Tuesday Reads: The Many Crimes of Donald Trump

Good Morning!!

Lots of January 6 investigation news breaking this morning. There are also other Trump crime developments.

January 6 News

Rose Mary Woods, President Richard Nixon's secretary at her White House desk, demonstrates the Rose Mary Stretch which could have resulted in the erasure of part of the Watergate tapes, 1973.

Rose Mary Woods, President Richard Nixon’s secretary at her White House desk, demonstrates the Rose Mary Stretch which could have resulted in the erasure of part of the Watergate tapes, 1973.

Nixon had an 18 minute gap; Trump’s gap is much longer. Bob Woodward and Robert Costa at The Washington Post: Jan. 6 White House logs given to House show 7-hour gap in Trump calls.

Internal White House records from the day of the attack on the U.S. Capitol that were turned over to the House select committee show a gap in President Donald Trump’s phone logs of seven hours and 37 minutes, including the period when the building was being violently assaulted, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post and CBS News.

The lack of an official White House notation of any calls placed to or by Trump for 457 minutes on Jan. 6, 2021 – from 11:17 a.m. to 6:54 p.m. – means the committee has no record of his phone conversations as his supporters descended on the Capitol, battled overwhelmed police and forcibly entered the building, prompting lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence to flee for safety.

The 11 pages of records, which consist of the president’s official daily diary and the White House switchboard call logs, were turned over by the National Archives earlier this year to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack.

The records show that Trump was active on the phone for part of the day, documenting conversations that he had with at least eight people in the morning and 11 people that evening. The seven-hour gap also stands in stark contrast to the extensive public reporting about phone conversations he had with allies during the attack, such as a call Trump made to Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) — seeking to talk to Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) — and a phone conversation he had with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

On what the January 6 committee is looking at:

The House panel is now investigating whether Trump communicated that day through backchannels, phones of aides or personal disposable phones, known as “burner phones,” according to two people with knowledge of the probe, who, like others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information. The committee is also scrutinizing whether it received the full logs from that day.

best burner phones, 2022

Best burner phones, 2022

One lawmaker on the panel said the committee is investigating a “possible coverup” of the official White House record from that day. Another person close to the committee said the large gap in the records is of “intense interest” to some lawmakers on the committee, many of whom have reviewed copies of the documents…..

Trump was known for using different phones when he was in the White House, according to people familiar with his activities. Occasionally, when he made outbound calls, the number would show up as the White House switchboard’s number, according to a former Trump Cabinet official. Other times, he would call from different numbers – or no number would appear on the recipient’s phone, the official said….

In a statement Monday night, Trump said, “I have no idea what a burner phone is, to the best of my knowledge I have never even heard the term.”

Uh huh.

This isn’t really breaking news, but it shows that there are investigations of Trump’s culpability for January 6. The New York Times: New Focus on How a Trump Tweet Incited Far-Right Groups Ahead of Jan. 6. Federal prosecutors and congressional investigators are documenting how the former president’s “Be there, will be wild!” post became a catalyst for militants before the Capitol assault.

Mr. Trump’s Twitter post in the early hours of Dec. 19, 2020, was the first time he publicly urged supporters to come to Washington on the day Congress was scheduled to certify the Electoral College results showing Joseph R. Biden Jr. as the winner of the presidential vote. His message — which concluded with, “Be there, will be wild!” — has long been seen as instrumental in drawing the crowds that attended a pro-Trump rally on the Ellipse on Jan. 6 and then marched to the Capitol.

But the Justice Department’s criminal investigation of the riot and the parallel inquiry by the House select committee have increasingly shown how Mr. Trump’s post was a powerful catalyst, particularly for far-right militants who believed he was facing his final chance to reverse defeat and whose role in fomenting the violence has come under intense scrutiny.

Extremist groups almost immediately celebrated Mr. Trump’s Twitter message, which they widely interpreted as an invitation to descend on the city in force. Responding to the president’s words, the groups sprang into action, court filings and interviews by the House committee show: Extremists began to set up encrypted communications channels, acquire protective gear and, in one case, prepare heavily armed “quick reaction forces” to be staged outside Washington.

They also began to whip up their members with a drumbeat of bellicose language, with their private messaging channels increasingly characterized by what one called an “apocalyptic tone.” Directly after Mr. Trump’s tweet was posted, the Capitol Police began to see a spike in right-wing threats against members of Congress.

