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Tag: trump

How Trump's Favored Agent Tarnished The Secret Service

Retired United States Secret Service agent Jonathan Wackrow said on Saturday that Tony Ornato, the one-time head of former President Donald Trump's security detail whom Trump installed as deputy White House chief of staff for operations in 2019, tarnished the Secret Service's reputation as an apolitical organization.

Ex-White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson revealed during her testimony before the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol last week that Ornato informed her on the day of the insurrection that an irate Trump had tried to commandeer his presidential vehicle after Secret Service agents refused to drive him to the Capitol.

Wackrow explained to CNN anchor and chief domestic correspondent Jim Acosta that Secret Service personnel have expressed concerns that Ornato's unprecedented role chipped away at the agency's historical neutrality.

"This is a big question. I know that a lot of agents are talking about that. I mean, it's very hard to maintain your independence when you were a political appointee. And I think this is a very unique situation that Tony has put the Secret Service in, you know, they have to defend somebody while they were in a political role not under the operational control of the Secret Service. It's very difficult," Wackrow said.

"And I want to just take that as an outlier. That is not the norm. So for the viewers, this is a very individual issue. But I think that we're seeing the integrity of the Secret Service come into question now," Wackrow continued. "But I believe in the institutional integrity of the Secret Service and their motto, 'worthy of trust and confidence.' Tony is an outlier in this situation. It is not representative of the women and men every single day that are out there providing that protection to our governmental leaders."

Watch below:

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Trump Coup Lawyer Still Trying To Overturn 2020 Election

Some of the police officers attacked by the mob former President Donald Trump incited on January 6, 2021 are only now regaining greater mobility in their bodies—461 days since the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

But according to a new report by ABC, attorney for Trump John Eastman took a meeting with a Republican state assembly official in Wisconsin just a few weeks ago. While there, Eastman pushed the official to overturn the 2020 election results by “reclaiming” those electoral votes that went to President Joe Biden.

The meeting was reportedly held on March 16 between Eastman and Robin Vos, the GOP speaker for the Wisconsin state assembly, as well as a number of pro-Trump activists, including right-wing activist Jefferson Davis. Davis has been a vocal advocate of election fraud conspiracy theories central to Trump’s push to overturn the 2020 results.

Other attendees reportedly included Douglas Frank, a friend to pro-Trump MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell; Shawn Smith, one of Lindell’s reported financial backers; and Ivan Raiklin, a U.S. Army Reserve lieutenant colonel with close ties to Michael Flynn, Trump’s disgraced former national security adviser and Q-Anon enthusiast. Raiklin’s political advocacy put him under an internal review by the Army in December 2021.

Lindell did not attend the meeting with Eastman, Frank, Smith, and Raiklin.

Eastman told ABC he would not discuss the meeting.

“By explicit request from Speaker Vos, that meeting was confidential, so I am not able to make any comment,” he said Tuesday.

An attorney for Eastman did not immediately respond to a request for comment by Daily Kos, nor did Vos.

The January 6 committee declined to comment to Daily Kos on Tuesday.

For the last several months, the committee has been slogging it out in court with Eastman as he fought to keep thousands of emails away from the probe. He rebuffed an initial subpoena from the committee, but the probe maneuvered around him and subpoenaed his professional emails from his tenure at his ex-employer, Chapman University.

Ultimately, a federal judge cut Eastman’s obfuscation short and in the course of reviewing some of the attorney's emails, found information that led him to believe Trump and Eastman “more likely than not” engaged in a federal crime by trying to stop Biden’s victory from being certified.

Eastman’s March 16 engagement is not his first get-together with Trump allies or election fraud conspiracy theory peddlers since he was first subpoenaed by the January 6 committee.

As noted by ABC, a month before his appointment in Wisconsin, Eastman was in Castle Rock, Colorado, meeting with activists bent on ousting the state’s Democratic secretary, Jena Griswold. Republicans in the Colorado legislature have been stumping hard on election fraud conspiracy for weeks to reverse their defeats.

All the while, Trump has continued to push bunk election fraud claims and call for new investigations by state officials.

A day after Eastman’s meeting with Vos, Trump issued a statement through his chief spokeswoman, Liz Harrington, on Twitter.

