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Far Right Republicans Wrote Putin’s Talking Points

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Far-right apologists for the January 6 insurrectionists, from Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia to Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin to Fox News' Tucker Carlson, have seriously downplayed the violence that occurred that day at the U.S. Capitol. Johnson has defended the rioters as "people that love this country" and said there was "no violence" during that attack; Clyde has compared the January 6 attack to a "normal tourist visit," while Carlson has defended the insurrectionists as "sad, disenfranchised people." But conservative columnist Charlie Sykes sees nothing innocent or harmless about the January 6 insurrection, and he emphasizes that Republican apologists for the rioters have given Russian President Vladimir Putin an anti-U.S. talking point.

In his latest column for The Bulwark, the Never Trump conservative writes, "Our current sludge of disinformation, bilge and crackpottery is thoroughly domestic, amplified by a million voices on social media, national networks, and until recently, the White House itself. And now, it has come full circle as Russian President Vladimir Putin feeds back our homegrown disinformation. [The Washington Post's] Dana Milbank notes the symmetry: 'For the past few years, Republicans in Congress have echoed Russian propaganda. On Wednesday, in Geneva, Vladimir Putin returned the favor: He echoed Republican propaganda.'"

Putin's allies in the Kremlin, Sykes laments, "have adopted the talking points of" American "right-wing media about January 6." On June 16 in Geneva, Switzerland, Sykes notes, Putin pointed out that the January 6 rioters are facing "very harsh sentences."

"Putin took the opportunity to emphasize the point," Sykes writes. "Asked about his repression of political dissent, Putin put on a bravura performance of whataboutism."

In Geneva, Putin brought up Ashli Babbitt, a Capitol rioter fatally shot on January 6 — and Sykes writes that comparing the shooting of Babbitt to human rights abuses in Russia is ludicrous.

"Afterward, President Biden called the comparison 'ridiculous,' as indeed it was," Sykes observes. "But the whole episode showed how our political world has devolved in just a few years."

GOP Rep. Clyde Wouldn't Shake Hand Of Police Officer Who Defended Capitol

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone was one of 140 law enforcement officers injured protecting the U.S. Capitol and members of Congress on January 6. He was so badly beaten he suffered a heart attack fighting Trump's insurrectionists but he was conscious enough to hear at one point the rioters scream, "Kill him with his own gun!"

On Wednesday, one day after 21 House Republicans voted against a bill to award Congressional gold medals to all the police officers who fought to save lives and democracy on January 6, Officer Fanone was in the U.S. Capitol, and ran into Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA).

Congressman Clyde, who sits on the Homeland Security Committee and is one of the 21 who voted against the awards, refused to even shake Officer Fanone's hand.

Clyde is the lawmaker who falsely compared the rioters and insurrectionists to a "normal tourist visit."

U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) took to Twitter to make the accusation, which was backed up by Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican.

Here's video of Officer Fanone being attacked by Trump's insurrectionists:

Here's Congressman Clyde literally barricading the door on Jan. 6, with members of the Capitol Hill Police:

Here's Clyde outright lying:

Far-Right Republicans Vote No On Congressional Medal For Capitol Police

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

House Democrats are criticizing their GOP colleagues after 21 Republican members Tuesday night voted against awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to law enforcement officers who responded to the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

The bill passed the House on Tuesday by a vote of 406-21 — with every "no" vote coming from Republican lawmakers. All but two of the 21 House Republicans who voted against the award for the law enforcement officers also voted to overturn the 2020 election results.

A number of the members have also tried to downplay the attack, such as Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) saying the violent riot was just a "normal tourist visit" and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) falsely saying the rioters weren't armed.

"I think this is a new low for this crowd. They voted to overturn an election. But in their vote today, they kind of sealed the deal of basically affiliating with the mob," Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) said in an interview with CNN.

Connolly added, "They now are part of the insurrectionist mob. They brought enormous disrepute and dishonor on themselves in not honoring the brave men and women who defended the Capitol of the United States — everybody in it, but also defending the symbol of democracy in the world, not just here in the United States."

