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Tag: mike pence

To Hold Trump Accountable For His Criminal Conduct Is An Enormous Challenge

So here’s my question: Let’s say you’re Attorney General Merrick Garland. Filing a criminal indictment against former President Trump should be a fairly straightforward matter, although conspiracy charges are notoriously hard to prove. After all, much of Trump’s January 6, 2021 attempt to overthrow the United States government was performed live on national TV.

We’ve seen the video a hundred times, with Trump urging the mob to march down Pennsylvania Avenue to the U.S. Capitol to “fight like hell and if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore.”

Trump also promised to march with his impassioned followers, but anybody who believed that probably still believes that Trump got a big league tryout alongside Hall of Famer Willie McCovey, as he once boasted.

For the record, McCovey who died at age 80 in 2018, was eight years older than Trump. By the time our hero graduated from high school, McCovey had been the San Francisco Giants first baseman for five years. In 1959, when Trump was in ninth grade, he’d been National League Rookie-of-the-Year.

Slate once dug into old newspapers that published local prep school box scores. Trump’s batting average was .138.

So no, there was no big league tryout, a pathetic and ridiculous lie very much like his “landslide” win in the 2020 presidential election.

He just makes stuff up as he goes along, this guy, relying upon the tribalism and extreme gullibility of his supporters. So, of course, he failed to march with the mob to the Capitol. It’s doubtful he could walk that far without a golf cart.

Instead, Trump retired to the White House, where he watched the violence unfold on TV—ignoring pleas from his son, daughter and normally worshipful Fox News personalities to urge the rioters to desist.

At 2:24 PM, with the crowd having erected a gallows on the Capitol Grounds and chanting “Hang Mike Pence,” Trump tweeted that the vice president “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.”

The Vice President’s security detail hustled him to safety. Meanwhile, Trump kept watching for another couple of hours as the mob beat cops with flagpoles and fire extinguishers, hunted Nancy Pelosi, vandalized Congressional offices and defecated in the halls of the U.S. Capitol.

Not long after he finally urged the horde to relent, as they obediently did, Trump dispatched another tweet: “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots…”

But back to the Attorney General’s dilemma. That Trump engaged in a criminal conspiracy to prevent Congress from certifying the Electoral College vote appears quite clear. Now that he’s no longer in office, the Justice Department’s policy that a president cannot be charged no longer protects him. Indeed, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) has pointedly paraphrased the applicable laws in her statements about the investigation.

But how on earth would it be possible to put Trump on trial? Jury selection alone would be a nightmare. Not only does everybody already know many of the facts and judgements alluded to above, but many have already formed unassailable opinions. (I’d certainly be ineligible to serve.)

Some observers think Fulton County (Atlanta) prosecutor Fani Willis has a better shot at prosecuting Trump for trying to strong arm Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” 11,780 votes—enough to overturn that state’s vote. Partly because not everybody already knows the story, and partly because they’ve got Trump whining and threatening on tape.

That said, convicting the sleazy rascal would be a heavy lift. A substantial proportion of the American public exists in thrall to what The Hill columnist Bill Schneider calls “militant ignorance,” i.e. “ignorance that is proud of itself, that holds knowledge in contempt.” (It’s first cousin to what we called “invincible ignorance” back in my Baltimore Catechism days.)

A good place to witness the phenomenon, for those who lack the advantage of living among red state Republicans, would be to examine a focus group the New York Times conducted with Trump voters. Not only have most swallowed his election lies—they believe that mail-in voting led to massive fraud—but also that the January 6 insurrection was “way overblown.”

Shown texts by Donald Jr., Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity urging Trump to restrain his followers, they express dismay.

“They’re saying what you would think almost a Democrat would say or a liberal would say,” one woman exclaims.

“Kind of shocking to me,” says another “You’d think they’d back the president.”

That is, the mob.

Elsewhere, the group evidences a deep strain of paranoia. Democrats are scheming to steal our freedoms and usher in the New World Order. “It’s all about control, and they’re keeping Covid as one of their biggest weapons.”

