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Gaetz's Ex-Girlfriend Testifies Before Grand Jury In Sex Crimes Probe

A federal grand jury heard testimony on Wednesday from the ex-girlfriend of Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican who is currently under investigation by the Justice Department for possible sex crimes.

NBC News was first to report the development and noted that the cooperation between the woman and federal prosecutors has been ongoing for several months. To protect her privacy, her name has not been disclosed; her cooperation is part of her effort to secure immunity.

Gaetz has not been charged with any crimes and has staunchly denied the swirling allegations. But it is believed, according to a wide variety of reported sources with insider knowledge, that Gaetz is under scrutiny for a trio of crimes including obstructing justice, sex trafficking a 17-year-old girl, and violating the Mann Act—a law that bars the transport of minors over state lines.

Neither Gaetz nor the Justice Department immediately returned a request for comment Wednesday.

The probe into the Florida Republican’s conduct has been ongoing for more than a year. It started when former Seminole County, Florida tax collector and friend to Gaetz, Joel Greenberg, was charged with a variety of unsavory crimes including sex trafficking a minor, identity theft, stalking, wire fraud, and conspiracy to bribe a public official. Greenberg pleaded guilty last summer and began cooperating with investigators to reduce his sentence.

Gaetz, it was revealed last April, sent Greenberg $900 over Venmo in May 2018. The very next day and over just a few minutes, Greenberg used Venmo to send the funds to three girls. The total Greenberg sent? $900.

Gaetz, in the memo portion for a cash transfer to Greenberg first wrote “test” and then “hit up ____.” The blank section, according to The Daily Beast, was not blank in the Venmo transfer memo, but rather it featured the nickname of a girl who was one of the recipients of the cash. Because she was a minor at the time, the nickname was not disclosed.

Greenberg, when paying out the $900 listed it as “tuition” and “school” in the memo.

Politico was first to report that Gaetz was the subject of an obstruction inquiry last June, citing two sources who said that this part of the probe began only after a former girlfriend of the congressman patched Gaetz into a phone call she had with a witness to the alleged sex crimes. That witness has since talked to prosecutors. Their testimony could be instrumental in shaping how prosecutors will charge Gaetz, if at all.

One of the alleged sex trafficking victims has told prosecutors Gaetz had sex with her when she was a minor and paid for the exchange. There have also been questions around Gaetz’s trip to the Bahamas in 2018, when he served as an adviser to Florida’s now-governor Ron DeSantis.

According to a Politico report from April, a young woman central to the trafficking probe was on a 2018 flight to the Bahamas courtesy of Halsey Beshears, then a top regulator working in Florida’s state government, and Jason Pirozzolo, a DeSantis gubernatorial campaign fundraiser. Bashears, Pirozzollo, and Gaetz were meeting in the Bahamas. Instead of flying with the women, Gaetz flew commercial.

While a source told Politico at the time that the women were all of age on the private flight, the report noted: “But questions surrounding the ages of some of the women surfaced immediately upon their return—three of them looked so young when they returned on Beshears’ private plane that U.S. Customs briefly stopped and questioned him, according to sources familiar with the trip, including a woman on the flight.”

News has been slow to trickle out about the career-jeopardizing investigation. In October, however, it was revealed that additional prosecutors—who specialize in sex trafficking—were added to the probe into the Florida congressman.

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Witness Says Trump Watched DC Riots On TV, Ignored Pleas To Intervene

House Select Committee vice-chair Liz Cheney publicly disclosed on Sunday that a witness cooperating with the insurrection probe has privately testified that during the January 6 assault on the Capitol, former President Donald Trump sat by and watched it unfold on television as police were viciously beaten and his supporters overran the building.

This bit of information is something that has been widely suspected by those who have followed the committee’s investigation closely—and even by some who have not. Trump’s silence and inaction for 187 minutes on January 6 were palpable as the riot exploded. But precisely what he was doing, who he spoke to, or what he said in that window remains, for now, a subject of some mystery.

The implications are unprecedented.

Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, divulged the firsthand witness testimony on Face the Nation this past weekend as she fielded questions from host Margaret Brennan about the criminal culpability of Trump’s abject failure to act that day.

Cheney said on Sunday:

“The committee is obviously going to follow the facts wherever they lead. We’ve made tremendous progress. If you think about, for example, what we know now about what the former president was doing on the 6th while the attack was underway. The committee has firsthand testimony that President Trump was sitting in the dining room next to the Oval Office, watching on television as the Capitol was assaulted as the violence occurred. We know that that is clearly a supreme dereliction of duty. One of the things that the committee is looking at from the perspective of our legislative purpose is whether we need enhanced penalties for that kind of dereliction of duty. But we’ve certainly never seen anything like that as a nation before.”

During a separate appearance on Sunday with ABC News, Cheney further illuminated the committee’s findings. Cheney said a firsthand witness testified that Ivanka Trump, the former president’s daughter and then senior adviser, pleaded with Trump at least twice to do something to quell the violence.

Ivanka’s pleas have been reported elsewhere before. In Peril, a book on the Trump administration by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, the Washington Post reporters said that Ivanka tried to get Trump to step in no less than three times on January 6.

“Let this thing go. Let it go,” Ivanka reportedly said.

“We know, as he was sitting there in the dining room next to the Oval Office, members of his staff were pleading with him to go on television, to tell people to stop,” Cheney said on ABC. “We know [House GOP] Leader [Kevin] McCarthy was pleading with him to do that.”

McCarthy has admitted openly to calling Trump on January 6. During the former president’s second impeachment—this time for incitement of insurrection— Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington shared McCarthy’s account of his tense phone call with Trump. McCarthy pleaded with the president to issue a statement that could calm the mob, and Trump effectively refused, insisting it wasn’t his supporters responsible for the melee but antifa.

McCarthy has been asked to voluntarily comply with the committee’s requests for his records and testimony. A threat of a formal subpoena looms. So far, just two other Republican lawmakers have been hit with a voluntary compliance request, including Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania. Neither Jordan nor Perry have said they will comply, queuing up a likely bitter legal showdown between Trump crony legislators and the probe. Committee chair Bennie Thompson has indicated uncertainty over the panel’s power to subpoena fellow legislators.

Representatives for Jordan and Perry have not returned multiple requests for comment.

Appearing on Meet the Press Sunday, Thompson also reiterated the committee’s findings—and concerns—about the 187 minutes that Trump went silent.

Just before Christmas, the Mississippi Democrat told The Washington Post that the select committee believes, based on the records, evidence, and testimony it has obtained thus far, that Trump may have recorded several videos on January 6 addressing his supporters before finally releasing a bizarre one-minute clip.

He repeated lies about the election results in the video and told the rioters, “Go home. We love you. You’re very special.”

Thompson has said that Trump’s many reshoots of that clip, or one like it, were necessary because he “wouldn’t say the right thing.”

Thompson told Meet the Press this Sunday that the committee has already asked the National Archives to provide investigators with any related videos it might have that have yet to be remitted.

The anniversary of the attack falls this week, and with it, plans are underway on Capitol Hill to hold a solemn ceremony marking the day, including a moment of silence for lives lost. Trump has announced plans to hold a press conference at Mar-a-Lago.

“He’s doing this press conference on the sixth,” Cheney said on Sunday. “If he makes those same claims [of election fraud], he’s doing it with the complete understanding of what those claims have caused in the past.”

The committee’s work meanwhile continues unabated, with public hearings imminent. More than 300 witnesses have already testified, and the committee has obtained reams of documents from cooperative probe targets.

Appearing on CNN on Sunday, Thompson said the committee would determine “whether or not what occurred on Jan. 6 was a comedy of errors or a planned effort on the part of certain individuals.”

