7.5M from ppv, not remotely close to covering even the purses, not to mention rest of expenses.

— Dan Rafael (@DanRafael1) September 16, 2021

In comparison, Mike Tyson’s return to the ring against Roy Jones Jr. last year surpassed a reported 1.6 million PPV buys, or more than 10 times the reported amount of Triller’s Holyfield bout.

Triller brought former president Donald Trump on board last week, in a desperate attempt to add juice to the fight and provide alternate commentary of the event. The former president’s boxing prowess dates back decades, having welcomed some of the world’s best fighters to Trump Plaza in Atlantic City long before the dying venue imploded earlier this year.

But even Trump, who loves to falsely criticize other sports for their dwindling popularity by invoking the “go woke, go broke” narrative, wasn’t enough of a draw to help this dud of a boxing match. While the NBA and NFL watch their TV ratings start to bounce back from a deplorable 2020, the Triller-Trump partnership just oversaw an epic fail for boxing.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Turns out Donald Trump’s boxing match stunt was a money losing disaster for everyone involved, Bill Palmer, Sept. 16, 2021. Given Donald Trump’s treasonous acts against the United States, anyone who even tries to do business with him should be financially shunned by every mainstream American on principle alone. Even as we continue working toward that goal, it turns out Trump’s own inherent toxicity and crappiness is working to make sure his financial partners end up punished.

bill palmer report logo headerTake for instance, the disgusting decision to allow career criminal Donald Trump to provide pay per view commentary for a boxing match this past week. Mediaite is reporting that just a relative handful of people paid to tune in for Trump’s incoherent commentary, and the whole thing has apparently turned into a major financial loss for the promoters. In other words, the promoters got exactly what they deserved.

Hopefully this will send a message to anyone else who thinks about partnering with anti-American traitor Donald Trump going forward. His base is comparatively small, and even they seem increasingly uninterested in his ramblings. And the vast majority of the country wants nothing to do with Trump, or with anyone disgusting enough to partner with Trump. The traitor is a terrible financial bet. Then again, he always has been.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘CUT HIM OFF NOW!’ Newsmax Host Short-Circuits After Guest Commits Unforgivable Sin of Criticizing Trump, Ken Meyer, Sept. 16, 2021. Newsmax’s Grant Stinchfield had a major-league meltdown where he screamed and cut off a guest on his show for mildly criticizing Donald Trump over the former president’s approach to Afghanistan.

Stinchfield spoke on Wednesday night with Joe Saboe, an Iraq War veteran who recently made headlines for his efforts to help people flee Afghanistan in light of the Taliban’s national takeover.

During the interview, Stinchfield and Saboe had a dispute about whether the current state of affairs in Afghanistan is a “hostage situation,” and the Newsmax host eventually made the argument that Trump would’ve never let this happen.

I can tell you, this didn’t happen under President Trump, and I know there’s a lot of people on the Left that want to try to blame President Trump. He wanted out of Afghanistan real bad. He was real frustrated, not being able to get out, but he didn’t pull out because he knew this would happen. In fact, we all did.

Stinchfield moved to dismiss Saboe from the show, but before he could, Saboe offered a counterpoint by saying “we followed this closely from multiple administrations. We know that Trump’s administration’s efforts here were fairly weak, that they were trying to limit the number of people that would get out…”

At that moment, Stinchfield claimed he was “low on time” and once again moved to terminate the segment. Saboe kept on speaking though, which caused Stinchfield to repeatedly shout “Cut him off now!”

“You’re not gonna blame this on President Trump on my show!” He exclaimed. “Don’t come on this program and take the talking points of the left and blame President Trump! That’s not helping anybody!”

Stinchfield concluded by shouting that “the Biden administration screwed this up from the very start,” and he also took some parting shots at Saboe for disagreeing with his “hostage situation” commentary.

