Thursday Reads: January 6, One Year LaterPosted: January 6, 2022 Filed under: morning reads | Tags: Capitol insurrection, Donald Trump, January 6 anniversary, Joe Biden, Mike Pence, Stephanie Grisham, U.S. democracy 14 Comments
President 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?
Thursday Reads: The State of U.S. DemocracyPosted: December 9, 2021 Filed under: Afternoon Reads | Tags: David Perdue, democracy summit, Donald Trump, GOP ongoing coup attempt, Joe Biden, Mark Meadows, U.S. democracy 32 Comments
Sorry if today’s illustrations seem incongruous, but I found them comforting and I need that right now.
This morning President Biden is hosting a virtual “democracy summit,” and the current state of democracy in the U.S. is getting lots of criticism. The AP reports on Biden’s open speech: Biden sounds alarm at virtual summit about global democracy.
President Joe Biden on Thursday opened the first White House Summit for Democracy by sounding an alarm about a global slide for democratic institutions and called for world leaders to “lock arms” and demonstrate democracies can deliver.
Biden called it a critical moment for fellow leaders to redouble efforts on bolstering democracies. In making the case for action, he noted his own battle win passage of voting rights legislation at home and alluded to the United States’ own challenges to its democratic institutions and traditions.
“This is an urgent matter,” Biden said in remarks to open the two-day virtual summit. “The data we’re seeing is largely pointing in the wrong direction.”
The video gathering, something that Biden had called a priority for the first-year of his presidency, comes as he’s repeatedly made a case that the U.S. and like-minded allies need to show the world that democracies are a far better vehicle for societies than autocracies.
The premise is a central tenet of Biden’s foreign policy outlook — one that he vowed would be more outward looking than his predecessor Donald Trump’s “America First approach.
The New York Times on criticism from foreign adversaries: Biden Rallies Global Democracies as U.S. Hits a ‘Rough Patch.’
A few days before President Biden’s Summit for Democracy, a virtual meeting of more than 100 countries that opened Thursday morning, the Chinese foreign ministry released a stinging report about the American democratic system.
The “gunshots and farce on Capitol Hill have completely revealed what is underneath the gorgeous appearance of the American-style democracy,” the Chinese report said, citing the Jan. 6 riot. In a country where “money decides everything,” the report charged, “an entrenched political paralysis” renders governing impossible.
A spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry struck a similarly contemptuous tone in late November. “The United States claims the right to decide who is worthy of being called a democracy and who is not,” said the spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, according to Tass, the state news agency. “It certainly looks cynical. I would say that it looks pathetic, given the state of democracy and human rights in the United States and in the West in general.”
During the presidential campaign, Mr. Biden vowed to shore up U.S. alliances, which he has said suffered badly during the Trump era, and to unite democracies against the authoritarianism of rising powers, including Russia and China. So a backlash from authoritarian governments that were not invited to a summit meeting meant to support democratic values is hardly surprising.
But even U.S. officials concede that American democracy is straining from political polarization, racial injustice and discord, voting rights restrictions and domestic extremism, among other issues. Some activists are urging Mr. Biden to devote more attention to problems at home before turning his focus abroad.
“You can’t try to export and defend democracy globally when you can’t protect it domestically,” said Cliff Albright, a co-founder and executive director of the Black Voters Matter Fund, a progressive nonprofit group in Atlanta. “You can’t be the global fireman when your house is on fire.”
That tension will loom over the two-day virtual gathering of leaders from model democracies like Germany, Japan and Sweden to countries with mixed records such as Georgia, Nigeria and Pakistan. The meeting, which also includes journalists, civil society activists and business leaders, is meant to be a forum for democracies to exchange ideas and critiques, U.S. officials say. Participants will also make commitments on political reform, corruption, human rights and other matters.
A tongue lashing from David Rothkopf at The Daily Beast: The First Rule of the Democracy Club? Be a Damn Democracy.
For the summit, which will virtually host 110 countries, to be of any real value, it needs to establish real benefits for being a democracy, penalties for not being one, incentives to promote democracy, and standards high enough to preclude faux democracies, non-democracies and fading democracies from participating.
So far, the White House has been trying to have it both ways. It has excluded countries like China and Russia from the summit because they’re not democracies and are seen as the central bad actors in President Joe Biden’s view of geopolitics today as a struggle between democracies and autocracies.
