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Monday, December 09, 2019

Tag: rudy giuliani

Final Report: Select Panel Recommends Barring Trump From Public Office

The House Select Committee has published its final report. You can find it here.

The report is a sweeping 845 pages and features rich narratives neatly divided into different phases of former President Donald Trump’s push to overturn the results of the 2020 election before finally inciting an insurrection at the U.S Capitol.

1. THE BIG LIE

The first chapter of the final report covers former President Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” and specifically, the committee contends, how he deliberately exploited the “Red Mirage” to advance his overturn agenda.

As Fox News elections head Chris Stirewalt explained: for nearly half a century, the practice of voting by mail or early voting, or absentee voting was par for the course. Typically, because Democrats tend to vote this way more often than Republicans in “nearly every election,” he said, it results in a simple formula: “Republicans win Election Day and Democrats win the early vote and then you wait and start counting. It happens every time.”

Trump exploited an ordinary situation, sowed confusion about the timing of the votes, and deceived Americans, the report notes. And all of this was foreshadowed.

Subchapters in the first section of the report focus on Trump’s early plans to declare victory in the election, further details about his efforts to delegitimize the process, the formal launch of the Big Lie, the shakeup to his campaign team after the election was over, how his campaign informed him repeatedly that he had lost and voter fraud didn’t exist as well as Trump’s promotion of conspiracy theories. Another section is devoted entirely to his speech on January 6.

  • Trump “pushed the campaign’s ‘Team Normal’” to the curb two weeks after the election (Campaign manager Bill Stepien and deputy Justin Clark) and replaced them with Rudy Giuliani who then recruited attorneys Jenna Ellis (Giuliani’s deputy), Bernie Kerik, Boris Epshteyn, Katherine Friess, and Christina Bobb.
  • On January 2, 2021, Matthew Morgan, the senior-most lawyer for the Trump campaign approached then-Vice President Mike Pence’s staff, and together, the men reached the conclusion that even if every claim of fraud was “aggregated and read most favorably to the campaign… it was not sufficient to be outcome determinative.”
  • Trump White House adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner arranged an Oval Office briefing for Trump on Nov. 6, exactly two months to the day until the insurrection, with campaign staff. Trump was told then that analysis from swing states showed a victory was impossible.

By the numbers:

Trump sued 62 times in states and in Washington, D.C. from Nov. 4 to January 6. He lost all but one case. 22 judges appointed by Republican presidents oversaw the cases. 10 of them were Trump-appointed. All three of the justices appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court who reviewed his fraud claims, rejected them.

The first chapter of the report, in particular, Section 1.8 “President Trump repeatedly promoted conspiracy theories,” offers extensive analysis and debunking of the various conspiracy theories that Trump deployed about rampant voter fraud.

Dead people voting became a major, disinformation-laden complaint flowing from the Trump campaign and the Republican party. The final committee report notes that just days before January 6, Senator Lindsey Graham prodded Trump’s lawyers to “provide evidence to support the campaign’s claims regarding dead voters.”

Giuliani looked into it and “they concluded they could not find evidence of dead voters anywhere near the number that Giuliani and President Trump were claiming publicly.”

Excerpt:

After noting the shortcomings in their evidence, Katherine Fries, a lawyer working with the Giuliani legal team, warned that Senator Graham would “push back” on their evidence. As predicted by Friess, Senator Graham was not impressed by the information provided by Giuliani’s team.
In his speech on the Senate floor on January 6th, Graham explained why he would not object to the certification of electoral votes. Senator Graham referred to the failure of the Trump attorneys to provide the evidence he requested: “’They said there’s 66,000 people in Georgia under 18 voted. Howmany people believe that? I asked, ‘Give me 10.’ Hadn’t had one. They said 8,000 felons in prison in Arizona voted. Give me 10. Hadn’t gotten one. Does that say there’s—There’s problems in every election. I don’t buy this. Enough’s enough. We’ve got to end it.”

Dominion Voting Systems may have a chance to sue Trump yet. According to the final report, Trump tweeted and retweeted false claims about the voting machine manufacturer over 30 times, lies about them in election speeches and interviews and did all of this, despite his staff telling him his claims had no merit, the report notes.

“Hand recounts confirmed the fidelity of the machines. But none of this overwhelming evidence mattered. President Trump demonstrated a conscious disregard for the facts and continued to maliciously smear Dominion.”

II. ‘I JUST WANT TO FIND 11,780 VOTES’

The final report reveals that former President Donald Trump contacted more than 190 Republican state legislators in Arizona, Georgia, and Michigan alone—just three of seven battleground states.

Excerpt:

One voicemail left as part of this initiative was leaked to the press on December 1, 2020. In it, a Trump Campaign staffer said, “I did want to personally reach out to you on behalf of the President.” Her main point came later in the message: “we want to know when there is a resolution inthe House to appoint electors for Trump if the President can count on you to join in support.” Another message from this effort that reached reporters made the same ask and claimed that, “[a]fter a roundtable with tthe President, he asked us to reach out to you individually” to whip support for a “joint resolution from the State House and Senate” that would “allow Michigan to send electors for Donald J. Trump to the Electoral College and save our country.” Soon after the voicemail leaked, the Campaign staffer who left this voicemail got a text message from one of her supervisors, who wrote: “Honest to god I’m so proud of this” because “[t]hey unwittingly just gotyour message out there.” He elaborated: “you used the awesome powerof the presidency to scare a state rep into getting a statewide newspaper todeliver your talking points.”

III. FAKE ELECTORS AND ‘THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE’ STRATEGY

At the heart of the attempt to overturn the election were the fake electors. The committee notes how in seven battleground states, they affixed their signatures to bunk certificates in gambits led by Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani and others like Kenneth Cheseboro, Cheseboro provided instructions to pro-Trump electors in five of the seven battleground states to declare themselves “duly elected and qualified” but they weren’t. None of those who had signed were sanctioned by the state government with what is known as a “certificate of ascertainment.”

