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Huckabee Sanders Says She’d Enforce No COVID Safety Rules In Arkansas

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the former Trump White House press secretary and Fox News pundit who is running for governor of Arkansas, said during a Friday appearance on Fox News that she would not institute mask or vaccine mandates if elected.

Sanders' comments come as Arkansas has had a resurgence of COVID-19. On Thursday, the Arkansas Department of Health reported that active cases of COVID-19 in the state had increased by more than 800, up to 12,779.

The department reported the deaths of two children from COVID-19 on the day Sanders said she wouldn't impose any safety regulations against the spread of the coronavirus.

"If I'm elected governor here in Arkansas, we will not have mask mandates, we will not have mandates on the vaccine ... because we believe in personal freedom and responsibility. That's one of the key cornerstones, frankly, of our country," Sanders told the hosts of Fox & Friends.

According to the Mayo Clinic, 44.4 percent of the total population in Arkansas has had at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, ranking it among the bottom 10 states in the country. By comparison, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Vermont have vaccination rates above 70 percent, and the national average is 56.6 percent.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control, told a hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education and Labor on Wednesday that 83 percent of new COVID cases are caused by the Delta variant of the virus, and that most of those infected are unvaccinated.

In contrast to Sanders' blanket statement, some institutions in Arkansas have instituted vaccine mandates. Arkansas Children's Hospital and the state's Washington Regional Medical Network said that all new hires would be required to be vaccinated.

In the interview, Sanders also said that President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris had "cast doubt" on the Operation Warp Speed program that was intended to help fund and accelerate the development of vaccines against the coronavirus and should "give President Trump and his administration the credit they are due" for the vaccine being developed and distributed.

But when Biden became president on January 20, the government had not yet secured millions of doses of vaccine from manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna, and agreements were not secured until the Biden administration was in place. The agreement for a total of 600 million doses to cover the entire population was not reached until February 11.

During her tenure as Donald Trump's spokesperson, Sanders made a habit of repeatedly lying to reporters.

Defending Trump's decision to fire then-FBI director James Comey in 2017, Sanders claimed that FBI agents had "lost confidence" in the director. But under oath during the Mueller investigation, she admitted fabricating the story.

She also lied about job creation figures under President Barack Obama, which she was forced later to acknowledge.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Texas Republican Urges Election Audit — In Counties Biden Won

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Texas state Rep. Steve Toth (R) on Monday announced that he had filed legislation calling for a "forensic audit" of the state's 2020 election results.

Former President Donald Trump won Texas in 2020 by nearly six percentage points despite ultimately losing the national electoral college and popular vote to President Joe Biden.

Toth's bill, the "Texas Voter Confidence Act," would not audit all of the 11 million-plus votes that were cast in the state. Instead, the legislation calls for an audit in "every precinct in each county with a population of 415,000 or more."

This would disproportionately target counties that voted for Biden.

According to a list of Texas counties by population, only three that voted for Trump — Collin, Denton, and Montgomery — would be audited under the bill if it became law. The remaining 10 counties voted for Biden, including Texas' two most populous counties, Harris County (where Houston is located) and Dallas County.

"We need a forensic audit to uncover all the voter fraud," Toth said in a statement accompanying his announcement.

He added, "Texans want to know more about the claims of voter fraud and deserve to have confidence in their elections."

Toth did not offer any proof to back his claims of widespread fraud. However, he echoed other Republicans in Texas, including Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Sen. Ted Cruz, who have made baseless accusations of voter fraud in the 2020 election, allegations that have no basis in reality.

Toth's bill may be on hold for the time being. Currently, the Texas Legislature is unable to form a quorum, and thus cannot consider legislation, after Democratic lawmakers left the state in protest of a GOP proposal empowering several voter suppression efforts.

The audit request follows a similar controversial "audit" of the 2020 vote in Arizona, undertaken by conservative activists. That process has been criticizedfor using unscientific protocols, promoting conspiracy theories, and allegedly damaging state-owned election equipment.

Republicans across the country have also considered replicating that process, including in places Trump won.

Utah state Rep. Steve Christiansen, for instance, visited the Arizona "audit" earlier in June, telling the Daily Beast he wanted to hold the same sort of process in his home state, where Trump won by more than 20 percentage points.

In North Carolina, Republican members of the state legislature are also pushing for an audit. Trump won the state by 1.3 points in 2020.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Greene Denounces Christian Churches As ‘Basically Dead’

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) on Sunday told a congregation that the "church is basically dead" in America because Christian churches have not been vocal enough with their support for right-wing policies.

Greene made her remarks in a speech to 412 Murrieta Church in Murrieta, California.

The church, led by Pastor Tim Thompson, recently hosted sermons on "the sin of homosexuality" and referred to activism against climate change as "the sin of earth worship."

The church has also attacked vaccination from COVID-19, with the video of the sermon against vaccination now removed from YouTube for violating that site's community guidelines.

In May of 2020, the church held services at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in violation of state regulations enacted to stop the spread of the virus.

In a video interview with the Sacramento Bee, Thompson stood in front of a banner depicting California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom as Adolph Hitler and compared Newsom's pandemic policies to Nazi Germany.

"In some ways, I think the banner with him wearing his Hitler mustache, it is appropriate," said Thompson.

On Sunday, Greene praised 412 Murrieta for their conservative activism but lamented that other Christian churches have not followed their model.

"The church all over America is silent. Our church is complacent. Our church is not the living, breathing body of Christ. The church is basically dead," said Greene.

