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Monday, December 09, 2019

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Tucker Carlson Utters Racist 'Joke' About Tyre Nichols Killing

Fox News’ Tucker Carlson managed to incorporate a racist “joke” into a recent segment of his show covering the murder of Tyre Nichols, Huffpost reports.

The host began his rant by targeting President Joe Biden’s recent decision to end the COVID-19 emergency, and claimed the White House’s decision means he’s forced to turn his attention to 29-year-old Nichols' murder last month.

Carlson then proceeded to take aim at Democrats, complaining that the party “needed an emergency, so they found one,” and that’s “white racism.”

"White racism is getting harder to find," Carlson lamented. "Very few unarmed Black men are killed by white cops these days. Where’s George Floyd when you need him?”

Contrary to Carlson's statement, Rolling Stone found that in 2023, police have already killed at least seven unarmed black people.

Watch the segment below or at this link.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Trump Secretly Funded Arizona 'Audit' With Million-Dollar Donation

Former President Donald Trump made a “secret” $1 million donation to the election audit conducted in Arizona following his false claims that the election was stolen from him, TheGuardian reports.

The audit was requested by Arizona GOP senators, and doubted by many of their colleagues due to the “wild conspiracy theories” it mirrored. An assertion “that bamboo fibers found in ballot sheets proved they had been printed in Asia” even caused some local GOP members to deem the probe a “grift disguised as an audit.

But nevertheless, the audit persisted.

Although the audit eventually proved baseless and unsuccessful, The Guardian reports that “one of the largest benefactors” behind this attempt to counter the 2020 election results remained a secret for nearly two years.

But watchdog group “Documented” was able to track funding for the failed assessment and eventually landed on Trump’s super PAC, Save America.

First, the group discovered that Cyber Ninjas, the Florida company that conducted the audit, was provided $5.7 million by far-right groups, and then given an additional $1 million from former Trump advisor and attorney Cleta Mitchell.

Still, questions around the origin of the $1 million remained unanswered.

The New York Times reports that in September of 2021, “unnamed ‘officials,’” as well as Arizona GOP senators who requested the election audit, adamantly denied Trump’s contribution.

However, with its research on many corporate, tax and campaign finance filings, as well as emails and text messages between Trump allies that were obtained by nonpartisan accountability group American Oversight, "Documented" managed to counter those claims.

The Guardian broke down the process of how the watchdog group traced the donation back to Trump.

Like many incidents surrounding Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020, tracing back Trump’s contribution to the audit starts with the House Select Committee.

The committee’s final report mentioned that Trump super PAC, Save America, donated $1 million to the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI) — led by former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows — but did not disclose the origin or the reason for the money.

Further research revealed that Trump’s contribution possibly began around June 2021, as accountability group American Oversight tracked text messages between retired Army officer and “arch election denier” Phil Waldron and Doug Logan, CEO of Cyber Ninjas, the Florida-based company that conducted the audit.

Waldron texted Logan, “Kurt is going to talk to 45 today, about $.”

According to the Guardian, “Kurt” likely referred to Kurt Olden, an “election denying lawyer.” He continued, “Mike L talking to Corey L,” referring to CEO of MyPillow and devoted Trump supporter Mike Lindell and Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

A couple of weeks later, Waldron asked Logan if he had received a $1 million payment from Lewandowski. He texted, “Supposedly Kurt talked to Trump and they got 1 mil for you,” but he noted he “couldn’t verify who sent and received.”

According to The Guardian, the Federal Election Commission reported that less than two weeks later, on July 26, 2021, Save America transferred the $1 million to CPI. Two days later, a new group, American Voting Rights Foundation (AVRF) “registered as a corporation in Delaware.”

CPI donated $1 million to AVRF — the group’s first and only donation — in 2021, and although the date of donation is unknown, the clear relationship between the groups, the “timing and amounts” of the transfers, as well as the revealed text messages between Trump allies all leads to one culprit: Trump.