Vos “just said there was widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election but that the state legislature cannot do anything about it. Wrong!” Trump said on March 17.

The twice-impeached ex-president continued: “If you rob the diamonds from a jewelry store, if you get caught, you have to give the diamonds back, votes should be no different.”

Trump demanded that Vos “do the right thing and correct the crime of the century—immediately.”

On Tuesday, the former president openly said he would not endorse Republican and former ally Bill McSwain for governor in Pennsylvania. Trump said he chucked the endorsement because when McSwain was the U.S. attorney for Philadelphia, he wouldn’t overturn the election results for that state despite being aware of so-called voter fraud.

“It was there for the taking and he failed so badly,” Trump said.

No extensive voter fraud was uncovered in the 2020 election because none occurred. In a place like Pennsylvania, what very little voter fraud that was found, was was determined negligible to the election outcome.

Trump’s kicking of McSwain to the curb is less surprising but more predictable. Trump has often turned on those political candidates who will not or cannot carry his election fraud message for him. This may be a bitter pill for McSwain given the heavy lifting he did to support the ex-president’s claims of rampant election fraud.

According to Politico, McSwain even went so far as to write a letter suggesting the DOJ under Trump-appointed attorney general Bill Barr instructed him not to investigate irregularities in the election.

Meanwhile, the government watchdog group American Oversight has successfully sued Vos for access to tens of thousands of pages of emails from the Wisconsin state assembly. The oversight group was interested in reviewing the many inquiries that were made to the assembly about the 2020 election.

On Monday, the Wisconsin Examiner reported in-depth on Vos’ communications during that time. Many of the emails had been deleted,

Emails showed messages sent and received between Vos and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and other election fraud conspiracy theory-peddling lawyers like Victoria Toensing.

Giuliani was subpoenaed by the January 6 committee on January 18, 2022 for his records and deposition. The former New York City mayor was often the public face of Trump’s plan to install “alternate electors” and according to at least one prosecutor in the 2020 election battleground state of Michigan, Giuliani also pressured him to seize voting machines and send them to Trump’s team.

Printed with permission from Dailykos.

Trump Endorsement Of Dr Oz Enrages ‘MAGA’ Followers

On Saturday night, April 9, former President Donald Trump endorsed Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania’s 2022 GOP U.S. Senate primary. And some MAGA zealots, journalist Zachary Petrizzo reports in the Daily Beast, have been throwing a major hissy fit — as they believe that Oz’s resumé is much too moderate.

The Oz of the George W. Bush era did not pander to far-right extremists. In those days, Oz, now 61, was a moderate conservative along the lines of the late Sen. John McCain of Arizona or former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge. But in his 2022 campaign ads in Pennsylvania, Oz is resorting to dumb MAGA talking points. He wants to fire Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s top White House medical advisor, from the federal government — and Oz went from being pro-choice to pandering to “pro-life” theocrats..

Regardless, Oz’s opponents are slamming him as a RINO (Republicans In Name Only) who is only pretending to be MAGA. And Petrizzo notes that Trump, by endorsing Oz, has “ignited fury and ridicule among some of the loudest voices in Trumpworld.”

“At issue among Trump’s most fervent supporters is the belief that Oz, a Turkish-American TV physician who has hobnobbed with Hollywood’s elite and has flip-flopped on the issue of abortion, isn’t a trustworthy’ America First’ Republican candidate, compared to fellow candidate Dave McCormick, who has ex-Trump Administration official Hope Hicks by his side,” Petrizzo explains.

Pennsylvania Republican Sean Parnell, who dropped out of that Senate race, tweeted, “I have enormous respect for President Trump. I was honored to have his endorsement in PA. Twice. But I’m disappointed by this. Oz is the antithesis of everything that made Trump the best president of my lifetime.”

Erick Erickson, the far-right radio host who once claimed that Episcopalians aren’t really Christians, tweeted, “It’s like Donald Trump’s staff is sabotaging Trump by convincing him to make the worst possible endorsements.” And Joel Pollak of Breitbart News complained, “This endorsement could divide MAGA in the only way that matters: he could lose America First conservatives over it.”

Townhall’s Kurt Schlichter wrote, “It’s pretty hard for me to fully express how disappointed in Trump I am for endorsing Oz.” And Allie Beth Stuckey of Blaze TV wrote, “Wait. Is there anything conservative about Dr. Oz?”

