Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #90 A Review and Analysis of Serpent’s Walk

Lis­ten now: One Seg­ment

This seg­ment ana­lyzes Ser­pen­t’s Walk, a Nazi tract pub­lished in 1991 and authored by one “Ran­dolph O. Calver­hall.” Pub­lished by Nation­al Van­guard Books, which also pub­lished The Turn­er Diaries, the book is pur­port­ed­ly a “nov­el” about a Nazi takeover of the Unit­ed States in the mid­dle of the twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry. It is Mr. Emory’s con­sid­ered opin­ion that the book is far more than a nov­el — he feels that it is a blue­print for what is already going on and what is planned for the future. Mr. Emory feels that the book is extreme­ly impor­tant and that it should be stud­ied. The events por­trayed in it have a foun­da­tion in real­i­ty. In Ser­pen­t’s Walk, Hitler’s SS goes under­ground after World War II.

The SS then begin build­ing a huge cap­i­tal orga­ni­za­tion and buy­ing into U.S. indus­try, the opin­ion-form­ing media in par­tic­u­lar. (Just such an orga­ni­za­tion was put togeth­er! See Mar­tin Bor­mann: Nazi in Exile by Paul Man­ning. The book was pub­lished in 1981 by Lyle Stu­art Inc.) The SS then infil­trate the Unit­ed States Army and the U.S. gov­ern­ment in gen­er­al. At the end of the war, much of the Nazi intel­li­gence sys­tem was mar­ried to the Amer­i­can espi­onage estab­lish­ment, per­mit­ting just such infil­tra­tion.

After the Pres­i­dent and Vice-Pres­i­dent are killed in a bio­log­i­cal war­fare attack that uti­lizes genet­i­cal­ly-engi­neered virus­es (of osten­si­bly Russ­ian ori­gin), the Speak­er of the House (“Jonas Out­ram”) becomes Pres­i­dent, declares mar­tial law and invites the Nazis into a gov­ern­ing coali­tion, which then takes over the Unit­ed States. It is Mr. Emory’s opin­ion that the Jonas Out­ram char­ac­ter is based on Newt Gin­grich and that Gin­grich was recruit­ed to the Nazi phi­los­o­phy in Ger­many while his father was sta­tioned there with the Army.

Discussion

37 comments for “FTR #90 A Review and Analysis of Serpent’s Walk

  1. It’s offi­cial. Or at least as offi­cial as some­thing like this can be: Pres­i­dent Trump is open­ly declar­ing war on the 2020 elec­tion results and there­fore declared war on Amer­i­can Democ­ra­cy:

    Talk­ing Points Memo

    Trump Declares War On Amer­i­can Democ­ra­cy

    By Josh Koven­sky
    Novem­ber 5, 2020 7:27 p.m.

    In a last-minute press con­fer­ence Thurs­day evening, Pres­i­dent Trump direct­ed his full ire at the last bonds hold­ing Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy togeth­er: the integri­ty of the vote.

    Sow­ing doubt about the fair­ness of the elec­tion for his polit­i­cal ben­e­fit from the pres­i­den­tial pul­pit, Pres­i­dent Trump said, “if you count the legal votes, I eas­i­ly win.”

    He added, almost pre­dictably: “If you count the ille­gal votes, they can try to steal the elec­tion from us.”

    The President’s affect at the press­er was most­ly list­less, pro­ject­ing a lack of ener­gy and appar­ent exhaus­tion with the sit­u­a­tion. But his claims are incred­i­bly cor­ro­sive to the core of Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy: that both par­ties to an elec­tion respect the process and its results, allow­ing a shared sense of real­i­ty and legit­i­ma­cy regard­less of who wins and who los­es.

    Trump has spent the past few days stomp­ing that con­cept into the ground, hol­ing up in the White House to deride the elec­tion as “ille­git­i­mate” through sur­ro­gates, twit­ter, and, Thurs­day evening, a press con­fer­ence, at which he appeared for the first time in more than 24 hours.

    Specif­i­cal­ly, Pres­i­dent Trump has been try­ing to argue that votes from Demo­c­ra­t­ic-major­i­ty areas are fraud­u­lent, and that the slow count­ing of mail-in bal­lots rep­re­sents some kind of a con­spir­a­cy.

    Though there is no evi­dence to sup­port any of these claims, and many news net­works cut away while he was speak­ing, mil­lions will believe the Pres­i­dent, and will spend years think­ing that the 2020 elec­tion was some­how stolen. Trump, him­self, is the first Pres­i­dent to use the posi­tion of his office to cast doubt on the very process that deliv­ered him there, cre­at­ing a deep fis­sure in the Amer­i­can body politic.

    “I chal­lenge Joe and every Demo­c­rat to clar­i­fy that they only want legal votes, because they talk about votes and I think they should use the word legal, legal votes,” Trump said.

    Pres­i­dent Trump is play­ing on years of fear-mon­ger­ing by the GOP around the myth of wide­spread vot­er fraud, but is tak­ing it both to a new lev­el and, arguably, its log­i­cal con­clu­sion by stat­ing that the entire sys­tem is cor­rupt and irre­deemable.

    The Pres­i­dent sin­gled out “mail-in” vot­ing in par­tic­u­lar as being the source of much of the delays and uncer­tain­ty around the tal­ly. Of course, Trump has done more than any­one to sow doubt in the process.

    He’s also been abet­ted in that by Repub­li­can state leg­is­la­tors who refused to enact minor reforms that would have sped up the count­ing process, giv­ing Trump these crit­i­cal extra days to take a sledge­ham­mer to pub­lic con­fi­dence in the elec­tion.

    Trump also cast com­plet­ed vote tal­lies in many states show­ing a Biden vic­to­ry as the Demo­c­rat sim­ply “claim­ing cer­tain states” — not an objec­tive fact stem­ming from the deci­sion of mil­lions of vot­ers.

    He added that he had won both Michi­gan and Wis­con­sin — two states that have fin­ished count­ing and defin­i­tive­ly gone for Joe Biden.

    The only body that could decide the process now, Trump added, would be the Supreme Court.

    “We can both claim the states but, ulti­mate­ly, I have a feel­ing judges are going to have to play a role,” Trump said.

    For Trump, any­thing short of a vic­to­ry is theft.

    “We can’t have an elec­tion stolen like this,” the Pres­i­dent said, as hun­dreds of thou­sands of votes from Demo­c­ra­t­ic areas remain out­stand­ing.

    His remarks are like­ly to deep­en the extreme polar­iza­tion that led to his own elec­tion, cre­at­ing a con­stituen­cy of vot­ers who believe that a poten­tial Joe Biden admin­is­tra­tion is inher­ent­ly ille­git­i­mate and lacks any sort of pop­u­lar man­date.

    It also comes as Trump’s son and oth­ers sug­gest that the Pres­i­dent, should he lose, may run again in 2024.

    Trump added, base­less­ly, that he had “won many crit­i­cal states,” though the states that are crit­i­cal for his re-elec­tion — Penn­syl­va­nia, Neva­da, Ari­zona, and Geor­gia — are all slip­ping out of his reach.

    “It’s amaz­ing how mail-in bal­lots are so one-sided,” Trump added.

    His remarks — cast­ing doubt on the integri­ty of the elec­tion and the process­es that went into it — were long expect­ed, and fol­low on years of sim­i­lar­ly irre­spon­si­ble behav­ior.

    But in strand­ing mil­lions of his own vot­ers in an alter­nate real­i­ty in which the elec­tion was stolen, Trump has dropped a bomb in the country’s polit­i­cal sys­tem, leav­ing the U.S. with a con­stituen­cy primed to dis­be­lieve in the basic fab­ric of our democ­ra­cy.

    ...

    ———–

    “Trump Declares War On Amer­i­can Democ­ra­cy” by Josh Koven­sky; Talk­ing Points Memo; 11/05/2020

    “But in strand­ing mil­lions of his own vot­ers in an alter­nate real­i­ty in which the elec­tion was stolen, Trump has dropped a bomb in the country’s polit­i­cal sys­tem, leav­ing the U.S. with a con­stituen­cy primed to dis­be­lieve in the basic fab­ric of our democ­ra­cy.”

    Trump just bombed Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy. A Dis­in­for­ma­tion Bomb mas­querad­ing as a Truth Bomb and intend­ed to blow of the nec­es­sary civic accep­tance of the elec­tion results that democ­ra­cies depend on. It real­ly was a bomb intend­ed to blow up democ­ra­cy.

    But this is far from just a Trump-declared war on democ­ra­cy. The vast major­i­ty of his fel­low Repub­li­can lead­ers and elect­ed offi­cials are qui­et­ly sup­port­ing the pres­i­den­t’s decrees. Beyond that, Fox News’s prime time per­son­al­i­ties, who have a pro­found influ­ence on Trump’s think­ing, are ful­ly behind the nar­ra­tive that the elec­tion is some­how being stolen through mass vot­er fraud. It’s a group effort.

    And as we’ll see in the fol­low­ing arti­cle, Newt Gin­grich — long one of Trump’s biggest back­ers and an infor­mal advi­sor — was just on Sean Han­ni­ty’s show last night call­ing for Trump to begin mass arrest­ing Penn­syl­va­ni­a’s poll work­ers and just throw out the votes out from Demo­c­ra­t­ic strong­holds like Philadel­phia. As the above piece describes Trump’s gen­er­al attack on the out, it’s the log­i­cal con­clu­sion of decades of the great Repub­li­can vot­er fraud hoax and the log­i­cal con­clu­sion for a par­ty increas­ing­ly reliant on using any trick avail­able to win elec­tions. And that’s what we’re hear­ing for Gin­grich. It’s the next log­i­cal con­clu­sion of this war on democ­ra­cy: Just declare vot­ing inher­ent­ly cor­rupt and move throw out all the ‘bad’ (Demo­c­ra­t­ic) votes:

    The Dai­ly Beast

    Newt Gin­grich: Bill Barr Should Arrest Poll Work­ers

    “Any precinct, any precinct that we were not able to observe, strip those votes out. Do not count them. Because they are by def­i­n­i­tion cor­rupt,” Newt exclaimed at one point.

    Justin Barag­o­na
    Con­tribut­ing Edi­tor
    Pub­lished Nov. 06, 2020 1:46AM ET

    For­mer Speak­er of the House Newt Gin­grich seem­ing­ly demand­ed on Thurs­day night that Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bill Barr use fed­er­al agents to arrest elec­tion work­ers in Penn­syl­va­nia and that elec­tion results in the state should be tossed.

    ...

    “If you count the legal votes, I eas­i­ly win. If you count the ille­gal votes, they can try to steal the elec­tion from us,” Trump said. Team Trump, mean­while, con­tin­ued to file and threat­en law­suits in states where the pres­i­dent is trail­ing or could poten­tial­ly lose.

    Fox News host and infor­mal Trump advis­er Sean Han­ni­ty devot­ed the bulk of his Thurs­day night broad­cast to propos­ing a new strat­e­gy to the pres­i­dent and his cam­paign: demand that Penn­syl­va­nia, the tip­ping point state, just re-do its elec­tion.

    After sell­ing Trump-boost­ing Sens. Lind­sey Gra­ham and Ted Cruz on the idea, the Fox News star then checked in with Gin­grich, ask­ing him about the focus of one of the Trump campaign’s recent law­suits.

    “Let’s see. Penn­syl­va­nia, Michi­gan, Wis­con­sin, all of them, a lot of them men­tion par­ti­san observers are per­mit­ted to be present when bal­lots are count­ed,” Han­ni­ty stat­ed. “But we get report after report that they are not being allowed to observe. Is that a vio­la­tion of law? And how do you rem­e­dy that?”

    “My hope is that Pres­i­dent Trump will lead the mil­lions of Amer­i­cans who under­stand exact­ly what’s going on,” Gin­grich fumed. “The Philadel­phia machine is cor­rupt. The Atlanta machine is cor­rupt. The machine in Detroit is cor­rupt. And they are try­ing to steal the pres­i­den­cy. And we should not allow them to do that.”

    “First of all, under fed­er­al law, we should lock up the peo­ple who are break­ing the law,” he con­tin­ued. “You stop some­body from being an observ­er, you just broke fed­er­al law. Do you hide and put up papers so nobody can see what you’re doing? You just broke fed­er­al law. You bring in bal­lots that aren’t real? You just broke fed­er­al law.”

    After call­ing for poll work­ers to be locked up over the right’s lat­est con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries about the elec­tion, the for­mer speak­er won­dered aloud if Repub­li­cans are “sup­posed to sur­ren­der,” adding that the specter of Trump los­ing is “a gen­uine deep cri­sis of our sur­vival.”

    “So, what is the answer, now that the law’s been vio­lat­ed and observers been kicked out? Does­n’t it ren­der the vote ille­git­i­mate?” Han­ni­ty asked.

    “The first answer—the first answer is for the attor­ney. Look, the attor­ney gen­er­al this after­noon issued an order that fed­er­al agents can car­ry guns in the pur­suit of peo­ple who are break­ing the law. That’s a sig­nal,” Gin­grich respond­ed.

    The ex-speak­er began to call for the pres­i­dent to “calm­ly announce” what should hap­pen to those “caught attempt­ing to steal votes” or block­ing observers before Han­ni­ty inter­ject­ed, claim­ing they were run­ning out of time.

    “It’s already hap­pened. The votes have already been count­ed and they didn’t have observers. They were kept away,” Han­ni­ty exclaimed, reit­er­at­ing his pre­vi­ous ques­tion. (Observers were not kept away. The Trump team’s law­suit com­plained that their poll watch­ers, which were there from the begin­ning, weren’t allowed to be close enough to observe the bal­lot count­ing.)

    “You take them back,” Gin­grich exclaimed. “Any precinct, any precinct that we were not able to observe, strip those votes out. Do not count them. Because they are by def­i­n­i­tion cor­rupt.”

    —————

    “Newt Gin­grich: Bill Barr Should Arrest Poll Work­ers” by Justin Barag­o­na; The Dai­ly Beast; 11/06/2020

    ““You take them back,” Gin­grich exclaimed. “Any precinct, any precinct that we were not able to observe, strip those votes out. Do not count them. Because they are by def­i­n­i­tion cor­rupt.””

    Just throw the Philadel­phia votes out because they are by def­i­n­i­tion cor­rupt. That was Newt Gin­grich’s advice to Trump last night on Sean Han­ni­ty’s prime time Fox News show. And as we should expect, the under­ly­ing com­plaint of these Philadel­phia votes is com­plete non­sense. Repub­li­can observers were allowed to observe the vote count­ing. They just weren’t allowed to be right up next to the vote coun­ters due to coro­n­avirus con­cerns. That’s the pre­text of this com­plaint:

    ...
    “It’s already hap­pened. The votes have already been count­ed and they didn’t have observers. They were kept away,” Han­ni­ty exclaimed, reit­er­at­ing his pre­vi­ous ques­tion. (Observers were not kept away. The Trump team’s law­suit com­plained that their poll watch­ers, which were there from the begin­ning, weren’t allowed to be close enough to observe the bal­lot count­ing.)
    ...

    And, again, Newt Gin­grich isn’t some ran­dom talk­ing head. Not only has he long been a very influ­en­tial voice regard­ing Trump’s polit­i­cal ambi­tions but, as the fol­low­ing impor­tant 2018 arti­cle in the Atlantic make clear, if we had to iden­ti­fy the fig­ure how made the rise of Trump-style anti-demo­c­ra­t­ic pol­i­tics pos­si­ble, Newt Gin­grich would almost cer­tain­ly have to be at the top of the list. He real­ly is a gen­uine­ly despi­ca­ble indi­vid­ual who spent decades using the strat­e­gy of cre­at­ing chaos, poi­son­ing the polit­i­cal atmos­phere, and telling Big Lies for the pur­pose of gain­ing pow­er under a no-holds-barred ethos. His polit­i­cal career is like a man­i­fes­ta­tion of Ser­pen­t’s Walk. The only rea­son his role in the destruc­tion of Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy isn’t more wide­ly rec­og­nized is because he was so suc­cess­ful the entire GOP has been remade in his image. A remak­ing that took place long before Trump came along. Trump real­ly is the log­i­cal con­clu­sion of the exis­ten­tial psy­chic dam­age Gin­grich inflict­ed in the US decades ear­li­er:

    The Atlantic

    The Man Who Broke Pol­i­tics

    Newt Gin­grich turned par­ti­san bat­tles into blood­sport, wrecked Con­gress, and paved the way for Trump’s rise. Now he’s rev­el­ing in his achieve­ments.

    Sto­ry by McK­ay Cop­pins
    Novem­ber 2018 Issue
    Updat­ed on Octo­ber 17, 2018

    Newt Gin­grich is an impor­tant man, a man of refined tastes, accus­tomed to a cer­tain lifestyle, and so when he vis­its the zoo, he does not mere­ly stand with all the oth­er patrons to look at the tortoises—he goes inside the tank.

    On this par­tic­u­lar after­noon in late March, the for­mer speak­er of the House can be found shuf­fling gid­di­ly around a damp, 90-degree enclo­sure at the Philadel­phia Zoo—a rum­pled suit draped over his ele­phan­tine frame, plas­tic booties wrapped around his feet—as he tick­les and strokes and paws at the giant shelled rep­tiles, declar­ing them “very cool.”

    It’s a weird scene, and after a few min­utes, onlook­ers begin to gath­er on the oth­er side of the glass—craning their necks and snap­ping pic­tures with their phones and ask­ing each oth­er, Is that who I think it is? The atten­tion would be enough to make a less­er man—say, a sweaty mag­a­zine writer who fol­lowed his sub­ject into the tor­toise tank for rea­sons that are now escap­ing him—grow self-con­scious. But Gin­grich, for whom all of this rather close­ly approx­i­mates a nat­ur­al habi­tat, bare­ly seems to notice.

    ...

    There’s some­thing about Newt Gin­grich that seems to cap­ture the spir­it of Amer­i­ca cir­ca 2018. With his immense head and white mop of hair; his cold, boy­ish grin; and his high, raspy voice, he has the air of a late-empire Roman senator—a walk­ing bun­dle of appetites and excess­es and hubris and wit. In con­ver­sa­tion, he tog­gles unnerv­ing­ly between grandiose pro­nounce­ments about “West­ern civ­i­liza­tion” and par­ti­san cheap shots that seem tai­lored for cable news. It’s a com­bi­na­tion of self-right­eous­ness and small­ness, of pom­pos­i­ty and pet­ti­ness, that per­son­i­fies the deca­dence of this era.

    In the clam­orous sto­ry of Don­ald Trump’s Wash­ing­ton, it would be easy to mis­take Gin­grich for a minor char­ac­ter. A loy­al Trump ally in 2016, Gin­grich for­went a high-pow­ered post in the admin­is­tra­tion and has instead spent the years since the elec­tion cash­ing in on his access—churning out books (three Trump hagiogra­phies, one spy thriller), work­ing the speak­ing cir­cuit (where he com­mands as much as $75,000 per talk for his insights on the pres­i­dent), and pop­ping up on Fox News as a paid con­trib­u­tor. He spends much of his time in Rome, where his wife, Cal­lista, serves as Trump’s ambas­sador to the Vat­i­can and where, he likes to boast, “We have yet to find a bad restau­rant.”

    But few fig­ures in mod­ern his­to­ry have done more than Gin­grich to lay the ground­work for Trump’s rise. Dur­ing his two decades in Con­gress, he pio­neered a style of par­ti­san combat—replete with name-call­ing, con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, and strate­gic obstructionism—that poi­soned America’s polit­i­cal cul­ture and plunged Wash­ing­ton into per­ma­nent dys­func­tion. Gingrich’s career can per­haps be best under­stood as a grand exer­cise in devolution—an effort to strip Amer­i­can pol­i­tics of the civ­i­liz­ing traits it had devel­oped over time and return it to its most pri­mal essence.

    When I ask him how he views his lega­cy, Gin­grich takes me on a tour of a West­ern world gripped by cri­sis. In Wash­ing­ton, chaos reigns as insti­tu­tion­al author­i­ty crum­bles. Through­out Amer­i­ca, right-wing Trumpites and left-wing resisters are treat­ing midterm races like calami­tous fronts in a civ­il war that must be won at all costs. And in Europe, pop­ulist revolts are wreak­ing hav­oc in cap­i­tals across the Con­ti­nent.

    Twen­ty-five years after engi­neer­ing the Repub­li­can Rev­o­lu­tion, Gin­grich can draw a direct line from his work in Con­gress to the upheaval now tak­ing place around the globe. But as he sur­veys the wreck­age of the mod­ern polit­i­cal land­scape, he is not regret­ful. He’s glee­ful.

    “The old order is dying,” he tells me. “Almost every­where you have free­dom, you have a very deep dis­con­tent that the sys­tem isn’t work­ing.”

    And that’s a good thing? I ask.

    “It’s essen­tial,” he says, “if you want West­ern civ­i­liza­tion to sur­vive.”

    On June 24, 1978, Gin­grich stood to address a gath­er­ing of Col­lege Repub­li­can at a Hol­i­day Inn near the Atlanta air­port. It was a nat­ur­al audi­ence for him. At 35, he was more youth­ful-look­ing than the aver­age con­gres­sion­al can­di­date, with fash­ion­ably robust side­burns and a cool-pro­fes­sor charis­ma that had made him one of the more pop­u­lar fac­ul­ty mem­bers at West Geor­gia Col­lege.

    But Gin­grich had not come to deliv­er an aca­d­e­m­ic lec­ture to the young activists before him—he had come to foment rev­o­lu­tion.

    “One of the great prob­lems we have in the Repub­li­can Par­ty is that we don’t encour­age you to be nasty,” he told the group. “We encour­age you to be neat, obe­di­ent, and loy­al, and faith­ful, and all those Boy Scout words, which would be great around the camp­fire but are lousy in pol­i­tics.”

    For their par­ty to suc­ceed, Gin­grich went on, the next gen­er­a­tion of Repub­li­cans would have to learn to “raise hell,” to stop being so “nice,” to real­ize that pol­i­tics was, above all, a cut­throat “war for power”—and to start act­ing like it.

    The speech received lit­tle atten­tion at the time. Gin­grich was, after all, an obscure, untenured pro­fes­sor whose polit­i­cal expe­ri­ence con­sist­ed of two failed con­gres­sion­al bids. But when, a few months lat­er, he was final­ly elect­ed to the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives on his third try, he went to Wash­ing­ton a man obsessed with becom­ing the kind of leader he had described that day in Atlanta.

    The GOP was then at its low­est point in mod­ern his­to­ry. Scores of Repub­li­can law­mak­ers had been wiped out in the after­math of Water­gate, and those who’d sur­vived seemed, to Gin­grich, sad­ly resigned to a “per­ma­nent minor­i­ty” mind-set. “It was like death,” he recalls of the mood in the cau­cus. “They were moral­ly and psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly shat­tered.”

    But Gin­grich had a plan. The way he saw it, Repub­li­cans would nev­er be able to take back the House as long as they kept com­pro­mis­ing with the Democ­rats out of some high-mind­ed civic desire to keep con­gres­sion­al busi­ness hum­ming along. His strat­e­gy was to blow up the bipar­ti­san coali­tions that were essen­tial to leg­is­lat­ing, and then seize on the result­ing dys­func­tion to wage a pop­ulist cru­sade against the insti­tu­tion of Con­gress itself. “His idea,” says Norm Orn­stein, a polit­i­cal sci­en­tist who knew Gin­grich at the time, “was to build toward a nation­al elec­tion where peo­ple were so dis­gust­ed by Wash­ing­ton and the way it was oper­at­ing that they would throw the ins out and bring the outs in.”

    Gin­grich recruit­ed a cadre of young bomb throwers—a group of 12 con­gress­men he chris­tened the Con­ser­v­a­tive Oppor­tu­ni­ty Society—and togeth­er they stalked the halls of Capi­tol Hill, search­ing for trou­ble and TV cam­eras. Their emer­gence was not, at first, greet­ed with enthu­si­asm by the more mod­er­ate Repub­li­can lead­er­ship. They were too noisy, too brash, too hos­tile to the old guard’s cher­ished sense of deco­rum. They even looked different—sporting blow-dried pom­padours while their more cam­era-shy elders smeared Bryl­creem on their comb-overs.

    Gin­grich and his cohort showed lit­tle inter­est in leg­is­lat­ing, a task that had hereto­fore been seen as the pri­ma­ry respon­si­bil­i­ty of elect­ed leg­is­la­tors. Bob Liv­ingston, a Louisiana Repub­li­can who had been elect­ed to Con­gress a year before Gin­grich, mar­veled at the way the hard-charg­ing Geor­gian rose to promi­nence by ignor­ing the tra­di­tion­al path tak­en by new law­mak­ers. “My idea was to work with­in the com­mit­tee struc­ture, take care of my dis­trict, and just pay atten­tion to the leg­isla­tive process,” Liv­ingston told me. “But Newt came in as a rev­o­lu­tion­ary.”

    For rev­o­lu­tion­ary pur­pos­es, the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives was less a gov­ern­ing body than an are­na for con­flict and dra­ma. And Gin­grich found ways to put on a show. He rec­og­nized an oppor­tu­ni­ty in the new­ly installed C‑span cam­eras, and began deliv­er­ing tirades against Democ­rats to an emp­ty cham­ber, know­ing that his remarks would be beamed to view­ers across the coun­try.

    As his pro­file grew, Gin­grich took aim at the mod­er­ates in his own party—calling Bob Dole the “tax col­lec­tor for the wel­fare state”—and bait­ed Demo­c­ra­t­ic lead­ers with all man­ner of epi­thet and insult: pro-com­mu­nist, un-Amer­i­can, tyran­ni­cal. In 1984, one of his floor speech­es prompt­ed a red-faced erup­tion from Speak­er Tip O’Neill, who said of Gingrich’s attacks, “It’s the low­est thing that I’ve ever seen in my 32 years in Con­gress!” The episode land­ed them both on the night­ly news, and Gin­grich, know­ing the score, declared vic­to­ry. “I am now a famous per­son,” he gloat­ed to The Wash­ing­ton Post.

    It’s hard to over­state just how rad­i­cal these actions were at the time. Although Con­gress had been a volatile place dur­ing peri­ods of Amer­i­can history—with fist­fights and can­ings and rep­re­sen­ta­tives bel­low­ing vio­lent threats at one another—by the mid­dle of the 20th cen­tu­ry, law­mak­ers had large­ly coa­lesced around a sta­bi­liz­ing set of norms and tra­di­tions. Entrenched com­mit­tee chairs may have dab­bled in pet­ty cor­rup­tion, and Demo­c­ra­t­ic lead­ers may have pushed around the Repub­li­can minor­i­ty when they were in a pinch, but as a rule, comi­ty reigned. “Most mem­bers still believed in the idea that the Framers had in mind,” says Thomas Mann, a schol­ar who stud­ies Con­gress. “They believed in gen­uine delib­er­a­tion and com­pro­mise … and they had insti­tu­tion­al loy­al­ty.”

    This ethos was per­haps best embod­ied by Repub­li­can Minor­i­ty Leader Bob Michel, an ami­able World War II vet­er­an known around Wash­ing­ton for his aver­sion to swear­ing—dog­gone it and by Jiminy were fix­tures of his vocabulary—as well as his pen­chant for car­pool­ing and golf­ing with Demo­c­ra­t­ic col­leagues. Michel was no lib­er­al, but he believed that the best way to serve con­ser­vatism, and his coun­try, was by work­ing hon­est­ly with Demo­c­ra­t­ic leaders—pulling leg­is­la­tion inch by inch to the right when he could, and pro­tect­ing the good faith that made aisle-cross­ing pos­si­ble.

    Gin­grich was unim­pressed by Michel’s con­cil­ia­to­ry approach. “He rep­re­sent­ed a cul­ture which had been defeat­ed con­sis­tent­ly,” he recalls. More impor­tant, Gin­grich intu­it­ed that the old dynam­ics that had pro­duced pub­lic ser­vants like Michel were crum­bling. Tec­ton­ic shifts in Amer­i­can politics—particularly around issues of race and civ­il rights—had trig­gered an ide­o­log­i­cal sort­ing between the two par­ties. Lib­er­al Repub­li­cans and con­ser­v­a­tive Democ­rats (two groups that had been well rep­re­sent­ed in Con­gress) were begin­ning to van­ish, and with them, the cross-par­ty part­ner­ships that had fos­tered coop­er­a­tion.

    This polar­iza­tion didn’t orig­i­nate with Gin­grich, but he took advan­tage of it, as he set out to cir­cum­vent the old pow­er struc­tures and build his own. Rather than let­ting the par­ty boss­es in Wash­ing­ton decide which can­di­dates deserved insti­tu­tion­al sup­port, he took con­trol of a group called gopac and used it to recruit and train an army of mini-Newts to run for office.

    Gin­grich hus­tled to keep his cause—and himself—in the press. “If you’re not in The Wash­ing­ton Post every day, you might as well not exist,” he told one reporter. His secret to cap­tur­ing head­lines was sim­ple, he explained to sup­port­ers: “The No. 1 fact about the news media is they love fights … When you give them con­fronta­tions, you get atten­tion; when you get atten­tion, you can edu­cate.”

    Effec­tive as these tac­tics were in the short term, they had a cor­ro­sive effect on the way Con­gress oper­at­ed. “Grad­u­al­ly, it went from leg­is­lat­ing, to the weaponiza­tion of leg­is­lat­ing, to the per­ma­nent cam­paign, to the per­ma­nent war,” Mann says. “It’s like he took a wreck­ing ball to the most pow­er­ful and influ­en­tial leg­is­la­ture in the world.”

    But Gin­grich looks back with pride on the trans­for­ma­tions he set in motion. “Noise became a proxy for sta­tus,” he tells me. And no one was nois­i­er than Newt.

    ...

    By 1988, Gingrich’s plan to con­quer Con­gress via sab­o­tage was well under way. As his nation­al pro­file had risen, so too had his influ­ence with­in the Repub­li­can caucus—his orig­i­nal quo­rum of 12 dis­ci­ples hav­ing expand­ed to dozens of sharp-elbowed House con­ser­v­a­tives who looked to him for guid­ance.

    Gin­grich encour­aged them to go after their ene­mies with catchy, allit­er­a­tive nicknames—“Daffy Dukakis,” “the loony left”—and schooled them in the art of par­ti­san blood sport. Through gopac, he sent out cas­sette tapes and mem­os to Repub­li­can can­di­dates across the coun­try who want­ed to “speak like Newt,” pro­vid­ing them with care­ful­ly honed attack lines and cre­at­ing, quite lit­er­al­ly, a new vocab­u­lary for a gen­er­a­tion of con­ser­v­a­tives. One memo, titled “Lan­guage: A Key Mech­a­nism of Con­trol,” includ­ed a list of rec­om­mend­ed words to use in describ­ing Democ­rats: sick, pathet­ic, lie, anti-flag, trai­tors, rad­i­cal, cor­rupt.

    The goal was to reframe the bor­ing pol­i­cy debates in Wash­ing­ton as a nation­al bat­tle between good and evil, white hats ver­sus black—a fight for the very soul of Amer­i­ca. Through this prism, any news sto­ry could be turned into a wedge. Woody Allen had an affair with his partner’s adop­tive daugh­ter? “It fits the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty plat­form per­fect­ly,” Gin­grich declared. A deranged South Car­oli­na woman mur­dered her two chil­dren? A symp­tom of a “sick” soci­ety, Gin­grich intoned—and “the only way you can get change is to vote Repub­li­can.”

    Gin­grich was not above min­ing the dark­est reach­es of the right-wing fever swamps for mate­r­i­al. When Vince Fos­ter, a staffer in the Clin­ton White House, com­mit­ted sui­cide, Gin­grich pub­licly flirt­ed with fringe con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries that sug­gest­ed he had been assas­si­nat­ed. “He took these things that were con­fined to the mar­gins of the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment and main­streamed them,” says David Brock, who worked as a con­ser­v­a­tive jour­nal­ist at the time, cov­er­ing the var­i­ous Clin­ton scan­dals, before lat­er becom­ing a Demo­c­ra­t­ic oper­a­tive. “What I think he saw was the poten­tial for using them to throw sand in the gears of Clinton’s abil­i­ty to gov­ern.”

    Despite his grow­ing grass­roots fol­low­ing, Gin­grich remained unpop­u­lar among a cer­tain con­tin­gent of con­gres­sion­al Repub­li­cans, who were scan­dal­ized by his tac­tics. But that start­ed to change when Democ­rats elect­ed Texas Con­gress­man Jim Wright as speak­er. Where­as Tip O’Neill had been known for work­ing across par­ty lines, Wright came off as gruff and power-hungry—and his efforts to side­line the Repub­li­can minor­i­ty enraged even many of the GOP’s mild-man­nered mod­er­ates. “Peo­ple start­ed ask­ing, ‘Who’s the mean­est, nas­ti­est son of a bitch we can get to fight back?’?” recalls Mick­ey Edwards, a Repub­li­can who was then rep­re­sent­ing Okla­homa in the House. “And, of course, that was Newt Gin­grich.”

    Gin­grich unleashed a smear cam­paign aimed at tak­ing Wright down. He report­ed­ly cir­cu­lat­ed unsup­port­ed rumors about a scan­dal involv­ing a teenage con­gres­sion­al page, and tried to tie Wright to shady for­eign-lob­by­ing prac­tices. Final­ly, one alle­ga­tion gained traction—that Wright had used $60,000 in book roy­al­ties to evade lim­its on out­side income. Water­gate, this was not. But it was enough to force Wright’s res­ig­na­tion, and hand Gin­grich the scalp he so craved.

    The episode cement­ed Gingrich’s sta­tus as the de fac­to leader of the GOP in Wash­ing­ton. Head­ing into the 1994 midterms, he ral­lied Repub­li­cans around the idea of turn­ing Elec­tion Day into a nation­al ref­er­en­dum. On Sep­tem­ber 27, more than 300 can­di­dates gath­ered out­side the Capi­tol to sign the “Con­tract With Amer­i­ca,” a doc­u­ment of Gingrich’s cre­ation that out­lined 10 bills Repub­li­cans promised to pass if they took con­trol of the House.

    “Today, on these steps, we offer this con­tract as a first step towards renew­ing Amer­i­can civ­i­liza­tion,” Gin­grich pro­claimed.

    While can­di­dates fanned out across the coun­try to cam­paign on the con­tract, Gin­grich and his fel­low Repub­li­can lead­ers in Con­gress held fast to their strat­e­gy of grid­lock. As Elec­tion Day approached, they maneu­vered to block every piece of leg­is­la­tion they could—even those that might ordi­nar­i­ly have received bipar­ti­san sup­port, like a lob­by­ing-reform bill—on the the­o­ry that vot­ers would blame Democ­rats for the paral­y­sis.

    Pun­dits, aghast at the brazen­ness of the strat­e­gy, pre­dict­ed back­lash from voters—but few seemed to notice. Even some Repub­li­cans were sur­prised by what they were get­ting away with. Bill Kris­tol, then a GOP strate­gist, mar­veled at the suc­cess of his party’s “prin­ci­pled obstruc­tion­ism.” An up-and-com­ing sen­a­tor named Mitch McConnell was quot­ed crow­ing that oppos­ing the Democ­rats’ agen­da “gives grid­lock a good name.” When the 103rd Con­gress adjourned in Octo­ber, The Wash­ing­ton Post declared it “per­haps the worst Con­gress” in 50 years.

    Yet Gingrich’s plan worked. By the time vot­ers went to the polls, exit sur­veys revealed wide­spread frus­tra­tion with Con­gress and a deep appetite for change. Repub­li­cans achieved one of the most sweep­ing elec­toral vic­to­ries in mod­ern Amer­i­can his­to­ry. They picked up 54 seats in the House and seized state leg­is­la­tures and gov­er­nor­ships across the coun­try; for the first time in 40 years, the GOP took con­trol of both hous­es of Con­gress.

    ...

    The fresh­man Repub­li­cans who entered Con­gress in Jan­u­ary 1995 were law­mak­ers cre­at­ed in the image of Newt: young, con­fronta­tion­al, and deter­mined to inflict rad­i­cal change on Wash­ing­ton.

    Gin­grich encour­aged this rev­o­lu­tion­ary zeal, quot­ing Thomas Paine—“We have it in our pow­er to begin the world over again”—and work­ing to instill a con­vic­tion among his fol­low­ers that they were polit­i­cal gate-crash­ers, come to leave their dent on Amer­i­can his­to­ry. What Gin­grich didn’t tell them—or per­haps refused to believe himself—was that in Con­gress, his­to­ry is sel­dom made with­out con­sen­sus-build­ing and horse-trad­ing. From the cre­ation of inter­state high­ways to the pas­sage of civ­il-rights leg­is­la­tion, the most sig­nif­i­cant, last­ing acts of Con­gress have been achieved by law­mak­ers who deft­ly maneu­ver through the leg­isla­tive process and work with mem­bers of both par­ties.

    On Jan­u­ary 4, Speak­er Gin­grich gaveled Con­gress into ses­sion, and prompt­ly got to work trans­form­ing Amer­i­ca. Over the next 100 days, he and his fel­low Repub­li­cans worked fever­ish­ly to pass bills with names that sound­ed like they’d come from Repub­li­can Mad Libs—the Amer­i­can Dream Restora­tion Act, the Tak­ing Back Our Streets Act, the Fis­cal Respon­si­bil­i­ty Act. But when the dust set­tled, Amer­i­ca didn’t look all that dif­fer­ent. Almost all of the House’s big-tick­et bills got snuffed out in the Sen­ate, or died by way of pres­i­den­tial veto.

    Instead, the most endur­ing aspects of Gingrich’s speak­er­ship would be his tac­ti­cal inno­va­tions. Deter­mined to keep Repub­li­cans in pow­er, Gin­grich reori­ent­ed the con­gres­sion­al sched­ule around fill­ing cam­paign war chests, short­en­ing the offi­cial work week to three days so that mem­bers had time to dial for dol­lars. From 1994 to 1998, Repub­li­cans raised an unprece­dent­ed $1 bil­lion, and ush­ered in a new era of mon­ey in pol­i­tics.

    Gingrich’s famous bud­get bat­tles with Bill Clin­ton in 1995 gave way to anoth­er great par­ti­san inven­tion: the weaponized gov­ern­ment shut­down. There had been fed­er­al fund­ing laps­es before, but they tend­ed to be minor affairs that last­ed only a day or two. Gingrich’s shut­down, by con­trast, fur­loughed hun­dreds of thou­sands of gov­ern­ment work­ers for sev­er­al weeks at Christ­mas­time, so Repub­li­cans could use their pay­checks as a bar­ter­ing chip in nego­ti­a­tions with the White House. The gam­bit was a bust—voters blamed the GOP for the cri­sis, and Gin­grich was cas­ti­gat­ed in the press—but it ensured that the shut­down threat would loom over every con­gres­sion­al stand­off from that point on.

    There were real accom­plish­ments dur­ing Gingrich’s speak­er­ship, too—a tax cut, a bipar­ti­san health-care deal, even a bal­anced fed­er­al budget—and for a time, tru­ly his­toric tri­umphs seemed with­in reach. Over the course of sev­er­al secret meet­ings at the White House in the fall of 1997, Gin­grich told me, he and Clin­ton sketched out plans for a cen­ter-right coali­tion that would under­take big, chal­leng­ing projects such as a whole­sale reform of Social Secu­ri­ty.

    But by then, the poi­so­nous pol­i­tics Gin­grich had inject­ed into Washington’s blood­stream had escaped his con­trol. So when the sto­ries start­ed com­ing out in ear­ly 1998—the ones about the pres­i­dent and the intern, the cig­ar and the blue dress—and the par­ty faith­ful were clam­or­ing for Clinton’s head on a pike, and Gingrich’s acolytes in the House were stomp­ing their feet and cry­ing for blood … well, he knew what he had to do.

    This is “the most sys­tem­at­ic, delib­er­ate obstruc­tion-of-jus­tice cov­er-up and effort to avoid the truth we have ever seen in Amer­i­can his­to­ry!” Gin­grich declared of the Mon­i­ca Lewin­sky scan­dal, pledg­ing that he would keep bang­ing the drum until Clin­ton was impeached. “I will nev­er again, as long as I am speak­er, make a speech with­out com­ment­ing on this top­ic.”

    Nev­er mind that Repub­li­cans had no real chance of get­ting the impeach­ment through the Sen­ate. Remov­ing the pres­i­dent wasn’t the point; this was an oppor­tu­ni­ty to humil­i­ate the Democ­rats. Pol­i­tics was a “war for pow­er,” just as Gin­grich had proph­e­sied all those years ago—and he wasn’t about to give up the fight.

    The rest is immor­tal­ized in the his­to­ry books that line Gingrich’s library. The GOP’s impeach­ment cru­sade back­fired with vot­ers, Repub­li­cans lost seats in the House—and Gin­grich was dri­ven out of his job by the same blood­thirsty brigade he’d helped elect. “I’m will­ing to lead,” he sniffed on his way out the door, “but I’m not will­ing to pre­side over peo­ple who are can­ni­bals.”

    The great irony of Gingrich’s rise and reign is that, in the end, he did fun­da­men­tal­ly trans­form America—just not in the ways he’d hoped. He thought he was enshrin­ing a new era of con­ser­v­a­tive gov­ern­ment. In fact, he was enshrin­ing an attitude—angry, com­bat­ive, tribal—that would infect pol­i­tics for decades to come.

    In the years since he left the House, Gin­grich has only dou­bled down. When GOP lead­ers hud­dled at a Capi­tol Hill steak house on the night of Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s inau­gu­ra­tion, Gin­grich was there to advo­cate a strat­e­gy of com­plete obstruc­tion. And when Sen­a­tor Ted Cruz led a mob of Tea Par­ty torch­bear­ers in shut­ting down the gov­ern­ment over Oba­macare, Gin­grich was there to argue that shut­downs are “a nor­mal part of the con­sti­tu­tion­al process.”

    ...

    These days, Gin­grich seems to be revis­ing his lega­cy in real time—shifting the sto­ry away from the ide­o­log­i­cal sea change that his pop­ulist dis­rup­tion was sup­posed to enable, and toward the act of pop­ulist dis­rup­tion itself. He places his own rise to pow­er and Trump’s in the same grand Amer­i­can nar­ra­tive. There have been four great polit­i­cal “waves” in the past half cen­tu­ry, he tells me: “Gold­wa­ter, Rea­gan, Gin­grich, then Trump.” But when I press him to explain what con­nects those four “waves” philo­soph­i­cal­ly, the best he can do is say they were all “anti-lib­er­al.”

    Polit­i­cal sci­en­tists who study our era of extreme polar­iza­tion will tell you that the dri­ving force behind Amer­i­can pol­i­tics today is not actu­al­ly par­ti­san­ship, but neg­a­tive par­ti­san­ship—that is, hatred of the oth­er team more than loy­al­ty to one’s own. Gingrich’s speak­er­ship was both a symp­tom and an accel­er­ant of that phe­nom­e­non.

    On Decem­ber 19, 1998, Gin­grich cast his final vote as a congressman—a vote to impeach Bill Clin­ton for lying under oath about an affair. By the time it was revealed that the ex-speak­er had been secret­ly car­ry­ing on an illic­it rela­tion­ship with a young con­gres­sion­al aide named Cal­lista through­out his impeach­ment cru­sade, almost no one was sur­prised.* This was, after all, the same man who had famous­ly been accused by his first wife (whom he’d met as a teenag­er, when she was his geom­e­try teacher) of try­ing to dis­cuss divorce terms when she was in the hos­pi­tal recov­er­ing from tumor-removal surgery, the same man who had for a time report­ed­ly restrict­ed his extra­mar­i­tal dal­liances to oral sex so that he could claim he’d nev­er slept with anoth­er woman. (Gin­grich declined to com­ment on these alle­ga­tions.)

    Detrac­tors could call it hypocrisy if they want­ed; Gin­grich might not even argue. (“It doesn’t mat­ter what I do,” he once ratio­nal­ized, accord­ing to one of his ex-wives. “Peo­ple need to hear what I have to say.”) But if he had taught Amer­i­ca one les­son, it was that any sin could be absolved, any tres­pass for­giv­en, as long as you picked the right tar­gets and swung at them hard enough.

    When Gingrich’s per­son­al life became an issue dur­ing his short-lived pres­i­den­tial cam­paign in 2012, he knew just who to swing at. Asked dur­ing a pri­ma­ry debate about an alle­ga­tion that he’d request­ed an open mar­riage with his sec­ond wife, Gin­grich took a deep breath, gath­ered all the right­eous indig­na­tion he could muster, and let loose one of the most remarkable—and effec­tive—non sequiturs in the his­to­ry of cam­paign rhetoric: “I think the destruc­tive, vicious, neg­a­tive nature of much of the news media makes it hard­er to gov­ern this coun­try, hard­er to attract decent peo­ple to run for pub­lic office—and I am appalled that you would begin a pres­i­den­tial debate on a top­ic like that.”

    The CNN mod­er­a­tor grew flus­tered, the audi­ence erupt­ed in a stand­ing ova­tion, and a few days lat­er, the vot­ers of South Car­oli­na deliv­ered Gin­grich a deci­sive vic­to­ry in the Repub­li­can pri­ma­ry.

    ...

    When Trump first began think­ing seri­ous­ly about run­ning for pres­i­dent, he turned to Gin­grich for advice. The two men had known each oth­er for years—the Gin­grich­es were mem­bers of Trump’s golf club in Virginia—and one morn­ing in Jan­u­ary 2015 they found them­selves in Des Moines, Iowa, for a con­ser­v­a­tive con­fer­ence. Over break­fast at the down­town Mar­riott, Trump pep­pered Newt and Cal­lista with ques­tions about run­ning for president—most press­ing­ly, how much it would cost him to fund a cam­paign through the South Car­oli­na pri­ma­ry. Gin­grich esti­mat­ed that it would take about $70 mil­lion or $80 mil­lion to be com­pet­i­tive.

    As Gin­grich tells it, Trump con­sid­ered this and then replied, “Sev­en­ty to 80 million—that would be a yacht. This would be a lot more fun than a yacht!”

    And so began the cam­paign that Gin­grich would call “a water­shed moment for America’s future.” Ear­ly on, Gin­grich set him­self apart from oth­er promi­nent con­ser­v­a­tives by talk­ing up Trump’s can­di­da­cy on TV and defend­ing him against attacks from the GOP estab­lish­ment. “Newt watched the Trump phe­nom­e­non take hold and metas­ta­size, and he saw the par­al­lels” to his own rise, says Kellyanne Con­way, a senior advis­er to the pres­i­dent who worked with Gin­grich in the 1990s. “He rec­og­nized the echoes of ‘You can’t do this, this is a joke, you’re une­lec­table, don’t even try, you should be bow­ing to the peo­ple who have cre­den­tials.’ Newt had heard that all before.” Trump’s response—to cast all his skep­tics as part of the same cor­rupt class of insid­ers and crooks—borrowed from the strat­e­gy Gin­grich had mod­eled, Con­way told me: “Long before there was ‘Drain the swamp,’ there was Newt’s ‘Throw the bums out.’?”

    Once Trump clinched the nom­i­na­tion, he reward­ed Gin­grich by putting him on the vice-pres­i­den­tial short list. For a while it looked like it might real­ly hap­pen. Gin­grich had the sup­port of influ­en­tial inner-cir­clers like Sean Han­ni­ty, who flew him out on a pri­vate jet to meet with Trump on the cam­paign trail. But alas, a Trump-Gin­grich tick­et was not to be. There were, it turned out, cer­tain opti­cal issues that would have proved dif­fi­cult to spin. As Ed Rollins, who ran a pro-Trump super pac, put it at the time, “It’d be a tick­et with six for­mer wives, kind of like a Hen­ry VIII thing.”

    After Trump was elect­ed, Gingrich’s name was float­ed for sev­er­al high-pro­file admin­is­tra­tion posts. Eager to affirm his cen­tral­i­ty in this hinge-of-his­to­ry moment, he start­ed pub­licly imply­ing that he had turned down the job of sec­re­tary of state in favor of a sweep­ing, self-designed role with ambigu­ous respon­si­bil­i­ties—“gen­er­al plan­ner,” he called it, or “senior plan­ner,” or maybe “chief plan­ner.”

    In fact, accord­ing to a tran­si­tion offi­cial, Gin­grich had lit­tle inter­est in giv­ing up his lucra­tive pri­vate-sec­tor side hus­tles, and was nev­er real­ly in the run­ning for a Cab­i­net posi­tion. Instead, he had two requests: that Trump’s team leak that he was being con­sid­ered for high office, and that Cal­lista, a life­long Catholic, be named ambas­sador to the Holy See. (Gin­grich dis­putes this account.)

    The Vat­i­can gig was wide­ly cov­et­ed, and there was some con­cern that Callista’s pub­lic his­to­ry of adul­tery would prompt the pope to reject her appoint­ment. But the Gin­grich­es were friend­ly with a num­ber of Amer­i­can car­di­nals, and Callista’s nom­i­na­tion sailed through. In Wash­ing­ton, the appoint­ment was seen as a tes­ta­ment to the self-par­o­d­ic nature of the Trump era—but in Rome, the arrange­ment has worked sur­pris­ing­ly well. Robert Mick­ens, a long­time Vat­i­can jour­nal­ist, told me that Cal­lista is gen­er­al­ly viewed as the cer­e­mo­ni­al face of the embassy, while Newt—who told me he talks to the White House 10 to 15 times a week—acts as the “shad­ow ambas­sador.”

    Mean­while, back in the States, Gin­grich got to work mar­ket­ing him­self as the pre­mier pub­lic intel­lec­tu­al of the Trump era. Ever since he was a young con­gress­man, he had labored to cul­ti­vate a cere­bral image, often schlep­ping piles of books into meet­ings on Capi­tol Hill. As an exer­cise in self-brand­ing, at least, the effort seems to have worked: When I sent an email ask­ing Paul Ryan what he thought of Gin­grich, he respond­ed with a pro for­ma state­ment describ­ing the for­mer speak­er as an “ideas guy” twice in the space of six sen­tences.

    Yet wad­ing through Gingrich’s var­i­ous books, arti­cles, and think-tank speech­es about Trump, it is dif­fi­cult to iden­ti­fy any coher­ent set of “ideas” ani­mat­ing his sup­port for the pres­i­dent. He is not a nat­ur­al boost­er for the eco­nom­ic nation­al­ism espoused by peo­ple like Steve Ban­non, nor does he seem par­tic­u­lar­ly smit­ten with the iso­la­tion­ism Trump cham­pi­oned on the stump.

    Instead, Gin­grich seems drawn to Trump the larg­er-than-life leader—virile and mas­cu­line, dynam­ic and strong, brim­ming with “total ener­gy” as he mows down every ene­my in his path. “Don­ald Trump is the griz­zly bear in The Revenant,” Gin­grich gushed dur­ing a Decem­ber 2016 speech on “The Prin­ci­ples of Trump­ism” at the Her­itage Foun­da­tion. “If you get his atten­tion, he will get awake … He will walk over, bite your face off, and sit on you.”

    In Trump, Gin­grich has found the apoth­e­o­sis of the pri­mate pol­i­tics he has been prac­tic­ing his entire life—nasty, vicious, and uncon­cerned with those pesky “Boy Scout words” as he fights in the Dar­win­ian strug­gle that is Amer­i­can life today. “Trump’s Amer­i­ca and the post-Amer­i­can soci­ety that the anti-Trump coali­tion rep­re­sents are inca­pable of coex­ist­ing,” Gin­grich writes in his most recent book. “One will sim­ply defeat the oth­er. There is no room for com­pro­mise. Trump has under­stood this per­fect­ly since day one.”

    ...

    ————

    “The Man Who Broke Pol­i­tics” by McK­ay Cop­pins; The Atlantic; Novem­ber 2018 Issue

    But few fig­ures in mod­ern his­to­ry have done more than Gin­grich to lay the ground­work for Trump’s rise. Dur­ing his two decades in Con­gress, he pio­neered a style of par­ti­san combat—replete with name-call­ing, con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, and strate­gic obstructionism—that poi­soned America’s polit­i­cal cul­ture and plunged Wash­ing­ton into per­ma­nent dys­func­tion. Gingrich’s career can per­haps be best under­stood as a grand exer­cise in devolution—an effort to strip Amer­i­can pol­i­tics of the civ­i­liz­ing traits it had devel­oped over time and return it to its most pri­mal essence.

    A grand exer­cise in the devo­lu­tion of Amer­i­ca’s democ­ra­cy. It’s a great way to sum­ma­rize the career of Newt Gin­grich. From the very begin­ning, when he first ran from Con­gress in 1978, Gin­grich was intent on break­ing Con­gress’s abil­i­ty to func­tion and then run­ning against that dys­func­tion. A wild­ly cyn­i­cal strat­e­gy that real­ly did work. It’s how he took over the GOP:

    ...
    On June 24, 1978, Gin­grich stood to address a gath­er­ing of Col­lege Repub­li­can at a Hol­i­day Inn near the Atlanta air­port. It was a nat­ur­al audi­ence for him. At 35, he was more youth­ful-look­ing than the aver­age con­gres­sion­al can­di­date, with fash­ion­ably robust side­burns and a cool-pro­fes­sor charis­ma that had made him one of the more pop­u­lar fac­ul­ty mem­bers at West Geor­gia Col­lege.

    But Gin­grich had not come to deliv­er an aca­d­e­m­ic lec­ture to the young activists before him—he had come to foment rev­o­lu­tion.

    “One of the great prob­lems we have in the Repub­li­can Par­ty is that we don’t encour­age you to be nasty,” he told the group. “We encour­age you to be neat, obe­di­ent, and loy­al, and faith­ful, and all those Boy Scout words, which would be great around the camp­fire but are lousy in pol­i­tics.”

    For their par­ty to suc­ceed, Gin­grich went on, the next gen­er­a­tion of Repub­li­cans would have to learn to “raise hell,” to stop being so “nice,” to real­ize that pol­i­tics was, above all, a cut­throat “war for power”—and to start act­ing like it.

    ...

    But Gin­grich had a plan. The way he saw it, Repub­li­cans would nev­er be able to take back the House as long as they kept com­pro­mis­ing with the Democ­rats out of some high-mind­ed civic desire to keep con­gres­sion­al busi­ness hum­ming along. His strat­e­gy was to blow up the bipar­ti­san coali­tions that were essen­tial to leg­is­lat­ing, and then seize on the result­ing dys­func­tion to wage a pop­ulist cru­sade against the insti­tu­tion of Con­gress itself. “His idea,” says Norm Orn­stein, a polit­i­cal sci­en­tist who knew Gin­grich at the time, “was to build toward a nation­al elec­tion where peo­ple were so dis­gust­ed by Wash­ing­ton and the way it was oper­at­ing that they would throw the ins out and bring the outs in.”
    ...

    It was Gin­grich was ush­ered in an era where gen­er­at­ing polit­i­cal “noise” was a goal in and of itself. Cre­at­ing polit­i­cal fights for the pur­pose of get­ting atten­tion. As Gin­grich put it, “Noise became a proxy for sta­tus.” Noise that includ­ed mak­ing up goofy names for his oppo­nents or indulging in the low­est qual­i­ty con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries he could find. Sound famil­iar?

    ...
    Gin­grich hus­tled to keep his cause—and himself—in the press. “If you’re not in The Wash­ing­ton Post every day, you might as well not exist,” he told one reporter. His secret to cap­tur­ing head­lines was sim­ple, he explained to sup­port­ers: “The No. 1 fact about the news media is they love fights … When you give them con­fronta­tions, you get atten­tion; when you get atten­tion, you can edu­cate.”

    Effec­tive as these tac­tics were in the short term, they had a cor­ro­sive effect on the way Con­gress oper­at­ed. “Grad­u­al­ly, it went from leg­is­lat­ing, to the weaponiza­tion of leg­is­lat­ing, to the per­ma­nent cam­paign, to the per­ma­nent war,” Mann says. “It’s like he took a wreck­ing ball to the most pow­er­ful and influ­en­tial leg­is­la­ture in the world.”

    But Gin­grich looks back with pride on the trans­for­ma­tions he set in motion. “Noise became a proxy for sta­tus,” he tells me. And no one was nois­i­er than Newt.

    ...

    By 1988, Gingrich’s plan to con­quer Con­gress via sab­o­tage was well under way. As his nation­al pro­file had risen, so too had his influ­ence with­in the Repub­li­can caucus—his orig­i­nal quo­rum of 12 dis­ci­ples hav­ing expand­ed to dozens of sharp-elbowed House con­ser­v­a­tives who looked to him for guid­ance.

    Gin­grich encour­aged them to go after their ene­mies with catchy, allit­er­a­tive nicknames—“Daffy Dukakis,” “the loony left”—and schooled them in the art of par­ti­san blood sport. Through gopac, he sent out cas­sette tapes and mem­os to Repub­li­can can­di­dates across the coun­try who want­ed to “speak like Newt,” pro­vid­ing them with care­ful­ly honed attack lines and cre­at­ing, quite lit­er­al­ly, a new vocab­u­lary for a gen­er­a­tion of con­ser­v­a­tives. One memo, titled “Lan­guage: A Key Mech­a­nism of Con­trol,” includ­ed a list of rec­om­mend­ed words to use in describ­ing Democ­rats: sick, pathet­ic, lie, anti-flag, trai­tors, rad­i­cal, cor­rupt.

    The goal was to reframe the bor­ing pol­i­cy debates in Wash­ing­ton as a nation­al bat­tle between good and evil, white hats ver­sus black—a fight for the very soul of Amer­i­ca. Through this prism, any news sto­ry could be turned into a wedge. Woody Allen had an affair with his partner’s adop­tive daugh­ter? “It fits the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty plat­form per­fect­ly,” Gin­grich declared. A deranged South Car­oli­na woman mur­dered her two chil­dren? A symp­tom of a “sick” soci­ety, Gin­grich intoned—and “the only way you can get change is to vote Repub­li­can.”

    Gin­grich was not above min­ing the dark­est reach­es of the right-wing fever swamps for mate­r­i­al. When Vince Fos­ter, a staffer in the Clin­ton White House, com­mit­ted sui­cide, Gin­grich pub­licly flirt­ed with fringe con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries that sug­gest­ed he had been assas­si­nat­ed. “He took these things that were con­fined to the mar­gins of the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment and main­streamed them,” says David Brock, who worked as a con­ser­v­a­tive jour­nal­ist at the time, cov­er­ing the var­i­ous Clin­ton scan­dals, before lat­er becom­ing a Demo­c­ra­t­ic oper­a­tive. “What I think he saw was the poten­tial for using them to throw sand in the gears of Clinton’s abil­i­ty to gov­ern.”
    ...

    By 1994, the suc­cess of Gin­grich’s ‘any and all smears’ strat­e­gy at tak­ing down House Speak­er Jim Wright makes him the de fac­to leader of the Repub­li­can Par­ty. So in antic­i­pa­tion of the 1994 mid-terms, he comes up with a new inno­va­tion that should sound extreme­ly famil­iar: block­ing any and all leg­is­la­tion in the hopes that frus­trat­ed vot­ers would blame the Democ­rats. It worked so well it cre­at­ed the largest polit­i­cal wave in mod­ern his­to­ry:

    ...
    Gin­grich unleashed a smear cam­paign aimed at tak­ing Wright down. He report­ed­ly cir­cu­lat­ed unsup­port­ed rumors about a scan­dal involv­ing a teenage con­gres­sion­al page, and tried to tie Wright to shady for­eign-lob­by­ing prac­tices. Final­ly, one alle­ga­tion gained traction—that Wright had used $60,000 in book roy­al­ties to evade lim­its on out­side income. Water­gate, this was not. But it was enough to force Wright’s res­ig­na­tion, and hand Gin­grich the scalp he so craved.

    The episode cement­ed Gingrich’s sta­tus as the de fac­to leader of the GOP in Wash­ing­ton. Head­ing into the 1994 midterms, he ral­lied Repub­li­cans around the idea of turn­ing Elec­tion Day into a nation­al ref­er­en­dum. On Sep­tem­ber 27, more than 300 can­di­dates gath­ered out­side the Capi­tol to sign the “Con­tract With Amer­i­ca,” a doc­u­ment of Gingrich’s cre­ation that out­lined 10 bills Repub­li­cans promised to pass if they took con­trol of the House.

    “Today, on these steps, we offer this con­tract as a first step towards renew­ing Amer­i­can civ­i­liza­tion,” Gin­grich pro­claimed.

    While can­di­dates fanned out across the coun­try to cam­paign on the con­tract, Gin­grich and his fel­low Repub­li­can lead­ers in Con­gress held fast to their strat­e­gy of grid­lock. As Elec­tion Day approached, they maneu­vered to block every piece of leg­is­la­tion they could—even those that might ordi­nar­i­ly have received bipar­ti­san sup­port, like a lob­by­ing-reform bill—on the the­o­ry that vot­ers would blame Democ­rats for the paral­y­sis.

    Pun­dits, aghast at the brazen­ness of the strat­e­gy, pre­dict­ed back­lash from voters—but few seemed to notice. Even some Repub­li­cans were sur­prised by what they were get­ting away with. Bill Kris­tol, then a GOP strate­gist, mar­veled at the suc­cess of his party’s “prin­ci­pled obstruc­tion­ism.” An up-and-com­ing sen­a­tor named Mitch McConnell was quot­ed crow­ing that oppos­ing the Democ­rats’ agen­da “gives grid­lock a good name.” When the 103rd Con­gress adjourned in Octo­ber, The Wash­ing­ton Post declared it “per­haps the worst Con­gress” in 50 years.

    Yet Gingrich’s plan worked. By the time vot­ers went to the polls, exit sur­veys revealed wide­spread frus­tra­tion with Con­gress and a deep appetite for change. Repub­li­cans achieved one of the most sweep­ing elec­toral vic­to­ries in mod­ern Amer­i­can his­to­ry. They picked up 54 seats in the House and seized state leg­is­la­tures and gov­er­nor­ships across the coun­try; for the first time in 40 years, the GOP took con­trol of both hous­es of Con­gress.
    ...

    And what does Gin­grich do after win­ning this wave? He reduces the time con­gress mem­bers spend on actu­al leg­is­lat­ing so they can spend more time fund-rais­ing from wealthy donors. It’s like he poi­sons every­thing he touch­es:

    ...
    On Jan­u­ary 4, Speak­er Gin­grich gaveled Con­gress into ses­sion, and prompt­ly got to work trans­form­ing Amer­i­ca. Over the next 100 days, he and his fel­low Repub­li­cans worked fever­ish­ly to pass bills with names that sound­ed like they’d come from Repub­li­can Mad Libs—the Amer­i­can Dream Restora­tion Act, the Tak­ing Back Our Streets Act, the Fis­cal Respon­si­bil­i­ty Act. But when the dust set­tled, Amer­i­ca didn’t look all that dif­fer­ent. Almost all of the House’s big-tick­et bills got snuffed out in the Sen­ate, or died by way of pres­i­den­tial veto.

    Instead, the most endur­ing aspects of Gingrich’s speak­er­ship would be his tac­ti­cal inno­va­tions. Deter­mined to keep Repub­li­cans in pow­er, Gin­grich reori­ent­ed the con­gres­sion­al sched­ule around fill­ing cam­paign war chests, short­en­ing the offi­cial work week to three days so that mem­bers had time to dial for dol­lars. From 1994 to 1998, Repub­li­cans raised an unprece­dent­ed $1 bil­lion, and ush­ered in a new era of mon­ey in pol­i­tics.
    ...

    Oh, and then there’s the now-per­ma­nent threat of gov­ern­ment shut­downs with every con­gres­sion­al bud­get. That was­n’t always the case. It’s anoth­er Gin­grich inno­va­tion:

    ...
    Gingrich’s famous bud­get bat­tles with Bill Clin­ton in 1995 gave way to anoth­er great par­ti­san inven­tion: the weaponized gov­ern­ment shut­down. There had been fed­er­al fund­ing laps­es before, but they tend­ed to be minor affairs that last­ed only a day or two. Gingrich’s shut­down, by con­trast, fur­loughed hun­dreds of thou­sands of gov­ern­ment work­ers for sev­er­al weeks at Christ­mas­time, so Repub­li­cans could use their pay­checks as a bar­ter­ing chip in nego­ti­a­tions with the White House. The gam­bit was a bust—voters blamed the GOP for the cri­sis, and Gin­grich was cas­ti­gat­ed in the press—but it ensured that the shut­down threat would loom over every con­gres­sion­al stand­off from that point on.
    ...

    Flash for­ward to 2015, and we learn that Gin­grich appar­ent­ly played a role in Trump’s deci­sion to run. Anoth­er ‘gift’ to Amer­i­ca’s democ­ra­cy:

    ...
    When Trump first began think­ing seri­ous­ly about run­ning for pres­i­dent, he turned to Gin­grich for advice. The two men had known each oth­er for years—the Gin­grich­es were mem­bers of Trump’s golf club in Virginia—and one morn­ing in Jan­u­ary 2015 they found them­selves in Des Moines, Iowa, for a con­ser­v­a­tive con­fer­ence. Over break­fast at the down­town Mar­riott, Trump pep­pered Newt and Cal­lista with ques­tions about run­ning for president—most press­ing­ly, how much it would cost him to fund a cam­paign through the South Car­oli­na pri­ma­ry. Gin­grich esti­mat­ed that it would take about $70 mil­lion or $80 mil­lion to be com­pet­i­tive.

    As Gin­grich tells it, Trump con­sid­ered this and then replied, “Sev­en­ty to 80 million—that would be a yacht. This would be a lot more fun than a yacht!”

    And so began the cam­paign that Gin­grich would call “a water­shed moment for America’s future.” Ear­ly on, Gin­grich set him­self apart from oth­er promi­nent con­ser­v­a­tives by talk­ing up Trump’s can­di­da­cy on TV and defend­ing him against attacks from the GOP estab­lish­ment. “Newt watched the Trump phe­nom­e­non take hold and metas­ta­size, and he saw the par­al­lels” to his own rise, says Kellyanne Con­way, a senior advis­er to the pres­i­dent who worked with Gin­grich in the 1990s. “He rec­og­nized the echoes of ‘You can’t do this, this is a joke, you’re une­lec­table, don’t even try, you should be bow­ing to the peo­ple who have cre­den­tials.’ Newt had heard that all before.” Trump’s response—to cast all his skep­tics as part of the same cor­rupt class of insid­ers and crooks—borrowed from the strat­e­gy Gin­grich had mod­eled, Con­way told me: “Long before there was ‘Drain the swamp,’ there was Newt’s ‘Throw the bums out.’?”

    ...

    In Trump, Gin­grich has found the apoth­e­o­sis of the pri­mate pol­i­tics he has been prac­tic­ing his entire life—nasty, vicious, and uncon­cerned with those pesky “Boy Scout words” as he fights in the Dar­win­ian strug­gle that is Amer­i­can life today. “Trump’s Amer­i­ca and the post-Amer­i­can soci­ety that the anti-Trump coali­tion rep­re­sents are inca­pable of coex­ist­ing,” Gin­grich writes in his most recent book. “One will sim­ply defeat the oth­er. There is no room for com­pro­mise. Trump has under­stood this per­fect­ly since day one.”
    ...

    But help­ing to bring about Trump’s can­di­da­cy isn’t Gin­grich’s final ‘gift’ to Amer­i­ca’s democ­ra­cy. What Gin­grich is doing now, by open­ly encour­ag­ing Trump to just start throw­ing out the ‘bad’ votes, that’s his final ‘gift’. Because there won’t be a democ­ra­cy left once this is over. Which has clear­ly always been Newt’s goal. A four decade long quest to destroy the abil­i­ty of Amer­i­ca’s democ­ra­cy to func­tion and destroy the idea that con­ser­v­a­tives and lib­er­als could even coex­ist. That’s open­ly been his goal all along and he isn’t shy about this.

    So per­haps one of the sil­ver lin­ings of the night­mare sit­u­a­tion the US finds itself in is that maybe now we can final­ly come to terms with incred­i­ble dam­age Newt Gin­grich did to Amer­i­ca that helped bring us to this point. Again, it’s as if his career was ded­i­cat­ed to car­ry­ing out the fas­cist takeover of the Unit­ed States described in Ser­pen­t’s Walk. That’s a tru­ly rep­re­hen­si­ble yet pro­found­ly impact­ful lega­cy that isn’t done yet. If Newt is going to go on Fox News and put these ideas in Trump’s head it’s clear his assault on Amer­i­ca’s democ­ra­cy isn’t over. There’s a few more chap­ters left in Gin­grich rev­o­lu­tion and if his­to­ry is a guide they’ll be the worst chap­ters. More incred­i­ble dam­age is on the way. Peak Newt is upon us. Trump is just his ves­sel. Per­haps now we can final­ly rec­og­nize this. Bet­ter lat­er than nev­er, even if its way too late.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 6, 2020, 3:48 pm
  2. The End is Nigh for the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. At least that appears to be the case now that the net­works have final­ly all called the elec­tion for Joe Biden. So it real­ly might be over, assum­ing the elec­tion results are accept­ed, of course. And as we should expect, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion is refus­ing to con­cede and con­tin­u­ing to make alle­ga­tion of mass vot­er fraud. So this isn’t real­ly over yet. It’s just clos­er to offi­cial­ly being over but, unof­fi­cial­ly, there’s no end in site. Only Trump his mil­lions of fol­low­ers get to decide when this is tru­ly over, which is part of what makes this phase of the Trump expe­ri­ence so per­ilous. We might be at the begin­ning of the end. But we also might be at the begin­ning of some sort of hor­ri­ble domes­tic ter­ror move­ment fight­ing for Trump’s ‘stolen hon­or’ or some­thing. A neo-neo-Con­fed­er­a­cy move­ment. That could eas­i­ly hap­pen and Trump’s refusal to con­cede is only point­ing in that direc­tion.

    We also have yet to get a sense of whether or not the Repub­li­can Par­ty remains a play­thing of the Trump fam­i­ly or if we’re going to see some sort of pass­ing of the torch of the GOP’s id to some oth­er per­son­al­i­ty. There’s long been talk of Trump form­ing his own media out­let should he leave office., the kind of thought that must have Fox News quak­ing it its boots. We’re already hear­ing about a Trump 2024 rerun. It’s a real pos­si­bil­i­ty.

    But it’s also pos­si­ble we’ll see Trump effec­tive­ly flee the coun­try in com­ing months. After all, we know there were tons of crimes com­mit­ted by this admin­is­tra­tion but we have no idea yet just how many undis­cov­ered crimes are just sit­ting there wait­ing with evi­dence to be exposed. In oth­er words, Trump is the unchal­lenged leader of the Repub­li­can Par­ty right now but It will prob­a­bly take a few months for a Biden admin­is­tra­tion to set­tle into the role and con­duct a dam­age assess­ment before we real­ly have a sense of what kind of long-term crim­i­nal lia­bil­i­ties Trump could be deal­ing with in com­ing years.

    So while Trump is still the leader of a Amer­i­can con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment, and might remain in that role, it’s still a flu­id enough sit­u­a­tion where we can’t assume he’ll nec­es­sar­i­ly be the leader of the #MAGA cult in the months and years to come. Which rais­es the ques­tion of who might step into that role if Trump can’t or won’t do it. Who is even remote­ly qual­i­fied? They would have to have their pulse on the id of con­ser­v­a­tive Amer­i­ca, the media skills to exploit it, and the lack of moral com­pass required to engage in such behav­ior. And while there’s no short­age of peo­ple who have some of those skills there aren’t that many peo­ple with all of them. But there is one pair of indi­vid­ual who have those skills in spades and are more than capa­ble of step­ping into the void should Trump’s pres­ence in the Amer­i­can psy­che no longer be an option: Alex Jones and Tuck­er Carl­son.

    Alex Jones is an obvi­ous choice for replac­ing Trump as the id of #MAGA Amer­i­ca. He’s pret­ty much car­ry­ing out that role already. The rise of Trump arguably could­n’t have hap­pened if it had­n’t been pre­ced­ed by the rise of social media as a pri­ma­ry new source for Amer­i­cans and the Alex Jones-style pop garbage con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries that dom­i­nate those plat­forms. By the end of the George W. Bush admin­is­tra­tion, which was so dis­as­trous even con­ser­v­a­tives were look­ing to dis­tance them­selves from the train­wreck, we’ve seen grow­ing inter­est in the Alex Jones world­view that ped­dles to the audi­ence the nar­ra­tive that it’s actu­al­ly secret Satan­ic left-wing(((Jew­ish)}} Illu­mi­nati bil­lion­aires who are behind the world’s ills, and that includes the Bush fam­i­ly. All of your woes are due to secret ultra wealthy pow­er hun­gry left-wingers who are secret­ly plot­ting against white Amer­i­can and are plan­ning on impris­on­ing us all in some sort of tech­no-com­mu­nist dystopia. Big media is actu­al­ly all secret­ly left-wing — let’s just ignore the vast right-wing dis­in­fo­tain­ment com­plex that has dom­i­nat­ed polit­i­cal mes­sag­ing in the US for decades and the Big Medi­a’s cor­po­ratist track record and cod­dling of Repub­li­cans — and big cor­po­ra­tions and Wall Street are all in league with this left-wing move­ment to sub­ju­gate the pop­u­lace. All of the socioe­co­nom­ic woes expe­ri­enced by work­ing class Amer­i­cans aren’t a con­se­quence of the US’s extreme lurch to the right on eco­nom­ic pol­i­cy. No, they’re a con­se­quence of a secret Satan­ic left-wing cabal that actu­al­ly has com­mu­nist in mind. All of the socioe­conomc blow­back from decades of sup­port­ing the GOP’s ruth­less­ness cor­po­ratism is actu­al­ly the fault of a dia­bol­i­cal alliance of Hol­ly­wood and teach­ers unions plot­ting against white con­ser­v­a­tives. It’s that fun­da­men­tal­ly ahis­tor­i­cal and warped pre­sen­ta­tion of his­to­ry that has helped pro­pel Alex Jones into the hearts and minds of con­ser­v­a­tives across the US. It’s so seduc­tive­ly stu­pid you could­n’t have had QAnon had peo­ple not already been trained by Alex Jones to shut their brains off. He real­ly is the id of mod­ern day con­ser­vatism. If there’s a replace­ment for Trump it’s hard to see why it should­n’t be Alex Jones. He’s already writ­ing Trump’s scripts.

    But, of course, while Alex Jones has wide­spread appeal on the right, and an alarm­ing lev­el of appeal among the apo­lit­i­cal, it’s still dicey for a polit­i­cal par­ty to have Alex as its offi­cial mouth­piece. He’s just a lit­tle too loopy for 2024. The 2028 Repub­li­can Par­ty might be ready for an Alex Jones run for the White House, but 2024 could be a lit­tle too soon. We’ll see.

    And that brings us to Tuck­er Carl­son, the prep­pie fas­cist who man­aged to rein­vent him­self as Fox New’s alleged ‘pop­ulist’ over the last few years. What sort of pop­ulism? Well, it’s basi­cal­ly just a slight­ly warmed over ver­sion Alex Jones. Tuck­er’s new ‘pop­ulist’ nar­ra­tive is the same under­ly­ing Alex Jones nar­ra­tive — that an elites left-wing cabal run out of Hol­ly­wood and Wall Street is plot­ting to utter­ly destroy the lives of con­ser­v­a­tive white Amer­i­cans — just with­out using the terms ‘Zion­ist’ and ‘Illu­mi­nati’ all the time. He real­ly does rou­tine­ly make the alle­ga­tion on his show that the Demo­c­ra­t­ic par­ty is the par­ty of Big Busi­ness. Big Cor­po­ra­tions LOVE the Democ­rats. Wall Street LOVES the Democ­rats. It’s only Trump’s Repub­li­can Par­ty that stands between decent con­ser­v­a­tive Amer­i­cans and the Demo­c­ra­t­ic-led cor­po­ratist com­mu­nist cabal.

    It real­ly is that stu­pid. And yet Tuck­er Carl­son’s show is the high­est-rat­ed cable new show today. He’s wild­ly pop­u­lar on the right. If there’s anoth­er fig­ure who isn’t Don­ald Trump that almost every con­ser­v­a­tive Amer­i­can today will lis­ten to it’s Tuck­er Carl­son. He’s the main­streamed Alex Jones. A gen­uine­ly Machi­avel­lian main­stream Alex Jones who rou­tine­ly push­es up-is-down, black-is-white Big Lies on his show with­out a hint of ret­i­cence. The guy clear­ly enjoys being a malev­o­lent pro­pa­gan­dist.

    So if we’re going to try to answer the ques­tion who what hap­pens to the Repub­li­can Par­ty and US con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment going for­ward, it’s not just a ques­tion of what Don­ald Trump decides to do. It’s also a ques­tion of what Alex Jones and Tuck­er Carl­son do in the com­ing months and years. Do they take on even big­ger roles in shap­ing the move­ment? Will con­ser­v­a­tive Amer­i­cans be even more con­vinced that a left-wing Illu­mi­nati is out to destroy them by 2024? Will they decide to lead some sort of vio­lent MAGA insur­rec­tion? These are the kinds of ques­tions we have to ask. Ques­tions cen­tered around Alex Jones and Tuck­er Carl­son. Because no one else is real­ly qual­i­fied to lead the kind of mas­sive move­ment that Trump led, out­side of Trump him­self. Carl­son and Jones have that ‘it’ fac­tor (or per­haps ‘Q’ fac­tor is the appro­pri­ate term). Few oth­ers can actu­al­ly pull it off.

    And that’s all why it’s going to be increas­ing­ly impor­tant going for­ward to point out that Tuck­er Carl­son is not only a demon­stra­bly fraud­u­lent pop­ulist. He’s a self-admit­ted demon­stra­bly fraud­u­lent pop­ulist. It’s an admis­sion he made to a Vox News reporter back in Jan­u­ary of 2019, at time when there was a bunch of cov­er­age of Carl­son’s new found pop­ulism after he went on what appeared to be an anti-neo-lib­er­al­ism rant on his show. It was a sharp depar­ture from his decades of being a clas­sic Repub­li­can cor­po­ratist shill. The kind of depar­ture that raised all sorts of ques­tions about what the hell was going on and to what extent it was just Carl­son try­ing to cap­i­tal­ize on Trump’s fake pop­ulism. A fake pop­ulism that blames the woes for work­ing class Amer­i­can exclu­sive­ly on immi­gra­tion and trade deals, and frames is as, again, part of some sort of left-wing cor­po­rate plot. The mas­sive dereg­u­la­tion and slash­ing of tax­es on the wealth and cor­po­ra­tions and the decades of the Repub­li­can Par­ty’s embrace of off­shoring man­u­fac­tur­ing was­n’t at fault for the destruc­tion of US man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs. No, it was actu­al­ly a Demo­c­ra­t­ic (((Illu­mi­nati))) plot to use immi­grants against white work­ing-class Amer­i­cans. That nar­ra­tive.

    Was that nar­ra­tive the expla­na­tion for Carl­son’s seem­ing 180-degree shift? Well, as we’ll see in the inter­view, Carl­son is sur­pris­ing­ly up front about his motives. As Car­son puts it, “I’m just say­ing as a mat­ter of fact,” he told me, “a coun­try where a shrink­ing per­cent­age of the pop­u­la­tion is tak­ing home an ever-expand­ing pro­por­tion of the mon­ey is not a recipe for a sta­ble soci­ety. It’s not.” Carl­son then stressed that he is not a pop­ulist. But he believes some ver­sion of pop­ulism is nec­es­sary to pre­vent a full-scale polit­i­cal revolt or the onset of social­ism. Using Theodore Roo­sevelt as an exam­ple of a pres­i­dent who rec­og­nized that labor needs eco­nom­ic pow­er, Carl­son added, “Unless you want some­thing real­ly extreme to hap­pen, you need to take this seri­ous­ly and fig­ure out how to pro­tect aver­age peo­ple from these remark­ably pow­er­ful forces that have been unleashed.” Yep, in his own words, Carl­son isn’t a pop­ulist. He just plays one on TV in order to avoid a real polit­i­cal rev­o­lu­tion in response to the wealthy cap­tur­ing almost all of the wealth over the past forty years:

    Vox

    Tuck­er Carl­son has sparked the most inter­est­ing debate in con­ser­v­a­tive pol­i­tics

    “All I’m say­ing is don’t act like the way things are is some­how ordained by God.”

    By Jane Coas­ton
    Jan 10, 2019, 5:00am EST

    Last Wednes­day, the con­ser­v­a­tive talk show host Tuck­er Carl­son start­ed a fire on the right after air­ing a pro­longed mono­logue on his show that was, in essence, an indict­ment of Amer­i­can cap­i­tal­ism.

    America’s “rul­ing class,” Carl­son says, are the “mer­ce­nar­ies” behind the fail­ures of the mid­dle class — includ­ing sink­ing mar­riage rates — and “the ugli­est parts of our finan­cial sys­tem.” He went on: “Any eco­nom­ic sys­tem that weak­ens and destroys fam­i­lies is not worth hav­ing. A sys­tem like that is the ene­my of a healthy soci­ety.”

    He con­clud­ed with a demand for “a fair coun­try. A decent coun­try. A cohe­sive coun­try. A coun­try whose lead­ers don’t accel­er­ate the forces of change pure­ly for their own prof­it and amuse­ment.”

    The mono­logue was stun­ning in itself, an incred­i­ble moment in which a Fox News host stat­ed that for gen­er­a­tions, “Repub­li­cans have con­sid­ered it their duty to make the world safe for bank­ing, while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly pros­e­cut­ing ever more for­eign wars.” More broad­ly, though, Carlson’s posi­tion and the ensu­ing con­tro­ver­sy reveals an ongo­ing and near­ly unsolv­able ten­sion in con­ser­v­a­tive pol­i­tics about the mean­ing of pop­ulism, a polit­i­cal ide­ol­o­gy that Trump cam­paigned on but Carl­son argues he may not tru­ly under­stand.

    More­over, in Carlson’s words: “At some point, Don­ald Trump will be gone. The rest of us will be gone too. The coun­try will remain. What kind of coun­try will be it be then?”

    The mono­logue and its sweep­ing anti-elit­ism drove a wedge between con­ser­v­a­tive writ­ers. The Amer­i­can Conservative’s Rod Dreher wrote of Carlson’s mono­logue, “A man or woman who can talk like that with con­vic­tion could become pres­i­dent. Vot­ing for a con­ser­v­a­tive can­di­date like that would be the first affir­ma­tive vote I’ve ever cast for pres­i­dent.” Oth­er con­ser­v­a­tive com­men­ta­tors scoffed. Ben Shapiro wrote in Nation­al Review that Carlson’s mono­logue sound­ed far more like Sens. Bernie Sanders or Eliz­a­beth War­ren than, say, Ronald Rea­gan.

    I spoke with Carl­son by phone this week to dis­cuss his mono­logue and its eco­nom­ic — and cul­tur­al — mean­ing. He agreed that his mono­logue was rem­i­nis­cent of War­ren, ref­er­enc­ing her 2003 book The Two-Income Trap: Why Mid­dle-Class Par­ents Are Grow­ing Broke. “There were parts of the book that I dis­agree with, of course,” he told me. “But there are parts of it that are real­ly impor­tant and true. And nobody want­ed to have that con­ver­sa­tion.”

    Carl­son want­ed to be clear: He’s just ask­ing ques­tions. “I’m not an eco­nom­ic advis­er or a politi­cian. I’m not a think tank fel­low. I’m just a talk show host,” he said, telling me that all he wants is to ask “the basic ques­tions you would ask about any pol­i­cy.” But he wants to ask those ques­tions about what he calls the “reli­gious faith” of mar­ket cap­i­tal­ism, one he believes elites — “mer­ce­nar­ies who feel no long-term oblig­a­tion to the peo­ple they rule” — have put ahead of “nor­mal peo­ple.”

    But whether or not he likes it, Carl­son is an impor­tant voice in con­ser­v­a­tive pol­i­tics. His show is among the most-watched tele­vi­sion pro­grams in Amer­i­ca. And his rais­ing ques­tions about mar­ket cap­i­tal­ism and the free mar­ket mat­ters.

    “What does [free mar­ket cap­i­tal­ism] get us?” he said in our call. “What kind of coun­try do you want to live in? If you put these poli­cies into effect, what will you have in 10 years?”

    Pop­ulism on the right is gain­ing, again

    Carl­son is hard­ly the first right-lean­ing fig­ure to make a pitch for pop­ulism, even tan­gen­tial­ly, in the third year of Don­ald Trump, whose pop­ulist-lite pres­i­den­tial can­di­da­cy and pres­i­den­cy Carl­son told me he views as “the smoke alarm ... telling you the build­ing is on fire, and unless you fig­ure out how to put the flames out, it will con­sume it.”

    Pop­ulism is a rhetor­i­cal approach that sep­a­rates “the peo­ple” from elites. In the words of Cas Mud­de, a pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Geor­gia, it divides the coun­try into “two homoge­nous and antag­o­nis­tic groups: the pure peo­ple on the one end and the cor­rupt elite on the oth­er.” Pop­ulist rhetoric has a long his­to­ry in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics, serv­ing as the focal point of numer­ous pres­i­den­tial cam­paigns and pow­er­ing William Jen­nings Bryan to the Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­na­tion for pres­i­dent in 1896. Trump bor­rowed some of that approach for his 2016 cam­paign but in office has gov­erned as a fair­ly ortho­dox eco­nom­ic con­ser­v­a­tive, thus demon­strat­ing the demand for pop­ulism on the right with­out real­ly pro­vid­ing the sup­ply and cre­at­ing con­di­tions for fur­ther fer­ment.

    When right-lean­ing pun­dit Ann Coul­ter spoke with Bre­it­bart Radio about Trump’s Tues­day evening Oval Office address to the nation regard­ing bor­der wall fund­ing, she said she want­ed to hear him say some­thing like, “You know, you say a lot of wild things on the cam­paign trail. I’m speak­ing to big ral­lies. But I want to talk to Amer­i­ca about a seri­ous prob­lem that is affect­ing the least among us, the work­ing-class blue-col­lar work­ers”:

    Coul­ter urged Trump to bring up over­dose deaths from hero­in in order to speak to the “work­ing class” and to blame the fact that work­ing-class wages have stalled, if not fall­en, in the last 20 years on immi­gra­tion. She encour­aged Trump to declare, “This is a nation­al emer­gency for the peo­ple who don’t have lob­by­ists in Wash­ing­ton.”

    Oca­sio-Cortez wants a 70–80% income tax on the rich. I agree! Start with the Koch Bros. — and also make it WEALTH tax.— Ann Coul­ter (@AnnCoulter) Jan­u­ary 4, 2019

    These sen­ti­ments have even pit­ted pop­u­lar Fox News hosts against each oth­er.

    Sean Han­ni­ty warned his audi­ence that New York Rep. Alexan­dria Ocasio-Cortez’s eco­nom­ic poli­cies would mean that “the rich peo­ple won’t be buy­ing boats that they like recre­ation­al­ly, they’re not going to be tak­ing expen­sive vaca­tions any­more.” But Carl­son agreed when I said his mono­logue was some­what rem­i­nis­cent of Ocasio-Cortez’s past com­ments on the econ­o­my, and how even a strong econ­o­my was still leav­ing work­ing-class Amer­i­cans behind.

    “I’m just say­ing as a mat­ter of fact,” he told me, “a coun­try where a shrink­ing per­cent­age of the pop­u­la­tion is tak­ing home an ever-expand­ing pro­por­tion of the mon­ey is not a recipe for a sta­ble soci­ety. It’s not.”

    Carl­son told me he want­ed to be clear: He is not a pop­ulist. But he believes some ver­sion of pop­ulism is nec­es­sary to pre­vent a full-scale polit­i­cal revolt or the onset of social­ism. Using Theodore Roo­sevelt as an exam­ple of a pres­i­dent who rec­og­nized that labor needs eco­nom­ic pow­er, he told me, “Unless you want some­thing real­ly extreme to hap­pen, you need to take this seri­ous­ly and fig­ure out how to pro­tect aver­age peo­ple from these remark­ably pow­er­ful forces that have been unleashed.”

    “I think pop­ulism is poten­tial­ly real­ly dis­rup­tive. What I’m say­ing is that pop­ulism is a symp­tom of some­thing being wrong,” he told me. “Again, pop­ulism is a smoke alarm; do not ignore it.”

    But Carlson’s brand of pop­ulism, and the pop­ulist sen­ti­ments sweep­ing the Amer­i­can right, aren’t just focused on the cur­rent state of income inequal­i­ty in Amer­i­ca. Carl­son tack­led a big­ger idea: that mar­ket cap­i­tal­ism and the “elites” whom he argues are its major dri­vers aren’t work­ing. The free mar­ket isn’t work­ing for fam­i­lies, or indi­vid­u­als, or kids. In his mono­logue, Carl­son railed against lib­er­tar­i­an eco­nom­ics and even pay­day loans, say­ing, “If you care about Amer­i­ca, you ought to oppose the exploita­tion of Amer­i­cans, whether it’s hap­pen­ing in the inner city or on Wall Street” — sound­ing very much like Sanders or War­ren on the left.

    Carlson’s argu­ment that “mar­ket cap­i­tal­ism is not a reli­gion” is of course old hat on the left, but it’s also been bub­bling on the right for years now. When Nation­al Review writer Kevin Williamson wrote a 2016 op-ed about how rur­al whites “failed them­selves,” he faced a mas­sive back­lash in the Trumpi­er quar­ters of the right. And these sen­ti­ments are becom­ing increas­ing­ly potent at a time when Amer­i­cans can see both a boom­ing stock mar­ket and per­haps their own fam­i­ly mem­bers strug­gling to get by.

