The vaccine rollout in Massachusetts has been awful, and Governor Charlie Baker has been taking a beating over it. Yesterday the legislature held a public hearing on the problems. WBUR: Emotions Ran High During A State Hearing On Mass.’ Vaccine Rollout.
For six hours, a joint committee of state representatives and senators grilled Gov. Charlie Baker and members of his administration, listening to them testify on issues related to vaccine distribution and equity.
The technical problems people experienced trying to sign up for vaccine appointments loomed large at the hearing. Last week, state websites crashed under the weight of a million more vaccine seekers hustling to get one of a mere 60,000 slots. This week, people posted screenshots showing wait times in the tens or hundreds of thousands of minutes to social media.
The problems mostly revolved around technology failures and confusion about the software being used to manage vaccines, PrepMod.
The disconnect between the state and the PrepMod system seems to be part of a larger trend of people feeling that the rollout is confusing. Clinicians running vaccine sites have expressed frustration at how the rollout policies seem to keep shifting and changing. During the hearing, state Sen. Cindy Friedman spoke to this feeling.
“[The] twists and turns, the change in plans, the communication that changes depending on who you are talking to. Even I, with all my knowledge, am completely at a loss as to what is going on at times,” she said.
The unpredictable nature of the rollout has people on edge. State Sen. Eric Lesser conveyed some of that frustration to the governor during the hearing.
“Will you say you’re sorry to the millions of people [who could not make an appointment],” Lesser demanded.
“Of course. Absolutely. Definitely. Yes,” Baker responded. A hint of exhaustion crept into his voice.
He may have to do this rodeo again. The committee chair invited Baker for another hearing in a couple weeks’ time.
“Well, this one’s been so much fun, I’ll certainly look forward to coming back,” Baker said.
There’s some good news this morning, so I’ll begin with that.
LOL! The good news for me is that the state is now allowing vaccines for seniors 65 and older and those living in subsidized housing. I had already gotten an appointment for March 4 at my doctor’s office, but yesterday I learned that my town in providing vaccines for my apartment building. They will come to my door, like they did with the flu shots last fall. So I feel fortunate. But my sister who lives in California got her first shot in early February and will be getting the second soon. Still I’m grateful to get it in such a convenient way.
More good news: The House passed the Covid relief bill last night. HuffPost: House Democrats Pass $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 Relief Bill.
After hours of delays, the House passed a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill early Saturday morning, taking the first step toward delivering another round of stimulus checks, enhanced unemployment benefits, increased child tax credits and an influx of cash for state and local governments.
The House passed the bill almost entirely along partisan lines, 219-212, with two Democrats, Kurt Schrader of Oregon and Jared Golden of Maine, voting no.
The measure will now go to the Senate, where it’s set to pass by a “reconciliation” process that requires a simple majority. But not before one key provision is stripped.
The Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that a section providing for a $15-an-hour minimum wage could not be done through the reconciliation process, deciding that it did not have enough of an impact on the federal budget to qualify. It left that provision subject to a 60-vote threshold.
Democrats have only 50 seats in the Senate ― with Vice President Kamala Harris able to break a tie in favor of the Democrats ― and the $15 minimum wage was already imperiled because of opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin (.). But even though the Senate parliamentarian had ruled that the minimum wage provisions couldn’t be done through reconciliation, House Democrats still included it.
That means the bill will still have to come back to the House for a final vote after the Senate amends the legislation. However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) kept the minimum wage hike in after progressives argued they had already compromised on other items they wanted in the COVID-19 relief bill.
Ultimately, the $1.9 trillion package has a number of provisions that progressives love. It would provide a round of $1,400 checks to most Americans. It extends and increases a federal boost to unemployment benefits by $400 a week ― up from $300 ― and provides that extra money until September. It increases the child tax credit to $3,000 for children ages 6 to 17 and raises it to $3,600 for children younger than 6. It also provides $1,400 checks per dependent.
On top of all those policies, there’s money for state and local governments ($350 billion), public schools ($128 billion), higher education ($39 billion), coronavirus testing and contact tracing ($46 billion), rental assistance ($25 billion), restaurants and bars ($25 billion), child care ($15 billion), vaccine distribution ($14 billion), pandemic supplies ($10 billion) and a host of other public health causes.
Nancy Pelosi said yesterday that the process should take about two weeks.
