Election '20

'Trump told me to do this': Analyst predicts ex-president’s aides’ conflict 'only going to increase'

Former acting solicitor general and law professor Neal Katyal joined MSNBC's The Beat with Ari Melber Tuesday to discuss whether "political activity" falls under the list of official duties for government employees.

Ex-Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and former Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division Jeffrey Clark, who were both indicted by a Fulton County Superior Court grand jury last month alongside ex-President Donald Trump on charges related to their efforts to overturn the 2020 election, both argue that they were acting within their official duties as government officials.

When Melber asked Katyal whether their argument stands, he replied, "There's no world in which overthrowing an election, Ari, is part of your job duties. Look, I worked at the Justice Department twice. Everyone at the Justice Department knows there's a strict prohibition against employees engaging in political activity as part of their job. So, leave aside that engage in coup — just the claim that Meadows made today is, 'Well, there's no way to have a line between politics and the regular work of a government official,' and that is just totally wrong. There is no Donald Trump exception to the Hatch Act, which is the act that forbids political activity by people in the Justice Department, and with respect to Meadows — I think the most important thing — this is why he lost his removal motion. The judge in a 49-page opinion said the Constitution cuts out the executive branch from one thing — which is presidential elections — for the most important of reasons."

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Katyal continued, "Otherwise you'd use your powers as an incumbent to install yourself and keep yourself in power. That's why the founders did it. That's, of course, exactly what Donald Trump tried to do with Meadows and Clark and the like. And to me, the most significant point of all these court actions over the last 48 hours is you're seeing, Ari, the conflict between Trump and his aides like Meadows and Clark. But Clark is saying in his filing, 'Trump told me to do this,' and he's blaming Trump, and these kinds of conflicts are only going to increase over time."

In an op-ed published by Just Security last month, legal experts Walter Shaub, Norm L. Eisen and Joshua Kolb wrote, "The very purpose of the Hatch Act was to place political acts of the kind charged here beyond the reach of the office of chief of staff to the president. A person who holds the position of White House chief of staff may never use their official authority as a government employee to influence an election…. Put simply, Meadows cannot meet his burden of demonstrating a connection between the conduct and his duties because his duty was specifically to avoid committing the conduct. He cannot show he was 'carrying out' his 'executive duties' because his duty was to carry out a law prohibiting that conduct."

Watch the video below or at this link.

'There's no world in which overthrowing an election, Ari, is part of your job duties': legal analystyoutu.be

READ MORE: Top Georgia Republican in danger of losing her seat — here's why

'No public record' of convicted Jan. 6 rioter connected to Pennsylvania GOP senator: report

January 6 rioter Sam Lazar of Pennsylvania was recently released from prison after two years for his role in the 2021 attack on the Capitol — but now, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer, "there is no public record of any hearing where at which Lazar was convicted of a federal crime, or sentenced."

Per the Inquirer, the federal Bureau of Prisons told The Associated Press "that Lazar was released from its custody, and the basics that he'd been convicted on a charge of assaulting or resisting a police officer and had been sentenced in March to 30 months — at a hearing in Washington, D.C. that was not made public and for which there is no transcript."

However, the report notes that "Reporters for news organizations like Lancaster Online, which reported his release this summer, or the Associated Press, which this weekend published its own investigation, were told by federal authorities that any records pertaining to Lazar's case are under seal, and appeals to have those files opened up were rebuffed."

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

The Inquirer reports:

The confirmation of a secret case against Lazar — who emerged from the hothouse of right-wing political extremism in east-central Pennsylvania to become a key figure on Jan. 6 and a source of intense speculation from the online sleuths who dubbed him the '#facepaintblowhard' — is both troubling and intriguing at the same time.

The newspaper notes, "Troubling because the U.S. justice system must be as open and transparent to the American people as possible, and it strains credulity that the government would keep the case against Lazar secret for so long, especially after his release," and "Intriguing because" ahead of "his July 2021 arrest — even in the weeks after the violence of Jan. 6 — Lazar was often seen at Republican Party events and right-wing political rallies, sometimes with the man who would become the GOP's 2022 gubernatorial nominee in Pennsylvania, state Sen. Doug Mastriano."

According to the report, the GOP senator "has said he didn't cross police lines, has denied any other wrongdoing, and had said Lazar is just a guy he posed for a picture with" at a May 2021 political fundraiser for ex-President Donald Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who was recently indicted by an Atlanta grand jury for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

The Inquirer adds, "Theres no sign that Mastriano is currently being criminally investigated, and the idea that Lazar has been secretly cooperating with investigators is just speculation, for now."