Oz is running for the U.S. Senate seat that is presently occupied by Sen. Pat Toomey and was occupied by the late Sen. Arlen Specter for many years. Toomey, a hard-right conservative, voted “guilty” in Trump’s second impeachment trial and decided not to seek reelection in the 2022 midterms. Trumpistas now consider Toomey a RINO, which is ironic in light of his history.

In 2004, Toomey gave the late Sen. Arlen Specter an aggressive Republican primary challenge in Pennsylvania — insisting that the moderate Specter wasn’t conservative enough. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s editorial board, at the time, was critical of Toomey’s campaign and argued that he was even more of an extreme culture warrior than then-Sen. Rick Santorum. The social conservatives and evangelical fundamentalists of 2004 praised Toomey was a “rock-ribbed” conservative and viewed Specter as the RINO; now, in 2022, Toomey isn’t seeking reelection because, insanely, the MAGA crowd thinks he is too far to the left.

Pennsylvania is very much a swing state. Its largest city, Philadelphia, is overwhelmingly Democratic and hasn’t had a Republican mayor since the early 1950s, while Central Pennsylvania is much more GOP-friendly and is the part of the state that Democratic strategist James Carville famously described as a northern equivalent of Alabama.

Printed with permission from Alternet.

Fiona Hill Says Trump’s Pro-Russia Policies Stoked Ukraine Crisis

Fiona Hill, former Senior Director for Europe and Russia at the United States National Security Council, believes former President Donald Trump's foreign policy has played an intricate role in Russia's bold invasion of Ukraine.

On Monday, February 21, Hill — who worked as a Russian advisor for Trump — appeared on CNN where she weighed on the distinct differences between Trump's approach compared to President Joe Biden's. According to Hill, Trump's policy was more about concern for his own personal agenda as opposed to the United States' national interest.

While Trump's campaign often pushed the message of putting America first and making it "great again," Hill argues otherwise due to what she witnessed during her time working for the former president.

"There's no Team America for Trump," Hill explained. "Not once did I see him do anything to put America first. Not once. Not for a single second."

Hill touched on the timeline leading up to this point as she recalled Trump's admiration for Putin and his disapproval of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). She also noted Trump's longstanding pushback against Ukraine as he relentlessly tried to obtain incriminating information on Biden and his son, Hunter. The controversy surrounding Ukraine was also a major component of the former president's first impeachment trial.

"All this did was say to Russia that Ukraine was a playground," Hill said.

Although Biden has made a real effort to strengthen NATO allies amid Russian adversity, Hill warned that the contention will likely last for a prolonged period of time as Russia continues its pressure campaign against Ukraine. Hill also expressed concern about the real change and the effort it will take to maintain a united front.

"The real challenge is keeping everyone together for a considerable period," Hill concluded. "It's going to go on a long time."

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Latest Trump Lawyer Turns New York Hearing Into Political Circus

An attorney for Donald Trump turned a (virtual) New York courtroom into a Fox News-style proceeding Thursday.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James is attempting to force Donald Trump, the former president, along with his adult children to sit for depositions related to her investigation into possible fraud at the Trump Organization. Thursday’s hearing was called so New York Supreme Court District Judge Arthur Engoron could hear arguments on the issue.

But Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba, had other ideas in mind, as Business Insider reports.

“I want to know,” Habba, in court, asked the NY Attorney General, “are you gonna go after Hillary Clinton for what she’s doing to my client?”

Hillary Clinton is doing nothing to her client, except perhaps making him and the right-wing media silo look bad.

“That she spied at Trump Tower in your state?” Habba continued, which is false. “Are you gonna look into her business dealings?”

Judge Engoron was not impressed.

“The Clintons are not before me,” the judge replied.

NPR host Peter Sagal weighed in, saying: “I’m not a lawyer, but based on her rant in a virtual courtroom just now, I’m not sure Donald Trump’s attorney Alina [Habba] is either.”

“Among other things,” Sagal adds, “she’s speaking to the Judge as if he’s an opponent on a cable news panel, which strikes me as not wise? Also, the [clerk] keeps having to tell her to stop talking over the judge.”

