More to ignore, Book 31....

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Latest filing from Durham adds no indictments to anyone. Trump is calling for the death penalty.
Mark Sumner

Late on Friday, special counsel John Durham filed a shocking document with the court in which he indicted no one for anything. It adds no charges, or suspects, concerns only the technical possibility of a conflict of interest by a law firm which, Durham admits in the opening section, could be addressed with a simply voluntary statement.

Naturally, the right has gone wild over this breakthrough proof of an extensive conspiracy.

Following this procedural request for a motion to “inquire into potential conflicts of interest,” Donald Trump made the only possible response, calling for Hillary Clinton and her whole campaign team to face the death penalty. “In a stronger period of time in our country,” wrote Trump in a statement, “this crime would have been punishable by death.” But apparently this is a weak time, so no one is likely to hang for the crime of a professional conflict of interest — a possible conflict of interest — that would require a change in attorney. Which is all that Durham is asking for in filing for an inquiry.

The whole court filing has to do with the sole existing charge generated by the expansive, multi-year, multi-million dollar investigation, that of Michael Sussman, who was indicted in 2021 by a grand jury on a single charge of lying to the FBI. That indictment came because Sussman brought the FBI’s attention to data files that suggested a connection between a server in Trump Tower and a Russian bank and claimed he was not doing this for any client, when in fact his firm had been hired by the Clinton campaign, as well as others.

What does Durham’s new filing add to that case? Exactly nothing.
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On the surface, Durham is complaining that Sussman’s attorneys, from the firm Latham and Watkins, have a potential conflict of interest because of shared clients between that firm and Sussman’s firm. That’s it. Durham is asking for a “voluntary waiver” explaining the scope of any connection. Story over.

Except that Durham included in the filing a “Statement of Facts” a couple of things that did not appear in Sussman’s indictment. Things that don’t appear to be facts at all.

Following the filing, Fox News pundits from Laura Ingraham to Sean Hannity seem to have discovered that Sussman is accused of goading the FBI into looking into potential connections between Trump and Russia. This is bring treated as new information that somehow reveals the entire Trump—Russia connection was a setup from the beginning.
There is only one thing wrong with this: Everything.

First, there’s very little new in this highly technical procedural request. The charge against Sussaman was fully described six months ago when the original indictment was made. At the time, the Department of Justice even put out a handy announcement explaining that:

“Sussman... met with the FBI General Counsel at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Sussmann had requested the meeting to provide the General Counsel with certain data files and “white papers” that allegedly demonstrated a covert communications channel between the Trump Organization and a Russia-based bank. Sussmann, who had previously represented the Democratic National Committee in connection with a cyber hack, falsely stated to the General Counsel that he was not bringing these allegations to the FBI on behalf of any client.”

That’s it. That’s the entire crime in question, and all the details about it have been available for months. It should also be noted that the data that was passed over by Sussman was not connected to any charges leveled against members of Trump’s organization or campaign, and was unconnected to the over 100 meetings between Trump’s team and Russian operatives described in the report compiled by the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee.

The new filing from Durham doesn’t suggest that anyone else is going to be indicted. It doesn’t suggest that there will be any additional charges against Sussman. It provides only a vague additions to the information already included in the earlier indictment. But there is one implication buried in the new document that has generated all that heat on the right and led to Trump’s call to string ‘em all up.

That information involves a second meeting, one that took place between Sussman and the FBI in February 2017. Durham has lodged no charges against Sussman related to that meeting. But not only is it brought up for no apparent reason in this document concerning Sussman’s legal representation, there’s an extra implication about that meeting that would change the whole nature of the case.

To understand what it is, the easiest route is to look at the reply filed by Sussman’s attorney. In brief, Sussman’s legal team says that Durham’s “factual background” includes several items that aren’t facts at all.

“Approximately half of this Factual Background provocatively—and misleadingly —describes for the first time Domain Name System (‘DNS’) traffic potentially associated with former President Donald Trump, including data at the Executive Office of the President (‘EOP’), that was allegedly presented to [the CIA] in February 2017. These allegations were not included in the Indictment; these allegations post-date the single false statement that was charged in the Indictment; and these allegations were not necessary to identify any of the potential conflicts of interest with which the Motion is putatively concerned. Why then include them? The question answers itself.”

The answer, says the legal team, is that Durham wants to imply that Sussman was handing over data after Trump took office, and targeting systems belonging to the government. Which, says Sussman’s team, Durham knows is not true.

“... the Special Counsel is well aware that the data provided to [the CIA] pertained only to the period of time before Mr. Trump took office, when Barack Obama was President. Further—and contrary to the Special Counsel’s alleged theory that Mr. Sussmann was acting in concert with the Clinton Campaign—the Motion conveniently overlooks the fact that Mr. Sussmann’s meeting with [the CIA] happened well after the 2016 presidential election, at a time when the Clinton Campaign had effectively ceased to exist.”

Sussman met with the CIA shortly after Trump had already taken office, but brought in data related to the campaign period. That seems like a pretty decent case in support of Sussman’s claim that he was acting only to bring this information the government’s attention as a good citizen, and not as an agent of a campaign that no longer existed.

Which is probably why
none of this information was in the indictment.
It’s not clear if any of this was ever run past the grand jury, or whether Durham just decided to fling this into the case without ever bothering with that step.

Durham has clearly included in his “factual background” claims not in evidence as part of the indictment, including implications that Sussman’s went to the CIA with information on official servers from after Trump took office. That claim has been further expanded by right-wing operatives to describe all of this as part of a conspiracy to connect Trump and Russia that began during the campaign and continued after Trump took office; one that involved the Clinton campaign hacking into government servers and planting evidence.

However, missing from this scenario is:
  • Any evidence that the Clinton campaign was involved with Sussman bringing information to the government at any time.
  • Any evidence that anyone ever illegally accessed any server, government or otherwise.
  • Any evidence that the data provided included anything other than information collected before Trump took office.
  • Any evidence that Sussman did more than collect actual data, as provided to him, with nothing added, exaggerated, or falsified in any way.
As Marcy Wheeler at emptywheel has pointed out, this set of additional “facts” was spawned out of a conversation that occurred in 2017. One in which Kash Patel—former Devin Nunes assistant and eventual chief of staff to the acting secretary of defense—questioned Sussman:

Patel: What was your contact [with the CIA] about?
Sussman: So the contact [with the CIA] was about reporting to them information that was reported to me about possible contacts, covert or at least nonpublic, between Russian entities and various entities in the Untied States associated with the — or potentially associated with the Trump Organization.
Patel: And when did that contact [with the CIA] occur, month and year?

Sussman: February 2017.

As Wheeler rightly points out, this shows Patel has known about this information for over four years. He knew who Sussman talked to. He knew the topic of the conversation. He knew the date. He knew all this when he was absolutely in a position to act on this information as part of the House investigation. He did nothing.

And that’s all that’s in Durham’s document. That’s the “new” information that has the right ready to drag the gallows back onto the Capitol lawn.

Piecing together the “facts” in Durham’s latest filing result in an extraordinary claim associated with that Feb 2017 meeting. It indirectly claims, or at least heavily implies, that tech specialist Rodney Joffe accessed DNS servers—including ones associated with the Executive Office of the President—for the purpose of gathering derogatory information about Donald Trump. But if that’s the case, why isn’t Joffe facing any charges?

Maybe Durham is saving that until, say, October. Because the whole purpose of the document filed last Friday seems to have been nothing more than dribbling one scant drop of water into a right-wing conspiracy theory that has long gone dust dry.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Breaking: Gun maker Remington agrees to $73 million settlement with Sandy Hook families.
Frank Pedraza

This is great news! It’s the first major settlement with a gun maker for a mass shooting.

www.cnn.com/…

According to CNN:
  • The families of five children and four adults killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting have reached a $73 million settlement with the now-bankrupt gun manufacturer Remington and its four insurers, the plaintiffs' attorneys said Tuesday
  • The settlement comes more than seven years after the families filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Remington, the manufacturer of the Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle used in the massacre that left 20 children and six adults dead in Newtown, Connecticut.
  • The families have also "obtained and can make public thousands of pages of internal company documents that prove Remington's wrongdoing and carry important lessons for helping to prevent future mass shootings," the plaintiffs' attorneys said in a news release.
  • "These nine families have shared a single goal from the very beginning: to do whatever they could to help prevent the next Sandy Hook. It is hard to imagine an outcome that better accomplishes that goal," plaintiffs' attorney Josh Koskoff said.
  • "This victory should serve as a wake-up call not only to the gun industry, but also the insurance and banking companies that prop it up," Koskoff said.
  • The $73 million settlement is all of the available coverage that Remington's insurance carriers could pay. Last summer, Remington approached the families with a nearly $33 million settlement offer. At the time, lawyers for the families said they would consider their next steps.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ottawa's police chief has resigned after criticism that he did not do enough to stop COVID-19 protests that have paralyzed Canada's capital city and forced Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to invoke emergency powers, a city official said on Tuesday.

