Starting in May, FBI agents in the Washington field office had sought to slow the probe, urging caution given itsextraordinary sensitivity, the people said.
Monday Reads: Enough is Enough!Posted: May 8, 2023 Filed under: just because | Tags: American Gun Fetish, domestic terrorism, White Christian Nationalists 17 Comments
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
The number of mass shootings in this country is horrifying. I don’t know about you, but everyone is like one layer of trauma on top of another. Try this one on for size. ABC News reports, “There have been more mass shootings than days in 2023, the database shows. There have been 202 mass shootings so far this year.” The carnage continues to pile up in Texas, and parents leaving a mall that had been the shootout scene were told to cover their children’s eyes so they would not see the bodies covered by bloody sheets. CNN Reports that the “Outlet Mall shooter had received firearms training as a security guard.”
The Texas outlet mall shooter, Mauricio Garcia, had worked for at least three security companies and had undergone hours of firearms proficiency training in recent years, according to a database maintained by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
None of the companies immediately responded to requests for comment.
The 33-year-old was approved to work as a security guard in Texas from April 2016 until April 2020, when his license expired, according to his profile in the Texas Online Private Security database.
As part of his work, Garcia received Level II and Level III security training. Level II covers security laws in Texas. Level III, which is required for all commissioned security officers and personal protection officers in Texas, includes firearm training and the demonstration of firearm proficiency, according to Jonah Nathan, vice president of Ranger Guard, a security guard service in Texas not affiliated with Garcia’s employers.
In 2018, Garcia completed a separate firearms proficiency training course, which required six hours of continuing education, according to the database.
It’s unclear why Garcia’s license expired.
Private security guards in Texas undergo background checks and are disqualified if they have committed certain crimes such as assault, burglary or sexual offenses, among others, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety website and state codes.
They are also disqualified if they have been dishonorably discharged
Right-wing trolls on Twitter immediately characterized the shooter as belonging to a primarily Hispanic gang. They tried identifying a tattoo showing his membership in a prison gang Pure Tango Blast. No one egged this crap on Twitter more than the Congresscritter MTG. This is from Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo.“Marge Greene, Worst of the Worst, Mass Shooting Edition.”
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, just the worst kind of racist degenerate who somehow has managed to become the de facto leader of House Republicans in the new Congress.
This morning Greene went on Twitter to note that the shooter “appears Hispanic” and had what she decided “looks like a gang tattoo on his hand.” And then added “Title 42 ends on Thursday and CBP says 700,000+ migrants are going to rush the border.”
The shooter has been identified as Mauricio Garcia, a 38-year-old security guard from Dallas. I haven’t seen any reporting on Garcia’s immigration or citizenship status. But it seems likely he’s an American citizen. If he was working as a security guard that makes it highly unlikely he was undocumented. Regardless, for Greene the shooting is about Title 42 and keeping undocumented migrants out of the country.
In the real world, law enforcement officials told NBC News and other news outlets that “Garcia had several social media accounts and appeared to be drawn to neo-Nazi and white supremacist content. He was also wearing, when he was killed, a patch on his chest with a right-wing acronym.”
In other words, basically your garden-variety mass shooter and far-right terrorist.
In other words, your homegrown terrorist that MTG considers to be a hero as long as he’s white. This is pure right-wing propaganda and was everywhere on Twitter yesterday. Maya Boodle from Alternet.org reports, “Texas mall shooter wore neo-Nazi symbol and shared ‘white-supremacist content online.'”
The man who murdered eight people using an AR-15 at an outlet mall in Allen, Texas, Saturday likely identified with neo-Nazi beliefs, The Washington Post reports.
Allen resident Mauricio Garcio, according to The Post wore a “patch on his chest” at the time of the shooting that read “RWDS,” meaning “Right Wing Death Squad,” a “phrase popular among right wing extremists, neo-Nazis and white supremacists.”
Additionally, NBC reports Garcia “interacted with neo-Nazi and white supremacist content online.”
Last year, an Anti-Defamation League’s Center (ADLC) on Extremism report revealed “all extremist-related murders in 2022 were committed by right-wing extremists,” adding, “More than four out of five extremist-related murders last year were committed by white supremacist right-wing extremists.”
The New Republic has this op-ed from The Gun Industry Wants America’s Malls and Schools to Be War Zones. The bodies pile up. Republicans say it’s in God’s hands. And the new weapons coming to market are even deadlier. There’s only one logical conclusion.”
Steven Spainhouer’s son worked at the H&M at the Allen, Texas, outlet mall and called his father Saturday night when the shooting started. Spainhouer raced to the scene and arrived before the first responders. And here is the sight that greeted him: “The first girl I walked up to was crouched down covering her head in the bushes, so I felt for a pulse, pulled her head to the side, and she had no face.”
For the record, it’s the 199th mass shooting this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The 200th will happen today, or maybe has already happened by the time you’ve read this. We’re on pace for close to 600 shootings, and perhaps 60,000 willful, malicious, or accidental deaths (there’ve been 20,200 so far this year, according to the GVA, in the first four months and one week of 2023). That 60,000 is roughly equal to the number of Americans who died in Vietnam in nearly a decade. We’ll witness the same amount of carnage in one year. Shopping zones are war zones.
