Season One Finale Friday ReadsPosted: July 22, 2022
Good Day Sky Dancers!
We learned from last night’s January 6 Committee Hearing that we’ve got at least three new installments coming in September. I’m hoping the DOJ uses that time wisely to check on the Secret Service and all the other co-conspirators to Trump’s planned sedition and coup. Let’s wrap up the Season One Finale and examine some more exciting side stories accompanying it.
First up, from USA Today, Security footage shows Senator Josh Hawley hauling ass to escape Trump’s mob as it invaded the Capitol. These were the folks he egged on earlier at the Trump Rally to do just that! Looks like Josh probably needed a change of pants too! Although I’m not confident that my friend Peter meant quite that when he wrote “A Stain On Our History” last night.
From Peter’s Blog:
Lawyers love timelines even lapsed ones like me. The committee has done a masterful job assembling a coherent and convincing timeline of what happened at the White House on the day of the Dipshit Insurrection and the day after.
The committee established that Trump did more than just sit there watching teevee during the now infamous 187-minute gap. He made calls, cheered on the rioters, refused to denounce the violence, and continued plotting with Rudy Giuliani and various senators including the running man: Josh Hawley.
Peter also points out Trump’s troubles with his “Just Go Home” recording. There was a lot of meat in yesterday’s hearing, but the tick-tock of the lost One Hour and Eight-Seven Minutes was all it promised. This is from NPR: “January 6 panel sheds light on the 187 minutes Trump went dark during Capitol siege,” by Barbara Sprunt.
The Democrat-led committee shed light on the much-talked about but still murky 187 minutes that stretched from his speech to his supporters at 1:10 p.m. ET to his 4:17 p.m. ET video statement asking them to return home.
The hearing, led by military veterans Reps. Elaine Luria, D-Va., and Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., used witness testimony to piece together Trump’s actions the afternoon of Jan. 6, as there was not an official call log from the White House that afternoon and nothing included in the presidential daily diary.
“The chief White House photographer wanted to take pictures because it was, in her words, ‘very important for his archives and for history.’ But she was told: ‘no photographs’,” Luria said.
White House counsel and White House officials testified that Trump did not make any calls to the secretary of defense, the attorney general or the secretary of homeland security during the siege.
Although the White House call logs are empty, Trump lawyer and ally Rudy Giuliani’s call logs show at least two calls between him and the president that day. The committee also noted that other Trump calls that day are known, including several to Republican senators to urge them to delay the certification of Biden’s win.
A major theme from the hearing was how much television the former president consumed as the chaos and violence unfolded.
“President Trump sat in his dining room and watched the attack on television while his senior-most staff closest advisers and family members begged him to do what is expected of any American president,” Luria said. “When lives and our democracy hung in the balance, President Trump refused to act because of his selfish desire to stay in power.”
The committee played video clips of news coverage from Fox News, to show what Trump watched in real time as he tuned in from his dining room, just off from the Oval Office. He watched as his supporters, donning red caps and chanting his name, overwhelmed and outnumbered police as they flooded the Capitol grounds and attempted to breach the Capitol.
As I mentioned, there was also additional action around the hearings themselves. This is from The Daily Beast “DC Trucker Protesters Claim It Was One of Their People Heckling the Cop Beaten by January 6 Mob.” Those watching the hearings know that the audience includes many of the Capitol Police most affected by the mob.
A former D.C. police officer who nearly died after the angry mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was harassed by protesters with the far-right 1776 Restoration Movement (formerly The People’s Convoy) as he came to the Thursday night primetime hearing. Michael Fanone, who survived a heart attack suffered during the riot, was called “a toxic loser” and other names as he walked near the Capitol. Fanone, a commenter for CNN, had testified in the trial of one of his attackers earlier Thursday, during which he told the judge he hoped the man suffered in prison. Video from the scene showed what appeared to be a dust-up between people harassing Fanone and a man with a banner defending the insurrection hearings. One member of the anti-COVID-19 vaccine 1776 Restoration Movement admitted on a Friday morning livestream that the individual that hounded Fanone was one of their own. The group formerly called The People’s Convoy remains camped out on the National Mall, despite their top livestreamers jumping ship and many members contracting COVID-19.
Donald Trump attracts the worst of humanity. It looks like many pieces of shit were harvested by him in the Secret Service. Again, no wonder Major was biting a bunch of them. This will undoubtedly be on Season Two of the Committee hearings. This is from The New York Times: “Watchdog Informs Secret Service of Criminal Inquiry Into Missing Texts. The Homeland Security Department’s inspector general told the Secret Service to halt its internal investigation into how phone records from around January 6 were purged.”
The inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security directed the Secret Service to halt its internal search for purged texts sent by agents around the time of Jan. 6 so that it does not “interfere with an ongoing criminal investigation,” according to a letter reviewed by The New York Times.
“To ensure the integrity of our investigation, the U.S.S.S. must not engage in any further investigative activities regarding the collection and preservation of the evidence referenced above,” the Homeland Security Department’s deputy inspector general, Gladys Ayala, wrote to James M. Murray, the director of the Secret Service. “This includes immediately refraining from interviewing potential witnesses, collecting devices or taking any other action that would interfere with an ongoing criminal investigation.”
The mention of a potential criminal investigation into the deleted texts of Secret Service personnel sought by Congress and the inspector general suggested the growing seriousness of the scrutiny into the agency’s handling of records from around the time of the attack on the Capitol.
