Posted: January 16, 2021 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Military, U.S. Politics | Tags: caturday, conspiracy theories, Donald Trump, impeachment, law enforcement and military involvement ininsurrection, New York prosecutors, Scotland, Trump Organization, Trump Tower
It’s raining cats and dogs outside my windows this morning, so I decided to illustrate this post with cats in and out of the rain.
In just four days, Trump will be out of the White House and headed to Florida; and, according to the Wall Street Journal (via Raw Story), even the people working in the White House can’t wait until he’s gone.
According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, the last days of Donald Trump’s tenure as president have found him still looking for any chance of remaining in office as demoralized staffers look forward to Inauguration Day bringing the era to a close.
The Journal notes that the president has asked for information on the Republicans in the House who voted for his impeachment last week and whether they are susceptible to being primaried in 2022 while still fuming about his election loss.
As regarding the ongoing articles of impeachment passed by the House, Trump is still searching for attorneys to defend him if it comes to a trial after White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and attorneys who represented him during his last impeachment have let it be known they won’t take part….
According to one aide close to the president, they just want it to be over.
“It’s complete shellshock,” they explained. “People are praying for the inauguration to come and to get Trump the hell out of there.”
So much winning.
Trump’s future business prospects aren’t looking so good either. Bloomberg: Trump’s Shambolic Empire Faces Long Odds for One More Comeback.
On the day Donald Trump was getting impeached in Washington, the lobby of his New York tower at 40 Wall St. was almost silent. Few footsteps smudged the shiny marble.
But up the dark and golden elevators, trouble was stirring in one of the billionaire’s most valuable properties. Inside one law office, two partners had clashed over whether to keep paying rent to a landlord who encouraged the Capitol’s deadly riot. On the 24th floor, a nonprofit that fights tuberculosis was exploring options for leaving. On the seventh, the Girl Scouts were figuring out how to break their lease.
And in the basement, vintage bank-vault doors that weigh more than 10 tons stood wide open. There, in a club room that Trump renovated, the news was playing on a jumbo television to an audience of empty armchairs just as Congress voted against him….
The Trump Organization, run by sons Eric and Don Jr., was struggling with the devastating consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic even before their father incited a raid on Congress. Efforts to sell his Washington hotel were shelved, his office buildings were losing value amid a glut of space in Manhattan, and his golf courses were facing the reality that younger generations aren’t so interested.
Trump entered office worth $3 billion. Despite soaring stock prices and his own tax cuts, he will leave about $500 million poorer, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
His buildings are saddled with more than $1 billion in debt, most of it coming due in the next three years and more than a third of it personally guaranteed. Refinancing would mean finding lenders and corporations willing to work with history’s only twice-impeached ex-president.
Prosecutors in New York are salivating over the chances to prosecute the disgraced “president.” AP: NY prosecutors interview Michael Cohen about Trump finances.
New York prosecutors conducted an hourslong interview Thursday of Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, asking a range of questions about Trump’s business dealings, according to three people familiar with the meeting.
The interview focused in part on Trump’s relationship with Deutsche Bank, his biggest and longest standing creditor, according to the three people, who weren’t authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.
The interview, at least the second of Cohen by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, comes amid a long-running grand jury investigation into Trump’s business dealings. District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. has been waging a protracted legal battle to get access to the president’s tax records.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on Trump’s request for a stay and a further appeal after he leaves office Jan. 20.
The New York investigation is one of several legal entanglements that are likely to intensify as Trump loses power — and any immunity from prosecution he might have as a sitting president — as he departs the White House….
The Republican president also faces a civil investigation, led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, into whether Trump’s company lied about the value of its assets to get loans or tax benefits. Cohen also is cooperating with that inquiry.
He previously told Congress that Trump often inflated the value of his assets when dealing with lenders or potential business partners, but deflated them when it benefited him for tax purposes.
Even in Scotland, people are looking for ways to investigate Trump. Read about it at The Scotsman: Leading QC says Scottish ministers can seek ‘McMafia’ order into Donald Trump’s finances.
Meanwhile, every day we learn more about the violent insurrection that Trump incited last week. One of the most disturbing facts is how many law enforcement and active and former military people were involved. These are brief excerpts; I recommend following the links to read the full articles.
The Washington Post: Conspiracy theories and a call for patriots entice veterans at the Capitol.
A Washington Post analysis of individuals who breached the Capitol or were in the vicinity of the riots identified 21 people with some prior military service background. Of the 72 arrested or charged by state and federal authorities through Thursday morning, 11 have military backgrounds.
The military personnel and veterans involved in the demonstrations and riot at the Capitol range in age from 33 to 62. A handful of the veterans served in combat or with front-line infantry units in the Army and Marine Corps and spoke regularly of a coming revolution or the need for violent action to purge their country of unspecified enemies. Other veterans at the Capitol on Jan. 6 served for only short stints in the military or were focused more on clerical tasks than preparing for combat. Like many at the riots, they were swept up in conspiracy theories that have taken hold among some of Trump’s most fervent supporters and felt called to action by the president’s repeated insistence without evidence that the election had been stolen.
The Pentagon hasn’t said how many active-duty troops or reservists are under investigation for any role in the protest or the riots, but homegrown militants and white supremacist groups have long targeted veterans for recruitment.
And some analysts who track extremist groups warn that the military has been slow to recognize the problem.
“They are behind in having the capacity to investigate these issues,” said Michael Edison Hayden, a spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups. “They don’t have the proper tools to identify symbols and tattoos and that kind of thing, so it has allowed it to fester for a really long time.”
The Los Angeles Times: Why veterans of the military and law enforcement joined the Capitol insurrection.
An Air Force veteran from Southern California and ardent conspiracy theorist bent on war against the government. An Army psychological operations officer at Ft. Bragg, N.C. A decorated, retired Air Force officer of 18 years from Texas who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The deadly riot in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 attracted a variety of far-right extremists who shared a devotion to President Trump and his insistence on a false belief that the November election had been stolen from him through fraud.