    Miss­ing from near­ly all dis­cus­sions of “why aren’t mil­len­ni­als hav­ing babies” is the fact that the thick, local, extend­ed family—which *dras­ti­cal­ly* reduces the finan­cial and emo­tion­al cost of hav­ing children—has almost com­plete­ly col­lapsed in the West, par­tic­u­lar­ly among whites.— Jere­my McLel­lan (@JeremyMcLellan) Jan­u­ary 8, 2019

    At the Fed­er­al­ist, writer Kirk Jing wrote of Carlson’s mono­logue, and a response to it by Nation­al Review colum­nist David French:

    Our soci­ety is less French’s Amer­i­ca, the idea, and more Frantz Fanon’s “Wretched of the Earth” (involv­ing a very dif­fer­ent French). The low­est are stripped of even social dig­ni­ty and deemed unwor­thy of life. In Real Amer­i­ca, wages are stag­nant, life expectan­cy is crash­ing, peo­ple are flee­ing the work­force, fam­i­lies are crum­bling, and trust in the insti­tu­tions on top are at all-time lows. To French, hold­ing any lead­ers of those insti­tu­tions respon­si­ble for their errors is “vic­tim­hood pop­ulism” ... The Right must do bet­ter if it seeks to gov­ern a real Amer­i­ca that exists out­side of its fan­tasies.

    ...

    Who is “they”?

    And that’s the point where Carl­son and a host of oth­ers on the right who have begun to chal­lenge the con­ser­v­a­tive movement’s ortho­doxy on free mar­kets — peo­ple rang­ing from occa­sion­al­ly men­da­cious bomb-throw­ers like Coul­ter to writ­ers like Michael Bren­dan Dougher­ty — sep­a­rate them­selves from many of those mak­ing those exact same argu­ments on the left.

    When Carl­son talks about the “nor­mal peo­ple” he wants to save from nefar­i­ous elites, he is talk­ing, usu­al­ly, about a spe­cif­ic group of “nor­mal peo­ple” — white work­ing-class Amer­i­cans who are the “real” vic­tims of cap­i­tal­ism, or mar­i­jua­na legal­iza­tion, or immi­gra­tion poli­cies.

    In this telling, white work­ing-class Amer­i­cans who once relied on a man­u­fac­tur­ing econ­o­my that doesn’t look the way it did in 1955 are the unwill­ing pawns of elites. It’s not their fault that, in Carlson’s view, mar­riage is inac­ces­si­ble to them, or that mar­i­jua­na legal­iza­tion means more teens are smok­ing weed (this prob­a­bly isn’t true). Some­one, or some­thing, did this to them. In Carlson’s view, it’s the respon­si­bil­i­ty of politi­cians: Our eco­nom­ic sit­u­a­tion, and the plight of the white work­ing class, is “the prod­uct of a series of con­scious deci­sions that the Con­gress made.”

    The crit­i­cism of Carlson’s mono­logue has large­ly focused on how he devi­ates from the free mar­ket cap­i­tal­ism that con­ser­v­a­tives believe is the solu­tion to pover­ty, not the cre­ator of pover­ty. To ortho­dox con­ser­v­a­tives, pover­ty is the result of poor deci­sion mak­ing or a lack of virtue that can’t be solved by gov­ern­ment pro­grams or an anti-elite polit­i­cal plat­form — and they say Carlson’s argu­ment that elites are in some way respon­si­ble for dwin­dling mar­riage rates doesn’t make sense.

    But in French’s response to Carl­son, he goes deep­er, writ­ing that to embrace Carlson’s brand of pop­ulism is to sup­port “vic­tim­hood pop­ulism,” one that makes white work­ing-class Amer­i­cans into the vic­tims of an unde­fined “they”:

    Carl­son is advanc­ing a form of vic­tim-pol­i­tics pop­ulism that takes a series of tec­ton­ic cul­tur­al changes — civ­il rights, women’s rights, a tech­no­log­i­cal rev­o­lu­tion as sig­nif­i­cant as the indus­tri­al rev­o­lu­tion, the mass-scale loss of reli­gious faith, the sex­u­al rev­o­lu­tion, etc. — and turns the neg­a­tive or chal­leng­ing aspects of those changes into an angry tale of what they are doing to you.

    And that was my biggest ques­tion about Carlson’s mono­logue, and the flur­ry of respons­es to it, and sup­port for it: When oth­er groups (say, black Amer­i­cans) have point­ed to sys­temic inequities with­in the eco­nom­ic sys­tem that have result­ed in pover­ty and fam­i­ly dys­func­tion, the response from many on the right has been, shall we say, less than enthu­si­as­tic.

    This piece on Carl­son’s tra­di­tion­al­ist cri­tique of mar­ket fun­da­men­tal­ism is real­ly good https://t.co/xHHzi6kkO6— ?? End­less Zoom Meet­ing ?? (@AdamSerwer) Jan­u­ary 9, 2019

    Yet white work­ing-class pover­ty receives, from Carl­son and oth­ers, far more sym­pa­thy. And con­ser­v­a­tives are far more like­ly to iden­ti­fy with a crit­i­cism of “elites” when they believe those elites are respon­si­ble for the expan­sion of trans rights or creep­ing sec­u­lar­ism than the wealthy and pow­er­ful peo­ple who are invest­ing in pri­vate pris­ons or an expan­sion of the mil­i­ta­riza­tion of police. Carlson’s net­work, Fox News, and Carl­son him­self have fre­quent­ly blast­ed left­ist crit­ics of mar­ket cap­i­tal­ism and efforts to fight inequal­i­ty.

    I asked Carl­son about this, as his show is fre­quent­ly cen­tered on the tur­moils caused by “demo­graph­ic change.” He said that for decades, “con­ser­v­a­tives just wrote [black eco­nom­ic strug­gles] off as a cul­ture of pover­ty,” a line he includes in his mono­logue.

    He added that regard­ing black pover­ty, “it’s pret­ty easy when you’ve got 12 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion going through some­thing to feel like, ‘Well, there must be ... there’s some­thing wrong with that cul­ture.’ Which is actu­al­ly a tricky thing to say because it’s in part true, but what you’re miss­ing, what I missed, what I think a lot of peo­ple missed, was that the eco­nom­ic sys­tem you’re liv­ing under affects your cul­ture.”

    Carl­son said that grow­ing up in Wash­ing­ton, DC, and spend­ing time in rur­al Maine, he didn’t real­ize until recent­ly that the same pover­ty and decay he observed in the Wash­ing­ton of the 1980s was also tak­ing place in rur­al (and major­i­ty-white) Maine. “I was think­ing, ‘Wait a sec­ond ... maybe when the jobs go away the cul­ture changes,’” he told me, “And the rea­son I didn’t think of it before was because I was so blind­ed by this lib­er­tar­i­an eco­nom­ic pro­pa­gan­da that I couldn’t get past my own assump­tions about eco­nom­ics.” (For the record, lib­er­tar­i­ans have cri­tiqued Carlson’s mono­logue as well.)

    Carl­son told me that beyond chang­ing our tax code, he has no major poli­cies in mind. “I‘m not even mak­ing the case for an eco­nom­ic sys­tem in par­tic­u­lar,” he told me. “All I’m say­ing is don’t act like the way things are is some­how ordained by God or a func­tion or raw nature.”

    And clear­ly, our mar­ket econ­o­my isn’t dri­ven by God or nature, as the stock mar­ket soars and unem­ploy­ment dips and yet even those on the right are notic­ing lengthy peri­ods of wage stag­na­tion and dying lit­tle towns across the coun­try. But what to do about those dying lit­tle towns, and which dying towns we care about and which we don’t, and, most impor­tant­ly, whose fault it is that those towns are dying in the first place — those are all ques­tions Carl­son leaves to the view­er to answer.

    ————-

    “Tuck­er Carl­son has sparked the most inter­est­ing debate in con­ser­v­a­tive pol­i­tics” by Jane Coas­ton; Vox; 01/10/2019

    Carl­son told me he want­ed to be clear: He is not a pop­ulist. But he believes some ver­sion of pop­ulism is nec­es­sary to pre­vent a full-scale polit­i­cal revolt or the onset of social­ism. Using Theodore Roo­sevelt as an exam­ple of a pres­i­dent who rec­og­nized that labor needs eco­nom­ic pow­er, he told me, “Unless you want some­thing real­ly extreme to hap­pen, you need to take this seri­ous­ly and fig­ure out how to pro­tect aver­age peo­ple from these remark­ably pow­er­ful forces that have been unleashed.””

    He want­ed to be clear he’s not a pop­ulist. He’s just very aware of the poten­tial pop­ulism has to change a coun­try and clear­ly wants to get out ahead of it. Get ahead of the pop­ulism dri­ven by the spec­tac­u­lar fail­ure of decades of the exact same right-wing eco­nom­ic poli­cies he spent decades sup­port­ing. Get ahead of the pop­ulism by adopt­ing the kind of rhetoric one would expect from an Eliz­a­beth War­ren or Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez, but twist­ing it so it’s just about the work­ing-class white Amer­i­cans that Trump appeals to. Twist it so the eco­nom­ic poli­cies that destroyed work­ing class white Amer­i­ca are cast as part of a larg­er cor­po­ratist left-wing elit­ist con­spir­a­cy to destroy Amer­i­ca with issues like trans rights or creep­ing sec­u­lar­ism. It’s Machi­avel­lian ‘pop­ulism’:

    ...
    “I think pop­ulism is poten­tial­ly real­ly dis­rup­tive. What I’m say­ing is that pop­ulism is a symp­tom of some­thing being wrong,” he told me. “Again, pop­ulism is a smoke alarm; do not ignore it.”

    But Carlson’s brand of pop­ulism, and the pop­ulist sen­ti­ments sweep­ing the Amer­i­can right, aren’t just focused on the cur­rent state of income inequal­i­ty in Amer­i­ca. Carl­son tack­led a big­ger idea: that mar­ket cap­i­tal­ism and the “elites” whom he argues are its major dri­vers aren’t work­ing. The free mar­ket isn’t work­ing for fam­i­lies, or indi­vid­u­als, or kids. In his mono­logue, Carl­son railed against lib­er­tar­i­an eco­nom­ics and even pay­day loans, say­ing, “If you care about Amer­i­ca, you ought to oppose the exploita­tion of Amer­i­cans, whether it’s hap­pen­ing in the inner city or on Wall Street” — sound­ing very much like Sanders or War­ren on the left.

    ...

    When Carl­son talks about the “nor­mal peo­ple” he wants to save from nefar­i­ous elites, he is talk­ing, usu­al­ly, about a spe­cif­ic group of “nor­mal peo­ple” — white work­ing-class Amer­i­cans who are the “real” vic­tims of cap­i­tal­ism, or mar­i­jua­na legal­iza­tion, or immi­gra­tion poli­cies.

    ...

    Yet white work­ing-class pover­ty receives, from Carl­son and oth­ers, far more sym­pa­thy. And con­ser­v­a­tives are far more like­ly to iden­ti­fy with a crit­i­cism of “elites” when they believe those elites are respon­si­ble for the expan­sion of trans rights or creep­ing sec­u­lar­ism than the wealthy and pow­er­ful peo­ple who are invest­ing in pri­vate pris­ons or an expan­sion of the mil­i­ta­riza­tion of police. Carlson’s net­work, Fox News, and Carl­son him­self have fre­quent­ly blast­ed left­ist crit­ics of mar­ket cap­i­tal­ism and efforts to fight inequal­i­ty.

    I asked Carl­son about this, as his show is fre­quent­ly cen­tered on the tur­moils caused by “demo­graph­ic change.” He said that for decades, “con­ser­v­a­tives just wrote [black eco­nom­ic strug­gles] off as a cul­ture of pover­ty,” a line he includes in his mono­logue.

    He added that regard­ing black pover­ty, “it’s pret­ty easy when you’ve got 12 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion going through some­thing to feel like, ‘Well, there must be ... there’s some­thing wrong with that cul­ture.’ Which is actu­al­ly a tricky thing to say because it’s in part true, but what you’re miss­ing, what I missed, what I think a lot of peo­ple missed, was that the eco­nom­ic sys­tem you’re liv­ing under affects your cul­ture.”
    )
    ...

    And note how did­n’t have any par­tic­u­lar pol­i­cy changes in mind beyond tweak­ing the tax code. A tax code that Trump made even more dis­tort­ed for the super-rich. It’s an exam­ple of how super­fi­cial Carl­son’s ‘pop­ulism’ tru­ly is. He makes pop­ulist-like nois­es but that’s it. Because his actu­al under­ly­ing mes­sage to his audi­ence is that real solu­tion to their eco­nom­ic woes is to some­how com­plete­ly polit­i­cal­ly destroy ‘the left’ that’s already con­spir­ing to destroy con­ser­v­a­tive Amer­i­ca, and then every­thing will work out:

    ...
    Carl­son told me that beyond chang­ing our tax code, he has no major poli­cies in mind. “I‘m not even mak­ing the case for an eco­nom­ic sys­tem in par­tic­u­lar,” he told me. “All I’m say­ing is don’t act like the way things are is some­how ordained by God or a func­tion or raw nature.”
    ...

    And it’s cru­cial to keep in mind that, while Carl­son may have implic­it­ly voiced some tepid crit­i­cism of long-stand­ing Repub­li­can mantras when he went on the anti-neo-lib­er­al­ism rant that prompt­ed the above inter­view, if you watch his reg­u­lar show such rants are pret­ty rare. Far more com­mon are rants about ‘lib­er­al coastal elites’ who are dead set on sub­ju­gat­ing the ‘nor­mal Amer­i­cans’ with polit­i­cal cor­rect­ness and immi­gra­tion in league with the Big Cor­po­rate Amer­i­ca. A near dai­ly dis­gust­ing dis­play or Machi­avel­lian ‘pop­ulism’ that real­ly is designed to con­fuse and mis­di­rect the audi­ence while pro­mot­ing an under­ly­ing nar­ra­tive that real­ly is basi­cal­ly Alex Jones with­out the repeat­ed ‘Illu­mi­nati’ or ‘Zion­ist’ ref­er­ences. Machi­avel­lian ‘pop­ulism’ made all the Machi­avel­lian by the fact that Carl­son, the real Carl­son, is him­self a proud self-described elit­ist chau­vin­ist with a long track record of lit­er­al­ly jok­ing about beat­ing his ser­vants:

    The Inter­cept

    Tuck­er Carl­son on Rupert Mur­doch in 2010 Radio Seg­ment: “I’m 100 Per­cent His Bitch”
    “I only have, you know, Amer­i­can, white ser­vants,” Carl­son said in 2009. “It’s not because I’m racist, it’s because I’m not. It’s because I feel bet­ter beat­ing them.”

    Aída Chávez
    March 12 2019, 4:27 p.m.

    Tuck­er Carl­son, who recent­ly brand­ed him­self as a lead­ing anti-elit­ist, had pre­vi­ous­ly labeled him­self as an “out-of-the-clos­et elit­ist,” and sep­a­rate­ly said that he is “100 per­cent [Rupert Murdoch’s] bitch.” The two quips are part of a trove of new­ly unearthed record­ings from 2008 to 2011 that haven’t pre­vi­ous­ly been report­ed.

    The Fox News host made the com­ments on the shock-jock radio pro­gram “The Bub­ba the Love Sponge Show,” where he appeared reg­u­lar­ly from 2006 to 2011. They are stark­ly dif­fer­ent from Carlson’s recent attempts to brand him­self as an anti-elite, anti-cap­i­tal­ist com­men­ta­tor on “Tuck­er Carl­son Tonight,” one of the most-watched shows on cable news.

    In Jan­u­ary, Carl­son, who fre­quent­ly traf­fics in white nation­al­ist rhetoric, deliv­ered a 15-minute mono­logue in which he railed against America’s rul­ing class. Carl­son slammed both par­ties, say­ing that Amer­i­cans “are ruled by mer­ce­nar­ies who feel no long-term oblig­a­tion” to the peo­ple they rule, and that Repub­li­can lead­ers would have to be fools to wor­ship mar­ket cap­i­tal­ism. “Under our cur­rent sys­tem, an Amer­i­can who works for a salary pays about twice the tax rate of some­one who’s liv­ing off inher­it­ed mon­ey and doesn’t work at all,” he said. “We tax cap­i­tal at half of what we tax labor. It’s a sweet deal if you work in finance, as many of our rich peo­ple do.”

    Over the last two days, Media Mat­ters for Amer­i­ca, a watch­dog orga­ni­za­tion, has released a trove of audio that includ­ed racist and misog­y­nis­tic com­ments Carl­son made on the same radio pro­gram. In those seg­ments, Carl­son appeared to defend statu­to­ry rape, called for the elim­i­na­tion of rape shield laws, and made sug­ges­tive com­ments about under­age girls. He has so far refused to apol­o­gize, instead flip­pant­ly say­ing that he was caught “say­ing some­thing naughty.”

    “Rather than express the usu­al rit­u­al con­tri­tion, how about this: I’m on tele­vi­sion every week­night live for an hour,” Carl­son said in a tweet­ed state­ment. “If you want to know what I think, you can watch.” On his pro­gram Mon­day night, Carl­son said Fox News is stand­ing behind him despite the resur­faced record­ings. The net­work con­firmed this to be true, but it hasn’t released an offi­cial state­ment say­ing so. Fox News did not return The Intercept’s request for com­ment.

    Carl­son has worked for Fox News since 2009, first as an ana­lyst and then as a host of the week­end show “Fox & Friends.” In 2016, he got his own week­night show on the cable net­work, where he report­ed­ly rakes in mil­lions of dol­lars a year. Dur­ing his radio appear­ances over the last decade, Carl­son boast­ed about his wealth, which he amassed as a trust-fund kid.

    When asked on “Bub­ba the Love Sponge” in 2008 how he pays his bills, Carl­son replied that he’s “extra­or­di­nar­i­ly loaded” just from “inher­i­tance from my num­ber of trust funds.”

    “I’ll go out and beat some ser­vants, I’ll wrap my Lam­borgh­i­ni around a tree, go pick up a kilo or two, you know, just like nor­mal stuff,” he added.

    “You’re a trust fund baby, are you not?” the host asked. “Oh com­plete­ly, I’ve nev­er need­ed to work, yeah,” Carl­son said. “I mean it’s all just — the whole cable news thing … it was just like a phase I was going through.”

    In anoth­er instance, the con­ver­sa­tion on the show cen­tered on Fox chair Rupert Murdoch’s deci­sion to pull ultra­con­ser­v­a­tive host Sean Han­ni­ty from broad­cast­ing at a Cincin­nati tea par­ty ral­ly in 2010. “I’m 100 per­cent [Murdoch’s] bitch,” Carl­son said. “What­ev­er Mr. Mur­doch says, I do. … I would be hon­ored if he would cane me the way I cane my work­ers, my ser­vants.”

    In a 2009 radio seg­ment, Carl­son joked about grow­ing up in a cas­tle, say­ing that one thing you learn when you “look out across the moat every day at the hun­gry peas­ants in the vil­lage” is that “you don’t wan­na stoke envy among the pro­le­tari­at.” The host then asked if hav­ing an African-Amer­i­can “shin­ing the rims on your Bent­ley” doesn’t invoke envy, to which Carl­son replied, “I only have, you know, Amer­i­can, white ser­vants.” He explained, “It’s not because I’m racist, it’s because I’m not. It’s because I feel bet­ter beat­ing them, you know what I mean?” Moments before the back-and-forth, Carl­son was talk­ing about how he had just been hired at Fox News.

    “But see, I’m an out-of-the-clos­et elit­ist,” Carl­son said in a 2008 seg­ment. “I don’t run around pre­tend­ing to be a man of the peo­ple; I’m absolute­ly not a man of the peo­ple, at all.”

    Carlson’s “Bub­ba the Love Sponge Show” appear­ances put into stark relief a melt­down the con­ser­v­a­tive host had just weeks ago after being chal­lenged about his sta­tus as a mem­ber of the elite, mean­while rail­ing against the elites. Carl­son had invit­ed Dutch his­to­ri­an Rut­ger Breg­man onto his week­night show after Breg­man made an appear­ance at this year’s Davos sum­mit. Breg­man accused the host of being bought by the Mur­doch fam­i­ly and the Cato Insti­tute, a lib­er­tar­i­an think tank where Carl­son was a fel­low until 2015. In the unaired inter­view, which was leaked and pub­lished by NowThis, Breg­man called Carl­son “a mil­lion­aire fund­ed by bil­lion­aires” who is “part of the prob­lem.” Carl­son respond­ed by call­ing him a “tiny brain” and “moron” and abrupt­ly end­ing the inter­view. After the tape leaked, the show’s senior exec­u­tive pro­duc­er said they chose not to air the inter­view because they were dis­ap­point­ed with the seg­ment and didn’t want to waste the audience’s time.

    In a dump of tran­scripts and audio on Mon­day night, Media Mat­ters released big­ot­ed remarks Carl­son made about Iraq, Afghanistan, Mus­lims, and immi­grants. In a 2006 appear­ance, Carl­son said he has “zero sym­pa­thy” for Iraqis because they “don’t use toi­let paper or forks,” adding that they should “just shut the fu ck up and obey” us. He also called Iraqis “semi­lit­er­ate prim­i­tive mon­keys.”

    ...

    ————–

    “Tuck­er Carl­son on Rupert Mur­doch in 2010 Radio Seg­ment: “I’m 100 Per­cent His Bitch”” by Aída Chávez; The Inter­cept; 03/12/2019

    “In anoth­er instance, the con­ver­sa­tion on the show cen­tered on Fox chair Rupert Murdoch’s deci­sion to pull ultra­con­ser­v­a­tive host Sean Han­ni­ty from broad­cast­ing at a Cincin­nati tea par­ty ral­ly in 2010. “I’m 100 per­cent [Murdoch’s] bitch,” Carl­son said. “What­ev­er Mr. Mur­doch says, I do. … I would be hon­ored if he would cane me the way I cane my work­ers, my ser­vants.”

    Jokes about can­ing his ser­vants in 2010. Yes, these were obvi­ous­ly just jokes. But tak­en in the con­text of Carl­son’s life and career they sure did­n’t seem like inten­tion­al­ly iron­ic jokes. More like just the cru­el ‘punch­ing down’ elit­ist humor that would be exact­ly the kind of humor that would have been Carl­son’s ‘brand’ before he made his sud­den ‘pop­ulist’ shift a few years ago.

    And then there’s the 2009 ‘joke’ about how, grow­ing up wealthy, Carl­son learned that, “you don’t wan­na stoke envy among the pro­le­tari­at.” A les­son he’s demon­stra­bly apply­ing today. He lit­er­al­ly explained it just like in the above inter­view. He’s not a pop­ulist, but he knows what pop­ulism can do, so he’s get­ting out ahead of it. With Alex Jones-style con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries that blame all of life’s prob­lems on a left-wing com­mu­nist Satan­ic bil­lion­aires:

    ...
    In a 2009 radio seg­ment, Carl­son joked about grow­ing up in a cas­tle, say­ing that one thing you learn when you “look out across the moat every day at the hun­gry peas­ants in the vil­lage” is that “you don’t wan­na stoke envy among the pro­le­tari­at.” The host then asked if hav­ing an African-Amer­i­can “shin­ing the rims on your Bent­ley” doesn’t invoke envy, to which Carl­son replied, “I only have, you know, Amer­i­can, white ser­vants.” He explained, “It’s not because I’m racist, it’s because I’m not. It’s because I feel bet­ter beat­ing them, you know what I mean?” Moments before the back-and-forth, Carl­son was talk­ing about how he had just been hired at Fox News.

    “But see, I’m an out-of-the-clos­et elit­ist,” Carl­son said in a 2008 seg­ment. “I don’t run around pre­tend­ing to be a man of the peo­ple; I’m absolute­ly not a man of the peo­ple, at all.”
    ...

    And that’s why the Machi­avel­lian nature of Carl­son’s ‘pop­ulism’ today is so chill­ing. He real­ly is an out-of-the-clos­et elit­ist. His words, from not that long ago. And he real­ly is a fake pop­ulist. Again, his own damn words just last year. It’s not hard to rec­on­cile these two seem­ing­ly con­tra­dic­to­ry ver­sions of Tuck­er. Tuck­er Carl­son has made it abun­dant­ly clear over the years that he does­n’t actu­al­ly respect the rab­ble, but he does fear the rab­ble. New Tuck­er is just Old Tuck­er in pop­ulist drag, hop­ing to redi­rect and even­tu­al­ly lead the inevitable torch­es and pitch­forks.

    It’s the kind of fear that must be shared by far more out-of-the-clos­et elit­ist than just Carl­son. After all, if you suc­cess­ful­ly loot a soci­ety you do have to won­der about the response. He was­n’t wrong about the poten­tial pow­er of pop­ulism and it’s not a stu­pid move for the elite bil­lion­aire to try and get ahead of it. Carl­son’s fake pop­ulism makes log­i­cal sense. Log­i­cal deeply Machi­avel­lian sense. Just as Rupert Mur­doch giv­ing him his prime time plat­form makes per­fect log­i­cal Machi­avel­lian sense. It’s worked, after all. He has the most influ­en­tial show on cable TV. Mil­lions of poor Amer­i­cans who are offered noth­ing but doom from Repub­li­can poli­cies are con­vinced that the par­ty of the bil­lion­aires is the only thing that will pro­tect them from the Satan­ic com­mu­nist left­ist cabal. Bar­ring Trump, or Alex Jones, it’s hard to think of some­one more influ­en­tial with con­tem­po­rary con­ser­v­a­tives than Tuck­er Carl­son, a proven and skilled Machi­avel­lian ‘pop­ulist’. And that’s why any dis­cus­sion of what comes next for the Trumpi­fied (or Gin­griched) Repub­li­can Par­ty has to include a dis­cus­sion of the role Tuck­er Carl­son will play. If Alex Jones is the mod­ern day con­ser­v­a­tive id, Tuck­er Carl­son is that id’s main­stream per­sona. The future of the GOP isn’t clear, but what is clear is that it’s going to be deeply ‘pop­ulist’ in form and deeply Machi­avel­lian in real­i­ty.

    Carlson/Jones 2024!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 7, 2020, 5:23 pm
  3. I’ll believe Trump is out when I see him turn­ing green in his cof­fin with a stake through his heart, a mouth­ful of gar­lic and three sil­ver bul­lets in his head.... Unfor­tu­nate­ly the doghan­dlers will just move on to the next.....

    Posted by lou e | November 9, 2020, 9:42 am
  4. Tim­ing is every­thing: Pres­i­dent Trump just fired the Sec­re­tary of Defense, Mark Esper. And while this fir­ing had been pre­dict­ed for months, with many expect­ing Esper leave on his own before the 2020 elec­tion, it’s hard to think of a time when this par­tic­u­lar move would have been more unset­tling. That’s in part because of the tim­ing, with this replace­ment tak­ing place right when it looks like Pres­i­dent Trump might be plan­ning some sort of coup. But also because the source of Trump’s ten­sions with Esper appears to be heav­i­ly dri­ven by Esper dis­agree­ment with Trump call to invoke the Insur­rec­tion Act and use of the mil­i­tary against pro­tes­tors. So right when it looks like Trump might be very inter­est­ed in using the mil­i­tary to quell protests over his refusal to leave office we have Trump replac­ing the head of the Pen­ta­gon was­n’t enthu­si­as­tic about his ear­li­er attempts to use the mil­i­tary to quell protests. We knew the fir­ing of Esper was just at mat­ter of time but, wow, is that some omi­nous tim­ing.

    So it’s worth not­ing anoth­er major Pen­ta­gon posi­tion that just opened up: James Ander­son, the act­ing under­sec­re­tary of defense for pol­i­cy, just resigned from the influ­en­tial Pen­ta­gon pol­i­cy posi­tion in response to Esper’s fir­ing. Who will replace him? Antho­ny Tata, a guy who Trump nom­i­nat­ed for the posi­tion ear­li­er this year. So why did­n’t Tata get the job? Well, CNN unearthed a bunch of tweets that were inflam­ma­to­ry enough that even the Repub­li­can-con­trolled Sen­ate soured on him. Tweets that includ­ed call­ing Oba­ma a “ter­ror­ist” and a “Manchuri­an Can­di­date”. It also turns out that Tata is a reg­u­lar on Fox News, of course. So Tata is exact­ly the kind of per­son who is gross­ly unqual­i­fied for such a posi­tion in gen­er­al but excels at the one key qual­i­fi­ca­tion: Tata is extreme­ly ‘Trumpian’ and appears to be the kind of per­son who won’t have qualms fol­low­ing Trumpian orders. And now he’s like­ly going to get this cru­cial Pen­ta­gon job right when it looks like Trump might be in the mood for a coup:

    Politi­co

    Pentagon’s top pol­i­cy offi­cial resigns after clash­ing with the White House

    The depar­ture of James Ander­son, act­ing under­sec­re­tary of defense for pol­i­cy, poten­tial­ly paves the way for Antho­ny Tata to take over the pol­i­cy shop.

    By LARA SELIGMAN and DANIEL LIPPMAN
    11/10/2020 10:34 AM EST

    The Pentagon’s act­ing pol­i­cy chief resigned on Tues­day after falling out of favor with the White House, rais­ing fears of a post-elec­tion purge at the Defense Depart­ment.

    The depar­ture of James Ander­son, the act­ing under­sec­re­tary of defense for pol­i­cy, poten­tial­ly paves the way for Antho­ny Tata, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s con­tro­ver­sial nom­i­nee for the top pol­i­cy job who was pulled from con­sid­er­a­tion due to Islam­o­pho­bic tweets, to take over the pol­i­cy shop. Ander­son­’s res­ig­na­tion also comes one day after Defense Sec­re­tary Mark Esper was fired by Trump, also over pol­i­cy dis­agree­ments.

    Ander­son, who was con­firmed in June as the No. 2 pol­i­cy offi­cial but has been act­ing in the top job, sub­mit­ted his let­ter of res­ig­na­tion on Tues­day morn­ing, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO. He had been expect­ed to be asked by the White House to resign in the next few days.

    “I am par­tic­u­lar­ly grate­ful to have been entrust­ed with lead­ing the ded­i­cat­ed men and women of Pol­i­cy, who play a key role in our Nation’s secu­ri­ty,” Ander­son wrote in the let­ter. “Now, as ever, our long-term suc­cess depends on adher­ing to the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion all pub­lic ser­vants swear to sup­port and defend.”

    Ander­son stepped down after clash­ing with the White House per­son­nel office, accord­ing to cur­rent defense offi­cials and one for­mer defense offi­cial, who expect Ander­son will be the first of sev­er­al depar­tures in the wake of Esper’s fir­ing.

    A Pen­ta­gon spokesper­son could not imme­di­ate­ly be reached for com­ment. A White House spokesper­son said they don’t com­ment on per­son­nel.

    As one of the most senior offi­cials in the Pen­ta­gon, the under­sec­re­tary of defense for pol­i­cy is the prin­ci­pal advis­er to the defense sec­re­tary on for­mu­lat­ing nation­al secu­ri­ty and defense pol­i­cy across a range of high-pro­file issues.

    Ander­son pushed back on sev­er­al Trump loy­al­ists the White House tried to install at DoD, includ­ing Frank Wuco and Rich Hig­gins, said one of the peo­ple, who like oth­ers request­ed anonymi­ty in order to dis­cuss sen­si­tive per­son­nel issues. The White House tried and failed to install Wuco, a con­tro­ver­sial for­mer talk radio host who once called Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma “a Kenyan,” as a deputy over­see­ing spe­cial oper­a­tions, and Hig­gins, a for­mer Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil staffer who pushed con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries on Twit­ter, as chief of staff for Tata.

    Ander­son has been act­ing as the Pen­tagon’s pol­i­cy chief since Feb­ru­ary, when the White House pushed out John Rood, the last per­son to be con­firmed in the job, over per­ceived insuf­fi­cient loy­al­ty to the pres­i­dent.

    Ander­son was con­firmed by the Sen­ate on June 3 in the posi­tion of deputy under­sec­re­tary of defense for pol­i­cy, which had been vacant since July 2019. How­ev­er, he has con­tin­ued act­ing in the No. 1 role since the Sen­ate can­celed a con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing for the White House­’s top choice, Tata, after CNN unearthed his Islam­o­pho­bic tweets.

    Tata, who has been per­form­ing the duties of the deputy posi­tion since the sum­mer, will now like­ly slide into the No. 1 role. After the White House announced his nom­i­na­tion this year, Tata came under fire for tweets call­ing Oba­ma a “ter­ror­ist leader” and for refer­ring to Islam as the “most oppres­sive vio­lent reli­gion I know of,” among oth­er con­tro­ver­sial state­ments.

    Tata, who was a fre­quent Fox News guest, also derid­ed House Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi and Rep. Max­ine Waters (D‑Calif.) on Twit­ter, and shared an arti­cle that pro­mot­ed a con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry that Oba­ma was a “Manchuri­an can­di­date.” Tata lat­er said he regret­ted the now-delet­ed tweets.

    The White House with­drew Tata’s nom­i­na­tion in July after the Sen­ate abrupt­ly can­celed his nom­i­na­tion hear­ing min­utes before it was set to begin. A state­ment from Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Chair Jim Inhofe (R‑Okla.) at the time said the com­mit­tee did­n’t have enough infor­ma­tion to hold the hear­ing.

    ...

    —————

    “Pentagon’s top pol­i­cy offi­cial resigns after clash­ing with the White House” by LARA SELIGMAN and DANIEL LIPPMAN; Politi­co; 11/10/2020

    Tata, who has been per­form­ing the duties of the deputy posi­tion since the sum­mer, will now like­ly slide into the No. 1 role. After the White House announced his nom­i­na­tion this year, Tata came under fire for tweets call­ing Oba­ma a “ter­ror­ist leader” and for refer­ring to Islam as the “most oppres­sive vio­lent reli­gion I know of,” among oth­er con­tro­ver­sial state­ments.”

    The guy called Oba­ma a “ter­ror­ist leader”. That alone may have been all it took for Trump to ini­tial­ly nom­i­nate Tata for the posi­tion that he now appears to be poised to get.

    But we should also note that when Trump had Tata in mind for that posi­tion when he nom­i­nat­ed Tata over the sum­mer, Trump also some­one in mind for Tata’s chief of staff: Rich Hig­gins, a fig­ure even more ‘Trumpian’ than Tata and who was fired from Trump’s Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil until he was fired for push­ing con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries on Twit­ter:

    ...
    As one of the most senior offi­cials in the Pen­ta­gon, the under­sec­re­tary of defense for pol­i­cy is the prin­ci­pal advis­er to the defense sec­re­tary on for­mu­lat­ing nation­al secu­ri­ty and defense pol­i­cy across a range of high-pro­file issues.

    Ander­son pushed back on sev­er­al Trump loy­al­ists the White House tried to install at DoD, includ­ing Frank Wuco and Rich Hig­gins, said one of the peo­ple, who like oth­ers request­ed anonymi­ty in order to dis­cuss sen­si­tive per­son­nel issues. The White House tried and failed to install Wuco, a con­tro­ver­sial for­mer talk radio host who once called Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma “a Kenyan,” as a deputy over­see­ing spe­cial oper­a­tions, and Hig­gins, a for­mer Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil staffer who pushed con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries on Twit­ter, as chief of staff for Tata.
    ...

    So here’s a look at what we learned about Hig­gins back in July, before Tata’s nom­i­na­tion was with­drawn. We learned that Hig­gins was obsessed with charg­ing peo­ple with being Chi­nese com­mu­nist agents or com­pro­mised by com­mu­nist agents. Every­one from Black Lives Mat­ter mem­bers to Trump’s for­mer Sec­re­tary of Defense Jim Mat­tis. He also claimed that for­mer CIA direc­tor John Bren­nan issued a secret assas­si­na­tion order against Trump in 2018. And we also learned that the Trump White House was report­ed­ly the force push­ing for Hig­gins to get Tata’s chief of staff job. Tata and Hig­gins were like a pack­age deal. And Hig­gins was just one of the ‘Trumpian’ fig­ures Trump was try­ing to get installed in key posi­tions in the Pen­ta­gon over the sum­mer:

    CNN

    The White House is push­ing a con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist fired from the NSC for a top Pen­ta­gon posi­tion

    By Em Steck, Andrew Kaczyn­s­ki, Nathan McDer­mott and Zachary Cohen
    Updat­ed 3:15 PM ET, Mon July 20, 2020

    (CNN)The White House is push­ing the Depart­ment of Defense to hire a for­mer Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil staffer who has repeat­ed­ly pushed fringe con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries on Twit­ter and in media appear­ances.

    Rich Hig­gins, a for­mer aide who says he was fired from the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil in 2017 for send­ing a con­spir­a­to­r­i­al memo, is cur­rent­ly being con­sid­ered to serve as chief of staff to retired Brig. Gen. Antho­ny Tata, the White House­’s nom­i­nee for the under sec­re­tary of defense for pol­i­cy at the Pen­ta­gon.

    A source famil­iar with the inter­nal dis­cus­sions told CNN the White House has pushed the Pen­ta­gon to hire Hig­gins and he is under con­sid­er­a­tion to be chief of staff for Tata, if Tata is con­firmed by the Sen­ate. For­eign Pol­i­cy and the Wash­ing­ton Post first report­ed on the push to hire Hig­gins.

    ...

    When asked for com­ment, Hig­gins wrote in an email to CNN, “Not going into DOD. No offer has been made,” and in a fol­low up email, “I don’t know what the WH is push­ing. Ask them. I am not at the Pen­ta­gon in any role.”

    But Hig­gins con­firmed he was under con­sid­er­a­tion in a YouTube show post­ed last night.

    “It’s still under con­sid­er­a­tion, it is true,” Hig­gins said. He added, “I think it’s the type of thing where if they get the cur­rent nom­i­nee, who is a guy named Tony Tata, into the posi­tion where I would be a direct report to him — it would prob­a­bly be worth going in.”

    CNN fol­lowed up with Hig­gins after dis­cov­er­ing the YouTube show con­firm­ing his con­sid­er­a­tion as Tata’s chief of staff. Hig­gins did not respond.

    Hig­gins, who served in the Army and lat­er in the Pen­ta­gon as a career offi­cial in the Bush and Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tions, accord­ing to his biog­ra­phy, was fired from the NSC in 2017 after author­ing a memo claim­ing that a “deep state” band of offi­cials and move­ments were oppos­ing Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. He defined the oppo­si­tion as the media, Islamists, Black Lives Mat­ter, the ACLU, the Unit­ed Nations and cul­tur­al Marx­ists lead­ing a coor­di­nat­ed effort to dele­git­imize and sub­vert the Pres­i­dent.

    Since Hig­gins left the NSC in 2017, he has con­tin­ued to pro­mote and spread con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, accord­ing to a CNN KFile review of his media appear­ances. Hig­gins said that for­mer Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials were com­mu­nists, that the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment is “Marx­ist” and “an agent” of Chi­na, and that “left wing” orga­ni­za­tions invent­ed the term Islam­o­pho­bia only 15 years ago.

    The push to hire Hig­gins, a con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist, and Tata, a fre­quent and ardent defend­er of the Pres­i­dent on Fox News, to senior posi­tions at the Pen­ta­gon comes as the White House seeks to install loy­al­ists, many of whom hold extrem­ist views, through­out the admin­is­tra­tion.

    The White House nom­i­nat­ed Tata to become the third high­est offi­cial at the Pen­ta­gon in June, but his nom­i­na­tion has come under scruti­ny since CNN report­ed that the retired gen­er­al pushed con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries and made anti-Mus­lim com­ments on social media, includ­ing call­ing for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma “a Mus­lim” and claim­ing for­mer CIA direc­tor John Bren­nan sent a cod­ed tweet to order the assas­si­na­tion of Trump in 2018.

    Like Tata, Hig­gins derid­ed Islam in tweets, writ­ing in one tweet dis­parag­ing­ly of mil­i­tary gen­er­als who said to “accept Islam and all their oth­er bullschiff [sic].”

    In anoth­er, he wrote, “Con­se­quences for ignor­ing threat doc­trine. Com­mu­nism and Islam are blind spots for the nation­al secu­ri­ty com­mu­ni­ty for decades,” and that “we who warned were called ‘racists.’ ”

    Despite almost half a dozen Demo­c­ra­t­ic sen­a­tors oppos­ing Tata’s nom­i­na­tion, Tata’s nom­i­na­tion is still in play. A Con­gres­sion­al source told CNN that Tata is expect­ed to get a nom­i­na­tion hear­ing before the August recess. The com­mit­tee also expects to hold a pri­vate exec­u­tive ses­sion on Tata before the hear­ing, too.

    Spokesper­sons for the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee did not respond to requests for com­ment.

    Tata’s expect­ed nom­i­na­tion hear­ing comes amid a report that the admin­is­tra­tion is con­sid­er­ing nam­ing Tata to an act­ing role to skirt the con­fir­ma­tion process.

    A source famil­iar with Tata’s nom­i­na­tion dis­put­ed that account to CNN. “Gen. Tata looks for­ward to dis­cussing all the rel­e­vant pol­i­cy issues dur­ing his Sen­ate con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing. Skirt­ing that process is not an option,” the source said.

    Tata’s White House sup­port remains strong, the source added.

    A his­to­ry of con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries

    Hig­gins is a pro­lif­ic tweet­er to his more than 31,000 Twit­ter fol­low­ers, and fre­quent­ly shares con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries or fringe rhetoric on the plat­form.

    One the­o­ry Hig­gins fre­quent­ly and repeat­ed­ly false­ly claimed is that many gov­ern­ment offi­cials are com­mu­nists, specif­i­cal­ly say­ing many mem­bers of the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion and the for­mer Pres­i­dent him­self were com­mu­nists. In oth­er tweets, he claimed left wing orga­ni­za­tions or move­ments were “Marx­ist.”

    In oth­er tweets from 2019, Hig­gins repeat­ed­ly wrote that Lt. Col. Alexan­der Vin­d­man, who was a key wit­ness in Trump’s impeach­ment inquiry, was “a spy and was try­ing to spark an OP against POTUS.” There is no evi­dence Vin­d­man was a spy.

    “We had our first open­ly com­mu­nist pres­i­dent in Oba­ma,” Hig­gins said in a 2019 YouTube inter­view. “This open com­mu­nist who ran iden­ti­fy­ing him­self as a com­mu­ni­ty orga­niz­er, right out of Saul Alin­sky’s book ‘Rules for Rad­i­cals’ — the com­mu­nist com­mu­ni­ty orga­niz­er. You know, he brings in all these open and some, you know, some more clos­et­ed Marx­ists. I mean, Comey has a com­mu­nist his­to­ry. Bren­nan has a com­mu­nist his­to­ry. Clap­per has a com­mu­nist his­to­ry just across the board.”

    “What if com­mu­nists were in charge of CIA, FBI, DNI and the WH under Oba­ma?” he tweet­ed in Novem­ber 2019.

    Hig­gins has also tar­get­ed social jus­tice move­ments as “com­mu­nist” move­ments and encour­aged his fol­low­ers to boy­cott com­pa­nies, schools, orga­ni­za­tions and politi­cians who sup­port them. On Twit­ter, he fre­quent­ly referred to Black Lives Mat­ter as “Marx­ist rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies” and “Marx­ist.

    In anoth­er tweet, Hig­gins dis­missed the nation­wide protests held in the wake of George Floy­d’s death as “not organ­ic” and claimed that Venezuela, Cuba and “oth­er marx­ist state assets” were “oper­at­ing inside these protests.”

    After a user asked for proof, Hig­gins respond­ed, “I have sources on the ground. Does the fbi [sic]? Nope. They’re busy chas­ing white suprema­cists and run­ning a coup.”

    “The fact that Con­gress does­n’t know that BLM is an agent of com­mu­nist Chi­na does­n’t bode well for the coun­try,” he tweet­ed in June 2020.

    In June, Hig­gins linked to an arti­cle on for­mer Defense Sec­re­tary James Mat­tis, sug­gest­ing Mat­tis was “com­pro­mised” by com­mu­nists in the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion.

    “In a police state many peo­ple are com­pro­mised and forced into actions that they would not nor­mal­ly per­form,” Hig­gins wrote. “One has to won­der how many of our lead­ers were com­pro­mised by the com­mu­nist Pres­i­dent, CIA Direc­tor, and FBI Direc­tor. Seri­ous ques­tion.”

    He also accused promi­nent offi­cials and insti­tu­tions of “trea­son” or “mis­pri­sion of trea­son” on Twit­ter, includ­ing the media, Con­gress and ex-offi­cials.

    “The lega­cy media is 100% part of this coup attempt and Con­gress as well as DOJ needs to take action and INDICT them as co-con­spir­a­tors in this sedi­tion and pos­si­ble trea­son,” Hig­gins wrote in Novem­ber 2019.

    In oth­er tweets, Hig­gins said for­mer CIA direc­tor John Bren­nan was guilty of trea­son and that for­mer UN Ambas­sador Nik­ki Haley was a “com­plete fraud and she knows that she is guilty of mis­pri­sion of trea­son.”

    Com­ments on Islam

    Hig­gins also made Islam­o­pho­bic com­ments and ques­tioned if Islam­o­pho­bia was a legit­i­mate con­cept.

    In a video inter­view, Hig­gins said that the “left wing polit­i­cal nar­ra­tive” invent­ed the con­cept of Islam­o­pho­bia 15 years ago to “mar­ry our per­cep­tion of who” the “ene­my” is.

    “They put togeth­er a con­cept like, for exam­ple, Islam­o­pho­bia. Fif­teen years ago, we nev­er heard the term Islam­o­pho­bia. And we have to ask our­selves, where did that come from? And when you walk it back, you real­ize that Islam­o­pho­bia is a term con­coct­ed by the gen­er­a­tors of these nar­ra­tives,” Hig­gins said.

    “The pur­pose of a term like Islam­o­pho­bia is to enforce the Islam­ic law of slan­der on West­ern­ers, to shut down crit­i­cal think­ing and rea­son that would actu­al­ly enable us to under­stand why the ene­my fights, why Omar Mateen was drawn to shoot 100 peo­ple, 49 whom passed, at a night­club in Orlan­do, Flori­da,” he added, refer­ring to the Orlan­do Pulse night­club shoot­er who killed 49 peo­ple and wound­ed at least 53 peo­ple in 2016.

    ————-

    “The White House is push­ing a con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist fired from the NSC for a top Pen­ta­gon posi­tion” by Em Steck, Andrew Kaczyn­s­ki, Nathan McDer­mott and Zachary Cohen; CNN; 07/20/2020

    “The push to hire Hig­gins, a con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist, and Tata, a fre­quent and ardent defend­er of the Pres­i­dent on Fox News, to senior posi­tions at the Pen­ta­gon comes as the White House seeks to install loy­al­ists, many of whom hold extrem­ist views, through­out the admin­is­tra­tion.

    It was­n’t the Pen­tagon’s idea to look into hir­ing Hig­gins. That idea came from the White House. And it’s no sur­prise why. Hig­gins is like a mini-Trump. Black Lives Mat­ter and the media are all Marx­ists and John Bren­nan tried to have Trump killed. Most impor­tant­ly for Trump, Hig­gins calls for the mass arrest of Trump’s oppo­nents and charg­ing them with trea­son:

    ...
    Hig­gins, who served in the Army and lat­er in the Pen­ta­gon as a career offi­cial in the Bush and Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tions, accord­ing to his biog­ra­phy, was fired from the NSC in 2017 after author­ing a memo claim­ing that a “deep state” band of offi­cials and move­ments were oppos­ing Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. He defined the oppo­si­tion as the media, Islamists, Black Lives Mat­ter, the ACLU, the Unit­ed Nations and cul­tur­al Marx­ists lead­ing a coor­di­nat­ed effort to dele­git­imize and sub­vert the Pres­i­dent.

    Since Hig­gins left the NSC in 2017, he has con­tin­ued to pro­mote and spread con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, accord­ing to a CNN KFile review of his media appear­ances. Hig­gins said that for­mer Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials were com­mu­nists, that the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment is “Marx­ist” and “an agent” of Chi­na, and that “left wing” orga­ni­za­tions invent­ed the term Islam­o­pho­bia only 15 years ago.

    ...

    The White House nom­i­nat­ed Tata to become the third high­est offi­cial at the Pen­ta­gon in June, but his nom­i­na­tion has come under scruti­ny since CNN report­ed that the retired gen­er­al pushed con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries and made anti-Mus­lim com­ments on social media, includ­ing call­ing for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma “a Mus­lim” and claim­ing for­mer CIA direc­tor John Bren­nan sent a cod­ed tweet to order the assas­si­na­tion of Trump in 2018.

    ...

    One the­o­ry Hig­gins fre­quent­ly and repeat­ed­ly false­ly claimed is that many gov­ern­ment offi­cials are com­mu­nists, specif­i­cal­ly say­ing many mem­bers of the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion and the for­mer Pres­i­dent him­self were com­mu­nists. In oth­er tweets, he claimed left wing orga­ni­za­tions or move­ments were “Marx­ist.”

    ...

    In June, Hig­gins linked to an arti­cle on for­mer Defense Sec­re­tary James Mat­tis, sug­gest­ing Mat­tis was “com­pro­mised” by com­mu­nists in the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion.

    “In a police state many peo­ple are com­pro­mised and forced into actions that they would not nor­mal­ly per­form,” Hig­gins wrote. “One has to won­der how many of our lead­ers were com­pro­mised by the com­mu­nist Pres­i­dent, CIA Direc­tor, and FBI Direc­tor. Seri­ous ques­tion.”

    He also accused promi­nent offi­cials and insti­tu­tions of “trea­son” or “mis­pri­sion of trea­son” on Twit­ter, includ­ing the media, Con­gress and ex-offi­cials.

    “The lega­cy media is 100% part of this coup attempt and Con­gress as well as DOJ needs to take action and INDICT them as co-con­spir­a­tors in this sedi­tion and pos­si­ble trea­son,” Hig­gins wrote in Novem­ber 2019.
    ...

    And then there’s Hig­gin­s’s dis­missal of the George Floyd protests as being a prod­uct of “Marx­ist” gov­ern­ments like Cuba and Venezuela. It’s the kind of lan­guage that sug­gests Hig­gins would be OK with treat­ing any upcom­ing protests out­side the White House as trea­son Marx­ist coup attempts:

    ...
    Hig­gins has also tar­get­ed social jus­tice move­ments as “com­mu­nist” move­ments and encour­aged his fol­low­ers to boy­cott com­pa­nies, schools, orga­ni­za­tions and politi­cians who sup­port them. On Twit­ter, he fre­quent­ly referred to Black Lives Mat­ter as “Marx­ist rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies” and “Marx­ist.

    In anoth­er tweet, Hig­gins dis­missed the nation­wide protests held in the wake of George Floy­d’s death as “not organ­ic” and claimed that Venezuela, Cuba and “oth­er marx­ist state assets” were “oper­at­ing inside these protests.”

    After a user asked for proof, Hig­gins respond­ed, “I have sources on the ground. Does the fbi [sic]? Nope. They’re busy chas­ing white suprema­cists and run­ning a coup.”

    “The fact that Con­gress does­n’t know that BLM is an agent of com­mu­nist Chi­na does­n’t bode well for the coun­try,” he tweet­ed in June 2020.
    ...

    So if we find that Antho­ny Tata does indeed assume the role of act­ing under­sec­re­tary of defense for pol­i­cy, as now expect­ed, should we also now expect that Rich Hig­gin­s’s hir­ing is just around the cor­ner? We’ll find out. All we know at this point is that Trump wants loy­al­ists in the Pen­ta­gon. Loy­al­ists with a track record of call­ing Trump’s polit­i­cal ene­mies the ene­mies of the Unit­ed States. If Trump isn’t plan­ning on a coup he’s at least plan­ning on implic­it­ly threat­en­ing one.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 10, 2020, 3:52 pm
  5. Here’s a set of updates on Pres­i­dent Trump’s last-minute high-lev­el post-elec­tion nation­al secu­ri­ty lead­er­ship changes:

    First, we’ve now learned that new Sec­re­tary of Defense, Christo­pher Miller, did indeed name Antho­ny Tata to replace James Ander­son, the act­ing under­sec­re­tary of defense for pol­i­cy, after Ander­son resigned in protest of the fir­ing of Miller’s pre­de­ces­sor, Mark Esper. So Tata, some­one who called Pres­i­dent Oba­ma a “ter­ror­ist leader”, is indeed assum­ing that pow­er­ful Pen­ta­gon posi­tion.

    Poten­tial­ly far more sig­nif­i­cant was the move to make Michael Ellis—senior direc­tor for intel­li­gence on the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil and a for­mer aide to Rep. Devin Nunes, Trump’s most loy­al ser­vant on the House Intel­li­gence Committee—the gen­er­al coun­sel of the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency. This deci­sion was report­ed­ly made at the behest of the White House and over the objec­tions of NSA direc­tor gene. Paul Naka­sone. So some­one with a proven track record of act­ing as a Trump polit­i­cal shill now has a senior posi­tion in the world’s most pow­er­ful intel­li­gence gath­er­ing agency.

    Beyond that, CIA Direc­tor Gina Haspel and FBI Direc­tor Christo­pher Wray are report­ed­ly on the chop­ping block, so we could see new lead­er­ship in those agen­cies in the near future. And Emi­ly Mur­phy, direc­tor of the Gen­er­al Ser­vices Admin­is­tra­tion, refused to sign the let­ter that would allow Biden’s tran­si­tion team to set up offices.

    We’ve also learned that Miller, who was hand-picked by Trump to replace Esper, has already select­ed his Senior Advi­sor: Retired Army Col. Dou­glas Mac­gre­gor. Like Atho­ny Tata, Mac­gre­gor is a reg­u­lar fig­ure on Fox News who was turned down for senior Pen­ta­gon posi­tion ear­li­er when his com­ments about Mus­lims and immi­gra­tion came to light. He was also turned down for the posi­tion of ambas­sador to Ger­many, in part because of his com­ments that Mus­lim immi­grants come to the the EU with the roles with the goal of even­tu­al­ly turn­ing Europe into an Islam­ic state. He has also go for the dec­la­ra­tion of mar­tial law on the US-Mex­i­co board­er and to “shoot peo­ple” if nec­es­sary.

    So in these final(?) months of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion we’re see­ing the fig­ures who pre­vi­ous­ly could­n’t make it through the nom­i­na­tion process for senior posi­tions final­ly get those posi­tions. Deep Trump loy­al­ists with a track records that strong­ly sug­gest they would not just be fine with some sort of Trumpian coup but enthu­si­as­tic about it:

    Slate

    Trump Is Mak­ing a Seri­ous Attempt to Hold Onto Pow­er
    After years of rail­ing against the “deep state,” he’s try­ing to build his own.

    By Fred Kaplan
    Nov 10, 2020 1:23 PM

    Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s cam­paign to chal­lenge the results of the elec­tion is not mere­ly a salve to his wound­ed ego but a seri­ous attempt to stay in power—if not from inside the Oval Office for anoth­er four years, then through con­fed­er­ates well placed in what he has called the “deep state.”

    Trump’s fir­ing of Sec­re­tary of Defense Mark Esper on Mon­day was only the begin­ning of this effort—and not a long-last­ing one, but rather a spite­ful poke at a once-kow­tow­ing offi­cial who had turned into a dis­sent­ing irri­tant.

    More seri­ous is a move, report­ed in Tuesday’s Wash­ing­ton Post, to make Michael Ellis—senior direc­tor for intel­li­gence on the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil and a for­mer aide to Rep. Devin Nunes, Trump’s most loy­al ser­vant on the House Intel­li­gence Committee—the gen­er­al coun­sel of the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency. This was done at the insis­tence of the White House, over the objec­tions of the NSA direc­tor, Gen. Paul Naka­sone, who pre­ferred to pro­mote a pro­fes­sion­al staffer instead.

    Two things are sig­nif­i­cant about this move. First, the gen­er­al coun­sel is a civ­il ser­vice posi­tion, mean­ing Ellis will have pro­tec­tions against being fired for polit­i­cal rea­sons (thought he could be trans­ferred to a dif­fer­ent job) under a new admin­is­tra­tion. Sec­ond, the NSA—the nation’s largest and most secre­tive intel­li­gence agency—has the tech­ni­cal tools to spy on Amer­i­can cit­i­zens and engage in oth­er ille­gal and polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed acts. (Dur­ing the Nixon admin­is­tra­tion, the NSA and CIA spied on polit­i­cal ene­mies and anti-war pro­test­ers.) The agency’s large staff of lawyers, who were put in place as part of the post-Nixon reforms, stand as the only effec­tive force that blocks this ten­den­cy, and they take this job very seri­ous­ly. Installing a rank par­ti­san as the agency’s top lawyer endan­gers this thin veneer of safe­ty.

    As the Post report­ed, Ellis played a key role in gain­ing access to intel­li­gence files that his for­mer boss, Nunes, hoped (fruit­less­ly) would but­tress claims that Oba­ma had spied on the Trump cam­paign in 2016. Ellis was also the one who pro­posed tak­ing the mem­o­ran­dum of Trump’s famous phone call with the Ukrain­ian president—the one in which he pres­sured the Ukrain­ian to launch a probe of Joe Biden’s son Hunter—and bury­ing it in a high­ly clas­si­fied serv­er.

    A for­mer senior NSA offi­cial con­firmed the Post sto­ry to me this morn­ing and added that agency staffers, with whom he remains in touch, are high­ly con­cerned about Trump’s move. “It’s about bur­row­ing Trump loy­al­ists into sus­pect­ed ‘deep state’ agen­cies,” the for­mer offi­cial told me. “This is con­sis­tent with Trump’s ongo­ing effort to hold onto pow­er by mak­ing sure no insti­tu­tion can be used to defy his grip. I’m not giv­en to con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, but this sit­u­a­tion has no oth­er rea­son­able expla­na­tion.”

    Ellis does face one pos­si­ble obsta­cle to his appoint­ment: He has to pass an inves­ti­ga­tion, includ­ing a poly­graph test, to obtain the nec­es­sary, very high-lev­el secu­ri­ty clear­ances. It will be worth watch­ing to see if Trump—who, as pres­i­dent, has exten­sive pow­ers to grant clearances—orders the review expe­dit­ed.

    This is not the end of the sto­ry. Trump is report­ed­ly keen to fire oth­er top secu­ri­ty offi­cials, includ­ing CIA Direc­tor Gina Haspel and FBI Direc­tor Christo­pher Wray, both of whom are seen as inde­pen­dent fig­ures. A year ago, he fired Dan Coats as direc­tor of nation­al intel­li­gence for too open­ly fil­ing intel­li­gence reports that con­flict­ed with Trump’s talk­ing points about Iran, North Korea, Rus­sia, and much of the rest of the world. He replaced Coats with John Rat­cliffe, a Repub­li­can con­gress­man whom he’d want­ed to place in the job before nam­ing Coats—until Repub­li­can sen­a­tors made clear they wouldn’t con­firm him, regard­ing him as too par­ti­san and inex­pe­ri­enced for the task of super­vis­ing the nation’s 16 intel­li­gence agen­cies. Nonethe­less, after fir­ing Coats, Trump nom­i­nat­ed Rat­cliffe after all, and the once-leery sen­a­tors, clutch­ing Trump’s coat­tails in an elec­tion year, con­firmed him after all. Rat­cliffe, a con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist and one of Trump’s most loy­al defend­ers dur­ing the Mueller probe and the impeach­ment tri­al, has done much to politi­cize the intel­li­gence that makes its way to the White House.

    Back in the Pen­ta­gon, after Esper was fired, James Ander­son, the act­ing under­sec­re­tary of defense for pol­i­cy, resigned in protest. Step­ping up the chaos through­out the Defense Depart­ment, Christo­pher Miller—handpicked by Trump to take Esper’s place as defense sec­re­tary immediately—named Antho­ny Tata to take Anderson’s place. A retired one-star gen­er­al turned action nov­el­ist, and Fox News com­men­ta­tor, Tata has pub­licly called Barack Oba­ma a “ter­ror­ist leader” among oth­er incen­di­ary remarks. For that rea­son, Sen­ate lead­ers declined to con­sid­er Tata for the job when Trump tried to nom­i­nate him last sum­mer. On Tues­day morn­ing, Miller, no doubt at Trump’s behest, named Tata an offi­cial ““per­form­ing the duties of”” the under­sec­re­tary for pol­i­cy.

    Final­ly, this week, Emi­ly Mur­phy, direc­tor of the obscure Gen­er­al Ser­vices Admin­is­tra­tion, refused to sign the let­ter that would allow Biden’s tran­si­tion team to set up offices, meet with cur­rent offi­cials, and exam­ine pol­i­cy doc­u­ments in the 10 weeks between now and the inau­gu­ra­tion.* Mur­phy has adopt­ed Trump’s rhetoric to a T, say­ing that the elec­tion isn’t over until the inves­ti­ga­tions into fraud are com­plet­ed and the elec­tors are cer­ti­fied. This goes against stan­dard prac­tice in all pre­vi­ous post­elec­tion peri­ods.

    ...

    It is unclear whether Trump believes his court chal­lenges in Penn­syl­va­nia and else­where will actu­al­ly tilt the elec­tion and hand him a sec­ond term in the White House. (Most lawyers and many of his aides don’t think the motions will suc­ceed.) Mean­while, Trump has con­vinced tens of mil­lions of his fol­low­ers that the elec­tion was “stolen,” thus dele­git­imiz­ing Biden’s term in their eyes from the get-go. And through his fir­ings and block­ings, he is weak­en­ing, if not sab­o­tag­ing, Biden’s first few months at an admin­is­tra­tive lev­el. What­ev­er Trump believes hap­pened on Nov. 3, he seems to have decid­ed that if he goes down, he’ll do his damnedest to take his suc­ces­sor and much of the coun­try down with him.

    —————

    “Trump Is Mak­ing a Seri­ous Attempt to Hold Onto Pow­er” by Fred Kaplan; Slate; 11/10/2020

    “Back in the Pen­ta­gon, after Esper was fired, James Ander­son, the act­ing under­sec­re­tary of defense for pol­i­cy, resigned in protest. Step­ping up the chaos through­out the Defense Depart­ment, Christo­pher Miller—handpicked by Trump to take Esper’s place as defense sec­re­tary immediately—named Antho­ny Tata to take Anderson’s place. A retired one-star gen­er­al turned action nov­el­ist, and Fox News com­men­ta­tor, Tata has pub­licly called Barack Oba­ma a “ter­ror­ist leader” among oth­er incen­di­ary remarks. For that rea­son, Sen­ate lead­ers declined to con­sid­er Tata for the job when Trump tried to nom­i­nate him last sum­mer. On Tues­day morn­ing, Miller, no doubt at Trump’s behest, named Tata an offi­cial ““per­form­ing the duties of”” the under­sec­re­tary for pol­i­cy.”

    The pieces are falling into place. One senior posi­tion after anoth­er is get­ting stacked with hard­core Trump loy­al­ists. Hard­core Trump loy­al­ists who could­n’t make it through the nor­mal nom­i­na­tion process.

    But per­haps the most dis­turb­ing new hire is arch-hack Michael Ellis ascend­ing to gen­er­al coun­sel of the NSA. So the guy who will ulti­mate­ly decide what the NSA legal­ly can do is an estab­lished hyper-par­ti­san hack. He also hap­pens to be the guy who tried to get Trump’s blackmail/shakedown phone call with Ukraine’s Pres­i­dent Zelen­sky hid­den away in a high­ly clas­si­fied serv­er. So Ellis is not just in a posi­tion to unleash the pow­er of the NSA to an unprece­dent­ed degree but also bury evi­dence:

    ...
    More seri­ous is a move, report­ed in Tuesday’s Wash­ing­ton Post, to make Michael Ellis—senior direc­tor for intel­li­gence on the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil and a for­mer aide to Rep. Devin Nunes, Trump’s most loy­al ser­vant on the House Intel­li­gence Committee—the gen­er­al coun­sel of the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency. This was done at the insis­tence of the White House, over the objec­tions of the NSA direc­tor, Gen. Paul Naka­sone, who pre­ferred to pro­mote a pro­fes­sion­al staffer instead.

    Two things are sig­nif­i­cant about this move. First, the gen­er­al coun­sel is a civ­il ser­vice posi­tion, mean­ing Ellis will have pro­tec­tions against being fired for polit­i­cal rea­sons (thought he could be trans­ferred to a dif­fer­ent job) under a new admin­is­tra­tion. Sec­ond, the NSA—the nation’s largest and most secre­tive intel­li­gence agency—has the tech­ni­cal tools to spy on Amer­i­can cit­i­zens and engage in oth­er ille­gal and polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed acts. (Dur­ing the Nixon admin­is­tra­tion, the NSA and CIA spied on polit­i­cal ene­mies and anti-war pro­test­ers.) The agency’s large staff of lawyers, who were put in place as part of the post-Nixon reforms, stand as the only effec­tive force that blocks this ten­den­cy, and they take this job very seri­ous­ly. Installing a rank par­ti­san as the agency’s top lawyer endan­gers this thin veneer of safe­ty.

    As the Post report­ed, Ellis played a key role in gain­ing access to intel­li­gence files that his for­mer boss, Nunes, hoped (fruit­less­ly) would but­tress claims that Oba­ma had spied on the Trump cam­paign in 2016. Ellis was also the one who pro­posed tak­ing the mem­o­ran­dum of Trump’s famous phone call with the Ukrain­ian president—the one in which he pres­sured the Ukrain­ian to launch a probe of Joe Biden’s son Hunter—and bury­ing it in a high­ly clas­si­fied serv­er.

    A for­mer senior NSA offi­cial con­firmed the Post sto­ry to me this morn­ing and added that agency staffers, with whom he remains in touch, are high­ly con­cerned about Trump’s move. “It’s about bur­row­ing Trump loy­al­ists into sus­pect­ed ‘deep state’ agen­cies,” the for­mer offi­cial told me. “This is con­sis­tent with Trump’s ongo­ing effort to hold onto pow­er by mak­ing sure no insti­tu­tion can be used to defy his grip. I’m not giv­en to con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, but this sit­u­a­tion has no oth­er rea­son­able expla­na­tion.”
    ...

    Also keep in mind that, of all those things of val­ue that the Trump lack­eys can take with them, top secret infor­ma­tion is prob­a­bly the most valu­able asset because it’s the eas­i­est to sell. They can take it and sell it and poten­tial­ly no one needs to know. But it’s real­ly fresh top secret infor­ma­tion that’s the most valu­able. So if we’re in store for a last round of infor­ma­tion loot­ing by the Trump min­ions in antic­i­pa­tion of sell­ing that infor­ma­tion after they leave the gov­ern­ment we should prob­a­bly also expect a fresh flood of top secret infor­ma­tion to come onto the mar­ket. The longer they wait the less valu­able it becomes.

    Of course, any spec­u­la­tion about Trump min­ions obtain­ing and sell­ing top secret infor­ma­tion assumes the Trump admin­is­tra­tion is actu­al­ly end soon. It assumes no coup. And all signs are point­ing towards a coup. Or at least an ongo­ing explo­ration of the fea­si­bil­i­ty of the coup. Coup ‘feel­ers’ are clear­ly being sent out. And that’s part of what makes the selec­tion of retired Army Col. Dou­glas Mac­gre­gor to the posi­tion of Miller’s new Senior Advi­sor so dis­turb­ing. Because while Mac­gre­gor does have a track record of call for an end to end­less wars — lead­ing to spec­u­la­tion that his selec­tion at this moment is intend­ed to facil­i­tate a more rapid with­draw­al of US troops out of Afghanistan — he also has a track record of call­ing for mar­tial law to be declared on the US-Mex­i­co bor­der. And if there’s one thing Trump has to guar­an­tee is pos­si­ble if he’s plan­ning on stag­ing a coup it’s mar­tial law. You can’t have a coup with­out mar­tial law:

    CNN

    Trump admin­is­tra­tion installs advo­cate for quick Afghanistan with­draw­al at Pen­ta­gon

    By Ryan Browne and Bar­bara Starr,
    Updat­ed 4:01 PM ET, Wed Novem­ber 11, 2020

    Wash­ing­ton (CNN)An ardent oppo­nent of the US mil­i­tary’s pres­ence in Afghanistan who once called for the use of lethal force against ille­gal immi­grants and has made a litany of racist com­ments has been made a senior advis­er at the Pen­ta­gon.

    A Pen­ta­gon spokesman con­firmed Wednes­day that retired Army Col. Dou­glas Mac­gre­gor “will be serv­ing as a Senior Advi­sor to the Act­ing Sec­re­tary of Defense. Mr. Mac­Gre­gor’s decades of mil­i­tary expe­ri­ence will be used to assist in the con­tin­ued imple­men­ta­tion of the Pres­i­den­t’s nation­al secu­ri­ty pri­or­i­ties.”

    Mac­gre­gor’s appoint­ment is the lat­est in a series of sweep­ing changes at the Pen­ta­gon that has put defense offi­cials on edge and fueled a grow­ing sense of alarm among mil­i­tary and civil­ian offi­cials, who are con­cerned about what could come next.

    Axios was first to report Mac­gre­gor’s appoint­ment.

    Four senior Pen­ta­gon offi­cials have been fired or have resigned since Mon­day, includ­ing Defense Sec­re­tary Mark Esper who was fired in a tweet by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, Esper’s chief of staff and the top offi­cials over­see­ing pol­i­cy and intel­li­gence.

    ...

    Mac­gre­gor has been a vocal oppo­nent of the US mil­i­tary’s mis­sion in Afghanistan and has called for a total with­draw­al of US troops and the Amer­i­can Embassy despite the con­tin­ued pres­ence of ter­ror­ist groups there.

    Knowl­edge­able sources told CNN’s Jake Tap­per on Tues­day that the White House-direct­ed purge at the Defense Depart­ment may have been moti­vat­ed by the fact Esper and his team were push­ing back on a pre­ma­ture with­draw­al from Afghanistan that would be car­ried out before the required con­di­tions on the ground were met, and oth­er pend­ing secu­ri­ty issues.

    US mil­i­tary offi­cials have long stressed that the US with­draw­al from Afghanistan is con­di­tions based, with those con­di­tions includ­ing the Tal­iban’s break­ing its ties to al Qae­da and mak­ing progress in peace talks with the Afghan gov­ern­ment, two con­di­tions that have yet to be met.

    But despite the lack of progress, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion has already sub­stan­tial­ly reduced US troops in the coun­try by more than 50%, bring­ing the num­ber of US mil­i­tary per­son­nel there down to about 4,500, the low­est lev­els since the ear­li­est days of the post 9/11 cam­paign.

    Trump’s nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er, Robert O’Brien, has advo­cat­ed for a more accel­er­at­ed with­draw­al from Afghanistan irre­spec­tive of con­di­tions on the ground, some­thing made more fea­si­ble by the instal­la­tion of White House loy­al­ists in senior defense posts.

    He has also called for an imme­di­ate end to the US mil­i­tary effort in Syr­ia, where a small num­ber of US troops back the Kur­dish-led Syr­i­an Demo­c­ra­t­ic Forces in their fight against ISIS.

    Mac­gre­gor advo­cat­ed for the use of lethal force against unarmed migrants

    Mac­gre­gor once advo­cat­ed for the use of lethal force against unarmed migrants to deter ille­gal immi­gra­tion from Mex­i­co and Cen­tral Amer­i­ca.

    He was nom­i­nat­ed by Trump this sum­mer to be the ambas­sador to Ger­many but faced fierce oppo­si­tion for his remarks uncov­ered by CNN’s KFILE.

    KFILE reviewed dozens of radio and tele­vi­sion inter­views with Mac­gre­gor and found he often demo­nized immi­grants and refugees. He warned Mex­i­can car­tels were “dri­ving mil­lions of Mex­i­cans with no edu­ca­tion, no skills and the wrong cul­ture into the Unit­ed States, plac­ing them essen­tial­ly as wards of the Amer­i­can peo­ple.” He repeat­ed­ly advo­cat­ed insti­tut­ing mar­tial law at the US-Mex­i­co bor­der and to “shoot peo­ple” if nec­es­sary.

    He also said that East­ern Ukraini­ans are “Rus­sians” on the Russ­ian state-con­trolled TV net­work RT in 2014 after Rus­sia tried to annex Crimea and began an ongo­ing war with Ukraine over the ter­ri­to­ry — posi­tions not sup­port­ed by the Euro­pean Union and Unit­ed States. He lament­ed that the US gov­ern­ment inter­vened against Ser­bian forces, who engaged in eth­nic cleans­ing and war crimes, dur­ing the Koso­vo War in the 1990s to “put, essen­tial­ly, a Mus­lim drug mafia in charge of that coun­try.”

    ————-

    “Trump admin­is­tra­tion installs advo­cate for quick Afghanistan with­draw­al at Pen­ta­gon” by Ryan Browne and Bar­bara Starr; CNN; 11/11/2020

    “KFILE reviewed dozens of radio and tele­vi­sion inter­views with Mac­gre­gor and found he often demo­nized immi­grants and refugees. He warned Mex­i­can car­tels were “dri­ving mil­lions of Mex­i­cans with no edu­ca­tion, no skills and the wrong cul­ture into the Unit­ed States, plac­ing them essen­tial­ly as wards of the Amer­i­can peo­ple.” He repeat­ed­ly advo­cat­ed insti­tut­ing mar­tial law at the US-Mex­i­co bor­der and to “shoot peo­ple” if nec­es­sary.”

    That’s the Sec­re­tary of Defense’s new Senior Advi­sor. A guy who has repeat­ed­ly advo­cat­ed insti­tut­ing mar­tial law.

    So as we can see, if indeed one of Trump’s plans at this moment is to ful­fill his pledge to get all US troops out of Afghanistan by Christ­mas, we should­n’t assume there aren’t going to be new orders await­ing those troops when they return home. Like orders to kill the Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy. Whether or not the low­er lev­els of the mil­i­tary would be will­ing to car­ry out orders of that nature from a blood­thirsty revan­chist Trump admin­is­tra­tion is a grim ques­tion that has yet to be answered. It’s unfor­tu­nate­ly less of a ques­tion for the mil­i­tary’s hand-picked senior lead­er­ship at this point.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 11, 2020, 5:02 pm
  6. Tim­o­thy Sny­der wrote an op-ed with a refresh­ing­ly gloomy out­look on how the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion will ulti­mate­ly be resolved. Sny­der implores us to ignore the real­i­ty that, yes, all avail­able evi­dence points in the direc­tion of a sol­id and fair Biden vic­to­ry. Because as Sny­der points out, real­i­ty does­n’t mat­ter when you’re deal­ing with a author­i­tar­i­an move­ment intent on pulling off a coup. Instead, what’s impor­tant is pub­lic per­cep­tion. Pub­lic per­cep­tions, not real­i­ty, of whether or not Trump had the elec­tion stolen from him are what will deter­mine the kind of dam­age that will emerge from this peri­od. Per­cep­tions today but also per­cep­tions months and years for now. As Sny­der puts it, his­to­ry shows where this can go. If peo­ple believe an elec­tion has been stolen, that makes the new pres­i­dent a usurp­er. Democ­ra­cy real­ly can be buried in a big lie. If enough peo­ple the lie, real­i­ty is kind of beside the point:

    The Boston Globe

    Trump’s big elec­tion lie push­es Amer­i­ca toward autoc­ra­cy
    Cling­ing to pow­er by claim­ing you are the vic­tim of inter­nal ene­mies is a very dan­ger­ous tac­tic. Don’t under­es­ti­mate where this can go.

    By Tim­o­thy Sny­der
    Updat­ed Novem­ber 11, 2020, 10:14 a.m.

    When you lose, it is good and healthy to know why. In the First World War, the con­flict that defined our mod­ern world, the Ger­mans lost because of the over­whelm­ing force assem­bled by their ene­mies on the West­ern Front. After the Amer­i­cans entered the war, Ger­man defeat was a mat­ter of time. Yet Ger­man com­man­ders found it con­ve­nient instead to speak of a “stab in the back” by left­ists and Jews. This big lie was a prob­lem for the new Ger­man democ­ra­cy that was cre­at­ed after the war, since it sug­gest­ed that the major polit­i­cal par­ty, the Social Democ­rats, and a nation­al minor­i­ty, the Jews, were out­side the nation­al com­mu­ni­ty. The lie was tak­en up by the Nazis, and it became a cen­tral ele­ment of their ver­sion of his­to­ry after they took pow­er. The blame was else­where.

    It is always tempt­ing to blame defeat on oth­ers. Yet for a nation­al leader to do so and to inject a big lie into the sys­tem puts democ­ra­cy at great risk. Exclud­ing oth­ers from the nation­al com­mu­ni­ty makes democ­ra­cy impos­si­ble in prin­ci­ple, and refus­ing to accept defeat makes it impos­si­ble in prac­tice. What we face now in the Unit­ed States is a new, Amer­i­can incar­na­tion of the old false­hood: that Don­ald Trump’s defeat was not what it seems, that votes were stolen from him by inter­nal ene­mies — by a left-wing par­ty. “Where it mat­tered, they stole what they had to steal,” he tweets. He claims that his votes were all “Legal Votes,” as if by def­i­n­i­tion those for his oppo­nent were not.

    Under­es­ti­mat­ing Don­ald Trump is a mis­take that peo­ple should not go on mak­ing. Laugh­ing at him will not make him go away. If it did, he would have van­ished decades ago. Nor will long­stand­ing norms about how pres­i­dents behave make him go away. He is an actor and will stick to his lines: It was all a fraud, and he won “by a lot.” He was nev­er defeat­ed, goes the sto­ry; he was a vic­tim of a con­spir­a­cy. This stab-in-the-back myth could become a per­ma­nent fea­ture of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics, so long as Trump has a bull­horn, be it on Fox or on RT (for­mer­ly Rus­sia Today) — or, though Democ­rats might find this unthink­able, as an unelect­ed pres­i­dent remain­ing in pow­er.

    After all, a claim that an elec­tion was ille­git­i­mate is a claim to remain­ing in pow­er. A coup is under way, and the num­ber of par­tic­i­pants is not shrink­ing but grow­ing. Few lead­ing Repub­li­cans have acknowl­edged that the race is over. Impor­tant ones, such as Mitch McConnell and Mike Pom­peo, appear to be on the side of the coup. We might like to think that this is all some strat­e­gy to find the pres­i­dent an exit ramp. But per­haps that is wish­ful think­ing. The tran­si­tion office refus­es to begin its work. The sec­re­tary of defense, who did not want the army attack­ing civil­ians, was fired. The Depart­ment of Jus­tice, exceed­ing its tra­di­tion­al man­date, has autho­rized inves­ti­ga­tions of the vote count. The talk shows on Fox this week con­tra­dict the news released by Fox last week. Repub­li­can law­mak­ers find ever new ver­bal for­mu­la­tions that direct­ly or indi­rect­ly sup­port Trump’s claims. The longer this goes on, the greater the dan­ger to the Repub­lic.

    What Trump is say­ing is false, and Repub­li­can politi­cians know it. If the votes against the pres­i­dent were fraud­u­lent, then Repub­li­can wins in the House and Sen­ate were also fraud­u­lent: The votes were on the same bal­lots. Yet con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, such as the stab in the back, have a force that goes beyond log­ic. They push away from a world of evi­dence and toward a world of fears. Psy­cho­log­i­cal research sug­gests that cit­i­zens are espe­cial­ly vul­ner­a­ble to con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries at the time of elec­tions. Trump under­stands this, which is why his deliv­ery of con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry is full of cap­i­tal let­ters and bereft of facts. He knows bet­ter than to try to prove any­thing. His ally Newt Gin­grich reach­es for the worst when he blames a wealthy Jew for some­thing that did not hap­pen in the first place.

    His­to­ry shows where this can go. If peo­ple believe an elec­tion has been stolen, that makes the new pres­i­dent a usurp­er. In Poland in 1922, a close elec­tion brought a cen­trist can­di­date to the pres­i­den­cy. Decried by the right in the press as an agent of the Jews, he was assas­si­nat­ed after two weeks in office. Even if the effect is not so imme­di­ate, the lin­ger­ing effect of a myth of vic­tim­hood, of the idea of a stab in the back, can be pro­found. The Ger­man myth of a stab in the back did not doom Ger­man democ­ra­cy imme­di­ate­ly. But the con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry did help Nazis make their case that some Ger­mans were not tru­ly mem­bers of the nation and that a tru­ly nation­al gov­ern­ment could not be demo­c­ra­t­ic.

    Democ­ra­cy can be buried in a big lie. Of course, the end of democ­ra­cy in Amer­i­ca would take an Amer­i­can form. In 2020 Trump acknowl­edged open­ly what has been increas­ing­ly clear for decades: The Repub­li­can Par­ty aims not so much to win elec­tions as to game them. This strat­e­gy has its temp­ta­tions: The more you care about sup­press­ing votes, the less you care about what vot­ers want. And the less you care about vot­ers want, the clos­er you move to author­i­tar­i­an­ism. Trump has tak­en the next log­i­cal step: Try to dis­en­fran­chise vot­ers not only before but after elec­tions.

    The results of the 2020 elec­tions could be read to mean that Repub­li­cans can fight and win on the issues. Read­ing the results as fraud­u­lent instead will take Repub­li­cans, and the coun­try, on a very dif­fer­ent jour­ney, through a cloud of mag­i­cal think­ing toward vio­lence.

    If you have been stabbed in the back, then every­thing is per­mit­ted. Claim­ing that a fair elec­tion was foul is prepa­ra­tion for an elec­tion that is foul. If you con­vince your vot­ers that the oth­er side has cheat­ed, you are promis­ing them that you your­self will cheat next time. Hav­ing bent the rules, you then have to break them. His­to­ry shows the dan­ger in the famil­iar exam­ple of Hitler. When politi­cians break democ­ra­cy, as con­ser­v­a­tives in Weimar Ger­many did in the ear­ly 1930s, they are wrong to think that they will con­trol what hap­pens next. Some­one else will emerge who is bet­ter adapt­ed to the chaos and who will wield it in ways that they nei­ther want nor expect. The myth of vic­tim­hood comes home and claims its vic­tims.

    ...

    ————

    “Trump’s big elec­tion lie push­es Amer­i­ca toward autoc­ra­cy” by Tim­o­thy Sny­der; The Boston Globe; 11/11/2020

    “After all, a claim that an elec­tion was ille­git­i­mate is a claim to remain­ing in pow­er. A coup is under way, and the num­ber of par­tic­i­pants is not shrink­ing but grow­ing. Few lead­ing Repub­li­cans have acknowl­edged that the race is over. Impor­tant ones, such as Mitch McConnell and Mike Pom­peo, appear to be on the side of the coup. We might like to think that this is all some strat­e­gy to find the pres­i­dent an exit ramp. But per­haps that is wish­ful think­ing. The tran­si­tion office refus­es to begin its work. The sec­re­tary of defense, who did not want the army attack­ing civil­ians, was fired. The Depart­ment of Jus­tice, exceed­ing its tra­di­tion­al man­date, has autho­rized inves­ti­ga­tions of the vote count. The talk shows on Fox this week con­tra­dict the news released by Fox last week. Repub­li­can law­mak­ers find ever new ver­bal for­mu­la­tions that direct­ly or indi­rect­ly sup­port Trump’s claims. The longer this goes on, the greater the dan­ger to the Repub­lic.”

    A coup is under way, and the num­ber of par­tic­i­pants is not shrink­ing but grow­ing. That’s the key under­ly­ing grim obser­va­tion here. The GOP’s lead­er­ship is falling in line behind the big lie. We know where this can go:

    ...
    His­to­ry shows where this can go. If peo­ple believe an elec­tion has been stolen, that makes the new pres­i­dent a usurp­er. In Poland in 1922, a close elec­tion brought a cen­trist can­di­date to the pres­i­den­cy. Decried by the right in the press as an agent of the Jews, he was assas­si­nat­ed after two weeks in office. Even if the effect is not so imme­di­ate, the lin­ger­ing effect of a myth of vic­tim­hood, of the idea of a stab in the back, can be pro­found. The Ger­man myth of a stab in the back did not doom Ger­man democ­ra­cy imme­di­ate­ly. But the con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry did help Nazis make their case that some Ger­mans were not tru­ly mem­bers of the nation and that a tru­ly nation­al gov­ern­ment could not be demo­c­ra­t­ic.

    ...

    If you have been stabbed in the back, then every­thing is per­mit­ted. Claim­ing that a fair elec­tion was foul is prepa­ra­tion for an elec­tion that is foul. If you con­vince your vot­ers that the oth­er side has cheat­ed, you are promis­ing them that you your­self will cheat next time. Hav­ing bent the rules, you then have to break them. His­to­ry shows the dan­ger in the famil­iar exam­ple of Hitler. When politi­cians break democ­ra­cy, as con­ser­v­a­tives in Weimar Ger­many did in the ear­ly 1930s, they are wrong to think that they will con­trol what hap­pens next. Some­one else will emerge who is bet­ter adapt­ed to the chaos and who will wield it in ways that they nei­ther want nor expect. The myth of vic­tim­hood comes home and claims its vic­tims.
    ...

    And as the fol­low­ing arti­cle points out, it’s far from just the GOP lead­er­ship get­ting behind the big lie. The Repub­li­can elec­torate has already large­ly embraced it too. Accord­ing to a recent sur­vey con­duct­ed Nov. 6–9, around 70 per­cent of Repub­li­cans have already con­clud­ed that the elec­tion was not free and fair. Don­ald Trump had the elec­tion stolen from him. That big lie is already GOP’s con­sen­sus real­i­ty:

    Politi­co

    Poll: 70 per­cent of Repub­li­cans don’t think the elec­tion was free and fair

    The POLITICO/Morning Con­sult sur­vey found trust in the elec­tion sys­tem plum­met­ed among Repub­li­cans while ris­ing among Democ­rats after the race was called on Sat­ur­day.

    By CATHERINE KIM
    11/09/2020 05:00 PM EST

    After the pres­i­den­tial race was called for Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date Joe Biden, Repub­li­cans’ trust in the elec­tion sys­tem plum­met­ed, while Democ­rats’ trust soared, accord­ing to a new POLITICO/Morning Con­sult poll.

    Mul­ti­ple new orga­ni­za­tions announced Biden as the elec­tion win­ner on Sat­ur­day after four days of count­ing in sev­er­al swing states. Fol­low­ing the news, 70 per­cent of Repub­li­cans now say they don’t believe the 2020 elec­tion was free and fair, a stark rise from the 35 per­cent of GOP vot­ers who held sim­i­lar beliefs before the elec­tion. Mean­while, trust in the elec­tion sys­tem grew for Democ­rats, many who took to the streets to cel­e­brate Biden’s vic­to­ry on Sat­ur­day. Nine­ty per­cent of Democ­rats now say the elec­tion was free and fair, up from 52 per­cent before Nov. 3 who thought it would be.

    Among Repub­li­cans who believed that the elec­tion wasn’t free and fair, 78 per­cent believed that mail-in vot­ing led to wide­spread vot­er fraud and 72 per­cent believed that bal­lots were tam­pered with — both claims that have made a con­stant appear­ance on the president’s Twit­ter thread. Like Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, a major­i­ty of the peo­ple that thought the elec­tion was unfair, 84 per­cent, said it ben­e­fit­ed Biden.

    The lack of trust in the elec­tion sys­tem has led to Repub­li­cans being more skep­ti­cal about the elec­tion results. Although only 18 per­cent of Repub­li­cans had said the results would be unre­li­able pri­or to Elec­tion Day, now 64 per­cent feel the same way fol­low­ing Biden’s vic­to­ry. By con­trast, 86 per­cent of Democ­rats say they trust the results.

    Repub­li­cans were par­tic­u­lar­ly wary of the results com­ing out of swing states, espe­cial­ly in Penn­syl­va­nia, which count­ed votes for four days before deliv­er­ing Biden a deci­sive win on Sat­ur­day. Six­ty-two per­cent of Repub­li­cans said the Penn­syl­va­nia results would be unre­li­able, a stark con­trast to the 8 per­cent of Democ­rats who held the same beliefs.

    Dis­trust is sim­i­lar­ly high in Wis­con­sin (55 per­cent), Neva­da (54 per­cent), Geor­gia (54 per­cent) and Ari­zona (52 per­cent). The skep­ti­cism has par­tic­u­lar­ly been fueled by the Trump cam­paign, which has filed more than half a dozen law­suits in states like Penn­syl­va­nia, Neva­da, Michi­gan and Geor­gia since Elec­tion Day. Two days after the race was called for Biden, Trump con­tin­ues to tweet out that “Neva­da is turn­ing out to be a cesspool of Fake Votes” and “Penn­syl­va­nia pre­vent­ed us from watch­ing much of the Bal­lot count.”

    ...

    The POLITICO/Morning Con­sult poll was con­duct­ed Nov. 6–9, sur­vey­ing 1,987 reg­is­tered vot­ers. Some inter­views were done before the race was called, but the major­i­ty were after the offi­cial call. The mar­gin of sam­pling error is plus or minus 2 per­cent­age points.

    ————-

    “Poll: 70 per­cent of Repub­li­cans don’t think the elec­tion was free and fair” by CATHERINE KIM; Politi­co; 11/09/2020

    “Mul­ti­ple new orga­ni­za­tions announced Biden as the elec­tion win­ner on Sat­ur­day after four days of count­ing in sev­er­al swing states. Fol­low­ing the news, 70 per­cent of Repub­li­cans now say they don’t believe the 2020 elec­tion was free and fair, a stark rise from the 35 per­cent of GOP vot­ers who held sim­i­lar beliefs before the elec­tion. Mean­while, trust in the elec­tion sys­tem grew for Democ­rats, many who took to the streets to cel­e­brate Biden’s vic­to­ry on Sat­ur­day. Nine­ty per­cent of Democ­rats now say the elec­tion was free and fair, up from 52 per­cent before Nov. 3 who thought it would be.”