"And this is why we have the America we have. This is why we live in a country that's murdered over 62 million people in the womb," she added. Greene opposes abortion rights.

Recent polling has shown that Greene's position on abortion is in the minority in America. A May poll from Pew Research Center showed that 59 percent of Americans believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Greene also said that the purported silence of churches on conservative social issues is "also why we're living in a country that is destroying what is moral and right."

Greene cited transgender rights and complained that "transgenders can go into women's bathrooms and girl's bathrooms and sports. Rape centers and jails."

She also complained that transgender people, who she described as a "biological man in a dress" had "their rights above ours," a practice she described as "evil."

Greene has frequently advocated against transgender rights. In February she spoke on the floor of the House in opposition to the Equality Act, inaccurately describing the legislation that would add LGBTQ protections to federal law as "causing discrimination against women and religious freedom."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Mo Brooks Pays $25K To Trump Resort After Former Guy Endorses Senate Bid

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), who is currently a candidate for Alabama's U.S. Senate seat, paid out over $25,000 to former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort just days after receiving an endorsement from Trump.

Brooks is running for the seat being vacated by Sen. Richard Shelby, who has announced he will not run for reelection in 2022. The seat has been rated as "solid" for the Republican Party by multiple political ratings organizations.

On Thursday, in a federal campaign finance filing, Brooks' campaign disclosed that it had paid over $25,000 to Mar-a-Lago for catering and event space. Shelby held a fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago on April 23 and Trump, who currently lives at the resort after losing the presidential election, was scheduled to be in attendance.

Just a few weeks before, on April 7, Trump endorsed Brooks over the three other Republican candidates who have already declared their candidacy.

"Few Republicans have as much COURAGE and FIGHT as Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks," Trump wrote in a statement, noting that the candidate "has my Complete and Total Endorsement."

Trump told Fox News on April 20 that Brooks would have "clear sailing" in his campaign for the seat and asserted he "just went up 41 points" even though no poll to support that claim has been released.

During his presidency, members of the Republican Party and businesses and governments seeking Trump's influence frequently spent money at his properties, with Trump businesses profiting throughout his term in office.

Brooks has deeply integrated the Trump endorsement into his campaign. On his official campaign Twitter account, Brooks refers to himself as "Mo Brooks – Endorsed by President Trump." The phrase "Endorsed by Trump" appears in the banner of the account as well, and the same language appears on Brooks' official campaign website and Facebook account.

Brooks has been under fire for a speech given on January 6 at a "Save America" rally protesting the outcome of the 2020 election. Before Trump supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol, Brooks told the crowd to "stop at the Capitol" and that "today is the day that American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass."

Several members of Congress called for Brooks to be formally censured for inciting the crowd.

"Censure seems too trifling a punishment in this horrific case, but it's the minimal level of accountability Congressman Brooks should face from the same Congress he goaded rioters to assault," Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement in January.

Brooks is also being sued by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) for his role in the insurrection. Swalwell alleges that Brooks, along with Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. and personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, broke the law by inciting the riot.

Despite this criticism, Brooks recently spoke at CPAC in Dallas, Texas, on July 9 and told attendees, "Our choice is simple: We can surrender and submit, or we can fight back."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Under Trafficking Probe, Gaetz Likens FBI To ‘Worst Days Of Soviet Union’

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) compared efforts by the FBI to combat violent extremism to actions taken by the former Soviet Union, which he called a "repressive security state."

Gaetz appeared on the conservative Newsmax TV's Cortes & Pellegrino to discuss a recent tweet that was released by the FBI.

In the July 11 tweet, the FBI wrote, "family members and peers are often best positioned to witness signs of mobilization to violence" and gives advice on signs to look out for to "prevent homegrown violent extremism."

Gaetz criticized the tone of the tweet.

"This harkens to a darker day," said Gaetz. "Back during the worst days of the Soviet Union, 1 out of every 3 of the folks in that country was providing some sort of information to a centralized governing authority and so snitching really is a tool of the repressive security state."

Gaetz also claimed later in the interview that the tweet wasn't "really a sincere attempt to engage in law enforcement" and "is an attempt to identify people based on their politics."

Despite Gaetz's allegations, neither the FBI's tweet nor the document the tweet links to suggests reporting people over their political beliefs.

The agency is currently in the midst of a massive investigation of the January 6 attack on the Capitol, when several violent extremists supporting former President Donald Trump breached the building in an attempt to overturn Trump's loss in the 2020 presidential election. Over 500 people have been arrested and charged with federal offenses.

In recent months, Gaetz has repeatedly attacked the FBI. Along with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), he has even pushed a baseless claim that the agency organized the Capitol attack. He has also suggested that the FBI was to blame for the COVID-19 viral outbreak.

Gaetz's attack on the FBI comes at the same time that he has been under federal investigation relating to the possible sex trafficking of an underage girl.

Gaetz has not been alone in attacking the FBI for investigating violent extremism. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TX) recently described the tweet in question from the FBI as "over the top."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

GOP Senator Objects To FBI Mobilization Against Violent Extremism

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) on Monday criticized the FBI for requesting the public's help in combating violent extremism.

Blackburn appeared on the conservative Newsmax TV network's National Report program and was asked by host Emma Rechenberg for her reaction to what she called "a quite controversial tweet" posted on the official FBI Twitter account that read, "Family members and peers are often best positioned to witness signs of mobilization to violence. Help prevent homegrown violent extremism."

The agency is currently in the middle of a massive investigation of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump. Over 500 people have been arrested so far.

