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Tag: trump lies

Ex-Press Secretary: Trump Held Secret Meetings Before Capitol Riot

According to a report from The Guardian published Thursday, former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham has revealed to investigators on the House Select Committee that Trump held “secret meetings” at the White House residence in the run-up to the Capitol attack.

The committee has not formally subpoenaed Grisham, indicating that her cooperation was voluntary. She had front row seats at the Trump White House while serving as a White House communications director, press secretary for former First Lady Melania Trump, and later, Melania Trump’s chief of staff. Grisham resigned, effective immediately, on January 6 in the wake of the violent Capitol assault. Her resignation was joined by White House press aide Sarah Matthews.

The alleged “secret meetings” were “known only by a small number of aides” and sources told The Guardian that the gatherings were coordinated by Trump’s right hand in the White House, former chief of staff Mark Meadows.

Meadows initially cooperated with the January 6 probe, providing some records and testimony—but he abruptly backtracked and shut down the talks. The committee, in turn, voted to hold Meadows in contempt and the full House of Representatives followed. He was referred for criminal prosecution to the Justice Department in December. So far, the DOJ has been mum about whether it will pursue an indictment as it did for Steve Bannon. Bannon, who has entered a not guilty plea, is now awaiting trial.

While Meadows would reportedly schedule the clandestine meetings, Grisham told investigators it was Timothy Harleth, Trump’s chief White House usher, who would wave the parties in. It is not clear yet who attended the meetings.

President Joe Biden fired Harleth from the usher role one day after his inauguration. It is common for ushers to remain in their positions regardless of the administration in power but Harleth was ousted in short order as the incumbent cleaned house of Trump-era officials. Harleth previously worked as the director of rooms at Trump International Hotel.

Grisham, according to Thursday’s scoop from The Guardian, also provided the names of other aides in the White House usher office that may be of use to the committee in their probe.

Grisham also said that “an aide to former White House adviser Peter Navarro tried at least once to quietly usher” lawyer Sidney Powell into the White House residence. Powell was a major proponent of Trump’s incessant lies about the outcome of the 2020 election, and led the charge in claims that Dominion Voting Systems voting machines were corrupt. For her conspiratorial claims, Powell is staring down a massive defamation suit from Dominion. She was also subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 Committee this week.

Trump’s exact conduct and thinking before and during the Capitol attack when he was out of public view are at the beating heart of the Jan. 6 Committee’s probe. It has been widely reported that the former president sat idly by in the White House as the attack exploded, watching the riot from television. It was also reported one week after the assault that Trump had told aides for several days before the Jan. 6 rally that he wanted to accompany demonstrators but that he only decided not to “walk down Pennsylvania Avenue” after Secret Service agents insisted his safety could not be guaranteed if he did so.

But whether he actually intended to march with his supporters that morning or purely made the remarks to raise the mob’s hackles is debated.

“Grisham told the select committee that Trump’s intentions—and whether the Secret Service had been told Trump had decided not to march to the Capitol—should be reflected in the presidential line-by-line, the document that outlines the president’s movements, the sources said.”

A representative for the committee did not respond to request for comment Thursday.

The committee has so far interviewed more than 400 sources and with its recent victory against Trump at the Supreme Court, the National Archives and Records Administration has already begun the transfer of presidential records Trump wanted to keep secret.

The records to be transferred include critical items like call and visitor logs, diaries, internal correspondence, calendars, speech drafts, photos as they relate to Jan. 6, correspondence among White House officials, and much more.

“The Supreme Court’s action tonight is a victory for the rule of law and American democracy. The Select Committee has already begun to receive records that the former President had hoped to keep hidden and we look forward to additional productions regarding this important information. Our work goes forward to uncover all the facts about the violence of Jan. 6 and its causes,” Jan. 6 Committee chairman Bennie Thompson said Wednesday night. “We will not be deterred in our effort to get answers for the American people, make legislative recommendations to strengthen our democracy, and help ensure nothing like that day ever happens again.”

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

GOP Lawmaker Who Signed Fake Electoral Certificate Ran Pro-Trump 'Troll Farm'

Arizona Republican State Representative Jake Hoffman made news this week when it was revealed he signed a forged “certification” falsely stating Donald Trump, not Joe Biden, won his state’s Electoral College electors.

Video that’s gone viral of Hoffman shows him defending signing the forged documents in which he falsely identifies himself as a duly elected elector for Trump.

His defense: “in unprecedented times, unprecedented action does occur.” He goes on to claim, “there is no case law, there is no precedent that exists as to whether or not an election that is currently being litigated in the courts has due standing.”