Furthermore, on the day AVRF registered as a corporation, Trump attorney Mitchell emailed Cyber Ninjas CEo Logan and put him in touch with the audit spokesperson, Randy Pullen as well as AVRF treasurer Tom Datwyler.

The Arizona Republic recently confirmed that Trump was notified of the process the whole time

GOP vice-chair of Maricopa County board of supervisors Bill Gates told The Guardian he is “disappointed, but not surprised” by the revelation.

“At the very least, it is highly hypocritical for the Arizona state senate to have allowed the audit to be funded in this fashion,” Gates said.

Ultimately, even after the great lengths Trump and his cohort of election deniers went to assist in the audit, the goal to overturn Arizona's election was never met. The Guardian reports that in 2020, President Joe Biden won Maricopa County, the most populated in Arizona and where the audit took place, by 45,109 votes.

Regarding the morality of the audit, Gates added that Arizona law states, “electoral candidates are not allowed to fund vote recounts which have to be financed with taxpayer dollars.” And although the audit was “technically not a recount,” it’s clear the intent was the same.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Musk's Twitter Reinstates Yet Another Previously Banned Neo-Nazi

After being banned for almost two years, Twitter has officially reinstated the account of white nationalist leader Nick Fuentes, Rolling Stone reports.

Twitter banned Fuentes for "repeated violations" of the platform's rules in July 2021, and when he attempted to create another account in October after Musk took over, the platform banned him again.

The reinstatement of his account comes two months after Twitter CEO Elon Musk posted a poll to Twitter, asking users whether the accounts — he, himself, suspended — that “have not broken the law or engaged in egregious spam” should be reinstated. Following the majority “yes” vote from users, the billionaire began restoring accounts of MAGA Republicans, such as MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell and Neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin, who'd been banned from Twitter since 2013. Rolling Stone referred to "the return of extremist figures to Twitter" as a "hallmark of Musk's early tenure.

However, Musk is not treating all Twitter users equally. The tech CEO had suspended a select list of journalists, himself, last year from the platform "for, he said, violating the company’s terms of service." A few weeks later, he asserted that the journalists "were welcome to return to the platform" only if they would "abide by Twitter's rules."

Washington Post journalist Paul Farhi reported, “Twitter has privately demanded that the suspended journalists delete the tweets that drew Musk’s ire in the first place — a condition the reporters have refused to accept. The result is a stalemate: The suspended journalists remain in Twitter purgatory, unable to access their accounts.”

Unlike his treatment of the journalists, Musk is granting Fuentes, 24, free reign back on the platform.

The extremist first gained notoriety as a Boston University student attending the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he and other attendees chanted “Jews will not replace us.” He later founded the “America First Political Action Conference,” which has been attended by far-right MAGA Republican House of Representatives members like Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).

But more recently, the extremist anti-Semite met with former president Donald Trump and rapper Kanye West, now known as “Ye,” — who, at the time, also publicly spewed antisemetic remarks — at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

According to Rolling Stone, prior to reinstatement, Fuentes has been able to expand a "cult-like following" called the Groypers, and although the coalition describes itself as "Christian-conservative," members and followers often "weaponize antisemitic and racist tropes against their targets."

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

'Potentially Illegal': DeSantis Aide Hid Sweetheart Deal On Migrant Flights

Larry Keefe, an advisor to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, was in conversation with Vertol Systems Company CEO James Montgomerie regarding the coordination of migrant flights using a private Gmail account, Politico reports.

According to NBC6, which first reported the email records, the private email channel was created by DeSantis’ “public safety czar” Keefe when Montgomerie requested a contract in August to send migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard.

Newly released records from DeSantis’ office show that emails between Keefe and Montgomerie occurred over the course of three weeks leading up to the mid-September flights for about 50 Venezuelan asylum-seekers. AlterNet previously reported that Vertol Systems was paid about $615,000 to carry out the task.

