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Tag: trump justice department

‘Local Parent’ On Fox News Is Professional GOP And Trump Flack

Fox News has avidly promoted former Trump administration officials as seemingly being just concerned local parents in the network's coverage of the upcoming Virginia gubernatorial election. And in the case of one guest who has frequently appeared or been cited by the network's hosts, his political connections go far and wide through both political campaigns and even Fox News itself.

Ian Prior is one of many Republican activists, political staffers, and Trump administration alumni who have appeared on Fox News as part of its campaign against "critical race theory." The network has used the term as a "catch-all" phrase for any right-wing culture war grievances, especially over racial diversity and civil rights, in an effort to mobilize Republican voters for this year's Virginia elections and the midterms next year.

Prior now leads Fight for Schools, a political action committee launched this year to support "common sense candidates" who oppose "critical race theory." In addition to his many years in communications for Republican campaigns, he has his own political communications consulting firm and political newsletter. He also worked in the Trump administration from 2017 to 2018, as deputy director of public affairs at the Justice Department under then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

And the world of both conservative media and Republican political operatives is a small one indeed. During Prior's time as deputy director of the DOJ's Office of Public Affairs under Sessions, his coworkers in public affairs included media affairs coordinator Devin O'Malley — who is now the campaign spokesman for Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin. In addition, two other colleagues were media affairs specialist Kerri Kupec, who this year became Fox News' Washington, D.C., editor after serving the rest of former President Donald Trump's term at DOJ under both Sessions and his successor, Bill Barr; and press assistant Kelly Laco, who is now a news and politics editor for Fox News digital content — and who has quoted Prior in at least one article. (The article noted Prior's DOJ experience, but not the fact that he and Laco were former colleagues.)


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On Wednesday's edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy read a statement from Prior, responding to former President Barack Obama's recent campaign rally for former Virginia governor and current Democratic nominee Terry McAullife — while presenting Prior as simply a concerned local parent who has come to prominence recently.

"Ian Prior, who's been on this program, he's one of the parents who's very concerned about what's going on out in Loudoun County," Doocy said, before reading a statement that concluded with the accusation: "It is clear that all the star power coming in for Terry McAuliffe is reading off the same deceptive page of sheet music with talking points designed to deceive people as to what's really happening in Virginia public schools."

Co-host Brian Kilmeade then added: "This is real, this is organic, this is not scripted. These are people standing up, Democrats and Republicans standing up for what's happening in their schools."


Prior also appeared last Thursday with Fox News host Sean Hannity, during which his background as a Trump administration staffer was also not disclosed. By contrast, Prior had also appeared twice this month on The Story with Martha MacCallum, during which both MacCallum and guest anchor Trace Gallagher cited his experience in the Trump administration. (Though earlier this year, MacCallum had also failed to disclose Prior's background.)

So it appears that as the Virginia election gets closer, Prior has become less and less of a former Trump DOJ official and more of being just a concerned local parent whose attacks on Democrats are "organic" and "not scripted."

Rosen Testifies About Trump Coup Attempt At Justice Department

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

The full scope of the Trump administration's efforts to nullify an American presidential election is just beginning to come into view. Trump and his top allies engaged in an orchestrated, three-pronged plan to use federal officials to cast illegitimate doubts on the integrity of the election, explicitly pressure state officials to "find" votes or otherwise alter vote totals, and counter the official congressional acknowledgement of the election's results with an organized mob assembled specifically to "march" to the Capitol and intimidate the lawmakers carrying out that constitutionally mandated process. It was an attempted coup by Trump and his deputies, one that Trump himself continued to press even after that coup had exploded into violence.

The New York Times reported that Trump's acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, gave closed-door testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Saturday. The subject of the testimony was the interactions between Rosen and Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark as Clark attempted, on Trump's behalf, to press the Justice Department into issuing false claims suggesting that they were investigating election "fraud" of the sort that Trump's propagandists were claiming as the reason for Trump's loss. It was untrue, and the top two Justice officials rejected Clark's repeated proposals.

Transparently, it was an attempt by Clark and other Trump allies to throw the nation into chaos by claiming the election was so flawed that its results must be overturned—a claim which Trump's hard-right team believed would force the assembling Congress to erase the election's counted votes and, somehow, reinstall Trump as quasilegal national leader.

