Tuesday Reads: Omicron, Trump, and Cuomo

Good Afternoon!!

Once again, there isn’t a lot of good news out there to talk about. The media is still “freaking out” about the Covid omicron variant, and we still don’t actually know much about it. Trump and his goons are still threatening U.S. democracy, and the DOJ appears to be doing nothing to stop them. Finally, in another media issue: CNN’s top talking head, Chris Cuomo needs to go, but the network is still dithering.

From Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post:

The media freaked out during Thanksgiving weekend over the discovery of the omicron variant. The New York Stock Exchange dropped 900 points. Both were irrational, exaggerated responses based on little information.

The World Health Organization on Friday put out a balanced statement, advising, “This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other [variants of concern].” The WHO promised to keep member countries updated about this “detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology.” That was it.

Columbia Journalism Review recounted with a hint of exasperation:

Despite the massive uncertainty, the world’s media instantly swelled with content: “What we know about the Omicron variant”; “The Omicron Variant: We Still Know Almost Nothing”; “Opinion | The Omicron Variant Is Creating a Lot of Anxiety,” and so on and so on. Over the weekend, a debate took shape, among experts and journalists, as to whether all the coverage was too much. David Dowdy, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University, accused fellow scientists of shamefully overselling fears about Omicron despite the paucity of hard data on the variant; Erin Biba, a freelance science journalist, tweeted that it is “completely and utterly exhausting” when “doomsday headlines and uninformed reporters create mass hysteria before we even have any details or information.”

Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, and Anthony S. Fauci, President Biden’s top coronavirus adviser, patiently explained in TV interviews over the weekend that we really did not know a lot about the variant. It would take a couple of weeks, they said, to answer questions about its severity and ability to spread. The WHO on Sunday also explained that we did not know much about the variant’s transmissibility, severity and the degree of protection afforded by existing vaccines.

Such nuance and caution were shoved aside. The cable TV news, mainstream news headlines and social media devolved into wild speculation and near-hysteria. Nations “scrambled” and “panicked,” we were told. The variant “stoked fear,” others relayed. Breathless reporting announced each new country in which omicron appeared.

It now looks like the omicron variant didn’t originate in South Africa. NBC News: Omicron COVID variant was in Europe before South African scientists detected and flagged it to the world.

Dutch health authorities announced on Tuesday that they found the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus in cases dating back as long as 11 days, indicating that it was already spreading in western Europe before the first cases were identified in southern Africa. The RIVM health institute said it found Omicron in samples dating from November 19 and 23.

Those findings predate the positive cases found among passengers who came from South Africa last Friday and were tested at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.

“It is not yet clear whether the people concerned [in the earlier cases] have also been to southern Africa,” the RIVM said, adding that the individuals had been informed of their Omicron infections and that local health services had started contact tracing.

“In the coming period, various studies will be conducted into the distribution of the Omicron variant in the Netherlands,” the institute said, noting that it would also re-examine more samples from previous COVID test results.

In any case, travel restrictions aren’t likely to keep the variant out of the U.S. On the other hand, according to the doctor who identified omicron, the people she saw who were infected had very mild symptoms.

The South African doctor who first identified the omicron variant that is spreading in the country and abroad has described the symptoms as she observed them in her patients, stating that the strain is so far producing “very, very mild” effects in them.

Dr Angelique Coetzee told BBC News that she had first noticed the symptoms in a young, male patient around the age of 30 whom she normally knew to be very healthy. He was “extremely tired” as well as having “body aches and pains with a bit of a headache,” a “scratchy” rather than sore throat, and no cough or loss of taste or smell, she said. The doctor was speaking about her experience of a small group of patients, and not making general comments about how all patients will experience it.

Coetzee tested the man for covid-19 and found him to be positive, then tested his family and found them all to have the virus, despite showing only “very, very mild symptoms,” she said. For the rest of the day, people kept presenting at her surgery with similar symptoms, and all tested positive. Noticing that the symptoms seemed to differ from the delta variant, which had hitherto been the most prevalent form of covid globally, she alerted the country’s vaccines committee, of which she is a member. They announced their resultant discovery of the omicron variant a few days later.

Perhaps reassuringly for those who are worrying about this new development, Coetzee noted that none of the cases she knew of were serious. “What we are seeing clinically in South Africa, and remember that I’m at the epicenter, that’s where I’m practicing, is extremely mild…We haven’t admitted anyone [to hospital]. I spoke to other colleagues of mine: The same picture,” she told the BBC.

Obviously, that could change, but it’s not time to panic yet.

The latest on Trump’s coup attempt at The Guardian: Trump called aides hours before Capitol riot to discuss how to stop Biden victory.

Hours before the deadly attack on the US Capitol this year, Donald Trump made several calls from the White House to top lieutenants at the Willard hotel in Washington and talked about ways to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election win from taking place on 6 January.

The former president first told the lieutenants his vice-president, Mike Pence, was reluctant to go along with the plan to commandeer his largely ceremonial role at the joint session of Congress in a way that would allow Trump to retain the presidency for a second term.

But as Trump relayed to them the situation with Pence, he pressed his lieutenants about how to stop Biden’s certification from taking place on 6 January, and delay the certification process to get alternate slates of electors for Trump sent to Congress.

The former president’s remarks came as part of strategy discussions he had from the White House with the lieutenants at the Willard – a team led by Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Boris Epshteyn and Trump strategist Steve Bannon – about delaying the certification.

Multiple sources, speaking to the Guardian on the condition of anonymity, described Trump’s involvement in the effort to subvert the results of the 2020 election.

Trump’s remarks reveal a direct line from the White House and the command center at the Willard. The conversations also show Trump’s thoughts appear to be in line with the motivations of the pro-Trump mob that carried out the Capitol attack and halted Biden’s certification, until it was later ratified by Congress.

The former president’s call to the Willard hotel about stopping Biden’s certification is increasingly a central focus of the House select committee’s investigation into the Capitol attack, as it raises the specter of a possible connection between Trump and the insurrection.

Trump also called the “command center” at the Willard multiple times on January 5.

Trump’s call to the lieutenants came a day after Eastman, a late addition to the Trump legal team, outlined at a 4 January meeting at the White House how he thought Pence could usurp his role in order to stop Biden’s certification from happening at the joint session.

At the meeting, which was held in the Oval Office and attended by Trump, Pence, Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, and his legal counsel, Greg Jacob, Eastman presented a memo that detailed how Pence could insert himself into the certification and delay the process.

