Lazy Caturday Reads

cats-on-strike-leah-saulnier-the-painting-maniac

Cats on Strike, by Leah Saulnier the painting maniac

Happy Caturday, Sky Dancers!!

As if we didn’t have enough bad news, we are now dealing with another global health emergency. Monkeypox is spreading rapidly around the world and here in the U.S. Cases have been reported in multiple states, including Massachusetts, Maine, New York, Washington, DC, Michigan, Florida, Texas, Illinois, and California. As of two days ago, there were already nearly 2,000 reported cases in the U.S.

Apoorva Mandavilli at The New York Times: W.H.O. Declares Monkeypox Spread a Global Health Emergency.

For the second time in two years, the World Health Organization has taken the extraordinary step of declaring a global emergency. This time the cause is monkeypox, which has spread in just a few weeks to dozens of countries and infected tens of thousands of people.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the W.H.O.’s director general, on Saturday overruled a panel of advisers, who could not come to a consensus, and declared a “public health emergency of international concern,” a designation the W.H.O. currently uses to describe only two other diseases, Covid-19 and polio.

“We have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly through new modes of transmission, about which we understand too little, and which meets the criteria” for a public health emergency, Dr. Tedros told reporters….

The W.H.O.’s declaration signals a public health risk requiring a coordinated international response. The designation can lead member countries to invest significant resources in controlling an outbreak, draw more funding to the response, and encourage nations to share vaccines, treatments and other key resources for containing the outbreak.

It is the seventh public health emergency since 2007; the Covid pandemic, of course, was the most recent. 

The article discusses the controversy over how W.H.O. decides when to declare a health emergency. Some experts already think the agency waited too long on monkeypox.

Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy: Largest monkeypox study to date highlights new symptoms.

Many of the people infected in an international monkeypox outbreak experienced a single lesion or sore in their mouth or on their genitals, a departure from typical symptoms of the virus that could lead to clinicians to misdiagnose monkeypox as another sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Coffee with Henry 4, by Kazui Whitemoon

Coffee with Henry #4, by Kazui Whitemoon

That’s one of the main takeaways from the New England Journal of Medicine‘s (NEJM‘s) new international study of the current outbreak, which is the largest case-study on the virus.

“This truly global case series has enabled doctors from 16 countries to share their extensive clinical experience and many clinical photographs to help other doctors in places with fewer cases. We have shown that the current international case definitions need to be expanded to add symptoms that are not currently included, such as sores in the mouth, on the anal mucosa and single ulcers,” said Chloe Orkin, PhD, of the Queen Mary University of London, in a university press release.

The study included clinical observations from 528 confirmed infections at 43 sites from Apr 27 to Jun 24 of this year. The median incubation period is 7 days in this outbreak, and the median age of a case-patient was 38. No deaths occurred, but 70 patients (13%) required hospitalization.

In the study, authors share many patients are presenting to clinics and hospitals for pain management or difficulty swallowing. Single anal sores have been recorded in several cases. One in 10 people had only a single skin lesion in the genital area, and 15% had anal and/or rectal pain, a symptom not typically seen in other monkeypox outbreaks.

A total of 98% of the cases documented were in gay or bisexual men, and while monkeypox is not an STI, per se, the authors said 95% of transmissions documented occurred during sexual relations. Seventy-five percent of case patients are white, and 41% are HIV-positive.

CNN: CDC reports the first two monkeypox cases in children in the US.

Two cases of monkeypox have been identified in children in the United States, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

The two cases are unrelated and probably the result of household transmission, the CDC said.

One case is a toddler who is a resident of California. The other is an infant who is not a US resident. Public health officials are investigating how the children were infected.

Both have symptoms but are in good health and receiving treatment with an antiviral medication named tecovirimat or TPOXX, which the CDC recommends for children under the age of 8 because they are considered to be at higher risk from infection.

Vicky Mount

Painting by Vicky Mount

Since the monkeypox outbreak began in May, most of the cases have happened among men who have sex with men. However, anyone can catch the virus through close skin-to-skin contact. In the case of children, the agency said this could include “holding, cuddling, feeding, as well as through shared items such as towels, bedding, cups, and utensils.”

The CDC says the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine is being made available for children through special expanded use protocols. The agency has also developed new guidance for health care providers about identifying, treating and preventing monkeypox in children and teens.

Dr. Jennifer McQuiston, deputy director of the CDC’s Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology, said Friday that the cases in children were not surprising and that the US should be ready to respond to more.

Politico: Biden administration considering a public health emergency for monkeypox as cases swell.

U.S. health officials are discussing whether to declare a public health emergency for the monkeypox outbreak as they work to make treatments and vaccines available to more people.

The discussions come as the virus — which is endemic in West and Central Africa but unusual in the United States — continues to spread across the country. As of Thursday, there were 2,593 cases reported, up from 1,470 last week. The federal government announced Friday it has shipped over 300,000 doses of the vaccine to states and cities to control the outbreak.

“We’re looking at … what are the ways the response could be enhanced, if any, by declaring a public health emergency,” White House Covid response coordinator Ashish Jha told reporters during a briefing Friday.

Officials at the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are also working to make tecovirimat, the only treatment available for monkeypox (though only FDA–approved for smallpox), easier for physicians to prescribe to patients. A more streamlined process to get the antiviral is expected to be announced to providers next week.

The White House will also use a new research agenda, which was announced Thursday and consists of $140 million in ongoing projects, to study stretching limited monkeypox vaccine doses, find new testing methods and expand treatment options, three White House officials told POLITICO.

Lunch with cats, Pierre Bonnard, 1906

Lunch with cats, Pierre Bonnard, 1906

We haven’t talked much about the war in Ukraine lately, but it has caused a global food crisis. Yesterday Russian supposedly agreed to stop blocking shipments of grain, but the Ukraine and U.S. governments are skeptical that Russia will follow through. 

BBC News: Food crisis: Ukraine war: Deal signed to allow grain exports to resume by sea.

Ukraine and Russia have signed “mirror” deals which will allow Kyiv to resume exports of grain through the Black Sea.

The agreement will allow millions of tonnes of grain, currently trapped in Ukraine by the war, to be exported.

The world shortage of Ukrainian grain since Russia’s 24 February invasion has left millions at risk of hunger.

However, Kyiv refused to sign a direct deal with Moscow, and warned “provocations” would be met with “an immediate military response”.

Both sides attended the signing ceremony in Istanbul but did not sit at the same table. Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu signed Moscow’s deal first, followed by Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov signing Kyiv’s identical agreement.