Many rioters also had something else in common as they sought to upend the government in an insurrection that bristled with Confederate flags, racist symbols and conspiracy theories: They were ex-members of the military and police or actively employed by the armed services and law enforcement.
“It’s an incredibly disturbing trend,” retired U.S. Army Col. Jeffrey D. McCausland, a professor of national security at Dickinson College and former dean at the U.S. Army War College, said in an interview. “These are people who are supposed to uphold the Constitution and the law, yet they were doing the exact opposite.”
Gizmodo: Leaked Parler Data Points to Users at Police Stations, U.S. Military Bases.
Location data gleaned from thousands of videos posted on the social network Parler and extracted in the days before Amazon restricted access to app this week, reveal its users included police officers around the U.S. and service members stationed on bases at home and abroad.
The presence on Parler of active military and police raises concerns, experts said, about their potential exposure to far-right conspiracy theories and extremist ideologies enabled by the platform’s practically nonexistent moderation and its stated openness to hate speech. Military officials have long considered infiltration and recruitment by white supremacist groups a threat. Groups that endorsed a wide range of racist beliefs appear to have been operating openly on Parler, the experts said, with the de facto permission of its owners. The FBI has likewise raised concerns over law enforcement agents adopting radical views and being recruited—viewing their access to secured buildings, elected officials, and other VIPs as a singular threat.
Slate: Sheriffs Helped Lead This Insurrection.
On Jan. 6, Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb made a promise. Delivering a speech in Phoenix during the ongoing mob attack on the nation’s Capitol, Lamb accused former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton of unnamed crimes and repeated President Donald Trump’s false claims about election fraud. “Now I’m limited to what I can do as the sheriff, but if you live in Pinal County, I assure you I can fight for your freedom,” he said before exhorting his followers to “be vigilant” and to “fight for the Constitution, freedom, and the American way of life.” (The video has since been deleted from social media.)
In the past week, it’s become clear that many members of law enforcement from across the country participated in the siege on the Capitol. That includes former and current sheriffs and their deputies. Ex–Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway was at the Trump rally but says he didn’t march to the Capitol. He described the crowd as “a cross between tailgating at a football game and a NASCAR race—families, dogs, children. Everyone being nice. I mean, it was like a family reunion without some of the hatefulness you can find at family reunions. It was a very good crowd.”
At least one current sheriff admits he was at the riot: Sheriff Chris West of Canadian County, Oklahoma, says he marched toward the Capitol building but did not enter. But long before Jan. 6, sheriffs have been helping to lay the groundwork for violence by the far-right movement. As political leaders in their communities, they have been sowing dissent at home, encouraging their own armed militias to prepare themselves to take back the government just as Lamb suggested.
Ninety percent of American sheriffs are white men, and in recent years they’ve become strongly affiliated with white supremacist groups. Across the country, sheriffs have declared that they will not enforce laws they deem “unconstitutional,” like COVID-19 public health orders or gun laws limiting weapons possession and permits. Their influence has only grown since the pandemic began, as mask wearing became affiliated with progressive liberals and a bare face was a sign of Trump support.
A few more reads about the Capitol attack:
David Graham at The Atlantic: We’re Just Finding Out How Bad the Riot Really Was.
The New York Times: Capitol Attack Could Fuel Extremist Recruitment For Years, Experts Warn.
Politico: Top FEMA official attended Trump’s ‘Stop the Steal’ rally.
NBC News: Online far-right movements fracture in wake of Capitol riot.
That’s all I have for you today. Have a nice long weekend, and please stop by and leave a comment if you have the time and inclination.
Posted: January 14, 2021 Filed under: just because
Yesterday Donald Trump was impeached for the second time, and this time ten Republicans voted yea. There won’t be a trial before Joe Biden is inaugurated, but one must be held after Trump leaves office. Furthermore, despite what James Comey says, Trump must be prosecuted for his crimes.
Grant Tudor and Ian Bassin at The Atlantic: Of Course America Prosecutes Its Executive-Branch Leaders.
Against the recent spectacle of an American president and his allies inciting an insurrection, such criminal misconduct by other chief executives appears almost quotidian. Illegally lining one’s own pockets is never good, but extorting public officials to manipulate election results is more than a difference of degree. One might assume, then, at this stage of things, that accountability for lawbreaking would be uncontroversial. And yet debate over the appropriateness of prosecutions for possible wide-ranging criminal behavior at the most senior levels of government is in full swing.
Various commentators have warned that prosecutions would “set a dangerous precedent” of punishing political opponents. Others have cautioned against the risk of creating martyrs or exacerbating polarization. After January 6, some changed their minds. But many others have not, speculating that the risks are still “just not worth it.” Even President-elect Joe Biden has made clear that he hopes to avoid “divisive” investigations. Although he has committed to a Justice Department that will operate with independence, “he can set a tone about what he thinks should be done,” as one adviser put it. And the president-elect has indicated that he “wants to move on.”
This would be a mistake. It not only contradicts the available evidence on how best to guard against the recurrence of serious transgressions, but also stands in odd contrast to how our own “laboratories of democracy”—the states—deal with misconduct by powerful executive-branch officials. Indeed, federalism provides the privilege to test government actions on a smaller scale in order to base more consequential federal decisions on evidence, not speculation. And the evidence from U.S. states is clear: When the rule of law runs its course, it typically prevails, and without precipitating a crisis.
A chief reason states prosecute their most powerful public officials is that prosecutions help deter future lawbreaking. Insofar as the law is applied consistently—without regard for the profile of the person in question—prosecutions send clear signals. Beliefs about the probability of punishment operate forcefully on people’s decisions.
Criminal affirmance—the tacit condoning of dangerous behavior in the absence of prosecution—also sends a clear signal. Research shows that, especially with elite criminal behavior, not pursuing punishment works to undermine confidence in government by visibly carving out exceptions in the rule of law, and broadcasts to other powerful actors that criminality is rewarding. As Mary Ramirez, a former trial attorney with the Justice Department, observed in the aftermath of the 2009 financial crisis: “A petty thief that evades prosecution has virtually no impact on the rule of law, but a CEO that evades prosecution … is an advertisement.”