The memo outlined several ways for Pence to commandeer his role at the joint session, including throwing the election to the House, or adjourning the session to give states time to send slates of electors for Trump on the basis of election fraud – Eastman’s preference.

The then acting attorney general, Jeff Rosen, and his predecessor, Bill Barr, who had both been appointed by Trump, had already determined there was no evidence of fraud sufficient to change the outcome of the 2020 election.

There’s a court hearing going on today about Trump’s attempts to exert executive privilege over his communications about the planned coup when he was “president.” From the CNN article:

A federal appeals court posed tough questions for lawyers for former President Donald Trump on Tuesday, as Trump attempts to convince the court that he should be able to keep records from his presidency from the House select committee that’s investigating the January 6 US Capitol riot.

“This all boils down to who decides. Who decides when it is in the best interest of the United States to disclose presidential records? Is it the current occupant of the White House or the former?” said Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.

The arguments are likely to be an uphill battle for the former President. The Biden administration and the House are aligned against him in wanting transparency about communications in the West Wing as Trump sought to overturn the 2020 election result and his supporters raided the Capitol. Trump lost his first round in court in the case, more quickly and resoundingly than his losses when he tried to claim broad protections from investigations while he was President.

Yet by raising major, unsettled questions about the power of former presidents to control information from their time in office, the case appears to be on a path to the Supreme Court.

Read more at the link.

3000Finally, CNN must fire Chris Cuomo. That link goes an Atlantic piece by David A. Graham. Yesterday, The New York Times published a shocking story on how Cuomo tried to help his brother Andrew escape accountability for his treatment of women: Chris Cuomo Played Outsize Role in Ex-Gov. Cuomo’s Defense.

Thousands of pages of new evidence and sworn testimony released on Monday show the extent to which former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo relied on a group of allies, including his younger brother, the CNN host Chris Cuomo, to strategize how to deflect and survive a cascade of sexual harassment charges that eventually engulfed him.

Beginning last December with the first public accusation by a former aide, Lindsey Boylan, the records lay out in unvarnished detail how the tight-knit group of advisers discussed a series of increasingly drastic steps to manipulate the press, discredit his accusers and retain a grip on power that became less and less tenable.

After debating the legality of the move, they agreed to pass Ms. Boylan’s personnel file to reporters, portraying her as politically motivated and unhinged. They sought — and failed — to rally dozens of former female aides and supporters to pen an op-ed defending him.

Chris Cuomo pressed to take on a greater role in crafting his brother’s defense, including phoning into strategy calls and using his media contacts to keep tabs on reporters pursuing stories about the governor. At one point, he even ran down a secondhand tip that another woman accusing the governor of unwanted advances at a wedding was lying. (She was not.)

“You need to trust me,” Chris Cuomo pleaded with Melissa DeRosa, the governor’s secretary, at one point in March, arguing that she should rely on him and other outside advisers like the political consultant Lis Smith and the pollster Jefrey Pollock.

He added: “We are making mistakes we can’t afford.”

Yet Cuomo appeared in his usual time slot last night.

An even more pointed headline from CNBC: CNN host Chris Cuomo used his media sources to find out info on brother Andrew’s accusers, records show.

CNN host Chris Cuomo used his sources in the media world to seek information on women who accused his brother Andrew Cuomo, then the governor of New York, of sexual harassment, according to documents released Monday by the New York Attorney General’s Office.

While Chris Cuomo has previously acknowledged advising his brother and his team on the response to the scandals, the records show that his role in helping the then-governor was much larger and more intimate than previously known.

Chris Cuomo was actively in touch with Melissa DeRosa, who was the then-governor’s top aide, about incoming media reports that detailed alleged sexual harassment by Andrew Cuomo, according to exhibits from the Attorney General’s probe and a transcript of his interview with the state’s investigators. He also lobbied to help the governor’s office as it sought to weather the storm of accusations, and he dictated statements for the then-governor to use.

“Please let me help with the prep,” Chris Cuomo said to DeRosa in one message in early March. Then, three days after the New York Times reported in March about how Andrew Cuomo attempted to kiss a woman, Anna Ruch, in an unwanted advance at a wedding, Chris Cuomo texted DeRosa: “I have a lead on the wedding girl.”

CNN says they are “conducting a thorough review of the documents.”  Frankly, it’s difficult to understand why CNN kept Cuomo on after the initial revelations. If they don’t get rid of him now, they will lose all credibility as a news organization.

There are plenty of other stories out there. Which ones have caught your interest?


Tuesday Reads: It Can Happen Here

Good Morning!!

Today is the anniversary of Kristallnacht.

John Farmer at The Jerusalem Post: Kristallnacht and today’s extremist violence – opinion.

Synagogues, shops, homes were vandalized and burned in the thousands.  Over ninety Jews were murdered, countless others beaten. Some 20,000 Jews were seized and sent to the concentration camps at Dachau, Buchenwald, and Sachsenhausen. Several hundred died at the hands of the guards.

It may have appeared a spontaneous, chaotic, unplanned riot.  In the smokescreen of chaos and violence, it was easy to miss the careful underlying planning.

Earlier that day, orders were issued to the German Police and Fire Brigades by Reinhard Heidrich that spelled out in specific detail the rules of engagement.  No violent acts could be carried out that threatened German lives or property; stores and residences of Jews could be “destroyed but not looted”; non-Jewish businesses were to be “completely secured against damage”; demonstrations “which are in progress should not be prevented by the police but only supervised.”  In Frankfurt, the commander of the 50th brigade passed on the order, noting that “all the Jewish synagogues within the 50th Brigade are to be blown up or set on fire immediately.  Neighboring houses occupied by Aryans are not to be damaged. The action is to be carried out in civilian clothes.”

Kristallnacht’s significance as an inflection point in the campaign to destroy the Jewish population is undeniable.   As David Frum has put it, “Through the end of 1937, it remained possible to hope that the Nazi persecution might still respect some last limits of humanity. …”  On Kristallnacht, “the last of those illusions was smashed like broken glass.”   

But Kristallnacht is significant also for the template it set forth for organizing seemingly spontaneous extremist violence.  First, subject a population to unremitting sole-source propaganda for a period of time to lay a groundwork of popular belief.  Second, summon that population to demonstrate its grievances.  Third, enlist a relatively few trained participants to blend in with the demonstrators and incite specific acts of violence.  Fourth, claim after the fact that the whole thing was an expression of spontaneous outrage.

We now know that the January 6 insurrection was not spontaneous either. Trump and his goons were planning for months to claim the 2020 election was rigged and to overturn the result if Joe Biden won. If it hadn’t been for a few Republican officials who resisted Trump’s high-pressure tactics in Georgia, Michigan, Arizona, and Pennsylvania, the coup might have been successful. Next time there could be a different result.

