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- Bombshell report: Trump tried to oust acting AG to overturn the election resultsby Bob Brigham on January 23, 2021 at 1:05 am
Only days after Donald Trump returned to private life, The New York Times published a blockbuster new story on his efforts to overturn the election.”The Justice Department’s top leaders listened in stunned silence this month: One of their peers, they were told, had devised a plan with President Donald J. Trump to oust Jeffrey A. Rosen as acting attorney general and wield the department’s power to force Georgia state lawmakers to overturn its presidential election results,” The New York Times reported Friday evening.”The unassuming lawyer who worked on the plan, Jeffrey Clark, had been devising ways to cast doubt on the election results and to bolster Mr. Trump’s continuing legal battles and the pressure on Georgia politicians. Because Mr. Rosen had refused the president’s entreaties to carry out those plans, Mr. Trump was about to decide whether to fire Mr. Rosen and replace him with Mr. Clark,” the newspaper reported. “The department officials, convened on a conference call, then asked each other: What will you do if Mr. Rosen is dismissed? The answer was unanimous. They would resign.””Their informal pact ultimately helped persuade Mr. Trump to keep Mr. Rosen in place, calculating that a furor over mass resignations at the top of the Justice Department would eclipse any attention on his baseless accusations of voter fraud. Mr. Trump’s decision came only after Mr. Rosen and Mr. Clark made their competing cases to him in a bizarre White House meeting that two officials compared with an episode of Mr. Trump’s reality show “The Apprentice,” albeit one that could prompt a constitutional crisis,” the newspaper explained.The bombshell report was “based on interviews with four former Trump administration officials who asked not to be named because of fear of retaliation.”Read the full report.
- Here’s how the Trump administration screwed America on vaccines in its final daysby Bob Brigham on January 23, 2021 at 12:46 am
America will receive far fewer COVID-19 vaccines than hoped due to a decision made in the final days of the Trump administration.”In December, pharmacists made the happy discovery that they could squeeze an extra vaccine dose out of Pfizer vials that were supposed to contain only five. Now, it appears, the bill is due. Pfizer plans to count the surprise sixth dose toward its previous commitment of 200 million doses of Covid vaccine by the end of July and therefore will be providing fewer vials than once expected for the United States,” The New York Times reported Friday evening. “And yet, pharmacists at some vaccination sites say they are still struggling to reliably extract the extra doses, which require the use of a specialty syringe.””For weeks, Pfizer executives pushed officials at the Food and Drug Administration to change the wording of the vaccine’s so-called emergency use authorization so that it formally acknowledged that the vials contained six doses, not five,” the newspaper reported. “The distinction was critical: Pfizer’s contract with the federal government requires that it be paid by the dose. And there were serious public health implications. If the label’s formal language told people administering the vaccine that the vial contained a sixth dose, that could accelerate the pace of vaccinations at a crucial time. At one point, Pfizer executives lashed out at the top federal vaccine regulator over the government’s hesitation to approve the request, according to people familiar with the discussions who were not authorized to discuss them.”The Trump administration approved Ffizer’s request on January 6th.The newspaper reported that Pfizer “can now sell vials the United States had been expecting to other countries, or charge the United States for them in future deals.”Read the full report.
