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MAGA Isn't Just A Cult -- It Has Become A Murder Cult

The aftermath of the August 8, 2022 search of the Mar-a-Lago club, former President Donald Trump’s Florida home, isn’t the first showdown between the FBI and a cult leader.

The Following, a 2013 Fox Pictures series, played out in similar fashion. Three seasons was enough for the producers and it’s been nine years since our introduction to Joe Carroll, English professor-novelist-serial killer, so there’s a spoiler risk -- but not enough to prevent the comparison.

Carroll (played by actor James Purefoy) breaks out of prison and meets up with his “followers” — so named because they follow him and also stalk one of Carroll’s enemies. They're basically, disaffected outsiders, obsessed fans who are willing to commit any act of violence to clear Carroll’s path - which seems directed toward reuniting with his ex-wife, Claire Matthews (played by actress Natalie Zea) and his young son — as well as establishing dominion over everyone else and indoctrinating them into his church of latter-day psychos and first-degree homicide.

After two episodes, the audience’s trust in introduced characters is limited because no one knows if the new face is a member of the cult or not. Local sheriffs, housewives, nurses, medical students, correction officers, ex-military have all enrolled in Carroll’s Following.

The man who caught Carroll the first time, retired FBI Agent Ryan Harding (played by Kevin Bacon), comes out of retirement to hunt Carroll again, somewhat ineffectively since the first season needs to last 15 episodes.

The compelling part of the show is the pre-planned nature of these attacks. The Following is organized; they wait for signals from Carroll and execute his designs pretty deftly.

His appellate lawyer, whose fingers have been cut off to persuade her to represent Carroll again, reads a poem in a press conference to incite the abduction of his wife.

In another scene, one Follower raises both of his arms and his colleagues cut the lights and start slitting people’s throats.

When Carroll’s ex-wife, Claire Matthews (played by Natalie Zea) won’t engage with him, his acolytes start killing other women with the same name. One gets pushed out a high rise window. Another one gets spear gunned in her stomach in a diner booth.

Murder cultists work in concert to protect Carroll from the FBI and impress him with their slaughters, but as the show reveals some characters’ backstories, the audience learns that most have been killing all along; no one ever apprehended them. Their credo is: “In death there is life. In death there is love. In death there is everything.”

I watched it during my last year in prison and all the violence — the setting of unsuspecting people on fire, the slicing of security guards’ livers, the gouging of eyes — scared me more than usual. All I could think was: A few women in here don’t need any new ideas.

Since 2016, I’ve flashed back to various episodes. It’s often said that Trump supporters are a cult. That label needs to leap forward to reflect reality. MAGA is now a murder cult. It seems like no one’s come out and said this yet. There’s no firm definition of a murder cult. The phrase seems just to be a cult qualifier. The difference between a murder cult and a regular cult is their daily activities; murder cultists kill people while others work or chant or pray or study or get sexually abused by their leaders.

Rep.Jackie Speier (D-CA) came the closest to calling Trumpism what it is when she compared Trump to Jim Jones, the cult leader who led the mass suicide at Jonestown, Guyana. Speier would know: she was shot five times when she traveled in a congressional delegation to investigate Jonestown. She made the comparison during an appearance on Brian Selter’s Reliable Sources show on CNN last August.

The only difference between Jim Jones and Donald Trump is the fact that we now have social media, so all these people can find themselves in ways that they couldn’t find themselves before … both of them merchants of deceit,” Speier said.

A writer for The Federalist freaked out and accused Spier of defaming Trump in a 2021 article titled “CNN’s Brian Stelter Lets Congresswoman Compare Trump To Murder Cult Leader." Madeline Osburn’s indignant rejoinder is the first and only instance of putting Trump and ‘murder cult’ in the same sentence. She accurately pointed out that “Trump did not lead his supporters to feed 287 children a potion of Kool-Aid and cyanide, leaving them foaming at the mouth, convulsing, and then dead.” But Trump led his supporters to do other things to kill people, or at least die trying.

One Trumper is a literal murder cultist. “Blacks for Trump” founder Maurice Symonette, a.k.a. “Michael the Black Man,” the Black man positioned behind Trump at his rallies, was in a real-life murder cult following a man named Hulon Mitchell, Jr. who called himself Yahweh Ben Yahweh. Interestingly, Mitchell a.k.a. Yahweh was also a hotelier and real estate developer and lived in Florida. He exhorted his followers to slay at least 14 people, “white devils,” who were usually homeless people, unlucky well before they ran across one of Yahweh Ben Yahweh’s dispatched killers. There’s no allegation that Symonette was involved in any of the attacks.

