Imagine if Woodward and Bernstein Buried the Ties between the Burglars and Nixon in Paragraph 26?

Josh Dawsey continues to offer fawning coverage of the GOP’s decision to censure Liz Cheney.

In spite of the fact that he was the first to report details that allowed me, almost immediately, to understand the significance of Ronna McDaniel’s excuse for backing the censure, he either still hasn’t figured that out or wants to help Republicans bury it. In ¶26 of his latest update on the horserace details about how the censure vote came about, Dawsey confirms that McDaniel was, indeed, responding to the decision by the January 6 Committee to subpoena Kathy Berden.

In her weekend calls, McDaniel told the story of Kathy Berden, a friend of hers from Michigan, who was subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 committee because she agreed to serve as a fake elector for Trump for the election, according to a person who spoke with the chairwoman this weekend.

In an interview with The Post before the resolution passed, McDaniel also told the story of Berden when asked why she was going after the Jan. 6 commission, but declined to name her.

In Dawsey’s telling, Berden once again remains nothing more than a Nice Little Old Lady, a friend of McDaniel. In his telling, she had a passive role, “agree[ing] to serve as a fake elector,” not playing a leadership role in an attempt to invalidate 2.8 million Michigan votes. As Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein would have immediately recognized, the story here is with whom Berden was agreeing to serve as a fake elector.

But Dawsey doesn’t pursue that question. He doesn’t describe that Berden whipped votes as a paid “volunteer” for McDaniel’s reelection as Chair in 2019 — someone whose political power is closely tied to McDaniel’s own career.

He especially doesn’t explain that actions of Berden and others involved in the fake election scheme are under investigation not just by the Select Committee, but by Michigan authorities and the FBI. (NYT, which also thought the Berden detail was worth burying more than twenty paragraphs deep, at least mentioned that Berden’s actions were “a potential crime” after repeating GOP claims she is “an innocent victim of an overzealous investigation, noting that she is elderly and a widow.”)

And because he ignores that McDaniel was trying to protect a close associate being investigated for her role in attempting to steal an election, and trying to dissociate that attempt to steal an election with the violence at the Capitol, Dawsey doesn’t consider how McDaniel’s efforts may have contributed to what WaPo portrays as the virgin birth of the “legitimate political discourse” language that ended up equating assaulting cops with casting a vote.

The phrase “legitimate political discourse” did not appear in an original draft of the resolution by top Trump ally David Bossie, according to a copy reviewed by The Washington Post. Instead, Bossie’s version said the committee had a disregard for “minority rights” and “due process” and seemed “intent on advancing a political agenda to buoy the Democrat Party’s bleak electoral prospects.”

It is unclear how the words “legitimate political discourse” came to enter the document as it was edited in Salt Lake City by Bossie, McDaniel and others. Bossie did not respond to requests for comment.

Ronna McDaniel told Josh Dawsey that she supported this initiative because her close political associate was being investigated for her role in attempting to steal the election. After McDaniel got involved, the resolution against Cheney affirmatively defended the actions under investigation by the Committee as “legitimate political discourse.”

This isn’t actually all that mysterious. Ronna McDaniel is trying to deny that submitting fake electors is a crime (indeed, the GOP has launched a parallel campaign to liken the attempt to invalidate voters to Hawaii’s vote certification in 1960). And as part of that process, the GOP called all of January 6 — the lies that mobilized thousands of Trump supporters and the violent assault on the Capitol that resulted — “legitimate political discourse.”

McDaniel, like the WaPo, is trying to avoid discussing a suspected crime, one that implicates a significant number of top Republican operatives.

I did a thread the other day of Michiganders whose votes Kathy Berden tried to invalidate, from all over Michigan. They include a ton of voters from Oakland County, which has become increasingly Democratic in recent years. They include voters from Kent County, which is where Trump actually lost the election. But they also include voters from deep red parts in the state who nevertheless made an effort to make sure their vote was cast and counted. The people that Ronna McDaniel and Josh Dawsey are trying to obscure are people who took the time — sometimes a lot of time — to exercise their civic responsibility. Kathy Berden’s actions are not a victimless crime. They are an attempt to invalidate the votes of 2.8 million of her fellow Michiganders (including me and, I presume, Rayne). Those actions are every bit as deplorable as those of the people who beat cops at the Capitol.

It’s time that the horse race press started treating Berden’s actions — and those of Ronna McDaniel to downplay the scheme — as an assault on democracy every bit as much (and closely tied to) the attack on the Capitol building.

Update: h/t JW for the picture.

121 replies
  1. Anthony says:

    Forgery, fraud, and fund raising. Just another day at RNC.

    [Welcome to emptywheel. Please use a more differentiated username when you comment next as we have several community members named “Anthony,” “Tony,” and “Andy.” Thanks. /~Rayne]

  2. bg says:

    Thank you, Marcy. Somewhere along the way I learned that five more fake electors were needed, and that explained the fake electors from NM which has 5 electoral votes but where there was never any whiff of fraud or any question of who won the election. There were five Rs who were the originally appointed electors, one of them, Harvey Yates, one of the wealthiest New Mexicans, refused to participate, and another person stepped up. There is no doubt former Congressman and head of the NM R party and TFG supporter Steve Pearce was involved. I am curious about the role of Yvette Harrell, currently serving in Congress in the seat once held by Pearce. She is not loud like MTG, but she is equally extreme and dangerous. She is likely in the mix.

    • Retired guy says:

      Thank you for this insight into the baffling existence of the NM alternate electors. If I count correctly, the Trump campaign did not need to win all 6 challenged states to prevail, but there were a few scenarios where 5 more electors would make the difference. Lots of state partisans apparently believed they could make this work.

      My earlier theory that the NM Rs heard about this, and just wanted to play along may not be complete. The need for “5 more electors” could have been a national decision, looking at how to still prevail with partial success in the 6 main challenges.

      Speculation: the main focus of the effort was to create alternate electors in 6 disputed states. The national effort may have put out feelers to a few other states, seeking a little margin. The State R organization had to be willing to follow through, and some states likely said hell no, but most of the R NM electors begged to participate, as they are usually marginal players in a blue state.

      If my speculation is right, there may be communication of this feeling out of other states, likely having to cajole, and the “hell, no” replies, along with the crisper mainline 6 state push communications.

