More to ignore, Book 23....

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Trump's secret meetings, as told to the Jan. 6 Committee
Brandi Buchman

According to a report from The Guardian published Thursday, former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham has revealed to investigators on the Jan. 6 Committee that Trump held “secret meetings” at the White House residence in the run-up to the Capitol attack.

The committee has not formally subpoenaed Grisham, indicating that her cooperation was voluntary. She had front row seats at the Trump White House while serving as a White House communications director, press secretary for former First Lady Melania Trump, and later, Melania Trump’s chief of staff. Grisham resigned, effective immediately, on Jan. 6 in the wake of the violent Capitol assault. Her resignation was joined by White House press aide Sarah Matthews.

The alleged “secret meetings” were “known only by a small number of aides” and sources told The Guardian that the gatherings were coordinated by Trump’s right hand in the White House, former chief of staff Mark Meadows.
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Meadows initially cooperated with the Jan. 6 probe, providing some records and testimony—but he abruptly backtracked and shut down the talks. The committee, in turn, voted to hold Meadows in contempt and the full House of Representatives followed. He was referred for criminal prosecution to the Justice Department in December. So far, the DOJ has been mum about whether it will pursue an indictment as it did for Steve Bannon. Bannon, who has entered a not guilty plea, is now awaiting trial.

While Meadows would reportedly schedule the clandestine meetings, Grisham told investigators it was Timothy Harleth, Trump’s chief White House usher, who would wave the parties in. It is not clear yet who attended the meetings.

President Joe Biden fired Harleth from the usher role one day after his inauguration. It is common for ushers to remain in their positions regardless of the administration in power but Harleth was ousted in short order as the incumbent cleaned house of Trump-era officials. Harleth previously worked as the director of rooms at Trump International Hotel.

Grisham, according to Thursday’s scoop from The Guardian, also provided the names of other aides in the White House usher office that may be of use to the committee in their probe.

Grisham also said that “an aide to former White House adviser Peter Navarro tried at least once to quietly usher” lawyer Sidney Powell into the White House residence. Powell was a major proponent of Trump’s incessant lies about the outcome of the 2020 election, and led the charge in claims that Dominion Voting Systems voting machines were corrupt. For her conspiratorial claims, Powell is staring down a massive defamation suit from Dominion. She was also subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 Committee this week.

Trump’s exact conduct and thinking before and during the Capitol attack when he was out of public view are at the beating heart of the Jan. 6 Committee’s probe. It has been widely reported that the former president sat idly by in the White House as the attack exploded, watching the riot from television. It was also reported one week after the assault that Trump had told aides for several days before the Jan. 6 rally that he wanted to accompany demonstrators but that he only decided not to “walk down Pennsylvania Avenue” after Secret Service agents insisted his safety could not be guaranteed if he did so.

But whether he actually intended to march with his supporters that morning or purely made the remarks to raise the mob’s hackles is at debate.

“Grisham told the select committee that Trump’s intentions—and whether the Secret Service had been told Trump had decided not to march to the Capitol—should be reflected in the presidential line-by-line, the document that outlines the president’s movements, the sources said.”

A representative for the committee did not respond to request for comment Thursday.

The committee has so far interviewed more than 400 sources and with its recent victory against Trump at the Supreme Court, the National Archives and Records Administration has already begun the transfer of presidential records Trump wanted to keep secret.

The records to be transferred include critical items like call and visitor logs, diaries, internal correspondence, calendars, speech drafts, photos as they relate to Jan. 6, correspondence among White House officials, and much more.


“The Supreme Court’s action tonight is a victory for the rule of law and American democracy. The Select Committee has already begun to receive records that the former President had hoped to keep hidden and we look forward to additional productions regarding this important information. Our work goes forward to uncover all the facts about the violence of Jan. 6 and its causes,” Jan. 6 Committee chairman Bennie Thompson said Wednesday night. “We will not be deterred in our effort to get answers for the American people, make legislative recommendations to strengthen our democracy, and help ensure nothing like that day ever happens again.”
 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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January 6 Committee to ask Ivanka Trump to talk with them

Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House select committee investigating the January 6 riot, told reporters on Thursday that the panel will be inviting former President Donald Trump's daughter and then-White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump to talk to the committee, a major step for the panel closing in on the former President's inner circle.

"You will anticipate the committee inviting some people to come talk to us," Thompson said. "Not lawmakers right now. Ivanka Trump."

Thompson did not reveal specifically whether the committee would be issuing a subpoena or asking for voluntary cooperation from Ivanka Trump to obtain her testimony.

The panel had previously revealed that it is learning more about Ivanka Trump's interactions with her father on the day of the attack on the US Capitol.

Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the vice chair of the committee and one of its two Republican members, told ABC News last month that the panel has "firsthand testimony" that during the attack, Ivanka Trump asked her father to intervene.

"We know his daughter -- we have firsthand testimony that his daughter Ivanka went in at least twice to ask him to 'please stop this violence,'" Cheney told ABC News.

CNN previously reported on some of these interactions, described in the books "I Alone Can Fix It," by Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, and "Peril," by Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. Ivanka Trump repeatedly tried to intervene, talking to her father three times. "Let this thing go," she told him. "Let it go," she said, according to "Peril."


The panel's expected reach out to Ivanka Trump comes after CNN previously reported that the committee had subpoenaed and obtained records of phone numbers associated with one of Trump's other children, Eric Trump, as well as Kimberly Guilfoyle, who is engaged to Donald Trump Jr., sources tell CNN.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Jan. 6 committee requests critical meeting with Ivanka Trump
Brandi Buchman

Ivanka Trump, who once addressed the mob storming the U.S. Capitol as “American patriots” on Twitter before swiftly deleting the post, has been requested to voluntarily cooperate with the Jan. 6 committee’s investigation.

