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Monday, December 09, 2019

@DarrellLucus

Endorsing MAGA Republicans, Tulsi Gabbard Shows What She Means By 'Independent'

When former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard announced she was leaving the Democratic Party, she extended an invitation to all “common sense, independent-minded Democrats” to join her. Well, in the last few days, we’ve gotten a pretty clear idea of Gabbard’s idea of “independent minded.” Apparently, it means giving a middle finger to the very foundations of democracy.

She’s seen fit to endorse two people who have essentially glued MAGA hats to their heads—a Senate candidate who can’t bring himself to unequivocally declare that Joe Biden legitimately won the 2020 presidential election, and a gubernatorial candidate who is a chest-beating election denier. Even worse, she’s campaigning for the election denier.

On Sunday, Gabbard took to Twitter to endorse Don Bolduc, who is challenging Sen. Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire.





Gabbard quickly put action behind her words, joining Bolduc on the campaign trail in Loudon, New Hampshire. Watch coverage from WMUR-TV in Manchester.

What Gabbard apparently doesn’t want us to know is that Bolduc has forgotten the meaning of that oath. He spent the better part of a year openly promoting the Big Lie, and was one of 124 retired brass hats who claimed the election was rigged in favor of Joe Biden. Those were big reasons that the state and national Republican establishment swallowed hard when Bolduc won the Republican nomination.

Bolduc has hedged somewhat since winning the nomination. On the day after the Republican primary in New Hampshire, he claimed that he now believed Biden won even though the election was shot through with fraud. Earlier this month, however, he reversed himself again, now saying he couldn’t say one way or the other whether Donald Trump had victory stolen from him.

It says a lot about Bolduc that he can even think about running for the Senate when he can’t unequivocally acknowledge Biden won the 2020 election fair and square. And it says just as much about Gabbard, herself a veteran, that she has no qualms about endorsing him.

Then again, Gabbard’s next endorsement said even more about her. On Monday, she endorsed Kari Lake, the Republican candidate for governor of Arizona.


Ironically, after hailing Bolduc for upholding the oath that he took to defend the Constitution “against all enemies, foreign and domestic”—an oath that she herself swore—Gabbard has gone all in for a woman who has shown herself to be the very definition of a domestic enemy. She has openly and unashamedly promoted the Big Lie, and even went as far as to slam her main opponent in the Republican primary for failing to endorse the Big Lie. True to form, she has refused to commit to accepting the results of the election if it ends in her being defeated by Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs.

But none of that apparently matters to Gabbard. She introduced Lake at a Republican forum in Chandler on Tuesday night.

As far as I’m concerned, Gabbard isn’t just telling us who she really is. She’s yelling it from the rooftops through a bullhorn. Granted, she gave some pretty loud hints about who she really was when she claimed that WikiLeaks “spurred necessary change”—and the fact that it exposed thousands of people to identity theft be hanged. In so doing, Gabbard effectively disqualified herself from ever running for office again.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Georgia GOP Chair Testifies Trump Campaign Ordered Fake Electoral College Slate

It has been amply established that the ones chanting “Stop the Steal!” were actually the ones attempting to steal the election. As part of that effort, Republicans in several states narrowly won by Joe Biden organized slates of “alternate electors” in hopes that the electors for Biden would be thrown out, allowing Trump to “win” the electoral college.

We already knew that they were acting on a rationale from lawyers with the Trump campaign. But on Friday, one of those “alternate electors” revealed under oath before the January 6 Committee that he and his compatriots were acting at the direction of the Trump campaign. Namely, Georgia state Republican Party chairman David Shafer, who was part of the “alternate elector” slate that was intended to overturn Biden’s 11,780-vote win in Georgia. He was one of several “alternate electors” who had been subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 Committee.

Shafer’s lawyer, Bob Driscoll, said in a statement that his client, “acting on the advice of counsel” for the Trump campaign, convened Georgia’s slate of electors for Trump and Mike Pence “for the sole purpose of preserving a remedy” in case legal efforts to overturn Biden’s win succeeded. Driscoll also represents Shawn Still, who served as the secretary of the “alternate electors.”

There’s a big problem with the line that these alternate electors were merely preserving a legal remedy for Trump. Ample evidence from the published record indicates that by the time these “electors” convened on Dec. 14, Trump almost certainly knew that any realistic path to a second term had been cut off. Remember, the Trump campaign knew as early as Dec. 12 that there was no basis to claims that voting machines powered by Dominion Voting Systems were switching votes in Georgia. The campaign knew as early as Nov. 14 that there was no basis to the outlandish claims floating around the deplorable tubes about Dominion. Without that conspiracy theory, Trump had no legitimate claim to Georgia’s 16 electoral votes. And as we all know, there is no politically realistic path for a Republican to get to 270 without winning Georgia.

Simply put, these alternate elector slates were an act of sedition. Plain and pure sedition. And now we know that it was sedition. If Trump directed this effort, to my mind it is more than enough to disqualify him from running again, per the 14th Amendment.

Odds are that at least one person was watching this story with great interest—Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis, who is leading an investigation into Trump’s attempt to steal Georgia. Willis, you may recall, got the green light to convene a special grand jury to aid her investigation. I wouldn’t be surprised if Willis wanted to call Shafer in for a chat, given his testimony. After all, with Shafer’s admission that he was acting at Trump’s direction, it’s only fair to ask what he knew and when he knew it.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

DeSantis Brings Cancer-Stricken Spouse to 'Super-Spreader' Worship Leader's Event

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

For much of the latter part of December, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been slammed for being missing in action as the state reels from a surge in COVID-19 cases fueled by the Omicron variant. Well, late on Friday, DeSantis tried to defend himself. He claimed that he was accompanying his wife, Casey, to a cancer treatment session.