      • viget says:

        I suspect the communications you seek may be among discussions of the RAGA members (R states’ AG association).

        With Ken Paxton and Eric Schmidt leading the way….

  3. Rugger9 says:

    Semi-OT: it would seem that the courtier press is pushing the idea of granting Jeffrey Clark immunity to testify against Individual-1. There are several problems I see here:

    Clark’s the one who prepared and signed a lot of the justifications for engaging in the J6 conspiracy. Even if he was “just following orders” he still signed for it to provide plausible deniability to Individual-1. That would seem to me a pretty clear case against Clark on federal charges similar to the ones being used on the PBs and OKs. The fact that he’s refused to testify without that immunity IMHO tells me he’s not remorseful either, just trying to save his skin. As Michael Cohen observed, Individual-1 does not leave a paper trail if he can avoid it, as evidenced by the Archives reports over the last week.

    Also, IF there were to be an immunity deal I would make it contingent not on mere testimony but the actual conviction of Individual-1 at trial. This is because of the many critical steps Clark had done over his signature and because someone has to pay the price for the J6 insurrection. It might as well be the one who signed the papers to make it go.

    • mossyrock says:

      I thought I was crazy when I began to wonder why the press was so fixated on suggesting that the committee is pondering giving Clark immunity. it made the hair on the back of my neck tingle in fear of what i wasnt sure…so its not me. its them after all. but why ? why do they want it ? i think I’m too old for this platform.

      • Leoghann says:

        It isn’t “the press.” It’s the political reporters who became so lazy and sensation-addicted during the 2016 campaign the Trump administration that they’re no longer interested in actual journalism. And they’re really getting tired of waiting for jurisprudence to give them some trials and some guilty verdicts. If Jeffery Bossart Clark were to be granted immunity, there would be a bunch of neat new scandal to obsess on.

    • bg says:

      Yvette Harrell (R) was elected to Congress in 2020 in NM2, defeating incumbent Xochitl Torres-Small (D), who narrowly won the seat in 2018 when YH was the R candidate. She served several terms in the NM state legislature where she sponsored bills against abortion among other pet projects. We are working hard to make her a one term rep. Steve Pearce, the current NM R Party chair ran for Governor in 2018, leaving his Congressional seat in NM2. He lost the race for Governor and has nursed his revenge ever since.

      • Leoghann says:

        You’ve also got an influx of complete crazies into southern Otero, Eddy, and Lea Counties. I imagine that’s making things more interesting.

  4. Greg Hunter says:

    So with Josh is his approach a feature or a bug? Do you think he is willfully ignoring the connection or just trying to continue to sell the “reveal” later or is it access journalism?

    I continue to listen to Skullduggery and I find the presentation interesting as Mike Isikoff runs the show but he nor his co-hosts will touch certain topics or make any obvious analysis. For instance the show presented Pence’s speech as getting a spine, without mentioning that his staff went before the January 6th committee that played a role in the spine stiffening. It just looks like they want to rehabilitate the GOP and ignoring the work of the DOJ or the J6 committee. In fact Isikoff continued to shrilly claim there is NO evidence of any connection between Trump associates and the rioters.

    He also went very far in making sure that the GOP clarification that the “legitimate political discourse” pertained the speeches before the riot and not the to the riot itself.

    Victoria from the Brennan Center seems to grouse at Mike’s take as she rightly said that rounding up electors from other States was in the purview of the J6 committee even as Mike pushed back. I actually like the guests they get, but some of the framing is maddening.

    • John Paul Jones says:

      It’s a feature. The whole point of “horserace” reporting is to “balance” the (assumed) two sides, so, for example, third party candidates are routinely reported as “outsiders” or as having “slim chances,” etc. etc. Thus too, dirty tricks become reduced to mere tactical means to “win the race,” which is why Dawsey consistently buries the actual lede, because J6 is just “tactics” when viewed in the horse-race context. Tactics may be either praised or condemned, but the context guarantees a certain blind-ness to the use of unethical, immoral or illegal tactics, because the focus is on who wins and much less on how they win. If Dawsey has ever sat down with a scotch and wondered why it is that the Republicans seem to use dirtier tactics, and use them much more often, and seem constantly to be caught using outright illegal tactics, he hasn’t allowed those reflections to color his approach. The horserace frame for political narratives is a classic instance of ideology blinding people to what’s right in front of their faces.

      The other thing is that it takes work to reframe a narrative that has also shaped one’s entire professional life. Why work if you can get paid not to?

      • Marinela says:

        Those narratives may happen to match some of his personal political believes, so this is why some of these journalists are wrapping themselves around the axel to promote the GOP talking points, but in a context of being “impartial”.

        • John Paul Jones says:

          That’s a nice phrase, “wrapping themselves around the axel”; I may steal it for later use. And it gave me a brief Isadora Duncan flashback. I wonder if Josh has ever heard of her?

          • Ginevra diBenci says:

            Re: “wrapping themselves around the axel”–I can’t *not* picture a figure skater launching into the most difficult jump. For reference, see Tonya Harding.

            • Leoghann says:

              Thank you so much for this. I was having the same visual. Of course, someone wrapped around an axle is not a pretty sight, although it may be happening in Ontario as we speak.

          • Marinela says:

            From my background in programming, used mostly to indicate flaws in the logic, code that has failure designs, which leads to deadlocks, crashes, errors. Indicates circular logic that is not going to work as designed and implemented. I don’t handle well circular logic, in programming or outside.

    • xy xy says:

      They tried to kill Pence and it took him over a year to get a spine.
      And people are complaining how long it’s taking the J6 Committee and DOJ to do its job.

    • JamesJoyce says:

      “In fact Isikoff continued to shrilly claim there is NO evidence of any connection between Trump associates and the rioters.”


      Just following the Godsend’s orders.

      Like “Rohm” and his stained discolored white shirts, until a

      A purge..

      Fraud is fraud as denial is denial..

      Some should know better..

      They don’t, ever..

      • FL Resister says:

        Looked up your wiki reference and it’s interesting how disaffected military veterans were swept up both in the Sturmabteilung (SA), a Nazi paramilitary organization, and today’s Oath Keepers and Proud Boys who stormed the Capitol for Trump on Jan 6, 2020.