In a letter to the former president’s daughter and onetime adviser, committee chairman Bennie Thompson said the panel confirmed from Keith Kellogg, former Vice President Mike Pence’s national security adviser, that Ivanka was present when Trump called Pence on Jan. 6 and pressured him to throw the election so he could remain in power.

Ivanka heard just one side of that phone call, the committee acknowledged, but between that and the testimony and records already provided to the committee, Ivanka appears to have been so up close and personal with her father on Jan. 6, that she could have unparalleled information about his exact mindset that day.



Kellogg, according to the committee, told investigators that when Trump was getting ready to end the call with Pence on Jan. 6, Ivanka turned to Kellogg and remarked: “Mike Pence is a good man.”

In addition, the committee also requested that the former president’s daughter offer details she may have about other discussions she witnessed, particularly those involving Trump’s plans to obstruct or impede the physical counting of electoral votes on Jan. 6.

“White House counsel may have concluded that the actions President Trump directed Vice President Pence to take would violate the Constitution or otherwise be illegal. Did you discuss those issues with any member of the White House Counsel’s office?” the committee asked Thursday.

The committee also noted that just before the Capitol attack, a “member of the House Freedom Caucus with knowledge of President’s planning for that day” sent a message to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows saying if Trump allowed the counting of votes—in other words, a critical part of the transition of power from one administration to the next—then “we’re driving a stake in the heart of the federal republic.”

Ivanka was also allegedly called on multiple times during the melee to wrangle her father. The committee noted media reports about Sen. Lindsey Graham, who called her at least once during the riot and pleaded with her to have Trump issue a statement.


Kellogg said he urged Trump to act with haste but Trump’s obstinance was so severe that, according to another interview conducted by the committee, staffers recognized it might only be Ivanka who could persuade him to act.

In a brief transcript that accompanied the request to Ivanka, that deposition was laid out:


Q: Did you think that she [Ivanka Trump] could help get him [President Trump] to a place where he would make a statement to try and stop this?
A: Yes.

Q: So you thought that Ivanka could get her father to do something about it?
A: To take a course of action.

Q: He didn’t say yes to Mark Meadows or Kayleigh McEnany or Keith Kellogg but he might say yes to his daughter?

A: Exactly right.

Evidence already obtained by the committee has shown many Trump administration officials and other hangers-on were in frantic contact with the White House as the riot exploded, calling on Trump to act. Those individuals reportedly include Donald Trump Jr., Fox News hosts Laura Ingraham, Brian Kilmeade, and Sean Hannity, as well as “multiple members of Congress and the press, Governor Chris Christie and many others.”

In a text exchange from someone “outside of the White House,” an individual asked a White House staff member: “Is someone getting to POTUS? He has to tell protesters to dissipate. Someone is going to get killed.”

The response was chilling.

“I’ve been trying for the last 30 minutes. Literally stormed in outer oval to get him to put out the first one. It’s completely insane.”


The committee said Thursday this dynamic was of particular interest.

“Why didn’t White House staff simply ask the President to walk to the briefing room and appear on live television to ask the crowd to leave the Capitol?” the letter noted. “General Kellogg testified he “very strongly recommended they do not” ask the president to appear immediately from the press room because press conferences tend to get out of control and you want to control the message. Apparently, certain White House staff believed that a live unscripted press appearance by the president in the middle of the Capitol Hill violence could have made the situation worse.”

By the time Trump finally released a video message that was filmed in the Rose Garden asking the mob to disperse—while also telling them he “loved” them and they were “very special”—Ivanka had already been pleading with her father for two hours.

The committee has been informed that multiple unused clips from Trump’s speech exist in the National Archives and were part of the presidential records transfer that Trump attempted to block.

Beyond the phone call with Pence, the committee also asked Ivanka to disclose any information she might have about the delayed response for backup to beleaguered U.S. Capitol and Metropolitan Police Department officers.

Then-acting Defense Department secretary Chris Miller testified under oath that former President Trump never contacted him at any time on Jan. 6 and never, again, at any time, issued him any orders to deploy the National Guard.

“The committee has identified no evidence that President Trump issued any order, or took any other action, to deploy the guard that day. Nor does it appear that President Trump made any calls to the Department of Justice or any other law enforcement agency to request deployment of their personnel to the Capitol,” Thompson wrote.

Ivanka could also have insights into how Trump behaved after the insurrection.

Texts from Sean Hannity to Mark Meadows and former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, for example, showed how Trump was being urged to drop the election fraud talking point.


On Jan. 7, Hannity messaged McEnany and provided her with a strategy to deal with Trump:

“1. No more stolen election talk
2. Yes, impeachment and 25th amendment are real and many people will quit...”

McEnany responded: “Love that. That is the playbook. I will help reinforce...”

She also agreed with him when the right-wing pundit told her it was “key” that Trump stop entertaining “crazy people.”

“Yes 100%,” McEnany replied.

Any correspondence or other records that Ivanka might have produced in her capacity as a former adviser to the president is required, under the Presidential Records Act, to be preserved and remitted to the National Archives.

In a particularly pointed portion of the request to Ivanka Trump, the committee attached a 2017 memorandum from former White House counsel Don McGahn where he had once outlined the legal requirements for records preservation for White House staff.

McGahn was a key figure in the Mueller investigation of interference in the 2016 election and was instructed by Trump not to comply with a subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee.

The committee has proposed a meeting with Ivanka Trump for Feb. 3 or Feb. 4.