In just two of the seven battleground states, electors included a disclaimer on their “certificate” that noted the form was valid only if they were deemed “qualified” at a later time.

In an email to Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien on December 14, 2020, Joshua Findlay, the Republican National Committee’s director for election integrity, sent an email to the legal team on the campaign.

Excerpt:

“Findlay updated Campaign Manager Bill Stepienand his bosses on the legal team that the Trump team’s slate in Georgia wasnot able to satisfy all provisions of State law but still “voted as legally aspossible under the circumstances” before transmitting their fake votes toWashington, DC, by mail.”

The final report also presents evidence connecting Trump directly to the fake elector scheme. Findlay said Trump “made it clear that Rudy [Giuliani] was in charge of this and that Rudy was executing what he wanted.””

IV. ‘JUST CALL IT CORRUPT AND LEAVE THE REST TO ME’

The Justice Department never found any evidence of widespread voter fraud significant enough to alter the outcome of the 2020 election and hand Donald Trump a victory.

The committee notes that former Trump-appointed Attorney General Bill Barr authorized two investigations into claims of election fraud. The first one began on Nov. 7—the day the press declared Joe Biden was the winner—and then on Nov. 9. Barr ordered the department and the FBI to investigate for fraud in their respective jurisdictions. He specified that his order should not lead anyone to believe that the request for an investigation alone constituted proof fraud.

Barr rebuffed Trump’s conspiracy theories in three meetings and Trump was immovable.

“The President said there had been major fraud and that, as soon as the facts were out, the results of the election would be reversed,” Barr told the committee.

Rudy Giuliani had been in Trump’s ear, Barr said, and was telling him “crazy stuff” about what authority the Justice Department had to investigate their claims. Giuliani had badmouthed the Justice Department to Trump and Barr believed this was because Giuliani was upset that no one had come up with any evidence of fraud.

By Nov. 29, Trump went on Fox News and claimed the DOJ was “missing in action” and he opined that maybe the FBI was involved nefariously somehow. Trump claimed the FBI wasn’t investigating Dominion, either. But six days earlier Barr had already explained to Trump that the Dominion voting machine conspiracy theory was nonsense. All Trump did, Barr testified, was come back at him with “crazy stuff.” Barr would resign on Dec. 14.

Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen stepped in after Barr left. From December 23, 2020, to January 3, 2021, Rosen and Trump were in constant contact and it was usually Trump calling to complain about how little the Justice Department had done to investigate his claims of voter fraud.

Rep. Scott Perry, a Pennsylvania Republican, had introduced Trump to Jeffrey Clark, an attorney at the Justice Department who was sympathetic to Trump. Clark eventually went to a meeting at the Oval Office against department policy. Rosen warned Clark not to do it again. Rosen had not yet learned that at the meeting in the Oval Office, Clark “told the President that if he were to change the leadership at the Department of Justice, ‘then the Department might be able to do more’ to support the President’s claims that the election had been stolen from him.”

As Clark vied for the top spot at the department, he would draft a memo intended for battleground state legislatures that proclaimed voting irregularities. First up was Georgia. If Rosen wouldn’t send memo as Trump wanted, Clark would replace him, Rosen recalled. The memo was never sent and Clark never ascended the ladder for the simple fact that Rosen and his deputy, Richard Donoghue, as well as other Justice Department officials, threatened to resign en masse if Trump went forward with Clark.

Excerpt:

“People tell me Jeff Clark is great” and that “I should put him in,”President Trump said on the call. “People want me to replace the DOJ leadership.” Donoghue responded “[S]ir, that’s fine, you should have the leadership you want, but understand, changing the leadership in the Department won’t change anything.”

Perry, who has been referred to the House Ethics Committee by the January 6 probe, called Richard Donoghue one day before Clark drafted the 5-page memo.

The final report notes at length that the same tactics being used by Rudy Giuliani to advance fake elector slates, were the ones Clark deployed in his draft letter.

From December through January 2, Clark met with Trump in Oval Office despite admonishments from Rosen. Trump meanwhile was fervently pushing the Justice Department to file a frivolous lawsuit in Pennsylvania challenging the election results. Despite being told repeatedly that this would not happen, Trump and his allies kept pressing the Justice Department.

V. ‘A COUP IN SEARCH OF LEGAL THEORY’

Highlights from this section of the final report include some incredibly damning if not wildly curious details around the drafting of a memo by attorney John Eastman that proposed to have the vice president intervene at the joint certification ceremony. The proposal was flatly unconstitutional but ambiguity in the language around the Electoral Count Act was just wide enough of a window for Eastman.

The final report contends that Eastman wrote his first of two “January 6th Scenario” memos on Dec. 23. That same day he spoke to Trump for 23 minutes.

Excerpt:

“From the start, President Trump was looped in on Eastman’s proposal. The same day Eastman started preparing the memo, he sent an email to President Trump’s assistant Molly Michael, at 1:32 p.m.: “Is the President available for a very quick call today at some point? Just want to update himon our overall strategic thinking.” Only five minutes later, Eastman received a call from the White House switchboard; according to his phone records, the conversation lasted for almost 23 minutes.”

Pence and Trump met privately, without anyone else present, on January 5, 2021, at the White House. Eastman had been pushing the Pence-as-arbiter-of-the-count strategy hot and heavy but understood, the committee notes, that Pence wouldn’t go for it.