More good news but bad news for Trump. Prosecutors in New York have his tax returns in hand. Eric Lutz at Vanity Fair: Sad: Prosecutors Have Trump’s Tax Returns and There’s Nothing He Can Do About It.
Donald Trump has fought tooth and nail to keep anyone from seeing his tax returns, and likely for good reason: even glimpses of them seemed to show a bumbling businessman who employed shady, and sometimes outright fraudulent, tactics to stay afloat. Were his taxes to wind up in the hands of, say, a Manhattan prosecutor, it could mean some serious trouble for him—particularly if he didn’t have the office of the presidency to protect him from legal liability.
Unfortunately for the ex-president, that’s precisely what’s happened: on Thursday, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance officially obtained Trump’s personal and corporate tax records and is likely poring over them this very instant as part of his sweeping probe into Trump’s financial affairs. Vance spokesman Danny Frost confirmed that the DA’s office had finally gained possession of the returns, which have long proven elusive for prosecutors and lawmakers alike.
The public probably won’t get a look at them for a while, if ever. But with Vance and his team now scouring the records, Trump’s legal vulnerability may have increased dramatically, as reflected by the desperate and aggrieved statement the former president released earlier this week after the Supreme Court rejected his last-ditch effort to keep the documents hidden. “All they focus on is the persecution of President Donald J. Trump,” he said in the statement, referring to himself in the third person. “I will fight on, just as I have, for the last five years…despite all of the election crimes that were committed against me.”
Does that man ever get off the pity pot? He’s fortunate not to be charged with negligent homicide of more that half-a-million people.
The latest on the FBI’s Capitol riot investigation from The New York Times: F.B.I. Said to Have Singled Out Potential Assailant in Capitol Officer’s Death.
The F.B.I. has pinpointed an assailant in its investigation into the death of Brian D. Sicknick, a Capitol Police officer who was injured while fending off the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol last month and later died, according to two law enforcement officials briefed on the inquiry.
The F.B.I. opened a homicide investigation into Officer Sicknick’s death soon after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Investigators initially struggled to determine what had happened as he fought assailants. They soon began to suspect his death was related to an irritant, like mace or bear spray, that he had inhaled during the riot. Both officers and rioters were armed with such irritants during the attack.
In a significant breakthrough in the case, investigators have now pinpointed a person seen on video of the riot who attacked several officers with bear spray, including Officer Sicknick, according to the officials. And video evidence shows that the assailant discussed attacking officers with the bear spray beforehand, one of the officials said.
While investigators narrowed potential suspects seen in video footage to a single person this week, they have yet to identify the assailant by name….
Given the evidence available to investigators, prosecutors could be more likely to bring charges of assaulting an officer, rather than murder, in the case. But the death of Officer Sicknick, a 42-year-old Air National Guard veteran who served in Saudi Arabia and Kyrgyzstan, could increase the penalties that prosecutors could seek if they took such a case to court.
More from The Washington Post: FBI focuses on video of Capitol Police officer being sprayed with chemicals before he died in pro-Trump riot.
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
I started to look for the picture of the Brittany guy for the title I choose today when I found out some one at Twitchy had grabbed it first. I’ve never seen a bunch of whiny over sensitive old white guys–both on the Bernie Bro side and the Rightish side of the Political spectrum–that have their panties in a bunch about Neera Tanden.
What Twitchy did was send me to Politico and this article. “Neera Tanden Got Twitter Right—And That Was Her Problem. But Twitter has a way of turning on you.” All you really have to be in the world of Joe Biden’s appointments is to be a woman of color associated with Hillary Clinton and damn sharp at critical thinking and the white guys pee themselves. I swear.
I believe this is called cyber bullying and the hypocrisy on the right side of the aisle is just over the top! They support the king of the nasty ass twitter trolls but gang up if a woman criticizes them or their politics or for Pete’s sake their daughter who price gouges diabetics? PUHLEEEZZEEE! This is from Politco and Joanna Weiss: “Neera Tanden Got Twitter Right—And That Was Her Problem – POLITICO. So what’s the bottom line here? It’s Politico, afterall so deep breath.
The internet is overflowing with snarky diatribes about Senators Susan Collins and Ted Cruz and Mitch McConnell. A veteran political player, who might someday need Cruz or Collins or McConnell for a vote, should have known it would do her no good to pile on. And, on some level, she did know: In 2016, she told an interviewer, “I’m willing to concede I should tweet less.”