The former president’s daughter and adviser released a statement through a spokesperson Thursday saying “as the committee already knows, Ivanka did not speak at the January 6 rally.”

The spokesperson continued: “As she publicly stated that day at 3:15 PM, ‘any security beach or disrespect to our law enforcement is unacceptable. The violence must stop immediately. Please be peaceful.”

Notably, her spokesperson did not include the “American Patriots” salutation Ivanka put at the very top of that same statement from just after 3 p.m. on Jan. 6.



 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Fulton County D.A. asks for special grand jury to hear evidence of Trump's election tampering
Hunter

It's well over a year since the 2020 elections and the subsequent Republican attempted coup, and there have still been zero consequences for even the most outrageous of attempts to satisfy Donald Trump's demands that the election's outcome be altered on his behalf. The investigations, however, are still plodding forward. In Georgia, the Fulton County District Attorney's office is now asking the courts to appoint a special grand jury to hear evidence pertaining to calls by Trump and Trump allies to Georgia officials asking them to "find" enough votes for Trump to overturn Biden's state win.

As reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis is asking the Superior Court for the special grand jury because a "significant number of witnesses and prospective witnesses have refused to cooperate with the investigation absent a subpoena."
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A "significant" number of the people who were part of those conversations, in other words, have been clamming up rather than telling investigators what they know, and Willis believes that hauling their asses in via subpoena is now the only path forward.

It's a bit shocking that this tool is being used
only now, a year and change after the alleged crime took place, but the one thing that has been demonstrated time and time again in the past decade is that anyone who can afford a top-tier lawyer can stick as many crowbars into the machinery of justice as they can write checks for.


We don't know who's been refusing to speak to prosecutors without a subpoena, but we do know that the participants in those calls include Sen. Lindsey Graham, Donald Trump, and Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. All three of those officials played major roles in the attempts to nullify a U.S. presidential election, and none of them will be well served by law enforcement probes of their efforts. So we can bet that those three, at least, are among the "significant" number of seditionists now trying to stonewall Georgia's investigations.

The District Attorney's office cannot compel witness testimony via subpoena. A grand jury, however, can. Presuming the courts approve the D.A.'s request (and it would be a new major scandal if they did not), Georgia's investigation of the Republican requests to change presidential vote totals on Trump's behalf is about to heat up. Finally.
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A Georgia district attorney investigating former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in the state has requested a special grand jury to gather evidence and compel witnesses to testify in relation to her probe.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis wrote that her office has "received information indicating a reasonable probability that the State of Georgia's administration of elections in 2020, including the State's election of President of the United States, was subject to possible criminal disruptions," according to a letter sent to Christopher Brasher, chief judge of Fulton County's Superior Court, and provided by the court.

Willis has asked for the grand jury to begin in May and remain in place for no longer than 12 months.

The request to seat a special grand jury -- nearly a year after she opened her investigation -- indicates Willis is still seriously pursuing possible criminal charges against Trump or his allies for their efforts to interfere in Georgia's election in 2020.

A Trump spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported the letter.


"We have made efforts to interview multiple witnesses and gather evidence, and a significant number of witnesses and prospective witnesses have refused to cooperate with the investigation absent a subpoena requiring their testimony," Willis wrote in her letter to the court.

"By way of example, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, an essential witness to the investigation, has indicated that he will not participate in an interview or otherwise offer evidence until he is presented with a subpoena by my office," she wrote.

Willis kicked off her probe with letters to Raffensperger and other Georgia state officials asking them to preserve documents related to Trump's meddling in Georgia's election soon after a recording came to light of Trump asking Raffensperger to "find" enough votes to flip the state -- which Joe Biden won -- in Trump's favor.

The Georgia Secretary of State's office has already provided Willis's team with evidence including document, recording of calls Trump made to Raffensperger and another official in his office and interviews with some staffers.

Raffensperger and other state officials have not been accused of wrongdoing and are not expected to be targets of her investigation.

However, Willis has made clear that she is looking into the activities of a number of other Trump loyalists. She planned to examine actions by former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and others who may have aided Trump's efforts.

Willis, who took office in January 2021, has juggled her Trump investigation with a mountain of backlogged cases and rising violence in the Atlanta area. Her investigation now threatens to run up against the 2022 midterm elections.

In a recent Associated Press interview, Willis said she expected to make a decision in the first half of 2022 about whether to bring charges against Trump or others in his orbit.

She will need approval from the majority of the county's superior court judges in order to seat a special grand jury. While the panel would prove useful for evidence gathering, special grand juries in the state are not able to issue indictments.


In her letter, Willis noted that a special grand jury can be seated for a longer term that normal grand juries and can focus solely on the Trump matter.
 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Georgia Republicans make mockery of democracy after new voter suppression law
Lauren Sue

An election board in a rural Georgia county held a meeting on Wednesday intended to slash the number of polling locations in the county from seven to one, in effect suppressing the vote in a county with limited transportation options. Voting rights activists demonstrated at the meeting and voiced their opposition, ending in board members deciding to adjourn the meeting, according to ABC-affiliated WJBF.

“Lincoln County is a very rural county. Some people live as far as 23 miles from the city of Lincolnton,” Denise Freeman, a former Lincoln County school board member, told The Augusta Chronicle. “This is not about convenience for the citizens. This is about control. This is about the good old boys wanting to do what they’ve always done, which is power and control.”

The county's population of some 7,690 residents is less than 30% Black and 68.3% white, according to census data.

Aunna Dennis, executive director for the nonprofit Common Cause Georgia, told the Chronicle the effort in Lincoln County is an extension of Senate Bill 202, now a law that critics argue directly targets people of color. The legislation started as a two-page proposal to make sure eligible voters didn’t repeatedly receive absentee ballot applications, but it was expanded into a nearly 100-page legislative document on March 17, 2021 and rushed through the state legislature just before the end of the session.