But later on Friday, DeSantis attended an event sponsored by a Christianist worship leader whose events have been linked to numerous superspreaders. Never mind that his wife is presently at really high risk for COVID-19, even if she’s vaccinated.

In response to criticism from state and national Democrats about his apparent absence in the wake of record-breaking case counts in Florida, DeSantis—through his spokesmen—said that at the time, he was with his wife while she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

A DeSantis spokesperson said the governor accompanied wife Casey to cancer treatment Dec. 29, the day several left-wing critics accused the governor of "missing."
DeSantis' announced in October that his wife had been diagnosed with breast cancer, telling Fox News at the time that as "the mother of three young children, Casey is the centerpiece of our family and has made an impact on the lives of countless Floridians through her initiatives as first lady."

But later on Friday, Tampa NBC affiliate WFLA revealed that DeSantis was going to be on hand for the Orange Bowl that night—his first public appearance in two weeks. Before that night, he’d only been seen in public twice in the latter half of December—a press conference on December 17, and an interview with Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo on December 19.

That was problematic in and of itself, considering that as a cancer patient, Casey DeSantis is at particularly high risk for breaking bad if she catches COVID. But what DeSantis did next is particularly incomprehensible. It turned out that when DeSantis left Hard Rock Stadium, he and Casey headed over to Lifted Church (formerly Miami Baptist Church), where Christianist worship leader Sean Feucht was holding one of his “Let Us Worship” events.

Watch a recap here, from Feucht.


Why The QAnon Cult Is Going Sour On Kyle Rittenhouse

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

I have to confess, I can’t figure Kyle Rittenhouse out. One minute, his lawyers are repeatedly throwing out a Tucker Carlson film crew. The next minute, Rittenhouse is sitting down for an interview with Carlson, and is traveling to Mar-a-Lago to meet Trump.

Whatever the case, it looks like one element of the deplorable world is turning hard on one of its latest heroes. Apparently the QAnon world is not pleased that Rittenhouse dared speak ill of one of its top luminaries—his former lawyer, Lin Wood. It turns out that Rittenhouse and Wood are currently in a legal battle over the money raised to get Rittenhouse out on bail last year.

According to HuffPost, the feud between Rittenhouse and those who are still “trusting the plan” dates to Rittenhouse’s interview last Tuesday night with Ashleigh Banfield on NewsNation. (Watch a clip below.)


If you’re a QNut and you’ve lost Greene, that says something.

I have to confess, I’m taking Rittenhouse’s desire to stay out of politics with a grain of salt given his trip to Mar-a-Lago. But it seems Rittenhouse is telling the truth about Wood trying to screw him. After all, he told Carlson the same thing on the deplorables’ favorite network. Moreover, his portrayal of Wood hews closely to what his former law partners are saying about him in a suit they filed against him in August 2020. They claim that they severed ties with Wood in response to a long pattern of bizarre behavior, including rambling and incoherent communications and claims that God himself was directing Wood.

It says a lot about QAnon that it’s siding with a guy who not only sat on money intended to get Rittenhouse out of jail, but is now trying to claw it back.


A Year Later, Timeline Shows Trump Always Knew His Fraud Claim Was A 'Big Lie'

Over the past year, we have had to deal with Donald Trump shouting baseless claims that Joe Biden only denied him a second term because of massive fraud. He continues to promote the "Big Lies" despite his claims being debunked many times over in court, in Congress, in the press – and even by a three-month "audit" that his fervent supporters sponsored and conducted.

Believe it or not, Trump's attack on democracy is even worse than it seems. What's worse than repeatedly making "Four-Pinocchio" and "Pants on Fire" claims? Worse is repeating those allegations when you knew all along that they were false. And there is ample evidence in the published record that shows Trump was bleating and screeching about fraud when he knew full well that he had lost fairly and honestly.

This fundamental fact is important for several reasons. If you can put a firm date on the moment that Trump was well aware that he had lost, then every action taken to further those claims was in furtherance of an insurrection—one that began long before January 6. It means that we're no longer merely talking about the fine line between protected and unprotected speech. We're talking about seditious action.

If Trump always knew he had lost, then every one of those hair-on-fire emails urging people to donate to the effort to keep him in office was fraudulent. And if he knew he had lost when, for example, he tried to shake down Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger, then it should be easier for Fulton County (Atlanta) District Attorney Fami Ellis to prove that effort was a racketeering offense. And if it can be proved that Trump's lawyers knew their arguments in court were false, it will be far easier to sanction them for doing so.

November 7, 2020: According to Axios, within hours of most major media outlets declaring Biden president-elect, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien and deputy campaign manager Justin Clark tell Trump that his chances of staying in office are slim at best. He needs to win the outstanding absentee ballots in Arizona and Georgia by landslide margins, and also needs to win a legal challenge to Wisconsin's vote count. Clark tells Trump that even then, his chances were no better than five to ten percent. The Washington Post reports that Trump "signaled that he understood" the import of what Stepien and Clark were telling him.

November 10-13, 2020: Trump campaign lawyer Steffan Passantino tells The New York Times that the Trump legal team knew "within a week" of the election that there was no evidence Dominion Voting Systems-manufactured voting machines were switching votes in Georgia. Passantino tells the Times that his team conducted "a literal physical hand count" of all five million ballots cast in Georgia, and the votes "matched almost identically." Without Georgia, there was virtually no realistic path for Trump to stay in office.