In terms of murder, there’s the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol that ended six lives. And MAGA megafan Cesar Sayoc and his pipe bombs; luckily, no one died. The bombs planted at Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee could have taken out thousands of employees. One Trump supporter tried to cut the throat of a six year old Asian boy in a Texas Costco. A Penn State student threatened to put a bullet in an Indian student. Three men in Kansas plotted to bomb a building that housed many Somalis.

And there’s “Hang Mike Pence.” Because, at least on January 6, 2021, in Pence’s anticipated assassination, there was everything.

These are just a few examples. I suspect the death count from bloodthirsty Trump supporters was supposed to be higher. They’re not as competent as the Followers who have a writing room in West Hollywood to tie up the ends of their stories.

After the search of Mar-A-Lago, violent rhetoric surged again online. It could be tough talk or it could be terrorism, not to defend Trump but to indulge the violent, homicidal nature of some of his supporters.

About halfway through the first season, Claire asks her Follower, Charlie Mead (played by Tom Lipinski): "What is Joe doing? Why do you listen to him? What is this all about?”

“He’s teaching me to feel my life,” Charlie says.

It isn’t about the Deep State. It isn’t about stopping another witch hunt. It isn’t because of the search warrant executed at Mar-A-Lago. This is only about white supremacy because that it’s a simple way to identify targets for violence. How many of the Trump cultists are just murderers who found their justification in — and coalesced around —Donald J. Trump?


Chandra Bozelko did time in a maximum-security facility in Connecticut. While inside she became the first incarcerated person with a regular byline in a publication outside of the facility. Her “Prison Diaries" column ran in The New Haven Independent, and she later established a blog under the same name that earned several professional awards. Her columns now appear regularly in The National Memo.

Never Trumpers Bombard CPAC With Billboard Attack

Fifteen months after Donald Trump was voted out of office, countless Republican entities — from the Republican National Committee (RNC) to the Conservative Political Action Conference — continue to promote unquestioning loyalty to the former president. And a decidedly MAGA lineup dominates CPAC 2022, which commenced in Orlando, Florida on Thursday, February 24 and continues through this Sunday, February 27. But an anti-Trump conservative group, the Republican Accountability Project (formerly Republican Voters Against Trump) is reminding CPAC 2022 attendees that not all conservatives are Trump loyalists.

In Orlando, RAP has paid for more than 100 anti-MAGA billboards during CPAC 2022. One of them shows an Arizona-based Republican voter named Nancy, who is quoted as saying, “I’m disgusted by today’s GOP. No integrity. It’s all about power.” And in another RAP billboard, a Colorado-based ex-Republican, also named Nancy, complains, “I don’t recognize today’s GOP. Reagan wouldn’t either.”

A billboard featuring Washington State-based ex-Republican Daniel quotes him as saying, “I’m a Cheney conservative, not a Trump Republican.”

Arch-conservative Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, blames Trump for the January 6, 2021 insurrection and voted for his second impeachment later that month. Because Cheney has been so vocal in condemning the ex-president, she is facing aggressive GOP primary challenges from several Trump loyal loyalists in her deep-red state.

In an official statement on its website, RAP said, “Making excuses for the January 6 insurrection has become commonplace. The lies about the 2020 election grow louder every day. MAGA candidates are falling over themselves to prove how Trump-loyal and Trump-like they are, and they’re driving away key parts of their base in the process. We will be running over 100 billboards in Orlando, FL, throughout this year’s CPAC conference.”

RAP has often been compared to The Lincoln Project, another right-wing anti-Trump group. RAP and The Lincoln Project both supported Democratic now-President Joe Biden in 2020’s presidential election, and members of both groups can often be found on MSNBC and CNN bashing Trump and the far-right MAGA movement.

CPAC 2022’s uber-MAGA lineup ranges from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri to Trump himself. Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who was among the many candidates in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, is featured as well.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Praised By Republican Presidents, Fauci Is Now Target Of GOP Attack Ads

Republican presidents of the past welcomed Dr. Anthony Fauci’s expertise, from Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush to his son George W. Bush. It was under the younger President Bush, in fact, that Fauci received the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award in 2008.

“For his determined and aggressive efforts to help others live longer and healthier lives,” Bush declared, “I'm proud to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Dr. Anthony S. Fauci.”