Sept. 14

les wexner mansion jeffrey epstein wmr graphic mariaWayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Bannon's involvement with Epstein reflects on a past littered with ties to pedophiles, Wayne Madsen, Sept. 14, 2021. According to a new book by Donald Trump biographer Michael Wolff, former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon coached the late pedophile and child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein for a planned CBS "60 Minutes" interview in the months prior to Epstein's arrest by federal authorities in 2019.

According to Wolff's book, Too Famous: The Rich, the Powerful, the Wishful, the Notorious, the Damned," Bannon conducted 15 hours of practice interviews with Epstein at his Manhattan townhouse [known as the Wexner Mansion, named for Epstein's benefactor Leslie Wexner, the clothing retailing mogul and shown above in a WMR graphic].

We have previously reported that Epstein's New York residence was the scene of the 1994 rape of two girls, one 12 and the other 13, by Epstein and Trump. Bannon has, for quite some time, been under our radar for his past association with pedophiles. In 2005, Bannon was affiliated with a Hong Kong-based company alexander acosta o cropped Customcalled Internet Gaming Entertainment (IGE) [whose silent partner included Marc Collins-Rector].

There is a common thread that extends far and wide within Trump's circle of friends and associates. U.S. Attorney in Miami Alex Acosta, right, whom Trump named as his Labor Secretary, the government's chief monitor for underage sex trafficking, was more interested in burying the criminal activities of pedophiles like Epstein, Trump, and Rector than in protecting children from predators with large bank accounts.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s “serious mental decline,” Bill Palmer, right, Sept. 14, 2021. As 2020 went on, we all watched Donald Trump become more bill palmerdesperate, more deranged, and more incoherent in his public behavior. By the time he lost and then tried to falsely declare himself the winner, and then turned around and incited the January 6th Capitol attack, no one was surprised at his worsening behavior. But it turns out he was even further off the deep end than we knew.

bill palmer report logo headerBob Woodward and Robert Costa have written a new book which says that Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley was “certain that Trump had gone into a serious mental decline in the aftermath of the election,” screaming and ranting all day about whacked out conspiracy theories. Milley went so far as to hold a secret meeting in order to preempt any potential nuclear strikes that Trump might order.

The book also reveals that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called General Milley after January 6th and urged him to get a handle on things, adding that Trump was “crazy.” Milley’s response to Pelosi: “I agree with you on everything.”

Sept. 13

Best-selling author Michael Wolff's two 2021 books:

Best-selling author Michael Wolff's two 2021 books: "Landslide" and "Too Famous."

ny times logoNew York Times, Commentary: Why Our Monsters Talk to Michael Wolff, Ben Smith, Sept. 13, 2021 (print ed.). In his new book, the author of “Fire and Fury” continues his specialty: teasing out stories from men in power, our media columnist Ben Smith writes.

It’s early 2019, a few months before Jeffrey Epstein will be arrested on sex charges, and he is sitting in the vast study of his New York mansion with a camera pointed at him as he practices for a big “60 Minutes” interview that would never take place.

The media trainer is a familiar figure: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s campaign guru and onetime White House adviser. Mr. Bannon is both conducting the interview and coaching Mr. Epstein on the little things, telling him he will come across as stupid if he doesn’t look directly into the camera now and then, and advising him not to share his racist theories on how Black people learn. Mainly, Mr. Bannon tells Mr. Epstein, he should stick to his message, which is that he is not a pedophile. By the end, Mr. Bannon seems impressed.

“You’re engaging, you’re not threatening, you’re natural, you’re friendly, you don’t look at all creepy, you’re a sympathetic figure,” he says.

This explosive, previously unreported episode, linking a leader of the right with the now-dead disgraced financier, is tucked away at the end of a new book by Michael Wolff, Too Famous: The Rich, the Powerful, the Wishful, the Notorious, the Damned. Mr. Bannon confirmed in a statement that he encouraged Mr. Epstein to speak to “60 Minutes” and said that he had recorded more than 15 hours of interviews with him.

michael wolff folded armsMr. Wolff, 68, left, has been at this since before I had a byline, infuriating his rivals by the access he gets, the stories he tells and the gleeful way he tells them. And he has been the subject of pieces like this one — scolding profiles of the journalist enfant terrible and New York media scenester — for decades.