Excerpt:

Eastman recognized that Vice President Pence was not going to change his mind on rejecting electors outright, but he still asked if the Vice President would consider sending the electors back to the States. “I don’t seeit,” Vice President Pence responded, “but my counsel will hear out whatever Mr. Eastman has to say.”Jacob received other calls from Eastman on January 5th. Jacob toldthe Select Committee that he had a detailed discussion with Eastman concerning the ways his proposal would violate the Electoral Count Act. Eastman resorted to a ridiculous argument—comparing their current situation to the crisis that faced President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.Eastman invoked President Lincoln’s suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. He also told Jacob to “stay tuned” because “we” were trying to getsome letters from State legislators indicating that they were interested inthe Vice President sending the electors back to the States.”

VI. “BE THERE, WILL BE WILD!”

  • According to the report, for the Million MAGA March in Washington, D.C. on Nov 14, Proud Boy leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio had his air travel to D.C. paid for by Patrick Byrne, the founder of Overstock who urged Trump during a Dec. 18, 2020 meeting to seize voting machines.

VII. 187 MINUTES OF DERELICTION

The select committee was unable to corroborate testimony by Cassidy Hutchinson about Trump lunging at a Secret Service driver on January 6 and requesting that it be taken to the Capitol. Individuals who were in the president’s car that afternoon could not remember Trump grabbing at the clavicle of Bobby Engel, Trump’s head of Secret Service. Hutchinson testified under oath that this story was relayed to her secondhand by Tony Ornato, a Secret Service agent-turned--deputy chief of staff for the Trump White House. (Such a transition is rare.)

A footnote in the final report points out:

A book written by Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in December 2021 made the categorical claim that the President never intended to travel to the Capitol that day. See Mark Meadows, The Chief’s Chief (St. Petersburg, FL: All Seasons Press, 2021), p. 250. The Committee’s evidence demonstrates that Meadows’s claim is categorically false. Because the Meadows book conflicted sharply with information that was being received by the Select Committee, the Committee became increasingly wary that other witnesses might intentionally conceal what happened. That appeared to be the case with Ornato. Ornato does not recall that he conveyed the information to Cassidy Hutchinson regarding the SUV, and also does not recall that he conveyed similar information to a White House employee with national security responsibilities who testified that Ornato recalled a similar account to him. The Committee is skeptical of Ornato’s account.

Multiple people reached out to Trump while he failed to respond to the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Trump allies, family members, friendly press, staff; nearly everyone in Trump’s orbit who testified to the committee about this three-hour block said the same thing: Trump had to do more to condemn the violence.

The final report shows that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, one of Trump’s most ardent supporters, was in a panic on January 6, just like so many of her colleagues, Capitol staff, journalists, and others who were working inside the Capitol or visiting that day.

“Mark, I was just told there is an active shooter on the first floor of the Capitol Please tell the President to calm people This isn’t the way to solve anything,” Greene wrote. [Punctuation original]

Notably, Trump’s personal assistant Johnny McEntee said when he and the president spoke by phone after the attack on January 6, Trump did not express any sadness.

“This is a crazy day,” McEntee recalled Trump saying. The tone was “like, wow, can you believe this shit?” and McEntee thought Trump seemed shocked that things got out of control. Trump didn’t make any other phone calls for the rest of the evening on January 6. He did not call Pence, despite learning earlier that he had to be whisked to safety during the siege.

VIII. ANALYSIS OF AN ATTACK

The final chapter of the report delves into how the Capitol attack took shape on January 6 and who was involved, starting with the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers. The activities of Trump allies like Roger Stone, Alex Jones, Ali Alexander and Michael Flynn are discussed, Details include analysis from the moments that Capitol was breached to the first person inside to the conduct of some of the most memorable faces to emerge from the violent attack.

This portion of the report also includes information around the timelines of lawmaker evacuations from the Capitol, and other important details in the day’s chronology including when an officer shot Trump supporter and U.S. veteran Ashli Babbitt. Babbitt refused to stand down, video footage shows, and ignored the officer’s orders, attempting to squeeze herself through a shattered glass door.

The clearing of the Capitol is also detailed in this segment of the report.

APPENDICES

Appendices are split into four categories: Government Agency Preparation for and Response to January 6; DC National Guard Prep for and Response to January 6; The Big Rip-Off: Follow the Money; Malign Foreign Influence

HIGHLIGHTS

Government Agency Preparation for and Response to January 6

  • Senator Mark Warner called FBI deputy director David Bowdich during the siege and told him the situation was a “mess” because 87 Senators were in one location during the attack. “We now have the vast majority of the Senate in one room,” Warner told him.
  • Agents with the Secret Service who were tuned into Trump’s speech at the Ellipse sent an email to Secret Service leadership stating: “POTUS just said that he is going up to the U.S. Capitol to ‘watch’ the vote.” The agent was unsure if Trump was serious. Another Secret Service executive replied, “[he] said it but not going to our knowledge.”

DC National Guard Prep for and Response to January 6

  • The commander of the National Guard, General William Walker, was forced to wait for three hours and 19 minutes on Jan. 6 as the Pentagon worked on a plan to deploy back up to the Capitol. Chris Miller, then the acting-defense secretary, said he thought it would only take a minute but that minute turned into five, then 10, and then 15.
    • EXCERPT: “And then an hour went by, then more time went by . . . .But we never thought it would take that long. Col. Matthews confirmed that there were periods on the call when no one was talking. At times, there was talk of securing buildings other than the Capitol. [Miller] called the open channel essentially “a general officer chat line.”
  • Miller said he had approved the National Guard at 3:04 p.m. but the Secretary of the Army, Ryan McCarthy, hosted a planning call but that call did not include General Walker, the official responsible for leading troops into Washington.
    • EXCERPT: Major General Walker himself understood he had to wait for approval from Secretary McCarthy to deploy his forces. But as he waited on that video CALL for hours, he did strongly consider sending them anyway. He turned to his lawyer and said, “Hey, you know what? You know, we’re going to go, and I'm just going to shoulder the responsibility.” According to Major General Walker, his lawyer responded, “What if you get sued?” Colonel Mathews, that lawyer, “told him not to do that. Just hold on.” The Guard officials located with Major General Walker at the Armory all say he seriously contemplated aloud the possibility of breaking with the chain of command. “Should we just deploy now and resign tomorrow?” was how Lieutenant Nick recalled Major General Walker bluntly putting it. “I would have done just that,” Major General Walker said, “but not for those two letters” from his superiors curtailing Guard redeployment.
  • General Walker told the committee that “ultimately, no plan from Army leaders—strategic or tactical—made it to the troops.“[I]f they came up with a plan, they never shared it with us,” he said. “They claim they were putting a plan together. That’s what took so long. I never saw a plan from the Department of Defense or the Department of the Army.”