Rechenberg said people fear the tweet is calling for "reporting people who might have different views from your own, not necessarily extremist one[s]."

After accusing the FBI without evidence of spying on Donald Trump's presidential campaign, Blackburn told Rechenberg:

Tennesseans are very upset with what they see as a double standard with how the FBI and other federal agencies move forward. But bear in mind, they were there collecting information or surveilling the Trump campaign. And for them to put this out, encourage people to do this — I have some questions about it and many others have questions about it. Of course, everyone wants to do their part to keep out nation safe and to keep our communities safe. But to put this out and to encourage people to begin to snitch on their family members if they have a difference of opinion is something that is a little bit over the top.

Despite what Rechenberg and Blackburn say, the FBI's tweet did not call opinions or political disagreements criteria for reporting concerns about violent extremism. The document linked in the tweet never mentions the word "opinion."

Republicans in Congress have attacked efforts to combat violent extremism, voting in both the House and the Senate against authorizing congressional investigations of the riot at the Capitol.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

GOP Candidate Violently Disrupts Rep. Porter’s Town Hall

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Nick Taurus, a Republican running for the seat in California's 45th Congressional District currently held by Democratic Rep. Katie Porter, was reportedly involved in what the Los Angeles Times called a "scuffle" at a town hall Porter held on Sunday in Irvine, California.

According to the Times' reporting, Taurus and a group of his supporters interrupted Porter with chants and shouting as she spoke, leading to physical confrontations between his supporters and hers that were broken up by police.

On July 8, Taurus had posted a call on his Instagram account for his supporters to cause disruption at the event. "CONFRONT KATIE PORTER!" Taurus wrote, adding, "Her America Last policies are awful for the 45th district and we intend to voice our displeasure."

"It is disappointing that a small but vocal group of attendees, who advertised a 'confrontation rally,' created unsafe conditions at a planned family-friendly event," Porter said in a statement after the event. "My team and I are evaluating next steps, but my promise to Orange County families is that I will continue to hold town halls and to be in conversation with them."

Porter won reelection in 2020 by seven percentage points over Republican Greg Raths.

Taurus, who filed official paperwork declaring his candidacy with the Federal Election Commission on June 15, says on his official campaign website, "Our Movement of 'Christ, Country, Community,' Starts in Orange County!"

"I am an American nationalist and Roman Catholic who is most concerned with addressing the issues surrounding immigration, vaccination and Critical Race Theory," the site reads.

A review of Taurus' social media posts reveals a history of homophobic, racist, and conspiracy theory-related rants.

"No longer will AMERICANS bow to the billionaires, anti-White extremists and the GAY mafia," he wrote on June 19.

On June 1, Taurus called LGBTQ Pride month "#GROSS."

Taurus defended widely condemned anti-LGBTQ laws in Hungary, writing on July 8, "For the simple crime of merely refusing drag queens the right to read to their children, the Hungarian nation faces the full ire of the Globalist American Empire." In the same post, he referred to "the CULTURE OF DEATH associated with the LGBT movement."

Referencing Caitlin Jenner's campaign for governor of California, Taurus wroteon April 26, "How could anyone that identifies as Christian or Conservative, vote for a h0m0sexu@l or tr@nny? Their very lifestyle is an affront to God."

Taurus has also praised white supremacist Nick Fuentes.

In the caption of a selfie with Fuentes he posted on June 30, Taurus wrote, "This guy is the truth and it was an absolute honor to meet him! AMERICA FIRST IS INEVITABLE!" The slogan "America First is inevitable" has been usedby Fuentes and his white supremacist allies as a rallying cry.

After former police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted on April 20 in the murder of George Floyd, Taurus unleashed a barrage of posts, writing, "Current mood following the Chauvin verdict. #JOKECOUNTRY #DEATHTOAMERICA."

"White America: GUILTY AS CHARGED! The Derek Chauvin trial was a farce. A joke. An absolute charade. The 'justice' system in this country is concerned with persecuting the enemies of their preferred pawns rather than ensuring law & order," he wrote in another post.

In a post using the hashtag "#CHAUVINDIDNOTHINGWRONG," Taurus wrote, "Black people are so oppressed in America that their families receive millions in settlement money despite using counterfeit bills & resisting arrest (George Floyd) or selling drugs and hiding bodies in their car (Breonna Taylor)."

Attacking the NFL for a statement in support of Chauvin's conviction, Fuentes wrote, "If you're White I'd highly suggest that you stop contributing to backdoor reparations otherwise known as American sports leagues."

The Republican candidate attacked the decision to make Juneteenth, which celebrates Black liberation from slavery, describing it as "summer Kwanzaa." Taurus posted in June, "July 4th, 1776. Original White Boy Summer."

On Independence Day, Taurus wrote, "George Washington forever, George Floyd never!"

Taurus also claimed in another post, "The level of violence perpetrated by Blacks in our inner cities on a normal day exceeds anything done by supposed 'White Supremacists.'"

Taurus has repeatedly praised and supported the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump.

He called in May for the immediate release of everyone involved in the attack, and also said, "Everything about January 6th was a lie. Everyone that was arrested is a political prisoner." He also described Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt, who was shot by a Capitol Police officer as she attempted to break into the Capitol, as a "great veteran."

Taurus has also promoted conspiracy theories about the coronavirus and vaccines against COVID-19.

"COVID is fake and g@y," Taurus claimed. "If you get the vaccine you are a slave."

