More to ignore, Book 51..........

Ten Thousan Marbles

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A senior U.S. defense official confirmed to The War Zone Monday morning something Ukrainian officials have been saying for a while now about Russia's weapons supplies. Not only is Russia suffering tremendous losses on the battlefield, but its ability to resupply its forces has taken a beating thanks to punishing economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. and its allies.

Since the start of its war on Ukraine Feb. 24, Russia has lost thousands of major weapons systems, like tanks, armored personnel carriers, air defense systems, helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, ships and many other weapons that have been destroyed, damaged or captured, according to Oryxspioenkop, an independent open-source investigator.

“There has been an effect on Putin's ability to restock and resupply, particularly in the realm of components to some of his systems and his precision-guided munitions,” the official said in response to a question from The War Zone. “They've already faced an issue in terms of replenishing their inventory because of components to some of those systems. And that's already had a practical effect on Putin.”......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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FQp3FLwXIAMKOvc


Oleksandra Matviichuk
@avalaina
head of the Center for Civil Liberties (Ukraine)/ Democracy Defender Award of OSCE 2016
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Trump's 'parade of supplicants' advised to woo the ocher ape with big fonts and color photos
Aldous J Pennyfarthing

I’m trying to think of anything more undignified than sucking up to colossal loser Donald Trump after everything that’s happened in the past few years—telling him he won elections he lost, groveling for his endorsement, buying overpriced tchotchkes at his cult compound/golf resort, and pretending you’re not staring directly into the sallow, rheumy eyes of primordial evil.

I wouldn’t hire Trump to manage a Chuck E. Cheese, unless I actually wanted to open a strip club with an animatronic jug band and didn’t know who to bribe or murder to make that happen. And yet, according to a profoundly pathetic Sunday New York Times story, Republicans as a whole still can’t get enough of his unique blend of feral charisma and sultry lunch meat sweats.

The story is long, sad, and eye-gougingly horrific, but we pretty much already knew the broad strokes of everything that’s in there. Republicans are cashing in their souls for endorsements, and Trump is devouring those souls like so many saucy McNuggets. Pretty standard fare for the sell-out-democracy party.

That said, one portion of the story did grab my eye, because there’s such a huge disconnect between what these GOP hopefuls—almost all of whom went to college—are likely thinking in the parts of their brains they’ve decided to keep alive and what they’re actually doing these days to curry Trump’s favor.

Mr. Trump enjoys flattery and is not above rewarding sycophants. But insiders say bringing compelling visual material matters, too. Big fonts are crucial. With photos and graphics. In color.
“He’s not a real big digital guy, so we had printouts,” said Joe Kent, who has since won Mr. Trump’s backing for his effort to unseat Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, one of the 10 Republican impeachment votes.
...

When he likes what he sees, Mr. Trump will mail words of encouragement, scrawled on news clippings with a Sharpie. “You are doing great!” he wrote in January to Mr. Kent. “You are doing great!” he wrote last October to Harriet Hageman, who is challenging Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming.

Good God, is being in Congress really worth this degradation? Is being in the GOP worth it? If I had to choose between behaving this way to stay politically relevant or chaining a pair of slumbering antelopes to my vintage Sam and Frodo nipple rings, it would probably come down to a coin flip.

The Times charitably refers to the GOPsters visiting Trump at Mar-a-Lago as a “parade of supplicants”—possibly because “caravan of ass-kissers” was deemed too déclassé for the paper of record. But Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio sums up these ingratiation celebrations pretty well.

“What was The Apprentice but a sad scramble of people behaving like crabs in a bucket to be lifted out by him?” said D’Antonio. “How are these people anything other than contestants vying for his approval?”

That’s a good analogy, but like most analogies, it’s a bit imprecise. Crabs in a bucket have far more dignity. If the GOP ever reaches crabs-in-a-bucket levels of seriousness again, maybe we can talk. But for now, they’re still beholden to the worst sentient being on this or any planet. And, well, the vast majority of them seem just fine with it.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: Zelenskyy says new Russian assaults in Donbas are now underway
Hunter

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy today publicly announced that Russia's long-expected Donbas offensive has now begun, with Russia boosting offensive operations throughout eastern Ukraine. What precisely that means is not yet clear; while Russian missile and artillery strikes have escalated in the past few days, the details on Russian ground assaults aren’t yet known. The newest ISW report remains skeptical that Russia will be any more successful in these attacks than in its failed Kyiv operations, though heavy casualties on both sides are all but assured.