Alas, our nation’s problems go deeper than Trump.

Breaking: Mike Pence's Team Complying With January 6 Committee

Vice President Mike Pence's office has reportedly made an effort to cooperate with the January 6 House Select Committee as it continues its investigation into former President Donald Trump.

Per Axios, Pence's former chief of staff Marc Short, former press secretary Alyssa Farah, and former national security aide Keith Kellogg, are included on the list of individuals who have testified to share their accounts of what transpired.

According to an inside source, Short's decision to testimony reportedly came with approval from the former vice president. Inside sources have also revealed the most pertinent information has come from "second-and third-tier administration staff who were not directly involved but were at the White House on January 6 and had access to top administration officials."

The testimonies from Pence’s team have helped investigators "piece together" the series of events that occurred in the hours after the "Save America" rally at the White House. The Capitol was under attack for more than three hours on that day. As lawmakers feared for their lives while the angry mob of Trump supporters stormed the federal building, Trump was reportedly at the White House watching the day unfold on TV.

Speaking to Axios, Farah said, "From the two I was in, you could see how much information they already had. Those who are refusing to cooperate likely are doing so out of complete fealty to Donald Trump and not wanting to piss him off."

"But, secondarily, because they're realizing the committee has quite a bit more information than they realized," Farah added. "And their involvement is known to a much greater degree than they realized."

The committee is hoping to "tell the full story of Trump's actions, interactions and refusals to act during a 187-minute timeframe between calling his allies to march to the Capitol and telling them to go home."

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Capitol Police Officer Slams Pence For Downplaying January 6

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

A U.S. Capitol Police officer is laying out his grievances about the lenient sentences riot suspects are facing for their participation in the January 6 insurrection.

Speaking to NPR.org, U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell described the scene he faced with on January 6 while stationed on the west entrance to the Capitol.

According to Gonell, the scene was similar to a "medieval battleground." He also made it clear that he believes the sentences are not harsh enough considering the trauma inflicted by Capitol rioters on him and other members of law enforcement.

"Their jail time is less than my recovery time," said Gonell, who is still recovering from a shoulder injury. "The charges they're getting do not compare to the mental and physical injuries some of the police officers, including myself, got."

On Twitter, Gonell was critical of former Vice President Mike Pence, who has downplayed the attack that targeted him:



But despite the trauma he endured, he also said that he would do it again if he had to.

"It's mind-boggling to hear some of the things that are coming from some of these elected officials Gonell said. "But at the end of the day, our job is to make them safe and make their work environment safer, regardless of our opinion or political affiliation."

As a result of all that transpired on January 6, several hundred individuals were arrested for storming the Capitol. Even now, Gonnell has admitted how difficult it is to see the lawmakers who supported their efforts.


Louie Gohmert Wanted Coup So Badly He Sued Mike Pence

Article reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

In the last days of December 2020, Politico noted a decidedly odd story. That’s when Rep. Louie Gohmert, along with a group of would-be Donald Trump electors from Arizona, filed suit against Mike Pence—not for violating the 1887 Electoral Count Act, but for following it. And if that doesn’t sound strange enough already, Gohmert was likely acting as a stand-in for Trump.

In an update, Politico ponders why this story has gotten so little attention. And it’s a good question.

The suit against Pence seems to have been a proxy fight in two ways: First, the suit from Gohmert put more pressure on Pence to go along with the coup plan that was being circulated around the White House and briefed to Republicans in Congress. Second, it was a direct attempt to get the Department of Justice to weigh in on the constitutionality of the Electoral Count Act. Scoring points on either of those fronts might seriously advance the hopes of running through Trump’s plan to overthrow the election while giving it a patina of legality.

