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Tag: sidney powell

Bizarre Extremists Dominate GOP Primary For Arizona House Seat

A leading contender for the Republican nomination in a competitive Arizona House seat said that doctors who perform abortions and people who receive them should both be charged with homicide.

State Rep. Walt Blackman made the comments during a GOP primary debate for Arizona's 2nd District after the moderator asked him whether he stands by a past comment about wanting to charge abortion providers and those who get abortions with homicide.

"Exactly," Blackman said, saying that homicide charges for abortions are, "already in our statute, Arizona statute. If a person commits abortion or kills a baby while in the womb, it's in our criminal statute."

Blackman is listed as a top candidate for the seat by the National Republican Congressional Committee, which seeks to elect Republicans to the House.

It's not the only controversial comment Blackman has made in the past.

In September, Blackman voiced his support for the Proud Boys — a white nationalist group that helped plan the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. A leader of the extremist organization was arrested in March and charged with conspiracy for his apparent role in helping plan the attempt to subvert democracy and stop the certification of President Joe Biden's victory.

"The Proud Boys came to one of my events, and that was one of the proudest moments of my life," Blackman said at a September event seeking "justice" for those charged in the insurrection. He added that the Proud Boys set an "example of how to be an American."

Blackman saying women who get abortions should be charged with murder wasn't even the most controversial moment of Wednesday night's primary debate.

Another candidate, Ron Watkins — one of the leaders of the baseless QAnon conspiracy movement — lied about voter fraud in the 2020 election.

Watkins ran the far-right website 8chan, which the New York Times has described as a "go-to resource for violent extremists" who have committed mass murders. At Wednesday night's debate, Watkins bragged about his efforts to push the false conspiracy theories about a stolen election.

Former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell — who was sanctioned for filing baseless lawsuits seeking to overturn the 2020 election — based some of her "evidence" on Watkins' conspiracy theories.

During the debate, Watkins defended his efforts to try to "decertify" Biden's 2020 victory, after Blackman told him that nothing in the Constitution allows for the decertification of an election.

"During the Revolutionary War ... there was nothing that said we could fight the British, but we did," Watkins said, using an analogy to describe why he would embark on a destined-to-fail endeavor. "Americans go, and they fight even when they know we can't win."

Watkins went on to tout his relationship with Powell, as well as pillow mogul and election conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell, saying that "we found that the machines were stealing the votes." (The machines did not steal votes.)

Arizona's 2nd District is currently represented by Democratic Rep. Tom O'Halleran. In the redistricting process, the district became much more conservative, going from a seat Biden carried in 2020 to one that now has a 15-point Republican lean, according to FiveThirtyEight. The nonpartisan political handicapping outlet Inside Elections projects that Republicans will likely flip the seat.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Sidney Powell's Fingerprints Are All Over Fake Slates Of Trump Electors

On January 21, Politico published a December 2020 draft executive order under which Donald Trump authorized a number of chilling actions, beginning with this military seizure of voting machines:

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

The draft order, which would have then also called for “federalization of appropriate National Guard support,” would have placed a series of Trump officials in charge of these machines, which would have remained under the supervision of the assistant secretary of defense, with a Trump-appointed “Special Counsel” to bring criminal charges against those deemed to have been involved in election fraud.

This unvarnished attempt at employing the military in his coup d'etat—like all the other features of Trump’s attempted destruction of American democracy—has not received one one-thousandth the media attention it deserves. But in particular, there’s been a tendency to overlook the order’s opening paragraph; the one that makes it clear that all of this was based on false claims from Trump attorney Sidney Powell, and that the whole cause for overthrowing the government was a completely debunked claim created by his own legal team.

Rather than predicating the order on some kind of broad claim of electoral issues, Trump’s military takeover directly references one specific instance of supposed fraud.

“I, Donald J. Trump, President of the United States, find that the forensic report of the Antrim County, Michigan voting machines, released Dec. 13, 2020, and other evidence submitted to me in support of this order, provide probable cause sufficient to require action under the authorities cited above because of evidence of international and foreign interference in the Nov. 3, 2020 election.”

The problem with this “forensic report” was that it was a lie. In fact, it was a lie easily disproven weeks before the events of January 6.

Antrim County, Michigan first entered the national limelight because results immediately following poll closing showed Joe Biden ahead in this reliably Republican county. However, within an hour of the initially reported numbers, county officials — all of them Republican — determined that an error had been made, not in total numbers, but in reporting those numbers to the state. The totals were corrected and Trump won the county by 3,700 votes. A hand recount of ballots showed that the machine-generated results were accurate.