Read the rest at The Atlantic.
An example of prosecution of a former public official being prosecuted for crimes committed in office is taking place now in Michigan. AP: Ex.-Michigan Gov. Snyder charged in Flint water crisis.
Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was charged Wednesday with willful neglect of duty after an investigation of ruinous decisions that left Flint with lead-contaminated water and a regional outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.
The charges, revealed in an online court record, are misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
The charges are groundbreaking: No governor or former governor in Michigan’s 184-year history had been charged with crimes related to their time in that office, according to the state archivist….
Besides Snyder, a Republican who was governor from 2011 through 2018, charges are expected against other people, including former officials who served as his state health director and as a senior adviser.
The alleged offense date is April 25, 2014, when a Snyder-appointed emergency manager who was running the struggling, majority Black city carried out a money-saving decision to use the Flint River for water while a regional pipeline from Lake Huron was under construction.
The corrosive water, however, was not treated properly and released lead from old plumbing into homes in one of the worst manmade environmental disasters in U.S. history.
Despite desperate pleas from residents holding jugs of discolored, skunky water, the Snyder administration took no significant action until a doctor reported elevated lead levels in children about 18 months later.
Trump cannot be allowed to escape accountability for the damage he has done to the country, no matter how long it takes. In addition, Republican Congresspeople who aided and abetted Trump in his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election should also be punished, ideally by expulsion from the House and Senate.
Did some lawmakers go further by actually helping the rioters who attacked the Capitol on January 6? The Washington Post: Democrats demand investigation of whether Republicans in Congress aided Capitol rioters.
Even as Democrats on Wednesday impeached President Trump, they turned their attention to allegations that Republican members of Congress encouraged last week’s attempted insurrection, possibly providing help that enabled the mob who stormed the Capitol.
“Their accomplices in this House will be held responsible,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said in a speech during the impeachment debate, without mentioning specific members or allegations.
In the days since the Jan. 6 attack, immediately preceded by Trump’s remarks at a rally, a number of Democrats have pointed to speeches, tweets and videos that they have said raised questions about whether the attackers may have been inspired or helped by Republican members of Congress.
Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) said in a Facebook Live broadcast that she saw Republicans “who had groups coming through the Capitol that I saw on Jan. 5 for reconnaissance for the next day.” She said some of her GOP colleagues “abetted” Trump and “incited this violent crowd.” [….]
She and other Democrats sent a letter Wednesday asking congressional security officials to investigate what they called “suspicious behavior and access given to visitors” the day before the attack. The letter said that Democratic lawmakers and staffers “witnessed an extremely high number of outside groups” visiting the Capitol, which was unusual because the building has restricted public access since March, when pandemic protocols were enacted. Since then, tourists can enter the Capitol only when brought in by a member of Congress.
Among the visitors, according to the Democrats’ letter, were some who “appeared to be associated with the rally.” Sherrill and the other Democrats asked that any logbooks, videos and facial recognition software be examined to identify visitors and determine if they could be matched with those who stormed the Capitol.\Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said in an interview that “I do know that, yes, there were members that gave tours to individuals who participated in the riot.” She said an investigation is needed, adding, “What I don’t know is whether they were aware of what their plans were for the next day.”
More from Buzzfeed News: Capitol Police Officers Said They Wouldn’t Be Surprised If Members Of Congress Helped Plan The Attack.
After seeing one of their colleagues killed last Wednesday, Capitol Police officers are angry that Republican members of Congress refuse to submit to the security changes put in place since then, and say they wouldn’t even be surprised if some lawmakers helped organize the attack.
Officers told BuzzFeed News that members of Congress often see security as optional. Even after last week’s deadly attack, some Republican members refused to go through metal detectors, pushing their way past Capitol Police officers.
“Officers are fuming and there are mumbles of several walking off the job,” one officer with more than 10 years on the force told BuzzFeed News — just as Republicans took to the floor last night to rail against even basic security measures. At one point today, officers set up tables around the metal detectors in an effort to block Republicans from just walking by them.
One of the officers said it’s not unusual for members of Congress to bring dozens of people at once and insist that visitors be waved past security. Officers’ concerns were echoed by some Democrats who have been speaking out about the state of security at the Capitol, and the potential involvement of members in the planning of the insurrection….
Two of the officers who spoke to BuzzFeed News said it wouldn’t surprise them if lawmakers had been involved. “There are definitely some members who need to be held to account once an investigation shows the totality of circumstances,” one said, in a sign of how betrayed some officers feel in the aftermath of the assault on the Capitol.
Yesterday, massive numbers of National Guard troops were stationed at the Capitol and other sites in DC. The Washington Post: Security footprint grows in nation’s capital ahead of inauguration.
National Guard forces from a growing list of states moved into positions around Washington on Wednesday as authorities scrambled to understand the extent of threats surrounding President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration and prevent a repeat of last week’s deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Federal officials led tabletop exercises to rehearse inauguration security and strengthen coordination among a massive patchwork of police, National Guard troops and federal personnel that is expected to fan out ahead of protests this weekend and the Jan. 20 transfer of power.
By next week, the D.C. police chief said, upward of 20,000 guardsmen were expected to be in place to guard against violence, days after supporters of President Trump smashed their way into the Capitol as lawmakers met to certify Biden’s electoral win….
Authorities have been operating in a heightened state of alert as the Secret Service orchestrates inauguration security and the FBI runs down possible threats in D.C. and state capitals.
On Wednesday, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray briefed local law enforcement across the country about the “state of play,” and the agency moved to establish new command posts nationwide.
Senior FBI and Secret Service officials also briefed Biden and some of his national security aides Wednesday, the transition team said. The officials are now expected to receive daily updates on security and operational plans.
Posted: January 12, 2021 Filed under: just because
I’m still feeling emotionally overwhelmed by the events of last week and the subsequent day-by-day revelations that the coup attempt was so much worse than it first appeared. Furthermore, the danger of violent insurrection by Trump supporters isn’t over by any means.