    Unless some­thing dra­mat­ic hap­pens, this is going to be the case for­ev­er. 2020 will for­ev­er be a stolen elec­tion in the col­lec­tive minds of the GOP, with all of the poten­tial future impli­ca­tions Tim­o­thy Sny­der (and his­to­ry) warned us about. At this point, giv­en the psy­cho­log­i­cal grip Pres­i­dent Trump con­tin­ues to have on the Repub­li­can Par­ty, it’s hard to think of any­thing that could con­vince the Repub­li­can base that the elec­tion was­n’t stolen from Trump oth­er than Trump him­self com­ing out and accept­ing the elec­tion results.

    And as the fol­low­ing NBC arti­cle describes, there should be NO expec­ta­tion of Trump EVER accept­ing the elec­tion results. The fur­thest he is will to go is to con­tin­ue claim­ing the results were rigged against him but to drop his legal chal­lenges. In oth­er words, he’s will­ing to leave the White House peace­ful­ly, even­tu­al­ly, but only under a cloud of con­tin­ued accu­sa­tions that the elec­tion was stolen. This is what anony­mous White House insid­ers are telling reporters. The com­pro­mise posi­tion Trump is will­ing to get to is one where he leaves the 2020 elec­tion as a per­ma­nent fes­ter­ing wound for Amer­i­ca’s democ­ra­cy:

    NBC News

    Trump may accept results but nev­er con­cede he lost, aides say
    “He’ll acknowl­edge the results and that we’ll nev­er know how accu­rate they are,” a Trump advis­er tells NBC News.

    Nov. 11, 2020, 1:37 PM CST
    By Car­ol E. Lee, Peter Alexan­der, Mon­i­ca Alba and Hal­lie Jack­son

    WASHINGTON — There is a grow­ing expec­ta­tion among Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s advis­ers that he will nev­er con­cede that he lost re-elec­tion, even after votes are cer­ti­fied in bat­tle­ground states over the com­ing weeks, accord­ing to mul­ti­ple peo­ple famil­iar with the president’s think­ing.

    “Do not expect him to con­cede,” one top aide said. More like­ly, the aide said, “he’ll say some­thing like, ‘We can’t trust the results, but I’m not con­test­ing them.’”

    Anoth­er advis­er said that after the legal bat­tles and recounts, the clos­est the pres­i­dent is like­ly to get to a con­ces­sion is, “he’ll acknowl­edge the results and that we’ll nev­er know how accu­rate they are.”

    “But we’re not there yet,” the advis­er said.

    In the mean­time there is also grow­ing frus­tra­tion inside the White House — what allies described as “embar­rass­ment” as well as “uncer­tain­ty and doubt and con­fu­sion” — over the president’s refusal to acknowl­edge the elec­tion result and chart a path for­ward.

    “This is unsus­tain­able,” anoth­er aide said.

    Allies cau­tion that no final deci­sion has been made on where Trump intends to take this fight or when it might end. And a small group of senior advis­ers — most of them in the Trump cam­paign — still believe there is a path to vic­to­ry for the pres­i­dent.

    But those allies are a shrink­ing minor­i­ty, and some advis­ers say the pres­i­dent is com­ing around to the fact that the elec­tion result won’t be reversed. “Even Trump real­izes that the like­li­hood of the result chang­ing is almost zero,” one of them said.

    There’s an effort among those allies who know that Trump has lost to get the pres­i­dent to focus on next steps. “Over­whelm­ing­ly, the under­stand­ing is get­ting into the president’s ear that he needs to have a strat­e­gy to move on,” one aide said.

    Part of that strat­e­gy involves a mes­sage that allows the pres­i­dent to claim vic­to­ry as the most suc­cess­ful Repub­li­can in decades, a force with 89 mil­lion Twit­ter fol­low­ers and 71 mil­lion votes that is not going any­where.

    “He’s set­ting him­self up as the main oppo­si­tion leader,” one ally said. Aides expect him to leave open the pos­si­bil­i­ty of run­ning in 2024, effec­tive­ly freez­ing the GOP field.

    To under­score his pow­er in the Repub­li­can Par­ty, aides are encour­ag­ing Trump to be heav­i­ly involved in the Sen­ate runoff race in Geor­gia, includ­ing hold­ing a ral­ly in the state soon. (NBC News has said the results of the state’s oth­er Sen­ate race is still “too close to call,” and it, too, may go to a runoff.)

    While some aides had hoped the pres­i­dent would begin to move for­ward in the com­ing days, many antic­i­pate it tak­ing weeks. For the Trump cam­paign, Nov. 15 is seen as the unof­fi­cial end of the elec­tion, accord­ing to an offi­cial. That’s when the cam­paign offi­cial­ly wraps up, and only a bare-bones staff will stay in place.

    The lat­est vote cer­ti­fi­ca­tion dead­line in the hand­ful of states the pres­i­dent is con­test­ing is Dec. 1. But recounts, includ­ing in Geor­gia, could take longer.

    Offi­cials are wait­ing for direc­tion on whether to pro­ceed with assist­ing Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Biden’s team with a tran­si­tion. And the lack of strat­e­gy is in part what’s kept Trump out of pub­lic view for one of the longest stretch­es of his pres­i­den­cy.

    Aides are con­cerned Trump could scut­tle the Repub­li­can sup­port for his deci­sion to fight the elec­tion results in bat­tle­ground states if he says some­thing pub­licly that they might strug­gle to defend, as was the case dur­ing his appear­ance last Thurs­day in the White House brief­ing room when Trump insist­ed he’d won states he had lost and that there was wide­spread cor­rup­tion.

    “There’s a sense that if he goes out and does any­thing force­ful­ly, that’s the one way he risks los­ing Repub­li­can sup­port,” one of the president’s allies said. “And that’s when the whole house of cards comes tum­bling down.”

    Peo­ple close to the pres­i­dent said he plans to con­tin­ue ampli­fy­ing his mes­sage of wide­spread fraud in the elec­tion, despite no evi­dence of that. And what­ev­er acknowl­edge­ment Trump makes about Biden tak­ing over on Jan. 20, it is like­ly to include a griev­ance that the elec­tion is just the lat­est in a series of attacks on him, in line behind the Rus­sia inves­ti­ga­tion and impeach­ment.

    Inside the White House, there’s a push to get the pres­i­dent to also focus on his lega­cy and accom­plish­ments while in office.

    React­ing to Biden senior coun­sel Bob Bauer’s com­ments Tues­day that Trump’s long-shot law­suits are “the­atrics,” one White House offi­cial said, “It’s not wrong for the Biden team to call it the­ater.”

    ...

    ————-

    “Trump may accept results but nev­er con­cede he lost, aides say” By Car­ol E. Lee, Peter Alexan­der, Mon­i­ca Alba and Hal­lie Jack­son; NBC News; 11/11/2020

    ““Do not expect him to con­cede,” one top aide said. More like­ly, the aide said, “he’ll say some­thing like, ‘We can’t trust the results, but I’m not con­test­ing them.’”

    Trump will say some­thing like, “We can’t trust the results, but I’m not con­test­ing them.” That’s as good as it’s going to get. Don’t expect any­thing more from Trump. Ever. This is going to be a for­ev­er lost cause:

    ...
    Peo­ple close to the pres­i­dent said he plans to con­tin­ue ampli­fy­ing his mes­sage of wide­spread fraud in the elec­tion, despite no evi­dence of that. And what­ev­er acknowl­edge­ment Trump makes about Biden tak­ing over on Jan. 20, it is like­ly to include a griev­ance that the elec­tion is just the lat­est in a series of attacks on him, in line behind the Rus­sia inves­ti­ga­tion and impeach­ment.

    Inside the White House, there’s a push to get the pres­i­dent to also focus on his lega­cy and accom­plish­ments while in office.

    React­ing to Biden senior coun­sel Bob Bauer’s com­ments Tues­day that Trump’s long-shot law­suits are “the­atrics,” one White House offi­cial said, “It’s not wrong for the Biden team to call it the­ater.”
    ...

    As one White House offi­cial puts it, it’s not wrong for the Biden team to call this the­ater. And this anony­mous offi­cial is cor­rect. Big Lies are the­ater. The­ater designed to divide and con­quer a soci­ety.

    In relat­ed news, Trump is report­ed­ly also look­ing into cre­ate a media empire that will take on Fox News. So Trump’s plans include not only con­tin­u­ing with this Big Lie but cre­at­ing a media empire to ampli­fy it. Get ready for a lot more ‘the­ater’.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 12, 2020, 2:11 pm
  7. The ongo­ing con­sti­tu­tion­al cri­sis cre­at­ed by Pres­i­dent Trump’s Big Lie insis­tence that the 2020 elec­tion was stolen from him at the same time he makes sweep­ing high-lev­el per­son­nel that would appear to be con­sis­tent with coup plans has under­stand­ably focused on Trump’s per­son­al psy­cho­log­i­cal state and his abil­i­ty to even accept the pos­si­bil­i­ty of los­ing.

    But as we saw in that recent NBC News arti­cle where anony­mous White House insid­ers warned that Trump would like­ly nev­er accept the elec­tion results, it’s not just Trump who is resist­ing con­ced­ing the elec­tion. There’s a fac­tion of senior advi­sors — most of them asso­ci­at­ed with the reelec­tion cam­paign — who are telling Trump there’s still a path to vic­to­ry:

    NBC News

    Trump may accept results but nev­er con­cede he lost, aides say
    “He’ll acknowl­edge the results and that we’ll nev­er know how accu­rate they are,” a Trump advis­er tells NBC News.

    Nov. 11, 2020, 1:37 PM CST
    By Car­ol E. Lee, Peter Alexan­der, Mon­i­ca Alba and Hal­lie Jack­son

    ...

    Allies cau­tion that no final deci­sion has been made on where Trump intends to take this fight or when it might end. And a small group of senior advis­ers — most of them in the Trump cam­paign — still believe there is a path to vic­to­ry for the pres­i­dent.

    ...

    ————

    “Trump may accept results but nev­er con­cede he lost, aides say” By Car­ol E. Lee, Peter Alexan­der, Mon­i­ca Alba and Hal­lie Jack­son; NBC News; 11/11/2020

    So we have to ask, who are these peo­ple still telling Trump he has a path to vic­to­ry? At this point it’s all anony­mous sources talk­ing about anony­mous aides.

    But when it comes to Trump’s “senior aides” for dirty tricks oper­a­tions there are a cou­ple of obvi­ous sus­pects: Roger Stone and Steve Ban­non. If Trump is plan­ning on some sort of grand scheme to steal a vic­to­ry he’s prob­a­bly coor­di­nat­ing with Stone and Ban­non and like­ly out­sourc­ing part of the scheme to them.

    And that, in turn, rais­es the ques­tion of what Stone and Ban­non have been up to since the elec­tion. So it will prob­a­bly come as lit­tle sur­prise that the “Stop the Steal” viral social media cam­paign that erupt­ed almost imme­di­ate­ly online fol­low­ing the elec­tion as a kind of umbrel­la protest to the gen­er­al elec­tion results was cre­at­ed by Roger Stone. Four years ago. Yep, “Stop the Steal” was first launched by Stone dur­ing the 2016 GOP pri­maries. At that point it was the estab­lish­ment Repub­li­cans like Mar­co Rubio who were steal­ing Trump’s vic­to­ry. The slo­gan was revived again dur­ing the 2018 mid-terms for the close Flori­da guber­na­to­r­i­al race. But it was in 2020 when the “Stop the Steal” cam­paign real­ly took off.

    And as the fol­low­ing CNN arti­cle describes, ‘Stop the Steal’ is very much a Roger Stone oper­a­tion. With help from fig­ures close to Steve Ban­non. On Novem­ber 4, 2020, the Stop the Steal Face­book group was launched by Amy Kre­mer, the chair of Women for Amer­i­ca First. Kre­mer has pre­vi­ous­ly start­ed a super-PAC with Roger Stone’s ex-wife called Women Vote Trump.

    The Stop the Steal Face­book page was then man­aged by a team of con­ser­v­a­tive activists, includ­ing Dustin Stock­ton and Jen­nifer Lawrence, a cou­ple who have both writ­ten for Bre­it­bart. Stock­ton and Lawrence were also both part of the “We Build the Wall” cam­paign. Recall how cam­paign finance vio­la­tions asso­ci­at­ed with “We Build the Wall” led to Ban­non’s arrest of the yacht of Chi­nese bil­lion­aire Guo Wen­gui (because they were basi­cal­ly scam­ming the donors). Stock­ton and Lawrence claim they’ve had no con­tact with Ban­non since he was indict­ed in August.

    As we’re also going to see, back in Sep­tem­ber, Roger Stone was pub­licly telling Trump to declared mar­tial law and mass arrest his polit­i­cal oppo­nents should he lose the elec­tion. And then there’s Steve Ban­non’s recent advice to Trump sup­port­ers that they need to be will­ing to fight and die for Trump’s reelec­tion. So if Trump is indeed get­ting advice from Stone and Ban­non that advice is pre­sum­ably advice to declare the elec­tion stolen and to pre­pare for war. The same advice they’re giv­ing Trump’s sup­port­ers:

    CNN

    Stop the Steal’s mas­sive dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paign con­nect­ed to Roger Stone

    By Rob Kuz­nia, Curt Devine, Nel­li Black and Drew Grif­fin,
    Updat­ed 8:45 PM ET, Fri Novem­ber 13, 2020

    (CNN)It is an inter­net bat­tle cry: Stop the Steal has swept across inbox­es, Face­book pages and Twit­ter like an out-of-con­trol virus, spread­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion and vio­lent rhetoric — and spilling into real life, like the protest planned for DC this week­end.

    But while Stop the Steal may sound like a new 2020 polit­i­cal slo­gan to many, it did not emerge organ­i­cal­ly over wide­spread con­cerns about vot­ing fraud in Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s race against Joe Biden. It has been in the works for years.

    Its ori­gin traces to Roger Stone, a vet­er­an Repub­li­can oper­a­tive and self-described “dirty trick­ster” whose 40-month prison sen­tence for sev­en felonies was cut short by Trump’s com­mu­ta­tion in July.

    Stone’s polit­i­cal action com­mit­tee launched a “Stop the Steal” web­site in 2016 to fundraise ahead of that elec­tion, ask­ing for $10,000 dona­tions by say­ing, “If this elec­tion is close, THEY WILL STEAL IT.”

    He first trot­ted out the slo­gan dur­ing the 2016 pri­maries — claim­ing a “Bush-Cruz-Kasich-Rom­ney-Ryan-McConnell fac­tion” was attempt­ing to steal the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion from Don­ald Trump — before re-upping Stop the Steal for the gen­er­al elec­tion.

    “Don­ald Trump thinks Hillary Clin­ton and the Democ­rats are going to steal the next elec­tion,” his web­site said that Octo­ber.

    Stop the Steal briefly resur­faced around the midterms in 2018 — with Repub­li­cans employ­ing the hash­tag dur­ing a recount in a neck-and-neck Flori­da race for U.S. Sen­ate — but it was­n’t until 2020 that it real­ly caught fire.

    A Stop the Steal Face­book group was man­aged by a loose coali­tion of right wing oper­a­tives, some of whom have worked with for­mer Trump advis­er Steve Ban­non. The group amassed hun­dreds of thou­sands of fol­low­ers in lit­tle more than a day before Face­book shut it down on Novem­ber 5 — the day after it was launched.

    Also on Novem­ber 5, Ban­non start­ed his own “Stop the Steal” Face­book group; he changed the name to “Own Your Vote” the fol­low­ing day. It was not removed by Face­book, but the social media com­pa­ny did lat­er remove sev­er­al oth­er pages affil­i­at­ed with Ban­non.

    “We’ve removed sev­er­al clus­ters of activ­i­ty for using inau­then­tic behav­ior tac­tics to arti­fi­cial­ly boost how many peo­ple saw their con­tent,” said Andy Stone, a Face­book spokesman. “That includes a group that was orig­i­nal­ly named Stop the Steal, which lat­er became Gay Com­mu­nists for Social­ism and mis­led peo­ple about its pur­pose using decep­tive tac­tics.”

    Spin­off pages sprung up soon after like brush fires, with Face­book strug­gling to quick­ly snuff out the spread­ers of bogus infor­ma­tion.

    All the while, Roger Stone and Ban­non have been in full dis­in­for­ma­tion mode. Stone has appeared on the show of far-right radio com­men­ta­tor Alex Jones to trum­pet ground­less claims that Biden is try­ing to steal the elec­tion; Ban­non is echo­ing sim­i­lar con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries on his pod­cast, call­ing the elec­tion “a mass fraud.”

    “We’re call­ing it a fraud or we’re call­ing it a steal — stop the steal,” he said on a Novem­ber 4 episode.

    Despite efforts by Face­book to shut down the mis­lead­ing con­tent, it was too late. The clus­ter of groups and pages — which alto­geth­er had amassed 2.5 mil­lion fol­low­ers, accord­ing to an analy­sis by activist group Avaaz — had seed­ed a jun­gle of mis­in­for­ma­tion that is being shared — and believed — by mil­lions of Amer­i­cans.

    “I would not con­sid­er this a grass­roots move­ment by any means,” said Ben Deck­er, the CEO and founder of Memet­i­ca, a dig­i­tal inves­ti­ga­tions con­sul­tan­cy. “Stop the Steal is a high­ly coor­di­nat­ed par­ti­san polit­i­cal oper­a­tion intent on bring­ing togeth­er con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists, mili­tias, hate groups and Trump sup­port­ers to attack the integri­ty of our elec­tion.”

    The move­ment has also migrat­ed to in-per­son events, Deck­er said, man­i­fest­ing itself “in a vari­ety of offline ral­lies and protests fea­tur­ing a num­ber of par­tic­i­pants that are often armed.”

    Some of the vio­lent rhetoric asso­ci­at­ed with the cam­paign has come from its own lead­ers.

    “Clean your guns,” said Dustin Stock­ton, one of the admin­is­tra­tors of the Face­book Stop the Steal group, on a Face­book Live Stream video to his fol­low­ers. “Things are going to get worse before they get bet­ter.”

    Stock­ton acknowl­edged CNN’s request for com­ment but did­n’t respond to ques­tions. Stock­ton pre­vi­ous­ly told CNN he did not see any mes­sages with­in the group “call­ing for vio­lence out­side of what is com­mon polit­i­cal hyper­bole.” He said Face­book’s removal of the page was “out of line and they should restore it imme­di­ate­ly.”

    Stop the Steal trig­gered vot­er-intim­i­da­tion law­suits in 2016

    When Stone launched Stop the Steal in 2016, it was­n’t just a cam­paign slo­gan and fundrais­ing web­site — it also became a self-described “vote pro­tec­tors” project that sought vol­un­teers to mon­i­tor polling places. Stone told CNN this week that the pur­pose of the group was “to insure the integri­ty of the vote.”

    The project trig­gered a slew of fed­er­al law­suits just before Elec­tion Day by Demo­c­ra­t­ic par­ties in six bat­tle­ground states accus­ing Stone and affil­i­ates of try­ing to intim­i­date minor­i­ty vot­ers in the cities where he intend­ed to send vol­un­teers.

    A fed­er­al suit filed in Ohio, for instance, accused Stone’s Stop the Steal project of vio­lat­ing the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 and the Vot­ing Rights Act of 1965 by “con­spir­ing to intim­i­date, threat­en, harass, or coerce vot­ers on Elec­tion Day.”

    A judge grant­ed a tem­po­rary restrain­ing order against the group, but it was lift­ed on appeal.

    Today, StopTheSteal.org redi­rects to Stone’s per­son­al web page, “StoneColdTruth.com,” where Stone has been post­ing con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries about “wide­spread vot­er fraud.”

    This week, he appeared on Alex Jones’s show, where Stone ground­less­ly pro­nounced that Biden’s elec­tion was a “hoax” and made a plug for Stop the Steal.

    “I think our head­line is Join the Patri­ots in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. this week­end to protest the hoax that is the theft of this elec­tion and demand that we Stop the Steal,” he said, adding, “hash­tag Stop the Steal.”

    In an email, Stone respond­ed pugna­cious­ly to a ques­tion from CNN about whether the cur­rent Stop the Steal move­ment is a recy­cled ver­sion of the false nar­ra­tive of mass vot­er fraud he led years before.

    “As for the lack of evi­dence that is the mantra of all you fly­ing mon­keys,” he wrote. “It’s like deny­ing the Holo­caust. The evi­dence is over­whelm­ing and com­pelling, despite the fram­ing of your ques­tion.”

    Stone defend­ed the recy­cling of the slo­gan in his email, attempt­ing to draw a par­al­lel to oth­er mass protests that share a theme, such as the Rev. Mar­tin Luther King Jr.‘s March on Wash­ing­ton in 1963 and The Mil­lion Man March — a gath­er­ing of Black men in Wash­ing­ton, DC, in 1995.

    Stone dis­tanced him­self from Ban­non, refer­ring to him as an “ene­my of the peo­ple.” Ban­non did­n’t respond to mes­sages from CNN seek­ing com­ment.

    This fall, as the 2020 elec­tion drew clos­er, there was talk in right wing cir­cles of dust­ing off the Stop the Steal cam­paign again — but not by Stone.

    “I’m think­ing about bring­ing Stop the Steal out of retire­ment,” said right wing activist Ali Alexan­der, for­mer­ly known as Ali Akbar, in a video he cir­cu­lat­ed on social media in Sep­tem­ber. “In the next com­ing days we are going to build the infra­struc­ture to stop the steal.”

    Alexan­der, a con­tro­ver­sial fig­ure on the right whose tweets about Jew­ish jour­nal­ists have raised eye­brows, says he employed a suc­cess­ful Stop the Steal cam­paign dur­ing the 2018 midterms in Flori­da.

    This year, Alexan­der’s com­pa­ny reg­is­tered anoth­er Stop the Steal web­site — StoptheSteal.us — on Novem­ber 4.

    ...

    Also on Novem­ber 4, the Stop the Steal Face­book group was launched by an orga­ni­za­tion led by a woman with ties to Stone’s ex-wife and man­aged by a team of sev­er­al con­ser­v­a­tive activists, some with close con­nec­tions to Ban­non.

    Amy Kre­mer is the chair of Women for Amer­i­ca First — an orga­ni­za­tion which cre­at­ed the Stop the Steal Face­book group, accord­ing to Insti­tute for Strate­gic Dia­logue (ISD), a Lon­don-based think tank that mon­i­tors online polar­iza­tion and extrem­ism. Kre­mer was a lead Tea Par­ty orga­niz­er who also start­ed a super PAC with Stone’s ex-wife, Ann Stone, called Women Vote Trump.

    In an emailed response to a set of ques­tions from CNN, Kre­mer did not deny that Stop the Steal is a planned, recy­cled ver­sion of a sim­i­lar gam­bit. She declined to answer a ques­tion about the extent to which she was coor­di­nat­ing the Stop the Steal efforts with high-pro­file right wing oper­a­tives, but said: “We wel­come the sup­port and involve­ment of any indi­vid­ual who is con­cerned about the integri­ty of our elec­tions and who sup­ports Pres­i­dent Trump.”

    The admin­is­tra­tors for the Stop the Steal Face­book group also includ­ed Dustin Stock­ton and Jen­nifer Lawrence, a cou­ple who have both writ­ten for Bre­it­bart — where Ban­non once served as exec­u­tive chair­man, accord­ing to ISD. Both also were part of Ban­non’s core team for We Build the Wall, an ill-fat­ed crowd­fund­ing cam­paign for Trump’s bor­der wall that led to the arrest this sum­mer of Ban­non and three asso­ciates on sus­pi­cion of using hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars in pro­ceeds for per­son­al expens­es. Stock­ton and Lawrence were not among those arrest­ed and indict­ed in August, but their recre­ation­al vehi­cle was raid­ed by fed­er­al agents as a part of the probe. Ban­non plead­ed not guilty to the charges.

    In an inter­view last week, Stock­ton told CNN that the Face­book group had had no con­tact with Ban­non pri­or to its Novem­ber 4 cre­ation or while it was active.

    “We haven’t been able to speak to any­one from that cir­cle since August and the indict­ments,” he said.

    ‘The horse has bolt­ed’

    The Stop the Steal Face­book group took off imme­di­ate­ly. Its size swelled at a dizzy­ing pace, gain­ing some 300,000 fol­low­ers in just 24 hours.

    Some com­menters on that Stop the Steal Face­book group and its knock­offs used “threat­en­ing rhetoric antic­i­pat­ing a civ­il war, or talk from mem­bers about how they are locked and loaded,” said Cia­ran O’Con­nor, a dis­in­for­ma­tion ana­lyst with the Insti­tute for Strate­gic Dia­logue.

    Cit­ing one of the most extreme com­ments he came across, O’Con­nor said a user on one of the Face­book groups said they would die fight­ing for what they believe.

    “Since then, this thread has over 450 com­ments in sup­port of the orig­i­nal state­ment, with many say­ing that they would hap­pi­ly do the same,” he said.

    Deck­er of Memet­i­ca said he watched the Face­book group rad­i­cal­ize peo­ple in real time dur­ing the peak of its viral­i­ty.

    “You had oth­er­wise nor­mal Trump sup­port­ers who sud­den­ly want­ed to under­stand what was being done against Pres­i­dent Trump in this elec­tion,” he said. “And sud­den­ly you see com­ments where peo­ple are ask­ing, ‘What is this QAnon thing?’ ‘What is red pilling?’ And imme­di­ate­ly you see all of these dif­fer­ent users engage and share harm­ful, tox­ic con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries that they oth­er­wise would have nev­er seen had they not joined the group.”

    The Stop the Steal hash­tag has also spread wide­ly on Twit­ter.

    Seed­ed by a spate of tweets by Ali Alexan­der and oth­ers at least as ear­ly as Sep­tem­ber, the hash­tag took off on Elec­tion Day — Novem­ber 3 — with a tweet by a lawyer show­ing a video of a poll watch­er in Philadel­phia argu­ing with poll work­ers who would­n’t let him in the build­ing. The man was indeed wrong­ful­ly turned away; city offi­cials told news out­lets it was an “hon­est mis­take” and that the poll watch­er went to anoth­er polling site.

    The tweet went viral, boost­ed by retweets from famous con­ser­v­a­tive fire­brands such as Ann Coul­ter and Don­ald Trump Jr. Oth­er con­ser­v­a­tive influ­encers pick­ing up the hash­tag on Twit­ter were Rudy Giu­liani, Michelle Malkin and Dinesh D’Souza, a con­ser­v­a­tive activist and film­mak­er who plead­ed guilty to mak­ing ille­gal cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions and was par­doned by Trump.

    All told, the hash­tag was tweet­ed 1.7 mil­lion times, most­ly after Novem­ber 5, said Dar­ren L. Linvill, an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor in the depart­ment of com­mu­ni­ca­tions at Clem­son Uni­ver­si­ty who tracks the spread of infor­ma­tion online.

    Mean­while, many of those banned from or restrained by the two Big Tech com­pa­nies have migrat­ed to emerg­ing plat­forms such as Par­ler, which became the most-down­loaded free app in the Apple app store on the week­end of Novem­ber 8 — the day major media out­lets called the elec­tion for Biden.

    Despite efforts by tech com­pa­nies and fact check­ers, the bogus charge that the elec­tion has been stolen has entered the blood­stream of Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy.

    “There are still groups active with tens of thou­sands of mem­bers, over 170 Face­book Stop the Steal events, the last time I count­ed,” O’Con­nor said. “The horse has bolt­ed at this stage.”

    The hyper-polar­ized rhetoric around the elec­tion wor­ries Steven Lev­it­sky, a Har­vard gov­ern­ment pro­fes­sor and co-author of the 2018 book “How Democ­ra­cies Die.”

    “When peo­ple lose faith in the elec­toral process and don’t think elec­tions are clean and legit­i­mate, they are much more will­ing to accept vio­lence,” he said.

    The onus, Lev­it­sky said, is on Repub­li­cans in Con­gress to assure the pub­lic that the elec­tion was legit­i­mate.

    So far, that has­n’t hap­pened. Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Mitch McConnell has yet to rec­og­nize Biden as the win­ner. To date only a hand­ful of GOP lead­ers in Con­gress have done so.

    ———-

    “Stop the Steal’s mas­sive dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paign con­nect­ed to Roger Stone” By Rob Kuz­nia, Curt Devine, Nel­li Black and Drew Grif­fin; CNN; 11/13/2020

    “Stone’s polit­i­cal action com­mit­tee launched a “Stop the Steal” web­site in 2016 to fundraise ahead of that elec­tion, ask­ing for $10,000 dona­tions by say­ing, “If this elec­tion is close, THEY WILL STEAL IT.””

    It’s a meme old­er than Trump’s pres­i­den­cy: if Trump los­es, it’s because it was stolen:

    ...
    He first trot­ted out the slo­gan dur­ing the 2016 pri­maries — claim­ing a “Bush-Cruz-Kasich-Rom­ney-Ryan-McConnell fac­tion” was attempt­ing to steal the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion from Don­ald Trump — before re-upping Stop the Steal for the gen­er­al elec­tion.

    “Don­ald Trump thinks Hillary Clin­ton and the Democ­rats are going to steal the next elec­tion,” his web­site said that Octo­ber.

    Stop the Steal briefly resur­faced around the midterms in 2018 — with Repub­li­cans employ­ing the hash­tag dur­ing a recount in a neck-and-neck Flori­da race for U.S. Sen­ate — but it was­n’t until 2020 that it real­ly caught fire.
    ...

    Flash for­ward to the 2020 elec­tions, and we find Amy Kre­mer, an asso­ci­at­ed of Roger Stone’s ex-wife, launch­ing a new “Stop the Steal” Face­book group on Novem­ber 4. The page is admin­is­tered by Ban­non asso­ciates Dustin Stock­ton and Jen­nifer Lawrence:

    ...
    Also on Novem­ber 4, the Stop the Steal Face­book group was launched by an orga­ni­za­tion led by a woman with ties to Stone’s ex-wife and man­aged by a team of sev­er­al con­ser­v­a­tive activists, some with close con­nec­tions to Ban­non.

    Amy Kre­mer is the chair of Women for Amer­i­ca First — an orga­ni­za­tion which cre­at­ed the Stop the Steal Face­book group, accord­ing to Insti­tute for Strate­gic Dia­logue (ISD), a Lon­don-based think tank that mon­i­tors online polar­iza­tion and extrem­ism. Kre­mer was a lead Tea Par­ty orga­niz­er who also start­ed a super PAC with Stone’s ex-wife, Ann Stone, called Women Vote Trump.

    In an emailed response to a set of ques­tions from CNN, Kre­mer did not deny that Stop the Steal is a planned, recy­cled ver­sion of a sim­i­lar gam­bit. She declined to answer a ques­tion about the extent to which she was coor­di­nat­ing the Stop the Steal efforts with high-pro­file right wing oper­a­tives, but said: “We wel­come the sup­port and involve­ment of any indi­vid­ual who is con­cerned about the integri­ty of our elec­tions and who sup­ports Pres­i­dent Trump.”

    The admin­is­tra­tors for the Stop the Steal Face­book group also includ­ed Dustin Stock­ton and Jen­nifer Lawrence, a cou­ple who have both writ­ten for Bre­it­bart — where Ban­non once served as exec­u­tive chair­man, accord­ing to ISD. Both also were part of Ban­non’s core team for We Build the Wall, an ill-fat­ed crowd­fund­ing cam­paign for Trump’s bor­der wall that led to the arrest this sum­mer of Ban­non and three asso­ciates on sus­pi­cion of using hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars in pro­ceeds for per­son­al expens­es. Stock­ton and Lawrence were not among those arrest­ed and indict­ed in August, but their recre­ation­al vehi­cle was raid­ed by fed­er­al agents as a part of the probe. Ban­non plead­ed not guilty to the charges.

    In an inter­view last week, Stock­ton told CNN that the Face­book group had had no con­tact with Ban­non pri­or to its Novem­ber 4 cre­ation or while it was active.

    “We haven’t been able to speak to any­one from that cir­cle since August and the indict­ments,” he said.
    ...

    And then on Novem­ber 5, Ban­non him­self launch­es an “Own your Vote” Face­book page push­ing the same “Stop the Steal” mes­sage. Spin­off Face­book groups rapid­ly spread. It’s how dig­i­tal ‘grass­roots’ activism is done these days:

    ...
    Also on Novem­ber 5, Ban­non start­ed his own “Stop the Steal” Face­book group; he changed the name to “Own Your Vote” the fol­low­ing day. It was not removed by Face­book, but the social media com­pa­ny did lat­er remove sev­er­al oth­er pages affil­i­at­ed with Ban­non.

    “We’ve removed sev­er­al clus­ters of activ­i­ty for using inau­then­tic behav­ior tac­tics to arti­fi­cial­ly boost how many peo­ple saw their con­tent,” said Andy Stone, a Face­book spokesman. “That includes a group that was orig­i­nal­ly named Stop the Steal, which lat­er became Gay Com­mu­nists for Social­ism and mis­led peo­ple about its pur­pose using decep­tive tac­tics.”

    Spin­off pages sprung up soon after like brush fires, with Face­book strug­gling to quick­ly snuff out the spread­ers of bogus infor­ma­tion.
    ...

    And as dis­in­for­ma­tion researchers observed, the nation­al focus on the con­test­ed vote cre­at­ed a per­fect envi­ron­ment for con­ser­v­a­tives to get rad­i­cal­ized in real-time. All of a sud­den, the kind of groups that rou­tine­ly talk about ‘red-pilling’ and polit­i­cal vio­lence had a much larg­er and more recep­tive audi­ence:

    ...
    “I would not con­sid­er this a grass­roots move­ment by any means,” said Ben Deck­er, the CEO and founder of Memet­i­ca, a dig­i­tal inves­ti­ga­tions con­sul­tan­cy. “Stop the Steal is a high­ly coor­di­nat­ed par­ti­san polit­i­cal oper­a­tion intent on bring­ing togeth­er con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists, mili­tias, hate groups and Trump sup­port­ers to attack the integri­ty of our elec­tion.”

    ...

    ‘The horse has bolt­ed’

    The Stop the Steal Face­book group took off imme­di­ate­ly. Its size swelled at a dizzy­ing pace, gain­ing some 300,000 fol­low­ers in just 24 hours.

    Some com­menters on that Stop the Steal Face­book group and its knock­offs used “threat­en­ing rhetoric antic­i­pat­ing a civ­il war, or talk from mem­bers about how they are locked and loaded,” said Cia­ran O’Con­nor, a dis­in­for­ma­tion ana­lyst with the Insti­tute for Strate­gic Dia­logue.

    Cit­ing one of the most extreme com­ments he came across, O’Con­nor said a user on one of the Face­book groups said they would die fight­ing for what they believe.

    “Since then, this thread has over 450 com­ments in sup­port of the orig­i­nal state­ment, with many say­ing that they would hap­pi­ly do the same,” he said.

    Deck­er of Memet­i­ca said he watched the Face­book group rad­i­cal­ize peo­ple in real time dur­ing the peak of its viral­i­ty.

    “You had oth­er­wise nor­mal Trump sup­port­ers who sud­den­ly want­ed to under­stand what was being done against Pres­i­dent Trump in this elec­tion,” he said. “And sud­den­ly you see com­ments where peo­ple are ask­ing, ‘What is this QAnon thing?’ ‘What is red pilling?’ And imme­di­ate­ly you see all of these dif­fer­ent users engage and share harm­ful, tox­ic con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries that they oth­er­wise would have nev­er seen had they not joined the group.”
    ...

    So of course we’re also learn­ing that these groups are active­ly encour­ag­ing vio­lence, like when Dustin Stock­ton implored fol­low­ers to “clean your guns”:

    ...
    The move­ment has also migrat­ed to in-per­son events, Deck­er said, man­i­fest­ing itself “in a vari­ety of offline ral­lies and protests fea­tur­ing a num­ber of par­tic­i­pants that are often armed.”

    Some of the vio­lent rhetoric asso­ci­at­ed with the cam­paign has come from its own lead­ers.

    “Clean your guns,” said Dustin Stock­ton, one of the admin­is­tra­tors of the Face­book Stop the Steal group, on a Face­book Live Stream video to his fol­low­ers. “Things are going to get worse before they get bet­ter.”

    Stock­ton acknowl­edged CNN’s request for com­ment but did­n’t respond to ques­tions. Stock­ton pre­vi­ous­ly told CNN he did not see any mes­sages with­in the group “call­ing for vio­lence out­side of what is com­mon polit­i­cal hyper­bole.” He said Face­book’s removal of the page was “out of line and they should restore it imme­di­ate­ly.”
    ...

    And this entire time, Stone and Ban­non have per­son­al­ly been appear­ing online to push the idea that the elec­tion was stolen from Trump. Ban­non has his own pod­cast and Stone appears on shows like InfoWars. They real­ly are act­ing as dis­in­for­ma­tion ring­lead­ers:

    ...
    All the while, Roger Stone and Ban­non have been in full dis­in­for­ma­tion mode. Stone has appeared on the show of far-right radio com­men­ta­tor Alex Jones to trum­pet ground­less claims that Biden is try­ing to steal the elec­tion; Ban­non is echo­ing sim­i­lar con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries on his pod­cast, call­ing the elec­tion “a mass fraud.”

    “We’re call­ing it a fraud or we’re call­ing it a steal — stop the steal,” he said on a Novem­ber 4 episode.

    ...

    This week, he appeared on Alex Jones’s show, where Stone ground­less­ly pro­nounced that Biden’s elec­tion was a “hoax” and made a plug for Stop the Steal.

    “I think our head­line is Join the Patri­ots in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. this week­end to protest the hoax that is the theft of this elec­tion and demand that we Stop the Steal,” he said, adding, “hash­tag Stop the Steal.”
    ...

    Final­ly, note how Stone is dis­tanc­ing him­self from Ban­non, call­ing Ban­non an “ene­my of the peo­ple” when asked about his asso­ci­a­tion with him. That’s the kind of over-to-top denial we should expect if Stone and Ban­non are not just work­ing with each oth­er but work­ing on some­thing tru­ly treach­er­ous and dia­bol­i­cal. It’s a tell:

    ...
    Stone dis­tanced him­self from Ban­non, refer­ring to him as an “ene­my of the peo­ple.” Ban­non did­n’t respond to mes­sages from CNN seek­ing com­ment.
    ...

    So that’s what Ban­non and Stone are pubicly up to. It rais­es the ques­tion of what Stone is advis­ing Trump to do pri­vate­ly. So here’s a look at what Stone was pub­licly telling Trump specif­i­cal­ly to do should he lose the elec­tion back in Sep­tem­ber: declare mar­tial law and arrest your oppo­nents. Because the elec­tion will obvi­ous­ly have been stolen if you lose:

    Media Mat­ters for Amer­i­ca

    Roger Stone calls for Trump to seize total pow­er if he los­es the elec­tion
    Stone also said fed­er­al author­i­ties should seize all Neva­da bal­lots, fed­er­al agents and GOP state offi­cials should “phys­i­cal­ly” block vot­ing, that Trump should nation­al­ize police forces, and that Trump should order wide­spread arrests

    WRITTEN BY TIMOTHY JOHNSON
    RESEARCH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM ALEX WALKER
    PUBLISHED 09/11/20 2:11 PM EDT

    Roger Stone is mak­ing base­less accu­sa­tions of wide­spread vot­er fraud in the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion and is urg­ing Don­ald Trump to con­sid­er sev­er­al dra­con­ian mea­sures to stay in pow­er, includ­ing hav­ing fed­er­al author­i­ties seize bal­lots in Neva­da, hav­ing FBI agents and Repub­li­can state offi­cials “phys­i­cal­ly” block vot­ing under the pre­text of pre­vent­ing vot­er fraud, using mar­tial law or the Insur­rec­tion Act to car­ry out wide­spread arrests, and nation­al­iz­ing state police forces.

    Stone, a long­time con­fi­dant of the pres­i­dent, made the com­ments dur­ing a Sep­tem­ber 10 appear­ance on far-right con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist Alex Jones’ Infowars net­work. On July 10, Trump com­mut­ed a 40-month prison sen­tence that was hand­ed down to Stone after he was con­vict­ed of lying to Con­gress and tam­per­ing with wit­ness­es as part of spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s probe into 2016 elec­tion inter­fer­ence. Name­ly, Stone lied to Con­gress about his con­tacts with Wik­iLeaks, which released hacked emails with the aim of boost­ing Trump’s prospects. In the weeks lead­ing up to the com­mu­ta­tion, Stone made a num­ber of media appear­ances where he asked Trump to grant him clemen­cy and said that in exchange, he could be a more effec­tive cam­paign­er for the president’s 2020 reelec­tion efforts.

    Stone’s efforts are now under­way, and his aim appears to be to spread con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries about vot­er fraud and call for actions that would like­ly intim­i­date poten­tial Joe Biden vot­ers.

    Dur­ing his Sep­tem­ber 10 appear­ance on The Alex Jones Show, Stone declared that the only legit­i­mate out­come to the 2020 elec­tion would be a Trump vic­to­ry. He made this asser­tion on the basis of his entire­ly unfound­ed claim that ear­ly vot­ing has been marred by wide­spread vot­er fraud.

    Stone argued that “the bal­lots in Neva­da on elec­tion night should be seized by fed­er­al mar­shalls and tak­en from the state” because “they are com­plete­ly cor­rupt­ed” and false­ly said that “we can prove vot­er fraud in the absen­tees right now.” He specif­i­cal­ly called for Trump to have absen­tee bal­lots seized in Clark Coun­ty, Neva­da, an area that leans Demo­c­ra­t­ic. Stone went on to claim that “the votes from Neva­da should not be count­ed; they are already flood­ed with ille­gals” and base­less­ly sug­gest­ed that for­mer Sen. Har­ry Reid (D‑NV) should be arrest­ed and that Trump should con­sid­er nation­al­iz­ing Nevada’s state police force.

    Beyond Neva­da, Stone rec­om­mend­ed that Trump con­sid­er sev­er­al actions to retain his pow­er. Stone rec­om­mend­ed that Trump appoint for­mer Rep. Bob Barr (R‑GA) as a spe­cial coun­sel “with the spe­cif­ic task of form­ing an Elec­tion Day oper­a­tion using the FBI, fed­er­al mar­shals, and Repub­li­can state offi­cials across the coun­try to be pre­pared to file legal objec­tions and if nec­es­sary to phys­i­cal­ly stand in the way of crim­i­nal activ­i­ty.”

    Stone also urged Trump to con­sid­er declar­ing “mar­tial law” or invok­ing the Insur­rec­tion Act and then using his pow­ers to arrest Face­book CEO Mark Zucker­berg, Apple CEO Tim Cook, “the Clin­tons” and “any­body else who can be proven to be involved in ille­gal activ­i­ty.”

    ...

    ———-

    “Roger Stone calls for Trump to seize total pow­er if he los­es the elec­tion” BY TIMOTHY JOHNSON; Media Mat­ters for Amer­i­ca; 09/11/2020

    Dur­ing his Sep­tem­ber 10 appear­ance on The Alex Jones Show, Stone declared that the only legit­i­mate out­come to the 2020 elec­tion would be a Trump vic­to­ry. He made this asser­tion on the basis of his entire­ly unfound­ed claim that ear­ly vot­ing has been marred by wide­spread vot­er fraud.”

    The only pos­si­ble valid out­come is a Trump vic­to­ry. Any­thing else is a sign of ram­pant vot­er fraud. That was Roger Stone’s mes­sage to Alex Jone’s audi­ence near­ly two months before the elec­tion. And then Stone then calls for Trump to declare mar­tial law. On Alex Jone’s show:

    ...
    Stone also urged Trump to con­sid­er declar­ing “mar­tial law” or invok­ing the Insur­rec­tion Act and then using his pow­ers to arrest Face­book CEO Mark Zucker­berg, Apple CEO Tim Cook, “the Clin­tons” and “any­body else who can be proven to be involved in ille­gal activ­i­ty.”
    ...

    We can’t say we weren’t warned. They’ve been open about this psy­op for a while. Which means they’ve had quite a while to encour­age their audi­ence to think about and accept the idea of fight­ing and dying for Trump’s glo­ry. Which is exact­ly what Steve Ban­non was encour­ag­ing his audi­ence to get ready to do. Fight and die for Trump’s quest to defeat Amer­i­ca’s democ­ra­cy. On Vet­er­ans Days, of all days:

    Media Mat­ters for Amer­i­ca

    Steve Ban­non sug­gests that Amer­i­cans should fight and die for a sec­ond Trump term

    Via obscure his­tor­i­cal metaphor

    Writ­ten by Made­line Peltz
    Pub­lished 11/13/20 1:45 PM EST

    On Vet­er­ans Day, for­mer White House chief strate­gist Steve Ban­non referred to a 19th cen­tu­ry poem to sur­rep­ti­tious­ly call for Amer­i­cans to fight and die for a sec­ond Trump term.

    For years, Ban­non has cloaked his extrem­ist posi­tions with obscure and pre­ten­tious ref­er­ences. In this case, his co-host Jack Max­ey read an excerpt from “Lays of Ancient Rome,” a poem by 19th cen­tu­ry British impe­ri­al­ist Thomas Babing­ton Macaulay. The excerpt read by Max­ey on the show describes the inevitabil­i­ty of death and the glo­ry of dying for your coun­try. Ban­non con­nect­ed the quote to the cur­rent cri­sis in the Unit­ed States elec­tion, using the ref­er­ence as a call to vio­lence to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s sup­port­ers in Michi­gan, Penn­syl­va­nia, and Geor­gia.

    JACK MAXEY (CO-HOST): OK, we’re cold open­ing here with Hor­atius at the gate and I’m going to give it to you from mem­o­ry.

    Then out spake brave Hor­atius,

    The Cap­tain of the Gate:

    To every man upon this earth

    Death cometh soon or late.

    And how can man die bet­ter

    Than fac­ing fear­ful odds,

    For the ash­es of his fathers,

    And the tem­ples of his gods.

    ...

    STEVE BANNON (CO-HOST): It wasn’t the impeach­ment that was real­ly going to cause a con­sti­tu­tion­al cri­sis, right? You could see how that was going to kind of play out. But it was this vote in 2020 and par­tic­u­lar­ly as you saw the Democ­rats go to this mail-in vote — ladies and gen­tle­men we’re hurtling towards a real con­sti­tu­tion­al cri­sis and it’s going to start — this prairie fire is going to burn right up to the first week of Decem­ber. And you’re going to see some very inter­est­ing things. We’re going to need a cou­ple pro­files in courage. We’re going to need a cou­ple of Hor­atius at the gate in the first week of Decem­ber — places like Michi­gan, Penn­syl­va­nia, Geor­gia. It’s all com­ing.

    The com­ments, which did not stream on Face­book or YouTube, come after Ban­non was penal­ized across mul­ti­ple social media plat­forms because he called for the behead­ing of infec­tious dis­ease expert Dr. Antho­ny Fau­ci and FBI Direc­tor Christo­pher Wray, say­ing if it were up to him, he would “put the heads on pikes” as a “warn­ing to fed­er­al bureau­crats.”

    Though the plat­form removed Bannon’s video fea­tur­ing com­ments about Fau­ci and Wray, Face­book CEO Mark Zucker­berg told employ­ees in an all-staff meet­ing on Novem­ber 12 that Ban­non “had not vio­lat­ed enough of the company’s poli­cies to jus­ti­fy” a per­ma­nent sus­pen­sion from the plat­form. A few days ear­li­er, Face­book had also removed a net­work of pages asso­ci­at­ed with Ban­non for push­ing false claims about the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Bannon’s Face­book page has been inac­tive since the behead­ing remarks.

    Oth­er social media plat­forms took action in response to Bannon’s com­ments. Mul­ti­ple accounts asso­ci­at­ed with Ban­non and his pod­cast War Room: Pan­dem­ic were removed from Twit­ter, he was sus­pend­ed from stream­ing on YouTube for “at least a week,” and his Vimeo and MailChimp accounts were ter­mi­nat­ed. As of this writ­ing, War Room: Pan­dem­ic has resumed stream­ing on YouTube.

    Despite these penal­ties, Ban­non con­tin­ues to call for vio­lence amid severe polit­i­cal volatil­i­ty.

    ————

    “Steve Ban­non sug­gests that Amer­i­cans should fight and die for a sec­ond Trump term” by Made­line Peltz; Media Mat­ters for Amer­i­ca; 11/13/2020

    “STEVE BANNON (CO-HOST): It wasn’t the impeach­ment that was real­ly going to cause a con­sti­tu­tion­al cri­sis, right? You could see how that was going to kind of play out. But it was this vote in 2020 and par­tic­u­lar­ly as you saw the Democ­rats go to this mail-in vote — ladies and gen­tle­men we’re hurtling towards a real con­sti­tu­tion­al cri­sis and it’s going to start — this prairie fire is going to burn right up to the first week of Decem­ber. And you’re going to see some very inter­est­ing things. We’re going to need a cou­ple pro­files in courage. We’re going to need a cou­ple of Hor­atius at the gate in the first week of Decem­ber — places like Michi­gan, Penn­syl­va­nia, Geor­gia. It’s all com­ing.

    We’re going to need a cou­ple pro­files in courage. We’re going to need a cou­ple of Hor­atius at the gate in the first week of Decem­ber. That was Ban­non’s mes­sage to his audi­ence. Be pre­pared to die for Trump. In the first week of Decem­ber.

    So just as Roger Stone made it abun­dant­ly clear months ago that they were going to declare the elec­tion stolen if Trump los­es, we’re now get­ting hints from Ban­non that some sort of vio­lent actions are planned for the first week of Decem­ber. Peo­ple are going to die. Along with Amer­i­ca’s democ­ra­cy. For the glo­ry Trump. We’ve been warned. Again.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 14, 2020, 4:09 pm
  8. Much has been said about the train­wreck press con­fer­ence by Pres­i­dent Trump’s legal team on Thurs­day, where Trump’s attor­neys Rudy Giu­liani, Sid­ney Pow­ell, and Jen­na Ellis made a slew of accu­sa­tions about elec­tion rig­ging involv­ing Venezuela, servers in Ger­many, fol­lowed up by promis­es that evi­dence for these accu­sa­tions would be com­ing in the future. It was the kind of press con­fer­ence that raised more ques­tions than it answered, large­ly because it did­n’t actu­al­ly answer any ques­tion at all. And yet, in wag­ing a press con­fer­ence that is simul­ta­ne­ous­ly evi­dence-free and yet filled with far flung inter­na­tion­al con­spir­a­cy claims that appear to have come from QAnon, we did indi­rect­ly get an answer to the ques­tion of the Trump team’s under­ly­ing strat­e­gy. It’s a strat­e­gy that should sound very famil­iar by now: They’re run­ning Steve Ban­non’s “flood the zone with sh#t” strat­e­gy, where any and all accu­sa­tions, no mat­ter how unfound­ed, are wel­come because the strat­e­gy does­n’t involve con­vince the pub­lic of any­thing. It’s a strat­e­gy of drown­ing the pub­lic in a flood of sh#t to con­vince the pub­lic it can’t believe any­thing:

    Talk­ing Points Memo

    Trump Lawyers Flood Zone With Increas­ing­ly Bizarre Con­spir­a­cy The­o­ries About Elec­tion

    By Matt Shuham
    Novem­ber 19, 2020 2:45 p.m.

    They’re not send­ing their best.

    In a 90-minute, off-the-walls press con­fer­ence Thurs­day, three attor­neys for the Trump cam­paign used a tac­tic that for­mer Trump cam­paign chair­man Steve Ban­non once called “flood­ing the zone with sh it,” throw­ing wild accu­sa­tions at the wall and hec­tor­ing the media for not ampli­fy­ing their non­sense even more.

    The press con­fer­ence, held in a crowd­ed room at the Repub­li­can Party’s head­quar­ters in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., fea­tured a mix of com­men­tary on exist­ing law­suits, false­hoods about elec­tions offi­cials, and con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries about vot­ing soft­ware. The cam­paign alleged a “cen­tral­ized” nation­wide scheme.

    Sid­ney Pow­ell, a famil­iar Trump world attor­ney and one of three lawyers to take the mic Thurs­day — along with Rudy Giu­liani and Jen­na Ellis — spent most of her time talk­ing about vot­ing machines and soft­ware that were backed by Amer­i­ca-hat­ing com­mu­nists in Venezuela, Cuba and, “like­ly,” also Chi­na. (Also George Soros, Giu­liani made sure to men­tion lat­er.)

    Pow­ell didn’t make any spe­cif­ic claims about what the evil com­mu­nist vot­ing soft­ware did to Amer­i­ca. Rather, she spec­u­lat­ed that the soft­ware might have been used to change the weight of cer­tain votes — “a Biden vote counts for 1.25, a Trump vote counts for .75” — to tilt mul­ti­ple states away for Biden and Trump. She made enor­mous claims about thou­sands of Trump votes being “trashed” and Biden votes being “inject­ed.”

    ...

    Some of the the­o­ries she pre­sent­ed, NBC News report­ed last week, began in the fever swamps that are home to QAnon and oth­er con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries. The direc­tor of Cyber­se­cu­ri­ty and Infra­struc­ture Secu­ri­ty Agency, a DHS agency tasked with elec­tion secu­ri­ty efforts, was fired by the Pres­i­dent this week after a valiant few weeks debunk­ing those the­o­ries and oth­ers.

    Giu­liani, who appeared to have hair dye drip­ping down his face, promised that Michi­gan had actu­al­ly sup­port­ed Trump — exclud­ing the votes in the state’s largest coun­ty by far, Wayne, home to Detroit.

    Dis­cussing Wis­con­sin, Giu­liani said reporters shouldn’t ask about the campaign’s legal work but rather, “you should have asked me, and you should have been more astound­ed by, the fact that our votes are count­ed in Ger­many and in Spain by a com­pa­ny owned by affil­i­ates of Chavez and Maduro.”

    The three attor­neys promised more law­suits in fed­er­al court, but they also stressed that the infor­ma­tion they were pre­sent­ing was an “open­ing state­ment,” as Ellis put it at one point, and that real evi­dence would be rolled out lat­er. She, too, exco­ri­at­ed the press for… well, some­thing.

    The head fakes, digres­sions and accu­sa­tions of media “cen­sor­ship” and thug­gery even­tu­al­ly began to repeat them­selves. So, too, did the doc­u­ments that the lawyers did hap­pen to cite, includ­ing a hand­ful of affi­davits from var­i­ous suits around the coun­try.

    “We have 100 more of these,” Giu­liani said after describ­ing one affidavit’s claims in a so-far-unsuc­cess­ful suit in Michi­gan. “I can’t show them to you because these peo­ple don’t want to be harassed.”

    “There are many more affi­davits here, I’d like to read them to you but I don’t have the time,” he added. “You know how many affi­davits we have in the Michi­gan case? 220 affi­davits. They’re not all pub­lic but eight of them are!”

    Giu­liani also whiffed on basic facts, such as what had hap­pened in Michi­gan this week: The Board of Can­vassers in Wayne Coun­ty, home to Detroit, cer­ti­fied the elec­tion results to the sec­re­tary of state. Then, on Thurs­day, the Trump cam­paign incor­rect­ly claimed in a court fil­ing that the results hadn’t been cer­ti­fied, cit­ing two affi­davits from Repub­li­can board mem­bers who want to “rescind” their votes. (Trump him­self had called one of the board mem­bers in the inter­im.) Those doc­u­ments don’t car­ry any legal weight, Michi­gan Sec­re­tary of State Joce­lyn Ben­son has said.

    Giu­liani and Pow­ell laughed and dis­missed Ben­son because she’s a Demo­c­rat. Giu­liani then recit­ed the same talk­ing points about vot­ing soft­ware in Venezuela and Ger­many.

    As The New York Times’ Mag­gie Haber­man point­ed out, per­haps the most note­wor­thy thing about the legal team was who wasn’t present: Jay Seku­low, Pat Cipol­lone, and oth­er high-pro­file Trumpers who worked the President’s impeach­ment defense.

    “Most peo­ple who’ve worked on oth­er Trump legal issues are stay­ing away from this endeav­or,” Haber­man said.

    ———–

    “Trump Lawyers Flood Zone With Increas­ing­ly Bizarre Con­spir­a­cy The­o­ries About Elec­tion” by Matt Shuham; Talk­ing Points Memo; 11/19/2020

    “In a 90-minute, off-the-walls press con­fer­ence Thurs­day, three attor­neys for the Trump cam­paign used a tac­tic that for­mer Trump cam­paign chair­man Steve Ban­non once called “flood­ing the zone with sh it,” throw­ing wild accu­sa­tions at the wall and hec­tor­ing the media for not ampli­fy­ing their non­sense even more.”

    It’s a dia­bol­i­cal­ly sim­ple strat­e­gy. And effec­tive when deployed by skilled bullsh#t artists. And as the fol­low­ing arti­cle points out, it’s a strat­e­gy that Trump’s legal team has been exec­u­tive under the direct advice of Steve Ban­non him­self. As we’ve seen, both Steven Ban­non and Roger Stone have report­ed­ly been whis­per­ing in Trump’s ear dur­ing this post-elec­tion peri­od and encour­ag­ing Trump not to con­cede. Now we’re learn­ing that Rudy Giu­liani and Trump’s legal team are appar­ent­ly work­ing close­ly with Ban­non too:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    As defeats pile up, Trump tries to delay vote count in last-ditch attempt to cast doubt on Biden vic­to­ry

    By Amy Gard­ner, Robert Cos­ta, Ros­alind S. Hel­der­man and Michelle Ye Hee Lee
    Novem­ber 18, 2020 at 7:47 p.m. CST

    Pres­i­dent Trump has aban­doned his plan to win reelec­tion by dis­qual­i­fy­ing enough bal­lots to reverse Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Biden’s wins in key bat­tle­ground states, piv­ot­ing instead to a goal that appears equal­ly unat­tain­able: delay­ing a final count long enough to cast doubt on Biden’s deci­sive vic­to­ry.

    On Wednes­day, Trump’s cam­paign wired $3 mil­lion to elec­tion offi­cials in Wis­con­sin to start a recount in the state’s two largest coun­ties. His per­son­al lawyer, ­Rudolph W. Giu­liani, who has tak­en over the president’s legal team, asked a fed­er­al judge to con­sid­er order­ing the Repub­li­can-con­trolled leg­is­la­ture in Penn­syl­va­nia to select the state’s elec­tors. And Trump egged on a group of GOP law­mak­ers in Michi­gan who are push­ing for an audit of the vote there before it is cer­ti­fied.

    Giu­liani has also told Trump and asso­ciates that his ambi­tion is to pres­sure GOP law­mak­ers and offi­cials across the polit­i­cal map to stall the vote cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in an effort to have Repub­li­can law­mak­ers pick elec­tors and dis­rupt the elec­toral col­lege when it con­venes next month — and Trump is encour­ag­ing of that plan, accord­ing to two senior Repub­li­cans who have con­ferred with Giu­liani and spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty to dis­cuss the mat­ter can­did­ly.

    But that out­come appears impos­si­ble. It is against the law in Penn­syl­va­nia, Wis­con­sin law gives no role to the leg­is­la­ture in choos­ing pres­i­den­tial elec­tors, and there is lit­tle pub­lic will in oth­er states to pur­sue such a path.

    Behind the thin legal gam­bit is what sev­er­al Trump advis­ers say is his real goal: sow­ing doubt in Biden’s vic­to­ry with the president’s most ardent sup­port­ers and keep­ing alive his prospects for anoth­er pres­i­den­tial run in 2024.

    ...

    While he con­tin­ues to make such false alle­ga­tions on Twit­ter and in fundrais­ing emails dri­ving mon­ey into his new lead­er­ship PAC, the president’s legal cas­es have large­ly been focused on attempts to dis­card bal­lots for miss­ing infor­ma­tion or on oth­er tech­ni­cal­i­ties. On Wednes­day, the Trump cam­paign agreed to a joint stip­u­la­tion in a law­suit in Bucks Coun­ty, Pa., that there was no fraud, even as it con­tin­ued to press for the toss­ing of mail bal­lots with vot­er infor­ma­tion miss­ing from their envelopes.

    Sev­er­al Repub­li­cans said that even Giu­liani believes the legal path is ardu­ous. The goal now is to play for delay and cast doubt on the elec­tion, they said.

    Accord­ing to peo­ple famil­iar with their con­ver­sa­tions, Giu­liani is con­fer­ring reg­u­lar­ly with Stephen K. Ban­non, the con­tro­ver­sial for­mer White House advis­er who ear­li­er this month called for Antho­ny S. Fau­ci, the coro­n­avirus task force mem­ber, to be behead­ed.

    “We con­tin­ue to push for­ward,” said Boris Epshteyn, a Trump ally and strate­gic advis­er to the cam­paign, who appeared with Giu­liani at a fed­er­al court hear­ing Tues­day in Penn­syl­va­nia, where the president’s lawyer faced skep­ti­cal ques­tion­ing from the judge. “The push is to deter­mine what tru­ly hap­pened in this elec­tion and the point is to get to the bot­tom of how many peo­ple vot­ed legal­ly for Pres­i­dent Trump and how many for Joe Biden.”

    The toll of the president’s false claims on pub­lic con­fi­dence in the elec­tion was appar­ent in a a new poll from Mon­mouth Uni­ver­si­ty that found that 77 per­cent of Trump sup­port­ers believe Biden’s win was due to fraud.

    “Any­thing that aids and abets doubts about an elec­tion that has been con­duct­ed with integri­ty makes the future of democ­ra­cy dark­er,” said William Gal­ston, senior fel­low in gov­er­nance stud­ies at the Brook­ings Insti­tu­tion. “To weak­en a demo­c­ra­t­ic people’s faith in its fun­da­men­tal insti­tu­tions of self-gov­ern­ment is inex­cus­able.”

    And the pres­i­dent faces grow­ing skep­ti­cism with­in his own par­ty — and out­rage else­where — about his drum­beat of false state­ments.

    For­mer White House chief of staff Mick Mul­vaney, in an inter­view Wednes­day on Fox Busi­ness, crit­i­cized Trump’s hir­ing of Giu­liani to lit­i­gate a fed­er­al law­suit in Penn­syl­va­nia.

    “It strikes me that this is the most impor­tant law­suit in the his­to­ry of the coun­try, and they’re not using the most well-not­ed elec­tion lawyers,” Mul­vaney said. “There are folks who do this all of the time. This is a spe­cial­ty. This is not a tele­vi­sion pro­gram. This is the real thing.”

    Trump’s cur­rent chief of staff, Mark Mead­ows, told reporters on Capi­tol Hill on Wednes­day that he “per­son­al­ly” has evi­dence of inel­i­gi­ble vot­ers cast­ing bal­lots. “But the real ques­tion fun­da­men­tal­ly con­tin­ues to be: Are there enough votes out there to over­turn the elec­tion?”

    In Arizona’s Mari­co­pa Coun­ty, which the state Repub­li­can Par­ty has sued over the way the coun­ty con­duct­ed a required hand-count audit, the GOP chair­man of the coun­ty Board of Super­vi­sors has expressed exas­per­a­tion with the claims.

    “It’s time to dial back the rhetoric, rumors, and false claims. There is no evi­dence of fraud or mis­con­duct or mal­func­tion,” Clint Hick­man wrote in a pub­lic let­ter Tues­day.

    Roopali H. Desai, an attor­ney rep­re­sent­ing Ari­zona Sec­re­tary of State Katie Hobbs (D), accused Repub­li­cans of using the law­suit to delay the vote cer­ti­fi­ca­tion by fur­ther­ing claims that the elec­tion was rid­dled with prob­lems.

    In ask­ing Judge John Han­nah to dis­miss the case quick­ly, Desai said it was “dan­ger­ous” to allow that nar­ra­tive “to go on even one more day.”

    Han­nah appeared skep­ti­cal of the Repub­li­cans’ claims, say­ing they wait­ed until after the elec­tion results were known to raise con­cerns about a hand-count pro­ce­dure they knew about before Elec­tion Day.

    Mean­while, in Penn­syl­va­nia, Guil­iani sub­mit­ted a new fil­ing show­ing that he plans to argue in fed­er­al court that elec­tion offi­cials vio­lat­ed the campaign’s con­sti­tu­tion­al rights because observers were not able to watch votes being count­ed. Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court ruled Tues­day that Philadel­phia author­i­ties gave rea­son­able access to the observers.

    In a new court fil­ing ask­ing for per­mis­sion to amend the campaign’s law­suit, Giu­liani said Trump would ask the judge to con­sid­er declar­ing the state’s elec­tion results “defec­tive” and order Pennsylvania’s Repub­li­can-con­trolled leg­is­la­ture to select the state’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tors rather than Gov. Tom Wolf, a Demo­c­rat.

    Under state law, the gov­er­nor appoints the elec­tors based on the pop­u­lar vote — a fact that even Repub­li­can leg­isla­tive lead­ers have empha­sized.

    In Neva­da, the Trump cam­paign is ask­ing a state judge to over­turn or annul Biden’s vic­to­ry under a state law that allows can­di­dates to con­test an elec­tion based on alleged­ly fraud­u­lent votes and oth­er grounds.

    In a 21-page state­ment of con­test filed Tues­day, Repub­li­cans focus large­ly on the Demo­c­ra­t­ic strong­hold of Clark Coun­ty, repeat­ing some of the same alle­ga­tions they put forth in recent law­suits — and that state and fed­er­al judges sum­mar­i­ly reject­ed.

    The elec­tion con­test also makes a num­ber of oth­er new alle­ga­tions, includ­ing that thou­sands of peo­ple vot­ed improp­er­ly in the state and that some peo­ple were offered improp­er incen­tives to vote. The doc­u­ment does not pro­vide evi­dence for those claims but says evi­dence will be forth­com­ing.

    Lau­ra Fitzsim­mons, a Demo­c­ra­t­ic lawyer who has done vot­er pro­tec­tion in the state for decades, said she sees the elec­tion con­test as a delay tac­tic to dis­rupt cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

    “They’re just des­per­ate,” she said. “They prob­a­bly know bet­ter than the rest of us that their alle­ga­tions are unfound­ed, and they’re just seek­ing a delay for some rea­son that is tac­ti­cal, but not legal.”

    Trump is increas­ing­ly rely­ing on Giu­liani and cam­paign advis­ers Jen­na Ellis and Jason Miller for legal guid­ance, sev­er­al cam­paign offi­cials said — in part because Trump has stopped lis­ten­ing to the orig­i­nal legal team and in part because of those lawyers’ deci­sion to dis­tance them­selves in recent days from the president’s increas­ing­ly errat­ic effort to reverse the election’s out­come.

    As a result, Trump increas­ing­ly is hear­ing only from aides who are main­tain­ing that the elec­tion is not over. He remains hope­ful about Wis­con­sin, Michi­gan and Penn­syl­va­nia large­ly on the advice of Giu­liani, who is close to Ban­non, and Trump has urged Giu­liani to con­tin­ue the fight, sev­er­al offi­cials said.

    Giu­liani “is crazy and actu­al­ly believes Ban­non,” one senior Repub­li­can advis­er said.

    Giu­liani could not be reached, and Ban­non declined to com­ment. On his con­ser­v­a­tive pod­cast, Ban­non said Trump should con­tin­ue to urge Michi­gan Repub­li­cans to block cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

    “You can’t cer­ti­fy Michi­gan,” he said. “You don’t have to put up a slate of elec­tors.”

    The pres­i­dent was furi­ous Wednes­day morn­ing about the deci­sion by elec­tion offi­cials in Wayne Coun­ty, Mich., to cer­ti­fy their results after ini­tial­ly dead­lock­ing along par­ti­san lines, accord­ing to aides famil­iar with his reac­tion. He is also increas­ing­ly angry at Geor­gia Gov. Bri­an Kemp and Sec­re­tary of State Brad Raf­fensperg­er, both Repub­li­cans who have giv­en no indi­ca­tion that they will inter­vene to block cer­ti­fi­ca­tion there.

    Noth­ing on the ground in any of the key states that helped pro­pel Biden to vic­to­ry sug­gests good rea­son for Trump’s opti­mism. The states con­tin­ued their march toward vote cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, with elec­tion offi­cials say­ing they expect to com­plete the process by the statu­to­ry dead­line.

    In Geor­gia, Raf­fensperg­er announced Wednes­day the near-com­ple­tion of a hand-count­ed audit that reduced Biden’s lead in the state from 14,156 to 12,781 — but revealed no evi­dence of fraud. Coun­ty offi­cials have until mid­night Wednes­day to wrap up their audit before cer­ti­fy­ing results by Fri­day. The Trump cam­paign has two busi­ness days after the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of results — by Tues­day evening, at the lat­est — to request a recount.

    In Penn­syl­va­nia, a GOP attempt to throw out thou­sands of bal­lots suf­fered a fur­ther set­back in state court Wednes­day when a judge in Alleghe­ny Coun­ty reject­ed a pair of requests to bar a total of 2,649 bal­lots where vot­ers either did not write the date on their mail bal­lot enve­lope or signed on only one line rather than two when cast­ing a pro­vi­sion­al bal­lot.

    “In light of the fact that there is no fraud, a tech­ni­cal omis­sion on an enve­lope should not ren­der a bal­lot invalid,” the judge, Joseph M. James, wrote in one order.

    In Michi­gan, Democ­rats and some Repub­li­cans said the effort to force an audit before cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of the vote is unlike­ly to suc­ceed because it is not required by Michi­gan law. Although Trump ampli­fied the writ­ten request by retweet­ing it Wednes­day, it was signed by only 10 out of 70 Repub­li­can law­mak­ers, none of them in lead­er­ship posi­tions.

    Even inside Trump’s inner orbit, evi­dence that real­i­ty was set­ting in came into view on Wednes­day.

    Trump signed off on the Wis­con­sin recount the pre­vi­ous evening after talks with Giu­liani and oth­er aides, and he urged them to “go to the lim­it” of con­test­ing the elec­tion and dele­git­imize Biden’s win in the eyes of Trump’s core sup­port­ers, one of the senior Repub­li­cans said.

    But in the end, the Trump cam­paign asked for a recount only in Dane and Mil­wau­kee coun­ties — at a cost to the cam­paign of about $3 mil­lion instead of about $8 mil­lion if he had request­ed a recount for the entire state. Wis­con­sin state law requires cam­paigns to pay upfront for recounts.

    Vet­er­an Repub­li­cans, mean­while, expressed unease and appre­hen­sion Wednes­day about a mis­sion tying Giu­liani, Trump and Ban­non togeth­er, call­ing it embar­rass­ing and ill-fat­ed.

    “Giu­liani is turn­ing this into a clown car and Ban­non has nev­er had a plan. They think they’re being aggres­sive but it’s dis­or­ga­nized,” said long­time GOP strate­gist Scott Reed. “Ban­non thinks he’s dis­rupter in chief.”

    Giu­liani and Ban­non last worked in tan­dem in the weeks lead­ing up to the Nov. 3 vote, when they sought to pub­li­cize emails and pho­tos belong­ing to Biden’s son that they said had been tak­en from a lap­top aban­doned by Hunter Biden at a Delaware com­put­er repair shop. Reporters for the New York Post, which pub­lished some of the mate­r­i­al, indi­cat­ed they were first told about the mate­r­i­al by Ban­non and pro­vid­ed copies of it by Giu­liani.

    Ban­non was charged in August with fraud, accused by fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors in New York of dup­ing Trump sup­port­ers into giv­ing mon­ey to a char­i­ty ded­i­cat­ed to build­ing a wall on the south­ern bor­der and then redi­rect­ing the mon­ey for his own pur­pos­es. He has plead­ed not guilty.

    Ear­li­er this month, Ban­non was per­ma­nent­ly barred from Twit­ter after post­ing a video to YouTube in which he said that Trump should behead Fau­ci, the leader of the government’s effort to fight the coro­n­avirus, as well as FBI Direc­tor Christo­pher A. Wray.

    “I’d put the heads on pikes. Right. I’d put them at the two cor­ners of the White House as a warn­ing to fed­er­al bureau­crats. You either get with the pro­gram or you are gone,” Ban­non said in the video.

    The next day, William Bur­ck, a promi­nent Wash­ing­ton attor­ney who had been rep­re­sent­ing Ban­non in his crim­i­nal case, told the court that he intend­ed to with­draw from the case. He has declined to com­ment.

    ———–

    “As defeats pile up, Trump tries to delay vote count in last-ditch attempt to cast doubt on Biden vic­to­ry” by Amy Gard­ner, Robert Cos­ta, Ros­alind S. Hel­der­man and Michelle Ye Hee Lee; The Wash­ing­ton Post; 11/18/2020

    Accord­ing to peo­ple famil­iar with their con­ver­sa­tions, Giu­liani is con­fer­ring reg­u­lar­ly with Stephen K. Ban­non, the con­tro­ver­sial for­mer White House advis­er who ear­li­er this month called for Antho­ny S. Fau­ci, the coro­n­avirus task force mem­ber, to be behead­ed.”

    Yes, the sur­re­al Thurs­day press con­fer­ence was­n’t sole­ly the cre­ation of Rudy Giu­lian­i’s addled mind. It was Steve Ban­non pro­duc­tion too:

    ...
    Trump is increas­ing­ly rely­ing on Giu­liani and cam­paign advis­ers Jen­na Ellis and Jason Miller for legal guid­ance, sev­er­al cam­paign offi­cials said — in part because Trump has stopped lis­ten­ing to the orig­i­nal legal team and in part because of those lawyers’ deci­sion to dis­tance them­selves in recent days from the president’s increas­ing­ly errat­ic effort to reverse the election’s out­come.

    As a result, Trump increas­ing­ly is hear­ing only from aides who are main­tain­ing that the elec­tion is not over. He remains hope­ful about Wis­con­sin, Michi­gan and Penn­syl­va­nia large­ly on the advice of Giu­liani, who is close to Ban­non, and Trump has urged Giu­liani to con­tin­ue the fight, sev­er­al offi­cials said.

    Giu­liani “is crazy and actu­al­ly believes Ban­non,” one senior Repub­li­can advis­er said.

    Giu­liani could not be reached, and Ban­non declined to com­ment. On his con­ser­v­a­tive pod­cast, Ban­non said Trump should con­tin­ue to urge Michi­gan Repub­li­cans to block cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

    “You can’t cer­ti­fy Michi­gan,” he said. “You don’t have to put up a slate of elec­tors.”

    ...

    Vet­er­an Repub­li­cans, mean­while, expressed unease and appre­hen­sion Wednes­day about a mis­sion tying Giu­liani, Trump and Ban­non togeth­er, call­ing it embar­rass­ing and ill-fat­ed.

    “Giu­liani is turn­ing this into a clown car and Ban­non has nev­er had a plan. They think they’re being aggres­sive but it’s dis­or­ga­nized,” said long­time GOP strate­gist Scott Reed. “Ban­non thinks he’s dis­rupter in chief.”

    Giu­liani and Ban­non last worked in tan­dem in the weeks lead­ing up to the Nov. 3 vote, when they sought to pub­li­cize emails and pho­tos belong­ing to Biden’s son that they said had been tak­en from a lap­top aban­doned by Hunter Biden at a Delaware com­put­er repair shop. Reporters for the New York Post, which pub­lished some of the mate­r­i­al, indi­cat­ed they were first told about the mate­r­i­al by Ban­non and pro­vid­ed copies of it by Giu­liani.
    ...

    So as we game out what exact­ly Trump has in mind in car­ry­ing out this strat­e­gy of refut­ing the elec­tion results, keep in mind that we’re cur­rent­ly in the midst of a “flood the zone with sh#t” strat­e­gy. A strat­e­gy brought to us by Amer­i­ca’s lead­ing fas­cist polit­i­cal strate­gist, Steve Ban­non, which means this is pre­sum­ably going to be fol­lowed up with some sort of ‘and now we break democ­ra­cy once and for all’ strat­e­gy.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 20, 2020, 4:19 pm
  9. Here’s the kind of sto­ry that has long been extreme­ly rel­e­vant to under­stand­ing the con­tem­po­rary dynam­ics of US pol­i­tics but has tak­en on an addi­tion­al rel­e­van­cy in the era of QAnon, the sys­tem­at­ic demo­niza­tion of ‘the left’ as an evil force in Amer­i­ca, and the grow­ing threat of a Trump-led civ­il war:

    There was a recent inter­view by for­mer right-wing media cre­ator Math­ew Sheffield — who helped found News­Busters and became the found­ing online man­ag­ing edi­tor of the Wash­ing­ton Exam­in­er — that under­scores why it real­ly is appro­pri­ate to label the con­tem­po­rary right-wing media indus­try as a dan­ger­ous dis­in­fo­tain­ment com­plex. As Sheffield puts it, “I basi­cal­ly built the infra­struc­ture for a lot of con­ser­v­a­tive online peo­ple and per­son­al­ly taught a lot of them what they know,” so he’s some­one extreme well-posi­tioned to com­ment on the actu­al think­ing of the peo­ple gen­er­at­ing this con­tent. And it was that dis­hon­est nature of that think­ing, where facts were treat­ed as accept­able casu­al­ties in a broad­er polit­i­cal war, that even­tu­al­ly dis­il­lu­sioned Sheffield and brought him to this point where he’s ready to expose what is effec­tive­ly a Big Lie machine. A Big Lie machine that has as its core mes­sage the idea that Chris­tians are under attack by sec­u­lar Amer­i­cans who are fun­da­men­tal­ly evil. THAT’s been the meta-mes­sage at the core of US con­ser­v­a­tive media for years: sec­u­lar Amer­i­cans are attack­ing you Chris­tians because they are evil. In oth­er words, the QAnon meta-meme:

    The New York Times

    A for­mer right-wing media cre­ator on how a ‘dif­fer­ent real­i­ty’ became so promi­nent.

    Nov. 16, 2020, 11:06 a.m. ET
    By Adam Satar­i­ano

    Matthew Sheffield start­ed his first con­ser­v­a­tive web­site in 2000, ded­i­cat­ing it to crit­i­ciz­ing the for­mer CBS News anchor Dan Rather, who Mr. Sheffield believed was a par­ti­san lib­er­al and not crit­i­cal enough of Pres­i­dent Clin­ton dur­ing the Mon­i­ca Lewin­sky scan­dal. Mr. Sheffield then went on to help cre­ate News­Busters, anoth­er right-lean­ing web­site that crit­i­cized the main­stream media for lib­er­al bias. Lat­er, he became the found­ing online man­ag­ing edi­tor of the Wash­ing­ton Exam­in­er, anoth­er pop­u­lar out­let for con­ser­v­a­tive views.

    “I basi­cal­ly built the infra­struc­ture for a lot of con­ser­v­a­tive online peo­ple and per­son­al­ly taught a lot of them what they know,” he said.

    But Mr. Sheffield, who is 42 and lives in the Los Ange­les area, grew dis­il­lu­sioned in recent years. He said facts were treat­ed as an accept­able casu­al­ty in the broad­er polit­i­cal war. “The end jus­ti­fies the means,” said Mr. Sheffield, who hosts a pol­i­tics and tech­nol­o­gy pod­cast called The­o­ry of Change and is writ­ing a mem­oir about grow­ing up in a strict Mor­mon fam­i­ly. He now blames right-wing media for under­min­ing faith in Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy by spread­ing unsub­stan­ti­at­ed claims by Pres­i­dent Trump and oth­ers that the elec­tion was rigged. Through web­sites and plat­forms like Face­book and YouTube, Mr. Sheffield said, right-wing media has cre­at­ed an envi­ron­ment in which a large por­tion of the pop­u­la­tion believes in a “dif­fer­ent real­i­ty.”

    ...

    What are some of the most impor­tant things about right-wing media that peo­ple don’t under­stand?

    Almost all right-wing sup­port in the Unit­ed States comes from a view that Chris­tians are under attack by sec­u­lar lib­er­als. This point is so impor­tant and so lit­tle under­stood. Log­ic doesn’t mat­ter. Fact-check­ing doesn’t mat­ter. What mat­ters is if I can use this infor­ma­tion to show that lib­er­als are evil. Many of them are not inter­est­ed in report­ing the world as it is, but rather to shape the world like they want it to be.

    A recent poll sug­gests about 70 per­cent of Repub­li­cans now believe the elec­tion was rigged. Can that be blamed on right-lean­ing media when Pres­i­dent Trump is spread­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion about the results?

    They go along with what­ev­er he says. Before Trump won in 2016, con­ser­v­a­tive media was actu­al­ly, final­ly, start­ing to devel­op a mar­gin­al sense of inde­pen­dence. But once he became the pres­i­dent all of that just fell apart. Now you can’t have a con­ser­v­a­tive out­let unless you wor­ship Don­ald Trump. Your busi­ness will be destroyed. You can’t have a career in con­ser­v­a­tive media if you are against Don­ald Trump, with only a few excep­tions.

    Would this be pos­si­ble with­out Face­book and social media plat­forms?

    Face­book is the pri­ma­ry pro­tec­tor and enabler of the far right in the Unit­ed States, with­out ques­tion. The com­pa­ny has shel­tered and pro­mot­ed this con­tent for years. Mark Zucker­berg even now says that Steve Ban­non call­ing for behead­ings is not jus­ti­fi­ca­tion to ban him. Zucker­berg was also fine with tol­er­at­ing Holo­caust denial until he was called out for it.

    Do you see a way out of this, or will the prob­lem get worse?

    The first step is to get peo­ple to improve their infor­ma­tion diet. If you’re eat­ing noth­ing but can­dy or tox­ic food you are going to get sick. If you can improve your news diet to include things that you like but also oth­er things that might be chal­leng­ing to you then you are going to have a much bet­ter under­stand­ing of life. In the infor­ma­tion age, the peo­ple who con­trol the infor­ma­tion con­trol the age. That is some­thing that the right-wing media appa­ra­tus has fig­ured out.

    ———–

    “A for­mer right-wing media cre­ator on how a ‘dif­fer­ent real­i­ty’ became so promi­nent.” By Adam Satar­i­ano; The New York Times; 11/16/2020

    But Mr. Sheffield, who is 42 and lives in the Los Ange­les area, grew dis­il­lu­sioned in recent years. He said facts were treat­ed as an accept­able casu­al­ty in the broad­er polit­i­cal war. “The end jus­ti­fies the means,” said Mr. Sheffield, who hosts a pol­i­tics and tech­nol­o­gy pod­cast called The­o­ry of Change and is writ­ing a mem­oir about grow­ing up in a strict Mor­mon fam­i­ly. He now blames right-wing media for under­min­ing faith in Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy by spread­ing unsub­stan­ti­at­ed claims by Pres­i­dent Trump and oth­ers that the elec­tion was rigged. Through web­sites and plat­forms like Face­book and YouTube, Mr. Sheffield said, right-wing media has cre­at­ed an envi­ron­ment in which a large por­tion of the pop­u­la­tion believes in a “dif­fer­ent real­i­ty.”

    As Sheffield observes, you can’t just blame Pres­i­dent Trump for spread­ing unsub­stan­ti­at­ed claims of elec­tion rig­ging and under­min­ing the pub­lic’s faith in democ­ra­cy. This has been a group effort and right-wing media has been missed a beat.

    But just as insid­i­ous as the end­less attacks on democ­ra­cy has been the long-stand­ing meme that Chris­tians — and peo­ple of faith in gen­er­al — are under attack from evil sec­u­lar lib­er­al. As Sheffield points out, the view that Chris­tians are under attack by sec­u­lar lib­er­als is FUNDAMENTAL to under­stand­ing the par­al­lel ver­sion of real­i­ty con­coct­ed by right-wing media:

    ...
    Almost all right-wing sup­port in the Unit­ed States comes from a view that Chris­tians are under attack by sec­u­lar lib­er­als. This point is so impor­tant and so lit­tle under­stood. Log­ic doesn’t mat­ter. Fact-check­ing doesn’t mat­ter. What mat­ters is if I can use this infor­ma­tion to show that lib­er­als are evil. Many of them are not inter­est­ed in report­ing the world as it is, but rather to shape the world like they want it to be.
    ...

    And that’s a big part of why memes about rov­ing armies of antifa and Black Lives Mat­ter super-sol­diers com­ing into sub­urbs to dri­ve burn down con­ser­v­a­tives in their homes have so much res­o­nance with con­ser­v­a­tive audi­ences who real­ly do ACTUALLY believe this. They believe this because they’ve been told this day was com­ing FOR YEARS from right-wing media. ‘The left’ is evil and hates you and wants to destroy you. That’s been the meta-mes­sage from right-wing media. And in 2020, with the merg­er of tra­di­tion­al right-wing media with Alex Jones-style trash con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry media in the age of Trump, that meta-meme is now the QAnon meta-meme where ‘The left’ is evil and hates you and wants to destroy you and abduct and kill your chil­dren in Satan­ic sex rit­u­als...and also stole the elec­tion.

    So as the US wres­tles with hold­ing itself togeth­er going for­ward dur­ing a peri­od with the unchal­lenged leader of con­ser­v­a­tive Amer­i­ca is an icon of that QAnon-style world­view it’s going to be impor­tant to keep in mind that the mes­sage tar­get­ing con­ser­v­a­tive audi­ences isn’t just that Democ­rats stole the elec­tion. The com­plete mes­sage is that Democ­rats stole the elec­tion because lib­er­als are evil and want to destroy con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­tians and all that is decent....and also sac­ri­fice chil­dren in Satan­ic sex rit­u­als. And as Math­ew Sheffield is now telling us, spread­ing this meat-mes­sage about the fun­da­men­tal threat evil sec­u­lar lib­er­als pose to Chris­tians is at the very core of of right-wing medi­a’s busi­ness mod­el, facts be damned.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 25, 2020, 5:23 pm
  10. THAT SERPENT IS MOTORING NOW! This coun­try is bad­ly in need of an Evilec­to­my (new word, pass it around). I am just fin­ish­ing up
    “The Plot to Seize the White House” came close that time. Once the Nazis were in along with the US oli­garchs, rig­ging Democ­ra­cy was ON! The answer is the sys­tem is rigged, the proof and the ways and means are still avail­able. Ser­pents Walk includes a Plan­dem­ic, and here it is!...

    Posted by lou e | November 26, 2020, 2:01 pm
  11. There was an inter­est­ing devel­op­ment in Steve Ban­non’s legal fight over the “We Build the Wall” cam­paign finance vio­la­tions: Ban­non just switched lawyers. The exact rea­son was­n’t giv­en, but we are told that Ban­non and his lawyer part­ed ways ami­ca­bly after agree­ing that a dif­fer­ent lawyer would be bet­ter suit­ed for Ban­non’s defense strat­e­gy. So while we don’t know what exact­ly that defense strat­e­gy is, we do know it’s the kind of strat­e­gy a lawyer might part ways with their client over:

    Asso­ci­at­ed Press

    Stephen Ban­non switch­ing lawyers in bor­der wall fund case

    Novem­ber 25, 2020

    NEW YORK (AP) — A promi­nent Wash­ing­ton lawyer defend­ing Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s for­mer chief strate­gist against charges that he cheat­ed donors to a south­ern bor­der wall noti­fied a judge Wednes­day that he’s no longer the right lawyer for the job.

    Attor­ney William A. Bur­ck sent a let­ter to the tri­al judge in Man­hat­tan fed­er­al court to say that Bur­ck and Stephen Ban­non had ami­ca­bly agreed that new lawyers would be bet­ter suit­ed to Bannon’s defense strat­e­gy.

    He said Ban­non is look­ing for new attor­neys.

    Ban­non faces a May 24 tri­al on crim­i­nal charges alleg­ing that Ban­non and at least three oth­ers unlaw­ful­ly raised over $25 mil­lion for the “We Build The Wall” cam­paign. The group sought to fund a south­ern bor­der wall.

    He has plead­ed not guilty to charges alleg­ing that thou­sands of investors were duped into think­ing all of their dona­tions would go toward the project, even though Ban­non divert­ed over a mil­lion dol­lars, pay­ing salary to one cam­paign offi­cial and per­son­al expens­es for him­self.

    ...

    Bur­ck is a for­mer fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tor who was a top lawyer for Pres­i­dent George W. Bush. He also rep­re­sent­ed Ban­non, for­mer White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and for­mer White House coun­sel Don McGahn in Spe­cial Coun­sel Robert Mueller’s probe into inter­fer­ence in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

    ———-

    “Stephen Ban­non switch­ing lawyers in bor­der wall fund case”; Asso­ci­at­ed Press; 11/25/2020

    “Attor­ney William A. Bur­ck sent a let­ter to the tri­al judge in Man­hat­tan fed­er­al court to say that Bur­ck and Stephen Ban­non had ami­ca­bly agreed that new lawyers would be bet­ter suit­ed to Bannon’s defense strat­e­gy.”

    What’s the mys­tery strat­e­gy? What types of strate­gies would require a whole new legal team? At this point we know it involves plead­ing not guilty but that’s about it.

    But there are two more sigi­f­i­cant data points we know about this case that gives us a hint as to what type of defense strat­e­gy Ban­non has in mind. The first data point is that Pres­i­dent Trump is prob­a­bly in a mood to par­don right about now, as his recent par­don Michael Fly­nn reminds us.

    Ans as the fol­low­ing arti­cle from back in August describes, we also know that Steve Ban­non’s tes­ti­mo­ny could prob­a­bly send a lot of peo­ple close to Trump direct­ly to jail. Trump, Don Jr., Jared Kush­n­er, and even Erik Prince are all poten­tial­ly at seri­ous legal risk from Ban­non spilling the beans. As the arti­cle warned at the time, the major obsta­cle pre­vent­ing a Ban­non par­don is sim­ply the pol­i­tics of the move and the then-upcom­ing elec­tion. But that’s not real­ly an issue now. The main issue, at least from Pres­i­dent Trump’s per­spec­tive, is like­ly avoid­ing legal trou­bles when he leaves office. And Trump’s need to avoid legal trou­bles is put in direct per­il by the fact that Ban­non could eas­i­ly be fac­ing 7–14 years in prison for his cam­paign finance vio­la­tions. So if pros­e­cu­tors approached Ban­non about a plea deal he might be will­ing to talk about all of the oth­er inves­ti­ga­tions . And that’s the kind of sit­u­a­tion that could be mak­ing a par­don for Ban­non extra tempt­ing for both Ban­non and Trump:

    Newsweek

    Steve Ban­non Could Hold Keys to Sev­er­al Trump Inves­ti­ga­tions. Will He Flip?