Adding to the bevy of witnesses already called, the committee also plans to haul in state and local election officials for testimony. They also will take statements from members of the National Guard. Much confusion and uncertainty still reign over why assistance to the Capitol was so long delayed.

Democracy came perilously close to being lost on Jan. 6, Thompson told CNN.

“Before we just run out with a story we can’t defend, we will get to what we believe is the truth, and that’s the charge that we have as a committee,” he added.

Thompson also urged that if, in the course of its probe, committee members unearth evidence that they think “warrants review or recommendation” to the Justice Department, then they will do just that.

“We’re not looking for it, but if we find it, we’ll absolutely make the referral,” Thompson said.

In an appeal to the Supreme Court, Trump has balked at the committee’s position to disclose evidence of criminal wrongdoing to the Justice Department if necessary. The former president alleges the committee is acting outside the scope of its authority by weighing such referrals and thus has no constitutionally protected purpose.

Lower courts, however, have said the “mere prospect that misconduct might be exposed” in the course of an investigation does not alter the committee’s authority.

Whether the committee issues a criminal referral for Trump or not, Cheney emphasized a profound need for legislative review, at the least.

“I think that there are a number, as the chairman said, of potential criminal statutes at issue here. But I think there’s absolutely no question that it was a dereliction of duty. I think one of the things the committee needs to look at as we’re looking at legislative purpose is whether we need enhanced penalties for that dereliction of duty,” she said.

Even though Trump is out of office, his influence in Washington and elsewhere in the U.S. is still being felt and has shown no sign of slowing down. His messaging about voter fraud, for example, has buoyed the Republican argument against the expansion of voting rights in the U.S.

In a letter to Senate colleagues on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer highlighted this dynamic as the anniversary of the attempted overthrow approaches.

“It was attacked in a naked attempt to derail our Republic’s most sacred tradition: the peaceful transfer of power,” Schumer said.

Considering this and in reflection of a year that found Republicans rebuffing every bid by Democrats to expand voting rights legislatively, Schumer announced that the Senate would debate and later vote on changes to its own filibuster rules by Jan. 17 if Republicans don’t get out of the way.

“The Senate must advance systemic democracy reforms to repair our republic, or else the events of that day will not be an aberration— they will be the new norm. We as Senate Democrats must urge the public in a variety of different ways to impress upon their Senators the importance of acting and reforming the Senate rules if that becomes a prerequisite for action to save our democracy," Schumer wrote

Article reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

House Select Committee Defers To White House On Delay Of Some Documents

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

The House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol has agreed to delay or withdraw a portion of its requests for former President Donald Trump’s White House records, specifically deferring their demand for documents that do not appear to have any bearing on the White House’s preparations for or response to efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

The announcement was made public by White House Counsel Dana Remus. President Joe Biden maintains his initial position that the public’s interest outweighs Trump’s interest in shielding the documents. The only change now is the concern that records unrelated to the Jan. 6 investigation, if divulged publicly, could jeopardize national security.

Incidentally, the maneuver is also legally beneficial for the committee’s probe: If they narrow the request for documents, it becomes harder for the former president and his attorneys to fortify claims of overreach on the executive branch in court.

In a letter detailing the deferral agreement, Deputy Counsel for the White House Jonathan Su explained that the committee is interesting in pursuing its investigation while also “preserving important Executive Branch prerogatives,” but the panel also highlighted that it could, if necessary down the line, assert privilege over the deferred documents.

Among some 511 pages remitted to the select committee were records deemed unrelated to the insurrection probe, or they were documents regarding deliberations by the National Security Council.

This latest agreement between the White House and the committee does not mean that the committee has stopped its probe.

“The Select Committee welcomes President Biden’s decision to clear the way for the production of another set of records. The committee has agreed to defer action on certain records as part of the accommodations process, as was the case with an earlier tranche of records,” a committee spokesman said in a statement Tuesday. “The Select Committee has not withdrawn its request for these records and will continue to engage with the executive branch to ensure the committee gets access to all the information relevant to our probe."

So far President Biden has agreed to release over 700 pages of Trump’s records to the committee, including things like visitor and call logs, memos, and emails. There are also speech drafts and several pages of handwritten notes from former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Investigators argue that these records are critical to understanding what unfolded inside the White House during the attack on the Capitol and will provide clarity on the administration’s overarching attempt to overturn the U.S. election.

Trump has already lost two legal attempts to shroud those records. What happens next will be integral to the committee’s investigation.

A lower court in Washington already ordered the records released, but the D.C. Court of Appeals agreed to keep the documents under wraps until Dec. 30 so Trump could lodge his appeal to the Supreme Court.

Last week, as expected, Trump asked the U.S. Supreme Court to bar the disclosure from the National Archives and Records Administration. In an appeal spanning nearly 200 pages, the former president derided the committee as unconstitutional and a threat to the separation of powers.

In response, the Jan. 6 committee urged the Supreme Court to respond to Trump’s appeal quickly, saying that both sides could have all their briefs filed by Dec. 30. Investigators suggested both parties be given two weeks, or until Jan. 14, to have their cases heard. This would give the committee time to strategize its response to whatever Trump files.

The pressure to get this legal fight with Trump behind the committee is on as the 2022 midterms loom. The committee is eager to craft legislation that would prevent a rogue president from usurping power and without a majority in the House or Senate, those prospects dwindle drastically.

“Delay would inflict a serious injury on the Select Committee and the public by interfering with this mandate. The Select Committee needs the requested documents now to help shape the direction of the investigation and allow the Select Committee to timely recommend remedial legislation,” the committee said in its eight-page response.

If Trump loses this fight, Committee Chair Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, recently reconfirmed to reporters that the panel is after Trump’s Jan. 5 and Jan. 6 White House call records.

Trump reportedly made several phone calls from the White House that day to his advisers—some official, some not—and lawyers including John Eastman, Steve Bannon, Boris Epshteyn, and Rudy Giuliani. Many of those calls, investigators allege, could involve discussions about a vast pressure campaign on then-Vice President Mike Pence. Trump wanted Pence to stop the certification process, something that was baldly unconstitutional.

Trump Flack Sues To Stop Select Committee From Obtaining Bank Records

The spokesperson for former President Donald Trump, Taylor Budowich—who investigators say helped fundraising efforts for the rally at the Ellipse in Washington on January 6—has launched a bid to stop investigators from reviewing his financial records.

His lawsuit was filed in a federal court in Washington, D.C., and revealed that Budowich has so far turned over more than 1,700 pages of records to the January 6 select committee.

The 21-page complaint named all committee members, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and Budowich’s bank, J.P. Morgan Chase. The Trump spokesman claims he has already fielded questions from investigators related to the “planning of a peaceful, lawful rally” this December for more than four hours. However, the scrutiny of his finances, he says, is a step too far.

In November, the January 6 select committee issued its first subpoena to Budowich, noting their inquiry was related to his alleged funneling of $200,000 from an undisclosed “source or sources” to promote the rally near the Capitol. Budowich, investigators say, “facilitated the transfer” of those funds with Women for America First VIP adviser Caroline Wren. Wren was subpoenaed by the committee this September. She has been cooperating with the committee and reportedly sat for a deposition in mid-December for several hours.

Investigators have requested information from Wren about her alleged communication with former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows—now awaiting possible indictment by the DOJ for contempt of Congress—and the committee has sought information about reports that Wren “parked funds” flagged for January 6 with a variety of nonprofits.

Though he has balked over the demand to J.P Morgan, it is still unclear if the bank has actually supplied the committee with the records. A bank spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment but in the lawsuit, Budowich’s attorney says the financial institution, on December 21 gave Budowich until Christmas Eve to stop the review. Budowich also claimed both the bank and the select committee refused to extend his deadline.

As of Monday morning, Budowich’s legal docket in D.C. has been quiet and it is unclear if his attempt to block the committee with a temporary restraining order will be a success.