At Politico, Russia expert Fiona Hill explains why what happened last week was a coup attempt: Yes, It Was a Coup. Here’s Why. What Trump tried is called a “self-coup,” and he did it in slow motion and in plain sight.
Since last Wednesday, people have been arguing what to call what happened at the U.S. Capitol — was it a riot? An uprising? An insurrection? I’ve been public in calling it a coup, but others disagree. Some have said it’s not a coup because the U.S. military and other armed groups weren’t involved, and some because Donald Trump didn’t invoke his presidential powers in support of the mob that broke into the Capitol. Others point out that no one has claimed or proved there was a secret plan directed by the president, and that Trump’s efforts to overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election could never have succeeded in the first place.
These observations are based on the idea that a coup is a sudden, violent seizure of power involving clandestine plots and military takeovers. By contrast, Trump’s goal was to keep himself in power, and his actions were taken over a period of months and in slow motion.
But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a coup attempt. Trump disguised what he was doing by operating in plain sight, talking openly about his intent. He normalized his actions so people would accept them. I’ve been studying authoritarian regimes for three decades, and I know the signs of a coup when I see them.
Technically, what Trump attempted is what’s known as a “self-coup” and Trump isn’t the first leader to try it. Charles Louis Napoleon Bonaparte (nephew of the first Napoleon) pulled one off in France in December 1851 to stay in power beyond his term. Then he declared himself Emperor, Napoleon III. More recently, Nicolas Maduro perpetrated a self-coup in Venezuela after losing the 2017 elections.
The storming of the Capitol building on January 6 was the culmination of a series of actions and events taken or instigated by Trump so he could retain the presidency that together amount to an attempt at a self-coup. This was not a one-off or brief episode. Trump declared “election fraud” immediately on November 4 even while the votes were still being counted. He sought to recount and rerun the election so that he, not Joe Biden, was the winner. In Turkey, in 2015, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan successfully did the same thing; he had called elections to strengthen his presidency, but his party lost its majority in the Parliament. He challenged the results in the courts, marginalized the opposition and forced what he blatantly called a “re-run election.” He tried again in the Istanbul mayoral election in 2019 but was thwarted.
Again, the latest reporting shows that the threat of violence from the Trump hoards is not over. CNN: New terror threat points to plot to surround Capitol, lawmaker says.
The Guardian: ‘Totally appropriate’: Trump shows no remorse over role in Capitol attack.
An unrepentant Donald Trump has denied inciting an insurrection at the US Capitol last week, claiming his speech before the violence was “totally appropriate”.
The president spoke to reporters for the first time since a pro-Trump mob rampaged through the Capitol last Wednesday, leaving five people dead. Democrats accuse him of stoking violence and could vote to impeach him on Wednesday.
“So if you read my speech, and many people have done it, and I’ve seen it both in the papers and in the media, on television, it’s been analysed, and people thought that what I said was totally appropriate,” Trump insisted at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, ahead of a trip to Texas.
As he left the White House on Tuesday, Trump said: “The impeachment is really a continuation of the greatest witch-hunt in the history of politics. It’s ridiculous. It’s absolutely ridiculous. This impeachment is causing tremendous anger and it’s really a terrible thing that they’re doing.”
Hoping to turn impeachment into another partisan fight and rally disenchanted Republicans back to his side, Trump condemned Democrats for pursuing the charge.
“For Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to continue on this path,” he said, “I think it’s causing tremendous danger to our country and it’s causing tremendous anger.”
But he added: “I want no violence.”
There’s another blatant lie. We still have to survive eight more days of this madness. Take care everyone. Be kind to yourselves today.
Posted: January 9, 2021 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Donald Trump, impeachment, Lowbrow Art, Nancy Pelosi
By Marion Peck
The images in today’s post are examples of lowbrow art aka pop surrealism. You can read about this movement here: Widewalls: What Is the Lowbrow Art Movement? When Surrealism Took Over Pop.
After the horrifying events of the past week, we still have to get through 11 more days of Trump insanity. That’s one Scarimucci.
Democrats plan to introduce an article of impeachment on Monday. The New York Times: Democrats Ready Impeachment Charge Against Trump for Inciting Capitol Mob.
House Democrats laid the groundwork on Friday for impeaching President Trump a second time, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California threatened to bring him up on formal charges if he did not resign “immediately” over his role in inciting a violent mob attack on the Capitol this week.
Tiki Cat by Brad Parker
The threat was part of an all-out effort by furious Democrats, backed by a handful of Republicans, to pressure Mr. Trump to leave office in disgrace after the hourslong siege by his supporters on Wednesday on Capitol Hill. Although he has only 12 days left in the White House, they argued he was a direct danger to the nation.
Ms. Pelosi and other top Democratic leaders continued to press Vice President Mike Pence and the cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to wrest power from Mr. Trump, though Mr. Pence was said to be against it. The speaker urged Republican lawmakers to pressure the president to resign immediately. And she took the unusual step of calling Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to discuss how to limit Mr. Trump’s access to the nation’s nuclear codes and then publicized it.
“If the president does not leave office imminently and willingly, the Congress will proceed with our action,” Ms. Pelosi wrote in a letter to colleagues.
Reuters: Majority of Americans want Trump removed immediately after U.S. Capitol violence – Reuters/Ipsos poll.
Fifty-seven percent of Americans want Republican President Donald Trump to be immediately removed from office after he encouraged a protest this week that escalated into a deadly riot inside the U.S. Capitol, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.
Most of them were Democrats, however, with Republicans apparently much more supportive of Trump serving out the final days of his term, which ends on Jan. 20.
The national public opinion survey, conducted Thursday and Friday, also showed that seven out of 10 of those who voted for Trump in November opposed the action of the hardcore supporters who broke into the Capitol while lawmakers were meeting to certify the election victory of Democrat Joe Biden.
Nearly 70% of Americans surveyed also said they disapprove of Trump’s actions in the run-up to Wednesday’s assault. At a rally earlier in the day, Trump had exhorted thousands of his followers to march to the Capitol.
