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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.

Trump Ripped Former GOP Allies In Furious Interview

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

No matter how much a Republican has done for Donald Trump, the former president can easily turn against them if he feels they have let him down in some way — and that includes former Vice President Mike Pence, former U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. They all were his targets for an interview featured in Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker's new book, I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump's Catastrophic Final Year.

On March 31, Washington Post reporters Leonnig and Rucker interviewed Trump in person for their book at his Mar-a-Lago resort in South Florida. I Alone Can Fix It is being released half a year into Joe Biden's presidency; it was six months ago, on January 20, that Trump vacated the White House and Biden was sworn into office. Highlights of that interview can be found in a book excerpt published by Vanity Fair.

During the interview, Trump promoted the false and debunked conspiracy theory that he won the 2020 election — which, in fact, he lost by more than 7 million votes. And Trump believes that Pence let him down by not preventing Congress from affirming Biden's Electoral College victory on January 6, the day a violent mob of Trump's supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol Building.

The ex-president told Leonnig and Rucker, "The greatest fraud ever perpetrated in this country was this last election. It was rigged, and it was stolen. It was both. It was a combination, and Bill Barr didn't do anything about it."

In December 2020, Trump was furious when Barr told the Associated Press that there was no evidence proving the type of widespread voter fraud that Trump was alleging. As much of a Trump loyalist as Barr had been, he acknowledged that Biden was the United States' legitimate president-elect.

Trump told Leonnig and Rucker, "Barr disliked me at the end, in my opinion, and that's why he made the statement about the election, because he did not know. And I like Bill Barr, just so you know. I think he started off as a great patriot, but I don't believe he finished that way."

Similarly, Trump believes that Pence let him down as well. Pence, in early January, stressed that as vice president, he didn't have the authority to reverse the Electoral College results. But as Trump saw it, he wasn't trying hard enough.

At Mar-a-Lago, Trump told Leonnig and Rucker, "Had Mike Pence had the courage to send it back to the legislatures, you would have had a different outcome, in my opinion. I think that the vice president of the United States must protect the Constitution of the United States. I don't believe he's just supposed to be a statue who gets these votes from the states and immediately hands them over. If you see fraud, then I believe you have an obligation to do one of a number of things."

On Capitol Hill, Democrats view Sen. Mitch McConnell as a fierce and unyielding partisan who fights them every step of the way. But Trump doesn't agree.

Thanks in part to McConnell, all three of Trump's Supreme Court nominees are now on the High Court: Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Justice Neil Gorsuch, and Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Yet Trump believes that McConnell didn't do enough for him. And ironically, Trump holds a grudge against the Senate minority leader for not wanting to abolish the filibuster. Democrats, during the Biden era, have been complaining that the filibuster is preventing them from getting important legislation passed in the Senate — from a voting rights bill to a commission to study the January 6 insurrection.

Trump said of McConnell, "He's a stupid person. I don't think he's smart enough. I tried to convince Mitch McConnell to get rid of the filibuster, to terminate it, so that we would get everything — and he was a knucklehead, and he didn't do it."

Other Republicans Trump ranted against during the March 31 interview ranged from former House Speaker Paul Ryan to Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah to former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

The former president told Leonnig and Rucker, "Chris has been very disloyal, but that's OK. I helped Chris Christie a lot. He knows that more than anybody, but I helped him a lot. But he's been disloyal."

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

McConnell Admits He Tolerated Trump’s Election Lies For Political Expediency

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed in an account published Sunday that he declined to publicly confront former President Donald Trump's election lies because he did not want to upset Trump and wanted to win Senate elections in Georgia.

The Atlantic's Jonathan Karl reported that ahead of two January runoff Senate elections in Georgia, McConnell told then-Attorney General William Barr that he wanted Barr to confront Trump over his lies about the 2020 election results and would not do so himself.

"Look, we need the president in Georgia," he said. According to Karl's reporting, McConnell was afraid Trump would "sabotage" the Georgia campaigns if he declared Joe Biden had won the election. "And so we cannot be frontally attacking him right now. But you're in a better position to inject some reality into this situation. You are really the only one who can do it."