We must always be mindful that January 6 was only the beginning of the Trumpist attacks on U.S. democracy. Since Trump began running for president we’ve seen an escalation of anti-Semitism, racism, and anti-immigrant extremism as Trump gave permission for his followers to act out their prejudices. We are still in great danger of losing our democracy.

january6insurrection02232020More from the Farmer article:

A report from June 2020 entitled “COVID-19, Conspiracy, and Contagious Sedition:  A Case Study on the Militia-Sphere,” noted that “[t]he Militia-sphere’s messaging has grown increasingly extreme as the pandemic lockdowns have continued, promoting theories that the pandemic is being exaggerated to justify a police state; exploiting recent protests regarding the George Floyd incident, and transforming peaceful protests into violent chaos.”  The report also noted “how the largest online conspiracy group in the U.S., QAnon, exploits the opportunity presented by these events to draw populist support for increasingly violent and apocalyptic confrontations against the lockdown, law enforcement, and an ill-defined ‘elite.’”  

These trends culminated in the events of January 6, 2021 at the nation’s Capitol.  The groundwork of propaganda having been laid for months, both before the election and after, and the masses having been summoned to Washington to protest the election of President Biden, the appearance of a spontaneous groundswell of outrage was well established.  But as the Miller Center/NCRI’s “Assessment of the Capitol Riots” made clear, the violence associated with the protest was anything but spontaneous:  “Explicit plans to `Occupy the Capitol’ were circulating across social media suggesting that the Capitol building was an explicit target of the violent vanguard from the beginning.” 

I still can’t get over that Bulwark article that Dakinikat posted yesterday: Notes on an Authoritarian Conspiracy: Inside the Claremont Institute’s “79 Days to Inauguration” Report. If you haven’t read the whole piece yet, I hope you will do it now. These people were literally gaming out a coup to keep Trump in office. You can also check out this summary at The Daily Beast: Claremont Institute’s MAGA Fanfic Report Predicted Antifa Riots to Stop a Trump ‘Win’ in 2020. The final two paragraphs:

While the scenario is extremely ridiculous at points, The Bulwark notes that several of its authors, particularly Eastman, had Trump’s ear following his election defeat—so the report also serves as a chilling alternative history as to how things could have played out under different circumstances.

As reporter Christian Vanderbrouk notes in the Bulwark article: “Practically, the report is an instruction manual for how Trump partisans at all levels of government—aided by citizen ‘posses’ of Proud Boys and Oath Keepers—could, quite literally, round up opposition activists, kill their leaders, and install Donald Trump for a second term in office.”

One of the authors of the report was John Eastman, the so-called lawyer who wrote the memo outlining how Mike Pence could overturn the electoral college results. 

This is how much Republican violence and hate have been normalized: Yesterday a member of Congress threatened a colleague and the president with a violent video, and so far nothing has happened to him. 

The Washington Post: Rep. Paul Gosar tweets altered anime video showing him killing Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Biden.

Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) shared an altered, animated video that depicts him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and swinging two swords at President Biden, prompting condemnation and calls for his Twitter and Instagram accounts to be suspended.

Ocasio-Cortez responded Monday night after arriving in Glasgow, Scotland, as part of a congressional delegation. Gosar, she said, will probably “face no consequences” because House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) “cheers him on with excuses.”

A Gosar staffer defended the video Monday night, dismissing claims that it glorifies violence.

“Everyone needs to relax,” Gosar’s digital director, Jessica Lycos, said in a statement.

A Twitter spokesperson said late Monday that a “public interest notice” had been placed on Gosar’s tweet because it violates the company’s policy against hateful conduct.

Gosar has long drawn criticism for his extremist views, including his spreading of conspiracy theories about the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob and the deadly white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville in 2017. In February, he appeared at an event whose organizer called for white supremacy. Gosar later distanced himself from the organizer’s remarks.

The congressman’s Sunday night post — which he shared on Twitter and Instagram — appeared to go further than his previous contentious remarks and social media posts, raising the specter of political violence in a manner similar to former president Donald Trump’s frequent allusions to armed revolution.

Read much more about this horrible situation at the WaPo. This is the atmosphere we are living in today, thanks to Trump’s influence on the Republican Party.

Trump’s followers are even attacking Republicans who fail to follow the party line in every instance. CNN: Republican congressman details threatening voicemail he received after voting for bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Republican Rep. Fred Upton on Monday shared a threatening voicemail he had received after voting for the bipartisan infrastructure bill last week.

In the voicemail, which Upton played during an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on “AC360,” a caller told the Michigan Republican: “I hope you die. I hope everybody in your f**king family dies,” while labeling him a “f**king piece of sh*t traitor.”

Upton was one of just 13 House Republicans who voted with Democrats on Friday to pass the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill after hours of delays and debating among Democrats. The legislation, which passed the Senate in August, will deliver $550 billion in new federal investments in America’s infrastructure over five years, including roads, bridges, mass transit, rail, airports, ports and waterways.

Following the Friday vote, Upton tweeted in part, “I regret that this good, bipartisan bill became a political football in recent weeks. Our country can’t afford this partisan dysfunction any longer.” [….]

Upton’s office said the voicemail was not an isolated incident. The calls came after GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia tweeted the phone numbers of those who had voted for the bill and later called them traitors.

Reuters unmasks Trump supporters who terrified U.S. election officials.

In Arizona, a stay-at-home dad and part-time Lyft driver told the state’s chief election officer she would hang for treason. In Utah, a youth treatment center staffer warned Colorado’s election chief that he knew where she lived and watched her as she slept.

In Vermont, a man who says he works in construction told workers at the state election office and at Dominion Voting Systems that they were about to die.

“This might be a good time to put a f‑‑‑‑‑‑ pistol in your f‑‑‑‑‑‑ mouth and pull the trigger,” the man shouted at Vermont officials in a thick New England accent last December. “Your days are f‑‑‑‑‑‑ numbered.”

The three had much in common. All described themselves as patriots fighting a conspiracy that robbed Donald Trump of the 2020 election. They are regular consumers of far-right websites that embrace Trump’s stolen-election falsehoods. And none have been charged with a crime by the law enforcement agencies alerted to their threats.

They were among nine people who told Reuters in interviews that they made threats or left other hostile messages to election workers. In all, they are responsible for nearly two dozen harassing communications to six election officials in four states. Seven made threats explicit enough to put a reasonable person in fear of bodily harm or death, the U.S. federal standard for criminal prosecution, according to four legal experts who reviewed their messages at Reuters’ request.