    By Chan­tal Da Sil­va
    On 8/21/20 at 1:16 PM EDT

    The charges laid against for­mer White House Chief Strate­gist Steve Ban­non on Thurs­day sent shock waves through Wash­ing­ton, as many won­dered what the right-wing fire­brand’s arrest could mean for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and some of his clos­est con­fi­dants.

    Ban­non was charged by the South­ern Dis­trict of New York (SDNY), along with three oth­ers, for alleged­ly fun­nel­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars from a cam­paign that raised more than $25 mil­lion to see the U.S.-Mexico bor­der wall built.

    All four indi­vid­u­als have been charged with one count of con­spir­a­cy to com­mit wire fraud and one count of con­spir­a­cy to com­mit mon­ey laun­der­ing, with the pos­si­bil­i­ty of receiv­ing up to 20 years behind bars for each count.

    Speak­ing with Newsweek on Fri­day, Bar­bara McQuade, the for­mer U.S. attor­ney for the East­ern Dis­trict of Michi­gan and cur­rent pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan Law School, said it is unlike­ly that Ban­non would receive such a heavy sen­tence.

    As per sen­tenc­ing guide­lines, 11 to 14 years would be a “rea­son­able time for some­one to spend in prison” under the charges. How­ev­er, giv­en that this is a white col­lar crime, McQuade said she could imag­ine Ban­non receiv­ing some­thing more along the lines of sev­en years if found guilty.

    “The rea­son for that is the great dis­par­i­ty we see in the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem between white col­lar defen­dants and oth­er defen­dants,” she said. “Although the guide­lines are 11 to 14 years and I think pros­e­cu­tors would advo­cate for 11 to 14 years, so often we see judges cut a break to peo­ple who com­mit white col­lar crimes.”

    “I think it’s a bias in the sys­tem. I think it is a grave injus­tice, but it has hap­pened fre­quent­ly,” she said.

    “It would­n’t sur­prise me to see a judge impose some­thing more along the lines of sev­en years, but it’s still a sub­stan­tial amount of time for some­one of his age,” McQuade said of Ban­non, who is 66.

    As such, she said, the for­mer White House chief strate­gist could be des­per­ate to do what he can to reduce his sentence—which could mean shar­ing key infor­ma­tion on Trump and his asso­ciates in exchange for lenien­cy.

    “He has infor­ma­tion not only about Don­ald Trump, but about those around him, like Jared Kush­n­er, Don­ald Trump Jr. and Erik Prince,” she said, with the lat­ter being the bil­lion­aire founder of defense con­trac­tor Black­wa­ter, as well as the broth­er of Edu­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Bet­sy DeVos.

    With Prince appear­ing to have giv­en con­flict­ing state­ments to the House Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee and spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller about a meet­ing he had with a Russ­ian financier con­nect­ed to Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin in the Sey­chelles islands in Jan­u­ary of 2017, the month Trump took office, McQuade said Ban­non could pro­vide clar­i­ty on the sit­u­a­tion.

    Both Trump Jr. and Kush­n­er, she also not­ed, could find them­selves in hot water if Ban­non decides to share infor­ma­tion in exchange for lenien­cy, par­tic­u­lar­ly on ques­tions around a pro­posed Trump Tow­er project in Rus­sia and on both fam­i­ly mem­bers’ meet­ing with a Russ­ian lawyer in June 2016.

    Car­o­line Polisi, a crim­i­nal defense attor­ney and part­ner at Arm­strong Teas­dale LLP, told Newsweek that with the SDNY being “some­what noto­ri­ous or famous for look­ing into Trump asso­ciates” and giv­en the fact that there have been many ques­tions around his cam­paign and admin­is­tra­tion, “they could cer­tain­ly ask Ban­non ques­tions about things that have noth­ing to do with this indict­ment.”

    “So, the ques­tion is, what type of infor­ma­tion does he have?” she said.

    “There are so many unknowns and obvi­ous­ly, if he coop­er­at­ed, he could be look­ing at a plea deal,” Polisi said. “Ulti­mate­ly, the judge is the one that decides the sen­tence. But if the pros­e­cu­tors feel that he’s pro­vid­ed sub­stan­tial assis­tance in the pros­e­cu­tion of either this case or anoth­er case, that could sub­stan­tial­ly mit­i­gate any sen­tence.”

    How­ev­er, Polisi warned: “The way the sys­tem is set up encour­ages plea bar­gain­ing, plea deals and par­ties to plead guilty quick­ly. And so the longer he holds out and if he’s found guilty, the longer he’s like­ly to get in terms of a sen­tence because judges and pros­e­cu­tors and the sys­tem real­ly don’t like it when crim­i­nal defen­dants exer­cise their right to a jury tri­al and so they get penal­ized for it.”

    The cur­rent case against Ban­non, McQuade said, “is a strong” one, par­tic­u­lar­ly giv­en that inves­ti­ga­tors have obtained the doc­u­ments to back their charges up.

    “Often­times, when you have to rely on eye­wit­ness­es, some­times those peo­ple who are wit­ness­es can have their motives on the wit­ness stand or bias­es or prob­lems with their abil­i­ty to observe. But, with doc­u­ments, it’s very clear what they say,” she said. “They don’t lie. They don’t for­get and they don’t with­er on cross-exam­i­na­tion.”

    Ban­non shar­ing on for­ma­tion on Trump and his asso­ciates, how­ev­er, is just one way that the case could play out.

    “Now, of course, he could keep his mouth shut and sig­nal to Pres­i­dent Trump about what he plans to do by say­ing, ‘I’m going to keep my mouth shut’ and instead hope for a par­don that may help pro­tect peo­ple in trou­ble,” McQuade said.

    How­ev­er, Trump has not yet sug­gest­ed that he would be will­ing to par­don Ban­non if giv­en the chance and with the Novem­ber elec­tion loom­ing, his time to deliv­er clemen­cy could be run­ning short.

    Fur­ther, if Trump did par­don Ban­non, it could be a polit­i­cal­ly risky move with the elec­tion so close on the hori­zon.

    ...

    —————–

    “Steve Ban­non Could Hold Keys to Sev­er­al Trump Inves­ti­ga­tions. Will He Flip?” By Chan­tal Da Sil­va; Newsweek; 08/21/2020

    ““It would­n’t sur­prise me to see a judge impose some­thing more along the lines of sev­en years, but it’s still a sub­stan­tial amount of time for some­one of his age,” McQuade said of Ban­non, who is 66.”

    What might Steve Ban­non do to avoid a sev­en year, or longer, prison sen­tence? What infor­ma­tion might he share. It’s the kind of ques­tion a num­ber of fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors, espe­cial­ly in the SDNY, are prob­a­bly ask­ing them­selves right about now which is why Trump him­self has to be ask­ing the same ques­tion:

    ...
    As such, she said, the for­mer White House chief strate­gist could be des­per­ate to do what he can to reduce his sentence—which could mean shar­ing key infor­ma­tion on Trump and his asso­ciates in exchange for lenien­cy.

    “He has infor­ma­tion not only about Don­ald Trump, but about those around him, like Jared Kush­n­er, Don­ald Trump Jr. and Erik Prince,” she said, with the lat­ter being the bil­lion­aire founder of defense con­trac­tor Black­wa­ter, as well as the broth­er of Edu­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Bet­sy DeVos.

    ...

    Ban­non shar­ing on for­ma­tion on Trump and his asso­ciates, how­ev­er, is just one way that the case could play out.

    “Now, of course, he could keep his mouth shut and sig­nal to Pres­i­dent Trump about what he plans to do by say­ing, ‘I’m going to keep my mouth shut’ and instead hope for a par­don that may help pro­tect peo­ple in trou­ble,” McQuade said.

    How­ev­er, Trump has not yet sug­gest­ed that he would be will­ing to par­don Ban­non if giv­en the chance and with the Novem­ber elec­tion loom­ing, his time to deliv­er clemen­cy could be run­ning short.

    Fur­ther, if Trump did par­don Ban­non, it could be a polit­i­cal­ly risky move with the elec­tion so close on the hori­zon.
    ...

    So should we expect a par­don for Ban­non soon? The stars do appear to be align­ing that way. But per­haps we should­n’t expect it too soon. Ban­non is, after all, report­ed­ly act­ing as a lead strate­gist in Trump’s plans to stay in office through any means nec­es­sary and that strat­e­gy includes Ban­non float­ing the idea that peo­ple are going to have to be will­ing to die to keep Trump in office, in par­tic­u­lar in the first week of Decem­ber. Which means he might have a few more major crimes to com­mit before he asks for that par­don.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 27, 2020, 4:08 pm
  12. There’s no short­age of dis­turb­ing aspects to the Trump White House­’s grow­ing dai­ly cam­paign to dele­git­imize the out­come of the 2020 elec­tion and declare it stolen as a result of an inter­na­tion­al vote-rig­ging con­spir­a­cy — one that includes a num­ber of Repub­li­can state offi­cials — but per­haps the two most dis­turb­ing parts of it all are that Steve Ban­non and Roger Stone appear to be key archi­tects of the strat­e­gy. Steve Ban­non is call­ing on sup­port­ers to be ready to die for a sec­ond Trump term while Roger Stone was pub­licly advis­ing Pres­i­dent Trump to declare mar­tial law and mass jail his polit­i­cal ene­mies if he lost the elec­tion back in Sep­tem­ber. About the only pos­i­tive part of the sit­u­a­tion is that Ban­non and Stone aren’t offi­cial­ly part of the Trump legal team. And then this hap­pened: Days after the Depart­ment of Jus­tice changed the rules for fed­er­al exe­cu­tions to allow for death by fir­ing squad, Trump attor­ney Joseph diGen­o­va went on News­max and plain­ly stat­ed that Chris Krebs — the for­mer cyber­se­cu­ri­ty offi­cial for the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty (DHS) and some­one who has been high­ly crit­i­cal of the accu­sa­tions of wide­spread vot­ing machine fraud and was fired by Trump a cou­ple of weeks agoshould be “tak­en out at dawn and shot”. There’s no indi­ca­tion he was jok­ing:

    Giz­mo­do

    Trump Attor­ney Calls For Exe­cu­tion of For­mer DHS Cyber­se­cu­ri­ty Offi­cial

    Matt Novak
    12/01/2020 5:20AM

    One of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s remain­ing elec­tion lawyers, Joe diGen­o­va, declared on Mon­day that for­mer DHS cyber­se­cu­ri­ty offi­cial Chris Krebs should be exe­cut­ed. Krebs was fired from the Trump admin­is­tra­tion in mid-Novem­ber after releas­ing a state­ment that the 2020 elec­tion had been the most secure in Amer­i­can his­to­ry, a mes­sage that angered Trump immense­ly. Pres­i­dent Trump has false­ly claimed the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion was fraud­u­lent and that he was the real win­ner over pres­i­dent-elect Joe Biden.

    “Any­body who thinks that this elec­tion went well, like that idiot Krebs who used to be the head of cyber­se­cu­ri­ty. That guy is a class‑A moron. He should be drawn and quar­tered. Tak­en out at dawn and shot,” diGen­o­va said on Mon­day dur­ing the Howie Carr radio show, a pro­gram syn­di­cat­ed by the far-right pro­pa­gan­da chan­nel News­Max TV.

    The Howie Carr show played footage of Krebs, tak­en from his CBS News “60 Min­utes” inter­view this past Sun­day, and the host forced a soft chuck­le after diGen­o­va called for the exe­cu­tion of the respect­ed cyber­se­cu­ri­ty offi­cial. But diGen­o­va didn’t say any­thing to indi­cate he may have been jok­ing.

    Krebs was wide­ly cel­e­brat­ed by both Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans for his work at the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty as the head of the agency’s Cyber­se­cu­ri­ty and Infra­struc­ture Secu­ri­ty Agency (CISA). Aside from help­ing local states secure their elec­tron­ic vot­ing sys­tems, Krebs launched a web­site called Rumor Con­trol through CISA in Octo­ber and helped debunk lies and vot­er sup­pres­sion efforts before and after the elec­tion. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, many of those lies were being spread by Pres­i­dent Trump and he didn’t take kind­ly to being called out on his bull­shit.
    Adver­tise­ment

    Calls for vio­lence against peo­ple who oppose Trump has become more and more com­mon since Joe Biden won the elec­tion on Nov. 3. Some of those calls to arms are com­ing from the more extreme edges of the Repub­li­can Par­ty, includ­ing the Proud Boys and neo-Nazis, but that same extrem­ist rhetoric is also com­ing from so-called main­stream ele­ments of the par­ty.

    Trump him­self has also used extrem­ist lan­guage to talk about his polit­i­cal oppo­nents and those who dis­agree with him, accus­ing many of “treason,”—an incen­di­ary word he’s been using for years. Back in May 2019, a reporter specif­i­cal­ly not­ed that trea­son is pun­ish­able by death and asked Trump who had com­mit­ted trea­son. The pres­i­dent rat­tled off a list of names like for­mer FBI offi­cials James Comey, Andrew McCabe, and Peter Str­zok. Trump also said Joe Biden would get the “elec­tric chair” for unspec­i­fied crimes if he were a Repub­li­can dur­ing a press con­fer­ence in Sept. of 2019.

    DiGen­o­va made a num­ber of claims in the Mon­day inter­view that have already been debunked in court, includ­ing the idea that more votes were count­ed in some areas than there were peo­ple liv­ing there. In one court fil­ing, it was revealed that the Trump legal team had con­fused the abbre­vi­a­tions for Min­neso­ta and Michi­gan, lead­ing them to com­pare vote totals in one state with pop­u­la­tions in oth­ers.

    DiGen­o­va said some of the Trump legal team’s cas­es were going to the U.S. Supreme Court and “going there quick­ly,” though many experts are skep­ti­cal that SCOTUS would take up cas­es on such flim­sy evi­dence. It’s not clear how the Supreme Court would rule on such a bull­shit case, but there’s always a chance that the high­ly politi­cized and new­ly con­ser­v­a­tive court could want to do Trump a favor.

    Many Trump sup­port­ers have been excit­ed by the U.S. Depart­ment of Justice’s fast-track pro­gram of fed­er­al exe­cu­tions since Trump lost the elec­tion, and some even see it as a sign that Trump could be get­ting ready to line up high-pro­file Democ­rats against the wall—especially con­sid­er­ing the move by Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bill Barr to expand the num­ber of exe­cu­tion meth­ods to include fir­ing squad. Con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist and hate-preach­er Rick Wiles made pre­cise­ly that argu­ment on his show recent­ly, accord­ing to Right Wing Watch.

    “Why would they fast-track this?” one of Wiles’s hench­men asked on the pro­gram.

    “I’m not try­ing to be fun­ny about it... Because they plan to shoot some peo­ple,” Wiles said. “They’re gonna have a bunch of trai­tors, they’re gonna line ‘em up against the wall and start shoot­ing them. Because that’s what they deserve.”

    “If the Democ­rats, if the news media, if the left­ists, if sci­en­tists, pro­fes­sors, have been work­ing secret­ly with the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Par­ty, then line ‘em up against the wall and shoot them,” said Wiles.

    End Times con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist Rick Wiles hopes that Don­ald Trump and Bill Barr will line Democ­rats, the news media, left­ists, sci­en­tists, and pro­fes­sors up against a wall and shoot them “because that’s what they deserve.” pic.twitter.com/cTw8t5qenu— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) Novem­ber 30, 2020

    But sum­ma­ry exe­cu­tion aside, the most ter­ri­fy­ing thing to come out of DiGenova’s mouth on Mon­day was his con­fir­ma­tion that Trump’s legal team is try­ing to pres­sure Repub­li­cans in state leg­is­la­tures not to rec­og­nize the vote and to sim­ply re-elect Trump through the Elec­toral Col­lege.

    “We’re work­ing in states to see whether or not state leg­is­la­tures will step up and reclaim their con­sti­tu­tion­al duty, which is deter­mined whether or not elec­tors have been select­ed prop­er­ly through the elec­toral process,” diGen­o­va said.

    ...

    ————

    “Trump Attor­ney Calls For Exe­cu­tion of For­mer DHS Cyber­se­cu­ri­ty Offi­cial” by Matt Novak; Giz­mo­do; 12/01/2020

    ““Any­body who thinks that this elec­tion went well, like that idiot Krebs who used to be the head of cyber­se­cu­ri­ty. That guy is a class‑A moron. He should be drawn and quar­tered. Tak­en out at dawn and shot,” diGen­o­va said on Mon­day dur­ing the Howie Carr radio show, a pro­gram syn­di­cat­ed by the far-right pro­pa­gan­da chan­nel News­Max TV.”

    As we can see, it isn’t just the peo­ple who unof­fi­cial­ly speak for Trump like Ban­non and Stone call­ing for polit­i­cal exe­cu­tions. It’s offi­cial. DiGen­o­va was doing an inter­view as Trump’s attor­ney when he made that state­ment and he was­n’t obvi­ous­ly jok­ing. The idea of mass polit­i­cal exe­cu­tions has now been inject­ed into the polit­i­cal space by some­one speak­ing for the pres­i­dent. And as the com­ments by hate-preach­er Rick Wiles made clear, at least some of Trump’s fol­low­ers were lis­ten­ing to diGen­o­va and high­ly recep­tive to the idea. They just don’t want to lim­it the killing to Chris Krebs:

    ...
    Many Trump sup­port­ers have been excit­ed by the U.S. Depart­ment of Justice’s fast-track pro­gram of fed­er­al exe­cu­tions since Trump lost the elec­tion, and some even see it as a sign that Trump could be get­ting ready to line up high-pro­file Democ­rats against the wall—espe­cial­ly con­sid­er­ing the move by Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bill Barr to expand the num­ber of exe­cu­tion meth­ods to include fir­ing squad. Con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist and hate-preach­er Rick Wiles made pre­cise­ly that argu­ment on his show recent­ly, accord­ing to Right Wing Watch.

    “Why would they fast-track this?” one of Wiles’s hench­men asked on the pro­gram.

    “I’m not try­ing to be fun­ny about it... Because they plan to shoot some peo­ple,” Wiles said. “They’re gonna have a bunch of trai­tors, they’re gonna line ‘em up against the wall and start shoot­ing them. Because that’s what they deserve.”

    “If the Democ­rats, if the news media, if the left­ists, if sci­en­tists, pro­fes­sors, have been work­ing secret­ly with the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Par­ty, then line ‘em up against the wall and shoot them,” said Wiles.
    ...

    Keep in mind that these hints of mass killings of Democ­rats, the news media, left­ists, sci­en­tists, pro­fes­sors are very much in line with the con­cept of the QAnon “Storm”, where Trump mass arrests the Satan­ic com­mu­nist fas­cist baby-eat­ing cabal run­ning the world and exe­cutes them. So diGen­o­va was oper­at­ing on now-famil­iar rhetor­i­cal ground when he made those state­ments.

    Also keep in mind that it was a lit­tle over a week ago when now-for­mer Trump attor­ney Sid­ney Pow­ell effec­tive­ly “Jumped the Shark” when she made her claims about Geor­gia Repub­li­cans like Gov­er­nor Bri­an Kemp being involved in the mass vote-rig­ging against Trump and she was for­mal­ly kicked off of Trump’s legal team with­in a day. And as of Tues­day evening, DiGen­o­va is still on Trump’s legal team. Because calls for the exe­cu­tion of Trump’s polit­i­cal oppo­nents aren’t some ‘Jump­ing the Shark­ing’ plot diver­sion in the Trump era. They’re the main plot.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 1, 2020, 6:08 pm
  13. Here’s a pair of arti­cles that give us a sense of what kind of advice Pres­i­dent Trump is receiv­ing as he gets clos­er and clos­er to run­ning out of legal options in con­test­ing the elec­tion results:

    First, here’s a TPM piece about pub­lic calls for Trump to declare mar­tial law under the guise of hav­ing the mil­i­tary over­see a re-vote. See, it’s just a tem­po­rary mar­tial law. Just until the new elec­tion is admin­is­tered. That’s the advice the recent­ly-par­doned Michael Fly­nn gave Trump along­side pro-Trump attor­ney Lin Wood. In keep­ing with the mil­i­tary theme, Sid­ney Pow­ell — who was recent­ly a mem­ber of the Trump cam­paign’s legal team until she start­ed call­ing Geor­gia’s elect­ed Repub­li­can offi­cials mem­bers of the ‘Deep State’ cabal work­ing to steal the elec­tion from Trump — also called for Trump to sus­pend the Elec­toral Col­lege and set up a mil­i­tary tri­bunal to inves­ti­gate vot­er fraud.

    Keep in mind that the whole QAnon nar­ra­tive involves mar­tial law and mass mil­i­tary tri­bunals. That’s what “the Storm” is sup­posed to be. So these calls for mar­tial law are going to have a very recep­tive audi­ence among the QAnon fol­low­ers.

    But also keep in mind a new trend that could make those calls much more appeal­ing for main­stream con­ser­v­a­tives: Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bill Barr is now being increas­ing­ly por­trayed by right-wing com­men­ta­tors as being a mem­ber of the hypo­thet­i­cal anti-Trump ‘Deep State’ too after he recent­ly gave an inter­view where he stat­ed there’s no exist­ing evi­dence of sys­tem­at­ic vot­er fraud. Roger Stone, who was give kid-glove treat­ment by Barr back in Feb­ru­ary, is on Par­ler — the new social media plat­form where main­stream con­ser­v­a­tives and neo-Nazis are encour­aged to inter­min­gledpush­ing the idea that Barr is part of a con­spir­a­cy to take down Trump.

    So calls for mar­tial law and mil­i­tary tri­bunals are like­ly to have increas­ing res­o­nance with Trump’s base as this plays out as grow­ing num­bers of Repub­li­cans, includ­ing Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bill Barr, are thrown into the ‘Deep State’ polem­i­cal pile. The more it seems like the entire sys­tem is rigged against Trump the more tempt­ing it will be to tear it all down:

    Talk­ing Points Memo
    News

    Fly­nn And Trump Stooges Urge Pres­i­dent To Impose Mar­tial Law And Nation­al ‘Re-Vote’

    By Kate Riga
    Decem­ber 2, 2020 12:32 p.m.

    Pro-Trump attor­ney Lin Wood and the recent­ly par­doned for­mer Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Advis­er Michael Fly­nn have called for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to declare mar­tial law and have the mil­i­tary over­see a “nation­al re-vote.”

    Sid­ney Pow­ell, Fly­nn lawyer and until recent­ly a lawyer for the Trump cam­paign, ampli­fied calls for Trump to sus­pend the Elec­toral Col­lege vote and set up a mil­i­tary tri­bunal to inves­ti­gate vot­er fraud.

    Wood and Fly­nn tweet­ed out a press release from the Ohio-based “We The Peo­ple Con­ven­tion” head­ed by a Tea Par­ty leader.

    The press release cites Pres­i­dent Abra­ham Lincoln’s actions dur­ing the Civ­il War and asserts that deploy­ing mar­tial law is the only way to avoid a “shoot­ing civ­il war.”

    When the leg­is­la­tors, courts and/or Con­gress fail to do their duty under the 12th Amend­ment, you must be ready Mr. Pres­i­dent to imme­di­ate­ly declare a lim­it­ed form of Mar­tial Law, and tem­porar­i­ly sus­pend the Con­sti­tu­tion and civil­ian con­trol of these fed­er­al elec­tions, for the sole pur­pose of hav­ing the mil­i­tary over­see a nation­al re-vote,” the state­ment reads.

    It base­less­ly cites “OVERWHELMING” evi­dence of vot­er fraud, and calls on Trump to “silence the destruc­tive media’s one-sided pro­pa­gan­da.”

    Fly­nn, who has dab­bled in QAnon-adja­cent con­spir­a­cy the­o­riz­ing before, tagged some Trump acolytes and Fox’s Lou Dobbs and Maria Bar­tiro­mo in his retweet. “Free­dom nev­er kneels except for God,” he wrote.

    Wood tagged Trump, urg­ing him to declare mar­tial law to com­bat “Com­mu­nist China’s” “nefar­i­ous efforts to take away our free­dom.”

    “Our coun­try is head­ed to civ­il war,” he added. “A war cre­at­ed by 3rd par­ty bad actors for their ben­e­fit – not for We The Peo­ple.”

    Ohio Attor­ney Gen­er­al and Repub­li­can David Yost con­demned the press release.

    ...

    Pow­ell, boot­ed from Trump’s cam­paign team for some­how being a lit­tle too extreme, took a sim­i­lar but dif­fer­ent tack, in addi­tion to retweet­ing Fly­nn.

    She retweet­ed a call for Trump to declare the Insur­rec­tion Act, a law that allows the Pres­i­dent to deploy fed­er­al troops in extra­or­di­nary cir­cum­stances.

    She had also retweet­ed a let­ter ask­ing Trump to, along with declar­ing the Act, use mil­i­tary tri­bunals to inves­ti­gate vot­er fraud and sus­pend the Elec­toral Col­lege cer­ti­fi­ca­tion vote, the Jan­u­ary Geor­gia runoffs and Pres­i­dent-Elect Joe Biden’s inau­gu­ra­tion. That post no longer shows up on her feed, but was cap­tured in screen­shots.

    Trump him­self has not seemed to pick up on these par­tic­u­lar con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries yet, though all of these tin-hat­ted types tend to be alarm­ing­ly close to the President’s ear. Per his Twit­ter feed, Trump has been pre­oc­cu­pied with declar­ing a bomb­shell report on a DOJ inves­ti­ga­tion into a sus­pect­ed bribe-for-par­don scheme to be fake news, ampli­fy­ing his lawyers’ flim­sy attempts to over­turn the elec­tion and boost­ing spe­cious accu­sa­tions of vot­er fraud.

    ————

    “Fly­nn And Trump Stooges Urge Pres­i­dent To Impose Mar­tial Law And Nation­al ‘Re-Vote’” by Kate Riga; Talk­ing Points Memo; 12/02/2020

    “The press release cites Pres­i­dent Abra­ham Lincoln’s actions dur­ing the Civ­il War and asserts that deploy­ing mar­tial law is the only way to avoid a “shoot­ing civ­il war.”

    Mar­tial law is the only way to avoid a “shoot­ing civ­il war.” Expect that to be part of the ulti­mate ratio­nale should Trump try to pull this trig­ger. Mar­tial law as a com­pas­sion­ate move intend­ed to pre­emp­tive­ly save lives. And only tem­porar­i­ly until the new mil­i­tar­i­ly-admin­is­tered re-vote is con­duct­ed. It’s all so civ­il:

    ...
    “When the leg­is­la­tors, courts and/or Con­gress fail to do their duty under the 12th Amend­ment, you must be ready Mr. Pres­i­dent to imme­di­ate­ly declare a lim­it­ed form of Mar­tial Law, and tem­porar­i­ly sus­pend the Con­sti­tu­tion and civil­ian con­trol of these fed­er­al elec­tions, for the sole pur­pose of hav­ing the mil­i­tary over­see a nation­al re-vote,” the state­ment reads.
    ...

    And then Sid­ney Pow­ell went as far as call­ing for the invo­ca­tion of the Insur­rec­tion Act to not just sus­pend Joe Biden’s inau­gu­ra­tion in Jan­u­ary but also sus­pend the Geor­gia Sen­ate runoff spe­cial elec­tions. And also con­duct mil­i­tary tri­bunals to inves­ti­gate vot­er fraud. Con­sid­er­ing that Pow­ell was kicked off of Trump’s legal team in part for charge Geor­gia’s Repub­li­can gov­er­nor Bri­an Kemp with being in on the plot to thwart Trump those mil­i­tary tri­bunals would pre­sum­ably include a vig­or­ous inves­ti­ga­tion of Kemp and any oth­er elect­ed Repub­li­can offi­cials who did­n’t go along with the mas­sive-vot­er fraud claims:

    ...
    Pow­ell, boot­ed from Trump’s cam­paign team for some­how being a lit­tle too extreme, took a sim­i­lar but dif­fer­ent tack, in addi­tion to retweet­ing Fly­nn.

    She retweet­ed a call for Trump to declare the Insur­rec­tion Act, a law that allows the Pres­i­dent to deploy fed­er­al troops in extra­or­di­nary cir­cum­stances.

    She had also retweet­ed a let­ter ask­ing Trump to, along with declar­ing the Act, use mil­i­tary tri­bunals to inves­ti­gate vot­er fraud and sus­pend the Elec­toral Col­lege cer­ti­fi­ca­tion vote, the Jan­u­ary Geor­gia runoffs and Pres­i­dent-Elect Joe Biden’s inau­gu­ra­tion. That post no longer shows up on her feed, but was cap­tured in screen­shots.
    ...

    So assum­ing Trump did indeed declare mar­tial law, and the mil­i­tary went along with it and admin­is­trat­ed a re-vote, what kind of results would this Trump cabal deem to be rea­son­able and accept­able? Well, we got an idea of what they think the real vote tal­ly looked like when Lin Wood and Roger Stone appeared as a “Stop the Steal” ral­ly in Geor­gia yes­ter­day. Recall that Roger Stone start­ed “Stop the Steal” dur­ing the 2016 pri­maries to help Trump secure the nom­i­na­tion. Wood pro­claimed near the end of the ral­ly that he has seen the “real” elec­tion results. Trump won over­whelm­ing­ly, with 410 votes. He even won Cal­i­for­nia! Yep. It’s an impor­tant insight into the nature of the nar­ra­tive that the Trump base is being told by this group of pied pipers. The nar­ra­tive that Trump is so wild­ly peo­ple with the “real Amer­i­cans” that he won almost every state. Only a tiny cabal of inter­na­tion­al com­mu­nists, George Soros, the ‘Deep State’ (includ­ing Bill Barr and any oth­er Repub­li­can who does­n’t sup­port these vot­er fraud charges), and a few lib­er­al enclaves on the coasts reject­ed Trump. Every­one else loves him and want him to be pres­i­dent for­ev­er. That’s the nar­ra­tive. The kind of a nar­ra­tive that makes dec­la­ra­tions of mar­tial law and mil­i­tary tri­bunals seem like the only option avail­able.

    Sid­ney Pow­ell joined Wood at the Geor­gia Ral­ly and both shared a bit of advice with the crowd that gives us an idea of how soon they want to see this mar­tial law declared: they told the crowd NOT to par­tic­i­pate in the Jan­u­ary 5 Geor­gia runoff spe­cial elec­tions for the two Sen­ate seats that will deter­mine con­trol of the Sen­ate. Not if they have to vote on the com­mu­nist-con­trolled vot­ing sys­tems. It’s a rather curi­ous piece of advice to give to Repub­li­cans but it’s at least con­sis­tent with the broad­er nar­ra­tive is the whole elec­tion sys­tem is so bro­ken that only mar­tial law can fix it. And that’s what makes so calls to skip the runoffs so dis­turb­ing: it’s an indi­ca­tion that this group that is extreme close to Trump real­ly is dou­bling, tripling, and qua­dru­pling down on the mar­tial law plan. Soon:

    Talk­ing Points Memo
    News

    ‘Stop The Steal’ Ral­lies Now Fea­ture ‘Lock Him Up!’ Chants Aimed At Geor­gia Guv Bri­an Kemp

    By Matt Shuham
    Decem­ber 2, 2020 5:06 p.m.

    The pro-Trump attor­ney Lin Wood pro­claimed near the end of a “Stop The Steal” ral­ly in Geor­gia Tues­day that he had seen the “real” results of the 2020 elec­tion.

    “He won over 410 elec­toral votes,” Wood said, refer­ring to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. “He damn near won every state includ­ing Cal­i­for­nia!”

    That about summed up the pro­ceed­ings Tues­day, where Wood and co-coun­sel Sid­ney Pow­ell — for­mer­ly of the President’s cam­paign, now lead­ing a bustling fundrais­ing-based legal effort to some­how deliv­er Trump a sec­ond term — riled up the crowd with tempt­ing promis­es that Trump would, indeed, remain Pres­i­dent on Jan. 20.

    The pair trot­ted out the same old non­sense they’ve been rid­ing for weeks in light of Joe Biden’s elec­toral vic­to­ry: The com­mu­nists have infil­trat­ed America’s elec­tion infra­struc­ture! They’ve bought off Georgia’s Repub­li­can Sec­re­tary of State!

    The effort has nev­er been legal­ly rig­or­ous: Pow­ell and Wood’s fil­ings have includ­ed clum­sy typos and embar­rass­ing errors; a recent fed­er­al suit to over­turn the results in Wis­con­sin, for exam­ple, sought video footage from the TCF Cen­ter… which is in Detroit, Michi­gan.

    But even now, the move­ment appears to be grow­ing more aggres­sive.

    Wood and the recent­ly par­doned for­mer nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er Michael Fly­nn, for exam­ple, called on the Pres­i­dent to declare mar­tial law Mon­day over the sup­pos­ed­ly stolen elec­tion. Pow­ell has boost­ed calls for Trump to invoke the Insur­rec­tion Act.

    On Tues­day, at least one per­son in atten­dance car­ried an actu­al pitch­fork. Wood, ral­ly­ing the crowd, seethed at out­siders.

    We’re not going to vote on your damn machines made in Chi­na,” he said at one point.

    “Get out of our coun­try, George Soros!” he yelled sep­a­rate­ly of the Amer­i­can cit­i­zen and Jew­ish bogey­man for the right.

    The pair even turned on Repub­li­cans deemed insuf­fi­cient­ly fer­vent in sup­port­ing Don­ald Trump’s inevitable sec­ond term. “Lock him up!” Wood said of Geor­gia Gov. Bri­an Kemp ®.

    “Lock him up!” chants burst out in ref­er­ence to Gov. Bri­an Kemp (R‑GA) at Lin Wood and Sid­ney Pow­ell’s alter­nate real­i­ty elec­tion fraud con­spir­a­cy event. pic.twitter.com/nks8r4FZU2— The Recount (@therecount) Decem­ber 2, 2020

    Both attor­neys on stage agreed that vot­ers should not par­tic­i­pate in the upcom­ing runoff elec­tions for U.S. Sen­ate in Geor­gia — at least, not on com­mu­nist-con­trolled vot­ing machines. That dynam­ic threat­ens the Repub­li­cans’ chances for both Sen­ate seats.

    Pow­ell, empha­siz­ing that atten­dees shouldn’t vote in the spe­cial elec­tion with­out a change in the state’s vot­ing sys­tems, even seemed to come out in oppo­si­tion to the secret bal­lot.

    “We must have vot­er ID, and we prob­a­bly must go back to paper bal­lots that are signed and have your thumbprint on them,” she said to rau­cous applause.

    ...

    ————

    “‘Stop The Steal’ Ral­lies Now Fea­ture ‘Lock Him Up!’ Chants Aimed At Geor­gia Guv Bri­an Kemp” by Matt Shuham; Talk­ing Points Memo; 12/02/2020

    ““He won over 410 elec­toral votes,” Wood said, refer­ring to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. “He damn near won every state includ­ing Cal­i­for­nia!”

    Every­one loves Trump! At least all REAL Amer­i­cans. And if we just count of the REAL vote we’ll find Trump won in a his­toric land­slide. If only the com­mu­nists had­n’t cor­rupt­ed every­thing, includ­ing Geor­gia’s Repub­li­can offi­cials. It’s so cor­rupt that Repub­li­cans should just skip the Geor­gia runoffs in Jan­u­ary. It’s the kind of strat­e­gy that makes no sense at all...unless the plan is to make elec­tions a moot point in the very near future:

    ...
    That about summed up the pro­ceed­ings Tues­day, where Wood and co-coun­sel Sid­ney Pow­ell — for­mer­ly of the President’s cam­paign, now lead­ing a bustling fundrais­ing-based legal effort to some­how deliv­er Trump a sec­ond term — riled up the crowd with tempt­ing promis­es that Trump would, indeed, remain Pres­i­dent on Jan. 20.

    The pair trot­ted out the same old non­sense they’ve been rid­ing for weeks in light of Joe Biden’s elec­toral vic­to­ry: The com­mu­nists have infil­trat­ed America’s elec­tion infra­struc­ture! They’ve bought off Georgia’s Repub­li­can Sec­re­tary of State!

    The effort has nev­er been legal­ly rig­or­ous: Pow­ell and Wood’s fil­ings have includ­ed clum­sy typos and embar­rass­ing errors; a recent fed­er­al suit to over­turn the results in Wis­con­sin, for exam­ple, sought video footage from the TCF Cen­ter… which is in Detroit, Michi­gan.

    But even now, the move­ment appears to be grow­ing more aggres­sive.

    ...

    Both attor­neys on stage agreed that vot­ers should not par­tic­i­pate in the upcom­ing runoff elec­tions for U.S. Sen­ate in Geor­gia — at least, not on com­mu­nist-con­trolled vot­ing machines. That dynam­ic threat­ens the Repub­li­cans’ chances for both Sen­ate seats.
    ...

    So it’s look­ing like we should prob­a­bly expect the Trump team to use the Jan­u­ary 5 Geor­gia Sen­ate runoffs as a fur­ther excuse for mar­tial law, assum­ing it has­n’t already been declared by then. Two more elec­tions that are only going to be stolen by all of the com­mu­nist-con­trolled elec­tion hard­ware. Only mar­tial law can save us.

    In relat­ed news, Trump just released a 46-minute video today ded­i­cat­ed to his vot­er fraud claims, say­ing it may be “the most impor­tant speech I’ve ever made.” And he might be cor­rect in this being the most impor­tant speech he’s ever made giv­en that this video is increas­ing­ly look­ing like a 46-minute pre­emp­tive jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for mar­tial law, although the upcom­ing mar­tial law dec­la­ra­tion speech will pre­sum­ably be more impor­tant.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 2, 2020, 6:03 pm
  14. @Pterrafractyl–

    “Com­mu­nists” infil­trat­ing the Demo­c­ra­t­ic par­ty, con­trol­ling vot­ing machines, etc.

    Worth remem­ber­ing this: ” . . . . Barag­o­na was a Nazi from Fort Sill. . . . Gar­ri­son also obtained a tran­script of a let­ter writ­ten by Fer­rie to Barag­o­na. Next to Barag­o­na’s name, Gar­ri­son wrote: ‘Note Barag­o­na is impor­tant.’ The let­ter had been sent to Gar­ri­son by Glenn Pinch­back, and a car­bon copy was sent to Mendel Rivers, a con­gress­man from Geor­gia. (Pinch­back worked in the Oper­a­tions Com­mand at Fort Sill, where he inter­cept­ed mail.) In the let­ter, Fer­rie shared his dream of the re-uni­fi­ca­tion of Ger­many and liv­ing in a world where all the cur­ren­cy was in Deutschmarks. Pinch­back­’s sum­ma­tion of the let­ter described a ‘Neo-Nazi plot to enslave Amer­i­ca in the name of anti-Com­mu­nism,’ and ‘a neo-Nazi plot gar­gan­tu­an in scope.’ The Fer­rie let­ter spoke of the need to kill all the Kennedys and Mar­tin Luther King, Jr. . . . Pinch­back also report­ed­ly obtained a let­ter from David Fer­rie to Barag­o­na con­fess­ing his role in the assas­si­na­tion of Robert Gehrig, who was a Nazi and Fort Sill sol­dier. . . .”

    With what is going on now, Pinch­back­’s analy­sis is dis­turbing­ly accu­rate.

    The “squad” and their financ­ing by Chakrabar­ti, et al, play right into this.

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | December 2, 2020, 8:53 pm
  15. @Dave: One of the more puz­zling trends to emerge in this post-elec­tion strug­gle is the push by pro-Trump attor­neys Sid­ney Pow­ell and Lin Wood to encour­age Repub­li­can vot­ers to skip the Geor­gia spe­cial Sen­ate runoffs in Jan­u­ary unless the entire alleged vot­er fraud that cheat­ed Trump out of his vic­to­ry is exposed in Geor­gia. It’s a puz­zling argu­ment on its sur­face, espe­cial­ly giv­en the impor­tance of those two Sen­ate seats for the con­trol of the Sen­ate. And yet, if you look at right-wing medi­a’s cov­er­age of Wood and Pow­ell, you’ll find over­whelm­ing­ly neg­a­tive opin­ions of Pow­ell’s and Wood’s pro­posed Geor­gia boy­cott expressed by right-wing writ­ers on sites like Breitbart.com or Redstate.com, but the com­ments to those arti­cles are filled with peo­ple claim­ing that they actu­al­ly agree with Wood and Pow­ell that there’s no point in vot­ing in the spe­cial elec­tions if the fraud that caused Trump to lose Geor­gia isn’t exposed. That’s not the uni­form sen­ti­ment and there’s plen­ty of push-back, but it’s real­ly remark­able how many ran­dom com­menters on these sites real­ly seem to agree with Powell/Wood posi­tion on the Geor­gia race. And while com­menters can be spoofed and there’s undoubt­ed­ly some left-wing mis­chief involved, a num­ber of these of long-stand­ing reg­u­lar right-wing com­menters so there real­ly does appear to be a gen­er­al con­vic­tion among Trump’s base that there real­ly was just mas­sive over­whelm­ing sys­tem­at­ic vot­er fraud that stole the elec­tion from Trump.

    Addi­tion­al­ly, Chi­na has almost com­plete­ly over­tak­en any oth­er tra­di­tion­al right-wing boogey­men as being seen as THE pri­ma­ry threat to the US. The meme about Domin­ion Sys­tem vot­ing machines being remote­ly con­trolled by Com­mu­nist Chi­na real­ly has tak­en hold in the right-wing psy­che. It’s a Chi­nese Com­mu­nist plot to sub­vert Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy, Antifa and BLM are just com­mu­nist pawns, and if this elec­tion theft isn’t cor­rect­ed NOW there will nev­er be anoth­er fair elec­tion ever again. That’s a major part of the sense of des­per­a­tion dri­ving the right-wing right now. If Trump los­es, Com­mu­nist Chi­na wins Amer­i­ca for­ev­er and antifa will roam the streets ter­ror­iz­ing con­ser­v­a­tives who refuse to sub­mit to com­mu­nism.

    Here’s an exam­ple of a RedState.com piece that denounces the the calls for Trump to declare mar­tial law and force an elec­tion redo that was made by Michael Fly­nn a cou­ple days ago in Geor­gia stand­ing next to Wood. Take a look at the com­ments. It’s shock­ing­ly in favor of mar­tial law. It reflect a grow­ing sen­ti­ment on the right that allow­ing Trump to lose Geor­gia (and the Whites House in gen­er­al) is basi­cal­ly the Amer­i­can con­ser­v­a­tive last stand, and if Trump isn’t giv­en his right­ful vic­to­ry there’s nev­er going to be a Repub­li­can elect­ed ever again because the inter­na­tion­al Chi­nese-led con­spir­a­cy to rig US vot­ing machines will ensure Com­mu­nist Demo­c­rat rule for­ev­er. That’s the cur­rent zeit­geist of Trump’s base. If Trump does­n’t win a sec­ond term ALL IS LOST FOREVER. It’s the per­fect envi­ron­ment for push­ing the US into a ‘hot’ civ­il war. A ‘hot’ civ­il war over Trump.

    Inter­est­ing­ly, we just got reports that Trump asked Lin Wood to tone down the rhetoric on the Geor­gia Sen­ate dur­ing a pri­vate phone call. Trump and the Trump cam­paign are bare­ly pub­licly push­ing back on the Powell/Wood nar­ra­tive and kind of play­ing foot­sie with it. Sure, Pow­ell was kicked off the Trump legal team after she assert­ed that Geor­gia’s Repub­li­cans were in on the vote-rig­ging scheme, but there has­n’t real­ly been any force­ful pub­lic con­dem­na­tion from Trump’s team. And from Trump’s per­spec­tive, a pair of GOP Sen­ate loss­es in Geor­gia might actu­al­ly be desir­able. For starters, hand­ing the Democ­rats con­trol of the Sen­ate would poten­tial­ly make the GOP much more riled up for a Trump 2024 re-run and only fuel sus­pi­cions of vot­er fraud. But in the short-term, if the Democ­rats win those two sen­ate seats, that’s going to make the already-des­per­ate Trump base that much more des­per­ate. And des­per­a­tion and despair are the per­fect fuel for some sort of real far right vio­lent insur­rec­tion. Steve Ban­non’s dream sce­nario. And Trump’s dream sce­nario since he would have an army fight­ing for him. Trump is win­ning the ulti­mate loy­al­ty test: a large chunk of the GOP appears to be ready to fight and die for him and those in the GOP who aren’t express­ing that same lev­el zeal­ous­ness are increas­ing­ly being seen as RINOs or ‘Deep State’ plants.

    So if the GOP does end up los­ing those two Sen­ate races on Jan­u­ary 5, that peri­od between Jan­u­ary 5 and the Biden inau­gu­ra­tion on Jan­u­ary 20 could end up being two of the most dan­ger­ous weeks for the Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy in the coun­try’s his­to­ry. If Trump declared mar­tial law right now he might not have the extreme­ly high lev­el of sup­port among GOP vot­ers that he would need to suc­cess­ful­ly pull off a stunt like that. But if the GOP los­es those Sen­ate races, and then Trump declares mar­tial law in the weeks before Jan­u­ary 20, well we could be in a very dif­fer­ent a dark­er place in terms of right-wing mass psy­chol­o­gy. It’s some­thing to keep in mind as this strange GOP ‘should we vote or not’ ten­sion plays out in Geor­gia runoff. While the Repub­li­can Par­ty might want to win those Sen­ate races, Trump him­self and the gen­uine fas­cists around him might actu­al­ly pre­fer to see the GOP lose those seats.

    Here’s anoth­er pair of arti­cles hint­ing at ongo­ing plans inside the Trump admin­is­tra­tion to actu­al­ly attempt to declare mar­tial law. First, it turns out one of the new Trump appointees to the Pen­ta­gon that he put in place after the elec­tion, Scott O’Grady, has been open­ly sup­port­ing on Twit­ter Michael Fly­n­n’s calls for Trump to declare mar­tial law:

    CNN

    Trump Pen­ta­gon nom­i­nee spreads debunked con­spir­a­cies and tweets sug­gest­ing Trump declare mar­tial law

    By Nathan McDer­mott, Andrew Kaczyn­s­ki and Em Steck
    Updat­ed 8:02 AM ET, Fri Decem­ber 4, 2020

    (CNN)President Don­ald Trump’s nom­i­nee to become a senior Pen­ta­gon offi­cial spread debunked con­spir­a­cies on Twit­ter that called Trump’s elec­tion loss to Joe Biden a “coup” attempt and shared tweets that sug­gest Trump should declare mar­tial law.

    Scott O’Grady, a for­mer fight­er pilot and Trump loy­al­ist, repeat­ed­ly retweet­ed tweets that false­ly stat­ed Trump won the elec­tion in “land­slide fash­ion” and that mil­lions of votes were stolen from the Pres­i­dent.

    On Novem­ber 25, O’Grady retweet­ed a tweet that said, “Trump won & Biden & his Com­rades will now attempt a coup,” next to a pho­to­shopped image of Biden beside Xi Jin­ping, the Pres­i­dent of Chi­na.

    On Decem­ber 2, he retweet­ed an account that shared an arti­cle that said for­mer nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er Michael Fly­nn had shared a peti­tion that called for mar­tial law. He then retweet­ed the same account which sug­gest­ed that Trump should declare mar­tial law.

    “I don’t know who needs to hear this,” the account said, “But call­ing for mar­tial law is not a bad idea when there is an attempt­ed coup against the pres­i­dent and this coun­try hap­pen­ing right now.”

    Mar­tial law

    The tweet ref­er­ences a peti­tion Fly­nn shared on Twit­ter call­ing for Trump to declare mar­tial law and order a new pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. The peti­tion false­ly called Novem­ber’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion “fraud­u­lent” and called on Trump to have the mil­i­tary over­see a new elec­tion. Attor­ney Gen­er­al William Barr said in an inter­view pub­lished Tues­day that there is no evi­dence that wide­spread fraud occurred dur­ing the elec­tion.

    In the after­math of the elec­tion, Trump him­self has spread numer­ous conspir­a­cies and false­hoods alleg­ing that Democ­rats and oth­er out­side forces have stolen the elec­tion from him. He has also upend­ed man­age­ment in the Defense Depart­ment by mak­ing whole­sale changes in the Pen­tagon’s civil­ian lead­er­ship since fir­ing Defense Sec­re­tary Mark Esper by tweet Novem­ber 9, oust­ing at least three oth­er offi­cials and replac­ing them with per­ceived loy­al­ists.

    CNN’s KFile reviewed O’Grady’s tweets and media appear­ances and found that O’Grady shared oth­er debunked elec­tion con­spir­a­cies and that he also degrad­ed top mil­i­tary and intel­li­gence offi­cials. In a radio inter­view, he called for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma and mil­i­tary gen­er­als “sworn social­ists,” and advo­cat­ed that the mil­i­tary jus­tice sys­tem should bring back trea­son charges. He retweet­ed a tweet that called for­mer Defense Sec­re­tary James Mat­tis a “trai­tor.”

    He tweet­ed that Lt. Col. Alexan­der Vin­d­man, a star wit­ness dur­ing the Trump impeach­ment hear­ings, should be charged “for insur­rec­tion because he is a biased lib­er­al polit­i­cal oper­a­tive” and said on a radio show that it was “dis­gust­ing” for Vin­d­man to tes­ti­fy against Trump. He also spread a base­less claim that the whistle­blow­er in the impeach­ment saga dat­ed the daugh­ter of House Intel­li­gence Chair­man Adam Schiff.

    O’Grady was nom­i­nat­ed by the White House to become an assis­tant sec­re­tary of defense for inter­na­tion­al secu­ri­ty affairs at the Pen­ta­gon, a key posi­tion with­in the Depart­ment of Defense’s pol­i­cy shop over­see­ing oper­a­tions in Europe, the Mid­dle East and Africa. The posi­tion is a polit­i­cal appoint­ment, and if O’Grady is con­firmed, he would only fill the role until the start of the Biden admin­is­tra­tion.

    His nom­i­na­tion, which was sent to the Sen­ate on Mon­day, comes as the Pen­tagon’s top civil­ian offi­cials have been hasti­ly replaced with per­ceived Trump loy­al­ists and con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists despite some lack­ing cre­den­tials — and in some cas­es, lack­ing Sen­ate con­fir­ma­tion — for the posi­tions.

    ...

    In the after­math of this year’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, O’Grady has tak­en to retweet­ing dozens of con­spir­a­cies and false­hoods about the results, all of which allege that Trump won the elec­tion or that the elec­tion results were tam­pered with or cov­ered up.

    On Novem­ber 19, O’Grady retweet­ed a tweet that false­ly claimed Hillary Clin­ton and George Soros were involved in allow­ing for­eign inter­fer­ence in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

    On Novem­ber 23, O’Grady retweet­ed a user who false­ly claimed, “They stopped count­ing votes when @realDonaldTrump was win­ning “in land­slide fash­ion.”

    On Novem­ber 25, O’Grady retweet­ed a base­less accu­sa­tion that Bri­an Kemp and Brad Raffensperger–the gov­er­nor, and sec­re­tary of state, of Geor­gia, respectively—may be cov­er­ing up infor­ma­tion about elec­tion results in Geor­gia.

    “Bri­an & Brad seem to have some­thing to hide,” the tweet said. “We need to find out what it is. I sus­pect they are hid­ing the TRUTH.”

    Trump lost Geor­gia to Pres­i­dent-elect Biden by more than 12,000 votes. Though Geor­gia imple­ment­ed an auto­mat­ic recount, state offi­cials say they have seen “no sub­stan­tial change” in the results.

    On Novem­ber 27, O’Grady retweet­ed the false claim that Trump won Cal­i­for­nia, despite the fact that Trump lost the state by more than 5 mil­lion votes.

    Behind Ene­my Lines

    O’Grady has also sig­naled sup­port for attor­ney Sid­ney Pow­ell after the Trump cam­paign sev­ered ties with her after she expressed beliefs that a net­work of com­mu­nists, CIA agents, Democ­rats, Repub­li­cans, and Hugo Chavez, the dead for­mer pres­i­dent of Venezuela, worked with Domin­ion Vot­ing Sys­tems to steal the elec­tion from Trump.

    O’Grady has also shared or inter­act­ed with oth­er online con­spir­a­cies not relat­ed to the elec­tion.

    On Novem­ber 25, he retweet­ed a tweet that asked if the Covid-19 virus was par­ti­san since it seemed to be dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly impact­ing Repub­li­can politi­cians over Democ­rats.

    In Feb­ru­ary 2020, O’Grady retweet­ed a tweet with a pro-QAnon hash­tag. The far-right con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry claims that a cabal of Satan-wor­ship­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic politi­cians and celebri­ties abuse chil­dren and are work­ing toward over­throw­ing Trump.

    Before O’Grady estab­lished him­self as a Trump loy­al­ist, he first rose to fame when he served as a fight­er pilot whose plane was shot down over war-torn Bosnia in 1995. The air force cap­tain eject­ed him­self from the plane and evad­ed cap­ture for near­ly a week before being res­cued by US Marines. The 2001 film “Behind Ene­my Lines” had a sim­i­lar plot­line to O’Grady’s expe­ri­ence and he lat­er sued the film stu­dio and then set­tled the suit for an undis­closed amount.

    After leav­ing active mil­i­tary ser­vice in 2001, O’Grady obtained a the­ol­o­gy degree and launched a speak­ing and writ­ing career about his time in Bosnia. He co-chaired the Vet­er­ans for Trump cam­paign effort in 2020.

    While a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Vet­er­ans for Trump, O’Grady allud­ed to oth­er con­spir­a­cies. In a radio inter­view from the spring of 2020, O’Grady said “open-source unclas­si­fied mate­r­i­al” shows that Covid-19 was cre­at­ed out of a lab in Chi­na. There is no evi­dence for this and the con­spir­a­cy has been wide­ly reject­ed by the sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ty.

    In 2019, he also tweet­ed, “Europe is going to face a seri­ous prob­lem in our life­time with the grow­ing mus­lim [sic] pop­u­la­tions inside their coun­tries. It’s not going to be a pret­ty out­come in my opin­ion.”

    ———–

    “Trump Pen­ta­gon nom­i­nee spreads debunked con­spir­a­cies and tweets sug­gest­ing Trump declare mar­tial law” by Nathan McDer­mott, Andrew Kaczyn­s­ki and Em Steck; CNN; 12/04/2020

    ““I don’t know who needs to hear this,” the account said, “But call­ing for mar­tial law is not a bad idea when there is an attempt­ed coup against the pres­i­dent and this coun­try hap­pen­ing right now.”

    Mar­tial law isn’t a bad idea giv­en the coup attempt against Trump. That’s the sen­ti­ment shared by Scott O’Grady, the new , a cou­ple of days ago, which also hap­pens to be a cou­ple days after his nom­i­na­tion was sent to the Sen­ate. Giv­en that O’Grady is osten­si­bly only going to hold this post until Jan­u­ary 20, a Sen­ate nom­i­na­tion is appar­ent­ly kind of beside the point:

    ...
    O’Grady was nom­i­nat­ed by the White House to become an assis­tant sec­re­tary of defense for inter­na­tion­al secu­ri­ty affairs at the Pen­ta­gon, a key posi­tion with­in the Depart­ment of Defense’s pol­i­cy shop over­see­ing oper­a­tions in Europe, the Mid­dle East and Africa. The posi­tion is a polit­i­cal appoint­ment, and if O’Grady is con­firmed, he would only fill the role until the start of the Biden admin­is­tra­tion.

    His nom­i­na­tion, which was sent to the Sen­ate on Mon­day, comes as the Pen­tagon’s top civil­ian offi­cials have been hasti­ly replaced with per­ceived Trump loy­al­ists and con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists despite some lack­ing cre­den­tials — and in some cas­es, lack­ing Sen­ate con­fir­ma­tion — for the posi­tions.
    ...

    So if Trump does decide to declare mar­tial law he’ll at least have the assis­tant sec­re­tary of defense for inter­na­tion­al secu­ri­ty affairs back­ing him up.

    Now here’s a sto­ry about Trump’s ongo­ing affec­tions for QAnon. Affec­tions that are pret­ty under­stand­able since Trump him­self plays the star­ring role as sav­ior of human­i­ty in the QAnon mythol­o­gy. If Trump does end up declar­ing mar­tial law, it’s prob­a­bly going to be QAnon believ­ers who com­prise the bulk of the pub­lic sup­port. And accord­ing to peo­ple famil­iar with a phone call that took place between Trump and Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Mitch McConnell, Trump him­self brought up new­ly elect­ed QAnon-friend­ly Repub­li­can con­gress­woman Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene and went on to describe them as peo­ple who “basi­cal­ly believe in good gov­ern­ment.” It’s a hint that, should Trump declare mar­tial law, it will be framed as a “mar­tial law for good gov­ern­ment”. It’s also a sign that QAnon, a group that real­ly will fight and die for a sec­ond Trump term and would enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly embrace mar­tial law, is increas­ing­ly on Trump’s mind:

    CNN

    Trump praised QAnon dur­ing meet­ing about keep­ing the Sen­ate

    By Manu Raju and Sam Fos­sum
    Updat­ed 1:55 PM ET, Thu Decem­ber 3, 2020

    Wash­ing­ton (CNN)President Don­ald Trump brought up Rep.-elect Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene’s sup­port for the dan­ger­ous QAnon con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry dur­ing a meet­ing on keep­ing the Sen­ate with Major­i­ty Leader Mitch McConnell and oth­er aides, a source famil­iar with the mat­ter con­firmed to CNN.

    This per­son con­firmed that Trump told those present that QAnon con­sists of peo­ple who “basi­cal­ly believe in good gov­ern­ment,” which led to silence in the room. White House chief of staff Mark Mead­ows then said he had not heard the group described as such.

    Trump’s com­ments were first report­ed by The Wash­ing­ton Post.

    QAnon’s pre­vail­ing con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries — none based in fact — claim that dozens of Satan-wor­ship­ping politi­cians and A‑list celebri­ties work in tan­dem with gov­ern­ments around the globe to engage in child sex abuse. The group also ped­dles con­spir­a­cies about coro­n­avirus and mass shoot­ings — none ground­ed in real­i­ty. Fol­low­ers also believe there is a “deep state” effort to anni­hi­late Trump.

    The group has been labeled a domes­tic ter­ror threat by the FBI. In pub­lic, Trump has claimed he does­n’t “know much about the move­ment, oth­er than I under­stand they like me very much, which I appre­ci­ate,” while repeat­ed­ly declin­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties to con­demn the orga­ni­za­tion’s extrem­ism.

    As for Greene, Trump has called her a “future Repub­li­can star.” But she has a his­to­ry of prej­u­dice and a pro­cliv­i­ty for ampli­fy­ing con­spir­a­cies. She said that George Soros, a Holo­caust sur­vivor, col­lab­o­rat­ed with Nazis. She called “Q” a “patri­ot” who is “worth lis­ten­ing to.” She said that the dead­ly White suprema­cist ral­ly held in 2017 in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia, was an “inside job” to “fur­ther the agen­da of the elites.”

    ...

    ————-

    “Trump praised QAnon dur­ing meet­ing about keep­ing the Sen­ate” by Manu Raju and Sam Fos­sum; CNN; 12/03/2020

    This per­son con­firmed that Trump told those present that QAnon con­sists of peo­ple who “basi­cal­ly believe in good gov­ern­ment,” which led to silence in the room. White House chief of staff Mark Mead­ows then said he had not heard the group described as such.”

    “QAnon is peo­ple who basi­cal­ly believe in good gov­ern­ment!” *crick­ets* That’s how Trump’s phone with Sen­ate Repub­li­can lead­ers was described. When Side­ny Pow­ell and Lin Wood call for boy­cotts of the Geor­gia runoff unless all the ‘fraud’ is uncov­ered they’re basi­cal­ly speak­ing for the QAnon move­ment. A move­ment that por­trays Trump as human­i­ty’s last stand. If Trump does­n’t unleash “The Storm” before leav­ing office, it’s all over. Satan and Com­mu­nist Chi­na win every­thing. Amer­i­ca dies. That’s real­ly the sen­ti­ment among a sig­nif­i­cant chunk of the Repub­li­can vot­er base. A base that is less the Repub­li­can vot­er base and more the Trump vot­er base these days. A vot­er base that’s increas­ing­ly con­vinced that a Trump sec­ond term is the only hope for the future at the same time it’s increas­ing­ly con­vinced there’s no point in vot­ing.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 4, 2020, 3:01 pm
  16. Here’s an update on the bizarre show­down with­in the Repub­li­can Par­ty over whether or not Repub­li­can vot­ers should even both­er vot­ing in the upcom­ing Geor­gia sen­ate runoff races that are just a month away:

    First, recall how pro-Trump attor­neys Sid­ney Pow­ell and Lin Wood have been argu­ing that, due to all of the charges of elec­tron­ic vot­ing machine rig­ging by the Trump camp, Geor­gia Repub­li­cans should demand that the elec­tion fraud against Trump be com­plet­ed exposed before the upcom­ing spe­cial elec­tions because oth­er­wise the vote would just be rigged again. Also recall how Pow­ell was kicked off the Trump reelec­tion legal team after she assert­ed that Geor­gia Repub­li­can gov­er­nor Bri­an Kemp was involved with the vote-rig­ging...the kind of charge that cre­ates an inter­nal log­ic to calls to skip the spe­cial elec­tions. After all, if even the Repub­li­can offi­cials were in on the fraud against Trump why both­er vot­ing at all?

    And now we’re learn­ing that Pres­i­dent made a phone call to Gov­er­nor Kemp this morn­ing, pres­sur­ing Kemp to help con­vince the Geor­gia leg­is­la­ture to over­turn the elec­tion results and choose a new pro-Trump slate of state elec­tors. Kemp report­ed­ly informed Trump dur­ing the phone call that Geor­gia state law for­bids the gov­er­nor was get­ting involved in these kinds of mat­ters. This all hap­pened hours before Trump is sched­uled to arrive in Geor­gia today for a ral­ly for the runoff elec­tions. Trump sub­se­quent­ly angri­ly tweet­ed about Kemp.

    So hours before Trump is sched­uled to head­line this ral­ly — a ral­ly that’s osten­si­bly intend­ed to encour­age Repub­li­can vot­ers to get out and vote in those spe­cial elec­tion — Trump was rebuffed by Kemp, some­one Trump has already repeat­ed­ly dis­par­aged, and was left angri­ly tweet­ing about Geor­gia’s Repub­li­can estab­lish­ment. We’ll see what this says about Trump’s will­ing­ness to back the Geor­gia Repub­li­cans in those sen­ate runoff races, but there’s one clear big les­son in all this: Trump is still very much inter­est­ed in over­turn­ing the elec­tion results through any means pos­si­ble, regard­less of how sleazy it might be, as we get clos­er and clos­er to the legal dead­lines:

    CNN
    Pol­i­tics

    Trump pres­sured Geor­gia gov­er­nor in call to help over­turn Biden’s win in state

    By Kris­ten Holmes and Veron­i­ca Strac­qualur­si
    Updat­ed 4:54 PM ET, Sat Decem­ber 5, 2020

    (CNN)President Don­ald Trump on Sat­ur­day called Geor­gia Gov. Bri­an Kemp, push­ing him to con­vince state leg­is­la­tors to over­turn Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Biden’s win in the state, a source famil­iar with the con­ver­sa­tion told CNN.

    Trump asked Kemp to call a spe­cial ses­sion and con­vince state leg­is­la­tors to select their own elec­tors that would sup­port him, accord­ing to the source. He also asked the Repub­li­can gov­er­nor to order an audit of absen­tee bal­lot sig­na­tures.

    Kemp explained that he did not have the author­i­ty to order such an audit and denied the request to call a spe­cial ses­sion, the source said.

    ...

    The Pres­i­dent appeared to ref­er­ence the call in a tweet Sat­ur­day, attack­ing Kemp and Geor­gia Sec­re­tary of State Brad Raf­fensperg­er and call­ing for a sig­na­ture audit of the absen­tee bal­lot envelopes in the state — while mak­ing false or mis­lead­ing claims about the poten­tial process. The gov­er­nor, in response, tweet­ed that he has already “pub­licly called for a sig­na­ture audit three times” — lead­ing Trump to then dou­ble down on his request for Kemp to call for a spe­cial ses­sion of the state’s Leg­is­la­ture.

    Kemp spokesman Cody Hall con­firmed the gov­er­nor spoke with the Pres­i­dent, but, when asked about the con­ver­sa­tion, only said that Trump offered his con­do­lences on the death of Har­ri­son Deal, a young Loef­fler cam­paign staffer.

    Trump’s call to Kemp, his lat­est attempt to inter­fere in the results of the 2020 elec­tion, came hours before the Pres­i­den­t’s vis­it to the state to ral­ly in sup­port of Repub­li­can Sens. David Per­due and Kel­ly Loef­fler ahead of Jan­u­ary’s Sen­ate runoff elec­tions. CNN pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed that the Pres­i­dent has pub­licly pushed for Kemp and Raf­fensperg­er, both Repub­li­cans, to over­turn the state’s elec­tion results — demands they have rebuffed.

    Hall told CNN ear­li­er this week — fol­low­ing a sep­a­rate push from Trump to inter­vene in the state’s elec­tions process — that “Geor­gia law pro­hibits the Gov­er­nor from inter­fer­ing in elec­tions.”

    “The Sec­re­tary of State, who is an elect­ed con­sti­tu­tion­al offi­cer, has over­sight over elec­tions that can­not be over­rid­den by exec­u­tive order,” Hall said in a state­ment at the time. “As the Gov­er­nor has said repeat­ed­ly, he will con­tin­ue to fol­low the law and encour­age the Sec­re­tary of State to take rea­son­able steps — includ­ing a sam­ple audit of sig­na­tures — to restore trust and address seri­ous issues that have been raised.”

    Trump’s refusal to con­cede and his con­tin­ued push of false claims of fraud in Geor­gia has some Repub­li­cans uneasy and con­cerned that the Pres­i­dent could depress turnout in the state’s cru­cial runoff elec­tions that will help deter­mine the bal­ance of pow­er in Con­gress.

    ...

    Biden won Geor­gia by more than 12,000 votes, becom­ing the first Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee to win the Peach State in near­ly three decades. Kemp cer­ti­fied the results of Biden’s vic­to­ry on Novem­ber 20, fol­low­ing a statewide audit, which includ­ed a hand-count of the near­ly 5 mil­lion bal­lots cast in the elec­tion.

    CNN pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed that Trump had recent­ly bashed Kemp, who is a sup­port­er of his, as a “moron” and a “nut job” dur­ing anoth­er phone call. And ear­li­er this week, the Pres­i­dent pub­licly crit­i­cized the gov­er­nor in an inter­view on Fox News, say­ing he was “ashamed” he had endorsed Kemp.

    The gov­er­nor does not plan to attend Trump’s ral­ly in Val­dos­ta, Geor­gia, Sat­ur­day night, due to the sud­den death of a close friend of the fam­i­ly, Hall told CNN.

    ————

    “Trump pres­sured Geor­gia gov­er­nor in call to help over­turn Biden’s win in state” by Kris­ten Holmes and Veron­i­ca Strac­qualur­si; CNN; 12/05/2020

    Trump asked Kemp to call a spe­cial ses­sion and con­vince state leg­is­la­tors to select their own elec­tors that would sup­port him, accord­ing to the source. He also asked the Repub­li­can gov­er­nor to order an audit of absen­tee bal­lot sig­na­tures.”

    Would Kemp please con­vince the state leg­is­la­tor to just give the elec­tion to Trump? Pret­ty please? That appears to be gist of Trump’s phone call to Kemp this morning...a morn­ing when Repub­li­cans were on pins and nee­dles about whether or not the Trump team is going to start back­ing the Repub­li­cans in these races or if he’ll con­tin­ue treat­ing these races as lever­age in an appar­ent nego­ti­a­tion to over­turn the results. And then Kemp turned him down and Trump start­ed rage tweet­ing about it:

    ...
    Kemp explained that he did not have the author­i­ty to order such an audit and denied the request to call a spe­cial ses­sion, the source said.

    ...

    The Pres­i­dent appeared to ref­er­ence the call in a tweet Sat­ur­day, attack­ing Kemp and Geor­gia Sec­re­tary of State Brad Raf­fensperg­er and call­ing for a sig­na­ture audit of the absen­tee bal­lot envelopes in the state — while mak­ing false or mis­lead­ing claims about the poten­tial process. The gov­er­nor, in response, tweet­ed that he has already “pub­licly called for a sig­na­ture audit three times” — lead­ing Trump to then dou­ble down on his request for Kemp to call for a spe­cial ses­sion of the state’s Leg­is­la­ture.

    ...

    CNN pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed that Trump had recent­ly bashed Kemp, who is a sup­port­er of his, as a “moron” and a “nut job” dur­ing anoth­er phone call. And ear­li­er this week, the Pres­i­dent pub­licly crit­i­cized the gov­er­nor in an inter­view on Fox News, say­ing he was “ashamed” he had endorsed Kemp.
    ...

    Is Trump going to be the Repub­lic sav­ior or a spurned lover? He’s sure sound­ing spurned. Spurned and betrayed by Geor­gia’s Repub­li­can estab­lish­ment that isn’t rec­i­p­ro­cat­ed by sav­ing him first.

    It’s also worth keep­ing in mind that we aren’t just see­ing a pre­view for how the next month might play out in Geor­gia’s spe­cial runoff races. We’re also arguably see­ing a pre­view for how the vote counts for the 2024 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion could play out if indeed Trump does end up run­ning for in 2024 as he has strong­ly hint­ed. Espe­cial­ly if Trump also ends up cre­at­ing a Fox News-like right-wing media out­let as so many sus­pect. Imag­ine how much media and polit­i­cal pres­sure an out-of-office Trump could apply to con­vince state gov­ern­ment to pass laws that make it eas­i­er for gov­er­nors or leg­is­la­tures to just make up their own slates of elec­tors for basi­cal­ly any rea­son. He’ll have four years to work on this.

    How many states, espe­cial­ly swing states, are going to have a peri­od of com­plete state-lev­el Repub­li­can rule over the next four years and how many of those states would be will­ing to rewrite their elec­tion laws to appease Trump? Based on what we’ve seen from today’s Repub­li­can Par­ty, vir­tu­al­ly ALL of the Repub­li­can-run states would prob­a­bly do this. As long as Trump con­trols the hearts and minds of the Repub­li­can base there’s very lit­tle the rest of his GOP­ers can do to stand up to him. Plus, it’s not like the pre-Trump GOP had a prob­lem with break­ing the rules of democ­ra­cy. Trump could be giv­ing them an excuse to do some­thing they’ve already been want­i­ng to do for years any­way. “Trump’s unstop­pable will forced us to break democ­ra­cy!” is a pret­ty con­ve­nient nar­ra­tive.

    So while we watch this 2020 night­mare sit­u­a­tion play out, it’s going to be worth keep­ing in mind that every time we see Trump fail in his attempts to find a legal loop­hole out of this elec­toral loss, we’re also see­ing a pre­view of the kind of shod­dy elec­tion laws the Trump­ists would like to see in place in the future. Laws like the abil­i­ty of any state leg­is­la­ture to just make up a new slate of elec­tors for what­ev­er spe­cious rea­son they can come up with. That may not be an option for Repub­li­cans in 2020, but how about 2024? We’ll see. This is, of course, assum­ing there’s still elec­tions in 2024 and Trump did­n’t find extrale­gal means to win this elec­tion.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 5, 2020, 3:48 pm
  17. Are you will­ing to die for a sec­ond Trump term? That was the ques­tion implic­it­ly asked by Steve Ban­non a few weeks ago on his pod­cast when he pined for a pair of “Horatius”-like indi­vid­u­als in the first week of Decem­ber, pre­sum­ably a ref­er­ence to the Decem­ber 8 “Safe Har­bor” dead­line for states to sub­mit their slate of elec­tor to the elec­toral col­lege for the Decem­ber 14 elec­toral col­lege vote. The Ari­zona Repub­li­can Par­ty was a lot more explic­it on Tues­day, when it respond­ed to a tweet from Ali Alexan­der — one of the “Stop the Steal” fig­ures close to Roger Stone — in which he pledged that he was “will­ing to give up my life for this fight,” prompt­ing a reply from the offi­cial Ari­zona GOP account ask­ing, “He is. Are you?” The Ari­zona GOP twit­ter account also tweet­ed a scene from the movie Ram­bo with the state­ment, “This is what we do, who we are. Live for noth­ing, or die for some­thing,” but lat­er delet­ed the tweet, cit­ing copy­right con­cerns. So the Ari­zona GOP appears to be veer­ing into insur­rec­tion­ist ter­ri­to­ry here. As the fol­low­ing arti­cle describes Ari­zon­a’s Repub­li­can gov­er­nor Doug Ducey appeared to be push­ing back on the tweets, declar­ing that the Repub­li­can Par­ty stands for “law and order”. But Ducey is also one of the Repub­li­can gov­er­nors in a state Joe Biden won who has been tar­get­ed by Trump for not doing enough to reverse the results. So we’re look­ing at a sit­u­a­tion in Ari­zona where the Repub­li­can politi­cian who came out against the idea of dying for a sec­ond Trump term is also some­one who was already in Pres­i­dent Trump’s rhetor­i­cal crosshairs, which makes this the kind of sit­u­a­tion where cham­pi­oning idea of dying for a sec­ond Trump term is set to become a new stan­dard for estab­lish­ing one’s loy­al­ty to Trump:

    Reuters

    Ari­zona Repub­li­can gov­er­nor rebuffs par­ty tweet ask­ing if sup­port­ers will­ing to die over elec­tion

    By Jar­rett Ren­shaw
    Decem­ber 8, 2020 6:28 PM Updat­ed

    (Reuters) — Ari­zona Gov­er­nor Doug Ducey said on Tues­day the Repub­li­can Par­ty stands for “law and order,” rebuff­ing the sen­ti­ment of a tweet by his state par­ty that asked sup­port­ers if they were will­ing to die to over­turn Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion loss.

    The offi­cial Ari­zona Repub­li­can Par­ty Twit­ter account had ear­li­er retweet­ed a post by right-wing activist Ali Alexan­der, in which he pledged that he was “will­ing to give up my life for this fight.”

    The state par­ty respond­ed in a tweet, say­ing: “He is. Are you?”

    Ducey, who has been crit­i­cized by fel­low Repub­li­can Trump for not doing to enough undo Demo­c­ra­t­ic Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Biden’s vic­to­ry in Ari­zona, said on Twit­ter: “The Repub­li­can Par­ty is the par­ty of the Con­sti­tu­tion and the rule of law.

    “We pri­or­i­tize pub­lic safe­ty, law & order, and we respect the law enforce­ment offi­cers who keep us safe. We don’t burn stuff down. We build things up,” he said.

    Trump’s legal team has con­tin­ued to pur­sue efforts to over­turn the Nov. 3 elec­tion results in Ari­zona, even though the state offi­cial­ly cer­ti­fied Biden as the win­ner of its 11 elec­toral votes on Nov. 30. Biden won the state by more than 10,000 votes.

    ...

    The Ari­zona Repub­li­can Par­ty has been active on Twit­ter in recent days. “Live a life of ser­vice to a cause greater than your­self,” it tweet­ed on Tues­day.

    In a now-delet­ed tweet from Mon­day, the par­ty post­ed a movie scene from “Ram­bo” fea­tur­ing the quote: “This is what we do, who we are. Live for noth­ing, or die for some­thing.”

    Asked about the tweets, state par­ty spokesman Zach Hen­ry said: “The Repub­li­can Par­ty of Ari­zona con­demns all forms of vio­lence in the strongest terms.”

    He said the par­ty took down the Ram­bo post because of con­cerns about copy­right and fair-use law.

    ———-

    “Ari­zona Repub­li­can gov­er­nor rebuffs par­ty tweet ask­ing if sup­port­ers will­ing to die over elec­tion” by Jar­rett Ren­shaw; Reuters; 12/08/2020

    “In a now-delet­ed tweet from Mon­day, the par­ty post­ed a movie scene from “Ram­bo” fea­tur­ing the quote: “This is what we do, who we are. Live for noth­ing, or die for some­thing.”

    Ram­bo and calls to die for Trump. This is, again, the mes­sage from the offi­cial Ari­zona GOP this week, Gov­er­nor Ducey’s protests notwith­stand­ing:

    ...
    The offi­cial Ari­zona Repub­li­can Par­ty Twit­ter account had ear­li­er retweet­ed a post by right-wing activist Ali Alexan­der, in which he pledged that he was “will­ing to give up my life for this fight.”

    The state par­ty respond­ed in a tweet, say­ing: “He is. Are you?”
    ...

    You can bet Gov­er­nor Ducey’s secu­ri­ty detail is on extra high alert tonight. Because with the way the GOP’s mass psy­chol­o­gy is mov­ing, if you aren’t in favor of doing every­thing and any­thing pos­si­ble to over­turn the elec­tion results you are seen as a trea­so­nous trai­tor. This is where we are.

    And not just in Ari­zona. Penn­syl­va­nia Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Kim Ward just gave an inter­view where she gave an expla­na­tion for why she did­n’t sign a let­ter sent by 64 of her fel­low Penn­syl­va­nia Repub­li­can law­mak­ers request­ing that fed­er­al law­mak­ers inval­i­date Penn­syl­va­ni­a’s results and hand the elec­tors to Trump. As Ward explained it, she did­n’t sign the let­ter because she had­n’t seen it before it was sent out. But Ward also added a warn­ing about what would have hap­pened if she refused to sign the let­ter and open­ly stat­ed she dis­agreed with it. “If I would say to you, ‘I don’t want to do it,’ I’d get my house bombed tonight.”:

    Talk­ing Points Memo
    News

    PA GOP Leader: My House Would Get ‘Bombed’ If I Didn’t Want To Help Trump Over­turn Elec­tion

    By Cristi­na Cabr­era
    Decem­ber 9, 2020 9:04 a.m.

    Penn­syl­va­nia Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Kim Ward ® laid out in stark terms the pres­sure she and oth­er Repub­li­cans are expe­ri­enc­ing from their base to boost Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s cor­rupt war against the 2020 elec­tion results.

    In an inter­view with the New York Times pub­lished on Wednes­day, Ward described the back­lash that she would’ve been dealt if she open­ly stat­ed that she didn’t want to sign her fel­low Repub­li­can col­leagues’ let­ter last week request­ing that fed­er­al Penn­syl­va­nia law­mak­ers inval­i­date the state’s Elec­toral Col­lege votes for Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Biden.

    “If I would say to you, ‘I don’t want to do it,’ I’d get my house bombed tonight,” Ward said.

    The Repub­li­can leader told the Times that she did not join the oth­er 64 Penn­syl­va­nia Repub­li­cans who signed the let­ter because she did not see it before it was sent last Fri­day.

    Ward also said that Trump had called her to claim her state’s vot­ing process had been plagued by vot­er fraud (no such vot­er fraud has been proven to exist, con­trary to Trumpland’s claims), sim­i­lar to how the Pres­i­dent called Penn­syl­va­nia House Speak­er Bryan Cut­ler ® twice last week to get the state’s major­i­ty-GOP leg­is­la­ture to send pro-Trump elec­tors instead of the elec­tors Biden won. Cut­ler reject­ed Trump’s push but signed the let­ter to Con­gress.

    ———–

    “PA GOP Leader: My House Would Get ‘Bombed’ If I Didn’t Want To Help Trump Over­turn Elec­tion” by Cristi­na Cabr­era; Talk­ing Points Memo; 12/09/2020

    “The Repub­li­can leader told the Times that she did not join the oth­er 64 Penn­syl­va­nia Repub­li­cans who signed the let­ter because she did not see it before it was sent last Fri­day.”

    She just hap­pened to not see the let­ter. She did­n’t open­ly refuse to sign it. It’s a con­ve­nient excuse. Real­ly con­ve­nient. Oth­er­wise her house gets bombed.

    So we have the Ari­zona GOP open­ly call­ing for peo­ple to die for Trump at the same time the GOP leader of the Penn­syl­va­nia Sen­ate is admit­ting that her house would be bombed if she does­n’t open­ly sup­port the GOP’s moves to over­turn the elec­tion. There’s more than one way to ‘die for Trump’.

    It all rais­es the grim ques­tion: so when should we expect to start see­ing far right ‘lone wolf’-style attacks tied to this elec­tion. It’s clear­ly com­ing. Trump and the GOP appear to be try­ing to ensure there’s going to be as many ‘lone wolf’ as pos­si­ble in com­ing years. The rhetor­i­cal ground­work has being laid.

    And as the fol­low­ing arti­cle hints at, we just may have seen the first round of 2020-elec­tion-relat­ed far right ‘lone wolf’ attacks. It’s not con­firmed yet, but the clues are there in an unfold­ing inves­ti­ga­tion over a pair of heav­i­ly armed white men arrest­ed in Flori­da on Tues­day fol­low­ing an armed stand­off with law enforce­ment. The two men, Duane Lee Storey, 38, of Grand Junc­tion, Col­orado, and Cody Sean Brels­ford, 41, of Plac­erville, Col­orado, report­ed­ly fired on ran­dom dri­vers Sat­ur­day night in Port Pana­ma City. The sus­pect fled, broke through a police bar­ri­cade, end­ed up in a dead end, and even­tu­al­ly gave them­selves up to police after a stand­off. The pair appear to have left Col­orado on Decem­ber 1, and are sus­pect­ed in con­nec­tion with a shoot­ing death of a nurse who was dri­ving along the inter­state in Nashville, TN, on their way to Flori­da.

    Here’s the part of the sto­ry that sug­gests the pair may have been prompt­ed to do this over the elec­tion results: Storey report­ed­ly told police inves­ti­ga­tors that “it was time to go to war.”
    That’s our only avail­able clue in terms of their motive. It’s a time to go to war.

    We’re also told that Storey’s wife had a restrain­ing order placed against him a few weeks ago and she fear he could harm him­self or oth­ers. And his moth­er moth­er had asked author­i­ties to check on her son Decem­ber 3 because he had made odd state­ments about being part of the CIA. She said he was in the mil­i­tary and appeared to be suf­fer­ing from PTSD. Based on the accounts from Storey’s wife and moth­er, he appears to have gone of the deep end rel­a­tive­ly recent­ly. Just in the last few weeks.

    We have a state­ment from one of the armed gun­man say­ing it’s a time to go to war and he appears to have become notice­ably dan­ger­ous to those around him just in the last few weeks. And he and his bud­dy go on a cross-coun­try shoot­ing spree dur­ing the first week of Decem­ber, the exact same week Steve Ban­non told his fol­low­ers peo­ple are going to have to be will­ing to die for a sec­ond Trump term. And while one of the gun­man appears to have known men­tal health issues, this can’t be sim­ply one men­tal­ly ill per­son los­ing con­trol. This is a pair of indi­vid­u­als, sug­gest­ing some sort of shared motive. So we have to ask: was this seem­ing­ly ran­dom killing spree the response of Trump vot­ers answer the GOP’s calls for war?:

    Asso­ci­at­ed Press

    Police check­ing path of gun­men arrest­ed in Flori­da stand­off

    Tues­day Decem­ber 8, 2020 20:43:12 CST

    PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) — Inves­ti­ga­tors say they are track­ing the path tak­en by two Col­orado men arrest­ed after a police chase and stand­off in Florida’s Pan­han­dle to see if they were involved in the fatal shoot­ing of a nurse along an inter­state in Nashville, Ten­nessee.

    Duane Lee Storey, 38, of Grand Junc­tion, Col­orado, and Cody Sean Brels­ford, 41, of Plac­erville, Col­orado, were arrest­ed Sat­ur­day at Port Pana­ma City. They each face mul­ti­ple charges and are being held in the Bay Coun­ty Jail.

    The inci­dent began ear­ly Sat­ur­day north of Pana­ma City, accord­ing to the Wash­ing­ton Coun­ty Sheriff’s Office.

    The sheriff’s office received a 911 call at 12:36 a.m. from a man who said he had been shot. A short time lat­er, anoth­er 911 caller said he had been shot at mul­ti­ple times by some­one in a Jeep parked in the mid­dle of an inter­sec­tion in Ebro, accord­ing to a news release.

    The news release said Storey, who was dri­ving the Jeep, fired rounds at a box truck that was approach­ing the inter­sec­tion. The dri­ver of the sec­ond vehi­cle approach­ing the inter­sec­tion lat­er told inves­ti­ga­tors Storey also fired mul­ti­ple times at him, it said.

    Both vic­tims told sheriff’s inves­ti­ga­tors they backed away from the line of fire.

    “This is a ran­dom act of vio­lence,” Wash­ing­ton Coun­ty Sher­iff Kevin Crews said in the news release. “The sus­pects did not know either vic­tim of the shoot­ing.”

    Inves­ti­ga­tors said Storey head­ed south after the shoot­ing. The sheriff’s office noti­fied author­i­ties in near­by Bay Coun­ty, pro­vid­ing the vehi­cle descrip­tion. Deputies lat­er locat­ed the Jeep in Pana­ma City Beach, and the dri­ver fled.

    Bay Coun­ty Sheriff’s offi­cials said in a Face­book post that at one point the sus­pects point­ed a hand­gun with a laser at a deputy. A pur­suit con­tin­ued with deputies and Pana­ma City police offi­cers trail­ing the men.

    The vehi­cle drove through a bar­ri­cade at Port Pana­ma City, before reach­ing a dead end, where an armed stand­off ensued. Storey and Brels­ford were heav­i­ly armed and wear­ing body armor, accord­ing to Bay Coun­ty Sheriff’s offi­cials.

    Deputies nego­ti­at­ed with the men, who even­tu­al­ly sur­ren­dered.

    “This was an extreme­ly dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tion with heav­i­ly armed sub­jects,” Bay Coun­ty Sher­iff Tom­my Ford said in the state­ment.

    “I am very pleased these sus­pects are behind bars for we may nev­er know what their next move may have been,” Crews, the Wash­ing­ton Coun­ty Sher­iff, said in a news release.

    The release said Storey told inves­ti­ga­tors “it was time to go to war.”

    The Mesa Coun­ty Sheriff’s Office in Col­orado released a report Tues­day indi­cat­ing that Storey’s moth­er had asked author­i­ties to check on her son Dec. 3 because he had made odd state­ments about being part of the CIA. She said her son was a com­bat vet­er­an and appeared to be suf­fer­ing from symp­toms of PTSD when he took mul­ti­ple guns that were his from her home a cou­ple of days ear­li­er, accord­ing to the office.

    It said he also had made mul­ti­ple “sui­cide by cop” state­ments in the past, accord­ing to his moth­er. His vehi­cle was seen head­ed east on Inter­state 70 in west­ern Col­orado on Dec. 1.

    Accord­ing to the case report, Storey’s wife told inves­ti­ga­tors she got a restrain­ing order against her hus­band a cou­ple of weeks ago, and she was con­cerned he was going to harm some­body or him­self. She did not have any infor­ma­tion about spe­cif­ic tar­gets, the report said.

    Deputies recov­ered hun­dreds of rounds of ammu­ni­tion, sev­er­al guns and bal­lis­tic vests inside the vehi­cle.

    Nashville detec­tive Chris Dick­er­son said inves­ti­ga­tors in Flori­da were in touch with police in Ten­nessee because of sim­i­lar­i­ties involv­ing the fatal shoot­ing of Cait­lyn Kauf­man, who was head­ing to work Dec. 3. Her body was found that evening in a SUV stopped along Inter­state 440.

    “We do not know the trav­el, the path that they took, if they came through Nashville right now, but we are work­ing with them active­ly,” he said. “What­ev­er evi­dence they recov­er, we’ll com­pare notes.”

    ...

    ————

    “Police check­ing path of gun­men arrest­ed in Flori­da stand­off”; Asso­ci­at­ed Press; 12/08/2020

    “The vehi­cle drove through a bar­ri­cade at Port Pana­ma City, before reach­ing a dead end, where an armed stand­off ensued. Storey and Brels­ford were heav­i­ly armed and wear­ing body armor, accord­ing to Bay Coun­ty Sheriff’s offi­cials.”

    Heav­i­ly armed and wear­ing body armor. The pair clear­ly set off on this road trip in prepa­ra­tion for some sort of armed con­flict. Or as Storey put it to inves­ti­ga­tors, “it was time to go to war.” And while Storey appears to have men­tal health issues (and thinks he’s part of the CIA), this isn’t just the sto­ry of some­one suf­fer­ing from delu­sions going off and chas­ing those delu­sions. This is a pair of indi­vid­u­als. Some­thing was joint­ly moti­vat­ing them to go on this killing spree:

    ...
    The release said Storey told inves­ti­ga­tors “it was time to go to war.”

    The Mesa Coun­ty Sheriff’s Office in Col­orado released a report Tues­day indi­cat­ing that Storey’s moth­er had asked author­i­ties to check on her son Dec. 3 because he had made odd state­ments about being part of the CIA. She said her son was a com­bat vet­er­an and appeared to be suf­fer­ing from symp­toms of PTSD when he took mul­ti­ple guns that were his from her home a cou­ple of days ear­li­er, accord­ing to the office.

    It said he also had made mul­ti­ple “sui­cide by cop” state­ments in the past, accord­ing to his moth­er. His vehi­cle was seen head­ed east on Inter­state 70 in west­ern Col­orado on Dec. 1.

    Accord­ing to the case report, Storey’s wife told inves­ti­ga­tors she got a restrain­ing order against her hus­band a cou­ple of weeks ago, and she was con­cerned he was going to harm some­body or him­self. She did not have any infor­ma­tion about spe­cif­ic tar­gets, the report said.
    ...