In a statement after hitting the committee with his lawsuit, the Trump spokesman said: “Democracy is under attack. However, not by the people who illegally entered the Capitol on Janiuary 6, 2021, but instead by a committee whose members walk freely in its halls every day.”

That rhetoric, and a sizeable portion of Budowich’s legal complaint, echo other sentiments that have sprouted from almost a dozen figures the committee has sized up as it digs into the insurrection on Jan. 6.

For instance, Budowich claims the committee lacks legislative merit and is part of an “unconstitutional attempt to usurp the Executive Branch’s authority to enforce the law.” But that theory has been shot down by a federal appeals court in Washington. And as for Trump, even he is in the middle of testing those waters now. Just before the holidays and as a filing deadline loomed, the former president appealed an earlier ruling from the courts that permitted scrutiny of his presidential records as it relates to the attack. The next move there is up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Budowich argues too that the request to J.P. Morgan by the committee violated his First Amendment right because it was too hasty.

The Trump spokesman, who is also the sole owner of the for-profit Conservative Strategies, Inc. organization, claims he gave the committee “sufficient” information on his bank statements from about mid-December 2020 to Jan. 31, 2021.

A committee spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment.

The probe has been actively pursuing mountains of information for months. Investigators have interviewed nearly 300 people so far and just this month, the body finally began to issue notices to prominent Trump allies and sitting U.S. lawmakers who amplified Trump’s lies about voter fraud in the 2020 election. A request for voluntary cooperation was issued to Rep. Scott Perry, a Pennsylvania Republican. He lashed out, refusing to comply. And Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio was also asked to meet with investigators voluntarily to disclose information about his discussions with Trump on Jan. 6.

Jordan did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

In the past, Jordan has said he spoke to Trump after the riot was over. His story changed when he told Politico that he “definitely” spoke to Trump multiple times but did not recall the timeframe. One of those calls, he conceded, occurred when he was in a secure lockdown area with other lawmakers as the Capitol was under siege. In July, when pressed by reporters about whether he would cooperate with the committee, Jordan said “If they call me, I got nothing to hide.”

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Roger Stone On Skid Row, Begs For Money To Avoid Prosecution

Conspiracy theorist, Trump ally, and wearer of mostly tacky overpriced clothes Roger Stone appeared for deposition before the January 6 select committee on Friday and as he broadcast earlier this month, he invoked his Fifth Amendment right in response to every question that was asked.

CNN reported Friday that Stone’s deposition took a little over an hour and when he made his exit from the meeting, he told reporters in his now painfully predictable rhetoric: “This is a witch hunt 3.0.”

One of the grievances he aired Friday was a line well-tread by Republicans in Congress since the committee’s inception.

Though he didn’t have much at all to tell the committee Friday, he did use the hours before his appointment to raise funds across social media. The panel is bogus, he cried, because “Speaker Pelosi rejected the appointment of Republicans to the committee and seated two anti-Trump Republicans.”

When the committee was proposed, GOP House leader Kevin McCarthy was given ample opportunity to negotiate terms with Pelosi but insisted that the probe of the January 6 attack extend to other unrelated incidents of violence. Pelosi also offered to form a committee that was evenly split between Republicans and Democrats but because McCarthy didn’t get every wish on his checklist ticked off, he soured on the deal and the House went forward with the commission anyway.

Investigators on the committee sought records and testimony from Stone because of his closeness to Trump in the run-up to the insurrection. Stone also regularly promoted Trump’s lies about election fraud and importantly, investigators believe Stone was funneling cash for the ‘Stop the Steal’ movement. The self-professed ‘dirty trickster’ was in D.C. multiple times before January 6, including a rally on December 12 urging Trump’s supporters to “fight until the bitter end to stop Biden from taking office.”

He was also at Freedom Plaza on January 5

Stone maintained on Friday that he was not on the Ellipse on January 6, nor was he at the Capitol during the siege.

“I was not at the Capitol and any claim, assertion, or even implication that I knew about or was involved in any way whatsoever with the illegal and politically counter-productive activities of January 6 is categorically false,” Stone said.

But video surfaced in February showing Stone in D.C. and near the Capitol that morning, and as reported by ABC News, “flanked by members of the Oath Keepers militia group.”

The select committee has pointed to Stone’s own promotion of his appearance at the ‘Stop the Steal’ event that day and has highlighted how Stone even went so far as to take donations to fund his “march to the Capitol.” That solicitation was first reported by Mother Jones.

The select committee is also investigating Stone’s ties to members of the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, both groups that the GOP operative has relied on for his personal security at various pro-Trump events. Some of those makeshift bodyguards have been indicted on crimes related to the attack on the Capitol.

Stone’s silence before Congress was expected and probably the best course of action for the aging interloper; he was convicted in November 2019 on seven felony counts, including impeding a congressional inquiry. Trump pardoned him last July. How the lapdog will now fare in Trump’s eyes will depend on events, but as was pointed out on Twitter Friday, the twice-impeached former president may not look so sunnily on his old friend:

In addition to Stone, John Eastman and Jeffrey Clark have also invoked the Fifth Amendment. Eastman crafted a six-point strategy to convince former Vice President Mike Pence that he could delay the certification. Clark, a former Justice Department official, according to records obtained by the committee, was engaged in a pressure campaign against Georgia state and election officials at Trump’s directive.

Meadows Endorsed Plot To Toss Millions Of Votes -- Before They Were Even Counted

In the months before the 2020 election, lies about widespread voter fraud steadily spewed from former President Donald Trump’s lips and fingertips like so much sewage from a busted septic line. But among a tranche of text messages obtained by the January 6 select committee, a disturbing light shines anew upon the actions of Trump’s most loyal foot soldiers in Congress: One of them was so eager to have the 45th president installed that they suggested tossing out legal votes well before the counting of votes was even complete.

“Here’s an aggressive strategy,” the November 4 text from an unidentified lawmaker to Trump’s then-Chief of Staff Mark Meadows began. “Why can’t the states of GA, NC, PENN and other R-controlled state houses declare this is BS [where conflicts and election not called that night] and just send their own electors to vote and have it go to SCOTUS.”

This, put simply, was a proposed strategy to directly undermine the will of American voters. And when Trump’s staff was presented with a similar plot a second time, there was no rush to outrage at the unethical, unprincipled unconstitutionality of it all. Instead, the strategy was welcomed with a warm embrace and three simple words.

Politico reporter Kyle Cheney pointed out this disturbing dynamic in a tweet on Tuesday night as lawmakers convened in the House to vote on a contempt of Congress referral for Meadows.

Select committee Chairman Bennie Thompson has not yet revealed the identity of the person who sent the proposal to Meadows, but he told NBC News this week that there “won’t be any surprises as to who they are.”

As Kyle Cheney opined, once the person is unmasked, it will likely be time to reconcile “his or her claims of concern about voter fraud with the proposal to throw out millions of legal votes before they were even counted.”

This hypocrisy is familiar to Republicans in Trump’s orbit. One-time personal attorney for Trump Rudy Giuliani notoriously went full autocrat during a drunken exchange on election night, according to Washington Post reporters Carol Leonning and Philip Rucker in their book, I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year.

When it looked like Trump was losing Michigan, Giuliani urged Trump’s campaign staff and Meadows to just say that Trump had won. Meadows, at the time, reportedly said such a maneuver couldn’t be done.

“We can’t do that, we can’t,” Meadows said on November 4.

But by November 6, his tune had changed.

According to records already obtained by the committee, Thompson said that when a legislator in Congress approached Meadows this time with the “highly controversial” scheme to appoint alternate electors despite a total lack of evidence for election fraud, Meadows responded: “I love it.”

And a day later on November 7, after Biden was formally declared the victor, Meadows would write an email that Thompson said “discusses the appointment of alternate slates of electors as a part of a direct and collateral attack after the election.”