These cases provide a unique perspective into how people with everyday jobs and lives have become radicalized to the point of terrorizing public officials. They are part of a broader campaign of fear waged against frontline workers of American democracy chronicled by Reuters this year. The news organization has documented nearly 800 intimidating messages to election officials in 12 states, including more than 100 that could warrant prosecution, according to legal experts.

The examination of the threats also highlights the paralysis of law enforcement in responding to this extraordinary assault on the nation’s electoral machinery. After Reuters reported the widespread intimidation in June, the U.S. Department of Justice launched a task force to investigate threats against election staff and said it would aggressively pursue such cases. But law enforcement agencies have made almost no arrests and won no convictions.

In many cases, they didn’t investigate. Some messages were too hard to trace, officials said. Other instances were complicated by America’s patchwork of state laws governing criminal threats, which provide varying levels of protection for free speech and make local officials in some states reluctant to prosecute such cases. Adding to the confusion, legal scholars say, the U.S. Supreme Court hasn’t formulated a clear definition of a criminal threat.

This is a long article, but it’s well worth reading the whole thing.

The hate is really out in the open now, and it seems to be getting worse. I thought it might get better once Trump was gone, but I was wrong. Please share your thoughts and links on this or any other topic in the comment thread.


Lazy Caturday Reads

Le Chat Noir, Théophile Steinlen (1896)

Le Chat Noir, Théophile Steinlen (1896)

Good Afternoon!!

There is a great deal of news today about Trump’s attempted coup and his attempts to cover up what he did. The more that comes out the clearer it becomes that Trump really tried to bring down the U.S. government and install himself as a Putin-like strongman. Furthermore, he’s not finished yet.

Last night, The Washington Post broke a bombshell story about the extent of Trump lawyer John Eastman’s efforts to force Mike Pence to overturn the electoral college votes on January 6, 2020: During Jan. 6 riot, Trump attorney told Pence team the vice president’s inaction caused attack on Capitol.

As Vice President Mike Pence hid from a marauding mob during the Jan. 6 invasion of the Capitol, an attorney for President Donald Trump emailed a top Pence aide to say that Pence had caused the violence by refusing to block certification of Trump’s election loss.

The attorney, John C. Eastman, also continued to press for Pence to act even after Trump’s supporters had trampled through the Capitol — an attack the Pence aide, Greg Jacob, had described as a “siege” in their email exchange.

“The ‘siege’ is because YOU and your boss did not do what was necessary to allow this to be aired in a public way so that the American people can see for themselves what happened,” Eastman wrote to Jacob, referring to Trump’s claims of voter fraud.

Eastman sent the email as Pence, who had been presiding in the Senate, was under guard with Jacob and other advisers in a secure area. Rioters were tearing through the Capitol complex, some of them calling for Pence to be executed.

The Post also published a draft op-ed that Jacob wrote but never submitted until now. Back to the original story:

Jacob, Pence’s chief counsel, included Eastman’s emailed remarks in a draft opinion article about Trump’s outside legal team that he wrote later in January but ultimately chose not to publish. The Washington Post obtained a copy of the draft. Jacob wrote that by sending the email at that moment, Eastman “displayed a shocking lack of awareness of how those practical implications were playing out in real time.”

Black Cats in Paris, by Atelier De Jiel

Black Cats in Paris, by Atelier De Jiel

Jacob’s draft article, Eastman’s emails and accounts of other previously undisclosed actions by Eastman offer new insight into the mind-sets of figures at the center of an episode that pushed American democracy to the brink. They show that Eastman’s efforts to persuade Pence to block Trump’s defeat were more extensive than has been reported previously, and that the Pence team was subjected to what Jacob at the time called “a barrage of bankrupt legal theories.”

Eastman confirmed the emails in interviews with The Post but denied that he was blaming Pence for the violence. He defended his actions, saying that Trump’s team was right to exhaust “every legal means” to challenge a result that it argued was plagued by widespread fraud and irregularities.

“Are you supposed to not do anything about that?” Eastman said.

He stood by legal advice he gave Pence to halt Congress’s certification on Jan. 6 to allow Republican state lawmakers to investigate the unfounded fraud claims, which multiple legal scholars have said Pence was not authorized to do.

There’s much more at the link.

Also at The Washington Post, Aaron Black highlights the story’s revelation that Trump and Eastman tried to leverage the attack itself to force Pence’s hand: The most shocking new revelation about John Eastman.

After Pence aide Greg Jacob emailed Eastman to tell him that his “bull—-” legal advice was why Pence’s team was “under siege,” Eastman responded that it was in fact Pence’s fault.

“The ‘siege’ is because YOU and your boss did not do what was necessary to allow this [election challenge] to be aired in a public way so that the American people can see for themselves what happened,” Eastman replied, as revealed in a previously unpublished op-ed by Jacob.

Blaming a guy currently in hiding for fear of his life is certainly a position to take. We knew Trump posted a tweet attacking Pence early in the riot, even after Pence had just gone into hiding, but it hasn’t been clear that Trump knew he was in hiding or the level of the danger involved. Here is Trump’s lawyer suggesting that even when they were able to appreciate the danger, Pence was still being leaned on.

By Day She Made Herself Into A Cat, Arthur Rackham (1920)

By Day She Made Herself Into A Cat, Arthur Rackham (1920)

But that’s arguably not even the most compelling evidence that Trump and Eastman tried to leverage the mob. Check out this section of The Post’s report about what happened after the Capitol had been cleared and Congress had reconvened:

Pence allowed other lawmakers to speak before they returned to counting the votes, and said he wasn’t counting the time from his speech or the other lawmakers against the time allotted in the Electoral Count Act.

Eastman said that this prompted him to email Jacob to say that Pence should not certify the election because he had already violated the Electoral College Act, which Pence had cited as a reason that he could not send the electors back to the states.

“My point was they had already violated the electoral count act by allowing debate to extend past the allotted two hours, and by not reconvening ‘immediately’ in joint session after the vote in the objection,” Eastman told The Post. “It seemed that had already set the precedent that it was not an impediment.”

This is all a bit dense. But what it basically amounts to is Eastman attempting to use the fallout of a mob riot — one spurred by his and Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud and Eastman’s highly unorthodox plan to overturn the election — to then get Pence to reject election results based upon a technicality.

This morning The Guardian published this piece by Ed Pinkington: ‘A roadmap for a coup’: inside Trump’s plot to steal the presidency.