In fact, excluding them was, polite press statements notwithstanding, one of the main reasons for holding this event.
On the other hand, it has tried to tiptoe around the list of who is in and who is out with statements like Jen Psaki’s “Inclusion or invitation is not a stamp of approval on their approach to democracy—nor is exclusion a stamp of the opposite of that, of disapproval.” I’m a big Jen Psaki fan, but that is weak stuff. Exclusion most definitely is a stamp of disapproval, as it should be. Indeed, that’s the point. And exclusion has already sent a strong and much-needed message to countries like Turkey, Hungary, Egypt and, for that matter, every government in the Middle East except for Iraq and Israel.
And inclusion is definitely a stamp of approval, one that has been extended to governments and leaders invited despite demonstrably undermining democracy in their own countries? That includes Jair Bolsanaro in Brazil and Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, both of whom have shown strong autocratic tendencies. Narendra Modi in India, who has overseen serious backsliding on democratic rights and protections in India. And the governments of Pakistan, Poland, Angola, and Congo, all of which probably should have been dinged from the list. As for Iraq and Israel, the former is often more influenced by the neighboring government in Iran than it is its own people while the other excludes millions within its borders from full participation in its government and society.
On the precarious situation here in the U.S.:
…[T]he Democracy Summit is a U.S. foreign policy initiative that was conceived from the get-go with a domestic political element. When Biden talks about the battle between pro-democratic and pro-autocratic forces in the world, he is not just thinking about China and Russia but also about Donald Trump and his Republican Party’s systematic efforts to undercut democracy here.
This is a party that is defending the organizers of a coup attempt, promoting the principle architect of that attempt as their leader, carving away voting rights, seeking to disenfranchise voters of color through gerrymandering and racism-bespoke voting restrictions, promoting an anti-democratic, extraconstitutional, minority-driven rule in the US Senate, enabling the minority to dictate the course of the judiciary, and promoting campaign finance rules that give huge advantages to America’s wealthiest citizens at the expense of everyone else.
Further, should that party win in 2022 and 2024, the experience of the Trump years suggests they will take further steps to ensure that their president is above the law, carve away at congressional oversight, negate checks and balances, twist the mission of the Department of Justice, and eliminate laws and mechanisms that might constrain their ability to impose their will on the American people.
The efforts of the enemies of democracy in the U.S. have already taken a toll. According to a Pew Global Attitudes survey of leading countries this spring, few believe U.S. democracy is any longer a “good model” for other nations. Among foreigners in 16 countries polled, a median of 17 percent saw us as a good model while 57 percent said “we used to be a good example.” We know it, too. Among Americans surveyed, just 19 percent said we are a good example, while 72 percent said we are no longer.
At HuffPost, SV Date states it baldly: U.S. Now ‘Exhibit A’ Among Imperiled Democracies At Summit, Thanks To Trump.
As President Joe Biden opens a long-ago-promised “democracy summit” Thursday with over 100 nations participating, he finds himself in charge of “Exhibit A” among the world’s imperiled democracies.
Among the major industrial powers that make up the Group of Seven, only the United States has suffered an attempt to overthrow representative democracy since the group’s creation a half century ago, in the form of Donald Trump’s efforts to void the 2020 election and remain in power. Among the 17 democracies in the G-20, the U.S. is one of just two, along with Turkey, to have seen its chief executive abuse that power to in an attempt to remain in office.
Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council analyst and United Kingdom native who was among the first to describe the Trump-incited insurrection on Jan. 6 as a coup attempt, said the idea that it could ever happen in this country had been unthinkable.
“Not in a million years did I imagine that the United States would be exemplifying this crisis in democracy,” she said.
“Biden has to be candid upfront about the U.S. being the latest battleground of democracy versus autocracy,” said Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a history professor and authoritarianism expert at New York University. “And use the summit to send a message to democrats and autocrats that the U.S. will pursue anti-democratic forces with vigor and resolve.”
Ironically, Biden specifically citied Trump’s anti-democratic tendencies when he first mentioned the need for a summit to rally the world’s democracies in a July 11, 2019, campaign speech.
Read the rest at HuffPost
Today’s news on the ongoing Republican coup attempt:
The Washington Post: Low-profile heiress who ‘played a strong role’ in financing Jan. 6 rally is thrust into spotlight.