He called the forged electoral documents “dueling opinions” in this video:

The video has been viewed over 800,000 times in just 14 hours.

Hoffman, it turns out, was banned from Twitter after his company, Rally Forge, worked with Charlie Kirk’s far right-wing political activist group, Turning Point USA, during the 2020 election, establishing “a domestic ‘troll farm’ in Phoenix, Arizona. It employed teenagers to churn out pro-Trump social media posts, some of which cast doubt on the integrity of the US election system or falsely charged Democrats with attempting to steal the election, the Washington Post revealed,” according to The Guardian.

The Washington Post also reported that “the posts are the product of a sprawling yet secretive campaign that experts say evades the guardrails put in place by social media companies to limit online disinformation of the sort used by Russia during the 2016 campaign.”

Some of those teens, the Post noted, were minors.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Trump Children's Refusal To Pay Bills Results In DC Investigation

When it comes to avoiding personal financial responsibility and screwing over contractors, there's no bigger grifter than Donald Trump. So it's not very shocking to learn that his kids are grifting deadbeats just like Daddy.

According to a report from the Daily Beast, the Trump Organization -- which is mostly run by Eric And Don Jr-- might have created yet another legal headache for themselves on account of not paying their bills. The Beast reports that Washington D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine is incorporating a dispute between the family's business and a D.C. hotel over an unpaid $49,358 bill into his investigation of the misuse of inauguration funds dating back to 2017.

The legal controversy surrounds the Trump Organization's steadfast refusal to pay for the block of rooms they booked at the Loews Madison Hotel after 13 people didn't show up, resulting in the bill being sent to a collection agency. As a result, the financial dispute put Trump and his family right back in the "crosshairs in an ongoing investigation into how the Trump kids used the Presidential Inauguration Committee to throw lavish parties of their own."

Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, one of the participants who helped coordinate the inaugural festivities, is working with investigators.

According to Wolkoff, "It was their friends. It should never have been sent to the PIC [Presidential Inauguration Committee]. That’s misuse of funding. The Trump Organization being involved in any way and getting the PIC to pay any sort of balance anywhere on their behalf? It just doesn’t seem legitimate."

Even though the bill was eventually "paid by the Presidential Inaugural Committee at the direction of Rick Gates," the investigation produced a slew of communications that show that Don Jr's aides were in the loop during the fight over the money, which produced enough red flags to instigate the investigation.

"The District of Columbia’s AG hopes this evidence proves that the Trump Organization should remain part of the lawsuit, which seeks to seize money it deems was misused and divert it instead to another nonprofit. Otherwise, the civil investigation would continue only against the PIC (which is no longer active) and the Trump International Hotel Washington (which is being sold anyway)," the Beast reports, adding, "When approached by The Daily Beast, the AG’s office pointed to the arguments it made in court. The Trump Organization’s lawyer didn’t respond to a request for comment. The collection agency didn’t return calls on Friday.

On New Year’s Eve, the case was reassigned to D.C. Superior Court Judge Yvonne Williams, a former NAACP lawyer appointed to the bench by President Barack Obama.

Biden Acts To Relieve Oil Hikes -- And Trump Responds With Brazen Lies

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

Donald Trump, the disgraced, former president who is reportedly planning a third campaign, on Tuesday released an exceptionally false statement criticizing President Joe Biden for taking action to combat increasing gas and home heating oil prices.

President Biden Tuesday morning announced he has authorized 50 million barrels of oil to be sold from the U.S. Strategic Oil Reserves, a move that should help lower oil and gas prices that have risen because of OPEC+ policies. Biden is making the move in conjunction with similar moves by five other countries: China, India, Japan, South Korea and the U.K.

"We expect the industry to be passing through these savings to consumers as quickly as possible," a White House official said, as The Wall Street Journal reports.

"The president stands ready to take additional action, if needed, and is prepared to use his full authorities working in coordination with the rest of the world to maintain adequate supply as we exit the pandemic," the White House added.

Trump, in a statement released to the press, outright lied about Biden's move, and about his own performance and that of other U.S. Presidents.

"For decades our Country's very important Strategic Oil Reserves were low or virtually empty in that no President wanted to pay the price of filling them up. I filled them up three years ago, right to the top, when oil prices were very low. Those reserves are meant to be used for serious emergencies, like war, and nothing else," Trump falsely claimed.

As The New York Times' Peter Baker notes, the Strategic Oil Reserves (technically the Strategic Petroleum Reserve,) were far from empty when Trump took office, but they were far less full when he left:

That's not the only lie Trump told.