Karl said Barr provided the story in an interview and noted, "McConnell confirms the account."

Campaigning for then-Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, Trump continued to promote conspiracy theories and falsehoods about the election he had lost to Biden.

"They cheated and rigged our presidential election, but we'll still win," Trump said at a rally in Valdosta, Georgia, on December 5. On January 4, the day before the runoffs, Trump repeated the lies at a rally in Dalton, saying, "By the way, there is no way we lost Georgia. There's no way. That was a rigged election. But we are still fighting it."

Although in a speech in the Senate on December 15, 2020, McConnell did acknowledge that Biden was president-elect, he did not push back against Trump's lies.

On January 6, after Republicans lost both elections in Georgia and Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock were declared to have won election to the Senate, Trump appeared at the "Stop the Steal" rally in Washington, D.C., during which he reiterated his lies about the election results.

Trump's comments at the rally were cited as evidence during his impeachment in the House on charges of inciting a mob of his supporters to walk to the Capitol and break in, in an attempt to overturn election results he and they still called fraudulent.

It was only after the attack that McConnell admitted that Trump had circulated "wild falsehoods" and that his incitement of the mob was a "disgraceful dereliction of duty." Nonetheless, McConnell still sided with a majority of Senate Republicans to acquit Trump during his second impeachment trial.

Trump has continued to lie about losing the election. On Sunday, he told supporters at a rally in Ohio that the result of the 2020 election was "the scam of the century and this was the crime of the century."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

It's Too Late To Erase Barr’s Role In Spreading Election Lies

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

ABC News chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl has made waves with his recent piece in The Atlantic, titled "Inside William Barr's Breakup With Trump," recounting the former U.S. attorney general's story of a nasty falling-out with former President Donald Trump in the wake of Barr's public admission in early December that there was no evidence of voter fraud that Trump was alleging had stolen the election from him.

USA Today also gave a deferential treatment to Barr's current telling of the story, with a write-up of Karl's piece entitled "It's just a joke': Former AG William Barr derided Trump's false election claims."

However, none of this fawning coverage did anything to provide accountability for Barr's own prominent role in helping Trump build up a false public narrative of massive fraud in the months before the election.

Indeed, right before the 2020 election, ABC News had tracked some of Barr's "unfounded argument" seeking to sow distrust in the expanded use of mail-in voting during the COVID-19 pandemic. In September, Karl had also reported on a Department of Homeland Security bulletin on Russian disinformation against mail-in voting, which sought to further spread Trump's own false claims. USA Today had also published a guest column in July by cybersecurity experts, debunking many of Barr's claims.

But now, Barr's actual record in this matter is left on the cutting-room floor.

Barr Pushed False Claims Of Voter Fraud

Karl wrote about Barr's informal review of various claims of voter fraud in the weeks following Election Day because he "knew that at some point, Trump was going to confront him about the allegations." As Barr told Karl, "If there was evidence of fraud, I had no motive to suppress it. But my suspicion all the way along was that there was nothing there. It was all bullshit."

However, Trump would have had every reasonable expectation that Barr would help him out — because throughout 2020, Barr mounted his own propaganda operation against the security of the upcoming election. Far from treating it like "bullshit," at this stage, the attorney general pushed multiple false claims that the Trump campaign would use to try and overturn the election from Election Day through January 6 — and which are even still in circulation today.

In the spring of 2020, Barr floated a conspiracy theory in an interview with The New York Times that "there are a number of foreign countries that could easily make counterfeit ballots, put names on them, send them in." He then dug in on this idea again in September, telling CNN that he was "basing it on logic."

Election experts would explain all the ways such fraud was impossible, because real mail-in ballots have individual identifiers such as barcodes and signatures for tracking and processing, and they must be correctly printed on the right kind of paper to be scanned by each local ballot machine. However, Barr's claim still lives on today, with the QAnon-linked ballot "audit" in Arizona looking for such things as rumored bamboo fibers as evidence of fake ballots being flown in or secret watermarks that were placed as part of an elaborate sting operation for false ballots.

