Rudy Giuliani and Jack Posobiec Claim a False Flag

Yesterday, the FBI arrested John Sullivan, one of the guys who took video showing Ashli Babbitt’s shooting in the January 6 insurrection. As the arrest affidavit describes, in an interview the day after the riot, Sullivan claimed he had been acting as a journalist at the riot.

SULLIVAN claimed to be an activist and journalist that filmed protests and riots, but admitted that he did not have any press credentials.

[snip]

23. At various times in his statements to law enforcement, to others inside the U.S. Capitol that were recorded in his video, and to news outlets, SULLIVAN has claimed he was at the U.S. Capitol only to document and report. In addition, your affiant is aware that, at various times, SULLIVAN has claimed to be a journalist. He has admitted, however, that he has no press credentials and the investigation has not revealed any connection between SULLIVAN and any journalistic organizations.

The affidavit describes that, at some protest in DC, Sullivan made anti-Trump comments.

The United States obtained a video of SULLIVAN, posted on YouTube, in which, while attending a protest in Washington, D.C., SULLIVAN can be seen telling a crowd, over a microphone, “we about to burn this shit down,” “we got to rip Trump out of office . . . fucking pull him out of that shit . . . we ain’t waiting until the next election . . . we about to go get that motherfucker.” SULLIVAN then can be seen leading the crowd in a chant of, “it’s time for a revolution.”1

But it quotes from a video he shared with the FBI repeatedly speaking of “we,” including himself in the mob. On several occasions, Sullivan convinced police to stand down (including in front of the Speaker’s Lobby, just before Babbitt was shot). And it provides evidence that Sullivan broke a window in one of the offices.

h. At one point in the video, SULLIVAN enters an office within the U.S. Capitol, as seen in the screenshot below. Once inside the office, SULLIVAN approaches a window, also seen in the screenshot below, and states, “We did this shit. We took this shit.”

i. While at the window, a knocking noise is heard off-screen. The camera then pans to show more of the window and a broken pane can be seen that was not broken on SULLIVAN’s approach to the window:

SULLIVAN can then be heard saying, “I broke it. My bad, my apologies. Well they already broke a window, so, you know, I didn’t know I hit it that hard. No one got that on camera.” SULLIVAN then exits the office.

Sullivan is charged with violent entry of Congress and impeding police officers during a civil disorder. He is not charged with breaking the window.

Even before his arrest, left wing activists had described concerns in that community, going back some time, that Sullivan was a provocateur working with others, including his brother James, who has ties to the Proud Boys and runs a pro-Trump organization.

But shortly after Sullivan’s arrest was reported, right wing propagandist Jack Posobiec pounced on his arrest, claiming it showed that BLM was behind the attacks and and that Sullivan’s actions led to Babbitt’s death (remember these screen caps have GMT, so subtract 5 for ET).

Then, in the middle of the night Rudy’s time, he posted a text from what appears to be John’s brother James.

Rudy presents this as proof that the riot was conducted by Antifa. But it instead seems to show that John’s brother (the phone number is in Utah, where they’re from) claimed to be, “working with the FBI,” had gotten his “agent” and three others out of trouble (Rudy did not show when he received this text, so it may have predated John’s arrest). It also showed that Sullivan seemed to have ties with someone named Kash, who might be Patel, the Devin Nunes flunky who got installed as DOD’s Chief of Staff. Patel would likely have had a key role in ensuring the National Guard delayed any response to the riot last week.

A Nazi sympathizer and the President’s lawyer seemed prepared to speak from the script that Donald Trump seems to have written the day before the riot, when he moved towards naming Antifa a terrorist organization. The OANN propagandist and chief purveyor of fraudulent claims about the election are attempting to use the arrest of John Sullivan to claim that their own people did not plan out this coup attempt.

In the process, however, Rudy Giuliani may have tied the President and the Proud Boys, and the Pentagon together in the plot. And Rudy’s calls to Tommy Tuberville after people had already died, that ties people n Congress to the attempts to assassinate members of Congress.

Update: I’ve been persuaded that “Kash” is someone else who was detained after the raid, so deleted references to Kash Patel. That person, Kash Kelly, is probably a convicted gang member awaiting his sentencing.

Update: Corrected that the anti-Trump comments may not have been at this protest.

Three Things: Good, Better, Best News

Let’s mix things up a bit and roll around in some good news for a change, hmm?

~ 3 ~

Arrests continue in wake of January 6 Capitol insurrection and they are both pleasurable and comic.

Mothertrucking racist who waved an enemy flag inside the capitol has been arrested.

Goddamned firefighter arrested for throwing a fire extinguisher at a Capitol Police officer’s head.

Chicago man stupid enough to think he wouldn’t be caught, was caught.

Gratifying to see they are chasing all of these perps to ground. These are only a few I’ve seen in my timeline, but among some of the more egregious insurrectionists. The firefighter is only lucky he didn’t throw that extinguisher hard enough to kill the Capitol Police Officer.

~ 2 ~

Flint may get some justice; former Michigan governor Rick Snyder was charged with two misdemeanor counts of willful neglect of duty in his handling of Flint’s water crisis. Six others were charged as well; the former director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the state’s former chief medical executive were both charged with involuntary manslaughter related to the known dozen deaths of Michiganders who died from Legionnaire’s disease acquired from the city’s contaminated water.

Personally, I think Snyder’s charge is both too light and won’t stick; an entire city’s children were poisoned because he failed to execute his job faithfully, not to mention an increase in fetal deaths. Lead poisoning isn’t like getting the flu — the brain damage it causes may be permanent though the brain can be trained to compensate for some of the damage. Chances are good Snyder will weasel out of the charges because he relied on experts like the director of MDHHS and the chief medical executive.