The bill, which Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law last March, requires drop boxes to be held inside early voting sites, attaches a voter ID requirement to mail-in ballots, and in a damning blow to voting rights, gives the majority Republican Legislature more authority over local elections officials. With that control, Republican Sen. Lee Anderson, who represents a district that includes Lincoln County, sponsored Senate Bills 282 and 283, giving Republicans the power to disband the Lincoln County Board of Elections and appoint a new board in its place. That board likely would have greenlit a “consolidation” plan in the county, the Chronicle reported.

“I think there are bad actors who are wanting to pilot precinct consolidations and takeovers of elections boards in smaller counties,” Dennis told the newspaper.

Larger ones too. Lincoln County is one of six counties in Georgia that have dissolved or restructured their local election boards in the year Senate Bill 202 passed, CNN reported. At least 19 states passed 34 laws to restrict voting rights between Jan. 1, 2021 and Dec. 7, 2021, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Yet federal protections to ban such restrictions couldn’t make it out of the Senate.

"What's happening in Georgia with the dismantling of these county election boards is an extreme example of the national trend in Republican-controlled states to undermine local election officials," Jonathan Diaz, an attorney with the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center, told CNN.

Just ahead of early voting for the 2021 Senate runoff in Georgia in which two Republican senators were unseated by Democrats, officials decided to cut the number of voting precincts by more than half in the state’s third-largest county, Cobb. The Georgia NAACP, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and four other nonprofit and advocacy organizations sent a letter to both elected and county elections officials in Cobb County informing them that the planned closure could potentially suppress the Black and Latino vote in the county.

“While these closures are likely to adversely affect many Cobb County voters, we are especially concerned that these closures will be harmful to Cobb County’s Black and Latinx voters because many of the locations are in Black and Latinx communities,” the organizations said in the letter.

Cobb Elections Director Janine Eveler said during a county legislative delegation meeting that her department has struggled to staff polling sites during the winter holiday of 2020, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We just could only staff the five locations,” Eveler said.

So local voting rights workers offered to help. "These concerns can be easily addressed and our organizations stand ready to provide you with any assistance you require, including help recruiting and training poll workers or poll managers," activists said in their letter.

The polling sites were slashed anyway.

Fast-forward a year later after the voter suppression law was passed, and journalist Rickey Bevington, who anchors NPR's All Things Considered on Georgia Public Broadcasting, was tweeting this experience on the day of Atlanta’s mayoral election, Nov. 3, 2021: "Today I'm experiencing Georgia's new voting restrictions. I accidentally went to the wrong voting precinct. I'm barred from casting a provisional ballot before 5pm. Since I work until 7pm, I must go to the precinct now or my vote won't count. Grateful to have time & a car"

A year after that, a critic of elections in the state's most populous county, Fulton, was nominated by the Georgia Republican Party to the State Election Board. Thanks to Senate Bill 202, that board now has the power to replace the Fulton election board with an administrator, and the county is already under a performance review, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

So what does the governor do? Appoint Janice Johnston to the five-seat State Election Board effective as of Wednesday.



The fifth seat on the board has been vacant ever since the state’s new voting law removed Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger from the board. Raffensperger has repeatedly defended Georgia elections against unsubstantiated claims of fraud by former President Donald Trump. Johnston, a retired obstetrician, has supported the former president’s claims, speaking of "falsified tally sheets" during an election audit in Fulton County, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Adam Harrell, cofounder of a marketing agency in Atlanta, tweeted a spot-on analysis of exactly what is at stake with Johnston on the State Elections Board.


 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Trump now wants his voters to commit voter fraud in 2022 and 2024
Dartagnan

One of the time-honored, irrefutable laws of the political right is to accuse others of doing heinous things that you’re actually doing yourself. This classic “gaslighting” technique is now routinely employed by the likes of all prominent Republicans, from strategists like Steve Bannon to run-of the mill sycophants like Marjorie Taylor Greene, to the the lodestone of the GOP’s sociopathic, amoral universe himself, Donald Trump.

After Trump weighed the abysmal optics and abruptly bailed on his planned Jan. 6 speech to “counter” President Biden’s address to the nation that day, he pivoted last week to hold a rally in Florence, a tiny Arizona town known chiefly for its prison. Most major media gave only scant coverage to this event in which Trump regurgitated his usual litany of lies about the 2020 election, playing to a bubble of hardcore supporters who fully believe that election was somehow stolen from their hero. As noted by John L. Dorman, reporting for Insider, Trump dutifully stoked these delusions by pointing to the size of the crowd (reportedly about 15000 people, according to the Arizona Republic) and the fact that cars were backed up “for 25 miles” waiting to see and hear him. In terms of substance, the most prominent (and bizarre) new claim by Trump was that the Biden administration and Democratic governors are denying white people treatments for COVID-19 in favor of Blacks and Latinx people. As reported by John T. Bennett in Roll Call, Trump asserted “If you’re white, you don’t get the vaccine or if you’re white, you don’t get therapeutics …You get it based on race. In fact, in New York state, if you’re white, you have to go to the back of the line to get medical help. Think of it. If you’re white, you go right to the back of the line.”

The poisonous character of that lie is certainly bad enough, which is why most media that chose to actually cover Trump’s rally led their stories with it. But as noted by Josh Marshall for Talking Points Memo, there was something else in Trump’s speech as well, something generally ignored by the mainstream press: Trump is now exhorting his followers to actively commit voter fraud in upcoming elections, including, presumably, the 2022 and 2024 elections.
...........