November 12, 2020: Axios reports that when all remaining media outlets called Arizona for Biden, Trump's core campaign team told him that "his pathway is dead," since there was no politically viable path for Trump to win without Arizona. The Times reports that Trump's legal team was making plans to withdraw a legal challenge to Arizona's count because the 191 ballots they'd red flagged weren't even a fraction of Biden's 10,000-vote lead in the state. However, Trump was very receptive to Rudy Giuliani's claims that Dominion software was switching votes.

November 13, 2020: According to Axios, the Post and the Times, Giuliani suggests filing a lawsuit in Georgia alleging that the use of Dominion software allowed Biden to flip the state. Justin Clark replies that such a suit would be thrown out on procedural grounds, since Georgia hadn't certified its results yet. Giuliani calls Clark a liar, prompting Clark to call Giuliani "a fucking asshole." Trump sides with Giuliani, beginning what the Times calls "an extralegal campaign to subvert the election." On that same day, the Times reports that deputy campaign communications chief Sam Parkinson asked his legal team to "substantiate or debunk" claims percolating about Dominion in conservative circles.

November 14, 2020: On the same day Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and Jenna Ellis assume leadership of Trump's legal campaign to overturn the election results, Parkinson's team compiles a memo that thoroughly debunks the most outlandish claims about Dominion. Among other things, the memo states that there is no evidence Dominion and another voting systems maker, Smartmatic, presently have a relationship. Nor is there any evidence that Dominion has ties with George Soros, Venezuela, or antifa.

November 19, 2020: Giuliani, Powell, and Ellis hold a press conference alleging Dominion is at the center of a wide-ranging conspiracy to steal victory from Trump — repeating the same claims that were debunked by Trump's own communications team five days earlier. Later that night, Fox News' Tucker Carlson tears Powell to shreds for not offering any actual evidence of fraud. According to the Post, Trump is equally disappointed in Powell, and Carlson's takedown of Powell plays a major role in Trump's decision to cut formal ties with her.

Late November 2020: Axiosreports that Trump is losing patience with Powell by this time. Before picking up a call from Powell in the Oval Office, Trump tells staffers that he thinks Powell is "crazy," and muses that "no one believes this stuff."

November 20,2020: Michigan state house speaker Lee Chatfield and state senate majority leader Mike Shirkey meet with Trump at the White House. According to Reuters, they tell Trump that they know of no information that would overturn Biden's 154,000-vote lead in Michigan. Chatfield and Shirkey tell the Post that they traveled to Washington in order to give Trump information that "he wasn't hearing in his own echo chamber," and they left believing that "his blinders had fallen off." In other words, it appeared to Chatfield and Shirkey that Trump knew he'd lost Michigan — and with it, any politically realistic path to reelection.

December 1, 2020: Attorney General Bill Barr, with the support of White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, meets with Trump and dismisses Trump's claims of fraud as "bullshit" (per Axios) and "ridiculously false" (per the Times). When Barr pans the Trump legal team's performance, Trump concedes that "maybe" their arguments don't add up. According to the Times, before Barr even leaves the room, Trump tweets out a claim that a truck driver delivered thousands of pre-filled ballots to Pennsylvania—even though federal investigators had already concluded the driver had serious credibility problems.

December 14, 2020: Trump policy adviser Stephen Miller announces that the Trump campaign has organized alternate slates of electors in every battleground state won by Biden, ostensibly to keep Trump's legal options open. This includes Arizona, Georgia and Michigan—states that the Trump campaign likely knew for a month or more that it had lost.

December 18, 2020: According to Axios, Powell barrels into the White House along with Overstock.com founder Patrick Byrne to meet with Trump and peddle more claims that the election was stolen -- even though White House advisers who tried to vet these allegations found they didn't withstand serious analysis. At this meeting, Powell is grilled by White House senior adviser Eric Herschmann and staff secretary Derek Lyons, who note that Powell has repeatedly failed to deliver on promises to back up her arguments. Trump himself expresses doubt about Powell and Byrne's claims, but notes that unlike Herschmann and Lyons, they were at least offering him a shot at winning. As we now know, h

January 2, 2020: Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's general counsel tells Trump during the now-infamous shakedown attempt that both the FBI and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation have been unable to find any evidence to back up Trump's claims of fraud. However, Trump keeps pressing Raffensperger to "do me a favor."

In short:

  • Trump knew as early as November 7 that he was shooting his last legal bolt to stay in office, and likely knew as early as November 12 that bolt had missed.
  • Trump knew at various points in November that he had lost at least three states that he needed to hold if he had any hope of winning a second term.
  • Giuliani, Powell, and Ellis' press conference aired arguments that the Trump campaign had known were baseless for at least five days.
  • Trump promoted baseless claims even after being told categorically by his own aides that they were false.
  • Trump himself expressed doubt about Sidney Powell's conspiratorial assertions, but had no qualms about using them to support his claims about fraud.

Trump's New Social Platform Busted for Purloining Source Code

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

When Donald Trump rolled out his brand new social media platform for deplorables, TRUTH Media, the clock started ticking on how soon it would crash and burn like Parler, Gab and other deplorable alternatives to Twitter.