He described the vaccine as "the Mark of the Beast" and wrote, "Welcome to California where you can spread AIDS without repercussions but if you refuse an experimental vaccine, you're barred from society."

Taurus has posted anti-vaccination misinformation and alleged that the vaccines were part of a plot by pharmaceutical companies to kill people. In a post on May 19, he falsely claimed that as many people have died from COVID vaccines as have Americans fighting in the Iraq War.

The candidate referred to Donald Trump as "the last legitimate American President" and described him as "a man in the mold of Washington & Jackson, a true American hero." He added, "Standing back, standing by sir!" referring to Trump's direction to the extremist Proud Boys movement after he was asked to condemn them during a 2020 presidential debate.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

QAnon Promoter Seeks Maryland GOP Governor Nomination

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Maryland state Del. Daniel Cox (R), now a candidate for governor, has in the past expressed support for the debunked QAnon conspiracy theory.

Cox announced on Sunday that he would be seeking the Republican nomination for governor of Maryland. The current governor, Republican Larry Hogan, is term-limited and cannot seek a third consecutive term in office. Two other Republican candidates are currently seeking the nomination and nine Democrats are running for their party's nomination.

Cox, an outspoken supporter of Trump, used the hashtag "WWG1WGA" in an October 2020 tweet that warned that Biden was "dark and oppressed" and would "lock us in our homes."

The acronym "WWG1WGA" stands for "when we go one, we go all" and rose to prominence for its connection to the QAnon conspiracy theory. QAnon devotees believe that celebrities and elected officials are part of a worldwide child trafficking network. Those claims have repeatedly been debunked.

Hogan in January referred to Cox as a "QAnon conspiracy theorist" and criticized the delegate for lawsuits he filed against the state that attacked mask mandates designed to halt the spread of the virus. (Cox also works as a lawyer).

"I know he filed suit against us multiple times, [he's] a QAnon conspiracy theorist who says crazy things every day," Hogan said of his fellow Republican.

In addition to his QAnon background, Cox called for a "forensic audit of the 2020 election" in the video accompanying the launch of his gubernatorial campaign, a reference to right-wing conspiracy theories that have emerged since Trump lost to Biden.

Many Republicans have been pushing for other states to emulate the flawed election "audit" currently underway in Arizona, led by GOP state lawmakers.

Cox has previously promoted election conspiracies. He organized buses to transport protesters to the "stop the steal" rally in Washington on January 6, and as Trump supporters attacked the Capitol, Cox tweeted, "Pence is a traitor."

The website Maryland Matters noted that on the same day, Cox promoted tweets that falsely claimed antifa was behind the Capitol attack.

Cox later released a statement denouncing the attack after some called for his expulsion from the Maryland General Assembly.

Cox is a former member of Alliance Defending Freedom, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated as a hate group opposed to LGBTQ rights. In 2017, Cox filed suit against a Maryland high school, alleging that allowing students to use bathrooms aligned with their gender identity violated the rights of a female student.

While the current governor of Maryland is a Republican, it is expected that the seat may tilt toward Democrats. Cook Political Report rates the race as "lean Democratic." In 2020, Maryland overwhelming voted for President Joe Biden over former President Donald Trump, by a margin of 65 percent to 32 percent. Both of Maryland's senators are Democrats and seven out of the state's eight House representatives are Democrats.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Billionaire Linked To White Nationalists Backing GOP Senate Hopeful In Ohio

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Author and venture capitalist J.D. Vance announced on Thursday that he would be running for the Republican nomination for Ohio's open U.S. Senate seat in 2022.

The seat is currently held by GOP Sen. Rob Portman, who is retiring. Vance is the seventh Republican to officially file for the election. Also currently running is serial failed Senate candidate Josh Mandel.

The seat is currently rated as "lean Republican" by the Cook Political Report, while Inside Elections says it is "solid" for the party.

In March, in advance of Vance's official campaign declaration, former Paypal executive and billionaire Peter Thiel donated $10 million to Protect Ohio Values, a super PAC supporting Vance's candidacy. On Wednesday, just before Vance's announcement, the PAC released a digital ad in support of his campaign, which they promoted in an "exclusive" for Fox News.

Over the last few years, Thiel has been a prominent voice within the Republican Party. He was one of the featured speakers at the Republican National Convention in 2016, expressing support for former President Donald Trump's campaign, and donated to him through several super PACs.

According to a 2020 Buzzfeed report, as part of his effort to back Trump, Thiel reportedly hosted a dinner with Kevin DeAnna, a prominent white nationalist who founded the far-right group Youth For Western Civilization, in July 2016.

In an email sent on July 16, 2016, Thiel reportedly told DeAnna, "Really enjoyed meeting you last night." The email also includes the suggestion that Thiel was interested in further meetings with the white supremacist. According to Buzzfeed, DeAnna responded to Thiel, writing, "It was a real honor meeting you and thanks for hosting all of us."

DeAnna, the outlet noted, has written in favor of creating a white "ethno-state" which he said is "the great dream of the White Republic" in a 2013 column.

DeAnna is also a proponent of the racist "great replacement" conspiracy theory, which claims that immigration to America from nonwhites is a plot to replace white people. Writing about the conspiracy on the white supremacist site VDARE in July 2019, DeAnna claimed, "Westerners must wake to this demographic tidal wave lest their culture, people and civilization be extinguished."

More recently, elements of the conspiracy have been voiced by Republicans in Congress.

Thiel has not commented publicly on his reported interactions with white nationalist figures.

In addition to Thiel, the far-right Mercer family has also reportedly donated to the pro-Vance super PAC.