    We’ll pre­sum­ably even­tu­al­ly learn what exact­ly they were plan­ning on going to war for, but based on the tim­ing there’s only one obvi­ous ‘war’ being declared in Amer­i­can right now. And between the Ari­zona GOP, right-wing media out­lets, fig­ures like Steve Ban­non, the rest of the far right com­mu­ni­ca­tion infra­struc­ture, and Trump him­self, it’s a pret­ty loud dec­la­ra­tion. Loud enough that every­one, includ­ing heav­i­ly armed indi­vid­u­als with men­tal health issues, can hear them. It’s a reminder that the peo­ple who are going to be dying for a sec­ond Trump term include all of the vic­tims of the stoked vio­lence.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 9, 2020, 4:48 pm
  18. Now that the Supreme Court has thrown out the bonkers law­suit brought by Texas Attor­ney Gen­er­al Ken Pax­ton against the states of Geor­gia, Wis­con­sin, Penn­syl­va­nia, and Michi­gan to force the states to over­turn their pres­i­den­tial elec­tion results we are back to the ques­tion, “what’s next?” Now that time has essen­tial run out for any legal means of over­turn­ing the elec­tion results, what should we expect next from a Repub­li­can Par­ty ani­mat­ed by a base that appears to be absolute­ly con­vinced of a grand con­spir­a­cy to steal the elec­tion from Trump? Espe­cial­ly since the evolv­ing nar­ra­tive of this con­spir­a­cy is that it appar­ent­ly includes Repub­li­can offi­cials like Geor­gia’s gov­er­nor Bri­an Kemp.

    And here’s our hint about what’s next: A pro-Trump ral­ly in DC that includ­ed hun­dreds of Proud Boys found a new ral­ly­ing cry for mov­ing for­ward: “Destroy the GOP! Destroy the GOP!”:

    Slate

    Pro-Trump Pro­test­ers Chant “Destroy the GOP,” Boo Geor­gia Sen­ate Can­di­dates at Ral­ly

    By Daniel Poli­ti
    Dec 12, 2020 6:19 PM

    Thou­sands of sup­port­ers of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump gath­ered on Sat­ur­day to make clear they are not ready to accept that Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Biden won the elec­tion two days before the elec­toral col­lege is set to make it offi­cial. The most­ly mask­less pro­test­ers includ­ed hun­dreds of mem­bers of Proud Boys, the far-right orga­ni­za­tion, that seemed intent on intim­i­dat­ing those around them while wear­ing hel­mets and bul­let­proof vests. Although the gath­er­ing was large, it was sig­nif­i­cant­ly small­er than the pro-Trump protest last month.

    The Trump sup­port­ers gath­ered a day after the Supreme Court dis­missed a case from Texas that sought to over­turn the results of the elec­tion. So, of course, many of those who spoke at the ral­ly expressed anger at the jus­tices, as well as Fox News and Biden. They also made clear they are angry with the Repub­li­can Par­ty. “In the first Mil­lion MAGA march we promised that if the GOP did not do every­thing in their pow­er to keep Trump in office, then we would destroy the GOP,” con­ser­v­a­tive com­men­ta­tor Nick Fuentes said from a mega­phone while stand­ing on a stage. “As we gath­er here in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. for a sec­ond Mil­lion MAGA March, we’re done mak­ing promis­es. It has to hap­pen now. We are going to destroy the GOP.” The crowd loud­ly cheered and start­ed chant­i­ng: “Destroy the GOP! Destroy the GOP!”

    Here’s a look at Free­dom Plaza right now in DC ahead of the #March­ForTrump in DC.The event for­mal­ly begins at noon, and also has a tal­ly point on the nation­al mall. Some already begin­ning to show up. pic.twitter.com/TH44Xui33e— Ford Fis­ch­er (@FordFischer) Decem­ber 12, 2020

    In a move that is like­ly to make many Repub­li­can lead­ers ner­vous, Fuentes went on to blast the Geor­gia Sen­ate can­di­dates who will be com­pet­ing in a Jan­u­ary runoff that will be key for con­trol of the Sen­ate. “The GOP wants us to hold the line and vote for ‘RINOs’ like Davie Per­due and Kel­ly Loef­fler in the Geor­gia Sen­ate runoffs,” Fuentes said. That led to loud boos from the crowd. Repub­li­can lead­ers have been wor­ry­ing for weeks that all the base­less talk of fraud would lead many Trump sup­port­ers in Geor­gia to sit out the Jan. 5 elec­tions in which Sen. David Per­due is run­ning against Demo­c­rat Jon Ossoff and Repub­li­can Sen. Kel­ly Loef­fler is fac­ing off against Rev. Raphael Warnock.

    For­mer nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er Michael Fly­nn was among the speak­ers at the ral­ly as he deliv­ered his first pub­lic remarks since Trump par­doned him last month. Fly­nn encour­aged Trump sup­port­ers to keep the hope alive that they’d be able to over­turn the elec­tion results. “Don’t get bent out of shape,” Fly­nn said. “There are still avenues … We’re fight­ing with faith, and we’re fight­ing with courage.” At one point Trump appeared to pass over the pro­test­ers in the Marine One heli­copter three times. “That’s pret­ty cool,” Fly­nn said. “Imag­ine being able to jump in a heli­copter and go for a joyride around Wash­ing­ton, D.C. I love it. I love the fact that he does that.”

    ...

    ———–

    “Pro-Trump Pro­test­ers Chant “Destroy the GOP,” Boo Geor­gia Sen­ate Can­di­dates at Ral­ly” by Daniel Poli­ti; Slate; 12/12/2020

    “The Trump sup­port­ers gath­ered a day after the Supreme Court dis­missed a case from Texas that sought to over­turn the results of the elec­tion. So, of course, many of those who spoke at the ral­ly expressed anger at the jus­tices, as well as Fox News and Biden. They also made clear they are angry with the Repub­li­can Par­ty. “In the first Mil­lion MAGA march we promised that if the GOP did not do every­thing in their pow­er to keep Trump in office, then we would destroy the GOP,” con­ser­v­a­tive com­men­ta­tor Nick Fuentes said from a mega­phone while stand­ing on a stage. “As we gath­er here in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. for a sec­ond Mil­lion MAGA March, we’re done mak­ing promis­es. It has to hap­pen now. We are going to destroy the GOP.” The crowd loud­ly cheered and start­ed chant­i­ng: “Destroy the GOP! Destroy the GOP!”

    “Destroy the GOP! Destroy the GOP!” It does have a nice ring to it. But, of course, pledges to destroy the GOP still raise the ques­tion, “what’s next?” If the Trump move­ment real­ly does destroy the GOP — and it can if it wants to at this point — what kind of mon­stros­i­ty is going to rise from those ash­es? Might we actu­al­ly see the MAGA Par­ty replace the Repub­li­can Par­ty over the next four years? That’s what this group of die hard Trump sup­port­ers appears to be promis­ing to do if the elec­tion isn’t some­how giv­en to Trump.

    And look who made an appear­ance, or sorts, at this ral­ly:

    ...
    For­mer nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er Michael Fly­nn was among the speak­ers at the ral­ly as he deliv­ered his first pub­lic remarks since Trump par­doned him last month. Fly­nn encour­aged Trump sup­port­ers to keep the hope alive that they’d be able to over­turn the elec­tion results. “Don’t get bent out of shape,” Fly­nn said. “There are still avenues … We’re fight­ing with faith, and we’re fight­ing with courage.” At one point Trump appeared to pass over the pro­test­ers in the Marine One heli­copter three times. “That’s pret­ty cool,” Fly­nn said. “Imag­ine being able to jump in a heli­copter and go for a joyride around Wash­ing­ton, D.C. I love it. I love the fact that he does that.”
    ...

    And that Marine One fly­by isn’t the only indi­ca­tion that Trump was pleased to see this ral­ly. As the fol­low­ing arti­cle notes, the leader of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tar­rio, was at the White House ahead of the ral­ly. He claimed he was invit­ed although White House denies that and insists he was just there for a pub­lic tour and was nev­er actu­al­ly invit­ed by the White House:

    Slate

    Proud Boys Leader Sug­gest­ed He Was Invit­ed to White House. He Was on a Pub­lic Tour.

    By Daniel Poli­ti
    Dec 12, 2020 5:32 PM

    A leader of the far-right Proud Boys group tried to sug­gest he had been invit­ed to the White House ahead of a ral­ly of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump sup­port­ers on Sat­ur­day. “Last minute invite to an undis­closed loca­tion,” Proud Boys leader Enrique Tar­rio post­ed on the con­ser­v­a­tive plat­form Par­ler along with a pho­to of the main entrance to the White House. He fol­lowed that up with anoth­er post that includ­ed a pho­to of the White House: “Nev­er thought I’d be here…”

    The posts imme­di­ate­ly led to spec­u­la­tion that Trump had invit­ed Tar­rio to the White House, but offi­cials quick­ly shot that down. “He was on a pub­lic White House Christ­mas tour,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said. “He did not have a meet­ing with the pres­i­dent, nor did the White House invite him.”

    ...

    ———-

    “Proud Boys Leader Sug­gest­ed He Was Invit­ed to White House. He Was on a Pub­lic Tour.” by Daniel Poli­ti; Slate; 12/12/2020

    Was Tar­rio invit­ed or not? It’s kind of beside the point when Trump does a Marine One fly­by of the Proud Boy ral­ly lat­er in the day. But let’s not pre­tend that if the White House did invite Tar­rio it would be an offi­cial invi­ta­tion that the White House would pub­lic acknowl­edge. Pre­sum­ably Don Jr or Steven Miller would issue the infor­mal invite.

    So that’s the cur­rent sta­tus of the push to hand Trump the elec­tion: The MAGA move­ment issue a threat going to destroy the GOP if it can’t find a way to keep Trump in office and Trump appeared to sym­bol­i­cal­ly endorse that threat. The Grand Old Par­ty is going to be bro­ken apart and replaced with a Grand New Par­ty built in trump’s image unless the Repub­li­cans find a way to keep Trump in office.

    Of course, the GOP is already over­whelm­ing­ly behold­en to Trump and had been the Grand Trump Par­ty for at least four years now and veer­ing in a fas­cist direc­tion for decades now. So it’s not entire­ly clear what would actu­al­ly change if the MAGA move­ment real­ly did suc­ceed in ‘destroy­ing the GOP’ oth­er than maybe a name change. And that’s why the answer to “what’s next?” is “prob­a­bly more of the same, but worse”.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 12, 2020, 5:20 pm
  19. Are we final­ly approach­ing the last legal last stand for the GOP’s attempts to over­turn the 2020 elec­tion? We’ll see, but that’s what should be tran­spir­ing in a few days on Jan­u­ary 6 when Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence is sched­uled to offi­cial­ly count the elec­toral col­lege votes and cer­ti­fy a win­ner. It’s osten­si­bly the last oppor­tu­ni­ty for some sort of GOP legal stunt, a point Roger Stone was mak­ing a cou­ple of weeks ago when he pub­licly called out a num­ber of Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors demand­ing that they file an objec­tion to the Jan­u­ary 6 cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

    But Jan­u­ary 6 is also the mere­ly lat­est oppor­tu­ni­ty for Repub­li­can law­mak­ers — in par­tic­u­lar those with 2024 pres­i­den­tial aspi­ra­tions — to dis­tin­guish them­selves as the most Trumpian Repub­li­can who isn’t Trump. So we prob­a­bly should­n’t be sur­prised to find an intra-GOP race to the bot­tom among Sen­a­tors look­ing to lead this final GOP legal stunt. A race to the bot­tom that appears to include all of the Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors (aside from Trump) who are seen as like­ly 2024 pres­i­den­tial con­tenders.

    As the fol­low­ing TPM piece describes, the race to the bot­tom was kicked off when far right Arkansas Sen­a­tor Josh Haw­ley announced that he was plan­ning on object­ing to the Jan­u­ary 6 cer­ti­fi­ca­tion on Wednes­day. On Sat­ur­day, Ted Cruz and a group of 10 oth­er sen­a­tors and sen­a­tors-elect issued a state­ment declar­ing that they will also be object­ing to the Jan 6 cer­ti­fi­ca­tion unless a 10 day emer­gency audit of the vote in dis­put­ed states is done by con­gress. After the audit, indi­vid­ual states will assess the con­gres­sion­al find­ings and could then con­vene a spe­cial leg­isla­tive ses­sion to cer­ti­fy a change in their vote if they chose to do so. So the plan is basi­cal­ly to have the Sen­ate, which is still con­trolled by Repub­li­cans, to issue a bad-faith report hyp­ing all of the var­i­ous fraud alle­ga­tions and then hand that report to the Repub­li­can-con­trolled state leg­is­la­tures that would make bad-faith assess­ments of those find­ings and ulti­mate­ly make the bad-faith con­clu­sion that the weight of the shod­dy evi­dence calls for them to over­turn their state’s vote. It’s not just a dis­turb­ing plot to save Trump in 2020 but also a tem­plate the Repub­li­cans can use for years to come as long as the par­ty con­tin­ues to dom­i­nate at the state-lev­el.

    Inter­est­ing­ly, Sen­a­tor Haw­ley was­n’t one of the Sen­a­tors who signed Cruz’s state­ment. And if we had to pick two of the like­li­est GOP nom­i­nees in 2024 (who aren’t Trump) it would be Josh Haw­ley and Ted Cruz. It’s easy to for­get that Ted Cruz was the dar­ling of the GOP base until Don­ald Trump entered pol­i­tics, and Haw­ley is like a younger, scari­er Cruz/Trump hybrid. So we appear to have two sep­a­rate planned Repub­li­can objec­tions to the Jan 6 vote cer­ti­fi­ca­tion led by two of the GOP sen­a­tors most pop­u­lar with the Repub­li­can base and most like­ly to run for pres­i­dent in 2024. It’s a dis­turb­ing reminder that the Repub­li­can path to a pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion in 2024 is going to revolve around mak­ing the case that Amer­i­ca’s elec­tions are com­plete­ly rigged against Repub­li­cans and that ‘oth­er means’ of resolv­ing US elec­tions are required:

    Talk­ing Points Memo
    News

    Cruz Leads GOP­ers In Fresh Effort To Object To Cer­ti­fy­ing Biden’s Win

    By Zoë Richards
    Jan­u­ary 2, 2021 3:18 p.m.

    Repub­li­can Sen. Ted Cruz (TX) and a group of 10 GOP law­mak­ers on Sat­ur­day said they intend to object to votes from elec­tors in cer­tain states won by Joe Biden dur­ing a joint con­gres­sion­al ses­sion meant to cer­ti­fy the President-elect’s win next week.

    “We intend to vote on Jan­u­ary 6 to reject the elec­tors from dis­put­ed states as not ‘reg­u­lar­ly giv­en’ and ‘law­ful­ly cer­ti­fied,’” Cruz and a group of ten sen­a­tors and sen­a­tors-elect said in a state­ment.

    The sen­a­tors and sen­a­tors-elect said that Con­gress should launch a probe to con­duct a 10-day “emer­gency audit” of the elec­tion returns in states where the results are dis­put­ed. The call comes as Pres­i­dent Trump and his allies have repeat­ed­ly dis­missed a series of post-elec­tion audits that have shown lit­tle evi­dence of fraud.

    “By any mea­sure, the alle­ga­tions of fraud and irreg­u­lar­i­ties in the 2020 elec­tion exceed any in our life­times,” the law­mak­ers said, reignit­ing con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries of vot­er fraud that have been debunked many times over. With­out the probe, the group said they will object to the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of Biden’s win dur­ing a joint con­gres­sion­al ses­sion on Wednes­day in an effort first report­ed by Fox News.

    Join­ing Cruz’s des­per­ate effort, include Repub­li­can Sens. Ron John­son (WI), James Lank­ford (OK), Steve Daines (MT); John Kennedy (LA), Mar­sha Black­burn (TN), and Mike Braun (IN). A group of four incom­ing sen­a­tors have also pledged to join the last-ditch move to over­turn the elec­tion results. Among them, Sens.-elect Bill Hager­ty (TN), Cyn­thia Lum­mis (WY), Roger Mar­shall (KS) and Tom­my Tuberville (AL) who was praised by Trump in recent weeks for sug­gest­ing that he might back an objec­tion to Pres­i­dent-elect Biden’s win next week.

    In a sep­a­rate move ear­li­er this week Repub­li­can Sen. Josh Haw­ley (MO) vowed to object to the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of the Elec­toral Col­lege votes claim­ing with­out evi­dence that a hand­ful of states lost by Trump includ­ing Penn­syl­va­nia had failed to fol­low their own elec­tion laws.

    Dozens of legal chal­lenges filed by the Trump cam­paign and its sup­port­ers have been tossed out by judges across the coun­try, includ­ing Rep. Louie Gohmert’s (R‑TX) recent law­suit intend­ed to hand Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence the author­i­ty to effec­tive­ly over­turn the will of the peo­ple and decide who will be pres­i­dent.

    “Con­gress should imme­di­ate­ly appoint an Elec­toral Com­mis­sion, with full inves­ti­ga­to­ry and fact-find­ing author­i­ty, to con­duct an emer­gency 10-day audit of the elec­tion returns in the dis­put­ed states,” the law­mak­ers said. “Once com­plet­ed, indi­vid­ual states would eval­u­ate the Commission’s find­ings and could con­vene a spe­cial leg­isla­tive ses­sion to cer­ti­fy a change in their vote, if need­ed.”

    In the absence of an appoint­ed com­mis­sion that would effec­tive­ly pre­pare find­ings that states could use to jus­ti­fy a change of their vote, group has said they will object to cer­ti­fy­ing Biden’s win.

    “We are act­ing not to thwart the demo­c­ra­t­ic process, but rather to pro­tect it,” the group claimed.

    ...

    ————–

    “Cruz Leads GOP­ers In Fresh Effort To Object To Cer­ti­fy­ing Biden’s Win” by Zoë Richards; Talk­ing Points Memo; 01/02/2021

    ““Con­gress should imme­di­ate­ly appoint an Elec­toral Com­mis­sion, with full inves­ti­ga­to­ry and fact-find­ing author­i­ty, to con­duct an emer­gency 10-day audit of the elec­tion returns in the dis­put­ed states,” the law­mak­ers said. “Once com­plet­ed, indi­vid­ual states would eval­u­ate the Commission’s find­ings and could con­vene a spe­cial leg­isla­tive ses­sion to cer­ti­fy a change in their vote, if need­ed.”

    That’s the plan. The plan for con­tin­u­ing Repub­li­can polit­i­cal dom­i­nance in 2020 and a tem­plate for extend­ing that dom­i­nance for ‘elec­tions’ to come. As long as the Repub­li­cans con­trol a cham­ber of con­gress and as long the dis­put­ed state has Repub­li­can-con­trolled leg­is­la­tures, a state’s pres­i­den­tial vote can be flipped to the Repub­li­cans. It’s just a mat­ter of mak­ing base­less dis­putes and issu­ing hyped ‘probes’ designed to give state leg­is­la­tures polit­i­cal cov­er for over­turn­ing their results. At least 11 Repub­li­can sen­a­tors/se­n­a­tors-elect signed onto this plan. And that does­n’t include Josh Haw­ley’s sim­i­lar plan a few days ear­li­er:

    ...
    Join­ing Cruz’s des­per­ate effort, include Repub­li­can Sens. Ron John­son (WI), James Lank­ford (OK), Steve Daines (MT); John Kennedy (LA), Mar­sha Black­burn (TN), and Mike Braun (IN). A group of four incom­ing sen­a­tors have also pledged to join the last-ditch move to over­turn the elec­tion results. Among them, Sens.-elect Bill Hager­ty (TN), Cyn­thia Lum­mis (WY), Roger Mar­shall (KS) and Tom­my Tuberville (AL) who was praised by Trump in recent weeks for sug­gest­ing that he might back an objec­tion to Pres­i­dent-elect Biden’s win next week.

    In a sep­a­rate move ear­li­er this week Repub­li­can Sen. Josh Haw­ley (MO) vowed to object to the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of the Elec­toral Col­lege votes claim­ing with­out evi­dence that a hand­ful of states lost by Trump includ­ing Penn­syl­va­nia had failed to fol­low their own elec­tion laws.
    ...

    And that’s just the Sen­ate. In the House, we find Rep. Louie Gohmert suing to give Mike Pence the sole author­i­ty to decide which slates of elec­tors to count in dis­put­ed states:

    ...
    Dozens of legal chal­lenges filed by the Trump cam­paign and its sup­port­ers have been tossed out by judges across the coun­try, includ­ing Rep. Louie Gohmert’s (R‑TX) recent law­suit intend­ed to hand Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence the author­i­ty to effec­tive­ly over­turn the will of the peo­ple and decide who will be pres­i­dent.
    ...

    So in a few days we’ll find out if these schemes end up being pure­ly sym­bol­ic or if they end up cre­at­ing a pre­text for some sort of future legal chal­lenge. But it the GOP’s legal chal­lenges are clear­ly going to come an end soon. But as Rep Gohmert remind­ed us today, even if these chal­lenges do end up being pure­ly sym­bol­ic, it’s impor­tant to keep in mind that it’s the kind of sym­bol­ism that will be very handy for when the GOP shifts from legal chal­lenges to non-legal chal­lenges:

    Talk­ing Points Memo
    News

    Gohmert Denies ‘Advo­cat­ing For Vio­lence’ Amid Failed Law­suit

    By Zoë Richards
    Jan­u­ary 2, 2021 5:59 p.m.

    Rep. Louie Gohmert (R‑TX) on Sat­ur­day denied “claims that he is advo­cat­ing for vio­lence” after he seemed to sug­gest just that as a rem­e­dy to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion loss dur­ing a News­max inter­view on Fri­day.

    “I have not encour­aged and unequiv­o­cal­ly do not advo­cate for vio­lence,” Gohmert wrote in a state­ment post­ed to Twit­ter on Sat­ur­day after­noon, adding: “Vio­lence is not the answer.”

    The com­ments come after Gohmert seemed to imply dur­ing a Fri­day night inter­view on the con­ser­v­a­tive news net­work that tak­ing to the streets and being “vio­lent” might be the only rem­e­dy for Trump’s allies who are increas­ing­ly des­per­ate and run­ning out of options to over­turn an elec­tion won by Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Biden.

    A fum­ing Gohmert on Fri­day had railed against the order by a fed­er­al judge on Fri­day to dis­miss the GOP lawmaker’s law­suit which effec­tive­ly argued Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence had the pow­er to over­turn the results of the Nov. 3 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

    “But if bot­tom line is, the court is say­ing, ‘We’re not going to touch this. You have no rem­e­dy’ — basi­cal­ly, in effect, the rul­ing would be that you got­ta go the streets and be as vio­lent as Antifa and BLM,” Gohmert had told News­max on Fri­day after the judge issued an order for dis­missal of his law­suit.

    Louie Gohmert on News­max: “But if bot­tom line is, the court is say­ing, ‘We’re not going to touch this. You have no rem­e­dy’ — basi­cal­ly, in effect, the rul­ing would be that you got­ta go the streets and be as vio­lent as Antifa and BLM.” pic.twitter.com/cZIdGTiQls— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) Jan­u­ary 2, 2021

    The Fri­day com­ments were a mis­char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of a move­ment for racial jus­tice and simul­ta­ne­ous­ly wide­ly crit­cized as a call to arms by a sit­ting mem­ber of Con­gress whose out­rage came after Judge Jere­my Kern­odle, said that Gohmert’s alleged injury in the law­suit filed in Texas was “far too uncer­tain to sup­port stand­ing.”

    The law­suit which sough to attribute author­i­ty to Pence to effec­tive­ly over­ride the will of the peo­ple was notably reject­ed by the vice pres­i­dent. The Jus­tice Depart­ment and the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives had also called on the court to reject Gohmert’s long-shot law­suit.

    While assert­ing on Sat­ur­day that he only advo­cates “peace­ful protest,” the GOP law­mak­er has appeared to advo­cate for the use of force in the past. In fact the Dal­las Morn­ing News points out that he pre­vi­ous­ly urged Trump sup­port­ers to con­sid­er “rev­o­lu­tion” amid Trump’s elec­toral defeat. At the “Mil­lion MAGA March” in Novem­ber, he sug­gest­ed action sim­i­lar to the Egypt­ian upris­ing less than a decade ago and the revolt of Amer­i­can colonies against Eng­land. “If they can do that there,” Gohmert said of Egypt, “think of what we can do here.”

    Back­ing away from any asso­ci­a­tion with vio­lence on Sat­ur­day, Gohmert said that while he asso­ci­at­ed him­self with the likes of Mar­tin Luther King, Jr. “that does not keep me from rec­og­niz­ing what lies ahead when the insti­tu­tions cre­at­ed by a self-gov­ern­ing peo­ple to peace­ful­ly resolve dis­putes hide from their respon­si­bil­i­ty.”

    ...

    ———–

    “Gohmert Denies ‘Advo­cat­ing For Vio­lence’ Amid Failed Law­suit” by Zoë Richards; Talk­ing Points Memo; 01/02/2021

    “But if bot­tom line is, the court is say­ing, ‘We’re not going to touch this. You have no rem­e­dy’ — basi­cal­ly, in effect, the rul­ing would be that you got­ta go the streets and be as vio­lent as Antifa and BLM,” Gohmert had told News­max on Fri­day after the judge issued an order for dis­missal of his law­suit.”

    If the courts won’t acqi­uesce to the GOP’s legal scheme, Repub­li­can vot­ers “have no rem­e­dy” and should take to the streets “and be as vio­lent as Antifa and BLM.” Keep in mind that when Gohmert is refer­ring to being “as vio­lent as Antifa and BLM, he’s refer­ring to the fan­ta­sy ver­sion of these groups that the right-wing media has cre­at­ing where Antifa and BLM are por­trayed as hyper-vio­lent enti­ties burn­ing down cities. So Gohmert is basi­cal­ly call­ing for his sup­port­ers to engage in hyper-vio­lence and burn down cities. Again:

    ...
    While assert­ing on Sat­ur­day that he only advo­cates “peace­ful protest,” the GOP law­mak­er has appeared to advo­cate for the use of force in the past. In fact the Dal­las Morn­ing News points out that he pre­vi­ous­ly urged Trump sup­port­ers to con­sid­er “rev­o­lu­tion” amid Trump’s elec­toral defeat. At the “Mil­lion MAGA March” in Novem­ber, he sug­gest­ed action sim­i­lar to the Egypt­ian upris­ing less than a decade ago and the revolt of Amer­i­can colonies against Eng­land. “If they can do that there,” Gohmert said of Egypt, “think of what we can do here.”

    Back­ing away from any asso­ci­a­tion with vio­lence on Sat­ur­day, Gohmert said that while he asso­ci­at­ed him­self with the likes of Mar­tin Luther King, Jr. “that does not keep me from rec­og­niz­ing what lies ahead when the insti­tu­tions cre­at­ed by a self-gov­ern­ing peo­ple to peace­ful­ly resolve dis­putes hide from their respon­si­bil­i­ty.”
    ...

    Also keep in mind that when Gohmert claims the Repub­li­cans have “no rem­e­dy” over their vot­er fraud claims, he’s basi­cal­ly say­ing the entire US court sys­tem is com­plete­ly rigged against Repub­li­cans too because vir­tu­al­ly all of the 50+ GOP law­suits over this elec­tion have been thrown out, often by judges Trump appoint­ed. This could end up being a cru­cial­ly impor­tant theme in the Repub­li­can nar­ra­tive over the next four years because that’s now becom­ing a nar­ra­tive where THE ENTIRE SYSTEM is rigged against Repub­li­cans. It’s the kind of nar­ra­tive that’s going to make calls for vio­lence all the more appeal­ing. The only rem­e­dy is mass insur­rec­tion. It’s a hint that, for all of the legit­i­mate con­cern over Trump talk­ing about invok­ing the Insur­rec­tion Act against pro­test­ers last year, our pri­ma­ry con­cern going for­ward should be Repub­li­can calls for an insur­rec­tion.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 2, 2021, 5:26 pm
  20. Giv­en all of the uproar over the hour-long record­ed phone call between Pres­i­dent Trump and Geor­gia’s Sec­re­tary of State Brad Raf­fensperg­er that was leaked over the week­end — a call where Trump appeared to be both plead­ing and cajol­ing Raf­fensperg­er into some­how find­ing the 11,780 votes Trump would need to win the state of Geor­gia — and giv­en the fact that the GOP is already plot­ting some sort of Jan­u­ary 6 stunt dur­ing the Elec­toral Col­lege vote count, here’s a pair of rather omi­nous sto­ries that would be omi­nous even with­out that chill­ing con­text:

    First, an Atlanta-based U.S. Attor­ney, Byung “BJay” Pak, just announced his res­ig­na­tion on Mon­day. Pak, a Repub­li­can nom­i­nat­ed by Trump in 2017, had pre­vi­ous­ly indi­cat­ed that he was going to stay in office until Jan­u­ary 20. He’s now cit­ing “unfore­seen cir­cum­stances” for his sud­den ear­ly depar­ture. No oth­er infor­ma­tion was giv­en:

    Talk­ing Points Memo
    News

    EXCLUSIVE: Atlanta-Based U.S. Attor­ney Abrupt­ly Departs Office Soon­er Than Expect­ed

    By Tier­ney Sneed
    Jan­u­ary 4, 2021 12:59 p.m.

    The U.S. attor­ney in Atlanta depart­ed his post Mon­day, TPM has learned, after pre­vi­ous­ly indi­cat­ing that he would not leave until Inau­gu­ra­tion Day.

    The rea­son for U.S. Attor­ney Byung “BJay” Pak’s change of plans are not clear. In an inter­nal email announc­ing his depar­ture obtained by TPM, Pak cit­ed only “unfore­seen cir­cum­stances” as the rea­son he was leav­ing Mon­day rather than Jan. 20.

    ...

    Pak was nom­i­nat­ed by Trump and con­firmed by the Sen­ate in 2017.

    It is not uncom­mon for U.S. attor­neys to step down in the weeks lead­ing up up to the inau­gu­ra­tion of a new admin­is­tra­tion, as a cour­tesy to clear the way for the incom­ing pres­i­dent to choose his or her own appointees. Oth­er Trump-appoint­ed U.S. attor­neys have also left their posts in recent days.

    But the news that Pak is out effec­tive Mon­day, rather than Jan. 20, as he had pre­vi­ous­ly indi­cat­ed, comes as Geor­gia is the focus of intense polit­i­cal atten­tion.

    Pres­i­dent Trump has been on an unre­lent­ing cru­sade to over­turn the elec­tion results in Geor­gia and oth­er bat­tle­ground states that went for Joe Biden. On Sat­ur­day, he asked Sec­re­tary of State Brad Raf­fensperg­er to “find” votes for him on an hour-long call that was pub­lished Sun­day by the Wash­ing­ton Post.

    Geor­gia is also the site of an extreme­ly high-stakes Sen­ate run-off Tues­day, where con­trol of the Sen­ate will come down to whether Democ­rats can nab both Sen­ate seats that are on the bal­lot.

    Before his appoint­ment as U.S. Attor­ney, Pak, a Repub­li­can, served as a rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Georgia’s Gen­er­al Assem­bly.

    ———–

    “EXCLUSIVE: Atlanta-Based U.S. Attor­ney Abrupt­ly Departs Office Soon­er Than Expect­ed” by Tier­ney Sneed; Talk­ing Points Memo; 01/04/2021

    “The rea­son for U.S. Attor­ney Byung “BJay” Pak’s change of plans are not clear. In an inter­nal email announc­ing his depar­ture obtained by TPM, Pak cit­ed only “unfore­seen cir­cum­stances” as the rea­son he was leav­ing Mon­day rather than Jan. 20.

    What are these “unfore­seen cir­cum­stances”? Was Pak giv­en a heads up on cer­tain favors the Trump admin­is­tra­tion is plan­ning on ask­ing of loy­al US attor­neys? Favors so treach­er­ous that Pak felt the need to get out of the way ASAP? We have no idea. We just know that this Trump-appoint­ed US attor­ney sud­den­ly felt a need to resign imme­di­ate­ly, just one day after the release of the now-infa­mous Trump/Raffensperger tapes, one day before the Geor­gia sen­ate run-offs and two days before the expect­ed GOP Jan­u­ary 6 Elec­toral Col­lege vote count­ing fias­co. It’s kind of hard to think of more omi­nous tim­ing for a sur­prise US Attor­ney res­ig­na­tion.

    And then we get to the sec­ond arti­cle, which actu­al­ly came out a day before we learned about Pak’s sur­prise res­ig­na­tion so this arti­cle is arguably part of the con­text of Pak’s sur­prise deci­sion: All 10 liv­ing for­mer Sec­re­tary’s of Defense just co-authored an Op-ed in the Wash­ing­ton Post warn­ing against the dan­gers of hav­ing the mil­i­tary inter­vene in elec­tions.

    Recall that one of the more dis­turb­ing actions by the Trump admin­is­tra­tion fol­low­ing the Novem­ber 3 elec­tion is his deci­sion to replace a num­ber of Pen­ta­gon offi­cials, includ­ing then-Sec­re­tary of Defense Mark Esper. So this is a warn­ing about the mil­i­tary tak­ing place in the midst of a major and mys­te­ri­ous seem­ing­ly-last-minute reshuf­fling of the mil­i­tary’s lead­er­ship.

    Here’s per­haps the most alarm­ing part of the WaPo piece: The idea for the piece report­ed­ly came from con­ver­sa­tions between Eric Edel­man, a for­mer U.S. ambas­sador and defense offi­cial, and Dick Cheney. The con­ver­sa­tion was about how the mil­i­tary might be used in com­ing days. This is where we are: Dick Cheney is the guy sound­ing legit­i­mate alarms about threats to democ­ra­cy:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    The time to ques­tion elec­tion results has passed, all liv­ing for­mer defense sec­re­taries say

    By Dan Lamothe
    Jan. 3, 2021 at 5:44 p.m. CST

    The time to ques­tion elec­tion results has passed, and there is no role for the mil­i­tary in chang­ing them, all 10 of the liv­ing for­mer defense sec­re­taries said in an extra­or­di­nary rebuke to Pres­i­dent Trump and oth­er Repub­li­cans who are back­ing unfound­ed claims of wide­spread fraud at the bal­lot box.

    The for­mer Pen­ta­gon chiefs issued their warn­ing Sun­day evening in an opin­ion piece that they co-wrote and pub­lished in The Wash­ing­ton Post. Its authors include Trump’s two for­mer defense sec­re­taries, Jim Mat­tis and Mark T. Esper, as well as each sur­viv­ing, Sen­ate-con­firmed Pen­ta­gon chief dat­ing back to Don­ald H. Rums­feld in the 1970s.

    The arti­cle was pub­lished as some Repub­li­cans plan to take the con­tro­ver­sial step of con­test­ing the elec­toral col­lege vote cer­ti­fi­ca­tion on Wednes­day, even after the president’s repeat­ed attempts to chal­lenge elec­tion results in court have failed. It also comes as con­cerns per­sist that Trump might seek to use the mil­i­tary to keep him­self in office, despite his elec­toral loss.

    “Our elec­tions have occurred. Recounts and audits have been con­duct­ed. Appro­pri­ate chal­lenges have been addressed by the courts. Gov­er­nors have cer­ti­fied the results. And the elec­toral col­lege has vot­ed,” the for­mer defense sec­re­taries wrote. “The time for ques­tion­ing the results has passed; the time for the for­mal count­ing of the elec­toral col­lege votes, as pre­scribed in the Con­sti­tu­tion and statute, has arrived.”

    ...

    The arti­cle brings togeth­er a group of Repub­li­cans and Democ­rats who dis­agree on many nation­al secu­ri­ty issues. Its gen­e­sis is a con­ver­sa­tion between Eric Edel­man, a for­mer U.S. ambas­sador and defense offi­cial, and for­mer vice pres­i­dent and defense sec­re­tary Richard B. Cheney about how the mil­i­tary might be used in com­ing days, Edel­man said in an inter­view.

    While Trump has called reports that he dis­cussed the pos­si­bil­i­ty of invok­ing mar­tial law to over­turn elec­tion results “fake news,” he did have Michael Fly­nn, a retired Army gen­er­al and for­mer nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er for Trump, at the White House recent­ly after Fly­nn sug­gest­ed on tele­vi­sion that Trump could declare mar­tial law and use the mil­i­tary to hold new elec­tions.

    Protests are expect­ed in Wash­ing­ton on Trump’s behalf this week, and the pres­i­dent has encour­aged his sup­port­ers to show up, tweet­ing: “Be there, will be wild!”

    Edel­man, who was among a group of Repub­li­cans who endorsed Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Biden over Trump, said that after Cheney expressed inter­est in co-author­ing an opin­ion piece, Edel­man solicit­ed par­tic­i­pa­tion from oth­er for­mer defense sec­re­taries, and wrote a draft of the arti­cle along with Eliot Cohen, a for­mer Repub­li­can nation­al secu­ri­ty offi­cial who is dean of the Johns Hop­kins School for Advanced Inter­na­tion­al Stud­ies.

    Some of the defense sec­re­taries request­ed revi­sions, but noth­ing sig­nif­i­cant to the mes­sage, Edel­man and Cohen said.

    “I do think that once one signs, anoth­er might be more will­ing to sign. But I still think it’s pret­ty remark­able,” said Cohen, an expert on civ­il-mil­i­tary rela­tions. “This is a fair­ly gut­sy thing to do, and I give them a lot of cred­it for it.”

    Chuck Hagel, a for­mer Repub­li­can sen­a­tor who crossed the aisle to serve as a defense sec­re­tary for Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma, said in an inter­view Sun­day that he asked ahead of pub­li­ca­tion whether the piece would be an over­re­ac­tion to a poten­tial prob­lem.

    But he ulti­mate­ly decid­ed that it was wise to weigh in, cit­ing a desire to remind those serv­ing in the Defense Depart­ment of their respon­si­bil­i­ty to help ensure a peace­ful tran­si­tion of pow­er.

    “This is a fun­da­men­tal ele­ment of our democ­ra­cy, and it lands square­ly in the respon­si­bil­i­ties of defense offi­cials,” Hagel said. “I thought, in the end, that this was some­thing that was impor­tant that we do.”

    William Cohen, who served as defense sec­re­tary under Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, said in an inter­view that the dis­cus­sion of mar­tial law alarmed him, espe­cial­ly after Trump’s use of the mil­i­tary and oth­er fed­er­al forces to remove pro­test­ers out­side the White House in June.

    The for­mer defense sec­re­tary also cit­ed the use of fed­er­al law enforce­ment per­son­nel to remove pro­test­ers in Port­land, Ore., in unmarked vehi­cles as anoth­er abuse of pow­er. While he said he has no doubts about the will­ing­ness of Gen. Mark A. Mil­ley, the chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and oth­er senior mil­i­tary offi­cials to fol­low the law, he is con­cerned that vio­lence start­ed by Trump sup­port­ers such as the Proud Boys in com­ing days could be used as a pre­text to use the mil­i­tary against civil­ians again.

    “It’s a very dan­ger­ous course of action that needs to be called out before it hap­pens,” Cohen said of using the mil­i­tary against civil­ians.

    ...

    In addi­tion to stat­ing their con­cerns about the ongo­ing con­test­ing of the elec­tion, the defense sec­re­taries backed recent com­ments from senior mil­i­tary lead­ers that there is no role for the mil­i­tary in deter­min­ing the out­come of a U.S. elec­tion, a point they affirmed after Fly­nn sug­gest­ed the pres­i­dent could invoke mar­tial law.

    “Efforts to involve the U.S. armed forces in resolv­ing elec­tion dis­putes would take us into dan­ger­ous, unlaw­ful and uncon­sti­tu­tion­al ter­ri­to­ry,” the defense sec­re­taries wrote. “Civil­ian and mil­i­tary offi­cials who direct or car­ry out such mea­sures would be account­able, includ­ing poten­tial­ly fac­ing crim­i­nal penal­ties, for the grave con­se­quences of their actions on our repub­lic.”

    The for­mer Pen­ta­gon chiefs also called on act­ing defense sec­re­tary Christo­pher C. Miller and oth­er Trump admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials in the Pen­ta­gon to “whole­heart­ed­ly” facil­i­tate a tran­si­tion to Biden’s admin­is­tra­tion.

    While some tran­si­tion meet­ings were car­ried out in late Novem­ber and Decem­ber, Miller can­celed oth­ers begin­ning Dec. 18, cit­ing a back­log of work that senior Pen­ta­gon lawyers had.

    “We call upon them, in the strongest terms, to do as so many gen­er­a­tions of Amer­i­cans have done before them,” the for­mer defense sec­re­taries said of the tran­si­tion. “This final action is in keep­ing with the high­est tra­di­tions and pro­fes­sion­al­ism of the U.S. armed forces, and the his­to­ry of demo­c­ra­t­ic tran­si­tion in our great coun­try.”

    Pen­ta­gon offi­cials have said those tran­si­tion meet­ings will begin again in a sig­nif­i­cant way this week, and denied accu­sa­tions by Biden that his tran­si­tion team had encoun­tered “road­blocks” to need­ed infor­ma­tion that smacked of “irre­spon­si­bil­i­ty.” Among those meet­ing with the tran­si­tion team this week are senior offi­cers such as Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller, the top U.S. com­man­der in Afghanistan, and Gen. Stephen Townsend, the top com­man­der over­see­ing oper­a­tions in Africa.

    Mick Mul­roy, a for­mer defense offi­cial under Trump and ABC News ana­lyst, said in a state­ment that the op-ed is “excep­tion­al in its scope and its direct­ness.”

    “It need­ed to be,” Mul­roy said. “I vol­un­teered to assist with the tran­si­tion as soon as I was asked. I am not a par­ti­san per­son, but this is beyond par­ti­san­ship. It is the duty of any Amer­i­can, espe­cial­ly those that gave an oath to the Con­sti­tu­tion, to ensure the peace­ful trans­fer of pow­er to the duly elect­ed Pres­i­dent.”

    ————-

    “The time to ques­tion elec­tion results has passed, all liv­ing for­mer defense sec­re­taries say” by Dan Lamothe; The Wash­ing­ton Post; 01/03/2021

    “The arti­cle brings togeth­er a group of Repub­li­cans and Democ­rats who dis­agree on many nation­al secu­ri­ty issues. Its gen­e­sis is a con­ver­sa­tion between Eric Edel­man, a for­mer U.S. ambas­sador and defense offi­cial, and for­mer vice pres­i­dent and defense sec­re­tary Richard B. Cheney about how the mil­i­tary might be used in com­ing days, Edel­man said in an inter­view.”

    Yes, Dick Cheney has been hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions with for­mer defense offi­cials about how the mil­i­tary might be used in com­ing days. Con­ver­sa­tions that appear to have con­vinced Cheney and all of the oth­er for­mer sec­re­taries of defense that the risk of the mil­i­tary actu­al­ly being used is so high that they need­ed to write this piece.

    And note the oth­er relat­ed con­cern they raised in the piece: the lack of coor­di­na­tion between then Pen­ta­gon and the Biden tran­si­tion team. Because there’s no need for a tran­si­tion if the mil­i­tary secures the elec­tion for Trump:

    ...
    The for­mer Pen­ta­gon chiefs also called on act­ing defense sec­re­tary Christo­pher C. Miller and oth­er Trump admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials in the Pen­ta­gon to “whole­heart­ed­ly” facil­i­tate a tran­si­tion to Biden’s admin­is­tra­tion.

    While some tran­si­tion meet­ings were car­ried out in late Novem­ber and Decem­ber, Miller can­celed oth­ers begin­ning Dec. 18, cit­ing a back­log of work that senior Pen­ta­gon lawyers had.

    “We call upon them, in the strongest terms, to do as so many gen­er­a­tions of Amer­i­cans have done before them,” the for­mer defense sec­re­taries said of the tran­si­tion. “This final action is in keep­ing with the high­est tra­di­tions and pro­fes­sion­al­ism of the U.S. armed forces, and the his­to­ry of demo­c­ra­t­ic tran­si­tion in our great coun­try.”

    Pen­ta­gon offi­cials have said those tran­si­tion meet­ings will begin again in a sig­nif­i­cant way this week, and denied accu­sa­tions by Biden that his tran­si­tion team had encoun­tered “road­blocks” to need­ed infor­ma­tion that smacked of “irre­spon­si­bil­i­ty.” Among those meet­ing with the tran­si­tion team this week are senior offi­cers such as Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller, the top U.S. com­man­der in Afghanistan, and Gen. Stephen Townsend, the top com­man­der over­see­ing oper­a­tions in Africa.
    ...

    So fol­low­ing a sur­prise post-elec­tion shake­up of the mil­i­tary’s lead­er­ship and days before the planned Jan 6 legal ‘last stunt’ GOP elec­toral col­lege stunt, we now have a sur­prise US Attor­ney res­ig­na­tion and warn­ings from ALL of the liv­ing for­mer US sec­re­taries of defense about the per­ils of the mil­i­tary inter­ven­ing in the elec­tion.

    In relat­ed omi­nous news, a recent poll released a few days ago showed Don­ald Trump has 90 per­cent sup­port among GOP vot­ers if he decides to run again in 2024. So hope­ful­ly these for­mer sec­re­taries of defense will con­tin­ue to refine their pub­lic warn­ings on the dan­gers of the risk of the mil­i­tary inter­ven­ing in elec­tions because they clear­ly have a lot more warn­ing to do.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 4, 2021, 5:29 pm
  21. Welp, now we know: if Trump calls on his mob of sup­port­ers to storm the capi­tol, they’ll do. That’s no longer in ques­tion fol­low­ing Wednes­day’s dead­ly pro-Trump raid on the Capi­tol that imme­di­ate­ly fol­lowed a Trump ral­ly. A Trump ral­ly that end­ed with Trump him­self exhort­ing the crowd to head to the Capi­tol, say­ing “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a coun­try any­more”.

    We also got an answer to anoth­er high­ly dis­turb­ing ques­tion: so if Pres­i­dent Trump leash­es a riotous mob on the Capi­tol, will he be will­ing to call in the Nation­al Guard after things spi­ral out of con­trol? The answer to that ques­tion appears to be No, which is why Mike Pence had to do it:

    CNN

    Pence took lead as Trump ini­tial­ly resist­ed send­ing Nation­al Guard to Capi­tol

    By Kait­lan Collins, Zachary Cohen, Bar­bara Starr and Jen­nifer Hansler
    Updat­ed 11:39 AM ET, Thu Jan­u­ary 7, 2021

    Wash­ing­ton (CNN) Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, not Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, helped facil­i­tate the deci­sion to mobi­lize mem­bers of the DC Nation­al Guard Wednes­day when vio­lence at the US Capi­tol build­ing start­ed to esca­late, accord­ing to a source famil­iar with the move and pub­lic com­ments from top offi­cials.

    Trump, who has proven over the past year to be eager to deploy the Nation­al Guard when vio­lence breaks out, ini­tial­ly resist­ed doing so on Capi­tol Hill Wednes­day as a mob of his sup­port­ers breached the build­ing, per a source famil­iar. Pence played a key role in coor­di­nat­ing with the Pen­ta­gon about deploy­ing them, and urged them to move faster than they were.

    The news rais­es ques­tions about who was act­ing as com­man­der in chief on one of Amer­i­ca’s dark­est days, which saw the coun­try’s leg­is­la­ture over­run for the first time since the British attacked and burned the build­ing in August 1814.

    The Trump admin­is­tra­tion, ear­li­er this week, said that civil­ian law enforce­ment would be tasked with pro­tec­tion of fed­er­al facil­i­ties but the Depart­ment of Defense received requests for addi­tion­al sup­port from the Nation­al Guard Wednes­day as the sit­u­a­tion became increas­ing­ly dan­ger­ous, a senior defense offi­cial told CNN.

    As the chaos unfold­ed, doubts were raised about whether Trump would order the DC Nation­al Guard to respond due to the slow­ness of the response. Pub­lic state­ments by act­ing Defense Sec­re­tary Christo­pher Miller and oth­er top offi­cials sug­gest­ed it was Pence who ulti­mate­ly approved the deci­sion. Miller’s state­ment Wednes­day seems to indi­cate he did not even speak with Trump, dis­cussing the mat­ter with his deputy instead as sources told CNN the Pres­i­dent was reluc­tant to even denounce the vio­lence being car­ried out in his name.

    Kash Patel, Miller’s chief of staff, said in a state­ment Thurs­day that Trump and the act­ing sec­re­tary of defense spoke “mul­ti­ple times this week about the request for Nation­al Guard per­son­nel in DC,” but did not spec­i­fy if they were in con­tact on Wednes­day as the sit­u­a­tion at the Capi­tol spi­raled out of con­trol.

    “Dur­ing these con­ver­sa­tions the Pres­i­dent con­veyed to the Act­ing Sec­re­tary that he should take any nec­es­sary steps to sup­port civil­ian law enforce­ment requests in secur­ing the Capi­tol and fed­er­al build­ings,” Patel added.

    Repub­li­can House Minor­i­ty Leader Kevin McCarthy side­stepped ques­tions Wednes­day night about whether Pence, not Trump, direct­ed the DC Nation­al Guard to be acti­vat­ed but sug­gest­ed the vice pres­i­dent ulti­mate­ly approved the deci­sion.

    Asked by Fox News about report­ing that Pence, not the Pres­i­dent, approved the acti­va­tion, McCarthy demurred, but ulti­mate­ly said: “I know the vice pres­i­dent has been in con­stant con­tact with us and also along with secu­ri­ty inside the Capi­tol, I com­mu­ni­cat­ed with the vice pres­i­dent ear­ly on. It was in regards to get­ting the Nation­al Guard there. He said he will call right now.”

    The com­ments appeared to con­flict with what White House press sec­re­tary Kayleigh McE­nany said in a tweet hours ear­li­er, when she assert­ed that Trump “direct­ed” the Nation­al Guard to respond to the sit­u­a­tion.

    Pence spoke with defense sec­re­tary and top gen­er­al

    Miller also con­firmed that he and the chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Mil­ley, spoke with Pence, not Trump, on Wednes­day after­noon. He also said he was in con­tact with top con­gres­sion­al law­mak­ers.

    “Chair­man Mil­ley and I just spoke sep­a­rate­ly with the Vice Pres­i­dent and with Speak­er Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Sen­a­tor Schumer and Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Hoy­er about the sit­u­a­tion at the U.S. Capi­tol. We have ful­ly acti­vat­ed the D.C. Nation­al Guard to assist fed­er­al and local law enforce­ment as they work to peace­ful­ly address the sit­u­a­tion,” he said in a state­ment.

    “We are pre­pared to pro­vide addi­tion­al sup­port as nec­es­sary and appro­pri­ate as request­ed by local author­i­ties. Our peo­ple are sworn to defend the con­sti­tu­tion and our demo­c­ra­t­ic form of gov­ern­ment and they will act accord­ing­ly,” he said.

    The Nation­al guard was not ful­ly acti­vat­ed until hours after the vio­lent mob descend­ed on the capi­tol.

    As CNN report­ed pre­vi­ous­ly, the ini­tial agree­ment for the deploy­ment agreed on Mon­day — which was under Pen­ta­gon con­trol for this mis­sion — to sup­port local law enforce­ment lim­it­ed their involve­ment to help­ing local law enforce­ment at traf­fic con­trol points and in the sub­way.

    Under that agree­ment, Nation­al Guard forces did not have orders to pro­vide pro­tec­tion to fed­er­al facil­i­ties. Top mil­i­tary com­man­ders, includ­ing the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were deter­mined to keep active duty mil­i­tary out of that effort and lim­it the role of the nation­al guard, sev­er­al defense offi­cials say.

    The Pen­tagon’s long-stand­ing focus has been to show that civ­il law enforce­ment and state acti­vat­ed nation­al guard are suf­fi­cient to con­trol civ­il unrest.

    ‘A lit­tle bit of con­fu­sion’

    In a state­ment Wednes­day evening, chief Pen­ta­gon spokesper­son Jonathan Hoff­man said that ear­li­er in the week, DC May­or Muriel Bows­er “request­ed approx­i­mate­ly 340 D.C. Nation­al Guards­men to assist D.C. police in prepa­ra­tion for pos­si­ble protests today.”

    ...

    A source famil­iar with the sit­u­a­tion said White House staffers are “hor­ri­fied” by the vio­lence at the Capi­tol and are wor­ried there will be more trou­ble on the streets Wednes­day evening.

    “He does­n’t want to” do more than what he is doing right now, the advis­er said.

    “If we could throw him to the angry mob, we’d throw him to the angry mob now,” the advis­er said.

    ————

    “Pence took lead as Trump ini­tial­ly resist­ed send­ing Nation­al Guard to Capi­tol” by Kait­lan Collins, Zachary Cohen, Bar­bara Starr and Jen­nifer Hansler; CNN; 01/07/2021

    “Trump, who has proven over the past year to be eager to deploy the Nation­al Guard when vio­lence breaks out, ini­tial­ly resist­ed doing so on Capi­tol Hill Wednes­day as a mob of his sup­port­ers breached the build­ing, per a source famil­iar. Pence played a key role in coor­di­nat­ing with the Pen­ta­gon about deploy­ing them, and urged them to move faster than they were.

    Trump resist­ed, and it was Pence who actu­al­ly made the call. Belat­ed­ly. That’s the report­ing we’re get­ting on Wednes­day’s deci­sion to call in the Nation­al Guard. Report­ing that rais­es seri­ous ques­tions about who was act­ing as com­man­der in chief at the time. And then there’s the fact that pub­lic state­ments act­ing Sec­re­tary of Defense Christo­pher Miller seemed to indi­cate that Miller did­n’t even speak with Trump about the order because Trump had no desire to see the Nation­al Guard crack down on a mob that was fight­ing in his name:

    ...
    The news rais­es ques­tions about who was act­ing as com­man­der in chief on one of Amer­i­ca’s dark­est days, which saw the coun­try’s leg­is­la­ture over­run for the first time since the British attacked and burned the build­ing in August 1814.

    The Trump admin­is­tra­tion, ear­li­er this week, said that civil­ian law enforce­ment would be tasked with pro­tec­tion of fed­er­al facil­i­ties but the Depart­ment of Defense received requests for addi­tion­al sup­port from the Nation­al Guard Wednes­day as the sit­u­a­tion became increas­ing­ly dan­ger­ous, a senior defense offi­cial told CNN.

    As the chaos unfold­ed, doubts were raised about whether Trump would order the DC Nation­al Guard to respond due to the slow­ness of the response. Pub­lic state­ments by act­ing Defense Sec­re­tary Christo­pher Miller and oth­er top offi­cials sug­gest­ed it was Pence who ulti­mate­ly approved the deci­sion. Miller’s state­ment Wednes­day seems to indi­cate he did not even speak with Trump, dis­cussing the mat­ter with his deputy instead as sources told CNN the Pres­i­dent was reluc­tant to even denounce the vio­lence being car­ried out in his name.
    ...

    So we have what appears to be, if not a planned storm­ing of the Capi­tol, at least a spon­ta­neous storm­ing of the Capi­tol that was high­ly wel­comed by Trump him­self, although not nec­es­sar­i­ly the rest of his staff. And that rais­es the ques­tion: was the storm­ing of the Capi­tol planned in advance by the Trump team? Did the mys­te­ri­ous post-elec­tion reshuf­fling of the Pen­ta­gon top staff facil­i­tate the ini­tial slow response? Was that omi­nous Op-Ed warn­ing from all liv­ing for­mer Sec­re­taries of Defense about the mil­i­tary play­ing a role in elec­tions a reflec­tion of more wide­spread aware­ness of a big plan to pull off a major stunt?

    And what role did all of the var­i­ous fig­ures close to Trump who have been push­ing the wildest elec­tion fraud the­o­ries. Did Roger Stone or Steve Ban­non help to make that storm­ing of the Capi­tol hap­pen? Michael Fly­nn? What about Rudy Giu­liani? All of these fig­ures clear­ly endorse the storm­ing of the Capi­tol. Did they help make it hap­pen? At this point we don’t know. But that’s to anoth­er phone-gaffe by Rudy Giu­liani, we did learn one sig­nif­i­cant data point about what the Trump team want­ed to see hap­pen on Jan­u­ary 6: At ~ 7 PM EST on Wednes­day night, Giu­liani left a voice­mail for new­ly sworn-in sen­a­tor Alaba­ma Sen. Tom­my Tuberville, implor­ing him to help delay the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of the elec­toral col­lege vote for at least one whole day, ide­al­ly until the evening of Jan 7, so the Trump team can have time to put togeth­er their evi­dence of elec­tion fraud. But Giu­liani called the wrong phone and that per­son shared the voice­mail with the media. So now we know that, hours after the pro-Trump mob was storm­ing the Capi­tol and delayed the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of the elec­toral col­lege vote, Rudy Giu­liani was call­ing Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors ask­ing them to delay it some more to buy Trump one more day before the vote got cer­ti­fied:

    The Dis­patch

    Giu­liani to Sen­a­tor: ‘Try to Just Slow it Down’
    The president’s lawyer tries to block the count of the Elec­toral Col­lege votes.

    Steve Hayes
    01/06/2021

    Rudy Giu­liani, a lawyer and top advis­er to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, is call­ing Repub­li­can law­mak­ers urg­ing them to delay the elec­toral vote count by at least one day to allow the pres­i­dent and his team to present more evi­dence of alleged elec­tion fraud. Giu­liani was mak­ing calls this evening, as late as an hour before Con­gress recon­vened, in a des­per­ate attempt to block the final count of Elec­toral Col­lege votes.

    At approx­i­mate­ly 7 p.m., Giu­liani called new­ly sworn-in Alaba­ma Sen. Tom­my Tuberville, a staunch Trump ally, implor­ing him to stall the process. “I want to dis­cuss with you how they’re try­ing to rush this hear­ing and how we need you, our Repub­li­can friends, to try to just slow it down so we can get these leg­is­la­tures to get more infor­ma­tion to you,” Giu­liani said in a voice­mail. “And I know they’re recon­ven­ing at 8 tonight, but it ... the only strat­e­gy we can fol­low is to object to numer­ous states and raise issues so that we get our­selves into tomor­row—ide­al­ly until the end of tomor­row. I know McConnell is doing every­thing he can to rush it, which is kind of a kick in the head because it’s one thing to oppose us, it’s anoth­er thing not to give us a fair oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­test it.”

    Giu­liani tells Tuberville that McConnell wants to nar­row the objec­tions to just three states and explains that the Trump team wants to object to 10. “So if you could object to every state and, along with a con­gress­man, get a hear­ing for every state, I know we would delay you a lot, but it would give us the oppor­tu­ni­ty to get the leg­is­la­tors who are very, very close to pulling their vote, par­tic­u­lar­ly after what McConnell did today.”

    The prob­lem for Giu­liani? He left his mes­sage on the voice­mail of anoth­er sen­a­tor, who shared it with The Dis­patch.

    It’s not clear whether Giuliani—who opens the call by refer­ring to him­self as “the president’s lawyer”—was direct­ed to call Tuberville by Pres­i­dent Trump. Requests for com­ment to Giuliani’s cell phone and White House chief of staff Mark Mead­ows went unan­swered. One long­time Trump advis­er still talk­ing to top White House offi­cials says Trump is in con­stant com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Giu­liani. Asked if such a call is some­thing Trump would know about, he said: “Oh, yeah, 100 per­cent.”

    Giu­liani, speak­ing at the ral­ly for Trump ear­li­er today, urged Trump sup­port­ers to keep fight­ing, promis­ing that more evi­dence would soon come to light. “Over the next 10 days, we get to see the machines that are crooked, the bal­lots that are fraud­u­lent and we’re wrong, we will be made fools of. But if we’re right, a lot of them will go to jail.”

    Here is the com­plete audio. The tran­script of Giuliani’s voice­mail fol­lows below.

    ...

    Sen­a­tor Tuberville? Or I should say Coach Tuberville. This is Rudy Giu­liani, the pres­i­den­t’s lawyer. I’m call­ing you because I want to dis­cuss with you how they’re try­ing to rush this hear­ing and how we need you, our Repub­li­can friends, to try to just slow it down so we can get these leg­is­la­tures to get more infor­ma­tion to you. And I know they’re recon­ven­ing at 8 tonight, but it … the only strat­e­gy we can fol­low is to object to numer­ous states and raise issues so that we get our­selves into tomorrow—ideally until the end of tomor­row.

    I know McConnell is doing every­thing he can to rush it, which is kind of a kick in the head because it’s one thing to oppose us, it’s anoth­er thing not to give us a fair oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­test it. And he wants to try to get it down to only three states that we con­test. But there are 10 states that we con­test, not three. So if you could object to every state and, along with a con­gress­man, get a hear­ing for every state, I know we would delay you a lot, but it would give us the oppor­tu­ni­ty to get the leg­is­la­tors who are very, very close to pulling their vote, par­tic­u­lar­ly after what McConnell did today. It angered them, because they have writ­ten let­ters ask­ing that you guys adjourn and send them back the ques­tion­able ones and they’ll fix them up.

    So, this phone num­ber, I’m avail­able on all night, and it would be an hon­or to talk to you. Thank you.

    ————-

    “Giu­liani to Sen­a­tor: ‘Try to Just Slow it Down’” by Steve Hayes; The Dis­patch; 01/06/2021

    At approx­i­mate­ly 7 p.m., Giu­liani called new­ly sworn-in Alaba­ma Sen. Tom­my Tuberville, a staunch Trump ally, implor­ing him to stall the process. “I want to dis­cuss with you how they’re try­ing to rush this hear­ing and how we need you, our Repub­li­can friends, to try to just slow it down so we can get these leg­is­la­tures to get more infor­ma­tion to you,” Giu­liani said in a voice­mail. “And I know they’re recon­ven­ing at 8 tonight, but it ... the only strat­e­gy we can fol­low is to object to numer­ous states and raise issues so that we get our­selves into tomor­row—ide­al­ly until the end of tomor­row. I know McConnell is doing every­thing he can to rush it, which is kind of a kick in the head because it’s one thing to oppose us, it’s anoth­er thing not to give us a fair oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­test it.””

    Keep in mind that Giu­liani prob­a­bly called a lot more Sen­a­tors than Tom­my Tuberville. So at 7 PM, hours after the Capi­tol storm­ing of the Capi­tol was large­ly resolved, Giu­liani is call­ing up Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors ask­ing for them to buy Trump some more time. Not only that, but Giu­liani indi­cates that the Trump team isn’t just plan­ning on con­test­ing 3 state results. It wants to con­test 10 state results, indi­cat­ing that the Trump team was plan­ning on mak­ing its legal chal­lenge to the elec­tion MUCH CRAZIER in com­ing days. A 10 state chal­lenge hints at a planned com­plete legal fias­co that eclipses the exist­ing legal fias­co. And we have every rea­son to assume Trump was ful­ly aware of Giu­liani mak­ing these calls:

    ...
    It’s not clear whether Giuliani—who opens the call by refer­ring to him­self as “the president’s lawyer”—was direct­ed to call Tuberville by Pres­i­dent Trump. Requests for com­ment to Giuliani’s cell phone and White House chief of staff Mark Mead­ows went unan­swered. One long­time Trump advis­er still talk­ing to top White House offi­cials says Trump is in con­stant com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Giu­liani. Asked if such a call is some­thing Trump would know about, he said: “Oh, yeah, 100 per­cent.”
    ...

    So the Trump team had a plan that involved A BIG DELAY. And what did Trump receive on Wednes­day? A big delay, thanks to an insur­rec­tion he helped incite. Fol­lowed by a big delay in the roll out of the Nation­al Guard. And lat­er, after the insur­rec­tion was sub­dued, we had Rudy Giu­liani call­ing sen­a­tors and plead­ing for more of a delay. A delay that would give the Trump team enough time to deliv­er on its laugh­able legal objec­tions that no one can plau­si­bly believe are seri­ous. And that leaves the ques­tion: if the desired delay was­n’t real­ly a delay intend­ed to give time for a laugh­able legal chal­lenge with no hope of suc­ceed­ing, what was the delay actu­al­ly for? What was the actu­al plan and is that plan still in effect? We don’t know, but Rudy pre­sum­ably does. Let’s hope he’s feel­ing care­less­ly chat­ty again tonight so we can find out soon­er rather than lat­er. Because when it comes to answer­ing the ques­tions of whether or not the pres­i­dent planned a secret coup-stunt and whether or not that plan is still in effect, you def­i­nite­ly want to avoid unnec­es­sary delays.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 7, 2021, 4:21 pm
  22. With just 12 days to go, new arti­cles of impeach­ment have been draft­ed by the House Democ­rats against Pres­i­dent Trump. The charges? Incite­ment of insur­rec­tion.

    And that rais­es the big ques­tion of whether or not there exists evi­dence that the Trump White House was indeed involved with orches­trat­ing the storm­ing of the Capi­tol. A big ques­tion with some big obvi­ous answers. Trump was open­ly incit­ing his crowd of sup­port­ers at a “Stop the Steal” ral­ly in DC imme­di­ate­ly before the to raid took place, implor­ing them to “fight like hell”.

    But now that we’ve learned that the Nation­al Guard was report­ed­ly called only by Mike Pence, and only after ini­tial resis­tance from the Depart­ment of Defense, the ques­tion of what role Trump played in incite the vio­lent mob goes far beyond whether or not he ver­bal­ly incit­ed them. Espe­cial­ly now that Mary­land’s Repub­li­can Gov­er­nor, Lar­ry Hogan, just told the world that his state’s repeat­ed requests to send in the Mary­land Nation­al Guard after receiv­ing fran­tic phone calls from trapped mem­bers of con­gress were repeat­ed­ly rebuffed for an hour and a half by the fed­er­al head of the Nation­al Guard. And when the Depart­ment of Defense did even­tu­al­ly con­tact Hogan and give him the go ahead to send in the Guard, it was Army Sec­re­tary Ryan McCarthy who con­tact­ed Hogan, not act­ing Sec­re­tary of Defense Christo­pher C. Miller:

    Raw Sto­ry

    Shel­ter­ing con­gress­man called his gov­er­nor in a pan­ic when DC Nation­al Guard was absent for capi­tol riot

    Sarah K. Bur­ris
    Jan­u­ary 07, 2021

    Wash­ing­ton, D.C. isn’t a state. So when the may­or asks for Nation­al Guard troops the way a nor­mal gov­er­nor would, it has to be approved by the Depart­ment of Defense and the pres­i­dent. Well in advance, DC May­or Mur­ial Bows­er asked for the help of the Nation­al Guard in peace­keep­ing dur­ing the Jan. 6 ral­ly planned by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. They were assigned to direct traf­fic, ABC News’ Martha Rad­datz report­ed.

    Mary­land Gov. Lar­ry Hogan ® recalled in an inter­view to the Wash­ing­ton Post the pan­icked calls he got from Mary­land Rep. Ste­ny Hoy­er (D), who was shel­ter­ing in an undis­closed loca­tion in the Capi­tol while it was under attack. He said that he was with Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi (D‑CA) and Sen­ate Minor­i­ty Leader Chuck Schumer (D‑NY).

    Hogan said that the Mary­land Nation­al Guard was ready to assist but was “repeat­ed­ly” told that the sol­diers did­n’t have the autho­riza­tion to do so.

    “I was actu­al­ly on the phone with Leader Hoy­er who was plead­ing with us to send the guard,” Hogan said. “He was yelling across the room to Schumer and they were back and forth say­ing we do have the autho­riza­tion and I’m say­ing, ‘I’m telling you we do not have the autho­riza­tion.’ ”

    Hogan told the Wash­ing­ton Post that Maj. Gen. Tim­o­thy Gowen, the adju­tant gen­er­al of the Mary­land Nation­al Guard, “was repeat­ed­ly rebuffed by the head of the Nation­al Guard at the fed­er­al lev­el.” The Guard announced Thurs­day after­noon that they were send­ing troops now.

    Hogan explained that Maj. Gen. Gowen “kept run­ning it up the flag­pole, and we don’t have autho­riza­tion. We don’t have autho­riza­tion.”

    Hogan said about 90 min­utes after the plea from Hoy­er and debates back and forth with Gowen, he got a phone call from Army Sec­re­tary Ryan McCarthy, not act­ing Sec­re­tary of Defense Christo­pher C. Miller.

    “Out of the blue, not from the sec­re­tary of defense, not through what would be nor­mal chan­nels.” McCarthy asked if the Mary­land guards­men could “come as soon as pos­si­ble,” Hogan said. “It was like, yeah, we’re wait­ing, we’re ready.”

    The State Guard is deployed through the inau­gu­ra­tion, Hogan said.

    ...

    —————

    “Shel­ter­ing con­gress­man called his gov­er­nor in a pan­ic when DC Nation­al Guard was absent for capi­tol riot” by Sarah K. Bur­ris; Raw Sto­ry; 01/07/2021

    Hogan told the Wash­ing­ton Post that Maj. Gen. Tim­o­thy Gowen, the adju­tant gen­er­al of the Mary­land Nation­al Guard, “was repeat­ed­ly rebuffed by the head of the Nation­al Guard at the fed­er­al lev­el.” The Guard announced Thurs­day after­noon that they were send­ing troops now.”

    The head of the Nation­al Guard at the fed­er­al lev­el repeat­ed­ly rebuffed the Mary­land Nation­al Guard’s requests. Requests that came after pan­icked calls from con­gres­sion­al Democ­rats. 90 min­utes lat­er, Army Sec­re­tary Ryan McCarthy con­tacts Hogan direct­ly and gives the green light. So the Nation­al Guard at the fed­er­al lev­el cre­at­ed a 90 minute delay, giv­ing the insur­rec­tion­ists plen­ty of time to ran­sack the Cap­i­tal:

    ...
    Hogan explained that Maj. Gen. Gowen “kept run­ning it up the flag­pole, and we don’t have autho­riza­tion. We don’t have autho­riza­tion.”

    Hogan said about 90 min­utes after the plea from Hoy­er and debates back and forth with Gowen, he got a phone call from Army Sec­re­tary Ryan McCarthy, not act­ing Sec­re­tary of Defense Christo­pher C. Miller.

    Out of the blue, not from the sec­re­tary of defense, not through what would be nor­mal chan­nels.” McCarthy asked if the Mary­land guards­men could “come as soon as pos­si­ble,” Hogan said. “It was like, yeah, we’re wait­ing, we’re ready.”
    ...

    So that’s one major area of inquiry for the impeach­ment: what role did the Trump White House play in that 90 minute delay?

    But as the fol­low­ing arti­cle makes clear, the ques­tions about the role the Trump admin­is­tra­tion may have played in facil­i­tat­ing this attack on the Capi­tol go beyond ques­tions of what was done on Jan­u­ary 6. Because we’re now learn­ing that the FBI, Home­land Secu­ri­ty, and the White House all has intel­li­gence that this exact sce­nario would play out and all appar­ent­ly turned the oth­er way:

    Newsweek

    FBI, Home­land Secu­ri­ty, White House Advis­ers Fore­saw Pos­si­ble Riots, Looked the Oth­er Way

    By William M. Arkin
    On 1/6/21 at 9:15 PM EST

    They knew it could hap­pen. They feared that Don­ald Trump would pull a “Sam­son,” bring­ing down the whole house on top of him in the two weeks before he left the White House. Offi­cials from the FBI, the Secret Ser­vice, Home­land Secu­ri­ty, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia gov­ern­ment, the Pen­ta­gon, the Nation­al Guard, and the Joint Task Force–National Cap­i­tal Region who spoke to Newsweek last week­end on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty, all talked about the poten­tial for pro­test­ers and mili­tias and para­mil­i­tary goons—egged on by the president—to storm Capi­tol Hill and even the Capi­tol build­ing itself.

    A half-dozen sources spoke open­ly about this very sce­nario: that the mob would take over the “Peo­ple’s House” and that some­how the sys­tem would break down. They spec­u­lat­ed that this could occur because of the pres­i­den­t’s trea­so­nous behav­ior, because of lead­er­ship defi­cien­cies in the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment and Con­gress, because of the extreme par­ti­san­ship of the moment, and because every­one was look­ing the wrong way.

    The blame was spread around, with the FBI dis­miss­ing the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty as a bunch of ama­teurs and thugs; the mil­i­tary shak­ing their heads about Pres­i­dent Trump and an absent White House lead­er­ship; Home­land Secu­ri­ty depart­ment mem­bers mock­ing the Dis­trict of Columbi­a’s may­or, Attor­ney Gen­er­al, and police; and every­one mak­ing clear that “the prob­lem” was some­one else’s.

    It was clear that the very law enforce­ment and secu­ri­ty peo­ple who in the­o­ry were respon­si­ble for main­tain­ing order in our cap­i­tal city weren’t ready, weren’t well led, weren’t orga­nized prop­er­ly, and weren’t impar­tial.

    How did we get here? There are mul­ti­ple caus­es for this his­toric fail­ure.

    The patch­work quilt of roles and respon­si­bil­i­ties cre­at­ed post‑9/11, and the immense pub­lic illit­er­a­cy regard­ing all things nation­al secu­ri­ty, have weak­ened Amer­i­ca.

    Many peo­ple in offi­cial Wash­ing­ton had tol­er­at­ed and even humored Pres­i­dent Trump’s sedi­tion and incite­ment to riot. FBI sources said the White House was­n’t order­ing any new secu­ri­ty mea­sures, was­n’t order­ing any addi­tion­al resources, and was­n’t coor­di­nat­ing any exten­sion of the so-called inau­gur­al “Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Spe­cial Event” time­line to include this week (it offi­cial­ly cov­ers Jan­u­ary 15–21). It was­n’t doing those things, the sources said, because pres­i­den­tial aides were afraid that any move­ment might pro­voke Don­ald Trump to do some­thing even worse than what­ev­er he was already plan­ning.

    Sev­er­al of the sources said the U.S. Capi­tol Police—with a strength of more than 2,000 law enforce­ment offi­cers—might not act, or might be inten­tion­al­ly stood down, because many Con­gres­sion­al Repub­li­can lead­ers want­ed the mob to ampli­fy their shrink­ing voic­es that the elec­tion was ille­git­i­mate. There has been no con­fir­ma­tion of this claim. But it’s notable that it took less than 15 min­utes for the mob to gain entrance to the Capi­tol Building–and then vir­tu­al­ly noth­ing was done to eject them.

    Sources from oth­er depart­ments said the Depart­ment of Home­land Security—which had declined to use its mam­moth army of law enforce­ment offi­cers to sup­press protests in Port­land and oth­er cities, osten­si­bly because they were need­ed in DC to pro­tect gov­ern­ment build­ings—was mak­ing itself vir­tu­al­ly absent from the scene for the tran­si­tion. The Act­ing Sec­re­tary of Home­land Secu­ri­ty Chad Wolf is actu­al­ly in the Mid­dle East, evi­dent­ly not think­ing that the threat was severe enough for him to be in Wash­ing­ton.

    The DHS has been indis­crim­i­nate in using its law enforce­ment arms, now the largest in the fed­er­al government—Secret Ser­vice agents, ICE, Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion, Home­land Secu­ri­ty Inves­ti­ga­tions, Fed­er­al Air Mar­shals and even the Fed­er­al Pro­tec­tive Service—to inter­vene over the past year when protests did­n’t involve pro-Trump, right wing mobs. The Capi­tol Police did come out in force when Black Lives Mat­ter and Antifa approached Capi­tol Hill last sum­mer.

    FBI sources told Newsweek that the Bureau was close­ly watch­ing the var­i­ous pro­tes­tors con­verg­ing on the city, that the Depart­ment of Jus­tice was tak­ing the law enforce­ment lead no mat­ter what oth­er agen­cies of the gov­ern­ment were doing, and that the Bureau had a good sense of the pro­tes­tors, the size of the crowd, the lead­ers, and the dan­gers. The intel­li­gence appar­ent­ly did not antic­i­pate what the news media was open­ly spec­u­lat­ing about and what the pres­i­dent and his sup­port­ers were pub­licly tweet­ing.

    The Dis­trict of Colum­bia gov­ern­ment was the only pre­pared and ready force on Wednes­day. May­or Muriel Bows­er acti­vat­ed 340 Dis­trict Nation­al Guards­men and women before Wednes­day. In keep­ing with a desire not to use sol­diers to enforce the law, she kept them unarmed and assigned them to traf­fic con­trol and oth­er duties to relieve more police offi­cers of the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Police Department—3,800 strong, the sixth largest munic­i­pal police depart­ment in the nation—to enforce the laws.

    The riots—and the Dis­tric­t’s response—underscored the argu­ment for mak­ing D.C. a state, so that the may­or would­n’t have to ask per­mis­sion of the Sec­re­tary of the Army to acti­vate the DC Guard.

    And final­ly there’s the Pen­ta­gon. Don­ald Trump’s walk into Lafayette Park last June, accom­pa­nied by a gag­gle of fed­er­al, Nation­al Guard and local police forces, jolt­ed the U.S. mil­i­tary. Chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Mil­ley, in uni­form, joined the pres­i­den­t’s entourage, giv­ing the impres­sion that the uni­formed mil­i­tary sup­port­ed Trump and the forces sur­round­ing him. Gen. Mil­ley was pum­meled for his “loss of sit­u­a­tion­al aware­ness,” for being there. He pub­licly apol­o­gized.

    The Lafayette Park inci­dent and Mil­ley’s apol­o­gy shift­ed Pen­ta­gon cul­ture; rank­ing offi­cers firm­ly reject­ed talk of mar­tial law and open­ly declared that the U.S. armed forces had no role to play in the elec­tion or the tran­si­tion. Now the Pen­ta­gon is being dragged in any­how, in the form of the Nation­al Guard: the last non-par­ti­san, hon­or­able and duty-bound insti­tu­tion in Wash­ing­ton.

    ...

    ———–

    “FBI, Home­land Secu­ri­ty, White House Advis­ers Fore­saw Pos­si­ble Riots, Looked the Oth­er Way” by William M. Arkin; Newsweek; 01/06/2021

    A half-dozen sources spoke open­ly about this very sce­nario: that the mob would take over the “Peo­ple’s House” and that some­how the sys­tem would break down. They spec­u­lat­ed that this could occur because of the pres­i­den­t’s trea­so­nous behav­ior, because of lead­er­ship defi­cien­cies in the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment and Con­gress, because of the extreme par­ti­san­ship of the moment, and because every­one was look­ing the wrong way.”

    Yes, a half-dozen sources spoke open­ly about a mob tak­ing over the “Peo­ple’s House”. And they were open­ly talk­ing about this last week­end, days before it hap­pened. It was that obvi­ous to the nation­al secu­ri­ty state that some­thing like this was com­ing. And yet noth­ing was done to pre­vent it. Why? Well, we are told that the White House pres­i­den­tial aides did­n’t take any steps over fears that doing so would pro­voke Trump to do some­thing even worse than what­ev­er he was plan­ning:

    ...
    Many peo­ple in offi­cial Wash­ing­ton had tol­er­at­ed and even humored Pres­i­dent Trump’s sedi­tion and incite­ment to riot. FBI sources said the White House was­n’t order­ing any new secu­ri­ty mea­sures, was­n’t order­ing any addi­tion­al resources, and was­n’t coor­di­nat­ing any exten­sion of the so-called inau­gur­al “Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Spe­cial Event” time­line to include this week (it offi­cial­ly cov­ers Jan­u­ary 15–21). It was­n’t doing those things, the sources said, because pres­i­den­tial aides were afraid that any move­ment might pro­voke Don­ald Trump to do some­thing even worse than what­ev­er he was already plan­ning.
    ...

    And then there was the spec­u­la­tion that the US Capi­tol Police might be inten­tion­al­ly stood down because Repub­li­can Con­gres­sion­al lead­ers also want­ed to see a mob over­take the Capi­tol:

    ...
    Sev­er­al of the sources said the U.S. Capi­tol Police—with a strength of more than 2,000 law enforce­ment offi­cers—might not act, or might be inten­tion­al­ly stood down, because many Con­gres­sion­al Repub­li­can lead­ers want­ed the mob to ampli­fy their shrink­ing voic­es that the elec­tion was ille­git­i­mate. There has been no con­fir­ma­tion of this claim. But it’s notable that it took less than 15 min­utes for the mob to gain entrance to the Capi­tol Building–and then vir­tu­al­ly noth­ing was done to eject them.

    Sources from oth­er depart­ments said the Depart­ment of Home­land Security—which had declined to use its mam­moth army of law enforce­ment offi­cers to sup­press protests in Port­land and oth­er cities, osten­si­bly because they were need­ed in DC to pro­tect gov­ern­ment build­ings—was mak­ing itself vir­tu­al­ly absent from the scene for the tran­si­tion. The Act­ing Sec­re­tary of Home­land Secu­ri­ty Chad Wolf is actu­al­ly in the Mid­dle East, evi­dent­ly not think­ing that the threat was severe enough for him to be in Wash­ing­ton.
    ...

    And, again, this was what these anony­mous secu­ri­ty offi­cials were open­ly spec­u­lat­ing to Newsweek reporters days before Jan­u­ary 6. That’s how obvi­ous it was this was com­ing. Will the impeach­ment inves­ti­ga­tion include an inves­ti­ga­tion into Repub­li­can Con­gres­sion­al lead­er­ship too?

    Next, there are ques­tions about what actions Trump took dur­ing the actu­al insur­rec­tion. And as we should expect at this point, the reports are that when aides were plead­ing with Trump to pub­licly con­demn the vio­lence, he resist­ed. Because of course he did:

    The New York Times

    Trump open­ly con­dones sup­port­ers who vio­lent­ly stormed the Capi­tol, prompt­ing Twit­ter to lock his account.

    — Annie Karni and Mag­gie Haber­man
    Jan. 6, 2021, 1:02 p.m. ET

    Pres­i­dent Trump on Wednes­day evening open­ly con­doned on social media the vio­lence unfold­ing at the oth­er end of Penn­syl­va­nia Avenue after a mob of his sup­port­ers stormed the Capi­tol, prompt­ing Face­book and Twit­ter to remove his posts and lock his accounts.

    “These are the things and events that hap­pen when a sacred land­slide elec­tion vic­to­ry is so uncer­e­mo­ni­ous­ly & vicious­ly stripped away from great patri­ots who have been bad­ly & unfair­ly treat­ed for so long,” Mr. Trump tweet­ed Wednes­day evening, after spend­ing much of the after­noon in the Oval Office watch­ing footage of esca­lat­ing vio­lence unfold­ing on Capi­tol Hill. “Go home with love & in peace. Remem­ber this day for­ev­er!”

    The tweet that appeared to prop up vio­lent pro­test­ers as “patri­ots” and assert­ed base­less claims about the elec­tion out­come came after the pres­i­dent, under pub­lic and pri­vate pres­sure from advis­ers, had offered only a tepid response as the Capi­tol was breached for the first time in mod­ern his­to­ry and one woman died after being shot on the Capi­tol grounds.

    Mr. Trump post­ed the mes­sage on both his Twit­ter and Face­book accounts. Face­book removed the post. Twit­ter first attached a warn­ing label to the tweet that said it made a dis­put­ed claim about elec­tion fraud before remov­ing the tweet ato­geth­er, claim­ing it “vio­lat­ed the Twit­ter Rules.”

    In a fol­low-up mes­sage, Twit­ter said it was sus­pend­ing the president’s Twit­ter feed for 12 hours — and pos­si­bly more if he did not delete his mes­sage — and threat­ened a per­ma­nent sus­pen­sion if Mr. Trump vio­lat­ed its rules in the future. In doing so, the plat­form took away the president’s favorite method of com­mu­ni­cat­ing with his sup­port­ers direct­ly, one he has used often since the elec­tion to spread false claims about wide­spread vot­er fraud.

    Then, around 8:30 p.m. Wednes­day night, a Face­book spokesman said offi­cials had iden­ti­fied “two pol­i­cy vio­la­tions against Pres­i­dent Trump’s Page,” and as a result, would block him from post­ing on the plat­form for 24 hours.

    Even as for­mer admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials and Demo­c­ra­t­ic lead­ers called on the pres­i­dent to tell his sup­port­ers to “go home,” Mr. Trump for hours did lit­tle to dis­cour­age them from storm­ing the build­ing. Instead, he issued two per­func­to­ry tweets in which he asked them mere­ly to remain “peace­ful.”

    “Remem­ber, WE are the Par­ty of Law & Order — respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue,” he wrote, after shock­ing scenes of bro­ken win­dows and wav­ing Con­fed­er­ate flags in the Capi­tol had been play­ing on tele­vi­sion for hours.

    The Trump sup­port­ers had made their way to the Capi­tol at the president’s behest, after attend­ing a ral­ly near the White House, where he base­less­ly claimed the elec­tion results were fraud­u­lent.

    It was only hours into the melee, and after an explo­sive device was found at the Repub­li­can Nation­al Com­mit­tee head­quar­ters, that Mr. Trump released a mes­sage telling the mob to leave.

    “You have to go home now,” he said in a video mes­sage filmed at the White House and post­ed on Twit­ter. “We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. We don’t want any­one hurt.” Still, the pres­i­dent ulti­mate­ly offered encour­age­ment to the mob, not­ing: “We love you. You’re very spe­cial,” and “I know how you feel.”

    But many advis­ers around the pres­i­dent were wor­ried that his mes­sage in the video was not force­ful enough and that some of his sup­port­ers would inter­pret it as encour­age­ment to con­tin­ue fight­ing for him.

    ...

    Ear­li­er in the day the pres­i­dent had also encour­aged his sup­port­ers with an alter­nate mes­sage. “We will nev­er con­cede,” Mr. Trump said at the ral­ly.

    At the Capi­tol, some law­mak­ers who were tak­en to secure loca­tions blamed the pres­i­dent for the upris­ing. “This is what the pres­i­dent has caused today, this insur­rec­tion,” Sen­a­tor Mitt Rom­ney, Repub­li­can of Utah, said.

    Some for­mer admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials pub­licly tried to encour­age Mr. Trump to take a tougher stand to quell the esca­lat­ing chaos, while oth­er allies pri­vate­ly pressed him to do more. “The President’s tweet is not enough,” Mick Mul­vaney, the for­mer act­ing White House chief of staff, wrote on Twit­ter. “He can stop this now and needs to do exact­ly that. Tell these folks to go home.”

    In a joint state­ment, Sen­a­tor Chuck Schumer and Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic lead­ers, said, “We are call­ing on Pres­i­dent Trump to demand that all pro­test­ers leave the U.S. Capi­tol and Capi­tol grounds imme­di­ate­ly.”

    But Mr. Trump resist­ed those pri­vate and pub­lic entreaties to make any out­right con­dem­na­tion of the vio­lence. Instead, his ire was more focused on Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, who ear­li­er in the day made clear that he planned to reject the president’s pres­sure to block con­gres­sion­al cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of Mr. Biden’s vic­to­ry. Mr. Pence was evac­u­at­ed from the Sen­ate cham­ber as the ten­sion esca­lat­ed.

    “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to pro­tect our Coun­try and our Con­sti­tu­tion, giv­ing States a chance to cer­ti­fy a cor­rect­ed set of facts, not the fraud­u­lent or inac­cu­rate ones which they were asked to pre­vi­ous­ly cer­ti­fy. USA demands the truth!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twit­ter.

    ———–

    “Trump open­ly con­dones sup­port­ers who vio­lent­ly stormed the Capi­tol, prompt­ing Twit­ter to lock his account.” by Annie Karni and Mag­gie Haber­man; The New York Times; 01/06/2021

    But Mr. Trump resist­ed those pri­vate and pub­lic entreaties to make any out­right con­dem­na­tion of the vio­lence. Instead, his ire was more focused on Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, who ear­li­er in the day made clear that he planned to reject the president’s pres­sure to block con­gres­sion­al cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of Mr. Biden’s vic­to­ry. Mr. Pence was evac­u­at­ed from the Sen­ate cham­ber as the ten­sion esca­lat­ed.”

    Was Trump trou­bled by the insur­rec­tion­ist mob? Nope. He was upset with Mike Pence because Pence did­n’t some­how obstruct the count­ing of the elec­toral col­lege votes. That’s the pic­ture that’s emerg­ing based on White House sources: after aides implored Trump to say some­thing to stop the vio­lence and Trump ini­tial­ly refused and only even­tu­al­ly issued a high­ly tepid pub­lic response that could, if any­thing, be inter­pret­ed as an endorse­ment of the raid:

    ...
    “These are the things and events that hap­pen when a sacred land­slide elec­tion vic­to­ry is so uncer­e­mo­ni­ous­ly & vicious­ly stripped away from great patri­ots who have been bad­ly & unfair­ly treat­ed for so long,” Mr. Trump tweet­ed Wednes­day evening, after spend­ing much of the after­noon in the Oval Office watch­ing footage of esca­lat­ing vio­lence unfold­ing on Capi­tol Hill. “Go home with love & in peace. Remem­ber this day for­ev­er!”

    The tweet that appeared to prop up vio­lent pro­test­ers as “patri­ots” and assert­ed base­less claims about the elec­tion out­come came after the pres­i­dent, under pub­lic and pri­vate pres­sure from advis­ers, had offered only a tepid response as the Capi­tol was breached for the first time in mod­ern his­to­ry and one woman died after being shot on the Capi­tol grounds.
    ...

    The evi­dence is accu­mu­lat­ing. Pres­i­dent Trump real­ly did sup­port this raid on the Capi­tol and real­ly did take steps to facil­i­tate the raid. He want­ed it to go for as long as pos­si­ble and ulti­mate­ly suc­ceed. And that rais­es anoth­er major ques­tion here: what exact­ly was the desired end goal of the insur­rec­tion? Oth­er than van­dal­iz­ing things and express­ing their extreme anger over the elec­tion results, what did they plan on accom­plish­ing? How about tak­ing hostages?:

    Slate

    They Were Out for Blood
    The men who car­ried zip ties as they stormed the Capi­tol weren’t clown­ing around.
    By Dan Kois
    Jan 08, 2021 12:01 PM

    I can’t stop think­ing about the zip-tie guys.