A trucker-led movement calling on the government to lift vaccine mandates and other restrictions has occupied parts of downtown Ottawa since late January. It had also blocked a major U.S. border crossing until being cleared over the weekend. read more

With protesters still standing their ground outside Canada's parliament and prime minister's office, Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly has stepped down, Riley Brockington, an Ottawa city councillor, said on Twitter.

Sloly will publicly announce his decision later on Tuesday, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported. Ottawa police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Critics alleged that Sloly and other police officers were too permissive in their approach to the protests, which have inspired copycat movements across the world and posed a major challenge to Trudeau's government.......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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President Joe Biden is going to provide a status update on the ongoing situation in Ukraine at 3:30 p.m. ET Tuesday, according to the White House.

Russia has amassed more than 130,000 troops near Ukraine's border in recent weeks, according to US estimates, raising fears from Western and Ukrainian intelligence officials that an invasion could be imminent. Russia announced earlier Tuesday that some of its troops would return to base after completing recent drills, but stressed that major military exercises would continue.

The Russian defense ministry said troops from its Southern and Western military districts -- parts of which are next door to Ukraine -- had begun to return to their home stations, though the announcement did not say precisely where those troops were permanently based, where they had been exercising, or how many of them were withdrawing.

US ambassador to NATO Julianne Smith said Tuesday the US was "monitoring the situation" after the Kremlin's troop announcement, but added that the US "will have to verify" any claims of a potential move towards deescalation by Russia.

The Ukraine crisis is largely a creation of President Vladimir Putin and his personal and disputed version of history that holds that the country, which was part of the Soviet Union until its breakup in 1991, should be part of greater Russia as well as his deep resentment about how the Cold War ended with the admission of former Warsaw Pact nations, that were aligned with the Soviets, like Poland, Romania and the Baltic states into NATO......

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Accounting firm tells Trump Organization 'You're fired!' as investigation shows records unreliable
Mark Sumner

In one of the most remarkable events of the entire investigation into Donald Trump’s hyperinflated worth, his own accounting firm has now effectively fired him as a client. In a letter to Trump Organization attorney Alan Garten, accounting firm Mazars USA informs team Trump that they can no longer stand behind numbers they’ve been putting out because information provided by the New York attorney general, as well as Mazar’s own investigations, shows that data it got from Trump Organization was not reliable.

The process the accountants have informed Trump’s company that the last ten years' worth of financial records should “no longer be relied upon.” They’ve also told the Trump Organization that “you should inform any recipients thereof who are currently relying upon one or more of those documents that those documents should not be relied upon.” Telling everyone that he can’t be trusted will surely go straight to the top of Trump’s agenda.

The firm has not just determined that it has to disown ten years of reports, but declares that it will no longer work with Trump. “We have also reached the point such that there is a non-waivable conflict of interest with the Trump Organization,” wrote Mazars. “As a result, we are not able to provide any new work product to the Trump Organization.” In other words, accounting firm Mazars USA has completed their last task related to the Trump Organization—a bulk purchase of ten-foot poles.

In the middle of a legal battle claiming that Trump has been fudging the numbers on his real estate “empire,” the people who are responsible for vetting those numbers have taken a second look and declared an official “Oh, sh#t.” Which seems like it should be concerning.

..........
Trump will surely get right on spreading the word that he can’t be trusted. As soon as he gets past the ludicrous claim, relayed by The Wall Street Journal that because its own accounting was worthless, this “effectively renders the investigations by the D.A. and A.G. moot.”

Oddly, New York Attorney General Letitia James doesn’t seem to agree. As The Daily Beast reports, the response of the AG’s office to the letter from Mazars was filing it in support of their case against Trump, Ivanka Trump, and Donald Trump Jr. The AG’s office is also calling on all three to “testify about how so many family real estate development projects and properties had wildly fluctuating values that seemed high whenever they needed loans but low whenever it came time to pay taxes.”

Trump has leaned heavily on Mazars since he began his campaign in 2015. The accounting firm has led the charge in protecting his documents, including appealing attempts to release both more financial information and Trump’s personal tax documents, over and over for five years. The final decision by the Supreme Court that allowed the Manhattan DA to examine the documents, but continues to hide them from Congress, was officially filed not by Trump, but by Mazars.

Bizarrely, Trump issued a statement that says Mazar’s letter “confirms” that “Mazars’ work was performed in accordance with all applicable accounting standards and principles and that such statements of financial condition do not contain any material discrepancies.” Which is the opposite of what the letter actually said. Yes, Mazars produced reports that followed accounting guidelines, but they did so based on unreliable information. Trump’s team seems to be saying, “They have accurately reported the lies we fed them,” so all is well.


Whether or not legal action will result from any of this is still up in the air. In spite of Eric Trump invoking the Fifth Amendment hundreds of times, in spite of lying not just about the value but about the physical size of his own signature building, in spite of Trump’s multiple attempts to kill the investigation, and despite evidence that Trump materially benefited from misstatements about the value of his properties, James has still not decided whether or not to pursue legal action against Trump or his organization.

In January, James tweeted:

“We have uncovered significant evidence indicating that the Trump Organization used fraudulent and misleading asset valuations on multiple properties to obtain economic benefits, including loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions for years.”

None of this has yet led to an actual indictment against Trump. But his own accounting firm desperately paddling in the opposite direction might be a good indicator that the ship is about to sink, and no one wants to be too close when it happens.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Jan. 6 committee scores another victory against Trump election subversion strategist John Eastman
Brandi Buchman

The pressure to unearth records from Jan. 6, 2021, has ramped up on election subversion strategist John Eastman once again after a federal judge ordered him to produce emails to the Capitol attack probe faster and without skimping on details about his so-called privilege claims.

This latest order follows a previous one that instructed the conservative attorney to begin the records review and commence with the production of privilege logs itemizing whatever documents he wished to hide from the Jan. 6 Committee.

Setting a range for emails from his tenure at Chapman University spanning from just Jan. 4 through Jan. 7, 2021, Eastman has complied over the last few weeks. But with the work he has shown, the committee has been forced to lodge objections on privileges claims associated with 130 documents from that time period.

Those documents amount to 568 pages.
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The Jan. 6 committee has expressed time and again that Eastman’s communications from just before and after the Capitol attack with White House officials, former President Trump, or other attorneys in Trump’s circle are a leading priority for investigators.

U.S. District Judge David Carter, appointed by former President Bill Clinton, has so far been very sympathetic to that argument.

Ordering Eastman on Monday to produce his reasoning behind privilege claims for each document in the 568-page stack, Judge Carter gave Eastman a one-week deadline.

Not only must he describe why he is shrouding each page, he must also explain the nature of “all attorney-client and agent relationships” that he premises those privilege assertions upon.

Evidence would include “engagement letters, retainer agreements, or other writings,” Judge Carter noted in a two-page order on Monday.

Eastman must also highlight the “timing and scope” for each attorney or agent relationship as applicable.

Eastman Order and Minutes F... by Daily Kos

Politico was first to report on the judge’s order on Monday. During a court appearance with Eastman, Politico noted, Jan. 6 committee counsel Douglas Letter told the Los-Angeles based judge that he believed Eastman was still trying to slow-walk documents to the committee.

His privilege logs have been largely indiscriminate and vague, Letter has noted.

Some of the items were demarcated by Eastman as the very non-descript “legal arguments” or “proposals to consider.”

EastmanFile.jpg

The increasingly voluminous docket for John Eastman’s case against the Jan. 6 Committee shows a litany of sealed records. Based on notices filed publicly between the sealed documents listed here, the sealed items are presumed primarily to be assorted privilege logs itemizing records Eastman wishes to keep away from Jan. 6 investigators.

“Professor Eastman appears to be a central player in the development of a strategy to justify a coup,” Letter told Judge Carter on Monday.

He added that the congressional probe was “finding out lots and lots of information” from witnesses that cast Eastman in that light.

