A few thoughts about January 6, 2021

Thaluikhain

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Too bad they'll only get sentenced to sitting on the naughty chair for five minutes, tops.
...

There are two very different ways to interpret that sentence, though I'm assuming you didn't mean execution by electrocution.
 

XsjadoBlayde

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Weeks before the Capitol attack, top Republican political activists Roger Stone and Ali Alexander identified the January 6 congressional certification as the final chance for Donald Trump to attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

The focus on the congressional certification, according to sources familiar with the matter, was one of several areas they marked as potential flashpoints to exploit as leaders of the Stop the Steal movement to help Trump reverse his defeat to Joe Biden.


Global Vision Bible Church, Nashville, USA - 30 Aug 2020<br>Mandatory Credit: Photo by AFF-USA/REX/Shutterstock (10760436aa) Roger Stone, Pastor Greg Locke and wife Tai Locke Global Vision Bible Church, Nashville, USA - 30 Aug 2020
Roger Stone and Michael Flynn under fire over rallies ‘distorting Christianity’
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As Stone and Alexander mounted their political operation, they allowed their activities to be recorded by two conservative film-makers over several months starting from when they first began to strategize around the time of the election, through to January 6.

The arrangement meant the film-makers, Jason Rink and Paul Escandon, captured fly-on-the-wall footage of Stone and Alexander as they led the Stop the Steal movement, and their interactions with top Trump allies, according to a teaser for the documentary titled The Steal.

In following Stone and Alexander, the film-makers recorded most of the key moments in the timeline leading up to the Capitol attack, including an “occupation” of the Georgia state Capitol in November and rallies in Washington that almost seem like dry-runs for January 6.

They also caught on camera public and private moments at the events Stone or Alexander attended. Among others who appear in the documentary are the House Republican Paul Gosar, former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

At one point, the footage reviewed by the Guardian shows, Alexander appears to presage the flashpoint that would be January 6, saying of Biden: “The House and the Senate must certify the electoral college. There is no president-elect until the electoral college meets.”

Stop the Steal organizer Ali Alexander returns for a deposition meeting with the House select panel.

The Stop the Steal organizer Ali Alexander returns for a deposition meeting with the House select panel. Photograph: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Taken together, the footage gives an inside look at what Stone – the longest-serving political adviser to Trump and to whom Alexander was something of a protege – was thinking and doing as he strategized ways to make sure Biden would not be certified as president.

Stone also allowed himself to be filmed by a Danish documentary film crew that recorded his activities in his room at the Willard hotel as the Capitol attack unfolded, the Washington Post reported earlier this year.

The House January 6 select committee emailed a letter earlier in January asking to review the footage, but a lawyer for Rink declined the request, citing the need to maintain journalistic independence and fears the content would leak from the inquiry.

House investigators did not ultimately pursue the matter after the lawyer indicated he would litigate a subpoena; unless film-makers have said they would only turn over footage in response to a subpoena, the panel has generally avoided that route.

A spokesman for the select committee declined to comment on if that position had changed.

The question about the footage, however, recently resurfaced inside the select committee, days after former Trump aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified under oath that Trump ordered his then chief of staff to call Stone on the night before the Capitol attack.

Supporters of Donald Trump attend a rally at the White House ellipse to contest the certification.

Supporters of Donald Trump attend a rally at the White House ellipse to contest the certification. Photograph: Carlos Barría/Reuters

Stone has denied that the call took place, just as he has denied that he had anything to do with the events of January 6. He declined to cooperate with the select committee in an interview, asserting his fifth amendment right against self-incrimination.

Any claim, assertion or implication that I knew about, was involved in or condoned any illegal event on January 6, or any other date, is categorically false and there is no evidence or witness to the contrary,” Stone has previously said.

But while the full extent of what the film-makers recorded remains unclear, parts of the footage reviewed by the Guardian make The Steal Movie seem like a detailed account of the behind-the-scenes efforts by Stone to stop Biden from becoming president.

The activities of Stone with respect to stopping Biden’s certification is of interest to January 6 investigators since he had close ties to leaders of the far-right Proud Boys and Oath Keepers groups that stormed the Capitol and have since been indicted for seditious conspiracy.