- MyPillow guy suing for report he dated Jane Krakowski: ‘They have damaged my integrity as a Christian’by Bob Brigham on January 23, 2021 at 12:07 am
Controversial MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell is worried that a story in a British tabloid for harming his reputation even as companies shun his pillows following his role in pushing the election fraud conspiracy theories that incited the January 6th insurrection by Trump supporters.Lindell has hired celebrity attorney Charles Harder to sue the Daily Mail over a report he had a secret affair with actress Jane Krakowski.”Charles Harder is the attorney,” Lindell told The Daily Beast. “I never met this lady in my life and have never been to West Village and the Hamptons, where they said I was in the hit piece.””They’ve done so much damage to my reputation… I’m not just going for a demand letter or a retraction, I want to go after them with a lawsuit because they have damaged my integrity as a Christian and my network to help addicts everywhere,” Lindell said.Lindell also explained his belief the story was a “hit job” because he keeps pushing lies about election fraud.The Beast reminded of Harder’s background.”The Gawker-killing attorney, who has represented everyone from now-former President Donald Trump to professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, has established himself as a go-to attorney for aggrieved celebrities looking to take on news outlets. In 2017, Harder helped wrestle a settlement and payment for Melania Trump from the Daily Mail, which was forced to retract and apologize for an article claiming she had once been an escort,” The Beast reported. New tonight: MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell hires Gawker-killing Trump lawyer Charles Harder to go after the Daily Mail… https://t.co/hyPpAlfsIE — Asawin Suebsaeng (@Asawin Suebsaeng)1611359663.0
- Senate Democrats to pause 10 days before second impeachment trial gets underwayby Bob Brigham on January 22, 2021 at 11:29 pm
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced on Friday that there would be an almost two week pause before the start of Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial following a request from Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY).Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced earlier on Friday that the House of Representatives would transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate on Monday.In a floor speech, Schumer announced that the single count of impeachment — for inciting insurrection — would be read into the record on Monday evening.On Tuesday, Senators will be sworn into the Court of Impeachment, but the trial presentations will then pause until the week of February 8th.”Leader McConnell is glad that Leader Schumer agreed to Republicans’ request for additional time during the pre-trial phase,” McConnell’s office said in a statement. Schumer from Senate flr announced timing for 2nd impeachment trial for Donald Trump: Mon 7pm: House mgrs read impea… https://t.co/DGUDHxPGWv — Craig Caplan (@Craig Caplan)1611357501.0 .@DougAndres, spox for McConnell, said in a statement, “Leader McConnell is glad that Leader Schumer agreed to Republicans’ request for additional time during the pre-trial phase.” He later added that “This is a win for due process and fairness.” pic.twitter.com/cNofWmbNFD— Jack Turman III (@jackturmanIII) January 22, 2021
- ‘Even David Brooks agrees’ Democrats should ‘absolutely kill the filibuster’by Common Dreams on January 22, 2021 at 11:12 pm
Even New York Times columnist David Brooks—widely reviled over many years for his “wrongheaded and naive” brand of right-wing commentary—agreed Friday with the many progressive voices arguing that Democrats will ultimately be justified in abolishing the legislative filibuster in the U.S. Senate if Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell continues his obstructionist ways. In his latest column—titled the “The Case for Biden Optimism”—Brooks contends that if current efforts to forge a bipartisan power-sharing agreement fail, efforts to pass a comprehensive Covid-19 economic relief package put forth by President Joe Biden are stymied, and “Republicans go into full obstruction mode” then the Democrats, led by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, “should absolutely kill the filibuster.” While progressives have been making this argument intensely for weeks, if not months, many were caught off guard by Brooks’ endorsement. “Can’t believe David Brooks and I finally agree on a thing,” said Winnie Wong, former top aide to the 2020 Bernie Sanders campaign, in response to the column. “Kill the filibuster. Today. Now,” said former secretary of labor Robert Reich in a tweet directed at Schumer. “Hell, even David Brooks agrees.” As