Princess with a ragdoll cat, Jasmine Ann Becket-Griffith
Of course Trump did much more than “encourage a protest.” He literally told a mob of conspiracy nuts and white supremacist thugs to march to the Capital and disrupt the counting of electoral votes by the House and Senate. Aaron Rupar at Vox: How Trump’s speech led to the Capitol riot.
Just before a MAGA mob descended on the US Capitol on Wednesday and caused a riot that killed five people, including a Capitol police officer who was beaten to death, President Donald Trump delivered a speech to his supporters in which he used the words “fight” or “fighting” at least 20 times.
“We’re going to have to fight much harder and Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us,” Trump said at one point, alluding to Pence’s ultimate refusal to attempt to steal the election for him during that day’s hearing where the Electoral College made his loss official.
“You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength. You have to be strong,” he added during the speech in which he pushed long-debunked lies about Joe Biden’s convincing victory over him being the product of fraud….
Trump began his speech by urging the media to “show what’s really happening out here because these people are not going to take it any longer. They’re not going to take it any longer.”
“You don’t concede when there’s theft involved,” he said. “Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore and that’s what this is all about.”
Trump encouraged his listeners to march to the Capitol following his speech “to see whether or not we have great and courageous leaders or whether or not we have leaders that should be ashamed of themselves throughout history, throughout eternity.” He did mention in passion that he was confident they would march “peacefully,” but his fans seemed to hear a different message, at one point chanting “fight for Trump!” as Trump said, “We will not let them silence your voices. We’re not going to let it happen.” [….]
Indeed, shortly after Trump’s speech wrapped up, a mob of Trump supporters overran law enforcement officials and breached the Capitol, ransacking and looting and leaving the premises looking like a war zone. They succeeded in disrupting and delaying the proceedings that made Trump’s loss official but didn’t change the ultimate outcome — and if anything did damage to Trump by turning political sentiment sharply against him in the final days of his administration.
As chaotic scenes unfolded at the Capitol, Trump’s first move was to post a tweet attacking Pence for lacking the “courage” to help him steal the election (he later deleted it as a condition of getting Twitter to unlock his account). Meanwhile, rioters unsuccessfully hunted for Pence while others were photographed with zip-tie handcuffs, suggesting they hoped to take hostages.
By Femke Hiemstra
Were there plans to take hostages and even kill lawmakers? The Washington Post: FBI focuses on whether some Capitol rioters intended to harm lawmakers or take hostages.
FBI agents are trying to determine whether some who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday intended to do more than cause havoc and disrupt the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, and they are sifting through evidence to see whether anyone wanted to kill or capture lawmakers or their staffers, according to people familiar with the investigation.
Dozens have been arrested, and Friday, officials announced charges against an Arkansas man photographed in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office chair with a foot on her desk. But investigators also are working to determine the motivations and larger goals, if any, of those who had weapons or other gear suggesting they planned to do physical harm.
Some rioters, for instance, were photographed carrying zip ties, a plastic version of handcuffs, and one man was arrested allegedly carrying a pistol on the Capitol grounds.
“We’re not looking at this as a grand conspiracy, but we are interested in learning what people would do with things like zip ties,” said a law enforcement official, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the investigation….
Many of the initial charges have been for unlawful entry, but authorities also found suspected pipe bombs outside the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee, and they arrested the owner of a truck they said was spotted nearby with 11 molotov cocktails inside. The FBI is still searching for the person who left the suspected pipe bombs.
Adding to the investigation’s urgency, Twitter on Friday noted that plans for future armed protests have begun circulating online, including a proposed second attack on the U.S. Capitol and assaults on state government buildings Jan. 17. Officials cautioned that there may be a variety of motives among those who broke into Congress, and they said that a key part of their investigation is determining whether any individuals or groups had planned in advance or were coordinating in the moment to commit violence against individual politicians. Others may simply have been caught up in the moment and committed rash, unplanned crimes, officials said.
Harlekin Cat by Catrin Welz-Stein
CNN: Feds say police found a pickup truck full of bombs and guns near Capitol insurrection as wide-ranging investigation unfurls.
More on Coffman:
Coffman, 70, told police he had mason jars filled with “melted Styrofoam and gasoline.” Federal investigators believe that combination, if exploded, would have the effect of napalm “insofar as it causes the flammable liquid to better stick to objects that it hits upon detonation,” according to the court record.
Police also found cloth rags and lighters. The court documents said that those items and the explosive-filled mason jars “in close proximity to one another constitute a combination of parts” that could be used as a “destructive device.”
Coffman had parked his pickup truck at 9:15 a.m. ET on First St SE on the Hill, near the National Republican Club, commonly called the Capitol Hill Club. That building is within a block of a large US House office building and the Library of Congress, according to the complaint. The truck also had a handgun on the passenger seat and an M4 Carbine assault rifle, along with rifle magazines loaded with ammunition, police said.
When police found and searched him about a block away after dusk, Coffman was also carrying a 9mm handgun and a .22-caliber handgun in each of his front pockets, the police complaint said. None of the weapons found in his truck or on his person were registered to him.
Read more details about those who have been arrested at the CNN link.
Jean Pierre Arboleda, Playtime
Ronan Farrow on one of the men who carried zip-ties into the Capital: An Air Force Combat Veteran Breached the Senate.
As insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol this week, a few figures stood out. One man, clad in a combat helmet, body armor, and other tactical gear, was among the group that made it to the inner reaches of the building. Carrying zip-tie handcuffs, he was captured in photographs and videos on the Senate floor and with a group that descended on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office suite. In a video shot by ITV News, he is seen standing against a wall adjacent to Pelosi’s office, his face covered by a bandana. At another point, he appears to exit the suite, face exposed, pushing his way through the crowds of demonstrators.