Despite claims that the plan presented to Republicans by Phil Waldron was not the same as the “official” plan that Mark Meadows, Trump, and attorney John Eastman pressed on Pence in the Oval Office, it’s clear that the critical points of the plan are the same. The details of Gohmert’s suit show that it follows the same basic themes. There was only one coup plan: Have Pence refuse to count enough electoral votes for Joe Biden so he could either claim that Trump was the outright victor or make a case that the election was “in dispute,” giving Trump the pretense to call for a do-over election under military supervision.

Well before January 6, Republicans were out there in public, explaining that scheme in court. It’s just that no one in the media took them seriously.

In that December 2020 lawsuit, Gohmert and company explicitly make the claim that would be repeated in the memos from Eastman and the PowerPoint from Waldron.

"Under the Twelfth Amendment, Defendant Pence alone has the exclusive authority and sole discretion to open and permit the counting of the electoral votes for a given state, and where there are competing slates of electors, or where there is an objection to any single slate of electors, to determine which electors’ votes, or whether none, shall be counted," claims the suit.

In other words, Pence, with no other authority or evidence, could determine which states got counted, and which states did not. The 1887 Electoral Count Act, according to the suit, is unconstitutional because it puts limits on that unlimited authority to decide what’s in, and what’s out.

It seems clear at this point that Gohmert was only acting as a stalking horse for Trump. It also seems clear that the real intent of the suit wasn’t to generate any kind of legal precedent but simply to force Pence to act. Opposing the suit would also mean opposing Trump, and would send an early signal of Pence’s intentions on January 6.

The signal on how all this would play out came just one day later when the Department of Justice stepped in to defend Pence. That came after Gohmert’s attorneys had a chat with Pence’s attorneys, offering what Gohmert’s team described as “a meaningful attempt to resolve the underlying legal issues by agreement, including advising the Vice President's counsel that Plaintiffs intended to seek immediate injunctive relief in the event the parties did not agree.” In other words, Gohmert offered to drop the suit if Pence would just commit to the scheme to overturn the election results. Pence did not sign on.

Gohmert’s suit was rejected by the federal district court in Texas. This was followed by a thumbs down in the circuit court of appeals. In both cases, judges ruled that decorating the suit with the names of people who would have been electors had Trump won did not give Gohmert standing to sue Pence for following the law.

At the time, it was easy to lose Gohmert’s suit in the sea of lawsuits that Trump’s legal team was launching against election results across seven states. The same team of attorneys who sued Pence for Gohmert were also responsible for some of the suits against the election outcome in Arizona—which is a pretty good clue to who was really calling the shots.

But a year later, it’s now clear that this suit was another piece of the plan represented by Eastman’s memo, Waldron’s PowerPoint, and the texts that were delivered to Meadows up to and during the assault on the Capitol. There was just one coup plot. And they were all in on it.

Article reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

The Plot Against Democracy, In A Sickening Slide Show

It is easy to understand why Mark Meadows fears testifying before the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack about his role in former President Donald Trump's attempted coup against the United States. The former White House chief of staff played a central role in that seditious conspiracy. Would he perjure himself to protect Trump?

Unfortunately for Meadows, who clearly isn't the brightest bulb, he surrendered a truckload of evidence implicating himself and others in the plot before he decided suddenly to stop cooperating with the select committee. After incriminating himself, perhaps he'll take the Fifth. Too late.

Even before the committee subpoenaed Meadows, copious evidence of his participation in Trump's plot had emerged, — notably his fraudulent efforts to alter the election outcome in Georgia, where, along with Trump, he personally sought to coerce the state's lead elections investigator and pressured the secretary of state to "find" an additional 11,780 Trump votes.

What they tried to do in Georgia, however, was only a single episode in a much broader set of schemes, now disclosed in a 34-page PowerPoint document that Meadows turned over to the committee. That presentation, heavily decorated with cartoonish "Trump Wins!" graphics, outlines the bogus conspiracy theories advanced after the election by Trump lawyers Rudolph Giuliani and Sidney Powell: for example, that the Chinese Communist Party, through voting machine firms it supposedly controlled, manipulated electronic ballots to ensure a victory for its "ally" President Joe Biden.