All three elements of the plan came perilously close to succeeding. All three were thwarted only because individuals remained in place who believed the plan to be insanity, sedition, or both. It is the efforts by Trump-aligned officials within the federal government, using the tools granted to them by government, that elevate the events culminating in violence on January 6 from insurrection to attempted coup.

In a pivotal decision, Rosen rejected Clark's attempt, leading to yet another internal administration crisis as Trump mulled whether to fire him and install Clark in his position so that the plan could be carried out.

In a Sunday CNN appearance, Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Dick Durbin said Rosen had described Trump as being directly involved in Clark's actions. "It was real, very real, and it was very specific."

Significantly, the Times reports that Rosen scheduled his testimony "quickly" so as to allow them to go forward "before any players could ask the courts to block the proceedings." That may be a self-serving interpretation of events. As emptywheel notes, Clark's efforts to overturn the election and Trump's aborted move to fire Rosen and install Clark as acting attorney general was the subject of news reporting in January, even before Trump's second impeachment trial took place. The Senate Judiciary began their requests for documents pertaining to the plan near-immediately, and have been battling the Department of Justice for testimony ever since.

A half-year delay in gaining testimony about a "very real" and "very specific" attempt to overthrow the duly elected next administration by coup does not make it sound like anyone involved is attempting to provide evidence "quickly."

Most significantly of all, perhaps, is that the United States Senate could have investigated the Trump team's plot during the impeachment trial meant to gather evidence and come to judgment on Trump's behavior. For the second time, it did not do so. It avoided examining the evidence, rushing through the trial to again get to the inevitable close of having nearly all Republican lawmakers back Trump's actions, even after they had resulted in violence.

The job now falls to the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection: The moves that Clark, Meadows, and other Trump officials made to falsely discredit the election results were intended to provide the backing by which willing insurrectionists could justify their demands that the Constitution be tossed aside for the sake of Trump's reinstallation. The job also falls to federal investigators who now need to examine—swiftly—the criminality of the schemes.

It was not, however, a "Trump" coup. Donald Trump, a known liar and semi-delusional blowhard, had few government powers that would allow him to singlehandedly erase state election counts or make official his declarations that he had lost, after a disastrous single term, only through "fraud" concocted against him. It required the cooperation of top Republican allies, of Republican Party officials, of lawmakers, and others that would press the false claims and work both within and outside of government to give them false legitimacy.

It was a Republican coup, an act of sedition backed with specific acts from Mark Meadows, from Jeffrey Clark, from senators such as Josh Hawley, from state Republican officials who eagerly seized on the conspiracy claims specifically so that they could be used to overturn elections they had lost, and from everyday Republican supporters who decided that the zero-evidence nationalist propaganda they were swallowing up was justification enough to storm the U.S. Capitol by force in an overt attempt to erase a democratic election.

Here we sit, waiting with bated breath as evidence dribbles out describing the full scope of what the entire world saw in realtime, from last November to January: top Republican officials spreading knowingly false, propagandistic claims intended to undermine the integrity of our democratic elections so as to justify simply changing that election's results and declaring themselves the victors. It was a fascist act. It continues in the states, as state Republican lawmakers use the same brazenly false claims peddled by Clark to impose new hurdles to voting meant to keep at least some fraction of the Americans who voted against the party last time from being able to vote at all the next time.

A bit more urgency is required, here.

Will Prosecutors Indict Mark Meadows For Trying To Overturn The Election?

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows may face "significant criminal exposure" for his prominent role in pressuring the Justice Department (DOJ) to overturn the free and fair 2020 election, according to a timeline published by Just Security and a criminal complaint filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

CREW filed their complaint against both Meadows and Trump last week, claiming the two violated a "criminal civil rights law" and "criminal provisions of the Hatch Act" in their attempt to effort to overturn the election.

"Government officials who try to subvert our republic and undermine democratic rule must be held accountable to the full extent of the criminal law," said CREW President Noah Bookbinder.

The Just Security timeline depicts those offenses in vivid detail.

Meadows And Giuliani

Throughout the course of the extraordinary effort to overturn the election Meadows worked with Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

First contact reportedly started on or around November 12, 2020. According to Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker's book I Alone Can Fix It, Giuliani asked Meadows to investigate claims that allege tens of thousands of "illegal aliens" may have voted in Arizona. Of course, this was debunked— in reality, it was U.S. citizens living abroad who voted legally.