Mark Meadows, who recently revealed that Donald Trump tested positive for the coronavirus before the first 2020 debate without telling its organizers, is frantically atoning for his momentary lapse of loyalty. Trump’s former chief of staff just filed a new lawsuit designed to help Trump cover up his coup attempt.
Mark Meadows, who recently revealed that Donald Trump tested positive for the coronavirus before the first 2020 debate without telling its organizers, is frantically atoning for his momentary lapse of loyalty. Trump’s former chief of staff just filed a new lawsuit designed to help Trump cover up his coup attempt.
But this core idea is central to Meadows’s lawsuit, and indeed to the broader legal attack on the Jan. 6 committee that is coming from Trump himself.
Meadows is suing the committee over its subpoenas for extensive documents from Meadows and others. He wants the court to toss out subpoenas, which would keep buried untold new details about Trump’s coup attempt.
One of Meadows’s core arguments is that the subpoena, and the committee’s activities, lack a “legitimate legislative purpose.” The suit notes that if this can be established, the subpoena is invalid.
But that’s nonsense. There are many valid legislative purposes driving the committee’s investigation.
Of course it’s nonsense. A judge should just throw the lawsuit out. But that hasn’t been happening with other ludicrous claims–like Steve Bannon’s.
Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post: Opinion: David Perdue confesses he would have aided a coup. He’s not the only one.
David Perdue, the former U.S. senator from Georgia and now a candidate for governor, made a stunning confession on Wednesday: Despite there being no evidence of election fraud and multiple audits that showed President Biden won the state, he would have refused to certify Georgia’s 2020 results.
The results were investigated in multiple audits and court cases. There was no fraud.
Perdue is saying the quiet part out loud. Given the same circumstances in 2024 — a clean election with close results in key states — Republicans would seek to undo the will of the voters, call on the House of Representatives to “fix” the election and thereby sink our democracy.
Click the link to read the rest.
It really isn’t looking good for democracy. I hope Biden has better answers for how to deal with the ongoing efforts of the Trumpists to overthrow the government he currently leads.
What do you think? Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread below.
Thursday Reads: Trump Continues to Threaten U.S. DemocracyPosted: July 8, 2021 Filed under: just because, morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Adolf Hitler, Ashli Babbitt, Capitol insurrection, Donald Trump, U.S. democracy 15 Comments
I wish I could stop reading and writing about Donald Trump; but I can’t, because he continues to be a serious threat to U.S. Democracy. Yesterday was the six-month anniversary of the Capitol insurrection that Trump incited. Republicans are pretending it was no big deal, and Trump is moving toward celebrating it as a patriotic exercise.
Over the weekend, Trump began demanding the name of the officer who shot Ashli Babbitt and defending her actions on January 6. From Philip Bump at The Washington Post:
The man who shot Babbitt has become a target of fury as Babbitt has increasingly been cast as something of a martyr for the day’s cause. Because that cause was Trumpism, Trump himself has spoken of Babbitt more and more often.
At a rally in Florida over the weekend, he demanded to make public the name of the person who had fired the bullet.
“People know the name. People know where he came from,” he said. “Now if that were on the other side” — meaning, not on Trump’s side — “the person who did the shooting would be strung up and hung.”
He reiterated the theme at a news conference on Wednesday.
“The person that shot Ashli Babbitt — boom, right through the head,” Trump said. “Just, boom. … They’ve already written it off. They said that case is closed. If that were the opposite, that case would be going on for years and years, and it would not be pretty.”
(Babbitt was not shot in the head. She was shot in the neck.)
Importantly, Trump also said that there was “no reason” for Babbitt’s having been shot. When protesters were outside the White House in May 2020, crossing the fence would have meant being mauled by dogs or otherwise being “really badly hurt, at least.” But a member of a huge, violent mob surging into a secure area of the Capitol that tried to press forward toward evacuating legislators? No reason for law enforcement to use deadly force.
This, at its heart, is Trump’s view of justice. Those on his side are exempt from accountability for their actions. Those on the other side, however, most be dealt with harshly — more harshly than the law allows.
Trump also demanded to know why people who participated in the insurrection are still in jail. It’s obvious that he is trying to recast the attack on the Capitol as a patriotic effort to save democracy, and many Republicans will follow his lead. It’s already happening in Florida. Raw Story: Florida GOP rally will call for release of ‘political prisoners’ charged in Capitol insurrection.