But almost immediately Trump supporters built this incident into “proof” of problems with voting machines in the county—even though those machines had always reported the correct values. To support this they seized on a 23-page “Antrim County report” filed as part of a lawsuit that—and this is real—was filed as a challenge against the successful attempt to allow retail sales of marijuana in the county.

Even though the challenge to the vote on marijuana actually turned on whether to count three partially mangled ballots, Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and Lin Wood directed attention to this “forensic audit” (spoiler: it wasn’t a forensic audit) because it made assertions about the reliability of Dominion voting machines.

When the contents of the report were made public, as The Detroit News reported at the time, the state attorney general labeled efforts to turn this report into some kind of broad proof of voting fraud “another in a long stream of misguided, vague and dubious assertions designed to erode public confidence in the November presidential election." The authors of the section of the report cited by Powell and Wood in their court filings turned out to be an organization called Allied Security Operations Group. That organization also claimed that a number of districts in Michigan had “over 100 percent turnout”—a claim that turned out to be provably false.

“According to the document, there was a precinct in North Muskegon with 781% turnout and a precinct in Muskegon with 205% turnout. The certified and publicly posted results in Muskegon County clearly refute [this claim].”

On November 25, Wood and Powell brought the case to the Sixth District Court in Michigan, with the Antrim County report acting as “Exhibit A.” On December 7, the court ruled against them, stating that both the county and the state had already certified the results before Trump’s team bothered to file an objection and that—since actual analysis failed to find any difference between machine and hand-counted results—“plaintiffs failed to establish an injury sufficient to meet standing requirements.” In other words, none of the evidence they brought actually showed the fraud they claimed. The next day they appealed.

A week after that, this same report was before the Supreme Court of the United States as “Exhibit A” in a filing represented by Powell and Wood that sought to annul the results in six states, allowing Republican state legislators to select the slate of electors. The Detroit Free Press reminded readers that the exaggerated claims in the report had already been disproven.

That same report was then again used as the main supporting document for Trump’s executive order. And all the time everything in it that suggested problems with Dominion Voting Systems had already been explained as human error and disproven by a hand count of votes. The reference here to this debunked, never-serious report, shows just how close all of the efforts going on in Trump’s coup really were. It was not a series of uncoordinated flailings, but a single unified effort to justify overturning the election.

Currently, that same report is a key element in a “Strategic Communications Plan” created by Giuliani and his team as a defense for Trump officials subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 commission. Republicans are still treating it as if it contains actual information.

In the months following the coup attempt, the Michigan attorney general has taken action to sanction the attorneys who pressed on with this report, despite knowing that it had no evidentiary value. The former elections commissioner issued a 10-point rebuttal of the claims in the report. And a federal judge has taken Powell and others to task before eventually issuing sanctions.

As Judge Parker stated, Trump’s attorneys “filed this lawsuit in bad faith and for improper purpose.”

But there’s another part of the original filing from Powell and Wood that the Detroit Free Press picked up in Dec. 2020.

At one point, the filing states: "On Dec. 14, 2020, the Republican majority State legislatures of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin exercised their plenary authority under the U.S. Constitution’s Electors Clause by permitting the full slate of Republican nominees to cast their electoral votes for President Donald J. Trump on a contingent basis."
In another portion, the filing states: "Republican slates of electors have received the endorsement of the Republican-majority legislatures in each of these States, as reflected in the decision for them to cast (or attempting to cast) their slate of electoral votes."
None of this is true.

Powell’s lawsuit encapsulates two cornerstones of Trump’s attempted coup: the effort to create the impression that there was some reason to suspect election fraud, and the effort to make it seem as if the slates of electoral candidates were in dispute. And what may be most amazing is how thin and easily debunked their supposed evidence really was.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

QAnon Cult Split By 'Civil War' Sparked By Lin Wood's Attacks On Michael Flynn

According to The Daily Beast, the latest Make America Great Again (MAGA) intraparty feud involves Trump-loyalist and conspiracy-driven attorney Lin Wood and former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Although Wood has a reputation for backing far-right conservatism and conspiracy theories, most recently he has faced scrutiny for attacking other well-known conservative figures and releasing incriminating audio clips.

During a recent segment of the podcast Fever Dreams, co-host Will Sommer shed light on the clash between Wood and Flynn. Per Sommer's report, the controversy surrounding Wood escalated when he released audio clips of Flynn. The incriminating audio reportedly featured Flynn's deeply critical remarks about the "pro-Trump conspiracy theory" QAnon being a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)-backed plot.

