Tag: jan 6
Debunking January 6 Conspiracy Claims, Pence Urges 'New Leadership' In GOP

Debunking January 6 Conspiracy Claims, Pence Urges 'New Leadership' In GOP

During a conversation with CNN host Jake Tapper Sunday — one day after the third anniversary of January 6 — ex-Vice President Mike Pence shot down the right-wing conspiracy theory that the FBI instigated the attack on the US Capitol.

Per CNN, "A recent Washington Post poll showed a third of Republicans believe the conspiracy" — which Donald Trump "echoed just days ago."

Pence told Tapper, "We’ve been assured again and again that it was not the case. They simply need to look to the facts that the Capitol Hill Police endured great hardship and great harm."

Then news outlet notes the former Trump official "said the upcoming Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary offered Republicans the chance to 'give our party a fresh start and give us new leadership to lead our party forward in the election and beyond."

Pence also emphasized his gratitude "forthe FBI’s efforts to arrest to arrest those who 'ransacked our Capitol and did violence against police officers that day,' demanding those who participated in the attack be held to 'the fullest extent of the law.'"

CNN's full report is here.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Jack Smith

Smith: Trump Intelligence Officials Unanimously Rejected His Election Claims

In a new documents filed Saturday night,Politico reports Department of Justice special counsel Jack Smith's team argues "intelligence officials unanimously rejected the idea that foreign governments penetrated any systems that counted votes or could have altered the election tally itself" — which undermines ex-President Donald Trump's claim.

Per the report, "The filing was part of the special counsel's opposition to a bid by Trump to access a broad swath of classified intelligence as part of his defense against charges that he conspired to subvert the 2020 election and disenfranchise millions of voters, culminating in the violent Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Trump has argued that foreign governments fueled his supporters’ concerns about election integrity and that some classified evidence revealed potential meddling that justified his own professed fears about fraud."

Senior assistant special counsel Thomas Windom writes in the filing, Trump "tries to create a 'false impression' and 'manufacture confusion' by citing these 'irrelevant network breaches' and conflating them with potential changes to the vote total."

Alleging this "new legal effort" by Trump "is just an extension of his election lies," prosecutors say "intel officials documented some breaches of state voter registration databases that permitted various influence campaigns but were not capable of causing the vote-stealing scheme of which Trump has long sought to convince his followers."

Smith's team interviewed "more than a dozen of the top intelligence officials in Trump's administration — from his director of national intelligence to the administrator of the NSA to Trump's personal intelligence briefer — about any evidence that foreign governments had penetrated systems that counted votes in 2020."

Windom writes in the filing, "The answer from every single official was no."

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Jan. 6

Right-Wing Media Distort Newly Released January 6 Footage To Downplay Violence

Following the release of January 6 insurrection footage at the Capitol by new House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), right-wing media claimed that police welcomed rioters in the Capitol, that the footage "blows open the preferred January 6 narrative,” and “the J6 Committee’s violent insurrection narrative has crumbled.” In fact, police allowed some movement in the Capitol because they were outnumbered and trying to de-escalate the situation, and 140 Capitol Police officers were injured during the violence.

Police suffered injuries at the hands of the rioters and allowed some movement in an attempt to de-escalate

  • The police union has said 140 police officers suffered injuries from January 6. [The Washington Post, 1/27/21]
  • Police battled to keep rioters out of the Capitol but in some cases stood by because they were outnumbered or engaged politely to try to de-escalate. CNN reported:

The claim that the rioters were invited into the Capitol is false. ... There were hours-long battles between police and rioters near some entrances. CNN obtained footage from police body-worn cameras showing how dozens of officers engaged in hand-to-hand combat with rioters in a desperate effort to keep them out of the building. There are plenty of instances where rioters waltzed into the Capitol without a fight, but only after they had stormed past barricades and, in some cases, even stepped through broken windows. In some areas, police were so outnumbered by the mob that they retreated, stood aside or tried to politely engage with rioters to de-escalate the situation rather than fighting or making arrests, but that is clearly not the same as welcoming rioters into the building. [CNN, 1/4/22]

  • Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger stated that Capitol Police “did their best to use de-escalation tactics to try to talk rioters into getting each other to leave the building.” In a memo to staff, Manger disputed “outrageous and false” claims that Capitol Police served as “tour guides” for Jacob Chansley, aka the QAnon Shaman. Manger wrote that “Capitol Police were badly outnumbered on Jan. 6” and that “those officers did their best to use de-escalation tactics to try to talk rioters into getting each other to leave the building.” [The Washington Post, 3/7/23]
  • Capitol Police officers testified to the January 6 Committee that the day was “nothing short of brutal,” that there was “carnage” and it was a “war scene.” The committee also aired body camera footage from the officers that showed rioters shoving officers and pushing down barricades outside the Capitol. [NPR, 7/27/21, 6/23/21, The Associated Press, 6/10/22]
  • Police onsite were massively outnumbered by rioters, with an estimated 2,000 people entering the Capitol building and under 200 officers at the Capitol building itself. [Forbes, 12/16/21, ABC7, 1/6/22]