Meanwhile, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) tweeted that the Republicans who voted against the award amount to "a sad commentary on the @HouseGOP."

And Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) called the Republican votes against the award "sick."

"I mean, they have to live with themselves," McGovern told Politico. "It's sad, pathetic."

The vote was made by agreement between members of the House and Senate. The Senate had voted only to award Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman — who helped steer the insurrectionists away from the Senate chamber to give senators time to safely evacuate — with the Congressional Gold Medal.

But the bill that passed the House on Tuesday awarded four Gold Medals, to the entire Capitol Police force, to the Metropolitan Police Department officers who responded to the attack, and two to be displayed in the Smithsonian Institution and in the Capitol.

The House had passed a similar bill in March, and at the time 12 Republicans voted against it. But that number grew on Tuesday to 21.

Republicans said they voted against it because they took issue with the fact that the legislation called the rioters "a mob of insurrectionists."

"I wouldn't call it an insurrection," Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) told Politico of the January 6 attack, when a Donald Trump-supporting mob tried to block the peaceful transition of power from Trump to President Joe Biden.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

FBI Director Testifies Capitol Rioters Carried ‘All Sorts Of Weapons’

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

FBI Director Christopher Wray testified under oath on Thursday that at least one person among the supporters of Donald Trump who rioted at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 carried a firearm, while many used other items as weapons, refuting GOP attempts to portray the insurrection as less violent than it was.

Asked by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee whether anyone involved in the riot had been armed with a firearm, Wray responded, "I can think of at least one instance where there was an individual with a gun inside the Capitol, but for the most part the weapons were weapons other than firearms."

Gohmert is one of several GOP lawmakers who have downplayed the attack that left five people dead and 140 law enforcement officers injured. Republicans like Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) falsely described the riot as a "normal tourist visit," while Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) described the Trump supporters who violently pushed their way into the Capitol and beat up police officers guarding the building as "peaceful patriots."

Gohmert, for his part, falsely claimed back in May that there was no evidence to suggest the attack was an "armed insurrection" and said the FBI was "unfairly" targeting Donald Trump supporters.

At the hearing, Wray said that nearly 500 people have been arrested and charged with crimes in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot, when a mob of Trump supporters tried to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden's Electoral College victory.

Wray said that the insurrectionists had "all sorts of weapons, you know, kevlar, tactical vests, bear spray."

A Senate report released on Tuesday detailed the brutal attacks law enforcement officers suffered at the hands of the pro-Trump mob, finding that insurrectionists used weapons such as flag poles, metal fence stakes, and chemical irritants that left some officers with burns that they are still recovering from months after the attack.

The report did not delve into how the attack was fomented, nor how a future one like it can be prevented.

Democrats — and a very small minority of Republicans — are calling for an independent probe of the attack.

But the Republican minority leaders in Congress, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, are blocking the formation of a bipartisan commission to answer those questions. Reports say Republican leaders fear such a probe could be imperil their party's chances in the 2022 midterm elections, with Sen. John Thune (R-SD) telling CNN he was concerned the results of an investigation "could be weaponized politically and drug into next year."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Senate Report Details Brutal  Attacks On Capitol Police By Trump Mob

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Two Senate committees on Tuesday released a report about security failures leading up to the violent and deadly insurrection at the Capitol on January 6. The report concluded that law enforcement departments and intelligence agencies were woefully unprepared to stop the mob of Donald Trump supporters that forced their way into the building in an effort to block certification of President Joe Biden's victory.

The report also details the brutal injuries law enforcement officers suffered as they sought to fight back against the Trump supporters who breached the building.

The accounts in the report from law enforcement officers on the scene rebut the alternative reality that a number of GOP lawmakers have attempted to create around the attack as they tried to absolve Trump and his supporters of culpability, including a false assertion from Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA), who said Jan. 6 was not an insurrection but merely a "normal tourist visit."

One officer recalled to Senate investigators:

[We] did what we could against impossible odds and a volatile crowd which many times threatened us with phrases like 'We're gonna kill you!', 'We're gonna murder you and then them!', 'You guys are traitors and should be killed!' ... I felt at this time a tangible fear that maybe I or some of my colleagues might not make it home alive.