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is authorized to hold up to 714 million barrels (in 2009 it was 727 million barrels), so they were nearly full when Trump took office. He also exposed his ignorance about how the federal government "buys" the oil. The oil is effectively traded to the government as payment (royalties) for drilling leases so presidents not wanting to "pay the price of filling them up" is false as well.

Here's a graph from the U.S. government showing how many barrels of oil are in the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserves, starting in 1980. At no time were they "low or virtually empty," not ever. The chart is highlighted to indicate the day Trump was sworn in to office:

The Reserves have been tapped about 20 times since they were first created in 1975, including to reduce the deficit in 1996 and 1997, in 2011 during the Arab Spring, and as loans to oil companies.

Trump's 'Truth' Website Will Censor Its Own Users

Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced he's launching a new social media platform, named "TRUTH Social," that he said is meant to "fight back" against "Big Tech," which he accused of trying to "silence opposing voices in America."

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GOP Fundraisers Mimic Trump’s Deceptive Tactics To Swindle Donors

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Although former President Donald Trump has been gone from the White House since January 20, he continues to aggressively raise funds for his political operation. According to Never Trump conservative pundit Tim Miller, Trump's fundraising tactics are still as sleazy as they were when he was in the White House — and recent fundraising from the National Republican Congressional Committee, according to Miller, is just as bad.

In an article published by the website The Bulwark this week, Miller describes the NRCC's offers to join Trump's "new social media site" — which, Miller stresses, has yet to be created. The anti-Trump conservative notes that on Tuesday, he received a text message from the NRCC that read, "Friend request expiring in 10 minutes! Trump needs to know if you're joining his new social media site, Timothy. We won't ask again."

Miller explains, "For starters, Donald Trump has not started a new social media site yet, he's just talked about it…. But even if Trump Social does come into existence, the NRCC — which is a Republican Party committee not affiliated with Donald Trump — would have no operating control or ability to sign people up for this private enterprise. Which creates an ontological conundrum: Can an offer that doesn't exist expire in 10 minutes? "

The Never Trumper notes that he received these NRCC texts only a few days after the New York Times published a "bombshell" article by journalist Shane Goldmacher, who reported that Trump's campaign was repeatedly billing supporters who had only agreed to single contributions.

Miller observes, "The crux of the grift was the Trump campaign's deceptive e-mail practices which, among other things, chose to make recurring donations the default setting for supporters who were lured in by the campaign's hyperbolic and conspiratorial fundraising pitches. As a result, elderly Trump supporters on fixed incomes had their bank accounts depleted, causing their rent and utilities checks to bounce. Altogether the Trump campaign had to refund $122 million in online donations from their own supporters who had been duped."

In his Bulwark article, Miller also describes an NRCC text in which Trump supporters are insulted as "defectors" if they uncheck a box for recurring donations. That box reads, "If you UNCHECK this box, we will have to tell Trump you're a DEFECTOR & sided with the Dems…. Make this a monthly recurring donation."

The checkbox itself isn't even next to the phrase "recurring donation," leaving the effect of the checked box potentially unclear to many donors, some of whom may not be that familiar with computers. The Times report found that these types of tactics led to many more Trump donors seeking refunds and unintentionally giving more money — sometimes much more than they could possibly afford — than is common in political fundraising.

"I'm sure there's some formal legal difference between the NRCC tricking someone into signing up for a nonexistent social media site — and then having a default box opting them in to both double their pledged amount and make it recurring—and the criminal advance-fee scams made famous by the imaginary Nigerian princes," Miller writes. "But as a moral matter, the difference is awfully hard to suss out."

The NRCC has come under fire for opting people into making multiple donations, which many experts argue is manipulative and can border on fraud. The organization pushed back on some of the reporting, pointing out to Forbes that Democrats, too, have used in opt-out mechanisms to push donors into greater contributions. However, the examples provided appeared to show a much clearer choice between recurring donations and one-time donations and did not include the manipulative language calling one-time donors "defectors:

Researchers: Trump’s Mishandling Of Pandemic Cost 400K American Lives

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

From the beginning, it was clear that Donald Trump was handling the COVID-19 pandemic poorly … where "poorly" can be read as any synonym for "in the worst way possible." Trump disbanded agencies meant to deal with pandemics, ignored the outbreak long after it was a clear threat to the nation, failed to make tests available, failed to provide national standards for social distancing, failed to create a national system of testing and case management, promoted phony cures, discouraged the use of masks, undercut health officials, and even encouraged his supporters to engage in armed insurrection against governors who were trying to take effective action. And that's just a select list of ways Trump screwed this thing up, down, and sideways.