One of my adult kids was poisoned during the period when Flint’s water was contaminated. They were fortunate their exposure was limited, but it took nearly five years to recover their health and we’re still not certain there won’t be sequelae which haven’t yet emerged. An entire city faces the same challenge, at a minimum; not all those who died of Legionnaire’s were Flint city residents, getting sick in Flint because they had to be in Flint for work or some other reason. There’s a possibility there were more Flint-related deaths which were masked by other chronic illness, but we may never know for sure.

At least these charges are the beginning of the end to the Flint water crisis. I do hope during the course of prosecution that all communications before and immediately following the cutover from Detroit’s water supply to the Flint River will be disclosed. I still suspect something happened the night of the cutover when Detroit made a last pitch to keep Flint on their water system.

~ 1 ~

A new day dawns at Democratic National Committee as Joe Biden gave Jaime Harrison the nod for DNC Chair. His experience will help change the party’s approach to southern states, complimenting the work Stacey Abrams did in Georgia.

There will be grousing from the far left about Harrison’s experience working for Podesta Group and the types of clients served. But Harrison has done what others with similar experience haven’t — organizing and getting out the vote in marginalized communities, zip code by zip code. Will he be more moderate as many Black Americans are across the south? Sure, but leave the policy and legislation to the Democratic majority in Congress; if they can pull off greater successes felt at home and in American’s wallets, the entire base will move more to the left.

We may have a chance to keep the majority and win more seats if Harrison can keep the energy high across the party. We don’t want another 2010 during which we lost an extremely narrow majority in the Senate, ushering in Mitch McConnell’s nightmarish decade of obstruction and social destruction.

~ 0 ~

What other good news is there? Apart from the fact we are now six days away from Biden’s inauguration. Share in comments.

Where’s Rudy?

There’s an interesting passage in this Daily Beast article, one of several articles in the last day describing the snowballing madness in the Oval Office. For the last day or so, Rudy Giuliani has gone missing.

Meanwhile, Trump, whose rhetoric helped incite the Jan. 6 rioting, is increasingly cut off from once-loyal senior officials, some of whom have resigned in recent days. Instead, the president is focused on managing the fallout, both legally and reputationally, from the attack and the deaths that resulted from it. Even the president’s personal attorney and close confidant, Rudy Giuliani, has been somewhat absent in the last 24 hours, caught up with his own personal problems, including the New York Bar Association’s move to open an inquiry into his removal from its membership, according to one individual with direct knowledge of the situation. [my emphasis]

It doesn’t actually make sense that the Bar Association challenge is that pressing a problem. It’ll go forward regardless of what he does, and it’s not actually the legally meaningful challenge to his bar membership (though a NY State Senator’s request to the state courts could be). Aside from some ill-fated appearances in voter fraud cases, though, Rudy’s not actually practicing courts anymore so much as influence-peddling.

Which may explain two graver threats to Rudy. Last Friday, Dominion Voting Systems sued Sidney Powell for $1.3 billion. Dominion has said they plan to follow up that lawsuit with others, potentially targeting Wood, the media that magnified Powell’s claims (including Fox, OANN, and Epoch Times), and Rudy himself.

Meanwhile, yesterday Treasury sanctioned Rudy’s buddies from Ukraine. The statement on the designation includes a shout-out to meetings involving Rudy (and implicating Devin Nunes and other Republican lawmakers).

Since at least 2019, Derkach and his associates have leveraged U.S. media, U.S.-based social media platforms, and influential U.S. persons to spread misleading and unsubstantiated allegations that current and former U.S. officials engaged in corruption, money laundering, and unlawful political influence in Ukraine.

Former Ukrainian Government officials Konstantin Kulyk, Oleksandr Onyshchenko, Andriy Telizhenko, and current Ukraine Member of Parliament Oleksandr Dubinsky have publicly appeared or affiliated themselves with Derkach through the coordinated dissemination and promotion of fraudulent and unsubstantiated allegations involving a U.S. political candidate. They have made repeated public statements to advance disinformation narratives that U.S. government officials have engaged in corrupt dealings in Ukraine. These efforts are consistent with and in support of Derkach’s efforts, acting as an agent of the Russian intelligence services, to influence the 2020 U.S. Presidential election.

Kulyk, a former prosecutor for the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine, formed an alliance with Derkach to spread false accusations of international corruption. Onyshchenko, a fugitive from Ukrainian justice due to charges of corruption, provided edited audio tape copies of purported audio recordings of conversations between former Ukrainian and U.S. officials, which Derkach released between May and July 2020 to discredit U.S. officials and influence the U.S. elections. Telizhenko, a former low-level Ukrainian diplomat, orchestrated meetings between Derkach and U.S. persons to help propagate false claims concerning corruption in Ukraine. Dubinsky, who serves alongside Derkach in Ukraine’s parliament, joined Derkach in press conferences designed to perpetuate these and other false narratives and denigrate U.S. presidential candidates and their families.

Kulyk, Onyshchenko, Telizhenko, and Dubinsky are being designated pursuant to E.O. 13848 for having directly or indirectly engaged in, sponsored, concealed, or otherwise been complicit in foreign influence in a United States election.

Effectively, the sanctions make it clear — Rudy’s denials notwithstanding — that the people whose dirt he has been peddling for years was disinformation seeded by Russia.

And that couldn’t come at a worse time.

For years, Rudy as been operating as if he had impunity. And he probably did, as it has become clear for some time that Trump would pardon him.

Except now that Trump’s incitement of sedition has complicated pardoning his troubles away, Trump has started wailing that if he’s not allowed to self-pardon, then no one else can have a pardon either.

The President had been warned, David, by some of his lawyers that if he goes ahead and pardons himself, he could be more vulnerable to civil lawsuits, including from some of those injured in the Capitol riot because a self-pardon would be seen as an admission that he did something wrong that he would need to be pardoned for. The President is angry. He has not taken that well. And I am told that he is now saying that he doesn’t want to see pardons for anybody. So the attitude seems to be, if I can’t get a pardon, then nobody else should get one either.