Eastman is responsible for writing a six-point plan that proposed having then-Vice President Mike Pence reject the 2020 election outcome—despite having no constitutional basis to do so.

Eastman Memo by Daily Kos


He was also a prolific advocate of Trump’s election fraud claims, at one point even urging Georgia state senators to appoint their own electors. Further, Eastman attended meetings in Washington’s Willard Hotel with Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and ex-Trump strategist Steve Bannon before the attack. It was there that the Pence pressure strategy was allegedly discussed.

The probe investigating the Capitol attack has so far conducted over 500 interviews.

For Eastman, simply put, one of the potentially major wrinkles in his privilege argument is related to how he is identified in Trump’s world.

Eastman has publicly recognized himself as Trump’s attorney, but defining that in court and establishing how his legal services are actually arranged is crucial.

Letter emphasized Monday it was Eastman who has the “burden to demonstrate” his privileges.

Whether Trump hired Eastman on retainer must be made distinct. Or, if Eastman was representing Trump personally, versus Trump as president.

Any agreement that was in place or any combination of that agreement, formally or otherwise, or any document tied to these arrangements could expedite the select committee’s understanding of the massive trove of records behind Eastman.

In January, Judge Carter directed him to review no less than 1,500 pages per day plus produce a log notating what items would be shielded. This way the select committee would also be given the opportunity to lodge objections as the review process got rolling.

Eastman objected to the workload but the court initially brushed off his concerns saying the committee’s narrowing of the records request to a few days in January from its original range, spanning Nov. 2020 through Jan. 2021, had been reasonable.

Besides the 568 pages from Jan. 4 to Jan. 7 now on deck for more immediate scrutiny, the Trump ally has still laid privilege claims on over 10,000 pages of emails.

This is in addition to the 94,000 pages already flagged by the committee.

Politico reported that Eastman said in court Monday he reviewed some 46,000 pages so far from that tranche. He gave 8,000 pages to the select committee while another 27,000 pages were withheld because they were “boilerplate” emails for things like campaign donations or unrelated newsletters.

The remaining 11,000 pages in that batch are records Eastman is still trying to shield through privilege assertions.

With the latest demands for the Jan. 4 to Jan. 7 records set, Judge Carter offered Eastman some flexibility.

He agreed to slash the initial 1,500 pages per day review order to just 500 pages per day.

For now, the new review cap only goes into effect for the remainder of February and then for the first week of March.

“The court is cognizant of the time required to draft comprehensive privilege briefings for this number of documents,” Carter wrote.

Eastman’s next day in court is Mar. 9.

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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FOX News Buries Story on Accounting Firm Quitting Trump and His 10 Years of 'Unreliable' Finances
News Corpse

On Monday Donald Trump's longtime accounting firm announced that they were discontinuing their association with Trump and disavowing his financial reporting for the past ten years as "unreliable." This comes as Trump is under investigation by the New York Attorney General for lying about the value of his financial assets.

The Mazars accounting firm's unprecedented termination of Trump as a client, along with their notice that ten years of his financial reports "should not be relied on," is a jaw dropping development. It foretells a financial fiasco for the deeply indebted former reality TV game show host. And it suggests that Mazars is cooperating with legal authorities to provide more incriminating information.

Despite the explosive magnitude of this story, Fox News has completely ignored it. There was no mention of it on any of their primetime programs Monday night. There is still no mention of it on their website. It's almost as if Fox News is purposefully trying to make the story disappear because it reflects so disastrously on Dear Leader Trump. Ya think?

In place of the Mazars story that would ordinarily dominate the news cycle at a journalistically credible operation, Fox News is relentlessly plugging a story that has absolutely no substantive news value. That story concerns a filing by the flagrantly partisan special counsel, John Durham, that rambles on tediously about an attorney who reported suspicious Internet activity between Trump and Russian computer networks.

Fox News has been completely distorting the Durham Nothingburger to falsely claim that it proves that Hillary Clinton was spying on Trump. There is no truth to that whatsoever, and the filing doesn't even make that allegation. But that didn't stop Sean Hannity from fictionalizing the story. He ranted that...

"Here's where this is even worse than Watergate. Not only did they hack into the opposing campaign and steal material like in the case of Watergate, but then they hacked into the office of the president of this great country, according to Durham's blockbuster filing late Friday."



To be clear, no one hacked into Trump's campaign, and no one stole any materials. Nor did anyone hack into the office of the president, and Durham never alleged that they did. Nevertheless, Trump is furious that other news networks weren't fooled by Durham's fact-free deflection. And so is Fox News...





It's ironic that Fox is so outraged by the media properly passing on the Durham probe fabrications, when they are so flagrantly ignoring the real story about Trump's financial corruption. It's just more proof that Fox has never been a news network. And it's why their audience is so pitifully uninformed, or even worse, misinformed, about everything from the Biden economic boom, to the COVID pandemic, to the 2020 presidential election, and so much more. They are the "New Ignorati." And that's exactly how Fox News wants them.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Trudeau invokes emergency powers as Canada moves against anti-vax blockades
Hunter

GettyImages-1238216196.jpg

Ottawa residents, in particular, are fed up

A day after Sunday's successful (and uneventful) clearing of a anti-vaccine protest blocking the Ambassador Bridge border crossing between Canada and the United States, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act to respond to larger "trucker" anti-vax protests in Ottawa and to clear other border crossings that have been blocked by Canadian far-right activists.

The move was not met with full-throated acclaim, any more than an American president invoking emergency powers to deal with protests in this nation would be, but comes as the alleged protests by Canadian "truckers" objecting to COVID-19 vaccination mandates for drivers entering the country have steadily morphed into more ambiguously premised protests by Canadian far-right groups and militias, anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists, and much weirder conspiracy theorists.

As example of what Trudeau's government might have been eager to head off, Alberta police arrested 11 and seized a cache of weaponry after the group expressed "a willingness to use force against the police" if police attempted to clear an Alberta-U.S. border blockade. That's the sort of anti-government, militia-premised violence that many in the United States and international far-right have been agitating for, as foreign money pours in to help fund and expand the blockades, and those aspirations likely played a part in Trudeau's decision to allow police to take more aggressive action against those who have put their fellow Canadians under dubiously-premised "siege."

A Vancouver border crossing has also now been reopened after protesters there were cleared; new government powers will allow law enforcement to freeze trucker bank accounts and threaten action against crowd-funding sites raising money for now-banned blockades.

The American right has been salivating over the Canadian protests since their inception, and like the evolving protests themselves, the entrancement seems to be not over cross-border vaccine mandates so much as the imagined notion that Canadian far-right anti-government group might be able to topple the government or otherwise impose their will through force. That was the possibility that led Republican Rep. Chip Roy to giddily believe the protesters had caused the Canadian prime minister to flee the country (which he did not), demanding Trudeau be "deported" back to Canada so he could face the anger of the mob that deposed him.

To many of the Republican supporters of the Canadian "siege," the supposed trucker protests are transparently viewed as an offshoot of the anti-democracy riots and coup attempt of January 6. It's not about whether truckers have to quarantine or be vaccinated when driving international routes during a deadly worldwide pandemic. It's about the possibility of far-right rebellion toppling legitimate democratic institutions, in this country and others, after their ideologies have gone too sour for the general public to support.

That's continuing. As Canadian authorities look to clamp down on border blockades while arresting those that have threatened anti-government violence, Fox News host Sean Hannity and some other American supporters of the protests appear to be licking their lips in anticipation of possible far-right violence in coming days:



All of it is in very stark contrast to conservative demands that racial justice protests in the United States be met with paramilitary violence and demands that drivers be immunized from flat-out killing protesters that dare to block American roadways. This should not be surprising, as a central tenet of fascism presumes violence by the state against malcontents is just and sensible—while, simultaneously, mob violence by movement itself is justified as necessary to "cleanse" the nation of movement enemies. To Chip Roy and supporters of America's fascist coup attempt, the Canadian version is another useful practice run. What elements of the supposed "siege" are most successful? What is the government response? Can the government response be overcome?

Being able to sandbox such ideas without being directly party to any resulting crimes themselves is perhaps the largest single reason the international far-right is flooding the Canadian protests with cash and support far in excess of the protests' actual size.