Many of the key moments for the Stop the Steal movement, managed by Alexander but ultimately controlled by Stone, according to sources familiar with how they worked in practice, were captured on tape by Rink and Escandon’s film crew.

Trump’s possible ties to far-right militias examined by January 6 committee
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The film-makers followed Stone and Alexander starting immediately after the 2020 election and tracked Stop the Steal leaders descending on multiple states to advance discredited claims of election fraud.

Several important moments in the timeline leading up to the Capitol attack are caught on camera.

The footage first shows Alexander in the Georgia state capitol in mid-November 2020, around the time that he and the far-right activist Alex Jones staged an “occupation” protest of the building, in a stunt that echoed plans to “occupy” the US Capitol on January 6.

The film-makers are then present with Stone at a rally in Washington DC on 12 December 2020, where Michael Flynn, a former Trump national security adviser-turned political operative, spoke at a Women for America First-affiliated event near the supreme court.

That event is significant because the Proud Boys were in Washington that day, and a contingent marched through the National Mall similar to how they did on January 6. The Oath Keepers, another far-right group, acted as a security detail at the rally, similar again to January 6.

The film-makers are also understood to have captured some footage the day before and the day of the Capitol attack, including discussions between Stone and Alexander, as well as the fate of the “Stage 8” rally that Alexander had planned on January 6 yards from the Capitol.

Stone never went to the Save America rally at the Ellipse where Trump spoke, after a dispute over VIP passes, according to people familiar with the incident. He also never went to the planned Stage 8 rally on the East Front of the Capitol and instead left Washington in a hurry.
 

XsjadoBlayde

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Democracy dies in the paywalls.

Michael Flynn, the retired Army general and onetime adviser to President Donald Trump, was cited by the Defense Department inspector general for failing to disclose lucrative speaking engagements and other business arrangements with foreign entities, prompting the U.S. government to pursue tens of thousands of dollars in penalties against him, according to documents.

Investigators determined that Flynn received nearly $450,000 from Turkish and Russian interests in 2015, including for an appearance in Moscow alongside President Vladimir Putin, but found no records that he had sought government approval beforehand. Their findings are detailed in a January 2021 memo to the Army released through the Freedom of Information Act on Thursday.

Army reviewing investigation into Michael Flynn’s dealings with Russia, foreign firm

The Army notified Flynn in a May 2 letter, obtained by The Washington Post, that it would seek to recoup $38,557.06 from him, zeroing in on money and in-kind compensation he received for a gala dinner celebrating the 10th anniversary of RT, the Kremlin-run news agency. Putin sat beside Flynn at the event and later told NBC News that he “didn’t even really talk to” him.

Flynn did not respond to a phone call and emails seeking comment.

Craig R. Schmauder, an Army lawyer, wrote in the letter that Flynn’s failure “to obtain the approvals of the Secretary of the Army and the Secretary of State resulted in a violation of the Emoluments Clause,” a provision of the U.S. Constitution that prohibits retired military personnel from receiving money from foreign governments without prior authorization.

“When there is a finding that a military retiree has violated the Emoluments Clause, the United States Government may pursue a debt collection,” Schmauder wrote to Flynn.

Schmauder added that the Army was requesting that the Defense Financing Accounting Service “seek recoupment from you of a debt in the amount of $38,557.06.” It was not clear why the Army sanctioned Flynn for the Moscow visit but not his other work.


Sean O’Donnell, the acting Defense Department inspector general, wrote in the January 2021 memo released Thursday that Defense Department regulations state that if a retired U.S. service member receives money from a foreign government without prior approval, it is considered “received by the retired member for the United States.”

“A debt in favor of the government is created which is to be collected by withholding from retired pay,” O’Donnell wrote.

In addition to the RT dinner in December 2015, O’Donnell’s memo highlights Flynn’s paid appearance at an October 2015 conference sponsored by Kaspersky Government Security Solutions, “an entity that appears to be controlled by the Russian government,” and Flynn’s work for Inovo BV, a corporation organized in the Netherlands that assisted the Turkish government.

