Tag: capitol riot
Why McCarthy Gave January 6 Capitol Riot Footage To Tucker Carlson

Why McCarthy Gave January 6 Capitol Riot Footage To Tucker Carlson

If House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) interest in the more than 40,000 hours of security footage from the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was primarily transparency, he would have made it available to the press or the public. If he believed the House select committee that investigated the storming of the U.S. Capitol by violent Trumpists bent on overturning the 2020 election had engaged in malfeasance, he’d have turned the footage over to a Republican-controlled House committee for review.

But rather than taking either of those routes, last month McCarthy instead gave Fox News star Tucker Carlson and his staff exclusive access to the footage. He’s done that because he wants what Carlson is among the best at creating: propaganda.

Carlson has spent the last two years spinning up a sinister, fraudulent alternative to the standard narrative about January 6, which he describes as a “wholly created myth.” His story conveniently excuses former President Donald Trump, other Republican officials like McCarthy, and Fox hosts like himself for promoting the lies about election fraud that brought the mob to the Capitol.

On Carlson’s show, federal “agents provocateurs” generated the attack as a pretext to purge righteous conservative patriots like his own viewers from public life. In his telling, the Trumpists who took over the Capitol were simply “a mob of older people from unfashionable zip codes” who “wandered freely through the Capitol like it was their building or something”; the law enforcement officers who risked their lives and were injured during the assault deserve mockery; and Ashli Babbit, who was shot and killed during the riot while trying to breach the Speaker’s Lobby, is a martyr.

With McCarthy’s help, Carlson is promising more of the same to come. On Thursday, the Fox host alleged that previously, “a tiny group of people gets to make up stories about what happened that day and change the country on the basis of those stories.” But now that his team has gotten access to the footage, he claimed, all that will change.

“They are lying. And we know that because we've been looking at the tape,” he claimed. “We're going to bring you information on the tape and some of it next week and we think it's going to be really, really interesting.”

McCarthy’s gift is in part a fulfillment of Carlson’s own demand. In early January, as McCarthy scrapped and clawed for the support necessary to gain the speakership, Carlson cited releasing all files and video related to January 6 online as something he could offer to win over House Republicans. Carlson’s team will get to cherry-pick what they want from the footage instead of it being released to the public, but the request is pretty close to what McCarthy eventually did. (McCarthy also carried out Carlson’s other suggestion, establishing a House select subcommittee on “the weaponization of the federal government.”)

It wasn't difficult to predict what Carlson was going to do with it. The Fox host’s history of deceptivelyediting and recontextualizing video to serve his false narratives is so robust that it is unwise to believe anything he says about a particular clip. And now he has more than 40,000 hours of footage to play with that no honest journalist can currently access.

Carlson will find some snippets from the footage, take them out of context, lie about what they show, and argue that this proves that everyone else has been lying about January 6. It doesn’t really matter what he seizes on to do this — the “myth” he claims to be debunking is that violent Trumpists stormed the Capitol and assaulted scores of law enforcement, so perhaps he’ll dig up some clips he will claim show calmer moments between the rioters and the police, or law enforcement using excessive force during the melee, or rioters he says looks suspiciously like feds.

More credible journalists, hamstrung in any effort to debunk his claims in a timely fashion because they won’t have access to the video until later, if ever, will be pressured by the right to promote his stories as bombshells and denounced if they show skepticism. The result will bolster Carlson’s influence at Fox and within the GOP, while sending his viewers and other Republicans deeper into the conspiratorial fever swamps.

That is apparently what McCarthy wants. It is ludicrous for the speaker to argue that January 6 was a “very serious attack” but that it is important to get “sunshine” on the situation by giving the footage to Carlson. The Fox host’s noxious conspiracy theories about January 6 are not a secret — several of his former colleagues very publicly broke with the network over them. And just days before news of the speaker’s arrangement with Carlson broke, Dominion Voting Systems released a filing in its $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox which revealed that Carlson and the network’s other stars and its top executives had been fully aware that Trump’s election fraud claims had been false, but promoted them anyway to keep their viewers happy.

