Posted: June 28, 2022 Filed under: 2020 Elections, 2021 Insurrection | Tags: Cassidy Hutchinson, Donald Trump, January 6 Committee hearings, Jeffrey Clark, John Eastman, Mark Meadows
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.
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.
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.
Posted: June 18, 2022 Filed under: just because, morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Brad Raffensperger, Donald Trump, Gabriel Sterling, Georgia, Ginni Thomas, January 6 Committee hearings, John Eastman, Mike Pence, Renaissance cat art, Willow the White House cat
Today’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.
It 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.’”
Trump 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.
Tuesday’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 News, The 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.
This 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 group, which 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:
Just 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!!
Posted: April 19, 2022 Filed under: just because, morning reads | Tags: Alex Jones, Donald Trump, January 6 insurrection, John Eastman, Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, Oath Keepers, Ronny Jackson, U.S. democracy in peril, Ukraine genocide
Tuesday Morning Rant:
Once again, I’ve reached the point where I can’t bring myself to watch the news on TV. I check Twitter a few times a day and end up frightened and depressed. On the days I write posts, I read a number of articles, but then I need hours of down time to decompress. When will there be some good news for those of us who want the U.S. to be a democracy?
When will Democratic leaders understand that we are facing the strong possibility of losing the House and Senate in November? When will the House January 6 Committee begin the promised public hearings? When will the Justice Department prosecute the powerful people who planned the Capitol insurrection?
How can the pandemic end when the GOP has become the party of removing all restrictions designed to reduce the spread of the virus?
And that’s just the domestic situation. When will the U.S. and NATO deal with Putin’s genocide in Ukraine? When will they face the fact that the genocide continues, no matter how many weapons we provide?
I don’t know the answers to these questions; I only know that, in terms of democracy, our country has been losing ground since 2016 and–even with a Democratic president–we are still in grave danger from Trump and his GOP sycophants who are still trying to overturn the 2020 election.
From yesterday’s New York Times: Trump Allies Continue Legal Drive to Erase His Loss, Stoking Election Doubts.
In statehouses and courtrooms across the country, as well as on right-wing news outlets, allies of Mr. Trump — including the lawyer John Eastman — are pressing for states to pass resolutions rescinding Electoral College votes for President Biden and to bring lawsuits that seek to prove baseless claims of large-scale voter fraud. Some of those allies are casting their work as a precursor to reinstating the former president.
The efforts have failed to change any statewide outcomes or uncover mass election fraud. Legal experts dismiss them as preposterous, noting that there is no plausible scenario under the Constitution for returning Mr. Trump to office.
But just as Mr. Eastman’s original plan to use Congress’s final count of electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021, to overturn the election was seen as far-fetched in the run-up to the deadly Capitol riot, the continued efforts are fueling a false narrative that has resonated with Mr. Trump’s supporters and stoked their grievances. They are keeping alive the same combustible stew of conspiracy theory and misinformation that threatens to undermine faith in democracy by nurturing the lie that the election was corrupt.
The efforts have fed a cottage industry of podcasts and television appearances centered around not only false claims of widespread election fraud in 2020, but the notion that the results can still be altered after the fact — and Mr. Trump returned to power, an idea that he continues to push privately as he looks toward a probable re-election run in 2024.
Democrats and some Republicans have raised deep concerns about the impact of the decertification efforts. They warn of unintended consequences, including the potential to incite violence of the sort that erupted on Jan. 6, when a mob of Mr. Trump’s supporters — convinced that he could still be declared the winner of the 2020 election — stormed the Capitol. Legal experts worry that the focus on decertifying the last election could pave the way for more aggressive — and earlier — legislative intervention the next time around.
The article quotes Michael Luttig, a prominent conservative lawyer who was consulted by Mike Pence when Trump was pushing him to refuse to certify the 2020 Electoral College results:
“At the moment, there is no other way to say it: This is the clearest and most present danger to our democracy,” said J. Michael Luttig, a leading conservative lawyer and former appeals court judge, for whom Mr. Eastman clerked and whom President George W. Bush considered as a nominee to be the chief justice of the United States. “Trump and his supporters in Congress and in the states are preparing now to lay the groundwork to overturn the election in 2024 were Trump, or his designee, to lose the vote for the presidency.”