    Amid the pho­tos that flood­ed social media dur­ing Wednesday’s riot at the Capitol—shirtless jok­ers in horned hel­mets, dudes point­ing at their nuts, dum­b­ass­es car­ry­ing away souvenirs—the images of the zip-tie guys were qui­eter, less exu­ber­ant, more chill­ing. And we’d bet­ter not for­get what they almost man­aged to do.

    It’s easy to think of the siege of the U.S. Capi­tol as a clown show with acci­den­tal­ly dead­ly con­se­quences. A bunch of cos­play­ing self-styled patri­ots show up, over­whelm the incom­pre­hen­si­bly unpre­pared Capi­tol Police, and then throw a frat par­ty in the rotun­da. The mis­cre­ants smear sh it on the walls and steal lap­tops and smoke weed in con­fer­ence rooms. Some­one gets shot; some­one else has a heart attack, pos­si­bly under ludi­crous cir­cum­stances. When they final­ly get roust­ed, they cry to the cam­eras about get­ting maced.

    Those riot­ers, the bozos, were the ones who talked to the press, who waved glee­ful­ly to pho­tog­ra­phers, who self­ied and streamed the entire after­noon, with­out even a thought that there might ever be con­se­quences. They were doing it for the ’gram, and their sto­ry over­whelms the nar­ra­tive because their faces and voic­es dom­i­nat­ed the day.

    But there were oth­er riot­ers inside the Capi­tol, if you look at the images. And once you see them, it’s impos­si­ble to look away. The zip-tie guys.

    Call the zip ties by their cor­rect name: The guys were car­ry­ing flex cuffs, the plas­tic dou­ble restraints often used by police in mass arrest sit­u­a­tions. They walked through the Sen­ate cham­ber with a sense of pur­pose. They were not dressed in sil­ly cos­tumes but kit­ted out in full para­mil­i­tary regalia: hel­mets, armor, camo, hol­sters with sidearms. At least one had a a semi-auto­mat­ic rifle and 11 Molo­tov cock­tails. At least one, unlike near­ly every oth­er right-wing riot­er pho­tographed that day, wore a mask that obscured his face.

    These are the same guys who, when the win­dows of the Capi­tol were bro­ken and entry secured, went in first with what I’d call mil­i­tary-ish pre­ci­sion. They moved with pur­pose, to the offices of major fig­ures like Nan­cy Pelosi and then to the Sen­ate floor. What was that pur­pose? It wasn’t to pose for pho­tos. It was to use those flex cuffs on some­one.

    In Octo­ber, the FBI and state author­i­ties charged 13 men with plot­ting to kid­nap Gretchen Whit­mer, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­er­nor of Michi­gan. Mem­bers of that plot attend­ed protests at the Michi­gan Capi­tol in April, real plan­ners of vio­lence mix­ing eas­i­ly with those for whom guns are fun protest props. The plot­ters dis­cussed a sum­ma­ry execution—“knock on the door,” one wrote in the group chat, “and when she answers it just cap her”—but set­tled on a kid­nap­ping, pulled off while police were dis­tract­ed by a near­by explo­sion. Think of that plot, as these men sure­ly did, as a dress rehearsal for what the zip-tie guys want­ed to accom­plish at the U.S. Capi­tol on Wednes­day.

    They went into the Capi­tol, as Con­gress was count­ing elec­toral votes, equipped to take hostages—to phys­i­cal­ly seize offi­cials, and pre­sum­ably to take lives. The prospect is ter­ri­fy­ing. But just because it seems unthink­able doesn’t mean we shouldn’t think hard about what almost hap­pened. Don’t dis­miss the zip-tie guys as “LARPers” or “week­end war­riors.” First of all, giv­en the well-doc­u­ment­ed over­lap between ex-mil­i­tary, law enforce­ment, and right-wing mili­tias, it’s entire­ly pos­si­ble these guys were weekday war­riors using their train­ing in ser­vice of extracur­ric­u­lar inter­ests. (One of the Twit­ter sleuths who are now try­ing to track them down sure seems to think they’re ex-mil­i­tary.) More impor­tant­ly, the long awful course of his­to­ry reminds us how slip­pery the slope is from play­act­ing as a strike force to actu­al­ly behav­ing as a strike force. Once the zip ties go on, it doesn’t mat­ter whether you’re a “real” ter­ror­ist or not.

    ...

    —————

    “They Were Out for Blood” by Dan Kois; Slate; 01/08/2021

    Call the zip ties by their cor­rect name: The guys were car­ry­ing flex cuffs, the plas­tic dou­ble restraints often used by police in mass arrest sit­u­a­tions. They walked through the Sen­ate cham­ber with a sense of pur­pose. They were not dressed in sil­ly cos­tumes but kit­ted out in full para­mil­i­tary regalia: hel­mets, armor, camo, hol­sters with sidearms. At least one had a a semi-auto­mat­ic rifle and 11 Molo­tov cock­tails. At least one, unlike near­ly every oth­er right-wing riot­er pho­tographed that day, wore a mask that obscured his face.”

    A semi-auto­mat­ic rifle, Molo­tov cock­tails, and flex cuff. That sure sounds like some­one plan­ning on tak­ing hostages. And there were a num­ber of guys armed like this. Were we look­ing at a planned ‘mass cit­i­zens arrest’ sit­u­a­tion? Per­haps “mass arrest” was the planned way to spin it, although it would actu­al­ly be a mass hostage-tak­ing sit­u­a­tion. Take con­gress hostage and some­how ‘force’ the world to wait and hear the joke evi­dence from states about elec­tion fraud. And based on all of the data we have avail­able, does­n’t that sound entire­ly plau­si­ble? Based on all of the data we have avail­able, does­n’t that sound entire­ly plau­si­ble? Is there any­thing we’re see­ing that isn’t con­sis­tent with the idea that this real­ly was a planned far right coup? A planned far right coup that was start­ed at the behest of Pres­i­dent Trump dur­ing a ral­ly and seem­ing­ly car­ried out with the qui­et assis­tance of a nation­al secu­ri­ty state that had been effec­tive­ly ordered to stand down while Trump’s rush­es the Capi­tol and takes Con­gress hostage.

    So as we can see, impeach­ment inves­ti­ga­tors will have plen­ty on their plate. The big ques­tion is whether or not there’s enough time to mean­ing­ful­ly look into this. It’s a bind. On the one hand, an open insur­rec­tion of this nature war­rants a swift rebuke. But on the oth­er hand, you prob­a­bly don’t want to rush a coup inves­ti­ga­tion. You might miss some impor­tant details.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 8, 2021, 3:50 pm
  23. @Pterrafractyl-

    As the dust starts to set­tle fol­low­ing the DC onslaught of maga nazis try­ing to over­throw the leg­isla­tive branch of the US fed­er­al gov­ern­ment
    we’re already hear­ing the media — main­stream, right-wing and pro­gres­sive — whin­ing about the intel­li­gence fail­ures lead­ing up to the attempt­ed
    putsch. The “Y’all Qae­da” and “Vanil­la ISIS” rubes are pure­ly expend­able shock troops at the oper­a­tional lev­el. How­ev­er as in the 911 attacks
    and JFK assas­si­na­tion a co-ordi­nat­ed fas­cist fifth col­umn with­in the exec­u­tive branch and the Pen­ta­gon was prob­a­bly at work here. It’s being
    report­ed that repub­li­can Mary­land gov­er­nor Hogan was blocked by the Pen­ta­gon from send­ing Nation­al Guard troops to assist DC capi­tol police
    Exact­ly who in the pen­ta­gon was run­ning infer­ence? This should be the first ques­tion asked.

    In Novem­ber Trump installed one-star gen­er­al and Fox com­men­ta­tor Antho­ny Tata as under­sec­re­tary of pol­i­cy at the Pen­ta­gon. Of more inter­est
    though is Ezra Cohen-Wat­nick a 30-some­thing mys­tery man who Trump named as under­sec­re­tary of intel­li­gence. Gen­er­al HR McMas­ter who
    replaced the odi­ous “Q‑anoner” Michael Fly­nn as nation­al secu­ri­ty advi­sor was able to boot Steve Ban­non from the NSC Prin­ci­pal’s Com­mit­tee but he did­n’t have the juice to oust Cohen-Wat­nick. How come? Appar­ent­ly he’s a favourite of both Jared Kush­n­er and Ban­non.

    Any inves­ti­ga­tion into the Jan­u­ary 6 insur­rec­tion which saw shock troops with noos­es and hand­cuffs hop­ing to track down Pelosi Schumer and
    Pence inside the Capi­tol build­ings should start with scru­ti­niz­ing the role char­ac­ters like Ezra Cohen-Wat­nick played in sub­vert­ing intel and
    block­ing the mobi­liza­tion of troops. For exam­ple did he ever intern with the CIA?

    Posted by Dennis | January 8, 2021, 7:19 pm
  24. @Dennis and Pter­rafractyl–

    Yes, indeed. The seeds were sown in the first half of the last cen­tu­ry and nur­tured and genet­i­cal­ly modified–political, ide­ol­o­gized “gain-of-func­tion” maneuvering–during the clos­ing decades of this cen­tu­ry and the first cou­ple of decades of this cen­tu­ry.

    Any­one who was sur­prised by this has­n’t been pay­ing atten­tion.

    The U.S. recruit­ment of fas­cist cadres from WW2 as “Stay Behind” forces in the imme­di­ate after­math of that con­flict is a mat­ter of record.

    It is unimag­in­able that they did­n’t do some­thing sim­i­lar in the U.S.

    https://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-971-nazis-in-new-orleans/

    His­to­ry informs us that this is, in fact, the case.

    In New Orleans, we saw this man­i­fest­ed.

    This is going to be very inter­est­ing.

    Even Paul Krug­man of the “New York Times” and Paci­fi­ca Radio are talk­ing about fas­cism.

    When that hap­pens, you know the End Times are near.

    Jesus will be return­ing to earth any time now, rid­ing on a jet-pow­ered skate­board and accom­pa­nied by a pha­lanx of pas­tel blue and pink cheru­bim play­ing “The Walkin’ Blues” on Nation­al steel-bod­ied gui­tars.

    Lots of fun.

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | January 9, 2021, 5:04 pm
  25. @Dave-

    What I’m about to dis­cuss is a reminder that Jim Gar­rison’s pro­found Kennedy inves­ti­ga­tion still rever­ber­ates in 2021. I believe there are at
    least two “stay behind-Glad­io” fig­ures cur­rent­ly embed­ded at the Pen­ta­gon. They are both GOP/intelligence oper­a­tives with Office of Naval Intel­li­gence (ONI) back­grounds. And incom­ing sec­re­tary of transportation/ONI reserve offi­cer Pete Buttigeig is NOT one of the two. But
    he may be one of “THEM” ie. spies or moles select­ed to infil­trate the Biden gov­ern­ment on behalf of domes­tic fas­cist inter­ests. The two I’m
    talk­ing about are Ezra Cohen-Wat­nick, recent­ly installed by Trump as under­sec­re­tary of intel­li­gence at the Pen­ta­gon. And attor­ney Michael
    Ellis who was senior direc­tor for intel­li­gence on the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil and is a for­mer aide to Rep. Devin Nunes. At the insis­tence of the
    White House Ellis has been appoint­ed gen­er­al coun­sel of the NSA. I’ll give a fuller pro­file of Ellis anoth­er time but for now let’s exam­ine:

    Ezra Cohen-Wat­nick, 34, was a high-school intern for then-Sen­a­tor Joe Biden. And nur­tured dreams of becom­ing a spy. In 2008 he interned
    with ONI, in 2010 he joined the Defense Clan­des­tine Ser­vice, the under­cov­er over­seas spy­ing arm of the DIA. “In 2013 the DIA assigned Cohen-
    Wat­nick to The Farm, the CIA train­ing facil­i­ty in Williams­burg Vir­ginia to learn the rudi­ments of recruit­ing and man­ag­ing for­eign spies ... he did
    a rota­tion at the CIA...was even­tu­al­ly assigned to Afghanistan, with the rank of GS-12, equiv­a­lent to a cap­tain in the army.” The infor­ma­tion
    I’ve unearthed about Cohen-Wat­nick comes from Newsweek’s Jeff Stein Inside The Rise of Trump’s Invis­i­ble Man 04/13/17 as well as the
    Atlantic’s Rosie Gray The Man McMas­ter Could­n’t Fire 07/23/17.

    At DIA Cohen-Wat­nick met rene­gade army gen­er­al and Qanon fanat­ic Michael Fly­nn who brought him over to Trump’s White House where he
    net­worked with fel­low trav­ellers Steve Ban­non and Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka. Hey what’s a nice boy doing with so many fas­cists? And most sig­nif­i­cant­ly
    E C‑W became the NSC’s Senior Direc­tor for Intel­li­gence Pro­grams where he held a TOP SECURITY CLEARANCE and gave brief­in­gs to both
    Trump and Pence on nation­al secu­ri­ty issues. Old­er men seem to love the kid as Trump moved him into his cur­rent posi­tion as under­sec­re­tary
    of intel­li­gence at the Pen­ta­gon In Novem­ber. His boy­hood dream of becom­ing a spy has real­ly paid off hand­some­ly. But who’s he real­ly work­ing
    for Dave? A top secu­ri­ty clear­ance could come in real­ly handy if you want­ed, for instance, to pass on a map of offices in the Capi­tol build­ings
    to nazi maga thugs seek­ing to hunt down and exe­cute politi­cians they despise. Does he report to Trump or does Trump report to Cohen-Wat­nick? He’s only 34 and he’s been a deep covert offi­cer inside all the alpha­bet intel­li­gence agen­cies already.

    US rep from Wash­ing­ton state Prami­la Jaya­pal and the new House Major­i­ty Demo­c­ra­t­ic Whip James Clyburn believe there was “inside help”
    enabling the psy­chot­ic mob to quick­ly find the offices of Nan­cy Pelosi, Clyburn and oth­ers. I seri­ous­ly think they’re onto some­thing pret­ty
    big.

    Next time I’ll give a short pro­file of Ezra Cohen-Wat­nick­’s good pal Michael Ellis ONI Reserve and cur­rent­ly the new gen­er­al coun­sel of the
    NSA. Appar­ent­ly nei­ther of these guys enjoy being pho­tographed. Won­der why? Quite the nest of spies await­ing the Biden admin­is­tra­tion.

    Posted by Dennis | January 9, 2021, 8:44 pm
  26. When the likes of for­mer GOP gov­er­nor of Cal­i­for­nia Arnold Schwarzeneg­ger com­pares the Jan­u­ary 6 fas­cist riot in DC to that pre­lude to the
    Holo­caust known as Kristall­nacht you can’t help but won­der what dis­as­ter is com­ing next to the USA. I mean Arnie ought to know right ? ( see
    FTR #420 and #421 among many oth­er shows Dave Emory pro­duced on ex-gov­er­nor Conan).

    When the Army Times offers a head­line “Army PSYOP offi­cer resigned com­mis­sion pri­or to lead­ing group to DC protests” you can’t help but
    won­der what dis­as­ter is next. This is a ref­er­ence to 30 year old Cap­tain Emi­ly Rainey an army psy­cho­log­i­cal oper­a­tions offi­cer who was still on
    active duty when she par­tic­i­pat­ed as one of the insur­gents, keep­ing in mind anoth­er riot­er, air force vet­er­an Ash­li Bab­bitt, was killed by Capi­tol
    police while par­tic­i­pat­ing in the putsch.

    I’ve spec­u­lat­ed that at least two GOP intel­li­gence oper­a­tives with ONI back­grounds and now sta­tioned at DOD in the Pen­ta­gon and NSA may be
    stay behind-Glad­io spy/saboteurs run­ning clean up oper­a­tions to san­i­tize Trump admin­is­tra­tion mis­deeds. They may also bear some respon­si­bil­i­ty for block­ing mobi­liza­tion of Nation­al Guard troops and oth­er fed­er­al agents from respond­ing in a time­ly man­ner to the orga­nized
    muti­nous mob in Wash­ing­ton. And now the Pen­ta­gon may be try­ing to scape­goat Capi­tol Police and throw that agency under the bus.
    Newsweek has quot­ed Pen­ta­gon spokesman Jonathan Rath Hoff­man as say­ing “We don’t do domes­tic intel­li­gence col­lec­tion. We rely on Capi­tol
    police and law enforce­ment to pro­vide an assess­ment of the sit­u­a­tion. And based on that assess­ment that they had, they believed they had
    suf­fi­cient per­son­nel and did not make a request”. The pen­ta­gon sure as hell did a lot of domes­tic intel­li­gence col­lec­tion lead­ing up to the assas­si­na­tion of Mar­tin Luther King in 1968. Who autho­rized spokesman Hoff­man to make this state­ment? Might it be the 32 year old gen­er­al
    coun­sel for the NSA Michael Ellis? The Trump White House aggres­sive­ly lob­bied for Ellis to take over that posi­tion in Novem­ber.

    Michael Ellis, like fel­low staffer Ezra Cohen-Wat­nick is a young Office of Naval Intel­li­gence reserve offi­cer (ONI). His wife is an air force cap­tain
    who spe­cial­izes in emer­gency med­i­cine. Ear­li­er this year Ellis was appoint­ed Senior Direc­tor for Intel­li­gence at the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil (NSC). At 32 years of age how is some­one a “senior any­thing?” Like Cohen-Wat­nick he’s been on a fast track and and has moved around a lot
    of nation­al secu­ri­ty agen­cies dur­ing Trump’s one term in office start­ing out as chief coun­sel to Rep. Devin Nunes and Repub­li­can Major­i­ty on the
    US House Per­ma­nent Select Com­mit­tee on Intel­li­gence.

    Ellis then served as Senior Asso­ciate Coun­sel to the pres­i­dent and Deputy Legal Advi­sor to the NSC. After Trump lost the elec­tion Michael Ellis
    was installed as gen­er­al coun­sel to the NSA. Why after the elec­tion? Was this a pre-emp­tive move ahead of the neo-con­fed­er­ate assault on
    Wash­ing­ton in order to vac­u­um up intel­li­gence that, as an almost cer­tain­ty, was gath­ered by NSA in some raw form indi­cat­ing an orga­nized plot
    was gath­er­ing dead­ly momen­tum?

    On March 29 2017 the New York Times report­ed that Michael Ellis and Ezra Cohen-Wat­nick were involved in the leak­ing of intel­li­gence doc­u­ments to Devin Nunes chair­man of the House Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee. Curi­ous what addi­tion­al intel­li­gence these two pow­er­ful ONI reserve
    offi­cers might have acquired, delet­ed or passed on to malev­o­lent fas­cist con­spir­a­tors, some of which may hail (or “heil”) from the US mil­i­tary
    and oth­er nation­al secu­ri­ty and law enforce­ment agen­cies.

    Posted by Dennis | January 11, 2021, 4:26 pm
  27. Retired Army Gen. Stan­ley McChrys­tal, the for­mer head of Joint Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Com­mand in Iraq and the com­man­der of all U.S. and allied troops fight­ing the Tal­iban and al-Qae­da in Afghanistan, shared some thoughts recent­ly on the impli­ca­tion of the Jan­u­ary 6 insur­rec­tion at the Capi­tol. Thoughts about the dis­turb­ing num­ber of par­al­lels McChrys­tal is see­ing between the dynam­ics that fuels the cre­ation of ter­ror­ist groups like al Qae­da and the rad­i­cal­iza­tion tak­ing place with­in Pres­i­dent Trump’s fol­low­ing. As McCrys­tal put it, “I did see a sim­i­lar dynam­ic in the evo­lu­tion of al-Qai­da in Iraq, where a whole gen­er­a­tion of angry Arab youth with very poor prospects fol­lowed a pow­er­ful leader who promised to take them back in time to a bet­ter place, and he led them to embrace an ide­ol­o­gy that jus­ti­fied their vio­lence. This is now hap­pen­ing in Amer­i­ca.” In oth­er words, Don­ald Trump is Amer­i­ca’s Osama bin Laden. That’s McCrys­tal’s inter­pre­ta­tion of the events unfold­ing. We aren’t see­ing the last gasp of Trump­ism. We’re see­ing the birth a new insur­gency:

    Yahoo! News

    Attack on Capi­tol was the begin­ning of an Amer­i­can insur­gency, coun­tert­er­ror­ism experts warn

    James Kitfield·Contributor
    Sat, Jan­u­ary 16, 2021, 4:00 AM

    After ran­sack­ing the U.S. Capi­tol and threat­en­ing the lives of mem­bers of Con­gress on Jan. 6, they walked down the building’s broad steps unmo­lest­ed and into the mythol­o­gy of right-wing extrem­ism. Many wore shirts iden­ti­fy­ing them as acolytes of QAnon, rid­ers in “the Storm” who believe the fever-dream con­spir­a­cy that they are foot sol­diers in a war against Satan-wor­ship­ping pedophiles in the government’s “deep state” bureau­cra­cy. There were also neo-Nazis and anti-Semi­tes in the over­whelm­ing­ly white crowd, includ­ing a man wear­ing a “Camp Auschwitz” sweat­shirt. Racists ral­lied to the Con­fed­er­ate flag of rebel­lion that some of the insur­rec­tion­ists waved in the halls of Con­gress.

    With Pres­i­dent Trump only days away from an uncer­e­mo­ni­ous depar­ture from the White House, the vision of a mob des­e­crat­ing the citadel of democ­ra­cy felt for many observers like the end of a shame­ful peri­od of norm break­ing and tra­di­tion smash­ing. But for coun­tert­er­ror­ism experts who have spent the two decades since the 9/11 ter­ror­ist attacks close­ly study­ing and fight­ing vio­lent extrem­ist groups over­seas, the spec­ta­cle looked like some­thing alto­geth­er dif­fer­ent: the like­ly birthing of a vio­lent Amer­i­can insur­gency.

    Retired Army Gen. Stan­ley McChrys­tal was for­mer­ly the head of Joint Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Com­mand in Iraq and the com­man­der of all U.S. and allied troops fight­ing the Tal­iban and al-Qai­da in Afghanistan. “I did see a sim­i­lar dynam­ic in the evo­lu­tion of al-Qai­da in Iraq, where a whole gen­er­a­tion of angry Arab youth with very poor prospects fol­lowed a pow­er­ful leader who promised to take them back in time to a bet­ter place, and he led them to embrace an ide­ol­o­gy that jus­ti­fied their vio­lence. This is now hap­pen­ing in Amer­i­ca,” McChrys­tal told Yahoo News.

    A rad­i­cal group of cit­i­zens have adopt­ed a very hard-line view of the coun­try, he not­ed, that echoes the Lost Cause nar­ra­tive that took root in the old South after the Civ­il War. “Only Pres­i­dent Trump has updat­ed Lost Cause with his ‘Stop the Steal’ nar­ra­tive that they lost because of a stolen elec­tion, and that is the only thing hold­ing these peo­ple down and stop­ping them from assum­ing their right­ful place in soci­ety,” McChrys­tal said. “That gives them legit­i­ma­cy to become even more rad­i­cal. I think we’re much fur­ther along in this rad­i­cal­iza­tion process, and fac­ing a much deep­er prob­lem as a coun­try, than most Amer­i­cans real­ize.”

    Coun­tert­er­ror­ism offi­cials and experts who have close­ly exam­ined how vio­lent extrem­ist move­ments arise out of unsta­ble soci­eties abroad have detect­ed recur­ring pat­terns. The move­ments typ­i­cal­ly begin with small groups oper­at­ing inde­pen­dent­ly. Over time, they form con­nec­tions with oth­er like-mind­ed groups through secret com­mu­ni­ca­tions. This is a hall­mark in the gen­e­sis of most ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions.

    As they devel­op a coher­ent nar­ra­tive and uni­fy­ing ide­ol­o­gy, extrem­ist move­ments and lead­ers increas­ing­ly come out of the shad­ows and com­mu­ni­cate over open forums in an effort to recruit and rad­i­cal­ize a wider fol­low­ing. A prime exam­ple is Anwar al-Awla­ki, the Amer­i­can-born cler­ic and leader of al-Qai­da in the Ara­bi­an Penin­su­la, who indoc­tri­nat­ed a whole gen­er­a­tion of Eng­lish-speak­ing jihadis, and whose ser­mons still attract tens of thou­sands of hits on YouTube a decade after his death in a U.S. drone strike in 2011.

    Extrem­ist move­ments also aggres­sive­ly recruit from law enforce­ment and mil­i­tary com­mu­ni­ties to devel­op their hard pow­er, a com­mon tac­tic per­fect­ed by the Islam­ic State, whose close alliance with dis­af­fect­ed Baathist mil­i­tary offi­cers enabled it to launch a mil­i­tary-style jug­ger­naut in 2014 that cap­tured a third of Iraq and Syr­ia for its Islamist “caliphate.”

    The par­tic­i­pa­tion of for­mer mil­i­tary mem­bers in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capi­tol was revealed in the past week with the arrest of retired Air Force Lt. Col. Lar­ry Ren­dall Brock Jr., who was pho­tographed wear­ing mil­i­tary-style tac­ti­cal gear and bran­dish­ing zip-tie hand­cuffs inside the Capi­tol, and by the death of mil­i­tary vet­er­an Ash­li Bab­bitt, who was shot by police dur­ing the melee. The U.S. Army is report­ed­ly inves­ti­gat­ing 25 peo­ple who par­tic­i­pat­ed in the attempt­ed putsch, some of whom may be active-duty mil­i­tary. Mean­while, two off-duty Vir­ginia police offi­cers, Jacob Frack­er and Thomas Robert­son of the Rocky Mount Police Depart­ment, were also arrest­ed on charges of ille­gal­ly storm­ing the Capi­tol.

    Extrem­ist move­ments com­mon­ly reach out to like-mind­ed ter­ror­ist groups in oth­er coun­tries, form­ing loose net­works for the shar­ing of strate­gies and lessons-learned in a con­tin­u­ous feed­back loop. That net­work build­ing was the hall­mark of al-Qai­da and its many glob­al affil­i­ates and fran­chis­es.

    Sim­i­lar­ly, coun­tert­er­ror­ism experts say a num­ber of the white suprema­cist groups who took part in the Jan. 6 riot at the Capi­tol have reached out and formed link­ages with white nation­al­ist coun­ter­parts in Ger­many, Cana­da, Nor­way and Rus­sia. “I worked with the State Depart­ment to des­ig­nate as ter­ror­ists an extreme white suprema­cist group in Rus­sia that has many ties to U.S.-based groups,” said Ali Soufan, a for­mer FBI super­vi­so­ry spe­cial agent and coun­tert­er­ror­ism expert who led some of the high­est-pro­file inves­ti­ga­tions of al-Qai­da attacks, speak­ing on Thurs­day to reporters. He not­ed that a Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil strat­e­gy doc­u­ment iden­ti­fied the Nordic Front, a neo-Nazi group spread­ing through­out Nordic coun­tries, as a threat to the Unit­ed States. “If the Nordic Front is a threat to the U.S., that means they have some con­nec­tion to activ­i­ties here. There are also [right-wing] extrem­ist groups in Cana­da des­ig­nat­ed as ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions by our ‘Five Eyes’ allies, but they still oper­ate with impuni­ty here in the Unit­ed States. That has to stop.”

    His­to­ry also shows that when extrem­ist move­ments coa­lesce around a charis­mat­ic leader who focus­es their anger and ampli­fies their nar­ra­tive, a tip­ping point is reached where extreme rhetoric is often turned into vio­lent action. Beyond that tip­ping point, the vio­lence tends to esca­late unless the extrem­ist move­ment and its lead­er­ship are con­vinc­ing­ly defeat­ed and their nar­ra­tive and ide­ol­o­gy wide­ly reject­ed.

    Even in the after­math of Trump’s incite­ment of a vio­lent insur­rec­tion, how­ev­er, a new Wash­ing­ton Post-ABC News poll showed that a major­i­ty of Repub­li­cans believe that he bears no respon­si­bil­i­ty for the ran­sack­ing of the Capi­tol (56 per­cent); that there is sol­id evi­dence of fraud in the Novem­ber elec­tion (66 per­cent); and that he act­ed respon­si­bly after the elec­tion (65 per­cent). To this day Trump has refused to con­cede the elec­tion to Joe Biden, and he con­tin­ues to pro­mote the poi­so­nous false­hood that he won in a “land­slide” and that the elec­tion was stolen.

    What most wor­ries coun­tert­er­ror­ism experts is that the col­lec­tive that mobi­lized the vio­lent mob respon­si­ble for sack­ing the Capi­tol last week has checked all those box­es, and fits the pat­tern that cre­at­ed oth­er endur­ing vio­lent extrem­ist move­ments.

    “Osama bin Laden’s major con­tri­bu­tion to the ter­ror­ist pan­theon was to cre­ate a mythol­o­gy around the nar­ra­tive that a band of Arab fight­ers defeat­ed the Sovi­et super­pow­er in Afghanistan in the 1980s, and he used that mythol­o­gy to bring togeth­er a lot of dis­parate ter­ror­ist groups from all over the world under the sin­gle ban­ner of al-Qai­da, giv­ing them cohe­sion and an orga­ni­za­tion­al struc­ture,” said Bri­an Michael Jenk­ins, a senior advis­er to the pres­i­dent of the RAND Cor­po­ra­tion and author of numer­ous books, reports and arti­cles on ter­ror­ism. “Sim­i­lar­ly, the peo­ple behind Jan. 6, 2021, mobi­lized right-wing extrem­ists of every stripe — white suprema­cists, neo-Nazis, QAnon, anti-Semi­tes, antigov­ern­ment mili­tias, xeno­phobes, anti-fem­i­nists — and brought them togeth­er as a move­ment in what amount­ed to a Wood­stock fes­ti­val for extrem­ists. And now the ‘Bat­tle of Capi­tol Hill’ has become sym­bol­i­cal­ly impor­tant and cen­tral to right-wing mythol­o­gy, and it will lead to more orga­niz­ing and esca­lat­ing threats from this move­ment, which we’re already see­ing.”

    ...

    “What the nation wit­nessed last week was a sur­gi­cal strike at the heart of our democ­ra­cy, and it was meant to empow­er a move­ment that will lead to the melt­ing of the foun­da­tion of our repub­lic,” said Soufan. In con­gres­sion­al tes­ti­mo­ny near­ly two years ago, Soufan warned that the right-wing move­ment in Amer­i­ca was already rough­ly where jiha­di ter­ror­ists were in the 1980s and 1990s in terms of its devel­op­ment and increas­ing sophis­ti­ca­tion. “The right-wing move­ment is also tak­ing advan­tage and feed­ing off the par­ti­san polit­i­cal divi­sions in this coun­try. So the first thing we need is a unit­ed approach to rec­og­nize the threat, and sum­mon the polit­i­cal will need­ed for law enforce­ment to dis­man­tle these net­works.”

    In try­ing to reduce the social media accel­er­ant to the extrem­ism on dis­play last week, Twit­ter has tak­en down no few­er than 70,000 accounts asso­ci­at­ed with just the QAnon con­spir­a­cy mon­gers, one node in the extrem­ist movement’s grow­ing net­work. The social media com­pa­ny has also per­ma­nent­ly sus­pend­ed Trump’s account, depriv­ing the pres­i­dent of his favored com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nel with more than 88 mil­lion fol­low­ers.

    “Whether you believe Pres­i­dent Trump intend­ed to or not, the mes­sage that he has con­sis­tent­ly com­mu­ni­cat­ed to these extrem­ist groups has been a ‘green light,’” said Bruce Hoff­man, a senior fel­low for coun­tert­er­ror­ism and home­land secu­ri­ty at the Coun­cil on For­eign Rela­tions. That’s how torch-bear­ing neo-Nazis and white suprema­cists inter­pret­ed Trump’s com­ment that there were “very fine peo­ple on both sides” of their 2017 protest in Char­lottesville, Va., he not­ed, and how the Proud Boys white nation­al­ist mili­tia heard his call to “stand back and stand by” dur­ing a pres­i­den­tial debate.

    “The entire move­ment read Trump’s tweet — ‘Big protest in D.C. on Jan­u­ary 6th. Be there, will be wild!’ — as anoth­er green light, which Trump flashed again on the Ellipse when he told the crowd of sup­port­ers that ‘if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a coun­try any­more,’” said Hoff­man. “With these con­stant green lights, Trump has unleashed very pow­er­ful forces that he nor any­one else can con­trol. In that sense, what hap­pened in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., on Jan. 6 was a begin­ning, not an end. In the minds of Trump’s hard-core sup­port­ers it was the begin­ning of a rev­o­lu­tion.”

    McChrys­tal has thought long and hard about what hap­pens to this extrem­ist move­ment when its leader exits cen­ter stage, and for the near and mid­dle term he sees the poten­tial for great per­il to the coun­try. “As this extrem­ist move­ment comes under increas­ing pres­sure from law enforce­ment in the com­ing days and weeks, its mem­bers will like­ly retreat into tighter and tighter cells for secu­ri­ty, and that will make them more pro­fes­sion­al, and those cells will become echo cham­bers that incu­bate even more rad­i­cal think­ing along the lines of armed insur­rec­tion,” he said. “So even if Trump exits the scene, the rad­i­cal move­ment he helped cre­ate has its own momen­tum and cohe­sion now, and they may find they don’t need Trump any­more. They can just wait for anoth­er charis­mat­ic leader to appear. So the fab­ric of some­thing very dan­ger­ous has been woven, and it’s fur­ther along than most Amer­i­cans care to admit.”

    ————-

    “Attack on Capi­tol was the begin­ning of an Amer­i­can insur­gency, coun­tert­er­ror­ism experts warn” by James Kit­field; Yahoo! News; 01/16/2021

    “With Pres­i­dent Trump only days away from an uncer­e­mo­ni­ous depar­ture from the White House, the vision of a mob des­e­crat­ing the citadel of democ­ra­cy felt for many observers like the end of a shame­ful peri­od of norm break­ing and tra­di­tion smash­ing. But for coun­tert­er­ror­ism experts who have spent the two decades since the 9/11 ter­ror­ist attacks close­ly study­ing and fight­ing vio­lent extrem­ist groups over­seas, the spec­ta­cle looked like some­thing alto­geth­er dif­fer­ent: the like­ly birthing of a vio­lent Amer­i­can insur­gency.

    This isn’t over. In fact it’s just get­ting start­ed. And as the crack­down on the insur­rec­tion­ists plays out, and more and more of these groups retreat to tighter and tighter cells for secu­ri­ty pur­pos­es, they’ll inevitably get even more rad­i­cal­ized. That’s how one of the lead­ing counter-insur­gency experts sees the sit­u­a­tion, with Trump play­ing the role of the charis­mat­ic leader promis­ing to take his fol­low­ers back in time to a bet­ter place:

    ...
    Retired Army Gen. Stan­ley McChrys­tal was for­mer­ly the head of Joint Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Com­mand in Iraq and the com­man­der of all U.S. and allied troops fight­ing the Tal­iban and al-Qai­da in Afghanistan. “I did see a sim­i­lar dynam­ic in the evo­lu­tion of al-Qai­da in Iraq, where a whole gen­er­a­tion of angry Arab youth with very poor prospects fol­lowed a pow­er­ful leader who promised to take them back in time to a bet­ter place, and he led them to embrace an ide­ol­o­gy that jus­ti­fied their vio­lence. This is now hap­pen­ing in Amer­i­ca,” McChrys­tal told Yahoo News.

    A rad­i­cal group of cit­i­zens have adopt­ed a very hard-line view of the coun­try, he not­ed, that echoes the Lost Cause nar­ra­tive that took root in the old South after the Civ­il War. “Only Pres­i­dent Trump has updat­ed Lost Cause with his ‘Stop the Steal’ nar­ra­tive that they lost because of a stolen elec­tion, and that is the only thing hold­ing these peo­ple down and stop­ping them from assum­ing their right­ful place in soci­ety,” McChrys­tal said. “That gives them legit­i­ma­cy to become even more rad­i­cal. I think we’re much fur­ther along in this rad­i­cal­iza­tion process, and fac­ing a much deep­er prob­lem as a coun­try, than most Amer­i­cans real­ize.”

    ...

    McChrys­tal has thought long and hard about what hap­pens to this extrem­ist move­ment when its leader exits cen­ter stage, and for the near and mid­dle term he sees the poten­tial for great per­il to the coun­try. As this extrem­ist move­ment comes under increas­ing pres­sure from law enforce­ment in the com­ing days and weeks, its mem­bers will like­ly retreat into tighter and tighter cells for secu­ri­ty, and that will make them more pro­fes­sion­al, and those cells will become echo cham­bers that incu­bate even more rad­i­cal think­ing along the lines of armed insur­rec­tion,” he said. “So even if Trump exits the scene, the rad­i­cal move­ment he helped cre­ate has its own momen­tum and cohe­sion now, and they may find they don’t need Trump any­more. They can just wait for anoth­er charis­mat­ic leader to appear. So the fab­ric of some­thing very dan­ger­ous has been woven, and it’s fur­ther along than most Amer­i­cans care to admit.”
    ...

    Then there’s the expec­ta­tion of increas­ing inter­na­tion­al links being formed with oth­er extrem­ist groups around the world. Are we in store for not just more domes­tic ter­ror but also a growth in inter­na­tion­al far right ter­ror­ism in the US? Based on the lessons from jihadism, yes, that’s what we should expect. Dis­af­fect­ed Trump­ists are going to be increas­ing­ly net­work­ing with their for­eign far right coun­ter­parts:

    ...
    Extrem­ist move­ments com­mon­ly reach out to like-mind­ed ter­ror­ist groups in oth­er coun­tries, form­ing loose net­works for the shar­ing of strate­gies and lessons-learned in a con­tin­u­ous feed­back loop. That net­work build­ing was the hall­mark of al-Qai­da and its many glob­al affil­i­ates and fran­chis­es.

    Sim­i­lar­ly, coun­tert­er­ror­ism experts say a num­ber of the white suprema­cist groups who took part in the Jan. 6 riot at the Capi­tol have reached out and formed link­ages with white nation­al­ist coun­ter­parts in Ger­many, Cana­da, Nor­way and Rus­sia. “I worked with the State Depart­ment to des­ig­nate as ter­ror­ists an extreme white suprema­cist group in Rus­sia that has many ties to U.S.-based groups,” said Ali Soufan, a for­mer FBI super­vi­so­ry spe­cial agent and coun­tert­er­ror­ism expert who led some of the high­est-pro­file inves­ti­ga­tions of al-Qai­da attacks, speak­ing on Thurs­day to reporters. He not­ed that a Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil strat­e­gy doc­u­ment iden­ti­fied the Nordic Front, a neo-Nazi group spread­ing through­out Nordic coun­tries, as a threat to the Unit­ed States. “If the Nordic Front is a threat to the U.S., that means they have some con­nec­tion to activ­i­ties here. There are also [right-wing] extrem­ist groups in Cana­da des­ig­nat­ed as ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions by our ‘Five Eyes’ allies, but they still oper­ate with impuni­ty here in the Unit­ed States. That has to stop.”
    ...

    But per­haps the most dis­turb­ing part of McChrys­tal’s warn­ing is that once these move­ments cross a tip­ping point the vio­lence tends to esca­late unless the extrem­ist move­ment and its lead­er­ship are con­vinc­ing­ly defeat­ed and their nar­ra­tive and ide­ol­o­gy wide­ly reject­ed:

    ...
    His­to­ry also shows that when extrem­ist move­ments coa­lesce around a charis­mat­ic leader who focus­es their anger and ampli­fies their nar­ra­tive, a tip­ping point is reached where extreme rhetoric is often turned into vio­lent action. Beyond that tip­ping point, the vio­lence tends to esca­late unless the extrem­ist move­ment and its lead­er­ship are con­vinc­ing­ly defeat­ed and their nar­ra­tive and ide­ol­o­gy wide­ly reject­ed.
    ...

    So unless Trump him­self is some­how wide­ly reject­ed, the con­di­tions for grow­ing extrem­ism and vio­lence will con­tin­ue. It does­n’t bode well:

    NBC News

    Trump approval remains sta­ble in new NBC poll, with Repub­li­cans unmoved after Capi­tol vio­lence
    Eighty-sev­en per­cent of Repub­li­cans approve of how Trump is doing his job in a new NBC News poll, but half of all vot­ers say he is “def­i­nite­ly worse than most” pres­i­dents.

    By Car­rie Dann
    Jan. 17, 2021, 8:00 AM CST

    WASHINGTON — Don­ald Trump is the only pres­i­dent in his­to­ry to be impeached twice — this time for his role in encour­ag­ing a dead­ly assault on the Capi­tol by his sup­port­ers — but he is poised to leave office with a job approval rat­ing that is fair­ly typ­i­cal of his entire time in office.

    A new NBC News poll found that 43 per­cent of vot­ers nation­wide gave Trump a pos­i­tive job approval rat­ing, just bare­ly down from 45 per­cent who said the same before the Novem­ber elec­tion and the 44 per­cent who approved of his per­for­mance short­ly after he took office in 2017.

    The same poll found that 35 per­cent of vot­ers — includ­ing 74 per­cent of Repub­li­cans but just 30 per­cent of inde­pen­dents and 3 per­cent of Democ­rats — believe Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Biden did not win the elec­tion legit­i­mate­ly.

    Six­ty-one per­cent of all vot­ers — but just 21 per­cent of Repub­li­cans — say Biden did win legit­i­mate­ly.

    While a record 10 House Repub­li­cans broke ranks to vote for Trump’s impeach­ment last week, his approval rat­ing among Repub­li­cans shows few signs that GOP vot­ers are wide­ly dis­il­lu­sioned with him.

    Almost 9 in 10 Repub­li­cans — 87 per­cent — give Trump a thumbs-up, com­pared with 89 per­cent who said the same before the Novem­ber elec­tion.

    And even for the half of Repub­li­cans who say they pri­or­i­tize the GOP in gen­er­al over alle­giance to Trump, his high approval remains unmoved by recent events.

    Among Repub­li­cans who say their pri­ma­ry loy­al­ty is to Trump over the par­ty, 98 per­cent approve of his per­for­mance. For those who say they pri­or­i­tize the par­ty over the pres­i­dent, his approval still stands at 81 per­cent — vir­tu­al­ly unchanged from Octo­ber. (The find­ings con­trast with some oth­er recent nation­al polls show­ing Trump’s job rat­ing low­er. Unlike oth­er sur­veys that sam­pled all U.S. adults, NBC News’ poll sur­veyed reg­is­tered vot­ers.)

    In the NBC News sur­vey, near­ly a third of GOP vot­ers sur­veyed — 28 per­cent — said Trump’s words and actions relat­ed to the vio­lence at the Capi­tol rein­forced their vote for Trump.

    Just 5 per­cent said they now regret­ted their sup­port for him, and two-thirds — 66 per­cent — said their feel­ings had not changed.

    While 52 per­cent of vot­ers over­all say Trump is sole­ly or main­ly respon­si­ble for the protests that led to riot­ers’ over­tak­ing the Capi­tol, includ­ing 91 per­cent of Democ­rats and 44 per­cent of inde­pen­dents, just 11 per­cent of Repub­li­cans agree. (About half of Repub­li­cans, how­ev­er, place respon­si­bil­i­ty on “social media com­pa­nies” and “Antifa.”)

    “While a few Repub­li­can elect­ed offi­cials have bro­ken with Trump, Repub­li­can vot­ers are stick­ing with him for now,” said Demo­c­ra­t­ic poll­ster Jeff Hor­witt of Hart Research, who con­duct­ed the poll with Repub­li­can poll­ster Bill McIn­turff of Pub­lic Opin­ion Strate­gies. “As we’ve seen over the course of his term, major event after major event does lit­tle to shake Trump’s stand­ing with Repub­li­cans.”

    Trump’s stand­ing among those out­side the GOP remains sim­i­lar­ly unchanged. He gets a pos­i­tive job assess­ment from 44 per­cent of inde­pen­dents and just 5 per­cent of Democ­rats in the lat­est poll, shares that are also near­ly iden­ti­cal to those in pre-elec­tion sur­veys.

    Pre­vi­ous NBC News polling has, indeed, found Trump’s approval among vot­ers to be remark­ably sta­ble despite his tumul­tuous pres­i­den­cy, fluc­tu­at­ing only between a high of 47 per­cent and a low of 38 per­cent.

    The lat­ter rat­ing came in late 2017, after Trump was wide­ly crit­i­cized for his response to vio­lence after a gath­er­ing of white suprema­cists in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia.

    Half of vot­ers call Trump ‘worst than most’ pres­i­dents

    About half of the elec­torate — 49 per­cent of vot­ers — ranks Trump as “def­i­nite­ly worse than most” pres­i­dents, a share recent­ly rivaled only by the 48 per­cent who said the same of the depart­ing Pres­i­dent George W. Bush in late 2008.

    An addi­tion­al 9 per­cent say Trump is “not as good as most.”

    Forty per­cent of vot­ers rank Trump as either “one of the very best” pres­i­dents (19 per­cent) or “bet­ter than most” (21 per­cent). That’s sig­nif­i­cant­ly low­er than majori­ties who gave above-aver­age reviews to Bill Clin­ton (56 per­cent) or Barack Oba­ma (55 per­cent) when they left office.

    But Trump’s luke­warm review still dou­bles the 20 per­cent of vot­ers who gave Bush an above-aver­age rank­ing when he depart­ed the White House in 2009.

    Trump’s lega­cy, like views of his per­for­mance through­out his pres­i­den­cy, is defined by hard par­ti­san lines.

    Those view­ing his pres­i­den­cy as “bet­ter than most” or “one of the best” include 82 per­cent of Repub­li­cans but just 40 per­cent of inde­pen­dents and just 4 per­cent of Democ­rats.

    When Oba­ma and Clin­ton exit­ed office while enjoy­ing rel­a­tive­ly high approval rat­ings, a high­er share of those in the oppo­site par­ty — 20 per­cent and 27 per­cent of Repub­li­cans, respec­tive­ly — ranked their pres­i­den­cies as above aver­age.

    ...

    ———–

    “Trump approval remains sta­ble in new NBC poll, with Repub­li­cans unmoved after Capi­tol vio­lence” by Car­rie Dann; NBC News; 01/17/2021

    “Almost 9 in 10 Repub­li­cans — 87 per­cent — give Trump a thumbs-up, com­pared with 89 per­cent who said the same before the Novem­ber elec­tion.”

    Almost 9 in 10 Repub­li­cans gave Trump a thumbs-up after the storm­ing of the Capi­tol. That includes over 8 in 10 of the Repub­li­cans who told poll­sters that they pri­or­i­tize the Repub­li­can Par­ty over alle­giance to Trump. Only 21 per­cent of Repub­li­cans said Biden won legit­i­mate­ly and about half of Repub­li­cans blamed “social media” and “Antifa” for the insur­rec­tion. That’s the col­lec­tive head­space of the move­ment Gen­er­al McChrys­tal has iden­ti­fied as birthing a new Amer­i­can al Qae­da. A move­ment that will only stop grow­ing once it los­es faith in its lead­er­ship:

    ...
    The same poll found that 35 per­cent of vot­ers — includ­ing 74 per­cent of Repub­li­cans but just 30 per­cent of inde­pen­dents and 3 per­cent of Democ­rats — believe Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Biden did not win the elec­tion legit­i­mate­ly.

    Six­ty-one per­cent of all vot­ers — but just 21 per­cent of Repub­li­cans — say Biden did win legit­i­mate­ly.

    ...

    And even for the half of Repub­li­cans who say they pri­or­i­tize the GOP in gen­er­al over alle­giance to Trump, his high approval remains unmoved by recent events.

    Among Repub­li­cans who say their pri­ma­ry loy­al­ty is to Trump over the par­ty, 98 per­cent approve of his per­for­mance. For those who say they pri­or­i­tize the par­ty over the pres­i­dent, his approval still stands at 81 per­cent — vir­tu­al­ly unchanged from Octo­ber. (The find­ings con­trast with some oth­er recent nation­al polls show­ing Trump’s job rat­ing low­er. Unlike oth­er sur­veys that sam­pled all U.S. adults, NBC News’ poll sur­veyed reg­is­tered vot­ers.)

    In the NBC News sur­vey, near­ly a third of GOP vot­ers sur­veyed — 28 per­cent — said Trump’s words and actions relat­ed to the vio­lence at the Capi­tol rein­forced their vote for Trump.

    Just 5 per­cent said they now regret­ted their sup­port for him, and two-thirds — 66 per­cent — said their feel­ings had not changed.

    While 52 per­cent of vot­ers over­all say Trump is sole­ly or main­ly respon­si­ble for the protests that led to riot­ers’ over­tak­ing the Capi­tol, includ­ing 91 per­cent of Democ­rats and 44 per­cent of inde­pen­dents, just 11 per­cent of Repub­li­cans agree. (About half of Repub­li­cans, how­ev­er, place respon­si­bil­i­ty on “social media com­pa­nies” and “Antifa.”)
    ...

    Also keep in mind that, while Trump is the cur­rent leader of this move­ment, there’s no rule that says he won’t be replaced by some­one even more charis­mat­ic. Even if Trump is even­tu­al­ly dis­cred­it­ed under the weight of crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tions or some oth­er scan­dal, or he sim­ply dies and fades away, there’s no rea­son to assume Trump­ist pol­i­tics will be fad­ing away with him. And beyond polit­i­cal lead­er­ship, there’s still the giant right-wing dis­in­fo­tain­ment Big Lie media com­plex that cre­at­ed the appetite for Trumpian Big Lie pol­i­tics to work in the first place and con­tin­ues to pump out Big Lie con­tent day after day, hour after hour. That whole media com­plex would need to be dis­cred­it­ed in the eyes of Trump’s base too, which isn’t hap­pen­ing.

    So that’s the warn­ing from Stan­ley McCrys­tal, one of Amer­i­ca’s top coun­terin­sur­gency experts. The crazi­ness will only get more crazy unless or until the insan­i­ty can some­how be dis­cred­it­ed. That’s the fun­da­men­tal chal­lenge at hand: dis­cred­it­ing insan­i­ty. Good luck with that. And that’s all why, if Jan­u­ary 6 with the last gasp of any­thing, it was the last gasp of Repub­li­can Par­ty’s inter­est in democ­ra­cy.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 18, 2021, 5:41 pm
  28. @Dennis: It looks like the instal­la­tion of Michael Ellis as the NSA’s gen­er­al coun­sel is actu­al­ly hap­pen­ing. One day before Trump leaves office. Will Ellis be more focused on delet­ing and hid­ing incrim­i­nat­ing infor­ma­tion? Or is this more about extract­ing valu­able intel­li­gence that might be of inter­est to Ellis’s many close Repub­li­can allies like Devin Nunes? We don’t know, but it’s hard to come up with a more sus­pi­cious appoint­men sce­nario than what we’re see­ing.

    And as the fol­low­ing piece notes, this isn’t going to sim­ply be a one day appoint­ment with Ellis being kicked out on Jan 20. That’s because the NSA gen­er­al coun­sel posi­tion is a civ­il ser­vice posi­tion, not a polit­i­cal role, which pro­vides Ellis some pro­tec­tions against being quick­ly replaced. So all of those ques­tions about whether or not Ellis is feed­ing intel­li­gence to his polit­i­cal patrons are going to be ques­tions about for the Biden admin­is­tra­tion:

    CNN

    Pelosi demands act­ing Pen­ta­gon chief halt his order to NSA to install Trump loy­al­ist as gen­er­al coun­sel

    By Devan Cole,
    Updat­ed 4:03 PM ET, Mon Jan­u­ary 18, 2021

    Wash­ing­ton (CNN) House Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi is demand­ing act­ing Defense Sec­re­tary Christo­pher Miller “imme­di­ate­ly cease” his plans to install a Trump loy­al­ist as the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agen­cy’s gen­er­al coun­sel, call­ing the move “high­ly sus­pect” and argu­ing it rep­re­sents a “dis­turb­ing dis­re­gard” for the coun­try’s nation­al secu­ri­ty.

    “I ask that you imme­di­ate­ly cease plans to improp­er­ly install Michael Ellis as the new NSA Gen­er­al Coun­sel,” Pelosi wrote in a let­ter to Miller on Sun­day. The Cal­i­for­nia Demo­c­rat also said she was call­ing for an probe “into the cir­cum­stances of the NSA Gen­er­al Coun­sel selec­tion process” by the depart­men­t’s act­ing inspec­tor gen­er­al.

    “The cir­cum­stances and tim­ing — imme­di­ate­ly after Pres­i­dent (Don­ald) Trump’s defeat in the elec­tion — of the selec­tion of Mr. Ellis, and this eleventh-hour effort to push this place­ment in the last three days of this Admin­is­tra­tion are high­ly sus­pect,” the let­ter read.

    “Fur­ther, the efforts to install him or ‘bur­row’ him into a high­ly sen­si­tive intel­li­gence posi­tion 72 hours pri­or to the begin­ning of a new admin­is­tra­tion man­i­fest a dis­turb­ing dis­re­gard for our nation­al secu­ri­ty. There­fore, this place­ment should not move for­ward.”

    The demand by Pelosi rep­re­sents the most sig­nif­i­cant oppo­si­tion to Ellis’ appoint­ment yet. Her let­ter came on the same day that the NSA said it was installing Ellis into the post, a move that Miller ordered NSA Direc­tor Gen. Paul Naka­sone to car­ry out.

    Ellis, who worked for Repub­li­can Rep. Devin Nunes of Cal­i­for­nia, one of Trump’s staunchest sup­port­ers, before join­ing the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil, was already fac­ing oppo­si­tion from Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sens. Mark Warn­er and Jack Reed. The two had also request­ed an inves­ti­ga­tion into the agen­cy’s selec­tion process with­in days of Ellis being picked for the job last Novem­ber.

    The agen­cy’s selec­tion of Ellis is sig­nif­i­cant because the role of gen­er­al coun­sel at the coun­try’s largest intel­li­gence agency is a civ­il ser­vice posi­tion, not a polit­i­cal role, mean­ing it could be dif­fi­cult for the Biden admin­is­tra­tion to remove Ellis.

    Pelosi, who wrote that there were “irreg­u­lar­i­ties” in the selec­tion process, not­ed in her let­ter that Ellis is “a rel­a­tive­ly recent law school grad­u­ate with a lim­it­ed resume, was select­ed due to inter­fer­ence by the White House, and was cho­sen over much more qual­i­fied can­di­dates.”

    “If Mr. Ellis did go through the tra­di­tion­al civ­il ser­vice hir­ing process, I request a detailed account of that process, to under­stand how some­one with his cre­den­tials was cho­sen over oth­er qual­i­fied can­di­dates,” Pelosi wrote.

    “The Gen­er­al Coun­sel of the Depart­ment of Defense is the sole selec­tion author­i­ty for the posi­tion of Gen­er­al Coun­sel of the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency — as well as all oth­er senior career DoD Gen­er­al Coun­sel posi­tions,” accord­ing to a Sun­day state­ment from the Depart­ment of Defense. “The Direc­tor of the NSA does not select or approve of can­di­dates for the posi­tion of the NSA Gen­er­al Coun­sel.”

    ...

    ————

    “Pelosi demands act­ing Pen­ta­gon chief halt his order to NSA to install Trump loy­al­ist as gen­er­al coun­sel” by Devan Cole; CNN; 01/18/2021

    “The agen­cy’s selec­tion of Ellis is sig­nif­i­cant because the role of gen­er­al coun­sel at the coun­try’s largest intel­li­gence agency is a civ­il ser­vice posi­tion, not a polit­i­cal role, mean­ing it could be dif­fi­cult for the Biden admin­is­tra­tion to remove Ellis.

    Is Trump going to be allowed to install a hyper-par­ti­san loy­al­ist into a pow­er­ful posi­tion they can’t be eas­i­ly removed from one day before Trump leaves office? Appar­ent­ly, yes, Trump will be allowed to do that. Even over the objec­tion NSA Direc­tor Paul Naka­sone, who is report­ed­ly so opposed to Ellis’s selec­tion that Naka­sone still had­n’t installed Ellis as of 6PM Sat­ur­day, the dead­line giv­en to Naka­sone by act­ing defense sec­re­tary Christo­pher Miller. So there’s sig­nif­i­cant insti­tu­tion­al resis­tance to this move that goes beyond the con­cerns of con­gres­sion­al Democ­rats.

    At the same time, we’re told that part of the rea­son Naka­sone is resist­ing Ellis for this posi­tion is that Naka­sone and oth­ers in the NSA a con­cerned that the White House is seek­ing to “bur­row” Ellis into the job n vio­la­tion of a long-stand­ing pol­i­cy that pre­vents embed­ding polit­i­cal per­son­nel into career civil­ian posi­tions pri­or to a change in admin­is­tra­tion. So it sounds like this appoint­ment does­n’t just look high­ly ques­tion­able but is actu­al­ly in vio­la­tion of a long-stand­ing pol­i­cy:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    Act­ing defense sec­re­tary orders NSA direc­tor to imme­di­ate­ly install for­mer GOP oper­a­tive as the agency’s top lawyer

    By Ellen Nakashima
    Jan. 16, 2021 at 7:41 p.m. CST

    Act­ing defense sec­re­tary Christo­pher C. Miller ordered the direc­tor of the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency to install on Sat­ur­day a for­mer GOP polit­i­cal oper­a­tive as the NSA’s top lawyer, accord­ing to four indi­vid­u­als famil­iar with the mat­ter.

    It is unclear what the NSA will do. The agency and the Pen­ta­gon declined to com­ment.

    In Novem­ber, Pen­ta­gon Gen­er­al Coun­sel Paul C. Ney Jr. named Michael Ellis, then a White House offi­cial, to the posi­tion of gen­er­al coun­sel at the NSA, a career civil­ian post at the government’s largest and most tech­no­log­i­cal­ly advanced spy agency, The Post report­ed. He was select­ed after a com­pet­i­tive civ­il ser­vice com­pe­ti­tion. He has not tak­en up the job, how­ev­er, as he need­ed to com­plete admin­is­tra­tive pro­ce­dures, includ­ing tak­ing a poly­graph test.

    ...

    Miller gave NSA Direc­tor Paul Naka­sone until 6 p.m. Sat­ur­day to install Ellis in the job, accord­ing to sev­er­al peo­ple who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty because of the matter’s sen­si­tiv­i­ty. The 6 p.m. dead­line passed with­out Naka­sone tak­ing action. It was unclear Sat­ur­day evening what the Pentagon’s next move would be.

    Naka­sone was not in favor of Ellis’s selec­tion and has sought to delay his instal­la­tion, accord­ing to sev­er­al peo­ple.

    Ellis’s nam­ing, made under pres­sure from the White House, drew crit­i­cism from nation­al secu­ri­ty legal experts. It “appears to be an attempt to improp­er­ly politi­cize an impor­tant career posi­tion,” wrote Susan Hen­nessey, a for­mer lawyer in the NSA Office of Gen­er­al Coun­sel, on Law­fare, where she is the exec­u­tive edi­tor.

    The move is trou­bling, com­ing as it does four days before Pres­i­dent Trump leaves office and the Biden admin­is­tra­tion takes over, for­mer U.S. offi­cials said. The move makes it more dif­fi­cult for the Biden admin­is­tra­tion to imme­di­ate­ly replace him, the for­mer offi­cials said.

    “An 11th-hour move like this and a direc­tive from the act­ing sec­re­tary of defense is over­whelm­ing­ly strong evi­dence of irreg­u­lar­i­ty,” Hen­nessey said on Sat­ur­day. “Unless the act­ing sec­re­tary of defense can pro­duce a com­pelling ratio­nale for why this indi­vid­ual need­ed to be installed now, there should be a pre­sump­tion that this is improp­er and the Biden team should remove this indi­vid­ual on Day 1.”

    There also were con­cerns about Ellis’s qual­i­fi­ca­tions for the job, accord­ing to sev­er­al peo­ple. One indi­vid­ual said that those issues includ­ed the pos­si­bil­i­ty that he was picked over can­di­dates who scored high­er dur­ing the inter­view process.

    Push­ing back against crit­ics, one U.S. offi­cial said that the two pri­or NSA gen­er­al coun­sels had ties to the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion. Glenn Ger­stell, who retired a year ago, raised $50,000 for the Oba­ma cam­paign in 2012, he said. And Gerstell’s pre­de­ces­sor, Raj De, was White House staff sec­re­tary in the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion pri­or to arriv­ing at the NSA.

    The con­cern of Naka­sone and oth­ers, cur­rent and for­mer offi­cials said, is that the White House is seek­ing to “bur­row” Ellis into the job in vio­la­tion of a long-stand­ing pol­i­cy that pre­vents embed­ding polit­i­cal per­son­nel into career civil­ian posi­tions pri­or to a change in admin­is­tra­tion.

    Naka­sone recent­ly got a ver­bal indi­ca­tion from the Office of Per­son­nel Man­age­ment that the pol­i­cy did not apply to intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty employ­ees, accord­ing to one U.S. offi­cial. On Thurs­day, he request­ed a writ­ten legal opin­ion on that point, accord­ing to two offi­cials. He has not yet received that writ­ten opin­ion, the offi­cials said.

    ...

    ————

    “Act­ing defense sec­re­tary orders NSA direc­tor to imme­di­ate­ly install for­mer GOP oper­a­tive as the agency’s top lawyer” by Ellen Nakashima; The Wash­ing­ton Post; 01/16/2021

    “The con­cern of Naka­sone and oth­ers, cur­rent and for­mer offi­cials said, is that the White House is seek­ing to “bur­row” Ellis into the job in vio­la­tion of a long-stand­ing pol­i­cy that pre­vents embed­ding polit­i­cal per­son­nel into career civil­ian posi­tions pri­or to a change in admin­is­tra­tion.”

    The instal­la­tion of Michael Ellis one day before Trump leaves office isn’t just super sleazy. It’s also against the rules. Imag­ine that. And yet the defense depart­ment clear­ly does­n’t see a prob­lem with the rules since Naka­sone was order to put Ellis in that posi­tion by 6PM Sat­ur­day, despite Ellis not tak­ing a poly­graph test as required:

    ...
    In Novem­ber, Pen­ta­gon Gen­er­al Coun­sel Paul C. Ney Jr. named Michael Ellis, then a White House offi­cial, to the posi­tion of gen­er­al coun­sel at the NSA, a career civil­ian post at the government’s largest and most tech­no­log­i­cal­ly advanced spy agency, The Post report­ed. He was select­ed after a com­pet­i­tive civ­il ser­vice com­pe­ti­tion. He has not tak­en up the job, how­ev­er, as he need­ed to com­plete admin­is­tra­tive pro­ce­dures, includ­ing tak­ing a poly­graph test.

    ...

    Miller gave NSA Direc­tor Paul Naka­sone until 6 p.m. Sat­ur­day to install Ellis in the job, accord­ing to sev­er­al peo­ple who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty because of the matter’s sen­si­tiv­i­ty. The 6 p.m. dead­line passed with­out Naka­sone tak­ing action. It was unclear Sat­ur­day evening what the Pentagon’s next move would be.

    Naka­sone was not in favor of Ellis’s selec­tion and has sought to delay his instal­la­tion, accord­ing to sev­er­al peo­ple.
    ...

    How long will Ellis last in this posi­tion? We’ll see. But it’s hard to imag­ine he isn’t going to be spend­ing each day in that posi­tion like it’s his last day. Which rais­es the grim ques­tion: if a Trump hack had exact­ly one day to be the NSA gen­er­al coun­sel, what how would they spend that day? It’s a ques­tion the Biden admin­is­tra­tion had bet­ter be ask­ing itself each day until Ellis is out of there.

    Of course, Ellis is far from the only Trump mole that’s going to be left behind. The ‘Trumpian Deep State’ isn’t just going away overnight. If Ellis real­ly is going to be feed­ing his allies valu­able infor­ma­tion he’s not only mole peo­ple need to wor­ry about. There are oth­ers who will have con­tin­ued access to high­ly sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion they prob­a­bly should­n’t have. For exam­ple...:

    Talk­ing Points Memo

    Calls Grow For Biden To Cut Off Trump’s Intel Brief­in­gs When POTUS’ Term Ends

    By Sum­mer Con­cep­cion
    Jan­u­ary 17, 2021 1:57 p.m.

    Rep. Adam Schiff (D‑CA) and Sen. Angus King (I‑ME) — who sit on the House and Sen­ate Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tees, respec­tive­ly — on Sun­day urged Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Biden to pro­hib­it out­go­ing Pres­i­dent Trump from receiv­ing intel­li­gence brief­in­gs upon becom­ing a pri­vate cit­i­zen. Schiff and King’s calls for Biden come less than a week after the House vot­ed to impeach Trump for the sec­ond time for “incite­ment of insur­rec­tion.”

    On Fri­day, for­mer Trump prin­ci­pal deputy direc­tor of nation­al intel­li­gence Sue Gor­don respond­ed to Trump’s incite­ment of the dead­ly insur­rec­tion at the Capi­tol ear­li­er this month in an op-ed pub­lished in The Wash­ing­ton Post. Gor­don wrote that Trump “might be unusu­al­ly vul­ner­a­ble to bad actors with ill intent” upon depart­ing the White House.

    “He leaves, unlike his pre­de­ces­sors who embraced the mut­ed respon­si­bil­i­ties of being a ‘for­mer,’ with a stat­ed agen­da to stay engaged in pol­i­tics and pol­i­cy,” Gor­don wrote. “No depart­ing pres­i­dent in the mod­ern era has hint­ed at or planned on becom­ing a polit­i­cal actor imme­di­ate­ly after leav­ing office.”

    Schiff, who served as the House’s impeach­ment man­ag­er when Trump was impeached last year, said he agreed with Gordon’s assess­ment dur­ing an inter­view on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sun­day.

    “There’s no cir­cum­stance in which this pres­i­dent should get anoth­er intel­li­gence brief­ing, not now, not in the future,” Schiff said. “I don’t think he can be trust­ed with it now, and in the future he cer­tain­ly can’t be trust­ed.”

    NEWS: “There’s no cir­cum­stance,” in which #Trump should receive anoth­er intel­li­gence brief­ing once he leaves office, @RepAdamSchiff tells @margbrennan, say­ing the Biden team should cut off his brief­in­gs. Ear­li­er this week, for­mer top intel offi­cial Sue Gor­don urged sim­i­lar­ly pic.twitter.com/64Do6TJyln— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) Jan­u­ary 17, 2021

    King also told CNN on Sun­day that he agrees with Gor­don as he argued that “there’s a grave dan­ger” of Trump “inad­ver­tent­ly or will­ful­ly reveal­ing clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion that would com­pro­mise sources and meth­ods.”

    “There is no upside, there is no rea­son that he needs to have this infor­ma­tion,” King said. “It’s a cour­tesy that’s been passed on from pres­i­dent to pres­i­dent, but there is no legal require­ment. And I think giv­en his past his­to­ry of being fast and loose with intel­li­gence data, it ought to be — that ought to be an easy deci­sion for the incom­ing Pres­i­dent.”

    Pres­i­dent Trump’s for­mer Deputy Direc­tor of Nation­al Intel­li­gence says Biden should cut off Trump’s intel­li­gence access once he leave office and Sen. Angus King says he agrees. “There’s a grave dan­ger of him inad­ver­tent­ly or will­ful­ly reveal­ing clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion.” pic.twitter.com/rJtFVrBhwt— CNN News­room (@CNNnewsroom) Jan­u­ary 17, 2021

    Although he didn’t pro­vide a clear answer as to whether Biden will fol­low through with calls to cut off Trump from intel­li­gence brief­in­gs when his pres­i­den­cy ends, incom­ing White House chief of staff Ron Klain didn’t rule out the pos­si­bil­i­ty dur­ing an inter­view on CNN on Sun­day.

    ...

    ———–

    “Calls Grow For Biden To Cut Off Trump’s Intel Brief­in­gs When POTUS’ Term Ends” by Sum­mer Con­cep­cion; Talk­ing Points Memo; 01/017/2021

    ““There’s no cir­cum­stance in which this pres­i­dent should get anoth­er intel­li­gence brief­ing, not now, not in the future,” Schiff said. “I don’t think he can be trust­ed with it now, and in the future he cer­tain­ly can’t be trust­ed.””

    Yes, as a for­mer pres­i­dent, Don­ald Trump gets intel­li­gence briefs for the rest of his life. At least that’s the tra­di­tion. Imag­ine how that’s going to play out, espe­cial­ly if Trump con­tin­ues to declare him­self to be the real pres­i­dent turns Mar-a-Lago into the ‘Alt White House’. What will Don­ald Trump, plan­ning on run­ning in 2024, do with the intel­li­gence brief­in­gs he’s giv­en? Does any­one seri­ous­ly expect him to just sit on this infor­ma­tion? Of course not. He’s going to be using all of the insid­er infor­ma­tion as props in his larg­er shad­ow gov­ern­ment fan­ta­sy psy­chodra­ma that’s going to be play­ing out in com­ing years. Or maybe he’ll keep qui­et about it and just sell it. Who knows. But it’s very hard to believe that infor­ma­tion isn’t going to be thor­ough­ly abused in a man­ner that is most prof­itable to Trump, whether it be polit­i­cal or finan­cial prof­it.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 19, 2021, 6:52 pm
  29. @Pterrafractyl:

    It looks like House Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi’s pub­lic indig­na­tion regard­ing the appoint­ment of Michael Ellis to the posi­tion of NSA Gen­er­al Coun­sel has result­ed in a DOD inspec­tor gen­er­al inves­ti­ga­tion that will probe the
    Ellis affair accord­ing to The Wash­ing­ton Post and CNN.

    Matt Naham, a writer at Law and Crime not­ed in a piece
    3/03/20 that Ellis worked under Karl Rove in the Office
    of Strate­gic Ini­tia­tives from March 2006 to Feb­ru­ary 2007.

    The best back­ground infor­ma­tion on Michael Ellis can be
    found in For­eign Pol­i­cy 10/23/20 by David Klion who, as
    a teenag­er, played Diplo­ma­cy at Ellis’s house. It appears Ellis deeply admired Otto von Bis­mar­ck. Maybe that’s
    what Rove found so inter­est­ing in the young ONI Reserve
    offi­cer.

    Posted by Dennis | January 21, 2021, 5:37 pm
  30. What’s to be done about all the rad­i­cal­ized Trumpers? It’s the ques­tion of the day for Amer­i­ca, punc­tu­at­ed by warn­ing issued by the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty today, the first in a year, about the ongo­ing height­ened risk of attack by far right extrem­ists embold­ened by the Jan­u­ary 6 storm­ing of the US Capi­tol. And yet it’s a ques­tion with no easy answers, espe­cial­ly when the right-wing dis­in­fo­tain­ment com­plex treats any poli­cies designed to min­i­mize far right mis­in­for­ma­tion as an attack on con­ser­v­a­tives.

    So here’s a reminder from the Bul­letin of Atom­ic Sci­en­tists that the list of things to be done about grow­ing Trump-inspired vio­lent extrem­ism includes redou­bling efforts to ensure every sin­gle nuclear facil­i­ty is ade­quate­ly secured against both out­side extrem­ist attacks and insid­er threat. It’s an increas­ing­ly urgent need in light of the fact that “accel­er­a­tionism” is grow­ing on the far right, mak­ing nuclear weapons or nuclear facil­i­ties obvi­ous major tar­gets for these move­ments. If you’re plan­ning on desta­bi­liz­ing soci­ety it’s hard to think of a more effec­tive way to do it than set­ting off a nuclear weapons or trig­ger­ing a melt­down. And if we’re going to secure nuclear weapons stock­piles and facil­i­ties against extrem­ists threats, we’re going to have to fig­ure out how to effec­tive­ly screen­ing gov­ern­ment and mil­i­tary per­son­nel with access to nuclear mate­ri­als and infor­ma­tion for far right ide­olo­gies:

    Bul­letin of Atom­ic Sci­en­tists

    A threat to con­front: far-right extrem­ists and nuclear ter­ror­ism

    By Rebec­ca L. Earn­hardt, Bren­dan Hyatt, Nick­o­las Roth | Jan­u­ary 14, 2021

    Last March, neo-Nazi Tim­o­thy Wil­son was killed dur­ing a shootout as he was plan­ning to bomb a hos­pi­tal treat­ing COVID-19 patients. Like oth­er neo-Nazis, Wil­son viewed the pan­dem­ic and increased unrest among the Amer­i­can pub­lic as an oppor­tu­ni­ty to pop­u­lar­ize Nazi ideas, spark fur­ther chaos, and accel­er­ate soci­etal col­lapse.[1] This past week, Ash­li Bab­bitt was shot and killed while storm­ing the US Capi­tol as part of a right-wing upris­ing; sev­er­al years ear­li­er, she was an employ­ee of the Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant, exhibit­ing vio­lent behav­ior dur­ing this peri­od. [2] Acts of vio­lence by far-right extrem­ists are on the rise in the Unit­ed States. Until now, most of these inci­dents have lacked sophis­ti­ca­tion, but a crit­i­cal ques­tion for nation­al secu­ri­ty experts is whether US far-right extrem­ist groups that espouse vio­lence can car­ry out some­thing cat­a­stroph­ic.

    Every pres­i­dent serv­ing in the last two decades has said that nuclear ter­ror­ism is a sig­nif­i­cant nation­al secu­ri­ty threat. Analy­sis of this threat has been, for good rea­son, most­ly focused on for­eign extrem­ist groups, but recent events raise ques­tions of whether there should be greater focus in the Unit­ed States on far-right, domes­tic extrem­ist threats. These extrem­ists rep­re­sent a unique dan­ger because of their preva­lence in fed­er­al insti­tu­tions such as the mil­i­tary and the poten­tial that they might infil­trate nuclear facil­i­ties, where they could access sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion and nuclear mate­ri­als.

    The far-right extrem­ist nuclear ter­ror­ism threat, which has some his­to­ry, is ampli­fied today by an ide­ol­o­gy focused on accel­er­at­ing the col­lapse of soci­ety and a doc­u­ment­ed inter­est in pur­su­ing nuclear ter­ror­ism. Offi­cials need to act deci­sive­ly to bet­ter under­stand and mit­i­gate this threat.

    Far-right nar­ra­tives of nuclear ter­ror. The inter­sec­tion between vio­lent far-right extrem­ist ide­ol­o­gy and cat­a­stroph­ic ter­ror­ism goes back decades. In The Turn­er Diaries, a 1978 nov­el labeled the “bible of the racist right,” the pro­tag­o­nists use acts of nuclear ter­ror in ser­vice of the cre­ation of a “white world.” Pro­tag­o­nists bomb nuclear instal­la­tions, seize nuclear weapons, tar­get mis­siles at New York City and Tel Aviv, and ulti­mate­ly destroy the Pen­ta­gon in a sui­ci­dal nuclear attack.[3] The Inter­na­tion­al Cen­tre for Coun­tert­er­ror­ism ties the Diaries to “at least 200 mur­ders and at least 40 ter­ror­ist attacks/hate crimes” in the last 40 years.[4] This includes Tim­o­thy McVeigh’s 1995 bomb­ing of the Alfred P. Mur­rah Fed­er­al Build­ing in Okla­homa City, result­ing in the deaths of 168 peo­ple.[5] McVeigh, how­ev­er, is not the only far-right ter­ror­ist to be inspired by the Diaries. In 2011, vio­lent far-right extrem­ist Anders Breivik’s ter­ror attacks killed 77 peo­ple in Nor­way. Dozens of pages in his 1,500-page “man­i­festo” dis­cuss the exe­cu­tion of dif­fer­ent acts of nuclear ter­ror­ism.[6]

    An increas­ing­ly active gen­er­a­tion of vio­lent far-right extrem­ist groups and actors have adopt­ed an espe­cial­ly dan­ger­ous ide­ol­o­gy that is com­pat­i­ble with an act of nuclear ter­ror: accel­er­a­tionism.[7] Vio­lent far-right extrem­ists who adopt accel­er­a­tionism view soci­etal col­lapse as inevitable and seek to has­ten that col­lapse in ser­vice of “total revolution”—the com­plete destruc­tion of the exist­ing sys­tem of gov­er­nance.[8] Vio­lent far-right extrem­ists who adopt accel­er­a­tionism hope to set off a series of vio­lent chain events, with vio­lence beget­ting more vio­lence, desta­bi­liz­ing soci­ety.[9] Indis­crim­i­nate, high­ly destruc­tive acts of terror—like a nuclear attack—are there­fore per­fect tools to sow chaos and accel­er­ate this soci­etal col­lapse.

    In Siege, one of the defin­ing the­o­ret­i­cal works of vio­lent far-right accel­er­a­tionism, author and accel­er­a­tionist leader James Mason writes that, “[White suprema­cists] will be the sin­gle sur­vivor in a war against the Sys­tem, a TOTAL WAR against the Sys­tem.”[10] In a recent act of vio­lent far-right extrem­ist ter­ror­ism, Bren­ton Tar­rant, the Aus­tralian per­pe­tra­tor of the 2019 ter­ror­ist attack on Christchurch masjidain in New Zealand, wrote about accel­er­a­tionism in his man­i­festo.[11]

    Groups with nuclear inter­ests. Inspired by the ideas of accel­er­a­tionism, the mod­ern breed of vio­lent far-right extrem­ism is becom­ing more destruc­tive, and nuclear weapons cer­tain­ly fit into this pro­file of cat­a­stroph­ic vio­lence. The inten­tion to bring about a cat­a­clysmic clash of civ­i­liza­tions bears resem­blance to bet­ter known ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions like Al Qae­da and Aum Shin­rikyo, both of which have pur­sued nuclear weapons. As direc­tor of intel­li­gence and coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence at the US Depart­ment of Ener­gy, Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, once observed, “Osama bin Ladin has sig­naled a spe­cif­ic pur­pose for using WMD in al Qaeda’s quest to destroy the glob­al sta­tus quo, and to cre­ate con­di­tions more con­ducive to the over­throw of apos­tate regimes through­out the Islam­ic world.”[12] Like Al-Qae­da, vio­lent far-right extrem­ists sup­port the cre­ation of a new soci­ety that is in line with their own ide­ol­o­gy.

    One of the most notable and vio­lent far-right extrem­ist groups that have adopt­ed accel­er­a­tionism and oper­ate in the Unit­ed States is the Atom­waf­fen Divi­sion (AWD).[13] The organization’s name trans­lates from Ger­man to “the nuclear weapons divi­sion,” indi­cat­ing that its mem­bers have an explic­it inter­est in nuclear ter­ror­ism. Bran­don Rus­sel, a for­mer Flori­da Nation­al Guard mem­ber and an AWD co-founder, is one case of an aspir­ing nuclear ter­ror­ist. A heav­i­ly armed Rus­sel and a fel­low AWD mem­ber were recent­ly arrest­ed while in route to the Turkey Point nuclear pow­er plant. Dur­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion offi­cials found that Rus­sel lived in an apart­ment with two AWD co-con­spir­a­tors; in the apart­ment was a promi­nent­ly placed copy of the Turn­er Diaries and a framed pho­to of Okla­homa City Bomber Tim­o­thy McVeigh. The trio stock­piled weapons and explo­sives with the intent to blow up, among oth­er tar­gets, a nuclear pow­er plant. In their apart­ment, police found pipe bomb com­po­nents, traces of the explo­sive hexa­m­eth­yl­ene triper­ox­ide diamine, and det­o­na­tors. Police also detect­ed two radioac­tive materials—thorium and americium—in his bed­room.[14]

    AWD was not the first far-right extrem­ist in Amer­i­ca to con­sid­er using radioac­tive or nuclear mate­ri­als in a ter­ror­ist attack. Sev­er­al pre­vi­ous­ly doc­u­ment­ed attempts by vio­lent far-right extrem­ists to com­mit acts of radi­o­log­i­cal ter­ror indi­cate a long­stand­ing inter­est among far-right actors in high­ly destruc­tive, non-con­ven­tion­al acts of ter­ror.[15] In 2004, Nation­al Social­ist Move­ment mem­ber Demetrius Van Crock­er attempt­ed to build a dirty bomb to blow up a cour­t­house.[16] In 2008, James Cum­mings, a white suprema­cist, obtained four 1‑gallon con­tain­ers of a mix of deplet­ed ura­ni­um and tho­ri­um-232. He planned to use these mate­ri­als to assem­ble a dirty bomb.[17] In 2013, a mem­ber of the Ku Klux Klan who worked at Gen­er­al Elec­tric car­ried out research on radi­a­tion dis­per­sal devices, learn­ing what lev­el of emis­sion was required to kill humans.[18]

    Could they real­ly pull it off? While some vio­lent far-right extrem­ists are clear­ly moti­vat­ed to car­ry out cat­a­stroph­ic ter­ror­ist attacks, a ques­tion remains: Do they pos­sess the means and oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­duct an act of nuclear ter­ror­ism? There is no pub­lic evi­dence vio­lent far-right extrem­ist groups have obtained the resources or exhib­it­ed the req­ui­site oper­a­tional sophis­ti­ca­tion to car­ry out an act of nuclear ter­ror­ism. Many of the plots involv­ing far-right extrem­ists and nuclear ter­ror­ism have been poor­ly con­ceived and were unlike­ly to suc­ceed. These inci­dents, how­ev­er, like­ly do not pro­vide a com­plete pic­ture of the threat, because pub­licly acces­si­ble infor­ma­tion on the capa­bil­i­ty of these groups is lim­it­ed, cre­at­ing ambi­gu­i­ty about their gen­er­al capa­bil­i­ties.

    ...

    The most con­cern­ing evi­dence that vio­lent far-right extrem­ists might have access to nuclear weapons or weapons-use­able mate­r­i­al lies in their pres­ence in the US mil­i­tary and oth­er parts of the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment. The pres­ence of white suprema­cists in the mil­i­tary is well-known and well-doc­u­ment­ed. A 2019 poll revealed that 36 per­cent of active-duty mil­i­tary troops had wit­nessed evi­dence of white suprema­cist ide­ol­o­gy in the mil­i­tary.[20] In 2020 alone, there were sev­er­al recent exam­ples of active ser­vice mem­bers being arrest­ed for plot­ting far-right extrem­ist acts of ter­ror­ism. In Jan­u­ary 2020, Coast Guard Lt. Christo­pher Has­son was sen­tenced to 13 years in prison for plan­ning a “mass casu­al­ty attack” in sup­port of white nation­al­ism.[21] In Feb­ru­ary, for­mer Mas­ter Sgt. Cory Reeves was dis­charged from the Air Force because of his ties to white suprema­cist orga­ni­za­tions.[22] And in June 2020, Pri­vate Ethan Melz­er, a neo-Nazi in the US Army, attempt­ed to pro­vide infor­ma­tion about US troops abroad, “includ­ing where­abouts, move­ment and secu­ri­ty details,” to both white suprema­cist and jihadist groups. He gave this infor­ma­tion with the inten­tion of coor­di­nat­ing a sui­ci­dal, mass casu­al­ty “jiha­di” attack on those troops.[23]

    There is also evi­dence of vio­lent far-right extrem­ism in oth­er gov­ern­ment insti­tu­tions. For exam­ple, in May 2018, Matthew Gebert, a State Depart­ment employ­ee work­ing on Pak­istani and Indi­an ener­gy pol­i­cy, led a dou­ble life. He head­ed the Wash­ing­ton, D.C. chap­ter of the white suprema­cist group The Right Stuff, social­ized with major white suprema­cist fig­ures like Mike Peinovich and Richard Spencer, and secret­ly host­ed a white nation­al­ist pod­cast titled “The Father­land.”[24] In a May 2018 episode of “The Father­land,” Gebert announced, “We need a coun­try found­ed for white peo­ple with a nuclear deter­rent. And you watch how the world trem­bles.”

    This pat­tern of insid­er threats rais­es key ques­tions: How many vio­lent far-right extrem­ists are in the gov­ern­ment? What mate­ri­als or infor­ma­tion do vio­lent far-right extrem­ists in gov­ern­ment have access to? Are they sophis­ti­cat­ed enough to steal nuclear mate­r­i­al or sab­o­tage a nuclear facil­i­ty, or aid anoth­er actor on the out­side? To what extent have vio­lent far-right extrem­ists pen­e­trat­ed orga­ni­za­tions like nation­al lab­o­ra­to­ries or nuclear mate­r­i­al pro­duc­tion facil­i­ties, where they might be able to acquire high­ly-enriched ura­ni­um or plutonium—the build­ing blocks for con­struct­ing an impro­vised nuclear device?

    The need to screen for far-right extrem­ists. The US gov­ern­ment needs to devel­op process­es that ensure vio­lent far-right extrem­ists do not have access to nuclear weapons, weapons-use­able nuclear mate­ri­als, radi­o­log­i­cal mate­r­i­al, or sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion about nuclear weapons or mate­ri­als. As a first step, the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment needs to bet­ter under­stand the threat. Law enforce­ment and intel­li­gence agen­cies should devel­op a task force focused on iden­ti­fy­ing poten­tial vio­lent far-right extrem­ist nuclear ter­ror­ists. This task force should pool avail­able infor­ma­tion to answer key ques­tions to bet­ter under­stand vio­lent far-right extrem­ists’ capa­bil­i­ty to car­ry out an act of nuclear ter­ror­ism.

    Based on the infor­ma­tion obtained through that task force, the secu­ri­ty clear­ance process must be designed so it effec­tive­ly screens for vio­lent far-right extrem­ism. This should include a review of pub­lic state­ments in sup­port of vio­lent far-right extrem­ism, includ­ing those made on social media. Offi­cials design­ing these screen­ing process­es should work to ensure that these pro­ce­dures are nuanced enough to pick up on far-right extrem­ist beliefs even when those seek­ing clear­ance attempt to con­ceal their beliefs, as Matthew Gebert did.

    Insid­er threat pro­grams at facil­i­ties hous­ing weapons-use­able nuclear mate­r­i­al or nuclear weapons should be designed to iden­ti­fy poten­tial vio­lent far-right extrem­ist threats. This should include mon­i­tor­ing of those at facil­i­ties with nuclear weapons and nuclear mate­ri­als in regard to vio­lent rhetoric and sus­pi­cious finan­cial trans­ac­tions. Staff at nuclear facil­i­ties should be trained to iden­ti­fy behav­iors that might indi­cate iolent far-right extrem­ist ide­ol­o­gy.

    Final­ly, nuclear facil­i­ties should devel­op secu­ri­ty train­ing pro­grams that pro­mote diver­si­ty, equi­ty, and inclu­sion as an ele­ment of secu­ri­ty cul­ture. The intro­duc­tion of such train­ing could help cre­ate a cul­ture that dis­cour­ages and helps to iden­ti­fy vio­lent extrem­ist beliefs. Diver­si­ty and equi­ty train­ing could poten­tial­ly play a role in reduc­ing the like­li­hood of vul­ner­a­ble insid­ers from being rad­i­cal­ized. Tools like implic­it bias train­ing could help to reduce those pre­dis­po­si­tions that cre­ate blind­ers to threats. Dis­cus­sions of diver­si­ty and equi­ty issues might help expose far-right extrem­ists already embed­ded with­in orga­ni­za­tions. Final­ly, diver­si­ty and equi­ty train­ings can play anoth­er impor­tant function—reducing the like­li­hood of staff alien­ation lead­ing to a poten­tial insid­er threat.

    A robust response to vio­lent far-right extrem­ist threats vis-a-vis nuclear secu­ri­ty is nec­es­sary to min­i­mize risk. Vio­lent far-right extrem­ists are not going away: The insta­bil­i­ty and chaos of the COVID-19 era com­bined with increased polit­i­cal polar­iza­tion and dwin­dling trust in long-stand­ing insti­tu­tions sug­gests that the prob­lem of right-wing extrem­ist ter­ror is like­ly to grow in com­ing years.[25] More­over, there is evi­dence that this threat is grow­ing in oth­er coun­tries with nuclear facil­i­ties.[26] If a vio­lent far-right extrem­ist gained access to nuclear mate­ri­als or weapons, the con­se­quences would be cat­a­stroph­ic. Improved data col­lec­tion, redesigned screen­ing and insid­er pro­tec­tion sys­tems, and diver­si­ty and equi­ty ini­tia­tives all can help gov­ern­ments and pri­vate com­pa­nies to bet­ter under­stand and mit­i­gate risks to nuclear secu­ri­ty posed by vio­lent far-right extrem­ists.

    ...

    ———–

    “A threat to con­front: far-right extrem­ists and nuclear ter­ror­ism” by Rebec­ca L. Earn­hardt, Bren­dan Hyatt, Nick­o­las Roth; Bul­letin of Atom­ic Sci­en­tists; 01/14/2021

    An increas­ing­ly active gen­er­a­tion of vio­lent far-right extrem­ist groups and actors have adopt­ed an espe­cial­ly dan­ger­ous ide­ol­o­gy that is com­pat­i­ble with an act of nuclear ter­ror: accel­er­a­tionism.[7] Vio­lent far-right extrem­ists who adopt accel­er­a­tionism view soci­etal col­lapse as inevitable and seek to has­ten that col­lapse in ser­vice of “total revolution”—the com­plete destruc­tion of the exist­ing sys­tem of gov­er­nance.[8] Vio­lent far-right extrem­ists who adopt accel­er­a­tionism hope to set off a series of vio­lent chain events, with vio­lence beget­ting more vio­lence, desta­bi­liz­ing soci­ety.[9] Indis­crim­i­nate, high­ly destruc­tive acts of terror—like a nuclear attack—are there­fore per­fect tools to sow chaos and accel­er­ate this soci­etal col­lapse.