There was never any plausible chance that Carlson’s team would look at the footage and decide to tell their audience that it proved they had been wrong all along. He’s not an impartial finder of fact — he’s a propagandist who is in the business of telling his viewers what they want to hear. In this case, they want to believe that they and their political fellow travelers were the victims, so that’s what they are going to hear.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Proud Boys Seek To Subpoena Trump's Testimony At Sedition Trial

Proud Boys Seek To Subpoena Trump's Testimony At Sedition Trial

Attorneys for leaders of the Proud Boys — the violent extremist group accused of conspiring to hinder the transfer of presidential power in January 2021 — said they plan to subpoena former President Donald Trump to appear as a witness in their ongoing sedition trial.

Norm Pattis, an attorney for 37-year-old Proud Boys member Joseph Biggs, announced Thursday that the defendants — Enrique Tarrio, Ethan Nordean, Zachary Rehl, Dominic Pezzola, and Biggs, all of whom were charged with seditious conspiracy — will contact “the government for assistance in serving Mr. Trump."

Prosecutors in the trial, which began last month, have accused the defendants of leading the charge on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters on January 6, 2021, to keep the defated president in power, an unprecedented breach that left seven dead and about 150 law enforcement officers injured.

Defense attorneys have argued that it was not the Proud Boys but Trump who claimed that the 2020 election was stolen, asked supporters to gather at the Capitol on January 6, and “unleashed the mob” on lawmakers certifying Electoral College votes that day.

“At all times relevant, Trump was President of the United States, and it’s the government’s obligation to produce him,” Pattis said in court Thursday, according to the Washington Post.

It remains unclear what the defendants hope to learn from Trump, who has continued to insist that the 2020 election was rigged against him despite the availability of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Multiple outlets have noted that the move to compel Trump’s testimony is a long shot, as the ex-president — who fought a subpoena for testimony from the House’s January 6 committee — will almost certainly try to derail the Proud Boys' demand with executive privilege claims or, if that fails, assertjons of his Fifth Amendment right.

The defense attorneys drafted the subpoena over the weekend, but U.S. District Court Judge Timothy J. Kelly, the jurist overseeing the case, would have to rule Trump’s testimony admissible before the former president could be served.

“We’re not going to be seeing testimony from the former president,” Lisa Kern Griffin, a law professor at Duke University, told the Post.

Other January 6 defendants have sought to compel Trump to appear in court, but none has succeeded. Such an effort would be time-consuming and bogged down by extensive litigation.

Last year, a federal court judge denied a January 6 defendant’s request to force Trump and his allies to the witness stand to testify.

Judge Reggie B. Walton told the defendant, Ohio exterminator Dustin Thompson, who testified he stormed the Capitol on Trump’s orders, to make do with publicly accessible video and audio recordings of Trump speaking on or before January 6, as opposed to subpoenaing him, reported the Times.

Unlike the others, however, “the Proud Boys may have the clearest case, given Trump’s explicit reference to the group during the debate and the group’s centrality to the riot that unfolded on January 6,” Politico’s Kyle Cheney wrote Thursday.

Trump has made direct references to the group. During the September 2020 presidential debate, Trump, responding to Biden and debate moderator Chris Wallace, told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.”

In an opening statement last month, Sabino Jauregui, an attorney for Tarrio, blasted the U.S. government for making Tarrio its scapegoat because it was “too hard to blame Trump, too hard to bring him to the witness stand with his army of lawyers.”

“Instead, they go for the easy target. They go for Enrique Tarrio, leader of the Proud Boys,” Jauregui said. “If the government takes down Enrique Tarrio, the government takes down the whole Proud Boys organization.”

Prosecutors have since disagreed, arguing — and presenting reams of evidence to the jury they said showed — that the Proud Boys “directed, mobilized and led” the January 6 rioters into the Capitol, breaching Capitol law enforcement barricades to facilitate the unauthorized entry.