He was paid another $950,000 for more flights that were originally scheduled to go to Delaware and Illinois, but haven’t happened yet.

A former Trump attorney, Keefe used the alias “Clarice Sterling” from the film 'Silence of the Lambs', along with the address “heat19.heat19@gmail.com” to communicate with Montgomerie, who was paid nearly $1.5 million to carry out the migrant flights. Keefe helped Montgomerie craft proposal language for the Florida Department of Transportation.

Keefe said the name “heat19” came from retired U.S. Air Force commander Lt. Gen. Donald Wurster.

Ben Wilcox, co-founder of nonprofit government watchdog Integrity Florida told Politico, “This appears to be a purposeful attempt to evade Florida’s public records laws. It’s not surprising that the Governor’s office wanted to keep these records secret because they suggest that a public official helped draft a bid by a private company for government services.”

He continued, “That’s bid-rigging and it’s potentially illegal.”

NBC6 reported that advocates filed a lawsuit on behalf of the migrants on the basis that “DeSantis, Keefe, Vertol and others ‘conspired to dupe [migrants] into a political stunt … (a) cruel photo opportunity … to use political fervor over immigration to boost defendant DeSantis’ national profile,’” and the Department of Treasury is in the process of looking into whether DeSantis is using COVID-19 federal assistance aid to pay for migrant relocation.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

New York GOP Official To Plead Guilty In Vote Fraud Probe

A New York State Republican elections official will plead guilty next month to federal criminal charges in tandem with the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) present voter fraud investigation, the Albany Times Union reports.

Jason T. Schofield – whose official title since 2018 has been the elections commissioner for Rensselaer County – will be the second conviction in the FBI’s investigation into officials collecting absentee ballots dating back to the 2020 election

Amid reports of his scheduled guilty plea on January 11, Schofield was supported earlier this month in a 16-2 vote by Rensselaer County Legislature for a second, four-year term that will begin on January 1.

However, Schofield's lawyer, Danielle Neroni says, "He is scheduled for a change of plea and with his change of plea he will be resigning from his position."

The state Attorney General’s office is currently carrying out a similar investigation to the FBI’s, as the county issued a grand jury subpoena for absentee ballot documents previously handled by Richard W. Crist, county Operations Director, and Jim Gordon, Director of Purchasing. The two were targeted earlier this year as a part of the DOJ’s investigation. Both men had their phones confiscated by the FBI.

Months later, in September, the Times Union reports that the FBI arrested Schofield outside of his home on a nine-page indictment, due to his alleged “obtaining and filing of absentee ballots using the personal info of at least eight voters without their permission."

According to the Times Union, it is unknown whether Schofield’s Republican colleagues who voted him into a second term on December 13 knew that he’d agreed to plead guilty to felony charges on the very same day.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Hutchinson Said She Saw Meadows Burning Key Documents In Fireplace

Cassidy Hutchinson revealed under oath that Mark Meadows burned official documents, The Independent reports.

The House Select Committee investigating the Capitol attack released a new set of testimony transcripts, and Hutchinson’s May appearance was included. In the transcript, she revealed to the committee that she witnessed Meadows “roughly a dozen times” burn papers, once or twice weekly between December 2020 and January 2021.

Hutchinson, who recently revealed that one of former President Donald Trump's attorneys urged her to lie during her testimony, described how the burning of documents was carried out in detail. She is unsure of what was contained in any of the documents that Meadows allegedly destroyed, however.

“So throughout the day, he would put more logs on the fireplace to keep it burning,” she said. “And I recall roughly a dozen times where he would take the – I don’t know the formal name for what it’s called that covers the fireplace – but take that off and then throw a few more pieces of paper in with it when he put more logs on the fireplace.”

Politico reporter Kyle Cheney tweeted a thread of transcripts, which included Hutchinson’s.