One report suggests Russia may be attempting to surround and take Slovyansk, southeast of Izyum; this is at odds with previous intelligence suggesting—implausibly—that the Russian offensive would be aimed at taking far-off Dnipro, bypassing Ukraine’s most entrenched eastern defenses entirely. A Slovyansk attack would be a more incremental approach, but Ukrainian defenses there are robust.

Ukraine is not only defending, however. It's also continuing to press Russian supply lines, a tactic that proved devastatingly effective in degrading Russian forces around Kyiv to the point that Russia was forced to retreat. Now those operations are targeting Russian lines leading to Izyum, a city recently captured by Russia that has been the staging ground for these newest attempted Russian drives southward.

There remain few scenarios in which Russian kleptocrat Vladimir Putin can carve out a win, no matter how the war unfolds from here. The sanctions currently dooming Russian attempts to replace the equipment being lost are likely to remain in effect for many years to come. While Putin has now arrested numerous of his own officials in an attempt to find scapegoats for Russia's displays of military incompetence, the many opportunities for Russia to deescalate and declare partial victory are now behind us. Throwing Russian troops haphazardly toward the frontlines in an attempt to exhaust Ukraine territorial defense forces regardless of Russian costs appears to be one of the few plans Putin's handpicked and thieving military leaders believe they might have the skills to accomplish.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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QAnon’s takeover of GOP nearly complete with 72 candidates ready to make ‘pedophilia’ claims
David Neiwert

GettyImages-1294904312.jpg

After the Jan. 6 insurrection, QAnon followers doubled down on their authoritarian beliefs and continued spreading within the ranks of the Republican Party.

The long-running gradual consumption of the Republican Party by the authoritarian QAnon conspiracy cult is nearing the terminal takeover phase: A recent survey by Grid found 72 Republican candidates with varying levels of QAnon affiliation. The most salient fact, however, is not only is the cult presence growing, but not a single Republican in any capacity can be found who either denounces the trend or works in any other way than in concert with it.

That reality is terrifying not just because QAnon has a long record of inspiring unhinged, violent behavior with its fantastically vile beliefs and rhetoric. Most of all, QAnon at its core is deeply eliminationist, with an agenda calling for the mass imprisonment and execution of mainstream Democrats for ostensibly running a global child-trafficking/pedophilia cult—which seamlessly fits the people being targeted by Fox News and mainstream Republicans as “groomers” for opposing the right-wing attacks on the LGTBQ community.

Grid’s survey was based on a review of “public records and reporting, social media posts, and campaign materials and events,” which its team of reporters used to identify and confirm QAnon-aligned candidates for public office in 2022. They found at least 78 of them in 26 states, all but six of them Republicans, mostly running against other Republicans in their state primaries.

“They’re running for governorships, secretaries of state, seats in the Senate and House, and in state legislatures,” the study says. “They have raised over $20 million this cycle — and over $30 million since 2018.” Its simple summary: “QAnon appears to be a growing political movement with increasing clout and significant mainstream appeal.”

The highest concentration of these candidates is in Arizona, which has 13 of them; Florida is a close second with 12, while California has 10 and Texas has six. Over a dozen of them are incumbents, including Congressmembers Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado. Another 14 serve at the state level, mostly legislatures.

One of the incumbents, Arizona House member Mark Finchem, participated in the 2021 Capitol insurrection—as did several other QAnon candidates—and has been subpoenaed by the House Jan. 6 committee.

One of the incumbents, Arizona House member Mark Finchem, participated in the 2021 Capitol insurrection—as did several other QAnon candidates—and has been subpoenaed by the House Jan. 6 committee.