As noted by Marshall, Trump led into this new tack by reiterating what his followers now generally accepted as gospel, that his 2020 loss was due to some unspecified “cheating” by Democratic voters (the clear implication that those doing this cheating were of a darker shade of skin than his audience):

“We have more people than they do, but they know politics and they know cheating,” he said to cheers. “I sometimes say, ‘Well, would the Republicans ever do what they did?’”

Trump then invented a story about his “aides” telling him that Republicans would never do such a thing. And with this phony premise in hand, he then exhorted his followers to abandon whatever moral reservations they might have about committing electoral fraud themselves:

“I say if it’s good for [Democrats], why aren’t the Republicans doing the same kind of thing with the ballots? You know, the [mail-in] ballots they used COVID as another method of cheating.”

As Marshall points out, the people who populate Trump rallies and social media follow Trump’s whims unreservedly, even if benumbed major media outlets tend to treat Trump’s rallies as exercises in hyperbole, eschewing coverage -- as Marshall observes -- to avoid “amplifying” his message.

His millions of followers don’t see it that way, however. Starved for a glimpse of guidance among Trump’s relatively truncated media appearances since his banishment from Twitter, they now hang on to his every word.

As Marshall observes:

Trump has edged up to this line before. But now there’s no line. He’s demanding Republicans falsify, refuse to count or otherwise manufacture election returns in 2022 and 2024. And because there’s an elite journalist agreement not to foreground things Trump says no one has even heard about this – except of course Trump’s supporters who hear everything he says on conservative media, Facebook and all the other channels where his message comes through loud and clear.

Suffice it to say there has never been a political candidate in modern history — let alone a former president and potential future candidate — who has so directly told his base of supporters they should falsify votes, miscount votes, and stuff ballot boxes: in a word, cheat to get him elected. That’s a first. In September of 2020 Trump had skated close to this line by urging his supporters to vote by mail and in-person. When called out for advocating what in many states is a felony, Trump’s campaign issued a “clarifying” statement much as Trump typically does when his criminal nature becomes too obvious to ignore. As reported at the time by James Oliphant for Reuters, that statement was (of course) ignored by his followers, while Trump continued to Tweet the same thing to them, uninterrupted. His statements were ultimately flagged on social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

But this goes well beyond that. Trump likely isn’t expecting his individual base voters to have the wherewithal to commit widespread fraud sufficient to sway an election in his favor; rather, this is a signal to all those whom he and the GOP have placed in a position of supervising the counting (or miscounting) of ballots, that committing such fraud is not only OK, it’s now an expectation.

As Masha Gessen observed in her now iconic 2016 essay “Autocracy: Rules For Survival,” Rule No. 1 is paramount:

Believe the autocrat. He means what he says. Whenever you find yourself thinking, or hear others claiming, that he is exaggerating, that is our innate tendency to reach for a rationalization. This will happen often: humans seem to have evolved to practice denial when confronted publicly with the unacceptable.

If Democrats and the independent media that continues to exist in this country should have learned one thing by now, it’s that there is no bottom with this individual; no low to which he will not stoop; no attack on the country’s institutions that he will not countenance. Nor, increasingly, is there any such thing among those who have pledged him their support.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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shakespeare-quotes-about-life.jpg
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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The FBI just raided this conservative House Democrat's home. Fortunately, we have a better choice
David Nir

On Wednesday night, the FBI raided both the home and campaign headquarters of conservative Rep. Henry Cuellar, the last anti-choice Democrat in the House. Agents spent hours cataloging and seizing items, including computers, with a spokesperson saying they were "conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity."

We don't yet know what the FBI is investigating, but raids like this are always very serious. And if you're a sitting member of Congress, they are extremely bad news. The story immediately made the front page of newspapers in the area, and it's sure to stay in the headlines.
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With our majority on the line in November, Democrats can't risk nominating a candidate who, by all appearances, is the target of a federal investigation. Fortunately, there's a much better—and safer—choice in Texas' 28th District: progressive Jessica Cisneros.

Cisneros is a human rights attorney and daughter of working-class immigrants from Mexico who believes in a pathway to citizenship, universal health care, expanding Social Security, and protecting women's reproductive rights. She'll be a strong, clear voice for South Texas.

Above all, we can say one thing with certainty: The FBI didn't raid her home this week.

The Texas primary is fast approaching on March 1, and Cuellar shows no sign of stepping aside despite his current legal woes
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Trump campaign officials, led by Rudy Giuliani, oversaw fake electors plot in 7 states

Trump campaign officials, led by Rudy Giuliani, oversaw efforts in December 2020 to put forward illegitimate electors from seven states that Trump lost, according to three sources with direct knowledge of the scheme.

The sources said members of former President Donald Trump's campaign team were far more involved than previously known in the plan, a core tenet of the broader plot to overturn President Joe Biden's victory when Congress counted the electoral votes on January 6.

Giuliani and his allies coordinated the nuts-and-bolts of the process on a state-by-state level, the sources told CNN. One source said there were multiple planning calls between Trump campaign officials and GOP state operatives, and that Giuliani participated in at least one call. The source also said the Trump campaign lined up supporters to fill elector slots, secured meeting rooms in statehouses for the fake electors to meet on December 14, 2020, and circulated drafts of fake certificates that were ultimately sent to the National Archives.

Trump and some of his top advisers publicly encouraged the "alternate electors" scheme in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Arizona, Wisconsin, Nevada and New Mexico. But behind the scenes, Giuliani and Trump campaign officials actively choreographed the process, the sources said.
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One fake elector from Michigan boasted at a recent event hosted by a local Republican organization that the Trump campaign directed the entire operation.


