Tag: january 6th
Mike Pence

In 'Historic' Grand Jury Appearance, Pence Testifies On Trump's Coup Attempt

Mike Pence, the former vice president, spent over seven hours testifying before Justice Department Special Counsel Jack Smith’s grand jury investigating the January 6, 2021 insurrection and former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Pence is now the highest-ranking Trump official to testify before the special counsel’s grand jury.

His testimony, which former Defense Department Special Counsel Ryan Goodman is describing as “historic,” comes just one day after a federal appeals court rejected Trump’s attempt to block his former vice president from testifying.

Calling it a “significant development in the special counsel’s probe,” NBC News reports Pence’s SUVs entered a Washington, D.C. federal courthouse at 9:00 AM and left at 4:30 PM. Politicocalls it “an extraordinary flashpoint in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s probe.”

“Pence could provide critical insights on Trump’s thinking in the days leading up to the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6. The former vice president published a memoir and Wall Street Journal opinion article detailing several of his interactions with Trump, but some details were left vague. Special counsel Jack Smith’s team is particularly interested in Trump’s efforts to try to block the certification of the election, NBC News previously reported.”

The New York Times’ Michael Schmidt on MSNBC said Pence has been “trying to avoid this for six years, dating back to when he was a key witness in the Mueller investigation but his lawyer … was able to get him out of having to go in” to testify.

Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, before news broke that Pence had testified, on Thursday afternoon mused, “Pence’s insistence on protecting his role as President of the Senate from scrutiny when he answers questions before a grand jury forces consideration of what he wants to protect. Is it conversations with Senators about what they expected/wanted to happen on 1-6?”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Fox News

Murdochs Demand All Subscribers Cough Up Huge Increase In Fox Cable Fees

Following Fox News’ massive defamation settlement paid out to Dominion Election Systems, the network is now pursuing an even more aggressive strategy to raise revenue by increasing the fee paid by cable and satellite providers to $3 per subscriber, according to a new report from Vanity Fair.

Fox News executives insist that sponsors have not been spooked by the Big Lie scandal, nor have the cable and satellite providers that carry the network. In the negotiations that are taking place this spring between Fox and the likes of Comcast, Fox wants to break past the three-buck mark—meaning three dollars per cable household per month, according to sources familiar with the matter. Even though the American cable universe is shrinking, Murdoch and his son Lachlan Murdoch are still extracting billions of dollars.

These fees are the majority of revenue for Fox, more even than advertising, and they are significantly higher than those charged by the network’s competitors. Fox has been able to raise prices and charge disproportionately high rates due to its history of deceptive and aggressive negotiating tactics during contract renewal talks with providers.

During a February 2022 earnings call, Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch announced that 70% of the network’s cable and satellite contracts will be up for renewal during fiscal years 2023 and 2024. Murdoch has signaled to investors that Fox aims to continue to increase affiliate revenue even as the cord-cutting trend continues to accelerate, shrinking the consumer base.

Dominion sued Fox News and Fox Corp. for defamation over the network’s 2020 election coverage that falsely claimed the company’s election machines had been used to alter votes, among other debunked conspiracy theories. The two parties settled the case immediately before the trial was set to begin this week, with Fox paying out $787.5 million to Dominion. Still, as Media Matters President Angelo Carusone wrote in an MSNBC op-ed, “Fox News is about to burn brighter and hotter” to shore up the loyalty of its audience, which the network will then leverage during upcoming negotiations.

Carusone continued:

The impact of Dominion’s lawsuit was always going to be limited because of Fox’s ultimate weapon: cable carriage fees.

The dirty secret about Fox News is that it is one of the only commercial TV channels that doesn’t need a single advertisement to be profitable, if not the only one. In fact, Fox could have zero dollars in ad revenue and still have at least a 35% profit margin. This is the result of carriage fees and the guaranteed revenue they provide Fox.

During what would have been the Dominion trial, Fox News is actively renewing, or gearing up to renew, its contracts with at least three major cable providers — a potentially even bigger financial stake than the case. These three renewals alone, even without increases, would be worth nearly $1 billion annually to Fox.

Since negotiations are ongoing, the exact amount of money Fox will be able to extract hasn’t yet been finalized, but Vanity Fair’s reporting allows for a reasonable estimate.

Per S&P Global, there are approximately 61.9 million multichannel video subscribers, including cable, satellite, and other delivery service providers. If Fox is collecting $2.18 from each of them, as is their current affiliate fee rate, that’s over $1.3 billion in revenue. If that rate goes up to $3 per subscriber, Fox News would be earning more than $1.8 billion from affiliate revenue alone — mostly from customers who don’t watch the channel and have no desire to fund the network’s defamation settlement.

This means that Fox has every incentive to ramp up its extremism, rather than attempt to moderate it. Back to Carusone:

For Fox, success here necessitates that its audience be as fervent as ever. Accordingly, you can expect the network to raise the temperature of its simmering cauldron of deceit and extremism to a full-on boil. It has no other choice.

That process has already begun; Fox has told more than 60 lies about the election and January 6 prosecutions in 2023 alone.