The American right is also fervently hoping to bring "trucker"-styled protests here, though so far those attempts have sputtered. A planned trucker convoy from Coachella to Washington, D.C. does not appear to be gaining much traction, nor does it appear to be contemplating actually closing down any U.S. roads—possibly because U.S. laws allow authorities to seize whatever vehicles might attempt it with little effort. The efforts are also being hampered by relentless efforts by competing far-right groups to repurpose vaccine and mask opposition to promote white nationalism, militia groups, and even cryptocurrencies.

The Canadian protests may have been an aspirational moment for anti-government Republicans in this country, but their general impact still seems to be limited mostly to being neighborhood irritants in the places they have sprouted up. And in Canada, both the general public and law enforcement appear to be weary of these particular cranks.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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The New York Times has prevailed in defending itself against a defamation lawsuit brought by Sarah Palin after jurors found she had not proven her case.

The jury of nine, which had been deliberating since Friday afternoon, found the Times not liable for defamation against Palin.

Unbeknownst to them, during deliberations, Judge Jed Rakoff ruled that Palin's attorneys did not prove a key element of their case, and that he would set aside the jury's verdict should it have found for Palin.

After the jury delivered its unanimous verdict Tuesday, Judge Rakoff briefly told jurors about his decision to dismiss the case and said he and the jurors both came to the same decision.

"Your job was to decide the facts. My job was to decide the law," Rakoff said.

Palin did not prove "actual malice," the judge said, which is the standard her legal team had to meet in her defamation case. The landmark 1964 New York Times vs. Sullivan case specifies that public figures who sue for defamation must prove that the offender knew the claim was false or showed "reckless disregard" for the truth.

"The law here sets a very high standard," Rakoff said Monday. "The court finds that that standard has not been met."

Palin's attorney Kenneth Turkel said he is proud of his client for the "strength, resolve and courage to pick a fight with The New York Times." Turkel spoke to the media outside of a lower Manhattan courthouse, saying he and his team are, "going to evaluate all our options for appeal.".......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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State police raid home of top Michigan Republicans amid disturbing allegations
Walter Einenkel

GettyImages-1229424039.jpg

Lee Chatfield speaking at rally for Donald Trump

On Tuesday, reports came out of Michigan that the home of Republican Lee Chatfield’s former chief of staff was searched by state police. Rob Minard served under Chatfield while the latter was speaker of the Michigan House. Minard’s wife, Anne Minard, was an adviser and the director of external affairs during that time. She was also the treasurer for four of Chatfield’s political action committees. State police told reporters that this search was a part of an "ongoing investigation.”

The Detroit News reports that Chatfield’s position at the top of the Michigan GOP developed out of his prolificacy as a fundraiser in the Wolverine State legislature. The large amounts of money Chatfield moved around seem to be the subject of the investigation that led to Tuesday’s raid. “Political accounts tied to Chatfield directed at least $900,000 in campaign and nonprofit funds to family members, legislative staffers, and organizations they led for wages and consulting fees.”

But it probably gets worse; anyone following Chatfield’s recent media coverage will know that this speculation about his participation in financial hokey pokey is the least of his problems.
.......
In January, Bridge Michigan released an explosive story with accusations from Chatfield’s sister-in-law that he had been sexually assaulting her since she was 15 years old and Chatfield was 21. Rebekah Chatfield filed a complaint against Lee, a pastor’s son and big-time anti-LGBTQ Christian conservative. Rebekah alleges that Lee Chatfield groomed her
as a student at Northern Michigan Christian Academy, a school where Chatfield taught that was affiliated with his father’s church.

“He destroyed me, and has controlled my life since I was 15-16, the past 10-11 years,” she said. “And I know the only way to get justice for this is to come forward and to file a criminal (complaint) against him.”

Deadline Detroit added that Rebekah Chatfield’s lawyers have mentioned Lee as having multiple affairs on top of the sexual assaults he perpetrated.

Lee Chatfield’s lawyers have admitted that the former Republican Speaker had an affair with his sister-in-law, but they deny any allegations that the affair began when Rebekah was underage and claim the relationship was entirely consensual. "He did not assault this woman in any manner during their years-long adult relationship. He intends to vigorously fight these false claims."

Aaron Chatfield, Lee’s brother and Rebekah’s husband, told the Bridge that he supports his wife and had “suspicions years ago about his brother’s close behavior with Rebekah.” He told Bridge Michigan that when he worked as an unofficial driver for Lee he would frequently take him to strip clubs and other very not-so-Christian private liaisons. “Lee portrays himself as a family tradition, conservative guy who believes in the Bible and the Bible is so important. No, it couldn’t be further from who my man was as a person.”

Michigan Republicans like Chatfield were connected to fancy Dom Perignon hangouts at the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C., post-election loss. Hoi Polloi wrote about how long-standing a dirtbag Chatfield has always been, repeatedly bringing into question his moral bona fides.

Annie Minard has continued consulting for Michigan’s Republican legislature as an event and affairs coordinator, while her husband Rob is a lobbyist.
 

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The House January 6 committee issued another round of subpoenas Tuesday as congressional investigators dig more deeply into illegitimate electors from key swing states that former President Donald Trump lost, who were put forward to try to justify delaying the certification of Joe Biden's victory.

The committee issued subpoenas to six individuals, including two members of the Trump campaign and four prominent GOP officials from battleground states, as part of its investigation into the US Capitol attack on January 6, 2021.

"The Select Committee is seeking information about efforts to send false slates of electors to Washington and change the outcome of the 2020 election. We're seeking records and testimony from former campaign officials and other individuals in various states who we believe have relevant information about the planning and implementation of those plans," the panel's chairman, Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, said in a statement.


The Trump campaign officials subpoenaed by the committee are Michael Roman, who was in charge of Election Day operations in 2020, and his deputy, Gary Michael Brown. Both "reportedly participated in efforts to promote allegations of fraud in the November 2020 election and encourage state legislators to appoint false 'alternate' slates of electors," according to the committee.

The subpoena list also includes Republican state lawmakers from Pennsylvania and Arizona -- Douglas Mastriano and Mark Finchem, respectively -- as well as Kelli Ward, chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party, and Laura Cox, former chairwoman of the Michigan GOP.


Last month the committee issued subpoenas for 14 Republicans from seven states who served on bogus slates of Trump electors in 2020 as part of the Trump campaign's scheme to subvert the Electoral College.

Mastriano and Finchem signed a letter to former Vice President Mike Pence on January 5, 2021, asking him to delay certification of the electoral results on January 6.........
 

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Tina Peters was arrested twice last week. Now she’s running to control Colorado’s elections
Walter Einenkel

The embattled Mesa County, Colorado, elections Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters, fresh off of being arrested twice in one week, went on Steve Bannon’s media show to announce she is running to become Colorado’s Secretary of State. This comes months after the actual Secretary of State has exposed Peters for serious breaches of election security, which include all the scandalous behaviors one would expect from a criminal trying to rig an election in a bad action movie.

Peters told Bannon’s audience that “Colorado deserves a secretary of state who will stand up to the Biden administration that wants to run our country into the ground with nationalized elections.” If that sentence means nothing to you, don’t fear: You aren’t suffering some kind of medical event. Tina Peters just pulled all of those magnet words off of the GOP’s fascist refrigerator. This comes as news to many—Peters cannot run for reelection as Clerk and Recorder while also running for Secretary of State. But it makes sense, as her reelection campaign for her continued position has been waylaid by breaking laws and stuff.
.......
Peters has been under investigation for her part in allowing a third-party MAGA operative access to Dominion voting machines before a scheduled “trusted build.” Peters allowed Gerald Wood access into areas he had no security clearance for in order to reportedly download files and software from the voting machine. Peters turned off security cameras to hide the fact that she was doing this. Secure passwords to the Colorado election’s system were then leaked onto a third-party blog post that alerted officials to the security breach.

Peters, like every single MAGA-head or GOP operative busted for either breaking the law or doing something that should probably be considered illegal and corrupt, has hoisted herself up on a cross of her own making and, with nails in her mouth and a hammer in her hand, is telling everyone she is being persecuted.

“As the county clerk and reporter, my job was to preserve election records for 25 months and that I did. My job as secretary of state would be to make sure that no other clerk has to go through what the three of us have in Colorado for just doing our job.”

A reminder: So far there has only been one clerk reported to have turned off security cameras that are trained on elections equipment to ensure their fidelity: Tina Peters (of Nazareth?).

