Lazy Caturday Reads

Johann Benjamin Ehrenreich (1733 or 1739–1806

Portrait of his pet cat by Johann Benjamin Ehrenreich (1733 or 1739–1806

Happy Caturday!!

We are living in perilous times. Thanks to Trump’s enabling of U.S. Neo-Nazis, we’re learning that these toxic groups are everywhere–even here in ultra-blue Massachusetts. Back in July, about 100 members of a white supremacist group called Patriot Front marched through downtown Boston in matching outfits, their faces concealed by masks. It was quite a shock to local law enforcement and city leaders.

From The Boston Globe, July 23, 2022: The white-nationalist Patriot Front is getting bigger, and more visible, in New England.

Internal videos released this year by a nonprofit media groupshowed Patriot Front members in action—boxing in the woods in Sutton, spray-painting graffiti in Quincy, draping their banner from a Storrow Drive overpass in Boston, slapping on stickers in Providence’s Waterplace Park.

Despite New England’s reputation as a deeply blue region, those who’ve studied Patriot Front say that its local faction is among the group’s most active nationally, along with Virginia and Texas, where several of its leaders are based. The group, rooted in a notorious far-right rally in Virginia in 2017, is finding a receptive audience for its white supremacist ideology among certain young men — and has targeted colleges for recruitment.

In fact, there have been hundreds of incidents involving Patriot Front members in Massachusetts and Rhode Island this year alone, according to statistics compiled by the Anti-Defamation League. In addition, at least ninePatriot Front members or associates from across the region have faced charges stemming from their work for the group.

“These extremists perceive New England to have favorable racial demographics, which supposedly presents more opportunities to find like-minded people,”said Jeff Tischauser, a senior research analyst with the Southern Poverty Law Center, in an e-mail. “Extremists around the U.S. also take inspiration from New England history before, during, and immediately after the American Revolution.”

The July 2 march in Boston, which caught law enforcement and much of the public by surprise, represented something of a coming out party for the organization in New England, drawing members from all over the country to the city’s streets on a bustling holiday weekend. The noisy march of young white men banging drums and hoisting Patriot Front flags along the city’s storied Freedom Trail made national headlines and drew a sharp rebuke from Mayor Michelle Wu.

So I guess it shouldn’t be that surprising to learn that a police officer in Woburn, Massachusetts is a Neo-Nazi with ties to white supremacist leader Richard Spencer. Somehow John Donnelly was able to keep it a secret until he was smoked out by an anti-fascist group called Ignite the Right. Here’s the beginning of Twitter thread they posted. You can see the rest on Twitter.

Christopher Mathias at HuffPo: He Marched At The Nazi Rally In Charlottesville. Then He Went Back To Being A Cop.

A Massachusetts police officer attended the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, five years ago and acted in key security and planning roles, HuffPost has confirmed. He also used an alias to post racist and antisemitic comments online. The officer, John Donnelly, was still an active-duty member of the police force until Thursday, shortly after HuffPost inquired about his status with the department and role in the deadly white supremacist rally.

Donnelly, 33, was a patrolman for the Woburn Police Department near Boston, where he has been employed since 2015.

But on the morning of Aug. 12, 2017, Donnelly could be seen on video arriving at the Charlottesville rally with Richard Spencer, a prominent white supremacist for whom Donnelly was apparently acting as a security guard. Spencer, Donnelly and a coterie of other suit-and-tie fascists worked their way into a city park where they held court beneath a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, posing for photos and talking into livestreams.

Donnelly was among hundreds of white supremacists who invaded the university town. His fellow attendees violently attacked counterprotesters, with one neo-Nazi driving his car into a crowd of anti-fascists, killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring 19 others. That evening, Donnelly went to a party at a house near Charlottesville, where he joined in a celebration of the day’s events.

Donnelly then returned to Massachusetts and resumed his job as a cop.

His white supremacist activism and involvement in the Charlottesville rally has gone unknown for five years, during which time Donnelly — while still working as a police officer — became the president of a “back the blue” nonprofit raising money for law enforcement, as well as an award-winning real estate agent whose face is featured on a massive billboard in Woburn, a Boston suburb.

But last month, an anti-fascist collective called Ignite the Right provided HuffPost with evidence showing Donnelly attended the Charlottesville rally and connecting him to a series of deeply alarming messages posted online in which he advocated violence against leftists and minority groups.

