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There was always something fishy about the #MeToo complaint against Joe Biden. Putting hands on Lucy Flores’ shoulders and smooching the back of her head is in no way sexual. Even Flores admitted that.

Nonetheless, Flores gave a dramatic rendition of the distress it caused her. “I just froze,” she said. “I didn’t know what to do. Because again the only thing that you’re processing is that there is a very powerful man standing next to you … and you just don’t know how to respond.”

What doesn’t add up? Everything.

Flores was not a preadolescent nymph but rather the 2014 Democratic nominee for Nevada lieutenant governor. If a kiss on the back of her head made her freeze, how would she have responded to a genuine crisis, say, a terrorist attack? She was about to go on stage, so you’d think she had other things on her mind. Then-Vice President Biden was doing her an enormous favor bestowing his prestige on her candidacy. And if this bothered her so much, why did she wait five years to “come forward”?

The most plausible answer is that this stunt isn’t about Biden but about helping Bernie Sanders. Lo and behold, polls show Biden leading Sanders among Democratic voters — as Sanders faces his own accusations of disrespecting women.

Some backstory: When Flores lost the 2014 election by a landslide, establishment Democrats stopped promoting her. (Two years later, she lost a primary run for Congress.) In 2016, she joined the Sanders campaign, becoming a surrogate. She also joined the board of Our Revolution, an advocacy group backing Sanders.

Biden advisers share the hunch that the Sanders campaign is behind her charges, according to Mike Allen of Axios. And a former Sanders staffer, Tezlyn Figaro, just called Flores a “fraud” on Fox News.

We expect that, in the future, Biden will desist from getting so affectionate with women and will lose the grandfatherly touch. A politician should not do unto women that which he would not do unto men.

But let’s look at Sanders’ lamentable record on women. Women who worked on the 2016 campaign complain that they were made subservient to the boy geniuses. And there was that unforgettable moment when the Bernie bros hurled the C-word at Democratic women running the Nevada State Democratic Convention. Sanders responded to the use of that vilest of words against women with the mildest of hand slaps. Then he blamed both sides. (The official statement has been removed from his website.)

Because everyone is delving into Biden’s beliefs of decades ago, consider Bernie’s. In 1969, he opined that sexual maladjustment was linked to breast cancer. “You might very well be the cause of cancer,” he wrote with his trademark air of authority. Even back then, mainstream science rejected theories that psychological factors caused cancer.

Sanders also found fault with mothers unhappy that their 16-year-old daughters spent a night out with their boyfriends. “Are you concerned about HER happiness,” he wrote, “or about your ‘reputation’ in the community?” In this worldview, not putting out is an emblem of female repression.

Zoom to 2019. Sanders says he believes Lucy Flores, as do a number of other opportunistic Democrats. Thing is, we all believe Flores’ account of what Biden did. Videos show Biden hugging, kissing and rubbing shoulders of numerous women over the years.

What we can’t believe is Flores’ claim that she is bringing this up now to fix a grievous wrong done her — rather than an innocent gesture by a national politician who went out of his way to help her campaign. That Sanders and his people are fueling these petty attacks is something we can believe.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com.To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

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Former President Donald Trump, left, and former White House counsel Pat Cipollone

On Wednesday evening the House Select Committee investigating the Trump coup plot issued a subpoena to former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, following blockbuster testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who said the lawyer had warned of potential criminal activity by former President Donald Trump and his aides.

The committee summons to Cipollone followed long negotiations over his possible appearance and increasing pressure on him to come forward as Hutchinson did. Committee members expect the former counsel’s testimony to advance their investigation, owing to his knowledge of the former president's actions before, during and after the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

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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.

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