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold has been busy investigating two more MAGA-sympathetic elections officials who may have broken elections protocols and security in similar ways to Peters. Asked about Peter’s announcement that she wanted to run for Secretary of State, Griswold released this statement:

“Tina Peters is unfit to be Secretary of State and a danger to Colorado elections. Peters compromised voting equipment to try to prove conspiracies, costing Mesa County taxpayers nearly one million dollars. She works with election deniers, spreads lies about elections, was removed from overseeing the 2021 Mesa County election, and is under criminal investigation by a grand jury. Colorado needs a Secretary of State who will uphold the will of the people; not one who embraces conspiracies and risks Coloradans’ right to vote.”

Peters has been housed and flown around by MyPillow pretend-cybercrime investigator, Mike Lindell. During that time she has continued to promote the idea that the 2020 elections were stolen by Joe Biden, while providing zero evidence that such a thing has occurred.
 

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The Senate voted Tuesday to confirm Dr. Robert Califf as the next commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, despite opposition from some Democrats regarding his ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

The tally was 50-46. Six Republicans voted for Califf and five Democrats voted against his nomination.

Republican Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota voted "present," in what is called a "live pair" with Democratic Sen. Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, who is absent from the chamber while recovering from a stroke. The "live pair" occurs when, as a courtesy to a member who is unable to attend a vote, a member with an opposing view abstains from casting a yes or no vote, in order to preserve the final vote's margin.

"Senator Lujan is not able to vote, and in this Senate, on a bipartisan basis, we still try to work back and forth," Rounds told CNN. "I am a no on this vote, he would have been a yes. For me it was an opportunity to maintain the same vote outcome, but to recognize the illness that one of our members has."

"Mr. Lujan's office had been looking to see if someone would pair with him," noted Rounds, adding that Lujan is "not only a colleague, he is a friend."

In this case, the pair did not change the outcome, as Califf had 50 votes without Lujan present........
 

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Corporate money keeps flowing to the pro-coup lawmakers who tried to nullify a U.S. election
Hunter

Next up in our recurring check-ins on the American companies who promised to end campaign donations to Republican elected officials who supported an attempted overthrow of the United States government based on hoaxes and conspiracy theories: another, um, check-in on that. How's that going? How are anti-coup companies faring in their efforts to, at bare minimum, not provide future election aid to politicians who tried to nullify the last American presidential election rather than abide Donald Trump's not-even-close election loss?

Yep, it's still going not too well. When we last visited the issue, it turned out that some companies had resumed donations nigh-on immediately, breaking their promises for the simple reason that political corruption in the United States is so omnipresent that pro-sedition politicians felt free to openly threaten companies that didn't keep forking over checks with new legislative punishments. Companies also have been dodging their promises to cut off pro-sedition politicians by instead funneling the money through political action committees, apparently under the belief that the sort of customers who are angry with companies that continue to fund anti-democracy efforts are surely dimwitted enough to not put two and two together if the company checks go through passthrough accounts first.

A new Politico review of some of the largest companies who promised to end political donations to pro-coup politicians now identifies yet another way companies are dodging the promises. Even though massive corporations like Amazon, Microsoft, "Meta," and Google might have ostensibly promised not to prop up those who attempted to erase a presidential election, that doesn't mean the money has dried up. Instead, the lobbyists for those corporations have been writing "personal" donations to the exact same coup supporters.

Why? Again, it's not really a mystery. Those tech companies, along with other big firms like "Allstate, Toyota, Nike and Dow Chemical Company," have a lot of profits at stake with every new tweak to certain U.S. laws, and any lobbyist whose career relies on coaxing those laws into versions more favorable to their employing company knows full well that they'd better show up with campaign funds in their pocket if they want any of the crooked lawmaking kleptocrats to give them the time of day. So here we are, again—saddled with House and Senate members so transparently corrupt that the people who deal with them most don't believe they can cut off payments even after those members attempted to erase the next U.S. administration outright rather than abide an election loss.

That's how crooked our political systems currently are, and that's how unwilling corporate lobbyists are to band together to shut out even the worst of the coup's supporters. It's the prisoners' dilemma, brand name edition: If every company agreed to stop supporting pro-sedition crooks, those crooks could be purged from office. But if every company is not to agree to that, then you'd better be on Team Bribe rather than Team Patriotism—because the political crooks who don't get ousted will be gunning for any company that took itself off Team Bribe.

Politico reports $28,000 in "personal" lobbyist donations to lawmakers who voted to nullify the 2020 election results, representing 13 ostensibly pro-democracy companies, which should again underline just how little money it takes to influence a crooked House member these days. The outlet also reports that "most" of the companies had no comment about the donations, while the companies that did respond noted that since it was lobbyists' personal money, they didn't break their corporate promises.

Which, again, is just another version of the passthrough dodge. Even companies still claiming to abide by their promises to not support lawmakers who engaged in an attempted United States coup are insisting that if their corporate money makes it into pro-coup hands either through donations to political action committees or their hired lobbyists own personal accounts, that money doesn't count.

We get it, we really do. It has been excruciating, for companies caught between democracy and the grifting corruption of Washington's business as usual, and the great majority of them have been no doubt endlessly debating just how fluid their pro-democracy promises can be while not jeopardizing a system of government hand-built to cater to corporate whim at the expense of nearly everything else. Even companies with boards that are absolutely adamant about not wanting American democracy to end—and I would argue that those corporate boards are in the very distinct minority, in relation to the vast majority of boards that do not give a flying damn—don't want to get out over their skis, just in case the coup plotters are more successful the next time around. It's not good business to make political enemies, and the more openly corrupt a political system is, the worse an idea it gets.

But lobbyists are a dime a dozen, and each of these companies could indeed extend their own corporate promises to clarify that they will not give campaign money to pro-coup lawmakers who voted to erase an election and will also not use the services of lobbyists or legal firms who do support anti-democracy forces. There are, somewhere out there in the nation, business professionals who know the difference between glad-handing and acting as willing conspirators against our democracy. Perhaps give them a call instead?
 

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Trump's already giving Republicans heartburn. Democratic strategists vow to turn up the heat
Kerry Eleveld

Recent polling holds both warning signs for Democrats and some promising news. President Joe Biden's job approvals, as we know, are still stuck in the low 40s. But on the bright side, Donald Trump remains a bigger drag on Republican candidates, according to a survey conducted by CNN/SSRS through most of January and early February.

Although voters said they preferred a congressional candidate who opposes Biden by a 10-point margin of 42% to 32%, they also said they favored a candidate who opposed Trump by a wider 17-point margin of 44% to 27%. Additionally, 68% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters viewed a candidate's support for Biden favorably, while a bare majority (53%) of Republican and Republican-leaning voters said the same of Trump.
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The even brighter side is that Biden could still manage to improve his job rating throughout the year if he hits the right political notes. After all, much of Biden's slippage has come among Democrats—voters who want to like him.

But Trump's ability to improve his standing with voters is dubious at best. The more he's in the spotlight, the more polarizing he is. The past couple weeks have proven that far from fading to the background for the good of the GOP's electoral prospects, Trump plans to be center stage, praising the terrorists who assaulted the Capitol on Jan. 6 and dangling pardons for them.

While many Democratic candidates are shying away from making Trump an issue this year, some Democratic operatives are dedicating themselves to making sure Trump shines, as it were.

When the pro-Democratic super PAC Stop Him Now released an ad last month featuring video of the violent insurrection, the PAC’s press release affirmed that Democrats need both "a positive narrative" about their accomplishments and "smart, aggressive, localized campaigns."

"But it won’t be enough," it added.

“Our concern was that lane three — the Trump lane — was being abandoned,” Mandy Grunwald, Democratic strategist and co-founder of the Trump-focused PAC, told The Washington Post's Paul Kane.

Veteran Democratic strategist Geoff Garin shares a similar view.

“More important than Trump himself is what has happened to the Republican Party in the wake of Trump. This is a party that in many ways has become extreme and radicalized,” Garin explained.

Democratic candidates will surely gravitate toward policy on the campaign trail, but these outside strategists appear keenly aware that, strategically speaking, someone has to make the Trump case most of them will be loathe to make.

“The biggest ally we have is Trump himself. He’s not going to allow Chris Christie or Ron DeSantis or anyone else define the future of the Republican Party. He wants the decision of whether to run again be something that he alone decides,” said Saul Shorr, another veteran Democratic media consultant and co-founder of Stop Him Now.

Amen.
 