The deal – which took two months to reach – is set to last for 120 days, with a co-ordination and monitoring centre to be established in Istanbul, staffed by UN, Turkish, Russian and Ukrainian officials. It can be renewed if both parties agree.

The blockade of Ukraine’s grain has caused a global food crisis with wheat-based products like bread and pasta becoming more expensive, and cooking oils and fertiliser also increasing in price.

In January 6 news, CNN’s Whitney Wild and Jeremy Herb broke a story yesterday on those missing Secret Service text messages: First on CNN: Secret Service identified potential missing text messages on phones of 10 individuals.

Secret Service investigators were scrutinizing the phones of 10 Secret Service personnel that contained metadata showing text messages were sent and received around January 6, 2021, but were not retained, two sources told CNN.

grandma-and-10-cats-in-the-bedroom, Linda Benton

Grandma and 10 cats in the bedroom, by Linda Benton

The scrutiny came after the Department of Homeland Security inspector general asked for the text records last year of 24 individuals at the Secret Service who were involved in January 6, but only one text had been produced. After the issue spilled into public view this month, the inspector general launched a criminal investigation into the matter, and lawmakers demanded answers from the Secret Service to go back and find out what happened to the texts that may have been deleted.

But the Secret Service’s internal investigation ground to a halt after a July 20 letter from the DHS inspector general informed the agency there was an ongoing criminal investigation, directing the Secret Service to stop its own probe.

Investigators had been working to determine whether the content of the text messages sent by the 10 personnel contained relevant information that should have been preserved, the sources said. Among the 24 Secret Service personnel under scrutiny, 10 other Secret Service personnel had no text messages, and three had only personal records, according to the sources.

The details of scrutiny of messages from 10 Secret Service personnel caps an extraordinary week of turmoil for the agency, which started with the inspector general

demanding answers about potential missing texts and led to a congressional subpoena and a criminal investigation into the matter.

There has to be a way to recover those text messages. I’m sure The Washington Post’s Carol Leonnig, author of a book on the Secret Service, is working her sources to find out more.

Dakinikat covered the final January 6 Committee hearing yesterday, but here are some more follow-up articles:

NPR: The Jan. 6 committee isn’t done. Expect more hearings, revelations and reports.

The House Select January 6th committee made clear they are going to resume hearings in September.

Republican Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., opened the final summer hearing by noting the progress the committee has made, but she added that there’s now new evidence and more witnesses to consider.

“Doors have opened, new subpoenas have been issued, and the dam has begun to break,” Cheney said.

Already, in the buildup to Thursday’s presentation, select committee aides had hinted future hearings could be on tap.

Kim Haskins, psychedelic cat

Kim Haskins, psychedelic cat

And Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., told reporters recently that the committee could issue an initial report in September, followed by a final report later this year. The findings would be accompanied by hearings, he said.

“We’re just getting a significant amount of information,” Thompson said. And the new evidence “pushes the timetable out.” [….]

Cheney also noted in this week’s hearing that the panel will now return to its investigative mode for the next several weeks.

“Our committee will spend August pursuing emerging information on multiple fronts, before convening further hearings this September,” Cheney said….

With plans to issue their findings in the form of reports and more hearings, the committee is racing to address new evidence along the way.

For example, the panel is now looking into allegations that the Secret Service deleted text messages during a two-day period surrounding the Jan. 6 attack. Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Cuffari has claimed the messages were erased after a request by his office, while the Secret Service has denied these allegations, saying the deletions were part of a system migration.

The Hill: Jan. 6 panel shows few signs of slowing down despite midterm risks.

The select committee’s prime-time hearing on Thursday was widely expected to mark the end of a crucial phase in the panel’s probe of last year’s riot, capping six weeks of publicly aired testimony — almost all of it from Republicans — aimed at pinning culpability for the rampage squarely onto Trump’s shoulders.

But every new revelation seems to turn up as many questions as answers, and the panel has altered its schedule to accommodate what it calls a wave of new information in need of perusal. The arrival of new witnesses has been accompanied by successful committee efforts to fight stonewalling in the form of executive privilege claims, and the panel has recently issued new subpoenas for even more evidence.

“The dam has begun to break,” Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), vice chair of the select committee, said Thursday night. “We have far more evidence to share with the American people — and more to gather.”

The Owl and the Pussycat, 2009 by P J Crook

The Owl and the Pussycat, 2009 by P J Crook

With that in mind, the committee said it intends to use Congress’s long August recess to wade through the influx of new information, with designs to hold more hearings on its findings in September when lawmakers return to Washington. How many they’ll stage remains unclear, but the investigators are leaving themselves the flexibility to determine that schedule on the fly.

“We are pursuing many additional witnesses for testimony,” said Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who participated in Thursday’s hearing remotely after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week. “We will reconvene in September to continue laying out our findings.” [….]

“We’re not done. The information continues to come in. The evidence is continuing to flow in,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) told CNN heading into Thursday’s hearing. “So this is … not the end of the story.”

More interesting January 6 stories to check out, links only:

Vicky Ward on her blog yesterday: What Trump World Really Thinks About Last Night’s Jan. 6 Hearing.

Alan Feuer and Michael Schmidt at The New York Times: The Jan. 6 Panel After 8 Hearings: Where Will the Evidence Lead?

Ruth Marcus at The Washington Post: Now we know the truth on what Trump sought to obscure about Jan. 6.

David Siders at Politico: ‘His life was threatened.’ But Pence isn’t talking about it.

Isaac Stanley Becker and Josh Dawsey at The Washington Post: Hearings test Trump’s clout and GOP’s wish to ‘forget about Jan. 6’

Michelle Goldberg at The New York Times: The Myth of the Good Trump Official.

That’s it for me today. I hope you’re all having a terrific weekend!


Tuesday Reads: January 6 Committee Hearing #7

Capitol Breach Subpoenas

Good Morning!!

The January 6 Committee will hold a hearing today beginning at 1PM. There won’t be a hearing on Thursday night, but at least one is planned for next week. As Dakinikat wrote yesterday, the hearing is expected to focus on ties between Trump and militia groups the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, and how Trump used tweets to communicate with them and urge his followers to converge on Washington DC to interfere with the certification of electoral votes on January 6, 2021.

Nicholas Wu and Kyle Cheney at Politico: Jan. 6 panel zeroes in on Trump’s ‘clarion call’ to extremists.