This actually isn’t a bad legal decision. It has always been true that if Trump pardoned his co-conspirators of stuff they’ve protected him on so far, then they could be forced to testify against him. This was, at least, he and his co-conspirators all go down together.

But that would be a very bad thing for Mr. Giuliani, because he has been wracking up crimes with abandon, with the apparent belief that they would all be wiped away before January 20.

It’s unclear whether that has driven Rudy away … or whether he’s making a belated attempt to clean up his exposure.

Julian Assange Officially Asks Trump to Pardon Him for Helping Him Get Elected

As I have noted, there’s abundant evidence that Robert Mueller investigated pardon discussions between Julian Assange and Roger Stone; that investigation appeared to be ongoing at least as of October 2020. That should make any Trump pardon of Julian Assange at least as legally fraught as any of the others he has given or is expected to give, short of a self-pardon.

Predictably, Ken Vogel makes no mention of that in his story on two parallel efforts to obtain a pardon for Assange. Nor does Vogel note that the petition submitted by Assange’s US defense attorney, Barry Pollack, includes what would be that quid pro quo in the requested scope of the pardon.

Mr. Assange should be granted a pardon to cover the conduct at issue in the pending criminal case against him and any other conduct prior to the pardon grant that could be the basis for criminal charges against him in the United States.

If Trump gave Assange a pardon with this scope, the language would amount to a pardon for helping Trump get elected, a pardon under discussion within days of Trump’s 2016 victory if not even before it. This would amount to a more generous pardon than Trump gave his own rat-fucker, Roger Stone.

Along with a misrepresentation of what the current CFAA charge against Assange is and a claim that Assange, “has already been confined longer than any person ever charged or convicted under the Espionage Act in its more than 100-year history” (effectively counting time Assange chose to hide out in the Ecuadorian Embassy while still engaged in similar acts to those he’s being prosecuted for), Pollack presents a really hysterical subset of the files Assange leaked in 2016 and 2017:

In 2016, WikiLeaks published:

  • 19,252 e-mails and 8,034 attachments from the Democratic National Party leadership, which resulted in the resignation of five top officials who had taken actions during the primaries in favor of Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.

In 2017,WikiLeaks:

  • exposed lax security in the CIA unit dedicated to malware development, a fact acknowledged by an internal CIA report into the publication, which was subsequently revealed by Senator Ron Wyden; and
  • published the “the Russia Spy files,” documents relating to Russia under Vladimir Putin, including releases about surveillance contractors in Russia.

Pollack leaves off, among other things, the Podesta files involved in the seeming quid pro quo (which I guess might otherwise make him party to the crime). And he includes the Russian files for the same reason WikiLeaks published the already published files — as propaganda to cover up his role as a cut-out for Russia. The Vault 7 release, of course, happened during the period when — Pollack claims — Assange was “confined” as if it had anything to do with Espionage charges.

The real focus of the Vogel story, however, is how — in the wake of Trump’s coup this week — a bunch of Australian buddies of Assange just signed a “pro bono” contract with a lobbyist to push for the pardon.

Mr. Davis, who is now a lawyer specializing in national security and whistle-blower cases, is on the board of Blueprint for Free Speech, an Australia-based nonprofit group that advocates for press freedoms and whistle-blower protections. The group, which was started by Suelette Dreyfus, a former journalist who is an old friend and collaborator with Mr. Assange, signed a pro bono contract on Saturday with the lobbyist Robert Stryk to seek a pardon for Mr. Assange.

During Mr. Trump’s presidency, Mr. Stryk, who is well connected in Trump administration circles, has developed a lucrative business representing foreign clients in precarious geopolitical situations.

He has worked for a jailed Saudi prince who had fallen out of favor with his country’s powerful de facto leader, as well as the administration of President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, which the Trump administration considers illegitimate. Mr. Styrk also worked for Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of Angola’s former president, who is accused of embezzling millions of dollars from a state oil company she once headed, as well as the government of the former Congolese president Joseph Kabila, which had faced American sanctions for human rights abuses and corruption.

Disclosure: my travel expenses were paid to speak at events in Australia in 2017 by Dreyfus’ organization.

Again, I’m perfectly happy with the decision that our prisons are too inhumane for Assange. Pollack is a superb lawyer and Assange is certainly entitled to a vigorous defense (the first real hint of which shows up in the petition). But this whole effort is yet more of a propaganda campaign hiding what Assange has become and the role Assange had in electing the guy who just attempted a coup to stay in power. That does not serve journalism, though it may give Trump enough cover to pay off his 2016 campaign dues to Russia.

The Unaddressed Counterintelligence Threat of Rudy Giuliani

The name “Giuliani” shows up, unredacted, just five times in the SSCI Russia Report:

  • A reference to a meeting that Rudy had with Paul Manafort and Trump at 5:30 PM on August 2, 2016, the last thing on Manafort’s calendar before he met with Konstantin Kilimnik to discuss how to win the Midwest, share campaign polling data, and carve up Ukraine.
  • A citation to a Rick Gates 302 that describes that Manafort was relying on Rudy, along with Jared Kushner, in his efforts to try to place people in the new Administration.
  • A footnote citing this story describing Rudy’s meetings with Andrii Telizhenko as part of his search for dirt in support of Trump’s 2020 re-election. The footnote is one of the few unredacted passages in an 8-page section that is part of a larger section describing Manafort’s follow-up on that August 2, 2016 meeting on Ukraine.
  • A footnote describing an email — involving Rudy, Hope Hicks, Dan Scavino, and Stephen Miller — used as an example of Trump’s team incorporating stolen information released by WikiLeaks into Trump’s tweets.
  • A footnote sourcing a rather incredible claim from Psy Group’s Joel Zamel that he first met Jared Kushner via an introduction, months after inauguration, from Rudy.

