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Why Sen. Tuberville’s Revelations Are Vital To Impeachment Case

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

On Friday, former President Donald Trump's lawyers wrapped up their brief arguments in defense of their client in less than four of the 16 hours they had available to them. In that time, they skirted over many of the arguments the impeachment managers have made for conviction; they instead tried to deflect blame for Trump's alleged "incitement of insurrection" on January 6 by pointing to Democrats who used similar language, even though that came in contexts where no such similar violence was unleashed.

Trump's lawyers largely skipped over a key part of the managers' case: the former president's attacks on former Vice President Mike Pence and the peril he was under. This feature of the case because particularly relevant this week after the House impeachment managers' arguments on Wednesday, because Alabama Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville revealed a new and surprising detail about his communication with the then-president that could shed light on Trump's state of mind during the January 6 attack.

Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah had already explained that he had received a phone call from Trump during the attack while in the Senate chamber. That call came a little after 2 p.m. Trump hadn't meant to call Lee, but instead wanted to talk to newly elected Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama. So Lee gave his phone to Tuberville.

It's not entirely clear what they discussed, though Rudy Giuliani was later recorded leaving a message that he thought was for Tuberville pleading with the senator to delay the count of the Electoral College votes. But on Wednesday, after a minor dispute about the events, Tuberville told reporters how the phone call ended.

"I said, 'Mr. President, they just took the vice president out, I've got to go,'" Tuberville said.

This is significant. According to the Washington Post's construction of the timeline, Pence was removed from the Senate chamber at 2:13 p.m. So we can infer that that's about the time when Tuberville told Trump that Pence had been evacuated.

It was just about 10 minutes later, at 2:24 p.m., when Trump tweeted the following:

Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!

Many, including the impeachment managers, have pointed to this tweet as a part of Trump's incitement. Even after his mob of supporters had breached the Capitol, Trump was still fueling their rage and attacking Pence as a traitor for not helping him and his movement overturn the election.

But Tuberville's information introduces a new detail from the side of events that we know least about: Trump's perspective during the attack. It's reasonable to assume, and reporting indicates, that Trump was watching the news coverage of the events. But Tuberville's revelation confirms that Trump's targeted attack on Pence — one that was read aloud and championed by the rioters — was sent directly after the time he had already been informed of the vice president's evacuation from the chamber due to the danger posed by the mob. Pence was under direct threat, Trump had been informed of the threat, and yet the president kept up the attacks. The managers even showed clips of protesters reading Trump's 2:24 p.m. tweet aloud during the riot, further providing evidence that the insurrectionists were, indeed, incited by his words.

On Friday, Trump's lawyers largely wanted to skip over mentioning the direct attack on Pence.

A Democratic senator had noted that he was stunned by the attack in the moment.

Trial Spotlights Moment When Trump Tried To Get Pence Killed

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Over the course of their presentation, House impeachment managers showed how Donald Trump groomed his supporters to be outraged, repeatedly encouraged violence, and finally directed them to carry out their assault on the Capitol building in order to interrupt the counting of electoral college votes. The day was full of shocking moments and previously unseen images. The number of moments when enraged insurgents intent on murder came within feet of members of Congress should have been sobering—if not terrifying—to everyone watching in the Senate.

One other thing that came up during the day was a repeated theme of praise for the way that Mike Pence did his job on Jan. 6. That may seem like a strange approach for a Democratic team to take in dealing with the impeachment of a Republican president. But pointing out how Pence stood up to Trump in saying he would certify the results of the count serves two purposes: First, it allows the House managers to showcase that a Republican can, in fact, oppose Trump, providing Pence as a role model for any Republican senators who might think of stepping out of Trump's fear-shadow.

But the other thing it does is point the finger straight at what might be the most chilling moment of January 6—one that showcases Trump's absolute malice and depravity.

The complete story of that moment was split across two presentations on Wednesday. First, as Rep. Stacey Plaskett reviewed the events of that afternoon, there was the footage and diagrams showing just how close the insurrectionists came to capturing Pence. Second, a presentation from Rep. Joaquin Castro showed how Trump's tweets about Pence came even as people were begging him to stop his supporters. When it's all put together, it looks like this.

2:10 PM

Lee recounts phone call involving Mike Pence.

As insurgents smash their way through the Capitol windows and doors, Donald Trump ignores the violence being seen on every network and tries to make a call to Sen. Tommy Tuberville. Instead, he dials Sen. Mike Lee. At the end of the day on Wednesday, Lee objected to this information and asked that a statement attributed to him be stricken from the record. However, these are the only statements made by Lee that were mentioned anywhere in the House presentation.

Conversation between Trump and Mike Lee.