In the wake of Flynn's remarks, Sommer noted that “QAnon’s been very good to Michael Flynn. Some of them believe he’s Q… I mean this is a guy who is thick as thieves with QAnon. But privately, [he calls it] a ‘CIA operation. It’s nonsense.’ So this is a pretty big break from what he does publicly.”

The whole ordeal has contributed to a domino effect on other issues. Per The Beast: "As a result, pro- and anti-Flynn factions inside QAnon have been ripping into each other on Telegram and other right-wing social media platforms."

Sommer also expounded on the aftermath describing it as a form of "civil war."

“This has basically started a big civil war… including, I should say, the JFK Jr. people in Dallas. So they’ve all sided with Lin," Sommer said. "Michael Flynn, obviously, has his own adherents—but this has really, like, started a lot of drama."

He added, “They’re calling it a civil war but maybe it’s more like a prison riot… this has also set off a lot of people who have beefs with people on the other side, but that are totally unrelated to this. But now they’re seeing this as their opportunity to settle scores with their rivals… things are all on fire over there.”

A Year Later, Timeline Shows Trump Always Knew His Fraud Claim Was A 'Big Lie'

Over the past year, we have had to deal with Donald Trump shouting baseless claims that Joe Biden only denied him a second term because of massive fraud. He continues to promote the "Big Lies" despite his claims being debunked many times over in court, in Congress, in the press – and even by a three-month "audit" that his fervent supporters sponsored and conducted.

Believe it or not, Trump's attack on democracy is even worse than it seems. What's worse than repeatedly making "Four-Pinocchio" and "Pants on Fire" claims? Worse is repeating those allegations when you knew all along that they were false. And there is ample evidence in the published record that shows Trump was bleating and screeching about fraud when he knew full well that he had lost fairly and honestly.

This fundamental fact is important for several reasons. If you can put a firm date on the moment that Trump was well aware that he had lost, then every action taken to further those claims was in furtherance of an insurrection—one that began long before January 6. It means that we're no longer merely talking about the fine line between protected and unprotected speech. We're talking about seditious action.

If Trump always knew he had lost, then every one of those hair-on-fire emails urging people to donate to the effort to keep him in office was fraudulent. And if he knew he had lost when, for example, he tried to shake down Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger, then it should be easier for Fulton County (Atlanta) District Attorney Fami Ellis to prove that effort was a racketeering offense. And if it can be proved that Trump's lawyers knew their arguments in court were false, it will be far easier to sanction them for doing so.

November 7, 2020: According to Axios, within hours of most major media outlets declaring Biden president-elect, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien and deputy campaign manager Justin Clark tell Trump that his chances of staying in office are slim at best. He needs to win the outstanding absentee ballots in Arizona and Georgia by landslide margins, and also needs to win a legal challenge to Wisconsin's vote count. Clark tells Trump that even then, his chances were no better than five to ten percent. The Washington Post reports that Trump "signaled that he understood" the import of what Stepien and Clark were telling him.

November 10-13, 2020: Trump campaign lawyer Steffan Passantino tells The New York Times that the Trump legal team knew "within a week" of the election that there was no evidence Dominion Voting Systems-manufactured voting machines were switching votes in Georgia. Passantino tells the Times that his team conducted "a literal physical hand count" of all five million ballots cast in Georgia, and the votes "matched almost identically." Without Georgia, there was virtually no realistic path for Trump to stay in office.

November 12, 2020: Axios reports that when all remaining media outlets called Arizona for Biden, Trump's core campaign team told him that "his pathway is dead," since there was no politically viable path for Trump to win without Arizona. The Times reports that Trump's legal team was making plans to withdraw a legal challenge to Arizona's count because the 191 ballots they'd red flagged weren't even a fraction of Biden's 10,000-vote lead in the state. However, Trump was very receptive to Rudy Giuliani's claims that Dominion software was switching votes.

November 13, 2020: According to Axios, the Post and the Times, Giuliani suggests filing a lawsuit in Georgia alleging that the use of Dominion software allowed Biden to flip the state. Justin Clark replies that such a suit would be thrown out on procedural grounds, since Georgia hadn't certified its results yet. Giuliani calls Clark a liar, prompting Clark to call Giuliani "a fucking asshole." Trump sides with Giuliani, beginning what the Times calls "an extralegal campaign to subvert the election." On that same day, the Times reports that deputy campaign communications chief Sam Parkinson asked his legal team to "substantiate or debunk" claims percolating about Dominion in conservative circles.

