Tag: capitol insurrection
Mike Pence

Special Counsel Attended Pence's Testimony Before January 6 Grand Jury

Special counsel Jack Smith was in the room when former Vice President Mike Pence testified before a federal grand jury investigating former President Donald Trump’s efforts to subvert the 2020 election last week, CNN reported Wednesday.

Pence’s closed-door testimony marked a critical juncture in the Justice Department's long-running January 6 probe. It was also the first time in modern history that a vice president was compelled to testify against their ex-boss.

Pence testified for over five hours at the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse, offering prosecutors a crucial and clear insight into confidential discussions within the Oval Office in the lead-up to the January 6, 2021 insurrection, when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol to stop the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory.

CNN stated that Pence and Smith had a “respectful” interaction at the courthouse and that the former vice president’s testimony was “likely to elicit a strong negative reaction from his former boss.”

Trump has repeatedly lashed out at Pence and Smith in angry posts on his Truth Social platform and labeled the January 6 probe a political hit job engineered by his enemies to hamper his 2024 presidential ambitions.

Trump’s legal team expended significant effort in court to prevent Pence’s testimony, which Smith subpoenaed in February, by asserting executive privilege — a legal doctrine shielding the president and other executive branch officials from surrendering documents or information to Congress or the courts.

A top federal judge in Washington, D.C., rejected that argument in late March and ordered Pence to answer questions concerning any illegal actions Trump took in a bid to retain power despite losing the election.

Pence’s legal team didn’t appeal the ruling, but Trump’s lawyers approached the appeals court to stay the federal judge’s decision. However, a three-judge panel of the court, one of who Trump appointed, rejected the effort.

Smith, appointed by the DOJ iast November, is also overseeing the federal probe into Trump’s illegal retention and potential mishandling of classified documents, boxes of which federal agents carted away from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence when it executed a search warrant there last August.

However, the January 6 and classified documents investigations are only two facets of Trump’s legal trouble. The former president is embroiled in a civil trial in Manhattan for allegedly raping advice columnist E Jean Carroll in the mid-1990s. Trump also faces 34 class E felonies in New York City, levied on him by Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg in connection with alleged hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

Also in the cards for Trump is a Georgia district attorney Fani Willis’s investigation into his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in the state, as well as a $250 million civil fraud lawsuit filed by New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, accusing Trump and his three adult children of engaging in “years of financial fraud.”

Trump has since denied all allegations of wrongdoing and branded Pence “a pussy”; Carroll a “whack job” who’s “not my type”; Daniels, “horseface”; Bragg, “an animal”; Willis, who is Black, “racist”; and Smith, “a Trump Hating THUG.”

Mike Pence

Conservative Judge Who Advised Pence Warns Him On Subpoena Battle

Prominent retired conservative judge J. Michael Luttig is publicly warning former Vice President Mike Pence of potential danger in fighting a subpoena from the Department of Justice (DOJ), HuffPost reports.

Former federal Judge Luttig aided Pence in deciding he "couldn’t throw the 2020 election for Donald Trump."

In an op-ed for The New York Times, Luttig notes Pence promised to take his fight against the grand jury subpoena from DOJ Counsel Jack Smith "all the way to the Supreme Court" if necessary. The judge follows up that sentiment with warning: "A politician should be careful what he wishes for — no more so than when he’s a possible presidential candidate who would have the Supreme Court decide a constitutional case that could undermine his viability in an upcoming campaign."

Luttig's op-ed comes after he took to Twitter, MSNBC reports, to offer a case for why Pence's ploy "to use the Constitution's 'speech or debate' protections" to escape testimony was likely not the best decision.

The judge wrote, "It is an unsettled question of constitutional law whether a Vice President of the United States possesses qualified Speech or Debate Clause privileges and protections when he or she serves, in accordance with the Twelfth Amendment, as President of the Senate." That tweet was followed by a full thread of analysis.