Habba also told the judge AG James is engaged in “selective prosecution,” as Law & Crime News managing editor Adam Klasfeld reports.

“It’s unconstitutional,” she claimed.

“The only reason that she is doing this because he was a former president, and because he sits on the other side of the fence,” she added.

Klasfeld adds that Habba called “for an evidentiary hearing to probe whether this is premised on a ‘political agenda.'”

It appears Habba was putting on a show:

Habba also told the judge that Donald Trump is a “protected class.” When asked to explain, she reportedly referenced his “political speech,” which is not what “protected class” means.

It did not get better for Habba.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Biden Crushes Trump’s Privilege Claim On White House Visitor Logs

President Joe Biden’s administration has ordered the National Archives to hand over former President Donald Trump’s White House visitor logs to the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. Biden’s decision is the latest blow to Trump’s efforts to cower behind dubious claims of executive privilege as congressional investigators zero in on his role in the deadly Capitol insurrection.

In a letter dated Tuesday to United States Archivist David Ferriero that was first reported by The New York Times on Wednesday, White House Counsel Dana Remus wrote that Biden “has determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the best interests of the United States, and therefore is not justified, as to these records and portions of records.”

Trump famously kept his visitor logs a secret, declaring in 2017 that “the grave national security risks and privacy concerns of the hundreds of thousands of visitors annually” preclude their public release.

Biden, like Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, meanwhile, voluntarily releases his records every month.

Thus, “the majority of the entries over which the former President has asserted executive privilege would be publicly released under current policy. As practice under that policy demonstrates, preserving the confidentiality of this type of record generally is not necessary to protect long-term institutional interests of the Executive Branch,” Remus said.

Congress “has a compelling need in service of its legislative functions to understand the circumstances that led to . . . the most serious attack on the operations of the Federal Government since the Civil War. . . . Constitutional protections of executive privilege should not be used to shield, from Congress or the public, information that reflects a clear and apparent effort to subvert the Constitution itself,” she wrote.

Due to the time-sensitive nature of the January 6 probe, Remus continued, Biden “further instructs you to provide those pages 15 days after your notification to the former President, unless prohibited by court order. If the 15-day period expires on a weekend or holiday, you should provide the records to the Select Committee on the next business day.”

Trump has not indicated whether or not he will fight the order in court. Based upon his losing track record so far, however, filing an appeal would likely serve as nothing more than a futile stalling tactic.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

New York Attorney General Finds Evidence Of Fraud At Trump Family Business

New York (AFP) - New York Attorney General Letitia James said her investigation into the Trump family's business dealings had uncovered evidence suggesting the fraudulent valuing of multiple assets and misrepresentation of those values for economic benefit.

In a court filing late Tuesday, James said as the beneficial owner of the Trump Organization, former president Donald Trump "had ultimate authority over a wide swath of conduct by the Trump Organization involving misstatements to counterparties, including financial institutions, and the Internal Revenue Service."

James is seeking to question Trump and his two eldest children, Donald Trump, Jr, and Ivanka Trump, as part of her years-long civil probe.

In her filing Tuesday, the attorney general said the trio should be compelled to testify.

"Until January 2017, Ms. Trump was a primary contact for the Trump Organization's largest lender, Deutsche Bank. In connection with this work, Ms. Trump caused misleading financial statements to be submitted to Deutsche Bank and the federal government," the court document says.

It added that "Since 2017, Donald Trump, Jr. has had authority over numerous financial statements containing misleading asset valuations."

The court filing gave a detailed accounting of the alleged fraudulent valuations and misrepresentations of those values to financial institutions.

They included claiming Trump's penthouse in Manhattan's Trump Tower was three times bigger than it actually was, overestimating its value by $200 million.

The Trumps have claimed it is a politically motivated investigation and urged the court to quash subpoenas against the three.

"Thus far in our investigation, we have uncovered significant evidence that suggests Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization falsely and fraudulently valued multiple assets and misrepresented those values to financial institutions for economic benefit," James said in a statement late Tuesday after her court filing to oppose that motion.

"The Trumps must comply with our lawful subpoenas for documents and testimony because no one in this country can pick and choose if and how the law applies to them. We will not be deterred in our efforts to continue this investigation and ensure that no one is above the law."