columnist Ryan Cooper wrote for The Week on Thursday: “[McConnell] is demanding Democrats preserve his ability to block anything they propose with the Senate filibuster, so he can ruin the country and blame it on them, and he is gambling that moderate Democratic senators will be too scared to call his bluff. Democrats should tell McConnell to go pound sand, and nuke the filibuster right now.” Cooper explained: Recall that the filibuster allows just 41 senators to block most legislation. Activists have begged Democrats to get rid of the filibuster after witnessing McConnell use it to shamelessly obstruct Democratic priorities and then immediately remove it as an obstacle to his own chief priority, confirming right-wing Supreme Court Justices. Yet so far a crucial segment of moderate Democratic senators have resisted, for reasons of “tradition,” or worries it will force them to take difficult votes, or simple timidity. Now McConnell has broken yet another Senate norm by threatening to filibuster the Organizing Resolution unless Democrats agree to keep the legislative filibuster for the next two years. To the best of my knowledge, filibustering the initial organizational rule package in a new Congress has never happened before. (Incidentally, since the Senate will continue to operate under its current rules, that leaves Republicans in charge of the committees so long as it is not passed.) If Democrats agree, given McConnell’s history, he is virtually guaranteed to not allow any normal legislation through, and to drag out the confirmation of any appointee as long as possible. The only way to pass any law will be through the cumbersome and limited reconciliation process. Just as he did under President [Barack] Obama, McConnell wants to throw sand in the gears of government, prevent Biden from accomplishing anything, blame Democrats for the resulting dysfunction, and take back full control of the Senate in two years. In response to McConnell’s request to keep the filibuster in place, Schumer on the Senate floor Friday morning said the proposal “is unacceptable, and it won’t be accepted. And the Republican leader knew that when he first proposed it.” In a statement on Thursday, Mairead Lynn, a spokesperson for the watchdog group Accountable.US, also suggested that Schumer should not tolerate McConnell’s obstruction for one minute longer and called out the Republican leader’s objections to the organizing agreement in the Senate thus far as clearly made in bad faith. “If McConnell wanted to work with Democrats in good faith,” said Lynn, “he would have spent the last two months moving President Biden’s Cabinet nominees through the confirmation process—a precedent afforded to every previous president.” McConnell’s “unprecedented” and “outsized” demands that would neutralize Democratic control over the Senate, added Lynn, “are nothing more than a last-ditch effort to further obstruct the Biden administration from implementing the will of the people. Enough is enough: McConnell needs to drop his unreasonable demands and let the Senate get to work.” On Thursday, Ezra Klein, Brooks’ liberal colleague at the Times, argued that none of the far-reaching bills that Democrats have vowed to pass will be possible in “a Senate in which the filibuster forces 60-vote supermajorities on routine legislation.” Democrats, wrote Klein, “have plenty of ideas that could improve people’s lives and strengthen democracy. But they have, repeatedly, proved themselves more committed to preserving the status quo of the political system than fulfilling their promises to voters. They have preferred the false peace of decorum to the true progress of democracy. If they choose that path again, they will lose their majority in 2022, and they will deserve it.” According to Klein, Biden’s “agenda will live or die in the Senate”—and if proper action is not taken, he continued, “odds are it will die, killed by the filibuster.” This is exactly why progressive critics have urged Democrats to immediately end the charade orchestrated by McConnell. In a series of tweets Thursday, Ezra Levin, co-founder of the progressive advocacy group Indivisible, said his read on the situation was this: “McConnell wants to block popular bills this Congress—stuff like D.C. statehood and H.R. 1. He doesn’t want to have the filibuster fight with that backdrop, so instead he’s picking the fight on a boring-sounding procedure thing hoping it’s more favorable ground for him.” “To be clear,” he added: “Senate Dems have no reason or need to give into McConnell’s BS. It would be a colossal mistake of historic proportions for them to give in. And I don’t think they will here.” And as Levin put it on Friday in a tweet linking to Brooks’ column: “Killing the Jim Crow filibuster is the institutionalist, pro-democracy position.”