November 14, 2020: On the same day Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and Jenna Ellis assume leadership of Trump's legal campaign to overturn the election results, Parkinson's team compiles a memo that thoroughly debunks the most outlandish claims about Dominion. Among other things, the memo states that there is no evidence Dominion and another voting systems maker, Smartmatic, presently have a relationship. Nor is there any evidence that Dominion has ties with George Soros, Venezuela, or antifa.

November 19, 2020: Giuliani, Powell, and Ellis hold a press conference alleging Dominion is at the center of a wide-ranging conspiracy to steal victory from Trump — repeating the same claims that were debunked by Trump's own communications team five days earlier. Later that night, Fox News' Tucker Carlson tears Powell to shreds for not offering any actual evidence of fraud. According to the Post, Trump is equally disappointed in Powell, and Carlson's takedown of Powell plays a major role in Trump's decision to cut formal ties with her.

Late November 2020: Axios reports that Trump is losing patience with Powell by this time. Before picking up a call from Powell in the Oval Office, Trump tells staffers that he thinks Powell is "crazy," and muses that "no one believes this stuff."

November 20,2020: Michigan state house speaker Lee Chatfield and state senate majority leader Mike Shirkey meet with Trump at the White House. According to Reuters, they tell Trump that they know of no information that would overturn Biden's 154,000-vote lead in Michigan. Chatfield and Shirkey tell the Post that they traveled to Washington in order to give Trump information that "he wasn't hearing in his own echo chamber," and they left believing that "his blinders had fallen off." In other words, it appeared to Chatfield and Shirkey that Trump knew he'd lost Michigan — and with it, any politically realistic path to reelection.

December 1, 2020: Attorney General Bill Barr, with the support of White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, meets with Trump and dismisses Trump's claims of fraud as "bullshit" (per Axios) and "ridiculously false" (per the Times). When Barr pans the Trump legal team's performance, Trump concedes that "maybe" their arguments don't add up. According to the Times, before Barr even leaves the room, Trump tweets out a claim that a truck driver delivered thousands of pre-filled ballots to Pennsylvania—even though federal investigators had already concluded the driver had serious credibility problems.

December 14, 2020: Trump policy adviser Stephen Miller announces that the Trump campaign has organized alternate slates of electors in every battleground state won by Biden, ostensibly to keep Trump's legal options open. This includes Arizona, Georgia and Michigan—states that the Trump campaign likely knew for a month or more that it had lost.

December 18, 2020: According to Axios, Powell barrels into the White House along with Overstock.com founder Patrick Byrne to meet with Trump and peddle more claims that the election was stolen -- even though White House advisers who tried to vet these allegations found they didn't withstand serious analysis. At this meeting, Powell is grilled by White House senior adviser Eric Herschmann and staff secretary Derek Lyons, who note that Powell has repeatedly failed to deliver on promises to back up her arguments. Trump himself expresses doubt about Powell and Byrne's claims, but notes that unlike Herschmann and Lyons, they were at least offering him a shot at winning. As we now know, h

January 2, 2020: Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's general counsel tells Trump during the now-infamous shakedown attempt that both the FBI and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation have been unable to find any evidence to back up Trump's claims of fraud. However, Trump keeps pressing Raffensperger to "do me a favor."

In short:

  • Trump knew as early as November 7 that he was shooting his last legal bolt to stay in office, and likely knew as early as November 12 that bolt had missed.
  • Trump knew at various points in November that he had lost at least three states that he needed to hold if he had any hope of winning a second term.
  • Giuliani, Powell, and Ellis' press conference aired arguments that the Trump campaign had known were baseless for at least five days.
  • Trump promoted baseless claims even after being told categorically by his own aides that they were false.
  • Trump himself expressed doubt about Sidney Powell's conspiratorial assertions, but had no qualms about using them to support his claims about fraud.

Trump Campaign Memo Shows Giuliani, Powell Knew Election Fraud Claims Were False

Reprinted with permission from Aternet


A memo obtained by The New York Times makes clear that the Trump campaign not only spread propaganda and misinformation about the results of the 2020 election, they did so with full knowledge that what they were telling the American people was simply a lie.

Long before Jan. 6, in the days immediately following the election, Trump's team was aware that claims about voting machines made by Dominion and Smartmatic were utterly false. The interal memo, prepared by Trump's communication team, includes a thorough debunking of claims about the software, hardware, origins, and political connections of each company, One by one, everything circulating in the fever swamp of right-wing claims about the election was stood up, and just as quickly shot down.

Despite this, Trump's legal team would step forward six days after that memo was circulated and make exactly the claims they already knew not to be true. That included false claims about how the companies were connected to antifa. False claims about how the software had originated in Venezuela. False claims about the connections between the two companies. False claims about connections to George Soros. And false claims about votes being counted overseas.