HuffPo contacted the Chief of Police in Woburn, and Donnelly is now out of a job. Read about how Ignite the Right identified this secret Nazi at the link above.

Still Life with Cat, Mary Fedden, R.A.

Still Life with Cat, Mary Fedden, R.A.

Here’s a follow-up story, also from Christopher Mathias at HuffPo: District Attorney To Review All Cases Handled By Cop Who Planned Charlottesville Nazi Rally.

A Massachusetts prosecutor has promised to review all cases handled by police Officer John Donnelly after a HuffPost report exposed Donnelly’s role in planning the deadly 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Middlesex County District Attorney Marina Ryan announced Friday that her office is now “thoroughly reviewing any pending or closed cases” in which Donnelly, a patrolman in Woburn, Massachusetts, was involved.

“We will be issuing a discovering notice disclosing this matter to defense counsel on those cases,” Ryan said in a statement. “That notice has already been added to our publicly available list of officers subject to exculpatory evidence disclosure.” [….]

On Thursday, HuffPost published a report detailing how Donnelly, 33, was among hundreds of white supremacists who descended on Charlottesville in August 2017 for a “Unite the Right” rally, terrorizing the town while chanting slogans such as “Jews will not replace us” and violently attacking counterprotesters….

Donnelly attended the rally as a bodyguard for Richard Spencer, a prominent white supremacist. Leaked chat logs from a neo-Nazi Discord server show Donnelly played an integral part in planning the weekend’s events.

The messages Donnelly posted on Discord show he may have belonged to the white supremacist group Identity Evropa. His messages were also full of racist and antisemitic slurs, and at times they advocated violence against leftists and minorities.

I usually don’t share local stories, but this is likely the tip of the iceberg. There are very likely many more police officers like Donnelly everywhere in the U.S. I suppose they were always there, but Trump has enabled them and given them permission to act out.

In other news, Trump is facing multiple investigations and prosecutors are getting closer to the FPOTUS. Here’s the latest.

The Washington Post: Judge bucks Trump, orders Pence aide to testify to Jan. 6 grand jury.

former top aide to Vice President Mike Pence returned before agrand jury Thursday to testify in a criminal probe of efforts to overturn the 2020 election after federal courts overruled President Donald Trump’s objections to the testimony, according to people familiar with the matter.

In a sealed decision that could clear the way for other top Trump White House officials to answer questions before a grand jury, Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell ruled that former Pence chief of staff Marc Short probably possessed information important to the Justice Department’s criminal investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol that was not available from other sources, one of those people said.

Calico Cat, by Agnes Bodor

Calico Cat, by Agnes Bodor

Trump appealed, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit refused to postpone Short’s appearance while the litigation continues, the people said, signaling that attempts by Trump to invoke executive privilege to preserve the confidentiality of presidential decision-making were not likely to prevail….

Grand jury matters are typically secret, but The Washington Post has reported that prosecutors are working with grand jurors and looking extensively at the actions of Trump and his advisers in the period between the November 2020 election and Jan. 6, 2021. Short’s case came to light on Sept. 22 after Trump attorneys M. Evan Corcoran, Timothy C. Parlatore and Rowley were seen at federal court in Washington when there were no publicly scheduled matters, along with a lead Jan. 6 federal prosecutor, Thomas Windom.

According to people familiar with the matter, Short had appeared before a grand jury in downtown Washington in July, but declined to answer certain questions after Flood argued the communications of top White House advisers are protected — and presented written documentation from Trump’s lawyers that they were asserting executive privilege.

The Justice Department asked the court to intervene, urging Howell to override Trump’s claim and to compel Short to answer questions about his communications with Trump, one person said. After arguments Sept. 22, Howell granted the government’s motion, the people said, but because the investigation and an appeal are ongoing, it is unclear if or when a redacted opinion will become public.

How long before Pence himself has to testify?

Julia Ainsley and Ali Vitali at NBC News: Congress asks Secret Service for an account of all contacts between agency, Oath Keepers up to and on Jan. 6, 2021.

The House Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection has asked the Secret Service for records of all communications between the far-right Oath Keepers group and Secret Service agents prior to and on the day of the attack, after a preliminary accounting by the agency indicated multiple contacts in 2020, according to a Secret Service spokesman.

