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Tag: house select committee

Yes, Cassidy Hutchinson Is A Hero

The House Select Committee reportedly decided to rush Cassidy Hutchinson's public testimony out of concern for her personal safety. They have good reason to worry. Consider what Brad Raffensperger, Rusty Bowers, Shaye Moss, Ruby Freeman and too many others to list have been subjected to. Rusty Bowers became a virtual prisoner in his home as his daughter lay dying.

Among the last things Bowers' daughter saw in this life was Trump crowds accusing her father of pedophilia — because he would not betray his oath by lying. Brad Raffensperger's family received specific threats like, "You and your family will be killed very slowly."

Ruby Freeman used to delight in wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with her nickname, "Lady Ruby," but she doesn't dare to wear it now. "I won't even introduce myself by my name anymore." She is afraid every day. "Do you know how it feels to have the president of the United States target you?" Freeman asked. Those words must have been reverberating in Hutchinson's ears as she contemplated her own path.

When Trump first crashed into American politics in 2015, it required only political courage to oppose him. Yet one after another, the leading figures of the GOP, from Chris Christie to Jeff Sessions to Ted Cruz, snapped like dry twigs under his boots.By 2020, it required more than political courage to stand up to Trump; it required physical courage. Rep. Adam Kinzinger has received death threats not just against himself, but against his wife and five month-old baby. Rep. Tom Rice, who voted in favor of Trump's second impeachment, received so many death threats that his chief of staff took to sending some directly to the police and reserving others for the congressman's perusal. (Rice recently lost his primary to a Trump loyalist). So many election workers have been threatened by Trump goons (850, according to Reuters) that three states are considering legislation to protect them.

This is the world that every Republican and conservative brought us by failing to show the minimal amount of integrity. Now they are shamed by the shining example of a 26-year-old woman with her life ahead of her, with no motive but love of country and no power except that which comes from a clear conscience.

There has been some tussling over a couple of details of Hutchinson's testimony. Two Secret Service officers reportedly claim that they want to contradict her SUV story under oath. We'll see. Anyone who viewed the presidential debate in 2020 cannot be shocked that Trump can be unhinged. Eric Herschmann says that a note Hutchinson testified to writing was actually written by him. Those are trivial matters compared with what is unrebutted.

It was clear before June 28 that Trump lifted not a finger to end the violence at the Capitol for many hours. Any normal, nonevil person, confronted with the fact that a mob of his supporters was committing violence at the Capitol, would have called them off. Trump did the opposite. He poured gasoline on the fire, tweeting that "Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution."

Now we learn from Hutchinson that when some of the non-zombified staff at the White House attempted to get Trump to do the most elementally decent act imaginable — to protect another human being, his own vice president — Trump said, "Mike Pence deserves it." Is it conceivable that Trump could have been so depraved? Yes. Months later, speaking to ABC's Jonathan Karl, Trump was asked about his supporters' chants of "Hang Mike Pence." He defended them. "Well, the people were very angry. Because ... it's common sense, that you're supposed to protect — How can you, if you know a vote is fraudulent, right — how can you pass on a fraudulent vote to Congress?"

And that, in turn, is consistent with Trump's comment on January 6 when a panicked Kevin McCarthy phoned to beg the president to call off his mob: "Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are." Even in the past few months, Trump has been promising to pardon the rioters, should he be reelected. "We love you," he said on Jan. 6. He still does.

So it sure looks like Cassidy Hutchinson is describing the guy we know — the man who was fine with seeing his vice president murdered.

The most frightening thing we've learned over the past six years is just how indifferent the vast majority of the Republican Party is to the rule of law, the Constitution, basic decency and truth. But there have also been ordinary men and women who met the moment with grace and integrity. Their examples prove that the flame of liberty has not been extinguished. If this republic survives, Rep. Liz Cheney will be remembered as a heroine who ensured that it could. And Cassidy Hutchinson will deserve a place of honor for showing a party of cowards what courage looks like.