    There’s no deny­ing the under­ly­ing log­ic: if accel­er­a­tionism is grow­ing, the threat of nuclear ter­ror­ism is grow­ing too. Because noth­ing desta­bi­lizes a soci­ety quite like a nuclear inci­dent. And when it comes to nuclear threats, while inci­dents like the 2017 planned Atom­waf­fen attack on a Flori­da nuclear plant are a chill­ing exam­ple of what is pos­si­ble, it’s insid­er threats that still pose the great­est threats. If accel­er­a­tionism is going to be the new trend in Amer­i­can con­ser­vatism, there’s no get­ting around the need for greater insid­er threat sur­veil­lance for the peo­ple with access to this tech­nol­o­gy:

    ...
    The most con­cern­ing evi­dence that vio­lent far-right extrem­ists might have access to nuclear weapons or weapons-use­able mate­r­i­al lies in their pres­ence in the US mil­i­tary and oth­er parts of the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment. The pres­ence of white suprema­cists in the mil­i­tary is well-known and well-doc­u­ment­ed. A 2019 poll revealed that 36 per­cent of active-duty mil­i­tary troops had wit­nessed evi­dence of white suprema­cist ide­ol­o­gy in the mil­i­tary.[20] In 2020 alone, there were sev­er­al recent exam­ples of active ser­vice mem­bers being arrest­ed for plot­ting far-right extrem­ist acts of ter­ror­ism. In Jan­u­ary 2020, Coast Guard Lt. Christo­pher Has­son was sen­tenced to 13 years in prison for plan­ning a “mass casu­al­ty attack” in sup­port of white nation­al­ism.[21] In Feb­ru­ary, for­mer Mas­ter Sgt. Cory Reeves was dis­charged from the Air Force because of his ties to white suprema­cist orga­ni­za­tions.[22] And in June 2020, Pri­vate Ethan Melz­er, a neo-Nazi in the US Army, attempt­ed to pro­vide infor­ma­tion about US troops abroad, “includ­ing where­abouts, move­ment and secu­ri­ty details,” to both white suprema­cist and jihadist groups. He gave this infor­ma­tion with the inten­tion of coor­di­nat­ing a sui­ci­dal, mass casu­al­ty “jiha­di” attack on those troops.[23]

    There is also evi­dence of vio­lent far-right extrem­ism in oth­er gov­ern­ment insti­tu­tions. For exam­ple, in May 2018, Matthew Gebert, a State Depart­ment employ­ee work­ing on Pak­istani and Indi­an ener­gy pol­i­cy, led a dou­ble life. He head­ed the Wash­ing­ton, D.C. chap­ter of the white suprema­cist group The Right Stuff, social­ized with major white suprema­cist fig­ures like Mike Peinovich and Richard Spencer, and secret­ly host­ed a white nation­al­ist pod­cast titled “The Father­land.”[24] In a May 2018 episode of “The Father­land,” Gebert announced, “We need a coun­try found­ed for white peo­ple with a nuclear deter­rent. And you watch how the world trem­bles.”

    This pat­tern of insid­er threats rais­es key ques­tions: How many vio­lent far-right extrem­ists are in the gov­ern­ment? What mate­ri­als or infor­ma­tion do vio­lent far-right extrem­ists in gov­ern­ment have access to? Are they sophis­ti­cat­ed enough to steal nuclear mate­r­i­al or sab­o­tage a nuclear facil­i­ty, or aid anoth­er actor on the out­side? To what extent have vio­lent far-right extrem­ists pen­e­trat­ed orga­ni­za­tions like nation­al lab­o­ra­to­ries or nuclear mate­r­i­al pro­duc­tion facil­i­ties, where they might be able to acquire high­ly-enriched ura­ni­um or plutonium—the build­ing blocks for con­struct­ing an impro­vised nuclear device?

    The need to screen for far-right extrem­ists. The US gov­ern­ment needs to devel­op process­es that ensure vio­lent far-right extrem­ists do not have access to nuclear weapons, weapons-use­able nuclear mate­ri­als, radi­o­log­i­cal mate­r­i­al, or sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion about nuclear weapons or mate­ri­als. As a first step, the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment needs to bet­ter under­stand the threat. Law enforce­ment and intel­li­gence agen­cies should devel­op a task force focused on iden­ti­fy­ing poten­tial vio­lent far-right extrem­ist nuclear ter­ror­ists. This task force should pool avail­able infor­ma­tion to answer key ques­tions to bet­ter under­stand vio­lent far-right extrem­ists’ capa­bil­i­ty to car­ry out an act of nuclear ter­ror­ism.

    Based on the infor­ma­tion obtained through that task force, the secu­ri­ty clear­ance process must be designed so it effec­tive­ly screens for vio­lent far-right extrem­ism. This should include a review of pub­lic state­ments in sup­port of vio­lent far-right extrem­ism, includ­ing those made on social media. Offi­cials design­ing these screen­ing process­es should work to ensure that these pro­ce­dures are nuanced enough to pick up on far-right extrem­ist beliefs even when those seek­ing clear­ance attempt to con­ceal their beliefs, as Matthew Gebert did.

    Insid­er threat pro­grams at facil­i­ties hous­ing weapons-use­able nuclear mate­r­i­al or nuclear weapons should be designed to iden­ti­fy poten­tial vio­lent far-right extrem­ist threats. This should include mon­i­tor­ing of those at facil­i­ties with nuclear weapons and nuclear mate­ri­als in regard to vio­lent rhetoric and sus­pi­cious finan­cial trans­ac­tions. Staff at nuclear facil­i­ties should be trained to iden­ti­fy behav­iors that might indi­cate iolent far-right extrem­ist ide­ol­o­gy.

    Final­ly, nuclear facil­i­ties should devel­op secu­ri­ty train­ing pro­grams that pro­mote diver­si­ty, equi­ty, and inclu­sion as an ele­ment of secu­ri­ty cul­ture. The intro­duc­tion of such train­ing could help cre­ate a cul­ture that dis­cour­ages and helps to iden­ti­fy vio­lent extrem­ist beliefs. Diver­si­ty and equi­ty train­ing could poten­tial­ly play a role in reduc­ing the like­li­hood of vul­ner­a­ble insid­ers from being rad­i­cal­ized. Tools like implic­it bias train­ing could help to reduce those pre­dis­po­si­tions that cre­ate blind­ers to threats. Dis­cus­sions of diver­si­ty and equi­ty issues might help expose far-right extrem­ists already embed­ded with­in orga­ni­za­tions. Final­ly, diver­si­ty and equi­ty train­ings can play anoth­er impor­tant function—reducing the like­li­hood of staff alien­ation lead­ing to a poten­tial insid­er threat.
    ...

    Will the US gov­ern­ment actu­al­ly respond to this grow­ing insid­er threat in time? Who knows, but we already have a pret­ty good idea of how the right-wing dis­in­fo­tain­ment indus­try will respond to such pro­grams designed to iden­ti­fy and screen out far right indi­vid­u­als: they’ll be treat­ed as gov­ern­ment attacks on patri­ot­ic con­ser­v­a­tives who mere­ly have a dif­fer­ent point of view. That’s lit­er­al­ly the take Fox New’s Lau­ra Ingra­ham had in response to reports of new efforts by the Biden admin­is­tra­tion to screen appli­cants for gov­ern­ment employ­ees for signs of far right extrem­ism. The way Ingra­ham described it, such pro­grams intend­ed to keep extrem­ists out of posi­tions required secu­ri­ty clear­ances were actu­al­ly part of an ide­o­log­i­cal purge of the gov­ern­ment of all main­stream con­ser­v­a­tives:

    Media Mat­ters

    Lau­ra Ingra­ham calls attempts to pre­vent QAnon rad­i­cal­iza­tion in the mil­i­tary “absolute­ly poi­so­nous”

    Ingra­ham: “You see where this is des­tined to lead. And it is cer­tain­ly not to a freer and more unit­ed Amer­i­ca”

    Writ­ten by Media Mat­ters Staff
    Pub­lished 01/25/21 10:58 PM EST

    [see video of clip]

    LAURA INGRAHAM (HOST): This is absolute­ly poi­so­nous for the coun­try. Repub­li­cans have to stand up and stop Democ­rats from tar­get­ing our active duty mil­i­tary per­son­nel or our vets. These men and women have endured often­times repeat­ed tours of duty abroad, risk­ing life and limb, many times com­ing back to destroyed fam­i­lies.

    And now they’re viewed with sus­pi­cion and tar­get­ed by elect­ed offi­cials at home? Repub­li­cans need to step up in uni­son and demand that the Defense Depart­ment and the Biden admin­is­tra­tion clear­ly define what they think con­sti­tutes extrem­ism.

    Now, if a mem­ber of the mil­i­tary vot­ed for Trump, does that make him an extrem­ist? Now, what if some­one com­plains on Face­book that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment wastes a lot of mon­ey? Is she an extrem­ist? What if they say that Roe v. Wade should be over­turned? Or what if they par­tic­i­pate in the March for Life?

    What if they’re con­ser­v­a­tive Bap­tists, they believe that sex out­side of mar­riage is immoral? Is that extrem­ist? What if they have guns at home and they’re life­time NRA mem­bers? Will they now be con­sid­ered extrem­ists or even ter­ror­ists? We deserve to know. You see where this is des­tined to lead. And it is cer­tain­ly not to a freer and more unit­ed Amer­i­ca.

    ———–

    “Lau­ra Ingra­ham calls attempts to pre­vent QAnon rad­i­cal­iza­tion in the mil­i­tary “absolute­ly poi­so­nous”” by Media Mat­ters Staff; Media Mat­ters; 01/25/2021

    Be sure to watch the actu­al video of the clip to get a full sense of Igra­ham’s faux out­rage. Out­rage over con­coct­ed fears whipped up by Ingra­ham that anti-extrem­ism pro­grams will mean that if some­one vot­ed for Trump they be labeled an extrem­ist for life and barred from gov­ern­ment posi­tions. That’s the spin Fox News is tak­ing to reports of new pro­grams designed to keep QAnon sup­port­ers and oth­er far right extrem­ists out of high­ly sen­si­tive gov­ern­ment posi­tions. Attacks on QAnon are attacks on all con­ser­v­a­tives and any­thing done to pre­vent QAnon believ­ers out of gov­ern­ment posi­tions is part of an ide­o­log­i­cal purge.

    Of course, as we saw with reports on the Sov­er­eign Amer­i­ca Project group oper­at­ing out of Flori­da, as the merg­er of main­stream con­ser­v­a­tive media and the far right fringes con­tin­ues, at some point any pro­grams designed to fil­ter out extrem­ists real­ly will end up impact­ing some ‘main­stream’ con­ser­v­a­tives because the ‘main­stream’ has veered so dan­ger­ous­ly far to the right. Ingra­ham’s out­rage is prob­a­bly gen­uine at least in that respect because she real­ly is gen­uine­ly a far right ide­o­logue. With a far right ide­o­logue pop­u­lar TV show that con­tin­ues to push main­stream con­ser­vatism fur­ther and fur­ther to the right.

    So while it remains to be seen if we’re going to see a seri­ous review of the US’s nuclear facil­i­ties and mate­ri­als, it’s already very clear how the right-wing will per­ceive such pro­grams: as an ide­o­log­i­cal attack on all con­ser­v­a­tives. QAnon and Atom­waf­fen have a right to secu­ri­ty clear­ances too, you know. It’s just diver­si­ty of thought. Any­one who says oth­er­wise is the real big­ot.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 27, 2021, 5:38 pm
  31. Giv­en the rather omi­nous lack of pub­lic pro­nounce­ments com­ing from the Trump ‘Alt White House’ at Mar-a-Lago these days, one of the ques­tions we have to ask is whether or not Trump has tru­ly gone tem­porar­i­ly silent, or is keep­ing his com­mu­ni­ca­tion under the radar? Don’t for­get, the guy just pulled a coup. He prob­a­bly has a lot to say to his sup­port­ers that he does­n’t nec­es­sar­i­ly want to say in pub­lic.

    It’s that dis­turb­ing silence by Trump that’s part of the con­text for the fol­low­ing pair of arti­cles. Arti­cles that are a reminder that should Trump go down the route of form­ing his own third par­ty, there’s a good chance the ‘MAGA Par­ty’ will sim­ply end up being an umbrel­la orga­ni­za­tion for all of the mili­tias that have signed on to fight a civ­il war for Trump. In oth­er words, it will be less a third par­ty than it will be a sec­ond mil­i­tary. Trump’s mil­i­tary.

    First, here’s an arti­cle about how the social media cam­paigns to start a new Trump-led “Patri­ot Par­ty” are dou­bling as a social media cam­paign to encour­age Trump sup­port­ers to join their local mili­tias:

    Reuters

    ‘Patri­ot Par­ty’ Trump sup­port­er groups grow rapid­ly on Face­book: study

    By Katie Paul
    Feb­ru­ary 2, 2021 8:03 AM Updat­ed

    PALO ALTO (Reuters) — Far-right back­ers of Don­ald Trump are drum­ming up sup­port on social media for the idea of a “Patri­ot Par­ty,” using ref­er­ences to mili­tia groups and pro­mot­ing a mix of con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, accord­ing to a study pub­lished on Tues­day.

    The online cam­paign for a pro­posed alter­na­tive to the Repub­li­can Par­ty has heav­i­ly pro­mot­ed “Stop the Steal” events through­out the coun­try, includ­ing the vio­lent siege of Capi­tol Hill on Jan. 6, push­ing the false claim that the for­mer U.S. Pres­i­dent lost November’s elec­tion due to wide­spread fraud.

    Amid a rift with sev­er­al Repub­li­can lead­ers over the Capi­tol riot, Trump has talked about form­ing a new polit­i­cal par­ty, his advis­ers say.

    How­ev­er, Trump’s “Save Amer­i­ca PAC” action com­mit­tee says he has set aside the idea for now.

    On Face­book, the effort appears to be decen­tral­ized but grow­ing rapid­ly, with some “Patri­ot Par­ty” groups gain­ing thou­sands of mem­bers in a mat­ter of days, accord­ing to the research con­duct­ed by watch­dog group the Tech Trans­paren­cy Project.

    ...

    TTP said it found 51 groups and 85 pages on Face­book pro­mot­ing Patri­ot Par­ty iconog­ra­phy to tens of thou­sands of fol­low­ers in a count it con­duct­ed on Jan. 20, more than half cre­at­ed since the Nov. 3 elec­tion.

    Face­book has removed some of the accounts, includ­ing a group cre­at­ed Jan. 17 that gained 105,000 mem­bers over the eight days it exist­ed, but enforce­ment has been “piece­meal” and dozens of oth­ers remain active on the plat­form, TTP said.

    Some of the forums’ admin­is­tra­tors have open­ly expressed sup­port for far-right mili­tias like the Three Per­centers and the Oath Keep­ers, despite Facebook’s deci­sion in August to ban “mil­i­ta­rized social move­ments”.

    A Jan. 6 post in a pri­vate “Patri­ot Par­ty” Face­book group with more than 2,000 mem­bers steered mem­bers toward a exter­nal site urg­ing them to “join your local mili­tia,” a screen­shot cap­tured by TTP showed.

    Sup­port for the Patri­ot Par­ty move­ment has also flour­ished on oth­er social media plat­forms and online news sites, peak­ing around Inau­gu­ra­tion Day on Jan. 20, accord­ing to data from media intel­li­gence firm Zig­nal Labs.

    ————

    “ ‘Patri­ot Par­ty’ Trump sup­port­er groups grow rapid­ly on Face­book: study” by Katie Paul; Reuters; 02/02/2021

    “On Face­book, the effort appears to be decen­tral­ized but grow­ing rapid­ly, with some “Patri­ot Par­ty” groups gain­ing thou­sands of mem­bers in a mat­ter of days, accord­ing to the research con­duct­ed by watch­dog group the Tech Trans­paren­cy Project.”

    A decen­tral­ized social media move­ment with two goals: pro­mote the idea of a “Patri­ot Par­ty” and pro­mot­ing mili­tias. It gives us a pret­ty good sense of what the “Patri­ot Par­ty” is going to be focused on:

    ...
    TTP said it found 51 groups and 85 pages on Face­book pro­mot­ing Patri­ot Par­ty iconog­ra­phy to tens of thou­sands of fol­low­ers in a count it con­duct­ed on Jan. 20, more than half cre­at­ed since the Nov. 3 elec­tion.

    Face­book has removed some of the accounts, includ­ing a group cre­at­ed Jan. 17 that gained 105,000 mem­bers over the eight days it exist­ed, but enforce­ment has been “piece­meal” and dozens of oth­ers remain active on the plat­form, TTP said.

    Some of the forums’ admin­is­tra­tors have open­ly expressed sup­port for far-right mili­tias like the Three Per­centers and the Oath Keep­ers, despite Facebook’s deci­sion in August to ban “mil­i­ta­rized social move­ments”.

    A Jan. 6 post in a pri­vate “Patri­ot Par­ty” Face­book group with more than 2,000 mem­bers steered mem­bers toward a exter­nal site urg­ing them to “join your local mili­tia,” a screen­shot cap­tured by TTP showed.

    Sup­port for the Patri­ot Par­ty move­ment has also flour­ished on oth­er social media plat­forms and online news sites, peak­ing around Inau­gu­ra­tion Day on Jan. 20, accord­ing to data from media intel­li­gence firm Zig­nal Labs.
    ...

    Now, here’s a recent Pro Pub­lic piece a secret chat room on the encrypt­ed Telegram app that was set up two days after the Jan 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion. The group was focused on devis­ing their next plans. The group report­ed grew from a few dozen peo­ple to over 200 in a week. The leader of the group, Edward “Jake” Lang, was then arrest­ed on Jan 16 over his role in the Capi­tol insur­rec­tion.

    So what post-insur­rec­tion actions did the group end up sup­port­ing? Recruit­ing “normies” and rad­i­cal­iz­ing them to the point that they join region­al mili­tia groups. That’s the big post-insur­rec­tion plan: a mili­tia mem­ber­ship dri­ve:

    Pro Pub­li­ca

    “This Is War”: Inside the Secret Chat Where Far-Right Extrem­ists Devised Their Post-Capi­tol Plans

    Chats from a pri­vate Telegram group obtained by ProP­ub­li­ca show how a sus­pect tied to the Jan. 6 insur­rec­tion tried to orga­nize a self-styled mili­tia. The hid­den pro­lif­er­a­tion of such groups wor­ries experts.

    by Logan Jaffe and Jack Gillum
    Jan. 28, 2021 11:27 a.m. EST

    When the FBI arrest­ed Edward “Jake” Lang on Jan. 16 for his alleged role in the U.S. Capi­tol attack, court doc­u­ments show agents had fol­lowed a seem­ing­ly straight­for­ward trail from his pub­lic social media to col­lect evi­dence. “THIS IS ME,” Lang wrote over one video that showed an angry mob con­fronting police offi­cers out­side the Capi­tol. The same post showed him trash­ing a police riot shield.

    The gov­ern­ment charged Lang with com­mit­ting assault and oth­er crimes, but the account of his activ­i­ties spelled out in court papers doesn’t men­tion how the 25-year-old spent the 10 days between the riots and his cap­ture: recruit­ing mili­tia mem­bers to take up arms against the incom­ing Biden admin­is­tra­tion by way of an invi­ta­tion-only group on the mes­sag­ing app Telegram.

    “Every­one needs to get 5 patri­ots in this group tonight that’s the goal ??????????,” Lang wrote in a chat on Jan. 9, one of more than 2,500 mes­sages obtained by ProP­ub­li­ca. “We need each per­son to go out and fight for new mem­bers of this Mili­tia like our lives depend on it.”

    ProP­ub­li­ca gained access to the group after Lang sent an invi­ta­tion to a reporter’s social media account. It’s unclear whether Lang knew he had invit­ed a reporter, and the reporter joined but did not par­tic­i­pate in the chats.

    The group, cre­at­ed two days after the Jan. 6 attack, grew from a few dozen mem­bers to near­ly 200 in just a week. There, safe from the deplat­form­ing spree of main­stream social media giants like Face­book and Twit­ter, Lang set out to recruit “normies” and rad­i­cal­ize them to the point that they joined region­al mili­tia groups.

    Lang’s con­ver­sa­tions offer a win­dow into how some of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s most fer­vent sup­port­ers — still sim­mer­ing over base­less alle­ga­tions of elec­tion fraud — are find­ing new con­nec­tions on mes­sag­ing plat­forms that are large­ly hid­den from pub­lic scruti­ny. Unlike sites such as Face­book, Telegram is a mes­sag­ing app where users can cre­ate large, invi­ta­tion-only and encrypt­ed chat groups, and it allows users to remain anony­mous by hid­ing their phone num­bers from one anoth­er. With­in days of the riots, more than 25 mil­lion users glob­al­ly joined Telegram, the company’s CEO said, although the U.S. accounts for a frac­tion of its user base. A com­pa­ny spokesman did not respond to ques­tions from ProP­ub­li­ca.

    The chats also make clear that at least some of those involved in the Capi­tol insur­rec­tion, despite a sweep­ing crack­down by U.S. law enforce­ment that has result­ed in more than 160 cas­es, appear ded­i­cat­ed to plan­ning and par­tic­i­pat­ing in fur­ther vio­lence.

    “This has been one of my con­cerns short­er-term: That folks who are more fer­vent are seek­ing each oth­er out in a way that can lead to some short-term, vio­lent out­bursts,” said Amy Coot­er, a senior lec­tur­er of soci­ol­o­gy at Van­der­bilt Uni­ver­si­ty who has stud­ied mili­tia activ­i­ty for more than a decade. Home­land Secu­ri­ty offi­cials on Wednes­day warned of height­ened threats of vio­lence across the coun­try from domes­tic extrem­ists who felt embold­ened by the Jan. 6 attack.

    The FBI referred ques­tions of whether the gov­ern­ment was aware of Lang’s activ­i­ties to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Wash­ing­ton, which did not imme­di­ate­ly return an inquiry seek­ing com­ment Wednes­day.

    A lawyer for Lang, Steven Met­calf, said he was not aware of his client’s pri­vate social media mes­sages, includ­ing the Telegram group. Met­calf said he planned to enter a not-guilty plea and to con­tend that Lang was exer­cis­ing his First Amend­ment right to free speech on Jan. 6.

    After Lang’s arrest, his father, Ned Lang, told the local news­pa­per, the Times Her­ald-Record of Mid­dle­town, New York, that his son had strug­gled with sub­stance abuse. “As a result, he has had numer­ous issues with law enforce­ment over the past 11 years and it has only got­ten worse, as is evi­denced by his most recent arrest and actions at our nation’s Capi­tol!” Ned Lang said in an emailed state­ment to the news­pa­per. “We are pray­ing for my son that he con­quers his addic­tions and finds a new path for­ward in his life!” Ned Lang did not respond to mes­sages from ProP­ub­li­ca seek­ing com­ment.

    Jake Lang’s pub­lic social media accounts depict him as an inter­net-savvy ser­i­al entre­pre­neur, with one now-defunct Insta­gram account, @jakevape, chron­i­cling hash­tagged trips to Coachel­la, Cal­i­for­nia, and to Art Basel in Mia­mi. Pub­lic records show he had moved through var­i­ous busi­ness ven­tures, from one sell­ing vapor­iz­ers to anoth­er sell­ing cus­tom base­ball hats. For a time, he ran Social Mod­el Man­age­ment, which promised to help prospec­tive mod­els get “social media famous” by unlock­ing “indus­try secrets” that would triple their Insta­gram fol­low­ers.

    More recent social media posts by Lang acknowl­edged his strug­gle to stay sober and a deep­en­ing inter­est in reli­gion. In an Insta­gram post from last year, tagged “#Chris­tEn­er­gy,” Lang set goals for him­self to mem­o­rize the Hebrew alpha­bet and stay kosher.

    After his par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Capi­tol insur­rec­tion, Lang seem­ing­ly turned his online audi­ence-build­ing skills to a new mis­sion: On the evening of Jan. 8, he turned to Insta­gram to send a round of invi­ta­tions to join his pri­vate Telegram group, appeal­ing to “patri­ots” will­ing to act local­ly and nation­al­ly as an armed para­mil­i­tary.

    When new mem­bers joined the group, he empha­sized they should remain anony­mous by hid­ing their phone num­bers and chang­ing their user­names to “@Patriot[name].” He urged mem­bers to avoid chitchat and any specifics about future actions. Some float­ed gath­er­ings on Inau­gu­ra­tion Day or a few days before in state cap­i­tals, although oth­ers warned that protests on those days could be a trap. Par­tic­i­pants were told they’d be vet­ted “to make sure they are who they claim to be,” wrote user Silence DoGood, before they were added to their local group chats by region­al lead­ers.

    Lang repeat­ed­ly used pho­tos and videos of him­self from the Capi­tol insur­rec­tion to stress the impor­tance of mil­i­tary-style orga­ni­za­tion in future attacks.

    “A woman just died in this video being tram­pled by DC police because we aren’t orga­nized as patri­ots,” Lang post­ed on Jan. 10, an appar­ent ref­er­ence to Rosanne Boy­land, who died in a stam­pede at the Capi­tol. “This was my car­nal cry for the real men to step up and help.”

    Replied one mem­ber, who went by the user­name Tony Bologna: “Damn broth­er! Amen.”

    “It was the first bat­tle of the Sec­ond Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion- make no mis­takes,” Lang con­tin­ued. “This is WAR.” He post­ed a code of con­duct in the group, as well as a set of meme-like instruc­tions for mem­bers to pre­pare for a nation­al “black­out,” buy­ing long-range walkie-talkies and stock­ing up on guns, ammo and food.

    “It’s real­ly hap­pen­ing huh?” asked anoth­er user, Alas­tair. Lang replied with a video attach­ment, again of him­self out­side of the Capi­tol: “Do not be afraid of these tyrants.”

    Some of the chat’s new recruits referred to Lang in lan­guage bor­rowed from the mil­i­tary. When one new mem­ber asked who the group’s leader was, anoth­er replied: “GENERAL JAKE?????? Your sol­diers are report­ing for duty.”

    One user, dubbed Nomad, appoint­ed him­self a region­al orga­niz­er in west­ern Michi­gan, while anoth­er vol­un­teered to boost the group’s ranks in cen­tral Flori­da.

    “This is grass roots,” wrote Patri­ot Cap­tain RedorDead, who claimed to invite 20 prospec­tive recruits from a local gym. “This is real.” Lang also encour­aged recruit­ing at local gun shops.

    He chas­tised mem­bers who veered into more social ter­ri­to­ry. “Guys please this is a MILITIA group to defend our coun­try from com­mu­nism — pri­vate mes­sage each oth­er if you want to flirt. Only warn­ing.”

    While the idea was to orga­nize a coher­ent strat­e­gy ahead of Jan. 20, when Pres­i­dent Joe Biden would be sworn in, the group didn’t appear to coa­lesce around one. Lang offered few details: “The plan for now is to Mar­tin Luther king style March on 17th and 20th, exer­cis­ing our Rights (that means armed),” he wrote on Jan. 13. “Peace and God be the fore­front of all of what we do. But we can­not not show up and appear weak! That is not an option.”

    There’s no sign those in the chats took action on those days, but experts like Coot­er warn against writ­ing off their inten­tions as cha­t­room blus­ter. While most new online mili­tia groups “are prob­a­bly key­board war­riors and noth­ing more,” she cau­tioned, “we don’t know that for sure, and I don’t think we can be com­pla­cent about a real risk from even a small minor­i­ty of such groups.”

    Experts have warned about the dan­gers of online echo cham­bers for years, but deplat­form­ing may bring oth­er risks, said Josh Pasek, a polit­i­cal sci­ence and com­mu­ni­ca­tion and media pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan. “The con­cern is much larg­er if the selec­tion of which plat­forms peo­ple are using in the first place is itself more polar­ized. The chance that they make them­selves far more extreme is high.”

    He added: “The Capi­tol riot isn’t the end of much. What hap­pens online can move offline. We’ve seen way too many exam­ples of that to ignore it at this point.”

    ...

    ————-

    ““This Is War”: Inside the Secret Chat Where Far-Right Extrem­ists Devised Their Post-Capi­tol Plans” by Logan Jaffe and Jack Gillumg; Pro Pub­li­ca; 01/28/2021

    “The gov­ern­ment charged Lang with com­mit­ting assault and oth­er crimes, but the account of his activ­i­ties spelled out in court papers doesn’t men­tion how the 25-year-old spent the 10 days between the riots and his cap­ture: recruit­ing mili­tia mem­bers to take up arms against the incom­ing Biden admin­is­tra­tion by way of an invi­ta­tion-only group on the mes­sag­ing app Telegram.

    It was­n’t just an insur­rec­tion. It was also a mili­tia recruit­ment cam­paign. That’s the pic­ture that’s emerg­ing now that we’re learn­ing more about how the groups behind the storm­ing of the Capi­tol react­ed to the dis­turb­ing suc­cess of their action. They may not have over­thrown the gov­ern­ment, but they did show that you could storm the Capi­tol and large­ly get away with it. It’s quite a adver­tise­ment for join­ing a para­mil­i­tary group:

    ...
    “Every­one needs to get 5 patri­ots in this group tonight that’s the goal ??????????,” Lang wrote in a chat on Jan. 9, one of more than 2,500 mes­sages obtained by ProP­ub­li­ca. “We need each per­son to go out and fight for new mem­bers of this Mili­tia like our lives depend on it.”

    ProP­ub­li­ca gained access to the group after Lang sent an invi­ta­tion to a reporter’s social media account. It’s unclear whether Lang knew he had invit­ed a reporter, and the reporter joined but did not par­tic­i­pate in the chats.

    The group, cre­at­ed two days after the Jan. 6 attack, grew from a few dozen mem­bers to near­ly 200 in just a week. There, safe from the deplat­form­ing spree of main­stream social media giants like Face­book and Twit­ter, Lang set out to recruit “normies” and rad­i­cal­ize them to the point that they joined region­al mili­tia groups.

    ...

    After his par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Capi­tol insur­rec­tion, Lang seem­ing­ly turned his online audi­ence-build­ing skills to a new mis­sion: On the evening of Jan. 8, he turned to Insta­gram to send a round of invi­ta­tions to join his pri­vate Telegram group, appeal­ing to “patri­ots” will­ing to act local­ly and nation­al­ly as an armed para­mil­i­tary.

    When new mem­bers joined the group, he empha­sized they should remain anony­mous by hid­ing their phone num­bers and chang­ing their user­names to “@Patriot[name].” He urged mem­bers to avoid chitchat and any specifics about future actions. Some float­ed gath­er­ings on Inau­gu­ra­tion Day or a few days before in state cap­i­tals, although oth­ers warned that protests on those days could be a trap. Par­tic­i­pants were told they’d be vet­ted “to make sure they are who they claim to be,” wrote user Silence DoGood, before they were added to their local group chats by region­al lead­ers.

    Lang repeat­ed­ly used pho­tos and videos of him­self from the Capi­tol insur­rec­tion to stress the impor­tance of mil­i­tary-style orga­ni­za­tion in future attacks.

    ...

    “It was the first bat­tle of the Sec­ond Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion- make no mis­takes,” Lang con­tin­ued. “This is WAR.” He post­ed a code of con­duct in the group, as well as a set of meme-like instruc­tions for mem­bers to pre­pare for a nation­al “black­out,” buy­ing long-range walkie-talkies and stock­ing up on guns, ammo and food.

    ...

    And as mili­tia researcher Amy Coot­er warns, the threat posed by this grow­ing mili­tia move­ment isn’t sim­ply a long-term threat. It’s a short-term threat. In oth­er words, we should ful­ly expect more far right polit­i­cal vio­lence soon­er rather than lat­er. It’s a warn­ing punc­tu­at­ed by the plans dis­cussed by Lang short­ly before his arrest: armed march­es on March 17th and 20th:

    ...
    The chats also make clear that at least some of those involved in the Capi­tol insur­rec­tion, despite a sweep­ing crack­down by U.S. law enforce­ment that has result­ed in more than 160 cas­es, appear ded­i­cat­ed to plan­ning and par­tic­i­pat­ing in fur­ther vio­lence.

    This has been one of my con­cerns short­er-term: That folks who are more fer­vent are seek­ing each oth­er out in a way that can lead to some short-term, vio­lent out­bursts,” said Amy Coot­er, a senior lec­tur­er of soci­ol­o­gy at Van­der­bilt Uni­ver­si­ty who has stud­ied mili­tia activ­i­ty for more than a decade. Home­land Secu­ri­ty offi­cials on Wednes­day warned of height­ened threats of vio­lence across the coun­try from domes­tic extrem­ists who felt embold­ened by the Jan. 6 attack.

    ...

    While the idea was to orga­nize a coher­ent strat­e­gy ahead of Jan. 20, when Pres­i­dent Joe Biden would be sworn in, the group didn’t appear to coa­lesce around one. Lang offered few details: “The plan for now is to Mar­tin Luther king style March on 17th and 20th, exer­cis­ing our Rights (that means armed),” he wrote on Jan. 13. “Peace and God be the fore­front of all of what we do. But we can­not not show up and appear weak! That is not an option.”

    There’s no sign those in the chats took action on those days, but experts like Coot­er warn against writ­ing off their inten­tions as cha­t­room blus­ter. While most new online mili­tia groups “are prob­a­bly key­board war­riors and noth­ing more,” she cau­tioned, “we don’t know that for sure, and I don’t think we can be com­pla­cent about a real risk from even a small minor­i­ty of such groups.”
    ...

    Are plans for armed mili­tia march­es still in the works? Will the focus remain on rein­stalling Trump and claims of a stolen elec­tion? And will the Trump team be involved plan­ning? Again? How about Alex Jones? Will he assume a sim­i­lar role to the one he played in coor­di­nat­ing with the Trump team and also help to orga­nize anoth­er armed pro-Trump mili­tia march? These are the kinds of ques­tions we have to ask right now. An insur­rec­tion foment­ed by a for­mer pres­i­dent who remains unre­pen­tant and seem­ing­ly con­vinced that the insur­rec­tion was the right thing to do was guar­an­teed to have a vari­ety of con­se­quences. And those con­se­quences include hav­ing one of Amer­i­ca’s two major par­ties being replaced by a pri­vate army.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 3, 2021, 5:07 pm
  32. Here’s an arti­cle that adds some new con­text to the reports of mili­tia groups form­ing an umbrel­la “Patri­ot Par­ty” to fight for a sec­ond Trump term:

    The con­gres­sion­al adven­tures of QAnon-back­ing Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene con­tin­ued on Thurs­day with a vote in the House to strip Green of her com­mit­tee assign­ments in response to Greene’s his­to­ry of call­ing for the exe­cu­tion of Democ­rats. It was­n’t an entire­ly par­ti­san vote. 11 House Repub­li­cans joined the Democ­rats in vot­ing to remove Greene from her com­mit­tee assign­ments. But with the rest of the GOP cau­cus stand­ing with Greene, it’s hard to avoid the sus­pi­cion that Greene is going to be even more beloved by the Repub­li­can base. Now she can play vic­tim. Spe­cial vic­tim. And one thing the GOP excels at is play­ing vic­tim. No mat­ter how absurd. And now that the House Democ­rats went out of their way to sin­gle out Greene, she gets to play the role of ulti­mate vic­tim.

    So it’s very pos­si­ble Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene’s stripped com­mit­tee assign­ments are going to turn her into an even more influ­en­tial force in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics than she already is. Greene was already a con­ser­v­a­tive grass­roots super star as the first open QAnon Repub­li­can. And now she gets to embrace her role as the liv­ing, breath­ing evi­dence of hor­ri­ble left­ist per­se­cu­tion of con­ser­v­a­tives. The right-wing fan­tasies of loom­ing oppres­sion by an pow­er­ful left-wing forces get to feel that much more real to the peo­ple watch­ing the Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene vic­tim­hood real­i­ty play. Real­i­ty TV found a new home in DC.

    And as the fol­low­ing arti­cle notes, Greene has anoth­er trou­bling area of asso­ci­a­tion that’s also going to be pro­mot­ed now that Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene is slat­ed to be a dar­ling of the GOP base: mili­tias. She already has his­to­ry of using the Geor­gia III% Mar­tyrs as a secu­ri­ty detail. And now we’re learn­ing that the Geor­gia III% Mar­tyrs and two oth­er Geor­gia mili­tias are form­ing a new coali­tion with a goal of push­ing seces­sion. So if you’re won­der­ing where the GOP is head­ing from here, note that the mili­tia pro­vid­ing the secu­ri­ty for the par­ty’s new far right dar­ling just formed a pro-seces­sion mili­tia alliance:

    The Atlanta Jour­nal-Con­sti­tu­tion

    Mili­tia alliance in Geor­gia sig­nals new phase for extrem­ist para­mil­i­taries

    By Chris Joyn­er,
    02/04/2021

    ‘We are going to see a lot of this coali­tion build­ing with some pret­ty nasty actors,’ says one expert.

    The leader of a pri­vate para­mil­i­tary group that pro­vid­ed secu­ri­ty for Rep. Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene said he has formed alliances with oth­er far-right groups to advo­cate for Georgia’s seces­sion from the union, fol­low­ing the arrests of par­tic­i­pants in the Jan. 6 insur­rec­tion at the U.S. Capi­tol.

    “The way patri­ots are now being hunt­ed down and arrest­ed by fel­low men and women who have tak­en the same oath has dis­heart­ened any faith I had in the redemp­tion or ref­or­ma­tion of the USA as one enti­ty,” Justin Thay­er, head of the Geor­gia III% Mar­tyrs, said in a text exchange with The Atlanta Jour­nal-Con­sti­tu­tion this week.

    Thay­er said the Mar­tyrs have allied them­selves with fel­low “Three Per­center” mili­tia the Amer­i­can Broth­er­hood of Patri­ots and Amer­i­can Patri­ots USA (APUSA), a north Geor­gia group head­ed by Chester Doles, a Dahlone­ga res­i­dent who belonged to var­i­ous racist and neo-Nazi hate groups before form­ing the new group in 2019. The com­bined groups will advo­cate for Georgia’s seces­sion from the union through an amend­ment to the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion or through “the col­lapse of the Amer­i­can exper­i­ment,” Thay­er said.

    “For the last 150 years, the Impe­r­i­al Yan­kee cul­ture of the north­east has been mold­ing Geor­gia — and the South in gen­er­al — into its ‘per­fect’ image,” he said.

    In an AJC inter­view this week, Doles con­firmed the groups were work­ing togeth­er, but he would not say what they intend­ed to do.

    “Things are dif­fer­ent now. Every­thing has changed,” he said. “We’ve seen our last Repub­li­can pres­i­dent in Amer­i­can his­to­ry. The bal­lot box — we tried as hard as we could try. It’s not work­ing.”

    Researchers who study the far right say polit­i­cal unrest over the past year gave extrem­ist groups oppor­tu­ni­ties to col­lab­o­rate across ide­o­log­i­cal divides, forg­ing alliances based on com­mon griev­ances and ene­mies. The Novem­ber pres­i­den­tial elec­tion and the pro­lif­er­a­tion of base­less con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries about its out­come only pushed groups clos­er togeth­er.

    “We saw mem­bers of tra­di­tion­al mili­tias, white suprema­cists, QAnon and oth­er peo­ple in the same spaces and claim­ing very sim­i­lar ene­mies,” said Amy Ian­dio­rio, an inves­tiga­tive researcher with the Anti-Defama­tion League’s Cen­ter on Extrem­ism.

    This “shared vic­tim­hood nar­ra­tive” around the out­come of the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cre­at­ed the oppor­tu­ni­ty for “tac­ti­cal” alliances among groups that nor­mal­ly wouldn’t mix, she said.

    The Mar­tyrs raised eye­brows this fall when they appeared as pri­vate secu­ri­ty for then-can­di­date Greene at a ral­ly in Ring­gold with for­mer GOP Sen. Kel­ly Loef­fler. Greene posed for mul­ti­ple pho­tos with the mili­tia and said she need­ed them to pro­tect her­self from unspec­i­fied death threats she said she had received.

    On Jan. 6, Thay­er joined throngs of pro-Trump sup­port­ers who ral­lied to hear the for­mer president’s base­less claims of a “stolen” elec­tion and con­dem­na­tion of “weak Repub­li­cans,” but he said he did not take part in storm­ing the U.S. Capi­tol imme­di­ate­ly after it.

    Doles has been work­ing longer to build sup­port for his polit­i­cal group, stag­ing occa­sion­al pub­lic ral­lies and motor­cy­cle con­voys from his north Geor­gia base. He claims to have walked away from his career as a white suprema­cist activist with groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the Nation­al Alliance, while also main­tain­ing ties to some fig­ures in those move­ments. His attempts to insin­u­ate Amer­i­ca Patri­ots USA into main­stream con­ser­v­a­tive pol­i­tics have met with lim­it­ed suc­cess, how­ev­er.

    Doles cham­pi­oned Greene’s can­di­da­cy on his web­site and on social media, often post­ing a pho­to of Greene pos­ing with APUSA mem­bers tak­en dur­ing her Repub­li­can pri­ma­ry cam­paign.

    But when he tried to attend the Ring­gold ral­ly in Sep­tem­ber with mem­bers of his group, Greene had the Mar­tyrs remove him.

    Thay­er said he and Doles have patched things up since then.

    “We both have the same objec­tive and work with oth­er orga­ni­za­tions,” he said in a text. “So it was in the best inter­est of the move­ment to become ally’s (sic) and work togeth­er.”

    Thay­er said the alliance is work­ing with oth­er Geor­gia mili­tias, but the AJC was unable to con­firm those con­nec­tions.

    Thay­er said the alliance was forged out of an “IRA/Sinn Féin type sce­nario.” The com­par­i­son to the para­mil­i­tary Irish Repub­li­can Army and Sinn Fein, an Irish polit­i­cal par­ty, is apt.

    His­tor­i­cal­ly, Sinn Féin asso­ci­at­ed itself with the IRA dur­ing decades of vio­lent con­flict with the British gov­ern­ment in North­ern Ire­land known as “The Trou­bles.” Sim­i­lar­ly, Doles has sought to fash­ion his orga­ni­za­tion as a legit­i­mate polit­i­cal group while using far-right para­mil­i­tary groups like the Broth­er­hood of Amer­i­can Patri­ots as “secu­ri­ty.”

    Hamp­ton Stall, a mili­tia researcher with the non-prof­it Armed Con­flict Loca­tion and Event Data Project, said the Jan. 6 assault has focused more atten­tion on the mili­tia move­ment, includ­ing atten­tion from law enforce­ment and the media. Some lead­ers in the move­ment are respond­ing by reach­ing out to groups with even more extreme ide­olo­gies.

    “I think we are going to see a lot of this coali­tion build­ing with some pret­ty nasty actors,” he said.

    The Mar­tyrs’ con­nec­tion to Greene, who spent years pro­mot­ing the base­less QAnon con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry, illus­trates the tox­ic blend of ide­olo­gies at work in the post-Jan. 6 extrem­ist world. The alliance between the Mar­tyrs and APUSA mix­es a deeply anti-gov­ern­ment ide­ol­o­gy with a group root­ed in white nation­al­ism.

    Con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, like those expressed by QAnon adher­ents, and groups with white nation­al­ist ties pro­vide “onramps” for mili­tia sects to tran­si­tion into more vio­lent rhetoric, Stall said. QAnon con­spir­a­cies about under­ground pedophil­ia rings run by Democ­rats and celebri­ties already are com­mon inside online mili­tia cha­t­rooms, he said.

    “Pret­ty much every Three Per­cent chat since 2018 has Q peo­ple in it,” he said. It’s a trou­bling devel­op­ment because of the the mili­tia movement’s fire­pow­er, he said.

    “The QAnon peo­ple are try­ing to fig­ure out how to take their strug­gle into the world,” he said.

    ...

    ———–

    “Mili­tia alliance in Geor­gia sig­nals new phase for extrem­ist para­mil­i­taries” by Chris Joyn­er; The Atlanta Jour­nal-Con­sti­tu­tion; 02/04/2021

    “Thay­er said the Mar­tyrs have allied them­selves with fel­low “Three Per­center” mili­tia the Amer­i­can Broth­er­hood of Patri­ots and Amer­i­can Patri­ots USA (APUSA), a north Geor­gia group head­ed by Chester Doles, a Dahlone­ga res­i­dent who belonged to var­i­ous racist and neo-Nazi hate groups before form­ing the new group in 2019. The com­bined groups will advo­cate for Georgia’s seces­sion from the union through an amend­ment to the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion or through “the col­lapse of the Amer­i­can exper­i­ment,” Thay­er said.

    Seces­sion is the plan. Either through an amend­ment or “the col­lapse of the Amer­i­can exper­i­ment.” And as the mili­tias see it, the loss of Don­ald Trump is evi­dence that the Amer­i­can exper­i­ment has col­lapsed. Trump was the last Repub­li­can Pres­i­dent in his­to­ry and now Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy is bro­ken. That’s the view of the mili­tias, which is more or less in line with the main­stream Repub­li­can view. It’s just one exam­ple of how the Repub­li­can main­stream is merg­ing with the mili­tia main­stream. QAnon being anoth­er exam­ple:

    ...
    In an AJC inter­view this week, Doles con­firmed the groups were work­ing togeth­er, but he would not say what they intend­ed to do.

    “Things are dif­fer­ent now. Every­thing has changed,” he said. “We’ve seen our last Repub­li­can pres­i­dent in Amer­i­can his­to­ry. The bal­lot box — we tried as hard as we could try. It’s not work­ing.”

    ...

    The Mar­tyrs raised eye­brows this fall when they appeared as pri­vate secu­ri­ty for then-can­di­date Greene at a ral­ly in Ring­gold with for­mer GOP Sen. Kel­ly Loef­fler. Greene posed for mul­ti­ple pho­tos with the mili­tia and said she need­ed them to pro­tect her­self from unspec­i­fied death threats she said she had received.

    ...

    Con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, like those expressed by QAnon adher­ents, and groups with white nation­al­ist ties pro­vide “onramps” for mili­tia sects to tran­si­tion into more vio­lent rhetoric, Stall said. QAnon con­spir­a­cies about under­ground pedophil­ia rings run by Democ­rats and celebri­ties already are com­mon inside online mili­tia cha­t­rooms, he said.

    “Pret­ty much every Three Per­cent chat since 2018 has Q peo­ple in it,” he said. It’s a trou­bling devel­op­ment because of the the mili­tia movement’s fire­pow­er, he said.

    “The QAnon peo­ple are try­ing to fig­ure out how to take their strug­gle into the world,” he said.
    ...

    The goals of the ‘Unite the Right’ ral­ly of 2017 have been real­ized. The right in unit­ed. QAnon adher­ents and mili­tias mem­bers stand side by side with their main­stream Repub­li­can brethren. Unit­ed in their sup­port of Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene. She may have been stripped of her com­mit­tee assign­ments, but she’ll nev­er be stripped from the hearts of the Repub­li­can base. At least not until she dis­ap­points them by not arrest­ing the giant Demo­c­ra­t­ic Satan­ic cabal and they find a big­ger lunatic to fall in love with.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 4, 2021, 5:54 pm
  33. There was an inter­est­ing sto­ry out of Buz­zFeed last week that pro­vides a scan­dalous new twist on the rela­tion­ship played by the Mer­cer-owned Par­ler plat­form in the lead up to the Capi­tol insur­rec­tion of Jan­u­ary 6 and the alle­ga­tions by for­mer Par­ler CEO John Matze that Rebekah Mer­cer blocked his attempts to throw vio­lent extrem­ists off the plat­form:

    It turns out the Trump Orga­ni­za­tion was engaged in secret nego­ti­a­tions with Par­ler last year to offer a stake in the com­pa­ny to Don­ald Trump. The nego­ti­a­tions report­ed­ly start­ed in June of 2020, but were soon squashed by the White House counsel’s office over con­cerns that the deal would con­sti­tute a form of bribery. The bribery con­cerns were root­ed in the fact that the pro­posed deal would involved giv­ing Trump a 40% own­er­ship stake in the com­pa­ny, but it would come with con­di­tions like Trump exclu­sive­ly using Par­ler first when post­ing mes­sages to social media.

    The nego­ti­a­tions were lat­er restart­ed. After the Novem­ber elec­tion. Con­cerns about bribery charges were pre­sum­ably a low­er pri­or­i­ty for Trump at that point. Yes, on top of John Matze’s explo­sive claims that Rebekah Mer­cer blocked him from throw­ing vio­lent extrem­ists off the plat­form, we’re now learn­ing that at the same time Par­ler was play­ing a major orga­ni­za­tion­al role in the plan­ning of the insur­rec­tion by those vio­lent extrem­ists the com­pa­ny was in nego­ti­a­tions with the Trump Orga­ni­za­tion.

    And what was it that ulti­mate­ly derailed the nego­ti­a­tions? The insur­rec­tion. That’s what we’re told. Which means these nego­ti­a­tions were tak­ing place up until that day. So while the White House coun­sel’s con­cerns over the deal clear­ly should include bribery, those con­cerns prob­a­bly should­n’t be lim­it­ed to just bribery because it looks like there was a “facil­i­tate insur­rec­tion for Trump’s endorse­ment” nego­ti­a­tion tak­ing place:

    Buz­zFeed News

    Par­ler Want­ed Don­ald Trump On Its Site. Trump’s Com­pa­ny Want­ed A Stake.

    Doc­u­ments seen by Buz­zFeed News show that Par­ler offered Trump 40% of the com­pa­ny if he post­ed exclu­sive­ly to the plat­form. The deal was nev­er final­ized.

    Ryan Mac Buz­zFeed News Reporter
    Rosie Gray Buz­zFeed News Reporter
    Post­ed on Feb­ru­ary 5, 2021, at 4:50 p.m. ET

    The Trump Orga­ni­za­tion nego­ti­at­ed on behalf of then-pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to make Par­ler his pri­ma­ry social net­work, but it had a con­di­tion: an own­er­ship stake in return for join­ing, accord­ing to doc­u­ments and four peo­ple famil­iar with the con­ver­sa­tions. The deal was nev­er final­ized, but legal experts said the dis­cus­sions alone, which occurred while Trump was still in office, raise legal con­cerns with regards to anti-bribery laws.

    Talks between mem­bers of Trump’s cam­paign and Par­ler about Trump’s poten­tial involve­ment began last sum­mer, and were revis­it­ed in Novem­ber by the Trump Orga­ni­za­tion after Trump lost the 2020 elec­tion to the Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­nee and cur­rent pres­i­dent, Joe Biden. Doc­u­ments seen by Buz­zFeed News show that Par­ler offered the Trump Orga­ni­za­tion a 40% stake in the com­pa­ny. It is unclear as to what extent the for­mer pres­i­dent was involved with the dis­cus­sions.

    The nev­er-before-report­ed talks between Trump’s busi­ness orga­ni­za­tion and Par­ler, a social media net­work that promis­es less mod­er­a­tion than main­stream sites and is embraced by the far right, pro­vide more insight into the fran­tic last weeks of Trump’s pres­i­den­cy. Until the Jan. 6 insur­rec­tion, after which Face­book and Twit­ter sus­pend­ed or banned him for con­tin­u­ing to sow dis­cord about the elec­tion, Trump used those inter­net plat­forms to ped­dle base­less con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries. While doing so, his rep­re­sen­ta­tives active­ly nego­ti­at­ed to bring him to Par­ler, which sought to make the pres­i­dent a busi­ness part­ner who would help it com­pete with Twit­ter and Face­book by get­ting him to post his con­tent on its plat­form first.

    For­mer Trump cam­paign man­ag­er Brad Parscale raised the idea to Trump of tak­ing an own­er­ship stake in Par­ler dur­ing a meet­ing last year at the White House, accord­ing to a source famil­iar with the nego­ti­a­tions. Parscale had tak­en an ear­ly inter­est in Par­ler, and report­ed­ly con­sid­ered cre­at­ing an account for Trump on the site in 2019 as a bul­wark against Twit­ter and Face­book.

    Four sources told Buz­zFeed News that Parscale and Trump cam­paign lawyer Alex Can­non met with Par­ler CEO John Matze and share­hold­ers Dan Bongi­no and Jef­frey Wer­nick at Trump’s Flori­da club Mar-a-Lago in June 2020 to dis­cuss the idea. But the White House counsel’s office soon put a stop to the talks, one per­son with knowl­edge of the dis­cus­sions said, rul­ing that such a deal while Trump was pres­i­dent would vio­late ethics rules.

    “The pres­i­dent was nev­er part of the dis­cus­sions,” Parscale told Buz­zFeed News. “The dis­cus­sions were nev­er that sub­stan­tive. And this was just one of many things the cam­paign was look­ing into to deal with the can­cel cul­ture of Sil­i­con Val­ley.”

    Parscale was replaced as the Trump cam­paign man­ag­er in July.

    Dis­cus­sions were revived in the weeks fol­low­ing the elec­tion, accord­ing to two peo­ple involved, but the deal fell apart after the Capi­tol inva­sion. Fol­low­ing that event, Apple and Google removed Par­ler from their app stores, and Ama­zon kicked the com­pa­ny off its cloud host­ing ser­vice, forc­ing the site offline. The tech giants deter­mined that Par­ler had not done enough to mod­er­ate hate speech and calls for vio­lence on its plat­form before, dur­ing, and after the Jan. 6 insur­rec­tion.

    When reached by phone on Fri­day, Wer­nick, who called him­self an advis­er to the com­pa­ny, said that there had been dis­cus­sions with the Trump Orga­ni­za­tion about bring­ing Trump onto the plat­form, but that the for­mer pres­i­dent had not been involved in those con­ver­sa­tions. He also said there were inac­cu­ra­cies in what Buz­zFeed News was report­ing, but did not pro­vide specifics on what, if any­thing, was inac­cu­rate.

    “We have spo­ken to sev­er­al peo­ple about poten­tial stakes in the com­pa­ny for pro­duc­ing cer­tain things,” Wer­nick said. He declined to get into the specifics of nego­ti­a­tions cit­ing nondis­clo­sure agree­ments he said were in place between Par­ler and the Trump Orga­ni­za­tion.

    Can­non and Matze declined to com­ment. Bongi­no and a Par­ler spokesper­son did not respond to emailed requests for com­ment.

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

    Found­ed in 2018 by for­mer col­lege room­mates John Matze and Jared Thom­son, and Rebekah Mer­cer, the right-wing polit­i­cal donor and daugh­ter of hedge fund mag­nate Robert Mer­cer, Par­ler focused on build­ing a social net­work that would serve as an alter­na­tive to Face­book and Twit­ter by tak­ing a more lax approach to con­tent mod­er­a­tion. It billed itself as a site that allowed “free expres­sion.”

    While it strug­gled to gain trac­tion in its ear­ly months, it soon became a home for con­ser­v­a­tive and far-right per­son­al­i­ties who had been sus­pend­ed or banned from main­stream social media. By late 2020, it had become a go-to online gath­er­ing place for hate groups, con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists, and believ­ers in the QAnon mass delu­sion, as well as promi­nent Repub­li­can law­mak­ers, includ­ing Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Devin Nunes.

    On Wednes­day, Matze told the Wall Street Jour­nal that the site had 15 mil­lion users, includ­ing the for­mer president’s sons, Eric Trump and Don­ald Trump Jr., as well as var­i­ous cur­rent and for­mer mem­bers of Trump’s staff.

    Don­ald Trump, how­ev­er, nev­er main­tained a ver­i­fied account on that plat­form, and pre­ferred to keep his dai­ly mis­sives to Twit­ter and Face­book, where his audi­ence was much larg­er. He had 88 mil­lion fol­low­ers on Twit­ter and more than 35 mil­lion fol­low­ers on Face­book before his Twit­ter ban and indef­i­nite Face­book sus­pen­sion last month. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kush­n­er, inter­vened to keep him off Par­ler dur­ing his last days in office, accord­ing to Bloomberg News.

    How­ev­er, in nego­ti­a­tions with the Trump Orga­ni­za­tion, Par­ler offered a 40% stake in the com­pa­ny, accord­ing to a Decem­ber doc­u­ment seen by Buz­zFeed News and two peo­ple with direct knowl­edge of the pro­posed deal. Upon com­ple­tion of that deal, half of that stake would have been giv­en imme­di­ate­ly to the Trump Orga­ni­za­tion, while the oth­er half would have been doled out in tranch­es over the 24-month peri­od of the agree­ment.

    The Trump Orga­ni­za­tion, which over­sees Trump’s brand and real estate inter­ests, is a col­lec­tion of hun­dreds of busi­ness­es that are owned or con­trolled by Don­ald Trump.

    As part of the agree­ment, Par­ler want­ed Trump to make it his pri­ma­ry social net­work. Accord­ing to the doc­u­ments, Trump would have had to post all his social con­tent — includ­ing dai­ly posts, video, and livestream­ing — on Par­ler for at least four hours before putting it on any oth­er plat­form.

    As part of the deal, Par­ler also asked that Trump link back to Par­ler when post­ing to oth­er social media sites or email­ing his sup­port­ers, and to allow the com­pa­ny to use his email lists to pro­mote its plat­form. In addi­tion, Par­ler want­ed Trump to make intro­duc­tions to any poten­tial investors or adver­tis­ers.

    Peo­ple famil­iar with the dis­cus­sions said they were unclear if Trump was involved with nego­ti­a­tions, which were led from Parler’s side by two share­hold­ers, Wer­nick and Bongi­no, a pop­u­lar right-wing per­son­al­i­ty with close ties to Trump.

    Kath­leen Clark, a law pro­fes­sor at the Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty in St. Louis, said that, had the deal gone through while Trump was still in office, both Par­ler and the pres­i­dent could have been in vio­la­tion of anti-bribery laws. Because the for­mer pres­i­dent often used his Twit­ter and Face­book accounts to make offi­cial com­mu­ni­ca­tions — for exam­ple, announc­ing the fir­ings of gov­ern­ment offi­cials — seek­ing to gain some­thing in exchange for mak­ing posts exclu­sive to anoth­er plat­form could be ille­gal.

    “I think it would have actu­al­ly vio­lat­ed the bribery statute in that he would have been offered some­thing of val­ue — a stake in this com­pa­ny — in exchange for influ­enc­ing an offi­cial act — the act of where to pub­lish his offi­cial com­ments,” Clark said.

    Scott Amey, gen­er­al coun­sel at the Project on Gov­ern­ment Over­sight, a non­par­ti­san watch­dog group, said the news war­rant­ed “an imme­di­ate crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion.” A company’s mere act of offer­ing a stake for the president’s par­tic­i­pa­tion looks uneth­i­cal and deserves fur­ther scruti­ny, he not­ed.

    “While then-pres­i­dent Trump bragged that ethics rules didn’t apply to him, bribery laws do apply, and courts have held that Trump’s social media posts con­sti­tut­ed offi­cial busi­ness while he was in office,” Amey said. “His posts were a pre­ferred method for the White House to com­mu­ni­cate with the pub­lic. If the offer includ­ed any­thing of val­ue, and Trump planned to post on a social media plat­form while he was still in office, that would almost cer­tain­ly be ille­gal, and he should be held account­able.”

    Dis­cus­sions to bring Trump onto Par­ler were ulti­mate­ly derailed by the events of Jan. 6. After months of cast­ing doubt on elec­tion results and call­ing for vio­lence on social media plat­forms, the president’s sup­port­ers stormed the US Capi­tol. Some post­ed pic­tures or videos of their exploits to Par­ler, which had become a breed­ing ground for orga­niz­ing hate and threats ahead of the riot.

    The blow­back for the com­pa­ny came fast, cul­mi­nat­ing in Parler’s removal from Apple and Google’s app stores and Ama­zon Web Ser­vices.

    Matze, who said he was fired as Par­ler CEO last week by Mer­cer, told the Jour­nal that before he was fired he had tried to imple­ment more con­tent mod­er­a­tion so that Apple and Google would allow the app back into their app stores. He said his sug­ges­tion to ban groups based on affil­i­a­tions with des­ig­nat­ed domes­tic ter­ror­ism orga­ni­za­tions was ulti­mate­ly resist­ed by the board.

    In a press state­ment on Thurs­day, Amy Peikoff, Parler’s chief pol­i­cy offi­cer, called Matze’s char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of his ter­mi­na­tion “mis­lead­ing” but did not say what exact­ly was inac­cu­rate.

    “The own­ers and man­agers of the com­pa­ny worked tire­less­ly to build a resilient, non-par­ti­san plat­form ded­i­cat­ed to free­dom of expres­sion, civ­il dis­course, and user pri­va­cy,” she said in the state­ment.

    With Parler’s man­age­ment in flux, it’s unclear when the app will come back online. With Matze gone, Mer­cer — who main­tains major­i­ty con­trol — has report­ed­ly des­ig­nat­ed respon­si­bil­i­ties to Matthew Richard­son, a British lawyer, and Mark Meck­ler, a for­mer tea par­ty activist.

    Mer­cer, Richard­son, and Meck­ler did not respond to requests for com­ment.

    The com­pa­ny also recent­ly attempt­ed to raise fund­ing, includ­ing from Narya Cap­i­tal, the ven­ture cap­i­tal firm of J.D. Vance, the author of the pop­u­lar mem­oir Hill­bil­ly Ele­gy. Two sources told Buz­zFeed News that Vance has also advised Mer­cer on mat­ters regard­ing Par­ler.

    ...

    On Fri­day, Wer­nick said he believes Par­ler will be up by next week and that the com­pa­ny has an exec­u­tive team in place that has “stepped up.”

    For now, the most recent post on the site is a Jan. 26 meme from Matze. It fea­tures a pho­to of a masked and gloved Bernie Sanders from Biden’s inau­gu­ra­tion with super­im­posed text that says, “I wish that John guy would hur­ry up already.”

    ———–

    “Par­ler Want­ed Don­ald Trump On Its Site. Trump’s Com­pa­ny Want­ed A Stake.” by Ryan Mac and Rosie Gray; Buz­zFeed News; 02/05/2021

    “Talks between mem­bers of Trump’s cam­paign and Par­ler about Trump’s poten­tial involve­ment began last sum­mer, and were revis­it­ed in Novem­ber by the Trump Orga­ni­za­tion after Trump lost the 2020 elec­tion to the Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­nee and cur­rent pres­i­dent, Joe Biden. Doc­u­ments seen by Buz­zFeed News show that Par­ler offered the Trump Orga­ni­za­tion a 40% stake in the com­pa­ny. It is unclear as to what extent the for­mer pres­i­dent was involved with the dis­cus­sions.”

    So after Trump los­es the elec­tion, the nego­ti­a­tions are restart­ed. Now, if Trump had­n’t spent two months after the elec­tion insist­ing he was cheat­ed and try­ing to find any means avail­able to stay in office, it would be rea­son­able to con­clude that the elec­toral loss prompt­ed a restart of the nego­ti­a­tions because Trump was now look­ing for post-pres­i­den­tial busi­ness oppor­tu­ni­ties. But, of course, that’s not at all what we saw. Instead, we saw two months of increas­ing­ly inflam­ma­to­ry rhetoric about a stolen elec­tion that ulti­mate­ly hit its crescen­do on Jan 6th with an insur­rec­tion pro­mot­ed heav­i­ly on Par­ler:

    ...
    Dis­cus­sions to bring Trump onto Par­ler were ulti­mate­ly derailed by the events of Jan. 6. After months of cast­ing doubt on elec­tion results and call­ing for vio­lence on social media plat­forms, the president’s sup­port­ers stormed the US Capi­tol. Some post­ed pic­tures or videos of their exploits to Par­ler, which had become a breed­ing ground for orga­niz­ing hate and threats ahead of the riot.

    The blow­back for the com­pa­ny came fast, cul­mi­nat­ing in Parler’s removal from Apple and Google’s app stores and Ama­zon Web Ser­vices.
    ...

    It’s also worth noth­ing that it’s unclear why exact­ly the nego­ti­a­tions fell apart after Jan­u­ary 6. Was it because Par­ler was thrown offline after Ama­zon kicked it off of the AWS host­ing ser­vice over the role Par­ler played in the insur­rec­tion? If so, is the deal back on after Par­ler finds a new host­ing ser­vice?

    Also keep in mind that Trump was­n’t per­ma­nent­ly banned from Twit­ter until Jan­u­ary 8. So it’s pos­si­ble the nego­ti­a­tions fell apart a day or two before Trump found out he will nev­er again be allowed to shout at the world on his favorite plat­form. How did get­ting per­ma­nent­ly banned from Twit­ter change Trump’s inter­est in Par­ler? We can only spec­u­late, although we’ll prob­a­bly get a bet­ter idea once Par­ler is back online.

    And note the addi­tion­al details on the pro­pos­al by Matze to kick vio­lent extrem­ists, like peo­ple who are mem­bers of domes­tic ter­ror groups, off the plat­form: Matze appar­ent­ly pro­posed doing this only after Apple and Google kicked Par­ler off their app stores, which did­n’t hap­pen until after the insur­rec­tion. So Matze’s push to mod­er­ate dan­ger­ous extrem­ists only took place after the insur­rec­tion and in response to Par­ler being kicked out of the app stores. And yet the Par­ler board still resist­ed the move:

    ...
    Matze, who said he was fired as Par­ler CEO last week by Mer­cer, told the Jour­nal that before he was fired he had tried to imple­ment more con­tent mod­er­a­tion so that Apple and Google would allow the app back into their app stores. He said his sug­ges­tion to ban groups based on affil­i­a­tions with des­ig­nat­ed domes­tic ter­ror­ism orga­ni­za­tions was ulti­mate­ly resist­ed by the board.
    ...

    So Par­ler is remain­ing ful­ly ded­i­cat­ed to its mis­sion state­ment of being open to every­one, includ­ing domes­tic ter­ror­ists appar­ent­ly. It’s inter­est­ing brand­ing giv­en the con­text. A con­text where it remains unclear to this day whether or not the US is fac­ing an extend­ed peri­od of far right domes­tic ter­ror­ism fight­ing for Trump’s lost cause.

    And keep in mind that, should Trump keep going down the dark path he’s cur­rent­ly on, it’s entire­ly pos­si­ble he’ll end up being labeled a domes­tic ter­ror­ist leader some­day. What are the odds of Trump’s words lead­ing to future polit­i­cal vio­lence? Bet­ter than 50/50? It’s a grim ques­tion, but if he does end up becom­ing a ter­ror advo­cate that would pre­sum­ably put quite a few of his most fer­vent fol­low­ers on a domes­tic ter­ror watch­list too. Let’s hope that’s not how this pans out, but it’s a real pos­si­bil­i­ty that grows more and more like­ly each pass­ing day as the GOP con­tin­ues to stand behind Trump and the insur­rec­tion. So when we see Par­ler stick with its com­mit­ment to being open to any­one, includ­ing domes­tic ter­ror­ists, that’s not nec­es­sar­i­ly just about being ‘on brand’. It’s also about plan­ning for the future. A future where Par­ler is the com­mu­ni­ca­tion hub of choice for a Trumpian domes­tic ter­ror insur­gency.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 10, 2021, 4:23 pm
  34. With the future of the Repub­li­can Par­ty — and whether or not it remains a polit­i­cal par­ty or instead morphs into a anti-democ­ra­cy para­mil­i­tary move­ment or frag­ments into mul­ti­ple par­ties- remain­ing an open ques­tion while the tri­al of Don­ald Trump’s sec­ond impeach­ment plays out in the Sen­ate, here’s a set of arti­cles that raise the ques­tion of how much the grow­ing threat of polit­i­cal vio­lence posed by a dis­af­fect­ed Trump move­ment will be direct­ed against not just the Left but rival Repub­li­cans too.

    First, we’ve learned some impor­tant details on the time­line of events the pre­ced­ed the now noto­ri­ous Jan 6 tweet by Don­ald Trump at 2:24 pm when he declared that Mike Pence lacked the “courage” to block the count­ing of the elec­toral votes. This was after Trump spent that morn­ing pub­licly implor­ing Pence to show great “courage” that day. We now know that min­utes before he issued that tweet decry­ing Pence’s lack of courage, Trump was made aware that the con­gres­sion­al cham­ber where the vote count­ing was tak­ing place was being evac­u­at­ed due to the dire nature of the secu­ri­ty threat with insur­rec­tion­ists already inside the Capi­tol and call­ing for Pence’s hang­ing. It’s the kind of details that makes that tweet attack­ing Pence sound less like the ram­blings of an unhinged man-child and more like an order to exe­cute Pence.

    The fact that Trump basi­cal­ly threw is loy­al Vice Pres­i­dent to the wolves should, alone, raise seri­ous ques­tions about the nature of the future of the Repub­li­can Par­ty. But as we’ll see in the sec­ond arti­cle below, Mike Pence is the lead­ing 2024 con­tender for the GOP nom­i­na­tion accord­ing to recent polls if Trump does­n’t run in 2024. Those were the results of an Ech­e­lon Insights poll tak­en from Jan 20–26 that asked Repub­li­can and Repub­li­can-lean­ing vot­ers who they would back in 2024. 34 per­cent said they would def­i­nite­ly sup­port Trump if he runs again. But when giv­en a list of can­di­dates that did­n’t include Trump, Pence led the pack with 21 per­cent, with Don­ald Trump Jr in sec­ond place with 10 per­cent
    .

    So the vice pres­i­dent that Trump almost got exe­cut­ed is the guy at the front of the pack for non-Trump 2024 can­di­dates, while Trump’s son is in sec­ond place. We already know Pence has long had White House ambi­tions. And it’s just a mat­ter of time before Don Jr jumps into elec­toral pol­i­tics. What’s the GOP nom­i­na­tion going to look like in 2024 if it’s a race between Pence and Don Jr? This kind of post-Trump show­down has long seemed like a pos­si­bil­i­ty. But it’s only now, in the wake of that Jan 6 vio­lence, that the ques­tion of intra-GOP vio­lence has been seri­ous­ly raised and that’s a ques­tion that would obvi­ous­ly apply to a con­test­ed 2024 nom­i­na­tion process. Espe­cial­ly if it ends up being a race between some­one seen as an ‘estab­lish­ment’ stan­dard bear­er (like Pence) and some­one like Don Jr.

    Final­ly, as Josh Mar­shall has point­ed out recent­ly, we are now see­ing the emer­gence of a Capi­tol insur­rec­tion “Truther” move­ment. It’s cur­rent­ly focused on the death of Offi­cer Bri­an Sick­nick, and the chang­ing sto­ry around the exact cause of his death. Those ques­tions, and the still-unre­solved nature of his death, has led to the claims that maybe his death had absolute­ly noth­ing to do with the riot and has instead become a cud­gel used to pun­ish Trump. Yes, in keep­ing with clas­sic far right con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry garbage log­ic, the ques­tions over Sick­nick­’s death are being used to con­coct a neb­u­lous nar­ra­tive that flips the events of Jan­u­ary 6 into a vast neb­u­lous con­spir­a­cy against Trump. This nar­ra­tive is already being pushed by out­lets like the Nation­al Review and on Tuck­er Carl­son’s show on Fox News.

    Oh, and it turns out that the per­son who appears to be the ori­gin for this Sick­nick meme is for­mer Trump speech­writer Dar­ren Beat­tie. Recall how Beat­tie was fired from the Trump White House in 2018 after he was found to have giv­en a speech in 2016 at the white naitonal­ist H.L Menck­en Club. Well, it turns out Beat­tie got a new White House job, fol­low­ing the elec­tion. He was appoint­ed to a com­mis­sion that helps pre­serve sites relat­ed to the Holo­caust. Yep. And that’s the guy who appears to be behind the Sic­nknick meme.

    So we we have:
    1. Evi­dence that Trump was active­ly encour­age his sup­port­ers to vio­lent­ly appre­hend Mike Pence after Pence refused to uncon­sti­tu­tion­al­ly block the elec­toral count.

    2. Evi­dence that Pence still has a good deal of appeal in the GOP base to put him in the lead for a 2024 run should Trump not run. But Don Jr. remains a close sec­ond.

    3. A grow­ing nar­ra­tive in right-wing media that the facts sur­round­ing the events of the insur­rec­tion are skewed as part of a con­spir­a­cy against Trump.

    Tak­en togeth­er, we seem to have a sit­u­a­tion in the GOP where there’s still a large group of Repub­li­cans who have fond feel­ings towards Pence. Enough to give him a plu­ral­i­ty in that poll. And yet there’s also clear­ly a grow­ing con­tin­gent of Repub­li­cans who are going to view Pence and any oth­er Repub­li­can who did­n’t ful­ly back Trump’s attempts to over­turn the elec­tion as trai­tors. Trai­tors to Trump and trai­tors to their con­cept of Amer­i­ca. So we have to ask: if Mike Pence does indeed run in 2024, how will the hard cord Trump base react to a Pence run? What if the race comes down to Pence and Don Jr? What are the odds that there won’t be vio­lence direct­ed at Pence? Or maybe it’s not Pence but some oth­er estab­lish­ment stan­dard bear­er. Is the Repub­li­can Par­ty’s ‘civ­il war’ going to remain civ­il?

    Ok, first here’s a piece out of Politi­co that con­firms Don­ald Trump knew Mike Pence’s life was already at risk from the storm­ing insur­rec­tion­ist when Trump attacked him on Twit­ter for lack­ing the nec­es­sary courage :

    Politi­co

    Tuberville says he informed Trump of Pence’s evac­u­a­tion before riot­ers reached Sen­ate

    By KYLE CHENEY
    02/11/2021 07:52 AM EST

    Sen. Tom­my Tuberville revealed late Wednes­day that he spoke to Don­ald Trump on Jan. 6, just as a vio­lent mob closed in on the the Sen­ate, and informed the then-pres­i­dent direct­ly that Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence had just been evac­u­at­ed from the cham­ber.

    “I said ‘Mr. Pres­i­dent, they just took the vice pres­i­dent out, I’ve got to go,’” Tuberville (R‑Ala.) told POLITICO on Capi­tol Hill on Wednes­day night, say­ing he cut the phone call short amid the chaos.

    The exis­tence of the phone call had been pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed, but the detail that Tuberville informed Trump his vice pres­i­dent was in dan­ger is a new and poten­tial­ly sig­nif­i­cant devel­op­ment for House pros­e­cu­tors seek­ing Trump’s con­vic­tion: it occurred just around the time that Trump sent a tweet attack­ing Pence for not hav­ing “the courage” to uni­lat­er­al­ly stop Joe Biden’s vic­to­ry. And Trump nev­er indi­cat­ed pub­licly that he was aware of Pence’s plight, even hours after Tuberville says he told him.

    It’s long been unclear pre­cise­ly when Trump learned of the dan­ger that Con­gress and his vice pres­i­dent faced — though it was broad­cast all over live tele­vi­sion — but Tuberville’s claim would mark a spe­cif­ic moment Trump was noti­fied that Pence had to be evac­u­at­ed for his own safe­ty.

    ...

    The House impeached Trump last month for incit­ing the Jan. 6 insur­rec­tion and began mount­ing their case in the tri­al Wednes­day, the first of two days to present their evi­dence. The Tuberville call was among their exam­ples to show that Trump remained fix­at­ed on stop­ping Biden’s vic­to­ry even as it became clear that a mob devot­ed to him was ran­sack­ing the Capi­tol. Trump, they said, did noth­ing to pub­licly call off the riot­ers and instead called Tuberville to con­tin­ue his effort to stop the tran­si­tion of pow­er.

    The phone call itself fig­ured into the House impeach­ment man­agers’ case against Trump, detailed dur­ing Wednesday’s Sen­ate tri­al argu­ments. The man­agers not­ed that while a mob encroached on the Sen­ate cham­ber, Trump was ignor­ing his allies’ pleas for him to pub­licly call them off. Instead, Trump acci­den­tal­ly phoned Sen. Mike Lee (R‑Utah) as he sought to get in touch with Tuberville to request that the Alaba­ma sen­a­tor con­tin­ue object­ing to the elec­tion results in order to buy time. Lee, accord­ing to reports in Utah’s Deseret News and CNN, passed his phone to the new­ly elect­ed law­mak­er for the brief call.

    House man­agers say the call took place short­ly after 2 p.m. Pence was evac­u­at­ed from the cham­ber at about 2:15 p.m. and Trump sent his tweet attack­ing Pence at 2:24 pm. The entire Sen­ate was cleared by about 2:30pm.

    ————-

    “Tuberville says he informed Trump of Pence’s evac­u­a­tion before riot­ers reached Sen­ate” by KYLE CHENEY; Politi­co; 02/11/2021

    “The exis­tence of the phone call had been pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed, but the detail that Tuberville informed Trump his vice pres­i­dent was in dan­ger is a new and poten­tial­ly sig­nif­i­cant devel­op­ment for House pros­e­cu­tors seek­ing Trump’s con­vic­tion: it occurred just around the time that Trump sent a tweet attack­ing Pence for not hav­ing “the courage” to uni­lat­er­al­ly stop Joe Biden’s vic­to­ry. And Trump nev­er indi­cat­ed pub­licly that he was aware of Pence’s plight, even hours after Tuberville says he told him.

    The time­line is clear: Sen­a­tor Tuberville tells Trump that Pence’s life is in dan­ger from the mob of Trump sup­port­ers insid­er the Capi­tol, fol­lowed by Trump telling the world that Mike Pence failed him and them. Trump was clear­ly will­ing to see Pence killed by his mob of sup­port­ers if Pence lacked the “courage” Trump demand­ed.

    Next, here’s a piece from last week about the poll tak­en on Jan 20–26 show­ing Mike Pence in the lead­ing for a 2024 GOP nom­i­na­tion and Don Jr. in sec­ond place. But that’s assum­ing Trump does­n’t run. So the guy lead­ing the post-Trump 2024 polls is the same game Trump tried to have exe­cut­ed last month, which points towards and inter­est­ing nom­i­na­tion process:

    Newsweek

    Mike Pence, Tar­get of Capi­tol Riot Rage, Remains a Fron­trun­ner for 2024 GOP Nom­i­na­tion

    BY JACOB JARVIS
    ON 2/3/21 AT 7:17 AM EST

    For­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence remains a fron­trun­ner for the GOP’s 2024 pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion and the top pick among Repub­li­cans if Don­ald Trump does not run again.

    Polling con­tin­ues to name Trump as the favorite among Repub­li­can vot­ers should he decide to take anoth­er shot at the White House.

    An Ech­e­lon Insights poll on Jan­u­ary 20 to 26 asked 1,006 reg­is­tered vot­ers for their views on issues such as the elec­tion and impeach­ment.

    Repub­li­can and Repub­li­can-lean­ing vot­ers were also asked who they would back as the par­ty’s pres­i­den­tial can­di­date in 2024.

    About a third, 34 per­cent, said they would def­i­nite­ly sup­port Trump if he were to run.

    They were also pre­sent­ed with a list of can­di­dates exclud­ing Trump. Giv­en this list, 21 per­cent said they would back Pence. Behind him was the for­mer pres­i­den­t’s old­est child, Don­ald Trump Jr., who was sup­port­ed by 10 per­cent.

    Pre­vi­ous polls have also iden­ti­fied Pence as the fron­trun­ner among the alter­na­tives to Trump. It has been sug­gest­ed that the for­mer pres­i­den­t’s bless­ing could boost Pence’s White House chances.

    This sup­port for the for­mer vice pres­i­dent comes after Pence was a tar­get of anger for some of the riot­ers who stormed the U.S. Capi­tol on Jan­u­ary 6.

    Videos of the vio­lence cap­tured mem­bers of the mob chant­i­ng: “Hang Mike Pence.”

    The phrase became a hash­tag on Twit­ter in the after­math of the Capi­tol riots, although the social media plat­form blocked it from becom­ing a trend­ing top­ic. An FBI wit­ness has also said that some of the riot­ers want­ed to assas­si­nate the then vice pres­i­dent.

    Pence had reject­ed calls—includ­ing demands from Trump—to refuse the Elec­toral Col­lege votes from cer­tain states. He said he would not uni­lat­er­al­ly reject votes.

    This sparked ire from the pres­i­dent and his sup­port­ers, with Trump attack­ing Pence in a tweet even as the chaos of Jan­u­ary 6 unfold­ed.

    Pence, along with oth­er offi­cials and law­mak­ers, had to be rushed to safe­ty after pro­test­ers breached the Capi­tol.

    It was report­ed at the time that Pence was angry with Trump over the sit­u­a­tion, which has since led to Trump’s sec­ond impeach­ment.

    The pair met on the Mon­day fol­low­ing the riots, both con­demn­ing the vio­lence. They are said to have also reflect­ed on their accom­plish­ments in office.

    The for­mer VP had been urged to use the 25th Amend­ment to oust Trump from pow­er pre­ma­ture­ly fol­low­ing the riots, but refused to do so.

    Pence thanked Trump in a farewell speech on Jan­u­ary 20, say­ing: “I will always be grate­ful for the oppor­tu­ni­ty that they gave us to serve and the way they allowed us to make a dif­fer­ence in the life of this nation.”

    ...

    —————

    “Mike Pence, Tar­get of Capi­tol Riot Rage, Remains a Fron­trun­ner for 2024 GOP Nom­i­na­tion” BY JACOB JARVIS; Newsweek; 02/03/2021

    “They were also pre­sent­ed with a list of can­di­dates exclud­ing Trump. Giv­en this list, 21 per­cent said they would back Pence. Behind him was the for­mer pres­i­den­t’s old­est child, Don­ald Trump Jr., who was sup­port­ed by 10 per­cent.”

    Can the GOP shake off its Trump addic­tion? Will the Trumpers allow that to hap­pen, espe­cial­ly if it’s Mike Pence who gets ends up being the alter­na­tive? These are some of the ques­tions GOP­ers have to be ask­ing themselves...while they simul­ta­ne­ous­ly ignore the very real plot to assas­si­nate Mike Pence. A plot open­ly encour­aged by Trump. It’s part of what makes the GOP’s denials of the vio­lent nature of the insur­rec­tion so reck­less. Those denials include denials of vio­lence that was tar­get­ing the GOP too. That’s not some­thing that can be casu­al­ly ignored with­out con­se­quences:

    ...
    This sup­port for the for­mer vice pres­i­dent comes after Pence was a tar­get of anger for some of the riot­ers who stormed the U.S. Capi­tol on Jan­u­ary 6.

    Videos of the vio­lence cap­tured mem­bers of the mob chant­i­ng: “Hang Mike Pence.”

    The phrase became a hash­tag on Twit­ter in the after­math of the Capi­tol riots, although the social media plat­form blocked it from becom­ing a trend­ing top­ic. An FBI wit­ness has also said that some of the riot­ers want­ed to assas­si­nate the then vice pres­i­dent.
    ...

    Final­ly, adding to this witch­es brew of awful­ness is the emerg­ing nar­ra­tive in main­stream right-wing media that there exists a vast, if vague, plot to hype the nature of the vio­lence dur­ing the insur­rec­tion as a means of attack­ing Trump. It’s like the birth of a new QAnon-style meme hap­pen­ing in real-time. A QAnon-style meme with the pow­er to take on a life of its own. And that’s why any ques­tions about the intra-GOP strug­gles head­ing into 2024 have to take into account that this meme that is new today is going to be a giant four-year old con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry by then. A four year old QAnon-style garbage con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry that will prob­a­bly end up rewrit­ing the entire event and describe it as a plot against not just Trump but Trump vot­ers too. So any­one run­ning against Trump (or Don Jr.) in 2024 is going to have to con­tent with this up-is-down black-is-white nar­ra­tive:

    Talk­ing Points Memo
    Edi­tor’s Blog

    The Sick­nick “Truth Move­ment” Takes Flight on the Right

    By Josh Mar­shall
    Feb­ru­ary 11, 2021 6:44 p.m.

    At least five peo­ple died dur­ing the events of Jan­u­ary 6th on Capi­tol Hill. More than 100 Capi­tol Police offi­cers were injured, at least 15 of whom required hos­pi­tal­iza­tion. Two Capi­tol Police offi­cers took their own lives in the days imme­di­ate­ly fol­low­ing the assault, pre­sum­ably spurred by trau­ma and/or guilt over the insur­rec­tion. But the death of Offi­cer Bri­an Sick­nick has loomed over the events of the Jan­u­ary 6th like no oth­er. While oth­ers were blud­geoned or attacked and could have died of their injuries the fact that Sick­nick did die added a grav­i­ty to the events of Jan­u­ary 6th it would not, for bet­ter or worse, oth­er­wise have had.

    Because of this, a new ‘truth move­ment’ has begun to crop up on the right sug­gest­ing Sicknick’s death was unre­lat­ed to the insur­rec­tion and may even be part of a cov­er-up to tar­nish the rep­u­ta­tion of Don­ald Trump and the MAGA move­ment. It’s ugly and utter­ly pre­dictable.

    This first came to my atten­tion when I read this arti­cle by Andrew McCarthy in The Nation­al Review. McCarthy’s piece is part of a com­mon pat­tern. Con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries arise in obscure pub­li­ca­tions or on 4chan style mes­sage boards. They are then laun­dered into more respectable pub­li­ca­tions, with the balder lies and innu­en­dos trimmed back, from which they enter the main­stream media dis­course. As a lawyer, McCarthy comes at the issue as a tech­ni­cal evi­den­tiary mat­ter, claim­ing that the arti­cle of impeach­ment against Don­ald Trump is in fact defi­cient because the House impeach­ment man­agers have not explained pre­cise­ly how Sick­nick died or who killed him. “Demo­c­ra­t­ic impeach­ment man­agers have a duty to explain how Offi­cer Sick­nick died,” the article’s sub­hed intones.

    McCarthy uses a mix of innu­en­do and ‘just ask­ing ques­tions’ style rea­son­ing to sug­gest that in fact Sick­nick died of nat­ur­al caus­es on the day of the insur­rec­tion. Only a rush to judge­ment and a desire to impugn the the rep­u­ta­tion of Repub­li­cans led peo­ple to claim that pro-Trump insur­rec­tion­ists were respon­si­ble for it.

    As with most con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, this one begins with a grain of truth. We don’t know exact­ly how Sick­nick died. The prox­i­mate cause of death appears to have been a blood clot in the brain, a stroke. But what caused it is not clear. The uncer­tain­ty goes back to the ear­li­est press accounts which tell us that Sick­nick engaged with the insur­rec­tion­ists, returned to his office and then col­lapsed. These min­gled with reports that Sick­nick had been hit over the head with a fire extin­guish­er. But these were always less clear and sub­se­quent videos show­ing a dif­fer­ent offi­cer being hit with a fire extin­guish­er sug­gests this may have a con­fla­tion of two sep­a­rate events.

    ...

    At the moment we only have reports based on anony­mous sources. But the delay in charg­ing any­one seems in part because inves­ti­ga­tors have not been able to piece togeth­er pre­cise­ly what injury caused his death. A CNN sto­ry from a week ago report­ed that inves­ti­ga­tors have not been able to iso­late what lead to Sicknick’s death after review­ing video tape evi­dence. A law enforce­ment source told CNN an autop­sy did not find evi­dence of blunt force trau­ma which would sup­port the ear­ly report of being hit over the head with a fire extin­guish­er. With­out obvi­ous signs of phys­i­cal trau­ma, accord­ing to the CNN report, inves­ti­ga­tors have con­sid­ered the pos­si­bil­i­ty that a chem­i­cal irri­tant in pep­per spray or bear spray used by insur­rec­tion­ists could have caused a reac­tion lead­ing to Sicknick’s. Short­ly before his death, Sick­nick texted his broth­er Ken that he’d pep­per sprayed a cou­ple times while engag­ing with the insur­rec­tion­ists but was oth­er­wise okay.

    These are key details to get to the bot­tom of. But it’s impor­tant to step back from this skein of bad faith innu­en­do to note the obvi­ous point. Sick­nick engaged with insur­rec­tion­ists who had vio­lent­ly breached the Capi­tol for the first time in more than two cen­turies. He returned to his Capi­tol office, col­lapsed and sub­se­quent­ly died after being trans­port­ed to the hos­pi­tal. The idea that this fit 42 year old man, in appar­ent­ly good health, hap­pened to die of nat­ur­al caus­es at just that moment is, while the­o­ret­i­cal­ly pos­si­ble, basi­cal­ly absurd. Yet, by the end of his arti­cle, McCarthy is treat­ing the idea that Sick­nick died in the line of duty as a bor­der­line absurd hypo­thet­i­cal. “Clear­ly,” he agrees, “if Offi­cer Sick­nick died because of some­thing the riot­ers did, that is a seri­ous mat­ter.”

    McCarthy does do us the favor of telling us the where he’s been get­ting his ideas about Sicknick’s death. Tuck­er Carlson’s show is one place. But McCarthy bases his account and links to this arti­cle in a pub­li­ca­tion called “Revolver”, which bills itself as the “new Drudge.” The arti­cle appears to be the work of Dar­ren Beat­tie, a for­mer Trump speech­writer who was fired from the White House for attend­ing a White Nation­al­ist con­fer­ence before being appoint­ed to a board which over­sees Holo­caust com­mem­o­ra­tion short­ly after the Novem­ber elec­tion. Call­ing it a “blood libel” against the MAGA move­ment, the article’s lede gives you a good sense of where they’re com­ing from.

    The stakes are high: Offi­cer Sicknick’s death is the only pur­port­ed death by a large­ly tourist crowd that was let into the build­ing by police, stayed inside the vel­vet ropes, seemed at least part­ly there out of con­fu­sion, for social media clout, or just for the memes, and that even the New York Times con­ced­ed caused lim­it­ed prop­er­ty dam­age.

    The revolver arti­cle sug­gests a plot to either kill Sick­nick or blame his unre­lat­ed death on the pro-Trump insur­rec­tion­ists. The arti­cle sug­gests that Sick­nick was cre­mat­ed to destroy the evi­dence about how he real­ly died.

    Unan­nounced to any­one except inci­den­tal­ly in that Sicknick’s memo­r­i­al remains turned up in an urn instead of a cof­fin, Sicknick’s body has been cre­mat­ed. That means no fur­ther foren­sic analy­sis can be done to estab­lish the cause or time of Sicknick’s death. Why, one must won­der, would a fam­i­ly still search­ing for answers, who has no autop­sy results, no death cer­tifi­cate, and no med­ical report, autho­rize a cre­ma­tion? Did they?