For more information on Media Matters’ campaign to protect consumers from Fox’s affiliate fee greed, click here.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Marjorie Taylor Greene

Rambunctious Margie Gets Muzzled -- By Fellow Republicans (VIDEO)

Today in political theater gone wrong, we have performance artist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). On Wednesday, during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing, Greene went too far with her vitriol even for Republicans when she impugned Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas by calling him “a liar.”

Greene’s five-minute tirade began against both China and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), the latter whom she slandered by claiming he had a “sexual relationship with a Chinese spy—and everyone knows it.” Democratic Rep. Daniel Goldman of New York moved to have Greene’s words taken down. But after the Republicans on the committee voted to table the motion, Greene continued on. And she did not stop being offensive for the full five minutes.

The tirade ended with her being muzzled for the remainder of the hearing.

When she finally got around to (sort of) asking Mayorkas a question, it came in a high-octane run of, “Where China is poisoning America’s children, poisoning our teenagers, poisoning our young people, how long are you going to let this go on?” Mayorkas attempted to answer, saying that nobody was “letting this go on,” when Greene interrupted him, saying, “No! I reclaim my time! You’re a liar!”

Greene’s bile, the concentration of everything the Republican Party stands for at this point, is a whole lot harder to take when meeting in the more intimate space of a committee hearing. Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi immediately moved to have Greene’s words “taken down.”

At this point the Republican chairman of the committee, Mark Green, made his ruling:

“It’s pretty clear that the rules state that you cannot impugn someone’s character. Identifying or calling someone a liar is unacceptable in this committee; and I make the ruling that we strike those words.”

Now, this is where it became a special kind of awesome. Goldman asked if the ruling was the one that Thompson asked for: to have the words “taken down,” versus having them “stricken” from the record. The distinction is an important one because having the words “taken down” also means the speaker—in this case the Tasmanian devil from Georgia—would no longer be recognized in the hearing.

Possibly realizing she was about to be shut down completely, Greene attempted one of her patented make-believe moves, saying, “Point of personal inquiry,” to which Goldman responded, “There’s no such thing.” Teehee.

The fact that Greene’s existence in all settings is a waste of space is nothing new. But in this circumstance she not only effectively nullified her entire political theater performance, she nullified her party’s own usual political theater performances by forcing them to punish her instead of spending their time blaming President Joe Biden for fentanyl.

After a moment of conferring, Green broke the news that her words would be struck from the public record and “the gentlelady is no longer recognized.” The Republicans then decided the only win they could get was to say that Greene’s pretty slanderous attack on Swalwell didn’t break the rules.

Goldman gave a clear response to that, saying out loud that Greene’s statement was “bullshit.”

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Secret Service

Probe Of Alleged January 6 Text Deletion By Secret Service Expands

Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffarti has filed a lawsuit against the leaders of an ongoing probe into the agency's top watchdog's alleged role in "missing Secret Service text messages from the January 6" insurrection, The Washington Post reports.

The two-year investigation, according to the Post, "has paralyzed" Cuffarti's office," leaving him "alienated from the watchdog community," and has even sparked "calls for President Joe Biden to fire him."

The news outlet reports: "The president has signaled that he intends to stay out of the process until the panel from the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) completes its work. When a federal watchdog is accused of misconduct and the organization decides that it warrants attention, another inspector general is assigned to investigate, under a system set up by Congress."

Regarding Cuffarti's lawsuit, the Post reports:

The lawsuit, an unusual broadside against the federal watchdog community by one of its own, accuses the panel of exceeding its authority and of 'illegal interference' in the operations of one of the government's largest oversight offices.

It has set off hand-wringing and anger in the inspector general community. CIGIE leaders met by Zoom on Wednesday to discuss how to proceed and notified the Justice Department, which will represent them.

The Interceptreported last year that Secret Service messages "went missing after oversight investigators requested them."

Matt Miller, former chief spokesperson for the Department of Justice, said during a 2022 MSNBC, the incident is "very serious." He emphasized, "It's obviously completely indefensible by the Secret Service," noting, "Secret Service, in addition to protecting the president and other dignitaries, is also a law enforcement agency that conducts investigations and demands that subjects under investigation turn over emails and other documents. So, if there's anyone you ought to expect to honor a document preservation request, it is a law enforcement agency."

In July 2022, the House Select Committee on January 6 requested "a new inspector general be appointed to lead an investigation," according to NPR.

"Inspector General Cuffari is required by law to 'immediately' report problems or abuses that are 'particularly serious or flagrant,'" Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NC) wrote in the letter of request. "Yet, Inspector General Cuffari failed to provide adequate or timely notice that the Secret Service had refused for months to comply with DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) requests for information related to the January 6 attack and failed to notify Congress after DHS OIG learned that the Secret Service had erased text messages related to this matter."

The Post also reports:

Cuffari's 173-page complaint filed this week in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia discloses that investigators from CIGIE's Integrity Committee recently told Cuffari and Fredericks that 'alleged deletions of the U.S. Secret Service text messages which referenced the events of January 6, 2021' are a new subject of their probe. The lawsuit denies that any official in the inspector general's office 'has any control over the Secret Service or over where texts by members of that organization go.'

Per the Post, Rep. Thompson said in a statement regarding the lawsuit, "CIGIE's congressional mandate is not only to develop policies for offices of inspectors general, but to promptly investigate allegations of wrongdoing made against inspectors general or their staff. It must be allowed to do its job."

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.