He has managed to stay at the top of his game because of his undying interest and expertise in a particular subject: big, bad men. What Oprah Winfrey is to tearful celebrities and earnest royals, Mr. Wolff is to louche power players. The litany is astounding: Roger Ailes, Rupert Murdoch, Harvey Weinstein, Boris Johnson, Mr. Bannon, Mr. Trump. All appear in his new book, a collection of profiles, some previously published, some not.

Magnates seem to think Mr. Wolff gives them their best shot at a sympathetic portrait. He writes, in “Too Famous,” that Mr. Weinstein called him during his 2020 rape trial to propose a biography. “This book is worth millions,” Mr. Weinstein told him, according to Mr. Wolff. “You keep domestic, I’ll take foreign.” As for Mr. Epstein? “He wanted me to write something about him — a kind of a book — it wasn’t clear why,” Mr. Wolff told me.

Few women appear in “Too Famous.” Tina Brown, Arianna Huffington and Hillary Clinton are the exceptions. “These are the women, and there are not too many, who have done exactly what men would do,” he said. And Democrats rarely talk to him. “They don’t have a sense of play,” he said.

Sept. 12

djt evander holyfield vitor belfort

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Trump Talked as Holyfield Got Pummeled. Just Another Day in Boxing’s Absurd Summer, Kevin Draper, Sept. 12, 2021. Of course it was a circus (shown in a promotional ad above) — the kind that makes sense in boxing these days.

In a single zany sentence, this is how the once-promising summer of boxing ended: Triller, a social video app that is a much less popular version of TikTok, put on a pay-per-view fight between a 58-year-old Evander Holyfield (who hasn’t fought in a decade) and a 44-year-old mixed martial artist, Vitor Belfort — and paid former President Donald J. Trump and Donald Trump Jr. to serve as live commentators, all on the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The result of the (legally) professional fight is mostly beside the point — Belfort won by a technical knockout in the first round, after the referee stopped the bout because of how clear it was that Holyfield never should have been allowed into the ring — but it served to underscore what could have been.

Earlier this year, Triller won the right to promote Teófimo López’s lightweight title defense against George Kambosos Jr. The app paid more than $6 million for the privilege, after the fight went to an open bid because López and his promoter, Top Rank, could not agree on a deal.

Triller had burst onto the boxing scene last winter, with an exhibition fight between Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. The internet celebrity Jake Paul knocked out a former N.B.A. player, Nate Robinson, on the undercard, and the rappers Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa and French Montana all performed between fights.

An optimist could see an evolution in how boxing was being presented: a brash entrant aiming to attract a new type — and a new generation — of fans to a sport that has been the subject of a thousand obituaries.

The López-Kambosos fight, then, was Triller’s chance to show that it was serious. That its foray into boxing was not just an expensive, attention-grabbing marketing strategy for its app — though it was definitely that — and that its flashy presentation would work for real fights, too, and that it had figured out something that traditional promoters like Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions had not.

As if to punctuate its seriousness, on June 1, Triller announced that it had hired the Boxing Hall of Fame announcer Jim Lampley to call the fight. Cast aspersions on Triller all you want, but Lampley calling a López title bout is a strong way to present a legitimate draw.

Alas, that announcement would be the high point.

The fight, scheduled for June 19, was pushed back to August after López tested positive for the coronavirus. It was moved again, to September, onto the same card featuring Oscar De La Hoya — who has not fought since George W. Bush was president — fighting Belfort. But that date did not work out — in theory, López will now fight in October — and then, last week, De La Hoya was hospitalized with the coronavirus, in what he said was a breakthrough infection.

On a week’s notice, Holyfield stepped in to fight Belfort instead. The bout, originally to take place in Los Angeles, was moved across the country to Florida after the California State Athletic Commission refused to sanction it — even as an exhibition. (In Florida, it counted as a pro fight.)