Bryan Lanza, a spokesman for the PAC, told the Cincinnati Enquirer that Bob and Rebekah Mercer made a "significant contribution" to Protect Ohio Values.

The Mercers, who made their money from hedge funds, were also major donors to Trump's 2016 campaign. They helped to finance the right-wing outlet Breitbart, which has frequently trafficked in racism, sexism, and political smears.

Parler, the right-wing social network, was also financed by the Mercers, and Rebekah Mercer co-founded the company. The network was removed from the Apple app store in January after it became clear that some users had utilized it to organize the January 6 attack on the Capitol. It has since been restored.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Wisconsin Doctors Slam Johnson For Hosting Anti-Vaccination Event

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Medical experts are criticizing Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) for his decision to hold a vaccine skepticism event even as most new deaths connected to the COVID-19 pandemic are occurring among unvaccinated people.

Johnson announced on Friday that he would hold a media event the following Monday to discuss purported adverse reactions to the vaccines. The senator said that he would be joined at the event by the wife of a former Green Bay Packers player who claims to have experienced problems after being vaccinated.

Johnson told a local outlet he was not anti-vaccine, but insisted, "I don't think you can ignore some of the issues, some of the problems."

Speaking with Milwaukee, Wisconsin, affiliate Fox 6 News, Johnson cited information from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, an open database where concerns about adverse reactions to the COVID-19 vaccines can be registered, as the source of his concerns.

The VAERS website notes that the information in the database may be "incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental or unverifiable," as reports are largely "voluntary, which means they are subject to biases."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meanwhile, has said the COVID-19 vaccines are "safe and effective."

"Millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines under the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history," the agency stated on its website.

As Fox 6 News noted, even if every alleged vaccine-related death was accurate — something that is extremely unlikely — they would represent just 0.001 percent of the more than 320 million doses of the vaccine that have been administered so far.

Dr. Joanna Bisgrove, a primary care physician in Wisconsin, expressed concern about Johnson's event.

"This misinformation is putting people at risk and already hurting people," she told Fox 6 reporters.

Another expert, Dr. Bob Freedland, who serves as the Wisconsin State Lead for the Committee to Protect Health Care, criticized Johnson as well, urging him to cancel Monday's event.

"As a physician and concerned constituent of Sen. Ron Johnson, I call on him to cancel his anti-vaccine event, or, better yet, use his platform and time to hold an event encouraging people to get the safe, effective vaccine," Freedland said in a press release. "If he can't stop spreading misinformation and undermining the best tool we have to protect against COVID-19 and dangerous variants, Sen. Johnson needs to get out of the way and let the rest of us do our jobs."

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) criticized Johnson's planned event, calling him "reckless and irresponsible" and pointed out the COVID-19 vaccine is "safe and effective and based on years of science and research."

Monday's event comes as a new analysis of COVID-19 data shows that most recent deaths related to the virus are occurring among those who are not vaccinated.

In an analysis published by the Associated Press, using data from May, the overwhelming majority of the more than 18,000 COVID-19 deaths were people who had not been vaccinated. Only about 0.8 percent of those deaths involved fully vaccinated people.

Johnson has expressed skepticism about COVID-19 vaccination efforts for months.

In May, the Wisconsin senator, who tested positive for coronavirus in the fall of 2020, suggested the vaccines were potentially linked to thousands of deaths, and that experts needed to investigate and research the issue further. He cited the VAERS website data to back his claims.

In December, Johnson invited an anti-vaccine activist to testify in Congress in support of hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug promoted by former President Donald Trump as a treatment for COVID-19. Experts have warned repeatedly that the drug is not a safe or reliable treatment for the disease.

And in April, Johnson sat down for an interview with vaccine conspiracy theorist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has been criticized for sharing misinformation about COVID vaccines on social media.

During that interview, Johnson notably did not rebut Kennedy's allegations that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was working on behalf of the pharmaceutical industry instead of advocating on the behalf of patients.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Boebert Suggests Her Election Was Divinely Ordained

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) on Thursday described her 2020 House election victory in terms often used by Christian conservatives that place U.S. politics in a context of biblical miracles.

During an interview with Tony Perkins, president of the far-right anti-LGBTQ Family Research Council, Boebert said, "My victory in this race is certainly a sign and a wonder, just like God promised."

Telling Perkins about "the journey that Jesus took me on as I was called to Congress," Boebert said that she voted for Donald Trump, "who defended the right to life and honored the Bible."

"The wisdom of the world is foolishness in God's sight," she said of predictions that she wouldn't win her race for the House, reciting a Bible verse: "Just like God promised, he said, 'Here I am,' Isaiah 8:18 says, 'Here I am, and the children whom the Lord has given me. We are made for signs and wonder,' and this victory was a sign and a wonder to so many people who think that they have it figured it out."

"I see two possibilities here. One is that Boebert means that her election is in itself a miracle, something that testifies to God's power at work in the world. That seems more than a bit ego-inflated," said Daniel Schultz, a liberal Christian minister in Wisconsin. " The other possibility is more realistic: that her election demonstrates what God can do through the faith of ordinary people."

Schultz said, "It reinforces the claim that conservatives have God on their side: God shows power by sending righteous people into public office or public activism, with 'righteous' defined as agreeing to Boebert's hard-right agenda."

Boebert has previously used the term "signs and wonders" in a political context. She used it in a House floor speech on Feb. 25 speech laced with comparisons of current political events to events in the Christian Bible.