But that was before the Trumpification of the GOP and before Fauci was demonized by the far-right MAGA movement. In an article published by Politico on February 4, reporter Stephanie Murray stresses that an abundance of Republican ads are trying to fire up the GOP base with anti-Fauci messaging.

Anti-Fauci messages in Republican ads, Murray notes, are coming from everyone from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to Dr. Mehmet Oz — who is running for the U.S. Senate seat presently occupied by Sen. Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania — to Mike Gibbons, a U.S. Senate candidate in Ohio.

In Gibbons’ ad, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky declares, “I’ve stood strong against the mandates of Dr. Fauci, but I need help. That’s why I’m endorsing Mike Gibbons for Senate. I know Mike Gibbons will join me in demanding that Fauci is immediately fired and removed from office.”

Oz’s ad, meanwhile, finds him saying, “The big government medical establishment came after me because I dared to challenge Fauci on COVID.”

“Anthony Fauci has been a GOP target for nearly two years, as the party cast the president’s chief medical adviser as a villain for pandemic-era policies,” Murray explains. “Now, he’s emerging as a star in Republican campaign commercials. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is appearing in spots across the airwaves this week as primary elections take shape and Republicans seek to tap into his unpopularity with the GOP base.”

In 2008, President George W. Bush was praising Fauci for working hard to save lives. In 2022, demonizing him is a way for MAGA Republicans to prove their street cred.

“Fauci is a particularly useful foil for GOP candidates in primaries because of Republican hostility toward his performance,” Murray observes. “Sixty-two percent of Republicans said Fauci was doing a ‘poor’ job handling the pandemic, according to a new Politico/Morning Consult poll. Meanwhile, 41 percent of Democrats said Fauci was doing an ‘excellent’ job in his handling of the pandemic — compared to just six percent of Republicans. The poll surveyed 2005 registered voters from January 28-30.”

The 81-year-old Fauci has served in the United States government since the late 1960s, and he was appointed director of NIAID under President Reagan in 1984.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Two Michigan Trumpsters Charged With Threatening Elected Officials

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

In Michigan — which has seen more than its share of political extremism in recent months — state Attorney General Dana Nessel has announced criminal charges against two men accused of threatening officials on Tuesday.

The men are 62-year-old Daniel Thompson, who is from Clare County, Michigan, and 43-year-old Douglas, Georgia resident Clinton Stewart.

Thompson, Nessel's office alleges, made threats against Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Rep. Elisse Slotkin, both Democrats. Those threats, according to Nessel, include threats against Stabenow in a message left on Jan. 5 and threatening remarks during a Jan. 19 conversation with one of Slotkin's employees. In addition, Nessel's office alleges that Thompson made a threatening phone call to Slotkin on April 30, 2020.

According to Nessel's office, "The voicemail message for Sen. Stabenow left by Thompson, who identified himself as a Republican, contained vulgar language and threatened violence meant to intimidate the public officials. Thompson stated he was angry about the results of the November election, that he joined a Michigan militia and that there would be violence if the election results were not changed. In an e-mail to Stabenow's office, he reiterated the threatening remarks and used vulgar language."


Stewart, meanwhile, is accused of leaving a threatening voice mail for Michigan Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens in September and describing her as an "activist judge" whose rulings were favorable to then-candidate Joe Biden. Stewart, allegedly, believed that Stephens was making decisions in favor of mail-in ballots in the hoping of swinging the 2020 presidential election to Biden in Michigan.

The charge against Stewart was filed in Wayne County, which includes Detroit, while the charge against Thompson was filed in Livingston County, Michigan.

These indictments follow a great deal of unrest in Michigan in 2020, when Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer became the target of kidnapping plot by far-right extremists who were angry over COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing measures in her state.

In an official statement on the Thompson and Stewart indictments, Nessel said, "It is unacceptable and illegal to intimidate or threaten public officials. To those who think they can do so by hiding behind a keyboard or phone, we will find you and we will prosecute you, to the fullest extent of the law. No elected official should have to choose between doing their job and staying safe."

‘Cruz Would Want Us To Do This’: Stunning Video Of Rioters On Senate Floor

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Some Trump supporters in right-wing media insist antifa activists played a prominent role in the storming of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, but video after video has made it abundantly clear that the violence came from a passionately pro-Trump mob. And one of the Trump allies who rioters mentioned while ransacking the Capitol Building that day made it clear he thought he was following the wishes of Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

Cruz joined President Donald Trump in promoting the false claim that the outgoing president lost to President-elect Joe Biden in November because of widespread voter fraud. In video of the attack that has been released by The New Yorker, a man can be seen looking through a binder on the Senate floor and saying of Cruz, "Look, 'objection to counting the electoral votes of the State of Arizona.' He was gonna sell us out all along."