The spokesman said the Congressional request follows a short telephonic briefing from the Secret Service to committee staff, in which the agency said an agent from its protective intelligence division had “numerous” contacts with Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and other group members prior to Trump rallies in fall 2020, but that they were all part of common practice to inform the group of security protocols to follow.

That initial briefing was prompted by federal trial testimony in which the ex-leader of the North Carolina Oath Keepers said Rhodes was in contact with a member of the Secret Service around the time of a September 2020 rally….

cat-on-fence-1956, Alex Colville

Cat on a fence, 1956, by Alex Colville

The Secret Service found that multiple members of the organization, not just Rhodes, spoke to an agent in the protective intelligence division ahead of Trump rallies, the most recent conversation coming before a Dec. 12, 2020, rally, Guglielmi said.

Guglielmi also said the initial search showed the communications were part of common practices that allow agents to tell protesters where they can and cannot be during an event and what items they are prohibited from bringing.

“They reached out concerning logistics about demonstration areas and rules for attending presidential events. This is common activity between organized groups and advance agents,” said Guglielmi.

Two Secret Service officials told NBC News once the Oath Keepers had the phone number of the member of the agency’s protective intelligence detail, they made numerous calls directly to that agent.

Maybe it was routine, maybe not. I’m taking everything the Secret Service says with a grain of salt.

Charlie Savage at The New York Times: U.S. Asks Court to End Special Master Review of Files Seized From Trump.

In a 53-page brief for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, the Justice Department broadly challenged the legal legitimacy of orders last month by Judge Aileen M. Cannon, who blocked investigators from using the materials and appointed an independent arbiter to sift them for any that are potentially privileged or Mr. Trump’s personal property.

The Justice Department already succeeded in persuading a panel of the Atlanta-based court to exempt about 100 documents marked classified from Judge Cannon’s move — a decision the Supreme Court declined to overturn this week. In its new filing, the Justice Department asked the appeals court to reverse her order for the remaining 11,000 or so records.

“This court has already granted the government’s motion to stay that unprecedented order insofar as it relates to the documents bearing classification markings,” the filing said. “The court should now reverse the order in its entirety for multiple independent reasons.” [….]

The Trump legal team is due to file a brief in November. The date of any oral arguments has not yet been announced, but the appeals court has granted a Justice Department request that it expedite consideration of the case. It may rule on the appeal before Judge Cannon receives the special master’s report and rules on any contested documents.

The dispute is the opening round in the main part of the Justice Department’s appeal of the orders by Judge Cannon as part of a lawsuit Mr. Trump filed after the F.B.I. carried out a court-ordered search of his Florida club and residence, Mar-a-Lago, in August.

The Wall Street Journal: FBI Seeks Additional Information From Two Trump Aides About Mar-a-Lago Records.

Federal investigators contacted at least two aides to former President Donald Trump months before the FBI searched his Mar-a-Lago resort and have sought to talk to them again in recent weeks, people familiar with the matter said, as the Justice Department examines possible obstruction of its efforts to retrieve hundreds of government and classified documents.

Dream of a Cat - Norbertine Bresslern-Roth,1977

Dream of a Cat, by Norbertine Bresslern-Roth,1977

The aides, Walt Nauta and Will Russell, are witnesses in the Justice Department’s investigation into the handling of presidential and classified records taken from the White House but aren’t formally cooperating with the probe, the people said. Mr. Russell hasn’t personally spoken to investigators, who are communicating directly with his counsel.

Mr. Nauta, a former military valet who went to work at Mar-a-Lago after Mr. Trump left the White House, was seen on surveillance footage moving boxes from a storage room before and after investigators issued a subpoena in May seeking the documents’ return, the people said. Mr. Nauta told investigators that he did so at Mr. Trump’s request, one of the people said.

The federal interest in Mr. Russell hasn’t been previously reported. He served in the Trump White House, including as a coordinator of presidential travel, and went on to work for the former president in Florida after he left office. Mr. Russell had previously been subpoenaed in connection with the Justice Department’s investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. The FBI’s questioning of Mr. Nauta was earlier reported by the New York Times….

The Wall Street Journal previously reported that the extraordinary Aug. 8 search came after at least one person familiar with the stored papers told investigators there were more sensitive documents at Mar-a-Lago beyond what they had received in June through a grand jury subpoena.

Those two had better watch their backs. Now that their names are out there they’ll likely be dealing with death threats from the Trump cult.