But it would seem that little girl getting her face blown off as if she lived in Stalingrad in 1943 is just God’s will. This was the verdict of the congressman who represents Allen, Republican Keith Self, who went on CNN after the shooting. He offered his prayers. The anchor interjected that some people think “prayers aren’t cutting it.” Self responded: “Well, those are people that don’t believe in an almighty God who is absolutely in control of our lives. I’m a Christian. I believe that He is.”
Closing arguments for the E. Jean Rape case are being held this morning. Lauren DeValle at CNN is following the session.
Attorneys for Carroll and Trump rested their respective cases last Thursday. Carroll’s legal team put on 11 witnesses in her case including the writer herself over seven trial days. Trump did not put on a defense and ultimately opted not to testify.
District Judge Lewis Kaplan gave Trump a window to change his mind about testifying over the weekend, giving him a Sunday evening deadline to petition the court to reopen Trump’s defense case for the sole purpose of allowing the former president to testify.
“He has a right to testify which has been waived but if he has second thoughts, I’ll at least consider it and maybe we’ll see what happens,” Kaplan told the attorneys.
The judge said in court Thursday evening that he ordered the precautionary measure in light of Trump’s public comments also made Thursday.
Trump, who has not appeared in the courtroom at any point during the trial, told reporters in Ireland on Thursday he’ll “probably attend” the trial.
“I have to go back for a woman that made a false accusation about me, and I have a judge who is extremely hostile,” Trump said while golfing in Doonbeg, Ireland.
No such motion was made by the deadline Sunday and his attorneys confirmed he will not attend the trial.
So Trump was a no-show. None of us expected him but the Judge had to cover a potential reason for him to appeal as he does incessintly.
Sixty Minutes actually acted like its oldself when it reported this. Can an entire state be guilty of child abuse for allowing this? “This ancient atrocity” shown on Sunday on 60 Minutes. “A Nebraska middle school’s concerns about the safety of its students led to one of the largest investigations into illegal child labor in this country. 60 MINUTES’ Scott Pelley looks at the Department of Labor probe that uncovered how for years children as young as 13 worked overnight to clean slaughterhouses across the country” One hundred and two minors in 13 different slaughterhouse plants in 8 different states.
Watch it here. Also, remember Huckabuck’s Arkansas and Iowa also have implented this plus others I’ve yet to shame.
What has happened that people are getting elected and turning the country back to the 19th century? Seriously. The Republican party seems to be the party of Grand Old Pscychopaths.
Anyway, I can only take so much of this. The children’s art is from #UNLOAD. It’s an arts-based initiative that seeks to reduce the amount of gun violence in our country.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Thursday ReadsPosted: March 2, 2023 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, Donald Trump, FBI, SCOTUS | Tags: Chris Christie, Christopher Wray, domestic terrorism, Georgia election interference, Hillary Clinton, James Comey, Kellyanne Conway, Peter Strzok, Ruby Freeman, Shaye Moss, stolen classified documents, student loan forgiveness 13 Comments
You probably saw the incredible story that The Washington Post broke yesterday about FBI agents living in fear of Donald Trump. Some were so scared that they wanted to treat Trump with kid gloves, even after he stole hundreds of classified documents from the government and refused to return them. So it’s not just elected Republicans who are scared of Trump–even some in law enforcement want to let him get away with serious crimes in order to protect their own careers.
The Washington Post: Showdown before the raid: FBI agents and prosecutors argued over Trump.
Months of disputes between Justice Department prosecutors and FBI agents over how best to try to recover classified documents from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club and residence led to a tense showdown near the end of July last year, according to four people familiar with the discussions.
Prosecutors argued that new evidence suggested Trump was knowingly concealing secret documents at his Palm Beach, Fla., home and urged the FBI to conduct a surprise raid at the property. But two senior FBI officials who would be in charge of leading the search resisted the plan as too combative and proposed instead to seek Trump’s permission to search his property, according to the four people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a sensitive investigation.
Prosecutors ultimately prevailed in that dispute, one of several previously unreported clashes in a tense tug of war between two arms of the Justice Department over how aggressively to pursue a criminal investigation of a former president. The FBI conducted an unprecedented raid on Aug. 8, recovering more than 100 classified items, among them a document describing a foreign government’s military defenses, including its nuclear capabilities.
Some of those field agents wanted to shutter the criminal investigation altogether in early June, after Trump’s legal team asserted a diligent search had beenconducted and all classified records had been turned over, according to somepeople with knowledge of the discussions.
This sounds familiar. Back in 2016, James Comey kept the investigation of Trump and Russia secret, while making public statements about the much less significant investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails; because FBI agents in the New York office had it in for Hillary and supported Trump. WTF is going on with the FBI? Here’s what Peter Strzok, who lost his job at the FBI because of pressure from Trump, had to say about this news:
Back to the WaPo article:
The disagreements stemmed in large part from worries among officials that whatever steps they took in investigating a former president would face intense scrutiny and second-guessing by people inside and outside the government. However, the agents, who typically perform the bulk of the investigative work in cases, and the prosecutors, who guide agents’ work and decide on criminal charges, ultimately focused on very different pitfalls, according to people familiar with their discussions.
On one side, federal prosecutors in the department’s national security division advocated aggressive ways to secure some of the country’s most closely guarded secrets, which they feared Trump was intentionally hiding at Mar-a-Lago; on the other, FBI agents in the Washington field office urged more caution with such a high-profile matter, recommending they take a cooperative rather than confrontational approach.