"We fought to seat the electors. The Trump campaign asked us to do that," Meshawn Maddock, co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party, said at a public event last week that was organized by the conservative group Stand Up Michigan, according to a recording obtained by CNN.........
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Over the furious dissent of three liberal justices, the Supreme Court on Thursday rejected another attempt by abortion providers to block Texas' six-week abortion ban.

The court's order is the latest setback for providers who are trying to revive challenges to the law five months after it was allowed to go into effect, bringing a halt to most abortions in the country's second-largest state.

The three liberal justices wrote a scathing dissent.

"This case is a disaster for the rule of law and a grave disservice to women in Texas, who have a right to control their own bodies," Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote, joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan. "I will not stand by silently as a State continues to nullify this constitutional guarantee."

Last month, the Supreme Court allowed the controversial law to remain in effect but it cleared limited path forward for the providers to sue a handful of licensing officials in Texas in order to block them from enforcing the law. The court's ruling was a devastating blow to supporters of abortion rights who had hoped the justices would block the law outright. Instead, the case was returned to the conservative 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals.

The dispute settled Thursday centered on whether the appeals court should immediately return what is left of the providers' case to a district court judge who has expressed deep skepticism over the law, or whether the case could remain in the 5th Circuit for proceedings that could take months to resolve, further delaying the providers' case.......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Republican running for governor in Texas refuses to cut ties with his white nationalist staffer
Rebekah Sager

As if Texas Gov. Greg Abbott wasn’t repulsive enough, now another, even more, racist and xenophobic Republican is hoping to replace him.

Don Huffines is a former Texas state senator and real estate developer running against Abbott in the primary. But, despite the discovery that one of his staff is a member of the white nationalist organization America First/Groyper movement, Huffines told HuffPost he “will not participate in cancel culture” by cutting ties with him.

The staffer is Jake Lloyd Colglazier, aka Jake Lloyd, who’s complained on Twitter that the white “race is dying” among other horrifically racist and noxious things.

Of course, it’s no surprise that a right-wing candidate is running on a Republican ticket, and Huffines is just as loathsome as Colglazier, just not quite as obvious.
........
According to a report by Ben Lorber of the progressive watchdog group, Political Research Associates (PRA), “Huffines’ campaign has promoted virulent anti-immigrant rhetoric and policy and is dragging the Texas GOP even further toward the Right.” But, having Colglazier working on his campaign is an enlightening piece of evidence about how bad Huffines really is.

HuffPost reports that Colglazier, 24, was listed as Huffines’ “deputy communications director,” on the website True Texas Project, a right-wing activist group aligned with the campaign and run by a group of extreme Tea Party conservatives. His name has since been scrapped from the site.

Huffines told Salon that Colglazier was not the deputy communications director, but did not deny that he worked on the campaign in some capacity.

“He has done fieldwork for my campaign. I have 12 field offices across Texas and over 70 people on payroll with my campaign. If I were to go through the social media history of any young Texan, I would find something I disagree with,” he said. “My campaign will not participate in cancel culture,” Huffines said.

Lloyd’s Twitter bio also links to Huffines’ campaign website and Twitter account, and shares campaign materials, and other pro-Huffines content.

Colglazier gained notoriety in 2017, as a host on Alex Jones’s Infowars, where he regularly gave a voice to established far-right extremists such as Nick Fuentes, a Holocaust-denier and America First movement founder, who participated in the infamous “Unite the Right” protest in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Thursday, Fuentes was subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 committee. He recommends that his followers that if they were in the U.S. Capitol on insurrection day and had their phones taken by investigators, they should “destroy” or “get rid of” their SIM cards. as “feds are using the data.” He admits though, that it’s likely too late. Then he realizes what he’s said is against the law to advise “destroying evidence.”



By 2019, Lloyd became a ranking member in America First, which is slowly overtaking the “alt-right” movement, and morphed into connections with 2020 Stop the Steal protests, along with 4Chan conspiracy theories. Members of the group are known as “Groypers” or “Groyper Army” for using the alt-right mascot, Pepe the Frog.

“Conservative Inc.’ and the greater political establishment of the United States will crumble at the hands of the groypers,” Colglazier said in a speech at Fuentes’ America First organization. “History will remember the Groypers and the movement that followed—flowed from America First, from AIM [American Identity Movement], from the greater groyper network at large.”

In 2020, Colglazier made his affiliations known during a live stream.

“We need to get into positions of authority, or within close proximity of positions of authority,” he said. “We need to get into positions of institutional power so that we can enact policies that can prevent or stymie demographic change so that we can continue to gain institutional power so that we can restore historical America.”

As Salon reports, Colglazier has been an active participant in far-right discussion forums, including the “Nick Fuentes Server” on Discord, and another forum he founded himself called, “American Dissident,” where members talk about “Aryan bloodlines,” Nazi salutes, and called for “death to all minorities.”

Colglazier was even captured on another live stream saying he “spits on George Floyd” and celebrating the shooting death of a Black man by a police officer.



As hard as Colglazier tries to hide his ties to neo-Nazis, the reality is he is who he is, and Huffines obviously doesn’t care.

When both Salon and HuffPost repeatedly asked for comments and after the report from PRA surfaced, Huffines said everything he wanted to with one tweet on Wednesday. “America First. Texas First.”




Grandma Ada
Jan 20, 2022 at 05:55:01 PM

I live in Texas and I’m so happy that Abbott is going to have to spend money defending himself in the primary against Huffines and Allen West. I hope it’s a knock down drag out with the money flowing freely! Then he’ll have to spend another huge amount against Beto.
 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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On Thursday, former Trump Homeland Security adviser Olivia Troye reacted to the new documents released by the House January 6 Committee, revealing that Fox News host Sean Hannity privately told then-White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany that Trump could be impeached over the insurrection, had to stop lying about the election, and needed to be kept away from "crazy people."