That Trump failed massively was obvious. But while it was nice to fantasize about how much better things might have gone under a President Hillary Clinton, it's not really been possible to put a number to just how much of the disaster in the U.S. comes down to Trump's mishandling.

As Reuters reports, a conference at the Brookings Institute this past week included the introduction of a series of research papers on the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. The conclusion of those researchers: "The United States … could have avoided nearly 400,000 deaths with a more effective health strategy ..." And it could have done so while spending billions of dollars less.

The researchers aren't actually claiming that Trump is responsible for over four out of every five deaths, because they're projecting that 400,000 lives saved against an expected total for the pandemic—which they believe will end up being around 670,000 lives lost. Had Trump taken prompt action, they believe the total would have been under 300,000.

What would have made this difference? All the things Trump failed to do: mandating mask use, enforcing social distancing, and a program of uniform testing. As one of the researchers pointed out, the way the the rules were put in place—with each state adopting its own regulations, and a tendency to drop those regulation at the first sign of improvement—was a system that was almost purpose-built to drive the caseload ever higher, while making the public more and more frustrated with both state and federal action.

The other major finding of the research is that by not addressing the pandemic quickly and consistently, the end cost is enormously higher in dollars, as well as lives. The American Rescue Plan, recently passed through Congress without Republican help, is just the latest of three massive attempts to stabilize an economy rocked by the pandemic and its secondary effects. The total tab on those attempts is now in excess of $5 trillion.

Had the scope of the pandemic been reduced at the outset, its price tag in terms of the national debt would have been much lower, and bills like the American Rescue Plan may not have been necessary. If there had been an adequate medical response to the pandemic—say, a national program of testing and case management—that might have been paired with a financial program that paid people who were forced to be away from work in isolation or quarantine. The impact on both individuals and companies might have been reduced, at huge savings.

Researchers reported that the big spending bills that were produced did what they intended. They shored up incomes, propped up spending, and helped to both buffer the nation against lost jobs and shuttered businesses. But some programs, such as the Payroll Protection Plan, got decidedly mixed reviews. Which isn't hard to understand, considering the number of issues that have surfaced since the secrecy began to fall away from who got PPP payments. (Note: Daily Kos obtained a loan through the Payroll Protection Plan Act.)

The other big finding on the economic front wasn't just that the cost of the reacting to the pandemic was much higher than the cost of getting out in front of COVID-19. The cost of every dollar spent on stimulus was less effective than had that same dollar gone to a project such as improving infrastructure or addressing climate change. The dollars that pass into those programs are expected to generate both more jobs, more spending, and more long term benefits that the checks mailed out as stimulus.

Which makes it nice that President Biden has made it clear—infrastructure is up next. And it's getting more than a week.

Trump's Election Lies Will Spur More Extremist Terror, Intelligence Agencies Warn

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

On Wednesday, U.S. intelligence agencies released their newest assessment of the threat to America from domestic violent extremism, singling out rhetoric like Donald Trump's election lies as a driver of continued violent events.

The unclassified report was released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Homeland Security.

The report notes that violent extremists "pose an elevated threat to the Homeland in 2021" and were "galvanized by recent political and societal events in the United States."

"Newer sociopolitical developments—such as narratives of fraud in the recent general election, the emboldening impact of the violent breach of the US Capitol, conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and conspiracy theories promoting violence—will almost certainly spur some DVEs [domestic violent extremists] to try to engage in violence this year," the report goes on to note.

In the aftermath of his loss to President Joe Biden, Trump has frequently and repeatedly made baseless allegations of fraud against the election process in multiple states.

Trump's team sought to make similar allegations in federal courts in the aftermath of the election and were repeatedly rejected, sometimes even by judges that had been appointed by Trump.

In his interview on Tuesday night with Fox Business's Maria Bartiromo, Trump again reiterated his election falsehoods, lamenting to the conservative host that the "Supreme Court didn't have the courage to overturn elections that should have been overturned."

The January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump rioters was sparked by Trump's lies about the election, with many of those who breached the building citing the desire to prevent the election results from being certified.

Their actions were reinforced by congressional Republicans like Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Josh Hawley (R-MO), who joined with House Republicans in an attempt to object to the certification and overturn the results in Trump's favor.

Biden defeated Trump in both the popular vote and the electoral college, including wins certified by Congress in key states like Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Michigan, which Trump had won in 2016.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.