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MyPillow Guy Issues Trump-Style Threat Against Salon Reporter For Exposing Him

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

.Over the weekend, MyPillow Guy Mike Lindell went on a frightening tirade against Salon reporter Zachary Petrizzo. Apparently Petrizzo had the temerity to write some critical stories about Lindell, which drove the MyPillow Guy to brand that reporter as "an enemy of our country."

This happened on an edition of Lindell's livestream "news" channel, "The Lindell Report." Petrizzo got a clip.



Lindell told his co-host that he was "going after" Petrizzo for two articles Petrizzo recently published about him. One was about how Lindell sold off a MyPillow corporate jet to defend himself against a billion-dollar lawsuit filed against him by Dominion Voting Systems. The other was about the millions he spent paying so-called experts to find "evidence" to support his baseless claims of election fraud. He also helped buy a luxury home in tony Naples, Florida for one of those "experts," Dennis Montgomery—the man whose supposed "packet captures" were discredited by Lindell's own investigators.

In other words, Petrizzo was actually practicing journalism. And Lindell wasn't happy about it. He told his audience that he intended to spend "a lot more money" to "go after this kid," whom he declared "an enemy of our country."

Anyone who has been paying attention over the years should be concerned. Lindell has effectively called a Code Red on Petrizzo. Let's call this for what it is—another in a long list of cases of stochastic terrorism from Trump acolytes. Somebody, either Salon or some other party, needs to see to Petrizzo's safety if they haven't already done so.


Palin Tells Ultra-Right ‘Christian’ Group She May Run For Senate In 2022

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Back in March, the Associated Press' Mark Thiessen speculated on a number of potential primary challengers for Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski in 2022. The biggest name on the list was perhaps the third most-famous living member of the Alaska GOP (after Murkowski and Rep. Don Young), former Governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

Well, on Friday, People for the American Way's Right Wing Watch revealed that Palin is taking a very long and very hard look at the race—and is willing to run if God gives the okay and if Christians get behind her more than they did in 2008. More telling, though, is where she did it—a conference hosted by leading members of the overtly fascist religious right offshoot where Palin has spent a good chunk of her life. This same offshoot played a key role in what can only be described as a sustained campaign to bully this country into supporting Palin's male counterpart—The Messiah, Lord Donald Trump, The Most Merciful.

Two Sundays ago, Palin was a featured guest at "Leading With Conviction: Truth That Stands," a conference hosted by Che Ahn of Harvest International Ministry. Ahn is one of the top leaders in the New Apostolic Reformation, an overtly fascist offshoot of the religious right that believes it can actually bring about the Second Coming by taking over the world. Ahn is counted as an "apostle" in this constituency; NAR believers are of the mind that if Christians under submission to "apostles" and "prophets" like Ahn take over the forces that influence society, it will pave the way for Jesus to come back—and they can hand him the world on a platter. You may also know this network as the same outfit that produced Becky Fischer of "Jesus Camp" fame.

During the afternoon session, Palin sat down for an on-stage interview with Ahn. Watch it here.

This interview was vintage Palin—that is, red meat by the barrelful. She railed that this country was "dedicated to God"—indeed, "our charters of liberty were written to and about God." She openly wondered when Americans would wake up and ask why our leaders want to "strip from our Creator what our founders had dedicated to him" and repurpose it for "for some kind of secular use, secular enjoyment."

Later, Palin asked the audience, "Are we gonna let them fundamentally transform the nation that does belong to God? How dare we take from God what is his and say we're going to do what we want to do with it?"

Ahn was intrigued—enough that later on, he asked Palin if she would take a run at Murkowski's seat. Palin said she was praying about it, saying that "if God wants me to do it, I will." However, she said that if she did run, "you guys better be there for me this time." She believed that she got pummeled in the press in 2008 because her brothers and sisters didn't have her back. Later, she sounded the alarm about "potentially forced immunizations," and urged Christians to not be afraid to "infiltrate and influence the culture."

Palin was speaking in a code most of the audience at that conference recognized. Indeed, she was actually in her element. For those who don't know, Palin is a devout charismatic Christian, though she herself eschews the label, preferring to call herself just a Christian (as do many charismatics).

During the 2008 campaign, our friends at Talk2Action revealed that Palin has moved in NAR circles for much of her politically active life. For instance, Bruce Wilson reported Mary Glazier, the leader of an NAR-aligned group of Alaska-based intercessors, revealed that Palin had been part of her group since the 1990s—and that around that time, "God began to speak to her about entering into politics." When Palin joined John McCain's ticket, a number of NAR leaders skipped and danced. For instance, a Norwegian pastor noted that she was a longstanding member of Glazier's prayer group. Glazier, in turn, was under the covering of one of the NAR's founders, Peter Wagner.

Russ Bellant revealed that the church Palin attended in Juneau during much of her tenure as governor was up to its eyeballs in the "Toronto Blessing," which many of us know for scenes of people laughing, barking and howling during church services But that same movement also believes in turning the cities where they're based into "citadels for the righteous." One speaker brought the flock to its feet with a claim that they were in a movement that would "shake America like a tsunami." According to Bellant, Palin almost certainly believes wholeheartedly in this line—otherwise, she wouldn't have been "in good stead and be upheld" as she was in 2008.

This context is needed to understand how another NAR "apostle," Cindy Jacobs—a woman who once claimed birds fell dead with the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell," and who called for Christians to "lay siege" to their cities—prayed over Palin at the end of the interview. Jacobs said that she'd gotten a message from God that "an army of intercessors" and "an army of pastors and leaders" would be all in for Palin if she ran for Senate, and it would be enough for her to go "all the way to the top" if she did run for Senate.

