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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

President Donald Trump and members of his administration have been telling employees of the federal government to defy subpoenas coming from House Democrats in connection with their impeachment inquiry, which is probing Trump’s July 25 phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. And according to one of the Democratic leaders of the inquiry, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, those employees include people in the U.S. Defense Department.

Schiff, according to Defense News, said that Defense Secretary Mark Esper had agreed to comply with a subpoena but was “countermanded.” And Schiff said of Esper being pressured to defy a subpoena, “the case for obstruction of Congress continues to build.”

Despite the Trump Administration urging federal government employees to defy subpoenas from the House, some of the people subpoenaed have testified before the House anyway — including Fiona Hill (formerly Trump’s top adviser on Russia-related matters) and Marie Yovanovitch (former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine).

Trump has been asserting that until a formal vote on impeachment is held in the House, the inquiry is “illegitimate.” But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, on Tuesday, told reporters, “we’re not here to call bluffs. Is not a game to us.”

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Mark Levin

Politico reported Friday that John Eastman, the disgraced ex-law professor who formulated many of former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, was also apparently in communication with Fox News host Mark Levin. The story gets even more interesting from there, revealing the shell game that right-wing media personalities engage in while doubling as political operatives.

A legal filing by Eastman’s attorneys reveals that, among the messages Eastman is still attempting to conceal from the House January 6 committee are 12 pieces of correspondence with an individual matching Levin’s description as “a radio talk show host, is also an attorney, former long-time President (and current board chairman) of a public interest law firm, and also a former fellow at The Claremont Institute.” Other details, including a sloppy attempt to redact an email address, also connect to Levin, who did not respond to Politico’s requests for comment.

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There have been powerful indicators of the full-bore radicalization of the Republican Party in the past year: the 100-plus extremist candidates it fielded this year, the apparent takeover of the party apparatus in Oregon, the appearance of Republican officials at white nationalist gatherings. All of those are mostly rough gauges or anecdotal evidence, however; it’s been difficult to get a clear picture of just how deeply the extremism has penetrated the party.

Using social media as a kind of proxy for their real-world outreach—a reasonable approach, since there are few politicians now who don’t use social media—the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights decided to get a clearer picture of the reach of extremist influences in official halls of power by examining how many elected officials participate in extremist Facebook groups. What it found was deeply troubling: 875 legislators in all 50 states, constituting nearly 22% of all elected GOP lawmakers, identified as participating members of extremist Facebook groups.

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