But we are not done yet. On Tuesday, Triller announced that Trump and Trump Jr. would commentate the fight. The next day, Lampley, objecting to the presence of the Trumps even though they were to be on a separate commentating stream, pulled out.

That is how Triller’s big summer showcase, to be voiced by Lampley, became three hours of Trump recalling different boxers he’d known and been friends with, before two depressing top bouts, both over in the first round, each of which featured one washed-up fighter beating another.

“They say there is a lot of people watching,” the former president said with a smile between fights. “I can’t imagine why.” The night was one of Trump’s highest-profile, and lengthiest, public appearances since leaving office, and a fairly rare event in light of his suspension from a number of social media sites.

CBS Boxing, Analysis: Holyfield vs. Belfort fight results: Ex-MMA star knocks out Evander Holyfield, while Anderson Silva shines, Brian Campbell

evander holyfield vitor belfort cbs boxingCBS Boxing, Analysis: Holyfield vs. Belfort fight results: Ex-MMA star knocks out Evander Holyfield, while Anderson Silva shines, Brian Campbell, Sept. 12, 2021. The two quick fights headlined an event that will also be remembered for some odd moments.

Well, the good news is that no one got seriously injured. That's about the best thing one can say about Saturday's Triller Fight Club pay-per-view card from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel in Hollywood, Florida.

MMA legend Vitor Belfort, above right, knocked out 58-year-old former heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield, left, in the main event and Anderson Silva continued to raise his stock on the boxing side of his post-UFC combat career in one of the most bizarre fight cards in recent memory.

Let's take a closer look at what we learned following this circus from south Florida.

  1. Triller is the bottom of the combat sports food chain
  2. Let's be happy for Holyfield it wasn't much worse
  3. Consider Anderson Silva the new face of the celebrity boxing era

Sept. 11

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Yes, the Jan. 6 insurrectionists were terrorists. George W. Bush just indicted them, Jennifer Rubin, right, Sept. 11, 2021. Few jennifer rubin new headshotAmericans expected wisdom from former president George W. Bush on the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Even fewer expected wisdom on the current state of our politics. That is nevertheless what we got from his remarks in Shanksville, Pa., today.

In perhaps the most important words spoken in his political career, Bush in his remarks at the crash site of United Airlines Flight 93 drew a straight line between the 9/11 terrorists and the 1/6 terrorists.

“We have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders but from violence that gathers within,” he said. “There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home. But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit." He added, "It is our continuing duty to confront them.” Bush’s words were an indictment not only of the violent MAGA insurrectionists but also, implicitly, of his party that coddles them and the leader whom the 1/6 terrorists wanted to install by force.

The violent insurrectionists carried symbols of the Confederacy (the traitors whose rebellion resulted in more than 600,000 American deaths) in the Capitol, where they trashed the citadel of democracy and tried to hunt down House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The Capitol, of course, was the suspected target of Flight 93; the heroes on board that plane spared the lawmakers and others who worked there from the fate of occupants of the twin towers and the Pentagon. The 1/6 terrorists breached the building the 9/11 terrorists could not. Both the 9/11 terrorists and the domestic 1/6 terrorists sought to destroy our democracy in service to a crazed ideology of intolerance.

When viewed in that context, the actions of the former president and his party should horrify all decent Americans. One can imagine how their actions and rhetoric would have sounded if the other “children of the same foul spirit” were radical Islamists.

“We love you; you’re very special,” then-President Donald Trump told the Jan. 6 terrorists as their assault on democracy continued. Later, he declared, "These were peaceful people, these were great people.” He insisted, “The crowd was unbelievable and I mentioned the word ‘love,’ the love in the air, I’ve never seen anything like it.” No president and no party could have survived if the object of his remarks were foreign rather than domestic terrorists. No president could have avoided prosecution if the crowd he inspired to march on the Capitol had been radical Muslims ready to kill elected leaders and stop democracy in its tracks.

