Tag: testimony

New Testimony Shatters Sean Hannity's January 6 Alibi For Trump

In an attempt to undermine the House Select Committee, Fox News launched an entire-network offensive to repeatedly — with little evidence — claim that outgoing President Donald Trump had called thousands of National Guard troops to secure the Capitol in the days prior to the insurrection.

Nobody played a bigger role in this misinformation machine than Sean Hannity, who pushed the lie hundreds of times in total, and at least on 43 episodes of his prime-time Fox show, and 48 editions of his daily radio show. (His Fox spot earns him almost 3 million viewers , and the latter garners him over 13 million .)

But like most right-wing conspiracy theories about the January 6 putsch, this tale shattered under the burden of proof, turning out to be a fabrication to portray the former president as a peacemaker, rather than an instigator of the violence.

On Tuesday, the January 6 committee released testimony from former Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller stating that there “was no order from the president” to call 10,000 troops to the Capitol in preparation for January 6. (Previous reporting from Vanity Fair described how Trump made an informal comment, which Miller took as a sign that Trump expected millions of supporters to attend his rally. As Pentagon spokesman John Kirby confirmed to The Washington Post, there was also “no record of such an order being given.”)

In a stunning about-face from his testimony to the committee, Miller even appeared on Hannity on June 6, with Trump loyalist and former Pentagon chief of staff Kash Patel, to claim that the former president had authorized 20,000 troops from the National Guard.

After Patel described the meeting in which Trump supposedly authorized the troops, Hannity said to his guests, “Let me – let me be very clear. Both of you said this under oath and under the threat of penalty and perjury to the committee?” Miller responded, “Oh absolutely, Sean.”

What caused this discrepancy in Miller’s testimony is unclear. What is abundantly clear, however, is that within Fox News’ affinity for distorting the truth about January 6, Miller and Patel found a welcome audience in Sean Hannity, who in turn incessantly spewed the lies to his audience.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters .

Republicans Respond To Hutchinson Testimony With Feeble Cover-Up

In the public testimony that’s come so far, the House Select Committee has carefully laid out the evidence showing that the assault on the Capitol was not a spontaneous event, but the result of a widespread conspiracy that went on over a period of months. That conspiracy put the Proud Boys in place to break through police lines and lead the way into the Capitol. It fabricated claims of election fraud that ensured thousand of the most gullible would be on hand, ready to be shaped into a weapon. It pressured local and state officials in an effort to create some some appearance of fire beyond waves of smoke. And it sent slates of false electors to Washington in order to bolster a faux-legal assault on democracy.

But until a 26-year-old assistant to the White House chief of staff testified on Tuesday, the central figure of that conspiracy largely remained hidden. Until Tuesday, the big missing hole in that conspiracy was Donald Trump.

It’s not that Trump’s name hadn’t come up over and over. Trump was on the phone with state and local officials, trying to cajole, bully, or threaten them into giving him the votes he wanted. Trump was there in the meetings with attorney John Eastman, where they worked out the scheme to turn Jan. 6 from a ceremonial event into a last-ditch effort to derail the government. Trump was there with would-be Attorney General Jeffery Clark. There with Rudy Giuliani. Bent over a table with disgraced former general Michael Flynn and with no one-should-take-me-seriously Sidney Powell. Trump was there months, even years, earlier, undermining the foundations of democratic elections.

But for the most part, Donald Trump’s private words were passed along in snippets and generalities, his attitudes and actions rarely seen in detail when outside the public eye.

What Hutchinson’s testimony did was fill in an essential gap. Not the gap that described how Trump was desperate to join the conspirators at the Capitol so that he could personally lead his forces in assault—though that’s certainly an important thing to know. What Hutchinson’s testimony provided was a chance to see Trump. To see him raging through the halls of the White House, slinging a plate against the wall in a scene that is shockingly familiar to a million victims of domestic abuse. It was visceral testimony. Testimony that made it patently obvious just how hard others were still working not to admit to the kind of man they had helped.

Hutchinson’s testimony was shocking especially because it provided such a clear vision of the angry, petty, raging, and abusive man driving the nation to the brink. It was the first time we were told that the Trump who appeared on stage—to mock disabled people, brag about his love for violence, and spew vile about his every perceived slight—was even worse in private. It presented scenes of a man not only completely lacking in any kind of self-control, but unaware that self-control was something he should have.

This wasn’t Trump described in generalities and paraphrased statements. This was Trump with ketchup running down the walls and the broken plates still on the floor. It’s the man at the center of the conspiracy who was there all along, but who America has been so reluctant to see.

On Wednesday morning, Republicans were rushing forward with unnamed sources to claim that both Security Chief Bobby Engel and other members of Trump’s Secret Service team are ready to testify that Trump didn’t grab the wheel of the presidential limo, or assault Engel.

However, there’s absolutely no doubt that the House select committee would not have put Hutchinson’s testimony before the public if they did not already have corroboration of everything she said. Rep. Bernie Thompson would not risk the reputation of the investigation on unsupported testimony. None of the members of the committee—several of whom have ambitions that go beyond their current position—would risk their political futures on being tied to testimony that could be readily knocked down.

Hutchinson testified she was told about the events in the limo by White House Chief of Operations Anthony Ornato, and it’s a good bet that the committee already has Ornato agreeing to that story.