The Army determined April 28 that Flynn violated the emoluments clause, Michael Brady, an Army spokesman, said in an email. The Army forwarded its findings to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, which calculates how much is owed and handles collection.

Flynn acknowledged the financial penalty in a television interview broadcast in May, saying the Defense Department was “going to reach into my retirement and … take some money out."

“Yeah, it means something, but at the end of the day, this country means a heck of a lot more than what they will do to me,” Flynn said then, suggesting the punitive action was politically motivated.

Trump pardons former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI

Flynn was Trump’s first national security adviser but became ensnared in the Justice Department’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. He abruptly left the White House just weeks into the administration, later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, and then attempted to reverse course before Trump eventually pardoned him in November 2020.

After Trump’s defeat, Flynn suggested to Trump that he declare martial law and force a “rerun” of the contest in key states that went for President Biden.

The Defense Department inspector general’s investigation was opened in April 2017 but languished for years while Flynn was the subject of a criminal investigation.

O’Donnell, the acting inspector general, wrote in his memo that his investigation had been “held in abeyance since June 2017, pending the resolution of criminal allegations against LTG Flynn.” LTG stands for lieutenant general, Flynn’s rank when he retired from the Army in 2014.

After Trump pardoned Flynn, the Justice Department informed O’Donnell’s office “that their interest in this matter is moot” and that the inspector general’s office “may proceed in a manner we deem appropriate,” the memo said.
 

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One of the most crucial questions for both the FBI investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol and the House Select Committee inquiry is the connection between President Trump and the militant groups that carried out the attack.

The next hearing of the January 6th Committee, scheduled for July 12 and led by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), reportedly “plans to detail known links and conversations between political actors close to Trump and extremists,” according to the New York Times.

While it is not clear what evidence the committee will present, a network of operatives surrounding retired Lt. General Michael Flynn — an inspirational figure for rank-and-file Trump supporters protesting the outcome of the election — helped build an infrastructure for months in advance that stoked anger, called on the president to invoke the Insurrection Act, and amplified his call to supporters to be in Washington for a “wild rally” on Jan. 6.

One of the initiatives that sprung up around Flynn, Trump’s former national security advisor who was seeking a pardon after the US Department of Justice dismissed charges for lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador, was called Operation Voter Integrity.

Felisa Blazek, a New Hampshire-based event planner with ties to the QAnon community, outlined plans for the initiative in an interview with Tamara Leigh, a podcaster active in the campaign to vindicate Flynn, and Brent Hamachek, the executive editor of the right-wing publication Human Events. As Blazek described it, the project would deploy GOP activists to monitor polling places for voter fraud, with pro-Trump groups standing by to escalate complaints up through a network that she said would ultimately reach the White House.

Two of the groups mentioned by Blazek, Veterans for Trump and Bikers for Trump, would later show up at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Blazek described a phone tree in which one activist “would just call the head of your state for Bikers for Trump.” She continued: “One phone call. They dispatch 20 to 30 people to that precinct. Second phone call, you call in Veterans for Trump. They dispatch 20 to 30 people. They just show there and they just stand up, and they just let you know you’re not alone. The police will come. If the police don’t come, they’re all trained. We’re just standing by and letting you know that we know.”

Blazek could not be reached for comment for this story.

Two days after the election, Veterans for Trump co-founder Joshua Macias and an associate, Antonio LaMotta, were arrested on weapons charges outside the Philadelphia Convention Center, where election officials were tabulating votes. Local police made the arrests after receiving an FBI alert about a possible attempt to interfere with the vote count, according to the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office. The police reportedly recovered a semi-automatic AR-15-syle assault rifle, samurai sword and hundreds of firearms cartridges from the Hummer that the two men drove from Virginia.



Macias and LaMotta could not be reached for comment for this story.

At the time, some Democratic officials and voting rights groups condemned President Trump’s instruction to supporters to “go into the polls and watch very carefully,” saying it amounted to voter intimidation, and the Department of Homeland Security warned that polling places could be “flash points for potential violence.”

Both Macias and Blazek were avid supporters of Flynn.