In an interview with the Guardian, Eastman explained that he had been asked to prepare the memo by one of Trump’s “legal shop”. “They said can you focus first on the theory of what happens if there are not enough electoral votes certified. So I focused on that. But I said: ‘This is not my recommendation. I will have a fuller memo to you in a week outlining all of the various scenarios.’”

Inside the Oval Office, with the countdown on to 6 January, Trump urged Pence to listen closely to Eastman. “This guy’s a really respected constitutional lawyer,” the president said, according to the book I Alone Can Fix It.

Eastman, a member of the influential rightwing Federalist Society, told the Guardian that he made clear to both men that the account he had laid out in the short memo was not his preferred option. “The advice I gave the vice-president very explicitly was that I did not think he had the authority simply to declare which electors to count” or to “simply declare Trump re-elected”.

Eastman continued: “The vice-president turned to me directly and said, ‘Do you think I have such powers?’ I said, ‘I think it’s the weaker argument.’”

Grumpy Cat, by Vanessa Stockard

Grumpy Cat, by Vanessa Stockard

Instead, Eastman pointed to one of the scenarios in the longer six-page memo that he had prepared – “war-gaming” alternatives. His favorite was that the vice-president could adjourn the joint session of Congress on 6 January and send the electoral college votes back to states that Trump claimed he had lost unfairly so their legislatures could have another go at rooting out the fraud and illegality the president had been railing about since election day.

“My advice to the vice-president was to allow the states formally to assess the impact of what they had determined were clear illegalities in the conduct of the election,” Eastman said. After a delay of a week or 10 days, if they found sufficient fraud to affect the result, they could then send Trump electors back to Congress in place of the previous Biden ones.

The election would then be overturned.

“Those votes are counted and TRUMP WINS,” Eastman wrote in his longer memo, adding brashly: “BOLD, certainly … but we’re no longer playing by Queensbury rules.”

Then why did Eastman send that e-mail to Jacob in the middle of the violent insurrection? It’s pretty obvious that Eastman is just trying to get himself out of trouble. It’s a mystery to me why he hasn’t been disbarred. Pilkington’s story is long and well worth reading in full.

Andrew Kaczynski and Em Steck at CNN’s KFILE: Trump lawyer John Eastman said ‘courage and the spine’ would help Pence send election to the House in comments before January 6.

John Eastman, a conservative lawyer working with then-President Donald Trump’s legal team, said in a radio interview in early January that then-Vice President Mike Pence had the power to throw the 2020 presidential election to the House of Representatives, saying it depended on whether Pence had “courage and the spine.” Those comments are more direct than how Eastman has recently described his conversation with Pence, when he has said he told the vice president it was an “open question” whether he could throw out seven states’ Electoral College votes and that it’d be a “foolish” option to pursue.

Two Black Cats, by Jacques Lehmann Nam

Two Black Cats, by Jacques Lehmann Nam

Eastman made the comments, unearthed by CNN’s KFile, on the radio show of former Trump White House senior adviser Stephen Bannon on January 2 — just two days before Eastman briefed both Pence and Trump on his controversial memo about how Pence could overturn the election and just four days before January 6, when he spoke at the rally that preceded the attack on the US Capitol….

Eastman’s memo outlines a scenario in which Pence would disregard seven states’ Electoral College votes — making sure no candidate received the 270 Electoral College votes required to be declared the winner — thereby throwing the election to the House. Each state delegation would then have had one vote to cast for president, and since Republicans controlled 26 state delegations, a majority could have voted for Trump to win the election.

Eastman claims the memo does not reflect his own views and called the scenario to have Pence reject electoral votes and therefore throw the election to the House not “viable” and “crazy” to pursue in comments to the National Review. He also told CNN the memo was a draft.

In a conversation with CNN, Eastman said that his statements have been consistent and that he told Pence during their January 4 meeting that throwing the election to the House was “the weaker argument” and ultimately did not advise it.

“My statement on Bannon on January 2 acknowledges that that was one of the scenarios that was being discussed. But the issue that I presented to the vice president, when he asked me point blank, I told him, I said, ‘It’s an open question,’ which is true. And I said, ‘I happen to think it’s the weaker argument,’ which is true. And that’s why I recommended that he delay rather than taking that step,” Eastman said.

After CNN pointed out that on Bannon’s radio show, Eastman did not specify that the option to throw the election to the House was the “weaker” option, Eastman responded, “That’s right. Because it was a radio show.”

Yeah, right. Eastman is a liar, and not a very good one.

There’s also news about the documents Trump is trying to hide from the January 6 committee. Kyle Cheney at Politico: Call logs, speech drafts among records Trump is trying to block from Jan. 6 investigators.

Donald Trump is seeking to prevent Jan. 6 investigators from accessing daily presidential diaries, drafts of election-related speeches, logs of his phone calls, handwritten notes and files of top aides, the National Archives revealed in a Saturday morning court filing.

According to the National Archives, the former president has sought to block about 750 pages out of nearly 1,600 identified by officials as relevant to the Jan. 6 investigation. Among them are hundreds of pages from “multiple binders of the former press secretary [Kayleigh McEnany] which is made up almost entirely of talking points and statements related to the 2020 election,” according to the court filing.

Donge Kobayashi

Painting by Donge Kobayashi

The filing details are the clearest indication yet of what Trump is trying to withhold from congressional investigators seeking information about his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results and his activities on the day that a mob of violent Trump supporters stormed the Capitol and disrupted the peaceful transfer of power.

The National Archives indicated that many files were drawn from the systems of key Trump aides including former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, adviser Stephen Miller and deputy counsel Patrick Philbin.

Other documents include “draft text of a presidential speech for the January 6, 2021, Save America March; a handwritten list of potential or scheduled briefings and telephone calls concerning election issues; and a draft Executive Order concerning election integrity … a draft proclamation honoring deceased Capitol Police officers Brian Sicknick and Howard Liebengood, and associated e-mails from the Office of the Executive Clerk, which relate to the Select Committee’s interest in the White House’s response to the Capitol attack.”

“These records all relate to the events on or about January 6, and may assist the Select Committee’s investigation into that day, including what was occurring at the White House immediately before, during and after the January 6 attack,” Justice Department attorneys, acting on behalf of Archivist David Ferriero, wrote in the filing.

Read more at Politico; see also this article at CNN by Katlyn Polantz: New January 6 court filings reveal what Trump is trying to keep secret from Congress.

Have a very spooky Halloween weekend, Sky Dancers!