Now that memo has surfaced in court papers as part of a defamation lawsuit against Trump's campaign. And a quick look at the information suggests that another, very brief, memo could be written. The title of that memo: Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell are f***ked.

On Nov. 19, 2020, Rudy Giuliani stepped out to deliver another round of nonsense claims, random non sequiturs, and outright lies concerning the 2020 presidential election. It was on this occasion that Giuliani explained the legal basis of his claims about voter fraud. "I know crimes," said the former prosecutor. "I can smell them. You don't have to smell this one, I can prove it to you 18 different ways. I can prove to you that Trump won Pennsylvania by 300,000 votes. I can prove to you that he won Michigan, probably by 50,000 votes." Needless to say, he provided no such proof.

But other than Giuliani's crime-sniffing nose, that press event is mostly remembered for two things.

First, that a steady stream of dark hair dye trickled down Giuliani's face as he spoke, lending his overt lies about how Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito had blocked votes in Pennsylvania or how Michigan's most populous county had decertified its vote total an extra air of comic desperation. Again and again, Giuliani threw out numbers along with a claim that he could "prove" some level of malfeasance on the part of election officials and voting machine companies. Again and again, he offered absolutely no proof.

Second, it was at that event that Powell, until then best known for her judge-infuriating defense of disgraced general Michael Flynn, stepped forward to present a jaw-dropping collection of claims that included how Democrats had engaged in a multistate conspiracy to "inject" hundreds of thousands of Biden votes by using voting machines built to appease Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez with the help of wealthy Jew George Soros and sent American votes overseas to servers in Germany, where they could be altered according to orders from antifa.

Powell was detailed, if little short of deranged, in her claims about connections between Dominion and Smartmatic, the origins of their systems as a means of ensuring the election of long-dead dictator Hugo Chavez, the control of mysterious figures from antifa, and a connection to this Biden-Venezuelan-Jewish-Cuban-antifa conspiracy and the Clinton Foundation.

The simple amount of hogwash, hooey, and absurdity in the statements from Giuliani and Powell would have been amusing had all that propaganda not been in service of a lie that led directly to the January 6 insurgency and fueled ongoing claims of election fraud now supported by a majority of Republicans. In the course of the morning, Giuliani and Powell managed to hit Every. Single. One. Of the claims that the Trump team had already investigated and found to be false.

It was if they had taken the internal memo and used it as a checklist to be sure they punched every button on the defamation elevator.

Clearly, someone on Trump's team was listening well enough to hear all the alarms that the claims—particularly those made by Powell—were setting off. Just three days later, Giuliani issued a statement in which he made another false claim: "Sidney Powell is practicing law on her own," wrote Giuliani. "She is not a member of the Trump Legal Team. She is also not a lawyer for the President in his personal capacity."

Unfortunately for them, not only had Giuliani introduced Powell and appeared with her in front of the nation's cameras while she went on her everything-but-the-kitchen sink rant; Powell had been introduced by Trump attorney Jenna Ellis as part of "an elite strike team that is working on behalf of the president and the campaign to make sure that our Constitution is protected."

And there was some other fellow. Some guy on Twitter. What did he say?

"I look forward to Mayor Giuliani spearheading the legal effort to defend OUR RIGHT to FREE and FAIR ELECTIONS! Rudy Giuliani, Joseph diGenova, Victoria Toensing, Sidney Powell, and Jenna Ellis, a truly great team, added to our other wonderful lawyers and representatives!"

Within days of Trump's "distancing" from Powell, she was right back at the center of his representation, acting as the lead attorney on lawsuits filed in December and January. Any claim that she was not connected to the Trump campaign is less believable than Hugo Chavez and George Soros counting votes in Spain using an antifa-branded server.

What's absolutely clear is that both Giuliani and Powell were members of Donald Trump's legal team, who not only stepped forward on November 19—and on many other occasions—to make false claims about the 2020 president election, they did so knowingly. In particular, despite having investigated and found the claims about Dominion and Smartmatic absolutely false, Trump's team went on to file at least four lawsuits against the company and publicly accuse it of crimes in statements they were well aware did not reflect reality. Those accusations generated threats of violence about the companies and their employees, as well as interfering in the ability of the companies to do business.

The only real question should be, will Dominion get the pleasure of taking Giuliani's last dime before the FBI finally completes their actions?