Instead, Tanden did what a lot of us do: She went for the dopamine hit, again and again. Over the past few years, she tweeted that “a vampire has more heart than Ted Cruz,” compared McConnell to Voldemort, and called Collins “criminally ignorant.” It wasn’t just Republicans she angered; she was also known for tweaking left-wing rivals like Senator Bernie Sanders, suggesting in one tweet that Russia had helped Sanders in the 2016 election. Some have detected sexism in the sudden rush to scold her, but Tanden stands out among Biden’s Cabinet nominees for the edginess of her social media posts.
So, after years of Trumpist Trolling on twitter and the tv and just about everywhere the outrage is going to fall on Tanden? Some one tells these guys politics requires thicker skin then that. Even Joe the plumber and former pol gets it.
So, comparing Cruz to Voldemart is nowhere near as bad as what some of his colleagues say about him or what Trump has said about him. Again, why the focus on Neera? Just today, AXIOS reports that Former Speaker of the House John Boehner said Cruz could “go fuck himself”. Where’s the pearl clutching on that?
John Boehner has been going off script while recording the audio version of his new memoir, using expletives and asides not in the book — such as the former Republican House speaker saying, “Oh, and Ted Cruz, go f**k yourself.”
Why it matters: The book is appropriately titled, “On the House: A Washington Memoir.” It promises to share “colorful tales from the halls of power, the smoke-filled rooms around the halls of power and his fabled tour bus.” Two sources familiar with the tapings told Axios about the asides.
- The audio version, which includes an even heftier price tag of $39.99, will be sprinkled with Boehner’s unfiltered, baritone, inner monologue.
- Similar to the cover — where he’s pictured in a dark room, drinking red wine with a cigarette burning in an ashtray — Boehner has been taping his audiobook with a glass of wine in hand.
- The Ohioan never hid his penchant for tan skin and red wine, or his love of cigarettes (two packs a day).
And let’s not forget this moment earlier this month: “Lawmakers Are Reading Hilariously Mean Tweets About Ted Cruz On The Senate Floor, And People Are Absolutely Delighted”. They were actually reading Tanden tweets and it rather backfired on them
The Republican senator from Texas got dragged by his fellow lawmakers while they were attempting to dig into the background of Neera Tanden, President Biden’s pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget. During Tanden’s confirmation hearing, Republican senator attempted to point out how damning Tanden’s social media posts — many of which condemned Republican party leaders like Mitch McConnell and Cruz — were in light of Biden’s appointment. They wondered if she could do a good job of sticking to the president’s commitment to bipartisanship after calling McConnell “Moscow Mitch” and Senator Tom Cotton a “fraud.”
What they didn’t realize was they were giving audiences a live Mean Tweets reading on the Senate floor, and that their colleague, Cruz, would get the worst of it.
A lot of people, Republican and Democrat, can’t stand Ted Cruz but Tanden’s tweets managed to trash the insurrection-supporting senator with some truly stunning linguistic verbosity. At one point, Tanden was accused of tweeting that “vampires have more heart than Ted Cruz,” which, just … wow.
Okay, so enough on that and again, I seem to just have a thing for showing the ragging Cruz takes from every one. Oh wait, just one quote from Lindsay Graham and I’ll move on, I promise!! From CNN: “Lindsey Graham jokes about how to get away with murdering Ted Cruz”.
South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham thinks his party has gone “bats—” crazy, and joked Thursday that it’s possible to get away with murdering Ted Cruz if it happened in the Senate.
“If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you,” the former presidential candidate said at the Washington Press Club Foundation’s 72nd Congressional Dinner, referencing the Texas senator’s unpopular reputation on Capitol Hill.
And then, read further about what he said about Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi. See, it’s okay to continually call Hillary crooked as long as you’re a white guy.
The Parliamentarian’s ruled that the minimum wage bump to $15 an hour can’t go into the Covid relief bill and the reconcilliation process. The House is set to pass the $1.9 Billion relief package today. A number of Democrats want to take the same path Republicans did when they fired a parlimentarian twenty years ago. This is from WAPO today: “Some Democrats want to fire the Senate parliamentarian who scuttled $15 minimum-wage plans. It’s been done once before”.
But at least one lawmaker called for an even more radical solution: firing the Senate’s referee.
“Abolish the filibuster. Replace the parliamentarian,” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said in a tweetThursday.
“What’s a Democratic majority if we can’t pass our priority bills? This is unacceptable.”
