Reprinted with permission from Alternet
Newly unredacted records from a whistleblower complaint in the State Department have shed light on more allegations against former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and members of his former staff.
According to documents obtained by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Pompeo and others were accused of misconduct.
The organization reports: "The alleged misconduct included false or misleading statements to the agency's legal department, misuse of government resources on personal and political activities potentially prohibited by the Hatch Act, verbal abuse of employees by Mike and Susan Pompeo and directives to staff not to communicate in writing in order to evade transparency laws."
The unredacted documents come two years after the redacted version of the whistleblower complaint was filed with the State Department Office of Inspector General (OIG). The OIG is said to have excluded many of the previous redactions in the version of the documents released to CREW.
"The complaint alleges "[s]everal senior career Foreign Service officials who held positions of responsibility within the Executive Secretariat" turned a blind eye to Pompeo's "questionable activities" and, in some cases, "facilitat[ed]" them, according to CREW.
Employees in the State Department's Office of the Legal Adviser "expressed concern that some of these activities may have violated [the] Hatch Act or other regulations," but the whistleblower was "unaware that any resolution was reached, potentially because senior officials in the Executive Secretariat repeatedly declined to seek clarification or guidance from [the Office of the Legal Adviser] despite requests from subordinates to do so."
The new documents also detail the aftermath of former Inspector general Steve Linick's removal from his post, which was part of a larger Trump-led effort to oust inspectors. The report also indicated that staff members were "stunned" by the directive.
"[T]his is all so surreal three days later. I'm nervous about the future," the OIG employee wrote in a May 18, 2020 email. In a later email, the official added, "I just heard Trump say we needed to get rid of the 'Attorney Generals' as a whole…Oh dear."
CREW has also received other documentation as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit aimed at uncovering information about Pompeo's attempts to hinder the investigation into the allegations of misconduct against him.
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Reprinted with permission from American Independent
In an interview on Tuesday, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) complained that the pro-Trump rioters who broke into the U.S. Capitol on January 6 were being treated like a "threat" by the federal government, continuing a months-long campaign to defend those arrested for crimes related to the event.
On Tuesday, in an appearance on Newsmax TV's The Chris Salcedo Show, Gaetz claimed, "The Department of Justice has to maintain this theory that the January 6 detainees maintain an ongoing threat to the government of the United States so that they are able to take the national security apparatus and turn it against our people."
Gaetz has repeatedly offered excuses for Capitol attackers, who made threats of violence against members of Congress and former Vice President Mike Pence during their attempt to prevent the certification of the presidential election. Hundreds of arrests have been made since the incident.
He has previously promoted a conspiracy theory that the FBI "organized" the attack, and along with other far-right members of the House, has accused the Justice Department of 'harassment and persecution of Trump supporters' for investigating the events on Jan. 6. Gaetz also complained about efforts to secure the Capitol after the riot.
Pence and other lawmakers were evacuated from the building by Capitol Police in response to the threats made against them, and one rioter was shot and killedby a police officer while trying to break down a door leading to an area where members of Congress were being evacuated.
At the July 19 sentencing hearing for Paul Hodgkins, a rioter convicted after he walked onto the Senate floor during the attack, U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss made clear that the attack was a serious criminal offense.
"Because of the actions of Mr. Hodgkins and others that day, members of U.S. Congress were forced to flee their respective chambers," Moss said.
"I think it's worth pausing for a moment to think about that — that is an extraordinary event under any circumstances that the members of the United States Congress are forced to flee the building fearing for their physical safety."
Moss noted that the damage from the attack "will persist in this country for several decades."
Hodgkins pleaded guilty to obstructing an official proceeding and received a sentence of eight months in federal prison and two years of supervised release.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos
The security fencing around the U.S. Capitol building has gone back up, and members of Congress have sounded off about their fears of potential violence, all in anticipation of Saturday's far-right "Justice for J6" protest in Washington, D.C., ostensibly a march to support the several hundred people currently facing federal prosecution for their roles in the insurrection.
However, the likelihood of any kind of significant outburst by Donald Trump's most ardent followers is so low this time around that residents have relatively little to fear. In contrast to January 6, there has been no promotion of the protest by Trump or his circle, and no congressional Republicans appear likely to attend—so consequently, there is very little buzz about it in right-wing circles. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) expects only 700 or so people to attend, in contrast to the tens of thousands who showed up the first week of January.
Nonetheless, D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department will activate its entire force for that day, and specialized riot officers have been placed on standby. MPD officers will have "an increased presence around the city where demonstrations will be taking place and will be prepared to make street closures for public safety," according to a spokesperson.