But a man in a red MAGA hat rose to Cruz' defense, telling the rioter, "Wait no, that's a good thing! That's a good thing! He's with us, he's with us."

Although the storming of the Capitol Building delayed the certification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory, it didn't prevent it. The joint session of Congress later resumed, and Cruz voted to object to the electoral vote in Arizona.

The two men, in the video, can be seen continuing to look through the binder on the Senate floor, and one of them said, "There's gotta be something in here we can fucking use against these scumbags. This is a good one, him and Hawley or whatever. Hawley, Cruz."

The other man responded, "Hawley, Cruz? I think Cruz would want us to do this…. So, I think we're good."

The "Hawley" they were referring to was Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican who has drawn widespread criticism for contesting Biden's electoral college victory on January 6 — and for a photo that shows him waving at the MAGA mob before he entered the Capitol Building and expressing his solidarity.

The video shot by The New Yorker's Luke Mogelson also shows rioters, as they break into the Capitol Building, telling several police officers, "You're outnumbered, there's a fucking million of us out there. And we are listening to Trump, your boss."

Another one of the rioters can be seen saying, "Where's fucking Nancy Pelosi? Where the fuck is Nancy?" And another expresses his disdain for antifa, saying, "You afraid of antifa? Well, guess what? America showed up!"

Sunday’s ‘Million Militia March’ On DC And State Capitals Disrupted By Chaos On Far Right

Reprinted with permission from Daily kos

The far-right extremists who overran the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 are far from done—but it's also far from clear where they plan to strike next. That's because the organizers of the various pro-Trump factions behind last week's insurrection can't agree on whether to hold a fresh round of protests in state capitals around the nation, or to focus their fire on Washington, D.C., for militia-based protests beginning Sunday and perhaps extending into Inauguration Day on Wednesday.

On the one hand, a number of far-right factions have been assiduously organizing armed protests—and possible statehouse invasions—at the Capitols of all 50 states, many of which appear to be ill-prepared for the onslaught. Yet a number of factions are urging people to ignore those protests—even conspiratorially smearing them as "false flags"—and instead concentrate their efforts on creating a massive turnout for Sunday's planned "Million Militia March" in D.C.

The plans for a "Round 2" began appearing in posts within hours of the initial Capitol siege on Jan. 6. About a day later, the first announcement appeared on the currently-defunct right-wing social-media site Parler, from an account associated with the authoritarian QAnon cult, announcing a "Million Militia March" for Jan. 17. It read:

Millions of American Militia will meet in Washington, D.C., on January 20, 2021 for the purpose of preventing any attempt by the treasonous domestic enemy Joe Biden, or any other member of the Communist Organized Crime Organization known as the Democratic Party, from entering the White House belonging to We The People.
In the event that justice is miraculously served and our Re-Elected President Donald J. Trump is sworn in: The President, the capital and our National Monuments will be protected from the proven-violent Leftist insurgents who have declared war on the United States of America and have been committing a massive insurrection in the United States of America.

About the same time, an event called the "Million Martyr March"—honoring Ashli Babbitt, the woman who was shot to death during the Capitol siege while attempting to storm House chambers—was promoted on Parler, planned for Inauguration Day. The post promoting the event appeared shortly after the militia event was announced, featuring a flier with a logo and text ("On January 6th an unarmed woman was shot and killed in our nation's capitol. Two weeks after her death we will march to demand justice for all Americans") misspelling Babbitt's name, as it happened. The march appears to be largely considered supplemental to the larger militia event on Sunday.

The Parler posters supporting the Million Militia March, freed from the constraints of mainstream platforms, were unrepentant in their open calls to engage in insurrectionist violence. In one post, a self-described "retired colonel" boasted that the Sunday march, and possibly others in the following days, would be awe-inspiring in its size.

"If we must, many of us will return on January 19 carrying our weapons, in support of our nation's resolve, to which the world will never forget," he wrote. "We will come in numbers that no standing army or police agency can match. However the police are not our enemy, unless they choose to be!"

He added: "All who will not stand with the American Patriots … or who cannot stand with us … then that would be a good time for you to take a few vacation days."

Some of the Million Militia March advocates dismissed state-level protests as distractions at best, and nefarious government "false flag" operations intended to ensnare unsuspecting "Patriots." "Do not attend armed protests at state capitols before inauguration! Possible sinister plot hatched by radical left to take away gun rights!" a post in a Telegram chatroom devoted to the far right read.