Two years earlier, Macias had organized a rally to support Flynn outside the DC federal courthouse at the former general’s sentencing hearing, where he stood alongside Tamara Leigh, according to a report in Mother Jones. Chris Cox, the founder of Bikers for Trump, also attended the protest to support Flynn.

Blazek had recently organized a two-day QAnon-friendly gathering called the Patriot Party in Scottsdale, Ariz. that featured Barbara Redgate, Flynn’s sister.

During an interview to promote the event, Blazek had said, “We’re hoping to host General Flynn and his family as our honored guests. If they would choose to speak, that would be great. But really, we just want them to come there, and support them.” Blazek added that the Flynn family was like “the tip of the spear in our movement.”

David Sumrall, a Dallas-based organizer who founded the right-wing group Stop Hate, similarly extolled the Flynn family in an interview with Redgate to promote the Patriot Party.

“We want to make sure that General Flynn’s getting a message of support and love and encouragement because we have his back,” Sumrall said. “We understand what happened to him, and the whole fact that he’s willing to take one for the team.”

Soon after Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 election, Blazek and Sumrall, alongside Ali Alexander and Tomi Collins, began organizing rallies across the country to protest the electoral outcome.

Pasquali “Pat” Scopelliti, a business coach based in Charlottesville, Va. and frequent contributor on the PardonFlynnNow.com website, praised Blazek and Macias together in a post-election thread on Twitter. Referring to the two by their Twitter handles and using hashtags associated with Blazek’s election mobilization effort and a parallel campaign led by Alexander, Scopelliti tweeted: “Both @PatriotAssembly and @JoshuaMacias are on the Field of Fight, right now. I choose to support them, as should you./ #1LoudVoice/ #StopTheSteal.”

The following day, Scopelliti issued another Twitter thread, declaring that America was at “war,” with “voter fraud” being the “ultimate weapon,” while speculating that “$1,000 bottles of rice wine” were “being uncorked in Beijing.”

“There are three people I must mention,” Scopelliti continued, recognizing Sumrall, alongside Blazek and Macias. “They are: @HelpStopHate, @PatriotAssembly, @JoshuaMacias. These three patriots have known in their bones, the nature of this war. And they have joined forces to lead the ground game of its fight.”

Scopelliti attached a digital flier to the tweet with the heading “All 50 State Capitol Buildings, #1LoudVoice, Truth Rally, 12:00 PM across the nation.” The flier included URLs for nearly a dozen pro-Trump groups, including Sumrall’s Stop Hate; Blazek’s Patriot Party; PardonFlynnNow.com; and Cowboys for Trump, led by Couy Griffin, who had attended the Patriot Party event in Scottsdale. Griffin would later be arrested for his role in the attack on the Capitol, and found guilty of entering and remaining in a restricted building.

Veterans for America First, the successor organization to Veterans for Trump, currently lists Scopelliti as its community engagement advisor on the organization’s website.

Despite being out on a $750,000 bail with pending firearms charges in Philadelphia, Macias and LaMotta traveled to Washington, DC in early January for a cluster of rallies culminating with President Trump’s speech at the Ellipse. Macias was present during a brief meeting between Proud Boys national chairman Enrique Tarrio and Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes in an underground parking garage on Jan. 5, the eve of the attack on the Capitol. Tarrio and Rhodes both face seditious conspiracy charges in separate cases related to the attack on the Capitol.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner noted the meeting during a press conference last month to announce a motion to have Macias held for contempt of court due to his actions at the Capitol.

“When people are planning a bank robbery, when they are planning a mob hit, they do not let uninvolved people come to that small private meeting,” Krasner said. “When people are planning serious crimes, the only people that are going to be there, especially when they’re trying to be secretive, are people that are seriously involved.”

Also present at the parking garage meeting were Kelly SoRelle, who now serves as general counsel for the Oath Keepers, and Latinos for Trump President Bianca Gracia.

On Jan. 6, Blazek, Macias, LaMotta, Rhodes, SoRelle, Gracia and members of a Bikers for Trump faction known as Boots on the Ground gathered at the MAGA Freedom Rally in front of the Russell Senate Office Building, a block away from the Capitol.