This sequence of events alone paints one of the clearest pictures yet of how the White House condoned lies about the 2020 election and was on board with attempts to subvert the results, consequences be damned.

Further illuminating the committee’s findings was Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, one of Trump’s most loyal lapdogs during his presidency.

Politico was first to report Wednesday that Jordan is defending a portion of another text message unveiled by the committee a day earlier. The part of the message made public stated: “On January 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence, as President of the Senate, should call out all the electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all.”

The full text continued: “In accordance with guidance from founding father Alexander Hamilton and judicial precedence. ‘No legislative act,’ wrote Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 78, ‘contrary to the Constitution, can be valid.’ The court in Hubbard v. Lowe reinforced this truth: ‘That an unconstitutional statute is not a law at all is a proposition no longer open to discussion.’ 226 F. 135, 137 (SDNY 1915), appeal dismissed, 242 U.S. 654 (1916).”

Russell Dye, a spokesperson for Jordan, told Politico that the message from Jordan was merely a forward to Meadows of legal analysis compiled by Joseph Schmitz, the Pentagon’s former inspector general.

“Schmitz's words are an argument that Pence had the unilateral authority to simply refuse to count electoral votes he deemed unconstitutional, akin to arguments made by Trump allies John Eastman and Jenna Ellis,” Politico reported.

Though Jordan maintains the message was a forward, the text itself does not necessarily indicate that.

Meanwhile, as Meadows awaits his fate on contempt charges that have now been referred to the Department of Justice and the mystery lawmaker’s messages are in the public square courtesy of the select committee, two key organizers for Trump’s “Stop the Steal” propaganda, Dustin Stockton and Jennifer Lynn Lawrence, have also stepped into the light.

Both Stockton and Lawrence were subpoenaed by the committee in late November. A month prior to that, the duo served as anonymous sources for another Rolling Stone article where they claimed that members of Congress were directly involved in Trump’s scheme to overturn the election and helped orchestrate the rally at the Ellipse on January 6.

Stockton and Lawrence told Rolling Stone that Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar offered a tit-for-tat deal, telling the couple they could receive a “blanket pardon” from Trump in another unrelated investigation if they would protest the election results. Gosar has denied the exchange.

The couple also said they had warned Meadows that their discussions with organizers of the pro-Trump rallies in the runup to Jan. 6 left them worried about looming threats of violence.

“The people and the history books deserve a real account of what happened,” Stockton told Rolling Stone.

Lawrence added: “Violent shit happened. We want to get to the bottom of that.”

Importantly, the couple also admits they are running low on funds and don’t have the ability to fend off a hungry congressional probe that has shown it will go the distance to hold those who refuse to cooperate in contempt. They had a self-proclaimed “falling out” with ex-Trump strategist Steve Bannon following Bannon’s We Build the Wall fraud scheme, which led to his arrest and later, to his pardon by Trump. Stockton and Lawrence were raided in connection to that scheme but were never charged.

“We definitely didn’t want to face another violent raid and we also wanted to avoid racking up even more legal fees and trouble,” the couple told Rolling Stone.

The duo admitted to working with other commission probe targets, like Amy Kremer of Women for America First, to coordinate rallies promoting Trump’s lies about election fraud in mid-November, but in the recent interview, Stockton said Trump’s incitements on Jan. 6 incensed him.

“We assumed that him sitting with all the access to all the agencies of government and classified information he … had access to vastly more information than we did,” Stockton told Rolling Stone. “We trusted when he told us that it was black-and-white and that there was clear evidence over, and over, and over again. We trusted that it would be there, and it ended up being a bluff, and he finally got caught in it.”

Now the couple says they are “going nuclear” and are cooperating with the committee in full to expose everyone who was involved.

Unsurprisingly, other individuals also under subpoena by the committee are less keen on transparency.

John Eastman, the author of the now-infamous memo outlining a six-point strategy to overturn the 2020 election, has opted to sue the committee. Eastman argues that lawmakers went too far by demanding he turn over data from a three-month span, and he contends the committee does not have a legislative function. Meadows also sued the committee and Verizon last week as well as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Meadows is asking a federal court to bar enforcement of the subpoena lobbed against him and the requests sent by the committee to Verizon.

The committee has targeted call records for over 100 people but significantly, they are not after the content of calls. They seek only time logs that would reveal details like when calls are made and their duration.

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Stone Takes The Fifth As Select Committee Moves Contempt Charge Against Meadows

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

With his deposition scheduled for next week, a longtime ally to former President Donald Trump and self-proclaimed dirty trickster Roger Stone has informed the January 6 select committee that he will invoke the Fifth Amendment as he seeks to evade testifying.

NBC was first to report the decision, which was sent in a letter from Stone’s attorney Grant Smith to the committee on Wednesday. In addition to invoking the amendment as it relates to his testimony, this also applies to any physical records that the committee has sought.

Stone is now the third witness central to the committee’s probe that has said he will take the Fifth to avoid self-incrimination. Before Stone, John Eastman and Jeffrey Clark also invoked the amendment. Eastman was responsible for drafting a six-point strategy for former Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the 2020 election results. Clark was allegedly at the center of a plot to oust his superiors at the Justice Department and install himself, with Trump’s blessing, so that the men could promote Trump’s debunked theories of election fraud to state officials.

Stone was slated to appear for a closed-door deposition on December 17. He was first subpoenaed on November 22. Though invoking the Fifth Amendment, Stone’s attorney said in the letter to committee chairman Bennie Thompson, the decision does not reflect confirmation of the existence of records sought by legislators.

Reportedly calling the committee’s requests “overbroad, overreaching and too wide-ranging to be deemed anything other than a fishing expedition,” in the letter, Stone’s attorney Grant Smith underlined that it was his client’s right to decline comment.

A day ago, Thompson, while speaking to reporters at CNN, said of those targets who have deployed their Fifth Amendment right: “Every American can do it. That’s one of the rights the Constitution guarantees.”

Stone fervently supported the former president’s lies about the outcome of the 2020 election. A series of documents already in the committee’s possession, credible media reports, and Stone’s own statements in the run-up to the attack drew the select committee’s attention to the longtime Republican operative.

The committee alleges Stone was in Washington, D.C. on January 5 and January 6 on the promise that he would lead a march to the U.S. Capitol. A month before the siege, he participated in a pro-Trump rally in Washington where he urged people to “fight until the bitter end.” His calls for battle were delivered as he reportedly had a goon squad made up of Oath Keepers members insulating him. The group is a white supremacist-leaning extremist militia organization.

Lawmakers have suggested Stone paid for his private security detail by directing people to make donations at a ‘Stop the Steal’ website. According to Mother Jones, the link was quickly removed after the insurrection exploded at the Capitol.

NBC reported that the letter from Stone’s attorney was dated December 6 and, in addition to the now-routine gripes from Trump’s inner circle about congressional overreach, the missive also criticized Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat on the select committee. Schiff and Stone tangled when Trump was impeached the first time and through his attorney on December 6, Stone slammed Schiff as “relentlessly misrepresenting evidence” regarding him.

Rep. Schiff did not immediately return a request for comment Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the water grows deeper for other probe targets like Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows. Meadows was informed on Wednesday that the committee will now advance criminal contempt proceedings against him since he has failed to cooperate with the panel.

Meadows has waffled on cooperation since his first subpoena on September 23. He initially agreed to sit for deposition and turned over some 6,000 pages of documents to the committee. But once excerpts of his memoir started circulating, revealed by Meadows that Trump lied about his Covid-19 status ahead of a presidential debate with Joe Biden, he backtracked.

On Tuesday, through his attorney, Meadows informed the panel he would no longer cooperate, citing the investigatory body’s pursuit of phone records from over 100 people. Chairman Thompson rebuffed Meadows’ assertion.