A Washington Post report on the online organizing for the events cited a study by the anti-disinformation organization Althea Group, which surveyed the broad array of post-January 6 discussions by far-right groups, and found that some of the insurrectionists took an "all of the above" approach as well.

"REFUSE TO BE SILENCED," read an online post calling for an "ARMED MARCH ON CAPITOL HILL & ALL STATE CAPITOLS" for Sunday. Another advocated action at "DC & All State Capitols," signed by "common folk who are tired of being tread upon" and declaring: "We were warned!"

Mark Pitcavage of the Anti-Defamation League told the Associated Press that the D.C. events appear unlikely to draw a massive crowd. In either case, a lack of agreement on a strategy appears likely to dilute both the state-level and D.C. protests.

As Politico's Tina Nguyen and Mark Scott explain, the far right's organizing efforts—as well as efforts to counter them—are complicated by the chaotic and decentralized nature of the pro-Trump forces online. The posts advocating and organizing the events are to be found not simply on Telegram—which has in fact become a major hub, thanks to the 25 million new usersit gained since the purge of the far right from mainstream platforms last week—but in such predictable locations as the far-right-friendly platform Gab, as well as on unexpected platforms such as TikTok.

TikTok videos from influencers bearing the Three Percenters logo as their avatar, referring to the anti-government militia movement, are hyping up future protests — even going so far as to publish videos of them collecting ammunition and guns, while playing doctored audio suggesting that Trump wants them to target his vice president, Mike Pence.
On Gab and Telegram, two fringe networks frequented by white nationalist and other extremist groups, mysteriously-originated videos of military personnel walking around American cities have also gone viral, with social media users either questioning if such activity was part of support for Donald Trump's presidency or efforts by the government to clamp down on people's constitutional rights.

Woven among many of these pro-militia videos on Tik Tok is a groundless conspiracy theory claiming that martial law is imminent in America. According to Media Matters, the TikTok "MartialLaw" hashtag has over 26 million views, while a similar "MartialLawIsComing" hashtag has attracted over 1.1 million viewers. At both hashtags, the top videos "contain panic-inducing misinformation about martial law."

The confusion has spread some wavering commitments on the part of participants. Politico notes that the far-right militia group Boogaloo Bois originally organized their own event for Sunday but then attempted to cancel it. Warning that "mainstream headlines" had drawn too much attention, they nonetheless encouraged any protesters out that day to bring weapons to Washington, despite the city's well-known ban on the open carry of firearms: "If you can carry legally, you can carry," they claimed.

Some major far-right figures are throwing up their arms and running away from all of these events—declaring, in typically paranoid fashion, that both the state-level and D.C. protests are "Deep State" plots to draw "Patriots" into criminal behavior for which they can be arrested, or by far-left "antifa" schemers hoping to make MAGA supporters look bad. Among the leading voices of this contingent is Infowars' Alex Jones.

"Do not go to capitols armed, do not be part of the demonstrations on January 20th. It's run by the globalists," Jones warned on Tuesday. "There isn't some secret plan to overthrow things so Trump wins. All you're doing is cementing things as domestic terrorists, so Biden can cement a new Patriot Act and come after you."

Black Officers Warned Of Racism In Capitol Police For Years

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica

When Kim Dine took over as the new chief of the U.S. Capitol Police in 2012, he knew he had a serious problem.

Since 2001, hundreds of Black officers had sued the department for racial discrimination. They alleged that white officers called Black colleagues slurs like the N-word and that one officer found a hangman's noose on his locker. White officers were called "huk lovers" or "FOGs" — short for "friends of gangsters" — if they were friendly with their Black colleagues. Black officers faced "unprovoked traffic stops" from fellow Capitol Police officers. One Black officer claimed he heard a colleague say, "Obama monkey, go back to Africa."

In case after case, agency lawyers denied wrongdoing. But in an interview, Dine said it was clear he had to address the department's charged racial climate. He said he promoted a Black officer to assistant chief, a first for the agency, and tried to increase diversity by changing the force's hiring practices. He also said he hired a Black woman to lead a diversity office and created a new disciplinary body within the department, promoting a Black woman to lead it.

"There is a problem with racism in this country, in pretty much every establishment that exists," said Dine, who left the agency in 2016. "You can always do more in retrospect."

Whether the Capitol Police managed to root out racist officers will be one of many issues raised as Congress investigates the agency's failure to prevent a mob of Trump supporters from attacking the Capitol while lawmakers inside voted to formalize the electoral victory of President-elect Joe Biden.