In September, Barr also asserted that mail-in voting would destroy the protections of the secret ballot: "There's no more secret vote. … Your name is associated with a particular ballot. The government and the people involved can find out and know how you voted. And it opens up the door to coercion." (This, too, was false, as there are safeguards in place to prevent a specific person's vote from being identified at the counting stage.)

Notably, in one interview with Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass, Barr also sought to discredit the counting of mail-in votes as he painted a picture of the exact scenario that Trump and his allies would later seek to take advantage of — a "red mirage" followed by a "blue shift," in which Trump would appear to be ahead on Election Night before the counting of mail-in votes that were disproportionately cast by Democrats. "Someone will say the president just won Nevada," Barr offered hypothetically. "'Oh, wait a minute! We just discovered 100,000 ballots! Every vote will be counted!' Yeah, but we don't know where these freaking votes came from."

In the same interview, Barr also dismissed the idea that Trump would attempt to subvert the election result. "You know liberals project," Barr said. "All this bulls--- about how the president is going to stay in office and seize power? I've never heard of any of that crap. I mean, I'm the attorney general. I would think I would have heard about it." (Later, in the wake of the January 6 insurrection, Barr said in a statement that Trump's conduct that day was a "betrayal of his office and supporters.")

Nowhere in his Atlantic piece did Karl grapple with any of these statements. Instead, he simply left the reader with the impression that Barr knew after the election that claims of widespread voter fraud were "all bullshit."

Barr Said Claims Of Voter Fraud Would "Continue To Be Pursued"

At the end of his Atlantic piece, Karl gave a sympathetic slant to Barr's resignation as attorney general in late December, when Barr seemingly tried to leave on positive terms while separating himself from the disastrous efforts of Trump's inner circle to reverse the election res

Barr almost immediately began to regret his decision to stay. His statement on election fraud did nothing to deter Trump, who was now listening, almost exclusively, to Giuliani and others outside his administration. They were telling him that he was still going to win the election.
Two weeks later, Barr went down to the White House to tell the president that he planned to resign before the end of the year. It was their first meeting since their confrontation. To defuse the tension, Barr had written an effusive resignation letter, which he handed to the president when he got to the Oval Office. The letter praised Trump's record and played directly into his complaints about how he had been treated by Democrats, saying his efforts "had been met by a partisan onslaught against you in which no tactic, no matter how abusive and deceitful, was out of bounds."

To be exact, those quotes came from the second paragraph of Barr's published resignation letter. However, Karl omitted the very first paragraph of the full letter, in which Barr continued to publicly dignify Trump's efforts to sow mistrust in the election:

I appreciate the opportunity to update you this afternoon on the Department's review of voter fraud allegations in the 2020 election and how these allegations will continue to be pursued. At a time when the country is so deeply divided, it is incumbent on all levels of government, and all agencies acting within their purview, to do all we can to assure the integrity of elections and promote public confidence in their outcome.

Nowhere in that paragraph did Barr acknowledge that these allegations of fraud were all "bullshit," as he now puts it, but instead stated they would "continue to be pursued" as a valid concern for the American public.

Karl could have held Barr accountable for that opening paragraph. Instead, his piece said nothing about it.

While guest anchoring on Sunday's edition of ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Karl touted his own "amazing interview" in which Barr "talked about what he really thought of Donald Trump's claims of election fraud." (Notably, Karl also did not correct former Trump administration official Sarah Isgur's false claim during the subsequent panel discussion that the Mueller Report "for the most part" had exonerated the Trump campaign of collusion with Russia in 2016.)

Yes, There Is A Conspiracy

Conspiracy has replaced policy as the motivating force of the Republican Party and its media minions — but only the most flimsy and imaginary conspiracies qualify for partisan attention. Actual criminal conspiracies that threaten the nation merit no concern.

That's why congressional Republicans killed the independent commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection but now insinuate that the terrible events of that day were secretly instigated by the FBI. While there is no shred of evidence to support that fraudulent and insulting claim, the Party of Trump can say anything to its moronic cultists without fear of contradiction. They're faithful supporters of law enforcement, except when they're insulting law enforcement officers, accusing them of felonious schemes or perhaps trying to maim them.