Right-wing media claim police allowed protestors to enter the Capitol and suggest that means it wasn’t a violent insurrection

  • Newsmax host Greg Kelly stated that it is “actually not true” that rioters broke into the Capitol and instead “some people were invited inside, and the police officers seemed to welcome them there.” While showing footage of protestors entering, Kelly also asserted that “this blows open the preferred January 6 narrative.” [Newsmax, Greg Kelly Reports, 11/17/23]
  • Newsmax host Eric Bolling said the footage shows Capitol police “escorting the protestors.” He asked his guest Rudy Giuliani, “I mean, does that look like an overthrow of the United States government to you, sir?” [Newsmax, Eric Bolling The Balance, 11/17/23]
  • Also on Newsmax, host Rob Schmitt claimed that protesters in the Capitol looked like they were taking “a tour,” adding that the “QAnon Shaman was actually escorted into the Capitol by police.” Schmitt acknowledged that there was some violence but nevertheless told his audience, “This is a much different day than it was portrayed by the media and by your members of Congress” and called the footage “an important reminder to always, always question what you are told by your government.” In fact, as The Associated Press reported in March, court documents and video footage from the attack show that the QAnon Shaman “entered the Capitol without permission, was repeatedly asked to leave the building and was not accompanied at all times.” [Newsmax, Rob Schmitt Tonight, 11/17/23; The Associated Press, 3/7/23]
  • Conservative podcast host Kyle Becker called the footage “bizarre” for showing rioters “casually walking the halls.” He posted, “This newly released J6 video is BIZARRE. All of these dangerous ‘insurrectionists’ casually walking the halls... right next to Capitol Police and FBI agents in full riot gear. WHAT is going on here? 👀” [Twitter/X, 11/18/23]
  • Right-wing personality Liz Wheeler claimed that Capitol police were “directing the insurrectionists” with a “handshake & pat on the back.” She posted, “Capitol police directing the insurrectionists who to insurrection with a handshake & pat on the back. Mark my words, the key to alllll of this lies with Nancy Pelosi.” [Twitter/X, 11/17/23]
  • Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk asserted that “the J6 Committee’s violent insurrection narrative has crumbled” and called for the immediate release of rioters. He posted, “And just like that the J6 Committee’s violent insurrection narrative has crumbled. The Capitol Police facilitated the protesters passage through the building. The vast majority of J6ers should be immediately released.” [Twitter/X, 11/17/23]
  • Conservative commentator Benny Johnson noted police “were giving handshakes to protestors” and determined that “this is not an insurrection.” He posted, “Capitol Police were giving handshakes to protesters. Now ask yourselves this; In which ‘insurrection’ or ‘Rebellion’ in history would this have happened in? None — because this is not an ‘insurrection.’” [Twitter/X, 11/17/23]
  • Conservative commentator Rogan O'Handley, also known as DC Draino, posted, “Wow what an ‘insurrection’! Watch as J6ers slowly walk past Capitol Police who just watch. Democrats said this was worse than 9/11.” [X, 11/17/23]
  • Right-wing conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer dismissed concerns of right-wing violence at the Capitol because Capitol police were “fist-bumping” rioters. She said: “Oh, if these cops are so concerned, and this was really worse than 9/11 and Pearl Harbor combined, and, you know, it's like a modern day Nazi rally in our nation's capital, why is it that the Capitol Police are fist-bumping these people?” [Rumble, Loomer Unleashed, 11/17/23]

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

At Colorado Trial, Trump Calls 'Expert' Who Wrote Infamous Torture Memo

At Colorado Trial, Trump Calls 'Expert' Who Wrote Infamous Torture Memo

The final day of a weeklong trial in a challenge to former President Donald Trump’s constitutional eligibility to seek office again began with a protracted dispute over how much expertise an expert witness called by Trump’s legal team really had.

Robert Delahunty, a retired law professor and legal commentator who acknowledged he’d never before given expert testimony on any subject in court, took the stand Friday morning in a case brought by six Colorado voters who allege that Trump must be barred from the 2024 presidential ballot by Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. The Civil War-era clause prohibits anyone who took an oath to uphold the Constitution and then “engaged in insurrection” from holding office in the United States. Plaintiffs argue Trump “engaged” in insurrection as part of the January 6 attack.

Trump’s attorneys called on Delahunty, they told Denver District Court Judge Sarah B. Wallace, as a witness with expertise in “interpreting legal historical documents,” and to rebut testimony earlier in the week from Indiana University law professor Gerard Magliocca, an expert on 19th-century constitutional history who has written multiple law review articles on Section 3’s application.

Friday’s trial proceedings began with several hours of direct testimony from Delahunty, whose loquacious answers had to be interrupted repeatedly by Wallace and Trump attorney Scott Gessler. Wallace overruled strong objections from plaintiffs’ attorneys to the admission of Delahunty as an expert witness on the subject of the 14th Amendment’s insurrection clause, which Trump’s team justified on the basis of Delahunty’s 16 years of teaching constitutional law at the University of St. Thomas School of Law.