Mona Charen is policy editor of The Bulwark and host of the "Beg to Differ" podcast. Her most recent book is Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

House Select Committee Announces Surprise Tuesday Hearing

The House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack has just announced it will hold a hearing on Tuesday, a last-minute move that is expected to include testimony from a surprised, unnamed witness.

The New York Times reports the Committee says it has “recently obtained evidence.”

“The hearing is scheduled for 1 PM, according to a news release issued by the committee, in which it provided no other details about the surprise session,” the Times adds.

Calling the surprise hearing “momentous,” MSNBC’s Sahil Kapur reports: “They don’t say what the evidence is. They don’t say who the witness is. But this must be a pretty big development for the committee to change its plans on such short notice and hold the hearing after it had initially postponed all additional hearings to after recess, to July, when the House returns from the July 4 break.”

“Again, momentous news. We don’t have more details to report including the identity of the witness, but we’ll be following closely. This report comes after they held heartings last week talking about then-President Trump’s attempts to pressure the Justice Department to go along with his false or fabricated claims of a stolen election in order to stay in power. The committee seems to think it’s got something really big here. And as a result we’re going to get another hearing tomorrow afternoon. Tuesday afternoon at 1 PM Eastern.”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Black Election Workers Targeted By Trump Weathered Racist Death Threats

Two Georgia elections officials who were viciously harassed by former President Donald Trump and his allies are being lauded as heroes following their gripping testimony on Tuesday before the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol.

Wandrea Shaye Moss and her mother Lady Ruby Freeman were accused by Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani that they helped steal the election from him and were subsequently treated with racist and defamatory subjugation.

Moss recalled how the trauma from what she experienced has destroyed her life.

"It's turned my life upside down. I no longer give out my business card. I don't transfer calls. I don't want anyone knowing my name. I don't want to go anywhere with my mom because she might yell my name out over the grocery aisle or something. I don't go to the grocery store at all. I haven't been anywhere at all," Moss revealed.

"I've gained about 60 pounds. I just don't do nothing anymore. I don't want to go anywhere. I second guess everything that I do," she continued. "This affected my life in a major way. In every way. All because of lies, for me doing my job, the same thing I've been doing forever."

Watch below via ABC News:

Freeman also described the devastating impact Trump's sanctioned actions have had on her.

"I've lost my name and I've lost my reputation. I've lost my sense of security, all because a group of people starting with No. 45 and his ally Rudy Giuliani decided to scapegoat me and my daughter Shaye, to push their own lies about how the presidential election was stolen," Freeman, a 62-year-old grandmother, said in a taped statement.

"There is nowhere I feel safe. Nowhere. Do you know how it feels to have the president of the United States to target you?" Freeman asked rhetorically. "The president of the United States is supposed to represent every American—not to target one. But he targeted me, Lady Ruby, a small business owner, a mother, a proud American citizen who stood up to help Fulton County run its elections in the middle of the pandemic."

Watch below via ABC News:

Observers are lauding Moss and Freeman as heroes for sharing their stories with the whole world.















There have even been calls for President Joe Biden to award them the Medal of Freedom.







Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Poll: Americans Want Trump Held Legally Accountable For His Crimes

A new ABC News/Ipsos poll finds that 58% of Americans believe Donald Trump bears a good or great amount of responsibility for inciting the January 6 insurrection and support charging him with a crime. Six in 10 also say the House Select Committee's probe into January 6 is fair and impartial.

The poll, released over the weekend, came as the January 6 panel prepared for a Tuesday hearing focused on Trump's pressure campaign at the state level to overturn the 2020 election.

Public opinion is far from a decisive legal standard, but the poll adds to pressure on the Justice Department to charge a former president—a move that will undoubtedly be hotly debated by the department's leadership.

Not only should having public opinion on the side of holding Trump to account provide at least some comfort to Justice Department officials charged with making that call, but imagine the inverse: Failing to charge someone who nearly six in 10 Americans think should be behind bars for crimes against the republic.

What kind of message would that send to law-abiding citizens? And perhaps even worse—what kind of message would that send to future would-be coup-ers? It would be like handing a free pass to domestic terrorists plotting to subvert our constitutional democracy.