More details from the NYT article:

Prosecutors have included examples in at least five criminal cases of extremists reacting within days — often hours — to Mr. Trump’s post.

One of those who responded to the post was Guy Wesley Reffitt, an oil-field worker from Texas who this month became the first Jan. 6 defendant to be convicted at trial. Within a day of Mr. Trump’s Twitter post, Mr. Reffitt was talking about it on a private group chat with other members of the far-right militia organization the Texas Three Percenters.

Guy Wesley Reffitt center in helmet

Guy Wesley Reffitt, center in blue with helmet

“Our President will need us. ALL OF US…!!! On January 6th,” Mr. Reffitt wrote. “We the People owe him that debt. He Sacrificed for us and we must pay that debt.”

The next day, prosecutors say, Mr. Reffitt began to make arrangements to travel to Washington and arrive in time for “Armageddon all day” on Jan. 6, he wrote in the Three Percenters group chat. He told his compatriots that he planned to drive because flying was impossible with “all the battle rattle” he planned to bring — a reference to his weapons and body armor, prosecutors say.

Some in the group appeared to share his anger. On Dec. 22, one member wrote in the chat, “The only way you will be able to do anything in DC is if you get the crowd to drag the traitors out.”

Mr. Reffitt responded: “I don’t think anyone going to DC has any other agenda.”

Reffitt was the first Capitol insurrectionist to be convicted in a jury trial.

Analysis by Stephen Collinson at CNN: Trump’s January 6 plot appears darker and more dangerous by the day.

Even as a federal judge commented Monday that Trump “more likely than not” sought to commit a crime to stay in office last year, the ex-President’s attacks on democracy are intensifying. They were on display as recently as Saturday night in a lie-filled rally that underscored how his conspiracy to overturn the election — whether it is criminal or not — remains viscerally alive and able to damage future elections.

While much of the country has been transfixed by Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine, the House committee investigating the insurrection has been racing against the clock ticking down to its own likely demise if Republicans win back the House in November’s midterms. It took another step on Monday toward holding two former Trump advisers to account by advancing criminal contempt referrals.

On Tuesday, The Washington Post and CBS News reported that a gap of more than seven hours exists in the logs of phone calls placed to or from Trump on January 6 that were turned over to the House committee. CNN had previously reported that records were missing regarding the calls.

It’s extraordinary that, more than 14 months on, new details of efforts by Trump and those around him to subvert President Joe Biden’s victory are still emerging. It’s also ironic that this threat to American democracy is being further exposed while Washington leads an international effort to save freedom in Ukraine, which is under much greater assault from Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom Trump still seems to hero worship.

Here at home, a flurry of new details in recent days about the ex-President’s behavior justifies continued investigations into the worst attack on American democracy in decades. Those revelations also explain why pro-Trump Republicans were so keen to prevent the House select committee investigating January 6, 2021, from ever getting off the ground. And they inject a new political dimension into Trump’s attempted comeback as he casts the 2022 midterm elections as a referendum on the lie that he won in 2020 and seeks to build a return to the White House on the same falsehoods that have drawn in millions of his supporters.

On yesterday’s report that federal judge David Carter determined that Trump committed crimes and the repercussions for Attorney General Merrick Garland:

3000Carter can’t initiate a case against Trump. But his words didn’t just raise a blaring historical marker over a President committing a potential crime in office — and one that put the entire US democratic system at risk. His comment re-focused attention on the debate within the House committee over whether to make what would be a historic criminal referral of Trump to the Justice Department. Such a move would present Attorney General Merrick Garland with the earthshaking decision of whether to prosecute an ex-President who is maneuvering with a $100 million war chest in a potential bid to reclaim his job in 2024.

There could be few hotter political potatoes for an attorney general already facing political pressure to deal with Trump aides who are obstructing the committee.

Failing to pursue Trump in such circumstances would send a signal of impunity for presidents who seek to destroy American democratic institutions, even as Trump’s supporters who ransacked the US Capitol begin to be convicted and face prison terms for apparently acting on their political hero’s wishes.

Last night the January 6 Committee voted to recommend contempt charges for Trump aides Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino for refusing to testify to the committee. In addition, ABC News reports that Jared Kushner is expected to testify to the committee on Thursday.

More Trump Crimes

CNBC: ‘Significant’ evidence suggests Trump Organization misstated asset values for more than a decade, NY AG says.