The Jan. 6 select committee plans to make its most complex case yet at its public hearing Tuesday: that Donald Trump’s words and actions influenced extremists and brought them to the steps of the Capitol.

“Be there. Will be wild,” Trump tweeted on Dec. 19, 2020, barely two weeks before a mob seeded with members of the far-right Proud Boys and Oath Keepers besieged the Capitol and threatened the transfer of power to Joe Biden. That tweet will be the focal point of the Jan. 6 panel’s seventh public hearing, as House investigators aim to show that the former president’s most extreme supporters were intently listening — and quickly began preparing for potential violence in support of Trump’s goal to stay in power.

ErIIDkbWMAEYESHThe tweet was a “clarion call” to the groups, said Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), who is leading Tuesday’s hearing along with Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.).

Tuesday’s hearing will require investigators to delve into the sordid world of internet extremism and specifically lay out how Trump’s words rippled through its corners.

Former Oath Keepers spokesperson Jason Van Tatenhove is expected to be one of the witnesses Tuesday afternoon, according to a person familiar with the situation. Van Tatenhove has described himself as a former “propagandist” for the Oath Keepers, and left the group several years ago, he told local television station KDVR. The select panel has cited concerns about harassment and security of the witnesses, mostly declining to name them before the hearings begin.

A bit more detail:

The panel intends to highlight how adherents to the antisemitic, fringe conspiracy theories of QAnon latched onto Trump’s stolen-election claims, as well as how the extremist Proud Boys and Oath Keepers used Trump’s crusade to fundraise for a violent effort to keep Biden from office. Committee members will also get into how the White House pushed forward with plans for a march on the Capitol — one witnesses say Trump desperately tried to join — even as warnings about the likelihood of brutality grew.

Jason Van Tatenhove

Jason Van Tatenhove, former spokesperson for the Oathkeepers

The role of social media platforms in extremists’ mobilization will also play a role in Tuesday’s hearing, Murphy said. The select panel subpoenaed companies like Alphabet, the parent company of Google; Meta, Facebook’s parent company; and Twitter earlier this year for records related to the attack. The committee has scrutinized the companies’ roles in spreading misinformation and providing breeding grounds for extremism….

Committee aides previewing the hearing said it would also touch on members of Congress who helped fan the flames of the false election fraud claims and how that effort helped drive forward the pressure campaign against then-Vice President Mike Pence, who presided over the Jan. 6 session of Congress to count electoral votes.

Another preview of the hearing from Scott Wong at NBC News: Ties between Trump allies and extremist groups to be focus of Jan. 6 panel hearing.

The Jan. 6 committee on Tuesday plans to demonstrate how right-wing militia groups that led the assault on the U.S. Capitol were connected to key Trump allies, including Roger Stone and Michael Flynn, who were at the center of the plot to overturn the 2020 election.

“We’ll show how some of these right-wing extremist groups who came to D.C. and led the attack on the Capitol had ties to Trump associates, including Roger Stone and General Flynn,” a committee aide said Monday on a conference call with reporters.

“And we know that both members of the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys have been charged with seditious conspiracy by the DOJ in relation to their actions on Jan. 6.” [….]

In linking the domestic extremist groups and the Trump inner circle that was aggressively working to overturn Joe Biden’s election victory, the committee is making the case that actions by President Donald Trump and his allies resulted in the violence at the Capitol, which claimed the lives of both police officers and Trump supporters.

Aides said the hearing will also reveal ties between some Trump associates and the QAnon movement, which subscribes to a set of bizarre, sometimes antisemitic conspiracy theories in which Trump is viewed as a savior fighting the evil forces of the deep state.

ABC News Reports another expected witness: Accused Jan. 6 rioter who warned of possible ‘civil war’ expected to testify to House committee Tuesday.

An Ohio man who accused Joe Biden, other Democrats, and the mainstream media of “treason” is set to testify in a public hearing Tuesday before the House committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol last year, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The hearing is expected to focus on the rise of radical extremism in the United States, and the source said one of the key witnesses will be Stephen Ayres of Warren, Ohio, who recently admitted to illegally entering the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021….

In court documents filed last month, Ayres acknowledged that the day before the riot, he drove to Washington, D.C., to protest Congress’ certification of the 2020 presidential election results.

Stephen-Michael-Ayres-J6-blue-background

Stephen Michael Ayres

On Facebook, Ayres had spotlighted then-President Donald Trump’s call for supporters to descend on Washington on Jan. 6, which Trump said will “be wild” in a Tweet he posted on Dec. 19, 2020….

Two days before he left for the nation’s capital, Ayres posted a message on Facebook saying, “Mainstream media, social media, Democrat party, FISA courts, Chief Justice John Roberts, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, etc….all have committed TREASON against a sitting U.S. president!!! All are now put on notice by ‘We The People!'”

In the week before that, Ayres said in social media posts that it was “time for us to start standing up to tyranny!” and he warned that “If the [deep state] robs president Trump!!! Civil War will ensue!” according to the FBI.

Ayres joined the mob outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, then entered the building that afternoon, court documents say.

The Committee is also expected to show clips of testimony from Pat Cipillone, Trump’s White House Counsel. NBC News: Cipollone corroborated virtually everything from Hutchinson, Jan. 6 panel member says.

Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone corroborated virtually all of the revelations from previous witnesses, including former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, in lengthy testimony before the panel last week, a top Jan. 6 committee member told NBC News.

“Cipollone has corroborated almost everything that we’ve learned from the prior hearings,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., said in an exclusive interview just hours before the next hearing. “I certainly did not hear him contradict Cassidy Hutchinson. … He had the opportunity to say whatever he wanted to say, so I didn’t see any contradiction there.”

It was unclear if Cipollone was directly asked by investigators about the specifics of some of the more explosive aspects of Hutchinson’s testimony — including that they would be charged with “every crime imaginable” if Trump went to the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Raskin added this additional preview of the hearing:

Raskin said the hearing will include new details about what committee members have been told was “the craziest meeting in the Trump presidency,” on Dec. 18, 2020, describing it as “hot-blooded, contentious, deranged” when the president met with outside and internal legal advisers for a “Hail Mary desperation ploy” to subvert an election they had lost, including possibly seizing state election machines and appointing Trump ally Sidney Powell as a special counsel.

More January 6 Committee news from CNN’s Jamie Gangel: Exclusive: Former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne to meet with January 6 investigators.

Former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne, an ally of former President Donald Trump, is expected to meet Friday with the House select committee investigating January 6, 2021, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

Patrick Byrne

Patrick Byrne

There have been no ground rules or topics defined, according to one of the sources. The meeting will be behind closed doors….