- How Joe Biggs and the Proud Boys turned on the policeby Roger Sollenberger, Salon on January 22, 2021 at 10:52 pm
A leader of the Proud Boys who was charged on Wednesday for his role in the Capitol riot boasts an arrest record that includes an assault on an officer of the peace, and on Jan. 6 led a mob of his fellow members as the right-wing man-centric gang turned on the police. He also has a history of encouraging sexual violence, and dined with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., at former President Trump’s Washington hotel.This article originally appeared at Salon.A since-deleted Instagram post from Nov. 7, 2019, shows self-described Proud Boy organizer Joe Biggs seated beside a beaming Graham at a banquette dinner in the BLT Prime restaurant at the Trump International Hotel in Washington. At the time, Biggs was well known in far-right circles after a seven-year stint as an on-air personality for Alex Jones’ Infowars network. Biggs, who describes his position as “investigative reporter,” used the platform to peddle ludicrous but well-trodden conspiracy theories, such as the elaborate set of falsehoods known as Pizzagate and the hypothesis that Hillary Clinton and the Democrats were responsible for the murder of Seth Rich.Cassandra Fairbanks, a journalist for the right-wing publication Gateway Pundit, confirmed the Graham-Biggs summit in a tweet on Oct. 1 of last year, one day after Trump declined to denounce the Proud Boys in his first debate with Joe Biden.”Can confirm. I was sitting at a table near them,” Fairbanks wrote. “Whoooops @SenLindseyGraham.” She deleted the tweet the following day. Graham at the time appeared to be losing ground in his high-profile campaign against Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison. (In the end, the senator was easily re-elected.)(In January 2019, Biggs posted in a since removed tweet: “Trump Intl Hotel is like my cheers now. On a first name basis with everyone. Pretty F’n cool.”)In other now-deleted social media posts from his evening with Graham, Biggs suggested that Trump would also join them for dinner, writing “awaiting @realDonaldTrump to have dinner with us,” and “about to see @RealDonaldTrump at the Trump International DC.” No documented evidence exists of a meeting, but Trump was in fact slated to be at the hotel that evening, according to his official White House schedule, which noted that he would give “remarks at a fundraising committee reception” at 8 p.m.At the time, the National Republican Senatorial Committee was hosting a two-day “Save the Senate” fundraiser at the hotel, featuring Trump as well as then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, along with several senators and candidates expected to face tight races the next fall. Another photo, this one posted on the second day of the fundraiser but since lost to the sands of time, shows Biggs mugging in the Trump International lobby with Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes. Biggs’ appearance that weekend was perhaps incidental to the GOP event. He had traveled to the capital to show support for longtime Trump ally Roger Stone, who was standing trial in Washington at the time. In a video interview ahead of the trip, Biggs says he would be joined by fellow Proud Boy royalty Enrique Tarrio and McInnes, as well as deplatformed conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. “It’s going to be a busy next week or two,” Biggs said.The Proud Boys initiation process requires aspirants, among other things, to renounce masturbation and recite the names of five brands of breakfast cereal while fighting other members. The final requirement involves “a major fight for the cause,” founder McInnes told Metro.us in a 2017 interview.”You get beat up, kick the crap out of an antifa” and possibly get arrested, McInnes explained.For Biggs, the violent tendencies appear to go further. In 2017, Media Matters revealed that Biggs had posted a number of tweets promoting date rape and sexual violence in 2012 while serving in the U.S. Army. “Every kiss begins with … Roofies,” he wrote at one point, as well as, “I like to reason with her (reason=chloroform) and then just drink a lot of beer and release,” and “I’m gonna punch some bitches in the face real soon. But first I have to jerk off. You fucking fags.”In a statement, Biggs said those posts “were a cry for help” while he was going through a dark time, having just departed the Army on medical retirement.”I became very depressed and turned to alcohol and the over-abuse of painkillers that had been prescribed to me while I was in,” he said. “You see you can take the soldier out of the war but you can’t take the war out of the soldier.”While serving in Afghanistan as an Army sergeant, Biggs was involved in a gruesome suicide-bombing incident captured in Michael Hastings’ book “The Operators.” At the end of the episode, Hastings quotes Biggs describing a group of eight- and nine-year-old Afghan boys as “little terrorist bastards.” Biggs was also arrested on a domestic violence charge in 2007 in Cumberland County, North Carolina, home to Fort Bragg, where he was stationed at the time. At this writing, no further information on that case is available.Four years after his medical discharge, Biggs was arrested in Austin, Texas, for assault on a uniformed officer of the peace. A court filing detailing the fracas indicates that Biggs was drunk at the time, a detail he later confirmed in an Infowars