Thanks to Lee's objection, Sen. Tuberville was questioned about the phone call on Wednesday afternoon and told reporters from Politico that he ended the phone call by saying this: "I said 'Mr. President, they just took the vice president out, I've got to go.'"

2:15 PM

Pence is removed from the Senate chamber.

Thanks to Tuberville's statement, there's a definitive time stamp on the call. Because Pence was quickly removed from the Senate chamber and taken to another location as the Secret Service and Capitol Police worked to secure an exit route.

2:24 PM

This means that the moment he hung up with Tuberville, Trump knew both that his supporters had entered the Capitol, and that Mike Pence was in danger. Trump's next action may be his most incredibly depraved of the entire day. Because what he did next was to pull out his phone and enter a tweet that aimed his supporters straight at the fleeing Pence.

Trump's tweet about Pence.

At the Capitol, Trump's tweet was read in real time by the enraged mob, with one of Trump's supporters even blasting out the tweet over a bullhorn just seconds after it appeared. In response, the crowd takes up a chant of "Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!"

Insurgents read Trump

2:26 PM

Two minutes after Trump's tweet appears, officers take advantage of the distraction provided by Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman to direct Pence and his family down a flight of stairs and out of the building.

Pence is led away, with insurgents just a few feet down a hallway.

No one can say that Donald Trump didn't take action during those hours following the invasion of the Capitol. Because, on learning that Mike Pence was in peril, Trump acted instantly and decisively … to aim the threat at Pence and his family. Trump went for what he saw as both a chance of revenge at Pence for his refusal to participate in an unconstitutional scheme to "send the votes back" to states, and Trump saw an opportunity to do what he had just tried to gain from Tuberville—a delay in counting the votes. After all, what better way to delay than to have Mike Pence hanging from a gallows on the Capitol lawn?

Gallows erected outside Capitol by Trump supporters.

Thanks to Lee's objection, Tuberville nailed down the timing of Trump's call. And thanks to Tuberville, we now know the full sequence of events. And thanks to that sequence we know this: Donald Trump acted quickly and deliberately in an attempt to harm or even kill Mike Pence.

#EndorseThis: "Hello, Douchebags" Is How Bill Maher Greets Up-And-Coming Wing-Nuts

Bill Maher, host of Real Time on HBO, loves to say "farewell, douchebags" at the end of an election cycle.It's his traditional way of seeing off all the losing lunatics (otherwise generally known as Republicans). But the far right is producing these nut-jobs faster than ever.

So even as we're enjoying the exit of Rudy Giuliani, Mike Pence, and the orange man who shall not be named, there's a whole new crop of "douchebags" swarming over the capital -- and Maher feels he must introduce them to us, with appropriate burns.

You will recognize most of them. And you will laugh, uproariously.

New Rule: Hello, Douchebags! | Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO) www.youtube.com

Alabama’s Ignorant New Senator May Disrupt 2021 Transition

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Donald Trump may have found the senator he needs to challenge the election results in Congress—and it's the guy who can't name the three branches of government. Alabama Sen.-elect Tommy Tuberville said Thursday he might join with some far-right members of the House to challenge the results as Congress certifies the results of the Electoral College. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is not going to like this, having already warned Senate Republicans that it would be a "terrible vote," forcing them to look anti-Trump by voting to uphold the election results.

But Tuberville's plan to try to help overturn the election results had the intended effect: a barrage of glowing tweets from Trump. Tuberville is "a great champion and man of courage. More Republican Senators should follow his lead," according to one tweet. "We had a landslide victory, and then it was swindled away from the Republican Party - but we caught them. Do something!" Every part of this is false, of course.

Less than an hour later: "Tommy will be more popular than ever before - a hero!" And "Thank you!" And then a barrage of retweets of Trump supporters exulting in Tuberville's plan. A little later, "I am very disappointed in the United States Supreme Court, and so is our great country!" The man was really in a desperate false hope/grief/rage/denial spiral Thursday evening.

Around the same time Trump went off on this tear, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany put on her campaign hat and lied about the election, insisting that the results had been suspicious in ways they simply were not and holding out hope to supporters that "litigation is ongoing"—despite those multiple rejections from the Supreme Court and dozens of rejections from lower courts.

Tuberville can definitely complicate the vote certification process in Congress, making it take hours longer and creating kind of a mess. He can't stop Joe Biden from becoming president, given McConnell's refusal to go along. But Trump's refusal to acknowledge reality is getting new fuel, priming the country for weeks more ugliness and for Trump's supporters to continue digging in in the belief that Biden's presidency will not be legitimate. The only good that can come out of this is if Trump's base turns against congressional Republicans who vote to uphold the will of the voters, and even that is not what you'd call a good outcome.