No shred of proof exists to support any of these fevered fantasies, nor for the far-fetched legal corollary theories that Giuliani, Powell and other Trump lawyers promoted in courts around the country. They were shot down by judges, everywhere, and both Powell and Giuliani face bar disciplinary action for those ethical offenses, as well as lawsuits filed by the voting-machine firms they smeared. Worse, Meadows and Trump had been informed by Attorney General William Barr that there was no evidence of significant fraud in the election. Can Meadows be certain Barr hasn't already testified to the committee about what he did?

Every citizen who cherishes democracy should read those PowerPoint slides, which illustrate how close we came to losing everything that "makes America great." The presentation confirms the elements of the conspiracy known already and reveals even more sinister aspects that involved the potential use of military force in a planned coup.

Meadows says he received the memo from outside the White House -- presumably via a retired military officer and "information warfare" specialist named Phil Waldron, who apparently met and spoke repeatedly with the then-chief of staff, briefed other top Republicans on Capitol Hill, and advised Giuliani. The memo's justifications and proposals to overthrow the election were reflected in real events that occurred, notably the efforts to suborn then-Vice President Mike Pence.

Indeed, the presentation outlines how Pence was expected to exceed his ceremonial role on January 6 by rejecting electoral votes from states where "fraud occurred," thereby awarding a false victory to Trump. Alternatively, Pence would delay the election certification to permit a "vetting and subsequent counting" of paper ballots only after authorities could "weed out" allegedly "counterfeit" votes, both electronic and paper.

The PowerPoint memo describes the specifics of the military coup advocated by Powell and her former client Mike Flynn, the disgraced national security adviser, pardoned by Trump for his corruption. The document states: "A Trusted Lead Counter will be appointed with authority from POTUS to direct the actions of select federalized National Guard units and support from (Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security) and other US government agencies as needed to complete a recount of the legal paper ballots for the federal elections in all 50 states."

Marshalls would seize the voting machines and ballots from state and local governments and commence a militarized recount under Trump's control. This would all occur within five to 10 days after January 6 — and would, at least in the absurd imagination of the PowerPoint's authors, allow "any US citizen" to "view them and count the ballots themselves." (Nobody seems to have considered how long it would take for anyone watching this spectacle to actually count the 159 million votes cast by eligible voters in 2020, although Trump plainly aimed to disqualify most of them.)

About this plan we need to know much more, which is why the select committee aims to prosecute Meadows and any other conspirators who resist testifying for contempt. Whatever privilege he seeks to claim, the former chief of staff voided that by giving this document and many others to the committee as well as publishing a memoir. He is still withholding thousands of pages of text messages and other evidence from the committee.

More importantly, Meadows undoubtedly knows more about who devised these schemes, who was supposed to execute them — and whether anyone presented them to Trump, for whom a slide presentation was undoubtedly the only means to command his attention for a few dozen pages.

The plot to overturn the 2020 election, in all its dimensions, represents the most serious transgression against the United States since the Civil War. That enormous crime must be fully exposed and its perpetrators prosecuted if the rule of law is to have any meaning.

Media Imposes A Glaring Double Standard On America's First Female Vice President

Reprinted with permission from PressRun

By any traditional measure, Vice President Kamala Harris has enjoyed a productive November:

• While President Biden went under anesthesia on Friday for the routine medical procedure, she became the first woman to assume the powers of commander in chief.

• She traveled to France and helped smooth over relations with a longtime U.S. ally.

• She took part in the public signing ceremony for the recently-passed infrastructure bill, a centerpiece of Biden’s agenda.

• She announced an historic $1.5 billion investment to help grow and diversify the nation’s health care workforce.

So why is she getting buried in bad press by the Beltway media, as they gleefully pile on? Unloading breathless, gossip-heavy coverage that is detached from reality, the press has gone sideways portraying Harris as lost and ineffective — in over her head.