Byrne played an active role supporting efforts to question and push baseless claims about the 2020 election, including attending a meeting in mid-December at the White House to discuss strategies to overturn the election. That meeting with Trump also included former national security adviser Michael Flynn and his lawyer Sidney Powell, as well as some White House staff. It focused on ideas to block Joe Biden’s certification as president and discussed the prospect of seizing voting machines. White House officials in the meeting pushed back at the ideas in heated exchanges, CNN previously reported.

CNN reported earlier Monday that former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone had been asked about the December 18, 2020, meeting in his interview with the committee last week….

Two sources familiar with Cipollone’s testimony told CNN that he was asked extensively about his role in that meeting where Trump welcomed the group of extreme election deniers to the West Wing and what was discussed. One source familiar with Cipollone’s testimony told CNN that he described to the committee his view of how insane the meeting was.

The session, which, according to two people familiar with the matter, began as an impromptu gathering, devolved and eventually broke out into screaming matches at certain points as some of Trump’s aides pushed back on Powell and Flynn’s more outrageous suggestions about overturning the election.

The day after this meeting, Gangel notes, Trump sent his infamous “will be wild” tweet.

Finally, The New York Times’ Luke Broadwater has a profile of Rep. Jamie Raskin: Raskin Brings Expertise on Right-Wing Extremism to Jan. 6 Inquiry.

When Representative Jamie Raskin enters a Capitol Hill hearing room on Tuesday to lay out what the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack has uncovered about the role of domestic extremists in the riot, it will be his latest — and potentially most important — step in a five-year effort to crush a dangerous movement.

Long before the Jan. 6, 2021, assault, Mr. Raskin, Democrat of Maryland, had thrown himself into stamping out the rise of white nationalism and domestic extremism in America. He trained his focus on the issue after the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., five years ago. Since then, he has held teach-ins, led a multipart House investigation that exposed the lackluster federal effort to confront the threat, released intelligence assessments indicating that white supremacists have infiltrated law enforcement and strategized about ways to crack down on paramilitary groups.

Now, with millions of Americans expected to tune in, Mr. Raskin — along with Representative Stephanie Murphy, Democrat of Florida — is set to take a leading role in a hearing that promises to dig deeply into how far-right groups helped to orchestrate and carry out the Jan. 6 assault at the Capitol — and how they were brought together, incited and empowered by President Donald J. Trump.

“Charlottesville was a rude awakening for the country,” Mr. Raskin, 59, said in an interview, rattling off a list of deadly hate crimes that had taken place in the years before the siege on the Capitol. “There is a real pattern of young, white men getting hyped up on racist provocation and incitement.”

Tuesday’s session, set for 1 p.m., is expected to document how, after Mr. Trump’s many efforts to overturn the 2020 election had failed, he and his allies turned to violent far-right extremist groups whose support Mr. Trump had long cultivated, who in turn began assembling a mob to pressure Congress to reject the will of the voters.

Read the rest at the NYT.

Have a great Tuesday everyone! If you’re watching the hearings, I hope you’ll share your reactions with us.


Tuesday Reads: Jan. 6 Committee Surprise Hearing

Good Morning!!

Yesterday, after the January 6 Committee announced a surprise hearing for today at 1PM, I was glued to Twitter trying to get clues to what could be coming. By late last night, news had leaked that the surprise witness is Cassidy Hutchinson, a top aide to Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows. Dakinikat stayed up later than I did, and she texted me a more detailed account of what the committee may be planning to reveal by Hugo Lowell of The Guardian (more below).

Background info on Hutchinson from The Washington Post: Who is Cassidy Hutchinson?

Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, has become one of the most useful witnesses for the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob determined to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s win.

cassidy-hutchinson_hpMain_20220628-012908_16x9_1600

Cassidy Hutchinson

She has spoken to investigators on the committee multiple times behind closed doors. In the absence of testimony from Meadows himself — he refused to appear, and the committee held him in contempt — Hutchinson seems to be key to understanding the scope of his actions….

Hutchinson was by Meadows’s side leading up to and during the Capitol attack and has told the committee of strategy sessions held between the White House and President Donald Trump’s allies in Congress about whether they should encourage “Stop the Steal” participants to march to the Capitol, and how to set up alternative slates of electors.

The Washington Post reported that she confirmed to the committee that at one point Meadows said Trump had indicated support for protesters who were shouting, “Hang Mike Pence!”

Videotaped testimony from Hutchinson was also central to allegations of pardon-hunting by Republican House members. The allegations were aired by the committee at Thursday’s hearing.

Hutchinson testified that she was involved with conversations about requests from Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and Scott Perry (R-Pa.), all of whom she said had sought a promise from the White House to be cleared in advance of any crimes they might be charged with. Perry had previously denied seeking a pardon, but Hutchinson insisted in her deposition that he had spoken to her directly about it….

According to a court filing in April, Hutchinson told congressional investigators that Meadows was warned before Jan. 6 about the threat of violence that day as supporters of Trump planned to mass at the U.S. Capitol.

Hutchinson recalled that Anthony Ornato, a senior Secret Service official who also held the role of a political adviser at the White House, “coming in and saying that we had intel reports saying that there could potentially be violence on the 6th. And Mr. Meadows said: All right. Let’s talk about it.”

Hutchinson added, “I’m not sure if he — what he did with that information internally.”

Read more about her at the WaPo. We don’t know what further information Hutchinson plans to share with the committee, but the reason they want her to testify ASAP is because she has faced threats and perhaps could be subject to witness tampering.

Dakinikat sent me this article late last night:

From the Guardian:

The House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack is closely focused on phone calls and conversations among Donald Trump’s children and top aides captured by a documentary film-maker weeks before the 2020 election, say sources familiar with the matter.

The calls among Trump’s children and top aides took place at an invitation-only event at the Trump International hotel in Washington that took place the night of the first presidential debate on 29 September 2020, the sources said.

The select committee is interested in the calls, the sources said, since the footage is understood to show the former president’s children, including Donald Jr and Eric Trump, privately discussing strategies about the election at a crucial time in the presidential campaign.

House investigators first learned about the event, hosted by the Trump campaign, and the existence of the footage through British film-maker Alex Holder, who testified about what he and his crew recorded during a two-hour interview last week, the sources said….

The select committee is closely focused on the footage of the event – in addition to the content of the one-on-one interviews with Trump and Ivanka – because the discussions about strategies mirror similar conversations at that time by top Trump advisors.