The more interesting thing about the Republican response to Hutchinson’s testimony is just how specific that response has been. They’ve zeroed in on just a few seconds in that limo, because that’s the only part where Hutchinson wasn’t actually present. The only part where they can bring it back to something … vague. Something with the rage and ugliness stripped away. Maybe they can get Engel or some Secret Service agents to say Trump didn’t actually put his hands on the wheel. Maybe they can find someone who will use a term other than “lunged.” Maybe they’ll say that his efforts to get to the Capitol fell short of “assault.” Maybe.

But none of those Trump apologists seem to be going after the statements that Hutchinson made concerning her own direct experience. None of them are hurrying to have House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy sit down to testify about the phone call he made to Hutchinson while Trump was on stage at the rally on the Ellipse. None of them are encouraging Pat Cipollone to step forward and explain why he and so many others did not want Trump going to the Capitol. None of them are telling Mark Meadows to get up there and explain how his former aide is wrong. None of them are challenging Hutchinson about the observations she personally made, day after day, both before and after the election.

In her testimony, Hutchinson came off as absolutely believable. The statements that she made about Trump were absolutely believable. What’s unbelievable is how many people, even at this late date, are still trying to cover up for a man whose actions and statements make him beneath contempt.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos .

Cleric Testifies He Was ‘A Mouthpiece,’ Not A Terrorist

By John Riley, Newsday

NEW YORK — Abu Hamza al-Masri testified at his terrorism trial Monday that he was merely a “mouthpiece” for Islamist movements and compared his role to Irish political leader Gerry Adams’ as an IRA front man.

“I was acting as a mouthpiece, like Gerry Adams,” he said. “And like Gerry Adams . . . you can’t afford to do anything that is not legal and transparent.”

The testimony came as the imam, who once headed London’s Finsbury Park mosque, denied his alleged role in the deadly 1998 kidnapping of 16 Western tourists in Yemen and said he regretted the death of four hostages when troops attacked.

“Every life is valuable,” said Abu Hamza, also known as Mostafa Kamel Mostafa, appearing for a third day as a witness at his trial in federal court. “It’s a disaster from every direction. Innocent people are not to be touched.”

The cleric, a one-eyed double amputee born in Egypt, is charged with helping the anti-government group that mounted the 1998 kidnap plot to get Yemen to release prisoners, trying to create jihad training camp in Bly, Ore, and assisting al-Qaida and the Taliban.

In detailed testimony that even he admitted was sometimes “rambling,” Abu Hamza not only denied the charges, but also tried to rebut each piece of evidence.

Confronted with posts on his London website warning tourists to stay away from Yemen in 1998, for example, he said they were not warnings of a plot, but rather were generic Islamist revolutionary propaganda issued to show “government is not in control.”

He admitted that the kidnappers used a satellite phone that came from him. But he said he had sent it to a tribal “operator” as part of a moneymaking plan to charge for its use, and the anti-government group was supposed to use it only to send him media statements.

He also acknowledged speaking to the head kidnapper just a few hours after the hostages were taken, but said he knew it was a disaster in the making and urged the kidnappers to let the hostages call their embassies and generate diplomatic resistance to an attack.

“I was trying to make sure that the government of Yemen did not do anything undesirable,” he testified.

He also insisted that two years later, when surviving hostage Mary Quin confronted him and taped an interview with him in London, he referred to the kidnappers as “we” because Arab habits of pronoun usage differ from native English speakers.

“This is the way the Arab speaks,” Abu Hamza testified, explaining why he told Quin, “We never thought it would be that bad.”

Cross examination is scheduled to begin Tuesday.

Photo: Aamir Qureshi via AFP

Legislative Panel On N.J. Bridge Scandal Wants Interview Transcripts From Report

By John Reitmeyer, The Record

TRENTON, N.J. — The co-chairs of the legislative committee investigating the lane closures at the George Washington Bridge say they want to see transcripts of the interviews conducted by the lawyers Gov. Chris Christie hired to compile the report that cleared him of any role in the closures.

The panel could soon move to subpoena the interview transcripts and seek additional oral testimony, Senate Majority Loretta Weinberg and Assemblyman John Wisniewki said Monday. Both are Democrats.

“What I would want to see are all the interviews,” Wisniewski said. “If we don’t have them, we’ll subpoena them.”

A report issued last week by lawyers from the firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher said more than 70 witnesses were interviewed, including Christie himself, to help determine why two of the three lanes used by the motorists who come onto the bridge in Fort Lee were closed for several days last September.

The report found that Christie was innocent, instead casting blame largely on former Christie Port Authority appointee David Wildstein and the governor’s former deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly. The lawyers said the lane closures appeared to have been carried out to punish Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, though it did not conclusively confirm suspicions that it was for not endorsing Christie’s re-election bid last year.

The legislative committee led by Weinberg and Wisniewski sent subpoenas to the governor’s office and several other individuals and organizations earlier this year seeking documents related to the lane closures.

The panel just recently received thousands of documents from the Christie administration. But both lawmakers said they don’t think transcripts from the interviews the lawyers conducted for their investigation have been turned over to the committee.

“The next step will be to update our committee and with the guidance of counsel to figure out how best to get the documents upon which Mr. Mastro based his ‘exhaustive inquiry,’” Weinberg said Monday.

She also said the team of lawyers led by Randy Mastro has not provided a list of the 70 witnesses it spoke to.

“We don’t even know who he interviewed,” Weinberg said.

AFP Photo/Jim Watson