The Biden administrationshowed little appetite to challenge MacDonough following her ruling on Thursday, saying it was “disappointed” but would move forward with the stimulus without the minimum-wage increase.
Of course, the Republicans fired the Parlimentarian then over a ruling about tax cuts. Tax cuts and being angry, hypocritical screamers are about the only thing they’re about these days. Oh, yeah, that reminds me the CPAC–your basic forum for Angry, white, hypocritical screamers--is coming up and let’s pray we don’t have to see any film footage of it or the Trumpsterfire from the Pandemic stricken stet of Floridadia. By the way, Pence turned down an invitation to speak and McConnell didn’t get one per that Guardian link.
Okay, I couldn’t contain myself. More gratiutous Ted Cruz bashing today from his colleages: “Ted Cruz’s colleagues mocked him by putting memes of his Cancun trip in the Senate gym locker room: ‘Bienvenido de Nuevo, Ted!'” Guess I’ll never be considered to head the Budget office.
Early birds turning up for a workout Wednesday morning came across color printouts of Cruz in his airport getup, which included a light polo shirt and a mask bearing the Texas flag, according to NBC, who reviewed the materials provided by two sources.
“The rendering featured a manipulated photo of Cruz from his well-documented trip to Mexico, dragging his luggage across an arctic landscape while holding a tropical cocktail garnished with a slice of fruit in his other hand,” Lee and Caldwell wrote.
The printouts included a crossover meme, with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont’s viral pose in mittens at President Joe Biden’s inauguration photoshopped into the frigid backdrop, NBC said.
Ah, gee … same bunch of folks with the worst twitter trolls on the planet getting reemed on sacred ground. Have they no mercy? No sense of the sacred?
Speaking of which, I think that I’m going to start picking on Rand Paul more since he’s defintely up there on the most offensive person in the Washington Beltway crowd. I still can’t get how he could compare child genital mutilation to the procedure to becoming intersex to a transgender Doctor who is candidate for a leadership position for HHS. Can we just start understanding the gender is a social concept? And there’s wonderful research on it from indigenous tribes and other places not considered “western”.
There’s a lot to discuss concerning these issues. Can we start by having a discussion on that gender and sex are not the same thing no matter how hard some folks want to believe they are? But sheesh, that line of questioning was uncalled for under any circumstances but a serious conversation about the forced gender mutiliation of children–including circumcision–in a hearing on why we let a lot of religions get away with cruel rituals.
Okay, so that’s it from me today. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
So, let’s sing one for Rando! or Teddy Boy! Your choice!
I’m illustrating this post with paintings from Vincent van Gogh’s Paris years, because of this story from BBC yesterday: Van Gogh Paris painting goes on public display for first time.
A Street Scene In Montmartre has been owned by a French family for most of the time since it was painted in 1887.
Sotheby’s estimates it could fetch up to eight million euros (£6.9m) when it is sold at auction next month.
Van Gogh expert Martin Bailey told BBC News that this is “the first time we are able to see it properly”.
Small reproductions have been made in the past, often in black-and-white. “What is exciting is that it is a Van Gogh painting which has been hidden away ever since it came off the artist’s easel,” Mr Bailey said.
“It has always been in private collections, so only the owners and their friends knew it.
“It is an interesting picture because it is a transitional work between Van Gogh’s Dutch years, when he painted in dark, earthy colours, and the exuberant works that he did in Provence. It was in Paris that he discovered the Impressionists, and this led him to explore colour.”
It is one of a series of works Van Gogh created while lodging with his brother Theo in 1886 and 1887 a short distance from the street depicted in the painting….
Montmartre was still semi-rural when the scene was painted. A windmill features prominently behind some perambulating locals. The famous Sacré-Cœur church that now dominates the area was under construction at the time.
I’m getting really angry about the treatment of Neera Tanden and Deb Haaland–both women of color–in the Senate. This attack on her by fake good ‘ol boy Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana is really disgusting. Andrew Solender at Forbes: GOP Senator Questions Neera Tanden’s Loyalty To Biden, America – Says Her ‘Allegiance’ Is To Hillary Clinton.
Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) denounced two of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet-level nominees in fiery terms Wednesday, questioning Office of Management and Budget nominee Neera Tanden’s loyalty to America.
Speaking to reporters at the Capitol, Kennedy expressed pessimism about Tanden’s imperiled nomination, stating, “I’m not saying she’s a smoked turkey, but the smoker is heating up.”