Christian conservatives have recently turned to the Bible in protesting the validity of Trump's loss in the 2020 election. The Washington Post reported in January, after the riot by Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol, on an Arkansas ministry that broadcast to its listeners, "We thank God for exposing and foiling all the plans of the enemy set against him. We affirm his lawful election and pray for four more years with Donald Trump as our president!"

A growing number of them are also attracted to the QAnon conspiracy theory supported by Boebert, which posits a cabal of Democratic politicians and celebrities running a satanist child-sex ring, among other claims.

Former GOP Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam told the Atlantic this month in response to a question about Christian churches and the Jan. 6 riot, "I have heard enough pastors who are saying they cannot believe the growth of the QAnon theory in their churches. Their churches had become battlegrounds over things that they never thought they would be. It's not so much the pastors preaching that from pulpits—although I'm certain there's some of that—but more people in the congregation who have become convinced that theories [such as QAnon] are reflective of their Christian faith."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Idaho GOP Candidate Bundy Says 'Invasive Species' Is Attacking US

Idaho Republican gubernatorial candidate Ammon Bundy claimed America was under attack from an "invasive species" that must be destroyed in a video posted online a few weeks before he declared his candidacy over the weekend.

Bundy, a notorious anti-government militant, formally kicked off his gubernatorial campaign on Saturday, June 19. He joins seven other candidates who are already in the race, including Lieutenant Gov. Janice McGeachin, who has ties to the extremist Three Percenters militia group, members of which were arrested at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

Current governor Brad Little (R) has not announced his reelection plans for what is likely to continue to be a Republican-held seat.In a video streamed online May 27, Bundy walked through an apple orchard on his property and noted that the trees were infested with an invasive species.

"What's happening in my orchard is what's happening in our country, and if we don't get serious about destroying the invasive specie[s], it's already doing terrible damage to our orchard or to our country," said Bundy.While Bundy did not specify to what he was comparing the invasive species, he has a long history of criticizing the federal government for overreach and supposedly violating the Constitution — something he has described as "tyranny."

"We can not afford to have state leadership that lets the federal government bully us, or walk all over us," he wrote on his official campaign site. "... Because we know that the Federal Government under Joe Biden and the existing establishment will continue their onslaught against the people, and we simply can't afford to have leadership in our state back down, and comply with federal tyranny."

In the announcement for his gubernatorial campaign, Bundy accused President Joe Biden once again of being the puppet of a "Deep State" that "control[s] him."

Bundy has a long history of anti-government activity, including being involved in multiple standoffs, some of them armed.

In 2014, Bundy was a part of the standoff between the federal government and his father, rancher Cliven Bundy. The Bundy family claimed that the Bureau of Land Management did not have the right to stop them from grazing their cattle on publicly owned land without permit; the government, as a result, attempted to confiscate the cattle but were blocked by armed protesters and later charged Bundy and his father with conspiracy against the United States. Those charges against were later thrown out after a federal judge declared a mistrial, citing misconduct by the federal government.

In his gubernatorial campaign announcement, Bundy defended the 2014 standoff, describing it as "fighting back" against "federal tyranny."

In 2016, Bundy led an armed group of anti-government extremists who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. The standoff lasted for 40 days until Bundy and his allies were arrested. One of the men who helped Bundy to take over the facility, Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, was shot and killed by federal authorities during the standoff. Bundy was later acquitted in a federal case stemming from the occupation.

Bundy has also protested several bills at the state level to implement COVID-19 safety measures. In August 2020, he was arrested for trespassing when he entered the Idaho State Capitol and refused to leave despite police orders. Bundy and others were there that day to protest legislation including a mask mandate, which was intended to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Bundy was removed from the building a second time, one day later, while strapped to an office chair, with police claiming he had been uncooperative.

After the incident he was barred from entering the Capitol for a year.

On his campaign site, Bundy denounced the state's handling of the pandemic, claiming Gov. Brad Little "took Idaho down a socialistic path, introducing over 25 executive orders with nearly every one of them having unconstitutional elements that violated peoples rights and destroyed people's lives."

"No Governor has the Constitutional authority to shut down businesses and prevent trade or commerce, nor to designate some businesses as essential while others are non-essential. It is simply unconstitutional," he wrote. "... I have been fighting against unconstitutional overreach since the beginning of this so called crisis ... This insanity has got to stop—but fortunately in Idaho, this insanity will never begin because I will not allow it."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Greene And Gaetz Now Claim FBI Instigated Capitol Riot

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

On Wednesday, Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) without evidence accused the FBI of orchestrating the January 6 mob attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Gaetz posted a video of an appearance by former Donald Trump speechwriter Darren Beattie on Fox News, embedded in a tweet that reads, "BREAKING: @DarrenJBeattie of Revolver News breaks down the involvement of FBI operatives who organized and participated in the January 6th Capitol riot."

Greene shared Gaetz's post and added, "We need names and answers about the FBI operatives, who were involved in organizing and carrying out the Jan 6th Capitol riot," Greene tweeted. "First they had a 'back up plan' to stop Trump in Russia Collusion witch hunt, now we are finding out they were deeply involved in Jan 6th. Deep State."

Gaetz and Greene based their claims on Beattie's appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight, which has been a venue for the airing of many right-wing conspiracies.

In the segment, Carlson claimed:

Without fail, the government has thrown the book at most people who were present in the Capitol on January 6. There was a nationwide dragnet to find them. Many of them are still in solitary confinement tonight.
But strangely, some of the key people who participated on January 6 have not been charged. Look at the documents: The government calls those people unindicted co-conspirators. What does that mean? Well, it means that in potentially every single case they were FBI operatives. Really? In the Capitol on January 6?