In an interview with Sumrall last fall, SoRelle said she went back to a hotel room to eat and get warm, while Rhodes went to the Capitol. Rhodes took up a position outside the Capitol, while more than a dozen Oath Keepers members outfitted in tactical gear pushed through the crowd in a stack and followed a mob into the building. SoRelle said in that interview in September that there was no plan to attack the Capitol. In January, Rhodes and 10 other members of the Oath Keepers were charged with seditious conspiracy — a charge that amounts to attempting to overthrow the government by force. Two of those charged have pleaded guilty.

“Stewart had guys that were protecting different speakers at different events, namely Ali Alexander, who was supposed to have been literally on the Capitol grounds,” SoRelle told Sumrall last September. “Then everybody’s like, ‘Well, we don’t know where everybody’s at. This is chaos. Like, what the heck?’ So, that’s why we ended up at the Capitol. We went down there just to see if we could locate his people. You know? And then next thing you take it straight to crazy la-la land, as in everybody’s the mastermind, and whatever.”


Sumrall, who used social media to raise money to take a “team” to Washington, DC, concurred with SoRelle’s account.

Sumrall said he told FBI agents: “Guys, listen: The plan was to get to DC. That’s where it stopped. That’s where it stopped. You’re never going to find anything where anybody says, ‘We’re going in the Capitol.’”

Sumrall’s voice can be heard in a video posted on Stop Hate’s Instagram account that was taken from the west side of the Capitol. The post is accompanied by a text comment from the account owner: “We’ve broken down the gates and made it onto the Capitol grounds.”

Another video on the Stop Hate Instagram account shows police in riot gear lined up on the inauguration review stand and the terrace facing rioters, with the caption, “#StormTheCapitol.”

Macias and LaMotta also went to the Capitol. Footage recently obtained by NBC News shows LaMotta inside the Capitol. He has not been arrested to date.

With LaMotta standing nearby, Macias addressed the crowd on the east side of the Capitol, according to video archived by the @capitolhunters Twitter account.

“Mike Pence is a Benedict Arnold,” Macias roared. “We believed in you, Vice President. We had hope that you would do what’s right for our Constitution. I stood with you onstage, sir. We believed in you.

“President Trump, you have the ability to pass — if you have the strength, sir — the Insurrection Act is now,” Macias continued. “You have the power, sir, and we support you 110 percent. Do what’s right, sir…. Defend the Constitution against foreign and domestic enemies. Those domestic enemies are here. If you’re not awake, America, be awoke. The enemy is not at the gates; the enemy is already here.”


Another person could be heard answering Macias with the QAnon slogan: “Where we go one, we go all!”

“That’s right!” Macias said. “One loud voice! We are one. We are united. I am Josh Macias, Vets for Trump. We will never quit.”
 

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WASHINGTON —
The committee investigating the Capitol insurrection will focus for the first time this week on the relationship between people in former President Trump’s orbit and the extremist groups that planned and orchestrated the violence on Jan. 6, 2021.

The hearing could be one of the most consequential held by the panel, potentially answering the long unresolved question of whether Trump knew that far right extremist groups such as the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers would storm the Capitol, and whether the president was in contact through intermediaries with the groups’ leaders, who have since been indicted for seditious conspiracy.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who will lead the hearing with Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), has made clear the committee won’t present smoking-gun evidence. But he said the panel will show how the extremist groups took Trump’s announcement of a “wild” rally hours before Congress met to certify the election results as acue to mobilize and prepare to keep him in power through any means necessary.

Never-before-seen video of the hours-long riot that temporarily paused certification of Joe Biden’s victory has been prominently featured during the committee’s first six hearings. Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) blamed Trump for the “carnage” that “represented Trump’s last, most desperate chance to halt the transfer of power.”

But the committee hasn’t yet drawn a direct line between Trump’s camp and those who caused the violence. So far the hearings have largely focused on the pressure Trump and his team put on state lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the election results, and on the Justice Department to publicly ratify their claims of fraud.


The names or number of witnesses for Tuesday’s hearing will not be announced in advance, committee aides told reporters in a briefing Monday, citing concerns about potential threats and harassment.