Most of these candidates, indeed, have never held public office and have dubious (at best) records of achievement:
  • Shiva Ayyadurai, who has four degrees from MIT and is running for the Massachusetts governorship, runs a website claiming that he is the inventor of email.
  • Ryan Dark White, who’s running for a U.S. Senate seat in Maryland and goes by the name Dr. Jonathan Ambrose McGreevey, has also pleaded guilty to illegal weapons charges and to fraudulently obtaining more than 80,000 doses of opioids.
  • Carla Spaulding, a candidate seeking to be the GOP nominee to run against Democratic House whip Debra Wasserman Schultz for her Florida seat, pays herself a hefty $60,000 salary out of her campaign contributions while running up a six-figure campaign debt. Nonetheless, she has far outraised her Republican competitors for the nomination; she’s No. 3 on Grip’s QAnon fundraising list.
As Grid notes, “Q himself may be on the ballot this year.” In Arizona, Ron Watkins—the longtime 8kun site administrator who is believed to have authored at least some of the “Q drops” that fueled the cult between 2017 and 2020—is running in for the U.S. House in Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District, though his candidacy is considered a long shot at best. Watkins vowed to raise $1 million for his bid, but so far appears only to have raised about $50,000.

In a rational world, QAnon would have shriveled up and blown away after all of its cherished predictions and beliefs about “the Storm” led by Donald Trump and his allies that would sweep up these evil pedophiles and put them in prison to await execution were completely demolished by the cold reality of Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 election. But instead, it kept spreading and growing, its fanaticism helping fuel the Jan. 6 insurrection, and providing a driving force for the ongoing anti-democratic insurgency that has followed. In states like Oregon, it now fundamentally controls the Republican political apparatus.

QAnon reared its ugly head in the U.S. Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown-Jackson. As Alex Shepard observed at The New Republic, much of the questioning from Republicans revolved around the core QAnon beliefs:


The Q-inspired pedophile smear is consuming Republican politics. “The phrase ‘child porn’ (or ‘pornography’ or ‘pornographer’)” was mentioned 165 times during Brown’s confirmation hearings, The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank tallied. “I’m not suggesting she likes what’s happening in child pornography,” Senator Lindsey Graham said Monday. But “she ha[d] a chance to impose a sentence that would deter [child pornography], and she chose not to.” Senator Josh Hawley, meanwhile, referenced QAnon in his own remarks. “Judge Jackson’s view is that we should treat everyone more leniently because more and more people are committing worse and worse child sex offenses,” he said, while also stating that “we’ve been told things like child pornography is actually all a conspiracy, it’s not real.” The lunatics who follow QAnon may just be onto something, in other words: The truth is out there.

Shepard also notes that there are concrete reasons for Republicans to permit themselves to be subsumed by an authoritarian cult: It polls well. “Nearly half of Republicans (49 percent) and 52 percent of Trump voters believe that Democrats run child sex-trafficking rings, per YouGov polling conducted during Jackson’s confirmation hearings,” he reports. “Even though only 18 percent of Republicans had a positive view of QAnon (compared to 16 percent of all respondents), 30 percent of all respondents believed that ‘top Democrats are involved in elite child sex-trafficking rings,’ suggesting the wide reach of the conspiracy theory.”

What all this tells us is that Democrats this fall will be facing a multipronged attack by Republicans, all based on hysterical fantasy: Democrats are soft on crime, they want to push critical race theory and “transgender ideology” on your kids, and they’re pro-pedophile. All three are designed to appeal to the lizard-brained lowest common denominators: the people inclined to violent eliminationism. Candidates should come prepared.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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A visualization of the extremist networks among Jan. 6 defendants should shift the narrative
David Neiwert

GettyImages-1230453278.jpg

Oath Keepers, shown here inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, were among the largest nodes of extremist connection among the defendants in the federal prosecutions for the event.

One of the broad narratives about the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol insurrection that emerged from demographic assessments of the people subsequently arrested for placing the building and the police guarding it under siege was the general sense that, while organizations like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys played central roles in the attack, the vast majority of the insurrectionists were just “ordinary citizens” who had no real extremist affiliations but were just swept up in the Trumpian hysteria. It turns out that may not be quite right.

Radicalization expert Michael Jensen compiled a network map of all the people arrested for Jan. 6 crimes—which he originally thought would confirm the “J6 defendants are just ‘ordinary’ people with few links to extremists” conventional wisdom—and found as it kept piling up that he “no longer finds this narra
tive convincing.” As Marcy Wheeler adroitly observes: “I think people have lost sight of how important organized far right networks were to the riot.”