More stories to check out:

The Washington Post: Jan. 6 video undermines Trump’s repeated efforts to blame Pelosi for Capitol security.

Op-Ed by Norman Eisen, Danielle Brian and The Jan. 6 Hearings Are Over. These 3 Things Must Happen Now.

Tom Nichols at The Atlantic: Donald Trump Tried to Destroy the Constitution. What will it take for millions of Americans to care?

The Daily Beast: Creepy Message Shows Oath Keepers’ Bloodlust for Mike Pence.

Raw Story: Former US attorney singles out the ‘criminal act’ that will lead Merrick Garland to indict Trump.

That’s all I have for today. What stories are you following?


Lazy Caturday Reads

Good Morning!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at the link.

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

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

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

I can’t wait either.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More news, links only:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a nice Juneteenth weekend everyone!!


Lazy Caturday Reads With Movie Cats

Good Afternoon!!

51gJjMeOjRL._AC_SY1000_Greetings from the land of ice and snow! Massachusetts was covered in ice yesterday after the latest winter storm hit New England. Lots of people ventured out in their cars anyway. It didn’t go well. The Boston Globe: ‘Patrols were going from one crash to another.’ Mass. State Police respond to more than 200 accidents as flash freeze continues.

An icy winter storm marched across Massachusetts Friday, pushing temperatures well below freezing and leading to hundreds of car crashes on slick roadways, including one fatality, officials said.

State Police said they had responded to over 200 crashes, starting from about 5 p.m. Thursday, when the temperatures started to drop, through Friday afternoon.

“Patrols were going from one crash to another,” State Police said on Twitter.

A Worcester man was killed in a crash with a tractor trailer on Interstate 495 north in Chelmsford, State Police said.

Boston police responded to 48 crashes across the city between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Friday, according to Sergeant Detective John Boyle, the department’s chief spokesman.

Elsewhere, a car overturned on Route 2 eastbound in Belmont and caught fire around 5 p.m., but there were no injuries, local police said.

There was little hope conditions would improve anytime soon on Friday evening.

A winter weather advisory remained in effect until 10 p.m. for much of Massachusetts, all of Rhode Island, and northern Connecticut, according to the National Weather Service.

Today the temperatures remain below zero. I’m so glad I don’t need to go anywhere.

This shocking piece by HuffPost’s Ryan J. Reilly is a must read: A Police Officer Died By Suicide After Jan. 6. Here’s What He Went Through At The Capitol.

About six months after the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, Erin Smith was talking to a psychiatrist who was working on a report on her husband’s death. Jeffrey Smith, an officer with the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, had died by suicide on Jan. 15, just nine days after the attack on the Capitol.

The psychiatrist, hired by a lawyer for Jeffrey’s estate, was examining whether the injuries Jeffrey suffered on Jan. 6 had caused his death. Erin didn’t know precisely what her husband had gone through on Jan. 6; the couple had a general understanding that they wouldn’t get into too many specifics about his police work. But from what he did share, it was awful.

Cat from Alien

Cat from Alien

“He internalized things. He said it was the worst day of his life,” Erin told the psychiatrist. “He said, you train all the time but it’s different when you experience it. I’d never seen him that way before. He was extremely even tempered. He was very calm about everything.”

When officers heard over the radio that shots were fired, Jeffrey told her, they didn’t know whether it was rioters or police who were shooting. Jeffrey, according to the psychiatrist’s subsequent report, told another friend that his adrenaline was pumping like crazy and called the scene “crazy.”

“We were literally in the halls of the Capitol pushing people out,” Jeffrey reportedly texted the friend. “It was like a movie.” [….]

“He didn’t know the layout of the Capitol. The last time he was in the Capitol was when he was 10 years old,” Erin said. “He didn’t know if he was going to get out alive.”

Erin recalled to the psychiatrist that Jeffrey told her when he arrived home that he’d been “punched in the face, hit in the head with a metal pole.”

Erin had to fight get any information from the Metropolitan Police, but she did get some help from on-line investigators where were able to locate Jeffrey in videos. She was eventually aespeble to get his body cam footage through a lawsuit. What that footage revealed was horrifying. Reilly has a long thread on Twitter that everyone should read (including Merrick Garland). Here’s some of what Jeffrey experience on January 6, 2021.

But there’s more to this story–the tale of a Washington DC chiropractor named David Walls-Kaufman, who was outed to HuffPo by a client, who asked to be called “Elizabeth.”