One week after former president Donald Trump visited Florida and questioned why so many accused Capitol rioters are still in jail, his supporters in the Sunshine State will gather on Saturday to call for the release of “political prisoners” charged in the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Florida has more people charged in the insurrection than any other state, including the most defendants connected to right-wing groups the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, according to Creative Loafing Tampa Bay.
Saturday’s “Free Our Patriots Rally in Tally” outside the state Capitol will call on Republican Gov. Ron Desantis “to demand immediate release of the incarcerated patriots and to use all the power and leverage at his disposal to make this happen.”
The event is being organized in part by Luis Miguel, a far-right candidate who is challenging Republican Sen. Marco Rubio in the GOP primary.
“Folks, The patriots who have been hunted down by the corrupt, communist FBI are suffering,” Miguel wrote on Twitter. “Many of them are veterans who fought for this nation. Let’s do our part to ensure they’re liberated. We can’t allow this in America. Be there at the Florida Capitol July 10.”
Another organizer of the rally is Angel Harrelson, the wife of former Army Sgt. Kenneth Troy Harrelson, an admitted member of the Oath Keepers who remains behind bars after being charged in the insurrection.
Angel Harrelson told a YouTube radio program this week that among other things, she plans to play a recording of her husband and other alleged insurrectionists singing the national anthem over the phone from jail.
Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine: The Chilling Message of Trump’s Embrace of Ashli Babbitt Martyrdom.
Babbitt’s death, while tragic, occurred for a very good reason. The Air Force veteran, who had been fully converted into the most dangerous and fantastical pro-Trump conspiracy theories, had joined the aggressive vanguard of the January 6 insurrection. Babbitt died trying to squeeze through the smashed window of a barricaded door that led to the inner sanctum where members of Congress were hiding from the mob.
Talia Lavin’s profile of Babbitt, in the current issue of the magazine, notes her emergence as a martyr on the far right. As Lavin points out, Babbitt is not the only Trump supporter who lost her life during the insurrection. Rosanne Boyland also died, but the manner of her death — trampling by the mob — does not serve the same propagandistic purpose. The whole point of Babbitt’s centrality is that she was leading the mob violently forward toward its goal of threatening or killing officials who refused to cooperate with their objective of overturning the election result.
It is revealing that Trump has only taken up Babbitt’s cause now, six months after the insurrection. In the immediate aftermath of the riot, Republicans were briefly furious enough to contemplate writing Trump out of the party and even voting to impeach him. Then they decided not to expunge him, and to hope the ugly events simply faded from memory. A few months later, they decided to purge Liz Cheney, allegedly because she refused to let go of the insurrection. Shortly after that, the party voted to block a bipartisan investigation of the insurrection.
All the political momentum is on Trump’s side. He has slowly turned January 6 from a black mark that threatened to expunge him from Republican politics, to a regrettable episode that his allies preferred to leave behind, to a glorious uprising behind which he could rally his adherents….
By throwing himself behind this message, Trump is endorsing the most radical interpretation of his presidency. January 6 was not a minor misstep after a successful era, as fans like Mike Pence and Lindsey Graham now say. It was the heroic culmination of a righteous uprising.
Wajahat Ali at The Daily Beast: Why Trump Is Anointing Ashli Babbitt as MAGA’s First Martyr.
We’ve all heard the old adage that “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”
With Ashli Babbitt, Donald Trump and the GOP have found a perfect martyr to rationalize their perpetual victimhood and inspire future “freedom fighters” to assist in their full-scale assault on democracy.
Babbitt was one of thousands of Trump supporters who decided to join the violent insurrection on Jan. 6 and overrun the U.S. Capitol in hopes of canceling a free and fair election. She was shot by a Capitol police officer while climbing through a broken window on a door that led to the Speaker’s Lobby. She died while wearing a Trump flag as a cape.
The pointless death of the 35-year-old Air Force veteran came in the service of Trump’s Big Lie, but his party has shown no contrition. Rather, Republicans are cynically exploiting her death to fuel their dangerous quest for power at all costs.
In April, the police officer who fatally shot Babbitt was cleared of criminal wrongdoing. His identity has not been released due to death threats that inevitably increased after Trump released a one-line statement last week asking “Who Shot Ashli Babbit?” That echoed Rep. Paul Gosar, an ally of avowed white supremacists, who accused the police officer of supposedly “lying in wait” to “execute” Babbitt….