J6-Connections.jpg


Jensen, the principal investigator for the Profiles of Individual Radicalization in the United States (PIRUS) project at the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), compiled the network map from “several thousand pages of court documents and countless social media posts.” He found a total of 244 defendants with extremist connections, and created a visualization of those ties—as well as those between rioters—with the map.

“That’s approximately 30% of all defendants. While that’s not a majority, a 30% rate of affiliation with extremism/extremist beliefs among a collective of apparently “ordinary” individuals is an astounding number,” Jensen writes on Twitter.

Indeed, while 30% still is not a majority, it is not a small minority either. He continues:

Of these 244 defendants, 108 were members of at least one extremist organization. 136 self-identified as members of extremist movements or publicly praised extremist groups and their beliefs. These defendants form nearly 700 dyadic relationships to extremist groups/movements and other defendants with extremist affiliations. These aren’t ordinary relationships—or, at least, they shouldn’t be.
Moreover, the “ordinary people” argument misses what the visualization shows—that J6 involved a number of influential defendants who acted as bridges in a larger network, facilitating the flow harmful ideas from one movement to another. Sure, the J6 defendants are “ordinary” in the sense that most of them have families, neighbors, and jobs, but who really believes that those are the things that distinguish extremists from everyone else?

Jensen points to the work of another expert at American University’s Polarization and Extremism Research & Innovation Lab, Cynthia Miller-Idriss, in coming to terms with the reality that far-right extremism has been mainstreamed, and how that has happened, primarily through online radicalization—how “people radicalize in a vast and ever-expanding online ecosystem, a process that often involves no contact with particular organizations”:

As ordinary individuals encounter these ideas, whether through custom-tailored propaganda or through more grassroots efforts amplified by social media, they assemble them into their own personalized belief systems. This is a far cry from more traditional models of radicalization in which people gradually adopt an identifiable group’s ideological framework—such as fascism or neo-Nazism—that calls for violent solutions against a common enemy. These more coherent processes involve initiation rites, manifestos, leaders, and a chain of command that guide beliefs and actions. Those elements are largely absent from today’s patchwork, choose-your-own-adventure mode of radicalization.

Miller-Idriss’s point is that “Extremism has gone mainstream; so must the interventions needed to address it.” And as Jensen observes, it’s likely that the “ordinary people” narrative surrounding J6 only makes this problem worse.

“It depicts aligning with extremist groups, even if indirectly, and/or adopting their beliefs and attempting to violently end democracy as something “ordinary” people do,” he writes. “It’s not.”

Heidi Beirich, the longtime intelligence director at the Southern Poverty Law Center now with the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, explains that this radicalization has been openly encouraged by Republican officeholders and a broad array of right-wing pundits, who have promoted white-nationalist and other far-right conspiracy theories into the mainstream of public discourse, ranging from the racist “Great Replacement” theory claiming that liberals are deliberately seeking to displace white voters with a tide of nonwhite immigration and civil rights, to the contradictory claims that “leftists” and “antifa” were actually responsible for the Jan. 6 violence and that the rioters simultaneously righteous “patriots” seeking to defend the nation from a communist takeover.

Beirich cites a recent University of Chicago Project on Security and Threats report identifying an active American insurrectionist movement comprising some 21 million people. These radicalized Trump followers believe that “Use of force is justified to restore Donald J. Trump to the presidency” and that “The 2020 election was stolen, and Joe Biden is an illegitimate president.” About 63% of them believe in the Great Replacement theory, while 54% subscribe to far-right QAnon conspiracism.

It also notes that this insurrectionist movement is made up of “mainly highly competent, middle-aged American professionals,” leading the researchers to warn that their continuing radicalization “does not bode well for the 2022 midterm elections, or for that matter, the 2024 Presidential election.”

Marcy Wheeler notes that Jensen’s map reveals how massive an influence QAnon networks were in fueling the insurrection. She observes “how much more effective QAnon was at getting bodies where they needed them than the militias (the Proud Boys were busy moving other bodies around). Note how many QAnoners there are here.”