READ MORE: Jan. 6 rioter Tucker Carlson claimed was a fed is now facing misdemeanor charge

Ex-United States Department of Justice official and Georgetown University law professor Randall Eliason, according to the Inquirer, "told the AP that he cannot recall a federal case ever handled in this fashion, adding that 'either there's some kind of security concern about him personally, or maybe more likely that he's cooperating in some respect that they don't want the people he's cooperating against to know about.'"

The Philadelphia Inquirer's full report is available at this link.

'That’s a crime': Legal analysts gush over exposure of Trump’s 'twofer' scheme

During Sunday night's episode of Inside with Jen Psaki, legal analysts Neil Katyal and Andrew Weissman explained why new NBC Meet the Press moderator Kristen Welker's recent interview with ex-President Donald Trump was successful.

During Welker and Trump's conversation, the former president boasted that he followed his own instincts when it came to his efforts to overturning the 2020 presidential election — not the guidance of his counsel.

"Jen, any critic of Kristen Welker Meet the Press who's like 'oh, she's not making news' — she just made huge news this morning," Katyal said. "Because Donald Trump's defense to January 6th has been one basic thing, which is, 'I relied on the advice of my lawyers. I did not have bad criminal intent, it's my lawyers who were telling me to do this.' And she got him through masterful interviewing and playing to his ego to go, 'Oh no, I did it all myself.' If you're Jack Smith this morning, you're going, 'Thank you. That's what I always thought. And yes, you hired these kind of crazy lawyers. But at the end of the day, this was you through and through.' This demonstrates his culpability right there and then, and I think makes this case that Judge Chutkan has going to trial on March 4th a lot easier."

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

Psaki then said, "So, Andrew, if you're Jack Smith's team, what are you doing, is that footage going to play in the courtroom, you think?"

Weissman replied, "It could be. Just to add to Neil's excellent point, the other thing that Kristen Welker got the president to say was essentially a part of this scheme, a part of the obstruction, a part of the 241 civil rights scheme, which is the stop of the electoral count. If you will remember, everyone thought there would be a red mirage — that the night of the election, Trump would be ahead. because the mail-in votes had not been counted. And sure enough Trump had said, 'Stop counting.' Well, that's a crime. He was saying at the time and he just said it on air to NBC stop counting the votes. That's not allowed. That is part of the scheme here so there's sort of a a twofer here. One, as Neil said, not relying on counsel and two, saying that he wanted to stop the votes of American citizens."

Watch the video below or at this link.

'That's not allowed': Legal analysts on Trump admitting to crimeyoutu.be

READ MORE: Trump flunks fact-check after Meet the Press interview goes off the rails: analysis

'I didn’t do anything wrong': Trump unsure of Mark Meadows' loyalty in GA case

Ex-President Donald Trump's former chief of staff Mark Meadows was one of the 18 indicted alongside the MAGA 2024 hopeful last month by a Fulton County Superior Court grand jury on charges related to their efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Now, the former president is hoping his ex-staffer will remain "loyal" through the trial, according to The New York Times.

In an NBC Meet the Press interview, which aired Sunday, September 17, the show's new moderator Kristen Welker asked Trump, "By the way, do you think your former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, is still loyal to you? He just pleaded not guilty in the Georgia case."

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

The ex-president replied, "Well, I hope he's loyal to me."

Welker then asked, "Do you worry about him flipping?"

Trump insisted, "I mean, I didn't do anything wrong."

The Timesnotes:

Mr. Trump has been warned by the federal judge in a case also stemming from his efforts to stay in office, brought against him by the special counsel Jack Smith, to avoid saying anything that might affect the testimony of witnesses. His comment about Mr. Meadows could attract new interest.

READ MORE: Trump flunks fact-check after Meet the Press interview goes off the rails: analysis

The New York Times' full report is available at this link (subscription required).

'Election denier' GA state senator will keep role despite indictment alongside Trump: report

Georgia state Senator Shawn Still, a Republican, will maintain his position despite his indictment last month along ex-President Donald Trump and 17 others by a Fulton County Superior Court grand jury on charges related to their attempt to overturn the 2020 election, The Associated Press reports.

"It is incredibly discouraging that the review commission has declined to do its part to protect the sanctity of our elections by holding conspiracy-driven election deniers accountable," Nicole Robinson, political director of the progressive group Fair Fight said in the statement, according to the report. "Efforts to subvert election outcomes and stifle the will of Georgia voters remain one of the biggest threats to our democracy."