Such fabrications ought to be familiar to anyone who has been paying attention over the past few years. Concocted to distract from real events and issues, they have become the standard Trumpist retort whenever a troubling question arises.

When the collusive relationship between Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and the Kremlin became too obvious to ignore, the response from the suspected perpetrators (and traitors) in the White House was to scream "conspiracy." Somebody was conspiring to mount a "witch hunt" against Trump, whether it was the Deep State, the Clinton campaign, Fusion GPS, the fake news media, or all of them combined. Investigators and subpoenas uncovered the facts, which included Trump Tower meetings with Russian agents, interference by Russian intelligence assets to support Trump, and even a handoff of sensitive campaign materials to a Russian spy. Then came the cover-up, with Trump promising (and eventually delivering) pardons to Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Steve Bannon, Mike Flynn, and other crooks who might incriminate him.

Dismissing all of that, Attorney General Bill Barr pretended to see a possible conspiracy against Trump — and even deputized a U.S. Attorney named John Durham to uncover it. By the time that probe came up empty, however, everyone had presumably moved on.

Now the Republicans want to avoid a thorough investigation of the January 6 insurrection — and the malign and traitorous actors behind it — at any cost. Any serious probe will not only incriminate Trump and certain figures around him but may well implicate members of the House Republican caucus who encouraged the violence. We already know at least a few of their names, including Reps. Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs of Arizona, Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. All of them are frantically trying to conceal the horror of that day. Their actions scream consciousness of guilt.

Equally troubling for the Republican leaders is the prospect of testifying under oath about their own knowledge of what went down. They don't want to discuss the very strange failure by Trump to respond to pleas for help while the rioters hunted for members with intent to kill — as recounted by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. It's just too sickening, and so is their cowardice.

The Justice Department is prosecuting extremely violent conspiracies by members of the Trump-affiliated groups that attacked the Capitol, notably the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys, and the QAnon cult. When all of the connections between those scummy outfits and Trump's circle are finally revealed, McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pray that America will no longer be paying attention.

If the fascist faction in the House — and their spokesman Tucker Carlson, the Fox News fabulist — believe their own slanders of the FBI, they should be clamoring for an independent investigation. But they're manufacturing a lie — and they know it.

Fortunately, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just announced the formation of a House select committee to mount a full investigation of the January 6 insurrection. That special committee will have subpoena authority and, hopefully, a Democratic chair who will pursue the facts without remorse or fear. Unlike the independent commission, which Republicans rejected despite concessions to all of their demands, this committee will face no deadlines, nor require bipartisan agreement on investigative decisions.

Yes, there was, and is, a conspiracy against democracy, whose ringleaders will be exposed — despite the Republican leadership's desperate attempts to shield them.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

General Refused Trump Demand To 'Shoot' Racial Justice Protesters

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Former President Donald Trump wanted the military to take aggressive action against protesters following the disturbing death of George Floyd. A new book documents the former president's disturbing demands to quell the protests.

In the new book, Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost, Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender details the series of events that led to Trump's downfall.At one point in the book, he also discusses the nationwide protests that erupted following Floyd's death. According to Bender, Trump allegedly wanted physical harm to be brought against protesters and even suggested that they be shot.

Although the vast majority of protests were non-violent and peaceful, Trump still demanded to see law enforcement take physical action. "That's how you're supposed to handle these people," Trump told his administrative officials, according to Bender's reporting. "Crack their skulls!"

"Well, shoot them in the leg — or maybe the foot," Trump reportedly said. "But be hard on them!"

In addition to the verbal remarks, the former president is also said to have used a number of videos as examples of the pushback he wanted to see. CNN also offered details about Trump's conversations behind closed doors at the White House. He reportedly told members of his administration that he wanted the military to "beat the f--- out" of protesters.

Although General Mark A. Milley and former U.S. Attorney General Barr William reportedly made attempts to push back against the president's dangerous rhetoric, he would only back down temporarily.

Another incident reported in the book centered on one of Milley's exchanges with Trump's former senior policy adviser Stephen Miller. When Miller reportedly referred to some of the states as "war zones," Milley reportedly told him to "shut the fuck up."