Damon Linker–writing for Eyes on the RIght–– asks the question everyone is asking these days. “What the Hell Is Going On at the Secret Service? It sure doesn’t look good”.
In what follows, I am not proposing or alleging that the U.S. Secret Service actively conspired with Donald Trump to advance his extra-legal plans to remain in power after losing the 2020 election. What I’m suggesting is that there were and are enough troubling things going on in and around the agency that an extensive investigation at the highest levels is amply warranted.
What We Know
For those who haven’t been paying attention, here is the background:
- The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol asked the Secret Service to provide it with text messages among 24 agents in the month prior to and including January 6, 2021. On Tuesday of this week, the agency informed the committee that it had no text messages to share, because they were unintentionally deleted as the result of a message-system migration that began in late January 2021. (The Secret Service has since provided the committee with a single text message. You heard that right: one message.)
- This deletion took place despite the fact that on January 16, 2021, eleven days before the system migration began, Congress specifically instructed the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Secret Service, not to delete anything related to the events of January 6.
- People well-informed about the technical issues involved find the claim that the Secret Service accidentally deleted or lost all of the relevant text messages as part of a system migration highly implausible.
- Per reporting in the Washington Post, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, a watchdog agency, prepared a public alert in October 2021 about Secret Service stonewalling with regard to requests for records and texts having to do with the January 6 attack. The alert was never issued. Then, in February 2022, this same office “learned … that the Secret Service had purged nearly all cellphone texts from around the time of the [attack] but chose not to alert Congress.” We know of both of these non-alerts only because “two whistleblowers who have worked with [DHS] Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari” have disclosed them to investigators.
- The current director of the Secret Service, James Murray, was appointed by Donald Trump in 2019. Trump originally wanted to appoint Secret Service agent Tony Ornato to be agency director, but Ornato was at that time serving as White House deputy chief of staff. That crossover from the Secret Service to senior White House operations was highly unusual. (Ornato was a central organizer of the violent removal of protesters from Lafayette Square in June 2020 so President Trump could undertake a photo-op holding a Bible.) Instead of accepting an appointment to head the agency, Ornato apparently recommended Murray for the job.
- Oh, and way back on December 31, 2020, six days before the events of January 6, Slate ran a short article, based on reporting in the Washington Post, titled, “Secret Service Shakes Up Presidential Detail Amid Fears Some Agents Aligned with Trump.” This reporting showed that prior to the Capitol Hill insurrection, the incoming administration made arrangements to have the president-elect protected by agents Biden knew personally from his time as vice president for fear that agents currently assigned to the presidential detail might remain loyal to the outgoing president.
That sure looks bad, doesn’t it? I can imagine that’s what started the Criminal probe announced yesterday by the Homeland Security IG.
The critical thing the public hearing did yesterday was that it brought other eyewitnesses to the table which could back up the incredible, earlier testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson. This is from MSNBC and MaddowBlog. It’s written by Steve Benen. “Testimony bolsters Hutchinson claims on Trump’s January 6 meltdown. The right pushed back against Cassidy Hutchinson’s recent testimony, but other witnesses now bolstered much of her assertions.”
Cassidy Hutchinson’s recent testimony to the Jan. 6 committee covered a lot of ground, but there was one story that generated a lot of conversation. The former West Wing staffer described a scene, which had been described to her by Tony Ornato, a senior Secret Service official at the time, in which Donald Trump went a little berserk after his Secret Service agents told him he was being taken back to the White House after his speech at the Ellipse, instead of being taken to the Capitol.
The comments drew plenty of pushback from the right, but nearly a month later, as The New York Times noted, the basic elements of the anecdote appear sound.
One of the most significant disclosures from Ms. Hutchinson was that there was an angry dispute between Mr. Trump and his security detail in his car when the detail refused to drive him to the Capitol to join his supporters. Testimony played on Thursday from an anonymous White House security official and a sergeant in the Metropolitan Police Department who was driving in Mr. Trump’s motorcade corroborated that claim.
“The only description I received was that the president was upset and was adamant about going to the Capitol,” Sergeant Mark Robinson said in deposition testimony. “And there was a heated discussion about that.”
Politico noted a second witness — a person with a national security background given anonymity because of “fear of retribution” — who told the committee that Ornato said the president was “irate” at not being able to the go to the Capitol.
Rep. Elaine Luria, a Democratic member of the committee, said investigators also have “evidence from multiple sources regarding an angry exchange in the presidential SUV.”
This came on the heels of a recent CNN report that quoted two Secret Service sources who confirmed that Trump “demanded to go to the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, and berated his protective detail when he didn’t get his way.”
To be sure, some of the provocative details have not yet been definitively proven. Hutchinson, for example, was told about a moment in which Trump allegedly tried to grab the steering wheel of the Suburban he was riding in, and others have not confirmed that aspect of the story.
I imagine we’ll hear more about this as the press and others dig into the stories. nother thing I’m waiting for is the judge’s verdict on Steve Bannon, whose trial was sent to the jury today after the closing hearings. o, we are on verdict watch. You may want to read this in Mother’s Jones by Dan Friedman published 10 days ago. “ Leaked Audio: Before Election Day, Bannon Said Trump Planned to Falsely Claim Victory. “That’s our strategy. He’s gonna declare himself a winner.”
So, those are my suggested reads today. What’s on your reading and blogging list?
My hopes for little Stevie Bannon for some background music!