I raise this not because I think there’s any direct tie between Russia and the coup this week (though I find it interesting that of those scripting WikiLeaks information into Trump tweets, all but Hicks may be seeking a pardon). This coup was an all-American affair, with roots in racist extremism that goes back before the Civil War. Someday, six months from today, we can talk about how this attack was consistent with events started over four years ago, with all the same players in starring roles. But these are American fascists running the show, not Russians.

I raise it, instead, to point out that the single most sustained review of the danger that some of Trump’s closest advisors pose to his presidency almost entirely excluded  one who played the key role in the post-election period, the purported lawyer who — at every step of the way — encouraged the President to take more and more extreme measures to hold on his power.

This coup attempt happened, in significant part, because Rudy had almost unfettered access to the President, Rudy was one of few people who never lost his trust, and Rudy always encouraged the worst decisions from Trump.

Triage and Impeachment: Prioritize a Legitimate Criminal Investigation into the Wider Plot over Impeachment

I want to talk about triage in the wake of the terrorist attack on Wednesday as it affects consideration of how to hold Trump accountable for his role in it.

First, some dates:

If Mike Pence were to invoke the 25th Amendment (with the approval of a bunch of Trump’s cabinet members), it could go into effect immediately for at least four days. Trump can challenge his determination, but if the same cabinet members hold with Pence, then Trump’s disqualification remains in place for 21 more days, enough to get through Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Both the House and Senate are not in session, and can’t deviate from the existing schedule without unanimous consent, meaning Mo Brooks in the House or Josh Hawley in the Senate could single-handedly prevent any business.

Because of that, impeachment in the House can’t be started until tomorrow. Right now, Pelosi is using the threat of impeachment as leverage to try to get Pence to act (or Trump to resign, though he won’t). If that doesn’t work, then the House seems prepared to move on a single article of impeachment tied to Trump’s attempts to cheat and his incitement of the insurrection. Pelosi won’t move forward on it until she’s sure it has the votes to succeed.

Even assuming a majority of the House votes to impeach Trump, that will have no impact on his authority to pardon co-conspirators, and he’ll surely attempt to pardon himself, one way or another. Because of Wednesday’s events, he will be doing that without the assistance of Pat Cipollone, which means he’s much more likely to make his plight worse.

Impeaching this week would, however, force Republicans to cast votes before it is clear how the post-insurrection politics will work out (indeed, while Trump still has the power of the Presidency). Significantly, a number of incoming members are angry that Kevin McCarthy advised them to support the insurrection. The vote may be as much an attempt to undo complicity with Wednesday’s actions as it is anything else. Done right, impeachment may exacerbate the fractures in the GOP; done wrong, it could have the opposite effect.

If the House does impeach, then the Senate will not — barring a change of heart from Hawley and everyone else who was still willing to be part of this insurrection — take up the impeachment until January 19 (the parliamentarian has already ruled on this point). That means, the trial for impeachment either happens in Joe Biden’s first week in office, or the House holds off on sending the article of impeachment over to the Senate until Chuck Schumer deems it a worthwhile time. He can also opt to have a committee consider it, calling witnesses and accruing evidence, which will provide the Senate (where there are more Republicans aiming to distance from Trump) a way to further elaborate Trump’s role in the terrorism.

Meanwhile, by losing all access to social media except Parler and with Amazon’s decision yesterday to stop hosting Parler (which will mean it’ll stay down at least a week, until January 17), Trump’s primary mouthpieces have been shut down. There’s reason to believe that the more sophisticated insurrectionists have moved onto more secure platforms like chat rooms and Signal. While that’ll pose some challenges for law enforcement trying to prevent follow-on attacks on January 17, 19, or 20, being on such less accessible platforms will limit their ability to mobilize the kinds of masses that came out on Wednesday. Trump has lost one of the most important weapons he can wield without demanding clearly criminal behavior from others. That said, the urgency of preventing those sophisticated plotters — and a good chunk of these people have military training — from engaging in more targeted strikes needs to be a priority.

But Trump is still President, with his hand on the nuclear codes, and in charge of the chain of command that goes through a bunch of Devin Nunes flunkies at DOD. Nancy Pelosi called Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley and come away with assurances that Trump won’t be able to deploy nukes.

Preventing an Unhinged President From Using the Nuclear Codes: This morning, I spoke to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley to discuss available precautions for preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike. The situation of this unhinged President could not be more dangerous, and we must do everything that we can to protect the American people from his unbalanced assault on our country and our democracy.

Nevertheless that still leaves Trump in charge of the vast federal bureaucracy, which has been emptied out and the filled back up with people who could pass Johnny McEntee’s loyalty oaths to Trump.

Because this is where we’re at, I have argued that there needs to be a higher priority on getting at least Biden’s operational nominees, along with Merrick Garland, confirmed over impeaching Trump — yet — in the Senate.

We have not yet heard why DOD and DHS and the FBI — on top of the Capitol Police — failed to prevent the terrorist attack on Wednesday (I’ll have more to say about this later). It will take a year to sort out all the conflicting claims. But as we attempt, via reporting, via oversight in Congress (including impeachment), and via a criminal investigation to figure that out, those same people who failed to prevent the attack remain in place. Indeed, most of these entities have offered little to no explanation for why they failed, which is a bad sign.

Because of that, I think Biden needs to prioritize getting at least Garland and Lisa Monaco confirmed as Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General at DOJ, along with a new Acting US Attorney for DC, as soon as possible. I have two specific concerns. First, while FBI has generally been good at policing white supremacists in recent months, they failed miserably here, when it mattered most. One effect of retaliating against anyone who investigated Trump for his “collusion” with Russia has been to install people who were either Trump loyalists or really skilled at avoiding any slight to Trump. Indeed, one of the most charitable possible excuses for FBI’s delayed response is that after years of badgering, otherwise reasonable people were loathe to get involved in something that Trump defined as an election issue.