Cheney posted: Here's what Hutchinson said about Meadows burning papers in his WH fireplace — including 2-4 times after meeting with Rep. Perry. We wrote about this testimony in May.

Pennsylvania GOP Rep. Scott Perry is known for falsely claiming widespread voter fraud and was in support of Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Russian State TV Applauds Boebert And Gaetz For Insulting Zelensky

Russia’s Kremlin state TV is lauding Lauren Boebert as “brave” after she declined to join in a standing ovation for Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky during his address to Congress while visiting the U.S., Huffpost reports.

In addition to Boebert, who is known to be an extremist and election denier, the Russian TV station also praised GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz and Fox News conservative host Tucker Carlson for insulting the Ukrainian leader.

During a segment following Zelensky’s address, Carlson said to his viewers, “As far as we know, no one’s ever addressed the United States Congress in a sweatshirt before, but they love him much more than they love you.”

After the far-right talking head likened Zelensky’s attire during his speech to something “the manager of a strip club” would wear, Kremlin state TV eagerly mocked him as "a man in cargo pants.” The broadcast proceeded to show a clip of Carlson imitating congressional leaders as if they were “clapping like seals” for Zelensky.

Julia Davis, a columnist at The Daily Beast, tweeted, “Russian state TV relies on Tucker Carlson, Josh Hawley, Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert to promote their talking points that America is sick and tired of supporting Ukraine,” along with a clip from the Kremlin state TV segment.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Are White Evangelicals Finally Ready To Dump Trump?

A “silent majority” that supported Donald Trump in his 2016 and 2020 presidential runs is now quietly bowing out, Vanity Fair reports.

The University of Chicago Divinity School’s magazine reported that nearly 81 percent of “self-identifying white evangelical voters” voted for Trump in 2016.

However, despite Trump keeping several promises to evangelical voters during his term — including nominating conservative judges to the Supreme Court and successfully overturning Roe v. Wade as a result — it may not be enough to win the voting bloc over again.

Bob Vander Plaats, a noted evangelical pastor said, “There’s a lot of people who share a lot of our similar thoughts but don’t want to go on record.”

Last month, Washington Times columnist Everett Piper penned an article in which she suggested that Trump is “hurting…not helping” evangelicals. She said, “the take-home of this past week is simple: Donald Trump has to go.”

“If he’s our nominee in 2024, we will get destroyed," Piper added.

Recently James Robison, a prominent televangelist, compared Trump to a “little elementary schoolchild.”

Although many evangelical leaders are not thrilled about another Trump run, some are indeed intrigued by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' potential run, as he was recently a featured speaker at the conservative Faith & Freedom Coalition's Road to Majority conference and endorsed by evangelical pastor Tom Ascol.

Other GOP candidates Vander Plaats mentioned he's willing to support, if they run, include Mike Pence, Tim Scott, Ted Cruz, Mike Pompeo, and Nikki Haley.

Even with drastically shifted views, and their newfound support of other possible candidates, Vanity Fair reports that it is still too early to confirm whether Trump has completely lost their support as some evangelical leaders continue to stand by him.

Texas pastor and former faith adviser to the Trump White House Robert Jeffress told Vanity Fair he was "one of the only and first megachurch pastors supporting President Trump during the primary." Jeffress said, "Most were divided among a plethora of other candidates. But as soon as they saw Trump beginning to gain momentum they coalesced around him, and I think the difference in 2024 is that people will coalesce around him much sooner than last time.”

On the contrary, said an evangelical leader who chose not to be named, he has “no doubt” that if Trump is the GOP 2024 candidates, the Republicans will “get crushed in the general [election].”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

For Two Years, Trump Escaped Mandatory Audits In 'Massive' IRS Failure

A House committee says that for the first two years Donald Trump held office, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) did not audit him, NPR reports. And no audits were completed during his entire presidency.