She launched her investigation in March 2019 and suspects that the Trump Organization fraudulently overstated the value of certain properties when seeking bank loans, and later reported much smaller values when declaring assets so it could pay less tax.

Trump's son Eric, who is executive vice president of the Trump Organization, was interviewed by James's office on the issue in October 2020.

The former president is facing pressure from several legal probes.

In Washington he is trying to prevent a congressional probe into the January 6 attack by his supporters on the US Capitol from accessing White House records related to that day.

The Trump Organization is also under investigation by the Manhattan district attorney for possible financial crimes and insurance fraud.

In July last year, the Trump Organization and its long-serving finance chief, Allen Weisselberg pleaded not guilty in a New York court to 15 felony fraud and tax evasion charges.

His trial is due to begin in the middle of this year.

Trump was also questioned for more than four hours in October as part of a lawsuit by a group of protestors who allege that his security guards assaulted them six years ago.

He is also battling to prevent years of his tax returns from being released to prosecutors.

DirecTV Blackout May Ruin Far-Right One America News Channel

By John Shiffman

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The largest satellite provider in the United States said late Friday it will drop One America News, a move that could financially cripple the right-wing TV network known for fueling conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.

The announcement by DirecTV, which is 70 percent owned by AT&T, comes three months after a Reuters investigation revealed that OAN’s founder testified that AT&T inspired him to create the network. Court testimony also showed that OAN receives nearly all of its revenue from DirecTV.

The Reuters report drew calls from some liberal groups for AT&T and DirecTV to drop OAN, a favorite of former President Donald Trump, because the network has become a key source of false claims about the election and COVID vaccinations.

On Thursday, President Joe Biden said COVID conspiracy theories are putting lives at risk. “I make a special appeal to social media companies and media outlets: Please deal with the misinformation and disinformation that’s on your shows,” Biden said. “It has to stop.”

OAN is owned by San Diego-based Herring Networks, a family of conservative tech entrepreneurs. CEO Robert Herring Sr did not respond to requests for comment by email and phone. In an interview with Reuters last year, he said his network provided an important voice. “If I think I’m right, I just go for it,” he said.

DirecTV, with approximately 15 million subscribers, is by far OAN’s largest carrier. According to testimony by OAN’s accountant reviewed by Reuters, DirecTV provided 90 percent of the conservative network’s revenue.

“We informed Herring Networks that, following a routine internal review, we do not plan to enter into a new contract when our current agreement expires,” DirecTV said in a statement.

The OAN-DirecTV contract is set to expire in the next several months. DirecTV began airing OAN in April 2017, a deal that began shortly after OAN and AT&T settled a lawsuit over alleged oral promises during negotiations.

On Twitter, some conservatives expressed outrage that DirecTV and AT&T planned to drop OAN. “Corporate Media is crushing what little dissent remains,” tweeted former Fox News host Lou Dobbs.

The pro-Trump right, however, has powerful outlets on television and online, including Fox News, the conservative cable news outlet founded by Rupert Murdoch.

Liberals cheered the news. NAACP President Derrick Johnson called it “a victory for us and the future of democracy.” In a statement, Johnson added: “At a time when we are seeing our rights infringed upon, OAN only seeks to create further division. … We must continually choose truth over lies and common sense over hysteria.”

The news also follows a lawsuit filed on December 23 by two Georgia election workers who accused OAN and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani of spreading false vote-rigging claims about them in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election. The claims were debunked by state authorities. OAN has denied it has done anything wrong.

DirecTV did not elaborate on why it planned to drop OAN. Earlier, an AT&T spokesman said the company airs “many news channels that offer viewpoints across the political spectrum.”

The Reuters investigative report in October cited sworn statements in which OAN’s founder and his son testified that the inspiration for the conservative network came from AT&T executives.

“They told us they wanted a conservative network,” the elder Herring said during a 2019 deposition. “They only had one, which was Fox News, and they had seven others on the other [left-wing] side. When they said that, I jumped to it and built one.”

During a 2020 court proceeding, a transcript shows, an OAN lawyer told the court, “If Herring Networks, for instance, was to lose or not be renewed on DirecTV, the company would go out of business tomorrow.”

(Reporting by John Shiffman. Additional reporting by Jason Szep. Editing by Ronnie Greene)