Kennedy pointed to Tanden’s past tweets attacking lawmakers as the main area of concern, but simultaneously launched into his own attacks, claiming there is bipartisan concern that Tanden’s “allegiance is not to America and it’s not to President Biden, it’s to Secretary Clinton.
Kennedy also echoed Republican attacks on Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), Biden’s nominee for Interior secretary, as a radical leftist, but said he needs to “do a little more research” and is still undecided, according to pool reports.
Kennedy said he is “not impressed” with what he has seen from Haaland thus far, labeling her a “neo-socialist, left-of-Lenin whackjob” who is “living in La La Land,” citing her support for an oil and gas moratorium.
What an asshole. And remember, Kennedy is one of the eight Republicans who in 1918 spent the Fourth of July in Russia sucking up to Putin.
Dana Millbank at The Washington Post: Opinion: What terrible things did Neera Tanden tweet? The truth.
At The Daily Beast, David Rothkopf asks: Joe Biden Wants to Repair America. Will Joe Manchin Let Him?
Like 82 million others, I voted last year to entrust America to a moderate Democrat named Joe.
Little did I expect that the Joe who’d end up with the last word on a host of vital national issues would be Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
Manchin’s ascendancy came thanks to the Democratic victories in the two Georgia runoff races in January. That gave the party 50 votes in the Senate and control, thanks to the decisive tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris, so long as the caucus maintains unity. What they could not count on, it turned out, was Manchin.
On issues from cabinet nominations to the filibuster to the minimum wage, Manchin has seized the power that breaking from the Democratic majority gives him. He does this in the name of being a so-called centrist, a moderate. But the reality is that he is proving to be a MINO, a moderate in name only, embracing views that are more like those of the increasingly radical Republican Senate caucus than they are like those of his Democratic colleagues….
One of the earliest signs that Manchin was perfectly happy to play the spoiler disrupting the aspirations of his own party leadership came even before the Democrats took control of the Senate. While negotiations were taking place between Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and Republican leader Mitch McConnell over the new power-sharing arrangements in the 50-50 Senate, McConnell sought to put a stake through the heart of any idea the Democrats might have of seeking to abolish the filibuster, one of McConnell’s favorite tools of obstruction in the Senate, vital to enabling his minority to continue to block key legislation that could not make it to the filibuster threshold of 60 votes.
Manchin publicly announced his opposition to removing the filibuster. His rationale was that of all filibuster advocates, that it was an important institutional legacy in the Senate and helped drive bipartisanship by forcing the majority to seek some minority support for their legislation. Neither of these assertions are true, however. The filibuster was rarely used in the first 200 years of U.S. history and once it began to be used more frequently, from the 1990s onward, it was almost always used to block the passage of legislation rather to leverage opposing sides into dialogue.
Biden needs to start playing hardball with Manchin. No more Mr. Nice Guy.
The Capitol insurrection in the news:
Frank Figluzzi at MSNBC: The Senate asked all the wrong questions about the pro-Trump attack on the Capitol.
The Senate held its first hearings into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol on Tuesday. And I have to be honest: I was not impressed.
The cadre of former Capitol security chiefs testifying might as well have played a continuous recorded loop of them reciting in unison, “the intelligence wasn’t there,” in response to senators’ equally redundant questions about the Capitol security failure and why adequate resources weren’t deployed.
But neither the senators nor their witnesses addressed the toughest questions: Why didn’t you see what so many civilians did? What biases fed into the many incorrect assumptions made? And what keeps us collectively — as Americans, as law enforcement, and more specifically, as white people — from perceiving our own as a potential threat? The answers are complex — but the right questions need to be asked first.
The more that former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, former House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving, and former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger repeated their “intelligence was lacking” mantra, the less intelligent they sounded. Irving stated, “We did discuss whether the intelligence warranted having troops at the Capitol, and our collective judgment at that time was no, the intelligence did not warrant that.” Sund testified that “the level of probability of acts of civil disobedience/arrests on Jan. 6 ranged from ‘remote’ to ‘improbable'” and that “none of the intelligence we received predicted what actually occurred.”
Perhaps the dozens of intelligence professionals on Sund’s staff should include the cost of newspaper subscriptions and laptops in their next budget request. The truth is that there was significant online chatter and numerous media reports that protestors were targeting the electoral vote count. So then, what is it that keeps law enforcement professionals from seeing what’s right in front of them?