Giuliani and Meadows also created a “parallel track" while Trump's campaign set up a team in Georgia -- a state Biden won despite its history of being a red state, according to Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender.

“A parallel track was underway from the Oval Office where Giuliani and Meadows, who was just returning to work after being sidelined by Covid, started bringing in their own people," writes Bender in his book Frankly, We Did Win This Election.

CREW alleges that in those first few weeks after the election Meadows, Giuliani, and other Trump aides “began a coordinated multi-state campaign to prevent states from counting legal ballots (or to throw out already- counted legal ballots)."

Not 'Sufficiently Loyal'

Meadows also played a significant role in the firing or discrediting of federal officials who pushed back against the administration's outlandish claims of voter fraud— Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper was the first to fall victim. On November 9, 2020, Meadows called Esper to say "the president's not happy… And we don't think you're sufficiently loyal. You're going to be replaced. He's going to announce it this afternoon," according to Leonnig and Rucker.

Lo and behold, four minutes later, Trump tweets: "I am pleased to announce that Christopher C. Miller, the highly respected Director of the National Counterterrorism Center (unanimously confirmed by the Senate), will be Acting Secretary of Defense, effective immediately."

In mid-November or December, Meadows introduced Trump to Jeffrey Clark, whom DOJ officials say “was putting together a secret plan to oust Rosen, the acting attorney general, and force Georgia to overturn its results," according to Bender's book. Meadows denies involvement. He also connected Trump and former North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Mark Martin, who came up with the theory that former Vice President Mike Pence could stop the certification of Biden, according to the New York Times.

Leonnig and Rucker's book quoted one senior official saying, Meadows facilitated the president's being "exposed to crazy people spouting lunatic theories about the election and his ability to overturn it. That is all Meadows."

'We're Going To Get The President There'

It was around this time that Meadows acknowledged to the White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah that he knows Trump lost the election.

"We need to give a graceful exit and acknowledge that Biden won," Farah tells Meadows.

"I know, I know," Meadows responded. "We're going to get the president there."

But not only could Meadows never "get the president there," according to Leonnig and Rucker, "There wasn't any indication that he had even tried."

In fact, it was mere days after this that Meadows expressed his displeasure with former Attorney General William Barr for telling the Associated Press, "to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election."

Leonnig and Rucker report that Barr was surprised Meadows "hated" the news story.

"Meadows sat silently on the opposite side of the dining room, with his arms crossed, a posture that seemed to say, This is DOJ's problem," the two write.

Georgia

At this point, Meadows and Trump were laser focused on Georgia. On December 22, 2020, Meadows took a trip to observe an absentee ballot audit and met with Frances Watson, the lead elections investigator in the Georgia Secretary of State's office.

A day later, Trump gets on the phone with Watson, urging her to find "dishonesty" to overturn the election and says she will be "praised" for doing so, according to the Wall Street Journal. Trump also said it was Meadows who told him to contact her.

"Well you have a big fan in our great chief, right? Chief of staff, Mark," said Trump.

Shortly after this, Meadows "began a separate element of the pressure campaign on DOJ," telling acting Attorney General Rosen to focus on "wrongdoing" in Georgia, according to CREW's complaint.

On January 1, Meadows followed up on allegations "of signature match anomalies" in Fulton County, Georgia.

"Get [Assistant Attorney General] Jeffrey Clark to engage on this issue immediately," he wrote in an email to Rosen.

The next morning, Assistant Attorney General Clark confirmed to Rosen that he "spoke to the source and [was] on [a call] with the guy who took the video," adding that he was "[w]orking on it" and that there was "[m]ore due diligence to do."

"The pressure campaign appeared to have some immediate impact," says the complaint.

Hours later, Trump, Meadows, and other associates made the infamous phone call pressuring Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to overturn the election

Section 241

In their complaint, CREW first alleges that Trump and Meadows committed civil rights violations, specifically breaking Conspiracy against rights, or Section 241.

Section 241 makes it illegal for two or more persons to "conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States."

"The right to vote for federal offices and the right to have one's vote fairly counted are among the rights secured by Article I, Sections 2 and 4, of the Constitution, and hence protected by Section 241," reads the complaint.

They violated Section 241 by:

Conducting a coordinated campaign to prevent states from counting legal ballots.

Firing or publicly discrediting federal officials who refuted the narrative of purported voter fraud and a stolen election.