Block by block, the decision to take a pass on pressing the criminal case against Trump is seeming less viable all the time.

Not only has a former federal judge concluded that Trump "likely" committed felony obstruction, but the January 6 committee will have Trump dead to rights on criminal intent by the time it concludes its work. The American public, it appears, is already there.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Select Panel Hearing Will Probe Trump Push To Overturn 2020 Results In States

One day after Arizona’s 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump’s supporters, including armed protesters, converged on Maricopa County’s ballot counting center. That morning, a local congressman, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) had amplified Trump’s stolen election claims. He tweeted that Trump votes were uncounted in his state’s most populous county because many voters had used sharpie pens, which bled through the paper and spoiled their ballots.

Although the rumor, dubbed “Sharpie-gate,” was false, Gosar made a beeline for the protest. Rather than urging those present to accept disappointing results, he validated their fears. Gosar was not alone. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, another ambitious Republican – now running for the U.S. Senate as a “true conservative” – announced an investigation. These reactions, abusing their office’s prestige and authority, were not unique.

Trump called Maricopa County’s top elected Republican to pressure him to stop counting votes. The Arizona Republican Party, like the GOP in many battleground states, filed baseless lawsuits. Later that month, Trump’s Washington-based lawyers, who knew that Joe Biden won, flew into Phoenix. They met with GOP legislators, who let them use Arizona’s statehouse as a stage for making more false claims. In December, loyalists from state party officials to legislators, forged and signed a fake Electoral College certificate saying that Trump had won. Then they lobbied the vice president to count their fraudulent and illegal votes on January 6.

The fourth hearing by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol will focus on how Trump’s team pressured local and state government officials to overturn Biden’s victory. Tuesday’s witnesses include two Republican election officials from Georgia and a state legislator from Arizona who resisted Trump’s pressure and received numerous threats from Trump supporters that have continued into 2022’s elections.

The events in Arizona followed a template also seen in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, according to the panel’s disclosures and other reporting compiled by States United Democracy Center, a nonpartisan organization advancing free, fair, and secure elections.

“The same lies and conspiracy theories that fueled the January 6 attack contributed to threatening and violent messages aimed at election officials,” its Arizona update said. “These threats were launched over email, voicemails, texts, letters, social media, and in-person events, including gathering outside election officials’ homes.”

As the hearings continue, there are not only questions of what accountability will ensue for participants in Trump’s failed 2020 coup, but what can be done about a Republicans who still embrace the stolen election lie. This past weekend, for example, the Texas Republican Party adopted these claims in its party platform. That action follows scores of election-denying candidates running for state and federal office in 2022 and winning their primaries.

“These candidates and their successful primary campaigns are a stark reminder that the insurrection—and the lies that sparked it—did not end on January 6, 2021 or when former President Trump left office,” wrote States United’s leadership team, Noman Eisen, Joanna Lydgate, and Christine Todd Whitman (New Jersey’s ex-governor and a Republican) in Slate. “And they are proof that the kindling for the attack—and the continued stoking of the fire—is alive and well in the states.”

The trio contend that local accountability would have the greatest chance of stopping the cynical and dangerous stolen election claims. They suggest disbarring the “bad lawyers” who perpetuated the evidence-free falsehoods, which means ending their legal careers. They said that “district and county attorneys can bring criminal charges” against the coup’s participants and cited the investigation in Georgia’s Fulton County, where Trump tried to get Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” votes to reverse Biden’s victory. (Raffensperger and his deputy are witnesses on Tuesday.)

They further suggested that local prosecutors go after militias like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers for confrontations with police, citing a lawsuit by the District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine. They also suggested that state attorneys general go after Trump’s post-election fundraising where false claims were used to dupe donors, citing a Michigan inquiry that’s underway and a possible New York State investigation.

“Democracy cannot exist without the rule of law,” they wrote. “Seeking accountability for those who step outside those bounds is critical to stopping the ongoing insurrection before it’s too late. If we want to prevent an election hijack in 2022 and 2024, it’s going to take a full-speed-ahead approach to accountability. And just like with our elections, we believe those [accountability efforts] will be run and led by the states.”

