Tuesday ReadsPosted: March 2, 2021
This morning, FBI Director Christopher Wray will testify in the Senate about the January 6 attack on the Capitol. It will be interesting to see what Wray has to say now that he doesn’t need to worry about a Trump freak out.
FBI Director Chris Wray will finally have to answer questions about the January 6 insurrection when he appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday, his first public testimony since the deadly riot occurred nearly two months ago.
The hearing will also mark Wray’s first public appearance since the White House announced in January that he will not be replaced as FBI director after serving in the same role under former President Donald Trump.
Wray’s team of federal investigators is currently chasing thousands of leads in twin efforts to prosecute people involved in the January 6 attack on the US Capitol and to try to prevent feared follow-up attacks in Washington and around the country.
While federal law enforcement officials have sought to reassure the American public in the months since the riot that they are up to the task on both fronts, their public remarks also lay bare the enormity of the challenge they face in tracking potential threats to not only the nation’s capital, but across the country.
Law enforcement officials have indicated to CNN that authorities missed key signs ahead of the siege, which left five dead and the Capitol ransacked, and the FBI’s preparations leading up to the day of the attack have come under scrutiny.
“There are threats to America today that we need to put in as a priority,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin told reporters Monday. “I think domestic terrorism, religious and racial based hate groups have become a major threat in America. I want to know if our intelligence operations have taken this into consideration in establishing their priorities.”
The Illinois Democrat said other January 6-related questions he thinks are important to get answered include: “What did he know? And when did he know it? And who did he tell? Those are questions that have been raised in other hearings. But he is the man of the hour. As head of the FBI, I think he has a special position, place, to answer the question.”
MSNBC and CNN are showing the hearing live.
A couple interesting articles on the insurrection:
ARLnow.com (Arlington, VA): EXCLUSIVE: While the Capitol Was Stormed, A Group of Men Gathered Near the Marine Corps War Memorial.
Previously unpublished photos taken by ARLnow that day show the men loitering near the Marine Corps War Memorial, with the overrun Capitol in the background. Parked nearby are numerous vehicles, mostly pickup trucks and SUVs with out-of-state license plates.
One pickup truck, with large toolbox in the back, was left running.
The man with the earpiece appears to have been focused on some sort of communications device with an antenna. He was among a group standing outside, in the cold, wearing hooded sweatshirts and other inconspicuous cold weather gear. None were wearing the tactical vests and helmets that militia members who charged into the Capitol that day wore.
Still, the group was deemed suspicious enough that Arlington County police received at least one call from a passerby, concerned about what they were doing there. An officer drove by after the 4 p.m. call but didn’t see anything, according to police department spokesman Ashley Savage….
In recalling the moment, Westcott — a Navy veteran — said the gathering “had the feeling of a rally point.” He shot the scene from a distance with a 600mm lens, reluctant to get any closer due to potential safety concerns.
By nightfall, the men had dispersed, as ARLnow originally reported in an article about the curfew that night.
What was going on? Was there a “quick reaction force” waiting for a signal from Trump?
What is known is that somewhere outside of the District that day, according to federal prosecutors, a “quick reaction force” with a stockpile of weapons was allegedly ready to join the fight if ordered to do so by President Trump.
At a Friday court hearing for Jessica Watkins, a member of the Oath Keepers militia from Ohio who is accused of helping to plot the attack on the Capitol, prosecutors told a federal judge that “[it is] our understanding” that the quick reaction force did exist and was stationed somewhere near D.C.
Read some speculation about this involving the OathKeepers at DailyKos.
The effects of Trump’s incitement of white supremacist violence are going to be with us for a long time. Will he maintain his influence on these terrorist groups even though he’s no longer in office? He’s certainly still in control of the GOP, as we saw at the CPAC meeting over the weekend.
Forbes on the unusual stage set-up at the conference: How A Nazi Symbol At CPAC Turned Into A Massive Hyatt Public Relations Disaster.
In a highly unusual step for a major hotel group, Hyatt felt compelled to issue multiple news releases rejecting Nazi symbolism after a politically charged conference was held in one of its hotels.
One of the year’s marquee events on the GOP calendar, the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) was held at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, Florida, over the weekend. Speakers included high-profile Republicans including former President Donald Trump, who repeated false claims that he won the 2020 election.
Early on in the three-day event, outrage erupted over the event’s stage design, which drew comparisons to a Norse rune used by Nazis during World War II. A photo of the CPAC stage went viral as thousands of social media users shared posts comparing its distinctive design to an othala rune.
Following World War II, the symbol was adopted by Nazis in an “attempt to reconstruct a mythic ‘Aryan’ past,’” according to the Anti-Defamation League. “Today, it is commonly seen in tattoo form, on flags or banners, as part of group logos, and elsewhere.”
By Saturday afternoon, there had been nearly 100,000 tweets comparing the CPAC stage to the Nazi symbol, as the #boycottHYATT hashtag exploded across Twitter and other platforms.
Hyatt quickly went into damage control, attempting at first to frame the issue as one of free speech. Journalist Nancy Levine tweeted out a Hyatt statement touting the company’s responsibility to provide an inclusive environment for everyone. “We believe in the right of individuals and organizations to peacefully express their views, independent of the degree to which the perspectives of those hosting meetings and events at our hotels align with ours,” said a company spokesperson.
Social media users made it clear they believed Hyatt had missed the point. “A platform for hate is not inclusive, Hyatt,” tweeted one user. “A platform to spread the Big Lie that spawned a violent insurrection and is now fomenting another threatened one is not inclusive.”
Read the rest at Forbes.
It’s beginning to look very bad for Andrew Cuomo. A third woman has now accused him of sexual harassment, and this time there is a damning photo.
The New York Times: Cuomo Accused of Unwanted Advance at a Wedding: ‘Can I Kiss You?’
Anna Ruch had never met Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo before encountering him at a crowded New York City wedding reception in September 2019. Her first impression was positive enough.
The governor was working the room after toasting the newlyweds, and when he came upon Ms. Ruch, now 33, she thanked him for his kind words about her friends. But what happened next instantly unsettled her: Mr. Cuomo put his hand on Ms. Ruch’s bare lower back, she said in an interview on Monday.
When she removed his hand with her own, Ms. Ruch recalled, the governor remarked that she seemed “aggressive” and placed his hands on her cheeks. He asked if he could kiss her, loudly enough for a friend standing nearby to hear. Ms. Ruch was bewildered by the entreaty, she said, and pulled away as the governor drew closer.
“I was so confused and shocked and embarrassed,” said Ms. Ruch, whose recollection was corroborated by the friend, contemporaneous text messages and photographs from the event. “I turned my head away and didn’t have words in that moment.”
Ms. Ruch’s account comes after two former aides accused Mr. Cuomo of sexual harassment in the workplace, plunging his third term into turmoil as the governor’s defenders and Mr. Cuomo himself strain to explain his behavior.
Ruch’s facial expression is painful to look at for anyone who has experienced sexual harassment. Two more Cuomo stories:
Moira Donegan at The Guardian: The Cuomo sexual harassment claims appear to follow a disturbing pattern.
It’s difficult to see how Cuomo survives this, especially since he was already facing scathing criticism of his late response to the pandemic and a cover-up of nursing home deaths in New York.
I’ll add a few more links in the comment thread. I want to watch the Wray hearing, which started a short time ago. If you’re watching too, let us know what you think. This is an open thread of course.