Lazy Caturday Reads: Investigating The January 6 Insurrection and Trump’s Attempted Coup

5-Mädchen-mit-Katze-1956-Otto-Dix

Mädchen mit Katze, 1956, by Otto-Dix

Good Morning!!

There is a great deal of news today about the January 6 Capitol insurrection and the House committee’s investigation of what happened. 

First up: if you didn’t think Trump and his gang were trying to organize a serious coup attempt, you need to read this stunning article at The Washington Post: Ahead of Jan. 6, Willard hotel in downtown D.C. was a Trump team ‘command center’ for effort to deny Biden the presidency

They called it the “command center,” a set of rooms and suites in the posh Willard hotel a block from the White House where some of President Donald Trump’s most loyal lieutenants were working day and night with one goal in mind: overturning the results of the 2020 election.

The Jan. 6 rally on the Ellipse and the ensuing attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob would draw the world’s attention to the quest to physically block Congress from affirming Joe Biden’s victory. But the activities at the Willard that week add to an emerging picture of a less visible effort, mapped out in memos by a conservative pro-Trump legal scholar and pursued by a team of presidential advisers and lawyers seeking to pull off what they claim was a legal strategy to reinstate Trump for a second term.

They were led by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani. Former chief White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon was an occasional presence as the effort’s senior political adviser. Former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik was there as an investigator. Also present was John Eastman, the scholar, who outlined scenarios for denying Biden the presidency in an Oval Office meeting on Jan. 4 with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

They sought to make the case to Pence and ramp up pressure on him to take actions on Jan. 6 that Eastman suggested were within his powers, three people familiar with the operation said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations. Their activities included finding and publicizing alleged evidence of fraud, urging members of state legislatures to challenge Biden’s victory and calling on the Trump-supporting public to press Republican officials in key states.

The effort underscores the extent to which Trump and a handful of true believers were working until the last possible moment to subvert the will of the voters, seeking to pressure Pence to delay or even block certification of the election, leveraging any possible constitutional loophole to test the boundaries of American democracy.

Here’s what these coup-organizers were doing:

Kaate Diehn-Bitt, Peter Paul Diehn with cat

Kaate Diehn-Bitt, Peter Paul Diehn with cat

The three people familiar with the operation described intense work in the days and hours leading up to and even extending beyond 1 p.m. on Jan 6, when Congress convened for the counting of electoral votes.

In those first days in January, from the command center, Trump allies were calling members of Republican-dominated legislatures in swing states that Eastman had spotlighted in his memos, including Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona, encouraging them to convene special sessions to investigate fraud and to reassign electoral college votes from Biden to Trump, two of the people familiar with the operation said.

On Jan. 2, Trump, Giuliani and Eastman spoke to 300 state legislators via a conference call meant to arm them with purported evidence of fraud and galvanize them to take action to “decertify” their election results. “You are the real power,” Trump told the state lawmakers, according to a Washington Examiner report. “You’re the ones that are going to make the decision.”

The goal was to convince these state lawmakers to work to decertify the election results in their states and to try to convince Mike Pence to delay certification of the electoral college results to give these insurrectionist legislators time to convince their colleagues to overthrow the election results. And Bannon was involved in these efforts.

Also on Jan. 2, Eastman, Giuliani and Epshteyn appeared on Bannon’s podcast to make the case directly to Bannon’s pro-Trump listeners. They discussed what Bannon called that day’s “all-hands meeting with state . . . legislators that the Trump campaign and also others are putting on.” The comments were first highlighted by Proof.

They argued that state lawmakers were legally bound to reexamine their election results. “It’s the duty of these legislatures to fix this, this egregious conduct, and make sure that we’re not putting in the White House some guy that didn’t get elected,” Eastman said. He contended that Congress could itself decide on Jan. 6 to select Trump electors in contested states, but that “it would certainly be helped immensely if the legislatures in the states looked at what happened in their own states and weigh in.”

I hope you’ll go read the rest. Every sentence in the article is important.

Will Bannon pay a price for his involvement in the coup attempt? That will be up to Attorney General Merrick Garland. Former U.S. Attorney and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Harry Litman writes: Don’t be too sure about the Justice Department’s ‘duty’ to indict Bannon.

Atty. Gen. Merrick Garland has a far more complicated decision coming his way than people realize.

The Department of Justice, in the person of the United States attorney for the District of Columbia, has received a referral from the House of Representatives to bring criminal contempt charges against Stephen K. Bannon, who has refused to comply with a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the events of Jan. 6.

Two Cats, Franz Marc

Two Cats, by Franz Marc

The righteousness of the referral is not in doubt. There is every reason to think Bannon has important first-hand information about the planning of the Capitol attack. After all, he crowed the night before on his podcast: “All hell is going to break loose tomorrow…. Strap in.”

In addition, as the committee’s vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), emphasized Tuesday, there is strong reason to think Bannon knows if and how Trump was “personally involved” in the Jan. 6 attack. No matter is more important for Congress to probe or for the American public to understand.

As for Bannon’s thumbing his nose at a subpoena, it could not be a more flagrant or a more contemptuous violation of the law.

Enforcing the subpoena “should be a slam dunk,” Littman writes, “But it isn’t.” According to Littman, there are several Office of Legal Counsel memos that will impact Garland’s actions. One decision is that the DOJ is not required to enforce subpoenas on members of the executive branch–the AG makes the decision. Other OLC memos address the issue of White House officials and executive privilege. I’m not sure I understand this, because Bannon was not a White House official when all this was happening–even when he was in the White House, he was only a political adviser. Furthermore, Trump is no longer president and how can he invoke executive privilege over planning for a coup? Littman writes:

There is a way for Garland to square the circle. The Office of Legal Counsel’s memo that has precluded pursuit of criminal contempt charges was based on cases in which the department issued legal opinions that the assertions of privilege were proper.

Bannon’s suggestion that the subpoenaed documents and communications are properly covered by executive privilege is spurious at best. First, there’s the fact that Trump hasn’t actually asserted the privilege. On top of that, the select committee’s subpoena involves events that happened years after Bannon left the executive branch; it’s ridiculous to say the relevant testimony and documents must be kept secret to ensure that presidents can freely do the country’s business.

Finally, even if Bannon had a sound claim to executive privilege, Congress’ and the public’s need to know the information covered by the subpoena is paramount, and that factor should prevail. (Likewise, public interest trumped Nixon’s claim to privacy in the 1977 Supreme Court case, which was about the disposition of the disgraced president’s papers.)

More January 6 committee news:

CNN: Former DOJ official Jeffrey Clark, who pushed baseless election fraud claims, expected to testify before January 6 committee.