And just in case someone thought either of these two was being more sensible these days …

Trump-Friendly Prosecutor Signals Potential Trouble For Insurrection Cases

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

The federal government's prosecution of the January 6 Capitol insurrectionists continues to roll along with hardly any change in direction or pace: Participants in the attack continue to be arrested as investigators accumulate more evidence, while judges continue to keep major players, particularly members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, under lock and key.

However, one bright red flag was raised by Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel—who has assiduously tracked and reported on the imposingly complex prosecutions from January 6—this week in the conspiracy case being assembled by prosecutors against the Proud Boys: It now emerges that one of the lead prosecutors in that case is Jocelyn Ballantine, the same DOJ prosecutor who engaged in dubious behavior around former Trump official Michael Flynn's prosecution, such as submitting altered documents. Could a botch job be around the corner?

Ballantine, as Wheeler details, engaged in a pattern of misconduct in handling the Flynn case that could easily result in a federal judge dismissing the case. And as the Proud Boys' attorneys made clear in their filings this week demanding that key players in the insurrection, including leaders Joe Biggs and Ethan Nordean, be granted pretrial release, their primary strategy appears to be aimed at obtaining exactly that kind of summary dismissal of the charges.

Wheeler points to three specific acts by Ballantine in the Flynn matter that raise concerns:

  • On Sept. 23, she provided three documents that were altered to Sidney Powell, one of which Trump used six days later in a packaged debate attack on Joe Biden.
  • On Sept. 24, she submitted an FBI interview report that redacted information—references to Brandon Van Grack—that was material to the proceedings before Judge Emmet Sullivan.
  • On Oct. 26, she claimed that lawyers for Peter Strzok and Andrew McCabe had checked their clients' notes to confirm there were no other alterations to documents submitted to the docket; both lawyers refused to review the documents.

Having a prosecutor on the Proud Boys prosecution team (let alone overseeing it) with a dubious conduct history poses serious risks for their success, and indeed for the broader prosecution: "Given Ballantine's past actions, it risks sabotaging the entire January 6 investigation," Wheeler observes.

The possibility of a bungled federal prosecution in the Proud Boys case raises the specter of a similar botch job in a major case involving right-wing extremists: Namely in 2018, when prosecutorial misconduct involving evidence sharing forced the federal judge overseeing the case against rancher Cliven Bundy for his 2014 armed standoff with federal authorities to order all charges dismissed—one of several cases of misconduct involving that U.S. Attorney's office. That dismissal, with prejudice, was upheld on appeal.

The attorneys for Biggs and Nordean, meanwhile, made a fresh appeal for their clients' pretrial release to home confinement, claiming the men posed neither a serious flight risk nor any threat to public safety in the interim. The attorneys presented clips from a video shot on January 6 in Washington, D..C., by fellow Proud Boys member Eddie Block, claiming they demonstrated that the group actually intended to hold their "big event" afterward at The Ellipse, not at the Capitol.

"There's no conspiracy," defense attorney John Hull said. "… So, [with] no conspiracy, about 80% of the whole case falls apart."

Prosecutors noted that Block's statements in the clips are contravened by the men's demonstrated actions that day, which included Nordean and Biggs tearing down a police barrier. They also reminded the judge of encrypted texts the men shared that day preparing for insurrection on January 6.

Prosecutors warned that the defendants' release would mean "there's no way to police" any other potential planning the men might participate in with other Proud Boys members: "That's a significant, prospective danger to the community," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason McCullough said.

In other January 6-related developments:

  • Accountability arrived for the Capitol Police officers who behaved as congenial hosts to the insurrectionists on January 6. The agency announced it had taken disciplinary action against six officers following an internal investigation.

There were 38 internal investigations involving officer behavior on January 6, with 26 different officers identified, Capitol Police reported. There was no wrongdoing found in 20 of the cases.

Three of the six officers were disciplined for "conduct unbecoming;" another for improper remarks; one for improper dissemination of information; and one for "failure to comply with directives."

"The six sustained cases should not diminish the heroic efforts of the United States Capitol Police officers. On January 6, the bravery and courage exhibited by the vast majority of our employees was inspiring," the release said.

  • FBI agents arrested a woman from Allentown, Pennsylvania, who had filled her social-media pages with QAnon conspiracy theories and demands for an "Army of Patriots" to seize control of the government, prior to invading the Capitol with other right-wing extremists on January 6.

Prosecutors detailed Kelly O'Brien's prolific rants on social media leading up to January 6. One dated November 26, 2020, asserted: "We do not riot. We fight. We are an Army of Patriots. You will know us when you see us. There will be no ambiguity. Prepare yourself."