Both sides were mindful of the intense scrutiny the case was drawing and felt they had to be above reproach while investigating a former president then expected to run for reelection. While trying to follow the Justice Department playbook for classified records probes, investigators on both sides braced for Trump to follow his own playbook of publicly attacking the integrity of their investigation, according to people with knowledge of their discussions.
The FBI agents’ caution also was rooted in the fact that mistakes in prior probes of Hillary Clinton and Trump had proved damaging to the FBI, and the cases subjected the bureau to sustained public attacks from partisans, the people said.
Prosecutors countered that the FBI failing to treat Trump as it had other government employees who were not truthful about classified records could threaten the nation’s security. As evidence surfaced suggesting that Trump or his team was holding back sensitive records, the prosecutors pushed for quick action to recover them, according to the people familiar with the discussions.
It’s a very long piece–head over to the WaPo to read the rest.
I have to ask: why does Christopher Wray still have a job? From Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post: Christopher Wray is getting away with doing a lousy job.
The MAGA right thinks FBI Director Christopher A. Wray is some sort of patsy for Democrats. But the problem is not that Wray, a Trump appointee, is showing favoritism to a Democratic administration. It’s that he is not doing his job when it comes to threats from right-wing authoritarianism.The extent to which the FBI was aware of credible threats but did not prepare is breathtaking:In the weeks preceding the January 6 attack on the Capitol, the FBI obtained information across other sources indicating potential threats. Through human source reporting, investigations, and observed activity, the FBI identified the increasing threat of violence at high profile special events, such as the 2020 election and 2021 presidential inauguration. FBI officials we spoke with said that from December 29, 2020, through January 6, 2021, they tracked domestic terrorism subjects that were traveling to Washington, D.C., and developed reports related to January 6 events. As of January 6, 2021, FBI officials noted that the Washington Field Office was tracking 18 domestic terrorism subjects as potential travelers to the D.C. area.Other information came directly from social media platforms. From October 1, 2020, through January 5, 2021, officials from the FBI we spoke with said they obtained and reviewed 73 potential domestic terrorism related referrals from one social media platform, and obtained one referral on January 4, 2021, related to potential violence in Washington, D.C. on January 6. In addition, the FBI received information from another social media platform from late November 2020 through January 6, 2021, regarding potential violence at January 6 events.
Once the FBI had that information, it did not act upon it with the urgency required. “FBI personnel did not follow policies for processing some tips, resulting in them not being developed into reports that could have been shared with partners. Specifically, the FBI did not process all relevant information related to potential violence on January 6.”
The conclusion: “While the FBI identified and shared threat information, it did not process certain referrals from social media platforms according to policies and procedures and, as a result, it failed to share critical information with all relevant partners.”
Worse, the bureau has not undertaken the kind of systematic self-evaluation needed to correct glaring inadequacies. “The ongoing FBI review of its actions during the weeks preceding January 6, 2021, has not included an assessment of how it processed information. Assessing this process will help determine if the mistakes we identified are isolated or due to a systemic cause.” (Emphasis added.)
Click the link to read the rest.
In other news, Chris Christie thinks Trump will be indicted by this summer. The Independent: Chris Christie explains why he believes Trump will be indicted.
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has said that he thinks former President Donald Trump will be indicted in connection to at least one of the numerous investigations he’s the subject of, as the former president campaigns for the 2024 GOP nomination.
Mr Christie, who ran against Mr Trump and more than a dozen others in the 2016 Republican primary, spoke to conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Wednesday, saying that he believes Mr Trump’s attorneys wouldn’t be able to reject the case of the grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, even after the jury foreperson made a series of media appearances, prompting criticism towards some of her conduct….
“This is a very difficult case to make off the phone call,” Mr Christie said of the phone conversation between Mr Raffensperger and Mr Trump. “Now I don’t know what their other evidence is. That’s supposed to be the beauty of the grand jury system. And it is so far in this case that you don’t know what all the specific other evidence may be. But based upon what I know publicly, I think it’s a tough case to bring against the former president based upon the information we now know.”
Mr Christie added that Mr Trump appears to be legally vulnerable in connection to the lead-up to the January 6, 2021 insurrection and obstruction of Congress.
“I think the most likely place it will happen is New York. And I think it’s the least harmful matter to him,” he told Mr Hewitt. “If in fact, all they’re looking at is the Stormy Daniels payments….
“I think in terms of the likelihood of indictment, I’d put New York first, the special counsel second, Georgia third. But in terms of the seriousness of the peril for the president, I’d put the special counsel above either of those,” Mr Christie said.
“So in brief, do you expect an indictment by July?” the host asked the ex-governor.
“I expect that New York probably would act. I don’t know whether the special counsel will act by that time, but my guess is that New York would act by that time,” he said.
The New York Times broke some news yesterday on that New York case: Kellyanne Conway Meets With Prosecutors as Trump Inquiry Escalates.
Kellyanne Conway, who managed the final months of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 campaign, met with prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office on Wednesday, the latest sign that the office is ramping up its criminal investigation into the former president.
The prosecutors are scrutinizing Mr. Trump’s role in a hush money payment to a porn star, Stormy Daniels, who has said she had an affair with him. The $130,000 payment was made by Mr. Trump’s longtime fixer, Michael D. Cohen, in the closing days of the 2016 campaign, and Mr. Trump ultimately reimbursed him.