As these hearings continue, we will likely hear from the FBI and other law enforcement leaders. Importantly, we can expect to hear about the legal constraints on what that agency can and cannot do about monitoring social media, penetrating protests groups and investigating domestic extremism. These limits rightfully help preserve our civil liberties, free speech and freedom of association. And it’s true that law enforcement can’t possibly see and assess the universe of social media even if such monitoring were allowed. But plenty of social media posts prior to the insurrection spoke of violence, vandalism and targeting the Capitol — those things have little to do with exercising civil liberties.
After the insurrection, two ProPublica journalists interviewed 19 current and former U.S. Capitol Police officers about the assault on the Capitol. They also obtained confidential intelligence bulletins and previously unreported planning documents. Significantly, their reporting provides something other than the convenient “intelligence failure” rationale as to why planning was so poor when it came to protecting our iconic symbol of democracy.
Read the rest at MSNBC.
The cost of repairing damages from the attack on the U.S. Capitol and related security expenses have already topped $30 million and will keep rising, Architect of the Capitol J. Brett Blanton told lawmakers on Wednesday.
The events of Jan. 6, he said, were “difficult for the American people and extremely hard for all of us on campus to witness.”
Blanton said that congressional appropriations committees have already approved a transfer request of $30 million to pay for expenses and extend a temporary perimeter fencing contract through March 31.
But more money will be needed, he added: “History teaches us that project costs for replacements and repairs beyond in-kind improvements across campus will be considerable and beyond the scope of the current budgetary environment.”
The price tag will go even higher, Blanton told lawmakers on the House Appropriations Committee, if the fence and other security measures are needed beyond March.
Republicans aren’t upset about the Capitol attack though. What they care about is Neera Tanden’s “mean tweets.”
Profiles of two of the insurgents:
The Daily Beast: An NYPD Cop’s Road From Terror ‘Victim’ to Capitol Rioter.
The retired NYPD cop now charged with assaulting a D.C. cop in the Capitol riot that has been called domestic terrorism was previously assigned to guard the ruins of the World Trade Center as recovery teams extracted the remains of innocents killed by Islamic terrorism.
And 54-year-old Thomas Webster once presented himself as a victim of terrorism in a civil suit filed in the same federal jurisdiction where he was accused this week of attacking a District of Columbia police officer “like a junkyard dog.”
Webster can be seen on video wielding a metal flagpole and seeking to tear off the cop’s gas mask with such ferocity that he became known online as “the eye gouger.”
Webster’s transformation from supposed terror victim to accused terrorizer caused him to be denounced by a law enforcement supervisor who directed and participated in the actual removal of remains from Ground Zero while the now retired cop stood guard at the periphery. The supervisor does not remember Webster from those months in downtown Manhattan but had seen the Jan. 6 video from the Capitol.
“I look at it as a further desecration of all first responders,” said the official, who asked not to be named. “It’s taken 20 years, but he managed in my view to be as guilty as any terrorist or terrorist wannabe. You are attacking the very principles of our existence: democracy, the Constitution, the Capitol.”
On January 6, 2021, Riley June Williams, a 22-year-old home care worker from Pennsylvania, was one of roughly 800 rioters who breached the US Capitol building in Washington D.C. While many engaged in property damage and violence that day, Williams’ case stands out given her ex-partner has alleged to the FBI that she stole a laptop from Nancy Pelosi’s office.
This former boyfriend also alleges that her goal was to sell the laptop to a Russian intelligence agency, a claim January court documents say “remains under investigation,” but which has been denied by Williams’ lawyer who accuses the former partner of seeking revenge.
While Williams has not been charged with stealing the laptop itself, something she also denies, she faces multiple charges including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds as well aiding/abetting others to “embezzle, steal, purloin.”
Footage from January 6 released by ITV News shows Williams urging rioters upstairs towards Congressional offices. In one video from inside Pelosi’s office, a voice that the FBI states it believes to be Williams’ says “dude, put on gloves” before a gloved hand takes a laptop from a table. The affidavit links to a thread of captured Discord posts from a user named Riley bragging, “STOLE SHITT FROM NANCY POLESI [sic]”.
In an interview with ITV on January 16, Williams’ mother described her daughter as getting caught up in the moment. She noted that Riley had been radicalized on far-right message boards but described her daughter’s main political goal as, “…wanting America to get the correct information”.