        “The SA evolved out of the remnants of the Freikorps movement of the post-World War I years. The Freikorps were nationalistic organizations primarily composed of disaffected, disenchanted, and angry German combat veterans founded by the government in January 1919 to deal with the threat of a Communist revolution when it appeared that there was a lack of loyal troops.”

        They self-identify.

  5. Zinsky says:

    If David Bossie was involved in drafting the RNC resolution, that explains its essential vile, delusional and petty nature. Bossie, of course, was the architect of the Citizens United lawsuit, the SCOTUS decision for which has blighted our politics irreparably.

  6. DaveC says:

    Agreed: “It’s time that the horse race press started treating Berden’s actions — and those of Ronna McDaniel to downplay the scheme — as an assault on democracy every bit as much (and closely tied to) the attack on the Capitol building.”

  7. Rita says:

    Thank you for this post highlighting the abysmal coverage of the RNC resolution from two of the most important of the responsible news media.

    When the two “papers of record” simply report what Trump or his allies like the RNC say without making more than a feeble attempt to correct or clarify, they are amplifying the lies.

    Just in the last week, the NYTimes and Washington Post, have run stories about Jan 6 that makes me wonder what they think they are doing: The NY Times article comparing the Jan 6th Committee investigation to Benghazi, the stories about Trump’s rally, and the story about the RNC resolution. How can they run a story in which Trump talks about unfair treatment of Jan 6th rioters without addressing that by explaining what treatment they are receiving? How can they run a story about the allegation of “persecution of ordinary public citizens” without addressing what that “persecution” is and who those ordinary public citizens are? How can they compare an investigation into the death of a diplomat in an attack by foreigners to an investigation into an attempted coup, one component of which was a violent attack on the Capitol?

    I am certain that most Republicans would like to consider the RNC Resolution just a drafting mistake and to limit the investigation into Jan. 6th just to the violent perpetrators. Why would the Washington Post and NYTimes want to do the same?

  8. Rugger9 says:

    Uh oh, the WashPo reports that RoJo was in Lindell’s pre-conspiracy meeting on January 4, 2021. That makes him a witness if not a full-fledged conspirator.

  9. Savage Librarian says:

    If the GOP and the RNC were parents, they might be cited for neglect and abuse. In this analogy, their children would be Trump and Democracy. And they enabled one child to present an imminent risk to the other, thereby causing serious physical or emotional harm to Democracy and death to
    guardians and friends of the child.

    The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) (42 U.S.C.A. § 5106g), as amended by the CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010, defines child abuse and neglect as, at minimum:

    “Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker, which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation”; or

    “An act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.”

  10. BobCon says:

    The Woodward and Bernstein comparison is apt because it’s a reminder that they were Metro Section reporters, not Political desk reporters. Max Frankel, chief of the Washington bureau at the NY Times, famously blocked coverage after hearing from the White House that it wasn’t a story, even though they had confirmation early on from FBI Director Patrick Gray himself that the White House was involved.

    A big part, though not exclusively so, is turf protection. Hacks on political desks want to frame stories in ways that only they can cover, and will work overtime to avoid escalating them in ways which mean other desks and other reporters can move in.

    As long as Dawsey and his editors can hold the line on the narrative that this is only a story that requires getting quotes from a limited set of sources, they can keep it in their turf. And it’s fine if other like minded reporters like Michael Schmidt are on the case as long as they keep also keep the narrative constricted to a small universe.

    What they don’t want is reporters from another beat — modern day versions of Woodward and Bernstein coming in from the Metro Section — upstaging them and leaving them in the dust.

    And right now the Washington Post has a new top editor just establishing control and the NY Times has a semi-absentee top editor working part time from LA. They don’t have anyone in charge willing to push for a game changing — and accurate — narrative that challenges existing turf.

    • emptywheel says:

      Really great comment. I hadn’t intended all of that when I wrote the headline. But I’m glad you added to it.

      • BobCon says:

        One of the reasons why I think a well run multi-prong investigation matters is that it forces top editors out of their comfort zones.

        The Times didn’t start taking Watergate seriously until December 1972 as the James McCord trial was looming, Clifton Daniel took over as DC editor, and Seymour Hersh was brought on to report. It became too broad of a story anymore for Scotty Reston to carry water for Kissinger.

        I don’t know if 1/6 investigations will get big enough to force top editors to stop parceling out coverage in minimalist, piecemeal fashion, but that apppears to be one goal of the 1/6 Committee.

        Dawsey and Schmidt don’t have the capacity to handle the state capitol interference angles or DOJ sides, so they are inclined to pretend they don’t exist, but hopefully editors will eventually recognize they need to manage coverage in the coordinated, top line fashion it deserves.

        • rip says:

          “It became too broad of a story anymore for Scotty Reston to carry water for Kissinger.”

          Wow, that brings back memories.

          And it’s too hard for the major news outlets to control the stories. Even their own staffers/stringers have separate blogs, twit-feeds.

          The more that the MSM is found out not even bothering to report a fair version of the story, the more they lose credibility and ad revenue.

          However this also presupposes that the consumers can make some intelligent choices on what to ingest….

          • timbo says:

            It was easy for many back then that first summer. My grandfather refused to believe it for well over a year. He ended up being heartbroken by it when the truth finally became inescapable. And even then, it took the tapes and their contents to really get him to acknowledge that Nixon had to go.

    • Badger Robert says:

      The effort to protect the Republicans may not be successful. The voters punished the Republicans for the Great Depression in both 1932 and 1934. The took revenge for Nixon in both 1974 and 1976, The Dems did not suffer much even in 1978.
      The digital images aren’t going away, and despite the words, they never voted to politically disable Trump.

      • xy xy says:

        You’re talking 50 and almost 100 years ago.
        Democrats can’t get their act together with ancient leaders who have at least one foot in their grave.
        Even a less than 50 year old senator gets a stroke and they’re doomed.
        I don’t see anything changing like those good old days.