The House select committee investigating the US Capitol insurrection is planning for former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark to testify next Friday — teeing him up to be the first Trump administration official to comply with a subpoena for an interview with the panel, two sources familiar with the committee’s inquiry told CNN.

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Girl with Cat

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Girl with Cat

Clark’s testimony could be a major step forward for Democrats as they attempt to determine what former President Donald Trump, Republican members of Congress and his advisers did and said behind closed doors about overturning the results of the 2020 election before January 6.

CNN has also learned that Alyssa Farah, former director of strategic communications in the Trump White House and assistant to the president, has voluntarily met with Republicans on the House select committee and provided information in several meetings, according sources familiar with the matter. There are two Republicans on the committee — Vice Chair Liz Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger.

The panel has been talking to an ever-widening circle of witnesses as part of its sprawling investigation — and testimony from Farah in addition to Clark would give the panel a crucial new level of insight into Trump’s thinking after the election….

After the deadly January 6 insurrection, Farah told CNN that Trump lied to the American people about the 2020 presidential election results and said that he should “seriously consider” resigning from office.

Clark emerged in the last week of 2020 as a central player in Trump’s two-month-long effort to overturn the vote in key states — and as one of the officials who was in direct contact with Trump.

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. The committee subpoenaed Clark for testimony and documents last week.

Did Clark decide to testify because he feared being referred for criminal contempt along with Bannon?

Also from CNN: House investigators target the money trail behind January 6 rally.

The House select committee is setting its sights on the financing behind events and people associated with January 6, CNN has learned, including money that funded pro-Trump “Stop the Steal” rallies that preceded the attack on the Capitol that day, in an effort to determine whether any election law violations or financial crimes took place.

Franz Marc, Girl with Cat, 1910

Franz Marc, Girl with Cat, 1910

The Democratic-led panel is focused in part on understanding how event organizers and vendors were paid, and how the two rallies were funded, according to multiple sources familiar with the investigation, including some who have been interviewed by the committee. Investigators also want to know if any funding came from domestic extremists or foreign sources, sources say.

As the committee moves forward with its sweeping probe of January 6, among the many new details CNN has learned is that the committee has divided its work into at least five investigative teams, each with their own color designation.

The ‘green’ team, for example, is tasked with tracking money, including the funding behind the rallies, as well as untangling the complex web of financial ties between rally organizers and entities affiliated with former President Donald Trump or his campaign, according to multiple sources.

Some of the other teams such as the “red” “blue” and “gold” teams are examining everything from the motivation of participants, whether there was coordination between groups, and whether Trump used his executive authority to pressure lawmakers, former Vice President Mike Pence and the Justice Department, according to the sources familiar with the committee’s work.

“As Rep. Liz Cheney said the other night, it’s very likely that Trump was personally involved in the planning and execution of January 6 and these money trails can help adduce additional proof of that,” CNN legal analyst Norm Eisen said. Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, is vice chair of the select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection.

I’ll post more interesting links in the comment thread. Have a nice weekend, Sky Dancers!!


Thursday Reads: McConnell Blinks; New Report on Trump Coup Attempt

Armin Glatter, Reading Girl, Hungarian, 1861-1916

Armin Glatter, Reading Girl, Hungarian, 1861-1916

Good Morning!!

Yesterday Mitch McConnell backed down and offered the Democrats a short-term agreement on raising the debt ceiling. This morning AP reports: Schumer: Agreement reached on short-term debt ceiling fix.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday an agreement has been reached with Republicans to extend the government’s borrowing authority into December, temporarily averting a debt crisis.

“We’ve reached agreement,” Schumer announced as he opened the Senate. “Our hope is to get this done as soon as today.”

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican and Democratic leaders edged back from a perilous standoff over lifting the nation’s borrowing cap, with Democratic senators signaling they were receptive to an offer from Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell that would allow an emergency extension into December.

McConnell made the offer late Wednesday shortly before Republicans were prepared to block legislation to suspend the debt limit until December of next year and as President Joe Biden and business leaders ramped up their concerns that an unprecedented federal default would disrupt government payments to millions of people and throw the nation into recession.

The emerging agreement sets the stage for a sequel of sorts in December, when Congress will again face pressing deadlines to fund the government and raise the debt limit before heading home for the holidays.

A procedural vote — on the longer extension the Republicans were going to block — was abruptly delayed late Wednesday and the Senate recessed so lawmakers could discuss next steps. Democrats emerged from their meeting more optimistic that a crisis would be averted.

Politico speculates that McConnell gave in because he feared the Democrats would finally decide to get rid of the filibuster.

McConnell backed down after Democratic threats of nuking the filibuster for the debt ceiling started to become more real. At their Tuesday lunch, Democratic senators discussed how McConnell’s blockade on the debt ceiling was boosting the case of filibuster reformers. Later that day, Biden, generally a skeptic of filibuster reform, said such a change for the debt ceiling was now a “real possibility.”

George Cochran Lambdin, Girl Reading

George Cochran Lambdin, Girl Reading

McConnell took notice. Our friend Manu Raju at CNN reported, “McConnell told his colleagues he’s concerned about pressure on [JOE] MANCHIN and [KYRSTEN] SINEMA to gut [the] filibuster in order to raise [the] debt ceiling, I’m told. He pointed to this as reason why he is floating short-term increase in order to ease pressure on and push Democrats to use reconciliation.”

McConnell himself alluded to how filibuster reform was the key issue at play. “It’s not clear whether the Democratic leaders have wasted two-and-a-half months because they simply cannot govern, or whether they are intentionally playing Russian roulette with the economy to try to bully their own members into going back on their word and wrecking the Senate,” he said on the Senate floor.

The minority leader seemed skittish enough about where filibuster reform fever was headed in the Democratic caucus that he vetted his compromise plan with Manchin and Sinema, report Burgess Everett, Marianne LeVine and Anthony Adragna.

Democratic supporters of filibuster reform have taken note of how the issue seems to have moved McConnell. “The filibuster is McConnell’s instrument of obstruction,” one Democratic senator told Playbook. “He wants to protect that at all costs. He was at real risk of overplaying his hand as he faced the growing prospect that we would have 51 votes to waive it for the purpose of dealing with debt. He wanted to avoid creating that precedent. Still, would have been better for us to just do it.”

Jennifer Rubin has a good column on McConnell’s possible motivations at The Washington Post: Opinion: Mitch McConnell ‘blinked’ on the debt ceiling. Here’s what that means.

Besides the debt ceiling mess, the biggest story this morning is a report issued by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Trump’s plans to attempt a coup after he lost the 2020 election.