Mr. Cohen has said that Ms. Conway played a small yet notable role in the payment: she was the person Mr. Cohen alerted after making the payment, he wrote in his 2020 memoir.
“I called Trump to confirm that the transaction was completed, and the documentation all in place, but he didn’t take my call — obviously a very bad sign, in hindsight,” he wrote. Instead, he wrote, Ms. Conway “called and said she’d pass along the good news.”
Ms. Conway, who was seen walking into the district attorney’s office shortly before 2 p.m. on Wednesday, is the latest in a string of witnesses to meet with prosecutors in the last month or so. Since the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, impaneled a grand jury in January to hear evidence about Mr. Trump’s role in paying the hush money, at least five witnesses have testified: Jeffrey McConney and Deborah Tarasoff, employees of Mr. Trump’s company; David Pecker and Dylan Howard, two former leaders of The National Enquirer, which helped arrange the hush money deal; and Keith Davidson, a former lawyer for Ms. Daniels.
The decision to question those central players in the hush money saga before the grand jury suggests that Mr. Bragg is nearing a decision on whether to seek an indictment of the former president.
Another possibility for Trump to face some accountability is through a lawsuit by Georgia poll workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss. The Daily Beast: Georgia Poll Workers Pick Up Where Jan. 6 Committee Left Off.
Two Georgia poll workers who were attacked by 2020 election conspiracy theorists are picking up where the Jan. 6 congressional investigation left off—by trying to independently examine the private communications between two of the men behind the firestorm: Rudy Giuliani and former President Donald Trump.
Giuliani, who played a central role in the Republican attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election as Trump’s lawyer, refused to tell congressional investigators about their conversations, citing attorney-client privilege.
But now, a mother and daughter still reeling from the MAGA harassment are trying to pierce that veil.
Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss of Fulton County, Georgia, are turning their defamation lawsuit against Giuliani into a no-limits, fact-finding mission, according to an undisclosed letter from their attorneys reviewed exclusively by The Daily Beast.
In their Jan. 13 letter, the pair’s attorneys tell Giuliani’s defense lawyer that his objections to the Jan. 6 Committee’s questions about interactions with Trump “were improper,” warning that they intend to bulldoze right over them.
“Mr. Giuliani invoked privilege during January 6 testimony with respect to certain topics we expect to broach during his… deposition,” said the letter, which was written in anticipation of a closed-door questioning session.
Giuliani was deposed on Wednesday inside a midtown Manhattan skyscraper that serves as the headquarters of Willkie Farr & Gallagher, the high-end international law firm representing the women.
Lawyers for Freeman and Moss said they want to know more about Giuliani’s interactions with Trump, as well as his “correspondence” with the Department of Justice regarding Trump’s mission to overturn the 2020 election, conservative state legislators who were coaxed into publicly doubting the ballot results that year, and fake Republican electors who tried to band together as alternate electoral college votes to supplant the real ones that went for Joe Biden.
There’s much more at the link.
On Tuesday, I posted about the Supreme Court hearing on Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan. According to this story at CNBC, the odds may have shifted toward the Biden administration winning the case: Biden administration lawyer may have saved student loan forgiveness plan at Supreme Court, experts say.
The government’s top Supreme Court lawyer may have saved President Joe Biden’s $400 billion student loan forgiveness plan from what experts considered all but certain defeat.
Experts lobbed praise on Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, the lawyer who represented the Biden administration in front of the nine justices Tuesday.
“The Biden administration now seems more likely than not to win the cases,” said higher education expert Mark Kantrowitz.
“Her preparation, poise and power were impressive,” Kantrowitz said.
In contrast, the attorneys for plaintiffs opposed to the program were less than stellar, Kantrowitz said. “It was like the difference between a star quarterback and two tiddlywinks players,” he said.
University of Illinois Chicago law professor Steven Schwinn agreed: “Prelogar knocked it out of the park.”
“I do think she could have influenced or even changed the thinking of two justices, maybe more,” he added.
On Wednesday, Fordham law professor Jed Shugerman tweeted that he remains “struck by SG Elizabeth Prelogar’s brilliant performance.”
“She may have snatched victory from the jaws of defeat,” Shugerman wrote.
The nine justices considered two legal challenges to Biden’s plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt for borrowers. Six GOP-led states — Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Carolina — had brought one of the lawsuits, and the other was backed by the Job Creators Network Foundation, a conservative advocacy organization.
Prelogar argued that the president was acting squarely within the law to avoid borrower distress during national emergencies and that plaintiffs had not shown in any way that they’d be harmed by the policy, which is typically a requirement to establish so-called legal standing.
I hope these experts are right. We’ll have to wait a few months to find out.
This story out of Michigan is really scary. NBC News: ‘Heavily armed’ man who FBI said targeted Jewish Michigan officials was after state Attorney General Dana Nessel, she says.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel was targeted last month by a “heavily armed” man who threatened injury and death to Jewish members of the state government, she said Thursday morning.
Jack Eugene Carpenter III is accused of tweeting: “I’m heading back to Michigan now threatening to carry out the punishment of death to anyone that is jewish in the Michigan govt if they don’t leave, or confess, and now that kind of problem,” according to a criminal complaint filed Feb. 18.
“Because I can Legally do that, right?” he added, according to the FBI affidavit.