Carlson presented no evidence to back up his allegation.

Nor does Beattie in a story published by the right-wing outlet Revolver News. He instead raises a series of questions about supposed government involvement in the events, writing:

If it turns out that the federal government (FBI, Army Counterintelligence, or a similar agency) had undercover agents or confidential informants embedded in any of the groups involved in 1/6, the "federal intelligence agencies failing to warn of a potential for violence" looks less like an innocent mistake and more like something sinister.
It is unsettling to entertain the possibility that the federal government knew of a potential for violence on 1/6 and did nothing to stop it. It presents the question: why would agencies, or certain elements within, sit back and let something like this happen on purpose?
We at Revolver News have noticed a pattern from our now months-long investigation into 1/6 — and in particular from our meticulous study of the charging documents related to those indicted. In many cases the unindicted co-conspirators appear to be much more aggressive and egregious participants in the very so-called "conspiracy" serving as the basis for charging those indicted.
The question immediately arises as to why this is the case, and forces us to consider whether certain individuals are being protected from indictment because they were involved in 1/6 as undercover operatives or confidential informants for a federal agency.

In 2018, Beattie was fired from his job as a speechwriter for Trump after it was revealed that he had spoken at a conference in 2016 alongside white nationalist Peter Brimelow, the founder of the anti-immigration website VDare, who has described himself as a believer in "racial nationalism."

Revolver News was also the publisher of an article used by Republican lawmakers and other right-wing figures as the basis for attacks on Bishop Garrison, the head of the Department of Defense's Countering Extremism Working Group, in which they call him a "MAGA purge man" and a "lunatic" who prioritizes "bigotry and anti-white hatred over national security."

While there is no evidence to support claims that the FBI was involved in the rioting on January 6, the evidence that the Capitol attackers were Trump supporters is substantial.

Many of the people who attacked the Capitol attended a "Stop the Steal" rally hosted by Trump in Washington, D.C., right before the attack, where he incited them to go to the Capitol.

Videos and photographs of the Capitol attackers show them wearing pro-Trump hats and carrying Trump flags and repeating the false claim that Trump won the 2020 election.

Since their arrests, many of the accused have explicitly cited their support for Trump as the reason they attacked the building.

Both Gaetz and Greene have previously promoted conspiracy theories.

Without evidence, Gaetz accused Democrats of engaging in "ballot laundering" to win races in the 2020 election. In 2018, he claimed Democrats had manufactured votes in elections in Florida. That same year he appeared on a program hosted by 9/11 and Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and alleged that there was a "deep state" effort to undermine Trump's presidency.

Greene has backed the discredited QAnon conspiracy theory and recently stated that COVID-19 was a "bioweapon" engineered by China. She has also alleged that a laser beam from space financed by the international banking firm owned by the Jewish Rothschild family was used to cause wildfires in California in 2018, repeating a centuries-old anti-semitic trope.

Gaetz and Greene have been touring the country together to promote the latest conspiracy theory-based audit of the election results in Arizona and promoting the idea that other states should undertake the same process.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Gohmert Repeats Debunked Claim That Jan. 6 Rioters Were ‘Anti-Trump’

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) on Thursday advanced a long-debunked conspiracy theory that anti-Trump protesters wore pro-Trump gear and were part of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

While questioning FBI Director Christopher Wray during a session of the House Judiciary Committee, Gohmert claimed that on Jan. 5 he spoke to Capitol Police officers who he alleges told him they had been briefed on "online activity that there are people that are going to be coming that hate Trump, but they're going to dress up in red, MAGA, Trump paraphernalia to try to blend in and create trouble."

The allegation has frequently circulated in viral messages alleging a conspiracy about the attack.

In a Jan. 9 fact check, Reuters reported that viral images purporting to show antifa supporters infiltrating the Capitol were not real and noted that the FBI said there was "no indication at this time" that antifa supporters were part of the Capitol attack.

A fact check from similarly described the claims as "bogus" and noted that the claims were part of "an unfounded conspiracy theory that anti-fascist activists in disguise orchestrated the event."

Fact checks from the Associated Press, Politifact, USA Today, and NPR have also debunked the allegation.

Wray did not get a chance to address Gohmert's claim, but in testimony given in March, Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee that, up to then, he had not "seen any evidence of anarchist violent extremists or people subscribing to antifa in connection with the 6th."

Gohmert has a history of boosting unsubstantiated conspiracy theories and was recently a key speaker at a conference advancing the beliefs of QAnon supporters, who falsely allege that celebrities and politicians are involved in child trafficking, among other claims.

From a June 10 session of the House Judiciary Committee:

LOUIE GOHMERT: The night before Jan. 6, Jan. 5th, that evening I was talking to Capitol Police officers and I said, "You know, let's face it, most of the conservatives that come, they don't have any intention of being violent."
And they said, "Well, we've been briefed today that there's a good bit of, as I understand it, online activity that there are people that are going to be coming that hate Trump, but they're going to dress up in red, MAGA, Trump paraphernalia to try to blend in and create trouble."
We had Capitol Police Chief [Steven] Sund testify that they got no information from U.S. intel or from the DOJ, FBI, of any threat of the nature that came about. Did the FBI have information about the violent threat that occurred on Jan. 6 on Jan. 5th?

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Greene Blames Fauci For Virus Because ‘I Don’t Believe In Evolution’

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) asserted on Tuesday that COVID-19 was a "bioweapon" and said she did not believe otherwise "because I don't believe in evolution."