Per the AP, the senator "was one of 16 Georgia Republicans who signed a certificate falsely stating that Trump had won the state and declaring themselves the state's 'duly elected and qualified' electors."

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

The news outlet notes:

Still was the secretary of that meeting and is one of only three members of that group who was indicted. He faces seven counts, including the main racketeering charge as well as felony counts of impersonating a public officer, forgery, attempting to file false documents and false statements and writings, all stemming from the elector meeting.

The AP reports, "Still was not in public office in December 2020 when the Republican electors met. He was elected in 2022 and is serving his first term."

READ MORE: Meet the pastor who was indicted with Trump in Georgia

The Associated Press' full report is available at this link.

Why Jack Smith had 'no choice' but to issue gag order against Trump: experts

Special Counsel Jack Smith on Friday asked U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan to narrowly limit the speech of defendant Donald Trump in the federal government’s case prosecuting the ex-president’s alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 election. One legal expert praising the DOJ’s move says it also puts it “one step closer to raising the concern that Trump’s intimidation of witnesses violates his conditions of release,” while another says at this point DOJ had “no choice.”

Smith’s request is focused on preventing the ex-president from targeting or attacking witnesses and protecting the jury pool.

“The Government seeks a narrow, well-defined restriction that is targeted at extrajudicial statements that present a serious and substantial danger of materially prejudicing this case,” attorneys for Smith’s wrote in their motion, as The Messengerreports.

Smith seeks to “bar ‘statements regarding the identity, testimony, or credibility of prospective witnesses’ and ‘statements about any party, witness, attorney, court personnel, or potential jurors that are disparaging and inflammatory, or intimidating.'”

CBS News’ Scott Macfarlane observes, “Jack Smith’s argument for a partial gag order emphasizes concern about Trump tainting the DC jury pool.. ‘defendant’s statements reasonably could have a material impact on the impartiality of the jury pool while simultaneously influencing witness testimony.'”

In his motion, Smith’s office writes, “The defendant has an established practice of issuing inflammatory public statements targeted at individuals or institutions that present an obstacle or challenge to him,” as NBC News reported. It also says that the ex-president “made clear his intent to issue public attacks related to this case when, the day after his arraignment, he posted a threatening message on Truth Social.”

“IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!” read that message from August 4.

Attorney Luppe B. Lupin points out the Special Counsel’s office included “a lot” of Trump’s Truth Social posts as evidence in the motion. NCRM counted ten.

Smith’s lengthy motion, 19 pages, continues, reading: “In service of his criminal conspiracies, through false public statements, the defendant sought to erode public faith in the administration of the election and intimidate individuals who refuted his lies.”

“The defendant is now attempting to do the same thing in this criminal case,” they add, “to undermine confidence in the criminal justice system and prejudice the jury pool through disparaging and inflammatory attacks on the citizens of this District, the Court, prosecutors, and prospective witnesses.”

The word “harassment” appears seven times in the Special Counsel’s motion, including here: “The defendant knows that when he publicly attacks individuals and institutions, he inspires others to perpetrate threats and harassment against his targets.”

Legal experts have awaited a move from the DOJ to ask Judge Chutkan to impose some sort of restriction on Trump’s ability to harass or intimidate witnesses and prejudice his case in the court of public opinion.

The Messenger’s senior legal correspondent Adam Klasfeld notes, “This is a step prosecutors previously avoided in any of Trump’s criminal cases to date.”

National security attorney Brad Moss told The Messenger if any other defendant had done what Trump has done prosecutors would have requested a gag order long ago.

“If this were any — and I do mean any — other criminal defendant, this restriction would have been imposed weeks ago,” Moss said. “The Justice Department was far more accommodating than they otherwise would have been but had no choice but to take action to seek what is effectively a narrow and limited gag order against Mr. Trump.”

See the social media post above or at this link.

'You had no role': Ex-RNC chair blasts Lindsey Graham for thinking he had 'more clout' than GA senators

Former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele tore into United States Senator Lindsey Graham on Monday over the GOP senator's recent assertion that he never told Georgia election officials to "go find the votes."

Graham is one of the 21 individuals a Georgia special grand jury recommended for prosecution over their alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election, but Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis chose not to pursue charges.

Spectrum News reports, "Speaking to reporters later Friday, Graham maintained that what he did was 'consistent' with his job responsibilities as a U.S. Senator and 'at the end of the day, nothing happened.'"