Moreover, as she explains, the map gives weight to the reportage this week by The New York Times’ Alan Feuer, revealing the key role that a Roger Stone minion and QAnon influencer named Jason Sullivan had in fomenting the Jan. 6 violence:

More recently, Mr. Sullivan has taken an active role in promoting the QAnon conspiracy theory, which holds that prominent liberals belong to a cult of Satan-worshipping pedophiles. At a public appearance last year with Ms. Powell and Mr. Flynn, Mr. Sullivan called Hillary Clinton a “godawful woman” and then made a gesture suggesting she should be hanged.
On the conference call ahead of Jan. 6, Mr. Sullivan told his listeners that he was an expert at making things go viral online, but that it was not enough to simply spread the message that the election had been stolen.
“There has to be a multiple-front strategy, and that multiple-front strategy, I do think, is descend on the Capitol, without question,” he said. “Make those people feel it inside.”

As Wheeler says: “If someone can be shown to have triggered the QAnoners, it is an important detail. FBI was investigating this within weeks after the riot.”
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Oath Keeper leader wants charges dropped, joins push for new trial venue
Brandi Buchman

Rhodes.jpg

As the leader of the extremist Oath Keepers, prosecutors say Elmer Rhodes (pictured) oversaw a vast seditious conspiracy involving more than a half dozen members of the group hellbent on stopping the peaceful transfer of power.

The seditious conspiracy docket in Washington, D.C., has been busy of late as members of the extremist Oath Keepers group have spent recent days scrambling to mount their defense.

There has been a request for an entirely different trial venue in one instance, and in several other instances, many of the defendants have requested that many of the toughest charges they face be dismissed altogether.

After a tense status conference two weeks ago, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta ordered several of the Oath Keepers to file their respective motions by mid-April if they wanted to have certain charges dismissed or if they wished to align themselves with others. The next hearing is currently slated for May 6.
.........

Oath Keeper Thomas Caldwell pushed on April 12 to see four of the most severe charges dropped against him from the overarching U.S. v. Rhodes indictment. That included seditious conspiracy. Other co-defendants Kelly Meggs, Roberto Minuta, Joseph Hackett, Jessica Watkins, and David Moerschel have since asked to join him.

Thomas Caldwell Motion to Dismiss Counts 1-4 of Indictment by Daily Kos on Scribd

Late Monday afternoon, an attorney for Rhodes, Phillip Linder, filed a motion asking that Rhodes also be allowed to join Caldwell’s motion.


Elmer Rhodes Joins Motion to Dismiss by Daily Kos on Scribd

Beyond dismissal of the seditious conspiracy count, Rhodes, Caldwell, Meggs, Minuta, Hackett, Watkins, and Moerschel also want the obstruction conspiracy charge to be dropped and their respective counts for aiding and abetting that obstruction dropped as well. They say the charge of conspiring to stop an officer from discharging their duties should be wiped away, too.

That defense is, at the very least, creative.

In effect, they argue that the Department of Justice failed to properly state the offense in the seditious conspiracy charge. The government, they say, needs proof that the purpose of the conspiracy on Jan. 6 was to forcibly stop Congress from doing their duty, i.e., “executing the election laws.”

They also argue—curiously—that members of Congress are “constitutionally prohibited” from “executing any law.” Further, the certification process of the Electoral College results on Jan. 6 did not constitute an “execution of any law,” Caldwell’s motion states.

Other charges, like conspiracy to obstruct a proceeding and aiding and abetting that obstruction, should be tossed on a technicality. The use of the word “otherwise,” for example, in the legal definition for the crime of tampering, was pored over at length by Caldwell’s defense attorneys.

In a similar notable filing from Joseph Hackett’s defense attorney Angela Halim, the Department of Justice’s indictment was attacked outright because it accused Oath Keepers, quite simply, of too many “distinct conspiracies.”

Halim said federal prosecutors are unfairly lumping multiple distinct issues into one seditious conspiracy charge.

The multiple alleged conspiracies Halim said were being forced into one count included: 1) The Oath Keepers' planning from November to December 2020 to stop the transfer of power by force; and 2) the group’s alleged planning to physically stop the certification on Jan. 6.