“Despite your very broad claims of privilege, Mr. Meadows has also produced documents that you apparently agree are relevant and not protected by any privilege at all,” Thompson wrote on December 7 [emphasis in original].

The record Meadows has produced so far include a November 7 email discussing alternate slates of electors as a part of the “direct and collateral attack” after the election, an email from January 5 containing a 38-page PowerPoint presentation entitled “Election Fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for 6 JAN” that was to be distributed on Capitol Hill, and a January 5 email where Meadows discussed having the National Guard on standby.

Meadows also provided the committee with access to a text message where he responded to a member of congress, “I love it,” when talking about potentially picking alternate electors in key states. Another text held by the committee depicts Meadows and a January 6 rally organizer texting about the need for Trump to issue a statement condemning the attack.

The select committee revealed in its letter that Meadows also provided the body with a privilege log where he restricted access to hundreds upon hundreds of emails and over 1,000 texts. Meadow maintains those items are protected by executive privilege.

Meadows’ decision to forgo compliance has proven to the committee that he “does not intend to participate in a deposition” despite lacking a “legitimate legal basis” for his refusal.

“There is no legitimate legal basis for Mr. Meadows to refuse to cooperate with the select committee and answer questions about the documents he produced, the personal devices and accounts he used, the events he wrote about in his newly released book and, among other things, his other public statements,” Thompson wrote. “The committee is left with no choice but to advance contempt proceedings and recommend that the body in which Mr. Meadows once served refer him for criminal prosecution.”

Proud Boys, Oath Keepers And Other Extremists Summoned By Select Committee

Seeking insight into how the violence that erupted at the U.S. Capitol last January was plotted, the House select committee tasked with probing the insurrection subpoenaed various extremist right-wing organizations and their figureheads on Tuesday.

It is the second time this week that the committee has added to an already thick stack of subpoenas sent to individuals entrenched in former President Donald Trump's lies about the 2020 election.

Twenty-four hours ago, Trump stalwarts and conspiracy theorists Roger Stone and Alex Jones were among the recipients of a committee subpoena. On Tuesday, the latest batch from the select commission zeroed in on extremists involved in the attack like Proud Boys International LLC, that group's former chairman Henry "Enrique" Tarrio, the Oath Keepers organization and its president Elmer Stewart Rhodes, and the First Amendment Praetorian, a far-right quasi-paramilitary group that has run security for pro-Trump events in the past. That group's chairman, Robert Patrick Lewis, was also subpoenaed.

Heaps of Proud Boys and Oath Keepers members have been brought up on criminal charges specifically tied to the January 6 attack. In the 11 months since the siege, prosecutors have repeatedly argued that the groups conspired with each other to stop the certification of the 2020 election.

However, neither Tarrio, Rhodes, nor Lewis have been charged with crimes related directly to the activities that occurred on January 6. Tarrio is currently serving a five-month sentence in a D.C. jail for stealing and burning a Black Lives Matter banner last December and possessing two large-capacity firearm magazines when stopped in Washington on January 4.

On Tuesday, Rhodes was identified by the committee as the person referred to in an indictment returned earlier this year by a grand jury involving a January 6 defendant. Rhodes, the committee notes, "describes a conspiracy among at least 18 Oath Keepers in which members of the Oath Keepers planned to move together in coordination and with regular communication to storm the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021."

The Oath Keepers subpoena was hotly anticipated given the group's obvious involvement in breaching the U.S. Capitol. They were seen breaching the building with a military formation and proudly displayed their insignia throughout the day.

Almost two dozen of the organization's leaders have been charged with crimes related to the attack. The Department of Justice has indicated that the group hid firearms at a hotel in Arlington, Virginia.

In court, according to Politico, one Oath Keeper ringleader, Kelly Meggs, "told allies 'this isn't a rally,' which U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta has described as key evidence of the group's intent."

Robert Patrick Lewis, a former U.S. Army staff sergeant who spearheads the 1st Amendment Praetorian, has not been charged with any crimes related to January 6, but his track record of conspiracy theories, propaganda, and actual role in rallies leading up to the Capitol attack has grabbed the committee's interest.

The group posted a list of Trump events that it provided security to online, including several "Stop the Steal" rallies held in Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, Georgia.

"1st Amendment Praetorian provided security to the Million MAGA March on November 14, 2020, including providing protection to Ali Alexander, you described your coordination with Mr. Alexander as 'tight at the hip,'" the subpoena to Lewis states.

Alexander organized the Stop the Steal rally at the Ellipse on January 6 and has also been subpoenaed by the committee.

"You later claimed that you provided security for Lieutenant General Michael Flynn at the 'Jericho March' in Washington, D.C. on December 12, 2020, and have claimed to coordinate closely and regularly with Lt. Gen. Flynn. You have also claimed to coordinate closely with Sidney Powell [Trump's former attorney]," the subpoena notice to Lewis states.

Significantly, Lewis also took to Twitter just two days before the attack on January 6, saying: "There may be some young National Guard captains facing some very, very tough choices in the next 48 hours. Pray with every fiber of your being that their choices are Wise, Just and Fearless."

Lewis was also listed as a speaker on a permit for a rally on January 5 in D.C. In the permit, Lewis noted that 25 fellow members of his organization would serve as "demonstration marshals."

And on the day of the insurrection, just after 2 p.m., Lewis tweeted: "Today is the day the true battles begin."

A day after the attack, Lewis bragged on an independent QAnon conspiracy broadcast known as Patriot Transition Voice that he was "war-gaming" with "constitutional scholars" to keep Trump in office before the Capitol breach. Though the group has a lower profile than the Oath Keepers or Proud Boys, the January 6 Committee has singled them out before. This August, the panel highlighted Lewis and the organization he leads in its request for White House documents from the National Archives.

While the overlap between and among these groups is striking, the critical element presently missing for investigators is proof that it was Trump himself who intended to use the violence overwhelming the Capitol as a means to disrupt Congress's counting of electoral votes. The victory already belonged to President Joe Biden at that time, but the formality is part and parcel of ensuring a peaceful transition of power.

"We believe the individuals and organizations we subpoenaed today have relevant information about how violence erupted at the Capitol and the preparation leading up to this violent attack," committee chairman Bennie Thompson said in a statement Tuesday. "The Select Committee is moving swiftly to uncover the facts of what happened on that day, and we expect every witness to comply with the law and cooperate so we can get answers to the American people."

Despite Whining, No Early Release From Jail For Proud Boys Leader Tarrio

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

There will be no early release from prison for Henry "Enrique" Tarrio, a leader of the far-right wing extremist group known as the Proud Boys, after a judge dismissed his pleas that conditions in the facility were inhumane.

The ruling was issued late last Friday by Judge Jonathan Pittman at the D.C. Superior Court and was not particularly sympathetic to Tarrio's grievances about the conditions of the Washington, D.C. jail. He is currently serving a five-month sentence there for destruction of property—a Black Lives Matter banner he stole from a public square and proceeded to set ablaze—and attempted possession of a high-capacity firearm magazine.

The possession charge stemmed from his arrest on January 4 when Metro D.C. police stopped Tarrio and found two empty high-capacity rifle magazines. Tarrio told authorities he brought the magazines for a person he intended to meet on January 6 who was planning on attending former President Donald Trump's "Stop the Steal" rally.

The conditions at the Central Detention Facility are assuredly not optimal. The director of the D.C. Department of Corrections and the D.C. jail's warden have been held in contempt before for their failure to address jail conditions, and the Department of Justice investigated claims of civil rights abuses. The Marshals Service and the City of Washington, D.C. agreed to improve the facilities in early November.

Though Tarrio claimed his Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment was being violated, Pittman said such a claim would have to be heard in a new lawsuit, not a motion hearing.