Carpenter’s mother confirmed to investigators that the tweets came from him and that to her knowledge, he was in possession of “three handguns, a 12 gauge shotgun, and two hunting rifles, one of which is an MIA, military-style weapon,” the complaint said.
Nessel, a Democrat, said Thursday in a tweet that the FBI confirmed she had been one of the officials targeted by “the heavily armed defendant in this matter.”
“It is my sincere hope that the federal authorities take this offense just as seriously as my Hate Crimes & Domestic Terrorism Unit takes plots to murder elected officials,” she said.
That’s all the news I have for you today. Please share your thoughts in the comment thread and post any other stories that interest you.
Lazy Caturday ReadsPosted: February 20, 2021 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Alex Jones, Covid relief bill, domestic terrorism, Donald Trump, January 6 insurrection, Jill Biden, Joe Biden, Manhattan District Attorney, Oath Keepers, right-wing extremism, Roger Stone 13 Comments
We’ve reached the end of another week in the post-Trump era, and we continue to deal with crises that developed and worsened during the monster’s regime. It’s clear that it will take a long time to recover–if recovery is even possible. On the plus side, it’s great to have a normal president again–a person with empathy and compassion–and a caring, engaged first lady, and White House pets!
Biden’s Covid relief package appears to be on track for passage, despite the efforts of Republicans in Congress. The New York Times: Republicans Struggle to Derail Increasingly Popular Stimulus Package.
Republicans are struggling to persuade voters to oppose President Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic rescue plan, which enjoys strong, bipartisan support nationwide even as it is moving through Congress with just Democratic backing.
Democrats who control the House are preparing to approve the package by the end of next week, with the Senate aiming to soon follow with its own party-line vote before unemployment benefits are set to lapse in mid-March. On Friday, the House Budget Committee unveiled the nearly 600-page text for the proposal, which includes billions of dollars for unemployment benefits, small businesses and stimulus checks.
Republican leaders, searching for a way to derail the proposal, on Friday led a final attempt to tarnish the package, labeling it a “payoff to progressives.” The bill, they said, spends too much and includes a liberal wish list of programs like aid to state and local governments — which they call a “blue state bailout,” though many states facing shortfalls are controlled by Republicans — and increased benefits for the unemployed, which they argued would discourage people from looking for work.
Out in the real world, even Republican voters support the relief bill.
More than 7 in 10 Americans now back Mr. Biden’s aid package, according to new polling from the online research firm SurveyMonkey for The New York Times. That includes support from three-quarters of independent voters, 2 in 5 Republicans and nearly all Democrats. The overall support for the bill is even larger than the substantial majority of voters who said in January that they favored an end-of-year economic aid bill signed into law by President Donald J. Trump.
While Mr. Biden has encouraged Republican lawmakers to get on board with his package, Democrats are moving their bill through Congress using a parliamentary process that will allow them to pass it with only Democratic votes.
“Critics say my plan is too big, that it cost $1.9 trillion dollars; that’s too much,” Mr. Biden said at an event on Friday. “Let me ask them, what would they have me cut?”
House Republican leaders on Friday urged their rank-and-file members to vote against the plan, billing it as Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California’s “Payoff to Progressives Act.” They detailed more than a dozen objections to the bill, including “a third round of stimulus checks costing more than $422 billion, which will include households that have experienced little or no financial loss during the pandemic.” Ms. Pelosi’s office issued its own rebuttal soon after, declaring “Americans need help. House Republicans don’t care.”
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office is moving forward with it’s investigation of Trump’s finances. Reuters: Exclusive: New York City tax agency subpoenaed in Trump criminal probe.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has subpoenaed a New York City property tax agency as part of a criminal investigation into Donald Trump’s company, the agency confirmed on Friday, suggesting prosecutors are examining the former president’s efforts to reduce his commercial real-estate taxes for possible evidence of fraud.
The subpoena issued to the New York City Tax Commission is the latest indication that Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. is looking at the values Trump assigned to some commercial properties in tax filings and loan documents.
Along with information already subpoenaed from creditors, the tax agency documents would help investigators determine whether Trump’s business inflated the value of his properties to secure favorable terms on loans while deflating those values to lower tax bills for those same properties….
The subpoena likely would compel the agency to provide detailed income and expense statements the Trump Organization would have filed as part of an effort to lower tax assessments on some of its commercial properties, according to people familiar with the commission’s operations. Trump’s holdings include Trump Tower and Trump Plaza.
Those filings typically would include valuations submitted by the company to challenge the market values assigned to Trump’s property by the city’s tax assessors, they added.
Subpoenas also have been issued to at least two creditors that helped finance Trump’s real-estate holdings, Deutsche Bank AG and Ladder Capital Finance LLC, Reuters has previously reported.
The Federal investigation into the January 6 insurrection is continuing to heat up.
The Washington Post: U.S. investigating possible ties between Roger Stone, Alex Jones and Capitol rioters.
Tuesday Reads: Donald Trump is A Threat to National Security and to DemocracyPosted: December 8, 2015 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Adolf Hitler, domestic terrorism, Donald Trump, immigration, ISIS, Muslims, Overton window 37 Comments
It’s time to break through the Overton window and speak truthfully about Donald Trump. This awful man is a national emergency. The extreme language he has been using in his campaign for President is damaging our country both domestically and internationally.