"We should note that Sean Hannity's show was a major place where these election lies were told. In fact, they're being sued as a result," said anchor Jake Tapper. "And Kayleigh McEnany is one of the biggest election liars that we know. So what's your reaction when you see this conversation, this private conversation?"

"Well, it's stunning," said Troye, one of several Trump administration alumni speaking out against the former president. "It's stunning to see this full on evidence of these types of conversations that were happening in the lead up to January 6th, but even more so just the fact that they knew the gravity of the situation, they knew the repercussions of the possibility of what would happen and continuing down this narrative and then even more egregious is that now they've doubled down on it. Right? And the problem is, not only does this narrative still exist out there, the Big Lie lives on, it's being used by a people who are seeking public office this year. It's become sort of, the Republican Party's platform is really the Big Lie and you have to support it or you're going to get kicked out."

"I think it is important to get this evidence out there to the American people so that they can see that in the lead up in that situation, with Donald Trump, people knew," added Troye. "People knew that this type of action was worthy of impeachment. It was worthy of the 25th Amendment. That these are actual discussions happening with people like Sean Hannity."

Watch below:

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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TTM note: Hunter at his very best today.....

Perdue copies DeSantis, wants new state agency to investigate imaginary election fraud
Hunter

The winners of the next Republican primaries will be determined based on who among the candidates can create the most paranoid far-right fantasies about why Donald Trump's 2020 election loss was invalid, then invent the most outlandish, intrusive, gun-toting proposals for how 'Merica needs to change itself so that the imaginary things can never happen again. That seems to be how Trump's now-purged-of-common-sense Republican Party plans on doing things, with greasy candidates insisting to feverish crowds that the election was "rigged" based solely on a fascist hoax claiming so.

Georgia's David Perdue, most recently a scandal-tainted Republican senator before he was handed his ass in the same election cycle that saw Trump go down, is now competing alongside all the others to promise the most shocking supposed fixes. Unfortunately Perdue has always been agonizingly shallow and a follower at best; fortunately, for him at least, "lazy sycophant" is pretty much the only personality type that can be elected to anything in Republican-held parts of the nation, so Perdue is well positioned to out-toady himself back into power.

Perdue's new Trumpist proposal is that he wants Georgia to create an entirely new "Election Law Enforcement Division," one that will hunt down all this fraud that not a damn other person in the nation has been able to find while still remaining tethered to what the "woke" among us refer to as reality. If that sounds familiar it's because he's swiping the proposal outright from Republicanism's Store Brand Donald Trump: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis proposed a new Florida agency to do the exact same thing. In DeSantis' case, it's looking likely that he'll need a host of new state militias to scour health departments for officials giving out health information, to purge state universities of research and data that conflicts with his own public statements, and to hunt down people who make white Floridians feel bad.

For now Perdue is just stealing the election fraud one. We shall see on the others.

Now, there are several problems with this proposal. When I say several you should be reading that as me saying it in a voice suitable for a Monty Python skit. When I say problems I mean problems entirely independent of Purdue's choice to swipe material from the most craven and sociopathic pseudo-Trump the party birthed after being bitten by a radioactive reality television host and swelling into its current bruised and sweating form.

For starters, one wonders what a new law enforcement department would be doing during the many, many, many days when there weren't elections underway or votes being counted. If the dedicated department were truly big enough to monitor the state's polling places to keep invisible bamboo-tainted pixies from sprinkling election-stealing dust over the ballots when nobody was looking, that's going to be a lot of officers. If it ain't that big, then that means neither Store Brand Trump nor Store Brand Trump Ordered Via Wish really believe there's "fraud" to be found.

And it ain't that big. The DeSantis version is supposed to have about $6 million devoted to it, which is about enough to print up precinct posters describing what bamboo fibers might taste like, but not a hell of a lot else. So it's security theater and security theater only.

But that only brings us to the next question: Just what are our crack fraud finders supposed to be doing during the down time between elections? Well, if America is America then they'll probably be doing exactly what every other too-big law enforcement agency does to justify their existence: They'll be forever searching for the pettiest of technical "crimes," frogmarching (nonwhite) Americans into jail cells for writing the wrong zip code or writing their name with an undotted "i" on one form but a dotted "i" on another, then holding press conferences to boast that they've taken another hardened criminal off the streets.

The ambitious Republican politicos who have devoted themselves to finding "election fraud" have, to a person, never found any. They
have, however, combed their states to find a dozen or so paperwork errors by random state residents or one-off cases in which an ex-felon didn't realize they weren't allowed to vote and tried to anyway, and bellowed to anyone who would listen that this was all evidence of the secret invisible plot that they'll uncover any day now, just you wait.

Perdue probably does not know this, because he does not know anything about anything, but his state already has methods of prosecuting election crimes if they occur. A quick read of the papers is all it takes to learn how it is done.

For example, suppose a powerful politician is accused of threatening Georgia state officials with unspecified consequences if those officials do not change an election's official vote totals so that the threatener will win. How are such things prosecuted?

Well, the relevant county's District Attorney office will probably seek to have a grand jury empaneled to issue subpoenas and decide whether the act violated state laws.

So there ya go, David Perdue. This is how election fraud is prosecuted in your state, the one you want to again represent. This is a different process from ones you may be more familiar with, such as investigations of insider trading by politicians who have learned nonpublic information about the companies that may have business before their Senate committees, to use one example. But only a bit.