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How Stupid is Trump? He's Bragging that 49% of Republicans Don't Want Him to Run in 2024 (CNN Poll)
News Corpse

donald-trump-stupid.jpg


With each new day and damning disclosure, it's getting more difficult to decipher the dementia exhibited by Donald Trump. As the legal walls close in around him he is becoming noticeably distraught. His outbursts are more outlandish and fraught with fear, incoherent absurdities, and impotent demands.

The past several days have been particularly bad for Trump. He was discovered to have flushed documents down the toilet that the law requires him to preserve. He was thrown under the bus by both Mike Pence and Mitch McConnell. A bogus filing by special counsel John Durham was appropriately ignored by the press. His longtime accounting firm announced that they were ceasing to work for him and that ten years of his financial reports were 'unreliable." And even his legal lackey Rudy Giuliani is reported to be fully cooperating with the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th insurrection.

This avalanche of atrocious news may explain Trump's curious behavior. On Tuesday morning his Twitter ban defying spokes-shill, Liz Harrington, posted a tweet enthusiastically announcing: "CNN POLL: 51 Percent of Democrats Do NOT Want Joe Biden as the 2024 Nominee"

Let's just set aside that Trump usually dismisses CNN as "fake news." At first glance this CNN poll may seem like something that Trump would be thrilled to pass on to his Tweeple. It suggests soft support for Biden in the next presidential election. However, what Trump left out is that the same poll shows that 49% of Republicans don't want Trump to be the GOP's 2024 presidential nominee. With the poll's 3.3% margin of error, there is effectively no difference between the Democratic and Republican numbers. So what the heck is he bragging about?

Digging further into the poll finds even worse news for Trump. When the Democrats who said they would prefer a candidate other than Biden were asked why, 31% said it was because they didn't want him to be reelected. When the same question was asked of the Republicans, 39% said it's because they don't want him back in the white House. So there are significantly more Republicans opposed to Trump running in 2024, than there are Democrats opposed to Biden.

Most of the rest of the respondents for both parties were divided among other concerns such as electability or age. It isn't really surprising that Democrats might be open to candidates other than Biden. Democrats are a diverse community with an abundance of attractive political prospects. Unlike the GOP, they are not a party that is mired in blind idolatry and cult worship.

It's also notable that, rather than linking to CNN as the source for the poll data, Trump's tweet linked to the notorious Internet conspiracy crackpot, Gateway Pundit. That's so that he could control what information was disseminated, how biased it would be presented, and how ignorant he would leave his followers.

That's how Trump came to embrace a poll whose results proved precisely how unpopular he is within his own party. And it isn't the first time he's had this kind of mental meltdown. Just last week Trump boasted about a Pew Research survey that showed that 67% of the respondents – including 41% of Republicans – said that he “bears some or a lot of responsibility for the violence and destruction committed by some of his supporters when they broke into the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.”

At this rate, Democrats could just sit back and wait for Trump to keep pointing out what a pitiful failure he is, and how much people can't stand him. But they must not. Democrats still need to take the lead in educating the public and providing positive messaging for the upcoming campaigns in 2022 and 2024. It will take fierce determination and unyielding commitment to defeat the innate disadvantages built into the Electoral College, and to overcome the obstacles that the GOP has been building to suppress the vote. Democrats definitely have their work cut out for them. But it's still nice of Trump to help them make their case.
 

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PrahaPartizan
Feb 15, 2022 at 08:46:21 PM

Is Turley actually OK? This is history he should know as a law professor at George Washington University. If he doesn’t know that many of the civil rights movement activists spent quite a few nights in jail for their protests, he’s missing a big chunk of history in his memory, making him a potential problem for the university. Of course, he could also just be playing to the rubes too.

 
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Witness testifies he saw no one tending to Ahmaud Arbery after he was shot
Lauren Sue

A resident who lives in the same South Georgia community as three white men accused of committing hate crimes against Ahmaud Arbery testified on Tuesday that he saw no one trying to help Arbery after he was shot twice with a shotgun. Daniel Alcott, whose front yard was closest to where Arbery was killed, testified that he heard three loud bangs on Feb. 23, 2020, hurried to get his wife and baby to safety, then returned outside to see police talking to a man he now knows as William "Roddie" Bryan, WSB radio reported.

Bryan recorded Arbery’s death and was convicted of murdering him along with Travis McMichael, the man who fired the gun, and his father, former prosecutorial investigator Gregory McMichael. Alcott testified that he recognized Travis and Greg and noticed after the shooting that Travis was sitting off to the side while Greg was standing next to a white truck. Alcott said no one was tending to Arbery. He “did see a police officer kneeling down, but that was about it,” Alcott testified in proceedings covered by WSB’s Veronica Waters.

Updates will be added as the trial continues. Jump below the fold for more information on the trial to date.
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Alcott said his family no longer lives in Satilla Shores, where Arbery was killed just outside Alcott’s home. “The house didn’t feel the same,” he said. He said he felt guilty that Arbery was killed just outside his home, and one day he allowed Arbery's family to erect a memorial in his yard.

Arbery, 25, was shot to death after the McMichaels accused the former high school football standout of trespassing onto a home under construction in the South Georgia neighborhood. Arbery was jogging at the time.

Bryan and the McMichaels were each charged with one count of interference with rights and with one count of attempted kidnapping, according to an announcement of their federal indictment.

Officials stated in a news release:

Travis and Gregory McMichael were also charged with one count each of using, carrying, and brandishing—and in Travis’s case, discharging—a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
Counts One and Two of the indictment allege that the defendants used force and threats of force to intimidate and interfere with Arbery’s right to use a public street because of his race. Specifically, Count One of the indictment alleges that as Arbery was running on a public street in the Satilla Shores neighborhood of Brunswick, Georgia, Travis and Gregory McMichael armed themselves with firearms, got into a truck, and chased Arbery through the public streets of the neighborhood while yelling at him, using their truck to cut off his route, and threatening him with firearms. Count One also alleges that the offense resulted in Arbery’s death. Count Two alleges that William “Roddie” Bryan joined the chase and used his truck to cut off Arbery’s route.
In addition to the hate-crime charges, Count Three alleges that all three defendants attempted to unlawfully seize and confine Arbery by chasing after him in their trucks in an attempt to restrain him, restrict his free movement, corral and detain him against his will, and prevent his escape. Counts Four and Five allege that during the course of the crime of violence charged in Count One, Travis used, carried, brandished, and discharged a Remington shotgun, and Gregory used, carried, and brandished a .357 Magnum revolver.

At one point in Alcott's testimony, the prosecution asked him his race, whether he ever ran in the McMichaels’ presence, and whether his running ever led the father and son to accuse Alcott of a crime and chase him in a truck. Alcott, a white man, testified that was not his experience.

Matt Albenze, who has lived in Satilla Shores 32 years, was next on the stand, according to WSB radio. He testified that he saw Arbery twice on security camera footage of the property under construction and Albenze called the Glynn County police's non-emergency line when he saw Arbery there the second time. "It seemed suspicious," Albenze said, also adding that he didn't consider it an emergency. “It was just a fella in a house," Albenze said.

The prosecution is working to prove Arbery was more than that to the McMichaels. The federal government said in opening statements Waters covered on Monday that Travis called Black people animals, criminals, monkeys, and subhuman savages. The prosecutor read a message reportedly from Travis to a friend claiming that Travis loved his job as a contractor because "zero n-----s” work with him. Travis allegedly said in the message: “They ruin everything. That’s why I love what I do now, not a n----r in sight."

His father reportedly said of former Georgia state Rep. Julien Bond’s death that he wished he’d “been put in the ground years ago.”

“He’s nothing but trouble,” Gregory said, according to the prosecution. “Those Blacks are nothing but trouble.”

Attorney Gerald Griggs, who isn’t involved in the federal trial, told the Black News Channel that the defendants’ sentiments about Black people and the words they uttered over Arbery’s dying body will “for the first time cast a full picture of what happened in the Satilla Shores neighborhood.”

“This is going to be a very tough case to listen to,” Griggs said.

 

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'I’m sorry': Witness breaks down in federal trial for George Floyd; prosecution rests
Lauren Sue

The prosecution wrapped its case against three ex-cops in Minneapolis, Minnesota, who are accused of violating George Floyd's civil rights with testimony on Monday from the woman who recorded the deadly encounter. Darnella Frazier was 17 years old when she took viral video of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck for what turned out to be more than nine minutes on May 25, 2020 outside of the Cup Foods store in Minneapolis. When Frazier took the stand in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson, she started crying as the first question was being asked, NBC-affiliated KARE 11 reported.