The New York Attorney General’s Office has “uncovered significant evidence” suggesting that financial statements by the Trump Organization relied on misleading valuations of its real estate assets for more than a decade, the office said in a court filing Tuesday.

Those potentially misleading valuations “and other misrepresentations” were used by the company owned by ex-President Donald Trump “to secure economic benefits — including loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions — on terms more favorable than the true facts warranted,” the filing alleged.

The claims by Attorney General Letitia James were made in response to an appeal by the Trump Organization and Donald Trump of last month’s order by a Manhattan state court judge directing Trump and two of his adult children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump to submit to interviews by James’ investigators….

In one glaring example, the financial statements for the Trump Organization from 2010 to 2012 “collectively valued” rent-stabilized apartment units it owned at $49.59 million, which was “over sixty-six times the $750,000 total value the outside appraiser had assigned to these units,” the filing said in a footnote.

Image: FILE PHOTO: New York State Attorney General, Letitia James, speaks during a news conference, to announce criminal justice reform in New York

New York State Attorney General, Letitia James REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo/File Photo

The attorney general has said she is conducting both a civil investigation and a criminal probe related to the company.

“Mr. Trump personally certified the accuracy of the Statements for the years prior to 2016, at which point his assets were placed in a revocable trust,” while Donald Jr. “was responsible for the Statements for the years 2016 to 2020,” James noted in the filing.

That document said that from 2012 through 2016, the company’s financial statements said that Trump’s triplex apartment in Trump Tower in Manhattan “exceeded 30,000 square and valued the apartment at up to $327 million based on those dimensions,” the filing noted.

But in 2017, the company’s statement “slashed the apartment’s value by two-thirds, sizing the residence at just under 11,000 square fees,” which is the figure specified in the offering plan for the building, the filing said.

One more from Just the News: Exclusive: Trump calls on Putin to release info on Hunter Biden’s dealings with oligarchs.

Former President Donald Trump is calling on Russian leader Vladimir Putin to release any information he possesses on Hunter Biden’s dealings with oligarchs in Eastern Europe. 

In an interview with the Just the News television show on Real America’s Voice airing Tuesday, the former president cited a 2020 Senate report that disclosed Russian oligarch Yelena Baturina, then the wife of Moscow’s mayor, provided $3.5 million a decade ago to a company co-founded by President Joe Biden’s son and unanswered questions about why the money was given.

“She gave him $3.5 million so now I would think Putin would know the answer to that. I think he should release it,” Trump said in a wide-ranging interview at his Mar O Lago resort in Florida. “I think we should know that answer.”

A grand jury in Delaware has been investigating Hunter Bjden’s business dealings for possible tax violations, foreign lobbying issues and money laundering. Hunter Biden has acknowledge the probe but denied wrongdoing.

Trump said he also would like to know more about Hunter Biden’s relationship with Ukrainian oligarch Nikolai Zlochevsky, the owner of the Burisma Holdings gas company that hired the Biden scion in 2014 to its board and paid him hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. 

Shades of Trump’s “Russia, are you listening” appeal for Hillary Clinton’s emails in 2016.

What’s on your mind today?


19 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: The Many Crimes of Donald Trump”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    • quixote says:

      Wow. What a story.

      It’s also a good example of the value of intelligence (including in the military sense of information) and perception (night vision in this case) over size of weaponry. The Russians don’t have good (or any??) night fighting capability. And the West is giving Ukrainians information, which they’re using very well.

      The Russians regularly fall into the trap of thinking brute force works.

      • NW Luna says:

        Seeing the Russian forces balked by Ukraine was not what I would have expected. I wonder what scenario the American intelligence analysts were prognosticating.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    I agree with this 100 percent!!

  3. bostonboomer says:

    • quixote says:

      Man oh man. I use Signal, simply because it’s the best software for communicating across the globe, and its security features are, for me, a real pain. There’s no way Mike whatshisname *could* follow recordkeeping laws using Signal. The only way to get the messages archived on another server/computer/whatever would be to transcribe them by hand after he carefully did not erase any of them.

    • NW Luna says:

      Trump, his spawn, and staff were doing insecure and odd stuff with phones early on in his term. It was well known. But her emails…

    • NW Luna says:

  4. dakinikat says:

  5. dakinikat says:

  6. NW Luna says:

    “He sacrificed for us and we must pay that debt.”

    Totally batshit crazy.

  7. NW Luna says: