Posted: February 12, 2022 | Author: bostonboomer | Filed under: morning reads | Tags: Donald Trump, Fox News, Joe Biden, National Archives, Russia, Trucker protests, Ukraine, Vladimir Putin |
Black cat sleeping by Harry Boardman
The news today is mostly focused on the situation in Ukraine. Here are the latest developments:
The Washington Post: U.S. orders most embassy staffers in Kyiv to leave Ukraine amid fears Russia will invade soon.
KYIV, Ukraine —The U.S. State Department began evacuating staffers from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv Saturday, amid mounting warnings that Moscow could imminently launch an invasion of Ukraine, according to a security update emailed to U.S. citizens in the country.
“U. S. citizens should not travel to Ukraine, and those in Ukraine should depart immediately using commercial or other privately available transportation options,” the advisory said.
Russia has pushed back fiercely against the stark warnings by the Biden administration that Moscow is on the verge of attack, accusing the West of hysteria and spreading disinformation even as Russian forces continue to hold major exercises near Kyiv’s borders.
However,Russia confirmed media reports Saturday that it was pulling its own diplomatic staff from Ukraine, citing “possible provocations by the Kyiv regime and third countries.” Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Vladimirovna Zakharova said the move was in response to the growing list of other governments deciding to draw down their diplomatic corps and urging their citizens to leave.
“We conclude that our American and British colleagues apparently know about some military actions being prepared in Ukraine,” she said, according to a statement by the ministry.
Russia is apparently trying to put the blame on the U.S. for any escalation of the situation.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan cautioned Friday that there is a “very distinct possibility” that Russia will invade Ukraine in a “reasonably swift time frame” and urged all U.S. citizens there to leave immediately. Sullivan could not confirm that Russian President Vladimir Putin had made a final decision to attack, but he said that military action could begin “any day.”
Diplomats raced to steer the situation back from the brink Saturday, but with little sign of progress. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, warned Russia that invading Ukraine “would result in a resolute, massive, and united Transatlantic response,” according to the State Department.
Lavrov, for his part, accused Washington of engaging in a propaganda campaign against Russia, pursuing “provocative goals” and pushing its allies in Kyiv to resolve its crisis in the contested Donbass territory with force, according to Russia’s foreign ministry.
Norbertine Bressslern-Rother, Two Cats, linocut print, 1920s
President Biden will speak with Vladimir Putin today. AP: Putin, Biden plan high-stakes phone call in Ukraine crisis.
MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden are to hold a high-stakes telephone call on Saturday as tensions over a possibly imminent invasion of Ukraine escalated sharply and the U.S. announced plans to evacuate its embassy in the Ukrainian capital.
Before talking to Biden, Putin is to have a call with French President Emmanuel Macron, who met with him in Moscow earlier in the week to try to resolve the crisis.
Russia has massed well over 100,000 troops near the Ukraine border and has sent troops to exercises in neighboring Belarus, but insistently denies that it intends to launch an offensive against Ukraine….
Biden has said the U.S. military will not enter a war in Ukraine, but he has promised severe economic sanctions against Moscow, in concert with international allies.
The timing of any possible Russian military action remains a key question.
The U.S. picked up intelligence that Russia is looking at Wednesday as a target date, according to a U.S. official familiar with the findings. The official, who was not authorized to speak publicly and did so only on condition of anonymity, would not say how definitive the intelligence was. The White House publicly underscored that the U.S. does not know with certainty whether Putin is committed to invasion.
However, U.S. officials said anew that Russia’s buildup of offensive air, land and sea firepower near Ukraine has reached the point where it could invade on short notice.
More from The Washington Post on Russian plans to blame Ukraine and U.S. if Putin decides to send in troops: New intelligence suggests Russia plans a ‘false flag’ operation to trigger an invasion of Ukraine.
The United States has obtained new intelligence that suggests Russia is planning to stage an attack that it would falsely blame on Ukraine to justify invading the country, possibly as early as next week, according to multiple U.S. and European officials who have reviewed the intelligence or been briefed on it.
Cat with butterfly, woodcut by Joyce Gibson
The intelligence about a “false flag” operation was discussed in a quickly convened meeting in the White House Situation Room on Thursday evening and helped prompt renewed calls from the Biden administration for all Americans to leave Ukraine immediately, according to officials familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence.
The precise timing and nature of the Russian operation was unclear. The United States had already accused Russia of planning to film a fake attack against Russian territory or Russian-speaking people in eastern Ukraine. The new intelligence is distinct from that alleged operation, the officials said.
Officials in multiple capitals concurred that the intelligence appeared to show that Russia is in the final stages of preparing to mount an invasion, which analysts have said could leave up to 50,000 civilians dead or wounded and lead to the fall of the government in Kyiv within a few days.
“Moscow is actively trying to create a casus belli,” or a justification for war, a Western official said.
A couple more interesting Ukraine links to check out:
The Washington Post: The TikTok buildup: Videos reveal Russian forces closing in on Ukraine.
Former Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul at Foreign Affairs: How to Make a Deal With Putin. Only a Comprehensive Pact Can Avoid War.
Another big story in the news is the Truck convoy in Ottowa. The New York Times is posting live updates on the story. Here’s the latest: Police confront protesters, and some begin to leave Ontario bridge.
Canadian police moved in Saturday morning to clear protesters at a vital bridge in Windsor, Ontario, connecting Canada and the United States.
The Windsor Police wrote on Twitter Saturday morning that “The Windsor Police & its policing partners have commenced enforcement at and near the Ambassador Bridge.” It added: “We urge all demonstrators to act lawfully & peacefully.”
Police officers wearing heavy jackets but not wielding shields or other riot gear, were standing in a line on Saturday morning, and were cautiously and progressively edging closer to the protesters. Vehicles began to leave the site just before 10 a.m., their horns blaring as they departed.
Natalia Leonova – Breakfast in Bed. 2017. Pastel on paper
At the intersection closest to the bridge, some protesters remained in the street, facing off with police officers.
Some of the protesters were yelling at police, while others chanted “freedom, freedom!” and sang “O Canada,” the national anthem. A group of protesters dismantled a tent where they had kept food and supplies, then swept the area around it.
Automakers have been particularly affected by the partial shutdown of the Ambassador Bridge, which normally carries $300 million worth of goods a day, about a third of which are related to the auto industry. The blockades have left carmakers short of crucial parts, forcing companies to shut down some plants from Ontario to Alabama on Friday.
A court order calling for protesters to disband or face stiff fines or prison went into effect on Friday at 7 p.m., and the numbers of protesters has since thinned. But on Saturday morning, dozens of protesters, some dressed in fluorescent construction garb, had still refused to leave, and were milling around at an intersection before the bridge, drinking coffee and holding up Canadian flags. Other protesters remained in their pickup trucks, their engines idling, to stay warm.
Read more and check for future updates at the link.
Ben Collins, who covers right wing extremism at NBC News has a piece on the trucker protests: As U.S. ‘trucker convoy’ picks up momentum, foreign meddling adds to fray.
There is growing momentum in the U.S. anti-vaccination community to conduct rallies similar to Canada’s “Freedom Convoy” that has paralyzed Ottawa, Ontario, and the effort is receiving a boost from a familiar source: overseas content mills.
Some Facebook groups that have promoted American “trucker convoys” similar to demonstrations that have clogged roads in Ottawa are being run by fake accounts tied to content mills in Vietnam, Bangladesh, Romania and several other countries, Facebook officials told NBC News on Friday.
The groups have popped up as extremism researchers have begun to warn that many anti-vaccine and conspiracy-driven communities in the U.S. are quickly pivoting to embrace and promote the idea of disruptive convoys.
Researchers at Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy first noted that large pro-Trump groups had been changing their names to go with convoy-related themes earlier this week. Grid News reported on Friday that one major trucker convoy Facebook group was being run by a Bangladesh content farm.
Tomoo Inagaki, Chatting Cats
Many of the groups have changed names multiple times, going from those that tap hot-button political issues such as support for former President Donald Trump or opposition to vaccine mandates, to names with keywords like “trucker,” “freedom” and “convoy.” Facebook allows groups on its platforms to change names but tracks the changes in each page’s “about” section.
The motivations of the people behind the content mills are not clear, but Joan Donovan, director of the Shorenstein Center, said the pattern fits existing efforts to make money off U.S. political divisions.
“In some ways, it’s normal political activity,” Donovan said. “In other ways, we have to look at how some of the engagement online is fake but can be a way to mobilize more people.”
“When we see really effective disinformation campaigns, it’s when the financial and political motives align,” she added.
Of course Fox News is cheering for the “protesters” causing chaos up north. Matthew Gertz at Media Matters: Fox News goes all-in promoting anti-vaccine-mandate Canadian truckers.
Fox News’ effort to discourage its viewers from vaccinating themselves against COVID-19 has gone international. The network’s stars have in recent weeks fixated on our neighbor to the north, regaling their audiences with fawning coverage of Canadian truckers protesting their country’s COVID-19 vaccine requirements – and encouraging the development of similar activism in the U.S.
Since January 29, a group of truckers and their allies has effectively crippled downtown Ottawa by using vehicles to block traffic, leading the city’s mayor to declare a state of emergency. Similar protests have occurred in cities across the country, and on Monday truckers blocked a major international crossing. This so-called “Freedom Convoy” originally assembled to oppose a newly implemented rule requiring them to either be vaccinated or quarantine after returning from trips across the U.S. border, but organizers now say they will continue their demonstrations until the national and provincial governments “end all mandates.”
The demonstrators are not representative of Canadian truckers or the populace at large. The Canadian Trucking Alliance, which represents the industry, has disavowed them, arguing that “a great number of these protestors have no connection to the trucking industry” and pointing out that nearly 90% of the nation’s truckers are vaccinated. Their actions are also unpopular with their fellow Canadians – a recent poll found nearly two-thirds of respondents there oppose the Ottawa protest.
But on the other side of the border, Fox hosts are extremely excited about the protests, even as they quietly labor under the network’s own stringent vaccine requirements. The network devoted 10 hours and 8 minutes to the story from the first mention of the convoy we found on January 18 through February 10. Prime-time stars Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity are among the convoy’s biggest fans at the network, giving it 1 hour and 13 minutes and 1 hour and 5 minutes, respectively.
I’ll end with this story at CNN that provides details on the ongoing efforts of the National Archives to retrieve government documents that Trump took with him when he left the White House: Archives threatened to go to Congress and Justice Department to get Trump to turn over records.
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Posted: February 10, 2022 | Author: bostonboomer | Filed under: morning reads | Tags: Christian nationalists, classified documents, Department of Justice, destruction of documents, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, January 6 insurrection, Kim Jong Un, Maggie Haberman, Michigan, National Archives, Rudy Giuliani, seizing voting machines, White House toilets |
Painting by Janie Olsen
Well, now we know why Trump was obsessed with low water toilets. It turns out he was trying to flush torn up documents in the White House bathrooms.
Axios: Haberman book: Flushed papers found clogging Trump WH toilet.
While President Trump was in office, staff in the White House residence periodically discovered wads of printed paper clogging a toilet — and believed the president had flushed pieces of paper, Maggie Haberman scoops in her forthcoming book, “Confidence Man.”
Why it matters: The revelation by Haberman, whose coverage as a New York Times White House correspondent was followed obsessively by Trump, adds a vivid new dimension to his lapses in preserving government documents. Axios was provided an exclusive first look at some of her reporting.
Haberman also revealed to Axios that Trump claims to be keeping in touch with one of his favorite dictators, Kim Jong Un.
Haberman reports Trump has told people that since leaving office, he has remained in contact with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un — whose “love letters,” as Trump once called them, were among documents the National Archives retrieved from Mar-a-Lago.
The book will be published in October. Read more about it at Axios.
More on Trump’s destruction of documents:
The Washington Post: National Archives asks Justice Dept. to investigate Trump’s handling of White House records.
The National Archives and Records Administration has asked the Justice Department to examine Donald Trump’s handling of White House records, sparking discussions among federal law enforcement officials about whether they should investigate the former president for a possible crime, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Full Moon Hare, by Andrew Bailey
The referral from the National Archives came amid recent revelations that officials recovered 15 boxes of materials from the former president’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida that were not handed back in to the government as they should have been, and that Trump had turned over other White House records that had been torn up. Archives officials suspected Trump had possibly violated laws concerning the handling of government documents — including those that might be considered classified — and reached out to the Justice Department, the people familiar with the matter said.
The people spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a politically sensitive request. The two people said the discussions about the matter remained preliminary, and it was not yet clear whether the Justice Department would investigate. The department also might be interested in merely reclaiming classified materials. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.
The New York Times: Archives Found Possible Classified Material in Boxes Returned by Trump.
The National Archives and Records Administration discovered what it believed was classified information in documents Donald J. Trump had taken with him from the White House as he left office, according to a person briefed on the matter.
The discovery, which occurred after Mr. Trump returned 15 boxes of documents to the government last month, prompted the National Archives to reach out to the Justice Department for guidance, the person said. The department told the National Archives to have its inspector general examine the matter, the person said.
It is unclear what the inspector general has done since then, in particular, whether the inspector general has referred the matter to the Justice Department.
An inspector general is required to alert the Justice Department to the discovery of any classified materials that were found outside authorized government channels.
The Washington Post Editorial Board: Opinion: Documents weren’t the only things Trump tore up while in office.
Former president Donald Trump liked the feel of tearing things up — figuratively, as he did with laws and norms of public service; but also literally, as he did with documents that he was required to preserve under the Presidential Records Act. Having refused to give his elected successor a smooth and orderly transition, Mr. Trump then skulked away to Mar-a-Lago in Florida with 15 boxes of official documents and mementos that should have gone to the National Archives.
The Post reported this past weekend that Mr. Trump routinely destroyed briefing papers, schedules, articles, letters and memos, ripping them into quarters or smaller pieces, leaving the detritus on his desk in the Oval Office, in the trash can of his private West Wing study or on the floor of Air Force One. Mr. Trump’s aides were left to retrieve the pieces and piece them back together, sometimes hunting through special “burn bags” intended for classified material to find torn documents that needed to be reassembled and preserved. Recently, the committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection received documents from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) that appeared to have been torn apart and taped back together.
Mr. Trump broke the law. After President Richard M. Nixon’s resignation, Congress passed a number of laws intended to preserve the integrity of documents and other materials from Nixon’s presidency, and made the laws applicable to all future presidents. The Presidential Records Act of 1978 ended the practice of records belonging to former presidents and declared that the United States shall “reserve and retain complete ownership, possession, and control of presidential records.” The law requires a president to “take all such steps as may be necessary” to make sure the records are preserved — an important pillar of accountability in a democracy and also essential for historical understanding of the presidency….
Mr. Trump, who mercilessly attacked Hillary Clinton for using a private email server, turned out to be a slovenly steward of the people’s property. He regarded himself as above the law, but he was not. What’s left of the jigsawed and taped-up pages might not provide the thoroughgoing record of his presidency that the law demands, but they are a wrenching testament to his penchant for wanton destruction.
Wild Rabbit, by wildlife photographer Julian Rad
Here’s another bonkers story that The Washington Post broke yesterday: Giuliani asked Michigan prosecutor to give voting machines to Trump team.
In the weeks after the 2020 election, Rudolph W. Giuliani and other legal advisers to President Donald Trump asked a Republican prosecutor in northern Michigan to get his county’s voting machines and pass them to Trump’s team, the prosecutor told The Washington Post.
Antrim County prosecutor James Rossiter said in an interview that Giuliani and several colleagues made the request during a telephone call after the county initially misreported its election results. The inaccurate tallies meant that Joe Biden appeared to have beaten Trump by 3,000 votes in a Republican stronghold, an error that soon placed Antrim at the center of false claims by Trump that the election had been stolen.
Rossiter said he declined. “I said, ‘I can’t just say: give them here.’ We don’t have that magical power to just demand things as prosecutors. You need probable cause.” Even if he had had sufficient grounds to take the machines as evidence, Rossiter said, he could not have released them to outsiders or a party with an interest in the matter.
Legal scholars said it was unusual and inappropriate for a president’s representatives to make such a request of a local prosecutor. “I never expected in my life I’d get a call like this,” Rossiter said….
Giuliani’s team called Rossiter around Nov. 20, 2020, Rossiter said, as it worked to overturn Trump’s defeat to Biden. The direct appeal to a local law enforcement official was part of a broader effort by Trump’s allies to access voting machines in an attempt to prove that the election had been stolen. That effort extended to a recently disclosed draft executive order for Trump’s signature to have National Guard troops seize machines across the nation.
Jacqueline Alemeny, one of the reporters on the WaPo story, appeared on MSNBC yesterday.
Raw Story: ‘This story is fairly shocking’: WaPo reporter breaks down latest ‘bonkers’ reports on Trump’s final days as president.
Antrim County prosecutor James Rossiter told the newspaper that Giuliani and others called him around Nov. 20, 2020, and pressed him to hand over the voting machines so they could be examined for fraud, as part of an ongoing scheme to undo Trump’s loss in Michigan, and journalist Jackie Alemany explained the significance of her colleagues’ findings to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
Painting by Scott Gustafson
“Well, it’s amazing, first of all, we are continuing to find so much new information that has yet to be uncovered, which is exactly what the Jan. 6 committee is doing,” Alemany said. “But this story especially is just fairly shocking because it shows them actually trying to implement some of their plans that we’ve seen sketched out in executive orders to seize voting machines. Here is a situation where they dialed in on a specific county and found a reason to do so despite it being obviously quite unconstitutional.”
“Even in the conversations I’ve had just in the past few months there are still a lot of people involved with this effort who believed that these voting machines needed to be seized to be protected so they could prove fraud,” she added. “These people are true believers.””That’s why those clips that were just played are so important for everyone to remember, especially when this investigation might potentially lead to whether or not this was negligence or actually intentional behavior,” Alemany said. “But it is clear that the former president knew exactly what was wrong with doing these things. He called up Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton on ripping up documents, taking classified information, accepting gifts, mischaracterizations because he knew it was politically damaging and gave the appearance of being corrupt. That’s what I think ultimately the DOJ is going to have to do if they decide ultimately to investigate the 15 boxes taken from Mar-A-Lago, which is what the archives has asked them to do according to our reporting yesterday.”
More on the Trumpist efforts to seize voting machines from Betsey Woodruff at Politico: Read the emails showing Trump allies’ connections to voting machine seizure push.
Leaked emails obtained by POLITICO reveal the connection of two outside Trump allies — Washington lawyer Katherine Friess and Texas entrepreneur Russell Ramsland — to the failed push to seize voting machines as part of a desperate bid to overturn the 2020 election.
The emails show then-President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and another former military officer workshopping the draft of a Trump executive order to seize voting machines. The emails between Flynn, retired Army Col. Phil Waldron and others provide new details about the events that preceded the assault on the Capitol last Jan. 6.
It is unclear if the Capitol riot select committee has obtained the emails. POLITICO is publishing them here, solely redacting the senders’ and recipients’ email addresses. We are also publishing two draft versions of the executive order that would have directed authorities to seize voting equipment. CBS News previously reported on the contents of the emails and published one of the drafts.
All three emails were sent to multiple people, including Friess, who appears to have lobbied for a variety of clients, including groups linked to Puerto Rico and the telecommunications industry. Friess’ visibility into the efforts to overturn the election results on Trump’s behalf has drawn comparatively little scrutiny. She did not respond to requests for comment. Ramsland, Waldron, Flynn and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani — also a central player in the election subversion effort — also did not respond to requests for comment.
Head over to Politico to read the emails.
Bunny Graces, by Belinda Cooper
At The Religion News Service, a report on how right win Christians and the January 6 insurrection: New report details the influence of Christian nationalism on the insurrection.
A team of scholars, faith leaders and advocates unveiled an exhaustive new report Wednesday (Feb. 9) that documents in painstaking detail the role Christian nationalism played in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and calling it an unsettling preview of things to come.
Christian nationalism was used to “bolster, justify and intensify the January 6 attack on the Capitol,” said Amanda Tyler, head of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, which sponsored the report along with the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Tyler’s group is behind an initiative called Christians Against Christian Nationalism.
The organizations touted the report as “the most comprehensive account to date of Christian nationalism and its role in the January 6 insurrection,” compiled using “videos, statements, and images from the attack and its precursor events.”
The report, written chiefly by Andrew L. Seidel, an author and director of strategic response at the Freedom From Religion Foundation, details Christian nationalist rhetoric and symbols that cropped up at events that preceded the insurrection, such as the Million MAGA March and Jericho Marches that took place in Washington in Dec. 2020 and Jan. 2021.
Christian nationalist symbols and references, Seidel writes, were ubiquitous at those gatherings, as well as the insurrection itself: flags with superimposed American flags over Christian symbols; “An Appeal to Heaven” banners; prayers recited by members of the extremist group Proud Boys shortly before the attack or by others as they stormed the Capitol.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Seidel highlighted what he called the preponderance of “openly militant” rhetoric that conflated religion and violence. He pointed to William McCall Calhoun Jr., a Georgia lawyer who reportedly claimed on social media that he was among those who “kicked in Nancy Pelosi’s office door” on Jan. 6. (Calhoun later claimed in an interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution that he did not personally enter any office.)
What are your thoughts on all this insanity? What other stories are you following today?
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Posted: October 30, 2021 | Author: bostonboomer | 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!
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