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

The Republican said, "I called around different states including Georgia as a sitting Untied States senator, chairman of the Judiciary Committee. I eventually certified the election in all states, including Georgia. I didn't find any evidence of mass voter fraud, but I did have concerns about the mail-in ballot systems in Georgia and other places."

During Monday's episode of MSNBC's The Beat with Ari Melber, Melber asked Steele, "What do you hear when you hear Graham now saying, 'I never said what Trump said, 'Go find the votes.'"

Steele replied, "Can't stroke back fast enough from what he knows is a very volatile and very dangerous legal position to be in. Number one, as a U.S. senator, you have no role here. It's ceremonial. You come up you sit in the chamber, you cast that vote, you move on. Now, there are questions as a process within the Senate to deal with that. Ask him, in any other election, did you make a phone call in 2000, Bush v. Gore election, saying, 'Did you make that call? What the hell was going on in Florida?' No you didn't. Why? Because you had no role there. So, the inquiries he was making was on behalf of Trump. He was bringing pressure from elsewhere. You're the senator from South Carolina."

Stele continued, "If the senator from the state of Georgia didn't make the phone call, why the hell are you making it? When do you have more clout than they do to enforce the secretary of state of their state to act or engage in a way that is contra, or counterintuitive, number one, but illegal, potentially. Where does that come from? So, Lindsey — it's all over the place. Right? There's no straight line here with them. If you claim someone is a racist, then you embrace them, what does that make you? If you claim someone is an insurrectionist, and you embrace them, what does that make you? So, you know, these guys want to tell America, now, 'Well, I was against Donald Trump before I was with him, but now I'm against him again.' We're just not having any of it. Stop it. We don't care. You have shown us you are, and the legal system caught up with you, and now you are going to sit there and say, 'Well, all I did was just want to find out what was going on.' Well you had no role or place to do that. And the judge, again, caught you on it."

READ MORE: 'Not done yet': Legal expert suggests Lindsey Graham can still face charges

Watch the video below or at this link.

'Very volatile': Ex-RNC chair blasts Lindsey Graham for changing his storyyoutu.be

Spectrum News' full report is available at this link.

'It’s getting worse': Legal experts brace for what 'desperate' Trump will 'do to stay free'

Democracy Docket founder Marc Elias is "really worried" about what ex-President Donald Trump might do next.

The leader of the organization, which identifies as "the leading progressive source for information, analysis and opinion about voting rights, elections and democracy," spoke with MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace Monday about the former president's efforts to have the Supreme Court of the United States "intercede" on his behalf as he faces four criminal indictments.

CNBC notes:

While the Supreme Court has in the past been tasked with making major decisions about presidential elections — perhaps most notably by ruling on a disputed recount in Florida in 2000 — it’s far from clear what Trump expects the high court to do about his 78 criminal charges. In most cases, the Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction, meaning it considers cases that have been appealed from lower courts.

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

"You know, Marc," Wallace said. "I want to ask you to pull the thread forward and ask you what you think it means he will do next time when it comes to the Supreme Court, because Trump doesn't come up with new plays but he does sort of innovate the old plays and they become more and more audacious."

Elias replied, "So I'm really worried. I'm really worried. I mean, look what Donald Trump and his allies were willing to do to keep him in power. Now, project forward to 2024, when he believes that his only chance to maintain freedom, to not be a convicted felon, to not potentially face prison is to regain the White House and pardon himself or whatever. And look at who those 126 members are. you know, it was 126 in December. By the time you got to — by the time you got to the evening of January 6th, he got more than 140 votes in the House. Look at the House of Representatives today. He would get probably 200 members of the Republican conference today.

He continued, "Nicolle, I'm worried because it's getting worse. He's gotten more desperate. the Republican Party has become more anti-democracy. Our systems of elections have become weakened from the battering that they have taken from Republican election deniers and election subverters. And so, as we move towards elections in 2024, we're all going to have to do more to lift up and strengthen the people who run our elections, our election laws, our election systems, because I fear that Donald Trump has more in store."

Wallace replied, "I think it turns on what you just articulated too. The things he was willing to do to stay powerful, right? That's what we are mining for clues. But that's not apples and apples. These are the things what he's going to do to our country next are the things that he has to do to stay free. And freedom is much more important to him than running the country. I think you always have your eye on the things we should be looking at, Marc Elias. Thank you for being here and keeping our eyes on it as well."