Even if Tarrio did that, Pittman ruled, the best remedy for the "unconstitutional conditions of confinement is correction of the unconstitutional conditions of confinement, which is experienced by all inmates, not just the defendant."

Tarrio's request that he be let out on "compassionate release" due to conditions was also dismissed because Tarrio failed to show that his case was "extraordinary."

House Censures Gosar And Strips Him Of Committee Posts

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

One week after Rep. Paul Gosar posted a video depicting the murder of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a violent attack on President Joe Biden, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 223-207, to censure the Arizona Republican and strip him of his assignments on two congressional committees.

Gosar posted the repugnant video to Twitter and Instagram. It depicted himself killing Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, and leaping at Biden with two swords drawn. The photoshopped rendering was derived from the anime program Attack on the Titan. When Gosar posted the now-deleted tweet, he asked: "Any anime fans out there?"

Though Gosar removed the video after a firestorm of outrage and criticism, he did not issue a public apology and before the vote Wednesday, Gosar doubled down, insisting the video was mere jest.

"It was not [a threat of violence]. I reject the false narrative categorically. I do not espouse violence... it was not my purpose to make anyone upset," he said before likening himself to one of the nation's founders, Alexander Hamilton. "If I must join Alexander Hamilton, the first person to be censured by this House, so be it, it is done."

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez addressed the House before the vote, making a solemn plea for basic integrity and human decency while calling out the abdication of the leader of House Republicans, Kevin McCarthy.

"It is sad. It is a sad day in which a member who leads a political party in the United States cannot bring themselves to say that issuing a depiction of murdering a member of Congress is wrong and instead, decides to venture off into a tangent about gas prices and inflation," she said.

The incitement of violence by Gosar "trickles down," she said, urging that a line finally be drawn in the sand. Ocasio-Cortez has been the subject of much derision and has become a favorite target right wing extremists.

"This is where we must draw the line, independent of party, identity, or belief. It is about the core recognition of human dignity, of value and worth," she said.

In addition to censure, Gosar has also been removed from two committees: The House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which he sits on with Ocasio-Cortez, and the House Committee on Natural Resources.

Significantly, the censure resolution highlights the ubiquitous nature of harassment against women in office. It notes that "violence against women in politics is a global phenomenon meant to silence women and discourage them from seeking positions of authority and participating in public life, with women of color disproportionately impacted."

A 2016 survey by the Inter-Parliamentary Union found 82 percent of women legislators have experienced psychological violence and 44 percent of women have received threats of death, sexual violence, beatings, or abductions during their term.

According to the Congressional Research Service, just 23 members — before Wednesday — have been slapped with censure. Gosar's resolution highlighted how the congressman "used the resources of the House of Representatives to further violence against elected officials" and to "spread hateful and false rhetoric."

The censure resolution also laid bare a critique of McCarthy, noting the vote Wednesday followed because "the leadership of the Republican Party has failed to condemn Representative Gosar's threats of violence against the President of the United States and a fellow member of Congress."

Such videos, the resolution continues, can "foment actual violence and jeopardize the safety of elected officials, as witnessed in this chamber on January 6, 2021."

Ahead of the censure vote Wednesday afternoon, Rep. Jim Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat and the House Majority Whip, reminded a Fox news reporter that even Rep. Gosar's own family has called for his expulsion from Congress for what his sister dubbed "sociopathic fantasies."

"His family says he should be [expelled]. And that's what I've said to the media. We're going to censure him. His family thinks he should be expelled. And I think that's up to leader McCarthy. He's the Republican leader. This man is a Republican," Clyburn said.

Newly Revealed Memo Shows Unrelenting Pressure On Pence To Cheat

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

A Trump administration memo made newly public this week reportedly offering an outline for how to overturn the 2020 election results demonstrates, yet again, the persistence of the pressure campaign foisted on former Vice President Mike Pence to go along with former President Donald Trump's Big Lie.

The memo was authored by Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis and was revealed for the first time by ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl on Sunday. The release coincides with the publication this week of Karl's book, Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show.

Ellis, Karl reports, provided a strategy for Pence to stop the election certification, starting with the vice president sending back the electoral votes of six states where Trump had insisted for weeks—falsely—that he had won.

The memo from Ellis was emailed from former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to one of Pence's senior-most aides last New Year's Eve, Karl reports. It set a deadline of January 15֫ — at 7 p.m. sharp — for the new counts to be returned.

This reported scheme and its corresponding deadline meant that Pence, if he acquiesced, would give states nine days to submit their revised totals. And further, if a state missed the deadline, Ellis wrote, then "no electoral votes can be opened and counted from that state."

Ellis argued that with the new deadline in place, neither Trump nor Biden would have the majority of votes, triggering Congress to vote in a state-by-state delegations.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat and constitutional scholar who now serves as a member of the January 6 select committee, outlined the underlying count process in October explaining then that a potential strategy to deny Biden's victory could begin with a delay or a refusal to turn over a pro-Biden slate.

After all, Republicans controlled 26 state legislatures and Democrats controlled just 22. Two legislatures were tied but, as Raskin noted last fall, "You need 26 to win."

Ellis' memo was followed just 24 hours later by a text from John McEntee to Pence's chief of staff Marc Short, inaccurately suggesting that Thomas Jefferson once "used his position as VP to win."

While Jefferson did preside over the counting of votes in 1801 as sitting vice president, as Karl pointed out: "Jefferson didn't discard electoral votes, as Trump wanted Pence to do. He accepted electoral votes from a state that nobody had questioned he had won."

The pressure campaign unfolded in public and private and led right up to the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6.

That morning, as Trump incited the crowd gathered at the Ellipse, the defeated president broadcast the message to his second-in-command loud and clear.

"If Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election. Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us and if he doesn't, it will be a sad day for our country," Trump said.

Ellis' memo is the second one revealed by Karl that exposes the breadth of the pressure campaign on Pence. The first memo by John Eastman, Trump's onetime attorney, offered a strategy featuring an altogether bogus scheme that would have Pence recognize an "alternate slate" of electors.

No such electors, however, have ever been appointed and Eastman's contention also forgets that the U.S. Constitution provides no such power to the Vice President to serve as "ultimate arbiter" of the election.

Ellis, unlike Eastman, has not been subpoenaed by the January 6 select committee.

Trumpster Who Brought Guns And Molotov Cocktails On January 6 Pleads Guilty

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Lonnie Coffman toted guns and hauled a cache of weapons and Molotov cocktails to Washington, D.C. on January 6 and on Friday, at a court in the nation's capital, he pleaded guilty to two criminal charges that prosecutors, if they wished to hit him with the max sentence, could earn him up to 15 years in prison.

The 71-year-old of Falkville, Alabama was indicted on January 11 and was the first person tied to the siege to be charged. Coffman, a U.S. Army veteran who served multiple tours in Vietnam, was arrested on January 6 after he was stopped by police near the Capitol.

Coffman had parked his red GMC Sierra inside an area cordoned off by law enforcement just near the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee buildings. A pipe bomb was suspected to have been dropped off in the area and police had cleared the zone. That suspect is still at large.

In the process of clearing the area, one officer noticed Coffman's truck and upon peering inside, spotted a gun on the passenger seat, according to a criminal affidavit filed on January 7.

A U.S. Capitol Police bomb squad was called in to inspect the truck and officers quickly turned up a loaded 9mm handgun, a rifle, a semi-automatic shotgun, a number of large capacity ammunition feeding devices with over 10 rounds of rifle ammunition, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, machetes, a stun gun, smoke bombs and no less than 11 Molotov cocktails.

Since his arrest—when officers also found on his person a 9mm handgun and a .22-caliber revolver—Coffman has been held at the D.C. jail on pretrial detention.

On Friday, during a remote plea hearing at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Coffman entered two guilty pleas; one plea was for the Molotov cocktails and the other was for carrying a pistol without a license.

