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By Kurtis Lee, Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Richard A. Serrano, Los Angeles Times

FERGUSON, Mo. — As Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon ordered the National Guard to begin withdrawing from this St. Louis suburb Thursday, the persistent protests over the police killing of Michael Brown appeared smaller and much more subdued for the second night in a row.

About 75 demonstrators marched along West Florissant Avenue, at times posing for TV cameras and journalists. For a while, they were joined by State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, who is in charge of the police response, and by U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO).

“We’ll look forward to another nice and calm night of protests,” Johnson said.

McCaskill joined the demonstrators for about half an hour. Asked whether the governor should remove St. Louis County Prosecuting Atty. Robert McCulloch from the case, as some have urged, she did not answer directly.

“He certainly has the power,” said McCaskill, a former prosecutor herself. “I understand there’s a perception out there that he (McCulloch) will not be fair. The governor has the power to remove him, and he should make a clear decision.”

Nixon issued a somewhat ambiguous statement on the subject this week, but told MSNBC Thursday night that he would not remove McCulloch and appoint a special prosecutor.

Brown’s Aug. 9 shooting by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson touched off nearly two weeks of clashes in this racially polarized St. Louis suburb. Wilson is white, and Brown was black.

The Guard was deployed in Ferguson on Monday, but its role was low-key, protecting the police command center and monitoring the protests. By Wednesday night, the number of demonstrators had dwindled and the intersection of Ferguson and West Florissant avenues, epicenter of the unrest, had calmed.

Nixon said in a statement that the situation had “greatly improved, with fewer incidents of outside instigators interfering with peaceful protesters, and fewer acts of violence.”

Also Thursday, Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. indicated that the Justice Department may broaden its review of Brown’s death to investigate other allegations of police abuses in Ferguson.

“We have been working, I think, very diligently out there,” said Holder, who spent Wednesday in Ferguson. “I got a briefing from the FBI agents and the prosecutors who are involved in this case, and I think significant progress has been made.”

Asked if the Justice Department will broaden the Brown investigation to conduct a more thorough review of police practices in Ferguson, Holder said the department had “a number of tools” it can use in police misconduct cases.

“I’ll just say at this point that we are keeping all of our options open,” he said.

Other potential abuse cases in Ferguson include a September 2011 incident in which a mentally disturbed man died after being tased by officers, and another case in 2009, when a man was allegedly beaten by four officers, then charged with damaging government property because he bled on their uniforms.

Wilson had stopped Brown and a friend because they were walking down the middle of the street, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson has said. Police say Brown pushed Wilson back into his patrol car as he tried to get out of it, they struggled, and Wilson’s gun went off inside the car. Then Brown ran, witnesses say, and Wilson got out and opened fire. Wilson reportedly has said Brown rushed at him. Jackson has said that Wilson’s face was swollen from injuries suffered during the altercation with Brown.

Brown’s parents told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Thursday that they had no confidence in any investigation into their son’s death until they met with Holder on Wednesday.

“He made me feel like one day … (investigative agencies) will regain my trust,” said Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden.

Michael Brown Sr. said that if the family is to find justice, Wilson must go to jail.

“He has his life,” Brown said. “Our son is gone.”

Since Holder took office in 2009, the Justice Department has given high priority to cases alleging abuse against large police departments around the nation, with several departments placed under federal oversight.

Federal prosecutors have won 16 settlements or federal court orders and have an additional 33 cases underway.

Last month, the federal government placed a monitor over the Newark, N.J., Police Department, which has faced brutality and discrimination complaints.

Also Thursday, the St. Louis County Police Department released statistics on arrests the agency made from 11:30 p.m. Aug. 10 through 12:30 a.m. Thursday. In all, the department arrested 204 people, the vast majority from the greater St. Louis area. Nine live in Ferguson, and 34 are from out of state. The data did not include arrests by the Ferguson Police Department.

Back on the streets Thursday night, the atmosphere remained calm.

“It’s peaceful, and that’s one thing to be happy about,” said Caitlin Fair, a graduate student from New Jersey, who came to Missouri on Monday to join the protests. “Justice still must be served.”

Another protester, Mikael Ross of neighboring Jennings, Mo., said the demonstrations were not over.

“We’ll keep showing up, even if it’s just me,” Ross said.

Lee and Hennessy-Fiske reported from Ferguson, Serrano from Washington. Times staff writer James Queally in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

AFP Photo/Joshua Lott

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Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

Tina Peters

YouTube Screenshot

A right-wing conspiracy theorist who was indicted in March on criminal charges of tampering with voting machines to try to prove former President Donald Trump's lies of a stolen 2020 presidential election on Tuesday lost the Republican primary to run for secretary of state of Colorado, the person who oversees its elections.

With 95 percent of the vote counted, Tina Peters, the clerk and recorder of Mesa County, Colorado, was in third place, trailing the winner, fellow Republican Pam Anderson, 43.2 percent to 28.3 percent.

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