Already, officials have suspended several police officers for possible complicity with insurrectionists, one of whom was pictured waving a Confederate battle flag as he occupied the building. One cop was captured on tape seeming to take selfies with protesters, while another allegedly wore a red "Make America Great Again" hat as he directed protesters around the Capitol building. While many officers were filmed fighting off rioters, at least 12 others are under investigation for possibly assisting them.

Two current Black Capitol Police officers told BuzzFeed News that they were angered by leadership failures that they said put them at risk as racist members of the mob stormed the building. The Capitol Police force is only 29 percent Black in a city that's 46 percent Black. By contrast, as of 2018, 52 percent of Washington Metropolitan police officers were Black. The Capitol Police are comparable to the Metropolitan force in spending, employing more than 2,300 people and boasting an annual budget of about a half-billion dollars.

The Capitol Police did not immediately respond to questions for this story.

Sharon Blackmon-Malloy, a former Capitol Police officer who was the lead plaintiff in the 2001 discrimination lawsuit filed against the department, said she was not surprised that pro-Trump rioters burst into the Capitol last week.

In her 25 years with the Capitol Police, Blackmon-Malloy spent decades trying to raise the alarm about what she saw as endemic racism within the force, even organizing demonstrations where Black officers would return to the Capitol off-duty, protesting outside the building they usually protect.

The 2001 case, which started with more than 250 plaintiffs, remains pending. As recently as 2016, a Black female officer filed a racial discrimination complaint against the department.

"Nothing ever really was resolved. Congress turned a blind eye to racism on the Hill," Blackmon-Malloy, who retired as a lieutenant in 2007, told ProPublica. She is now vice president of the U.S. Capitol Black Police Association, which held 16 demonstrations protesting alleged discrimination between 2013 and 2018. "We got Jan. 6 because no one took us seriously."

Retired Lt. Frank Adams sued the department in 2001 and again in 2012 for racial discrimination. A Black, 20-year veteran of the force, Adams supervised mostly white officers in the patrol division. He told ProPublica he endured or witnessed racism and sexism constantly. He said that before he joined the division, there was a policy he referred to as "meet and greet," where officers were directed to stop any Black person on the Hill. He also said that in another unit, he once found a cartoon on his desk of a Black man ascending to heaven only to be greeted by a Ku Klux Klan wizard. When he complained to his superior officers, he said he was denied promotions and training opportunities, and suffered other forms of retaliation.

In an interview, he drew a direct line between racism in the Capitol Police and the events that unfolded last week. He blamed Congress for not listening to Black members of the force years ago.

"They only become involved in oversight when it's in the news cycle," said Adams, who retired in 2011. "They ignored the racism happening in the department. They ignored the hate."

The department's record in other areas of policing have drawn criticism as well.

In 2015, a man landed a gyrocopter on the Capitol lawn — top officials didn't know the airborne activist was coming until minutes before he touched down. In 2013, when a lone gunman opened fire at the nearby Navy Yard, killing 12 people, the Capitol Police were criticized for standing on the sidelines. The force's leadership board later determined its actions were justified.

Last month, days after a bloody clash on Dec. 12 between militant Trump supporters and counter-protesters, Melissa Byrne and Chibundu Nnake were entering the Capitol when they saw a strangely dressed man just outside the building, carrying a spear.

He was a figure they would come to recognize — Jacob Chansley, the QAnon follower in a Viking outfit who was photographed last week shouting from the dais of the Senate chamber.

They alerted the Capitol Police at the time, as the spear seemed to violate the complex's weapons ban, but officers dismissed their concern, they said.

One officer told them that Chansley had been stopped earlier in the day, but that police "higher ups" had decided not to do anything about him.

We don't "perceive it as a weapon," Nnake recalled the officer saying of the spear.

Chansley told the Globe and Mail's Adrian Morrow that Capitol Police had allowed him in the building on Jan. 6, which would normally include passing through a metal detector, although he was later charged with entering a restricted building without lawful authority, violent entry, and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. As of Tuesday, he had not yet entered a plea.

For Byrne and Nnake, their interactions with the "QAnon Shaman" on Dec. 14 highlighted what they perceive as double standards in how the Capitol Police interact with the public.

Like many people who regularly encounter the force, Nnake and Byrne said they were accustomed to Capitol officers enforcing rules aggressively — later that day, Nnake was told that he would be tackled if he tried to advance beyond a certain point. "As a Black man, when I worked on the Hill, if I forgot a badge, I couldn't get access anywhere," he told ProPublica.