“The committee intends to show the American people that this was not just some random occurrence, that these groups happened to show up at the same place as the broader Stop the Steal mob,” said Jon Lewis, a research fellow on domestic violent extremism at the George Washington University Program on Extremism. “A lot of what will be distilled out by the committee will really just be showing the American people that these groups mobilized intentionally to the U.S. Capitol, at the behest of the president, at the behest of his inner circle of advisors and hangers-on, and they were there with the intent not just to protest, not just to attend a rally, not just to provide security ... [but] with the explicit purpose of engaging in a conspiracy to prevent the peaceful transfer of presidential power.”

Committee aides said the hearing will look at ties among the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and QAnon, along with former national security advisor Michael Flynn and Republican operative Roger Stone. It also will examine what White House staff and advisors knew about the potential for violence and which members of Congress pressured Pence in the days before Jan. 6 to change the election outcome.


The committee has already started building the case over the last month.

At the last hearing, Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testified that Trump knew people in the crowd at his speech were armed when he urged them to march on to the Capitol.

Hutchinson also testified that Trump directed Meadows to contact Flynn and Stone the night before Jan. 6, 2021. Hutchinson said she had to talk Meadows out of going to the Willard Hotel, where Flynn and Stone were staying along with others who had worked to overturn the election results. She told the committee Meadows instead spoke with them by phone and she did not know what was discussed.

At the time, Stone had a longstanding relationship with the Proud Boys and Flynn was being escorted by a security detail made up of members of the Oath Keepers.

Though Stone and Flynn largely invoked their 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination in their deposition, former Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio and others are among the more than 1,000 people who have complied with the committee’s requests and sat for lengthy depositions, clips of which are likely to appear in Tuesday’s hearing.

Like Stone and Flynn, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes did not answer many of the committee’s questions during his deposition. Last week, his attorney said Rhodes would testify before the committee, but only if it would be televised live, a demand the committee is unlikely to oblige.

On Tuesday, the committee is expected to focus on how Trump’s Dec. 19 tweet urging supporters to “be there” for a “big protest” in Washington that would “be wild” was the impetus for the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers to begin planning and organizing. That tweet was sent an hour after Trump met with Flynn and others to discuss whether to issue an executive order to have federal agents seize election machines from certain states.

“We will lay out the body of evidence that we have that talks about how the president’s tweet on the wee hours of Dec. 19 of, ‘Be there, be wild,’ was a siren call to these folks,” Murphy said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “And we’ll talk in detail about what that caused them to do, how that caused them to organize, as well as who else was amplifying that message.”

The panel is likely to lay out that the leaders of the extremist groups saw the violence as an integral part of keeping Biden from becoming president, and that they believed giving Trump an excuse to invoke the Insurrection Act and declare martial law could help overturn the election. Others thought that by preventing certification from occurring Jan. 6 as required under the Electoral Count Act, Pence would have cover to delay the process while key state legislatures weighed overturning the results and approving electors for Trump.

Although committee members have talked about connecting the violence back to people in Trump’s orbit, Brennan Center for Justice fellow Michael German said the committee also needs to examine the intelligence failures that allowed white supremacists and extremist groups to gather en masse and storm the Capitol.

“Too much of a focus on the particular actors in the administration may suggest it’s an aberration, that as long as those people don’t get back into government, we’re OK, when what we see is a number of systemic failures. And those failures all need to be addressed because we have to shore up the institutions that are supposed to keep protecting us,” German said.

The hearing also has the potential to affect the prosecution of the highest profile criminal cases related to the events of Jan. 6, 2021, which have been brought against the leaders of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers.

The committee has stressed its work is separate from the Justice Department’s investigations, going so far as to initially refuse to share depositions. Federal prosecutors are watching what new evidence the committee might have and the dots it has connected that might inform future trials.

The federal government has hundreds of pending cases, with hundreds more rioters being sought for prosecution, and the hearing comes before the majority of cases have gone to court. Several of those charged with sedition have claimed the hearing will taint their chances of a fair trial, and last month a federal judge moved the trial for five Proud Boys leaders facing seditious conspiracy charges until at least December, citing the ongoing publicity surrounding the hearings.