Capitol Police said Monday they had issued an emergency declaration that will go into effect at the start of the rally, one that allows Capitol Police leaders to deputize outside law enforcement officers. The agency also has obtained additional equipment and created an incident response plan.
The event creating all this upheaval is the brainchild of a former Trump campaign official named Matt Braynard, who has declared that 700 or so people charged in the January 6 insurrection are "political prisoners."
Braynard announced the event on the podcast of former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, saying: "We're going back to the Capitol, right where it started. And it's going to be huge … We're going to push back on the phony narrative that there was an insurrection."
His organization, Look Ahead America, is discouraging would-be rallygoers from signs related to the election or any candidate, or wearing "MAGA gear."
"This rally is about protesting the treatment of these political prisoners. That has nothing to do with any candidate, nothing to do with the election," Braynard said. "It's not a pro-Trump rally, an anti-Trump rally. It's not a pro or anti-Biden rally. It's not political in that way and we don't anything to distract from that."
DHS spokesperson Melissa Smislova told NBC News that the agency has learned via social media that in addition to the Washington rally, similar protests are planned in other cities across the country. She said that in comparison to the "tens of thousands" who came out for the January 6 "Stop the Steal" event, DHS expects a much smaller turnout this weekend. She said the agency has been tracking publicly available information on protesters, U.S. Park Police permit applications for large gatherings, and hotel reservations across the U.S. in order to gauge the response.
Some members of Congress have spoken out. "Given the violent tendencies of the right-wing extremists who plan to attend, it is obvious that this rally poses a threat to the Capitol, those who work here, and the law enforcement officers charged with protecting our democracy," Democrats Tim Ryan of Ohio and Rosa DeLaura said in a joint statement. "We are pleased that the Capitol Police, in coordination with other law enforcement agencies, appear to have developed a clear plan—based on careful intelligence analysis—to maintain order and protect public safety."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was even more scathing: "And now these people are coming back to praise the people who were out to kill, out to kill members of Congress, successfully causing the deaths—'successfully' is not the word, but that's the word, because it's what they set out to do—of our law enforcement," Pelosi told reporters Wednesday morning.
When a reporter asked Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy whether any GOP members would be making speeches on Saturday, as they did at the January 6 rallies, he responded: "I don't think anyone is."
One of the chief lingering concerns among intelligence experts and law enforcement officials is the fact that the person who placed two pipe bombs in the vicinity of the Capitol the night of January 5 has never been identified. Most leads have so far some up dry, and investigators working on the case reportedly have been unable to ascertain whether the suspect is a man or a woman.
Last week, the FBI released grainy surveillance video of the person they believe left the bombs in the hope of attracting new leads and information. The agency says the person wore a backpack over a gray hooded sweatshirt and had a face mask, as well as distinctive Nike Air Max Speed Turf sneakers in yellow, black, and gray.
The bombs—each about 1 foot long with end caps and wiring that appeared to be attached to a timer—were placed outside the headquarters of the Republican and Democratic national committees between 7:30 PM and 8:30 PM on the night before the insurrection. They were not located by law enforcement until the next day, at about the same time the Capitol came under siege by the mob.
The September 18 event could attract a lone-wolf actor along similar lines. But it's also certain that it will not create the kind of mob scene that engendered the January violence. Extremism analyst Mike Rothschild, who monitors far-right groups' activities online, notes that this time around, "the chatter isn't there. Influencers who egged on the MAGA faithful then are waving them off now. People will show up, and it bears watching - but this isn't going to be Insurrection 2.0."
As terrorism analyst Jared Holt observes, the rhetoric around the event is largely hyperbolic, and it is expected to draw neither a large nor a violent crowd capable of another Capitol siege. However, it could be significant in the way that "it lays patchwork or groundwork for those kinds of events to happen in the future in D.C., or maybe in state capitols going forward."
One of the ways it can set a foundation is by providing openings for similar forms of insurrectionist violence elsewhere, such as at state Capitol buildings, as DHS' assessment warned. Clint Watts, a former Joint Terrorism Task Force member, told MSNBC that he was far more concerned about the spread of these events to state-level venues than with the Sept. 18 rally itself.
"There will be, I'm sure, some who show up there, but I don't think it will be a Jan. 6 moment. What I'm much more worried about, though, is state Capitols and local municipal buildings," he said.
"They're much less defended, and in some discussion spaces you hear—it may be just a small number of people, but you hear people talking about going to rallies closer to home, in up to 10 different states. Those could be particularly troubling for those with smaller law enforcement, and don't have the resources like we have at the nation's capital."
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