The Big Rip-Off

The select committee contends that Trump sucked up cash from donors by proclaiming that he was using donations to support his legal battle. The Republican National Committee knew Trump’s claims of winning were baseless, the final report notes. and that any additional donations would not help him win the 2020 election.

The only individuals at the RNC who tried to “walk back” the fundraising email blasts were RNC lawyers. Members of the RNC legal team did not testify to the committee due to attorney-client privilege issues, but interviews with RNC staffers like Alex Katz revealed that lawyers instructed him not to say “steal the election” in messaging.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • The final report recommends reform of the Electoral Count Act and proposals removal of ambiguous language while solidifying the role of the Vice President as ministerial only. (Senators passed ECA reform legislation on Thursday)
  • The final report recommends that the Justice Department make a determination on its criminal referrals for former President Donald Trump and others. Bar associations should also continue to review the conduct of attorneys cited in the report for unethical behavior or misconduct to ensure they are not practicing improperly; DoJ should take greater steps to prevent its attorneys from participating in any campaign-related activities (See: Jeffrey Clark)
  • The final report recommends that Trump be banned from running for office ever again and points to the 14th Amendment which bars someone from holding office if they have “engaged in an insurrection” or provided “aid and comfort” to enemies of the U.S. Constitution
  • The committee recommends that the joint session of Congress be considered a “national security special event”
  • The committee recommends that tougher penalties are enforced on those who would try to upend the nation’s transfer of power as well as increasing the federal penalties for people who threaten election workers; in that same vein, the committee recommends stronger protections be put in place to shield election worker’s personal information
  • The committee recommends that the House of Representatives develop legislation that would make its subpoenas enforceable in federal court, either following the statutory authority that exists for the Senate in 2 U.S.C.§ 288d and 28 U.S.C. § 1365 or adopting a broad approach to facilitate timely oversight of the executive branch.”
  • The committee recommends increased oversight of the Capitol Police as well as increased oversight over social media companies' policies that have the real-time effect of “radicalizing their consumers including by provoking people to attack their own country”
  • The committee recommends federal agencies with intelligence and security missions move ahead on developing strategies to combat extremism, including white nationalist groups and violent anti-government groups.
  • Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

How The Select Committee Wrote A Prosecution Memo For Trump's Indictment

The House Select Committee investigating the January 2021 attack on the Capitol has referred former President Donald Trump and A handful of top aides to the Justice Department’s special counsel for criminal prosecution under four statutes related to impeding the transfer of power to Joe Biden after Trump lost the election.

The focused criminal referrals and short list of named possible defendants is a sign that the select committee is hoping to achieve accountability in federal court that was not forthcoming during Trump’s second impeachment – which was triggered by the insurrection -- according to former government lawyers.

“It’s important that the committee did not overcharge here,” said Norm Eisen, co-author of a Brookings Institution report on Trump’s post-election criminality. “The committee is disciplined in not naming a laundry list of individuals but pointing out that there are additional names that should be the subject of additional review by prosecutors that have powers that the committee did not [have] to get at the truth.”

After a final hearing Monday where committee members summarized a different aspect of their findings about Trump’s effort to seize a second term and unanimously voted to send the criminal referrals to the Justice Department, the committee issued an extensive executive summary that offered more details about the coup and the evidentiary basis for its criminal referrals.

“The committee’s report reads like a prosecution memo. It documents in meticulous detail the evidentiary basis for four separate crimes against Donald Trump and some key insiders,” said Barbara McQuade, former U.S. Attorney and professor at the University of Michigan Law School. “They take each of the four crimes, they break them down into their essential elements, and they list the evidence that applies to each and every one of those elements.”

The crimes range from straightforward actions to more complicated activities. On the simpler side of this ledger, the committee cited the statute making it a crime to obstruct a government proceeding – in this case, congressional ratification of 2020’s Electoral College vote. A second charge, conspiracy to defraud the United States, refers to two months of pressure campaigns aimed at state officials and federal agencies to reverse and publicly question the election results – such as Trump telling the Georgia Secretary of State to “find” votes, and a later effort to push the Justice Department to tell states that their certified election results were inaccurate or fraudulent.

A third charge, conspiracy to make a false statement, concerned one part of that state-centered pressure campaign, where, in seven states, 84 Republicans who were following orders from Trump and his lawyers, signed and submitted fake Electoral College certificates declaring that Trump was their state’s winner.

“There is some evidence suggesting that some signatories of the fake certificates believed that the certificates were contingent, to be used only in the event that President Trump prevailed in litigation challenging the election results in their States,” the executive summary said. “That may be relevant to the question whether those electors knowingly and willfully signed a false statement at the time they signed the certificates. But it is of no moment to President Trump’s conduct, as President Trump (including acting through co-conspirators such as [lawyers] John Eastman and Kenneth Chesebro) relied on the existence of those fake electors as a basis for asserting that the Vice President could reject or delay certification of the Biden electors.”

That paragraph was a rare instance of the executive summary naming Trump accomplices as co-conspirators, McQuade said, which suggests that they, like Trump, will almost certainly face prosecution if the special counsel pursues charges. Other named probable defendants include Trump’s lawyer Rudolph Giuliani, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, and former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Anthony Ornato.