“I can’t do this. I’m sorry,” Frazier said. “It’s too much pressure.”

Updates will be added as the trial continues. Jump below the fold for more information on the trial to date.
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Magnuson released the jury for a brief recess, and Frazier resumed her testimony when she returned. “I asked the officer, ‘How long do you have to hold him down if someone is saying they can’t breathe?’” Frazier said in proceedings The Washington Post covered. “I didn’t understand why the officers had to hold him down so long.” Frazier testified that she started recording Chauvin after sensing something was "wrong." She said she watched Floyd's condition deteriorate and that he went from seeming "uncomfortable" to "weaker" before he “stopped making sounds overall,” the Post reported.

Frazier’s federal court testimony followed her powerful testimony last March during Chauvin’s state trial. “When I look at George Floyd, I look at my dad,” she said. “I look at my brothers. I look at my cousins, my uncles because they are all Black........
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The prosecution has called 21 witnesses since attorneys began proving their case on Jan. 24. Jurors heard from off-duty firefighter Genevieve Hansen as well as medical experts and law enforcement officers, the Post reported.

With livestreaming restricted in federal courtrooms, reporters and other members of the general public are left to view the trial on a closed-circuit television feed at the U.S. District Court of Minnesota in St. Paul.

“You are accountable for what you do — and if you don’t do anything at all,” Minneapolis Police Inspector Katie Blackwell testified in proceedings The Washington Post covered. Officer and medical support coordinator for the Minneapolis Police Department Nicole Mackenzie testified that Lane, who was the first to call an ambulance to the scene, did everything he was trained to do "to a certain degree." But she also added there is a difference between "suggesting aid and actually rendering aid."

Defense attorneys argued during cross-examinations that officers were given inconsistent use of force training, including a video showing a cadet with his knee on someone's neck, which an instructor did not correct. Kueng's attorney Thomas Plunkett argued that training on intervention policies amounted to “little more than a PowerPoint” while Lane and Kueng were shown policing video set against audio of actor Al Pacino speaking of a willingness to "fight and die" in the film Any Given Sunday.......
 

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Tuesday, Feb 15, 2022 · 3:40:54 PM EST · Lauren Sue
Officer training has presented a type of recurring theme in both the state and federal trial, and the theme replayed once again as a defense for officers when Thao took the stand on Tuesday.

He testified that because officers are trained to perform CPR when a suspect can't breathe, when he saw no officers giving Floyd CPR, Thao assumed Floyd was "still breathing and fine," KARE reported.

Thao said he didn't try to help Floyd “because at that point, I have a different role to do ... crowd control to allow them to attend to Mr. Floyd.”

When he was asked about dismissing the help of the off-duty firefighter, he said he didn't believe she was really a firefighter because she snuck up on him, KARE reported.

Thao’s testimony included elements that seemed to highlight militaristic elements of policing like being trained to say "yes sir, no sir," "yes ma'am, no ma'am," and elements intended to humanize him. He testified that he grew up poor, only eating one meal a day and sharing clothing between six children.

He said his "strict" father beat him and his brother with an extension cord when they fought and threatened him with a pistol in an incident that led him to run to his aunt's home, where she called police. "It was the two most peaceful days of my childhood," Thao said, answering a question about how that experience made him want to become a police officer.

When he actually became an officer, he ended up partnered with Chauvin to address what he called a forgery call, KARE reported. Floyd was accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill. Thao testified that he and Chauvin were initially called out on a level one, indicating a need to arrive quickly, but the call was downgraded by Lane and Kueng. Thao testified that they continued to the Cup Foods store with sirens off because the store "is hostile to police," KARE reported. Thao said he arrived to find Lane and Kueng struggling to get Floyd in their patrol car.

“I’ve never seen this much of a struggle," Thao testified. He said it was "obvious" that Floyd was "under the influence of some kind of drugs" and that he appeared to be in a state of "excited delirium."

The National Institutes of Health wrote in its research of the condition that it is typically associated with drug use and puts the victim in danger of suffering cardiopulmonary arrest.

Thao said in testimony KARE covered that he looked for a type of restraint known as a hobble but decided not to use it after learning emergency management services were on the way. Thao said helping Floyd would take longer for first responders if they “had him tied up like a Christmas present."

Thao said it wasn't uncommon for him to see someone with a knee on a suspect's neck but that he doesn't apply that strategy because his height would cause him to lose balance.

When prosecutors took over questioning, Thao admitted that excessive force is a crime, that using force on someone who is unconscious is unnecessary, and that a police officer committing a crime is no different than a regular citizen doing so, KSTP reporter Callan Gray tweeted.



When asked if force is needed once a subject is handcuffed and isn't resisting, Thao responded: "It depends … if they had just got done fighting with you, you may want to stay there and keep them in restraints."

Lane and Kueng have also said through their attorneys that they plan to testify.
 

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Whether RNC was defending armed Jan. 6 terrorists or fake GOP electors, it was all lawless
Kerry Eleveld

Within an hour of her organization passing a resolution hailing the Jan. 6 insurrection as "legitimate political discourse," Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel went into damage control mode.

McDaniel's first bit of cleanup included releasing a statement that sought to separate out non-violent "ordinary citizens" engaging in Jan. 6 protests as "completely unrelated to the violence at the Capitol.” That distinction was never made in the original RNC resolution seeking to censure Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois for serving on the House select committee investigating Jan. 6.

But in her tragically misguided ongoing effort to justify the RNC's position, McDaniel penned an op-ed in which she accused the Jan. 6 committee of "harassing citizens who were not even in Washington, D.C., that day."
........
McDaniel, according to Politico, then went on to depict the case of one of her close personal allies in Michigan, Kathy Berden, an RNC member who also signed on in Dec. 2020 to be one of Donald Trump's fake electors from her state, which had been certified for Joe Biden the previous month.

In her op-ed, McDaniel seized on Berden's case as one of persecution by the Jan. 6 panel, which has subpoenaed Berden over her involvement in forming a slate of fake electors who signed certificates asserting they were “duly elected and qualified” to represent their locales.

Based on the panel's subpoena, wrote McDaniel, "Now she could face costly legal bills even though she was nowhere near the Capitol on January 6th and had nothing to do with the violence that occurred."

In other words, Berden wasn't a violent insurrectionist, she just plotted to steal a free and fair U.S. election by more peaceful means. Biden won Michigan by more than 154,000 votes, or nearly 3 points.

Michigan was one of five states Trump lost—including Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and Wisconsin—where pro-Trump Republicans assembled a slate of fake electors who claimed Trump had won their state. Those documents were then sent to Congress and the National Archives, among others.

The Michigan memo to Congress, the Archives, Michigan Secretary of State, and a federal judge reads, "FROM: Kathy Berden, Chairperson, Electoral College of Michigan."

Clearly, Berden is a totally innocent victim of persecution who was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, on Dec. 14, 2020, leading the meeting, signing her name to illegitimate documents, and disseminating the evidentiary material broadly.

Other RNC members who have been subpoenaed for leading similar efforts include Nevada GOP chair Michael McDonald, Georgia GOP chair David Shafer, and Nevada RNC committee member Jim DeGraffenreid, according to Politico.

What has become clear in the course of the Jan. 6 panel's investigation is the fact that the fake electors were part of the plot to pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to certify the election using the legitimate elector slates from those states.

The gambit of Trump and his fellow coup plotters, laid out in a memo by John Eastman, was that Pence had the authority (which he didn't) to deny a tally of Biden's electors from states where the results were in dispute and an "alternate" slate of fake electors claimed an entirely different outcome. The mere existence of those "alternate" slates were key to giving Pence cover for throwing out the certified results.

In any case, McDaniel's defense of what the RNC censure really meant by "legitimate political discourse" is mystifying. More than likely, the RNC and its deeply pro-Trump members are so delusional that they really believed the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection was "legitimate" and justified.

But if you believe McDaniel's dubious clarification, then the RNC wasn't endorsing Jan. 6 violence, it was just embracing the efforts of "ordinary citizens" to steal an election through non-violent means.

One way or the other, the RNC supports lawlessness, chaos, and coups.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Feb 6, 2014
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Marco Rubio proves he's Trump's pup with astonishingly hypocritical take on classified docs
Aldous J Pennyfarthing

The most shocking part about this story isn’t Marco Rubio’s hypocrisy. That’s a given, like Donald Trump’s slovenly ineptitude or early-summer squalls that drop hailstones the size of Louie Gohmert’s head. No, the truly surprising part is that his hypocrisy was so incandescent it actually drew flak from Fox News.