This analysis comes after the House Ways and Means Committee agreed this week to release Trump’s tax filing history from 2015-2020. The committee has pursued evidence of the former president’s tax returns for almost four years.

Committee chairman Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts, a Democrat, said, "The Committee expected that these mandatory audits were being conducted promptly and in accordance with IRS policies. However, our review found that under the prior administration, the program was dormant. We know now, the first mandatory audit was opened two years into his presidency. On the same day this Committee requested his returns."

"We anticipated the IRS would expand the mandatory audit program to account for the complex nature of the former president's financial situation, yet found no evidence of that," Neal said. "This is a major failure of the IRS under the prior administration, and certainly not what we had hoped to find."

According to NPR, when the Democratic congressman previously asked the IRS for Trump’s tax returns from 2013-2018, the Treasury Department denied his request citing it was “not supported by a legitimate legislative purpose.”

But now, because Democrats on the committee asserted that Trump’s tax returns are imperative to the IRS's presidential audit program, the returns can officially be released. And the Supreme Court rejected Trump’s October emergency application he hoped would block the greenlight for release.

In a split party vote, House committee Republicans voted against the release.

Ways and Means Republican Leader Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas said "We urge Democrats to turn back while they still can. If they release tax returns today it will be a stain on this committee."

In a statement he released last week, Brady said, "Ways and Means Democrats are unleashing a dangerous new political weapon that reaches far beyond President Trump, and jeopardizes the privacy of every American.” He continued, "Going forward, partisans in Congress have nearly unlimited power to target political enemies by obtaining and making public their private tax returns to embarrass and destroy them."

In disagreement, Neal said, "This was not about being punitive, it was not about being malicious."

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Hilarious Smackdown As Boebert And Greene Clash Over McCarthy's Speaker Bid

GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert publicly slammed Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene during a recent Turning Point USA conference, after Greene confirmed her support of Kevin McCarthy for House Speaker, HuffPost reports.

Boebert told the audience, “I’ve been aligned with Marjorie and accused of believing a lot of the things that she believes in. I don’t believe in [McCarthy's speaker bid], just like I don’t believe in ... Jewish space lasers.”

Greene gave a rebuttal to the Colorado congresswoman in Twitter thread form, noting Boebert “just barely” won her midterm race.

Greene tweeted, “I’ve supported and donated to Lauren Boebert. President Trump has supported and donated to Lauren Boebert. Kevin McCarthy has supported and donated to Lauren Boebert. She just barely came through by 500 votes.”

Greene continued, “She gladly takes our $ but when she’s been asked: Lauren refuses to endorse President Trump, she refuses to support Kevin McCarthy, and she childishly threw me under the bus for a cheap sound bite.”

"Americans expect conservative fighters like us to work together to Save America and that is the only mission I’m 100% devoted to, not high school drama and media sound bites," the Georgia representative concluded. “The country is facing extremely difficult times.Save America! Defeat the Democrats!”

While Boebert and other far-right representatives have declared opposition to McCarthy’s Speaker nomination, Greene stands by her decision to support him.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Pentagon Officials Feared Trump Would Order U.S. Troops To Enforce Coup

During its final January 6 hearing Monday, the House Select Committee found that leading up to the insurrection, Department of Defense officials worried that Donald Trump would impose an ‘illegal order’ on U.S. troops to support his attempted coup, HuffPost reports.

“The select committee recognizes that some at the [Defense] department had genuine concerns, counseling caution, that President Trump might give an illegal order to use the military in support of his efforts to overturn the election,” the committee stated in the 161-page executive summary of the report.

The committee did not find any evidence that the Department of Defense supported Trump’s coup attempt in any way. However, the report says “President Trump had authority and responsibility to direct deployment of the National Guard in the District of Columbia, but never gave any order to deploy the National Guard on January 6th or on any other day.”

The report continues, “Nor did he instruct any federal law enforcement agency to assist. Because the authority to deploy the National Guard had been delegated to the Department of Defense, the secretary of defense could, and ultimately did deploy the Guard.”

