Lazy Caturday Reads
Posted: October 22, 2022 Filed under: caturday, Donald Trump | Tags: Allen Weisselberg, Alvin Bragg, Eric Herschann, Georgia election interference case, Michael Flynn, Reawaken America Tour, Ron Filipkowski, Tax Fraud, Trump Organization, White Christian Nationalism
By Peter Harskamp
Happy Caturday, Sky Dancers!!
There’s a crazy Qanon-related event going on in Pennsylvania right now that is getting very little media coverage. I only learned about it from Twitter posts by Ron Filipkowski, a “Fmr Fed Prosecutor & Repub; now Defense Att & Democrat” from Florida who focuses his Twitter feed on on exposing the insanity of the far right.
The event is part of Michael Flynn’s “Reawaken America Tour.” The guests include a “who’s who” of crazy right wing religious nuts and Trump followers. Eric Trump is appearing at the meeting that is going on now in Lancaster, PA, and Trump himself even made a brief appearance by phone.
From yesterday’s PennLive: ReAwaken America tour hits Lancaster, and the audience finds uplift amid the angst.
If you’ve never been it’s hard to explain exactly what the “ReAwaken America” tour, which rolled into Spooky Nook event center outside Lancaster Friday, actually is.
It is part political rally for sure, especially in the month before a national mid-term election: Attendees repeatedly were reminded of the need to create a political wave coming that drives Democrats and weak Republicans from office this fall.
They even delighted in a minute or so with former President Donald J. Trump, who took a cellphone call from his son, Eric, during Eric’s mainstage presentation.
“We love you all,” the former president said to his unseen fans and followers. “And we’ll be back doing things that… We’re going to bring this country back because our country’s never been in such bad shape as it is now.”
It is part Christian crusade: The program is peppered with charismatic pastors from around the country, all of whom in one way or another called on the audience to take up arms – metaphorically speaking – in a spiritual war between good and evil.
By Vladimir Dunjić – Serbian painter, 1957
Good, in this barnstorming roadshow produced by Oklahoma entrepreneur Clay Clark, is the vision of an America built on its traditional Judeo-Christian heritage; one where there are only two genders, schools stick to Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, and everyone has the freedom to get vaccines or wear masks if, when and where they want.
The mantle of Christian Nationalism was repeatedly and lustily cheered Friday….
Evil, generally speaking, is assigned to a loosely-organized coalition of tech, business, media and government leaders whose success is determined by their ability to make money and lord over a passive population.
PBS’s Frontline and AP have been investigating this right-wing “christian” movement and filming a documentary: Michael Flynn’s ReAwaken Roadshow Recruits ‘Army of God.’
By the time the red, white and blue-colored microphone had been switched off, the crowd of 3,000 had listened to hours of invective and grievance.
“We’re under warfare,” one speaker told them. Another said she would “take a bullet for my nation,” while a third insisted, “They hate you because they hate Jesus.” Attendees were told now is the time to “put on the whole armor of God.” Then retired three-star Army general Michael Flynn, the tour’s biggest draw, invited people to be baptized….
Flynn warned the crowd that they were in the midst of a “spiritual war” and a “political war” and urged people to get involved.
ReAwaken America was launched by Flynn, a former White House national security adviser, and Oklahoma entrepreneur Clay Clark a few months after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol failed to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Attendees and speakers still insist — against all evidence and dozens of court rulings — that Donald Trump rightfully won.
Fabrice Backes, 1968, French artist
Since early last year, the ReAwaken America Tour has carried its message of a country under siege to tens of thousands of people in 15 cities and towns. The tour serves as a traveling roadshow and recruiting tool for an ascendant Christian nationalist movement that’s wrapped itself in God, patriotism and politics and has grown in power and influence inside the Republican Party.
In the version of America laid out at the ReAwaken tour, Christianity should be at the center of American life and institutions. Instead, it’s under attack, and attendees need to fight to restore the nation’s Christian roots. It’s a message repeated over and over at ReAwaken — one that upends the constitutional ideal of a pluralist democracy. But it’s a message that is taking hold.
A poll by the University of Maryland conducted in May found that 61% of Republicans support declaring the U.S. to be a Christian nation.
This is from PBS News Hour, September 7, 2022: Former Trump adviser Michael Flynn ‘at the center’ of new movement based on conspiracies and Christian nationalism.