However, Bellingcat has since received information that suggests that Williams was more than just a Trump supporter caught up in the maelstrom. She is somebody who posted racist and Anti-Semitic content as well as filmed a video that appears openly pro-Nazi and promotes accelerationism (speeding up the collapse of society) as a pathway towards establishing a genocidal white supremacist state….
Several days after Williams was charged in mid-January, an antifascist activist reached out to Bellingcat with a video they believed showed her pledging allegiance to Adolf Hitler. Bellingcat has since shared the footage and findings of its investigation with NBC News.
The 36-second video opens with a young woman dancing in a dress while wearing a hat, glasses and a mask decorated with a skull. These skullmasks were adopted as a symbol by Atomwaffen and similar accelerationist Nazi terrorist groups back in 2017.
But so what? Have you heard about Neera Tanden’s tweets?
That’s all I have for you today. I know there’s lots of other news–what stories have caught your interest?
Meanwhile, there was more going on yesterday…then a car crash in California:
Just the thought of this tweet makes me want to puke:
This news here also makes me sick:
Just end this with William Blake:
And that’s all for now… stay safe.
As you know, yesterday the Supreme Court refused to keep Trump’s tax records secret any longer; they will finally be turned over to New York prosecutors who are investigation Trump and his businesses. The New York Times: Supreme Court Denies Trump’s Final Bid to Block Release of Tax Returns.
The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a last-ditch attempt by former President Donald J. Trump to shield his financial records, issuing a brief, unsigned order that ended Mr. Trump’s bitter 18-month battle to stop prosecutors in Manhattan from poring over his tax returns as they investigate possible financial crimes.
The court’s order was a decisive defeat for Mr. Trump, who had gone to extraordinary lengths to keep his tax returns and related documents secret, taking his case to the Supreme Court twice. There were no dissents noted.
From the start, Mr. Trump’s battle to keep his returns under wraps had tested the scope and limits of presidential power. Last summer, the justices rejected Mr. Trump’s argument that state prosecutors cannot investigate a sitting president, ruling that no citizen was above “the common duty to produce evidence.” This time, the court denied Mr. Trump’s emergency request to block a subpoena for his records, effectively ending the case.
The ruling is also a big victory for the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., a Democrat. He will now have access to eight years’ worth of Mr. Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns, as well as other financial records that Mr. Vance’s investigators view as vital to their inquiry into whether the former president and his company manipulated property values to obtain bank loans and tax benefits….
Prosecutors in Manhattan now face a monumental task. Dozens of investigators and forensic accountants will have to sift through millions of pages of financial documents. Mr. Vance has brought in an outside consulting firm and a former federal prosecutor with significant experience in white-collar and organized crime cases to drill down into the arcana of commercial real estate and tax strategies.
The Supreme Court’s order set in motion a series of events that could lead to the startling possibility of a criminal trial of a former U.S. president. At a minimum, the ruling wrests from Mr. Trump control of his most closely held financial records and the power to decide when, if ever, they would be made available for public inspection.
But the tax returns are not all prosecutors will get their hands on. Mike McIntire at The New York Times: Trump’s Tax Returns Aren’t the Only Crucial Records Prosecutors Will Get.
The New York Times last year provided more or less a preview of what awaits Mr. Vance, when it obtained and analyzed decades of income tax data for Mr. Trump and his companies. The tax records provide an unprecedented and highly detailed look at the byzantine world of Mr. Trump’s finances, which for years he has simultaneously bragged about and sought to keep secret.
The Times’s examination showed that the former president reported hundreds of millions of dollars in business losses, went years without paying federal income taxes and faces an Internal Revenue Service audit of a $72.9 million tax refund he claimed a decade ago.
Among other things, the records revealed that Mr. Trump had paid just $750 in federal income taxes in his first year as president and no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years. They also showed he had written off $26 million in “consulting fees” as a business expense between 2010 and 2018, some of which appear to have been paid to his older daughter, Ivanka Trump, while she was a salaried employee of the Trump Organization.
The legitimacy of the fees, which reduced Mr. Trump’s taxable income, has since become a subject of Mr. Vance’s investigation, as well as a separate civil inquiry by Letitia James, the New York attorney general….
The tax returns represent a self-reported accounting of revenues and expenses, and often lack the specificity required to know, for instance, if legal costs related to hush-money payments were claimed as a tax write-off, or if money from Russia ever moved through Mr. Trump’s bank accounts. The absence of that level of detail underscores the potential value of other records that Mr. Vance won access to with Monday’s Supreme Court decision.