Trump has blamed Nancy Pelosi for not calling on troops to immediately intervene.

HuffPost reports that the executive summary of the report also includes an explanation of the committee’s “recommendations of criminal prosecution against Trump and several of his allies on charges that include making false statements, obstructing an official proceeding and seditious conspiracy.”

The committee wrote, “The underlying and fundamental feature of that planning was the effort to get one man, Vice President Mike Pence, to assert and then exercise unprecedented and lawless powers to unilaterally alter the actual election outcome on January 6.”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Burned In Midterm, GOP Embarks On Forlorn Quest For 'Quality Candidates'

The GOP suffered midterm election defeats across the nation, which almost led to a House-majority loss, Politico reports. As the party reevaluates their strategy and looks ahead to 2024, the search for a “quality” candidate ensues.

One strategy Republicans are considering is plotting on how to weed out “unelectable” candidates. “We lost some seats we should have won because we had bad candidates,” said Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois, who also lost his race.

But some Republicans have blamed Trump for the losses, including former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina, a Republican who was criticized by the GOP for voting to impeach Trump, asserts that recruiting the “right candidate” will be difficult as long as former President Donald Trump remains the face of the party. “The longer the Republican Party hangs on to him, the more they’re going to lose.”

According to Newsweek, four Trump-backed candidates lost Senate races, 11 Trump-backed candidates lost House races, and 10 Trump-backed candidates lost gubernatorial races. Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, Sarah Pailin in Alaska, and Hershal Walker of Georgia, who lost to Raphael Warnock in Georgia’s run-off last week, were among those endorsed by Trump in their unsuccessful races. Of course, Trump has said that if the candidates he endorsed lost in their election, he cannot be blamed.

But although many of the GOP midterm losses may stem from Trump support, some Republicans believe he was not the only obstacle in their fight. Perhaps, lack of experience or age played a part as well.

Referring to two Gen-Z candidates who lost races in New Hampshire and North Carolina, Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas told Politico, “We elected two 25-year-olds to be our nominees. That’s batsh*t crazy.”

Republican Main Street Partnership, an organization that works to identify and elect bipartisan candidates, is actively seeking out potential electable GOP party members. Sarah Chamberlain, president of the group, said that “the lesson for Republicans going into 2024 is ‘Recruit the right candidates for the right seats.’”

Some hopeful and determined GOP candidates who lost plan to take another stab at running in the future. Derrick Anderson, who lost to Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger in Virginia and George Hanselm who lost his mayoral race in New Hampshire, both seek to run again.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Special Counsel Subpoenas Georgia Official On Trump Election Tampering

Special counsel Jack Smith has issued yet another grand jury subpoena — this time to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the Washington Post reports.

Smith, appointed to investigate Trump’s possession of classified documents and his involvement in the January 6 Capitol attack, issued four subpoenas last week to states targeted by Trump during the 2020 election, including Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

A spokesman for Raffensperger's office confirmed he received the subpoena Monday, NBC News reports. A source told NBC the subpoena is a request "to provide documents and is not a request for him to appear or testify in person."

Trump has heavily criticized Raffensperger for certifying President Joe Biden’s Georgia win in the 2020 election. During a "Save America" rally last year, Trump called Raffensperger, a RINO (Republican In Name Only), and referred to him as "incompetent and strange." Trump told the crowd, "there's something wrong with this guy, your Secretary of State Raffensperger."

As part of his effort to overturn the 2020 election, Trump infamously called Raffensperger and demanded the Georgia secretary of state "find the votes."

"All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state," Trump said, according to a transcript of the call.

Georgia repeatedly confirmed Biden’s win. Despite Trump's criticism, Raffensperger was reelected as Georgia's secretary of state in 2022 with 52.37 percent of the vote.

Raffensperger’s office had no further comment on Smith's subpoena.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.