Greene made her statement during an appearance on the Real America's Voice network's War Room: Pandemic, a program hosted by disgraced former Donald Trump campaign manager Steve Bannon.

Greene accused Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, of being "criminally liable" for the pandemic outbreak because, she charged without evidence, he "was using American tax dollars and sending it to the Wuhan lab to fund this research that was creating viruses."

"That's a bioweapon," Greene said. "There's no other reason to create a virus that makes people sick, spreads so quick, and kills people. There's no other intent but it's a bioweapon."

Bannon then asked her if she found it implausible that the virus was the subject of research meant to find vaccines and somehow the material evolved into COVID-19.

"No, I don't buy it because I don't believe in evolution," Greene replied. "I don't believe in that type of so-called 'science.' I don't believe in evolution. I believe in God."

The origins of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 remain unclear, but no evidence has emerged to verify any claim that the virus was a "bioweapon" created in a Chinese lab.

President Joe Biden in May ordered the intelligence community to prepare a report "on their most up-to-date analysis of the origins of COVID-19, including whether it emerged from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory accident."

Greene is well-practiced in advancing conspiracy theories. She has expressed belief in and support for the debunked QAnon conspiracy theory that celebrities and politicians are running a satanic global child-trafficking ring.

Greene also falsely claimed that a 2018 California wildfire was caused by a laser beam from space financed by the Jewish Rothschild family's "international" banking firm, long a favorite target of anti-semitic rhetoric.

From the June 8 edition of Real America's Voice's War Room: Pandemic:

STEVE BANNON, host: Why do you say you're just not for firing [Dr. Anthony Fauci], you're for bringing criminal – you think he ought to face criminal charges?
MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE: Well, my Fire Fauci Act asks for a full investigation, because we've suspected all along that he is criminally liable. Here's why: If you go back, you can go back to 2012, you can go back to 2014, where Anthony Fauci was using American tax dollars and sending it to the Wuhan lab to fund this research that was creating viruses.
Why is there any need to create a virus that can spread rapidly through a population, make people sick and kill them. That's a bioweapon. So we need to be very clear about what was the intent of COVID-19 and these viruses that they experiment with like some sort of Dr. Frankenstein experiments.
These are bioweapons. There's no other reason to create a virus that makes people sick, spreads so quick, and kills people. There's no other intent but it's a bioweapon. And then our American —
BANNON: You don't – hold it, hang on – you don't buy that, you don't buy the argument that says the gain of function is all because we've got to take these viruses and we've got to power them up to look for vaccines and to look for other solutions in case somehow they come up with this. You don't buy the logic of that, is that what you're saying?
GREENE: No, I don't buy it because I don't believe in evolution. I don't believe in that type of so-called "science." I don't believe in evolution. I believe in God.
And these viruses were not making people sick until they created them and made them into – weaponized these viruses to be able to attach to our cells and make us sick. This has caused so many people to die all over the world.
This is a bioweapon. You can call it – people can call it whatever they can for research, and to create vaccinations, but there's no need for a vaccine if the virus doesn't make the human population sick to begin with.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Gaetz: The Second Amendment Is Meant For ‘Armed Rebellion’

Reprinted with permission from from American Independent

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) told an audience of supporters at a rally on Thursday that the Second Amendment is about "the ability to maintain an armed rebellion against the government."

Gaetz spoke in Dalton, Georgia, in his latest in a series of appearances alongside Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).

Telling the crowd that they must fight to preserve their rights under the Constitution, he referred to its Second Amendment.

"The Second Amendment is not about, it's not about hunting, it's not about recreation, it's not about sports," Gaetz said. "The Second Amendment is about maintaining within the citizenry the ability to maintain an armed rebellion against the government if that becomes necessary. I hope it never does, but it sure is important to recognize the founding principles of this nation and to make sure that they are fully understood."

Gaetz also told his audience, "The internet's hall monitors out in Silicon Valley, they think they can suppress us, discourage us ... Well, you know what? Silicon Valley can't cancel this movement. Or this rally. Or this congressman."

Gaetz was possibly thinking of media reporting on the fact that he is currently the subject of a federal sex trafficking investigation. His close associate, former Florida tax collector Joel Greenberg, recently pleaded guilty to six federal charges and admitted to a federal judge that he paid and solicited a minor for sex.

Reporting has indicated that Greenberg is cooperating with prosecutors in their investigation.

From a May 27 "America First" rally in Dalton, Georgia:

MATT GAETZ: In this fight back, we are not powerless. This is a powerful movement. We are powerful people. As President Trump reminds us, we are the elite now.
And so let us use the Constitution to strengthen our argument and our movement. We have a First Amendment right to speak and assemble and we better use it. The internet's hall monitors out in Silicon Valley, they think they can suppress us, discourage us, maybe if you're just a little less patriotic, maybe if you just conform to their way of thinking a little more, then you'll be allowed to participate in the digital world.
Well, you know what? Silicon Valley can't cancel this movement. Or this rally. Or this congressman.
We have a Second Amendment in this country, and I think we have an obligation to use it.
The Second Amendment, this is a little history lesson for all the fake news media, the Second Amendment is not about, it's not about hunting, it's not about recreation, it's not about sports.
The Second Amendment is about maintaining within the citizenry the ability to maintain an armed rebellion against the government if that becomes necessary. I hope it never does, but it sure is important to recognize the founding principles of this nation and to make sure that they are fully understood.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.