The committee is expected to give the Justice Department at least some of the more than 1,000 depositions and tens of thousands of pages of documents it collected during its investigation. Lewis said prosecutors will look closely at what rioters told the FBI and the committee.

“You’ve kind of seen a bit of the butting of heads between legislative and executive in terms of DOJ wanting those transcribed interviews now [and] the committee, holding off on that for a bit. But I think ultimately, when you do see that transferral [of documents], if anything, I think it would just serve to provide further evidence to DOJ for their ongoing prosecutions,” he said.
K now something of substance worth paying some attention to
 

XsjadoBlayde

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Well, shit, there it is.



On the evening of October 31, 2020, Steve Bannon told a group of associates that President Donald Trump had a plan to declare victory on election night—even if he was losing. Trump knew that the slow counting of Democratic-leaning mail-in ballots meant the returns would show early leads for him in key states. His “strategy” was to use this fact to assert that he had won, while claiming that the inevitable shifts in vote totals toward Joe Biden must be the result of fraud, Bannon explained.

“What Trump’s gonna do, is just declare victory. Right? He’s gonna declare victory. But that doesn’t mean he’s a winner,” Bannon, laughing, told the group, according to audio of the meeting obtained by Mother Jones. “He’s just gonna say he’s a winner.”

“He’s gonna declare victory. But that doesn’t mean he’s a winner.”
“As it sits here today,” Bannon said later in the conversation, describing a scenario in which Trump held an early lead in key swing states, “at 10 or 11 o’clock Trump’s gonna walk in the Oval, tweet out, ‘I’m the winner. Game over. Suck on that.'”

Trump’s plan to falsely declare victory while tens of millions of votes were still being counted was public knowledge even before the election. Axios reported on the scheme at the time. Bannon himself discussed the idea on November 3—Election Day—on his War Room podcast. Weeks earlier, Bannon had interviewed a former Trump administration official who outlined how Trump would would use allegations of fraud to dispute an electoral defeat and would seek to have Congress declare him the winner. Last month, the congressional committee investigating January 6 detailed how Rudy Giuliani convinced Trump to go ahead with a victory declaration after 2 a.m. on November 4, over the objections of campaign staff. “Frankly, we did win this election,” Trump insisted in that infamous news conference.

The nearly hour-long audio obtained by Mother Jones is new evidence that Trump’s late-night diatribe—which came a few hours later than Bannon had anticipated—followed a preexisting plan to lie to Americans about the election results in a bid to hold onto power. The new recording stands out for the striking candor and detail with which Bannon described a scheme to use lies to subvert democracy. Bannon also predicted that Trump’s false declaration of victory would lead to widespread political violence, along with “crazy” efforts by Trump to stay in office. Bannon and his associates laughed about those scenarios at various points in the recording.

Bannon and his attorney, Robert Costello, did not respond to questions about the recording.

After election day, Bannon became a prominent booster of Trump’s bogus election fraud claims. The Washington Post reported Monday that Bannon’s “vociferous support” for those lies helped convince Trump to grant him a last-minute pardon on unrelated fraud charges. Speaking to Mother Jones, Costello questioned that reporting. He said that as far as he knew, “Trump never made any such statement” linking the pardon to Bannon’s election rhetoric.

Bannon refused last year to cooperate with a January 6 committee subpoena. The Justice Department later charged him with two counts of contempt of Congress. This weekend, he claimed that he now wishes to testify before the committee. But federal prosecutors argued this about face was “irrelevant” to the charges that Bannon had already broken the law. A judge ruled Monday that the trial would go forward next week.

The pre-election audio comes from a meeting between Bannon and a half dozen supporters of Guo Wengui, an exiled Chinese mogul for whom Bannon has worked. Bannon helped Guo launch a series of pro-Trump Chinese-language news websites that have promoted an array of far-right misinformation, including a video streaming site called GTV. The meeting was intended to help GTV plan its election night coverage.