Days later, the former corporate lawyer intensified his warning to the former vice president in his op-ed, warning, "The former vice president should not want the embarrassing spectacle of the Supreme Court compelling him to appear before a grand jury in Washington just when he’s starting his campaign for the presidency."

HuffPost notes Luttig highlighted the fact Pence is "'considered by many of us across the political spectrum to be a profile in courage' for choosing democracy over his former boss," suggesting his resistance could jeopardize that reputation.

Luttig writes:

Mr. Pence may also be under the impression that the legal fight over his claim will confound the courts, consuming months, if not longer, before he receives the verdict — but it’s unclear what he hopes to gain from the delay. One would have thought Mr. Pence would have seized the propitious opportunity afforded him by Mr. Smith, most likely weeks or months before he even decides whether he will run for the presidency.

Ultimately, the judge predicts the former vice president should stop while he's ahead, considering he "doesn’t have a chance in the world of winning his case."

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Scott Perry

Judge Issues 'Scathing' Opinion Authorizing Search Of Scott Perry's Phone

Late Friday, Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the U.S. District Court in D.C. swatted aside the protestations of Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) who was trying to keep the Justice Department from reviewing over 2,000 documents on his phone related to the January 6 insurrection.

Perry, who continues to support Donald Trump's assertion that the election was stolen and is reportedly under investigation, claimed that the 2,219 documents on his phone were protected by the "speech or debate" clause in the Constitution which shields members of Congress from a criminal investigation into fulfilling their duties.

However, Judge Howell bluntly disagreed on Friday.

"Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the U.S. District Court in D.C. released a number of previously sealed opinions after finding that the 'powerful public interest'outweighed the need for secrecy in the constitutional battle over Perry’s claims and the historic investigation," the Washington Post is reporting.

In the ruling, Howell wrote, "What is plain is that the Clause does not shield Rep. Perry’s random musings with private individuals touting an expertise in cybersecurity or political discussions with attorneys from a presidential campaign, or with state legislators concerning hearings before them about possible local election fraud or actions they could take to challenge election results in Pennsylvania."

According to the Post's Spencer Hsu, "Perry is a key figure who sought to help Trump replace the attorney general after the 2020 election with former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark and get the Justice Department to reverse its finding that Joe Biden had been elected fairly, according to the House committee that investigated the January 6, 2021, attack by Trump supporters on the U.S. Capitol."

The report adds, "The Justice Department has separately prioritized and obtained access to 37 emails between Perry and Trump-connected lawyers John Eastman, who pushed false claims of mass electoral fraud in 2020, Clark and aide Ken Klukowski, as well as 331 documents from Clark about his January 6 role, according to the filings."

You can read more here.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Bannon's Big 'Stolen Election' Lies Incited Fascist Attack On Brazil Capital

Bannon's Big 'Stolen Election' Lies Incited Fascist Attack On Brazil Capital

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon has spent more than two months denying the results of last year’s Brazilian presidential election, helping to lay the groundwork for the attacks on government buildings over the weekend carried out by supporters of defeated former President Jair Bolsonaro. The mob violence from Bolsonaro’s supporters bore a striking resemblance to the attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol two years ago, which Bannon also helped to foment.

The day after the pro-Bolsonaro, anti-democracy riot, Bannon defended the protesters’ perceived grievances on his War Room podcast. “The key is legitimacy, you must show you are legitimate,” Bannon said. “There were millions and millions — tens of millions of people in the street, working class people, and particularly … Evangelical Christians that are not prepared to sit there and let an atheistic, Marxist, communist criminal like Lula steal the election and steal their country.”

Bannon has been questioning the legitimacy of the Brazilian election process since former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known as Lula, was declared the winner on October 30. In the immediate aftermath of Bolsonaro’s loss, Bannon baselessly claimed on his podcast that the vote totals couldn’t be trusted and urged Bolsonaro to fight on. He was frequently joined by Matthew Tyrmand, a conservative activist who has claimed to discover mathematical anomalies that call the Brazilian election results into question. (An analysis from the Brazilian military did not find evidence of fraud in the election.)

Despite Bannon’s pleas, Bolsonaro ultimately acknowledged the results on November 2, 2022, although he didn’t technically concede. In late December, Bolsonaro traveled to Florida, where he remains, while still facing mounting investigations in his home country.

Bannon and Tyrmand continued to cast doubt on the vote totals even after Bolsonaro had at least nominally accepted defeat. On November 3, Bannon invited Tyrmand on War Room to discuss the pro-Bolsonaro street protests following his electoral defeat. “The piece was amazing,” Bannon said, referring to an article Tyrmand had recently published. “You can see how they stole this.”

The pro-Bolsonaro forces are “up against a transnational criminal class that has both partnerships with the party of Davos, the World Economic Forum, and the Chinese Communist Party. That’s what’s trying to take over Brazil,” Bannon continued. Those remarks echoed an argument also put forward by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson claiming that the CCP is using Lula to turn Brazil into a de facto Chinese colony.

“What you see in the streets is the people of Brazil saying, ‘We don’t want that,’” Bannon concluded.

Tyrmand then speculated about a military audit in the case of fraud, “which you and I certainly believe there is, based on what we’ve seen with our own eyes,” he told Bannon.

Later that month, Tyrmand returned to the show to discuss the ongoing protests, which he described as “the largest street demonstrations in human history.”

“This brings back memories of the people in the streets fighting Soviet communism in the late ‘80s, when the Berlin Wall was coming down,” Tyrmand claimed. “You know what, this is orders of magnitude bigger.”

“It’s the Brazilian Spring,” Bannon added.

Tyrmand then claimed that social media posts showed voting machines had been improperly transported from their storage areas and insinuated that it was evidence of potential tampering or fraud.

“The election was stolen,” Bannon replied.

Two days later, Tyrmand again appeared on War Room to cast further doubt about the vote totals.

“People know they’ve been defrauded, they know that the mathematics behind what the machines demonstrated is patently ludicrous, it doesn’t pass any empirical analytical test when you know people all over the country voted for Bolsonaro,” he said.

Tyrmand was back on Bannon’s show in early December, describing the Bolsonaristas as “Constitutionalists” who “believe in the peaceful process and transitions of power.” He then expressed his hope that “the military will do their job that’s afforded them in the Constitution” and carry out an audit of the election results.

Bannon also regularly denied the results of the Brazilian election on his Gettr account. On November 2, he referred to the rolling unrest in the country as the “beginning of a Brazilian Spring,” a phrase he would repeat in the coming days.

The same day, as right-wing figures promoted the idea of a military audit that they hoped would change the results of the election, Bannon appeared to endorse a military coup. “The Military Represents,” he wrote alongside a video of camouflaged trucks driving through the streets.

On November 3, he shared a New York Times article reporting on the Bolsonaristas who wanted the military to intervene. “The People of Brazil will not tolerate the Globalist and the CCP stealing their country,” he wrote.

Later that month, Bannon called Lula a “transnational criminal” who “stole the Brazilian election,” describing it as “very clear.”

Even as it became increasingly obvious that Bolsonaro had no chance to return to power, Bannon kept the drumbeat going. “The People of Brazil will not tolerate a godless atheist Marxist like Lula to takeover illegally and destroy their country,” Bannon wrote on Christmas Eve.

Then on January 8, as the pro-Bolsonaro riot was commencing in Brazil’s capital, Bannon repeatedlyposted on Gettr that “Lula stole the election” and referred to the insurrectionists as “Brazilian Freedom Fighters.”

Just as in the January 6 insurrection, the anti-democratic forces in Brazil were unsuccessful in changing the results of an election they lost. For Bannon, it’s yet another recent failure.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.