Threatening and attempting to intimidate state officials, including Georgia Secretary of State Raffensperger, to take steps to overturn the results of the election in their states.

Pressuring DOJ officials to file the lawsuit in the Supreme Court that, if successful, would have overturned the election results in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Pressuring Attorney General Barr and Acting Attorney General Rosen to use DOJ resources to help investigate false allegations of fraud in Michigan and Georgia.

Attempting to fire Acting Attorney General Rosen for refusing to direct the DOJ to support the election fraud claims.

"The ultimate object of the conspiracy was to deprive citizens of their constitutional rights by changing the legal result of the 2020 election," states the complaint.

Hatch Act

The Hatch Act protects federal funds, employees, and programs from political manipulation, according to the CREW.

The complaint notes that criminal prosecutions under the Hatch Act are rare, but not unprecedented. CREW believes that the "egregious" conduct of Trump and Meadows warrants charges under Coercion of political activity – 18 U.S.C. § 610 and Interference in Election by Employees of Federal or State Governments – 18 U.S.C. § 595.

Violations of 18 U.S.C. § 610:

President Trump's verbal abuse of Attorney General Barr for publicly renouncing his election fraud allegations as meritless, causing him to resign, firing CISA Director Krebs, and causing U.S. Attorney Pak to resign, all of which sent the message to others to pursue the allegations or get out.

President Trump's pressure on DOJ officials, including Acting Attorney General Rosen, to support lawsuits seeking to overturn his election loss and to appoint a special counsel to investigate Dominion Voting Systems.

President Trump's pressure on DOJ officials to file the Supreme Court complaint that sought to throw out election results in six states.

Using Mr. Olsen to further apply pressure on Acting Attorney General Rosen and DOJ officials to file the Supreme Court lawsuit through repeated emails and phone calls.

Mr. Meadows' pressure on DOJ officials to investigate various dubious claims of voter fraud in Georgia and elsewhere, including through multiple emails sent to Mr. Rosen.

President Trump's attempt to fire Acting Attorney General Rosen and replace him with Assistant Attorney General Clark, including at the January 3 "high- stakes meeting" at the White House.

President Trump's pressure to fire U.S. Attorney Pak, which resulted in his resignation.
They broke 18 U.S.C. § 595 by:
President Trump's use of his official authority as President to verbally abuse Attorney General Barr, causing him to resign, fire CISA Director Krebs, and cause U.S. Attorney Pak to resign, all for not having more vigorously pursued or supported President Trump's meritless claims of election fraud.

President Trump's use of his official authority as President to pressure Acting Attorney General Rosen to pursue meritless election fraud claims and baseless lawsuits in a White House meeting.

President Trump's use of his White House personal assistant and her official White House email account to send DOJ officials materials alleging election fraud in Michigan, and the draft Supreme Court complaint.

Mr. Meadows' use of his official authority as the White House chief of staff to pressure Acting Attorney General Rosen to authorize DOJ investigations into allegations of election fraud in multiple states, including the request that he assign Mr. Clark to investigate the Georgia election fraud allegations.

Mr. Meadows' use of his official White House email account to convey various baseless allegations of election fraud to DOJ officials.

"Democracy is a precious thing," CREW concludes, adding, "It is your duty, as servants of our Constitution and protectors of our unique experiment in self-governance, to ensure that this perversion of our institutions of government never happens again. The only way to do so is to hold the perpetrators, regardless of their former positions, accountable under the laws they swore to uphold and sought to subvert."

The Trump Phone Call That May Have Sparked Insurrection

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Former President Donald Trump was relentless in his efforts to overturn the presidential election. Although he has adamantly insisted that his actions were not an attempt at a coup, there is reportedly evidence indicating that it was. According to The Daily Beast, details have been revealed about Trump's phone call that may have led to the attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol.

The Department of Justice has provided Congress with documentation of the call Trump placed to outline his grievances of presumed voter fraud. At the time, the call had been taken by Acting. Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.

Per the publication:

"According to documents that the Justice Department has now turned over to Congress, and that were made public for the first time on Friday, Trump called to discuss his phony voter fraud claims, as if the very political William Barr hadn't conceded, on his way out the door, that despite looking, he'd found none."

With no real evidence of voter fraud, Beast columnist Margaret Carlson notes how Trump turned to what she describes as his "people tell me" tactic.