About this time a year ago, a woman who agreed to be identified by HuffPost as Elizabeth was stressed. So, not long after the Jan. 6 attack, she went to see her chiropractor on Capitol Hill at his shop on East Capitol Street, barely 500 yards from the Capitol grounds….

Elizabeth had been going to the chiropractor for years. She shared a bit of what brought her to see him that day, perhaps thinking that a man so close to the Capitol who had clients who worked on the Hill might have similar feelings of unease in the aftermath of a violent mob’s attempt to stop the transfer of power in the United States.

“I said I had been stressed out and upset and scared by the attack on the Capitol,” Elizabeth told HuffPost. But, with her chiropractor’s hands on her body, she realized he had a very different perspective.

“While he was adjusting me, he said, ‘I thought it was just a few broken windows,’” Elizabeth said.

Vito's cat from The Godfather

Vito’s cat from The Godfather

It turns out that Walls-Kaufmann was one of the rioters in the Capitol building and he appears in Jeffrey Smith’s body cam footage. You can see shots of him in the article and in Reilly’s Twitter thread.

Members of the sleuthing group Deep State Dogs, who began a volunteer investigative effort for Jeffrey’s widow after her attorney reached out to HuffPost, confirmed Walls-Kaufman’s identity. Nearly six months after he was identified, he has not yet been arrested.

HuffPost also recently discovered how Walls-Kaufman entered the Capitol on Jan. 6. Newly released surveillance footage from the Capitol shows Walls-Kaufman, with his hoodie on his head, barreling through the building’s eastern doors, which are visible from the street outside his shop. He enters the Capitol seconds after a member of the mob violently pulls down a cop from behind and the mob rushes in. Another officer, wearing no protective gear, has to hurry over to help the fallen officer, and the mob surges through the doors. That’s when Walls-Kaufman rushes in, right behind Capitol riot defendants Simone Gold and John Strand, who ― like Walls-Kaufman ― promote conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 pandemic.

I’ve quoted a great deal from Reilly’s article, but there is much more to read at the HuffPo link. This is such an important story.

As we learned yesterday, the Republican National Committee thinks the people who marched on the capitol after Trump incited them were just “ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse.” RNC chair Ronna McDaniel tried to clean the mess up on Twitter, but no one’s buying it.

Business Insider: GOP accused of ‘declaring war on democracy’ after calling the deadly January 6 riot ‘legitimate political discourse.’

McDaniel in a tweet on Friday said that she has repeatedly condemned the violence on January 6. The resolution contained no mention of the violence and criminal acts by Trump loyalists during the riot.

Democrats, historians, and democracy experts, among others, ripped into the Republican party for framing the deadly riot in this way.

Mr. Bigglesworth from Austin Powers

Mr. Bigglesworth from Austin Powers

“Today @GOPChairwoman said Jan 6th insurrectionists were ‘ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse,'” Jaime Harrison, chair of the Democratic National Committee, said in a tweet. “They stormed the Capitol. Threatened the VP & Speaker. Injured police. Broke windows. Smeared feces on walls. GOP is truly the Party of #FraudFearFascism.”

Walter Shaub, a former director of the Office of Government Ethics, said the “deadly insurrection that sought to stop the transfer of power was not ‘legitimate political discourse,’ and any persons or groups who say so are declaring war on democracy and aligning themselves with terrorists.”

Democratic Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia echoed the sentiment.

“The Republican Party just declared the January 6th attack on the Capitol – 140+ police officers wounded, multiple deaths, and criminal charges for sedition – ‘legitimate political discourse,'” Beyer tweeted. “The GOP officially supports violent criminal assaults on police, and on our democracy.”

Jennifer Mercieca, a historian of American political rhetoric at Texas A&M University, said she can say with “certainty that the January 6th insurrection was not legitimate, nor was it ‘political discourse,'” adding that the riot “was political violence.”

Read more at the link.

Also in the news yesterday, Mike Pence kinda sorta stood up to his hold boss, saying “Trump was wrong” about the vice president have a the power to overturn the election by refusing to certify electoral votes. Naturally Trump was enraged and hit back. 

51fh1jVZycLRaw Story Trump responds to Pence in unhinged statement: ‘I was right and everyone knows it!’

In a statement issued by his Save America PAC more than six hours later, Trump said, “Just saw Mike Pence’s statement on the fact that he had no right to do anything with respect to the Electoral Vote Count, other than being an automatic conveyor belt for the Old Crow Mitch McConnell to get Biden elected President as quickly as possible.”

“Well, the Vice President’s position is not an automatic conveyor if obvious signs of voter fraud or irregularities exist,” Trump added. “That’s why the Democrats and RINOs are working feverishly together to change the very law that Mike Pence and his unwitting advisors used on January 6 to say he had no choice. The reason they want it changed is because they now say they don’t want the Vice President to have the right to ensure an honest vote. In other words, I was right and everyone knows it. If there is fraud or large scale irregularities, it would have been appropriate to send those votes back to the legislatures to figure it out. The Dems and RINOs want to take that right away. A great opportunity lost, but not forever, in the meantime our Country is going to hell!”

Finally, Pence should probably check out this piece at Raw Story: ‘Cut their head off!’: Mike Pence threatened with beheading in newly released Capitol riot video.

Late Friday night the Justice Department released new videos from the January 6th Capitol riot where one insurrectionist pledged to drag former vice president Miek Pence through the streets for treason that led to him calling for Donald Trump’s former running mate to be decapitated.

CNN’s Amara Walker shared the videos — with a warning about the language — that showed the bearded rioter looking into his camera and raging at Pence for betraying supporters of the former president.

In the video the unidentified man can be heard asking if Pence held up the certification of Joe Biden as president before launching into a profanity-laden attack on the former vice president.

“I’m hearing that Pence just caved. Is that true?” he asked. “I’m telling you, if Pence caved we’re going to drag motherf*ckers through the streets. You f*cking politicians are going to get drug through the streets because we’re not going to have our f*cking sh*t stolen.”

“If we find out you politicians voted for it we’re going to drag your f*cking asses through the street,” he continued before turning back to Pence.

“Let me find out Pence — let me find out you treasoned (sic) the country. I’ll f*cking drag your ass too” he shouted. “Cut their head off! You do the right thing or we’re going to force you to do the right thing.”

On that grisly note, I’ll wrap this up and turn over the floor to you. What stories are you following today?


Thursday Reads: January 6, One Year Later

Good Morning!!

106997615-16414792622022-01-06t142549z_1797960329_rc2ptr97uikn_rtrmadp_0_usa-capitol-securityPresident Joe Biden today specifically held his predecessor responsible for the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol one year ago today. Without naming him, Biden called Trump a liar who cares more about his own “bruised ego” than about our democracy or the Consitution.

The Washington Post provides excerpts: On Jan. 6 anniversary, Biden calls out Trump for ‘web of lies’ about 2020 election.

In a searing speech, Biden marked the first anniversary of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by painting in vivid detail the violence of that day — and, without naming Trump, by squarely blaming the former president for spreading “a web of lies” about the 2020 election.

“One year ago today, in this sacred place, democracy was attacked, simply attacked,” Biden said. “The will of the people was under assault. The Constitution, our Constitution, faced the gravest of threats.”

Throughout the speech, Biden did not mention Trump by name but constantly referred to him as the former president.

“For the first time in our history, a president had not just lost an election: He tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob breached the Capitol,” Biden said. “But they failed.”

Biden said Americans must ensure such an attack never happens again.

“Here is the truth: The former president of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election,” Biden said. “He’s done so because he values power over principle … because he sees his own interest as more important than his country’s interest and America’s interest, and because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution. He can’t accept he lost.”

More excerpts from the speech at the WaPo: ‘I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of democracy,’ Biden says.

In his remarks at the Capitol Thursday morning, Biden vowed to defend American democracy and said that Jan. 6 represents not its end but rather a rebirth of “liberty and fair play.”

“You can’t love your country only when you win,” Biden said. “You can’t obey the law only when it’s convenient. You can’t be patriotic when you embrace and enable lies.”\Those who stormed the Capitol and those who called on them to do so, Biden said, “held a dagger at the throat of … American democracy.”

“They didn’t come here out of patriotism or principle. They came here in rage — not in service of America, but rather in service of one man,” Biden said.

He added: “I did not seek this fight brought to this Capitol one year ago today. But I will not shrink from it, either. I will stand in this breach. I will defend this nation, and I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of democracy.”

Trump has already responded to Biden’s speech. I won’t quote from his childish statement, but you can read it at The Independent. 