A third element of the indictment, she said, was also faulty because it suggested an impossibility.

Prosecutors, she argued, wrongly claim that Hackett, Rhodes, and others plotted “stop the transfer of power” after Jan. 6. Really, she said, the “transfer of power” had already begun in earnest in November once the election was complete.

Oath Keeper Joseph Hackett Motion to Dismiss Counts 1 to 4 Indictment Memorandum by Daily Kos on Scribd

Halim asked the judge to drop a tampering charge against Hackett, too.

Prosecutors say Hackett deleted evidence from his phone sometime on or after Jan. 6.

Hackett says those allegations were overly broad and that it would have been impossible for him to know he was under investigation or facing a possible trial when he deleted files from his phone. Plus, he contends, the government must prove that what he deleted would have been relevant to the case against him anyway.

Hackett wants the court to sever the tampering charge from the others he faces. If the judge won’t do that, then he wants to be tried on the tampering charge separate from the conspiracy counts but only after the conspiracy case has been decided. Doing otherwise, his attorney argued, would unfairly prejudice him.

As for defendant Kelly Meggs, his attorney Jonathon Moseley was disbarred in early April after the Virginia State Bar found he violated multiple rules. One of those violations included obstructing an investigation into his conduct.

Mehta formally ordered Moseley to stop filing on Meggs’ behalf as a result, but the attorney kept it up nearly a week afterward, saying he was “caretaker counsel” for Meggs.

In one of his last filings, Moseley argued the toughest charges against Meggs should be dropped because it was simply impossible for Oath Keepers to oppose a transfer of power.

“Not only could such a goal not be accomplished, but beyond that, it is an irrational concept lacking in any basis, in fact, law or common sense,” Moseley wrote.

“This is not a case in which conspirators might attempt to do something they are unable to successfully achieve. It is an irrational concept like dividing by zero. There can be no such thing in law or fact,” he added.

He continued, partially noting the 20th Amendment stipulation on the transfer of power:

“There is nothing in heaven or Earth that can stop the transfer of presidential power, nothing in the universe that can add 1 minute to a president’s term of office. Not even God making the sun appear to stand still would keep a President in office 1 second longer because even if the Earth stopped rotating, it would still be 12:01 PM one minute after noon.”

Meggs also tried and failed to subpoena U.S. Capitol Police for emails, messages, and other recordings related to law enforcement’s discovery of pipe bombs being planted on Jan. 6. That suspect was never found.

If the counts are not dropped against Caldwell—and it is exceedingly unlikely that they would be—he has asked that his trial take place at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (USDC EDVA).

If the trial went on at the Alexandria, Virginia, division of the Eastern District, the jury could be tough.

The district’s Alexandria, Virginia, division is situated in the heart of northern Virginia, a region that is densely populated by government employees and contractors. The region is also made up of thousands of people who work in the defense and intelligence industries, and for the U.S. military.

Other USDC EDVA divisions are located in Richmond, Newport, and Norfolk, Virginia.

So far, the Department of Justice has secured unanimous guilty verdicts on all counts in each of the three jury trials it has brought in its investigation of Jan. 6. They have also all been held in Washington, D.C.

Caldwell’s change of venue request was joined by Connie Meggs, wife of Kelly Meggs. Connie’s charges were split off from her husband’s weeks ago.

Connie Meggs and Caldwell commissioned a survey for prospective jurors on April 15.

According to Meggs’s attorney Juli Haller, 91% of those polled in D.C. admitted to making at least one prejudicial statement about Jan. 6 compared to just 63% of those surveyed in Virginia.

The numbers were even better in Florida, Haller noted, where just 49% of those surveyed made negative statements. The defendants also surveyed prospective jury pools in North Carolina.

No decision on the venue request was yet entered by Mehta late Monday afternoon.

Motion to Transfer Venue Ca... by Daily Kos

Meanwhile, on Monday, Oath Keeper Edward Vallejo’s failure to file a motion for review of his detention order has cost him a bond hearing that was slated for this Thursday.