“Teaching a first-year law school course does not mean that he’s made scholarly contributions” to research on the history and interpretation of Section 3, said Jason Murray, an attorney for the plaintiffs.

“Professor Delahunty has expertise in reviewing historical documents and applying them to constitutional provisions,” Wallace said in denying a motion to exclude the testimony. “His lack of scholarly contribution to Section 3 in particular, I don’t think excludes him from testifying on the opinions that he’s testifying to today.”

In his testimony on Wednesday, Magliocca cited multiple definitions of “engaging in insurrection” that were detailed in legal opinions from the 1860s, including any “overt and voluntary act, done with the intent of aiding or furthering” an insurrection, as well as an act “by speech or by writing (that) incited others to engage in rebellion.”

But Delahunty, while conceding that some of those opinions were “certainly good evidence” for the plaintiffs’ interpretation, said his interpretation of the historical record differed from Magliocca’s.

“I think ‘engage in insurrection’ has a more restricted meaning than he supposes,” Delahunty said.

An ’officer of the United States’?

Under cross-examination by plaintiffs’ attorneys, Delahunty acknowledged that the 14th Amendment had never been the primary focus of his scholarship, and that in preparing his report on the subject for the court, he had not done any original research to consult primary sources from the time period in which the amendment was ratified.

While serving as a lawyer for United States Homeland Security Council in 2002, Delahunty was a co-author with attorney John Yoo of the so-called “torture memos,” legal opinions advising that detainees in the War on Terror were not entitled to protections under the Geneva Conventions. He is currently a fellow at the Claremont Institute, which has been described as an “anti-democracy think tank” and a “nerve center for the American right” under Trump.

Among the many prominent Trump allies affiliated with the Claremont Institute is attorney John Eastman, a key architect of the former president’s scheme to block congressional certification of the results of the 2020 election on Jan. 6, 2021. Eastman has been indicted alongside Trump for an alleged conspiracy to overturn the election by prosecutors in Fulton County, Georgia.

In addition to disputing the definition of “engaging in insurrection,” Delahunty also appeared to an endorse an argument made by Trump supporters that Section 3’s reference to “officers of the United States” does not include the president.

“What’s your opinion on Professor Magliocca’s conclusion that the phrase ‘officer of the United States,’ as used in Section 3, includes the president and vice president of the United States?” Gessler asked.

“I disagree with that conclusion,” Delahunty answered. “I looked into that question more, and I was persuaded that he was really wrong. I think that term is, in essence, a term of art and had a specialized meaning.”

But under questioning from Murray, Delahunty maintained that he “took no position” on the question, which he called “disputed among scholars.”

Murray pointed to a commentary written by Delahunty for The Federalist, a conservative website, in August. In that article, Delahunty wrote of Section 3: “Although it does not explicitly refer to presidents or presidential candidates, comparison with other constitutional texts referring to ‘officer(s)’ supports the interpretation that it applies to the presidency too.”

“You wrote that article in August of this year, before you were hired by Donald Trump as a paid expert in this case, right?” asked Murray. “Since the time you wrote that article in The Federalist, you’ve been paid about $60,000 by Donald Trump for your work in this case?”

“Yes,” Delahunty replied.

Concluding testimony

Delahunty also questioned whether the clause’s ban on office-holding is, as supporters of the plaintiffs’ case maintain, “self-executing,” meaning that congressional action is not required to bar a candidate from office.

The lack of specific federal legislation implementing Section 3’s provisions, Delahunty said, “should, if only for reasons of prudence … lead a court to abstain from deciding what that phrase means, and toss the ball over to Congress.”

Delahunty’s testimony drew a pointed question from Wallace.

“Do you have examples of situations in which a court has basically said, ‘The Constitution is too hard for me to interpret, therefore I’m going to let Congress tell me what it means?’” she asked. “In general, I think that’s exactly the job of the court, to interpret the Constitution.”

“No, I don’t have case law to cite,” Delahunty said. “It approaches the question of whether Section 3 is self-executing. It goes more to that.”

Other concluding testimony on Friday included the questioning of Tim Heaphy, the former chief investigating counsel for the nine-member House of Representatives select committee that investigated the Jan. 6 attack. The admission of many of that committee’s findings as evidence in the 14th Amendment case has been disputed at length by Trump’s legal team, who allege that the panel was politically motivated and didn’t allow for an “adversarial” process through which evidence could be presented and challenged.

Under questioning, Heaphy defended the committee’s work as “fair and impartial,” repeatedly dismissing Gessler’s implications that it was compromised by the fact that its members, who included seven Democrats and two Republicans, had been highly critical of Trump’s role in the events of Jan. 6 and voted to impeach him over “incitement” of the attack a week later.

“It was the hypothesis that began the investigation, in the form of the impeachment proceedings,” Heaphy said. “We tested it, as you always do in an investigation, against other facts as they emerged, and it never changed.”

Following the conclusion of witness testimony, the trial ended shortly before 5 p.m. on Friday. The court will reconvene to hear closing arguments on November 15, with Wallace expected to issue her ruling by November 17.

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.