Katie Benner at The New York Times: Report Cites New Details of Trump Pressure on Justice Dept. Over Election.

Even by the standards of President Donald J. Trump, it was an extraordinary Oval Office showdown. On the agenda was Mr. Trump’s desire to install a loyalist as acting attorney general to carry out his demands for more aggressive investigations into his unfounded claims of election fraud.

Young Mother in the Garden, Mary Cassatt

Young Mother in the Garden, Mary Cassatt

On the other side during that meeting on the evening of Jan. 3 were the top leaders of the Justice Department, who warned Mr. Trump that they and other senior officials would resign en masse if he followed through. They received immediate support from another key participant: Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel. According to others at the meeting, Mr. Cipollone indicated that he and his top deputy, Patrick F. Philbin, would also step down if Mr. Trump acted on his plan.

Mr. Trump’s proposed plan, Mr. Cipollone argued, would be a “murder-suicide pact,” one participant recalled. Only near the end of the nearly three-hour meeting did Mr. Trump relent and agree to drop his threat.

Mr. Cipollone’s stand that night is among the new details contained in a lengthy interim report prepared by the Senate Judiciary Committee about Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure the Justice Department to do his bidding in the chaotic final weeks of his presidency.

More details on the report:

The report draws on documents, emails and testimony from three top Justice Department officials, including the acting attorney general for Mr. Trump’s last month in office, Jeffrey A. Rosen; the acting deputy attorney general, Richard P. Donoghue, and Byung J. Pak, who until early January was U.S. attorney in Atlanta. It provides the most complete account yet of Mr. Trump’s efforts to push the department to validate election fraud claims that had been disproved by the F.B.I. and state investigators.

The interim report, released publicly on Thursday, describes how Justice Department officials scrambled to stave off a series of events during a period when Mr. Trump was getting advice about blocking certification of the election from a lawyer he had first seen on television and the president’s actions were so unsettling that his top general and the House speaker discussed the nuclear chain of command.

“This report shows the American people just how close we came to a constitutional crisis,” Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois and chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement. “Thanks to a number of upstanding Americans in the Department of Justice, Donald Trump was unable to bend the department to his will. But it was not due to a lack of effort.”

Mr. Durbin said that he believes the former president, who remains a front-runner for the Republican nomination in 2024, would have “shredded the Constitution to stay in power.”

The Washington Post: Senate report gives new details of Trump efforts to use Justice Dept. to overturn election.

On Jan. 3, then-acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen, his deputy Richard Donoghue, and a few other administration officials met in the Oval Office for what all expected to be a final confrontation on Trump’s plan to replace Rosen with Jeffrey Clark, a little-known Justice Department official who had indicated he would publicly pursue Trump’s false claims of mass voter fraud.

Alabaster, Vera, 1889-1964; Girl Reading

Vera Alabaster, 1889-1964; Girl Reading

According to testimony Rosen gave to the committee, Trump opened the meeting by saying, “One thing we know is you, Rosen, aren’t going to do anything to overturn the election.”

For three hours, the officials then debated Trump’s plan, and the insistence by Rosen and others that they would resign rather than go along with it.

The Senate report says that the top White House lawyer, Pat Cipollone, and his deputy also said they would quit if Trump went through with his plan.

During the meeting, Donoghue and another Justice Department official made clear that all of the Justice Department’s assistant attorneys general “would resign if Trump replaced Rosen with Clark,” the report says. “Donoghue added that the mass resignations likely would not end there, and that U.S. Attorneys and and other DOJ officials might also resign en masse.”

A key issue in the meeting was a letter that Clark and Trump wanted the Justice Department to send to Georgia officials warning of “irregularities” in voting and suggesting the state legislature get involved. Clark thought the letter should also be sent to officials in other states where Trump supporters were contesting winning Biden vote totals, the report said.ther DOJ officials might also resign en masse.”

Rosen and Donoghue had refused to send such a letter, infuriating Trump. According to the report, the president thought that if he installed Clark as the new attorney general, the letter would go out and fuel his bid to toss out Biden victories in a handful of states.

Two more interesting articles about the Senate report:

CNN: Senate Judiciary Committee issues sweeping report detailing how Trump and a top DOJ lawyer attempted to overturn 2020 election.

Politico: Senate Judiciary probe of Trump’s 2020 machinations zeroes in on Pennsylvania House Republican.

Also breaking this morning, Politico’s Betsy Woodruff Swan reports: ‘The intelligence was there’: Law enforcement warnings abounded in the runup to Jan. 6.

On Dec. 24, a private intelligence company that works with law enforcement issued a grave warning: Users of a pro-Trump internet forum were talking about turning violent on Jan. 6.

“[A] supposedly violent insurrection by [Trump’s] supporters has ‘always been the plan,’” read a briefing by that company, SITE Intelligence Group. SITE sent this bulletin and others to its numerous subscribers, including U.S. federal law enforcement.

Woman Reading by Jean Leon Henri Gouweloos

Woman Reading by Jean Leon Henri Gouweloos

That briefing is among a host of previously unreported documents that circulated among law enforcement officials in the weeks before Jan. 6 — laying out, some with jarring specificity, the threats that culminated in the attack on the Capitol. They showed just how much of a danger far-right extremists posed to federal buildings and lawmakers. And they bolster the argument that Jan. 6 was not an intelligence failure.

“A potpourri of communities overtly strategized to storm the Capitol building and arrest — if not outright kill — public officials and carry out a coup,” said Rita Katz, the founder and executive director of SITE, which supplied many of the most detailed and specific warnings ahead of Jan. 6She said Jan. 6 represented the most “profound failure to act” she has ever seen in decades of sharing intelligence with the U.S. government.

“Law enforcement officials were alerting their superiors and other agencies to the threats SITE had identified—many of which ended up manifesting that day, just as they were written,” she said. “These warnings were distributed by the FBI and other agencies well before January 6.”

The new documents come from a variety of sources in addition to SITE, including an industry group that tracks threats to rail transportation, the New York City Police Department, a state-government intelligence-sharing hub and the FBI itself. SITE shared its briefings with POLITICO. Property of the People, a transparency watchdog group focused on national security, obtained the other documents through open-records requests.

The documents mirror a flood of public warnings about the gathering danger posed by the outer fringes of the Trump movement in the months leading up to Jan. 6. The congressional select committee probing the attack is scrutinizing the failure of law enforcement to protect the Capitol that day.

There’s much more at the Politico link.

Have a great Thursday, Sky Dancers!!