Prosecutors say Vallejo took orders from Oath Keeper ringleader Elmer Rhodes in the runup to the Jan. 6 attack and that he was responsible for helping to secure hotel rooms where firearms, ammunition, and other weapons to support the assault were stowed.

Vallejo was ordered to remain in jail before his trial after a judge agreed with prosecutors that he posed too great of a danger to the community if released.

Trial dates could change but for now, Oath Keeper defendants Jessica Watkins, Joseph Hackett, Kenneth Harrelson, David Moerschel, and Thomas Caldwell are scheduled for trial in July.

Elmer Rhodes, Roberto Minuta, Brian Ulrich, Edward Vallejo, and Kelly Meggs are presently docketed for trial in September.

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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During the autos-da-fé that now pass for Supreme Court confirmation hearings in the U.S. Senate, it’s common for supporters of a nominee to dismiss attacks from the opposing party as mere partisanship. But, during the recent hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson, Andrew C. McCarthy—a Republican former federal prosecutor and a prominent legal commentator at National Review—took the unusual step of denouncing an attack from his own side. When Republican senators, including Josh Hawley and Marsha Blackburn, began accusing Jackson of having been a dangerously lenient judge toward sex offenders, McCarthy wrote a column calling the charge “meritless to the point of demagoguery.” He didn’t like Jackson’s judicial philosophy, but “the implication that she has a soft spot for ‘sex offenders’ who ‘prey on children’ . . . is a smear.”

In the end, the attacks failed to diminish public support for Jackson, and her poised responses to questioning helped secure her nomination, by a vote of 53–47. But the fierce campaign against her was concerning, in part because it was spearheaded by a new conservative dark-money group that was created in 2020: the American Accountability Foundation. An explicit purpose of the A.A.F.—a politically active, tax-exempt nonprofit charity that doesn’t disclose its backers—is to prevent the approval of all Biden Administration nominees.

While the hearings were taking place, the A.A.F. publicly took credit for uncovering a note in the Harvard Law Review in which, they claimed, Jackson had “argued that America’s judicial system is too hard on sexual offenders.” The group also tweeted that she had a “soft-on-sex-offender” record during her eight years as a judge on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. As the Washington Post and other outlets stated, Jackson’s sentencing history on such cases was well within the judicial mainstream, and in line with a half-dozen judges appointed by the Trump Administration. When Jackson defended herself on this point during the hearings, the A.A.F. said, on Twitter, that she was “lying.” The group’s allegation—reminiscent of the QAnon conspiracy, which claims that liberal élites are abusing and trafficking children—rippled through conservative circles. Tucker Carlson repeated the accusation on his Fox News program while a chyron declared “jackson lenient in child sex cases.” Marjorie Taylor Greene, the extremist representative from Georgia, called Jackson “pro-pedophile.”

Mudslinging is hardly new to American politics. In 1800, a campaign surrogate for Thomas Jefferson called Jefferson’s opponent, John Adams, “hermaphroditical”; Adams’s supporters predicted that if Jefferson were elected President he would unleash a reign of “murder, robbery, rape, adultery and incest.” Neither the Democratic nor Republican Party is above reproach when it comes to engaging in calumny, and since at least 1987, when President Ronald Reagan unsuccessfully nominated Robert Bork to be a Justice, the fights over Supreme Court nominees have been especially nasty. Yet the A.A.F.’s approach represents a new escalation in partisan warfare, and underscores the growing role that secret spending has played in deepening the polarization in Washington.

Rather than attack a single candidate or nominee, the A.A.F. aims to thwart the entire Biden slate. The obstructionism, like the Republican blockade of Biden’s legislative agenda in Congress, is the end in itself. The group hosts a Web site, bidennoms.com, that displays the photographs of Administration nominees it has targeted, as though they were hunting trophies. And the A.A.F. hasn’t just undermined nominees for Cabinet and Court seats—the kinds of prominent people whose records are usually well known and well defended. It’s also gone after relatively obscure, sub-Cabinet-level political appointees, whose public profiles can be easily distorted and who have little entrenched support. The A.A.F., which is run by conservative white men, has particularly focussed on blocking women and people of color. As of last month, more than a third of the twenty-nine candidates it had publicly attacked were people of color, and nearly sixty per cent were women.....
 

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