Tuesday’s disclosures may suggest which legal venues would be best for seeking accountability.

But there is another aspect of accountability that involves understanding and confronting the dysfunctional political psychologies that enabled this crisis. Pro-Trump politicians, candidates,and campaigners seem to share a mindset where they valued obtaining power above other personal, public, and professional considerations. It’s one thing to be a loyal and ambitious politician. It’s another to mimic party leaders who lie, show indifference to facts, embrace chaos and violence, bilk supporters, and say such actions were patriotic — and still are.

The hearings are revealing how far people who admired or envied Trump were willing to go. As new details surface so too are suggestions for how and where to hold participants accountable. But what has not yet been revealed is what might excise the dynamic in political life that allows such self-serving people to advance, and, as just seen in Texas, to keep lying.

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Five Mastriano Supporters Indicted On Capitol Riot Charges

At least five supporters of state Sen. Doug Mastriano, the Republican nominee for Pennsylvania governor, are facing federal charges for their participation in the assault on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 by supporters of then-President Donald Trump. At least one of the five traveled to Washington on a bus chartered by Mastriano.

Mastriano, a retired U.S. Army colonel whose political career began with his election to the Pennsylvania Senate in 2019, is a supporter of Trump's election lies and a Christian nationalist who supports a total ban on abortion. He led the effort in Pennsylvania to award Trump the state's 20 electoral votes in spite of the actual election results, even attending a White House meeting with Trump to strategize about how to retroactively deny Biden victory in the Keystone State.

Mastriano attended and was tentatively scheduled to speak at the "Stop the Steal" rally held just prior to the insurrection at the Capitol, according to permitting documents for the event. In a statement issued by his office on January 6, Mastriano condemned the violence and said, "When it was apparent that this was no longer a peaceful protest, my wife and I left the area and made our way out of the area. At no point did we enter the Capitol building, walk on the Capitol steps or go beyond police lines."

However, footage posted online is reported to show Mastriano crossing abandoned police barricades alongside his wife.

Sandra Weyer of Mechanicsburg, who traveled to Washington on a bus chartered by Mastriano and who donated $500 to his campaign for the Pennsylvania Senate, was one of the more than 2,000 pro-Trump protestors who invaded the Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory in the 2020 presidential election. She was arrested on a felony charge of obstructing Congress and on four misdemeanor charges including disorderly conduct and trespassing after she allegedly recorded and encouraged an assault on a New York Times photographer.

William Blauser Jr., who attended the "Stop the Steal" rally, entered the Capitol with the mob holding a sign bearing Mastriano's gubernatorial campaign slogan, "Walk as Free People." Blauser was charged with three misdemeanors and entered a guilty plea to the charge of "parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building."

Blauser traveled to the Capitol with Pauline Bauer, a McKean County pizza shop owner who can be heard in body camera footage taken inside the Capitol rotunda saying, "Bring [Speaker of the House] Nancy Pelosi out here now. We want to hang that fucking bitch" and "Bring them out, they’re criminals … they need to hang." A photo included with FBI case documents shows Bauer wearing a Mastriano shirt on January 5.

Bauer, who has been indicted on five counts and whose trial is scheduled for next month, has been jailed since September 17, 2021. Her requests for pretrial release were denied after she claimed she was "not a person" and not subject to federal law and cited the Bible in an argument with the Trump-appointed judge presiding over her case, rhetoric experts say is used among adherents of the so-called sovereign citizen movement, who believe they are not subject to state or federal law, based on a series of conspiracy theories about the U.S. government.

Donald Smith, a Lindenwold UPS worker, is facing up to a year in prison for entering the Capitol on Jan. 6. Officials said Smith, who was arrested after co-workers reported him to the FBI for boasting about breaking into Pelosi's office and calling the insurrection "the best day of his life," had previously donated $1,000 to Mastriano's state Senate campaign.