BATAVIA, N.Y. (AP) — The crowd swayed on its feet, arms pumping, the beat of Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” thumping in their chests. The people under the revival tent hooted as Michael Flynn strode across the stage, bopping and laughing, singing the refrain into his microphone and encouraging the audience to sing along to the transgressive rock anthem….
The retired lieutenant general, former national security adviser, onetime anti-terrorism fighter, is now focused on his next task: building a movement centered on Christian nationalist ideas, where Christianity is at the center of American life and institutions.
Flynn brought his fight — a struggle he calls both spiritual and political — last month to a church in Batavia, New York, where thousands of people paid anywhere from a few dollars to up to $500 to hear and absorb his message that the United States is facing an existential threat, and that to save the nation, his supporters must act.
Flynn, 63, has used public appearances to energize voters, along with political endorsements to build alliances and a network of nonprofit groups — one of which has projected spending $50 million — to advance the movement, an investigation by The Associated Press and the PBS series “Frontline” has found. He has drawn together election deniers, mask and vaccine opponents, insurrectionists, Proud Boys, and elected officials and leaders in state and local Republican parties. Along the way, the AP and “Frontline” documented, Flynn and his companies have earned hundreds of thousands of dollars for his efforts.
The AP and “Frontline” spoke with more than 60 people, including Flynn’s family, friends, opponents, and current and former colleagues, for this story. The news organizations also reviewed campaign finance records, corporate and charity filings, social media posts and similar open-source information, and attended several public events where Flynn appeared. Reporters examined dozens of Flynn’s speeches, interviews and public appearances. Flynn himself sat down for a rare on-camera interview with what he calls the mainstream media.
Click the link to read about the Flynn interview and some of what he had to say.
Dreaming, by Didier Lourenço, Spanish
On October 19, The Philadelphia Inquirer published an op-ed by Rev. Jennifer Butler, who attended one of these crazy events: ReAwaken America proves that Christian nationalism isn’t Christian.
It was August, and I was in the midst of thousands of far-right faithful who had flocked to Batavia, N.Y., halfway between Buffalo and Rochester, for a two-day event. The headliners were Christian nationalist pastors and former Trump official, Michael Flynn.
The ReAwaken America Tour is currently working its way across America to reawaken Christian nationalism, and it will stop just before midterms in Manheim, Pa., fromOct. 21-22, and feature Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial candidate, Doug Mastriano.
As a Christian pastor who went to Batavia at the invitation of deeply concerned local faith communities, the clerical collar and cross around my neck were my passport into this strange world. I was deeply concerned by what I saw.
The ReAwaken America speeches touted antisemitic, racist, sexist, and homophobic beliefs in the name of Christianity. Speeches were rife with apocalyptic and polarizing predictions of God’s vengeance befalling a wide range of opponents, including the founder of the World Economic Forum, President Joe Biden, and New York Attorney General Leticia James, who had written a letter to the tour’s local host, Pastor Paul Doyle, voicing concern that this event could spur violence. In the parking lot, I spotted a bus painted with the words “Patriot Street Fighter,” along with an image of a man in body armor with a bludgeon in his hand and the words “Get in the Fight” written in the red font of horror movies.
These ReAwaken “revivals” are one of the increasing attempts to mainstream Christian nationalism, a radical political ideology built on the myth that the American republic was founded as a Christian nation and must remain that way. The message is taking hold: 61% of Republicans now support declaring the U.S. a Christian nation.
Christian nationalism is not new. It has been present since our nation’s founding. Its resurgence in recent years is buoyed by politicians like Donald Trump, and business and political allies who seek to consolidate power by manipulating large swaths of mostly white Christians, sowing division and discontent. And violence.
Its recycled conspiracy theories have motivated recent deadly domestic terrorist attacks that targeted Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue, African Americans at a bible study in Charleston, S.C., and a grocery store in Buffalo, N.Y., Latinos shopping in El Paso, Texas, and Sikhs at worship in Oak Creek, Wisc.
Read the rest at the link.
In other news, the justice system is closing in on Trump.
The Washington Post: Fraud-related criminal trial against Trump Organization to start Monday.
NEW YORK — Trump Organization, former president Donald Trump’s namesake company, is set to go on trial Monday for alleged tax crimes — the result of a lengthy investigation into the company and its executives related to fraud and other potentially illegal business practices.
Trump is not charged personally and the portion of the investigation for which he still could face criminal charges is not yet concluded by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s investigators….to date, the only charges filed have been against the Trump Organization, its subsidiary Trump Payroll Corporation and its longtime Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg.