interview, which featured short video clips Biggs had recorded on the scene, but lacked sound or subtitles. A grand jury declined to return charges.Police officers appear to have become major antagonists for the Proud Boys during the Jan. 6 Capitol assault. The group, whose members have often joined the crowds at Back the Blue rallies, has since the 2020 election repeatedly found itself at odds with law enforcement: A clash with cops in Oregon four days before the Capitol siege resulted in multiple arrests. By the day of the riot, the Proud Boys had developed a new slogan: “Back the Yellow,” referring to their bumblebee-style palette.Two days before the Capitol insurrection attempt, Washington, D.C., police arrested Proud Boy chairman Enrique Tarrio on weapons and vandalism charges, after he burned a Black Lives Matter banner he’d stolen from a historic Black church during a protest event the previous month. (Police also found him in possession of high-capacity ammunition magazines. As a convicted felon, Tarrio is not allowed to own firearms.)A judge released Tarrio without bail but barred him from the city until his next court date, precluding his participation in the violence that unfolded two days later.Asked after nightfall on the day of the riot whether anyone was “backing the blue,” far-right media personality Nick DeCarlo, who has since been indicted, told a livestream host, “No, absolutely not. In fact, there were much more people today shouting, ‘Fuck these guys, they’re traitors to us, they don’t protect us. Look at what they’re doing.'”On the morning of the riot, Proud Boy leader Ethan Nordean — aka “Rufio Panman” — tried out the group’s new anti-police mantra through a bullhorn on fellow members gathered at the Capitol.”Looking good, gentlemen, looking sharp. Back the yellow,” Nordean says in a speech captured on video, before apparently directly addressing police. “You have to prove it to us now. You took our boy in and you let our stabber go. You guys have to prove your shit to us now. We’ll do your goddamn job for you.”Here, Nordean appears to be juxtaposing Tarrio’s arrest two days earlier (“you took our boy in”) with the failure to bring charges against a man allegedly involved in stabbing of several Proud Boys during their Dec. 12 march in Washington. There are no police visible in the video — at least not in uniform.Nordean then name-checks Joe Biggs, who appears to be standing, with his face covered, in the center of the motley crew — some wielding baseball bats, one wearing tactical camo gear, a few in Thin Blue Line regalia and one sporting a derby hat suggestive of a ska concert. As they follow Nordean and Biggs to the Capitol, the person filming the video pitches a souvenir.”We got ‘Enrique did nothing wrong’ shirts. If you wanna buy ’em, come find ’em,” he says, putting a spin on Stone’s “Roger Stone did nothing wrong” catchphrase. The narrator then asks a man next to him to show off his shirt. The man, who is wearing a Trump shirt and carrying a bat, turns to the camera, his face covered by a Thin Blue Line mask.Soon after that, the group of Proud Boys converge with a mob of Trump supporters fresh from the then-president’s fevered speech at the Ellipse. Together they quickly dismantle police barricades, overrun a few officers and make their way toward the Capitol.The government has charged Biggs with impeding Congress, as well as illegal entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. He was released to home confinement, with oversight. The court believes he may try to obstruct justice.
- New York state runs out of COVID-19 vaccines: Gov Andrew Cuomoby Agence France-Presse on January 22, 2021 at 10:15 pm
New York state was to run out of coronavirus vaccines on Friday, Governor Andrew Cuomo said, increasing pressure on President Joe Biden’s administration to speed up deliveries.”NYS will use up our first dose vaccine allocations today. But our next allocation is coming throughout the week,” Cuomo wrote on Twitter.”Providers should ONLY schedule appointments for allocations they know they’ll receive. We want to avoid all cancelations,” he added.Biden took office this week with a pledge to reenergize America’s faltering vaccination program.Only 16.5 million vaccines have been administered to Americans and Biden is calling for 100 million shots in 100 days.Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have over the past week been calling on America’s federal government to speed up the delivery of vials.In an open letter to Biden on Friday, De Blasio said more than 500,000 doses had been administered in the city of eight million people. “We’re burning through our supply,” de Blasio tweeted.”We need more doses IMMEDIATELY so we can protect the most vulnerable residents in our city,” he added.Biden signed a spate of new measures to strengthen the US fight against the virus on his first full day in office Thursday, including increasing the use of masks and testing.Experts say his government will find it difficult to quicken deliveries due to the still limited manufacturing capacities for the only two vaccines already approved in the US — those of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.The virus has already killed more than 400,000 people in the US, the world’s hardest-hit country.On Friday, Biden said deaths would likely top 600,000, giving his highest estimate yet for the country’s eventual toll.More than 26,000 people have died in New York City alone.