On the night of the first presidential debate, Trump’s top former strategist Steve Bannon said in an interview with The Circus on Showtime that the outcome of the election would be decided at the state level and eventually at the congressional certification on January 6.

“They’re going to try and overturn this election with uncertified votes,” Bannon said. Asked how he expects the election to end, Bannon said: “Right before noon on the 20th, in a vote in the House, Trump will win the presidency.”

The select committee believes that ideas such as Bannon’s were communicated to advisers to Donald Jr and his fiancee, Kimberly Guilfoyle, even before the 2020 election had taken place, the sources said – leading House investigators to want to review the Trump hotel footage.

What appears to interest the panel is whether Trump and his children had planned to somehow stop the certification of the election on January 6 – a potential violation of federal law – and to force a contingent election if Trump lost as early as September.

Before the news about the surprise committee hearing broke yesterday, the big story was that John Eastman’s phone was seized by federal agents on the same day that federal agents searched Jeffrey Clark’s home last week. 

John Eastman, the attorney who developed Donald Trump’s last-ditch strategy to seize a second term, said in court Monday that he had his phone seized by federal agents last week.

In a court filing in federal court in New Mexico, Eastman indicated he was confronted by agentswhen leaving a restaurant. He’s moving for a judge to order his phone returned.

“The federal agents identified themselves as FBI agents, but they appeared to be executing a warrant issued at the behest of the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General,” Eastman’s lawyer, Charles Burnham, wrote in the 13-page filing.

Eastman accompanied the filing with a copy of the search warrant, authorized by a federal magistrate judge in Albuquerque.

jeffrey-clark-january-6-donald-trump-fbi

Jeffrey Clark

A legal adviser to Trump’s campaign, Eastman has been a central figure in the Capitol riot committee’s case that the former president attempted to block the peaceful transfer of power on Jan. 6, 2021. A federal judge in California has previously ruled that Eastman and Trump “likely” entered a criminal conspiracy to obstruct the counting of electoral votes on Jan. 6.

The search of Eastman’s phone appears to have come amid a flurry of activity by federal prosecutors probing the Jan. 6 attack and efforts by Trump allies to authorize false slates of electors as part of a plan to overturn the 2020 election.

Last week, subpoenas were served on a slew of those false electors, including at least three state Republican Party chairs. Investigators also searched the Lorton, Va., home of former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, another critical player in Trump’s efforts.

As a number of legal experts have pointed out, in order to get a search warrant for Eastman’s phone, the government would have to convince a judge that there is probable cause to believe the device contains evidence of a crime. Since the search was initiated by the DOJ Inspector General, the information likely relates to the case against Jeffrey Clark, a former DOJ employee.

I’m going to end there for now. I will post any further news I find in the comment thread. We’ll soon know what the committee believes is so important they are holding an unscheduled meeting three days before the Fourth of July break.


Thursday Reads

Timothy Horn, Leaving Kansas

Timothy Horn, Leaving Kansas

Good Morning!!

The 5th January 6 hearing will be held today at 3PM. The planned 6th hearing has now been postponed until after the July 4th break, and there will be at least 2 more hearings in July. Today the committee will focus on Trump’s attempts to get the Department of Justice to help him overturn the 2020 election results. Republican Adam Kinzinger will take the lead today.

NPR: Who you’ll hear from and what to expect in today’s Jan. 6 House committee hearing.

Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue are among Thursday’s witnesses. Both refused to give in to Trump’s efforts to get the DOJ to advance his fraudulent claims of voter fraud and overturn the election.

When former Attorney General Bill Barr announced his resignation in December 2020, Trump badgered Rosen and Donoghue in at least nine calls and meetings, according to a report by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen,” Trump told the two men, according to their testimony.

Also to appear in Thursday’s hearing is Steven Engel, who headed DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel. Engel was one of the officials who told the former president he would have no choice but to quit if Trump replaced the acting attorney general with environmental lawyer Jeffrey Bossert Clark. Clark was reportedly more willing to go along with Trump’s fraudulent claims of a stolen election.

Several other DOJ lawyers, including Donoghue, also threatened to quit if Clark was appointed.

“The President said ‘Suppose I do this. Suppose I replace him, Jeff Rosen, with him, Jeff Clark. What do you do?’ And I said ‘Sir, I would resign immediately. There is no way I’m serving one minute under this guy, Jeff Clark,'” Donoghue said in a piece of video testimony played at Tuesday’s hearing.

Clark appeared before the House committee in February for a deposition, but pled the Fifth dozens of times.

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Timothy Horn

More from CNN: What to watch for in Thursday’s January 6 committee hearing.

Three top officials who led the Justice Department in the final days of the Trump administration will testify at Thursday’s hearing at 3pm ET about how the then-President and his allies sought to enlist the department to give their baseless fraud allegations credibility and how Trump considered replacing the acting attorney general with an official who bought into his claims of fraud, according to committee aides.

Aides said that the hearing would also scrutinize discussions inside the White House about the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Trump’s claims of voter fraud, which came up at a heated December 2020 Oval Office meeting with Sidney Powell and Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

But the main focus of the hearing will be Jeffrey Clark:

Committee aides said the hearing would focus on the role that Clark played inside the Justice Department pushing Trump’s false claims of fraud. Clark planned to “reverse the department’s investigative conclusions regarding election fraud,” according to committee aides, and wanted to send out letters to states suggesting there had been fraud.

His push was swiftly rejected by Rosen and Donoghue, which led to the Oval Office showdown where Trump considered putting Clark in charge of the department.

While serving as the acting head of civil cases at the Justice Department at the end of the Trump presidency, Clark floated plans to give Georgia’s legislature and other states backing to undermine the popular vote results. He gave credence to unfounded conspiracy theories of voter fraud, according to documents from the Justice Department, and communicated with Trump about becoming the attorney general, a Senate investigation found this month.

The extent of Clark’s talks with Trump in the days before January 6 aren’t yet publicly known.

Ryan J. Reilly at NBC News: Who is Jeffrey Clark? Jan. 6 panel seeks to make Trump’s man at DOJ famous.

Clark took a pretty standard path for a conservative lawyer: Harvard University, Georgetown Law, clerk for Ronald Reagan-appointed federal appeals Judge Danny Julian Boggs and a partnership at the law firm Kirkland & Ellis, with a stint in the Justice Department’s environmental division during George W. Bush’s administration. His unusually long Justice Department biography even included, for some reason, details about his elementary school….