Palin's path, however, could be muddied by recent changes to elections in Alaska. Back in November, voters scrapped partisan primaries, instead instituting a blanket primary in which the top four finishers would advance to the general election. That general election, in turn, would be conducted via Australian-style ranked-choice voting. Speculation has abounded that such a system could actually protect Murkowski, especially if she makes it to the general election.

Whatever the case, if the Democrats are serious about running in this seat in 2022, the prospect of Palin being on the ballot is even more reason for them to be about it.

Trumpists Made Plans To Build Gallows Weeks Before Capitol Riot

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

One of the most enduring—and horrifying—sights of the January 6 insurrection was an actual gallows erected on the west side of the Capitol. People for the American Way's Right Wing Watch has revealed that plans to erect the gallows were underway almost as soon as Donald Trump issued his now-infamous call to arms on Twitter.

According to analysis from the nonprofit research group Advance Democracy, literally within hours of Trump calling for his followers to come to Washington on January 6 and "be wild," posters at TheDonald.win—successor to the r/The_Donald subreddit—took it as an order. One poster, CaptainChrisBacon, posted a picture asking, "Who Is Bringing The Gallows On January 6th, 2021?" The picture depicted the hanging of a Confederate war criminal—ironic given the number of Confederate flags on display at the insurrection.

Another poster, sunlessmage743, started a thread about the details of building a gallows, saying it could easily be done "with the right plan and the right people bringing pre cut materials to the site." Respondents were positively giddy. One claimed that the scene would be "so 1776." When user DJT2020 suggested they should also build a guillotine, user webthing offered to build it. User jc99ta mused that a guillotine could be used to slice watermelons when it wasn't being used to behead people.

Talk about a gallows dominated TheDonald.win for days afterward.

One user swiped Home Depot's logo to show just how easy it was to find the materials for a gallows. Another offered to bring a 500-foot paracord as a rope—and warned that they would be on the hunt for insufficiently loyal Republicans, as well as Black Lives Matter and "antifa." He initially backed off on using a paracord when told it could decapitate the person being hanged, but later mused that it would at least keep the person being hanged from thrashing about on the gallows. Among those on the list of targets were the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler, Maxine Waters, Chuck Schumer, and Mitt Romney.

There's more where these came from. Check out Advance Democracy's archive here.

These insurrectionists were dead serious about killing a lot of people. Consider that many of these sans-culottes were heavily armed, and some of them were carrying zip-ties. Simply put, these were not just "tourists." (I'm looking at you, Rep. Andrew Clyde.)

For the better part of the last three years, the Republicans have called Democrats an angry mob. And yet they believe it's too soon to investigate how an actual mob attacked the Capitol. This is yet more evidence that we need to get to the bottom of how this horror happened—with or without the GOP.

Sidney Powell Now Claims 'No Reasonable Person' Would Believe Her Election Lies

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

It's been amply established that Sidney Powell bears a large measure of moral responsibility—at the very least—for creating the poisonous environment that led to the January 6 insurrection. Powell was one of the main legal lowlights behind Trump's misbegotten legal effort to steal another term.

Powell's claims to fame were a series of lawsuits that alleged Dominion Voting Systems was in cahoots with Venezuela to steal victory from Trump—the infamous "Kraken" lawsuits. All four of them crashed and burned—but not before her claims led to Dominion and its employees facing vicious harassment and trolling. At least one Dominion employee, Eric Coomer, was driven into hiding.

Partly due to this, Dominion filed a whopping $1.3 billion defamation suit against Powell, her law firm, and her nonprofit organization, Defend the Republic. Well, earlier today, Powell sought to throw out the suit. Her reasoning? Wait for it—she now says "no reasonable person" would believe her claims.

No, this isn't really snark. She actually said this in a legal filing.

In her motion to dismiss, Powell does not argue that the statements were true. She claims they are not actionable because they are protected statements of political opinion.
"Reasonable people understand that the 'language of the political arena, like the language used in labor disputes … is often vituperative, abusive and inexact,'" her motion to dismiss argues. "It is likewise a 'well recognized principle that political statements are inherently prone to exaggeration and hyperbole.'"

Powell goes on to say that Dominion called her theories "wild" and "outlandish," and in so doing support the notion that "no reasonable person" would take them seriously. Rather, she would have us believe her statements were merely "claims that await testing by the courts."

So in other words, Powell is tacitly admitting that when she made her much ballyhooed vow to "release the Kraken," she knew it was based on hokum. And she also knew when she was filing these statements that they were baloney. I'm not a lawyer, but even I know that when you make court filings, you're asserting that your arguments are based on fact.

Buzzfeed's Zoe Tillman got her hands on part of the filing.

Read the whole thing here. Twitter has been having a field day with this. Here are some samples.

Some of them have even gone as far as to call for her disbarment.

Considering that Powell is already facing at least two calls for her disbarment—from both the state of Michigan and the city of Detroit—you would think she would know to stop digging. Hard to believe this woman was once a federal prosecutor.

If this is Powell's new version of the truth, she ought to do us a favor and apologize to Dominion, as well as to the lawmakers and police officers who had to endure the horror that she unleashed. If not, then it's long past time to disbar the Kraken.


Georgia Prosecutor Recruits Top Racketeering Expert In Trump Probe

One of the many criminal investigations of Donald Trump may have ramped up to another level this weekend. Specifically, the investigation into Trump's efforts to compel Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to commit election fraud in his favor.