Eastman’s latest effort in Wisconsin:
And then there’s this:
A former lawyer for Donald Trump has claimed attorney-client privilege over 37,000 pages of emails related to his dealings with the then-president, he revealed in a court filing Monday night. John Eastman, known for penning a memo outlining how Team Trump might overturn the 2020 election, was ordered by a judge in January to review and turn over more than 90,000 pages of emails to the House select panel probing the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. After reviewing a reported 1,000 to 1,500 pages per day for three months, Eastman made no claims over 25,000 other records, according to Politico. However, after his Monday filing, the House committee said it objected to “every claim” of privilege. All 37,000 pages will now be sent to U.S. District Judge David Carter, who in March called Eastman and Trump’s post-election activities “a coup in search of a legal theory,” for him to rule individually on each of them.
Fortunately, Judge Carter is unlikely to have any sympathy for Eastman and his privilege claims. Read Kyle Cheney’s original story at Politico: Eastman shielding 37,000 pages of Trump-related email from Jan. 6 committee.
More January 6 news from Raw Story: GOP’s Ronny Jackson may have been communicating with Oath Keepers during Jan. 6 riot: court documents.
Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX) may have been in contact with Oath Keepers members during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
A newly released trove of text messages shows members of the right-wing militia discussing security for some top Donald Trump allies ahead of the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s election win, and Oath Keepers co-founder Stewart Rhodes asked an associate for Jackson’s cell phone number, reported Politico.
“Dr. Ronnie Jackson — on the move,” wrote an unidentified person. “Needs protection. If anyone inside cover him. He has critical data to protect.”
“Help with what?” Rhodes replied. “Give him my cell.” [….]
Kelly Meggs, an Oath Keepers member among six indicted on seditious conspiracy charges, mentioned on Jan. 3, 2021, that allies had discussed militia members “on the call with congressmen” and “wanted to say thank you all for providing and protecting us.”
What kind of data was Jackson trying to “protect?”
In pandemic news, yesterday a Trump-appointed judge struck down the mask mandate for airline passengers and crew.
Lawrence O. Gostin at The Daily Beast: Trump’s Worst Judge Just Made Travel a MAGA Nightmare.
The coronavirus pandemic may feel like a past-tense phenomenon for many Americans, even though the dangers are real and ongoing. But a federal judge appointed by Donald Trump just did everything she could to send the nation back into chaos.
On Monday, Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Florida threw out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s mask mandate for air travel and other forms of mass transportation. Deaths from COVID-19—and the mask mandates intended to prevent them—may be on the wane nationwide, but whatever you think about such policies, this is the latest and most egregious example of a judge acting as a partisan warrior in the COVID-19 culture wars.
Mizelle was appointed to the federal bench by President Trump in 2020. She was 33, and had been practicing law for only 8 years. She had never tried a case as a lead attorney. The Senate confirmed her even though the American Bar Association gave her a rating of “not qualified.” This nominee should have been rejected by the Senate not because of her judicial philosophy and not because of her age, but because she simply didn’t have the credentials and experience to be a federal judge with lifetime tenure.
Now she is substituting her opinion for that of scientific professionals at the CDC, and dictating health policy in America. The outcome could be disastrous, only serving to further embolden the right-wing activists who dispute the reality of this horrifically lethal pandemic.
Click the link to read the rest.
This could be a bit of good news:
The Washington Post: Infowars, run by Alex Jones, files for bankruptcy protection.
The conspiracy website Infowars has filed for bankruptcy protection as founder Alex Jones faces multiple defamation lawsuits tied to his false claims that the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a “giant hoax.”
According to documents filed Sunday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas, three companies owned by Jones are seeking Chapter 11 protection, which would put civil litigation on hold while they restructure their finances.
Jones is being sued by the families of several victims of the 2012 attack that left 26 people dead, including 20 young children, in Newtown, in western Connecticut. It remains the deadliest elementary school shooting in U.S. history. The 20-year-old gunman died by suicide.
But Jones falsely claimed the massacre was fabricated by gun control advocates and the mainstream media, who he said pursued a “false flag” operation staged by “crisis actors.”