Weisselberg in August pleaded guilty to 15 countstied to an alleged longtime fraud scheme within the organization and is required to testify in the criminal trial as part of a plea agreement.
Prosecutors say the case focuses on what they describe as a 15-year tax cheating scheme involving untaxed benefits like luxury cars and expensive apartments for company executives including Weisselberg, who has been painted as the linchpin to the tax avoidance operation. Weisselberg began his employment at the Trump Organization in 1973.
Before rising to chief financial officer, Weisselberg, a career Trump Organization employee, was an accountant and comptroller. Weisselberg was among a set of executives who “received substantial portions of their income through indirect and disguised means,” according to an indictment that was filed on July 1, 2021….
Weisselberg, who had been slated to stand trial alongside the corporate entity, was promised a sentence of five months in jail if he testifies against the company. He had been facing up to 15 years in prison.
The company is alleged, under Weisselberg’s supervision, to have maintained two sets of books in an effort to conceal the perks that he and others received as compensation. He personally avoided paying $900,000 in taxes based on underreporting of compensation.
There’s more information at the link.
This is from Raw Story–a summary of a Bloomberg story that is behind a paywall: Revealed: Trump employee agreed to plead guilty and tell the truth in Trump Org case — to avoid prison
Weisselberg — who was responsible for the company’s finances during the period being examined — accepted a guilty plea in an effort to stay out of prison for an extended time, but is expected to spill the beans on how the company operated, with a focus on perks provided to top executives provided in such a way as to avoid federal taxes at the behest of Donald Trump.
As Bloomberg’s Greg Farrell wrote, “Trump is not on trial in the case, brought by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, and if the company is found guilty, it would have to pay back taxes and fines totaling about $1.6 million. A conviction of Trump Corp. and Trump Payroll Corp., the two entities charged, wouldn’t put the parent company out of business. But it will be the first trial involving the firm since Trump left office.”
According to former U.S attorney Barbara McQuade, “The world is about to see just how the Trump Organization ran its business.”
She added, “This is a significant case. The criminal charges are against Trump’s corporation, which is a small private company, but Donald Trump is the Trump Organization.”
Noting that Trump is already involved in a $250 million real estate fraud case filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James, Farrell added that, in this case, “Weisselberg, 75, agreed this summer to plead guilty to 15 charges in exchange for a maximum jail term of five months. He is required to testify truthfully, or the deal is off and he could face years in prison.”
By Natsuo Ikegami, Japanese artist
It looks like Trump is in deep trouble in the election interference case against him in Georgia. From Jonathan Swan at Axios: Exclusive: Emails reveal warning to Trump team about fraud claims.
A senior White House lawyer expressed concerns to President Trump’s advisers and attorneys about the president signing a sworn court statement verifying inaccurate evidence of voter fraud, according to emails from December 2020obtained by Axios.
Why it matters: The emails shed new light on a federal judge’s explosive finding Wednesday that Trump knew specific instances of voter fraud in Georgia had been debunked, but continued to tout them both in public and under oath.
— While the judge’s opinion stemmed from litigation related to the House’s Jan. 6 committee, the Justice Department is also conducting a criminal investigation into Trump and his allies’ scheme to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.
— Eric Herschmann, the former White House lawyer who cautioned Trump’s outside attorneys about the inaccurate allegations of voter fraud in Georgia, was subpoenaed this summer to testify in the DOJ investigation.
You’re likely already familiar with this:
Background: U.S. District Court Judge David Carter is presiding over the House Jan. 6 committee’s attempt to subpoena communications from conservative lawyer John Eastman, one of the architects of the scheme to overturn the election.
— After a review of hundreds of emails that Eastman claimed were privileged, Judge Carter determined some should be turned over to the Jan. 6 committee — finding they were “sufficiently related to and in furtherance of a conspiracy to defraud the United States.”
— In one email cited in Judge Carter’s opinion, Eastman told Trump’s team that the president had been made aware that some of the allegations and evidence of voter fraud used in a Georgia election lawsuit were inaccurate.
— That suit was later moved to federal court. “For him to sign a new verification with that knowledge (and incorporation by reference) would not be accurate,” Eastman wrote, according to the judge’s order.
This is a very long article for Axios, so head over there if you want to know more.
That’s all I have for you today. Have a great weekend everyone!!