On Dec. 19, 2020, O'Brien posted: "WE ARE IN A BATTLE between GOOD and evil. Make no mistake about that. Elders are cheering us on and believe that WE ARE GOING TO BE THE GREATEST GENERATION in their lifetime. And they lived through WWII. Are you going to fight or are you weak. Let us know now. WE NEED PATRIOTS! WE NEED FREEDOM FIGHTERS! Now!"

The day after Christmas, another used posted: "You can vote your way into socialism but you have to shoot your way out of it!" O'Brien responded: "We might have to."

After the insurrection, on January 8, amid a discussion of Trump's refusal to concede to Joe Biden, O'Brien asserted that "Everything is happening according to Q plan. So scared."

  • A former FBI special agent remarked on MSNBC that the insurrectionists' targets were chosen not by movement leaders or members, but rather by elected politicians like Donald Trump and Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley.

"It's our political leaders that are doing this more than domestic extremists," Clint Watts, a Joint Terrorism Task Force veteran, said. "What you see right there President Trump told them they were going to the Capitol that day. They didn't pick the Capitol, he said it, his organizers they promoted it, his fellow congressmen in the GOP, they promoted it.

"It was Josh Hawley out there fist-bumping the crowd, right? Before it went in," he added. "That's the thing we look for to see, hey, where are they tipping to. For the most part, the groups aren't picking the targets. It's the elected leaders."

Michigan Judge Refers Trump’s 'Kraken' Lawyers For Disbarment

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Federal Judge Linda Parker on Wednesday referred a group of pro-Trump attorneys, including Sidney Powell and Lin Wood, for potential suspension and disbarment for their misconduct in a lawsuit that sought to overturn Joe Biden's 2020 win in Michigan.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, along with other defendants in the original lawsuit, has asked the judge to consider sanctions after the pro-Trump lawyers had their claims of election fraud demolished.

In the new ruling, Parker issued a 110-page opinion condemning the team's "historic and profound abuse of the judicial process," finding that their behavior in the case warrants formal sanction by the courts. They will have to pay for Michigan and Detroit's legal costs and attend classes about the law relevant to the case, the judge ruled. And she will also be referring their cases to the authorities who issued the lawyers' licenses, which may take further punitive action against them.

Such harsh sanctions are rare in the legal world and highlight the extreme nature of the pro-Trump lawyers' conduct.

Parker was direct and unsparing in her condemnation of their actions.

"[T]he question before the Court is whether Plaintiffs' attorneys engaged in litigation practices that are abusive and, in turn, sanctionable. The short answer is yes," she wrote. "The attorneys who filed the instant lawsuit abused the well-established rules applicable to the litigation process by proffering claims not backed by law; proffering claims not backed by evidence (but instead, speculation, conjecture, and unwarranted suspicion); proffering factual allegations and claims without engaging in the required prefiling inquiry; and dragging out these proceedings even after they acknowledged that it was too late to attain the relief sought."

She continued:

And this case was never about fraud—it was about undermining the People's faith in our democracy and debasing the judicial process to do so.
While there are many arenas—including print, television, and social media—where protestations, conjecture, and speculation may be advanced, such expressions are neither permitted nor welcomed in a court of law. And while we as a country pride ourselves on the freedoms embodied within the First Amendment, it is well-established that an attorney's freedom of speech is circumscribed upon "entering" the courtroom.

The lawyers "scorned their oath, flouted the rules, and attempted to undermine the integrity of the judiciary along the way," she said.

Essentially, she argued that Powell, Wood, and the others used the case in Michigan to propagate the notion that Trump had been the true winner of the 2020 election, even though they had no reasonable case to bring. Their aim wasn't, she concluded, to make good faith arguments about the facts and the law in hope of being vindicated in a court of law. Instead, they were using the courts as a platform for propaganda without regard for the merits of their legal arguments. In short, it was a flagrant abuse of the system.

She even drew a connection between the lawyers' misconduct and the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Much of the opinion details how the attorneys, such as Wood, have been blatantly dishonest with the court, and why their arguments were frivolous and illegitimate on numerous grounds. For example, they sought to have Whitmer barred from sending the results of Michigan's election to the Electoral College, even though she had already done so. They cited precedents for their arguments that had no relevance or made the opposite point to what they were trying to push. They made baseless claims that legal acts were against the law. At other points, they completely reversed themselves on crucial issues, such as key deadlines in the case, without explanation or justification.