Donald Trump has apparently run afoul of the law—again. This time he’s been accused of physically removing top secret materials from the White House and shoving then in some random Mar-a-Lago linen hamper that’s likely the closest we’ll ever get to a Donald Trump Presidential Library.

Unless you were in a coma during the 2016 election cycle, as many of us no doubt wish we had been, you’ll recall something about Hillary Clinton’s emails and a private server. The world-ending scandal that supposedly proved Secretary Clinton was unfit for office involved her sending and forwarding emails from an unsecured account. Oh, and a vanishingly small percentage of these emails may have been classified—in most cases retroactively. Doesn’t sound like much, but the media, led by the venerable New York Times, acted like they’d found a neck-tatted JonBenét Ramsey playing Russian roulette with the Lindbergh baby in a crawlspace under Hillary’s guesthouse.

Importantly, however, investigators concluded that Clinton’s handling of her emails was in no way criminal. As noted by Vox, even Jack Goldsmith, an attorney in the George W. Bush administration, noted that prosecuting Clinton “would be entirely novel, and would turn in part on very tricky questions about how email exchanges fit into language written with physical removal of classified information in mind.”

Physical removal of classified information? Intentionally mishandling classified material? You mean, what Donald Trump just did?

This, of course brings us to the senior Sunshine State senator.

What say you, Marco Rubio?

While speaking with host Bret Baier on Fox News's "Special Report" on Monday, Rubio was asked why Republicans were not expressing the same degree of outrage they displayed when it was disclosed that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had used a private email server while working for the White House.
"Well, first of all, I don't know what's true and what's not because they've made up so many stories about Donald Trump over the years that, I mean, things that I just knew were flat out untrue," Rubio said.

Did they, Marco? You mean, like all those hinky Russian connections? Because those were extensively documented. And right-wing media never made stuff up about Hillary Clinton? Seth Rich’s family would beg to differ.

Of course, Rubio is still appalled over the media’s shabby treatment of the “embarrassing” man whom the Florida senator once claimed was “trying to prey upon people’s fears.”

“Nowadays, in the mainstream media, you just need one source to smear Donald Trump, and maybe you don't even need that. So it's hard to tell anymore what really happened and what didn't. The documents that were in Mar-a-Lago by all accounts were turned over,” Rubio said. “Look, if the process wasn't followed there, then that there needs to be something that happens about that. It's not a crime, I don't believe, but the stuff about flushing paper down the toilet—who knows if that's even true?”

Breaking news! Marco Rubio doesn’t think Trump committed a crime by intentionally removing top secret materials from the White House in clear violation of federal law. And yet he thought Clinton’s supposed carelessness was “disgraceful.”

And we already know Trump ripped documents to shreds after “reading” them. Why is it such a stretch to think he’d try to flush them down the toilet? If you try to tell me Trump does anything like a normal human, that’s when I get suspicious.

Of course, while being outraged at every instance of Republican hypocrisy is essentially impossible without the help of a Red Bull IV drip and a thrice-fortnightly sriracha enema, this one is particularly egregious.

It’s not a crime, huh? We’ll see, Marco. We’ll see.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Feb 6, 2014
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Senate Republicans ramp up obstruction of everything, and do it with a lot of racism
Joan McCarter

We’re three days away from a potential government shutdown, and it appears that Senate Republicans have decided that now is the time to declare war on Democrats and, well, the government. First we saw Sen. Rick Scott, the Florida Republican in charge of the committee that is trying to elect more Republicans capriciously block a simple fix to a popular, bipartisan bill to do something everyone wants—help the Post Office.

Meanwhile, Republicans are pushing an incredibly racist crack-pot (or maybe that’s crack pipe) Fox News-inspired conspiracy theories to gum up that government funding bill. Seriously. This is now a real, fake and very racist issue holding up the continuing resolution to fund the government after Friday, midnight.

It’s not just that fake fight from Republicans, though. They’re also threatening a shutdown over those vaccine mandates the Supreme Court didn’t throw out last month. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who really doesn’t want a government shutdown but is completely okay with making this as difficult as possible—and using as much floor time as possible—says “as is often the case, we’ll process a few amendments before doing a short term CR. I think it’ll all be worked out, there’s no danger of a government shutdown.”

But after those bullshit amendments on bullshit issues. But what that also means is that he wants to go right down to the wire of Friday, midnight with this bill because doing amendments means that the House—which is now recessed after having successfully passed the bill last week—will have to figure out a procedure to come back and pass the Senate version.
.......
That’s not all, though. With a Russian invasion of Ukraine potentially imminent, a weeks-long effort to come up with a sanctions bill has fizzled, as Republicans have been holding out and dragging the process out. That means they’ve come down to the wire, and Democrats have pretty much decided it’s going to be too late to get a bill done.

“Russia is so close to moving that really if we tried to do anything now, by the time it worked through all the processes, it’s probably too late,” said Sen. Joni Ernst, an Iowa Republican. As if they hadn’t been working on this for weeks. As if they hadn’t had ample time to figure this out. As if Republicans weren’t purposefully creating the appearance that the Congress was not unified with the Biden administration on responding to Russian aggression. Because, once again, they are happy to use Russia to harm the Democrats. They’ve apparently decided the answer will be a nonbinding “sense of the Senate” resolution, a sternly worded letter to Putin.

And in more racist Republican senators news, they are blockading a bloc of Federal Reserve board nominees, with McConnell’s blessing. Republicans boycotted the confirmation vote of the bloc of five nominees for the Fed on Tuesday, including making acting Chair Jerome Powell’s position permanent, denying a quorum for the committee and preventing it from voting. That’s despite the fact that ranking member Sen. Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, had agreed to the timing of these votes three weeks ago.

One of those nominees is Lisa Cook, a Michigan State University economics professor who, if confirmed, would become the first-ever Black woman to serve on the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors. Cook has a well-respected body of work, economic research into the wider impacts of racism and sexism. “New research shows that while the immediate targets of racism are unquestionably hurt the most, discrimination inflicts a staggering cost on the entire economy, reducing the wealth and income of millions of people, including many who do not customarily view themselves as victims,” she wrote in a 2020 op-ed for The New York Times. “We are robbing countless people of higher standards of living and well-being when we allow racial discrimination to flourish from generation to generation.”

That research has led Republicans on the Banking Committee to declare her “fundamentally not qualified” for her “extreme left-wing political advocacy.” Her work, one declared, is more like social science than […] economics and monetary policy.” That, Darrick Hamilton, a professor of economics and urban policy at the New School in New York says is both “racist and sexist.” Cook “checks all the boxes that a traditional Fed board member would have but does a lot more that is innovative and useful,” he said. “The status quo has served the interest of an elite that has no desire to reorient power. And politically, the anxiety around race is being used as a strategic football,” Hamilton told The Washington Post.

Speaking of sexism, the blockade is ostensibly against Sarah Bloom Raskin, a former deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury who has done work on the economic impacts of climate change. She has urged financial regulators to use their tools to respond to risks posed by climate change, and has been nominated as the Fed’s next vice chair for supervision, one of the most powerful bank regulators in the world. So of course the fossil fuel industry has been fighting her nomination, and tasking Republicans with blocking it.

McConnell is calling these nominees “highly controversial […]—extremely controversial—who repeatedly expressed the view that the Fed should be involved in things that are not the Fed’s responsibility.” They are not highly controversial. They have the support of dozens of prominent economists and former officials from the George W. Bush and Trump administrations, including former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, Bush White House CEA Chair Glenn Hubbard, and plus much of the banking industry. While Republicans are screaming about inflation, they’re blocking the key set of officials who need to be in place to deal with it.

But it’s not just this committee, and it looks like Republicans are gearing up to use this tactic more broadly.



It’s becoming clearer by the day—Republicans aren’t going to let Biden and the Democrats have any easy or straightforward wins between now and the midterms, and Democrats have going to have to get just as ruthless in return.

That will include changing the Senate’s rules on processing nominations. That’s not like going nuclear on passing legislation, but a change to the rules of the Senate to allow nominees with majority support to get a vote on the floor. That, however, is likely going have to wait until New Mexico Senator Ben Ray Luján returns in a few weeks, after he’s recovered from his stroke. This is a change that Democratic Sens. Manchin and Sinema are less likely to oppose, since they’ve both been pretty consistent on nominees and the president’s authority to appoint them.