A day after the riots, John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at Citizen Lab, at the University of Toronto’s Munk School, notified the F.B.I. that he suspected the man was retired Lieutenant Colonel Larry Rendall Brock, Jr., a Texas-based Air Force Academy graduate and combat veteran. Scott-Railton had been trying to identify various people involved in the attack. “I used a number of techniques to hone in on his identity, including facial recognition and image enhancement, as well as seeking contextual clues from his military paraphernalia,” Scott-Railton told me. Brock was wearing several patches on his combat helmet and body armor, including one bearing a yellow fleur de lis, the insignia of the 706th Fighter Squadron. He also wore several symbols suggesting that he lived in Texas, including a vinyl tag of the Texas flag overlaid on the skull logo of the Punisher, the Marvel comic-book character. The Punisher has been adopted by police and Army groups and, more recently, by white supremacists and followers of QAnon. Scott-Railton also found a recently deleted Twitter account associated with Brock, with a Crusader as its avatar. “All those things together, it’s like looking at a person’s C.V.,” Scott-Railton said.
Two family members and a longtime friend said that Brock’s political views had grown increasingly radical in recent years. Bill Leake, who flew with Brock in the Air Force for a decade, said that he had distanced himself from Brock. “I don’t contact him anymore ’cause he’s gotten extreme,” Leake told me. In recent years, Brock had become an increasingly committed supporter of Donald Trump, frequently wearing a Make America Great Again hat. In the days leading up to the siege of the Capitol, Brock had posted to social media about his plans to travel to Washington, D.C., to participate in Trump’s “Save America” rally. Brock’s family members said that he called himself a patriot, and that his expressions of that identity had become increasingly strident. One recalled “weird rage talk, basically, saying he’s willing to get in trouble to defend what he thinks is right, which is Trump being the President, I guess.” Both family members said that Brock had made racist remarks in their presence and that they believed white-supremacist views may have contributed to his motivations.
Brock claims to be completely innocent of any malign intent.
In an interview, Brock confirmed that he was the man in the photos and videos. He denied that he held racist views and echoed Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud, saying that he derived his understanding of the matter principally from social media. He told me that he had gone to Washington, D.C., to demonstrate peacefully. “The President asked for his supporters to be there to attend, and I felt like it was important, because of how much I love this country, to actually be there,” he said. Brock added that he did not identify as part of any organized group and claimed that, despite the scenes of destruction that day, he had seen no violence. When he arrived at the Capitol, he said, he assumed he was welcome to enter the building.
Brock denied that he had entered Pelosi’s office suite, saying that he “stopped five to ten feet ahead of the sign” bearing her title that insurrectionists later tore down and brandished. However, in the ITV video, he appears to emerge from the suite. Brock said that he had worn tactical gear because “I didn’t want to get stabbed or hurt,” citing “B.L.M. and Antifa” as potential aggressors. He claimed that he had found the zip-tie handcuffs on the floor. “I wish I had not picked those up,” he told me. “My thought process there was I would pick them up and give them to an officer when I see one. . . . I didn’t do that because I had put them in my coat, and I honestly forgot about them.” He also said that he was opposed to vandalizing the building, and was dismayed when he learned of the extent of the destruction. “I know it looks menacing,” he told me. “That was not my intent.”
Yeah, right. Read more about Brock at The New Yorker.
Dan Kois at Slate: They Were Out For Blood.
I can’t stop thinking about the zip-tie guys.
Amid the photos that flooded social media during Wednesday’s riot at the Capitol—shirtless jokers in horned helmets, dudes pointing at their nuts, dumbasses carrying away souvenirs—the images of the zip-tie guys were quieter, less exuberant, more chilling. And we’d better not forget what they almost managed to do.
It’s easy to think of the siege of the U.S. Capitol as a clown show with accidentally deadly consequences. A bunch of cosplaying self-styled patriots show up, overwhelm the incomprehensibly unprepared Capitol Police, and then throw a frat party in the rotunda. The miscreants smear shit on the walls and steal laptops and smoke weed in conference rooms. Someone gets shot; someone else has a heart attack, possibly under ludicrous circumstances. When they finally get rousted, they cry to the cameras about getting maced….
By Marion Peck
But there were other rioters inside the Capitol, if you look at the images. And once you see them, it’s impossible to look away. The zip-tie guys.
Call the zip ties by their correct name: The guys were carrying flex cuffs, the plastic double restraints often used by police in mass arrest situations. They walked through the Senate chamber with a sense of purpose. They were not dressed in silly costumes but kitted out in full paramilitary regalia: helmets, armor, camo, holsters with sidearms. At least one had a semi-automatic rifle and 11 Molotov cocktails. At least one, unlike nearly every other right-wing rioter photographed that day, wore a mask that obscured his face.
These are the same guys who, when the windows of the Capitol were broken and entry secured, went in first with what I’d call military-ish precision. They moved with purpose, to the offices of major figures like Nancy Pelosi and then to the Senate floor. What was that purpose? It wasn’t to pose for photos. It was to use those flex cuffs on someone.
Kois goes on to compare these men to the terrorists who plotted to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in October. Read the rest at Slate.
This post has gotten way too long, so I’d better wrap this up. As you can well imagine, there is much more to read out there today. I’ll post more links in the comment thread, and I hope you’ll do the same.
Posted: January 7, 2021 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: 25th amendment, Ashli Babbit, Joe Biden
Supporters of President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Now I’ve seen everything–I think. Yesterday the world witnessed a violent coup attempt in the United States of America. Could it get any worse? I think it probably could. Trump is a madman and with two weeks to go before he’s forced out of office, and he still has access to the nuclear codes.
Yesterday, the so-called “president” incited a mob of white supremacists to march on the Capitol where the House and Senate were gathered to count the electoral votes and formally declare that Joe Biden will be the next POTUS. The Capitol Police appeared to allow the insurgents to rush into the Capitol building, questions are being raised about why this happened and why there were so few arrests.
Trump called on rioters to march on the Capital building to convince Congresspeople to overturn the election.
Twitter and Facebook locked Trump out of his accounts because he continued to post claims that he had actually won the 2020 election.