Trump is playing into the hands of ISIS and other extremists, including right wing groups here in the U.S. His words have already inspired violence and could lead to more attacks on Muslims, African Americans, and Latino-Americans. He is an embarrassment that all Americans should reject–but many won’t.
Trump can no longer be viewed as just a clown or a blowhard jerk. He is dangerous.
What if Trump somehow wins the Republican nomination? What if he actually wins the general election and his fascist ideas become White House policy? He has to be stopped. But how?
Yesterday Trump called for a ban on all Muslim immigration to the U.S. Here’s his campaign press release:
(New York, NY) December 7th, 2015, — Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on. According to Pew Research, among others, there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population. Most recently, a poll from the Center for Security Policy released data showing “25% of those polled agreed that violence against Americans here in the United States is justified as a part of the global jihad” and 51% of those polled, “agreed that Muslims in America should have the choice of being governed according to Shariah.” Shariah authorizes such atrocities as murder against non-believers who won’t convert, beheadings and more unthinkable acts that pose great harm to Americans, especially women.
Mr. Trump stated, “Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine. Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life. If I win the election for President, we are going to Make America Great Again.” – Donald J. Trump
The hatred being spewed by Donald Trump and his advisers is what is “beyond comprehension.” It’s gotten to the point that I’m afraid to look at the latest news for fear there will be more ugly hateful reports on the latest speeches and statements by this evil man.
Fortunately, some Republicans are finally speaking out against him, although not very forcefully. Republicans are probably the only people who can stop this man, but they are going to have to get organized very quickly if they really hope to do it. Two Republican reactions:
Time Magazine: Speaker Paul Ryan Condemns Donald Trump’s Ban on Muslims.
House Speaker Paul Ryan on Tuesday condemned Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s call for a ban on Muslim immigrants to America “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
Ryan, who has been Speaker of the House for less than six weeks, had previously eschewed weighing in on presidential politics. He did so Tuesday after an announcement late Monday that Trump would no longer be participating in a Republican National Committee fundraiser later this week.
“This is not conservatism,” Ryan said in the RNC lobby on Capitol Hill. “What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for and more importantly it’s not what this country stands for. Not only are there many Muslims serving in our armed forces, dying for this country, there are Muslims serving right here in the House working every day to uphold and defend the constitution. Some of our best and biggest allies in this struggle and fight against radical Islamic terror are Muslims, the vast vast vast majority of whom are peaceful, who believe in pluralism and freedom, democracy and individual rights.”
WMUR ABC9 (Manchester, NH): State GOP chairwoman says Trump’s call to ban Muslims from U.S. is ‘un-American.’
State Republican Party chairwoman Jennifer Horn said Monday that Donald Trump’s call for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States is “un-American.” ….
Horn, who has been a frequent critic of Trump in recent months, said:
“There are some issues that transcend politics. While my position (as party chairwoman) is certainly political, I am an American first. There should never be a day in the United States of America when people are excluded based solely on their race or religion. It is un-Republican. It is unconstitutional. And it is un-American.”
All well and good.
But two top Trump supporters in New Hampshire said the controversial Republican presidential frontrunner is right.
State Reps. Al Baldasaro of Londonderry and Steve Stepanek of Amherst said Horn should resign her post for criticizing Trump because she is not being neutral in the presidential primary.
Mediaite reports: Several Papers Depict Donald Trump As ‘the New Furor’ With Hitler Comparisons.
Following Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump‘scall for a ban on all Muslim immigrantson Monday, newspapers and digital media outlets around the world responded with tired Nazi comparisons. In particular, the Philadelphia Daily Newsand the Times of Israelpaired their stories with images depicting Trump giving what looks like the infamous Nazi salute.
The Times of Israel‘s image selection was especially noticeable for two reasons, the first being that it was taken fromTrump’s speech at the Republican Jewish Coalition meeting last week. The New York real estate magnate, standing before the crowd of conservative Jewish voters, is seen giving what looks an awful lot like Adolf Hitler‘s trademark stance.
Excuse me? “tired Hitler comparisons?” Who else should Trump be compared to based on his language and stated policies? The Philadelphia Daily News put a photo of Trump as Hitler on its front page. From Business Insider:
The Philadelphia Daily News had a hard-hitting reaction on Tuesday to Donald Trump’s proposal to bar all Muslim immigrants and tourists from entering the US.
The tabloid’s cover directly compared Trump to Adolf Hitler, using a photo of the Republican presidential front-runner with his arm raised to look like a Nazi salute. The front-page headline further used a “furor” pun to compare Trump to the German führer.
And there’s this news from Philly.com: Severed pig’s head left at N. Phila. mosque.
Philadelphia police, the FBI, and the city’s Human Relations Commission launched investigations Monday after a worker at a North Philadelphia mosque found a severed pig’s head outside its door.
Surveillance video outside the Al Aqsa Islamic Society, on Germantown Avenue near Jefferson Street, showed a red pickup truck drove past the building twice just before 11 p.m. Sunday.
The first time it crept along slowly near the curb. On its second pass, the video shows, someone extended an arm from the passenger window and tossed something that rolled to a stop near the mosque’s front door.
An employee found the bloodied animal head there around 6 a.m. Monday. Pigs are considered insulting to Muslims who observe halal dietary laws.
Police and the FBI confirmed they were reviewing the incident, though they said it was too early to discuss potential charges.
“We’ve got to be involved,” said Officer Pete Berndlmaier of the 26th District, who gathered information at the scene. “If they get away doing something like that, they are going to up the ante.”