The families accused him of grifting off those false claims while defaming their loved ones. Some said they were harassed and threatened after Jones ran online segments accusing them of being a part of a hoax, with one receiving hate mail referencing the Second Amendment, according to a 2018 CBS news segment. They rejected settlement offers from Jones….
Jones has been found liable in two separate cases, one in Texas, where he and Infowars are based, and another in Connecticut where the mass shooting occurred. Damages have not yet been decided in either case, but an initial amount of $725,000 has been paid into a bankruptcy trust managed by two retired judges, court records show, with an expected $2 million to be funded at a later date. The Texas court is expected to determine damages first, with jury selection scheduled for April 25.
Or maybe not so good news?
Finally, I’ll share just one Ukraine story from David Rothkopf at The Daily Beast: Even if Russia Uses a Nuke, We Probably Won’t—but Putin Would Still Pay Dearly.
If Russia were to use a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine it would, as CIA Director William Burns put it in public remarks last week, “change the world in a flash.” It might not, however, according to several experts, result in the direct military involvement of the west or a broader nuclear war.
That is not to say that such an attack would not produce devastating consequences beyond those related to the attack itself. There are a wide range of options that NATO would consider—many of which would produce lasting, disastrous consequences for Russia. Further, there is a clear sense among current and former U.S. government officials that Western leaders’ disinclination to take the bait and trigger a global war would and should be seen as a sign of strength. Finally, for all these reasons, such an act of Russian desperation is likely to be yet another huge miscalculation on the part of Vladimir Putin.
Although nuclear weapons have not been used since the American attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the late summer of 1945, concerns about their use are higher than they have been in decades. CIA Director Burns, in remarks at the Georgia Institute of Technology last Thursday, said, “Given the potential desperation of President Putin and the Russian leadership…none of us can take lightly the threat posed by a potential resort to tactical nuclear weapons or low-yield nuclear weapons.” On Friday, Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy echoed this warning saying that the international community should be concerned about Russian use of nuclear or chemical weapons, saying, “We should… not be afraid but be ready.”
Senior U.S. officials with whom I spoke emphasized that Burns was not basing his comments on any new intelligence or other evidence that Russia was preparing to use nuclear weapons, but rather on a prudent analysis of Russia’s situation. They mentioned that Russian doctrine had a “lower threshold” for the use of nuclear weapons than other nations, but that it was “still pretty high.” According to that doctrine, there were two kinds of events that would warrant consideration of the use of nuclear weapons. One was if the Russian military was facing a massive defeat that threatened its ability to further defend its country. The other was if there was a direct threat to the regime in Moscow.
Read the rest at the Daily Beast link.
That’s it for me today. Now I need to decompress with an escapist novel. I hope you are all well and taking care not to overdose on the news.
Posted: March 28, 2022 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: attempted coup, Clarence Thomas, Donald Trump, felony obstruction, Ginni Thomas, January 6 Committee, January 6 insurrection, John Eastman, Judge David Carter, Roman Abramovich, Ted Cruz, Ukraine
Daknikat has a cell phone emergency, so I’m filling in and starting really late–just beginning to look at the news. There’s quite a bit happening.
The Washington Post’s Michael Kranish has a big story about Ted Cruz and January 6: Inside Ted Cruz’s last-ditch battle to keep Trump in power. It turns out that Cruz and John Eastman, the lawyer who wrote a memo explaining how Pence could supposedly refuse to certify the election, have known each other for 27 years. Not only that, Trump asked Cruz if he would argue the case to overturn the election if they could get the Supreme Court to hear it. From the article:
An examination by The Washington Post of Cruz’s actions between Election Day and Jan. 6, 2021, shows just how deeply he was involved, working directly with Trump to concoct a plan that came closer than widely realized to keeping him in power. As Cruz went to extraordinary lengths to court Trump’s base and lay the groundwork for his own potential 2024 presidential bid, he also alienated close allies and longtime friends who accused him of abandoning his principles.
Now, Cruz’s efforts are of interest to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, in particular whether Cruz was in contact with Trump lawyerJohn Eastman, a conservative attorney who has been his friend for decades and who wrote key legal memos aimed at denying Biden’s victory.