Timothy Horn, Blue Bug

Timothy Horn, Blue Bug (shadow selfie)

After the 2020 election, according to his fellow Republican-appointed colleagues at the Justice Department, Clark began to elicit concerns.

“What’s going on with Jeff Clark?” Trump-appointed acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen recalled in an interview with the Senate Judiciary Committee. He added that Clark brought up “internet theories” about voting machines’ being hacked via smart thermostats. “This is inconsistent with how I perceived him in the past.”

Rosen started realizing something was “off-kilter,” that “something odd was going on with Jeff Clark,” when it was learned that he had, in violation of a Justice Department rule banning contact between Justice Department officials and the White House except through proper channels, met with Trump.

“It’s even more evident in hindsight, but at the time, I did think, ‘He’s meeting with the president and now he wants to be briefed by the DNI on thermostats?’ plus the title change. Just what is going on here with Jeff Clark?” [….]

Clark is still on the Trump train and is still a conspiracy theorist.

Previous testimony indicates Clark was a true believer who was convinced the election had been stolen. To his colleagues at the Justice Department, according to the testimony, he was the butt of the joke, a guy who — in spite of his education — lacked the ability to discern fact from fiction on the World Wide Web….

Clark has continued to be a presence in MAGA world. He has an account with a few hundred followers on Truth Social, Trump’s social media platform, where his Trump-mimicking handle is @RealJeffClark.

He has said the Jan. 6 committee is “power drunk and unconstitutional,” and he has shared stories from the conspiracy website Gateway Pundit, including a story about the debunked propaganda movie “2000 Mules.” He has written for the conspiracy website Revolver News about what he described as efforts to “Kill All the Trump Lawyers — By Canceling Them.” He’s making appearances on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast. And he’s trying to raise money, telling would-be donors that he has “been targeted for cancellation by the hyper-partisan January 6 Committee, the ‘mainstream’ media, and a collection of leftist law professors and supposed ‘Republicans’ who are conveniently never-Trumpers.”

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Timothy Horn

The hearing should be interesting. According to Luke Broadwater of The New York Times,

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol plans to unveil new evidence on Thursday about how President Donald J. Trump tried to manipulate the Justice Department to help him cling to power after he lost the 2020 election, aides said on Wednesday….

The story of how Mr. Trump attempted to intervene in the workings of the Justice Department to keep himself in office has been well documented by both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Jan. 6 committee, but aides to the House inquiry said Thursday’s hearing will contain new revelations.

Meanwhile, the current DOJ has stepped up its investigation of Trump’s efforts to get state legislatures to submit “alternate” slates of electors from swing states that Biden won.

The Washington Post: Jan. 6 probe expands with fresh subpoenas in multiple states.

Federal agents investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol on Wednesdaydropped subpoenas on people in multiple locations, widening the probe of how political activists supporting President Donald Trump tried to use invalid electors to thwart Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral victory.

Agents conducted court-authorized law enforcement activity Wednesday morning at different locations, FBI officials confirmed to The Washington Post. One was the home of Brad Carver, a Georgia lawyer who allegedly signed a document claiming to be a Trump elector. The other was the Virginia home of Thomas Lane, who worked on the Trump campaign’s efforts in Arizona and New Mexico. The FBI officials did not identify the people associated with those addresses, but public records list each of the locations as the home addresses of the men.

Among those who received a subpoena Wednesday was David Shafer, the chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, who served as a Trump elector in that state, people familiar with the investigation said. Shafer’s lawyer declined to comment.

Separately, at least some of the would-be Trump electors in Michigan received subpoenas, according to a person who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. But it was not immediately clear whether that activity was related to a federal probe or a state-level criminal inquiry.

Timothy Horn

Timothy Horn

The precise nature of the information being sought by the Justice Department at the homes of Carver and Lane was not immediately clear.

Officials have previously said that the Justice Department and the FBI were examining the issue of false electors, whom Trump and others hoped might be approved by state legislators in a last-ditch bid to keep Trump in the White House. Until now, however, those investigative efforts seemed to primarily involve talking to people in Republican circles who knew of the scheme and objected; the subpoenas issued Wednesday suggest the Justice Department is now moving to question at least some of those who allegedly agreed to pursue the effort.

Later yesterday, 8NewsNow in Las Vegas reported that the FBI searched the home of the Chairman of the Nevada GOP and took his phone: I-Team sources: FBI seizes Nevada GOP chairman’s phone as part of fake elector investigation.

FBI agents served a search warrant Wednesday on Nevada’s top GOP official, sources told the 8 News Now I-Team’s George Knapp.

Agents seized the cell phone of state Republican chairman Michael McDonald, reportedly as part of an investigation into the fake elector scheme initiated at the end of the 2020 presidential election.

A second search warrant was issued for state party secretary James DeGraffenreid, who also signed the document, but FBI agents could not locate him Wednesday, sources told Knapp.

In December 2020, the 8 News Now I-Team reported the Nevada Republican Party’s six electors signed paperwork signaling their support for former President Donald Trump in a symbolic ceremony devoid of any legal merit, which was held in Carson City and coincided with the official state-sanctioned tally on Dec. 14, 2020….

The certificate received by the National Archives looks much different than the official state-sealed one and reads, “We, the undersigned, being the duly elected and qualified electors for president and vice president of the United States of America from the State of Nevada, do hereby certify six electoral votes for Trump.”

In a statement after the event, Nevada GOP chair Michael McDonald said the party’s electors convened in Carson City due to ongoing legal battles seeking to overturn the election results. Nevada Republicans lost all court cases involving allegations of voter fraud.

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Timothy Horn

CNN: DOJ subpoenas Georgia Republican Party chairman as it expands Trump fake elector probe.

Federal investigators subpoenaed the Georgia Republican Party chairman for information related to the fake elector scheme there — as the Justice Department has issued a fresh round of subpoenas to people from several states who acted as rogue electors after the 2020 presidential election, multiple sources familiar with the situation told CNN.

The subpoena for the chairman, David Shafer, represents a significant step because he played a central role in organizing the fake slate of electors from Georgia and coordinated the effort with the Trump campaign.

The focus on Shafer also comes as sources tell CNN the Justice Department subpoenaed Trump electors this week in Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania — all states that former President Donald Trump lost.

The Justice Department has been scrutinizing the Trump campaign’s use of so-called alternate electors. The new round of subpoenas represents an escalation of a criminal probe that, before now, had approached lower-level Republicans. All along, however, federal investigators have pursued information about political figures higher up, including at the top of the Trump campaign.