And the Republican Party continues to minimize, deflect and ignore the 1/6 terrorist attack. Can one imagine in the wake of 9/11 Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asking senators as a "favor” not to investigate the 9/11 attacks? Consider the reaction had House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy insisted we not bother investigating 9/11 because the other side was simply seeking to score political points. One can only imagine the reaction if, after a foreign attack premised on the big lie, Sens. Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and the other Republicans proceeded to make challenges to the democratic process based on the same conspiracy theory advanced by foreign terrorists.

In every case, had the terrorists been foreigners, we would have labeled their Republican apologists as anti-American, if not traitorous. There is no difference, as Bush pointed out, when the terrorists carry Confederate flags or a radical Islamist flag. As he said, “It is our continuing duty to confront them” — not to sympathize with them, not to turn them into martyrs.

In musing about what has become of a country where “every disagreement [turns] into an argument, and every argument into a clash of cultures," Bush decried politics that is no more than “a naked appeal to anger, fear and resentment.” Only one party matches that description. Bush used a powerful refrain, one that also serves as a rebuke to the racist, antidemocratic MAGA movement:

At a time when religious bigotry might have flowed freely, I saw Americans reject prejudice and embrace people of Muslim faith. That is the nation I know.
At a time when nativism could have stirred hatred and violence against people perceived as outsiders, I saw Americans reaffirm their welcome of immigrants and refugees. That is the nation I know.

Bush’s bluntness was a refreshing antidote to the usual blasé treatment of a radicalized Republican Party that embraces “children of the same foul spirit” as the 9/11 terrorists. The press, the ecosystem of donors, activists and operatives, and even, to an extent, the Democrats all treat Republicans as a normal political party within our democratic system, rather than as the enablers of a “foul spirit” and violent extremism. They shy away from labeling Republicans as “1/6 truthers” when the GOP’s effort to direct blame away from the actual terrorists is no better than claiming 9/11 was an inside job. (McCarthy and his cohorts insist it’s Pelosi who should be investigated.)

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump May Be Gone, but the Fight Against His Border Wall Goes On, Edgar Sandoval, Sept. 11, 2021. Residents in Los Ebanos, Texas, thought a Biden victory would end fears of losing their property for President Trump’s wall. It hasn’t worked out that way.

Sept. 5

 

ritz carlton hotel pentagon city amazonThe Ritz Carlton–Pentagon City in Northern Virginia, the site of a significant, unreported international meeting on January 5 — Insurrection Eve.

Proof via Substack, Investigation: Evidence of Foreign Entanglement in January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol Emerges, Seth Abramson, left, Sept. 5, 2021. A top Trump ally met foreign nationals in seth abramson graphicVirginia hours before the Capitol attack. The potential links between this meeting and the transnational conspiracy theory that animated the attack are clear.

“If it [the January 6 attack] [had been] organized, they would have taken the Capitol and made demands that had already been established by the group. They would have [had] the firepower to assure nobody [among the rioters] would die. [They would have] kill[ed] all the cops inside [the Capitol]—or the congressmen they hate so much. When the right is 10% as organized as the left, we will have civil wars in every Western country.”

—Trump ally Eduardo Bolsonaro, in comments The Brazilian Report called “chilling”

seth abramson proof logoIntroduction: In a series of Facebook livestreams and interviews with far-right media outlets on January 5 and January 6, informal Trump adviser Michael Lindell underscored that he believed January 6 would be a turning point in American history—in fact, he said more than once, he believed it would be the most significant moment in the United States since the end of the American Civil War.

Lindell’s militant view of the joint session of Congress scheduled for January 6, 2021 provides some context for his decision to be one of the benefactors of the Stop the Steal “movement” following the November 2020 presidential election. So the matter of who Lindell was meeting with on January 5, and where and why—especially as it was on that day that Lindell published what amounted to a declaration of civil war—is now of very significant interest to federal investigators.