At the time, Trump reportedly claimed:

"Thousands of people' called, complaining to him about the election, the inaction of DOJ, and how none of them 'trust the FBI." Other "people" say how great Jeff Clark is, as in the acting chief of the civil division who supported all things Trump. People wanted Trump to "replace DOJ leadership" with him.

The publically released details about the phone call "are a roadmap to Trump's twisted thinking," the writer explains. Trump claimed he could get a number of so-called "allies" on board to back his claims of voter fraud if he could just get the Department of Justice to sign off in support of his mission. Disturbingly, the majority of House Republican lawmakers had no problem blindly following the embattled former president which only caused more chaos.

Despite his denial of an attempted coup, the details of the call indicate that Trump's actions were not just an example of an impulsive decision, but could rather be described as a twisted concoction of thinking he dwelled on before attempting to execute.

‘Bombshell’ Notes Expose Trump’s Post-Election Scheme To Corrupt Justice Department

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Lawmakers in the House Oversight Committee released new evidence on Friday of former President Donald Trump's extensive pressure campaign to use the Justice Department to help him overturn the result of the 2020 presidential election in the final days of his administration.

Notes from conversations between the president and DOJ officials detail his aggressive push to have the department validate the wild conspiracy theories about election fraud that he fomented, despite the lack of evidence.

On December 27, when told the department couldn't "snap its fingers" and "change the outcome of the election," Trump said, "Don't expect you to do that, just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R. Congressmen," according to the notes.

These new revelations follow a recent report from the Washington Post that Trump called acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen about the election almost daily at the end of 2020 about the election. Bill Barr had resigned as attorney general in part because of his split with Trump on the legitimacy of the election

Publicizing notes of communications between the president and the heads of administration departments is highly unusual, but the Biden administration concluded that it was an "extraordinary circumstance" to have "congressional investigators...examining potential wrongdoing by a sitting president," according to the New York Times.

Trump repeatedly pressed the department to investigate the wild claims of election fraud that percolated in right-wing media and corners of the internet at the time, which were repeatedly debunked. At one point, having been told that certain claims he was pushing were simply untrue, Trump reportedly responded: "Ok fine — but what about the others?"

According to the notes, he also told the DOJ officials: "You guys may not be following the internet the way I do."

Perhaps one of the most significant revelations is that Trump was recorded as directly threatening the officials' jobs based on their handling of the investigation. The New York Times explained:In a moment of foreshadowing, Mr. Trump said, "people tell me Jeff Clark is great, I should put him in," referring to the acting head of the Justice Department's civil division, who had also encouraged department officials to intervene in the election. "People want me to replace D.O.J. leadership."
"You should have the leadership you want," Mr. Donoghue replied. But it "won't change the dept's position."
Mr. Donoghue and Mr. Rosen did not know that Mr. Perry had introduced Mr. Clark and Mr. Trump. Exactly one week later, they would be forced to fight Mr. Clark for their jobs in an Oval Office showdown.

George Conway, a conservative lawyer, argued on Twitter that the evidence could support a potential criminal case against the president.

Trump Urged Justice Department To Probe QAnon's Conspiracy Theories

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

The ongoing release of materials on former President Donald Trump's attempts to subvert the 2020 election has shown the extent to which the White House pushed for the Department of Justice to investigate far-out conspiracy theories linked to the QAnon movement. And the latest example might also show that false stories circulated in far-right media made their way to Trump himself.

The Detroit News reported last week on emails recently released by the House oversight committee showing some of the Trump administration's efforts to overturn the 2020 election. On December 14 — the same day when the members of the Electoral College met across the country to formalize Joe Biden's victory — White House aide Molly Michael sent an email to acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen with the subject "From POTUS."

The email contained a PDF file of a report from a right-wing investigator on an election counting error in the small locale of Antrim County, Michigan, and a set of talking points apparently written by the report's author declaring that "Michigan cannot certify for Biden" due to a "seditious conspiracy to undermine the election process and the will of the American people."

Two minutes after that email was sent to Rosen, another unnamed person in the attorney general's office forwarded the documents to the U.S. attorneys in Michigan, asking them to "see attachments per Rich Donoghue," Trump's newly appointed deputy attorney general.

The QAnon Conspiracy Theory Links

According to The New York Times, the private group that conducted this report, Allied Security Operations Group, is a sponsor and financial backer of the website Everylegalvote.com, which had also "posted content from a source with links to" the QAnon conspiracy theory. The author of the report was also a former Republican candidate for Congress from Texas, having lost in a primary in 2016.