Tarrio, a longtime national chairman of the male-only group, was the leader of over 100 Proud Boys, including Biggs, Nordean, and Rehl, who converged on the Washington Monument on January 6. From there they traveled to the Capitol, prosecutors alleged, according to USA Today.

Investigations have revealed deep ties between Tarrio, other right-wing extremist groups, and several Trump allies, including convicted pro-Trump Republican strategist Roger Stone, for whom the Proud Boys have acted as bodyguards.

On Wednesday, prosecutors presented to jurors a string of messages that showed Tarrio receiving internal law enforcement information — including a heads-up of his impending arrest — from a Metropolitan Police lieutenant, Shane Lammond, for weeks before January 6, the Guardianreported Thursday.

Trump Suddenly Rushes To Praise Pence After Special Counsel Subpoena

Trump Suddenly Rushes To Praise Pence After Special Counsel Subpoena

Former President Donald Trump is suddenly praising former Vice President Mike Pence -- after reports emerged that the Justice Department special counsel handling concurrent investigations into Trump has subpoenaed Pence.

In an exclusive interview with Fox News Digital on Friday, Trump called Pence “an honorable man,” lauding the former veep whom he had repeatedly denounced for rejecting his entreaty to sabotage the congressional certification of Trump’s electoral loss.

Trump’s unexpected praise came a day after Jack Smith, the special counsel appointed by the Justice Department in November to investigate Trump, reportedly issued Pence a subpoena for documents and testimony regarding the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Federal investigators want Pence’s direct and sworn testimony about his interactions with Trump before and on January 6 to ascertain whether the former president should face criminal charges for his efforts to overturn his loss in the 2020 presidential election.

Pence divulged some of his interactions with Trump after the election in his memoir, So Help Me God, in which he said Trump “sowed” the seeds for the Capitol invasion on January 6.

"In the end, that day the president made the fateful decision to put Giuliani and Sidney Powell in charge of the legal strategy, “ Pence wrote — referencing a fiery post-election meeting between Trump and allies to discuss their failing election challenges in court — "the seeds were being sown for a tragic day in January."

Representatives for Pence and the Justice Department declined to comment on the subpoena.

“Are they going to look for the people that spied on my campaign?” Trump asked during his Fox News interview, hoping to divert public discourse to a distorted right-wing narrative that Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign had spied on him.

Trump’s tirade during the interview comprised a stew of grievances untethered from reality, including groundless claims that Twitter and Facebook had suppressed the Hunter Biden laptop story to rig the 2020 elections, allegedly stymying the materialization of a claimed “17-point difference [in Trump’s favor] in the election.”

In a Truth Social post afterward, Trump touted Pence as “very decent” in the course of another diatribe decrying Smith’s investigation and citing the widely-debunked right-wing election conspiracy documentary 2000 Mules.

"Will Trump Hating Prosecutor Jack Smith be investigating the FACT that they SPIED on my campaign, even as I was in the Oval Office, they Stuffed the Ballot Boxes (per 2000 Mules), used Covid to cheat, that the FBI pushed Twitter & Facebook around, causing massive voter disruption, and so much more?" Trump wrote.

"That's really what he should be looking at, not asking a very decent Mike Pence why he didn't send the votes back to State Legislatures for scrutinization, which he could have done. Get the RIGGERS!" he added.

Trump had also leapt to Pence’s defense on January 24 after an attorney for the former vice president found and turned over to the FBI a dozen classified documents at Pence’s Indiana home.

“Mike Pence is an innocent man. He never did anything knowingly dishonest in his life. Leave him alone!!!” Trump posted on Truth Social.

Trump, who is running for president in 2024, is also under investigation for his handling of hundreds of secret classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and his refusal to obey repeated demands to return them.

The relationship between Trump and Pence shattered after Pence refused Trump’s demands that he reject Electoral College votes for then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

In a book titled The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021, Trump was said to have dismissed any suggestion that he’d pick Pence again as his running mate in 2024.