- Oath Keepers lose ‘Community Rewards’ donations from major grocer after Capitol riots: reportby Sky Palma on January 22, 2021 at 10:08 pm
The supermarket chain Kroger announced that it is removing a militia group associated with the Jan. 6 Capitol riots from its Community Rewards program, ABC9 reports. The Indiana Oath Keepers were removed from the program, which Kroger describes as a “customer-directed giving program in which thousands of IRS-approved 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations participate.” The Oath Keepers had posted the Community Rewards program on their website as a way to collect donations. “We were dismayed to learn today this group is part of the Community Rewards program,” Kroger’s statement read. “Given the concerning nature of the allegations against this organization, we have immediately removed the group from receiving customer-directed funds. Kroger has not directed any corporate grants or charitable dollars to the organization.”Read the full report over at ABC9.
- ‘Seditious conspiracy’: Madison Cawthorn and Republicans hit with ethics complaint over Capitol coupby David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement on January 22, 2021 at 9:44 pm
An ethics complaint has been filed against three Republican members of Congress over their participation in events that led to the violent and deadly January 6 attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol.Reps. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, and Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs of Arizona are accused of “a seditious conspiracy to use force to prevent Congress from carrying out its constitutional and statutory duties to count the votes of the Electoral College,” by the Campaign for Accountability, a government ethics watchdog founded by two former members of CREW.If the House Ethics Office finds any or all of the three Republicans violated federal law, the group is asking for them to be expelled.Cawthorn spoke at President Trump’s January 6 rally (photo), barely hours before the armed insurrection.“This crowd has some fight in it,” Cawthorn told Trump’s MAGA supporters. “The Democrats, with all the fraud they have done in this election, the Republicans hiding and not fighting, they are trying to silence your voice. Make no mistake about it, they do not want you to be heard.”North Carolina’s WLOS reports that “despite his tweets urging ‘millions of patriotic Americans stand for their country,’ Cawthorn said he felt no culpability in what unfolded” the day of the attempted coup.“I don’t feel I had any responsibility for them attacking the Capitol,” Cawthorn said.Two days before the domestic terror attack he posted this: January 6th is fast approaching, the future of this Republic hinges on the actions of a solitary few. Get ready, the fate of a nation rests on our shoulders, yours and mine. Let’s show Washington that our backbones are made of steel and titanium. It’s time to fight. — Madison Cawthorn (@CawthornforNC) January 4, 2021Gosar and Biggs also bear significant responsibility, according to the lead organizer.”Far-right activist Ali Alexander, who helped rally Trump’s supporters ahead of Congress’ electoral count, has claimed he planned a rally that preceded the riot with the support of Gosar and Biggs,” The Hill reports, citing an article in The Washington Post.
- QAnon Fed employee was under FBI surveillance — and stormed the Capitol anyway: reportby Sky Palma on January 22, 2021 at 9:18 pm
A California QAnon adherent who was also a Federal Aviation Administration employee was under investigation by the FBI when he stormed the U.S. Capitol along with other rioters on Jan 6, HuffPost reports. Kevin Strong was placed under investigation a week before the Capitol riots after a witness told the FBI that Strong believed he had “Q clearance” and that World War III was going to occur on Jan. 6. The witness also said that Strong hung a “WWG1WGA” flag — which represents the popular QAnon slogan “where we go one, we go all” — at his home, and believed QAnon would cover the cost of a truck he recently purchased.Strong reportedly admitted to FBI agents that he was inside the Capitol on Jan. 6 and also admitted to taking a selfie in front of Nancy Pelosi’s office. Read the full report over at HuffPost.