Congress resumed their formal counting of electoral votes last night at 8PM and certified Biden’s victory about 4AM. Meanwhile,
There have been White House staff resignations and reports that cabinet members have been meeting to discuss invoking the 25th Amendment and removing Trump before he can do more damage to our democracy.
I was wrong about the woman who was shot and killed during the insurrection. In the video I saw, she looked like a woman of color. It turns out she was one of the attackers. KUSI News San Diego: KUSI News confirms identity of woman shot and killed inside US Capitol.
WASHINGTON (KUSI) — The woman who was shot and killed inside the US Capitol during the protests was from the San Diego area.
KUSI News has spoken with her husband.
The woman is Ashli Babbit, a 14-year veteran, who served four tours with the US Air Force, and was a high level security official throughout her time in service.
Her husband says she was a strong supporter of President Trump, and was a great patriot to all who knew her.
The Metropolitan Police Department says an investigation into her death continues.
It’s time for serious investigations into white supremacist infiltration into the military and law enforcement.
The Washington Post: Aides weigh resignations, removal options as Trump rages against perceived betrayals.
President Trump was ensconced in the White House residence Wednesday night, raging about perceived betrayals, as an array of top aides weighed resigning and some senior administration officials began conversations about invoking the 25th Amendment — an extraordinary measure that would remove the president before Trump’s term expires on Jan. 20.
This photo of Sen. Josh Hawley raising his fist in solidarity with the rioters will go down in history.
A deep, simmering unease coursed through the administration over the president’s refusal to accept his election loss and his role in inciting a mob to storm the Capitol, disrupting the peaceful transfer of power to President-elect Joe Biden. One administration official described Trump’s behavior Wednesday as that of “a total monster,” while another said the situation was “insane” and “beyond the pale.”
Fearful that Trump could take actions resulting in further violence and death if he remains in office even for a few days, senior administration officials were discussing Wednesday night whether the Cabinet might invoke the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to force him out, said a person involved in the conversations.
A former senior administration official briefed on the talks confirmed that preliminary discussions of the 25th Amendment were underway, although this person cautioned that they were informal and that there was no indication of an immediate plan of action. Both of these people, like some others interviewed for this story, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the matter.
On Trump’s reactions:
People who interacted with Trump on Wednesday said they found him in a fragile and volatile state. He spent the afternoon and evening cocooned at the White House and listening only to a small coterie of loyal aides — including Meadows, deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino, personnel director Johnny McEntee and policy adviser Stephen Miller. Many of his top confidants — Meadows, son-in-law Jared Kushner and first lady Melania Trump, among others — were publicly silent.
“He’s got a bunker mentality now, he really does,” the close adviser said.
As rioters broke through police barricades and occupied the Capitol, paralyzing the business of Congress, aides said Trump resisted entreaties from some of his advisers to condemn the marauders and refused to be reasoned with.
“He kept saying: ‘The vast majority of them are peaceful. What about the riots this summer? What about the other side? No one cared when they were rioting. My people are peaceful. My people aren’t thugs,’ ” an administration official said. “He didn’t want to condemn his people.”
“He was a total monster today,” this official added, describing the president’s handling of Wednesday’s coup attempt as less defensible than his equivocal response to the deadly white supremacist rally in 2017 in Charlottesville.
The Washington Post Editorial Board: Trump caused the assault on the Capitol. He must be removed.
PRESIDENT TRUMP’S refusal to accept his election defeat and his relentless incitement of his supporters led Wednesday to the unthinkable: an assault on the U.S. Capitol by a violent mob that overwhelmed police and drove Congress from its chambers as it was debating the counting of electoral votes. Responsibility for this act of sedition lies squarely with the president, who has shown that his continued tenure in office poses a grave threat to U.S. democracy. He should be removed.
Mr. Trump encouraged the mob to gather on Wednesday, as Congress was set to convene, and to “be wild.” After repeating a panoply of absurd conspiracy theories about the election, he urged the crowd to march on the Capitol. “We’re going to walk down, and I’ll be there with you,” he said. “You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.” The president did not follow the mob, but instead passively watched it on television as its members tore down fences around the Capitol and overwhelmed police guarding the building. House members and senators were forced to flee. Shots were fired, and at least one person was struck and killed.
Rather than immediately denouncing the violence and calling on his supporters to stand down, Mr. Trump issued two mild tweets in which he called on them to “remain” or “stay” peaceful. Following appeals from senior Republicans, he finally released a video in which he asked people to go home, but doubled down on the lies fueling the vigilantes. “We love you. You’re very special,” he told his seditious posse. Later, he excused the riot, tweeting that “these are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away.” [….]
Confederate flags were carried into the U.S. Capitol building.
The president is unfit to remain in office for the next 14 days. Every second he retains the vast powers of the presidency is a threat to public order and national security. Vice President Pence, who had to be whisked off the Senate floor for his own protection, should immediately gather the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment, declaring that Mr. Trump is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” Congress, which would be required to ratify the action if Mr. Trump resisted, should do so. Mr. Pence should serve until President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20.
Failing that, senior Republicans must restrain the president. The insurrection came just as many top Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), were finally denouncing Mr. Trump’s antidemocratic campaign to overturn the election results. A depressing number of GOP legislators — such as Sen. Josh Hawley (Mo.), Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (La.) — were prepared to support Mr. Trump’s effort, fueling the rage of those the president has duped into believing the election was stolen.
The Daily Beast: Trump Aides Beg Top Officials to Stay After MAGA Mob Attack.
While President Donald Trump egged on a mob of his supporters who had stormed the United States Capitol on Wednesday, several of his top aides began to scramble. Their mission, according to three sources familiar with the matter: to try to convince senior White House staffers and Cabinet secretaries to stay in the administration, if only just for the night.
The effort has not been completely successful. Stephanie Grisham, the chief of staff to the first lady and the former White House communications director, quit hours after the insurrection, as CNN first reported. So did Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Matthews. “As someone who worked in the halls of Congress I was deeply disturbed by what I saw today,” she wrote.