No kidding. Just as Donald Trump keeps “upping the ante.”
According to Politico, he is “not bothered by comparisons to Hitler.”
Donald Trump went on a series of rhetorical rants on Tuesday morning, saying he does not mind comparisons to Adolf Hitler and tussling with morning show anchors about his proposal to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the United States, calling his approach more akin to what Hitler’s American contemporary did during World War II.
“You’re increasingly being compared to Hitler. Doesn’t that give you any pause at all?” ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos asked the Republican poll leader on “Good Morning America,” displaying an image of the Philadelphia Daily News’ punning Tuesday front-page headline “The New Furo
In response, Trump said no, invoking what he termed President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “solution for Germans, Italians, Japanese many years ago” during World War II. “This was a president that was highly respected by all,” Trump said, remarking upon the Democratic president’s actions during the war. “If you look at what he was doing, it was far worse.”
Yes, and Ronald Reagan approved reparations for Japanese Americans. But apparently Trump thinks one terrible mistake justifies his own ghastly policies.
And get this: Trump wants to shut down the internet to stop jihadists from communicating with each other!
The Verge: Donald Trump thinks he can call Bill Gates to ‘close up’ the internet.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump just said the US should consider “closing up” the internet to curb radical extremism. Trump, a man that routinely claims everyone in charge of the US is stupid, believes that as president he could just call up Bill Gates to help him shut off the internet. Trump floated the idea at a campaign rally at the USS Yorktown in South Carolina tonight as a way to stop ISIS “jihadists” from recruiting Americans to commit acts of domestic terrorism. The idea is so dumb it almost has us, too, at a loss for words.
“We’re losing a lot of people because of the internet,” Trump said. “We have to see Bill Gates and a lot of different people that really understand what’s happening. We have to talk to them about, maybe in certain areas, closing that internet up in some ways. Somebody will say, ‘Oh freedom of speech, freedom of speech.’ These are foolish people.”
Trump may be ignorant. He may even be stupid. He’s also very dangerous.
What stories are you following today?
Lazy Saturday Reads: Mary Cassatt’s Mothers and Children (Plus News)Posted: December 5, 2015 Filed under: abortion rights, Crime, Criminal Justice System, morning reads, The Media SUCKS, U.S. Politics | Tags: domestic terrorism, FBI, Mark Vickers, Planned Parenthood, religious extremism, Robert Lewis Dear, San Bernardino mass shooting, Syed Rizwan Farook, Tashfeen Malik, terrorism 27 Comments
The best way to have a happy weekend might be to go into a cocoon and isolate yourself from the outside world and the ugly things that are happening in it. Unfortunately, I don’t know if I can bring myself to do it. I’ve become addicted to knowing what’s going on out there.
What has really been bugging me for the past couple of days is the way law enforcement agencies and the media refuse to label even horrendously violent acts like the attack on Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs “terrorism.”
It seems the only events that get that designation are those involving Muslim attackers. In my estimation a violent attack that kills and injures a number of people and “terrifies” the surrounding community should be called terrorism, because that’s exactly what it is.
How can the attacks on abortion clinics not be “terrorism” when they obviously are designed specifically to frighten doctors, nurses, and other health care workers into not getting involved in reproductive health care and women into not having abortions?
What is “Terrorism” and What Isn’t?
Here’s the official explanation from NPR: Why the Planned Parenthood shooting isn’t legally referred to as ‘domestic terrorism.’
To some in the community, the attack resembled an act of domestic terrorism, sparking a debate over what to call Robert Lewis Dear’s rampage even before he was taken into custody.
But the legal system may not resolve that question.
Dear faces state charges of first-degree murder, and the federal criminal code has no specific, catchall charge for acts of domestic terrorism. That means federal prosecutors pursuing charges for ideologically motivated violence often turn to other statutes — such as those for firearms, explosives, hate crimes or murder — to cover offenses that could arguably be labeled as terror. The punishment may be the same, but generally without the branding more typically associated with international terrorism.
“There has long been some interest in defining acts of domestic terrorism as terrorism. It’s become quite a partisan issue,” said William Yeomans, an American University law fellow and former high-ranking official in the Justice Department’s civil rights division.
But given the number of laws already available to federal prosecutors, he added, “Whether it’s domestic terrorism or not, it doesn’t really matter.”
Well then the definition needs to be changed, because focusing only on acts by people of one particular religion–Islam–is going to lead to terrorist attacks against Muslims, whether they get the label “terrorism” from the FBI or not. Saying it doesn’t matter is just plain stupid. It matters.
Melissa McEwan at Shakesville:
I didn’t need to know a thing about Syed Rizwan Farook’s and Tashfeen Malik’s religious beliefs or political ideologies to know that this was an act of terrorism, because I fail to understand how we can legally define one or more people picking up weapons and opening fire on civilians as anythingbut an act of terror, irrespective of their reasons.
(Unless it happens in a war zone, in which case it is a war crime and an act of terror.)
And I have a real goddamn problem with the fact that it only became “officially” an act of terrorism once they were connected to a particular religion and particular ideology, but had it been another religion and another ideology, it just would have been the inexplicable actions of mad people.
This selective elevation to a terrorist act of only certain religions and ideologies is harmful. And the people it harms the most are those who broadly share identifying traits with the elevated terrorists.