Last month, Fani Willis, the newly elected district attorney in Fulton County — home to Atlanta — began a criminal investigation into the shakedown, including the infamous January 2 phone call. We expected that it would be a classic slow-motion strangulation — the only proper way to take down a former president, especially one with a cult-like following. Things have moved along enough for Willis to empanel a grand jury as part of the investigation. Now, she has brought in one of the nation's leading racketeering experts to assist in the investigation.

According to Reuters:

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has enlisted the help of Atlanta lawyer John Floyd, who wrote a national guide on prosecuting state racketeering cases. Floyd was hired recently to "provide help as needed" on matters involving racketeering, including the Trump investigation and other cases, said the source, who has direct knowledge of the situation.

The move bolsters the team investigating Trump as Willis prepares to issue subpoenas for evidence on whether the former president and his allies broke the law in their campaign to pressure state officials to reverse his Georgia election loss. Willis has said that her office would examine potential charges including "solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local governmental bodies, conspiracy, racketeering" among other possible violations.

Floyd's book, RICO State by State: A Guide to Litigation Under the State Racketeering Statutes, outlines the complex legal requirements that prosecutors must meet in order to win a state racketeering case.

The significance? Georgia's version of RICO makes false statements to state officials a predicate act. According to several Georgia lawyers, Willis might be considering whether false statements Trump and his minions made to Raffensperger and other state officials fall under that law.

Willis has used this law before. She made her reputation as the lead prosecutor in the Atlanta testing scandal—with Floyd as a special prosecutor. She argued that the efforts to correct results on standardized tests amounted to a racketeering enterprise. It worked; all but one of the 12 teachers charged for their roles in the cheating were convicted. Floyd said that "as far as duration and complexity," this was one of the most intense cases he's ever worked. Well, it looks like he's jumped into a case that's going to be exponentially more intense.

Granted, this investigation is still very much in the early stages. But the fact that Willis is even thinking about teeing Trump and/or his acolytes up for racketeering at this point should have him and anyone else on hand for that now-infamous call crapping themselves. Mercer University Law School dean Cathy Cox — the last Democrat to hold the post now held by Raffensperger — put it simply.

"It's not a stretch to see where she's taking this," said Cathy Cox, the dean of Mercer University's law school in Macon, Georgia and a former Georgia secretary of state. "If Donald Trump engaged in two or more acts that involve false statements - that were made knowingly and willfully in an attempt to falsify material fact, like the election results - then you can piece together a violation of the racketeering act."

Racketeering, a felony in Georgia, can carry stiff penalties including up to 20 years in prison and a hefty fine. "There are not a lot of people who avoid serving prison time on a racketeering offense," said Cox.

Former federal prosecutor Kurt Kastorf noted that Trump presumably has a defense—he could argue that he really believed he'd been cheated out of Georgia's 15 electoral votes. Prosecutors would have to prove that Trump knew "that this asserted reason is insincere." Well, there's already ample evidence in the published record that shows Trump knew he'd lost. He knew as early as Nov. 7-8 that he was shooting his last legal bolt, and as early as Nov. 12 that there was no chance of reversing Biden's win in court.

The irony of this is freaking golden. We already know Trump can't handle strong women, especially strong women of color. And now two Black female prosecutors are breathing down his neck. Remember, New York state Attorney General Letitia James is helping shepherd another wide-ranging investigation into Trump.

It cannot be stated enough—barely a month into this investigation, and Willis is at least thinking about hitting Trump with the legal equivalent of napalm. Pass the popcorn.

Capitol Riot Conspirator Renounces Oath Keepers, Still Denied Bail

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Among the many right-wing groups who figured prominently in the January 6 insurrection was Oath Keepers, the far-right group of former policemen, former first responders, and former service(wo)men. One of their leaders, former Army Ranger Jessica Watkins, figured prominently in filings by prosecutors about just how far these domestic terrorists—and yes, these are terrorists—were willing to go. According to prosecutors, Watkins believed she came to Washington on Trump's direct orders.

Later that week, Watkins claimed she met with Secret Service agents and was part of the security detail at the Save America rally. However, in a remarkable turnabout, late Friday she publicly renounced the Oath Keepers and denounced the insurrection.

Jessica Watkins, 38, of Champaign County,told U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta in the District of Columbus that she was appalled and humiliated by the events of Jan. 6.
"As soon as I'm out, whether acquittal or release, I'm canceling my Oath Keepers membership," she said. "I have no desire to continue with people who say things like that."
(snip)
"We're done with that lifestyle," Watkins said. "We've got a struggling small business. I did it out of the love of my country, but I think it's time to let all of that go … I don't intend to read social media for amusement or political purposes. I think it's just time for me to focus on my business."

But Mehta didn't buy it.

"I've thought about this quite hard, Miss Watkins," the judge said. "And I think, at the end of the day, I just can't get there. I don't think putting you on home detention would ensure the safety of the community ... You are an active participant, organizer, leader of others in engaging in this kind of conduct. The material found at your home certainly suggests further potential for organizing and further potential for violence."

That "material" included a stash of weapons and tactical gear, as well as "a recipe for making a destructive device." Mehta added that her previous desire to, as he put it, "fight, kill, and die over the result of this election" belied her claims to have not taken part in any violence on that horrible day. Therefore, he couldn't justify letting her out on bail. One has to wonder if Mehta would have been more sympathetic if Watkins hadn't claimed she'd done what she did out of love for America. We can do without that kind of love, thank you very much.