It’s impossible to miss the increasingly condescending tone of the coverage, as Harris serves as the first woman vice president in U.S. history, and the first person of color to hold that position. The Atlantic has dismissed her as “uninteresting” and mocked her lack of political agility.

The recent frenzy of gotcha stories, which perfectly reflects petty, right-wing attacks on Harris, represents an entirely new way of covering a sitting vice president. None of the white men who previously served in that position were put under this kind of a microscope, and certainly not months into their first term. “News outlets didn’t have beat reporters who focused largely on covering Dick Cheney, Joe Biden, or Mike Pence, but they do for Harris,” the Post’s Perry Bacon noted. “Her every utterance is analyzed, her exact role in the Biden White House scrutinized.”

Worse, the premises used to support the steady drumbeat of negative, nit-picky coverage revolve around dopey optics and pointless parlor gossip. (She’s now rivals with Pete Buttigieg!)

“The vice president herself has told several confidants she feels constrained in what she's able to do politically,” CNN breathlessly reported this month, using that as the centerpiece for a hollow and meandering 5,000-word hit piece. (“Exasperation,” “dysfunction,” “frustrating” — and that was just CNN’s doomsday headline.) But of course, every VP in American history has likely made the same observation about feeling constrained, so as to not overshadow the president— that’s been the defining characteristic of the vice president’s office since the birth of the nation. But in 2021, it’s used as some sort of blockbuster development with Harris.

Keep in mind, Trump’s VP is most famous for being chased by a mob that wanted to hang him during a deadly insurrection. But today, Harris supposedly feeling constrained is treated as breaking news.

Politico claimed Harris has been forced out of “the national spotlight” because she’s been given so much work to do by the administration. But A) She most certainly has not been “drawn away from the national spotlight,” as compared to previous vice presidents and their visibility; B) If the administration hadn’t given her weighty issues to tackle, such as voting rights and immigration, Politico would be claiming she was being shunned.

Straining to paint her trip to France as a failure, the Washington Post pointed a single, uneventful question asked by a reporter during a press briefing as proof that her overseas foray had gone astray.

From the Associated Press: “When she delivered her speech on the infrastructure law, there was little sign of Democratic enthusiasm. The crowd of invited guests barely filled one-quarter of a local union hall.” So according to the AP, Harris gave an important policy speech but it was tagged a failure because the attendance was all wrong. The same AP report on Monday claimed, “Harris’ allies are especially frustrated that Biden seems to have limited the vice president to a low-profile role with a difficult policy portfolio.” Of course, not a single Harris ally was quoted making that claim.

Meanwhile, AP reporter Steve Peoples dinged Harris last week on Twitter, noting it had been 90 minutes since the verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse case had been announced and she still hadn’t issued a statement. As if the vice president is put on the clock every time a high-profile murder trial concludes.

The double standard for Harris has become impossible to ignore. “Media has been more critical of VP Harris for her image than of VP Pence for his propaganda OpEd claiming the COVID wave was a hoax as 600K+ Americans have since died,” tweeted author and attorney Qasim Rashid. “Not saying VP Harris is above criticism—but my God how low is the bar for rich white men who enable mass death?”

Part of the ceaseless critical coverage stems from the media’s beloved Dems in Disarray storyline, where the party has to be perpetually portrayed as being undone by internal strife. It’s also fueled by the media’s need to create drama so they can present current events with a dramatic arc, as a way to keep news consumers tuned in. During the Trump years there was no need to invent White House drama, since it erupted on an hourly basis on many days. But reporters are frustrated by the No Drama Biden approach to governance (the New York Times: He’s “boring”), and have taken it upon themselves to create conflict. Harris has become a favorite prop for that.

Also, note how the D.C. media career game is played. Back in June, The Atlantic’s Edward-Isaac Dovere wrote a completely over-the-top hit piece on Harris, announcing her vice presidency was a failure (“She continues to retreat behind talking points and platitudes in public”), even though she was just four months into her term. The takedown generated lots of Beltway buzz though, and Dovere was soon hired by CNN where this month he helped write … a completely over-the-top hit piece on Harris.