Though he did not attend, Guo arranged the confab, which was held in the Washington, DC, townhouse where Bannon tapes War Room, according to a person who was present. That source recorded the meeting and recently provided the audio to Mother Jones. The attendees included Dr. Li Meng Yan, a virologist who had made unsubstantiated claims that Covid was designed by China as a bioweapon—claims Bannon had helped to propagate. Also there was Wang Dinggang, a GTV host who had helped to spread false claims about Hunter Biden.


Speaking to this group of mostly Chinese immigrants, Bannon explained US electoral processes—and Trump’s plans to exploit them—in some detail. He emphasized that in 2020, Republicans were more likely to vote in person, casting ballots that, in many states, would be counted first. Democrats disproportionately voted by mail. Their ballots would take days to tally in a number of states. That meant that when it came to public perceptions about who was winning, Democrats would “have a natural disadvantage,” Bannon said. “And Trump’s going to take advantage of it. That’s our strategy. He’s gonna declare himself a winner.”

“So when you wake up Wednesday morning, it’s going to be a firestorm,” Bannon continued. “You’re going to have antifa, crazy. The media, crazy. The courts are crazy. And Trump’s gonna be sitting there mocking, tweeting shit out: ‘You lose. I’m the winner. I’m the king.'”

It’s not clear how much influence Bannon, who had previously been Trump’s top White House strategist before being ousted, really wielded over Trump at this time. But Bannon has suggested that he was a key architect of Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results and has reportedly asserted that he convinced Trump to make January 6 a moment of reckoning in that bid. Bannon was also among the Trump associates who gathered in a set of rooms and suites in the Willard Hotel on January 6 to advise on the president’s attempt to remain in power.

Bannon’s remarks to Guo’s supporters indicate that he was working with a group, led by Giuliani, that wanted Trump to take particularly aggressive steps to contest unfavorable election results. Other advisers have said they opposed these steps. Bannon said during the October 31 meeting that he was collaborating closely with Giuliani, who was preparing to oversee Trump’s planned legal efforts.

Bannon’s meeting with Guo’s associates occurred a few weeks after Bannon, working with Giuliani, had provided the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop to the New York Post. Bannon acknowledged in the recording that he had also helped supply Guo supporters with this material. As Mother Jones has reported, Guo then directed his backers to put sex videos and other salacious content from the laptop online. Bannon praised Guo’s effort during the meeting, saying it had helped slow Biden’s momentum. That left Biden with little prospect of a resounding election night victory that Trump wouldn’t easily be able to contest, Bannon added.

As a result, any chance for a “peaceful resolution of this is probably gone,” Bannon said. “Because the other three alternatives [are], either Biden’s up slightly and Trump says he stole it, right, and he’s not leaving. Or it’s undefined and we can’t figure out who’s leading, and Trump’s saying he’s stealing it, and he’s not leaving. Or, Trump’s leading, which is the one where they’re gonna burn the city down.”

Bannon expressed the belief that Trump actually winning would lead to violence by the left. But he also said that Trump falsely claiming he’d won—a strategy Bannon was cheering on—would probably cause violence too. And Bannon emphasized that election night would mark the start of a battle for power in which Trump would try to stop the votes of people who opposed him from being counted, while Democrats would try to use invalid ballots to defeat him. Democrats, Bannon claimed, “steal elections all the time.”

Election Day 2020 would not be like others, Bannon said. “This is a revolution,” he explained. “This election just triggers more fighting.”


Bannon also said during this meeting that once the voting was done, Trump would be unencumbered by electoral pressure. “Here’s the thing. After then, Trump never has to go to a voter again,” Bannon said. “He’s gonna fire [Christopher] Wray, the FBI director…He’s gonna say ‘Fuck you. How about that?’ Because…he’s done his last election. Oh, he’s going to be off the chain—he’s gonna be crazy.”

Bannon also said he expected that Trump would quickly fire CIA Director Gina Haspel, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Heath and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, and Dr. Anthony Fauci.

“If Trump is losing by 10 or 11 o’clock at night, it’s going to be even crazier. No, because he’s gonna sit right there and say, ‘They stole it. I’m directing the attorney general to shut down all ballot places in all 50 states,'” Bannon said. “He’s not going out easy. If Biden is winning, Trump is going to do some crazy shit.”
 
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