    Now the Sick­nick “truth” move­ment has made its way to The Nation­al Review, the Tuck­er Carl­son show, dis­graced for­mer Trump advi­sor Steve Bannon’s show and appears ready to take off as the MAGA movement’s lat­est effort to nor­mal­ize, excuse and embrace the Jan­u­ary 6th insur­rec­tion.

    ———-

    “The Sick­nick “Truth Move­ment” Takes Flight on the Right” by Josh Mar­shall; Talk­ing Points Memo; 02/11/2021

    Because of this, a new ‘truth move­ment’ has begun to crop up on the right sug­gest­ing Sicknick’s death was unre­lat­ed to the insur­rec­tion and may even be part of a cov­er-up to tar­nish the rep­u­ta­tion of Don­ald Trump and the MAGA move­ment. It’s ugly and utter­ly pre­dictable.”

    They’ve found the real cov­er-up! Or rather, Dar­ren Beat­tie found the real cov­er-up. The cov­er-up over Sick­nick­’s death. Expect this to be the fix­a­tion of right-wing cov­er­age over the Capi­tol insur­rec­tion for years to come, thanks to the main­stream right-wing media cov­er­age it’s get­ting:

    ...

    This first came to my atten­tion when I read this arti­cle by Andrew McCarthy in The Nation­al Review. McCarthy’s piece is part of a com­mon pat­tern. Con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries arise in obscure pub­li­ca­tions or on 4chan style mes­sage boards. They are then laun­dered into more respectable pub­li­ca­tions, with the balder lies and innu­en­dos trimmed back, from which they enter the main­stream media dis­course. As a lawyer, McCarthy comes at the issue as a tech­ni­cal evi­den­tiary mat­ter, claim­ing that the arti­cle of impeach­ment against Don­ald Trump is in fact defi­cient because the House impeach­ment man­agers have not explained pre­cise­ly how Sick­nick died or who killed him. “Demo­c­ra­t­ic impeach­ment man­agers have a duty to explain how Offi­cer Sick­nick died,” the article’s sub­hed intones.

    McCarthy uses a mix of innu­en­do and ‘just ask­ing ques­tions’ style rea­son­ing to sug­gest that in fact Sick­nick died of nat­ur­al caus­es on the day of the insur­rec­tion. Only a rush to judge­ment and a desire to impugn the the rep­u­ta­tion of Repub­li­cans led peo­ple to claim that pro-Trump insur­rec­tion­ists were respon­si­ble for it.

    ...

    McCarthy does do us the favor of telling us the where he’s been get­ting his ideas about Sicknick’s death. Tuck­er Carlson’s show is one place. But McCarthy bases his account and links to this arti­cle in a pub­li­ca­tion called “Revolver”, which bills itself as the “new Drudge.” The arti­cle appears to be the work of Dar­ren Beat­tie, a for­mer Trump speech­writer who was fired from the White House for attend­ing a White Nation­al­ist con­fer­ence before being appoint­ed to a board which over­sees Holo­caust com­mem­o­ra­tion short­ly after the Novem­ber elec­tion. Call­ing it a “blood libel” against the MAGA move­ment, the article’s lede gives you a good sense of where they’re com­ing from.

    The stakes are high: Offi­cer Sicknick’s death is the only pur­port­ed death by a large­ly tourist crowd that was let into the build­ing by police, stayed inside the vel­vet ropes, seemed at least part­ly there out of con­fu­sion, for social media clout, or just for the memes, and that even the New York Times con­ced­ed caused lim­it­ed prop­er­ty dam­age.
    ...

    And this alleged cov­er-up over Sick­nick­’s death is the kind of meme that plays nice­ly into the whole idea that Mike Pence failed in his duty’s to con­test the vote.

    So at the same time we’re get­ting more and more infor­ma­tion indi­ca­tion that Mike Pence’s life was gen­uine­ly at risk in Jan 6, we’re also get­ting the nar­ra­tive that the insur­rec­tion­ists were actu­al­ly quite peace­ful and all of these claims of vio­lence are part of a plot to blood libel Trump and the MAGA move­ment. Tak­en togeth­er, we have all the ingre­di­ents need­ed for a meta-nar­ra­tive of Mike Pence being in on an estab­lish­ment plot to take down the MAGA move­ment. And yet Pence is the lead­ing non-Trump GOP con­tender for 2024.

    Also keep in mind that these ten­sions in the par­ty prob­a­bly aren’t real­ly going to be resolved in any mean­ing­ful way UNTIL the nom­i­na­tion process in 2024 is com­plet­ed. And when you throw in the grow­ing threats of far right vio­lence, this is the kind of dynam­ic that could make the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty’s 2016 trou­bles between the Bernie and Hillary wings look like a walk in the park. And that’s all why the expe­ri­ence of hav­ing his life put at risk by angry Trump sup­port­ers might actu­al­ly end up being an incred­i­bly valu­able learn­ing expe­ri­ence for Mike Pence. Because it’s prob­a­bly not the last time he’s going to have that expe­ri­ence.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 12, 2021, 4:28 pm
  35. Here’s a set of arti­cles that point towards one of the more inter­est­ing angles in the ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tion of the Jan­u­ary 6 insur­rec­tion, and how the open coor­di­na­tion between fig­ures like Roger Stone and groups like the Oath Keep­ers could form the basis for broad­er con­spir­a­cy charges that could involve mem­bers of Con­gress and the Trump team:

    First, here’s an arti­cle from last week that describes the widen­ing net being cast by pros­e­cu­tors in their inves­ti­ga­tion of the indi­vid­u­als charged with storm­ing the cap­i­tal. The kind of widen­ing net that just might ensnare peo­ple who did­n’t storm the Capi­tol them­selves but played a role in foment­ing it and rad­i­cal­iz­ing the peo­ple who did. And that’s the kind of net that just might end up grab­bing fig­ures like Roger Stone, Ali Alexan­der, Alex Jones, and poten­tial­ly even Don­ald Trump. but as First Amend­ment lit­i­ga­tor Ken White points out, the legal bar for charg­ing some­one with incite­ment is quite high, and that’s why he antic­i­pates “increas­ing­ly cre­ative alter­na­tive approach­es by fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors, like con­spir­a­cy.” So at the same time pros­e­cu­tors are inves­ti­gat­ing the peo­ple who incit­ed the riot, the legal bar­ri­ers to actu­al­ly charg­ing some­one with incite­ment are high enough that some­thing more sub­stan­tive, like con­spir­a­cy charges, might be required to actu­al­ly con­vict. Were the riots an instance of ‘lead­er­less resis­tance’ that no one foment­ed? Or did the weeks of increas­ing­ly vio­lent rhetoric by fig­ures like Stone, Jones, and Trump him­self act as the trig­ger for the event? That appears to be a core legal ques­tion at hand, which means we’re about to get a very inter­est­ing legal test of whether or not you can can months open­ly incite a riot and then act like you were just talk­ing metaphor­i­cal­ly.

    But as we’ll see in the sec­ond and third arti­cles below, part of what makes this avenue of inves­ti­ga­tion so intrigu­ing is that it’s not nec­es­sar­i­ly going to rely entire­ly on pub­licly avail­able evi­dence like Jan 6 videos of Trump incit­ing the crowd. We still don’t ful­ly under­stand the scope of the pri­vate col­lu­sion and orga­niz­ing that was tak­ing place between the Trump team and the mil­i­tant insur­rec­tion­ists. There’s plen­ty of clues that indi­cate the pri­vate coor­di­na­tion was exten­sive, but that still needs to be proven in the courts.

    So it was par­tic­u­lar­ly intrigu­ing on Sun­day when Jes­si­ca Watkins — one of the mem­bers of a group of Oath Keep­ers who were videoed walk­ing in a mil­i­tary-style “stack” for­ma­tion as they snaked their way into the Capi­tolclaimed that she had been oper­at­ing as VIP secu­ri­ty at the Trump ral­ly before riot and had even been coor­di­nat­ing with the Secret Ser­vice. Keep in mind that we already know that Oath Keep­ers had been act­ing as the per­son­al secu­ri­ty for Roger Stone in the days lead­ing up to the insur­rec­tion. So the idea that the Oath Keep­ers were play­ing a ‘VIP secu­ri­ty role’ is entire­ly con­sis­tent­ly with pub­licly avail­able evi­dence. The real ques­tion is whether or not they were actu­al coor­di­nat­ing their secu­ri­ty role with the Secret Ser­vice detail that would have been pro­vid­ing Trump and his fam­i­ly with secu­ri­ty at the Jan 6 ral­ly.

    But then, a day lat­er, Watkins retract­ed her claims some­what, with court fil­ings that described her inter­ac­tions with the Secret Ser­vice as more of a pass­ing encounter. “She was giv­en direc­tives about things she could and could not do, includ­ing direc­tions to leave all tac­ti­cal gear out­side of the VIP area, and she abid­ed by all of those direc­tives,” her court fil­ing said on Mon­day. Note that, based on these revised fil­ings, Watkins is still claim­ing to have been allowed into the VIP area of the ral­ly. It’s part of what makes this unfold­ing sto­ry of Watkin­s’s claims to so inter­est­ing: the revised claims are still damn­ing.

    Ok, first, here’s a Wash­ing­ton Post piece from last week describ­ing how pros­e­cu­tors had already begun search­ing for pos­si­ble links between the insur­rec­tion­ists and fig­ures like Stone, Alexan­der, and Jones. Which should­n’t be a par­tic­u­lar­ly dif­fi­cult search since these ties are out in the open. But pro­vid­ing a legal case that demon­strates their words con­tributed to the insur­rec­tion is actu­al­ly quite dif­fi­cult, mak­ing charges like con­spir­a­cy charges all the more tempt­ing for these pros­e­cu­tors:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    U.S. inves­ti­gat­ing pos­si­ble ties between Roger Stone, Alex Jones and Capi­tol riot­ers

    By Spencer S. Hsu and Devlin Bar­rett
    Feb. 20, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. UTC

    The Jus­tice Depart­ment and FBI are inves­ti­gat­ing whether high-pro­file right-wing fig­ures — includ­ing Roger Stone and Alex Jones — may have played a role in the Jan. 6 Capi­tol breach as part of a broad­er look into the mind-set of those who com­mit­ted vio­lence and their appar­ent paths to rad­i­cal­iza­tion, accord­ing to peo­ple famil­iar with the inves­ti­ga­tion.

    The inves­ti­ga­tion into poten­tial ties between key fig­ures in the riot and those who pro­mot­ed for­mer pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s false asser­tions that the elec­tion was stolen from him does not mean those who may have influ­enced riot­ers will face crim­i­nal charges, par­tic­u­lar­ly giv­en U.S. case law sur­round­ing incite­ment and free speech, the peo­ple said. Offi­cials at this stage said they are prin­ci­pal­ly seek­ing to under­stand what the riot­ers were think­ing — and who may have influ­enced beliefs — which could be crit­i­cal to show­ing their inten­tions at tri­al.

    How­ev­er, inves­ti­ga­tors also want to deter­mine whether any­one who influ­enced them bears enough respon­si­bil­i­ty to jus­ti­fy poten­tial crim­i­nal charges, such as con­spir­a­cy or aid­ing the effort, the offi­cials said. That prospect is still dis­tant and uncer­tain, they empha­sized.

    Nev­er­the­less, while Trump’s impeach­ment tri­al focused on the degree of his cul­pa­bil­i­ty for the vio­lence, this facet of the case shows inves­ti­ga­tors’ ongo­ing inter­est in oth­er indi­vid­u­als who nev­er set foot in the Capi­tol but may have played an out­sized role in what hap­pened there through their influ­ence, net­works or action.

    “We are inves­ti­gat­ing poten­tial ties between those phys­i­cal­ly involved in the attack on the Capi­tol and indi­vid­u­als who may have influ­enced them, such as Roger Stone, Alex Jones and [Stop the Steal orga­niz­er] Ali Alexan­der,” said a U.S. offi­cial, who, like oth­ers, spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty to dis­cuss a pend­ing mat­ter.

    Stone is a long­time advis­er to Trump, while Jones is a radio and web-stream­ing host behind Infowars.com. Both are fre­quent pur­vey­ors of con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries: Stone wrote a book sug­gest­ing Lyn­don B. John­son was behind John F. Kennedy’s assas­si­na­tion; Jones has spread and retract­ed claims that the Sandy Hook school shoot­ing was a “hoax.”

    All three ampli­fied and inten­si­fied Trump’s incen­di­ary claims that the 2020 elec­tion was ille­git­i­mate in the weeks lead­ing up to the riot. But Stone and Alexan­der have direct­ly cred­it­ed each oth­er with inspir­ing and plan­ning the pro-Trump Stop the Steal cam­paign, with Alexan­der say­ing he came up with the idea and helped orga­nize the Jan. 6 ral­ly that drew Trump sup­port­ers to Wash­ing­ton. Stone and Jones also pro­mot­ed the extrem­ist groups Proud Boys and Oath Keep­ers and had pre­ex­ist­ing busi­ness or per­son­al ties with mem­bers the gov­ern­ment has charged with coor­di­nat­ing and plan­ning cer­tain parts of the breach or with vio­lence at an ear­li­er Trump ral­ly, records and doc­u­ments show.

    A key task for pros­e­cu­tors and agents is to sift through the mul­ti­tude of motives and inten­tions of the rough­ly 800 peo­ple in the mob that descend­ed upon the Capi­tol — from those who came as indi­vid­u­als drawn to the idea of derail­ing Joe Biden’s pres­i­den­cy before it began, to those who alleged­ly began orga­niz­ing imme­di­ate­ly after the elec­tion to show up in Wash­ing­ton in large num­bers to use force to try to keep Trump in pow­er.

    The U.S. offi­cial and oth­ers famil­iar with the inves­ti­ga­tion cau­tioned that the role of fire­brands like Stone and Jones may be impor­tant most­ly to paint­ing a com­plete pic­ture of that day’s events, regard­less of whether they ulti­mate­ly rise to the lev­el of con­spir­a­cy or oth­er crimes.

    Stone and Jones helped pro­mote Trump’s false reelec­tion fraud claims and ear­li­er ral­lies in Wash­ing­ton and par­tic­i­pat­ed in pro-Trump events Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, but each has denied intend­ing any­thing beyond peace­ful protest.

    Short­ly after the riot, Jones said on Infowars that he was invit­ed by the White House on about Jan. 3 to “lead the march” to the Capi­tol, and that he paid near­ly $500,000, most­ly donat­ed, to help orga­nize the event on the Ellipse.

    Jones pro­mot­ed the event vig­or­ous­ly, called for one mil­lion marchers and told his view­ers on Jan. 1, “Roger Stone spent some sub­stan­tial time with Trump in Flori­da just a few days ago, and I’m told big things are afoot and Trump’s got major actions up his sleeve.”

    A day before the insur­rec­tion, Jones urged a pro-Trump crowd at Free­dom Plaza in down­town Wash­ing­ton “to resist the glob­al­ists” with his refrain, “I don’t know how all this is all going to end, but if they want to fight, they bet­ter believe they’ve got one!” In a Jan. 6 post from near the same spot, he declared “1776” — a term co-opt­ed by Trump fans urg­ing a kind of sec­ond rev­o­lu­tion against the gov­ern­ment. “We’re under attack, and we need to under­stand this is 21st-cen­tu­ry war­fare and get on a war-foot­ing,” Jones said.

    On that day, how­ev­er, Jones said he fol­lowed, not led, the ral­ly crowd as peo­ple moved toward the Capi­tol, and became alarmed by the chaos.

    “Let’s not fight the police and give the sys­tem what they want,” Jones was record­ed shout­ing from an inau­gur­al stage. His attor­ney Marc Ran­daz­za said the video shows Jones urged calm, adding, “If you wish to know what Alex Jones’ role was [on Jan. 6] you need look no fur­ther than the video.”

    Lat­er Jones is heard say­ing, “Trump is going to speak over here! Trump is com­ing!” in what appears to be an attempt to dis­tract and move a crowd away from the building’s embat­tled west front.

    Stone has also pub­licly dis­tanced him­self from the vio­lence and crit­i­cized it, telling Moscow-fund­ed RT tele­vi­sion on Jan. 8 that he was invit­ed to lead a march but “I declined.” He said in the same inter­view that when he addressed a ral­ly at the Supreme Court on Jan. 5, he intend­ed “peace­ful protest” and added, “I have specif­i­cal­ly denounced the vio­lence at the Capi­tol, the intru­sion in the Capi­tol. That’s not how we set­tle things in Amer­i­ca.”

    In the Jan. 5 speech, Stone char­ac­ter­ized the next day’s events as “an epic strug­gle for the future of this coun­try between dark and light .?.?. the god­ly and the god­less ... good and evil.”

    Stone’s attor­ney Grant Smith said in a state­ment, “There is no evi­dence what­so­ev­er that Roger Stone was involved in any way, or had advance knowl­edge about the shock­ing attack that took place at the US Capi­tol on Jan­u­ary 6th. Any impli­ca­tion to the con­trary using ‘guilt by asso­ci­a­tion’ is both dis­hon­est and inac­cu­rate.”

    Alexan­der, in a since-delet­ed video on Periscope weeks before the Jan. 6 ral­ly, said he and three hard-line Repub­li­can Trump sup­port­ers “schemed up of putting max­i­mum pres­sure on Con­gress while they were vot­ing” to change the minds of those who wouldn’t go against cer­ti­fy­ing Biden’s win.

    ...

    Right-wing con­nec­tions

    In record­ed videos and on Infowars, Stone and Jones have lift­ed the pro­files of the Proud Boys, a far-right group with a his­to­ry of vio­lence, and Oath Keep­ers — a loose net­work of self-styled mili­tias — brand­ing them as street-lev­el secu­ri­ty forces for right-wing caus­es and VIPs. A half-dozen alleged mem­bers of the Oath Keep­ers have been charged with con­spir­a­cy and lead­ing up to 30 to 40 oth­ers in the break-in, accord­ing to court fil­ings. Oath Keep­ers founder Stew­art Rhodes, has said he gave no direc­tion or sig­nals to mem­bers to storm the Capi­tol. The leader of the Proud Boys has said the group did not plan to inter­rupt Con­gress.

    Stone was record­ed on video both at the Supreme Court and at his Wash­ing­ton hotel on Jan. 5 and 6 with sev­er­al Oath Keep­ers mili­tia mem­bers who he has said were pro­vid­ing secu­ri­ty.

    Stone in online columns accused news orga­ni­za­tions that report­ed the record­ings of engag­ing in guilt by asso­ci­a­tion and “more ‘Russ­ian-col­lu­sion hoax-style’ smears.” Stone wrote that he knew of “no wrong­do­ing by the Oath Keep­ers or the Proud Boys” and if cred­i­ble infor­ma­tion emerges that reveals a con­spir­a­cy, every­one involved should be pros­e­cut­ed.

    Already, offi­cials have charged three Proud Boy lead­ers in con­nec­tion with the Capi­tol riot or an ear­li­er pro-Trump ral­ly in Wash­ing­ton — Proud Boys chair­man Hen­ry “Enrique” Tar­rio, orga­niz­er Joe Big­gs and Seat­tle leader Ethan Nordean. The three reg­is­tered a com­pa­ny togeth­er last year, and Tar­rio and Big­gs also have pre­ex­ist­ing per­son­al or busi­ness con­nec­tions to Stone and Jones, respec­tive­ly, accord­ing to records and doc­u­ments.

    In pro­ceed­ings while charged with obstruct­ing Con­gress, Stone tes­ti­fied that Tar­rio was one of a hand­ful of aides he entrust­ed with his phones and social media accounts, explain­ing why Stone’s Insta­gram account had post­ed an image of the judge’s head next to what appeared to be gun­sight crosshairs. Stone was con­vict­ed but par­doned by Trump last year.

    Tar­rio, 33, pro­mot­ed Stone’s legal defense fund, launched an online store sell­ing Stone and Proud Boys gear and led Lati­nos for Trump in Flori­da, which worked with the White House’s polit­i­cal liai­son office. Dur­ing last year’s cam­paign, Trump famous­ly encour­aged the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.”

    On Dec. 29, Tar­rio took to Par­ler to encour­age the Proud Boys to “turn out in record num­bers” to the Jan. 6 demon­stra­tion, adding in a Jan. 3 Telegram post, “What if we invade it?

    Big­gs, 37, became an on-air per­son­al­i­ty for Jones’ online Infowars out­let start­ing in 2014, cov­er­ing armed Oath Keep­er vig­i­lantes’ emer­gence at protests against police bru­tal­i­ty at Fer­gu­son, Mo., and ranch­ers’ vio­lent stand­off against U.S. author­i­ties at Mal­heur Nation­al Wildlife Refuge in Ore­gon.

    In a Nov. 20 pod­cast pro­mot­ed by Jones, Tar­rio sug­gest­ed view­ers “kick off this [Biden] pres­i­den­cy with f——- fire­works,” infil­trate his inau­gu­ra­tion and “turn [it] into a f—— cir­cus, a sign of resis­tance, a sign of rev­o­lu­tion.” That pod­cast, which fea­tured Big­gs and Nordean, and was first report­ed by online news site The Dai­ly Dot, was post­ed to YouTube but has since been removed. The Post has viewed the video.

    Nordean, 30, who called him­self Rufio Pan­man online, became a Proud Boys spokesman after a video of him punch­ing out a Port­land pro­test­er in June 2018 went viral and was fea­tured by Jones. Last July, Tar­rio, Big­gs and Nordean start­ed a Flori­da busi­ness called War­boys LLC, pro­mot­ing right-wing caus­es online in the foot­steps of Stone and Jones and through Tarrio’s store, the 1776 Shop.

    Amer­i­cans must “desen­si­tize” them­selves to vio­lence, Nordean said in a Par­ler-linked video Dec. 31 in which his guest called Proud Boys “sol­diers of the right wing” at war.

    Biggs’s defense attor­ney Michael Ryan has called the alle­ga­tions against Big­gs “spec­u­la­tive” and said he is not accused of dam­ag­ing the Capi­tol.

    Nordean’s attor­ney, Assis­tant Fed­er­al Defend­er Corey Endo of Seat­tle, has said his client is not accused of vio­lence, and pros­e­cu­tors were tar­get­ing Proud Boys via “guilt by asso­ci­a­tion.”

    Endo declined to com­ment, and Ryan did not respond to requests for com­ment.

    Tar­rio was not at the Jan. 6 ral­ly and has not been charged with any wrong­do­ing relat­ed to the riot. He was arrest­ed on Jan. 4 and plead­ed not guilty to weapons and prop­er­ty destruc­tion charges at a pre­vi­ous pro-Trump protest in the Dis­trict. Tar­rio said he post­ed “What if we invade it” refer­ring to recruit­ing can­di­dates to take over local and nation­al Repub­li­can com­mit­tees, not the Capi­tol. He said he was in touch with Stone and oth­ers about his plans to attend the Jan. 6 ral­ly, but that was all.

    “There was no plan to go into the Capi­tol ... There was no plan to even inter­rupt Con­gress.”

    Review­ing rad­i­cal­iza­tion

    The Proud Boys have been a major focus of the FBI inves­ti­ga­tion so far, in part because of their state­ments in the run-up to the attack, accord­ing to peo­ple famil­iar with the inves­ti­ga­tion. At least 18 Proud Boys or asso­ciates also have been charged, includ­ing sev­er­al who, accord­ing to court doc­u­ments, alleged­ly appeared to move in an orga­nized fash­ion at the head of crowds storm­ing police, forc­ing entry. Some also appeared to be wear­ing or using ear­pieces and two-way walkie-talkie style com­mu­ni­ca­tion devices, pros­e­cu­tors and the FBI said.

    The group’s actions pose anoth­er crit­i­cal ques­tion for pros­e­cu­tors and FBI agents: How indi­vid­ual riot­ers grew “rad­i­cal­ized” to alleged­ly com­mit crimes that meets the text­book def­i­n­i­tion of domes­tic ter­ror­ism, and whether any crim­i­nal cul­pa­bil­i­ty extends beyond the riot­ers to any­one who may have worked with them.

    Pros­e­cu­tors and the FBI have cast a wide net for evi­dence of rad­i­cal­iza­tion that led to vio­lent crim­i­nal con­duct at the Capi­tol, obtain­ing more than 500 search war­rants and grand jury sub­poe­nas and open­ing case files on more than 400 poten­tial sus­pects as of Jan. 26.

    A Jan. 21 search war­rant for the home and elec­tron­ic devices of a Mary­land man charged with assault­ing police on Jan. 6 sought infor­ma­tion relat­ing to “rad­i­cal­iza­tion against the U.S. Con­gress, the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, the Jan. 6 cer­ti­fi­ca­tion … and the Jan. 20, 2021 pres­i­den­tial Inau­gu­ra­tion.”

    The war­rant also sought infor­ma­tion regard­ing ani­mos­i­ty toward U.S. offi­cials or law enforce­ment; inter­est in the secu­ri­ty and lay­out of fed­er­al build­ings; and oth­ers who “col­lab­o­rat­ed, con­spired or assist­ed [–] know­ing­ly or unknow­ing­ly,” in the assault, or who com­mu­ni­cat­ed about relat­ed mat­ters.

    ...

    First Amend­ment lit­i­ga­tor Ken White said the legal hur­dle for charg­ing incite­ment ris­es the fur­ther removed in time and dis­tance the speak­er is from any law­less activ­i­ty.

    “It’s incred­i­bly hard under cur­rent law to say that some­one like Alex Jones say­ing some­thing a day or a week before is going to meet that stan­dard as the law has been inter­pret­ed,” White said. “I antic­i­pate that you will see increas­ing­ly cre­ative alter­na­tive approach­es by fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors, like con­spir­a­cy.”

    Cur­rent and for­mer U.S. author­i­ties said inves­ti­ga­tors are like­ly exca­vat­ing “lay­ers” of riot­ers’ moti­va­tions, includ­ing whether any might have been part of any wider con­spir­a­cy. Those offi­cials likened the process to inves­ti­gat­ing street-lev­el drug deal­ers or gang­sters who might “flip” and impli­cate high­er-rank­ing cap­tains or ring­lead­ers.

    “Every ter­ror­ism case I’ve ever worked on … has shown some­thing about the rad­i­cal­iza­tion process, or how a per­son came to har­bor the views, ani­mos­i­ty and intent to com­mit a crime of vio­lence,” said Mary McCord, a top nation­al secu­ri­ty offi­cial at the Jus­tice Depart­ment from 2014 to 2017.

    Trump may have seed­ed and stoked riot­ers’ griev­ances with false claims of elec­tion fraud and thin­ly veiled calls for vio­lence, said McCord, now at George­town Law School. But inves­ti­ga­tors are also prob­ing whether riot­ers were lone actors or coor­di­nat­ed by oth­ers who direct­ed them or pro­vid­ed resources such as mon­ey for trav­el, lodg­ing, or weapons, she said.

    “Just like the king­pin in a con­spir­a­cy, the fact he [Trump] gave direc­tions doesn’t mean oth­er con­spir­a­tors are not guilty,” McCord said.

    Michael M. Clarke, for­mer lead FBI case agent inves­ti­gat­ing the 2012 attack on U.S. facil­i­ties in Beng­hazi, Libya, added, “You don’t have to be a rock­et sci­en­tist to think some peo­ple con­spired.” How­ev­er, he added, “That doesn’t mean you have a grand con­spir­a­cy involv­ing every­one, but you may have loose­ly con­nect­ed groups.”

    ———–

    “U.S. inves­ti­gat­ing pos­si­ble ties between Roger Stone, Alex Jones and Capi­tol riot­ers” by Spencer S. Hsu and Devlin Bar­rett; The Wash­ing­ton Post; 02/20/2021

    “A key task for pros­e­cu­tors and agents is to sift through the mul­ti­tude of motives and inten­tions of the rough­ly 800 peo­ple in the mob that descend­ed upon the Capi­tol — from those who came as indi­vid­u­als drawn to the idea of derail­ing Joe Biden’s pres­i­den­cy before it began, to those who alleged­ly began orga­niz­ing imme­di­ate­ly after the elec­tion to show up in Wash­ing­ton in large num­bers to use force to try to keep Trump in pow­er.”

    Why did that mob of rough­ly 800 peo­ple descend upon the Capi­tol? Was it all just an act of spon­ta­neous mob men­tal­i­ty tak­ing over? Mass tem­po­rary insan­i­ty? Was this insti­gat­ed by the words or oth­ers? Or was at least some of the vio­lence active­ly planned in advance? If so, who was involved in the plan­ning? These are the ques­tions investors are report­ed­ly try­ing to answer. But giv­en free speech pro­tec­tions, prov­ing crim­i­nal cul­pa­bil­i­ty won’t be easy, which makes charges like con­spir­a­cy all the more tempt­ing:

    ...
    All three ampli­fied and inten­si­fied Trump’s incen­di­ary claims that the 2020 elec­tion was ille­git­i­mate in the weeks lead­ing up to the riot. But Stone and Alexan­der have direct­ly cred­it­ed each oth­er with inspir­ing and plan­ning the pro-Trump Stop the Steal cam­paign, with Alexan­der say­ing he came up with the idea and helped orga­nize the Jan. 6 ral­ly that drew Trump sup­port­ers to Wash­ing­ton. Stone and Jones also pro­mot­ed the extrem­ist groups Proud Boys and Oath Keep­ers and had pre­ex­ist­ing busi­ness or per­son­al ties with mem­bers the gov­ern­ment has charged with coor­di­nat­ing and plan­ning cer­tain parts of the breach or with vio­lence at an ear­li­er Trump ral­ly, records and doc­u­ments show.

    ...

    Short­ly after the riot, Jones said on Infowars that he was invit­ed by the White House on about Jan. 3 to “lead the march” to the Capi­tol, and that he paid near­ly $500,000, most­ly donat­ed, to help orga­nize the event on the Ellipse.

    Jones pro­mot­ed the event vig­or­ous­ly, called for one mil­lion marchers and told his view­ers on Jan. 1, “Roger Stone spent some sub­stan­tial time with Trump in Flori­da just a few days ago, and I’m told big things are afoot and Trump’s got major actions up his sleeve.”

    A day before the insur­rec­tion, Jones urged a pro-Trump crowd at Free­dom Plaza in down­town Wash­ing­ton “to resist the glob­al­ists” with his refrain, “I don’t know how all this is all going to end, but if they want to fight, they bet­ter believe they’ve got one!” In a Jan. 6 post from near the same spot, he declared “1776” — a term co-opt­ed by Trump fans urg­ing a kind of sec­ond rev­o­lu­tion against the gov­ern­ment. “We’re under attack, and we need to under­stand this is 21st-cen­tu­ry war­fare and get on a war-foot­ing,” Jones said.

    ...

    Alexan­der, in a since-delet­ed video on Periscope weeks before the Jan. 6 ral­ly, said he and three hard-line Repub­li­can Trump sup­port­ers “schemed up of putting max­i­mum pres­sure on Con­gress while they were vot­ing” to change the minds of those who wouldn’t go against cer­ti­fy­ing Biden’s win.

    ...

    In record­ed videos and on Infowars, Stone and Jones have lift­ed the pro­files of the Proud Boys, a far-right group with a his­to­ry of vio­lence, and Oath Keep­ers — a loose net­work of self-styled mili­tias — brand­ing them as street-lev­el secu­ri­ty forces for right-wing caus­es and VIPs. A half-dozen alleged mem­bers of the Oath Keep­ers have been charged with con­spir­a­cy and lead­ing up to 30 to 40 oth­ers in the break-in, accord­ing to court fil­ings. Oath Keep­ers founder Stew­art Rhodes, has said he gave no direc­tion or sig­nals to mem­bers to storm the Capi­tol. The leader of the Proud Boys has said the group did not plan to inter­rupt Con­gress.

    Stone was record­ed on video both at the Supreme Court and at his Wash­ing­ton hotel on Jan. 5 and 6 with sev­er­al Oath Keep­ers mili­tia mem­bers who he has said were pro­vid­ing secu­ri­ty.

    ...

    In pro­ceed­ings while charged with obstruct­ing Con­gress, Stone tes­ti­fied that Tar­rio was one of a hand­ful of aides he entrust­ed with his phones and social media accounts, explain­ing why Stone’s Insta­gram account had post­ed an image of the judge’s head next to what appeared to be gun­sight crosshairs. Stone was con­vict­ed but par­doned by Trump last year.

    ...

    First Amend­ment lit­i­ga­tor Ken White said the legal hur­dle for charg­ing incite­ment ris­es the fur­ther removed in time and dis­tance the speak­er is from any law­less activ­i­ty.

    “It’s incred­i­bly hard under cur­rent law to say that some­one like Alex Jones say­ing some­thing a day or a week before is going to meet that stan­dard as the law has been inter­pret­ed,” White said. “I antic­i­pate that you will see increas­ing­ly cre­ative alter­na­tive approach­es by fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors, like con­spir­a­cy.”
    ...

    And then, a cou­ple days after that report, we learn that one of the Oath Keep­ers videoed storm­ing the Capi­tol claimed she had been pro­vid­ing VIP secu­ri­ty at the ral­ly ear­li­er, even work­ing with Secret Ser­vice to coor­di­nate pro­vid­ing secu­ri­ty to leg­is­la­tors and oth­ers dur­ing their post-ral­ly March to the Capi­tol:

    CNN

    Oath Keep­er claims she was VIP secu­ri­ty at Trump ral­ly before riot and says she met with Secret Ser­vice agents

    By Kate­lyn Polantz,
    Updat­ed 3:45 PM ET, Sun Feb­ru­ary 21, 2021

    (CNN)A leader in an alleged Oath Keep­ers con­spir­a­cy in the US Capi­tol insur­rec­tion claims she was giv­en a VIP pass to the pro-Trump ral­ly on Jan­u­ary 6, had met with Secret Ser­vice agents and was pro­vid­ing secu­ri­ty for leg­is­la­tors and oth­ers, includ­ing in their march to the Capi­tol, accord­ing to a new court fil­ing.

    Attor­neys for Ohio Oath Keep­er Jes­si­ca Watkins detail how the efforts among para­mil­i­tants who are now accused of con­spir­a­cy on Jan­u­ary 6 were clos­er to the appa­ra­tus around then-Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and his ral­ly than was pre­vi­ous­ly known.

    By shar­ing the new details in the fil­ing Sat­ur­day, the defense attor­ney for Watkins, a for­mer Army ranger who served in Afghanistan, argues for her release from jail on bond and oth­er restric­tions as she awaits tri­al.

    On Jan­u­ary 5 and 6, Ms. Watkins was present not as an insur­rec­tion­ist, but to pro­vide secu­ri­ty to the speak­ers at the ral­ly, to pro­vide escort for the leg­is­la­tors and oth­ers to march to the Capi­tol as direct­ed by the then-Pres­i­dent, and to safe­ly escort pro­tes­tors away from the Capi­tol to their vehi­cles and cars at the con­clu­sion of the protest,” the court fil­ing said on Sat­ur­day. “She was giv­en a VIP pass to the ral­ly. She met with Secret Ser­vice agents. She was with­in 50 feet of the stage dur­ing the ral­ly to pro­vide secu­ri­ty for the speak­ers. At the time the Capi­tol was breached, she was still at the site of the ini­tial ral­ly where she had pro­vid­ed secu­ri­ty.

    The US Secret Ser­vice, in response to Watkins’ claims in the Sat­ur­day fil­ing, denied that pri­vate cit­i­zens were work­ing with the Secret Ser­vice to pro­vide secu­ri­ty on Jan­u­ary 6.

    “To car­ry out its pro­tec­tive func­tions on Jan­u­ary 6th, the U.S. Secret Ser­vice relied on the assis­tance of var­i­ous gov­ern­ment part­ners. Any asser­tion that the Secret Ser­vice employed pri­vate cit­i­zens to per­form those func­tions is false,” a US Secret Ser­vice spokesper­son said in a state­ment to CNN on Sun­day.

    The Jus­tice Depart­ment, which is pros­e­cut­ing Watkins’ case, has not yet respond­ed to her claims in court.

    Watkins is cen­tral to one of the most aggres­sive crim­i­nal con­spir­a­cy cas­es yet to emerge from the insur­rec­tion. The Jus­tice Depart­ment indict­ed her and eight oth­er alleged Oath Keep­ers on sev­er­al charges relat­ed to the riot, includ­ing alle­ga­tions that the group coor­di­nat­ed their trav­el to the pro-Trump event, dis­cussed train­ing and weapons before­hand, suit­ed up in body armor and broke through the crowd head­ing into the Capi­tol in a mil­i­tary-style for­ma­tion.

    Watkins’ attor­ney argued in the new fil­ing she isn’t alleged to have been vio­lent in the melee, and that, though she is charged with aid­ing the destruc­tion of prop­er­ty, did­n’t par­tic­i­pate in van­dal­ism and encour­aged oth­ers not to as well. The court fil­ing is the first meaty defense of the high-pro­file defen­dant in court.

    Pros­e­cu­tors pre­vi­ous­ly said Watkins had wait­ed for direc­tion from Trump — and believed she had received it before she joined the siege, alleged­ly lead­ing sev­er­al oth­ers into the Capi­tol build­ing to fight against Con­gress’ cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of the Elec­toral Col­lege vote.

    Watkins’ defense attor­ney, Michelle Peter­son, wrote on Sat­ur­day that her client and oth­er sup­port­ers of Trump had believed the then-Pres­i­dent would invoke the Insur­rec­tion Act to use the mil­i­tary to over­turn what he false­ly said was the fraud­u­lent elec­tion of Joe Biden. And Watkins and oth­ers believed “they would have a role if this were to hap­pen,” the fil­ing said.

    “How­ev­er mis­guid­ed, her inten­tions were not in any way relat­ed to an inten­tion to over­throw the gov­ern­ment, but to sup­port what she believed to be the law­ful gov­ern­ment. She took an oath to sup­port the Con­sti­tu­tion and had no inten­tion of vio­lat­ing that oath or of com­mit­ting any vio­lent acts.”

    Watkins’ attor­ney argued in the fil­ing her client had worn tac­ti­cal gear poten­tial­ly to defend her­self, and walked up the Capi­tol steps with oth­er Oath Keep­ers in a “stack” for­ma­tion because the group may have want­ed to stay togeth­er in the crowd.

    The attor­ney also not­ed that Watkins now faces risks in jail, because of the coro­n­avirus and because she is trans­gen­der.

    ...

    ———–

    “Oath Keep­er claims she was VIP secu­ri­ty at Trump ral­ly before riot and says she met with Secret Ser­vice agents” by Kate­lyn Polantz; CNN; 02/21/2021

    ““On Jan­u­ary 5 and 6, Ms. Watkins was present not as an insur­rec­tion­ist, but to pro­vide secu­ri­ty to the speak­ers at the ral­ly, to pro­vide escort for the leg­is­la­tors and oth­ers to march to the Capi­tol as direct­ed by the then-Pres­i­dent, and to safe­ly escort pro­tes­tors away from the Capi­tol to their vehi­cles and cars at the con­clu­sion of the protest,” the court fil­ing said on Sat­ur­day. “She was giv­en a VIP pass to the ral­ly. She met with Secret Ser­vice agents. She was with­in 50 feet of the stage dur­ing the ral­ly to pro­vide secu­ri­ty for the speak­ers. At the time the Capi­tol was breached, she was still at the site of the ini­tial ral­ly where she had pro­vid­ed secu­ri­ty.””

    Watkins was­n’t an insur­rec­tion­ist. She was pro­vid­ing secu­ri­ty to leg­is­la­tors and oth­ers as they marched from the ral­ly to the Capi­tol, as direct­ed by then-Pres­i­dent Trump. She has a VIP pass and met with Secret Ser­vice. It’s quite an ali­bi. An ali­bi that’s in keep­ing with what pros­e­cu­tors are charg­ing too...that Watkins believed she was act­ing on order from Trump him­self:

    ...
    Watkins is cen­tral to one of the most aggres­sive crim­i­nal con­spir­a­cy cas­es yet to emerge from the insur­rec­tion. The Jus­tice Depart­ment indict­ed her and eight oth­er alleged Oath Keep­ers on sev­er­al charges relat­ed to the riot, includ­ing alle­ga­tions that the group coor­di­nat­ed their trav­el to the pro-Trump event, dis­cussed train­ing and weapons before­hand, suit­ed up in body armor and broke through the crowd head­ing into the Capi­tol in a mil­i­tary-style for­ma­tion.

    ...

    Pros­e­cu­tors pre­vi­ous­ly said Watkins had wait­ed for direc­tion from Trump — and believed she had received it before she joined the siege, alleged­ly lead­ing sev­er­al oth­ers into the Capi­tol build­ing to fight against Con­gress’ cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of the Elec­toral Col­lege vote.

    Watkins’ defense attor­ney, Michelle Peter­son, wrote on Sat­ur­day that her client and oth­er sup­port­ers of Trump had believed the then-Pres­i­dent would invoke the Insur­rec­tion Act to use the mil­i­tary to over­turn what he false­ly said was the fraud­u­lent elec­tion of Joe Biden. And Watkins and oth­ers believed “they would have a role if this were to hap­pen,” the fil­ing said.

    “How­ev­er mis­guid­ed, her inten­tions were not in any way relat­ed to an inten­tion to over­throw the gov­ern­ment, but to sup­port what she believed to be the law­ful gov­ern­ment. She took an oath to sup­port the Con­sti­tu­tion and had no inten­tion of vio­lat­ing that oath or of com­mit­ting any vio­lent acts.”

    Watkins’ attor­ney argued in the fil­ing her client had worn tac­ti­cal gear poten­tial­ly to defend her­self, and walked up the Capi­tol steps with oth­er Oath Keep­ers in a “stack” for­ma­tion because the group may have want­ed to stay togeth­er in the crowd.
    ...

    But then, a day lat­er, Watkins changed her sto­ry. But only a lit­tle. Instead of her pre­vi­ous descrip­tion of meet­ing with the Secret Ser­vice agents about pro­vid­ing VIP secu­ri­ty at the ral­ly, she now says she mere­ly spoke with Secret Ser­vice mem­bers as they passed through secu­ri­ty at the ral­ly. But in the new fil­ing, Watkins still asserts that she was play­ing a secu­ri­ty role at the ral­ly that was sanc­tioned by the ral­ly orga­niz­ers. She’s only revok­ing the pre­vi­ous sug­ges­tion that the Secret Ser­vice sanc­tioned it too. And the Secret Ser­vice appears to be con­cur­ring with this descrip­tion, includ­ing the descrip­tion of Watkins being allowed into the VIP sec­tion of the ral­ly, say­ing, “She was giv­en direc­tives about things she could and could not do, includ­ing direc­tions to leave all tac­ti­cal gear out­side of the VIP area, and she abid­ed by all of those direc­tives.” So every­one, includ­ing the Secret Ser­vice, is in agree­ment that Watkins was allowed into the VIP area of the ral­ly. The only ques­tion is whether or not the Secret Ser­vice active­ly sanc­tioned her being there. Over­all, it was less a retrac­tion by Watkins, and more like a clar­i­fi­ca­tion that leaves the core of asser­tions intact:

    CNN

    Oath Keep­er now says she did­n’t meet with Secret Ser­vice around the Jan­u­ary 6 ral­ly

    By Kate­lyn Polantz
    Updat­ed 8:27 PM ET, Mon Feb­ru­ary 22, 2021

    (CNN)Jes­si­ca Watkins, a leader in an alleged Oath Keep­ers con­spir­a­cy in the US Capi­tol insur­rec­tion, changed her sto­ry Mon­day about meet­ing with Secret Ser­vice agents in describ­ing her actions on Jan­u­ary 6.

    In a court fil­ing over the week­end, Watkins said she was giv­en a VIP pass to the Trump ral­ly, had met with Secret Ser­vice agents and was pro­vid­ing secu­ri­ty for leg­is­la­tors and oth­ers, includ­ing in their march to the Capi­tol.

    But on Mon­day, Watkins took back some of those asser­tions, say­ing she had mere­ly spo­ken with Secret Ser­vice mem­bers as she passed through secu­ri­ty at the ral­ly.

    Watkins also con­tin­ued to point a fin­ger at ral­ly orga­niz­ers whom she felt had empow­ered her as a secu­ri­ty pres­ence for the pri­vate event, accord­ing to her court fil­ing on Mon­day.

    Still, Watkins’ details in court sug­gest how the efforts among para­mil­i­tants who are now accused of con­spir­a­cy on Jan­u­ary 6 were clos­er to the appa­ra­tus around then-Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and his ral­ly than was pre­vi­ous­ly known.

    Watkins, a for­mer Army ranger who served in Afghanistan, is seek­ing to be released from jail as she awaits tri­al, fol­low­ing her indict­ment for con­spir­a­cy and oth­er actions on Jan­u­ary 6. She is set to be in court before a fed­er­al judge Tues­day after­noon.

    Regard­ing her pass­ing encounter with the Secret Ser­vice, “She was giv­en direc­tives about things she could and could not do, includ­ing direc­tions to leave all tac­ti­cal gear out­side of the VIP area, and she abid­ed by all of those direc­tives,” her court fil­ing said on Mon­day.

    “Ms. Watkins does not sug­gest that she has any direct knowl­edge that her role as secu­ri­ty was sanc­tioned by any­one oth­er than peo­ple involved in orga­niz­ing the ral­ly,” the new fil­ing added.

    The US Secret Ser­vice, in response to Watkins’ claims in the Sat­ur­day fil­ing, denied that pri­vate cit­i­zens worked with them to pro­vide secu­ri­ty on Jan­u­ary 6. The Trump ral­ly was pri­vate­ly orga­nized, and the Secret Ser­vice was there only to guard offi­cials under its pro­tec­tion.

    “To car­ry out its pro­tec­tive func­tions on Jan­u­ary 6th, the U.S. Secret Ser­vice relied on the assis­tance of var­i­ous gov­ern­ment part­ners. Any asser­tion that the Secret Ser­vice employed pri­vate cit­i­zens to per­form those func­tions is false,” a US Secret Ser­vice spokesper­son said in a state­ment to CNN on Sun­day.

    ...

    ———–

    “Oath Keep­er now says she did­n’t meet with Secret Ser­vice around the Jan­u­ary 6 ral­ly” by Kate­lyn Polantz; CNN; 02/22/2021

    “Still, Watkins’ details in court sug­gest how the efforts among para­mil­i­tants who are now accused of con­spir­a­cy on Jan­u­ary 6 were clos­er to the appa­ra­tus around then-Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and his ral­ly than was pre­vi­ous­ly known.

    Yes, while Watkins may have changed her claims slight­ly in her court fil­ings, the revised claims still sug­gests that the para­mil­i­tary insur­rec­tion­ists that stormed the Capi­tol were work­ing a lot clos­er with the Trump team than pre­vi­ous­ly known. And note how this clar­i­fi­ca­tion by Watkins and the Secret Ser­vice appears to rely on the clar­i­fi­ca­tion that there were actu­al­ly two sep­a­rate secu­ri­ty ser­vices at the Jan 6 ral­ly: the secu­ri­ty pro­vid­ed by the ral­ly orga­niz­ers — which osten­si­bly applies to every­one where — and the secu­ri­ty pro­vid­ed by the Secret Ser­vice that only applies to the offi­cials under its pro­tec­tion. In oth­er words, Watkins real­ly was act­ing as secu­ri­ty in an offi­cial­ly sanc­tioned capac­i­ty, but it was the ral­ly’s secu­ri­ty, not the secu­ri­ty pro­vid­ed by the Secret Ser­vice:

    ...
    Regard­ing her pass­ing encounter with the Secret Ser­vice, “She was giv­en direc­tives about things she could and could not do, includ­ing direc­tions to leave all tac­ti­cal gear out­side of the VIP area, and she abid­ed by all of those direc­tives,” her court fil­ing said on Mon­day.

    “Ms. Watkins does not sug­gest that she has any direct knowl­edge that her role as secu­ri­ty was sanc­tioned by any­one oth­er than peo­ple involved in orga­niz­ing the ral­ly,” the new fil­ing added.

    The US Secret Ser­vice, in response to Watkins’ claims in the Sat­ur­day fil­ing, denied that pri­vate cit­i­zens worked with them to pro­vide secu­ri­ty on Jan­u­ary 6. The Trump ral­ly was pri­vate­ly orga­nized, and the Secret Ser­vice was there only to guard offi­cials under its pro­tec­tion.
    ...

    So the pic­ture that’s emerg­ing is that Watkins was­n’t work­ing direct­ly with the Secret Ser­vice in pro­vid­ing secu­ri­ty. She was work­ing a par­al­lel ral­ly secu­ri­ty ser­vice that was cir­cum­stan­tial­ly forced to coor­di­nate with the Secret Ser­vice. And that work got her access to the VIP area, neces­si­tat­ing some inter­ac­tions with the Secret Ser­vice agents pro­tect­ing those VIPs. Over­all, it’s not exact­ly an excul­pa­to­ry change to the sto­ry. It’s still a sto­ry about an orga­nized para­mil­i­tary group exe­cut­ing a mil­i­tary-style inva­sion of the Capi­tol while work­ing in close coor­di­na­tion with the Trump team. It’s just that now we know that work involved won­der­ing around in the ral­ly’s VIP area.

    And that all rais­es anoth­er inter­est­ing ques­tion: so if Watkins was allowed into the VIP area of the ral­ly, but she was­n’t play­ing a secu­ri­ty role at that point since Secret Ser­vice was already secur­ing the VIPs, what exact­ly was she doing back there? Who was she meet­ing with and what did they talk about? We still don’t know. We just know that what­ev­er she did back in that VIP area of the ral­ly, she did min­utes before she was filmed snaking her way through the crowd of insur­rec­tion­ists on their way into the Capi­tol. In that sense, if she had been play­ing a secu­ri­ty role in that VIP sec­tion of the ral­ly it would prob­a­bly be a lot less scan­dalous than the obvi­ous alter­na­tive rea­sons for being back there.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 23, 2021, 5:54 pm
  36. So which was the real Trumpian con­fer­ence? Which con­fer­ence tru­ly cap­tured the con­tem­po­rary Trumpian zeit­geist? That’s the ques­tion posed to US con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment fol­low­ing the pair of far right polit­i­cal con­fer­ences in Orlan­do over the week­end. Yes, a pair of far right con­fer­ences. CPAC has a shad­ow. An extra far right shad­ow, because CPAC appar­ent­ly was­n’t crazy enough: The Amer­i­ca First con­fer­ence (AFPAC), held just down the street from CPAC and led by far right per­son­al­i­ty Nick Fuentes.

    First, recall how Fuentes has played a lead­ing role in the “Stop the Steal” move­ment, with Fuentes noto­ri­ous­ly lead­ing a crowd to the chant of “Destroy the GOP! Destroy the GOP!” back in Decem­ber to express dis­plea­sure with the Repub­li­can Par­ty’s lack of offi­cial com­mit­ment to keep­ing Trump in office no mat­ter what. He’s also rou­tine­ly used vio­lent polit­i­cal rhetoric, like when he pined about killing Michi­gan’s leg­is­la­tors who did­n’t sup­port over­turn­ing the elec­tion. That’s the guy head­ing up this ‘Alt CPAC’.

    So which is the real Trumpian con­fer­ence? It’s a ques­tion the AFPAC’s orga­niz­ers are encour­ag­ing us to ask since they are jux­ta­pos­ing the event to CPAC and pre­sent­ing them­selves as the real Trumpian con­fer­ence. Are they cor­rect? On the one hand, Trump did speak at CPAC and not AFPAC and the con­fer­ence was basi­cal­ly the open wor­ship of the cult of Trump. But there’s no deny­ing that the embrace of open polit­i­cal vio­lence by fig­ures like Fuentes are far more rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the ‘accel­er­a­tionist’ wing of the MAGA move­ment. And in that sense, there’s no need to dis­tin­guish between the two events. Both are rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Trump­ism: CPAC is the ego and AFPAC the id:

    Medi­um
    DFR Lab

    Extrem­ist social media influ­encers to gath­er offline for first time since Capi­tol attack

    Far-right Amer­i­ca First orga­niz­ers are lever­ag­ing social media fol­low­ings and pro­pa­gan­da to draw sup­port­ers to Flori­da con­fer­ence

    Jared Holt is a Research Fel­low with the Dig­i­tal Foren­sic Research Lab.
    Feb 26, 2021

    A loose­ly orga­nized coali­tion of extrem­ist social media influ­encers, includ­ing at least two peo­ple who were present at the insur­rec­tion­ist attack on the U.S. Capi­tol on Jan­u­ary 6, are sched­uled to host their first major offline event since the attempt­ed insur­rec­tion. The event, sched­uled for Feb­ru­ary 26, 2021, marks the lat­est instance of online extrem­ism inspir­ing real-world activ­i­ty.

    The far-right sub­group behind the con­fer­ence calls itself the “Amer­i­ca First” move­ment, deriv­ing its name­sake from the title of the broad­casts of extrem­ist live-stream­er Nicholas Fuentes, its most promi­nent fig­ure. Amer­i­ca First exists most notably as a fringe move­ment among con­ser­v­a­tive social media com­mu­ni­ties, home to its own micro-indus­try of influ­encers, ven­dors, and broad­cast­ers. Its fol­low­ers have repeat­ed­ly antag­o­nized com­pet­ing Repub­li­can caus­es — some­times in per­son — to boost the movement’s vis­i­bil­i­ty on the nation­al polit­i­cal stage and siphon younger activists into extrem­ist projects.

    Two speak­ers at the con­fer­ence, Fuentes and video pro­duc­er Vin­cent James Foxx, were present on the east side of the U.S. Capi­tol build­ing dur­ing the Jan­u­ary 6 attack. Accord­ing to South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter, Fuentes told his sup­port­ers dur­ing the attack, “Keep mov­ing towards the Capi­tol — it appears we are tak­ing the Capi­tol back!” He lat­er added, “Break down the bar­ri­ers and dis­re­gard the police. The Capi­tol belongs to us.”

    This year’s Amer­i­ca First Polit­i­cal Action Con­fer­ence (AFPAC) is also set to fea­ture speech­es from oth­er far-right fig­ures who have ped­dled lies about the integri­ty of the 2020 elec­tion pri­or to the attack, includ­ing for­mer U.S. Rep. Steve King (R‑IA), polit­i­cal colum­nist Michelle Malkin, and for­mer BlazeTV host Jon Miller. King pro­mot­ed his upcom­ing appear­ance at the con­fer­ence on Twit­ter, writ­ing that it was time “to can­cel ‘can­cel cul­ture’ and refur­bish the Pil­lars of Amer­i­can Excep­tion­al­ism.”

    ...

    Dig­i­tal high-pro­duc­tion-val­ue pro­pa­gan­da is a hall­mark of the Amer­i­ca First move­ment. Sup­port­ers’ obses­sion with “optics,” or the pro­jec­tion of broad respectabil­i­ty and appeal, has earned it pos­i­tive atten­tion from a broad­er swath of the transat­lantic far-right move­ment — often to great prof­it. In late 2020, sev­er­al fig­ures asso­ci­at­ed with the move­ment received a six-fig­ure cryp­tocur­ren­cy infu­sion from a French pro­gram­mer before he died by sui­cide.

    Uti­liz­ing this pro­pa­gan­da and the reach of sev­er­al attend­ing fig­ures’ social media fol­low­ings, orga­niz­ers adver­tised and sold tick­ets to the gath­er­ing, which ranged between $100 to $10,000 for the one-night event. Although the event recent­ly spurred in-fight­ing between far-right activists, in which one for­mer ally of Fuentes accused him of know­ing­ly invit­ing his fol­low­ers at an event that could attract fed­er­al sur­veil­lance, all gen­er­al admis­sion tick­ets were reserved and orga­niz­ers began direct­ing would-be atten­dees to a wait­list.

    Amer­i­ca First activists host­ed an iden­ti­cal event in 2020 in the Wash­ing­ton, DC, area. Like last year’s event, the con­fer­ence shares a date and loca­tion with the annu­al Con­ser­v­a­tive Polit­i­cal Action Con­fer­ence (CPAC). Orga­niz­ers have sought to jux­ta­pose CPAC with their own event, hop­ing to project that their gath­er­ing is a truer rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the con­ser­v­a­tive zeit­geist than the movement’s largest annu­al gath­er­ing of speak­ers and activists.

    The Amer­i­ca First extrem­ist move­ment and its lead­ing fig­ures gained increased nation­al atten­tion for the role they played in the fomen­ta­tion and orga­ni­za­tion of the nation­al Stop the Steal protest move­ment, which unit­ed Trump sup­port­ers and extrem­ist groups around dis­in­for­ma­tion about the integri­ty of the 2020 elec­tion. That move­ment ulti­mate­ly led to the Jan­u­ary 6 attack on the U.S. Con­gress dur­ing the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of elec­toral col­lege mak­ing offi­cial Pres­i­dent Joe Biden’s elec­tion vic­to­ry. A hand­ful of Amer­i­ca First fol­low­ers have been arrest­ed for their par­tic­i­pa­tion in the riot.

    ————-

    “Extrem­ist social media influ­encers to gath­er offline for first time since Capi­tol attack” by Jared Holt; Medi­um; 02/26/2021

    “Amer­i­ca First activists host­ed an iden­ti­cal event in 2020 in the Wash­ing­ton, DC, area. Like last year’s event, the con­fer­ence shares a date and loca­tion with the annu­al Con­ser­v­a­tive Polit­i­cal Action Con­fer­ence (CPAC). Orga­niz­ers have sought to jux­ta­pose CPAC with their own event, hop­ing to project that their gath­er­ing is a truer rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the con­ser­v­a­tive zeit­geist than the movement’s largest annu­al gath­er­ing of speak­ers and activists.

    Who are the gen­uine Trump fol­low­ers? The true believ­ers will­ing to do what­ev­er it takes for their leader? It’s an open ques­tion in the cult of Trump. But there’s no deny­ing that the lead­ers of AFPAC have one big advan­tage in cur­ry­ing the favor of Trump: they’ve been open­ly encour­age polit­i­cal vio­lence to keep Trump in office before and after the Jan­u­ary 6 insur­rec­tion. Demon­stra­ble loy­al­ty to Trump over loy­al­ty to the Con­sti­tu­tion. That’s how you win the prize of ulti­mate Trump super-fan and Nick Fuentes has excelled at mak­ing those demon­stra­tions of loy­al­ty:

    ...
    The Amer­i­ca First extrem­ist move­ment and its lead­ing fig­ures gained increased nation­al atten­tion for the role they played in the fomen­ta­tion and orga­ni­za­tion of the nation­al Stop the Steal protest move­ment, which unit­ed Trump sup­port­ers and extrem­ist groups around dis­in­for­ma­tion about the integri­ty of the 2020 elec­tion. That move­ment ulti­mate­ly led to the Jan­u­ary 6 attack on the U.S. Con­gress dur­ing the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of elec­toral col­lege mak­ing offi­cial Pres­i­dent Joe Biden’s elec­tion vic­to­ry. A hand­ful of Amer­i­ca First fol­low­ers have been arrest­ed for their par­tic­i­pa­tion in the riot.
    ...

    And as the fol­low­ing piece describes, that endur­ing loy­al­ty to Trump was ful­ly on dis­play dur­ing Fuentes’s speech at the con­fer­ence. A speech where Fuentes reflect­ed back on the Jan­u­ary 6 insur­rec­tion, fond­ly recalled how Trump’s sup­port­ers sent the Capi­tol police into retreat, and wished for sim­i­lar days in the future:

    ABC News

    GOP con­gress­man head­lines con­fer­ence where orga­niz­ers push white nation­al­ist rhetoric

    The group’s leader said of Jan. 6, “We need a lit­tle bit more of that ener­gy.”

    By Will Steakin
    Feb­ru­ary 27, 2021, 12:27 PM

    GOP Rep. Paul Gosar of Ari­zona was the sur­prise keynote speak­er at a con­fer­ence Fri­day night in Orlan­do, Flori­da, where speak­ers spread white nation­al­ist rhetoric, orga­niz­ers railed about the U.S. los­ing its “white demo­graph­ic core,” and some called for fur­ther engage­ment like the ire that drove the Capi­tol attack on Jan. 6.

    Gosar, who skipped Fri­day’s House votes — includ­ing the vote on the $1.9 tril­lion COVID-19 relief pack­age — spoke Fri­day night at the Amer­i­ca First Polit­i­cal Action Con­fer­ence (AFPAC), where he blamed for­mer Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion loss on “big busi­ness, big tech, and the swamp,” and pushed anti-immi­gra­tion argu­ments to the crowd of “Groypers,” a loose coali­tion of most­ly young alt-right extrem­ists led by orga­niz­er Nick Fuentes.

    In the days lead­ing up to the event and while mar­ket­ing tick­ets online in part by using his Twit­ter account, Fuentes teased that there would be a spe­cial guest, which turned out to be Gosar. Oth­er speak­ers Fri­day night includ­ed for­mer Iowa Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Steve King, who’s known for his long his­to­ry of racist com­ments, and con­ser­v­a­tive com­men­ta­tor Michelle Malkin.

    After speak­ing at the event, less than 12 hours lat­er Gosar was fea­tured on a pan­el Sat­ur­day morn­ing at the ongo­ing Con­ser­v­a­tive Polit­i­cal Action Con­fer­ence (CPAC) hap­pen­ing con­cur­rent­ly to AFPAC in the Orlan­do area. Speak­ing on a pan­el mod­er­at­ed by CPAC’s own Mer­cedes Schlapp, Gosar crit­i­cized the Biden admin­is­tra­tion’s immi­gra­tion poli­cies.

    ...

    On Fri­day night, Gosar’s keynote was fol­lowed by a speech by Fuentes that was filled with white griev­ance and far-right anti-immi­gra­tion rhetoric. “If [Amer­i­ca] los­es its white demo­graph­ic core … then this is not Amer­i­ca any­more,” the AFPAC founder told the crowd.

    Fuentes went on to praise the Capi­tol attack, boast­ing about it lead­ing to a delay in the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of the elec­tion results.

    “While I was there in D.C., out­side of the build­ing, and I saw hun­dreds of thou­sands of patri­ots sur­round­ing the U.S. Capi­tol build­ing and I saw the police retreat­ing ... I said to myself: ‘This is awe­some,’ ” Fuentes said to the applause of the crowd.

    And amid secu­ri­ty con­cerns over threats to dis­rupt Pres­i­dent Joe Biden’s expect­ed speech to a joint ses­sion of Con­gress, Fuentes encour­aged more of the kind of com­mit­ment shown by riot­ers on Jan. 6.

    “To see that Capi­tol under siege, to see the peo­ple of this coun­try rise up and mobi­lize to D.C. with the pitch­forks and the torch­es — we need a lit­tle bit more of that ener­gy in the future,” he said.

    Gosar, who was elect­ed to Con­gress in 2011, has emerged as one of the most far-right Repub­li­cans in Wash­ing­ton. In Jan­u­ary, The New York Times first report­ed that a lead­ing mem­ber of an Oath Keep­ers chap­ter in Ari­zona, Jim Arroyo, post­ed a video on YouTube claim­ing Gosar attend­ed one of their meet­ings and sup­port­ed the group’s calls for a war in the coun­try.

    “We did a meet­ing a cou­ple of years ago where our elect­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Wash­ing­ton, Paul Gosar, came out and we asked him flat out at that time, ‘Do you think we’re head­ing into a civ­il war?’ ” Arroyo said. “And his response was just flat out, ‘We’re in it. We just haven’t start­ed shoot­ing at each oth­er yet.’ ” Gosar did not respond to the Times’ request for com­ment.

    Dur­ing the Jan. 6 attack on the Capi­tol, Gosar post­ed a mes­sage on Twit­ter call­ing for pro­test­ers not to “get car­ried away.” But over on the right-lean­ing Par­ler ser­vice, he shared a far more sym­pa­thet­ic mes­sage, using the same pho­to of peo­ple scal­ing the walls of the Capi­tol and writ­ing, “Amer­i­cans are upset.”

    Gosar’s fea­tured appear­ance at Fri­day’s event will be anoth­er major test for a Repub­li­can Par­ty that is being pulled between tra­di­tion­al con­ser­v­a­tives and a grow­ing rad­i­cal extrem­ist ele­ment as it search­es for a path for­ward fol­low­ing the pro-Trump Capi­tol attack.

    Ear­li­er this month, the House approved a res­o­lu­tion that removed new­ly elect­ed Repub­li­can Rep. Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene from her assigned com­mit­tees due to a long his­to­ry of push­ing QAnon rhetoric and base­less con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, includ­ing that the Sandy Hook and Park­land shoot­ings were staged “false flag” oper­a­tions. Green apol­o­gized to House mem­bers for her pre­vi­ous com­ments pri­or to the vote.

    And for­mer Pres­i­dent Trump issued the first blow of his revenge tour on Repub­li­cans who vot­ed to impeach him, endors­ing Max Miller, a for­mer Trump aide, in his pri­ma­ry chal­lenge against Rep. Antho­ny Gon­za­lez (R‑Ohio), who was among 10 House Repub­li­cans to vote for impeach­ment.

    Trump’s name was a recur­ring theme at Fri­day night’s event, with Fuentes also promis­ing to tar­get Repub­li­cans who were not suf­fi­cient­ly loy­al to the for­mer pres­i­dent.

    “He is one of us,” Fuentes told the crowd.

    Fri­day night’s AFPAC event marked one of the first major gath­er­ings of far-right extrem­ists since the Jan. 6 insur­rec­tion. The event fea­tured at least two peo­ple, Fuentes and AFPAC speak­er Vin­cent James Foxx, who were present near the Capi­tol build­ing dur­ing the siege.

    Fuentes, who has denied involve­ment in the storm­ing of the Capi­tol itself, has been spot­ted in videos and pho­tos ral­ly­ing out­side the Capi­tol on Jan. 6. In one video, Fuentes can be seen on a mega­phone telling the crowd not to “leave this Capi­tol until Don­ald Trump is inau­gu­rat­ed pres­i­dent.” Foxx, who on Fri­day night said, “We must not be afraid of the idea of seces­sion,” was pho­tographed with Fuentes on Jan. 6. Nei­ther man was charged in con­nec­tion with the riot.

    Fuentes, who attend­ed the 2017 “Unite the Right” ral­ly at Char­lottesville, has a long his­to­ry of mak­ing racist and anti-Semit­ic com­ments. Since the Capi­tol insur­rec­tion, a hand­ful of Amer­i­ca First fol­low­ers have been arrest­ed for their par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Jan. 6 attack.

    After spend­ing parts of his speech Fri­day night cel­e­brat­ing the Capi­tol riot, Fuentes at one point attempt­ed to walk back his com­ments.

    “I dis­avow all vio­lence. I dis­avow all van­dal­ism. I respect the gov­ern­ment is sov­er­eign over us,” he said — then added, “Alright, I think that’ll stand up in court.”

    ————

    “GOP con­gress­man head­lines con­fer­ence where orga­niz­ers push white nation­al­ist rhetoric” by Will Steakin; ABC News; 02/27/2021

    ““While I was there in D.C., out­side of the build­ing, and I saw hun­dreds of thou­sands of patri­ots sur­round­ing the U.S. Capi­tol build­ing and I saw the police retreat­ing ... I said to myself: ‘This is awe­some,’ ” Fuentes said to the applause of the crowd.”

    The crowd applaud­ed as Fuentes recount­ed the scene of hun­dreds of thou­sands of ‘patri­ots’ sur­round­ing the Capi­tol and send­ing the police into retreat. It’s the kind of scene that gives us a sense of the zeit­geist of AFPAC. A zeit­geist that real­ly does prob­a­bly do a bet­ter job than CPAC of cap­tur­ing the vio­lent loy­al­ty to Trump that ani­mates so much of this move­ment. The torch­es and pitch­forks zeit­geist of the move­ment that is deter­mined to cap­ture it all or burn it all down try­ing:

    ...
    And amid secu­ri­ty con­cerns over threats to dis­rupt Pres­i­dent Joe Biden’s expect­ed speech to a joint ses­sion of Con­gress, Fuentes encour­aged more of the kind of com­mit­ment shown by riot­ers on Jan. 6.

    To see that Capi­tol under siege, to see the peo­ple of this coun­try rise up and mobi­lize to D.C. with the pitch­forks and the torch­es — we need a lit­tle bit more of that ener­gy in the future,” he said.

    ...

    Trump’s name was a recur­ring theme at Fri­day night’s event, with Fuentes also promis­ing to tar­get Repub­li­cans who were not suf­fi­cient­ly loy­al to the for­mer pres­i­dent.

    “He is one of us,” Fuentes told the crowd.

    Fri­day night’s AFPAC event marked one of the first major gath­er­ings of far-right extrem­ists since the Jan. 6 insur­rec­tion. The event fea­tured at least two peo­ple, Fuentes and AFPAC speak­er Vin­cent James Foxx, who were present near the Capi­tol build­ing dur­ing the siege.

    Fuentes, who has denied involve­ment in the storm­ing of the Capi­tol itself, has been spot­ted in videos and pho­tos ral­ly­ing out­side the Capi­tol on Jan. 6. In one video, Fuentes can be seen on a mega­phone telling the crowd not to “leave this Capi­tol until Don­ald Trump is inau­gu­rat­ed pres­i­dent.” Foxx, who on Fri­day night said, “We must not be afraid of the idea of seces­sion,” was pho­tographed with Fuentes on Jan. 6. Nei­ther man was charged in con­nec­tion with the riot.

    ...

    After spend­ing parts of his speech Fri­day night cel­e­brat­ing the Capi­tol riot, Fuentes at one point attempt­ed to walk back his com­ments.

    “I dis­avow all vio­lence. I dis­avow all van­dal­ism. I respect the gov­ern­ment is sov­er­eign over us,” he said — then added, “Alright, I think that’ll stand up in court.”
    ...

    So while Trump chose to attend CPAC this year and skipped AFPAC, when it came to the open idol­a­try that Trump craves, it’s hard to argue that AFPAC did­n’t deliv­er. It’s the con­fer­ence for peo­ple who did­n’t think CPAC was far right and Trumpian enough, after all. Of course Trump is going to have warm feel­ings towards it. They’re still call­ing for more insur­rec­tions for him. He must be absolute­ly smit­ten with AFPAC at this point.

    And that’s why we can prob­a­bly add to the list of ques­tions about the future of the US con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment the ques­tion of whether or not we’re going to see CPAC even­tu­al­ly eclipsed by an even more extrem­ist annu­al con­fer­ence. Which con­fer­ence will Trump attend next year? How about in 2024? We’ll find out. But keep in mind that if Trump starts attend­ing AFPAC over CPAC, that’s prob­a­bly in indi­ca­tion that he’s no longer inter­est­ing in run­ning for office. That’s not to say he won’t be inter­est­ing to secur­ing polit­i­cal pow­er. Just not by win­ning elec­tions.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 2, 2021, 4:49 pm
  37. Here’s a pair of arti­cles that give us an update on Fox News’s veer to the right in response to the can­ni­bal­iza­tion of its audi­ence fol­low­ing Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion loss and the rise of alter­na­tive con­ser­v­a­tive ‘news’ sites like News­max and One Amer­i­ca News Net­work (OANN) aggres­sive­ly push­ing ‘stolen elec­tion’ sto­ries:

    It looks like Fox News may have a new for­mu­la for win­ning back the far right audi­ences who wan­dered off to News­max or OANN. It’s not real­ly a new for­mu­la but more like tak­ing the exist­ing win­ning for­mu­la a step fur­ther: let the prime time hosts just open­ly push white nation­al­ism. Or at least allow Tuck­er Carl­son to do so, which is exact­ly what he did Mon­day evening when he fix­at­ed on “demo­graph­ic change” for much of the show. It was a clear ref­er­ence to the “Great Replace­ment” — that whites are being replaced by non-whites as part of a dia­bol­i­cal left­ist plot — and basi­cal­ly echoed the themes found in the Camp of the Saints nov­el tout­ed by Steve Ban­non.

    But Carl­son, or Fox News, did­n’t stop there. Fol­low­ing the denun­ci­a­tions of Carl­son’s seg­ment, Fox CEO Lach­lan Mur­doch defend­ed Carl­son’s “replace­ment the­o­ry” com­ments but sug­gest­ing that Carl­son was actu­al­ly decry­ing the “replace­ment the­o­ry” and was mere­ly mak­ing com­ments about vot­ing rights (this was in ref­er­ence to Carl­son argu­ing dur­ing his seg­ment that the “demo­graph­ic change” was a vio­la­tion of white con­ser­v­a­tive vot­ing rights). Mur­doch made this laugh­able defense right before Carl­son went back on the air to address his crit­ics and com­plete­ly dou­ble down on his “replace­ment the­o­ry” com­ments.

    Again, this isn’t exact­ly new for Fox News. The net­work has been prey­ing on and flam­ing white nation­al­ist sen­ti­ments for the very begin­ning of the net­work. But it usu­al­ly isn’t this open. Which rais­es the ques­tion: is this the new nor­mal for right-wing media? Open talk of “replace­ment the­o­ry” and how the exis­tence of non-whites in a democ­ra­cy inher­ent­ly infringes on the rights of whites? We’ll see. It pre­sum­ably depends on whether or not this gets Fox a rat­ings bump:

    CNN Busi­ness

    Tuck­er Carl­son sneers at crit­ics as he dou­bles down on ‘replace­ment the­o­ry’ remarks

    By Oliv­er Dar­cy
    Updat­ed 9:38 AM ET, Tue April 13, 2021

    (CNN Busi­ness) Typ­i­cal­ly, when Tuck­er Carl­son pro­vokes out­rage, it is a good bet that he will address the con­tro­ver­sy by dou­bling down on his ini­tial remarks. But his appar­ent endorse­ment of the racist “great replace­ment” the­o­ry crossed a bright red line last week. Even for those who might be desen­si­tized to his incen­di­ary com­men­tary, it was shock­ing to watch. And it led to a big­ger PR prob­lem then usu­al for Fox, with the Anti-Defama­tion League call­ing for the right-wing talk chan­nel to fire him.

    Which is all to say that before Carl­son went on air Mon­day evening, I was not so sure he would fol­low his usu­al play­book and sneer at his crit­ics while repeat­ing his ini­tial remarks. Naive­ly, I thought he might have start­ed a fire too hot for even him to touch. Per­haps, I imag­ined, the Mur­dochs, while pub­licly defend­ing Carl­son, pri­vate­ly told him to knock it off.

    I could not have been more wrong.

    ... goes on and on about “demo­graph­ic change”

    Obvi­ous­ly, Carl­son was nev­er going to apol­o­gize for or retract his remarks. But he could have cho­sen to ignore the con­tro­ver­sy, move on, and let it die out. Instead, he did the oppo­site. Carl­son opened up his show by first replay­ing the com­ments he made last week — com­ments in which he essen­tial­ly endorsed the “great replace­ment” the­o­ry. Then he mocked crit­ics who were out­raged he had done so. “It is amus­ing to see them keep at it,” Carl­son said of those who have called for him to be removed from Fox’s air, a group that now includes the Anti-Defama­tion League. “They get so enraged! It’s a riot!”

    Mak­ing a mock­ery of those with very real con­cerns about his rhetoric was­n’t enough for Carl­son. He then went on to recite the core ele­ment of the “great replace­ment” the­o­ry, describ­ing it to his mil­lions of view­ers as accu­rate. “Demo­graph­ic change is the key to the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty’s polit­i­cal ambi­tions,” Carl­son said. “In order to win and main­tain pow­er, Democ­rats plan to change the pop­u­la­tion of the coun­try.” Carl­son told his audi­ence that the “goal” is “to make you irrel­e­vant.” He said it is “prov­ably true.” Over and over again, he ref­er­enced “demo­graph­ic” change.

    Mur­doch defends

    Before Carl­son went on the air, Lach­lan Mur­doch defend­ed his rhetoric. In a let­ter to ADL CEO Jonathan Green­blatt, who called for Carl­son to be kicked off the air, Mur­doch said that Fox saw no prob­lem with the com­ments Carl­son had made about the “great replace­ment” the­o­ry. “Fox Cor­po­ra­tion shares your val­ues and abhors anti-semi­tism, white suprema­cy and racism of any kind,” Mur­doch wrote Green­blatt on Sun­day. “In fact, I remem­ber fond­ly the ADL hon­or­ing my father with your Inter­na­tion­al Lead­er­ship Award, and we con­tin­ue to sup­port your mis­sion.”

    “Con­cern­ing the seg­ment of ‘Tuck­er Carl­son Tonight’ on April 8th, how­ev­er, we respect­ful­ly dis­agree,” Mur­doch con­tin­ued in the let­ter. “A full review of the guest inter­view indi­cates that Mr. Carl­son decried and reject­ed replace­ment the­o­ry. As Mr. Carl­son him­self stat­ed dur­ing the guest inter­view: ‘White replace­ment the­o­ry? No, no, this is a vot­ing rights ques­tion.’ ”

    » The sound of silence: I texted a Fox spox after Carl­son’s lat­est remarks and asked whether Mur­doch con­tin­ued to believe that Carl­son rejects the “great replace­ment” the­o­ry. I did­n’t hear back...

    ADL responds

    Green­blatt respond­ed to Mur­doch in a Mon­day let­ter, which was also sent before Carl­son’s lat­est com­ments. “Although I appre­ci­ate the sen­ti­ment that you and your father con­tin­ue to sup­port ADL’s mis­sion, sup­port­ing Mr. Carl­son’s embrace of the ‘great replace­ment the­o­ry’ stands in direct con­trast to that mis­sion,” Green­blatt wrote.

    Green­blatt said Carl­son’s “attempt to at first dis­miss” the replace­ment the­o­ry “while in the very next breath endors­ing it under cov­er of ‘a vot­ing rights ques­tion’ does not give him free license to invoke a white suprema­cist trope.” He won­dered who had done the “review” Mur­doch ref­er­enced: “I don’t know which experts you con­sult­ed in your review, but, as your let­ter right­ly point­ed out, we are the experts.”

    And in a par­tic­u­lar­ly point­ed sec­tion of Green­blat­t’s let­ter, he fired back at Mur­doch for ref­er­enc­ing the ADL once hon­or­ing his father. “As you not­ed in your let­ter, ADL hon­ored your father over a decade ago,” Green­blatt wrote, “but let me be clear that we would not do so today, and it does not absolve you, him, the net­work, or its board from the moral fail­ure of not tak­ing action against Mr. Carl­son.”

    » In response to Carl­son on Mon­day chal­leng­ing Green­blatt to appear on his show, an ADL spokesper­son told me, “As not­ed in the let­ter, ADL believes in dia­logue. It is not uncom­mon for ADL rep­re­sen­ta­tives, includ­ing our CEO, to have both pri­vate and pub­lic dia­logue on dif­fi­cult issues with peo­ple we have past or even cur­rent dis­agree­ments with. What ADL will not do is legit­imize a dis­cus­sion on the appro­pri­ate­ness of espous­ing a white suprema­cist ide­ol­o­gy...”

    ...

    ———-

    “Tuck­er Carl­son sneers at crit­ics as he dou­bles down on ‘replace­ment the­o­ry’ remarks” by Oliv­er Dar­cy; CNN Busi­ness; 04/13/2021

    “Obvi­ous­ly, Carl­son was nev­er going to apol­o­gize for or retract his remarks. But he could have cho­sen to ignore the con­tro­ver­sy, move on, and let it die out. Instead, he did the oppo­site. Carl­son opened up his show by first replay­ing the com­ments he made last week — com­ments in which he essen­tial­ly endorsed the “great replace­ment” the­o­ry. Then he mocked crit­ics who were out­raged he had done so. “It is amus­ing to see them keep at it,” Carl­son said of those who have called for him to be removed from Fox’s air, a group that now includes the Anti-Defama­tion League. “They get so enraged! It’s a riot!”

    Tak­ing glee in the lib­er­al out­rage over his “replace­ment the­o­ry” seg­ment. It’s hard to argue this isn’t exact­ly what we should have expect­ed from Fox News. And after Lach­lan Mur­doch defend­ed the seg­ment, it’s hard to argue we should­n’t expect a lot more of this:

    ...
    Mak­ing a mock­ery of those with very real con­cerns about his rhetoric was­n’t enough for Carl­son. He then went on to recite the core ele­ment of the “great replace­ment” the­o­ry, describ­ing it to his mil­lions of view­ers as accu­rate. “Demo­graph­ic change is the key to the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty’s polit­i­cal ambi­tions,” Carl­son said. “In order to win and main­tain pow­er, Democ­rats plan to change the pop­u­la­tion of the coun­try.” Carl­son told his audi­ence that the “goal” is “to make you irrel­e­vant.” He said it is “prov­ably true.” Over and over again, he ref­er­enced “demo­graph­ic” change.

    ...

    “Con­cern­ing the seg­ment of ‘Tuck­er Carl­son Tonight’ on April 8th, how­ev­er, we respect­ful­ly dis­agree,” Mur­doch con­tin­ued in the let­ter. “A full review of the guest inter­view indi­cates that Mr. Carl­son decried and reject­ed replace­ment the­o­ry. As Mr. Carl­son him­self stat­ed dur­ing the guest inter­view: ‘White replace­ment the­o­ry? No, no, this is a vot­ing rights ques­tion.’ ”
    ...

    “White replace­ment the­o­ry? No, no, this is a vot­ing rights ques­tion.”

    In case any­one was won­der­ing if Fox News would some­how become less of a blight on human­i­ty after Rupert final­ly kicks it and com­plete­ly hands it over to his kids, Lach­lan just gave you your clue. It also rais­es the ques­tion of whether or not any­one tru­ly believed Carl­son’s seg­ment was just about vot­ing rights. Carl­son’s crit­ics obvi­ous­ly did­n’t, but how about his fans? Did they buy the idea that Carl­son was just talk­ing about vot­ing rights? Per­haps the most gullible mem­bers of the audi­ence. But as the fol­low­ing Van­i­ty Fair arti­cle describes, if you were some­one who was already famil­iar with the “great replace­ment” the­o­ry, it was pret­ty obvi­ous what Carl­son was say­ing. As one white nation­al­ist apt­ly put it, “For the pur­pos­es of normie cuck­ser­v­a­tives, this is based as fu ck as baby’s first red­pill”:

    Van­i­ty Fair

    White Nation­al­ists Sure Don’t Think Tuck­er Carlson’s “Replace­ment” Seg­ment Is About Vot­ing Rights

    By Caleb Ecar­ma
    April 14, 2021

    Per­haps embold­ened by Fox Corp. CEO Lach­lan Mur­doch, who stood by his seg­ment osten­si­bly pro­mot­ing the white nation­al­ist “replace­ment” the­o­ry, Tuck­er Carl­son has spent much of this week dou­bling down. “Demo­graph­ic change is the key to the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Party’s polit­i­cal ambi­tions,” Carl­son said Mon­day night, cement­ing his posi­tion in the face of calls for his fir­ing. “Let’s say that again for empha­sis because it is the secret to the entire immi­gra­tion debate.… In order to win and main­tain pow­er, Democ­rats plan to change the pop­u­la­tion of the coun­try. They’re no longer try­ing to win you over with their pro­gram. They’re obvi­ous­ly not try­ing to improve your life. They don’t even real­ly care about your vote any­more. Their goal is to make you irrel­e­vant.”

    And strange­ly, despite Fox News’s and Murdoch’s insis­tence that Carlson’s focus on this top­ic has to do with vot­ing rights, and not racist con­spir­a­cy mon­ger­ing, he appears to have drawn praise from a cer­tain seg­ment of ador­ing fans. “Holy sh it, I just watched Tucker’s replace­ment seg­ment. This is a turn­ing point in the pro­gram,” wrote one user on 4chan’s /pol/ board––one of the few remain­ing online plat­forms that hosts self-described Nazis––in a thread prais­ing Carl­son for nam­ing “the jew on nation­al tele­vi­sion.” Oth­ers on the thread shared their praise by post­ing a meme depict­ing Carl­son as the far right’s car­toon frog mas­cot, Pepe, urg­ing fel­low 4chan-ers to “get your par­ents to watch right now to boost tucker’s rat­ings so mur­doch doesn’t get cold feet,” and declar­ing, “HEIL TUCKER!”

    ...

    Sim­i­lar praise for Carl­son was expressed in oth­er online pock­ets of the far right, with many laud­ing the host for going where most media per­son­al­i­ties are afraid to tread. “Tuck­er made it clear Mon­day night he had noth­ing to apol­o­gize for.... This seg­ment was one of the best things Fox News has ever aired and was filled with ideas and talk­ing points VDARE.com pio­neered many years ago,” reads one arti­cle pub­lished on the white nation­al­ist blog VDare, which praised Carl­son for dar­ing to “men­tion the Great Replacement”––a term that has been a main­stay on VDare’s site over the years. After encour­ag­ing VDare read­ers to “watch the whole thing,” the author wrote, “The best news: Fox stands by Carl­son. The longer Tuck­er stays on air, the more the truth can remain unsup­pressed.”

    Nick Fuentes, a Holo­caust denier and pop­u­lar media per­son­al­i­ty among young white extrem­ists, respond­ed to Carlson’s Mon­day night seg­ment by tweet­ing, “This week Tuck­er red­pilled 4 mil­lion peo­ple and there is noth­ing lib­er­als can do about it.” He then list­ed the white nation­al­ist talk­ing points he believes Carl­son got right: “Demo­graph­ic replace­ment, ADL, Israel, it’s all there... a full red­pill. On prime­time Fox News for 4 mil­lion main­stream con­ser­v­a­tives,” he wrote. “Can you feel it? We are inevitable.” Scott Greer, a con­ser­v­a­tive writer who left his con­trib­u­tor role at Carlson’s Dai­ly Caller after it was revealed that he secret­ly pub­lished work on a racist blog, defend­ed Carl­son against the ADL’s crit­i­cism. “Tucker’s offense was speak­ing truth to pow­er,” he tweet­ed.

    Just as notably, oth­er right-wing extrem­ists were crit­i­cal of the Fox host for not going far enough. Richard Spencer tweet­ed that Carl­son is “just the lat­est stage in con­ser­v­a­tive fail­ure,” con­clud­ing that his “vot­ing rights” argu­ment rep­re­sents anoth­er “pro­gres­sive dilu­tion” of white nation­al­ist rhetoric––like the Rea­gan-era GOP not-so-sub­tly refer­ring to Black Amer­i­cans as “wel­fare queens,” he not­ed. Argu­ments broke out on 4chan over whether Carlson’s safe-for-TV fram­ing was actu­al­ly help­ful. “This is a step back,” wrote one user upset by Carlson’s attempt to claim that his argu­ment was not racial in nature. “If only whites vot­ed the last 10 pres­i­dents would be repub­li­can. White votes are being dilut­ed. Tuck­er ulti­mate­ly says replace­ment migra­tion is hap­pen­ing okay, but he lies and says it’s not about race, this is mis­lead­ing a lot of peo­ple who believe him. It is about race and he knows it. Who is being replaced? Mex­i­cans?”

    Oth­ers on the thread pushed back, sug­gest­ing that Carlson’s com­men­tary was the per­fect gate­way drug to turn aver­age Fox News view­ers into extrem­ists. “For the pur­pos­es of normie cuck­ser­v­a­tives, this is based as fu ck as baby’s first red­pill,” wrote one. “This is very lit­er­al­ly a pol talk­ing point on Israel/Jews, and it is broad­cast on the most watch news show in the coun­try.”

    ————

    “White Nation­al­ists Sure Don’t Think Tuck­er Carlson’s “Replace­ment” Seg­ment Is About Vot­ing Rights” By Caleb Ecar­ma; Van­i­ty Fair; 04/14/2021

    “And strange­ly, despite Fox News’s and Murdoch’s insis­tence that Carlson’s focus on this top­ic has to do with vot­ing rights, and not racist con­spir­a­cy mon­ger­ing, he appears to have drawn praise from a cer­tain seg­ment of ador­ing fans. “Holy sh it, I just watched Tucker’s replace­ment seg­ment. This is a turn­ing point in the pro­gram,” wrote one user on 4chan’s /pol/ board––one of the few remain­ing online plat­forms that hosts self-described Nazis––in a thread prais­ing Carl­son for nam­ing “the jew on nation­al tele­vi­sion.” Oth­ers on the thread shared their praise by post­ing a meme depict­ing Carl­son as the far right’s car­toon frog mas­cot, Pepe, urg­ing fel­low 4chan-ers to “get your par­ents to watch right now to boost tucker’s rat­ings so mur­doch doesn’t get cold feet,” and declar­ing, “HEIL TUCKER!”

    “HEIL TUCKER!” It’s the ral­ly­ing cry what what has become Tuck­er Carl­son’s tar­get audi­ence: eager white nation­al­ists hop­ing to ‘red­pill’ their fel­low con­ser­v­a­tives. Carl­son’s dog-whistling was com­pelling young white nation­al­ists to encour­age their par­ents to watch Fox News. Just think about that for a moment from the per­spec­tive of Lach­lan Mur­doch or anoth­er soul­less cable news exec­u­tive who cares about noth­ing oth­er than rat­ings and faces an increas­ing­ly aging audi­ence: Carl­son’s “great replace­ment” seg­ment was excit­ing young view­ers. Get­ting them so excit­ed they were going to tell their par­ents to watch. That’s like hero­in to cable news exec­u­tives.

    And that could end up being the part of this sto­ry that has the biggest impact in the long run: the younger gen­er­a­tion of Mur­doch clan just learned a pow­er­ful les­son about the appeal of bare­ly-veiled hate speech. The ‘red­pilled’ far right youth of the inter­net age — peo­ple who self-rad­i­cal­ized on Face­book and YouTube — are ready and will­ing to become loy­al Fox News view­ers. The net­work just needs to keep giv­ing them what they want.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 15, 2021, 3:35 pm

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