Former Trump chief of staff Mick Mulvaney announced that he had resigned from his diplomatic post on Thursday morning, telling CNBC: “I can’t stay.” Deputy National Security Adviser Matt Pottinger also resigned on Wednesday afternoon, an administration official confirmed to The Daily Beast and Ryan Tully quit the National Security Council.
Several other senior officials said they were considering quitting on the spot after news broke that an individual involved in Wednesday’s events at the Capitol had died as a result of a gunshot wound. Those officials include Deputy Chief of Staff Chris Liddell, two sources familiar with the situation said.
Trump aides and GOP power-brokers including Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) asked all three to remain in their posts until at least tomorrow.
These people knew what Trump was long ago. The only reason they are leaving is to try to salvage their own tattered reputations.
Buzzfeed News: The Rioters Who Took Over The Capitol Have Been Planning Online In The Open For Weeks.
The supporters of President Donald Trump who rioted in the US Capitol building on Wednesday had been openly planning for weeks on both mainstream social media and the pro-Trump internet. On forums like TheDonald, a niche website formed after Reddit banned the subreddit of the same name, they promised violence against lawmakers, police, and journalists if Congress did not reject the results of the 2020 election.
In one interaction four days ago, a person on TheDonald asked, “What if Congress ignores the evidence?”
“Storm the Capitol,” one replied, which received more than 500 upvotes.
“You’re fucking right we do,” another said.
On pro-Trump social media website Parler, chat app Telegram, and other corners of the the far-right internet, people discussed the Capitol Hill rally at which Trump spoke as the catalyst for a violent insurrection. They have been using those forums to plan an uprising in plain sight, one that they executed Wednesday afternoon, forcing Congress to flee its chambers as it met to certify the results of the election.
“Extremists have for weeks repeatedly expressed their intentions to attend the January 6 protests, and unabashedly voiced their desire for chaos and violence online,” said Jared Holt, a visiting research fellow with DFRLab. “What we’ve witnessed is the manifestation of that violent online rhetoric into real-life danger.”
“The earliest call we got on our radar for today specifically was a militia movement chatroom talking about being ‘ready for blood’ if things didn’t start changing for Trump,” Holt said.
So why was the response from law enforcement so pathetic? We need answers.
Axios: The Capitol siege’s QAnon roots.
Wednesday’s assault on the U.S. Capitol was an appalling shock to most Americans, but to far-right true believers it was the culmination of a long-unfolding epic.
The big picture: A growing segment of the American far right, radicalized via social media and private online groups, views anyone who bucks President Trump’s will as evil. That includes Democrats, the media, celebrities, judges and officeholders — even conservatives, should they cross the president.
Catch up quick: A great many Trump supporters spent recent weeks on heavily pro-Trump platforms like TheDonald.win and Parler openly discussing coming to Washington on Jan. 6 to launch an attack on the government.
- Often the idea was discussed in vague or winking terms; other times, users explicitly called for elected officials to be abducted and executed.
- Users on more mainstream platforms talked up plans to come to Washington on Jan. 6 to simply protest the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory. Trump egged them on, repeatedly calling on supporters to swarm Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6.
Between the lines: Adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory, who imagine a vast deep-state cabal of pedophiles arrayed against Trump, have for years insisted that a moment of reckoning for their enemies is imminent.
QAnon believers have largely accepted that Trump is waiting for the right time to bring a hammer down on his enemies (or already has, in secret).
But time is running out. Because Congress was slated to officially certify Biden’s victory on Jan. 6, the day became the focal point of a new conspiracy theory — that Trump would, on that date, reveal mountains of evidence of electoral fraud, somehow invalidate Biden’s win, and secure a second term.
Anne Applebaum at The Atlantic: What Trump and His Mob Taught the World About America.
In 1945, the nations of what had been Nazi-occupied Western Europe chose to become democracies, partly because they aspired to resemble their liberators. In 1989, the nations of what had been Communist-occupied Eastern Europe also chose to become democracies, partly because they too wanted to join the great, prosperous, freedom-loving, American-led democratic alliance. A huge variety of countries all across Asia, Africa, and South America have also chosen democracy over the past several decades, at least partly because they wanted to be like us, because they saw a path to the peaceful resolution of conflict in imitating us, because they saw a way to resolve their own disputes just like we did, using elections and debate instead of violence.
During this period, many American politicians and diplomats mistakenly imagined that it was their clever words or deeds that persuaded others to join what eventually became a very broad, international democratic alliance. But they were wrong. It was not them; it was us—our example.
Over the past four years, that example has been badly damaged. We elected a president who refused to recognize the democratic process. We stood by while some members of Donald Trump’s party cynically colluded with him, helping him break laws and rules designed to restrain him. We indulged his cheerleading “media”—professional liars who pretended to believe the president’s stories, including his invented claims of massive voter fraud. Then came the denouement: an awkward, cack-handed invasion of the Capitol by the president’s supporters, some dressed in strange costumes, others sporting Nazi symbols or waving Confederate flags. They achieved the president’s goal: They brought the official certification of the Electoral College vote to a halt. House and Senate members and Vice President Mike Pence were escorted out of the legislative chambers. Their staff members were told to shelter in place. A woman was shot to death.
There is no way to overstate the significance of this moment, no way to ignore the power of the message that these events send to both the friends and the enemies of democracy, everywhere. The images from Washington that are going out around the world are far more damaging to America’s reputation as a stable democracy than the images of young people protesting the Vietnam War several decades ago, and they are far more disturbing to outsiders than the riots and protests of last summer. Unlike so many other disturbances over the years, the events at the Capitol yesterday did not represent a policy dispute, a disagreement about a foreign war or the behavior of police. They were part of an argument over the validity of democracy itself: A violent mob declared that it should decide who becomes the next president, and Trump encouraged its members. So did his allies in Congress, and so did the far-right propagandists who support him. For a few hours, they prevailed.
I’ve barely touched the surface of the commentary that’s out there today. I’ll add more links in the comment thread and I hope you’ll add your own thoughts and links to the discussion. Take care Sky Dancers!