Read more at the Proof site to see the revelations....

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books and edited five anthologies.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the Ph.D. program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include a Trump trilogy: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020); Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019); and Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018).

Sept. 4

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump Tower’s key tenants have fallen behind on rent and moved out. But Trump has one reliable customer: His own PAC, Shayna Jacobs, David A. Fahrenthold, Jonathan O'Connell and Josh Dawsey, Sept. 4, 2021 (print ed.). Inside Trump Tower, swank suit-maker Marcraft Clothes once rented the entire 18th floor, outfitting its offices with fireplaces, mahogany-lined closets and two bars for schmoozing customers.

But then Marcraft fell $664,000 behind on rent and went out of business last year — its assets having dwindled to $40.75 in a checking account and “1,200 damaged coats,” according to court filings.

One floor up, a business school once led by Kardashian family matriarch Kris Jenner was consumed by lawsuits, falling $198,000 behind on payments to Trump Tower by October 2020, according to court papers. And on the 21st and 22nd floors, the company that made Ivanka Trump shoes racked up $1.5 million in unpaid rent, according to a lawsuit that the Trump Organization filed this year.

But through all that — as Trump Tower has dealt with imploding tenants, political backlash and a broader, pandemic-related slump in Manhattan office leasing since last year — it has been able to count on one reliable, high-paying tenant: former president Donald Trump’s own political operation.

Starting in March, one of his committees, Make America Great Again PAC, paid $37,541.67 per month to rent office space on the 15th floor of Trump Tower — a space previously rented by his campaign — according to campaign-finance filings and a person familiar with the political action committee.

This may not be the most efficient use of donors’ money: The person familiar with Trump’s PAC said that its staffers do not regularly use the office space. Also, for several months, Trump’s PAC paid the Trump Organization $3,000 per month to rent a retail kiosk in the tower’s lobby — even though the lobby was closed.

Campaign-finance experts said the payments do not appear to be illegal. This kind of PAC has very few restrictions and no expiration date, so Trump is free to spend its money at his own properties as long as he wants.

Axios, Trump in advanced talks to sell D.C. hotel, Jonathan Swan and Dan Primack, Sept. 4, 2021. Former President Trump is in advanced talks to sell rights to his Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., sources tell Axios.

axios logoWhy it matters: The removal of Trump’s big, golden name from Pennsylvania Avenue would be a symbolic bombshell savored by opponents.

The historic building became a prop and symbol for both sides in the political wars.
The hotel was a central setting during his chaotic presidency, with Trump preening at his personal table, and supporters and supplicants thronging the lobby bar and restaurants to curry favor.

How it would work: Trump would sell the leasing rights to a real estate developer, who in turn would negotiate with hotel companies that would manage the property and rebrand it.

Details of the deal’s terms aren't yet known but Trump’s representatives have been in talks with major hotel chains and investors.
Trump, who initially tried to sell the leased federal property in the fall of 2019, declined Axios' request for comment.
Sources said the former president is likely to get less than the $500 million he was reportedly seeking in 2019.

The backstory: The hotel is housed in the 122-year-old Old Post Office building.

Three years before Trump was elected, the General Services Administration (GSA), the federal landlord, announced a 60-year lease agreement with the Trump Organization. Under the 2013 agreement, $200 million of private money was to be spent to restore the building and convert it into a luxury development.
The Trump Organization has been paying $250,000 a month in base rent, GSA said in 2017. The rent was to rise with inflation.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Go ahead Donald Trump, make my day, Bill Palmer, right, Sept. 4, 2021. Multiple people around Donald Trump are now publicly insisting that he’ll bill palmerenter the 2024 presidential race within days. My response: good, go ahead, make my day. No really, bring it on.

