Tag: michael flynn
Exposed Again: The Criminal Intent Behind Trump's Fascist Coup Plot

Exposed Again: The Criminal Intent Behind Trump's Fascist Coup Plot

Now that former President Donald Trump has been indicted not once but twice for attempting to steal the 2020 presidential election, his apologists say he was merely pursuing his constitutional right to contest the results. They insist that he truly believed his campaign was undone by massive voter fraud and that all the post-election machinations carried out by him and his cronies were innocent and sincere.

Unfortunately for them, evidence continues to emerge showing not only that their claims of fraud were fabricated — and ruled to be false in 61 lawsuits — but that Trump had planned to carry out a conspiracy against democracy well before the election results were even fully tabulated.

Nobody should be surprised to learn that the latest confirmation of the Trump's campaign's nefarious intent features Roger Stone, the veteran dirty trickster and pardoned felon, who must have coined his "Stop the Steal" slogan while peering into a mirror. If there was an attempted "steal," he was one of the perps.

In his boundless vanity, Stone allowed himself to be videotaped by Danish documentarian Christoffer Guldbrandsen while dictating a memo that outlined a plan to substitute fake electors supporting Trump for legitimate electors supporting Joe Biden. That moment occurred on November 5, 2020 — two days after the election and two days before Biden was declared the election's winner.

Speaking slowly as an aide typed on a laptop, Stone declared: "Any legislative body may decide on the basis of overwhelming evidence of fraud to send electors to the electoral college who accurately reflect the president's legitimate victory in their state, which was illegally denied him through fraud."

Stone is not a lawyer, and that notion of an "independent state legislature" acting to overturn the actual election result in any state was thoroughly discredited before the Supreme Court rejected it. John Eastman, the conservative Trump attorney who conceived the fake electors scheme, has confessed that he knew all along the theory was hollow and that even Republican-appointed judges would dismiss it.

But the validity of the theory was beside the point, as Stone himself suggested in another interview with Guldbrandsen. The coup plot formulated by Stone and the rest of Trump's team foresaw a sudden assertion of illegitimate authority to seize control and void the election. Michael Flynn, Trump's pardoned former national security adviser, even urged a plot that would conclude with the imposition of military dictatorship. They meant to force the country to accept the outcome they demanded, with a spasm of military violence wherever that proved necessary.

That was why Stone — and Steve Bannon, the fascistic former White House strategist, also pardoned by Trump - both predicted, quite accurately, that Trump would declare himself the victor on Election Night regardless of the tabulated results. "I really do suspect that it'll still be up in the air," Stone said on November 1, 2020, anticipating the election a few days later. "When that happens, the key thing to do is to claim victory. Possession is nine-tenths of the law."

Speaking in the voice of Trump, he enunciated what he thought his client should say: "No, we won." If those tabulated results showed Biden in the lead, Stone added, then Trump should say:"Sorry, we're not accepting them. We're challenging them in court."

And not just in court, where all but one of Trump's challenges were repudiated by judges of both parties. "If the (Biden) electors show up at the Electoral College, armed guards will throw them out," Stone warned. Speaking again in Trump's voice, he went on, "I'm challenging all of it, and the judges we're going to, are judges I appointed."

None of that worked out according to Stone's expectations, as even Trump's appointees and his own vice president, Mike Pence, resisted the fake fraud charges, the phony electors and the entire coup plot. As articulated repeatedly by Stone, Bannon, Mike Flynn and others around Trump, the intent couldn't have been more brazenly authoritarian and illegal.

In early September 2020, Stone echoed Flynn on Alex Jones' Infowars show that in the event of a contested election, Trump should invoke the Insurrection Act, and arrest Bill and Hillary Clinton, the late Senate majority leader Harry Reid, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and "anybody else who can be proven to be involved in illegal activity." He also urged Trump to shut down any publication that could supposedly be shown to have engaged in "seditious and illegal activities," and with its entire staff "arrested and taken into custody."