More on this Biden’s speech from The Boston Globe: ‘We the people endured.’ Biden, Harris mark a year since violent insurrection.

President Joe Biden on Thursday delivered what he declared was the “God’s truth” marking the first anniversary of the U.S. Capitol insurrection, the violent attack by Donald Trump’s supporters that has fundamentally changed Congress and raised global concerns about the future of American democracy.

Biden’s criticism was particularly blistering of then-President Trump and his violent supporters.

“For the first time in our history, a president not just lost an election, he tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob breached the Capitol,” Biden said. “But they failed.”

“I will stand in this breach,” he declared, his voice rising.

“Democracy was attacked,” Biden said at the Capitol. “We the people endure. We the people prevailed.”

The president and congressional Democrats started the day in Statuary Hall, one of several spots where rioters swarmed a year ago and interrupted the electoral count. Biden drew a contrast between the truth of what happened and the false narratives that have sprung up about the Capitol assault, including the continued refusal by many Republicans to affirm that Biden won the 2020 election.

“You and I and the whole world saw with our own eyes,” Biden said.

He asked those listening to close their eyes and recall what they saw that day, as he described the harrowing, violent scene, the mob attacking police, threatening the House speaker, erecting gallows threatening to hang the vice president — all while then-President Trump sat at the White House watching it on TV.

“Here is the God’s truth about Jan. 6, 2021,” Biden said. “They were looking to subvert the Constitution.”

“We must be absolutely clear about what is true and what is a lie. Here’s the truth,” he said. “The former president of the United States of America has spread a web of lies about the 2020 election.”

From Jonathan Karl, author of Betrayal, a book on the last days of the Trump administration: Beyond the riot, Jan. 6 was a dangerously close call. How Trump’s plot nearly succeeded: ANALYSIS.

Two weeks after the Jan. 6 insurrection , Donald Trump walked out of the White House and Joe Biden became the 46th president of the United States. Trump had attempted to use the full power of the presidency and his position as the leader of the Republican Party to stay in power, but he failed. Democracy succeeded. Joe Biden became president, on schedule and without incident, at noon on Jan. 20, 2021.

But this was a close call. Attempts by Trump and his followers to overturn the results of the 2020 election — multi-dimensional efforts of which the assault on the Capitol building was only one element — came dangerously close to succeeding.

Consider, for example, Donald Trump’s demand that Vice President Mike Pence act to nullify Biden’s victory on Jan. 6. Trump wanted Pence to use his power as the presiding officer during the joint session of Congress that day to toss out Biden’s electoral votes in states Trump had contested. On its face, the idea of giving one person the power to overturn the votes of millions of Americans was absurd. And outside of a few fringe lawyers advising Trump, constitutional scholars agreed that Pence had no authority to do what Trump was demanding.

But what if Pence had followed Trump’s order? What would have happened if he had brought the gavel down during the joint session on Jan. 6 and thrown out Biden’s electoral votes in the states Trump had contested? What if he had declared Trump the winner of those states?

J. Michael Luttig, a former federal appellate judge popular among conservatives, had advised Pence he would be violating the Constitution if he followed Trump’s order, and Luttig tells ABC News that if Pence had attempted to do it, he would have “plunged the country into a constitutional crisis of the highest order.”

While it may be clear that Pence did not have the authority to unilaterally reject electoral votes, it is unclear who would have had the authority to overrule him. Some have suggested the matter would simply have had to be resolved by the Supreme Court, but it is unclear the justices would have agreed to decide such a case because the Constitution arguably leaves it up to Congress to decide its own rules for counting contested electoral votes.

“It would have presented America, and the three branches of our government in particular, with what each branch would have viewed as seemingly irresolvable constitutional issues,” Luttig said.

Luttig believes the Supreme Court would have ultimately taken up the issue, but, he says, with no explicit constitutional authority to do so, it’s not certain the justices would have agreed to resolve the dispute.

“Had the Supreme Court refused to decide these issues,” Luttig told ABC News, “the country and our democracy would have spiraled into a chaos from which neither would have soon recovered, literally jeopardizing our national security. The legitimacy of our democracy would have been forever drawn into doubt and its luster could never have been restored.”

Read the rest at ABC News. 

Yesterday former Trump family insider Stephanie Grisham appeared before the January 6 committee. This morning she was on CNN’s New Day talking about Trump and the gang.