Here’s the thing. No one actually enters the 2024 election in the year 2021. If Trump announces a “campaign” this far out, it’ll only be because his ego needs the headlines, his wallet needs the money, and he needs a distraction from his worsening legal situation in New York – which now reportedly includes the cooperating testimony of Matthew Calamari Jr.

bill palmer report logo headerFunctionally, beyond holding a few idiotic rallies that he’s already been holding anyway, Donald Trump wouldn’t actually be running for anything by announcing a 2024 campaign in 2021. But here’s what would happen. It would convince Trump’s base that he’s going to be the 2024 Republican nominee. They’d come to accept nothing less. And by the time Trump is indicted in New York, or passes away from his visibly worsening physical health, or becomes more senile and can no longer leave the house, his supporters are going to see it as a bait and switch when they get stuck with some other Republican as their 2024 nominee.

djt maga hatNot only will Trump gain little to nothing by “entering” the 2024 race right now (other than in the wallet), he’ll end up hurting the Republicans’ prospects in 2024. Of course Trump doesn’t care about how much he hurts the GOP when it comes to pursuing his own selfish goals, as we’ve seen time and again.

The only potential downside to Trump launching a fake 2024 campaign in 2021 is that the mainstream media might be tempted to chase ratings and page views by pretending his fake campaign is real. Then again, if the media sees that it can’t hold your attention by trying to scare you with the specter of a magical Trump comeback, it’ll then have to admit that his “campaign” isn’t real and move on.

We’d all prefer that Donald Trump would just go away and never come back. But if he wants to insist on launching a fake 2024 presidential campaign this month, then by all means, please proceed. It’ll force the Republican Party to even more slavishly cater to his demands at the expense of its own viability, and when Trump inevitably “exits” the race because he was never really in it to begin with, it’ll leave the Republicans holding the bag.

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Sept. 3

 

mike lindell screengrab

Proof via Substack, Investigation: On Insurrection Eve, Trump Adviser Michael Lindell Both Proposed Civil War in a 15-Page Manifesto and Met in Virginia with a seth abramson graphicCorrupt Foreign National, Seth Abramson, left, Sept. 2-3, 2021. In this second entry of the Proof series on lightly reported or non-reported pre-insurrection meetings involving insurrectionist kingpins, we discuss a secretive January 5 dinner in Virginia. 

Introduction: Proof long ago reported on Michael Lindell’s claims that he met with the corrupt son of corrupt Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro on January 5. That reporting in turn led to two additional significant Proof reports on the possible value of the Bolsonaros to Trump’s coup attempt; the connection between other Trump war room participants (such as the Becks of Idaho) and the Bolsonaros; and other visits Eduardo Bolsonaro made during his consistently-thereafter-lied-about trip to D.C.—including not just one but two visits to see the Trump family at the White House, one before Insurrection Day and one shortly afterward.

seth abramson proof logoThe reports linked to above contain photographs of these key meetings. Ultimately, reports at Proof about Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Michael Lindell (shown above in a file photo), Team Kraken, Daniel Beck, Doyle Beck, Eduardo and Jair Bolsonaro, and Donald Trump led to an ongoing Congressional inquiry in Brazil, as detailed (with links) in the history of this publication.

Brazilian media has now covered the possible involvement of the Brazilian government in Team Trump’s fraudulent “election fraud” accusations against Brazil’s foremost enemy—Venezuela—in a way that U.S. media has not.

And some members of Team Trump and its offshoot Team Kraken, such as Sidney Powell, have maintained their lies about Venezuela in a way that must be extremely pleasing to the increasingly unstable, perpetually embattled neo-fascist Bolsonaro government.

Proof can now report much more on what Lindell was doing on Insurrection Eve than it already has—though this is a developing story, and there is doubtless much more to learn. But the urgency of uncovering what Lindell has been up to has only grown since his insurrectionist August “conference” in South Dakota; his past claims that Trump will be reinstated as President of the United States (which would have seen Trump back in the White House on August 13, per Lindell); and the upcoming Justice for J6 rally in D.C. on September 18, during which insurrectionists like Lindell will return to the scene of past offenses via a rally law enforcement fears could spawn new violence.

Read more at the Proof site to see the revelations....

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books an