Tag: capitol insurrection
Trump Demands Release Of Violent Felons Convicted In Capitol Insurrection

Trump Demands Release Of Violent Felons Convicted In Capitol Insurrection

By Gram Slattery and James Oliphant

CLINTON, Iowa, Jan 6 (Reuters) - Donald Trump on Saturday downplayed his role in the siege of the U.S. Capitol on the third anniversary of the attack, arguing that those prosecuted for storming the building should be freed.

Speaking at a campaign event in Clinton, Iowa with the first Republican nominating contest little more than a week away, Trump called those jailed in the wake of the January 6, 2021 attack "hostages" and said they had been mistreated by the Biden administration.

"They've suffered enough," Trump said. "I call them hostages. Some people call them prisoners."

Speaking to more than a thousand supporters in a school gymnasium, Trump repeated his unfounded claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent and cast himself as a victim of political persecution.

"I got indicted because I challenged the crooked election," Trump told the crowd.

Trump faces a bevy of state and federal charges for his attempts to subvert the election, but has not been charged with instigating the 2021 insurrection, when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol as legislators were certifying President Joe Biden's 2020 election victory.

Biden has repeatedly called Trump a threat to democracy on the campaign trail, and that messaging has emerged as an central theme of his campaign so far. Vice President Kamala Harris spoke of the January 6 assault at length during an event in South Carolina on Saturday.

At recent campaign events in Iowa, Trump's supporters -- and even supporters of other Republican presidential hopefuls -- have downplayed the significance of January 6, and many have embraced conspiracy theories regarding the events of that day.

Trump himself has suggested during previous campaign stops that undercover FBI agents played a significant role instigating the attack, an account not supported by official investigations.

More than 1,200 people have been charged with taking part in the riot, and more than 900 have either pleaded guilty or been convicted following a trial.

"It wasn't really an insurrection," said Hale Wilson, a Trump supporter from Des Moines who attended a campaign event in Newton, Iowa earlier in the day. "There were bad actors involved that got the crowd going."

At the Clinton event, Erin George, a local county commissioner, said the prison sentences handed down to the rioters "were 100 percent unwarranted."

Trump was in Iowa to curry support ahead of the state's Republican caucus on January 15, which is the first contest of the Republican presidential nominating contest. He currently leads all competitors by more than 30 percentage points in the state, according to most polls.

Reporting by Gram Slattery in Newton, Iowa and James Oliphant in Clinton, Iowa; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Miral Fahmy

Why Have We Forgotten How To Commemorate An Attack On Our Nation?

Why Have We Forgotten How To Commemorate An Attack On Our Nation?

It comes as a sad if not tragic fact that while we as a nation know how to commemorate an attack on our country by foreign terrorists, we have failed when it comes to an attack on us by domestic terrorists. It’s all a bit like a school shooting, isn’t it? We can get an accurate body count, we can learn who is responsible from police, prosecutors, and the courts, but we cannot come to agreement on what caused the terrible incident.

Within days of September 11, 2001, we knew the names of the 19 terrorists who crashed the jetliners into the twin towers, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania. At the same time we learned that a single man was behind the attacks: Osama bin Laden. A strategy for how to deal with the attack by foreign terrorists on our soil was agreed upon quickly: we would dispatch soldiers to Afghanistan to hunt down those responsible and punish them, beginning with the terrorists’ leader, bin Laden.

We all know that bin Laden was not found and killed until ten years after the attack and that retaliation against others responsible for 9/11, namely the Taliban, went wildly astray over the next two decades. We know that trillions in treasure and thousands of American lives were wasted over the next 20 years, and we know that all we accomplished in the end was a return to the status quo in Afghanistan and further disarray in Iraq, which had nothing to do with the attack in the first place.

But as the saying goes, at least we have not suffered another terrorist attack of the magnitude of 9/11 on our country since then.