Congress, which controls the agency and its budget, has a mixed record of oversight. For the most part, Congress has been deferential toward the force, paying attention to its workings only after serious security failures, and even then, failing to meaningfully hold its leaders accountable.

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat from D.C. who is a nonvoting member of Congress, told ProPublica she believes a national commission should be formed to investigate what occurred at the Capitol on Jan. 6, similar to what followed 9/11.

"Congress deserves some of the blame," she told ProPublica. "We have complete control over the Capitol Police. ... Long-term concerns with security have been raised, and they've not been dealt with in the past."

The force has also suffered a spate of recent, internal scandals that may prove pertinent as Congress conducts its investigation.

Capitol Police officers accidently left several guns in bathrooms throughout the building in 2015 and 2019; in one instance, the loaded firearm was discovered by a small child.

The agency has been criticized for a lack of transparency for years. Capitol Police communications and documents are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act and, unlike many local law enforcement agencies, it has no external watchdog specifically assigned to investigate and respond to community complaints. The force has not formally addressed the public since the riot last week.

"All law enforcement is opaque," said Jonathan M. Smith, executive director of the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. "At least most local police departments are subject to some kind of civilian oversight, but federal police agencies are left to operate in the shadows."

The agency's past troubles have rarely resulted in reform, critics said.

After the April 2015 gyrocopter incident, Congress held a hearing to examine how 61-year-old postal worker and activist Doug Hughes managed to land his aircraft after he livestreamed his flight. Dozens of reporters and news cameras assembled in front of the Capitol to watch the stunt, which was designed to draw attention to the influence of money in politics. Capitol Police did not learn of the incoming flight until a reporter reached out to them for comment, minutes before Hughes landed.

Dine defended the force's response to the incident, pointing out that Hughes was promptly arrested and no one was hurt.

Former Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah, then the chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, harshly criticized the department and other federal agencies for what he perceived as an intelligence failure.

"The Capitol Police is terrible and pathetic when it comes to threat assessment," Chaffetz told ProPublica in an interview. "They have a couple people dedicated to it, but they're overwhelmed. Which drives me nuts. ... It's not been a priority for leadership, on both sides of the aisle." He said he is not aware of any serious changes to the force's intelligence gathering following the debacle.

Norton, who also pressed Dine at the hearing, told ProPublica the intelligence lapses surrounding the gyrocopter landing should be considered a "forerunner" to last week's riot.

"For weeks, these people had been talking about coming to the Capitol to do as much harm as they can," Norton said. "Everyone knew it. Except the Capitol Police." Reports show the force had no contingency plan to deal with an escalation of violence and mayhem at last week's rally, even though the FBI and the New York Police Department had warned them it could happen.

Law enforcement experts said that the agency is in a difficult position. While it has sole responsibility for protecting the Capitol, it must work with other nearby federal law enforcement agencies, Washington's Metropolitan Police and the National Guard in case of emergencies.

In an interview, Nick Zotos, a former D.C. National Guard commander who now works for the Department of Homeland Security, said that the roughly two dozen agencies responsible for public safety in Washington can cause territorial disputes, finger-pointing and poor communication.

"This is not a D.C. thing, necessarily, although it's probably the worst in D.C.," Zotos said. "Police departments just don't play with each other nicely."

Blackmon-Malloy told ProPublica that divisions within the Capitol Police could be just as dangerous, not only for Congress but for Black officers themselves. "Now you got to go to work on the 20th," she told ProPublica, alluding to the inauguration. "And stand next to someone who you don't even know if they have your back."

Dara Lind, David McSwane and Kirsten Berg contributed reporting.

The Lies That Drove Trump’s Mob Still Linger

This article was produced by Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Eight days ago, allegations of illegal and fraudulent voting in Pennsylvania and other swing states where President Trump lost led his supporters to storm the Capitol. The mob came after a Trump rally, where the president recited numerous falsehoods that long have been debunked.

It was a stunning spectacle. More than a dozen Republican congressmen rose and condemned the violence. Then, as if the cause of the rampage lay elsewhere, they opposed certifying Pennsylvania's votes by reciting many of the same allegations that Trump uttered that day—atop innuendo that Democrats had widely cheated.

"To sum it up, Pennsylvania officials illegally did three things," said Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC). "One, they radically expanded vote by mail for virtually any reason. Two, they removed restrictions when a ballot could be sent in. And three, they removed signature verification on those very ballots."