Later in January 2021, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows tried to get the Department of Justice to investigate another QAnon-linked election conspiracy theory that Italian military satellites had been used to change the voting returns.

What Actually Happened In Antrim County

While the claim about election interference from Italy was pure fantasy, the story about Antrim County instead belonged to a particular variety of conspiracy theory, in which a small kernel of fact is then exploited and twisted beyond any plausibility. In this case, an election-night reporting error genuinely did occur at the local level, seemingly flipping a small Republican-leaning county to Joe Biden for a time. But the problem was also quickly spotted and fixed by the local officials. As the Detroit Free Press reported just days after the election, an error in the software setup resulted in the county having what was, in essence, a botched merger of results from across its precincts.

After the error was fixed, Trump's lead in the county was restored — seemingly a very simple event. But it soon became the stuff of legend in right-wing media, promoted by then-Fox Business host Lou Dobbs and The Gateway Pundit.

"From POTUS" — But Where Did Trump Get The Idea?

The "From POTUS" email to Rosen was sent late in the day on December 14. But earlier that same day, the report was promoted online by The Gateway Pundit, Newsmax White House correspondent Emerald Robinson, and One America News White House correspondent Chanel Rion — all outlets that Trump is known to favor.

Also, in the days following these emails, Michigan completed an extra hand count of Antrim County's presidential results, as part of a genuine effort to try assuaging any remaining doubts about the situation there. This resulted in a net gain of only 12 additional votes for Trump, in comparison to the previously corrected spreadsheets from the election.

Not that such reassurances have worked, as the county has been chased with spurious litigation well into this year, incurring substantial legal fees in the process. And in a similar fashion, QAnon conspiracy theorists continue to be affiliated with the "audit" of election results in Arizona, which Republican politicians backing the effort say is meant to address voters' ongoing "questions"about the election.

Why Trump’s Abuse Of Power Is Truly Worse Than Watergate

Reprinted with permission from Press Run

Stunning new abuse-of-power revelations remind us of the Trump administration's complete disregard for democratic principles. We now know that over a span of years it took extraordinary legal measures, including gag orders and secret tribunals, in pursuit of email records from reporters at CNN and the Washington Post. Team Trump also unleashed the courts on Democratic members of Congress and their families trying to obtain private phone records, as well as secretly targeting a key White House attorney, who possibly fell under suspicion for not being sufficiently loyal to Trump.

The disturbing portrait now in focus is one of a Republican White House that for four years worked in tandem with partisan prosecutors to systematically politicize the vast powers of the Justice Department, which often treated Trump's allies leniently, and used unprecedented tools to target his foes. It was Trump recklessly using the executive branch to gather private information on members of the legislative branch, as well as members of the media.

The emerging scandal already eclipses Richard Nixon's Watergate in terms of the benchmarks we use to gauge Washington, D.C. abuse of power. It's "Nixon on stilts and steroids," Nixon's former White House Counsel John Dean told CNN. "Nixon didn't have that kind of Department of Justice."

It's worse than Watergate because the White House abuse of power was purposely powered by the Justice Department. This would have been if U.S. Attorney General John Mitchell had helped plot the Watergate break-in, instead of a band of rogue Nixon sycophants. This is worse because it's institutional abuse conducted by political entities with boundless authority, such as the White House and the DOJ.

"Taken together with the Republican Party's refusal to hold Trump to account for the Capitol insurrection and its nationwide efforts to restrict voting, the new allegations also indicate that the freedoms and core values that have underpinned American life for two-and-a-half centuries remain in almost unprecedented peril," stressed CNN's Stephen Collinson.

It's worse than Watergate because this is what it looks like when democracies begin to crumble. It happens regularly all over the world, usually in emerging democracies, as nations lose their grip on crucial liberties while under the leadership of autocratic rulers.

And it's worse because since the scandal first broke last week, the Republican Party, as usual, has refused to acknowledge Trump's radical ways and condemn the anti-democratic behavior. While Democrats now push for Congressional investigations into the scandal, it appears Senate Republicans wlll stand in the way of issuing subpoenas, which are crucial in terms of gather evidence and compelling cooperation.