In addition to the tax returns, Mr. Trump’s accountants, Mazars USA, must also produce business records on which those returns are based and communications with the Trump Organization. Such material could provide important context and background to decisions that Mr. Trump or his accountants made when preparing to file taxes.
John D. Fort, a former chief of the I.R.S. criminal investigation division, said tax returns were a useful tool for uncovering leads, but could only be fully understood with additional financial information obtained elsewhere.
“It’s a very key personal financial document, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle,” said Mr. Fort, a C.P.A. and the director of investigations with Kostelanetz & Fink in Washington. “What you find in the return will need to be followed up on with interviews and subpoenas.”
NYT investigative reporter Suzanne Craig posted a thread with links to more stories about possible criminal activities by the Trump crime family.
Trump is not happy. He released a statement, which you can read here.
Bess Levin at Vanity Fair: Trump Lashes Out At Supreme Court Tax Returns Call Like A Man Who Knows Prison Is In His Future.
In a statement on “The Continuing Political Persecution of President Donald J. Trump,” Trump rants that he is the victim of “the greatest political Witch Hunt in the history of our Country.” Referring to the case the court ruled on, which concerns a subpoena of Trump’s accountants by Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance, who has opened a criminal investigation into the ex-president, Trump says, “This is something which has never happened to a President before,” naturally failing to mention the fact that, among past POTUSes, only Trump has a reputation as a notorious con man. Nevertheless, he incomprehensibly continues:
“[This] is all Democrat-inspired in a totally Democrat location, New York City and State, completely controlled and dominated by a heavily reported enemy of mine, Governor Andrew Cuomo. These are attacks by Democrats willing to do anything to stop the almost 75 million people (the most votes, by far, ever gotten by a sitting president) who voted for me in the election—an election which many people, and experts, feel that I won. I agree!
The new phenomenon of “headhunting” prosecutors and AGs—who try to take down their political opponents using the law as a weapon—is a threat to the very foundation of our liberty. That’s what is done in third world countries. Even worse are those who run for prosecutorial or attorney general offices in far-left states and jurisdictions pledging to take out a political opponent. That’s fascism, not justice—and that is exactly what they are trying to do with respect to me, except that the people of our Country won’t stand for it. In the meantime, murders and violent crime are up in New York City by record numbers, and nothing is done about it. Our elected officials don’t care. All they focus on is the persecution of President Donald J. Trump. I will fight on, just as I have, for the last five years (even before I was successfully elected), despite all of the election crimes that were committed against me. We will win!”
So, just to reiterate, Trump—a person who incited a violent riot in the hopes of overturning the election—believes that crimes have been committed against him, and, despite the fact that he literally tried to use the Justice Department to investigate enemies, that he is the victim of political “persecution.”
Jonathan Chait: Donald Trump Is Extremely Mad Prosecutors Will See His Tax Returns.
Donald Trump’s yearslong quest to prevent the public, Congress, or law-enforcement officials from seeing his tax statements came to a resounding end with a unanimous Supreme Court ruling. He did not take the defeat in stride. Instead, the former president released a statement that, even by Trumpian standards, brims with anger.
Trump’s response bears every hallmark of an authentically Trump-authored text, as opposed to the knockoff versions produced by his aides. It is meandering, filled with run-on sentences, gratuitous insults, and exclamation points. Trump’s position on the tax returns rests on a series of assertions, ranging from his false claim that Robert Mueller found “No Collusion” to his insistence that he actually won the 2020 election to his extremely ironic complaint that prosecutors targeting their political opponents is “fascism, not justice.” (Trump, of course, spent his presidency publicly demanding his Attorneys General investigate his political rivals.)
The statement does contain one unambiguously true point: “This is something which has never happened to a president before.” That’s correct, because every president for the past several decades has voluntarily released his financial information. Only Trump refused….
His outpouring of rage that Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance will finally have access to his financial documents suggests the only plausible reason for Trump’s evident dismay: He is very scared of being charged with crimes.
Here’s a little comedy interlude:
More stories to check out today:
The Washington Post Editorial Board: Opinion: Now Republicans are offended by mean tweets?
Axios: Scoop: Biden’s OMB Plan B.
That’s it for me. What stories are you following? Are you watching the Senate hearing on the Capitol riot?