Our government is being deeply hypocritical when it urges bigots not to blame all Muslims for acts of terror committed by Muslims, but refuses to identify as acts of terror the same sort of crimes committed, for the same ugly reasons, by Christians. If the government doesn’t want all Muslims smeared as terrorists, then it needs to stop limiting to Muslims its elevation to terrorism of religiously-motivated mass murder
Here’s another example. This white guy isn’t a threat to anyone, according to law enforcement.
NY Daily News: Police find 8,300 rounds of ammo, assault rifle and body armor in home of Long Island man who impersonated Air Marshal.
He had a fake federal air marshal ID in one pocket, a Ruger .380-caliber pistol in the other and was driving around Long Island with ballistic body armor and a loaded AR-15 assault rifle. He also had an arsenal of weapons at his gated home.
But don’t worry folks, Mark Vicars wasn’t a threat to anyone, Nassau County officials insisted Friday.
The amount of firepower is comparable to what terror couple Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik had during the massacre they committed Wednesday in San Bernardino, Calif.
“At this time we don’t see any immediate threat to the public,” Nassau County Police Department spokesman Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun told reporters.
Seven illegal firearms, three high-capacity magazines and 8,300 rounds of ammunition were found in the 49-year-old’s SUV and Syosset home after an exhaustive search, police confirmed.
Yet cops don’t believe that Vicars was up to anything nefarious — except for masquerading as a federal agent.
“We don’t see any nexus to any terrorism at this time,” LeBrun said, adding that no anti-American literature or links to terrorism were found at his home.
This idiotic labeling situation must be remedied, and we need to pressure our elected representatives and the White House to get it done.
The Media Sucks
Anyway, the media clearly has forgotten about the people who were killed and injured by a fanatic in Colorado Springs, because they now have Muslim attackers and their families to examine in disgusting detail.
In their rush to get “scoops,” MSNBC forced their way (along with other reporters) into the apartment that was occupied by the two deceased shooters in the San Bernardino massacre and showed images of personal property and information belonging to family members on live TV.
Mashable: Journalists storm San Bernardino shooters’ apartment after landlord pries open door.
In a surreal scene, a swarm of local and national media entered the apartment where San Bernardino shooters Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik lived after the landlord tore off a piece of plywood that was blocking the door.
News outlets, including MSNBC, BBC, CBS News and CNN, broadcast live scenes as reporters toting cameras and microphones pushed through the open door and reported from inside the apartment in Redlands, California.
One MSNBC reporter was seen examining items left on the suspects’ desk, at one point picking up a child-rearing book. CNN journalists described seeing driver’s licenses, social security cards and shredded documents inside the residence. A group of photographers zeroed in on a pile of papers that were laid out on a bed.
What the hell?!
Another camera crew panned over a crib; the couple had a 6-month-old daughter. A CNN correspondent picked up prayer beads.
It appeared that members of the public were inside the apartment as well. One man lingered holding a large soda. A child was seen wandering throughout the home. Another opened the refrigerator and peered inside.
MSNBC even showed ID cards and family photographs on camera. According to the landlord, he didn’t invite the media in. “They rushed,” he said. Fortunately, the FBI later said they had cleared the apartment and it was no longer an active crime scene.
Slate’s Justin Peters says that good reporters should grab opportunities like this one, but still had some harsh words for MSNBC.
MSNBC Was Right to Enter the Shooters’ Apartment. They did what good reporters do: poke around.
During the walk through the apartment, which producers said was opened to the media by the couple’s landlord, a NBC News reporter held up photos of unidentified children, a bank document, and a driver’s license on live television.
As MSNBC’s Kerry Sanders walked through the apartment, where police had earlier recovered 12 pipe bombs and more than 1,400 rounds of ammunition, he expressed disbelief that the killers would have toys and stuffed animals for their young child.
The apartment was crowded by camera crews and other journalists all digging through the home. Sanders eventually found a pile of family photos, including what appeared to be passport photos of an unidentified woman, which he promptly suggested were the first images of Malik seen by the public.
“I’m going to guess these are the photographs of Malik. So this is the first – this may be – OK,” he said on air. “But we don’t know. We don’t know if that’s her.”
Andrea Mitchell encouraged Sanders to hold one photo up and get a “tight shot” of other pictures, including a portrait of a woman in traditional dress, as Sanders continued to guess where and for what occasion the photos were taken.
“Let’s make sure we don’t see the children, let’s not show the child,” a clearly uncomfortable Mitchell eventually interjected. “Let’s cut away from that.”
In a bedroom where credit cards and IDs were shown spread out on a bed, the camera quickly zoomed in on a California driver’s license. MSNBC did not appear to blur out a woman’s personal details as Sanders read the name on the driver’s license.
I think I’m going to be sick. MSNBC “apologized” after it was too late to protect innocent children and other family members who were not involved in the shooting. TPM:
After MSNBC treated viewers on Friday to a live look inside the San Bernardino shooters’ apartment, the network said they “regret” showing photos of children and identification cards during the live broadcast.
While the apartment was thick with camera crews and journalists all rifling through Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeem Malik’s Redlands, California home, MSNBC was the most heavily criticized for its broadcast. NBC News reporter Kerry Sanders showed close-up photos of children and held up a women’s driver’s license during the live shot.
Read the statement at TPM if you’re interested.
I’ll add some more links in the comment thread. What stories are you following today?