The committee also referred four members of Congress to the House Ethics Committee for refusing to testify: Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who is seeking to become the next Speaker of the House; Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who is in line to become Judiciary Committee chair; Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) and Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ).

The fourth charge against Trump and his top aides and allies was the most sweeping; to “’Incite,’ ‘Assist’ or ‘Aid and Comfort’ an Insurrection.”

This accusation encompasses Trump summoning supporters to come to Washington; urging them in a rally on the mall to march to the Capitol; targeting Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding at the ratification; and then saying and doing nothing to stop the violence for nearly three hours that afternoon.

McQuade noted that the executive summary did not detail likely defenses to its recommended charges, such as Trump claiming that his speech on the mall before the riot was protected under the First Amendment. However, she said that the committee’s discussion of that charge noted Trump’s tweets during the riot inflamed the violence, which was not protected speech.

The report said:

“As explained throughout this Report and in this Committee’s hearings, President Trump was directly responsible for summoning what became a violent mob to Washington, DC, urging them to march to the Capitol, and then further provoking the already violent and lawless crowd with his 2:24 p.m. tweet about the Vice President. Even though President Trump had repeatedly been told that Vice President Pence had no legal authority to stop the certification of the election, he asserted in his speech on January 6 that if the Vice President “comes through for us” that he could deliver victory to Trump: “if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election.” This created a desperate and false expectation in President Trump’s mob that ended up putting the Vice President and his entourage and many others at the Capitol in physical danger. When President Trump tweeted at 2:24 p.m., he knew violence was underway. His tweet exacerbated that violence.”

The executive summary took a more cautious stance with seditious conspiracy charges, which involve coordinating with militias and fascist gangs like the Proud Boys before January 6. If Trump is charged and convicted on this count, the 14th Amendment would prohibit him from holding office, McQuade said, although that has “never been tested” in court.

It also said federal prosecutors should look at witness intimidation, and related issues -- such as how Trump used political donations to pay for lawyers and job offers to White House and campaign aides who had been subpoenaed to testify.

While the Justice Department’s Special Counsel Jack Smith will decide whether to bring charges, the select committee’s work is not symbolic. Never before has Congress referred a former president to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution. And the voluminous cache of evidence gathered by the committee has few modern precedents, apart from the Watergate hearings in the early 1970s.

The committee's inquiry over the past 18 months held nine televised hearings, issued 400 subpoenas, conducted 1,000 witness interviews, and has amassed more than one million pages of documents and other files. One reason that only Trump and his top co-conspirators were named in the committee report is that prosecutors will try to ask or pressure accomplices with lesser roles in these actions to become prosecution witnesses.

“The dangerous assault on American constitutional democracy that took place on January 6, 2021, consists of hundreds of individual criminal offenses. Most such crimes are already being prosecuted by the Department of Justice,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) said. “Ours is not a system of justice where foot soldiers go to jail and the masterminds and ringleaders get a free pass.”

District Of Columbia Bar Counsel Urges Disbarment Of Rudy Giuliani

Rudy Giuliani, ex-New York mayor and personal Trump lawyer, “weaponized his law license” in a constitution-undermining gambit to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Pennsylvania, violating the terms of his law license, a D.C. Bar’s disciplinary counsel declared on Thursday.

Lead prosecuting attorney Hamilton “Phil” Fox, whose Office of Disciplinary Counsel brought forth the charges, argued that since Giuliani’s election-subverting crusade in Pennsylvania was part of a large scheme to undermine democracy, only the most severe sanction — losing his license to practice law in the jurisdiction — would be appropriate.

“I think the seriousness of misconduct calls for only one sanction, and that is the sanction of disbarment,” Fox told the D.C. Bar.

The finding, panel chairman Robert C. Bernius said, was “preliminary and nonbinding,” reached after a week of testimony from Giuliani and other witnesses, including Bernard Kerik, a former Trump adviser; Trump lawyer Christina Bobb; and disgraced ex-senior Trump adviser Corey Lewandowski, who was accused of — and indicted for — sexual harassment.

“What Mr. Giuliani did was use his law license to undermine the legitimacy of a presidential election, to undermine the basic premise of the democratic system that we all live in, that has been in place since the 1800s in this country,” Fox said.

Giuliani, Fox alleged during the turbulent first hearing, spearheaded former President Trump’s nationwide effort to overturn his defeat, partaking in legal crusades — in particular, a frivolous and ultimately futile lawsuit in a Pennsylvania federal court — baselessly alleging voter fraud.

“Mr. Giuliani was responsible for filing a frivolous action asking a court in Pennsylvania to deny millions of people the right to vote,” Fox said, noting that many had marched and died for voting rights.

Giuliani, the panel’s complaint, alleged sought audacious and extraordinary relief in his Rolodex of post-election litigations in Pennsylvania and other states, including orders barring the certification of the 2020 presidential election results and “[a] declaration that Donald Trump was the winner of the legal votes cast in Pennsylvania in the November 3, 2020, election and thus the recipient of Pennsylvania’s electors.”

In a tense questioning session during the hearing, Giuliani repeated false 2020 election fraud allegations and accused the Biden administration of persecuting him.

“Mr. Giuliani has testified on several occasions that he believes there was a conspiracy. There was a conspiracy, and he was the head of it,” Fox countered.

On Thursday, Fox insisted that “Any lawyer that engages in this kind of misconduct, harming the country as this has done, has at least got to realize that his or her law license is at risk.”

He also noted that Giuliani’s election denialism was unbecoming, especially considering his “distinguished” career “twenty years ago” as a former U.S. attorney and federal prosecutor.

“It’s like there are two different people. I don’t know if something happened to Mr. Giuliani or what,” Fox said.

Giuliani took umbrage at the recommendation and — ignoring his attorney’s advice — launched into a tirade when the proceedings wrapped up, lambasting the panel for permitting Fox to present what he called a “typical, unethical, cheap attack.”

