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

27 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

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