Though he was originally charged with 17 counts, all of which were related to the weapons stowed in his truck —he was not charged with entering the Capitol or rioting—Coffman negotiated a plea deal earlier this year. To drop several of the counts, he offered authorities access to his social media accounts and like many other defendants related to the insurrection at the Capitol, he agreed to be interviewed about January 6 ahead of sentencing.

According to NBC4 reporter Scott MacFarlane, who covered the plea hearing Friday, Coffman at one point attempted to argue that the Molotovs found in his car were defective due to age. U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, appointed by former President Bill Clinton, informed Coffman she would not accept his plea deal if he tried to play down or deny the charge.

MacFarlane noted Friday that during this exchange with Kollar-Kotelly, when the judge asked whether Coffman put gasoline, a lighter and rags in the 11 mason jars before he came to Washington, Coffman said yes but he "didn't plan any action with those things."

Coffman maintained he whipped them up long before his travels to D.C. but Kollar-Kotelly was persistent Friday afternoon since a part of the 71-year-old's plea deal involves admitting to having the Molotovs in his car. Coffman finally conceded Friday that he knew the devices were illegal and that he was carrying, illegally, two unregistered guns on Capitol Hill.

The maximum sentence for the Molotov cocktails is 10 years and for the guns, five years but the estimated sentencing range for the guns is about six to 24 months in prison while the Molotovs feature an estimated guideline for sentencing at about 37 to 46 months.

Notably, in addition to the small armory Coffman hauled around in his truck, law enforcement also turned up a disturbing handwritten note authored by the Alabama man that listed a quote believed to have been uttered by President Abraham Lincoln.

"We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the Courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who would pervert the Constitution," the scrawled citation read.

Coffman also listed the name of Rep. Andre Carson, an Indiana Democrat and noted, in parentheses, that Carson is Muslim. Coffman also rattled off a series of conservative political pundits on his list and included contact information. Senator Ted Cruz also appeared on the note as well as Judge David Hamilton of Indiana's 7th circuit. Coffman had listed Hamilton explicitly as a "bad guy."

Coffman is expected to be sentenced in April and will be held without bond until that time.

Prosecutors Ask Court To Deliver Stiff Sentence For ‘QAnon Shaman’

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Jacob Chansley puffed out his chest, howled like an animal, and paraded his half-naked, horn-adorned body onto the Senate floor during the insurrection at the Capitol. For his obstruction to Congress' efforts to certify the 2020 election, prosecutors have recommended a sentence of four years in prison.

In a memo issued late Tuesday at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, prosecutors say Chansley, who also goes by the name Jake Angeli, effectively made himself the "public face of the Capitol riot" when he stormed into the complex wielding a six-foot-long spear-tipped flagpole, marauded through the chambers, and began hollering that then-Vice President Mike Pence was "a traitor."

The 33-year-old was among some of the first people to breach the building on January 6.

Chansley "[riled] up other members of the mob with his screaming obscenities about our nation's lawmakers and flouting the 'opportunity' to rid our government of those he has long considered to be traitors," U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves and assistant U.S. attorney Kimberly Paschall wrote in the 28-page sentencing memo.

The recommendation of 51 months from the Justice Department, or just over four years in prison, is the harshest one yet for defendants tied to the insurrection. The only other felony Capitol riot defendant that has been sentenced so far is Paul Hodgkins. The U.S. requested 18 months for Hodgkins, but he received an eight-month sentence instead.

Hodgkins, originally from Florida, breached the Capitol with a backpack, goggles, rope, and white latex gloves on hand, and proceeded to barrel through to the floor of the Senate while hoisting a "Trump 2020" flag over his shoulder.

Incidentally, during the assault, Hodgkins stood nearby as Chansley led a group invocation, where he prayed with fellow rioters.

"Thank you for allowing the United States of America to be reborn. Thank you for allowing us to get rid of the communists, the globalists, and the traitors within our government," he said.

Notably, he also left an ominous note on the dais in the Senate during the attack reading, "It's only a matter of time. Justice is coming!"

Chansley fancied himself the "QAnon Shaman" when he was an avowed zealot for the QAnon conspiracy. That belief system is one he now claims to have divorced himself from completely. His attorney, Albert Watkins released a statement on Chansley's behalf in September to the Huffington Post saying that the "long avowed and practicing shaman has repudiated the 'Q' previously assigned to him."

"The road leading up to the events of January 6 traversed years," Watkins said in a statement this fall. "The path charted by Mr. Chansley since January 6 has been a process, one which has involved pain, depression, solitary confinement, introspection, recognition of mental health vulnerabilities, and a coming to grips with the need for more self-work."

Watkins, in response to the recommended 51- month sentence, defended Chansley as someone suffering from "mental health vulnerabilities" as evidenced, at the very least, he argued, by the exposure of his half-nude body while the weather in Washington that morning was below 40 degrees.

"His Shamanic chants were further indicia of mental health vulnerabilities. So too was the rapid clip at which his widely published post-Capitol entry speech was uttered. So too were his gait and apparent Forrest Gump-like obliviousness too much of the activity and many of the actions of those surrounding him as he approached, entered, and traversed the Capitol," Watkins said. "The events that led Mr. Chansley to do what he did on January 6, 2021, antedate his presence in the Capitol. He was not an organizer. He was not a planner. He was not violent. He was not destructive. He was not a thief."

Watkins also emphasized that Chansley's unaddressed schizophrenia should be considered by the court when rendering its final decision.

"Mr. Chansley is not a political prisoner. He does not seek to be labeled such. Rather, this case is about a frail and vulnerable human," Watkins wrote.

Watkins did not offer a specific recommendation for sentencing, only urging that it be far less than the prosecutor's suggestion. The Arizona native has so far spent 10 months in pre-trial detention.

Prosecutors, however, offered a far tougher position on Chansley.

"The need for the sentence to provide specific deterrence to this particular defendant also weighs heavily in favor of a lengthy term of incarceration. Although the defendant has now expressed remorse and contrition, his media statements immediately after January 6 were those of a man gloating over victory in battle," U.S. attorneys wrote.

Chansley did not express remorse upon leaving the Capitol or when going home, they argued.

"It came when he realized he was in trouble. It came when he realized that large numbers of Americans and people worldwide were horrified at what happened that day. It came when he realized that he could go to jail for what he did," the memo states.

Judge Rejects Trump Bid To Withhold January 6 Records From Congress

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Donald Trump may be on his own planet in terms of understanding what is legal or constitutional in the United States, but Judge Tanya Chutkan brought him down to earth late Monday night after promptly rejecting the former president's last-minute bid to keep records sought by the January 6th select committee shrouded.

EDITOR'S UPDATE: Late on Tuesday evening Judge Chutkan fully affirmed her earlier rejection of his request for a stay of the select committee's subpoenas. Her 39-page decision articulated a scorching rebuke to the former president. Noting that executive privilege can only be invoked by the current occupant of the Oval Office, she wrote: "Plaintiff's position that he may override the expressed will of the executive branch appears to be premised on the notion that his executive power exist in perpetuity. But presidents are not Kings and plaintiff is not president."

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Violent January 6 Defendant Seeks Asylum In Belarus

Reprinted with permission DailyKos

In January, American citizen Evan Neumann was allegedly seen punching police officers as he berated them and used a metal barricade as a battering ram while he and a violent mob attacked the U.S. Capitol. After months on the run, this weekend Neumann resurfaced on television in Belarus announcing his quest for political asylum.

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New Subpoenas Fly To Trump Aides -- And Indictments May Follow

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Long-anticipated subpoenas for senior officials to former President Donald Trump and members of his 2020 reelection campaign were issued by investigators on the House January 6 select committee on Monday.