So what we've got here is a proposal for a new law enforcement agency that will be devoted to finding "fraud" that the entire Republican Party is now claiming is omnipresent but unfindable, it will have no resources to do anything but nip at the heels of the dozen or so random voters who think they can get away with voting for their dead spouse—which is already prosecuted, and which is so rare that the job could literally be done nationwide by just one person, if that person were a bit less lazy than Perdue tends to be.

So the new state agency bit is performative nonsense, and the reasons Perdue is proposing it are—say it with me now—crooked. Perdue, like DeSantis and the majority of the Republican Party, is continuing to push a fraudulent hoax intended to discredit our democracy rather than admit that voters could legitimately vote against a Republican candidate. They are doing this while fully knowing that Trump and their party initiated an attempted coup based on the same hoax, and that Americans died during the attack meant to bring that coup about.

It might be performative nonsense, then, but it's in service to an agenda that has caused violence and is intended to cause more. Republicans are hell-bent on painting our democracy as invalid, citing only the theory that "valid" elections couldn't possibly have kicked a malignant, incompetent buffoon out of office. They attempted to nullify the election by pushing hoaxes that were rejected by every court. They attempted to nullify the election by organizing a mob to "march" to the U.S. Capitol and either intimidate lawmakers into caving or block the counting outright. They are passing dozens of new restrictions on voting rights meant to recreate Jim Crow obstacles to the ballot box, responding to their party's decaying vote totals by targeting Americans who vote against them.

They are lying, relentlessly, about elections in a manner specifically intended to discredit the very idea that the nation can hold fair, free elections without wrapping them in new police powers. David Perdue may have been a lazy bum as a senator and may be nothing more than a dull-witted me-too as Republican culture warrior, but he still knows what he is doing. He knows he is acting as tool of the Big Lie, and seems invested only in making sure he's a bigger tool than anyone else.
 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Rep. Madison Cawthorn uses important veteran affairs committee hearing to clean a gun
Walter Einenkel

Rep. Madison Cawthorn is a pathologically insecure, charisma-free, pathological liar. It’s the new breed of GOP representatives: young, ignorant, willing to say and do anything to attract social clicks, because clicks mean money. It builds off of the old P.T. Barnum-attributed quote: “There's no such thing as bad publicity.”

On Wednesday, the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee held a virtual meeting to hold a hearing on veterans exposed to toxic fumes. Many people spoke, including 9/11 first responders, veterans affairs representatives, and former Daily Show host Jon Stewart. The main focus was to inform the representatives on what was and was not being done to research, protect, and provide care for military service members who are exposed to toxic chemicals during their service to our country.

According to some of the people on the virtual call, Rep. Madison Cawthorn decided to use the time when representatives were hearing about the need to (and ways to) research potential hazards faced by military members due to “burn pits” in order to play around and clean his gun. Yes. Strange.
........

9/11 first responder John Feal told the Daily Beast that seeing Mister-lied-about-being-accepted-into-the-Naval-Academy-Cawthorn messing around with a gun during this important meeting “was immature. He’s a child. He lacks common sense. I think the congressman was overcompensating for something that he lacks and feeling inadequate among the heroes on that call.”

Cawthorn worked on his pistol out of sight for several minutes, two people told The Daily Beast, but it became plainly visible during the testimony of Jen Burch, a veteran who spent six years in the Air Force serving in Japan and Afghanistan.

Here’s an image of Cawthorn shot by Lindsay Church and tweeted out a short while later.



Why might Cawthorn be so disrespectful to a military veteran like Jen Burch? What has Burch’s position been during these committee meanings? “Cost wasn’t a driver when Congress and the White House sent us to war, so we shouldn’t shy away from paying for what was incurred. The time to act is now, for the sake of the current veterans and our future veterans.” The issue right now is that while everyone on both sides of the aisle agree that something need to be done to help veterans who continue to suffer physically and mentally due to toxic hazards they were exposed to in service of our country, only one side of the aisle seems to be interested in paying for it.

I’ll let you guess by reading this quote from the committee’s ranking Republican member, Rep. Mike Bost of Illinois: “I remain committed to finding a way to support toxic exposed veterans in a way that is fiscally responsible for future generations. I believe we can do that … Veterans are taxpayers too. We should be mindful of how we spend their money on their behalf,” and juxtaposing it with Democratic Rep. Mike Levin from California’s quote: “What message does it send to service members and veterans to dismiss comprehensive reform that we need due to the cost?”

If that isn’t clear, maybe we can guess based on House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Democrat Mark Takano of California: “Toxic-exposed veterans have held up their part. We cannot renege on our responsibility to take care of these veterans because of any preconceived sticker shock.”

Playing with your gun and cleaning your gun is not much different than playing with yourself. It’s not against the law per se, and it is totally fine if you want to do it any number of times. It’s your gun and as long as you aren’t hurting or threatening anyone with it, go nuts. But it is also something that you should do in the privacy of your home. On your time. And if you want to involve other people in watching you play with and clean your gun, you should make sure that they are enthusiastic about it. If you can’t do that then you should just wait until everyone is gone and then you can clean your gun.

The Daily Beast, while unable to confirm, said it looks like Cawthorn is playing around with his gun inside of his office on at the Capitol. While it is illegal to bring a gun into the House chambers—something that Cawthorn is suspected of having done on Jan. 6, 2021—representatives are allowed to have guns in their office.

The below broadcast does not show all of the people on the virtual call at the same time, but if you want to know what fidgety Madison should have been paying attention to instead of his gun, you can listen in below.






AncientSurveyor
Jan 20, 2022 at 09:53:08 PM

What is it about Trumper’s that make them all immature little pussies?
 
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