Budd did not mention that Pennsylvania's Republican majority legislature had approved the election reforms that laid the ground rules for 2020's election. Nor did he note that the Republican National Committee had pushed Pennsylvania's Republicans to vote with absentee ballots—and hundreds of thousands did.

Instead, Budd and other Republicans said that the election was illegitimate because Democratic officials—such as Pennsylvania's secretary of state—issued rules to make it easier for voters and election officials to manage in a pandemic. They said the Constitution had been violated because the Pennsylvania Supreme Court had agreed with those steps. Only state legislatures could set election rules, they said, making a novel argument that ignored decades of election law and court rulings.

"I rise in support of this objection and to give voice to the 249,386 men and women of Ohio's 6th Congressional District," said Rep. Bill Johnson, R-OH, "who have had their voices silenced by the rogue political actors in Pennsylvania, who unilaterally and unconstitutionally altered voting methods to benefit the Democratic candidate for president."

"Secretaries of state and state supreme courts cannot simply ignore the rules governing elections set forth in the [U.S.] Constitution," he fumed. "They cannot choose to usurp their state legislatures to achieve a partisan end, Constitution be damned."

These representatives were joined by others who said that Trump's mob was "shameful," "unacceptable" and "un-American." Yet they went on to recite many of the same claims that Trump made before his mob acted. These claims filled the 60-plus lawsuits brought by Trump and his allies since the election—claims federal and state judges have overwhelmingly rejected as baseless and lacking in evidence.

Had these Republicans learned anything from the rampage? When the debate ended well past midnight, 138 Republicans voted to reject Pennsylvania's 20 Electoral College votes. Their dissents did not stop the chamber from accepting the state's Electoral College votes. Nor did it prevent a joint session of Congress later that morning from certifying Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the 2020 election's winners.

Yet the 138 votes, and the slippery arguments or misrepresentations that preceded them, are a dark sign of the times. When one-quarter of House members either lack sufficient knowledge of how elections are run or cling to specious arguments to overturn results, the undercurrents driving Trump's mob are still present. Looking ahead, voting rights advocates are starting to see these sentiments resurface as a new wave of anti-voting legislation in red-run state legislatures.

"We're deeply concerned the post-election lawsuits are now morphing into state-driven voter suppression schemes," said Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, speaking during a press briefing during Georgia's runoffs on January 5. "These lawsuits failed universally… Now we see lawmakers seeking to exploit this moment [and] institute new restrictions on measures such as [repealing] no-excuse absentee voting."

Clarke is partly referring to a proposal by Georgia's Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to reel in absentee voting. The 2020 election had overwhelmed local election officials, he has said, adding that future voting options needed to be streamlined. Record numbers of Georgians voted by mailed-out ballots in 2020, which was part of the wave that elected two Democratic U.S. senators and delivered a surprising Biden-Harris victory.

Raffensperger had been attacked by Trump as a RINO—Republican In Name Only—and pressured by Trump on January 2 to alter the certified vote count so Trump would emerge as the victor. On Thursday, the Trump campaign withdrew its suits in Georgia on the eve of scheduled court hearings. Raffensperger issued a detailed press release that noted Trump folded just before his legal team had to present evidence of illegal voting and rigged elections.

"On the eve of getting the day in court they supposedly were begging for, President Trump and [Georgia Republican Party] Chairman David Shafer's legal team folded Thursday and voluntarily dismissed their election contests against Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger rather than submit their evidence to a court and to cross-examination," the secretary's release began.

"However, even in capitulation, they continue to spread disinformation," it said. "The President's legal team falsely characterizes the dismissal of their lawsuits as 'due to an out of court settlement agreement.' However, correspondence sent to Trump's legal team prior to the dismissals makes perfectly clear that there is no settlement agreement. The Trump legal [team] voluntarily dismissed their lawsuits rather than presenting their evidence in court in a trial scheduled for tomorrow in front of Cobb County Superior Court Judge Adele Grubbs."

The statement said that the "withdrawals came after Secretary Raffensperger sent a letter to Congress on Wednesday containing point-by-point refutation of the false claims made by the President and his allies. Late last night, Congress accepted Georgia's slate of electors without objection, as no Senator joined in [Republican] Congressman Jody Hice's objection to Georgia's electors."

Few Republicans probably read Raffensperger's memo as they sought shelter from Trump's mob. However, in the other chamber, Georgia's Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who lost to Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock a day before, said she could no longer oppose her state's certification of the presidential vote. The storming of the Capitol had changed her mind. The same could not be said of nearly one-third of the House.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.