From The Daily Beast: Trump Enjoyed Riot So Much He Rewound TV to Watch It Twice, Ex-Aide Says.

Donald Trump had such a good time watching the Capitol riot unfold on live TV that he rewound the coverage to watch it twice, according to his former press secretary Stephanie Grisham. Speaking to CNN from Washington, D.C. on the first anniversary of the riot, Grisham recalled that Trump was in the White House dining room as the insurrection unfolded. “He was in the dining room gleefully watching on his TV as he often did, [saying] ‘Look at all the people fighting for me,’ hitting rewind, watching it again, that’s all that I know,” said the former press secretary. Grisham also repeated her claim that former first lady Melania Trump did nothing to persuade her husband to call off his supporters from their attack on the Capitol and lawmakers inside, and announced that a group of unnamed ex-Trump administration officials plan to meet next week to talk about a plan to stop Trump in his quest to “manipulate people and divide our country.”

More from Grishom’s CNN appearance:

Mike Pence insiders are also speaking to the January 6 committee. Axios: Scoop: Mike Pence’s team helping Jan. 6 committee.

People in and around former Vice President Mike Pence’s office have been particularly cooperative as the Jan. 6 select committee focuses on what former President Trump was doing during the more than three hours the Capitol was under attack, sources familiar with the testimony tell Axios.

Why it matters: At the one-year mark of the insurrection, the committee is piecing together a definitive timeline of how Trump resisted pleas from his own advisers, allies, family members and lawmakers to halt the violence down Pennsylvania Avenue.

  • The committee is ramping up its closed-door work with the goal of holding public hearings as early as this spring.

Some Pence-world witnesses have testified without a subpoena, according to one source with direct knowledge of the closed-door hearings.

  • Both Pence’s former chief of staff Marc Short, and former press secretary Alyssa Farah, who later served as White House communications director, are among those cooperating with the committee.
  • Keith Kellogg also has given a deposition.
  • One source familiar with their involvement said Short, who was subpoenaed by the committee, would not have cooperated without the approval of Pence.

What we’re hearing: Some of the most helpful information has come from second- and third-tier administration staff who were not directly involved but were at the White House on Jan. 6 and had access to top administration officials, sources tell Axios.

  • They’ve been integral to helping piece together exactly what happened that day, one committee aide said.
  • Many of those officials met solely with the committee’s Republican members, Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), two sources with direct knowledge said.
  • Some also have testified together with their former colleagues.

What they’re saying: Farah, who spoke with the committee on several occasions last year, told Axios:

  • “From the two I was in, you could see how much information they already had.
  • “Those who are refusing to cooperate likely are doing so out of complete fealty to Donald Trump and not wanting to piss him off.
  • “But, secondarily, because they’re realizing the committee has quite a bit more information than they realized. And their involvement is known to a much greater degree than they realized.”

From CNN: Cheney said the January 6 committee ‘looks forward to’ cooperation from Mike Pence and his team.

Rep. Liz Cheney, the vice chairwoman of the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection, said Thursday she is looking forward to Vice President Mike Pence‘s cooperation and his team “continuing” their cooperation in the panel’s investigation.

The Wyoming Republican also called him a “hero” for his actions that day.

“Former Vice President Pence was a hero on January 6. He refused the pressure of the former President. He did his duty, and the nation should be very grateful for the actions that he took that day,” Cheney told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie on the “Today” show. “We look forward to continuing the cooperation that we’ve had with members of the former vice president’s team, and I look forward as well to his cooperation.”

Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House select committee, has said he wants to hear directly from Pence, who certified the 2020 presidential election results. The Democrat also said he wants the former vice president to voluntarily speak to the committee about conversations he was privy to in the days leading up to the insurrection and what he witnessed on that day.

Various Pence aides have started engaging with the panel, including his former chief of staff Marc Short. Short’s cooperation is a significant development that gave investigators insight from one of the highest-ranking Trump administration officials and signals a greater openness among Pence’s inner circle.

One source previously told CNN the committee is getting “significant cooperation with Team Pence,” even if the committee has not openly discussed that. Another source also told CNN that Short’s help is an example of the “momentum” the investigation is enjoying behind the scenes.

This could be an interesting day. I haven’t been watching a lot of TV lately, but I may do so today. There is a lot going on. 

What are your thoughts on the anniversary of January 6?

 


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!