The pointless death of the 35-year-old Air Force veteran came in the service of Trump’s Big Lie, but his party has shown no contrition. Rather, Republicans are cynically exploiting her death to fuel their dangerous quest for power at all costs….
The goal is to keep enraging and confusing their base, convince them of a far-reaching “Deep State” conspiracy committed to depriving them of power and glory and “replacing” them, and deflect from the Jan. 6 investigations that will further document the extremist elements embedded within the GOP and conservative movement.
Ali argues that Babbitt is the perfect martyr for Trump’s and the GOP’s purposes.
Babbitt—a woman, a wife, an Air Force veteran, and a true believer for Trump who, according to them, was “assassinated” by the “Deep State”—is an ideal character to glorify in death for a conservative movement that has turned into a racket and cult, a “victim” who can no longer speak for herself and can thus embody whatever fiction and grievance they want to promote.
On right-wing social media platforms she is being called “the first victim of the second Civil War” and a “freedom fighter.” Until last week, Sears and Kmart were selling “Ashli Babbitt American Patriot” T-shirts on their websites. Even Vladimir Putin is getting in on the action to deflect from his own abuses of power. When asked by NBC News’ Keir Simmons if he ordered the assassination of political dissident Alexei Navalny, Putin hit back, “Did you order the assassination of the woman who walked into the Congress and who was shot and killed by a policeman?”
How comforting to know that Putin shares the same script and talking points as Trump, Gosar, and right-wing media personalities.
Ultimately, the purpose of anointing Ashli Babbitt, and demonizing the officer who shot her in the process, is to justify the GOP’s goal of attacking our democratic institutions to ensure minority rule. If the base believes that they are being prosecuted, oppressed and even “assassinated” like Babbitt, then they will justify any and all means to reject Democratic rule and future elections that deprive them of power.
There’s no doubt that U.S. democracy is in danger as long as Republicans remain in thrall to Trump. I’ll end with this piece from NBC News: What’s keeping democracy experts up most at night? An overturned election.
There’s no legal avenue for Trump to reverse the 2020 results. But a half-dozen scholars who study democracy and election laws told NBC News they are increasingly worried that 2024 could be a repeat of 2020, only with a party further remade in the former president’s image and better equipped to sow disorder during the process and even potentially overturn the results.
“Obviously the insurrection was horrific in its violence and assault on democracy, but it didn’t disrupt the true winner of the election,” said Edward B. Foley, a professor at Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University who researches election law. “What you don’t want is it to have been a rehearsal.”
Nightmare scenarios include local or state officials refusing to certify votes, governors and state legislatures submitting electoral votes that disagree with each other or overrule the apparent vote counts, fights over the legitimacy of judges overseeing the process and the House and Senate disagreeing on the winner. A chaotic transition could create an opening for further violence, either from extremists attempting to disrupt the process again or mass unrest if the winner is viewed as illegitimate.
“We should not pretend these dangers are fantastical or that these are absurd hypotheticals,” Rick Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine. “Given what we saw Trump actually do in 2020, these things are now within the realm of possibility and need to be legislated against and organized against so we have a fair election process going forward.”
A bit more:
New and proposed laws in states like Georgia and Arizona have sought to wrest power from state and local election officials, some of whom played a role in resisting the former president’s demands last election.
Republicans face significant pressure from their base to make these types of systemic changes — and potentially go much further. Lee Drutman, a senior fellow at the New America foundation, released survey data last month that found 46 percent of Republicans supported empowering state legislatures to overturn election results in states President Joe Biden won, as Trump demanded they do in 2020….
Some observers worry the party’s increased willingness to even entertain these scenarios could create perverse incentives in which state or local officials try to boost the odds of a poorly administered election that would give partisan leaders more flexibility to intervene….
In 2020, every governor and state legislature accepted the election results, but the midterms could reshuffle the landscape. Trump has sought to punish Republican incumbents like Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger with primary challenges. Trump has also lashed out at otherwise supportive Republican legislators in states like Wisconsin and Michigan who have affirmed the results.
“The fact that it held in 2020 doesn’t guarantee it will hold in 2024,” Omar Wasow, an assistant professor of politics at Princeton University, said. “You need ethical people in these jobs, and we’re seeing a lot of ethical people leaving in part because they’ve been threatened or attacked by partisans or because the level of vitriol they’ve been subject to is not worth the effort.”
The whole article is well worth reading.
That’s it for me today. Please let me know what you think. As always, this is an open thread.