As Eastman outlined a scenario in which Vice President Mike Pence could denycertifying Biden’s election, Cruz crafted a complementary plan in the Senate. He proposedobjecting to the results in six swing states and delayingaccepting the electoral college results on Jan. 6 in favor of a 10-day “audit” — thus potentiallyenabling GOP state legislatures to overturn the result. Ten other senators backed hisproposal, which Cruz continued to advocate on the day rioters attacked the Capitol.
The committee’s interest in Cruz is notable as investigators zero in on how closely Trump’s allies coordinated with members of Congress in the attempt to block or delay certifying Biden’s victory. If Cruz’s plan worked, it could have created enough chaos for Trump to remain in power.
“It was a very dangerous proposal, and, you know, could very easily have put us into territory where we got to the inauguration and there was not a president,” Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), a Jan. 6 committee member, said earlier this year on the podcast “Honestly.” “And I think that Senator Cruz knew exactly what he was doing. I think that Senator Cruz is somebody who knows what the Constitution calls for, knows what his duties and obligations are, and was willing, frankly, to set that aside.”
Eastman and Cruz both worked for Michael Luttig, who was then on the U.S. Appeals Court. Here’s what Luttig has to say about Cruz’s actions:
Luttig told The Post that he believes that Cruz — who once said that Luttig was “like a father to me” — played a paramount role in the events leading to Jan. 6.
“Once Ted Cruz promised to object, January 6 was all but foreordained, because Cruz was the most influential figure in the Congress willing to force a vote on Trump’s claim that the election was stolen,” Luttig said in a statement to The Post. “He was also the most knowledgeable of the intricacies of both the Electoral Count Act and the Constitution, and the ways to exploit the two.”
The story also says that Eastman took the Fifth when the Committee asked him about communications with Cruz.
Also from The Washington Post: Jan. 6 committee to seek interview with Ginni Thomas.
The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection will seek an interview with Virginia Thomas, a conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, according a source familiar with the investigation.
Virginia Thomas, who goes by Ginni, has drawn scrutiny for her text messages to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in which she repeatedly pressed Meadows to work aggressively to overturn the election and keep President Donald Trump in power in a series of urgent exchanges in the critical weeks after the vote, according to copies of the messages obtained by The Washington Post and CBS News.
The messages — 29 in all — reveal an extraordinary pipeline between Thomas, a conservative activist, and Trump’s top aide during a period when Trump and his allies were vowing to go to the Supreme Court in an effort to negate the election results.
The committee’s plans to ask Thomas for an interview were first reported by CNN. A source familiar with the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal committee plans confirmed the report.
Amanda Carpenter at The Bulwark: Is Ginni Thomas’s Story Believable?
Virginia Thomas wants people to believe that her husband, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, had no idea about her activities challenging the results of the 2020 election.
“Clarence doesn’t discuss his work with me, and I don’t involve him in my work,” she told a friendly outlet earlier this month. Therefore, no one need worry about his ability to be an impartial judge on the highest court in the land. Everything is hunky-dory….
Her story, as well as her election theories, don’t survive even the most basic common-sense tests.
Justice Thomas cannot plausibly plead ignorance of his wife’s Jan. 6th-related activities. Her texts were the subject of a blockbuster Washington Post-CBS story, carried by numerous other outlets such as CNN and the New York Times. Multiple outlets asked the Thomases for comment multiple times. A CNN reporter staked out the couple in their parking garage. Maybe the Thomases talked about it, maybe they didn’t—it’s impossible for outsiders to know what happens inside a marriage—but the notion that Clarence Thomas is unaware of what Ginni was up to? Not plausible.
Second, beyond the text messages revealed last week, many of Ginni’s political activities relating to Jan. 6th were already a matter of public record. Her promotion of election conspiracies was well known; she posted them on her Facebook page. On the morning of Jan. 6th, just hours before the attack on the Capitol, she lavished praise on the Trump rallygoers who wanted to overturn the election. In the weeks after the riot, Ginni apologized to a listserv of her husband’s former clerks because her election-related activities and her “lifetime passions” caused a rift in the close-knit group of Thomas alumni.* Although this was a minor controversy, her husband could reasonably be expected to know about it, since it directly involved his wife and former clerks—and the Washington Post reported on it.