“It would be totally inappropriate,” Trump said, according to authors Peter Baker of The New York Times and Susan Glasser of The New Yorker. “Mike committed political suicide.”

Instagram Permits Nick Fuentes' 'Groypers' To Promote Neo-Nazism

Instagram Permits Nick Fuentes' 'Groypers' To Promote Neo-Nazism

Instagram is allowing groypers, followers of white nationalist Nick Fuentes, to promote Fuentes’ white Christian nationalist ideology on its platform, despite policies that seemingly prohibit such content.

Media Matters has identified at least 18 Instagram accounts associated with Fuentes or the groypers, along with at least 29 additional accounts that promoteFuentes and his America Firstgroyper movement by sharingmemes, clips, and links. Many of these accounts feature references to “groypers” or “America First” in their handles, and some are exclusivelydedicated to posting clips from groyper livestreams.

We also found that Fuentes’ groypers often use Instagram’s link sticker feature, which allows users to link to content off the platform, to direct their followers to Cozy.TV, as well as other platforms like Twitter or YouTube. Cozy.TV is a streaming platform that Fuentes launched in 2021, which he describes as “anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-Black, antisemitic.” Fourteen of the accounts Media Matters identified link directly to Cozy.TV in their bios.

Fuentes is a 24-year-old streamer who advocates for the mainstream political right in the U.S. to embrace “white nationalist concerns within the shifting consensus that defines movement conservatism.” He has openly expressedantisemitic, sexist, racist, and homophobic views. He also participated in the 2017 Charlottesville Unite the Right rally and was subpoenaed for his participation in the protests that led to the January 6 insurrection.

Fuentes and his groypers strategically use internet spaces to market their racist messages and coordinateharassmentcampaigns. They have also used social media to organizeevents that seek to radicalize conservatives into backing their far-right beliefs.

Fuentes says he has been removed from several mainstream social media platforms, including Instagram, and also claims to have been blacklisted from several banks, airlines, payment processors, and Airbnb. Twitter banned Fuentes from its platform in 2021 — long after many other platforms had removed him. Fuentes repeatedly tried to evade the ban and return to Twitter, including shortly after Elon Musk took over, but on January 24, Fuentes’ original Twitter account was seemingly reinstated. Fuentes’ grievances about being blacklisted from mainstream institutions have recently helped him gain traction among more mainstream figures on the right, even though he has also praised Twitter in the past for helping him stay connected with his audience. At the time of publication, Fuentes does not appear to have an Instagram account that he identifies as his.

Meta, which owns Instagram, explicitly prohibits “praise, support and representation of white nationalism and white separatism on Facebook and Instagram.” Under the company’s dangerous individuals and organizations policy, Meta claims to ban such content and remove individuals and organizations that ascribe to those hateful ideologies.

One of the accounts identified by Media Matters claims to be the official account of Fuentes' Cozy.TV, and it promotes new streamers, special events, donation requests, and merchandise.

Kai Schwemmer, a 20-year-old groyper influencer, currently has over 12,000 followers on Instagram. Schwemmer uses stylized editing and memes to make his far-right content appeal to younger audiences. Schwemmer also maintains active accounts on other mainstream social mediaplatforms and gained traction on TikTok as a member of the Republican Hype House. Schwemmer also has a notable offlinepresence, speaking at collegecampuses and conservativeevents, which he often promotes on his Instagram account.

Paul Escandon, who recently produced a movie about Fuentes, uses his Instagram to promote Fuentes and America First content. Escandon also hosts a show streamed on Cozy.TV, which also has an Instagram account.

Many of the groyper accounts Media Matters identified also use Instagram to post content that seemingly violates the platform's hate speech policy. While some posts explicitly promote racist content, Nazi imagery, and antisemitic rhetoric, others use coded language and dog whistles to send signals to an in-group audience — a phenomenon Media Matters has previouslydocumented.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.