Sounds like Watkins is one of many people who thought expressing remorse for their role in the insurrection would be enough to get them out of jail. To my mind, the only way any claims of remorse will be believed is if they plead guilty. After all, those who took part in that horror deserve to have to answer for it for the rest of their lives.

Timeline: Tara Reade Returns, But Her Shifting Story Is Still Implausible

Five days before the Democratic National Convention commenced its proceedings to nominate Joe Biden for president, Tara Reade again surfaced with her claim of sexual assault and mistreatment at his hands almost 30 years ago. The onetime junior staffer in Biden's Senate office turned up on a right-wing website last week to demand that media outlets afford her still more publicity. Reade seems to have forgotten how poorly that worked out for her last spring, when reporters placed her under the kind of close scrutiny that anyone who accuses a presumptive presidential nominee of a felony must expect. What follows is a reminder, in the form of a documented timeline.

From December 1992 to April 1993, Tara Reade works as a staff assistant in Joe Biden's Washington office.

(c. 1992-93) Reade tells The (Grass Valley) Union in April 2019 that on several occasions while she was working in Biden's office, Biden touched her in a manner that made her feel uncomfortable. She subsequently tells The Associated Press in 2019 that Biden rubbed her shoulders and neck and played with her hair. The AP is unable to corroborate Reade's claims, and does not publish a story at the time.

(1993): Reade claims in an April 2019 op-ed published on both her personal Medium blog and in The Union that Biden asked her to serve drinks at an event in 1993 because he liked her legs. A senior aide supposedly objected to this suggestion, triggering an argument among other staffers.

Reade tells Katie Halper in March 2020 that sometime in the spring of 1993, Biden shoved her against a wall, kissed her, put his hand up her skirt, penetrated her vagina with his fingers, and asked if she wanted to go somewhere else. (She would subsequently tell Megyn Kelly in May 2020 that Biden told her, "I want to fuck you.") Reade tells Halper that the assault took place in a semi-private hallway near Biden's office in the Russell Senate Office Building. However, Newsweek's Andrew Feinberg noted on Twitter that this area corresponds to the Capitol subway terminal, a very high-traffic area. Feinberg also notes that this area is near a Capitol Police post. Republican strategist Cheri Jacobus, a congressional staffer at the time, added that "those of us who've worked on Capitol Hill" know that there aren't any semi-private hallways in any Senate office buildings.

Reade told The New York Times in 2019 that after Biden allegedly assaulted her, she told several senior staffers in Biden's office about sexual harassment. However, all of them deny such claims from Reade. She then says she filed a harassment complaint. However, she subsequently told the AP that when she went to fill out the intake form to request counseling—the first part of the process in place at the time—she "chickened out." According to NBC News' Mike Memoli, under the procedures of the time, the process would have ended at that point.

Reade claims that a woman who called CNN's Larry King Live in August 1993 about problems with a prominent senator was her mom calling about Reade's experience with Biden. However, the woman claimed that she felt compelled to go to the press rather than to the police "out of respect for him." According to blogger Clifford McArthur, this directly contradicts Reade's claim that her mom told her to report Biden to the police. McArthur also notes that Reade claimed her mother complained that her daughter had been "sexually harassed and fired," when the woman calling in actually made references to unspecified "problems" her daughter faced in Washington.

In a 2009 post at The Wip (archive), Reade says she left Biden's office in 1993 to accompany her then-boyfriend and future husband, who was managing the reelection campaign for a Midwestern congressman.

In a December 2018 post on her Medium blog (since deleted), Reade says she left Biden's office, and left Washington altogether, in protest of "deception and xenophobia" being directed at Russia.

Reade tells The Union on April 3, 2019, about how Biden touched her in ways that made her feel uncomfortable. She said that she didn't consider this to be sexual in nature, but compared herself to a lamp—"It's pretty. Set it over there. Then when it's too bright, you throw it away."

The next day Reade writes about her time in Washington on her Medium blog. In it, she says she was forced to resign in 1993 after being essentially blackballed for filing a complaint.

Two weeks later an op-ed by Reade is published in The Union, which is almost identical to the post in Reade's blog.

On April 18, 2019, Reade tweets out a link to The Union's story. A week after her tweet, Reade confirms on Twitter that The Union's account is a true version of events.

During the following months, Reade tweets The Union's story at least 15 other times. (The last of those tweets is posted on March 15, 2020—nine days before sitting down with Halper to accuse Biden of assaulting her.)

In December 2019, Reade first characterizes her experience as sexual harassment after months of not doing so.

On January 9, 2020, Reade posts on her blog about the event at which Biden supposedly wanted her to serve drinks, saying that he destroyed her career.

Reade claims on March 10, 2020 that Biden himself fired her for reporting him. However, in 2019, she suggested that Biden didn't even know why she left. Exactly two weeks later, Reade edits her Medium post about her time in Washington to hew more closely to her claims that Biden sexually assaulted her. She does so just hours before Halper interviews her.

The Washington Postreports on April 12, 2020 that Reade's brother, Collin Moulton, recalled his sister telling him that Biden touched her neck and shoulders. Later, Moulton texts the Post in order to "clarify his remarks"; he now recalled Reade telling him Biden cornered her and put his hands underneath her skirt. In the same story, the Post reveals that it initially interviewed Reade in 2019, and at the time she faulted Biden's staff for "bullying" her more than Biden himself.

On April 27, 2020 longtime Reade friend Lynda LaCasse claims that Reade told her in 1996 about being assaulted by Biden in 1993. However, according to McArthur, when NBC News asked for people who knew Reade's story, LaCasse wasn't on the list. Additionally, LaCasse told The Washington Post that Reade reached out to her shortly after going public.