"It is not lost upon the Court that the same claims and requested relief that Plaintiffs' attorneys presented here were disposed of, for many of the same reasons, in Michigan courts and by judges in several other 'battleground' jurisdictions where Plaintiffs' counsel sought to overturn the election results," Parker wrote. "The fact that no federal district court considering the issues at bar has found them worthy of moving forward supports the conclusion that Plaintiffs' claims are frivolous."

The extent of the blatant deception and arguments clearly made in bad faith can only lead to one conclusion.

Parker explained: "Once it appeared that their preferred political candidate's grasp on the presidency was slipping away, Plaintiffs' counsel helped mold the predetermined narrative about election fraud by lodging this federal lawsuit based on evidence that they actively refused to investigate or question with the requisite level of professional skepticism—and this refusal was to ensure that the evidence conformed with the predetermined narrative (a narrative that has had dangerous and violent consequences). Plaintiffs' counsel's politically motivated accusations, allegations, and gamesmanship may be protected by the First Amendment when posted on Twitter, shared on Telegram, or repeated on television. The nation's courts, however, are reserved for hearing legitimate causes of action."

In short, her conclusion was simple: "This lawsuit should never have been filed."

MyPillow Guy’s Election ‘Bombshell’ Blows Up In His Face

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell has been one of the most prominent public figures still passionately pushing the lie that former President Donald Trump won the 2020 election — and claiming that he can prove it. He even claimed Trump would be reinstated this month, a prediction he now disavows. His misinformation campaign came to a head this week as he held a so-called "cyber symposium" in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to make the case that President Joe Biden was illegitimately elected. But as the shambolic event stretched into its second day, the keystone of his repeatedly debunked argument turned out — unsurprisingly — to be a complete dud.

Lindell claimed that he would provide data conclusively showing that China rigged the vote counts to install Biden as president. But The Washington Times, a conservative news outlet, reported Wednesday evening that the "expert" who was supposed to assess this evidence admitted it didn't hold up to scrutiny.

The paper explained:

Mr. Lindell said he had 37 terabytes of "irrefutable" evidence that hackers, who he said were backed by China, broke into election systems and switched votes in favor of President Biden. The proof, he said, is visible in intercepted network data or "packet captures" that were collected by hackers and could be unencrypted to reveal that a cyberattack occurred and that votes were switched.
But Mr. Lindell's lead cyber expert, Josh Merritt, told The Washington Times that packet captures are unrecoverable in the data and that the data, as provided, cannot prove a cyberincursion by China.
"So our team said, we're not going to say that this is legitimate if we don't have confidence in the information," Mr. Merritt said on Wednesday, the second day of the symposium.

Brad Heath, a reporter who closely followed the post-election litigation, noted:

Merrit was previously the subject of mockery after Sidney Powell misrepresented him in her post-election lawsuits that sought to overturn the result. The Washington Post reported in December 2020:

Powell describes Spyder in court filings as a former "Military Intelligence expert," and his testimony is offered to support one of her central claims. In a declaration filed in four states, Spyder alleges that publicly available data about server traffic shows that voting systems in the United States were "certainly compromised by rogue actors, such as Iran and China."
Spyder, it turns out, is Joshua Merritt, a 43-year-old information technology consultant in the Dallas area. Merritt confirmed his role as Powell's secret witness in phone interviews this week with The Washington Post.
Records show that Merritt is an Army veteran and that he enrolled in a training program at the 305th Military Intelligence Battalion, the unit he cites in his declaration. But he never completed the entry-level training course, according to Meredith Mingledorff, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, which includes the battalion.
"He kept washing out of courses," said Mingledorff, citing his education records. "He's not an intelligence analyst."
In an interview, Merritt maintained that he graduated from the intelligence training program. But even by his own account, he was only a trainee with the 305th, at Fort Huachuca in Arizona, and for just seven months more than 15 years ago.
...
Merritt acknowledged that the declaration's description of his work as an "electronic intelligence analyst under 305th Military Intelligence" is misleading. He said it should have made clear that his time in the 305th was as a student, not as a working intelligence expert.

Zachary Petrizzo, a reporter for Salon, noted that the crowd at the symposium was thinning out on its second day, apparently from lack of enthusiasm about the content.

Even Steve Bannon, a close ally of Lindell's, was critical on Wednesday about the symposium's lack of evidence.

"You've laid a theory of the case out here that's very powerful, but in laying that case out, you've got to bring the receipts," he said.

Steve Bannon slams Mike Lindell's 'cyber symposium' www.youtube.com

To top off the rest of Lindell's terrible day, the judge overseeing the defamation case against him and other defendants brought by the Dominion voting maching company issued a ruling allowing the lawsuit to proceed and rejecting his motion to dismiss.