There's little doubt that today's blindly loyal GOP would have tried to block Congressional subpoenas issued during the Watergate investigation. (As the break-in and cover-up revelations tumbled out, Nixon eventually lost the support of Congressional Republicans.)

Late last week, the Justice Department's independent inspector general opened an investigation into the decision in 2018 by federal prosecutors to secretly seize the iPhone data of House Democrats, including Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell and their family members. Trump's team, which subpoenaed Apple, was desperately trying to hunt down who had leaked classified information early in the Trump administration. Specifically, leaks with regards to Trump's collaboration with Russia during the 2016 election.

It's almost unheard for the DOJ to use the courts to secretly seize data from members of Congress if those members are not the target of a corruption investigation, which Schiff and Swalwell clearly were not. They became abuse-of-power targets because they were trying to hold Trump accountable for his criminality.

Democrats weren't the only Trump enemies targeted by his out-of-control DOJ. It also secretly obtained the phone records of multiple Washington Post reporters. Imagine if Nixon's DOJ had snagged Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's phone logs as they reported out the Watergate caper?

On another wild fishing expedition, the Justice Department tossed CNN into a prolonged, Kafka-esque legal battle. Demanding access to 30,000 emails from Pentagon reporter Barbara Starr, government lawyers refused to tell the network what the larger DOJ investigation was about, who the subjects of the investigation were, the subject matter of the reporting at the center of the matter, or when the investigation was opened. The Justice Department also forbade CNN's general counsel from talking to Starr about the extraordinary chain of events in play.

"I was informed that, other than conferring with counsel, the order prohibited me from acknowledging to anyone that it even existed unless I had express permission from the Department of Justice," CNN's top lawyer David Vigilante explained. "And I was further informed that if I violated the order, I was subject to charges of contempt and even criminal prosecution for obstruction of justice."

Last December, a district court heard CNN's appeal and was unimpressed with whatever secret evidence the DOJ had accumulated in its mysterious case that required taking possession of 30,000 Starr emails. The gag order was soon lifted.

The good news is that CNN, the Times, and the Post met with Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday. In alignment with President Joe Biden, Garland's DOJ has said that it will not seize reporters' records as part of leak investigations.

And you can be sure it won't target Biden's political foes with partisan and secretive subpoenas.

‘Pure Insanity’: Emails Show Trump Urging Justice Officials To Overturn 2020 Election

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Emails released on Tuesday reveal just how far former President Donald Trump went to pressure the Department of Justice to overturn his 2020 election loss to President Joe Biden, with everyone from Trump's personal assistant to Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows contacting top Justice officials to ask them to back up Trump's wild lies about voter fraud and even file lawsuits to invalidate the results of multiple states.

The emails were part of a report from the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which found that multiple top Trump aides and allies reached out to then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen asking him to file a lawsuit with the Supreme Court to overturn the results in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Nevada — all states Biden won.

Another email showed that Meadows tried to push Rosen to "look into" baseless and absurd allegations from an ally of Trump campaign lawyer Rudy Giuliani that Italy used military technology to switch votes from Trump to Biden. And yet another email revealed that Meadows sought to force Rosen to look into "allegations of signature match anomalies in Fulton County, Ga."

The emails show Rosen was aghast at the pressure campaign.

"Can you believe this? I am not going to respond to the message below," Rosen wrote in an email to acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue of Meadow's demand that Rosen "engage" with the signature mismatch lie.

Rosen also said he "flatly refused" to meet with the Giuliani ally who was pushing the absurd Italy conspiracy theory, stating he "would not be giving any special treatment to Giuliani or any of his 'witnesses,' and re-affirmed yet again that I will not talk to Giuliani about any of this."

Donoghue called the efforts from the White House and other Trump aides to get them to aid in the effort to overturn the election "pure insanity."

Ultimately, the Department of Justice never filed any lawsuits to overturn the election.

And the band of crackpot Trump supporters who did file lawsuits — such as Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and Lin Wood — all lost their lawsuits seeking to overturn the results. In fact, Giuliani and Powell now face libel lawsuits from voting machine companies that could put them in financial ruin. Powell also faces the possibility of court-ordered sanctions.

House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney wrote in a news release that the emails provide proof that Trump engaged in "a brazen attempt to overturn an election that he lost."

"Those who aided or witnessed President Trump's unlawful actions must answer the Committee's questions about this attempted subversion of democracy," Maloney (D-NY) wrote.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.