        • bg says:

          Another little NM story that is sliding along on the way downlow. There are NO leaks coming from the hospital. Talk with doctors about the cerebellum, connected to motor skills, and recovery. Not to go OT, but a week or so into our 30-day legislative session (which ends mid-week next), a recently elected political neophyte, suddenly up and resigned from the legislature due to extreme pressure from political Higher Ups relating to the Governor’s agenda which has been taking a bit of a beating as the session has rolled along. It would seem unseemly for pressure coming to bear on BRL, tho under the circumstances you mention with the 50/50 and all, who knows? The official focus publicly remains on “his priority to his health,” but one wonders what is going on behind the scenes. The Supreme Court replacement could go to the back burner for a bit, but in the context of “the horse race” a dark horse must come. And of course there is the day to day business. We have statewide primaries in June. Our AG, who referred the fake electors to the feds is termed. One thing about NM politics is that it is not hard to be engaged and personally know the players. There has been a rift in the R party here going back some years. Steve Pearce, the R party chair, and supporter of TFG is on the opposite side of Harvey Yates, which may be the reason HY refused to participate in the illegal scheme. He’s probably more wealthy than Mitt. He seems low key, like what might be old money. Or maybe he’s smart. Also.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      As you point out, protecting journalistic turf means protecting your sources and confidential informants. Can’t let another journalist, who doesn’t know the rules, start blabbing about who they are, what you’re not including in your work, and where it might lead.

        • Rugger9 says:

          Some blockages should be viewed as badges of honor. Dawsey’s getting into Cillizza territory. Worse than Bobo (Brooks) or America’s Concern Troll (Cohen) as labeled by Charlie Pierce? You make the call.

        • Peterr says:

          He is not the first WaPo stenographer to be schooled by Marcy.

          And given the Villager mindset of the editorial staff, he won’t be the last.

    • klynn says:

      Great post EW. Great comment BobCon.

      The beginnings of a book too, maybe titled:
      They buried the lead.
      They missed the scoop
      They avoided the truth.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Thank you, BobCon, for your lucid zoom-out in this thread. By putting reporters like Dawsey and Schmidt in context of their bureaus and explaining how the typically occult miasma of editorial policy-making occurs, you’ve gone a long way toward performing the exact service that you (and Dr. Wheeler) have identified as lacking in sorrier products of the MSM: You have not merely described a tree or two, you have shown how they appear in the forest.

      I often wonder if Schmidt, Dawsey, and their peers simply don’t let themselves conceive of the forest–or whether they lack the imagination, and thus capacity, to do so.

  11. Oldguy99 says:

    I think the forest obscuring the trees in the Dawsey reporting, which is largely horse race/ insider based, is its failure to raise the question of how broad the conspiracy was as a central point of reference. In the wake of Biden’s victory being authenticated state by state, several different groups of people started initiatives to invalidate the election. The question of how these various groups were or were not linked dictates how the actions of individuals like Berden were connected to the actions of Mark Meadows who was connected to Roger Stone who was connected to Alex Jones who was connected to the Proud Boys and the militias. At some level, the fake electors scheme had an independent life from the storming of the Capitol, and at another, it was tightly bound to it. The basic sin of the Dawsey reporting and other instances of horse race / insider reporting is the failure to identify a key aim of the January 6 committee’s work and the DOJ investigation as being clarifying how much of the effort to overturn the election was a grand conspiracy and how much was small, independent conspiracies. The effort by McDaniel to shield Berden’s activities is in the same playbook as Jonathan Turley’s several recent invocations of the FBI August leak that the bureau had found no grand conspiracy.

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Should the obtuse Mr. Dawsey not get it, when EW describes his effort as providing “horserace details,” it’s with polite but firm derision.

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Observer: Looks like felony election fraud to me.

    Ms. Berden: I only agreed to drive the Arizona getaway car because the nice passengers promised to drop me off at my bridge club. Yes, the car was registered to me, but I had no idea what was in the trunk.

    • Sandor says:

      In some circles, ostriches in particular are highly-prized as they are known to be very, very good drivers.

    • ducktree says:

      You’ve gone and reminded me of the scene with Holly Hunter in the movie Raising Arizona:

      “Hold on, baby, We’re gonna go back and git Daddy . . . “

  14. harpie says:

    huh…thanks for that. I’m working on a Timeline of 2019 related to #J6TL, and I now have a new first entry; also the next mention of BERDEN [so far] [I haven’t looked for the exact dates yet]:

    1/XX/19 Ronna MCDANIEL is reelected as chair of the RNC, with TRUMP’s endorsement. Two days earlier, her PAC paid $5,000 to Kathleen BERDEN, a voting member of the RNC, a volunteer position.
    7/XX/19 REPUBLICANS sue to block MICHIGAN redistricting commission. Future [2020] “Alternate Elector” BERDEN, is a plaintiff

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      harpie, there’s lots of info about Kathleen “Kathy” Berden’s earlier GOP career in the Michigan press. If you need it, I can pass it on, but it’s mostly of the local-chapter variety. She lives a few miles north of state highway 46, my favorite road in eastern MI, well-known as militia territory.

      And she’s 68. Can anyone here remember Josh Dawsey, Michael Schmidt, or Ronna RM referring to anyone else that age as “elderly”–anyone male? Or as a “widower”? (I confess to being a wee bit sensitive about this, having crossed the sixty line myself.)

      • Michael Schmitt says:

        I suggest that we can do a google search for that Nice Little Old Lady and view her photo. Not what I would consider being little and old.

      • Marinela says:

        I confess to being a wee bit sensitive about this, having crossed the sixty line myself.

        I understand being sensitive about the age. But this is on Ronna McDaniel’s. Ronna knew this is a little old lady, widower, her friend, etc.
        And Ronna had no second thoughts asking the little old lady to commit election fraud.

        And the little old lady could say no to criminality any time, and she didn’t. Instead she went along.

        Who benefits from this illegal scheme if it succeeds? It is Trump.

        Once the little old lady gets convicted, the ringer should also pay a price.

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Ronna McDaniel is trying to deny that submitting fake electors is a crime… And as part of that process, the GOP called all of January 6 — the lies that mobilized thousands of Trump supporters and the violent assault on the Capitol that resulted — “legitimate political discourse.”

    As you point out, the Feds must be getting closer to some of the movers and shakers that made January 6th a violent node on the GOP’s months long effort to steal an election.

  16. Chirrut Imwe says:

    OT: Visible smoke coming out of my ears over the SCOTUS Alabama ruling. 2019 – we can’t do anything about political gerrymandering. 2022 – we are ok with intervening to reverse the lower court on racial (read: political) gerrymandering. We are all screwed.

  17. Doctor My Eyes says:

    This typically clear explanation of the situation leads me to wonder how many ELDERLY WIDOWS were among the 2.8 million voters whose votes were to be ignored. Had the coup succeeded, would the Post have run a long article about the suffering of any of those poor old ladies? This propaganda draws from the same well as Trump’s reference to his fully grown, inept and corrupt business partners and official advisors as children. It’s just plain stupid.

  18. Marinela says:

    There is a disproportionate aspect on how election fraud is handled.

    Pamela got 6 years for registering while not qualifying, didn’t cast one illegal vote. On the other hand, the MAGAts got probation for actually casting fraudulent vote for dead people.

    Kathy Berden committed election fraud by attempting to invalidate millions of legitimate votes.
    Who is going to be involved in deciding how many years she gets when convicted?
    The judge involved in the case, if criminal case, or the election judges?
    If the election judges are involved, if they are republicans, she will probably get away with probation.

    • pdaly says:

      Makes me think of the Jean Rostand quote:

      “Kill one man, and you are a murderer. Kill millions of men, and you are a conqueror. Kill them all, and you are a God.”

      I wonder if the GOP is working to change the state laws to make submitting alternate electors “legal” thereby providing retroactive immunity to any of the people currently on the hook for election fraud.

      • Marinela says:

        For her, should be ok if she gets 20 years.
        That should do it as a deterrent and to follow up with the messaging that GOP is against election fraud.
        GOP should have no issues with enforcing election fraud convictions.

  19. Rita says:

    Rosalind Helderman of the Washington Post just did a good overview of the various Jan. 6th plots.

    Maybe Josh Dawsey could read that and find out who Kathy Berden is.

    I think that some reporters rely on access journalism and access journalism does provide scoops and leads. The editors are the ones to blame for letting stories go out that regurgitate and fail to provide needed context.

  20. TooLoose LeTruck says:

    I read an article last about two of the Arizona ‘alternative electors’, Arizona GOP Chair Kelli Ward and her husband Michael, who are suing the Jan 6 committee to block a subpoena of their phone records on the grounds that since they’re both doctors, turning over their phone records would violate their patients’ right to privacy.

    My question for the commentariat here is, can the court appoint a special master to sort thru the meta-data involved, and decide which calls should be considered protected and which should be turned over to the committee?

    In other words, the lawsuit won’t accomplish what the Wards are hoping it will?

    (Trying to see if I’ve actually, ya know, learned anything here…)

    • Peterr says:


      This is what the DOJ did (is doing) with Rudy’s phones and other seized devices. See the previous post for the details, and do note that the Special Master looks not only at metadata but the content in order to judge whether something qualifies as protected or not. (And with Rudy, it’s been mostly “not.”)

      • TooLoose LeTruck says:

        So I AM learning…

        Thank you!

        Rudy was the person that came to mind as the person I associated with the phrase ‘special master’ as I was typing…

        I’m guessing, and hoping, the Wards’ maneuvering will not work.

  21. Badger Robert says:

    Ms. Berden could give up the names of the people who got her involved in this crackpot scheme. Those are the people who used her gullibility. It would confirm what the committee and the prosecution already know.

      • TooLoose LeTruck says:

        Thank you for pointing that out. I was about to do the same but you got there first.

        There are definitely marks in the bunch, and many of them are NOT marks.

        They knew what they were doing, IMHO.

      • Retired guy says:

        This mobilization of experienced Republican operatives in the alternate elector scheme suggests a little of both. TFG was able to convince (con) a big piece of the Republican national,,state, and county apparatus that this was a good idea. Part of the con is to make firm a vision of success where the acts will be seen after victory as patriotic heroism.

        Enough embraced this magical thinking from unwarranted confidence in their leader, and forgot to ask the normal political operative questions “what is the worst that can happen and where are the offramps if it goes sideways?”

        • Marinela says:

          I don’t get what “the little old lady” had to gain by accepting/conspiring to commit voter fraud.
          Aside to helping the cult leader by any means.
          Whatever she told herself to sleep good at night, I hope was worth it.

          How was she rewarded for her troubles? If she did it for no apparent quo, then this is a new level of cult loyalty.

          Is not like she was facing hard decisions on getting re-elected, or afraid of the base, or other motivations we hear from the GOP Congress people.

          She was in a low position that happened to have responsibility attached to it.
          This is why I think she knew very well it was illegal, but she was ok with Trump holding on to the power after he lost. Never mind the will of the majority voters.

            • Jimmy Anderson says:

              The little old lady received $5000 from Ronna’s PAC I believe, for “whipping” her fellow committee persons – to vote for Ronna Romney McDaniel as RNC Chair.

              Nice work if you can get it, and no wonder Ms McDaniel is jittering.

  22. Krisy Gosney says:

    I keep trying to figure out what line/fuel did the bigger, big and big-medium sized fish feed the medium, medium-small, small and extra small fish to get them to play their role, in their neck of the woods, in the overall crime. I keep coming back to religion. The dream of an overt, exclusively ‘Christian’ nation. The fuel of “you’re doin’ it for Jesus, your Lord, your savior.” Yes, there’s white supremacy, anti lgbt, anti Islam, anti Semitism, etc. But my theory is it was all couched and obscured and cleaned-up and made presentable in polite company by explicitly making the fish’s role into the noble footsoldier/grunt for Jesus and be “doin’ it for Jesus.” Yes, the fishes hates and pet peeves would be eradicated and the fish would get personal benefit but looking into the mirror, laying their head on the pillow at night, the fish tell themselves they’re “doin’ it for Jesus.” The dark-sided history of Christianity supports this.

    • Peterr says:

      That’s certainly one part of it, but it’s not the whole picture. The other part is folks driven by fear of change (esp around race) and desire for money/power, encapsulated in the people who hate regulations of any kind and hate government more broadly. Wall Street GOP folks are not, by and large, conservative Christians, yet they came to see Trump as far preferable to any kind of Democrat, and it was the anti-regulation, anti-government language that got them on board. The rightwing evangelical wing of the GOP, on the other hand, was the last large block of voters to get behind Trump.

      These two groups came together at the 2016 GOP convention.

      Trump was having trouble finding someone to serve as his VP (either the candidate was unacceptable to Trump or vice versa), and he was encouraged to consider Mike Pence. Pence is clearly part of the theocon branch of the party, and he came to the VP interview with Trump quite well prepared. Boiled down, Pence’s pitch to Trump probably went something like this: “Mr. Trump, you need — absolutely positively NEED — the evangelical wing of the GOP to get behind you. Not hold their nose and vote for you, but get out and work for you, and get their friends to vote for you too. I can deliver those votes to you, if you name me VP. In exchange, I want complete control of the vetting of judicial nominees, so that evangelical Christians can finally get the kind of courts they’ve been promised for a generation but other GOP leaders have failed to deliver. You get to make the nominations, but you let me put the slate together for you to choose from.”

      Trump hates government, always has, and was quick to gain support from the govt regulation haters in the business community and the far-right anti-govt wingnuts. Pence gave Trump the credibility he needed with the fundies, and Trump gave Pence the courts the fundies wanted.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        Trump knew Conway before he knew Pence. Both of them endorsed Cruz in the 2016 primaries. Trump liked their connections to big money (Koch, DeVos, Mercer), and Conway and Pence both had the ability to lure in the fundies. So it was funds and fundies. And here is a fun tidbit:

        “Kellyanne Conway’s cousin is engaged to Mike Pence’s nephew” – Emily Heil, 9/19/18

        “Coia, 24, is White House communications aide whose father is Conway’s first cousin, and Pence, 29, is a senior adviser on Trump’s campaign. Before joining Trump’s staff, Coia worked for Conway’s polling firm and interned for Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa). Pence, a graduate of Indiana University’s  Maurer School of Law, first joined the Trump campaign in August 2016.”

        • rip says:

          Don’t know why, but those hidden relations make my skin crawl.

          Almost sounds like one of those mobster movies where it’s “who you know that knows someone else.”

        • Jenny says:

          Oh yes, Conway who brought attention to “alternative facts” and spying microwaves.

          “There was an article that week that talked about how you can surveil people through their phones, through their — certainly through their television sets, any number of different ways. And microwaves that turn into cameras, et cetera. We know that is just a fact of modern life.”

          (March 2017 – Conway responding to Trump accusing Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower during his campaign)

        • Krisy Gosney says:

          Talking Points Memo is reporting on a study that was recently completed, sponsored by the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. “…on the role those who support the idea of Christian values infiltrating public life played in election overturning efforts (and the ways in which Trump hijacked the movement for his own ends), this is the most comprehensive account yet on how the growing movement strengthened the ideas behind the attack.”

          According to TPM, the report highlights importance the Christian Nationalist events that took place in the lead up to Jan 6. “The report also dissects the calm before the storm — looking at the escalating role evangelical events in the D.C. in the days leading up to Jan. 6, like the Million MAGA March and the Jericho Marches, might have played in the ultimately violent insurrection.”

          The report also highlights how Christian Nationalism rhetoric was a common denominator among various insurrectionist groups. “ Seidel suggests that Christian Nationalism — a concept, in part, focused on the idea that man answers to God and God alone, secular laws be damned — was not only the driving force behind what happened on Jan. 6, but also the common denominator among the various groups and individuals who ended up carrying out the attack.”

          The article is at Talking Points Memo, in the Editor’s Blog section. I’m not clear about the policy for including links.

          Religion is such a hands-off critical subject in the US. So I very glad to see it is being study by someone. I strongly feel it is a big part of what happened on Jan 6 and in the conspiracy and criming to over turn Biden’s election. I hope we see much more reports like this one. It’s very dangerous to democracy if we can’t at least talk about it.

          I don’t know what made a person like Pence honor the laws of man on Jan 6 by certifying the election results. But thank God he did.

      • Krisy Gosney says:

        By 2021/22, a ‘Christian’ veneer has been adopted by most of the GOP who aren’t true believers. Anti regulation types to militia to Trump himself. It’s part of the uniform/costume now. Of course this is not scientific but my observations. It’s an effective weapon, shield, tool and shorthand signal.

    • rip says:

      My take on this is that it doesn’t really involve Jesus or anything resembling Christianity. Those are convenient covers for rapacious behaviors. But not being rapacious or a “xian”, I can’t speak with authority – thank godess!

      • harpie says:

        The Select Committee subpoenas former White House trade advisor Peter Navarro.

        The committee is seeking records and testimony from Navarro, who, according to reporting, interviews, and his own book, was involved in efforts to delay election certification and change the results. […]

      • Rita says:

        Is Peter Navarro a simple tool like Lindell or a grifter like Bannon?

        I hope the person on the Committee who draws the short straw and has to interview him has a lot of patience.

        I am assuming that he will testify (unless he is told not to) because he thinks he has clear and convincing evidence.

          • TooLoose LeTruck says:

            With all due respect, Peter, but being a True Believer on Navarro’s part doesn’t necessarily preclude him from also being a tool…

            I would think Navarros is quite capable of being both a True Believer AND a tool at the same time.

            Just pointing that out…

        • WilliamOckham says:

          Uh, no he’s not testifying. From CNN:

          NEW: Former Trump WH advisor Peter Navarro reax to 1/6 subpoena today in statement below. He also added “Pence betrayed Trump. Marc Short is a Koch Network dog. Meadows is a fool and a coward. Cheney and Kinzinger are useful idiots for Nancy Pelosi and the woke Left.”

          As the domestic terrorists running the January 6 partisan witch hunt are well aware, President Trump has invoked Executive Privilege; and it is not my privilege to waive. They should negotiate any waiver of the privilege with the president and his attorneys directly, not through me. I refer this tribunal to Chapter 21 of In Trump Time for what is in the public record
          about the Green Bay Sweep plan to insure election integrity – the last three people on God’s good earth who wanted chaos and violence on Capitol Hill were President Trump, Steve Bannon, and l. Why did Pelosi, the Capitol Hill police, and the Pentagon leave the perimeter unguarded?

          • Stephen Calhoun says:

            The dog flies, and now and then stops mid-air and speaks.

            What it barks are the latest lines. These lines are constantly being refined.

            February 9, the bark tells us: ballot harvesting/lawful alternate electors-Hawaii ’60!/Pelosi-Capitol Police/Pence failed/citizenry wants to move on/partisan witch hunt.

            (“witch hunt” has been part of the bark for years.)

            Meanwhile, late Spring, early Summer are shaping up. There’s a train rolling down the tracks. Mitch McConnell knows it does not bode well.

          • Rita says:

            Navarro, Bannon, Meadows love talking about their heroic efforts as long as it isn’t under oath and they don’t have to tell the truth.

        • harpie says:

          It was NAVARRO aide Garrett ZIEGLER who secreted POWELL, FLYNN, BYRNE and a legal ASSISTANT into the White House for that “craziest meeting” on 12/18/20. They were driven there by their First Amendment Praetorian [1AP] “security” team.

          […] On the evening of Dec. 18, Flynn, Byrne, Powell and a legal associate took an S.U.V. limousine to the White House. The group found their way into the Oval Office with the help of several eager-to-please White House staff members [PLURAL], including Garrett Ziegler, an aide to the Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro. (Navarro had released his own extensive, and swiftly debunked, report on election fraud the day before and was in the midst of lobbying Republican members of Congress to overturn the 2020 results.) […]

          From: Michael Flynn Is Still at War The general tried to persuade Donald Trump to use the military to overturn the 2020 election. A year later, he and his followers are fighting the same battle by other means.
 Robert Draper Feb. 4, 2022

  23. Michael says:

    OT: We’re now past the point where Durham could deliver a superseding indictment to Sussman within the statue of limitations, right?

  24. Marie says:

    I am so glad i found a link to this site, I have lurked and read, the posts of yours on Twitter since turd ball was installed.

    This is just something else, that damitt they’re missing, the press and where are the indictments?

    Also, its been bothering me like an ingrown toenail, the way the press has been pushing the horserace like we are in normal gaslighting times. These people can not be allowed to rule again! Its dangerous to all of us. Handmaid’s tale, brave new world, 1984 all together awful. Its all, mitch mcturtle is saying it an insurection, blah blah blah. So is Romney and more… they are working in a bipartisan bill to keep congress from trading stocks and it will pass…

    Noooo, they just want to now seem like they can govern and america will fall for it again. And they will get rid of j6 commish and install turd or worse and keep power.

    Please someone talk me down, I am terrified.

    [Welcome to emptywheel. Please use a more differentiated username when you comment next as we have several community members named “Marie,” “Maria,” and “Mary.” Thanks. /~Rayne]

    • Marinela says:

      I am also terrified, but all we have is hope. Hope we cannot loose.

      I am in US as an immigrant, but now I lived in US more years than in Romania.
      When I grew up in Romania, there was no hope, the sense of hopelessness that was assumed every day. Didn’t know any better. There was a systemic depression on every aspect of the daily life. This was many years ago.

      One major difference for me living in the US, I started to slowly build up hope. Is is contagious. And I am not giving up hope. It is a wonderful thing.

      But if I would arrive in US today as an immigrant I don’t know if I could say the same.

      The people that are against the elites, trying to overthrow the government here, they don’t realize what US has, take the system for granted, which is not perfect. If they don’t like the current system, they are not going to like the replacement we are facing.

      What gives me hope is that there is strong opposition in US, so maybe can avoid sliding towards a system similar to the one I grew up in.

      • Tom says:

        I agree that we don’t all fully value our hard-won freedoms. My oldest daughter lives in Ottawa where the so-called “Freedom Convoy” set up shop two weeks ago. She tells me she’s seen far more of a street party mood in the trucker compound rather than, to re-coin a phrase, “legitimate political discourse” around Covid-19 restrictions. How would these protestors have responded to government measures during WWII? Would they have blocked traffic to protest gas rationing and blackout restrictions on the grounds that they had the right to drive their vehicles as much as they wanted and that no-one was going to take away their freedom to show lights at night regardless of the possible presence of enemy ships and submarines offshore or enemy aircraft overhead?

        What’s especially galling about the mothertruckers’ self-dramatizing cries for “Freedom!’ is how their fatuous and manufactured protest compares with the present situation in Eastern Europe. If anyone is fighting for their freedom right now it’s the people of Ukraine.

        Perhaps we should do away with measures to control head lice the same way the trucker crowd wants to do away with anti-Covid restrictions. After all, head lice are far less dangerous than the Covid-19 virus. Why should children be kept at home and away from their friends simply because they have head lice? Why should the infestation be allowed to interfere with the children’s right to attend school and receive an education? And why should parents have to expose their children to the health risks of anti-head lice shampoos and other potentially toxic chemical treatments? We should simply accept the fact that sooner or later we’re all going to get head lice and learn to live with it.

    • WilliamOckham says:

      The authoritarians want you to be hopeless and paralyzed by fear. Don’t give them what they want. If you need a break, take walk, read some escapist fiction, watch an old movie, whatever works for you. Better to be relaxed and centered when you face all this shit because it’s not going away any time soon. Don’t worry, while you’re taking a break, there’s a lot of us who will be doing what we can to bring about a better world. We’re all in this together and it’s up to us to deal with it. The press isn’t going to save us. The DOJ isn’t going to save us. The Democrats aren’t going to save us. There’s no magic bullet. Here’s my wish for you and everyone else. That you find a way to help that is enjoyable for you. The struggle will always be here; better to enjoy yourself than to be miserable with it.

      • Rugger9 says:

        Remember how Tom Ridge admitted to manipulating the color coded threat levels depending on Shrub’s WH needs? It’s been a GQP game plan for a long time.

  25. Tom says:

    On the topic of elderly widows, perhaps the WaPo and the NYT should consider hiring some little old ladies as reporters. You know, the sort of little old ladies who spy on the folks next door and keep tabs on who comes and goes in their neighbourhood, who in days gone by would eavesdrop on their local telephone party-line. Little old ladies with an ear for gossip and a willingness to share what they hear. Little old ladies who have reached the age where they say what they think and don’t give a damn who might be offended, who don’t shrink from asking awkward questions and understand that hypocrisy is everywhere and that everybody has something to hide.

    I remember years ago seeing an episode of “60 Minutes” where they interviewed TR’s daughter, Alice Roosevelt Longworth. She had a cushion on her front parlour couch with the embroidered sentiment: “If You Can’t Say Anything Nice About a Person, Then Sit Right Here by Me”.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Alice Roosevelt was tough as nails and said those things her whole life. She had to: brilliant, born to an outsized hyper-masculine personality like TR, and married to a drunken adulterous congresscritter in the Edwardian era, she would have gone under otherwise. She outlasted them all.

  26. harpie says:

    John Scott-Railton THREAD / WARNING about how
    the “Trucker Convoy” in Canada is SIMILAR to StoptheSteal / J6:
    10:02 AM · Feb 10, 2022

    Former military & intelligence officers are helping to run the Ottawa occupation.

    Tight relationships with law enforcement…who have underestimated the threat. Sound eerily familiar yet? [screenshots] [CBC LINK]

    [When JJ MacNab saw that first screenshot, she tweeted “ZOW!”] […]

    6/ I tracked Stop the Steal before Jan 6th.
    Like #Ottawa there was a wild mix of crazies, cranks, & people with strange agendas. So, many people dismissed it.

    But there was a quiet underpinning of support & logistics from connected & resourced groups w/PLANS… 7/ Don’t underestimate where things are headed in #Canada.

    8/ Like Stop the Steal events, most came w/grievances but without a clear agenda. But a few organizers had gamed things out & were already planning for #Jan6 at the [US] Capitol.

    Leveraging, fueling & directing the anger. We ignore them at our peril. [MORE]

    • harpie says:

      And similar THREAD / WARNING from CapitolHunters: 1
      2:16 PM · Feb 10, 2022

      #SeditionHunters – a chilling dispatch from Canadian reporter @mattgurney shows parallels between ‘protests’ in Ottawa now and DC Jan 6. In both cases: ‘useful idiots’ up front, grabbing press attention, & a harder, more purposeful group waiting behind. 1/ [THREAD]

      • TooLoose LeTruck says:


        That is a scary article…

        I have zero doubt we’ll see something similar happening all over this country, in both state capitals and DC, even if we are careful.

        This is metastasizing and will be with us in some form or another for quite some time to come.

  27. N.E. Brigand says:

    I have a historical question, which though inspired by this post is not at all important — and I doubt anyone will have the answer handy — but it’s bugging me: why was Hawaii’s lieutenant governor, James K. Kealoha, serving as the acting governor in early December 1960 when that state’s electoral votes were initially certified for Nixon?

    I had been completely unaware of the recent Republican faux-elector attempts to establish the situation in 1960 Hawaii as a precedent for their 2020 actions until reading the Kyle Cheney story in Politico to which Ms. Wheeler links above. Looking into it, the essential difference which undermines such claims seems to be that a federal judge had ordered a recount, and that recount was already showing a Kennedy lead, by the time that three Democratic would-be electors, who eventually were indeed declared by the state to be the electors, met in the capitol in Honolulu on Dec. 19, 1960 to cast their ballots at the same time as the Republican electors were casting theirs.

    Cheney’s article very helpfully includes links to images of the various original documents, and I found it fairly illuminating overall, but he refers to William F. Quinn as being the state’s “newly sworn-in” governor when he certified the state’s electoral votes on Jan. 4, 1961. In fact, Quinn had been Hawaii’s governor since Aug.1959. What happened that led to Kealoha acting in his stead a few weeks earlier? I’m sure it doesn’t matter, especially more than 60 years later, but it does seem to have led Cheney at least to describe Quinn’s position incorrectly.

    • bg says:

      They were the first elected Governor/Lt. Governor as HI had just become a state. They were Republicans, though Kealoha had switched parties. This from Wiki seems to suggest that he was acting in a “ceremonial role.” “. . .Kealoha’s term as lieutenant governor was described as “unpleasant” for him (Kim). Governor Quinn was not confident in allowing a Native Hawaiian, even a friend like Kealoha, to make important decisions on his behalf. Kealoha found himself relegated to presiding at ceremonial functions. . .”

      • N.E. Brigand says:

        Thanks for responding! And then after the Republican governor certified the Democratic electors and informed the GSA that Hawaii’s attorney general would not be appealing the judge’s ruling that JFK had won the state, Richard Nixon, also a Republican and presiding like Pence 60 years later over the Congressional certification of his own defeat, and presented with three different slates of ballots — one Republican, one unofficial Democratic, and one official Democratic — asked unanimous consent from Congress to accept only the latter, magnanimously conceding those three Hawaiian votes (although he did add that this decision should not be treated as precedent).

        To have saved you the trouble, I probably should have mentioned that before posting I had reviewed the Wikipedia pages on the 1960 election, on the 1960 election specifically in Hawaii, on Quinn, and on Kealoha; I also read one of Wiki’s sources: this 1961 article in Western Political Quarterly on the 1960 election in Hawaii:

        None of them make clear why Kealhoa, as “Acting Governor” per the scanned documents Cheney provides, signed the first certification on Nov. 28 and the letter sending those certificates to the GSA on Dec. 6 while Quinn signed the second certification on Jan. 4. And I think that WPQ article actually has an error of its own, when it says that on January 6, 1961, Congress “accepted the Democratic ballots and a recertification by Hawaii’s Lieutentant Governor,” because it’s clearly Quinn who signed the latter.

        I don’t think it’s merely a matter of Kealoha acting in a ceremonial role. The WPQ article says that it was clear soon after the election that the vote totals in Hawaii were in error, but “since the Lieutenant Governor had no legal authority to open the ballot bags and could not otherwise account for the error, he had no apparent course other than to certify Nixon as the victor.” One possible implication of that sentence is that the Governor would have such authority but he wasn’t available to provide it. Another possibility, which I think is more likely, is that neither the Governor nor the Lieutenant Governor had that authority. But in either case, it really seems like Quinn was absent for this more than ceremonial responsibility.

        Again, it doesn’t matter why now. It could be as simple as Quinn being on vacation on the mainland. (I’m not sure if it’s true in all states, but based on some story a few months ago about another state’s lieutenant governor engaging in shenanigans while the governor was of at a conference, apparently lieutenant governors can serve as acting governors for entirely mundane reasons.) Doubtless if I had access to Hawaiian newspaper archives, the matter would be cleared up quickly. It’s just a case where something that nobody at the time thought was important enough to explain for the historical record has left a tiny little mystery now that the history is being dug up for other purposes.

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