Now here we are on the third anniversary of the assault on our democracy that took place on January 6, 2021, and we not managed to make sure that another such attack will not take place in this country, nor have we punished the man responsible for the attack on our democracy in the first place. After a very brief respite during which some leaders in the Republican Party put the blame for the Jan. 6 insurrection where it belongs, on the man who instigated it, the Republican Party took a sharp turn in response to yelps and complaints from its base voters and began a campaign to hide its own Terrorist in Chief, Donald Trump, behind a smokescreen of lies, deflection, and an attack on institutions in our democratically elected government such as the Department of Justice, the FBI, the judiciary, and the current occupant of the White House, President Joe Biden.

The assault on January 6, 2021, was not just a violent attack on the Capitol building that ended up with five dead and 140 police officers injured, some seriously enough to end their careers in law enforcement. It was an attempt to subvert our Constitution and system of government by preventing a peaceful transition of power from one president to another. The attack by al Qaeda on September 11, 2001 was a threat to our way of life, destroying not only lives but businesses, the freedom to travel without fear, and with the partial destruction of the Pentagon, a threat to our national security.

But the attack on January 6, 2021 was worse, because it deepened the fracture of our country into warring political camps and furthered dysfunction in our governmental structures so that shutting down the government by one political party over its inability to pass its political agenda has now become a normal way of doing political business in the Congress.

We are weaker as a nation today than we were after 9/11 in ways that are immeasurable. The angry refusal of Republicans to pass aid to our ally Ukraine in its fight for its existence as a sovereign state against the outlaw regime of Vladimir Putin has weakened the NATO alliance and strengthened enemies of freedom around the globe, from Iranian radicals to Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria to Hamas in Gaza to ISIS to the Houtis in Yemen to numberless factions fighting governments in Africa and amongst themselves in dozens of countries around the world, including Myanmar, Indonesia, the Philippines, and now even political violence in Bangladesh.

The question is no longer if or when peace will descend into political conflict and violence but how many lives will be lost when it happens. The United States, once a beacon of freedom and stability for other nations to admire and emulate, has descended along with other nations into political conflict, sectarian violence, and threats against the lives of public officials like governors, members of Congress, judges, election officials and even public health officers down at county level. All of this has become what can be called a new political normality, along with mass shootings at schools and lies about public health emergencies like the COVID pandemic and the big lie that Donald Trump won the last presidential election.

We are unable as a nation to commemorate what we lost on January 6, 2021 because one man, Donald Trump, and his political party stand in the way of admitting what we saw with our own eyes: a mob instigated and given aid and comfort by Trump assaulted one of the pillars of our democracy, the Capitol building, and tried to overrun the Senate and the House of Representatives as they carried out the Constitutional duty of certifying electoral ballots and announcing the winner of the 2020 election.

There have been multiple recent stories about how attempts to rewrite what happened on January 6 by manipulating the visual record of Capitol surveillance cameras has “backfired” on the likes of Kevin McCarthy, Tucker Carlson, and now Speaker of the House Mike Johnson. It turns out that images of rioters breaking into the Capitol, attacking police officers, and in one disgraceful instance, carrying a Confederate battle flag through the halls of the Capitol are not easily explained away.

But even that fact has not dented the campaign by Trump and Republicans to deny what we saw with our own eyes. Now the Washington Post and New York Times both, in covering dueling speeches by President Biden on January 5 at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania and Donald Trump at a rally the same day in Sioux City, Iowa, are saying that the two campaigns are arguing not just about politics but reality itself.

What was real on September 11, 2001 was that the World Trade Center fell to the ground and the Pentagon was severely damaged and that thousands of Americans lost their lives to a terrorist attack by al Qaeda. What was real on January 6, 2021 was that the Capitol was violently attacked by domestic terrorists and our government came close to falling to a would be dictator.

All of us saw both attacks with our own eyes. That we cannot agree on what we saw on January 6, and instead a significant minority believes what they are told by a congenital liar and cheat, is something we will be living with throughout this election year. No matter how this election turns out, we and the rest of the world, will have to live with our failure for years if not decades to come.

It has taken us at least a century to begin to properly commemorate the disaster of the Civil War by taking down Confederate statues and renaming military installations for patriots instead of traitors. Here’s hoping it won’t take just as long for us to commemorate 1/6 with the unity and propriety that we commemorate 9/11.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.

Biden's Challenge: Will We Choose Despotism Or Democracy? (VIDEO)

Biden's Challenge: Will We Choose Despotism Or Democracy? (VIDEO)

Ever since Donald Trump declared that he would run for president again, his attempt to seize illegitimate power by overturning the last election has loomed as a central issue in 2024. That is why the president he attempted to usurp squarely confronted the would-be dictator to mark the beginning of the campaign.

On the eve of the second anniversary of Trump's insurrection, President Joe Biden spoke near the Revolutionary War campgrounds of Valley Forge — where George Washington and his Continental Army troops spent a winter of privation and illness before pulling together to rid the new nation of monarchy and despotism. Biden sought to remind us of our connection to that history, of our responsibility to uphold and extend the democracy those freezing, hungry soldiers secured, and of the continuing threat to American values embodied by Trump.

In recent years, the president has mostly avoided speaking his opponent's name, but on this occasion he uttered it more than 40 times as he invoked the criminal conduct committed by Trump during his vain attempt to remain in office. Biden publicly arraigned Trump for Jan. 6, recalling how he had invited the armed mob to the Capitol and then did nothing to prevent or stop their violent assault on Congress as it prepared to certify the 2020 election, which he described as "the worst dereliction of duty by a president in American history."

To this day, Trump has never even attempted to justify his bizarre passive aggression during the hours of deadly violence, watching television and abandoning his role as commander in chief while his eldest son and others pleaded with him to act. But the reason for his inaction is surely obvious: He wanted death and destruction, possibly even the assassination of Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, that would allow him to nullify the election he lost and declare martial law. It was a day when "we nearly lost America," as Biden noted in his speech.

But the events preceding that dark day, as we now understand them, show that the "Capitol riot" was the culmination of a plot against democracy that had started to unfold on election night 2020. As predicted a week earlier by his fascist aide Steve Bannon, Trump tried to claim victory before all the votes were counted. When the tally turned against him, he initiated a series of crimes — including attempts to intimidate election officials in several states and a conspiracy to subvert the Electoral College with fake elector certificates.

Those nefarious maneuvers told us everything about Trump and his cohort, including most elected officials of the Republican Party — who either overcame their initial horror at the Capitol assault or joined eagerly in the plot (even as they ran like cowards from the action). They have humiliated themselves without limit in the years since, inventing an incredible series of conspiracy theories, tall tales and outright lies to excuse the insurrection and protect their Fuhrer Trump. You can still hear them spout nonsense blaming antifascists dressed up in MAGA gear, alleged FBI informants, and even the brave police officers who defended Congress, some of whom lost their lives. It is frankly impossible to imagine that any elected official believes such garbage — although it is also clear that there are many deranged Republican voters who will literally believe anything.

Biden faces a daunting challenge in his effort to preserve democracy from the authoritarian machinations of Trump and his minions. And he is aware that too many Americans no longer recall accurately the convulsive Republican attempt to end this country's history of peaceful political transition. And he knows that if Trump loses, he will try to grab power again.

"When the attacks of Jan. 6 happened, there was no doubt about the truth," said the president. "But now as time has gone on, politics, fear, money have all intervened. And those MAGA voices who know the truth about Trump and Jan. 6 have abandoned the truth and abandoned our democracy. They've made their choice. Now the rest of us — Democrats, independents, mainstream Republicans — we have to make our choice."

Will we be the generation that forfeits our democratic heritage to a modern despot? Biden is asking and only we can answer.

Joe Conason is editor-in-chief of The National Memo and editor-at-large of Type Investigations. He is a bestselling author whose next book,The Longest Con: How Grifters, Swindlers, and Frauds Hijacked American Conservatism, will be published in 2024.

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.”