In the weeks after the 2020 election and leading up to January 6, 2021, Trump’s allies sent fake slates of electors to the National Archives declaring that the then-President had won seven states that he actually lost. The bid failed, and then-Vice President Mike Pence certified Joe Biden’s electoral win on January 6 after rioters had been cleared from the US Capitol.

Related stories to check out, links only:

The Washington Post: Sen. Ron Johnson under fire over fake-electors disclosure at hearing.

William Saletan at The Bulwark: John Eastman’s Phony “Plenary Authority” Theory.

CBS News: CBS News obtains images from documentary film footage given to Jan. 6 panel.

CNN: What Americans are saying about the Jan. 6 hearings.

The Washington Post: As Jan. 6 committee targets Trump, his consternation at McCarthy grows.

The New York Times: A Year Later, Some Republicans Second-Guess Boycotting the Jan. 6 Panel.

Have a nice Thursday, and if you watch the hearing this afternoon, please share your reactions with us.


Lazy Caturday Reads

Good Morning!!

spoon-feeding-cat4Today’s art work is from the European Renaissance period, around the 15th and 16th centuries, when people apparently liked to treat their pet cats like babies–spoon-feeding them and sometimes even swaddling them. Unfortunately I couldn’t find the artists’ names.

In honor of Caturday and to give you a brief respite from the insane news of the day, here’s an article about Willow, the White House cat. Kate Bennett at CNN: As presidential cat, Willow Biden has privileges.

In the dog days of summer, Willow the cat rules the roost.

On Friday, Willow’s crate was spotted being carried by a staff member from the White House residence to Marine One, the presidential helicopter that will ferry the feline – along with President Joe Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden – to Rehoboth, Delaware, and the family’s beach house…

“Willow often spends the weekends with the First Family, including in Rehoboth, Wilmington, and Camp David,” the first lady’s press secretary Michael LaRosa told CNN.

When she is not being whisked away for the weekend, Willow has privileges to roam the White House. She is predominantly restricted to the White House executive residence’s private second and third floors, where CNN is told Willow particularly enjoys the solarium, a bright space above the South Portico, where she “receives lots of attention from the Executive Residence staff.” In Wilmington and at Camp David, “she often sits on the porch in the sun,” says LaRosa.

Back home, Willow also likes to visit working staff in the East Wing, taking leisurely naps on the desk of the press secretary, chasing her toys in and out of offices and generally being open to scratches. Once or twice, Willow has explored beyond her domain, making it as far as the chief usher’s office on the main floor, just next to the North entrance.

The East Wing staff has made a sign to alert when Willow is out and about, which features of photo of her face and reads: “Willow is on the prowl! Please keep these doors closed.”

I didn’t know the story of how Willow came to be adopted by Jill Biden until I read this story. They met when Jill gave a speech in rural Pennsylvania, where Willow lived in a barn.

“Willow made quite an impression on Dr. Biden in 2020 when she jumped up on the stage and interrupted her remarks,” LaRosa said several months ago. “Seeing their immediate bond, the owner of the farm knew that Willow belonged with Dr. Biden.”

She named her Willow after her hometown of Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. Though it wouldn’t be until January that Willow actually moved into her digs at the White House, she enjoyed staying with Biden acquaintances in Washington, DC, until the timing was right to officially add her to the Biden home.

Willow sounds like a very clever cat. She knew what she wanted and made it happen.

spoon-feeding-cat2It seems that Trump has been closely following the January 6 hearings, and he’s not at all happy about them. Justin Baragona at The Daily Beast: Trump Slams ‘Human Conveyer Belt’ Pence for Lacking ‘Courage’ to Steal Election.

Former President Donald Trump lashed out at Mike Pence on Friday for not having the “courage” to overthrow President Joe Biden’s election victory—just a day after the Jan. 6 committee hailed the ex-veep as a hero for not participating in Trump’s failed coup attempt.

Additionally, the twice-impeached ex-president denied that he ever called Pence a “wimp” for not going along with his crazy theory to steal the 2020 election. At the same time, though, Trump repeatedly called Pence a “human conveyer belt” and a “robot” for certifying Biden’s electoral votes….

After railing about the “sham” and “unselect” committee during his speech at the Faith and Freedom Coalition on Friday, Trump turned his attention to Pence and other “RINOs” he felt were insufficiently loyal to him following the election.

“One guy got up and said that he heard me calling Mike Pence a ‘wimp,’” Trump stated. “Now honestly, I’m the president of the United States. I’m sitting, I think they said at my desk. ‘He’s a wimp.’ How many people listen to me—I don’t even know who these people are! But I never called Mike Pence a wimp. I never called him a wimp.”

From there, however, the ex-president took aim at his former running mate for failing to assist in illegally keeping him in office—and he basically called Pence a wimp in so many words.

“Mike Pence had a chance to be great,” Trump exclaimed. “He had a chance to be, frankly, historic. But just like [former Attorney General] Bill Barr and the rest of these weak people, Mike—and I say it sadly because I like him—but Mike did not have the courage to act.” [….]

Regarding the legal consensus that Pence had “no choice” but to certify Biden’s victory, the disgraced ex-president likened Pence to a “human conveyer belt.”

After claiming he never wanted Pence to “decide” the election but rather just wanted him to send votes back to state legislatures for them to decide, Trump seemed to confirm that he pushed Eastman’s garbage theories in conversations with his vice president. (Though, according to Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short, this particular encounter never happened.)

“So, I said, ‘Mike, if you do this, you can be Thomas Jefferson,’” the ex-president boasted. “And then, after it all went down, I looked at him one day and I said, ‘Mike, hate to say this, but you’re no Thomas Jefferson.’”

spoon-feeding-cat6Trump also attacked Pence on his fake Twitter social media outlet “Truth Social.” The Independent: Trump claims he never asked Pence to overturn the election on Truth Social after dramatic Jan 6 hearing.

Mr Trump’s words come a day after the House select committee investigating the riot at the US Capitol held its third public hearing, where Mr Pence’s former White House Counsel Greg Jacob testified about the pressure campaign the former vice president sustained at the hands of the president and his legal team.

Multiple video depositions, including from former White House lawyer Eric Herschmann, showed how Mr Trump knew his plan to overturn the election results were illegal.

But Mr Trump pushed back on the allegations on his social media platform Truth Social.