In short, the extremists around didn't hide their vision of a violent fascist takeover. That they couldn't execute the plan does not in any way exonerate them or Trump, who followed that plotline until it led to the mob attack on the Capitol. The latest video of Stone, preening and pontificating, is simply further proof of the criminal intent — what the law calls mens rea — that drove their attempt to overturn American democracy.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Michael Flynn

Smartmatic Subpoenas Bannon And Flynn In Lawsuit Against Fox News

Smartmatic, the voting technology company suing Fox News and Newsmax for pushing 2020 election lies, subpoenaed former President Donald Trump's ex-staffers, Michael Flynn and Steve Bannon, CNN reports.

Earlier this year, after Dominion Voting Systems settled its its defamation lawsuit with the right-wing network in for $787.5 million, The New York Times reported the company said, "Dominion's litigation exposed some of the misconduct and damage caused by Fox's disinformation campaign. Smartmatic will expose the rest."

Reuters reports:

Bannon and Flynn, both of whom have faced their own legal woes, were two of the most vocal boosters of Trump's false claims that the 2020 U.S. election was stolen from him through widespread voting fraud, and they could have information on the spread of these claims that might help Smartmatic in the litigation.

"Court filings made public last week in New York and Delaware," according to CNN, reveal the pair received the subpoenas, ordering them to "sit for depositions and answer questions under oath."

Additionally, CNN notes, "Bannon is also required to turn over subpoenaed documents to Smartmatic, including any communications with top officials from Fox News, the Trump campaign and the Trump administration about the 2020 presidential election, according to court filings."

Smartmatic, Reuters reports, "is seeking a total of $2.7 billion in damages across five cases, including against Fox, several of its hosts and former Trump lawyers."

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Michael Flynn

Vengeful Trump Plans To Reappoint Disgraced Officials, Including Flynn

Former President Donald Trump is looking to re-appoint two of his previous top leaders if elected in 2024, Rolling Stone reports.

Two people familiar with the matter told the publication the former president has his eyes on both former Department of Justice lawyer and acting U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Clark and former Trump advisor Michael Flynn to hold high-level positions in his potential second administration.

However, both former Trump officials played major roles in the 2024 hopeful's attempt to overturn the 2020 election, leading to the deadly January 6 insurrection.

Walter Shaub, a senior ethics fellow at the Project on Government Oversight and former director of the Office of Government Ethics, said Flynn is "unfit for public service" and "no one should ever place him in a position of trust again," adding, "I'm surprised [Clark] is even still allowed to be a lawyer, much less a public servant."

Shaub noted, "Bringing these two back into government in high-level positions would be tantamount to a declaration of authoritarian principles by a presidential administration. To even consider it would be disgraceful and anti-American."

One of the people familiar with the matter told Rolling Stone, "[Trump] has said he believes they are both 'strong' candidates for senior positions. He's mentioned that, and some other names, a couple of times that I know of … We'll see if it happens. President Trump calls Gen. Flynn a 'hero' all the time. Why wouldn't he want a hero working for him?"

In his effort to overturn the 2020 election, according to Rolling Stone, Clark urged DOJ top officials "to send a letter to the Georgia Legislature claiming that the department had discovered 'significant fraud'" and pressured "it to create alternate slates of electors," but the ploy was curbed by the DOJ leaders.

Had the attempt succeeded, it "would've effectively endorsed bogus conspiracy theories about election fraud and given an air of official legitimacy to efforts to overturn the election."

Regarding Flynn's attempted interference with the election results, Rolling Stone reports:

The retired Army lieutenant general was an early and loud voice calling for Trump to 'declare limited martial law' and 'temporarily suspend the Constitution' and lobbied the then-president to do so in a tense Oval Office meeting alongside Sidney Powell. As Trump's legal options to overturn the election fizzled, Flynn supported the 'Stop the Steal' movement and spoke at a rally for the group alongside Alex Jones and Ali Alexander the night before the insurrection in early 2021.

The publication notes Trump's reason for seeking their leadership is part of his "professed inclination to make his theoretical second term something of a revenge tour to revive the people and policies that even some members of his own party deemed too extreme," including "his first term historic federal 'killing spree' with group executions, gallows, and firing squads, invading Mexico, and bringing back an expanded version of his 'Muslim ban.''"

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Ken Cuccinelli

Trump Officials Tell Grand Jury He Tried To Illegally Seize Voting Machines

The federal grand jury seated by special counsel Jack Smith has reportedly heard additional testimony from former Homeland Security officials about Donald Trump’s efforts to seize voting machines following the 2020 election. CNN reports that both former acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and former Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli testified that Trump went ahead with plans to seize the machines even though they repeatedly told him that he did not have this authority.

A report in January revealed that Trump had drafted at least two versions of an executive order in December 2020, directing the military to seize voting machines after discussions with convicted former national security advisor Michael Flynn and retired Col. Phil Waldron. Waldron was also the author of an extensive presentation in which he claimed that the voting machines had been tampered with by foreign governments. He urged Trump to declare a national emergency and use U.S. marshals and National Guard troops to manage a “secure” election. Trump and Waldron reportedly had multiple meetings with Trump and took his “how to overthrow democracy” slideshow around Washington, where it was played for Republican members of Congress, who were eager to participate.

The latest testimony apparently focused on Wolf and Cuccinelli telling the jury that Trump continued in these efforts even though they told him repeatedly he did not have the authority to seize the machines. Additional testimony on the subject came from former national security adviser Robert O’Brien, but this was reportedly given to investigators in a closed-door meeting, not to the jury.

All of this testimony shows that Smith’s investigation is focusing heavily on Trump’s efforts to overturn the election that extended beyond the specific scheme on Jan. 6.

As CBS notes, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that Trump could not shield former staff members from testifying before the grand jury under claims of executive privilege. That ruling is likely to mean that Cuccinelli, Wolf, and O’Brien will spend more time with the grand jury. It will also mean that Mark Meadows and others who have previously avoided such testimony are likely out of options.

Much of this testimony appears to be new information not heard in either Trump’s impeachment trial or previous investigations.

The House Select Committee did have one of the drafts of Trump’s executive order, one that ordered the Department of Defense to take charge of the voting machines. That order contained a vast collection of improbable and unsupportable claims, including that the voting machines had been altered by “a massive cyber-attack by foreign interests,” that the machines “intentionally generated high number of errors,” and that voter databases could not be trusted because they had been “hacked by Iran.” It also leans heavily on a “forensic analysis,” which actually confused counties in Michigan and Minnesota. The order ended by instructing officials to take seven steps, starting with:

“Effective immediately, the Secretary of Defense shall seize, collect, retain and analyze all machines, equipment, electronically stored information, and material records...”

That the jury is hearing this testimony means that Smith is interpreting his writ beyond the narrow confines of just how Trump’s actions contributed to violence on Jan. 6 but all the ways that Trump sought to undermine the election. It’s also unlikely that the jury would be hearing this testimony unless Smith thought there was a good possibility that it would support criminal charges.

Now that the appeals court has removed another layer of doubt around whether or not Trump could halt some testimony—no, he can’t—Cipollone and O’Brien are also likely to be asked about an infamous Oval Office meeting in mid-December. That was the “rancorous meeting” at which Trump, Flynn, attorney Sidney Powell, and others launched so deeply into sedition that even Mark Meadows reportedly turned away. Cipollone and O’Brien were reportedly first-hand witnesses to that event.

Between Waldron’s military coup presentation, attorney John Eastman’s plan for declaring Trump the winner on Jan. 6, the Jeffrey Clark plan to replace the attorney general and declare the vote invalid in several states, the scheme laid out for Pence to simply ignore the vote in seven states, and straight out calls for violence and threats on Jan. 6, Trump tested the waters on just about every illegal option he could use to make himself dictator. Smith has plenty to look at.

All that came after every possible legal remedy, including requests for recounts, were rejected, and it’s not even considering the efforts Trump made in deliberately leaning on local officials in Georgia.

If a federal grand jury is hearing testimony, it’s because Jack Smith thinks they need to hear it. They’re likely to hear a lot more.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.