CNN’s coverage of Harris has been relentlessly negative all year. This spring the network attacked her “defensive” behavior, questioning her “political agility,” stressing her “political missteps,” mocking her “clumsy” and “tone deaf” media performance; her “shaky handling of the politics” surrounding immigration. All of that was to condemn her successful diplomatic trip to Mexico.

Kamala Harris made history this year, the best kind. The Beltway media seems determined to treat her achievement as an opportunity to rewrite to rules on how to cover the first woman VP in a new, hyper-critical way.

Newly Revealed Memo Shows Unrelenting Pressure On Pence To Cheat

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

A Trump administration memo made newly public this week reportedly offering an outline for how to overturn the 2020 election results demonstrates, yet again, the persistence of the pressure campaign foisted on former Vice President Mike Pence to go along with former President Donald Trump's Big Lie.

The memo was authored by Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis and was revealed for the first time by ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl on Sunday. The release coincides with the publication this week of Karl's book, Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show.

Ellis, Karl reports, provided a strategy for Pence to stop the election certification, starting with the vice president sending back the electoral votes of six states where Trump had insisted for weeks—falsely—that he had won.

The memo from Ellis was emailed from former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to one of Pence's senior-most aides last New Year's Eve, Karl reports. It set a deadline of January 15֫ — at 7 p.m. sharp — for the new counts to be returned.

This reported scheme and its corresponding deadline meant that Pence, if he acquiesced, would give states nine days to submit their revised totals. And further, if a state missed the deadline, Ellis wrote, then "no electoral votes can be opened and counted from that state."

Ellis argued that with the new deadline in place, neither Trump nor Biden would have the majority of votes, triggering Congress to vote in a state-by-state delegations.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat and constitutional scholar who now serves as a member of the January 6 select committee, outlined the underlying count process in October explaining then that a potential strategy to deny Biden's victory could begin with a delay or a refusal to turn over a pro-Biden slate.

After all, Republicans controlled 26 state legislatures and Democrats controlled just 22. Two legislatures were tied but, as Raskin noted last fall, "You need 26 to win."

Ellis' memo was followed just 24 hours later by a text from John McEntee to Pence's chief of staff Marc Short, inaccurately suggesting that Thomas Jefferson once "used his position as VP to win."

While Jefferson did preside over the counting of votes in 1801 as sitting vice president, as Karl pointed out: "Jefferson didn't discard electoral votes, as Trump wanted Pence to do. He accepted electoral votes from a state that nobody had questioned he had won."

The pressure campaign unfolded in public and private and led right up to the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6.

That morning, as Trump incited the crowd gathered at the Ellipse, the defeated president broadcast the message to his second-in-command loud and clear.

"If Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election. Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us and if he doesn't, it will be a sad day for our country," Trump said.

Ellis' memo is the second one revealed by Karl that exposes the breadth of the pressure campaign on Pence. The first memo by John Eastman, Trump's onetime attorney, offered a strategy featuring an altogether bogus scheme that would have Pence recognize an "alternate slate" of electors.

No such electors, however, have ever been appointed and Eastman's contention also forgets that the U.S. Constitution provides no such power to the Vice President to serve as "ultimate arbiter" of the election.

Ellis, unlike Eastman, has not been subpoenaed by the January 6 select committee.

VIDEO: Evangelicals Heckle Pence As ‘Traitor’ At Florida Conference

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The conservative Christian Faith & Freedom "Road to Majority" conference erupted early Friday afternoon as pro-Trump attendees heckled and booed likely 2024 presidential hopeful Mike Pence, calling the former vice president a "traitor" for refusing to overturn a free and fair election on January 6.

Pence tried to ignore the verbal assaults, speaking over protestors. Some were escorted out of the room, according to a Tampa Bay Times editor:

Watch as Pence gets heckled. Video via Forbes' Andrew Solender: