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Rudy Giuliani Launched a Lynch Mob over a Ginger Mint

I find it harder to describe the details of yesterday’s January 6 Committee hearing, covering pressure Trump put on states to alter the vote, than the earlier hearings. That’s because the testimony about Trump’s bullying of those who upheld democracy — particularly election worker Shaye Moss and Arizona Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers — elicited so much emotion. This is what Trump has turned great swaths of the Republican Party into: bullies attacking those who defend democracy.

Trump’s bullies attacking anyone defending democracy

Bowers described how a mob, including an armed man wearing a 3%er militia patch, came to his house as his daughter fought a terminal illness.

Moss described how a mob descended on her granny’s house, hunting for her and her mother, Ruby Freeman. At least one member of the mob targeting those two Black women who chose to work elections betrayed self-awareness off their regressive stance: Moss testified that one of the threats targeted at her said, “Be glad it’s 2020 and not 1920.”

And Adam Schiff got Moss to explain a detail that formed the core of a video Rudy Giuliani used to summon his mob. Rudy had claimed that when Ms. Freeman passed Shaye something, it was a thumb drive to replace votes.

It was actually a ginger mint.

Schiff: In one of the videos we just watched, Mr. Giuliani accused you and your mother of passing some sort of USB drive to each other. What was your mom actually handing you on that video?

Moss: A ginger mint.

Moss testified that none of the people who had been working with her full time on elections in Fulton County, Georgia are still doing that work. They’ve all been bullied out of working to uphold democracy.

Tying the state violence to the January 6 violence

Early in the hearing, Schiff tied these threats of violence to Stop the Steal, the organization behind the purported speakers that formed the excuse to bring mobs to the January 6 attack. He explained, “As we will show, the President’s supporters heard the former President’s claims of fraud and the false allegations he made against state and local officials as a call to action.” Shortly thereafter, investigative counsel Josh Roselman showed a video from Ali Alexander predicting at a protest in November 2020, “we’ll light the whole shit on fire.”

Much later in the hearing, Schiff tied the takeover of state capitals to the January 6 riot with a picture of Jacob Chansley invading Capitols in both AZ and DC.

Chansley already pled guilty to attempting to obstruct the vote certification, and one of the overt acts he took was to leave Mike Pence this threatening note on the dais.

So one thing the hearing yesterday did was to tie the threats of violence in the states to the expressions of violence on January 6.

Showing obstruction of the vote certification, including documents

A second video described the fake electors scheme, developing several pieces of evidence that may help DOJ tie all this together in conspiracy charges.

The video included testimony from Ronna McDaniel acknowledging the RNC’s involvement. (Remember that McDaniel joined in the effort to censure Liz Cheney when she learned the committee had subpoenaed Kathy Berden, the lead Michigander on that fake certificate; Berden has close ties to McDaniel.)

Essentially he turned the call over to Mr. Eastman who then proceeded to talk about the importance of the RNC helping the campaign gather these contingent electors in case any of the legal challenges that were ongoing changed the result of any of the states. I think more just helping them reach out and assemble them. But the — my understanding is the campaign did take the lead and we just were … helping them in that role.

The video also cited Trump’s own campaign lawyers (including Justin Clark, who represented Trump in conjunction with Steve Bannon’s refusal to testify) describing that they didn’t believe the fake electors scheme was prudent if the campaign no longer had legal challenges in a given state.

In a videotaped deposition, former campaign staffer Robert Sinners described himself and other workers as, “useful idiots or rubes at that point.” When ask how he felt upon learning that Clark and Matt Morgan and other lawyers had concerns about the fake electors, Sinners explained, “I’m angry because I think in a sense, no one really cared if … if people were potentially putting themselves in jeopardy.” He went on, “I absolutely would not have” continued to participate, “had I known that the three main lawyers for the campaign that I’ve spoken to in the past and leading up were not on board.”

And electors in individual states claimed to have been duped into participating, too. Wisconsin Republican Party Chair Andrew Hitt described that, “I was told that these would only count if a court ruled in our favor.” So using them as an excuse to make challenges on January 6, “would have been using our electors, well, it would have been using our electors in ways that we weren’t told about and we wouldn’t have supported.”

In the wake of yesterday’s hearing, one of MI’s fake electors, Michele Lundgren, texted reporters to claim that they had not been permitted to read the first page of the form they signed, which made the false claims.

As the video showed the fake certificates next to the real ones, Investigative Counsel Casey Lucier explained that,

At the request of the Trump campaign, the electors from these battleground states signed documents falsely asserting that they were the duly elected electors from their state, and submitted them to the National Archives and to Vice President Pence in his capacity as President of the Senate.

[snip]

But these ballots had no legal effect. In an email produced to the Select Committee, Dr. Eastman told a Trump campaign representative [Boris Epshteyn] that it did not matter that the electors had not been approved by a state authority. Quote, the fact that we have multiple slates of electors demonstrates the uncertainty of either. That should be enough. He urged that Pence act boldly and be challenged.

Documents produced to the Select Committee show that the Trump campaign took steps to ensure that the physical copies of the fake electors’ electoral votes from two states were delivered to Washington for January 6. Text messages exchanged between Republican Party officials in Wisconsin show that on January 4, the Trump campaign asked for someone to fly their fake electors documents to Washington.

A staffer for Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson texted a staffer for Vice President Pence just minutes before the beginning of the Joint Session. This staffer stated that Senator Johnson wished to hand deliver to the Vice President the fake electors votes from Michigan and Wisconsin. The Vice President’s aide unambiguously instructed them not to deliver the fake votes to the Vice President.

Lucier made it clear, though, that these fake electors were delivered to both Congress (Johnson) and the Executive Branch (the Archives).

This video lays out critical steps in a conspiracy to obstruct the vote certification, one that — because it involves a corrupt act with respect to fraudulent documents — would even meet Judge Carl Nichols’ standard for obstruction under 18 USC 1512(c)(2).

The Court therefore concludes that § 1512(c)(2) must be interpreted as limited by subsection (c)(1), and thus requires that the defendant have taken some action with respect to a document, record, or other object in order to corruptly obstruct, impede or influence an official proceeding.

Understand, many of these people are awful and complicit (and bmaz will surely be by shortly to talk about what an asshole Rusty Bowers is). But with respect to the fake electors scheme, the Committee has teed up a parade of witnesses who recognize their own criminal exposure, and who are, as a result, already rushing to blame Trump for all of it. We know DOJ has been subpoenaing them for evidence about the lawyers involved — not just Rudy and Eastman, but also Justin Clark.

DOJ has also been asking about Boris Epshteyn. He showed up as the recipient of an email from Eastman explaining that it didn’t matter that the electors had no legal legitimacy.

As Kyle Cheney noted, the Committee released that email last month, albeit with Epshteyn’s name redacted.

The Republican Party has not just an incentive, but a existential need at this point, to blame Trump’s people for all of this, and it may do wonders not just for obtaining cooperative and cooperating witnesses, but also to change how Republicans view the January 6 investigation.

Exposing Pat Cipollone’s exceptional unwillingness to testify

Liz Cheney continued to use the hearings to shame those who aren’t cooperating with the Committee. In her opening statement, she played the video of Gabriel Sterling warning of violence, where he said, “All of you who have not said a damn word [about the threats and false claims] are complicit in this.”

Then after Schiff talked about the threat to democracy in his closing statement …

We have been blessed beyond measure to live in the world’s greatest democracy. That is a legacy to be proud of and to cherish. But it is not one to be taken for granted. That we have lived in a democracy for more than 200 years does not mean we shall do so tomorrow. We must reject violence. We must embrace our Constitution with the reverence it deserves, take our oath of office and duties as citizens seriously, informed by the knowledge of right and wrong and armed with no more than the power of our ideas and the truth, carry on this venerable experiment in self-governance.

Cheney focused on the important part played by witnesses who did what they needed to guard the Constitution, twice invoking God.

We’ve been reminded that we’re a nation of laws and we’ve been reminded by you and by Speaker Bowers and Secretary of State Raffensperger, Mr. Sterling, that our institutions don’t defend themselves. Individuals do that. And we’ve [been] reminded that it takes public servants. It takes people who have made a commitment to our system to defend our system. We have also been reminded what it means to take an oath, under God, to the Constitution. What it means to defend the Constitution. And we were reminded by Speaker Bowers that our Constitution is indeed a divinely inspired document.

That set up a marked contrast with the list of scofflaws who’ve obstructed the Committee.

To date more than 30 witnesses called before this Committee have not done what you’ve done but have invoked their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. Roger Stone took the Fifth. General Michael Flynn took the Fifth. John Eastman took the Fifth. Others like Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro simply refused to comply with lawful subpoenas. And they have been indicted. Mark Meadows has hidden behind President Trump’s claims of Executive Privilege and immunity from subpoena. We’re engaged now in litigation with Mr. Meadows.

Having set up that contrast, Congresswoman Cheney then spent the entire rest of her closing statement shaming Pat Cipollone for refusing thus far to testify.

The American people in our hearings have heard from Bill Barr, Jeff Rosen, Richard Donoghue, and many others who stood up and did what is right. And they will hear more of that testimony soon.

But the American people have not yet heard from Mr. Trump’s former White House counsel, Pat Cipollone. Our Committee is certain that Donald Trump does not want Mr. Cipollone to testify here. Indeed, our evidence shows that Mr. Cipollone and his office tried to do what was right. They tried to stop a number of President Trump’s plans for January 6.

Today and in our coming hearings, you will hear testimony from other Trump White House staff explaining what Mr. Cipollone said and did, including on January 6.

But we think the American people deserve to hear from Mr. Cipollone personally. He should appear before this Committee. And we are working to secure his testimony.

In the wake of this, someone “close to Cipollone” ran to Maggie Haberman and sold her a bullshit story, which she dutifully parroted uncritically.

Cheney had just laid out that the “institutional concerns” had been waived by other lawyers (and were, legally, in the case of Bill Clinton). And any privilege issue went out the window when Sean Hannity learned of the White House Counsel complaints. Plus, White House Counsel lawyer Eric Herschmann has testified at length, including about matters — such as the call Trump made to Vice President Pence shortly before the riot — involving Trump personally.

Given Cheney’s invocation of those who pled the Fifth, I wonder she suspects that Cipollone’s reluctance has less to do with his claimed excuses, and more to do with a concern that he has personal exposure.

He may! After all, he presided over Trump’s use of pardons to pay off several key players in the insurrection, including three of the people Cheney invoked to set up this contrast: Flynn, Stone, and Bannon (though I suspect Cipollone had checked out before the last of them). And these pardons — and the role of pardons in the planning for January 6 more broadly — may expose those involved, potentially including Cipollone, in the conspiracy.

Whether or not Cheney shames Cipollone into testifying, including with her appeal to religion, he may not have the same luxury of refusing when DOJ comes calling.

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.

Gaslighting of the Obstructive Kind

[NB: check the byline, thanks. / ~Rayne]

It’s pretty damned bad when your uncle feels he must denounce what you’ve said and done as the head of your shared political party.

Ronna McDaniel, niece of Mitt Romney and Republican National Committee chairwoman, deserved her uncle’s rebuttal. She’d tweeted in response to The New York Times’ article, ‘G.O.P. Declares Jan. 6 Attack ‘Legitimate Political Discourse‘ which reported the RNC’s censure of Representatives Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) for their participation in the House January 6 Committee:
As the chair of the RNC, it’s “legitimate political discourse” all the way down with McDaniel. She must have approved the wording of the censure which included the description of the U.S. Capitol’s violent storming as “legitimate political discourse,” doubling down when tweeting her objection to the NYT’s straightforward stenography of the censure.

There are so many layers of stupidity to this censure, one of which Marcy has already addressed. But for McDaniel and the RNC to expect the American public to believe their claim is unmoored from reality.

This is not “legitimate political discourse” by ordinary citizens.

Not legitimate as an exercise of free speech.


Violent to the point political perspective has been lost, beyond an effort to obtain agreement.


No reasoned discourse, just rage the entire world could see.

What instead McDaniel and the RNC have offered is gaslighting – an effort to change the public’s perspective of what they saw on television on January 6, 2020; what they’ve seen online across numerous news outlets since then; what the public has been shown by the Federal Bureau of Investigation which is still searching for perpetrators; what the Department of Justice’s prosecutors have shown grand juries and courts as more than 700 individuals have been identified and arrested for their actions on January 6.

Gaslighting — a truly feeble effort which damages the RNC even further because the public can see through the dampened tissue held in front of its eyes.

More specifically, this gaslighting is aimed at GOP voters, who also saw a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6:

The last year of denialism, trash talking the House J6 Committee, and GOP congressional caucus refusal to cooperate in good faith has moved the disapproval rating 13%, still leaving 61% of GOP voters unhappy with what transpired on January 6.

So McDaniel and the RNC doubled down to try and recover more ground with GOP voters.

But the photos and videos don’t lie, and the other evidence gathered so far by both the House J6 and the DOJ bolster what the visual evidence tells us.

Nor has the court countered what the public saw, having convicted 208 and sentenced 85 out of 734 perpetrators charged to date.

The gaslighting will only become more obvious when hearings begin, and begin they will.

Not even Putin’s saber rattling over Ukraine can stop them.

~ ~ ~

The RNC had to backpedal on their claim this was “legitimate political discourse” because it even offended some GOP.

But the discussion over what the RNC really meant clouds another concern, which is that the censure itself was a fraud.

On January 6 and into the early hours of January 7, 2020, these states’ election certifications were called into question:

Arizona: 11 electoral votes – Counted following objection presented by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)
Senate rejected objection by a vote of 6-93
House rejected objection by a vote of 121-303

Georgia: 16 electoral votes – Counted following incomplete objection presented by Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) without a senator

Michigan: 16 electoral votes – Counted following incomplete objection presented by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) without a senator

Nevada: 6 electoral votes – Counted following incomplete objection presented by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) without a senator

Pennsylvania: 20 electoral votes – Counted following objection presented by Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO)
Senate rejected objection by a vote of 7-92
House rejected objection by a vote of 138-282

On December 30, Hawley said he was going to object to certification.

On January 2, 11 other GOP senators said they would object to certification. They were:

Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
Mike Braun (R-IN)
Ted Cruz (R-TX)
Steve Daines (R-MT)
Bill Hagerty (R-TN)
Ron Johnson (R-WI)
John Kennedy (R-LA)
James Lankford (R-OK)
Cynthia Lummis (R-WY)
Roger Marshall (R-KS)
Tommy Tuberville (R-AL)

Blackburn, Braun, Daines, Hagerty, Johnson, Lankford, Lummis all withdrew their objections after the Senate reconvened and voted on certification.

Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) had not announced her intention to object in advance of January 6, but later withdrew her objection because of the assault on the Capitol Building.

Rick Scott (R-FL), Cindy Hyde Smith (R-MS), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) threw in with Cruz, Hawley, Kennedy, Marshall, and Tuberville to vote against certification though they did not announce their position ahead of January 6.

We know now that Tuberville had been contacted by phone on the floor of the Senate by both Trump and Rudy Giuliani just as the Senate was being evacuated on January 6.

Represenatives Brooks Gosar, Greene, Hice, Perry objected to the certification of states Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Pennsylvania with support from senators Cruz and Hawley.

In all, 148 GOP members of Congress – 8 senators, 139 representatives – voted against certification of the election.

What McDaniel and the RNC have tried to hide with their claim that January 6 was “legitimate political discourse” was the autogolpe attempted even after the insurrectionist rioters disbanded and left the Capitol Building.

“Legitimate political discourse” this was not, though it has now been whitewashed by the RNC and protected by the weaponized Speech or Debate Clause.

Which of these GOP members of Congress were in on the conspiracy to obstruct government proceedings?

Which of them knew in advance how the plan to overturn several states’ election certifications would work, and knew their role in the conspiracy?

Which of them performed their role as they understood it?

Which ones remained silent and voted against certification, saying little to nothing afterward?

Which ones vacillated – hello, Kevin McCarthy – or played some other role in the conspiracy – hello, Lindsey Graham?

Which ones refused to participate in the conspiracy, but have simply said nothing at all, implicitly supporting sedition, insurrection, and the peaceful transfer of power with their silence?

The lack of honest, forthcoming answers about the GOP congressional caucus’s role is both instructive and obstructive.

~ ~ ~

McDaniel and the RNC may think they’re going to pull their party’s butt out of the fire with this gaslighting effort, by attempting to reframe angry hordes summoned to D.C. — who attacked police and threatened members of Congress, insulted the country by defecating on the Capitol Building’s marble floors after smashing its doors and windows, stole podiums, papers, laptops — as ‘ordinary citizens’ engaged in “legitimate political discourse,” while redirecting attention away from the roles that GOP members of Congress played on January 6.

But they’ve only demonstrated once again the Republican Party is incapable of governing, just as it’s been incapable of establishing a platform since 2016 based on coherent values it demonstrates in its actions.

If the GOP can’t engage in “legitimate political discourse,” if it can only exercise bad faith in words and deeds, it’s dead.

Sic transit mundum tuum, Factio Republicana.

But what if this obstructive gaslighting was more than a reframing exercise meant to skew public opinion?

What if McDaniel and the RNC instead meant to greenlight the same kind of violent behavior Trump’s supporters exhibited on January 6, using the censure of Cheney and Kinzinger and subsequent discussion as cover?

What if the walking dead GOP is not only rotting the brains of its followers with its false reality but encouraging them to continue to rebel because they have no other truly legitimate means to stay in power if voter suppression doesn’t succeed?

She’s “No Angel:” Josh Dawsey’s Nice Little Old Lady Suspected of Crimes to Steal an Election

According to this Josh Dawsey piece on the GOP’s vote to censure Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, Ronna Romney McDaniel claims she decided to support this censure effort after a little old lady friend of hers was subpoenaed by the January 6 Committee.

McDaniel said she was particularly upset when an elderly, recently widowed friend of hers was subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 committee after it was reported the friend was an alternate elector at the campaign’s behest. She declined to name the friend.

This nice little old lady is probably Kathy Berden, one of the two people from Michigan who were subpoenaed. Dean Berden passed away last August.

It took me 3 Google searches to find Berden’s name and Dean’s obituary, and unlike me, Dawsey has the support of an entire newsroom. But rather than ask a follow-up question about the most likely person that McDaniel was discussing, Dawsey just accepted McDaniel’s refusal to name the person and published the GOP Chair’s spin with absolutely no pushback.

That let Dawsey off easy.

Rather than explain that, if it is Berden, she is someone whom Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has said obviously broke Michigan law.

There’s no question a troop of faux GOP electors violated the law when they signed on to phony documents and tried to barge into the Michigan State Capitol in an effort to fraudulently award the state’s electoral votes to former President Donald Trump, says Attorney General Dana Nessel.

But, given the scope of what Michigan’s top law enforcement official called a “conspiracy,” Nessel says the criminal prosecution of at least the 16 sham Republican delegates is better suited for federal authorities.

“Seemingly there’s a conspiracy that occurred between multiple states. So if what your ultimate goal is, is not just to prosecute these 16 individuals, but to find out who put them up to this, is this part of a bigger conspiracy at play in order to undermine the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election, not just in Michigan but nationally? … It creates jurisdictional issues,” Nessel said Tuesday during a virtual news conference.

“I feel confident we have enough evidence to charge if we decide to pursue that. Again, I want to make it clear, I haven’t ruled it out. But for all the reasons I stated, I think that it’s a better idea for the feds to pursue this.”

More importantly, Nessel described this as a “multi-state conspiracy,” something criminally implicating those beyond just the fake electors. Given McDaniel’s position in both Michigan and national politics, McDaniel likely at least knows key details of any such conspiracy, if she wasn’t an active part of it herself.

And it’s not just Michigan. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco has confirmed that federal prosecutors are also investigating suspected crimes associated with the fake certificates.

So Dawsey let McDaniel’s claim that she was taking action to censure (and possibly fund the opponent of) Liz Cheney because of some nice little old lady, without mentioning that that nice little old lady is by definition someone being criminally investigated by the FBI for her role in an effort to steal the election. Dawsey also didn’t mention that that nice little old lady might also have information that would implicate McDaniel personally in that crime.

This is in a larger article that frames this all as some horserace politics — even if “unprecedented” — and not a fight about the aftermath of an attack on the peaceful transfer of power.

Dawsey published text from the resolution against Cheney and Kinzinger, describing them as “two members engage[d] in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse,” in paragraph five.

He doesn’t get into the substance of what Republicans are defending with this vote until paragraph nine, which quotes Cheney.

“The leaders of the Republican Party have made themselves willing hostages to a man who admits he tried to overturn a presidential election and suggests he would pardon Jan. 6 defendants, some of whom have been charged with seditious conspiracy. I’m a constitutional conservative and I do not recognize those in my party who have abandoned the Constitution to embrace Donald Trump. History will be their judge. I will never stop fighting for our constitutional republic. No matter what,” Cheney said.

Dawsey never considers what it means that the Chair of the Republican Party says that Democrats may keep the House if a full investigation of these alleged crimes occurs, or even what it means that McDaniel intervened to turn David Bossie’s motion to expel Cheney and Kinzinger from the caucus entirely into one calling for censure, a pretty important point if, like Dawsey, you’re pretending this is just boring old horse race politics.

The RNC will vote today to say that if the Select Committee investigation into January 6, including into Kathy Berden and those suspected of conspiring with her, is allowed to continue, the Democrats may to keep the House, a fairly stunning concession that hints at the depths of the conspiracy.

But instead of telling that story, horse race journalist and WaPo’s full-time Mar-a-Lago stenographer wants to tell the story about nice little old ladies.

Update: Via JR, it turns out Berden has some curious ties with McDaniel.

McDaniel was reelected as chair of the RNC in January 2019, with Trump’s endorsement. Two days earlier, her PAC paid $5,000 to Kathleen Berden, a voting member of the RNC, a volunteer position. Reed said the PAC paid Berden because she “whipped votes” for McDaniel’s reelection. He would not address why McDaniel needed Berden’s services or whether it was appropriate for McDaniel to pay a volunteer RNC voting member to influence fellow voters.

When reached for comment, Berden declined to elaborate on her work for McDaniel.

h/t unhuh who first focused on this paragraph

Shirkey and Chatfield: No One Else Was in the Room Where It Happened

Yesterday, Michigan certified its vote, declaring Joe Biden the winner of its 16 Electoral College votes.

That should not be surprising. After all, Biden won by a sound margin, and there were no credible claims of irregularities. Nevertheless it was treated as big news, with tens of thousands glued to the live feed of the certification meeting.

After the certification, per AP’s David Eggert, the Dick and Betsy DeVos backed Michigan Freedom Fund issued a statement backing the certification.

The Board of State Canvassers did the right thing today. We believe the vote to certify should have been 4-0. The election is over, & the person with the most legal votes – & in this election that person is Joe Biden – must prevail. Period.

Not long after the certification, Trump’s GSA Administrator, Emily Murphy, released a letter announcing she was going to let the President-Elect begin the transition process, even while she bitched about the pressure she had been put under and stopped short of using the word, “ascertainment,” that gives the letter full legal weight.

I wonder whether there’s not more to how it happened that Trump began the process of conceding.

All this happened just days after DeVos machine politicians Mike Shirkey and Lee Chatfield flew to DC and sat for a meeting with the President, at his request. It’s not clear who, from the White House, attended, but none of Trump’s competent lawyers were planning on it.

Within the White House, a number of the president’s top aides were expected to skip the late-afternoon huddle, including representatives from the White House Counsel’s Office. Also not attending was Ronna McDaniel, a former head of the Michigan Republican Party who chairs the Republican National Committee, according to an RNC spokesperson.

Already in the post-election period, Trump had the GOP Republican Senate candidates and Lindsey Graham pressure election officials in Georgia, in Lindsey’s case, arguably aggressively enough to break the law. The meeting with MI’s legislators came at an even more desperate moment for Trump.

After the meeting, the MI politicians released a statement offering an explanation of their own actions that would provide legal cover — they delivered a letter asking the President for COVID relief. More interestingly, they insisted that MI’s vote be free of threats and intimidation.

Michigan’s certification process should be a deliberate process free from threats and intimidation. Allegations of fraudulent behavior should be taken seriously, thoroughly investigated, and if proven, prosecuted to the full extent of the law. And the candidates who win the most votes win elections and Michigan’s electoral votes. These are simple truths that should provide confidence in our elections.

If Trump did do something inappropriate in that meeting — as he has done over and over and over before and during his presidency — it would mean multiple people, all with close ties to the DeVos political machine, were witnesses. Given how easy it has been for grifters like Lev Parnas to record sensitive meetings, it would be a cinch for these politicians to do so as well. If they did, that would put a good deal of leverage into the hands of that DeVos machine, a machine that prefers organized raping and pillaging of the public good to the kind of chaotic looting Trump has been pursuing.

The DeVos machine would greatly like to ensure that its brand of corporatist, Christian ideology reclaim dominance in the Republican party over the unreliable Trump frothers.

Given how poorly Trump has hidden his bribes and threats in the past, it would be fairly easy to anticipate more of the same, and to exploit them if they happened during an in-person meeting with more witnesses from Michigan than from the White House. One could do so while pretending to give a fuck about good governance (as Shirkey et al did pretend after they left the meeting). And legal exposure in the State of Michigan, with a fearless Democratic Attorney General, Dana Nessel, is not the kind of risk that Trump has any power over.

Something happened over the last several days that led Trump to grudgingly start ceding power. And no one else was in the room where that something may have happened.

Update: Eggert has a thread reporting out an interview with Shirkey. In it, Shirkey claims that “only half” of the meeting talked about the election.

Shirkey estimated that in the 60- to 90-minute meeting with Trump, ‘less than half’ was devoted to discussions on the election – ‘especially if you take out the dialogue we had with Giuliani, it was far less than that.’

“Less than half” doesn’t really help Trump here.

The DeVoses and a Pence Pardon for Trump

WaPo wrote a long story about how two DeVos machine Republicans, Mike Shirkey and Lee Chatfield, went to the White House and declined to join in Donald Trump’s coup attempt. The story either chose not to mention or simply preceded the reports that the lawmakers spent the night at Trump Hotel, running up big bills for Dom Perignon, which doesn’t seem like the thing you’d do if you had just turned down a bribe to steal the election.

Presumably because it was written for a national audience, the story didn’t get into what ruthless shitholes these men are. These are men who’ve presided over attempts to undermine Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID response and refused to prohibit guns from the capitol building. And while Chatfield knocked down an effort to impeach Whitmer, Shirkey has largely facilitated the kind of eliminationist rhetoric that led to an assassination plot against Whitmer (both condemned the plot after it was thwarted).

MI journalist Susan Demas did a thread on what awful untrustworthy men they are.

Amid reports that Ronna not-Romney McDaniel is the favorite to become RNC Chair again — which stalwarts view as Trump’s attempt to run the RNC as his own operation, undercutting any challengers in 2024 — I find this quote in the WaPo story particularly interesting.

A fresh indication that Trump’s options are dwindling came Friday from an organization with close ties to his education secretary, Betsy DeVos. The conservative Michigan Freedom Fund, which the DeVos family finances, issued the following statement Friday: “The election is over. The results are in, and here in Michigan, they’re not going to change.”

There have been hints that Betsy and Dick were tiring of Trump already. Betsy’s former Chief of Staff, Josh Venable, even joined one of the anti-Trump groups during the election.

That has interesting implications for the fate of two men — Betsy’s brother Erik Prince and Trump himself.

To my mind, Erik Prince is one of Trump’s easiest pardons, both for his exposure for false statements to Congress about his back channel with Russia and for his efforts to sell mercenary services to China. That’s true because, unlike some others (like Roger Stone), Prince successfully lied his way through testimony without generating any other known legal exposure. He told his lies, did his service to Trump, and so couldn’t be forced to testify differently once his Fifth Amendment privileges disappeared. And his exposure on China — to the extent that Billy Barr hasn’t already killed this investigation beyond repair — doesn’t implicate Trump, and so is easy and clean for a President seeking to pay back loyalty. Plus, Prince is a big donor. What’s not to like?!?!

But the DeVoses are also very close to Mike Pence (he got Betsy hired, not Trump). And many of Trump’s other pardons — of people that could implicate Trump himself in crimes if they lost their Fifth Amendment protections — require that he also limit his own legal exposure (and of course, he can only do this on federal cases). He may well be planning a self-pardon, but a safer legal option would be an early resignation followed by a pardon from Pence.

In my opinion, Pence has a real incentive against such a pardon. That’s true, in part, because giving a far less controversial pardon to Richard Nixon really doomed Gerald Ford’s otherwise reasonable legacy. Pence spends a lot of time in Grand Rapids, where Ford’s tainted history is palpable.

That’s also true because Pence has further political ambitions. They may not be real ambitions, but a former Vice President would always consider himself a candidate for the Presidency. And counterintuitively, pardoning Trump would actually hurt those ambitions. That’s true because he’s not the most obvious inheritor of Trump’s legacy. Mike Pompeo has a higher profile and the same cachet among the Evangelical right. Don Jr has even suggested he might run, and if he did he could tap right into the furor his father created. Unlike both of them, Pence has mostly been a background figurehead, one who will be blamed for Trump’s biggest failing, on COVID. So if Pence pardoned Trump, it would only serve to allow one of the other Trump flunkies from capitalizing on his brand to become the presumptive 2024 nominee; it would hurt his own chances.

Still, unlike Pompeo, Pence is not inextricably linked to Trump’s crimes. Indeed, one of the bravest witnesses during impeachment, Jennifer Williams, was his aide. She even corrected her testimony to provide damning details after the fact. Everything we’ve seen from the Mueller Report also makes it clear that Pence was not in the loop of some of the most devious efforts to undermine America.

But Pence likely knows of some of that crime. He has heard some of the details of the Russian “collusion.” More importantly, he surely knows how a series of Trump campaign managers have engaged in grift that pursue ever more outrageous ways of getting rich off the process of pitching Trump, with Brad Parscale’s version only the most recent. Assuming he’s as insulated from this potentially criminal behavior as I think he he is, refusing to pardon Trump would be a way to undercut Trump’s legacy without lifting a finger. Even if Joe Biden’s Attorney General didn’t aggressively pursue new investigations, there are so many known open ones as to make Trump’s ongoing criminal exposure hard to contain.

That puts Pence — and with him, his close allies the DeVoses — in a remarkable position. To be clear, they are every bit as evil as Trump. We should assume however they wield that power will do little to help average Americans. But (caveats about Erik aside), they are differently evil than Trump.

And if they’ve decided Trump’s time is up, they have leverage that others don’t.

On Ronna McDaniel’s (Still Undisclosed) Test Results

Update, 3/18: The Detroit Free Press just reported that McDaniel’s test (finally) came back negative. That’s both a relief — given who she interacted with before being tested — and a real testament to how long it still takes for (even powerful) people ot to get a test result.

On Friday night, RNC Chair Ronna [Romney] McDaniel got a test for COVID-19, the first high profile Republican tested based on the inadequate testing guidelines rolled out by the CDC rather than concerns arising just from exposure. That is, she had exposure and flu-like symptoms and tested negative for alternative explanations before she took the test.

I can find no follow-up report on the status of her test — though both Saturday and Sunday’s Michigan test reports included the description of a positive test for someone who could be her.

Oakland County, adult female with history of contact with someone with a confirmed case.

[snip]

Oakland County, adult female with contact with a person with COVID-19.

Meanwhile, on Saturday NYT updated a story — first published Friday afternoon — on how Kimberly Guilfoyle’s birthday party a week ago exposed a number of high profile people to the illness. The update quoted aides bitching that McDaniel revealed that she had “publicly acknowledged her illness.”

The president has sought for weeks to play down the severity of the outbreak and been especially sensitive about giving the impression that he himself was at risk. Indeed, several advisers to Mr. Trump on Saturday privately expressed irritation at Ms. McDaniel for publicly acknowledging her illness.

This is not confirmation McDaniel tested positive. Rather, it’s silence and expressed “irritation” about McDaniel’s honesty where other prominent Republicans like Matt Gaetz and Mark Meadows — to say nothing of the President himself — have disclosed both taking the test and their negative results without similar irritation.

As such, it’s an indication that the White House no longer wants to talk about the multiple exposures people within the White House and top ranks of the government or the Republican Party have had, and probably would not tell us if someone who had been exposed tested positive.

Negative or positive, McDaniel is entitled to her privacy, and I wish her the best with whatever was causing her symptoms. But President Trump has a duty to convey the seriousness of this disease and explain how easily one can come in contact with a person who, at the time, appears healthy, but who nevertheless might be contagious.

He hasn’t done that. As of yesterday’s press conference, however, he exhibited a new sobriety about this disease.

In the days ahead, the number of positive cases in a number of states are going to spike, in part reflecting second generation infections, in part because for the first time testing is becoming more widely available. For its part, Michigan announced a new case reporting, covering what will sure to cover those spiking numbers today, that eliminates the kind of individualized information that would allow someone to track a known potential case.

Which suggests that at the moment where we’ll finally begin to track asymptomatic transmission, the public will have less information with which to do so.

That probably explains why governments across the country just got more serious about stopping transmission without such critical data.