“The fact you advocate another side in a case does not make you a traitor. I have put my life up and at risk for democracy,” Giuliani barked.

I’ll put my work on democracy … up against Mr. Fox and anyone else. For that man to engage in that kind of a personal attack when there was no record of that, and for you to allow him to do that, I consider an outrage,” he added.

Giuliani’s attorney, John Levanthal, formerly a New York judge, accused the panel of putting for politicized argument and argued for a lighter disciplinary measure, noting that the Pennsylvania fraud lawsuit at issue was rejected.

The D.C. Bar will consider written statements from Fox and Giuliani before issuing its recommendation to the D.C Court of Appeals, which will then make its decision after deliberations.

This process, the Washington Post notes, could take up to a year.

Margie Greene Boasts She And Bannon Would Have 'Won' On January 6

Far-right agitator Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) suggested on Saturday evening that the January 6, 2021 coup attempt would have succeeded if she and indicted ex-Trump adviser Steve Bannon had organized the mob of Trump supporters who stormed the halls of Congress.

“I want to tell you something, if Steve Bannon and I had organized that, we would have won,” Greene said, delighting a crowd of young right-wingers at the annual dinner of the New York Young Republican Club. “Not to mention, we would’ve been armed.”


Greene, an outspoken backer of former President Trump’s spurious Big Lie, uttered the audacious remark — first published by the New York Post — to troll the left, contemptibly making light of a tragedy that led to the loss of five lives.

Greene’s jeering speech at the right-wing confab starkly contrasted with her remarks in early January at a media briefing, stating that the attack on the Capitol had made her “very upset,” as the rioters had “completely interrupted” the GOP’s effort to overturn then-President-Elect Joe Biden’s victory.

A conspiracy theorist and believer in QAnon fabrications and Jewish space lasers, Greene had falsely fingered “Antifa” as the ringleaders behind the violence at the Capitol — an attempt to overthrow democracy that she later likened to the Declaration of Independence.

Having joined efforts to challenge Electoral College votes for Biden, Green stood accused in March by a contingent of Georgian voters of facilitating the Capitol attack, which they told a federal judge was grounds for her disqualification from re-election under the Fourteenth Amendment’s disqualification clause. The judge dismissed the legal action.

“The leaders of this insurrection, of whom there were a number, were among us — on Facebook, Twitter, and corners of social media that would make your stomach hurt. The evidence will show that Marjorie Taylor Greene was one of them,” an attorney for the voters said in court.

Two anonymous organizers of Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally at the Ellipse, which preceded the insurrection, recalled working with Greene in statements to Rolling Stone. “I remember Marjorie Taylor Greene specifically,” an organizer told the publication.

In communications retrieved from former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, Greene was caught advocating for martial law in a last-ditch attempt to keep then-lame-duck Trump in power.

In her winding speech at the conservative dinner, Greene vaunted her efforts to block every “single penny” of U.S. aid to Ukraine and celebrated “voting no, solemnly,” on every bill put forth by Democrats, including the Respect for Marriage Act that enshrines protections for same-sex marriages.

“They care about a country called Ukraine whose borders are far away and most of you couldn’t find it on a map,” Greene said, according to the Post’s Zach Williams.

Greene later directed the crowd’s attention to “dildos, butt plugs, and lube,” which she claimed are available on shelves at “Target and CVS nowadays” — eliciting laughter from the crowd and a mumble of “gay marriage.” She didn't explain how she knows that those chains carry sex toys, but her own colorful personal life, including her pending divorce, has drawn attention in gossip columns.


Among Greene’s talking points were Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), whose security detail she mocked; her proposed ban on gender-affirming care under 18, which she egregiously branded "genital mutilation"; and the GOP’s meager 222-seat majority in the forthcoming 118th Congress, which she said would put an end to the “misery under Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats.”

Several other hard-right provocateurs attended the Young Republicans event, including Bannon, disgraced former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Nazi-adjacent conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec, and Donald Trump Jr., whom a prominent Democratic commentator said looked “high as a fucking kite.”

“Holy shit … if that was my laptop, I’d be in trouble,” Trump Jr. said of the Republican hubbub around Hunter Biden’s lost laptop.

The Trump spawn also encouraged the crowd to amp up extremist rhetoric online to trigger the left, especially on the pro-Republican Elon Musk-led Twitter, where such divisive trolling is now lionized as “free speech.”

Elon Musk's Big Twitter Reveal Is Nothing More Than Vaporware

Last week, Chief Twit Elon Musk enlisted Substacker Matt Taibbi to recap Twitter’s handling of the “Hunter Biden laptop” story based on archived corporate emails that Musk now owns.

It already seems like a lifetime ago, but in October 2020, weeks before the presidential election, the New York Post published a story about a disk image allegedly taken from a laptop that Hunter Biden had abandoned at a repair shop in Delaware.

Twitter temporarily blocked the story because it included personally identifiable information that they suspected had been hacked. Republicans said it was horribly partisan to the Donald Trump campaign of colluding with the Russians, even though the disk image came from Rudy Giuliani who had been very publicly pumping Russian agents for dirt on Hunter Biden for months.

Musk played the hype man and teased Taibbi’s tweetstorm as the scandal of the century. This was to be the second – hell, the third – coming of Watergate, Iran-Contra, and Deflategate all rolled into one. Musk claimed these emails showed that Twitter had colluded with the government to help Joe Biden.

As usual, Musk’s pitch was crowd-pleasing vaporware. Taibbi actually described how Twitter executives blocked the New York Post story all by themselves, adding that he’d seen “no evidence of any government involvement.”

Taibbi shared emails that confirmed what we already knew: Twitter execs froze access to the story because they were worried it was part of a Russian attack on the election. Twitter had been repeatedly warned by Trump’s FBI to be on the alert for hack and leak operations associated with a political campaign and possibly starring Hunter Biden. The New York Post story checked all those boxes.