The subpoenas come at the same time obstruction to congressional oversight wafts in the Washington, D.C., air with former White House adviser Steve Bannon being held in contempt of Congress two weeks ago, after flatly refusing to cooperate with the probe. Former acting attorney general for the Justice Department's civil division, Jeffrey Clark, has also refused to cooperate citing claims of executive privilege.

A total of six new subpoenas were issued Monday. One went, as widely expected, to John Eastman, a senior fellow of the conservative think tank The Claremont Institute and former legal professor at Chapman University. Eastman authored a six-point memo instructing Vice President Mike Pence on how to deny Joe Biden's rightful victory, but has since waffled publicly about the memo's intent. But for lawmakers on the committee, Eastman's actions, regardless, demand answers.

In addition to Eastman's now-notorious memo, the committee also cites his participation in a briefing "for nearly 300 state legislators from several states regarding purported election fraud," during which he propped up Trump's lies about election fraud and told the group it was "'the duty of legislators to fix this, this egregious conduct and make sure that we're not putting in the White House some guy that didn't get elected," the committee's letter states.

Eastman also allegedly met with Trump and Pence on at least two occasions—mere days before the insurrection. It was then, the committee contends, that he communicated with Pence's counsel, Greg Jacob, regarding his earlier proposal to delay or block certification of the election.

And, perhaps most damning for Eastman, are his own words in a January 6 email. The committee specifically cited an email from the former law professor to Greg Jacob. Eastman allegedly told Jacob "the siege" unfolding at the Capitol that day was due to Jacobs and Pence failing to promote lies about the election certification process. Eastman blasted Jacobs, saying he and Pence "did not do what was necessary to allow this to be aired in a public way so that the American people can see for themselves what happened."

Eastman is also allegedly one of the numerous officials who met with Trump toadies in a "war room" at the Willard Hotel. It has been widely reported that in addition to Eastman, Steve Bannon and Rudy Giuliani were also regularly on hand at the war room.

Incidentally, in a new analysis published by The Bulwark on Monday, Christian Vanderbrouk unpacked a 37-page report first published by The Claremont Institute last October. The Texas Public Policy Foundation, which did not return a request for comment Monday, co-published the report.

As pointed out by Vanderbrouk, the post-election war game was dreamed up by Eastman and others and amounts to "an instruction manual for how Trump partisans at all levels of government—aided by citizen 'posses' of Proud Boys and Oath Keepers—could, quite literally, round up opposition activists, kill their leaders, and install Donald Trump for a second term in office."

When reached for comment Monday, Vanderbrouk told Daily Kos by email that he wrote and published the piece Monday because he hopes "that it puts to rest any remaining questions about whether Claremont and its supporters are good-faith players in our system."

The committee has demanded a response by Eastman by Nov. 23; his deposition is currently slated for Dec. 8.

No stranger to congressional oversight, retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn was also subpoenaed Monday and requested for deposition on December 6.

"You reportedly attended a December 18, 2020, meeting in the Oval Office, during which participants discussed seizing voting machines, declaring a national emergency, invoking certain national security emergency powers, and continuing to spread the message that the November 2020 election had been tainted by widespread fraud," the subpoena letter states.

Also cited by the committee was Flynn's appearance on Newsmax TV the day before that Oval Office meeting, where he opined openly about so-called precedents he perceived for deploying military troops or declaring martial law to "rerun" the election.

Flynn reportedly met with Trump just weeks after he was pardoned by the president on charges that he lied to the FBI. He was one of Trump's most stalwart allies, even speaking to the former president's supporters at a "MAGA March" protesting the outcome of the election on Dec. 12, 2020.

Trump reelection campaign officials like William Stepien, Jason Miller, and Angela McCallum were also subpoenaed Monday.

As a manager to the reelection campaign, Stepien oversaw "the conversion of the Trump presidential campaign to an effort focused on 'Stop the Steal' messaging and fundraising," the committee said in its subpoena.

That messaging overtly highlighted conspiracy claims about voting machines that Stepien and other Trump campaign members had long known were patently false, the committee added. A memo published in September outlines how Trump campaign staff knew of the deceit for weeks, but ran with it, anyway.

The committee also wants Stepien to provide any information he might have about the campaign's attempts to persuade states to delay or deny certification of electoral votes, or send multiple slates of electoral votes to Congress.

Stepien, if he complies will be deposed on December 13.

Jason Miller regularly spread claims of "widespread fraud" in the election, and publicly asserted Democrats would "steal the election," a committee letter to the former Trump campaign adviser states.

This message was echoed by the mob who attacked the Capitol and notably, even after the election, lawmakers claim Miller, Trump, and Trump's former personal attorney Rudy Giuliani coordinated press events to make more bogus claims about the election. Miller is also believed to have been in the war room at the Willard Hotel on Jan. 5.

Miller is scheduled to be deposed on December 10.

As for Angela McCallum, the national executive assistant to Trump's 2020 reelection campaign, investigators say she was directly involved in efforts to "encourage state legislators to alter the outcome of the 2020 election." One such example provided by the committee is a publicly available recording of a voicemail left to a Michigan state representative. McCallum wanted to know whether Trump could "count on" the representative.

"And you told the representative that he/she had authority to appoint an alternate slate of electors based on purported evidence of widespread election fraud," the subpoena states.

If she complies, like all others subpoenaed Monday, the deadline to submit documents is Nov 23. Her deposition is currently slated for Nov 30.

Also subpoenaed Monday was Bernard Kerik. The former New York Police Department Commissioner—who was convicted of tax fraud in 2001—reportedly booked hotel rooms to be used as command centers for Trump officials, and is alleged to have been at the Willard Hotel on January 5 along with Bannon, Eastman, and Giuliani.

In Kerik's subpoena, lawmakers allege the former commissioner met with Giuliani "at least as early as Nov. 5" to promote claims of election fraud.

Former White House deputy chief of staff for communications, Dan Scavino, and Kash Patel, the former chief of staff to then-acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller, were subpoenaed weeks ago. Onetime White House chief of staff Mark Meadows was also slapped with a subpoena but has been on thin ice with the committee in recent days. He has reportedly delayed providing materials as requested.

In September, rally organizers including Amy Kremer, founder and chairwoman of Women for America First, were subpoenaed. The group coordinated a rally at the Ellipse on January 6. Kremer's daughter and co-founder of Women for America First, Kylie Kremer, was also subpoenaed. Their depositions were recently put on hold, but it is unclear exactly why. A spokesperson for the committee has declined to comment on details of the investigation.

Caroline Wren and Cindy Chafian were served, too. As reported by ProPublica, Wren served as a deputy to Donald Trump, Jr.'s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, at the joint presidential fundraising committee, Trump Victory, throughout the 2020 campaign. Chafian, yet another organizer of the rally at the Ellipse, was involved with Wren in planning and budgeting for the event.

Maggie Mulvaney, listed as a "VIP lead" in a rally permit arranged by Women for America First, was also subpoenaed. Mulvaney is the niece of Trump's former acting White House chief of staff, then director of the Office of Management and Budget, then special envoy for Northern Ireland, Mick Mulvaney.

In addition, Megan Powers, of MPowers Consulting LLC, and Hannah Salem, of Salem Strategies LLC, were also listed on permits for the rally. Legislators believe the women were supervising rally scheduling and logistics. Also subpoenaed were Lyndon Brentall of RMS Protective Services—flagged on permit paperwork as an "on-site supervisor"—and Justin Caporale and Tim Unes. Both Caporale and Unes worked for Event Strategies Inc.; the committee believes they have information about project and stage management for the rally.

Katrina Pierson, Trump's campaign spokesperson in 2016, received a subpoena last month. According to the FEC, Pierson received $10,000 biweekly for her work with the Trump campaign from September 2019 to January 2020. Pierson is believed to have been in contact with Trump regularly before and on January 6.