To believe that Justice Thomas is unaware of Mrs. Thomas’s Jan. 6th-related activities, one would also have to believe that Ginni’s co-signed public letter to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy demanding that he remove Republicans Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger from the GOP conference for serving as members of the Jan. 6th Committee never crossed Justice Thomas’s radar.
More at the link.
Here’s another breaking story from Katelyn Polantz at CNN: Judge: ‘More likely than not’ that Trump ‘corruptly attempted’ to block Congress from counting votes on January 6.
A federal judge said Monday that former President Donald Trump and right-wing attorney John Eastman may have been planning a crime as they sought to disrupt the January 6 congressional certification of the presidential election.
“Based on the evidence, the Court finds it more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021,” Judge David Carter wrote Monday.
Attorney John Eastman gestures as he speaks next to Rudy Giuliani on January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
Carter, a federal judge in California, ordered Eastman to turn over 101 emails from around January 6, 2021, that he has tried to keep secret from the House select committee investigating the US Capitol attack.
Carter’s reasoning is a startling acknowledgment by a federal court that Trump’s interest in overturning the election could be considered criminal.
“The illegality of the plan was obvious,” Carter wrote. “Our nation was founded on the peaceful transition of power, epitomized by George Washington laying down his sword to make way for democratic elections. Ignoring this history, President Trump vigorously campaigned for the Vice President to single-handedly determine the results of the 2020 election … Every American — and certainly the President of the United States — knows that in a democracy, leaders are elected, not installed.”
Judge Carter had even more to say:
In his order, Carter made an unusually bold statement wishing for accountability so that history does not repeat itself.
“If the country does not commit to investigating and pursuing accountability for those responsible, the Court fears January 6 will repeat itself,” the judge wrote.
“More than a year after the attack on our Capitol, the public is still searching for accountability. This case cannot provide it. The Court is tasked only with deciding a dispute over a handful of emails. This is not a criminal prosecution; this is not even a civil liability suit,” he wrote.
“At most, this case is a warning about the dangers of ‘legal theories’ gone wrong, the powerful abusing public platforms, and desperation to win at all costs,” Carter added. “If Dr. Eastman and President Trump’s plan had worked, it would have permanently ended the peaceful transition of power, undermining American democracy and the Constitution.”
I hope Merrick Garland is paying attention.
Another big story from The Wall Street Journal: Roman Abramovich and Ukrainian Peace Negotiators Suffer Suspected Poisoning.
Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich and Ukrainian peace negotiators suffered symptoms of suspected poisoning after a meeting in Kyiv earlier this month, people familiar with the matter said.
Following the meeting in the Ukrainian capital, Mr. Abramovich, who has shuttled between Moscow, Lviv and other negotiating venues, as well as at least two senior members of the Ukrainian team developed symptoms that included red eyes, constant and painful tearing, and peeling skin on their faces and hands, the people said.
They blamed the suspected attack on hard-liners in Moscow who they said wanted to sabotage talks to end the war. A person close to Mr. Abramovich said it wasn’t clear who had targeted the group.
Mr. Abramovich and the Ukrainian negotiators, who include Crimean Tatar lawmaker Rustem Umerov, have since improved and their lives aren’t in danger, the people said. Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, who has met with Mr. Abramovich, wasn’t affected, they said. Mr. Zelensky’s spokesman said he had no information about any suspected poisoning.
\Western experts who looked into the incident said it was hard to determine whether the symptoms were caused by a chemical or biological agent or by some sort of electromagnetic-radiation attack, the people familiar with the matter said.
Read more at the WSJ. There was no paywall when I opened the link.
I’m going to end there so I can get this posted. What do you think about all this? What other stories are you following?
Posted: October 30, 2021 Filed under: Afternoon Reads | Tags: Greg Jacob, January 6 insurrection, John Eastman, Mike Pence, National Archives, Trump attempted cover up, Trump coup attempt
Le Chat Noir, Théophile Steinlen (1896)
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
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)
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
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.
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.
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!