“Such LIES & MISREPRESENTATION by the Unselects, and absolutely nobody allowed to challenge what is being said”, Mr Trump posted. “As an example, I never asked V.P. Pence to ‘overturn’ the election (although Thomas Jefferson ‘took’ the Georgia votes), but that he send the votes back to the Legislatures so that they could determine if the irregularities and Fraud were as widespread and signficant [sic] as they seemed.”

Dementia Don’s family needs to stage an intervention and get this man some professional help. He’s likely to get even more enraged on Tuesday, when the January 6 Committee hearing will focus on Trump’s efforts to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s 2020 win in Georgia. Georgia Public Broadcasting News: Raffensperger, Sterling will headline Tuesday’s Jan. 6 hearings.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his top deputy Gabriel Sterling will testify at Tuesday’s hearing of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, to shine more light on one of the more brazen attempts to overturn the 2020 election….

Raffensperger famously rebuffed former President Donald Trump’s pressure to “find” enough votes to reverse his narrow election defeat, and Sterling was a frequent figure on televised news conferences debunking false claims of fraud and fellow Republicans’ attacks on election workers.

In last month’s primary elections, Raffensperger defeated Trump-backed challenger Rep. Jody Hice.

girl-feeding-a-catTuesday’s committee hearing is expected to highlight the pressure campaign that Trump and his allies exerted on local elections officials in Georgia and other states to reverse the presidential election results, and comes on the heels of a hearing Thursday that outlined attempts to get former Vice President Mike Pence to reject the Electoral College results.

The Georgia officials’ public testimony comes after Raffensperger appeared recently in a closed-door special grand jury investigation in Fulton County that is seeking to determine if Trump and others violated several state laws in their efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Raffensperger and others have also provided hours of testimony privately to the committee, including discussion of the unprecedented call from Trump, leaked to GPB NewsThe Washington Post and other outlets in the runup to Georgia’s dual U.S. Senate runoffs.

Read more at the link.

The Committee has also requested testimony from Ginni Thomas, after it came out that she exchanged emails with nutty Trump attorney John Eastman during his efforts to overturn the election. NPR reports that Thomas claims she’s looking forward to answering questions:

Ginni Thomas told the right-wing news site The Daily Caller in a story published after the start of Thursday’s hearing that she would “look forward” to speaking with the committee.

“I can’t wait to clear up misconceptions. I look forward to talking to them,” The Daily Caller reported. Thomas has worked with the Daily Caller in the past, including producing an interview with her husband.

I can’t wait either.

Jim Newell and Jordan Weissmann have questions for her: Ginni Thomas: Were you sending emails about a criminal f***ing conspiracy?

Just how deeply involved was Ginni Thomas in plotting to overthrow the results of the 2020 election? The Jan. 6 committee may be poking around to try and find out. After Trump’s loss, Thomas—wife of Justice Clarence Thomas—texted extensively with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about overturning the outcome and pushed Arizona lawmakers to do the same with their state’s vote. This week, the Washington Post reported that the panel is examining emails between Thomas and the lawyer John Eastman, who was Trump’s apparent point man on all things coup-related (and who will now forever be associated with the words “I believe I should be on the pardon list, if that is still in the works”). After the Post story broke, Eastman posted his email correspondence with Thomas on his Substack in a post titled: “OMG, Mrs. Thomas asked me to give an update about election litigation to her group. Stop the Presses!” It mostly just seemed to confirm that, yes, the two were in contact. The committee is now planning to interview Thomas, who says she is looking forward to clearing up any “misconceptions.” Here’s the key context for all this: At one point, Eastman told another Trump ally in an email that there was “a heated fight underway” at the Supreme Court over the election. It’s not clear where he got that idea. Was he fed this information by his friend Ginni? And what would that tell us, exactly, about Clarence Thomas’ activities at the court? Inquiring minds would like to know what the queen of Boomer texters, and her wildly powerful husband, were up to.

Also see Jamelle Bouie at The New York Times: Ginni Thomas Has a Lot of Explaining to Do.

spoon-feeding-cat15This is from CNBC: Ginni Thomas-tied Facebook group ‘FrontLiners for Liberty’ could be a new focus in Jan. 6 investigation.

A Facebook group that appears to be run by Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, could become a new point of interest in the U.S. House Select Committee’s investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Congressional investigators said they planned to ask Ginni Thomas to testify before the committee hours after Trump attorney John Eastman on Thursday publicly posted a Dec. 4, 2020 email from Thomas asking him to speak to a gathering she called “Frontliners,” which she described as featuring “grassroots state leaders.” Ginni Thomas is listed as an administrator of a Facebook group that goes by a similar name and description: “FrontLiners for Liberty.”

The private group, which listed more than 50 members, was created in August 2020, just two months before the November elections, according to the page’s description.

The groupwhich CNBC reviewed before it was removed from public view, described itself as “a new collaborative, liberty-focused, action-oriented group of state leaders representing grassroots armies to CONNECT, INFORM and ACTIVATE each other weekly to preserve constitutional governance.” Although Thomas’ personal Facebook page isn’t verified, it contained numerous photos ofJustice Thomas.

The group’s pages were removed from public view after CNBC reached out to Thomas about the organization. It now shows a notice from Facebook saying that it’s either been deleted or the privacy settings have been changed.

CNBC also tried to get answers through Facebook messenger to Stephanie Coleman, who is also listed administrator of the group and the wife of the late Gregory Coleman who was Texas’ solicitor general. Greg Coleman was once a clerk for Justice Thomas.

Coleman and Thomas are repeatedly pictured together on Coleman’s personal Facebook page, including a photo of the two together in December 2016 with former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.

More news, links only:

spoon-feeding-cat13Just Security: 8 Top Former Prosecutors, Senior DOJ Officials on Key New Evidence in Effort to Pressure Pence.

The Washington Post: Supreme Court could soon make it easier to carry guns in six states.

Vice: Uvalde Hires Private Law Firm to Argue It Doesn’t Have to Release School Shooting Public Records.

The Guardian: The ‘big rip-off’: how Trump exploited his fans with ‘election defense’ fund.

HuffPost: The Far-Right’s Assault On An Idaho Pride Event Was Meticulously Planned.

The New York Times: Proud Boys Led Major Breaches of Capitol on Jan. 6, Video Investigation Finds.

David Von Drehle at The Washington Post: A new ‘National Conservative’ manifesto sounds a lot like fascism.

Garry Kasparov at The Wall Street Journal: Awakened to Putin’s Threat, Biden and the West Nod Off Again.

Have a nice Juneteenth weekend everyone!!