The report said that roughly 140 officers were injured in the attack, including one who lost an eye and another who was stabbed with a "metal fence stake."

According to the report:

Many officers have recounted repeated attacks with chemical irritants from the crowd, including bear spray and insecticide. One officer stated that he was 'sprayed in the eyes with some kind of chemical irritant that was far stronger than any pepper spray I have ever had used against me in training.' Other officers reported burns, breathing and lung complications, and their eyes sealing shut from irritation due to repeated exposure to the chemical irritants. Captain Carneysha Mendoza testified to the Committees that she received chemical burns to her face, which had not healed nearly two months after the attack

The report, however, did not examine what caused the attack, nor did it look into Trump's role specifically in inciting the mob that ransacked the Capitol.

For those reasons, Democrats have been demanding an outside commission to look into the origins of the insurrection and make recommendations to prevent similar attacks in the future.

Yet GOP leaders — including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy — are against the commission because they fear it will imperil their party's chances in the 2022 midterm elections.

In fact, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) — who was booted from House GOP leadership because she blamed Trump and his lies about a stolen 2020 election for the vicious attack on the Capitol — said she believes some Republicans don't want an investigation because they fear they'll be implicated.

Some Capitol Police officers have publicly said they are angry that Republicansare blocking the commission.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Was The Insurrection Just Another Day In America?

Reprinted with permission from Roll Call

Is America getting a thirst for blood?

It's a question I ask after hearing too many Republicans dismiss the January 6 attack on the Capitol by a violent pro-Trump mob trying to halt the counting of American citizens' votes as a "normal tourist visit," in the words of Georgia Rep. Andrew S. Clyde, the same Clyde seen — mouth open and terrified — helping to barricade the besieged doors that day.

When I was a Baltimore schoolgirl, we often visited Washington, D.C., to tour the monuments. It was an easy and informative field trip, barely an hour away by bus. Now kids can occasionally be unruly, and the nuns had to raise their voices once or twice. But I don't recall ever erecting gallows on the Capitol lawn, breaking windows or pummeling police officers with batons and their own shields. In fact, I'm sure it would have made the front pages if a bunch of Black grade schoolers from St. Pius V Elementary ventured a foot beyond the velvet ropes, let alone desecrated the beautiful marble floors of a government building by using them as a toilet.

Have things changed that much for Clyde and all the others asking Americans and the world not to believe their lying eyes?

The list includes Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who said it "didn't look like an armed insurrection to me" and insisted he had no fear of the mob shouting "Hang Mike Pence" because they weren't, you know, Black Lives Matter protesters.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) called the rioters "peaceful patriots" and derided law enforcement tracking them down.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) said on the House floor that "the people that breached the Capitol on January 6 are being abused," with the cognitive dissonance that has become her trademark.

They are all taking their cues from the former president and current leader of the GOP, Donald Trump, who has described January 6 as a veritable love fest, with insurrectionists "hugging and kissing the police and the guards."

That's an awful lot of gaslighting — not the word that immediately comes to mind but one I believe those nuns would prefer I use.

A Different Time

On 9/11, the world saw the planes hit the buildings. But there were still so many questions: Who planned it? How did security fail? What needed to be done so it could never happen again? There was an immediate call for a bipartisan, independent commission, just as there was after January 6. But 20 years ago, perhaps because it was a foreign enemy, leaders of both parties could agree and make it happen.

Now the monster is inside the house. And the horrific thing is, a lot of folks love this monster.

It's only logical for Republicans who once castigated Trump for sending his amped-up crowd on the march and refusing to quickly step in to halt the chaos to now back away from any reflection, even though the commission rules were negotiated in part by one of their own, New York Rep. John Katko. The House members who fell in line and most Senate Republicans would rather downplay a stunning act of domestic terrorism that tried to bring down democracy, and instead concentrate on consolidating power in elections to come. The 2022 midterms are approaching, and there is so much on the party's plate — so many voting restrictions to enact and 2020 results to audit, over and over again.

What scares me most, though, is the realization that all that obfuscation and all the excuses that GOP leaders such as Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell are offering for opposition to the commission are not really necessary. For way too many Americans, the violence is the cost of doing business, if the business is maintaining a government of the (right) people, by the (right) people, for the (right) people, to grotesquely twist the words of famous Republican Abraham Lincoln.

Greene has been rewarded for her belligerence — be it the creepy and years-long stalking of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), or her confronting a teen survivor of a school shooting. The donations roll in to this representative without a committee assignment, who seems to spend most of her time in a calculated state of rage, the "angry white woman" of nightmares.

An American Perspectives Survey from January found that more than 1 in 3 Americans (36 percent) agreed with the statement: "The traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it." That's a minority, to be sure, but still too close for comfort. A majority of Republicans (56 percent) supported the use of force, with independents at 35 percent and Democrats at 22 percent.

Nearly 3 in 10 Americans (29 percent) completely or somewhat agreed with the statement: "If elected leaders will not protect America, the people must do it themselves even if it requires taking violent actions." According to the survey: "The use of violence finds somewhat more support among Republicans than Democrats, although most Republicans oppose it. Roughly four in 10 (39 percent) Republicans support Americans taking violent actions if elected leaders fail to act. … Thirty-one percent of independents and 17 percent of Democrats also support taking violent actions if elected leaders do not defend the country."

And They're Armed

When you link those numbers with the fact that a majority of Republicans believe the "big lie" that the 2020 election was stolen, that's a frightening number of aggrieved Americans, and a lot of them carry guns. Remember, in Trump we had a president who rather than disavow a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, trolled her with insults before, during, and after the plan was revealed.

More states are following the example of Texas, primed to enact a law that permits Texans to carry handguns without license or training, making it easier to shoot to kill than vote in the state, one that saw a massacre by a racist hunting Mexican Americans in El Paso.

It doesn't escape my notice that while the predominantly white crowd of Capitol rioters wanted to disqualify the votes of American citizens in cities like Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Detroit — voters who looked like me — they worshipped Second Amendment protections that often don't extend to African Americans, to Philando Castile, a Minnesotan with a permit he was shot reaching for, or Tamir Rice and John Crawford, shot immediately by law enforcement in the open-carry state of Ohio while they were holding guns that weren't real.

In none of these cases did the usually vocal NRA spin a good-guy-with-a-gun narrative.

Inequality, delusions of a country slipping away, and armed citizens willing to do something about it equals a true recipe for violent disaster.

We've been here before. As a reminder of just how incendiary it can get, note that this year marks the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, when white citizens, abetted and assisted by law enforcement, torched and bombed "Black Wall Street," the homes and businesses of Black Oklahomans, and murdered hundreds of their fellow Tulsans. It happened because a lot of "ordinary" Americans were OK with it, and hid evidence of the crime.

It's not just that an insurrection is being "disappeared." It's that my fellow Americans, especially the ones who lead, apparently think it was just another day in America.

Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Charlotte Observer, as national correspondent for Politics Daily, and is a senior facilitator with The OpEd Project. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3.

Hapless Media Have No Idea How To Cover Deranged Republicans

Reprinted with permission from Press Run

Hours after Republican House members forced Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) to surrender her leadership role for the sin of denouncing Trump lies about his election loss, Republicans at a House Oversight Committee hearing addressing the Capitol Hill insurrection spent the same day spreading misinformation about Trump's attempted coup.

Claiming that what transpired that day really wasn't a riot but instead a collection of misguided enthusiasts voicing their concerns, Republicans made clear not only would they not assign blame to Trump for stoking the deadly assault, but they were going to defend the rioters and rewrite history about that ugly day on Capitol Hill.

From Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA): "There was no insurrection. To call it an insurrection is a bold-faced lie."

In normal times, if the public sacking of Cheney for lack of fealty and the public support for insurrection had happened in the same calendar year, it would have been considered a shocking turn of events for a mainstream political party in this country. The fact that both events happened within hours of each other this week only highlighted how radical, dangerous, and anti-democratic the GOP has become, as it hurtles far beyond the mainstream and into the abyss.

Unfortunately, the Beltway press has no idea how to cover this story. It still refuses to use the proper tools and language to put the troubling actions of the GOP in context via its straight news coverage. Hiding behind Both Sides journalism, timid language, and purposeful naïveté, news outlets still aren't being honest about the dire threat Trump Republicans now pose to the country.

Watching the party maneuver itself to be able to invalidate future elections — by passing voter suppression laws, installing local election boards that refuse to certify wins, empowering state legislatures to refuse to certify their state tallies, and electing a Republican majority in the House of Representatives that will deny the Electoral College count — means the United States faces the most entrenched, internal political threat since the Civil War. That's no exaggeration, considering the defining loyalty test for the GOP today is backing Trump's claim that the 2020 election was stolen, which in turns positions the party to question all future election results.

The GOP and its followers have become consumed in deliberate lies, yet the press still views the party as a serious entity whose views deserve to be treated respectfully.

"It's time the media stop covering the GOP as a political party - it's not," tweeted SiriusXM radio show host Dean Obeidallah. "Today's Republican party is a white nationalist, fascist movement and those exact words need to be used by the media so everyone gets the threat the GOP poses to our nation."

It's clearly a conservative movement that's flown off the rails, and resembles nothing we've seen before in modern American politics.

Just in recent days:

• Republicans in Arizona running the clown 'audit' of the 2020 election are searching for traces of bamboo in paper ballots to prove they are counterfeits smuggled in from Southeast Asia.

• A Colorado State representative referred to a colleague as "Buckwheat" while addressing the House.

• QAnon loyalist and Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene aggressively confronted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) in the halls of Congress, and falsely accused her of supporting "terrorists."

• 124 GOP-friendly retired generals and admirals released an open letter spreading the lie that President Joe Biden stole the election, while labeling him a "Marxist" and "tyrannical" threat to America.

• A Republican lawmaker in Michigan wants to force non-partisan "fact checkers" to register with the state and face $1 million fines if public officials prove "wrongful conduct" in their work.

Nervous about claims of "liberal media bias" though, the press holds back.

After witnessing Taylor accost Ocasio-Cortez this week, Washington Post reporter Marianna Sotomayor told CNN that the ugly encounter "really does speak to the polarization that exists and the tensions between both parties, Republicans, and Democrats." [Emphasis added.] Wrong. What Taylor's deranged behavior speaks to is a Republican Party that has torn down the guardrails of common decency.

The New York Times recently published a long piece about the deepening "era of endemic misinformation — and outright disinformation." The article highlighted obvious partisan lies pushed by right-wing media and conservatives, such as Biden's going to force Americans to eat less meat. Instead of framing the epidemic as a Republican-created one, the Times pretended the avalanche of right-wing conspiracies represent a larger, cultural issue.

The press for years has consistently misreported on the increasingly extreme nature of the Republican Party. Specifically, journalists have pressed the faulty notion that GOP members are supposedly worried about Trump. Last summer, the Times announced Republicans were "despairing" over Trump's erratic and authoritarian behavior.

The Times' coverage looks deeply naïve in retrospect. Just like when, in the wake of the January 6 insurrection, the Beltway media insisted a "reckoning" was looming for the GOP over Trump. Instead, Republicans just purged Liz Cheney for criticizing his anti-democratic behavior.

All last winter, the D.C. press told us not to worry about Trump's refusal to acknowledge Biden's lopsided victory — Politico insisted it was just "bad sportsmanship."

Today, there are some glimmers of media hope. CNN on Sunday night is airing a special report, "Radical Rebellion: The Transformation of the GOP," which hopefully won't downplay the rebellion, or what's now at stake. And more news outlets are now using "lies" to describe Trump claims about the 2020 election. That language change is welcome, although long overdue.

The Beltway press has never had to cover a political party that openly embraces anti-democratic policies, such as undermining free and fair elections in America. It's a defining media challenge.