Two days later, ABC News reports that Moulton initially claimed in March that Reade had told him about being harassed -- only to reach out later in the day to claim Reade told him Biden pushed her against the wall.

On May 7, 2020 Laura McGann of Vox publishes the results of a yearlong effort to corroborate Reade's claims. She notes that Reade claimed that she didn't share the full story at first because reporters weren't listening to her—even though she had spoken at length with the AP, Washington Post and New York Times. McGann also reveals that a friend of Reade's told her two completely different stories to her in a year's time. In 2019, the friend told McGann that Biden hadn't sexually assaulted her, only to claim a year later that Biden did sexually assault her. According to McGann, Reade wanted to "leave a layer there."

PBS NewsHour reports (video) on May 15, 2020 that 72 former Biden staffers deny ever hearing about allegations of sexual assault until Reade spoke up earlier in 2020. They also questioned her claim that she had been asked to serve drinks at a fundraiser, recalling that Biden had a longstanding rule against Senate staffers doing fundraising work of any kind. Two former junior staffers, including one who assumed Reade's duties after she left, recalled that Biden did not want women performing menial chores like bringing drinks. One of Reade's former colleagues, Ben Savage, claimed that Reade had actually been fired for poor performance, including frequently mishandling constituent mail. NewsHour also reported that there were "no out-of-view areas" on the route between the Russell Senate Office Building and the Capitol. Additionally, according to NewsHour, this is a "main thoroughfare for Senators and staffers."

Also on May 15, Politico reports on a number of people who believe Reade manipulated and used people. One of them is attorney and domestic violence advocate Kelly Klett, who rented out a room to Reade in the spring and summer of 2018. Klett recalled that Reade never mentioned anything about inappropriate or illegal behavior from Biden. Indeed, she spoke of Biden in "a positive and bragging sense." Klett also recalled that Reade reached out to her when she initially claimed Biden sexually harassed her, but "could not provide enough credible information" for her claim to be believable. Klett suspected that Reade was trying to "plant a story with me" so she could claim she'd spoken with a lawyer about her claims.

In a May 15 article about Reade's credibility problems, Michael Tracey of Spectator USA interviews Klett. According to Klett, Reade spoke glowingly about her tenure with Biden and "made no mention of rape or even discomfort" despite knowing about Klett's domestic violence work. Klett believes that when Reade recounted her story to her in in 2019, she did so in a way that made it appear she was trying to get her to corroborate a story "which I can't corroborate and don't believe." She was "incredulous" when Reade claimed Biden assaulted her, and went on to say that if she believed Reade was telling the truth, "I'd be taking her case."

On May 19, 2020 CNN reports on Reade's shifting claims. It notes that Reade previously claimed she resigned from Biden's office to pursue an acting and writing career, in addition to her concerns about "deception and xenophobia" directed at Russia. Savage, who spoke with PBS earlier, reiterated that Reade had been fired for poor performance. He added that Reade claimed her firing amounted to discrimination for an unspecified health issue. The article also notes that Reade claimed to have a bachelor's degree from Antioch University Seattle, and was also an off-and-on visiting professor. However, according to Antioch Seattle officials, Reade attended but never graduated, and was never part of the faculty.

The Monterey County Weekly and The New York Times reveal on May 20, 2020 that defense attorneys in Monterey County, California are reviewing numerous domestic violence cases in which Reade testified as an expert witness on domestic violence. The review was triggered by CNN reporting the previous day that Reade never graduated from Antioch Seattle. When she took the stand, Reade testified under oath that she graduated from Antioch Seattle. In response, Reade claimed that she earned her degree as part of a "protected program," in which then-chancellor Toni Murdoch worked with her personally to protect her identity while she completed her coursework. However, Murdoch, through an Antioch Seattle spokeswoman, tells The Times that no such arrangement existed.

The next day Douglas Wigdor, a Trump donor and lawyer for several victims of Harvey Weinstein who had taken on Reade's case, announced that he was withdrawing as Reade's counsel. He had only taken the case two weeks earlier. Wigdor's withdrawal comes 48 hours after questions are raised about Reade's credentials.

On May 22, 2020, Antioch Seattle confirms that Reade only attended for three academic quarters in 2000 and 2001, and never graduated. Four days later the Monterey County district attorney launches an investigation into whether Reade misrepresented her credentials under oath.

The New York Times publishes an extensive profile of Reade on May 31, 2020 based on emailed responses from Reade and interviews with over 100 current and former acquaintances. It notes that Reade has a "tendency to embellish" much of her story. For instance, she claims that a role as an extra in La Bamba was actually a role as a dancer. The Times confirms that she graduated from Seattle University School of Law despite never receiving the undergraduate degree required for admission. It also reveals that a number of defense lawyers questioned why she was allowed to testify as an expert witness despite not having a certification in psychology or sociology.

After months of silence, Reade gives an interview on August 12, 2020 to right-wing "media watchdog" NewsBusters, in which she criticizes the mainstream media for not asking Biden's newly-minted running mate, Kamala Harris, about her claims and those of other women who claim Biden touched them inappropriately. (Harris had previously said that Reade had a right to be heard.) NewsBusters makes no mention of the inconsistencies a number of reporters have found in Reade's story, as well as numerous failed attempts to corroborate her. Nor does it mention Reade's misrepresentation of her academic credentials, or that she is under investigation for potentially lying about her credentials under oath.