I have more specific concerns about the DC US Attorney’s office. Michael Sherwin, who has been less awful as Acting US Attorney than Timothy Shea, originally said on the record all options in the investigation that will be led out of his office were on the table, including incitement by Trump. But then someone said off the record that Trump was not a focus of the investigation. I suspect that person is Ken Kohl, who as Acting First Assistant US Attorney is in charge of the investigation and has been cited in other announcements about the investigation.

Ken Kohl at least oversaw, if not participated in, the alteration of documents to help Trump get elected. I’ve been told he’s got a long history of being both corrupt and less than competent. The decisions he will oversee in upcoming weeks could have the effect of giving people the opportunity to destroy evidence that lays out a much broader conspiracy, all while rolling out showy charges against people who were so stupid they took selfies of themselves committing crimes. We want this investigation to go beyond a slew of trespassing charges to incorporate the actual plotting that made this attack possible. It’s not clear Kohl will do that.

Even assuming that people currently in DOJ are willing to collect evidence implicating Trump, short of having a confirmed Attorney General overseeing such decisions, we’re back in the same situation Andrew McCabe was in on May 10, 2017, an Acting official trying to decide what to do in the immediate aftermath of a Trump crime. Trump’s backers have exploited the fact that McCabe made the right choices albeit in urgent conditions, and they’ve done so with the willing participation of some of the people — notably, FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich — who are currently in charge of this investigation.

I’m happy to entertain a range of possible courses going forward, so long as all of them involve holding Trump accountable to the utmost degree possible. I assume Nancy Pelosi, whatever else she’ll be doing, will also be counting the votes to understand precisely what is possible, given the schedule.

But I also know that I’d far rather have Trump and those he directly conspired with criminally charged than have an impeachment delay the thorough fumigation of a government riddled with people who may have had a role in this plot. And that’s not going to happen if the investigation is scoped in such a way in the days ahead to rule out his involvement.

Update: Here’s a much-cited interview with Michael Sherwin. He adopts all the right language (pointedly disavowing labels of sedition or coup, saying he’s just looking at crimes) and repeats his statement that if there’s evidence Trump is involved he’ll be investigated.

On Thursday you were quoted saying the conduct of “all actors” would be examined, which was interpreted to mean President Trump might face charges. Is that what you meant — the man who gave the speech at the start of the day could be looking at charges?

Look, I meant what I said before. In any criminal investigation, I don’t care if it’s a drug trafficking conspiracy case, a human trafficking case or the Capitol — all persons will be looked at, OK? If the evidence is there, great. If it’s not, you move on. But we follow the evidence. If the evidence leads to any actor that may have had a role in this and if that evidence meets the four corners of a federal charge or a local charge, we’re going to pursue it.

Update: This story describes how a senior McConnell aide called Bill Barr’s Chief of Staff who called David Bowdich who then deployed three quick reaction teams in response.

The senior McConnell adviser reached a former law firm colleague who had just left the Justice Department: Will Levi, who had served as Attorney General William P. Barr’s chief of staff.

They needed help — now, he told Levi.

From his home, Levi immediately called FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich, who was in the command center in the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

Capitol police had lost control of the building, Levi told Bowdich.

The FBI official had been hearing radio traffic of aggressive protesters pushing through the perimeter, but Levi said it had gone even further: The mob had already crashed the gates and lives were at risk.

Capitol police had said previously they didn’t need help, but Bowdich decided he couldn’t wait for a formal invitation.

He dispatched the first of three tactical teams, including one from the Washington field office to secure the safety of U.S. senators and provide whatever aid they could. He instructed two more SWAT teams to follow, including one that raced from Baltimore.

These teams typically gather at a staging area off-site to coordinate and plan, and then rush together to the area where they are needed. Bowdich told their commander there was no time.

“Get their asses over there. Go now,” he said to the first team’s commander. “We don’t have time to huddle.”

Not explained: why Bowdich was watching protestors get through the perimeter without deploying teams on his own. Again, I’m not saying he was complicit. I’m saying he has spent the last four years by letting Trump’s claims about politicization direct the Bureau, and can see how that habit might have led to a delayed response here.

NFL Playoff Football Is Back, And We’re Gonna Get In Trouble Trash Talk

It has been a hell of a fun first few months week of 2021. So, with no further adieu, lets get to the ball. A nearly unprecedented SIX games in one weekend (there was that one weird strike season, which doesn’t really count). And, there really are no bad matchups on tap. Away we go!

First up is Indiana at Buffalo. The Colts seem a better team than their 11-5 record, and Phil Rivers can still chuck the ball. They have weapons on both offense and defense. But, dang, the Bills have looked like a serious Super Bowl contender all year. And, while Rodgers may be the MVP of the league, to my eye, Josh Allen was pretty close. The Bills are at home for a rabid and great fan base that has been dying for this since the mid-90’s. And the Wagon Circlers have weapons too, including Stephon Diggs, arguably the leagues best receiver this year, a fair, if not great, running game and a very good defense. Expect the Colts to be good, but the Bills to win. And that would be a very good thing for the City of Buffalo and their long suffering excellent fans.

Second up for Saturday is LA Rams at Seattle Squawks. This is a harder call. Rams first string QB Jared Goff is “questionable”, but expected to play (but for how long with a recently broken thumb on his throwing hand?). Jamal Adams, the Seahawks safety that is one of the best is in the same boat. It is not the same without the 12th Man fans in Seattle, but, despite a rough patch, the Squawks seem to be gelling. And then there is those Russell Wilson and DJ Metcalfe dudes. They are pretty good. Seattle wins.

The Saturday Night Game is Tampa at the Washington Football Team. WFT is on the clear rise under Riverboat Ron Rivera, they are better than you think, and on both sides of the ball. Young Chase Young and the superb DC D-Line are going to try to spook and hurry the old man Brady. The rest of the WFT defense is really good as well. But this is the first time Brady has been defended this way, and Tampa has a very talented defense as well. All pro receiver Mike Evans is nicked up, but will play, as will Ronald Jones. WFT is nicked up, but the most relevant one is QB Alex Smith. His entrance turned their moribund season around after Dwayne Haskins. If Smith can play, and play well, this could be an upset. Not gonna bet that, but that may be the X factor. Still will take the old man and the Bucs.

Okay, and here we go with the Sunday games.

First up Sunday is Baltimore at Tennessee. I have no real idea what to make of this one. Tennessee is good, and made it to the AFC finals last year. They have Derrick Henry, and that is one powerful weapon. But the Ravens have been rushing the heck out of the ball over the last five games. Sure, there is Lamar Jackson, but it is more than that. By a tiny margin, think the Ravens are better on D, but only a tiny amount. Am still inclined to go with the Titans at home.

Second comes Bears at Saints. This, on paper, is the least interesting game of the weekend. It is probably Drew Brees’ last year. The Aints are at home in the Dome. Nawlins will, apparently have both Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara on the field. Sorry, not sure how the Bears and Trubisky have a real shot here.

Lastly, Brownies at Steelers. For a short period, it really looked like Pittsburgh was in the doldrums and Cleveland would do the unthinkable and take the division championship. But the Steelers righted the ship and won out over Cleveland for the title. Nick Chubb and Baker Mayfield (watch out for Mayfield on play action, he is really good) are maturing and growing quite nicely. And the Cleveland defense is pretty good. But this is still the Stillers, and the Browns will be without head coach and chief play caller Kevin Stefanski because of Covid. That seems rough. Have to take Big Ben and Pittsburgh at home, but this could be a great game.

A lot of people are saying they want a revolution. John, Paul, George and Ring have one for you. Rock it up.

Once Again Trump’s Self-Victimhood Distracts from His Negligence

It will be the subject of extensive discussion going forward how plans for an insurrection made in plain sight on social media went from being viewed, by the FBI and DHS, as First Amendment protected speech to so dangerous that social media shut down key influencer accounts and Apple and Google kicked entire platforms out of their stores within days. But that’s what happened.

On Thursday, a various law enforcement agencies tried to explain why they had allowed the Capitol to be overrun by terrorists, they claimed not to have seen the signs many of us were seeing of plans for violence.

Federal and local officials said Thursday they did not have intelligence suggesting any violent mob was preparing to attack the Capitol, even as demonstrators were publicly saying on social media they were not planning a typical protest.

Despite weeks of preparations, “obviously, what happened no one anticipated,” Michael Sherwin, acting US Attorney for the District of Columbia, told reporters in a telephone press conference Thursday. “Things could have been done better.”

[snip]

Police were caught flat-footed the next day. DC Police Chief Robert Contee told reporters Thursday there was no intelligence that suggested there would be a breach of the US Capitol on January 6. Three DHS sources, who usually receive such reports, were unaware of a threat assessment being shared from the DHS intelligence office ahead of Wednesday’s siege.

But just over a day later, Apple announced that it was giving Parler 24 hours to come into compliance with its moderations guidelines; Google just removed Parler from its stores entirely. Twitter first removed various QAnon supporters, including Sidney Powell and Mike Flynn. Then, finally, after allowing him to Tweet twice after a short-term ban, Twitter announced it was removing Trump permanently and those social media platforms that hadn’t already done so removed Trump as well.

Trump spent the night trying to find workarounds, using the POTUS account, attempting to have one of his sons tweet out his content, and having his social media staffer tweet on his own account. Unless the Tweet included a presidential message, the content was removed.

In response, Trump, his supporters, and the usual commentariat have decried a purportedly authoritarian “censorship” of Donald Trump. Indeed, most of the discussion since then has focused on whether Twitter and other social media platforms acted appropriately.

That has, as has happened so many times in the last four years, distracted from Trump’s own refusal to act.

Here’s Twitter’s description of why it found that Trump had violated Twitter’s Glorification of Violence prohibition.

Overview

On January 8, 2021, President Donald J. Trump tweeted:

“The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”

Shortly thereafter, the President tweeted:

“To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”

Due to the ongoing tensions in the United States, and an uptick in the global conversation in regards to the people who violently stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, these two Tweets must be read in the context of broader events in the country and the ways in which the President’s statements can be mobilized by different audiences, including to incite violence, as well as in the context of the pattern of behavior from this account in recent weeks. After assessing the language in these Tweets against our Glorification of Violence policy, we have determined that these Tweets are in violation of the Glorification of Violence Policy and the user @realDonaldTrump should be immediately permanently suspended from the service.

Assessment

We assessed the two Tweets referenced above under our Glorification of Violence policy, which aims to prevent the glorification of violence that could inspire others to replicate violent acts and determined that they were highly likely to encourage and inspire people to replicate the criminal acts that took place at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

This determination is based on a number of factors, including:

  • President Trump’s statement that he will not be attending the Inauguration is being received by a number of his supporters as further confirmation that the election was not legitimate and is seen as him disavowing his previous claim made via two Tweets (1, 2) by his Deputy Chief of Staff, Dan Scavino, that there would be an “orderly transition” on January 20th.
  • The second Tweet may also serve as encouragement to those potentially considering violent acts that the Inauguration would be a “safe” target, as he will not be attending.
  • The use of the words “American Patriots” to describe some of his supporters is also being interpreted as support for those committing violent acts at the US Capitol.
  • The mention of his supporters having a “GIANT VOICE long into the future” and that “They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!” is being interpreted as further indication that President Trump does not plan to facilitate an “orderly transition” and instead that he plans to continue to support, empower, and shield those who believe he won the election.
  • Plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off-Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021.

As such, our determination is that the two Tweets above are likely to inspire others to replicate the violent acts that took place on January 6, 2021, and that there are multiple indicators that they are being received and understood as encouragement to do so.

Effectively, Twitter is saying that these Tweets have been exploited by the terrorists supporting Trump as support for further violence. It specifically described plans, being made both on and off Twitter, for a follow-on attack no January 17 (apparently because Q is the 17th letter in the alphabet).

Twitter is not actually arguing that Trump intended to incite violence. Rather, they’re saying that his Tweets are being interpreted as encouragement of more violence that is already being actively planned, regardless of what Trump actually meant by it.

Now, maybe Trump didn’t intend that to be the effect, though Twitter makes a fair point that both the reference to a “GIANT VOICE” in the future — one that may depend on further terrorism — and the formal announcement that the inauguration could be targeted without endangering Trump himself might be seen as inviting more violence.

But if he didn’t mean to do so, the proper response of any marginally responsible adult would be to say, “Golly, I didn’t realize how my own words were being used in ways I didn’t intend. Let me take the next few weeks off to cool off, or better yet, let me find other ways to correct any misinterpretation that I supported violence.” The appropriate response for the Commander in Chief would be to say, “Wow, that was a totally unprecedented attack on our Capitol the other day, I’m deploying all the resources of the Federal government to ensure these planned follow-up attacks will not take place.”

Have you noticed that Trump hasn’t actually said he has ordered the government to prevent further violence?

That’s all the more alarming, given that US law enforcement agencies increasingly share intelligence with the social media platforms, which suggests that Twitter’s reference to “a number of factors” doesn’t rule out specific intelligence about follow-on plans that aren’t visible on social media.

Twitter said, tucked away there in a fifth bullet, that one of the reasons they (and presumably Facebook and Apple and Google and everyone else) acted is because there are specific plans for future terrorist attacks.

And instead of talking about the fact that the man who remains President is doing nothing to prevent those follow-on attacks, we’re talking about what a victim he is.

Bunker: Trump’s Exposure in the Insurrection Makes PardonPalooza More Complicated

There have been numerous accounts of Trump’s desperate days since he incited a coup attempt. Most, including this CNN version, describe how — on the advice of (among others) White House Counsel Pat Cipollone — Trump recorded and released a very heavily edited video from a script written for him in an attempt to stave off removal proceedings.

His daughter Ivanka Trump, White House counsel Pat Cipollone, chief of staff Mark Meadows and others told Trump there was a real chance he would be removed from office — whether by his own Cabinet or lawmakers — if he did not more forcefully denounce the actions of his supporters who attacked the US Capitol the day before.

Trump did not initially want to issue a video decrying the loyalists whose actions he largely supported — and whom he said he “loved” a day earlier — but he told aides to prepare a speech and then he would decide.

Once he read over the brief script they had prepared, Trump agreed to record it Thursday evening — a relief to the senior staff, though concerns lingered he could backtrack during his final days in office given his actual position has remained unchanged: that he lost the election unfairly.

This WaPo version describes him holing up with really unsavory characters, including white supremacist Stephen Miller and John McEntee, who previously had been forcibly removed from his position at the White House because of gambling problems.

Trump spent Wednesday afternoon and evening cocooned at the White House and listening only to a small coterie of loyal aides — including Meadows, Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino, personnel director Johnny McEntee and policy adviser Stephen Miller. McEnany also spent time with the president. Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, was described as disengaged.

CNN also reports that’s he’s still planning on pardonpalooza covering at least his kids

And a raft of pardons, including potentially for himself and his family, are expected in the coming days.

According to this Bloomberg piece, he’s considering pardoning his bunker mates, Meadows, Miller, and McEntee, along with Kimberly Guilfoyle, none of whom had any obvious legal exposure before the last several weeks.

The biggest question facing his legal team may be whether the president has the authority to pardon himself, as he has discussed in recent weeks with top aides, according to the people familiar with his conversations. Trump has previously claimed the power, though it’s a matter of legal dispute and has never before been attempted by a president.

A self-pardon could also prove a major political liability and hamstring another presidential bid, with opponents sure to suggest the self-pardon amounted to an admission that he thought he might be prosecuted for breaking the law.

Preemptive pardons are under discussion for top White House officials who have not been charged with crimes, including Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, senior adviser Stephen Miller, personnel chief John McEntee, and social media director Dan Scavino.

The president’s eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, her husband, Jared Kushner, who both hold White House positions, are also under consideration, the people said. Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has also discussed the issue of a pardon with the president.

Preemptive pardons are also under consideration for other members of the president’s family, as well as friends and allies. For instance, Trump has floated a preemptive pardon for Kimberly Guilfoyle, the former Fox News host who is dating his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr.

The president wants the preemptive pardons to shield recipients from prosecutions for any federal crimes committed before the pardons were issued.

It notes that White House Counsel Pat Cipollone is “vetting” the pardons, with some concern that they create more exposure for obstruction of justice.

Trump’s list is currently being vetted by lawyers who are concerned that pardons could create new allegations of obstruction of justice for members of the administration. The process is being managed in part by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone.

Except, CNN also reports that Pat Cipollone is considering resigning.

Trump’s role in (at a minimum) inciting an insurrection the other day may make his effort to pardon himself and his associates out of legal trouble more difficult.

Start with a self-pardon. Before the insurrection, Cipollone might have advised Trump he might as well try it. He literally has nothing to lose, since he’s unlikely to trust Pence with a pardon at this point, so even if the self-pardon doesn’t work, he would be no worse off. Except, as a number of people have suggested, a self-pardon makes it far more likely DOJ will test the concept and prosecute him (though I think he’s done enough to be charged anyway). And because Trump’s exposure now includes insurrection, the conservative majority on SCOTUS might find the self-pardon particularly offensive. In addition, because Clarence Thomas’ wife Ginni was cheering on the terrorists, DOJ might — fairly — ask Thomas to recuse.

Then there’s Rudy. He was always going to be pardoned, because he knows where the bodies are buried and Trump believes (mistakenly) that Rudy has served his interests loyally. Except, to a far greater extent than before November, a Rudy pardon frees him to testify about crimes that Trump committed for which Rudy does not have attorney-client privilege, such as coordinating with coup plotters. This is exacerbated by the byzantine legal structure behind the fraudulent Trump lawsuits, where there was never any clarity about who was representing Trump and who was not. Once upon a time, Trump might have been able to pardon Rudy without increasing his own legal exposure. That’s probably not true anymore.

Then there’s Cipollone himself, a formidable lawyer who wants to get the fuck out of dodge. Cipollone, briefly, got Trump to see reason in making that video. Then as soon as Trump got his Twitter account he sent more messages riling up his terrorists. That suggests Cipollone recognized that Trump had real exposure in the insurgency, and took measures to limit them. Then Trump ignored his advice. All while asking Cipollone to help him pardon his co-conspirators.

While Cipollone has limited Executive Privilege with Trump (one breached in case of crime), under Clinton precedent he doesn’t have attorney-client privilege with Trump. That makes it likely that no matter what happens, he’ll be sitting for lengthy sessions with prosecutors in months ahead, just as Don McGahn also did.

When this whole Transition process started, Trump had Cipollone and Bill Barr — the latter the best cover-up artist in recent US history — around to help him out of his legal troubles. Now, his post-election antics have drove both of them away.

Once upon a time, Trump might well have been able to pardon himself out of a good deal of the criminal exposure he already faced. That’s far less likely now.

Update: Just in the last hour, Ginni Thomas made her Facebook account unavailable.

Timing Matters: Impeach, Convict, Remove NOW [UPDATE-1]

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. Updates will appear at the bottom of this post. /~Rayne]

Photos taken during the insurrectionist Capitol Building breach on Wednesday showed a lot of riot tourism — “Look at me, Mom!” kind of behavior which causes reparable damage while irritating observers. The jerk sitting in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s chair with his feet on her desk is a perfect example.

But some photos showed participants who weren’t flashy, who weren’t taking selfies. They appeared intent on some objective and they were well equipped, wholly unlike the bare-chested, tattooed Qultist clown Jake Angeli.

Angeli was attention whoring.

This guy was not:

(Believe this is a cropped photo from Getty Images, shared here under Fair Use.)

Malcolm Nance noted this same person was carrying an “olive colored Blackhawk Sherpa pistol holster with a Glock 26 or 43 subcompact pistol w/hogue rubber grips, mace & Flex-cuffs” which is far from the average riot tourist’s gear. There has been speculation it’s not a Glock but a holstered taser, though the consensus appears to be that it’s a weapon.

The photo shows someone intent on doing more than a little light vandalism. They are equipped to kidnap, detain, and possibly hurt or kill someone.

They need to be identified, their situation fully investigated, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

This isn’t something which should be blown off lightly; this person was in the Senate chamber where two of the next three in line of presidential succession — VP Mike Pence and Sen. Chuck Grassley — had been only moments before, in the same building with third-in-line, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

There were others as well who may not have been quite as well equipped but carrying some gear like plastic zip restraints, suggesting they, too, were intent on seizing members of Congress and staff.

Until an investigation is completed, we don’t know if we haven’t just looked upon an aborted kidnapping and/or assassination attempt.

We don’t know yet how the “mobile bomb factoryfound by law enforcement figured into this picture:

… The chief also confirmed that police recovered two pipe bombs at the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee offices. A cooler that contained molotov cocktails also was found on U.S. Capitol grounds, the chief said. Bowser said officials will review video and issue lookout alerts for people who breached the U.S. Capitol, adding that they “need to be held accountable for the carnage.”

Federal agents also are investigating a pickup truck found outside the RNC, according to two people familiar with the investigation.

The truck, parked across the street from the party offices and near the entrance to a Metro station, contained rifles and shotguns, a great deal of ammunition, and other unspecified material, these people said. Federal agents are still trying to determine if that vehicle and its contents are connected to the suspected pipe bombs found earlier, the people said. …

This could have been extremely ugly had riot members been able to occupy and control the Capitol Building through the night.

Trump should not be allowed to pardon these people if he and his associates and family had anything to do with this — like Rudy Giuliani’s incitement calling for “trial by combat” on stage before Trump supporters that day.

The only way to ensure there is no pardon granted by Trump before an investigation is complete is to remove Trump from office.

Immediately.

GOP members of Congress: You need to take this seriously and consider where you and members of your cohort stand. There may be those among them who are complicit, who may have no problem with eliminating their fellow members who aren’t as Trumpist as they are. Until a full investigation is completed there’s no way to know, and no way to protect themselves from a possible second attack-masked-by-riot.

And there’s a second event in the offing. It’s right there in all the chatter online about the January 6 mob.

Impeach, convict, remove Trump NOW, because it’s critical to protecting the continuity of our government under the Constitution about which you swore an oath to defend.

It’s also your skin in the game.

Consider how this scenario looks to others and whether the damage would have been limited to Democratic members of Congress alone.

Next time Congress and the VP might not be so lucky. Remove luck from the equation by removing the source of incitement NOW.

~  ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 5:10 PM ET —

The Washington Post released video showing the lead up to and the shooting of rioter Ashli Babbit. At least one member of Congress, Rep. Sean Maloney (D-NY-18), is visible at the beginning of the video before they are removed to a secure location and the rioters breach the door.

Impeachment still has traction if slow. Another set of articles of impeachment have been released, this time charging Incitement to Insurrection instead of Abuse of Power. Sorry, I don’t have time right now to type out a transcript, sharing a tweet with screen shots for now.

Pence entered the White House but apparently didn’t speak to Trump, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski is the first GOP senator to demand Trump resign, questioning her own future with the GOP.

One can only hope the news dump zone is kind to us.

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