In 2016, Russian state hackers leaked emails they’d stolen from the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign. The attack weakened Clinton and may even have cost her the election. In early 2020, Donald Trump was impeached for trying to force Ukraine to announce a fake investigation into none other than Hunter Biden. To make matters worse, the New York Post story was based on a disk image supplied by Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s main point of contact with Russian agents in Ukraine.

Far from showing a Borg determined to help Joe Biden at all costs, Taibbi’s cache of emails shows a lively debate in the Twitter C-suite as execs tried to balance freedom of the press against election integrity and national security. They blocked the story for violating Twitter’s ban on “hacked materials” bearing personally identifying information because the New York Post story included images with unredacted emails and phone numbers. The trouble was, there was no proof the data was hacked. There still isn’t. But the whole thing stank worse than an illegal Twitter flophouse.

Twitter was in a tough spot because Giuliani claimed that Hunter’s data was abandoned, not hacked. Then again, no reasonable person would take Giuliani’s word for that. If Hunter’s data had been hacked, Giuliani had a vested interest in concealing that fact. The emails show that Twitter execs used the ban to buy time while they conducted their own investigation.

History has vindicated Twitter’s caution. In 2021, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence confirmed that Russian President Vladimir Putin had personally authorized a major interference campaign for the 2020 election based on conspiracy theories about the Biden family and Ukraine. The FBI investigated Giuliani for his role in Ukraine, but ultimately wasn’t charged, primarily because although his efforts helped both Russia and Trump, he got paid only by Trump.

This saga would prompt any reasonable person to think how Twitter’s rules could be crafted to better address the next foreign attack on our elections. Unfortunately, Elon Musk is not a reasonable person.

He’s a raging egomaniac who seized upon his former employees’ good-faith efforts to handle an unprecedented threat as a pretext to make twitter ground zero for foreign intelligence agencies to attack American democracy.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

House Republicans Preparing To Recycle Rudy's Kremlin Disinformation

We’ve been warned. When the Republicans take control of the House, it’s going to be all Hunter’s laptop, all the time.

Despite haughty GOP denials, the laptop story is probably a cover for another Russian hack and leak operation, and the Republicans are gleefully laundering it.

Republicans have browbeaten various social media execs – who are surely nervous about being called before GOP committees – into saying they were wrong to throttle access to what everyone correctly assumed was foreign election interference laundered through Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and election interference go-to-guy Rudy Giuliani.

Various major media outlets have authenticated a small percentage of the data dump as having belonged to Hunter Biden. But that’s exactly what you’d expect in a hack and leak operation. The question is whether the data were really abandoned by Hunter Biden or whether they were uploaded to that laptop as a pretext for trafficking in stolen secrets.

“That’s Rudy”

In October 2020, weeks before the general election, the New York Post ran a story about what Rudy Giuliani claimed was a hard drive abandoned by Hunter Biden at a computer repair shop in Wilmington, Delaware.

Over 50 retired intelligence pros signed an open letter arguing that L’Affaire MacBook bore all the hallmarks of Russian disinfo. Twitter’s former head of safety said this week that the story set off “every single one of my finely tuned [Russian intelligence] hack and leak campaign alarm bells."

Conveniently, the former shop owner who gave the data to Giuliani is legally blind, so he can’t say whether the man who dropped off the machines was Hunter Biden. He’s also a frothing conspiracy theorist who was unable to tell a straight story about the provenance of the laptop.

We know Vladimir Putin personally directed a campaign of interference in the 2020 elections that focused on feeding anti-Biden propaganda to influential Americans, including members of Trump’s inner circle, according to a 2021 report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

The report doesn’t name names, but contains enough clues to identify Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, as the useful idiot in chief.

This time, the collusion between Trump and the Russians was right out in the open. With Trump’s support, Giuliani spent much of 2019 ostentatiously shuttling to Ukraine and huddling with Kremlin-linked oligarchs, including an active Russian agent who was later sanctioned by Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s Treasury Department for interference in the 2020 election.

Data from Hunter Biden’s computer were on the market in Kyiv around the time Giuliani went disinfo-shopping. As you recall, Giuliani was searching for dirt in Ukraine because Hunter Biden sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma Holdings, which, according to that ODNI report, was hacked by the Russian spy service known as the GRU in late 2019.

Multiple US intelligence agencies repeatedly and explicitly warned Donald Trump in 2019 that Giuliani’s bottomless thirst for dirt on the Bidens made him the target of a Russian intelligence operation. National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien warned Trump that any information Giuliani brought back from his Ukraine junket should be considered “contaminated” by the Russians. Trump reportedly shrugged and said, “That’s Rudy.”

Stolen and dumped

Let’s not forget Trump’s first impeachment was the result of a desperate bid to wring dirt out of the Ukrainians. Trump froze congressionally authorized defense aid to Ukraine in order to strong-arm the country’s new president into announcing a bogus investigation into Hunter Biden.

Republicans have falsely claimed that forensic analyses have proven that the data was found on a laptop that Hunter Biden abandoned at a repair shop in Delaware. These analyses have shown that some of the materials were produced by Hunter Biden. But that’s how hack and leak attacks work.

In a hack and leak, data is stolen and dumped.

A largely genuine trove of stolen data is also the perfect place to hide forged or stolen elements, which enjoy unearned credibility because they’re packaged with real stuff. That’s why the victims of hack and leaks are advised never to confirm the authenticity of anything.

The attackers are counting on the public to draw the erroneous conclusion that, because some things are genuine, the whole package is real, and – most importantly – that it came from where the cover story says it came from, be that an imaginary collective of good-hearted “hacktivists” or a computer repair shop in Delaware. Anywhere but the GRU.

The GRU is notorious for hacking and leaking.