Samuel Lazar, who was arrested in July 2021, has posed for photographs with Mastriano at least a half-dozen times, including for several taken after January 6. Lazar, who said of his actions, "I was right at the front, on the tip of the spear, brother. That's where you gotta be," was accused of spraying a chemical irritant at Capitol Police officers and has been charged with assaulting and obstructing law enforcement. Mastriano said he did not know Lazar personally, a claim Lazar's siblings dispute as a politically motivated attempt by Mastriano to create distance from potentially controversial supporters.

"Why would you assume that every politician who takes a picture with someone at an event automatically knows who they are or agree [sic] with what they believe?" Mastriano said in a statement provided to HuffPost.

Mastriano has agreed to testify before the House select committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol over his role in the coordinated Republican effort overturn the results of the 2020 election.

The Pennsylvania general election for governor will be held on November 8. Mastriano will face Democratic state Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

Long After Trump's Election Lawsuits Failed, Cash Poured Into His Coffers

The House Select Committee, tasked with probing the January 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol, is detailing how former President Donald Trump invented, disseminated, and cashed in on baseless conspiracies of widespread voter fraud that his senior advisers counseled him weren’t true.

On the precipice of electoral defeat, Trump — seeking to supercharge his fundraising efforts — bombarded his supporters with millions of ominous emails requesting donations for an “Election Defense Fund,” which he said would help him “fight back” against voter fraud engineered by the “left-wing mob.”

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), a select committee member who played a leading role in the panel’s second day of hearings, detailed the fundraising campaign to the American people.

“We found evidence that the Trump campaign and its surrogates misled donors as to where their funds would go and what they would be used for,” Lofgren said in her closing statement for the hearing.

Lofgren argued that the devious fundraising tactic, driven by the Big Lie, allowed Trump to pull off a “big ripoff,” conning his supporters to the tune of $250 million. “So not only was there the big lie, there was the big ripoff,” Lofgren added.

The committee played a video near the end of its second hearing detailing how, between November 2020 and early January 201, the former president sent his supporters up to 25 donation request emails a day, raising falsehoods that judge after judge rejected, including some he appointed.

"Claims that the election was stolen were so successful, President Trump and his allies raised $250 million, nearly $100 million in the first week after the election," said Wick, senior investigative counsel for the committee.

"Most of the money raised went to this newly created PAC, not to election-related litigation," Wick said. She also said committee lawmakers found out that this PAC, the Save America PAC, gave millions in contributions to pro-Trump organizations.

The select committee trailed the money and outlined its findings: $1 million of the donation pool went to the Conservative Partnership Institute, a charity run by Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows. $1 million to the America First Policy Institute, a small organization that hires many former Trump staff and champions the former president’s political vision.

The Trump Organization got $204,857 for the hotels it owned, and the company that ran Trump’s January 6 rally outside the White House, Event Strategies Inc., gulped $5 million.

In an interview with CNN that aired after the hearing, Lofgren disclosed another startling expenditure: Kimberly Guilfoyle, Donald Trump Jr.’s fiancee, got “paid $60,000 for the introduction she gave at the speech on January 6.” According to the Washington Post, Guilfoyle's speaking fee was financed by Publix supermarket heiress and laundered through Turning Point Action, a far-right activist group close to Trump Jr.

Guilfoyle has been under scrutiny for reportedly receiving large payments from third-party companies — remuneration that didn’t need to be reported to the Federal Election Commission.

According to the Washington Post, millions of dollars continued to pour into the Trump campaign coffers even after its last election lawsuits were thrown out of court. The campaign pulled in $62 million in the first half of 2021 and $23 million in the latter part of the year, months after the crash and burn of Trump’s legal efforts.

“People were conned by the former president,” Lofgren told CNN. "It's clear that he intentionally misled his donors, asked them to donate to a fund that didn't exist and used the money raised for something other than what is said," she added.

A spokeswoman for Trump, Liz Harrington, dismissed the select committee’s allegations in her reply to requests for comment, saying that Trump’s "political spending is totally synchronized" with his goal of "fixing our elections," CNN stated in a report.

Trump blasted the allegations made in Monday’s hearing in a 12-page rambling statement, where he didn’t address his fundraising plans but called the select committee a “kangaroo court.”