A GRU unit known as FancyBear or APT128 famously deployed this tactic against the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016. They also targeted George Soros, the World Anti-Doping Agency, scientists investigating the poisoning of a former Russian agent, and countless others. For particularly high-value targets, GRU combines hacking with good-old-fashioned stalking, following their targets around, hoping to catch them using insecure hotel wifi.

Isn’t it a crazy coincidence that a disk image of “Hunter Biden’s laptop” was revealed to the world by the same guy who we know was the main conduit for Russian disinformation about the Bidens? A guy who has also been investigated for other kinds of election interference on behalf of Trump.

If you believe that, I’ve got an extended warranty to sell you.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Pence Blames Trump For Stoking January 6 Capitol Riot In New Memoir

Former President Trump hit “sowed” the seeds for the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack when he appointed the Inebriated Rudy Giuliani and conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell legal strategy leads for his crusade to overturn the 2020 election result, ex-Vice President Mike Pence writes in a new book, titled So Help Me God.

The publisher, Simon & Schuster, in a promotional piece, said the book, debuting November 15, “is the inside story of the Trump Administration by its second-highest ranking official” that “chronicles President Trump’s severing of their relationship on January 6, 2021, when Pence kept his oath to the Constitution.”

In an excerpt published by Axios on Monday, Pence recalled how a post-election meeting to brief then-President Trump on his failing election challenges turned into a fiery exchange between Trump’s official campaign lawyers and the external attorneys.

"What began as a briefing that Thursday afternoon,” Pence wrote, “quickly turned into a contentious back-and-forth between the campaign lawyers and a growing group of outside attorneys led by Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, an attorney who had represented General Mike Flynn [ex-national security adviser convicted for lying to the FBI who was pardoned by Trump].

“After the campaign lawyers gave a sober and somewhat pessimistic report on the state of election challenges, the outside cast of characters went on the attack ... Giuliani told the president over the speakerphone, ‘Your lawyers are not telling you the truth, Mr. President.’

"Even in an office well acquainted with rough-and-tumble debates, it was a new low .... [and] went downhill from there," Pence wrote. "In the end, that day the president made the fateful decision to put Giuliani and Sidney Powell in charge of the legal strategy ... The seeds were being sown for a tragic day in January."

Pence’s relationship with Trump has made many headlines since the former president — whose coup attempts were denounced by the courts, the “Team Normal” arm of his party and counsel, and a majority of American voters — turned to his vice president to advance his coup efforts, in abject betrayal of the Constitution.

The House Select Committee, in its public January 6 hearings, painted in evocative detail a picture of the blistering public and private pressure Trump and his inner circle applied to Pence to prevent the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory.

The fake elector scheme, arguably the most expansive of Trump’s coup plots — which Trumpworld pressed Pence to agree to, including sitting members of Congress — centered on appointing a slate of bogus electors subservient to Trump in crucial swing states that Biden won.

Pence’s dismissal of the elector plan and subsequent refusal to bow to pressure culminated in a “heated” phone call between Trump and Pence the morning of January 6 and, later that day, the storming of the U.S. Capitol by a mob of irate Trump supporters chanting “Hang Mike Pence!”

“Donald Trump wanted Mike Pence to do something no other vice president has ever done: the former president wanted Pence to reject the votes and either declare Trump the winner or send the votes back to the states to be counted again,” select committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) said on June 6, during the House panel’s public hearing.

“Mike Pence said no,” Thompson continued. “He resisted the pressure. He knew it was illegal. He knew it was wrong.”

Trump has repeatedly denied allegations of wrongdoing but has berated Pence — first during the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the January 6 riot and multiple times thereafter — for his refusal to cooperate with his election subversion campaign.

Pence has suggested he won’t back a potential Trump 2024 bid, saying, “There might be someone else I prefer more,” according to the Washington Post.

The former President, who is reportedly waiting out the midterms before announcing his 2024 ambitions, has

allegedly stated that he won’t ever pick Pence as a running mate again because the former VP “committed political suicide” by refusing to intervene in the electoral vote certification.

Rudy Giuliani Offers New Excuse For Trump Seizing Classified Files

Rudy Giuliani, ex-New York City mayor and personal attorney to former President Trump, introduced a new line of reasoning to the trove of Trumpworld excuses for Trump’s alleged possession of classified material — he was "protecting" them at his Mar-a-Lago estate.

In an appearance on the far-right channel Newsmax, Giuliani admitted that Trump possessed classified documents and was doing the government a solid by “preserving them.”

“And now, they want to make [Trump] responsible for having taken classified documents and preserve [sic] them.”

Appearing to realize the gaffe, Giuliani paused briefly and went on to argue that Trump’s audacious repossession of classified material wasn’t tantamount to violating the Espionage Act.

“Really, if you look at the Espionage Act, it’s not really about taking the documents,” Giuliani told Newsmax’s Robb Schmitt. “It’s about destroying them. Or hiding them. Or giving them to the enemy. It’s not about taking them and putting them in a place that’s roughly as safe as they were in in the first place.”

Critics of the former president quickly piled on the embattled ex-Trump lawyer for excusing Trump for safekeeping classified material somewhere than the secure facilities they’re legally required to be maintained.

Prominent national security expert Brady Moss called Giuliani’s defense “100% false.”

Unperturbed by a query about the Democratic criticism he was facing over his legal troubles, Giuliani questioned the intelligence of his fellow Americans and dredged up false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 elections.

"If the American people don't know what's going on by now, then our country could possibly be too dumb to be a democracy," the disgraced lawyer ranted. "I mean, it is quite obvious that they will frame him with every single thing they've got."

"And if you don't realize they stole the election, there's something wrong here,” Giuliani fumed, invoking the Big Lie, despite facing disbarment for repeatedly peddling lies of a stolen election in hopes of overturning President Biden’s victory.