READ MORE: Trump would have to serve 5 years in prison before he's eligible for a pardon in Georgia: legal expert

Watch the video below or at this link.

CNBC's full report is available at this link.

Top election officials from these 6 states are 'considering' keeping Trump off the ballot: report

Top election officials from "at least six states," according to The Messenger, are considering legal arguments that former President Donald Trump "is ineligible to hold office under Article III of the Constitution's 14th Amendment because of his alleged involvement in a criminal conspiracy to steal the 2020 election and remain in power."

Per the report, "Officials in Alaska, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Rhode Island all told The Messenger that they are aware of the ongoing legal discussion about the 14th Amendment, and are considering it carefully."

The news outlet distributed a survey to elections administrators across the country, which revealed that officials in several states are questioning Trump's eligibility.

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

Despite Alaska having — as Anchorage Daily News reports — "a long history of voting strongly Republican for president," Republican Chief of Staff to the state's Lieutenant Governor Nancy Dahlstrom told The Messenger, "Alaska Division of Elections is aware of these arguments and will consider them if necessary."

The Messenger reports:

Election officials in deep-blue Vermont currently believe they do not have the power to disqualify Trump, but expressed openness to investigating the issue. Colorado's Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold, who is being sued in a lawsuit seeking to disqualify Trump in her state, said that she welcomed the court's 'substantive resolution of the issues,' suggesting that she too is awaiting judicial intervention before taking any action.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said, "We recognize the serious legal arguments regarding candidate eligibility and the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution," but "important questions remain. As facts and court proceedings continue to unfold, we will proceed and make all decisions from a position of what the law and constitution requires.”

The Messenger notes, "At least seven other secretaries of state — from Illinois, Minnesota, Nevada, South Carolina, South Dakota, Washington State, and West Virginia — ruled out the possibility that they would exclude Trump from the ballots on their own, absent a court order."

READ MORE: Election officials told the truth — and now Trump is being held accountable

The Messenger's report is available at this link.

'Stop being stupid': Ex-RNC chair slams Clark and other 'flat out wrong' alleged Trump co-conspirators

During a Saturday morning interview, former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele urged GOP leaders to "stop being stupid" by defending ex-President Donald Trump and the 18 others indicted by an Atlanta grand jury last month.

Appearing on MSNBC's Velshi with Ali Velshi, the former Maryland lieutenant governor blasted conservative attorney Jeffrey Clark's suggestion that in allegedly assisting Trump with efforts to overturn the 2020 election he was "actually doing government work."

PBS reports:

Clark is also believed to be one of the six co-conspirators listed in the Justice Department's indictment of Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Though Trump is the only person charged in the indictment, the other co-conspirators, who are not yet named in the indictment, could still face charges.

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

During Velshi and Steele's conversation, Velshi said, "Jeffrey Clark is intriguing to me. He was an employee of the Department of Justice. Up to no good, but he has, he is making the case that 'I was actually doing government work.'"

Steele replied, "He's full of it. Because, you're right, he wasn't doing government work. There was no government work involved here. This was in the back end of a hotly contested presidential campaign. Campaign! Donald Trump wasn't running you know, an operation inside the government to secure the rights for fill in the blank, or to negotiate a deal with our allies abroad. There was no, no nexus to the State Department, or other government agencies who would be involved in this. This was a straight up political contest in which the president wanted to use the authority, and power, and instruments of the government to get his way. And Clark and others who were inside, all those others, even Mark Meadows, these government officials, the moment they picked up the phone, and called Brad Raffensperger, in my humble opinion, they were in violation of the Hatch Act."

He continued, "They did it on government property, with government property, having a political conversation. Trying to change the outcome of a political campaign. So, let's stop being stupid and getting caught in this space with these idiots, and believing, and pushing out their narratives. Because they are flat out wrong. And we need to be honest about that, and stand up, and push back against the noise they're making. They want to confuse the jury pool, Ali. This is all about the jury pools that will be put together over the next few months. This is not about anything other than that, so they can get that one juror, when Trump's name comes up, goes 'Oh no, Trump is not guilty,' and the whole thing falls apart."

Watch the video below or at this link.

READ MORE: 'Your entitlement is showing': Indicted Trump DOJ official mocked for demanding 5 PM response from judge

Ex-RNC chair slams Republicans defending Trump and others' violation of Hatch Actyoutu.be

PBS' full report is available at this link.

'Two-tiered justice': Republican presidential candidates slammed for floating MAGA rioter pardons

As longtime Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was handed his sentencing of 22 years in prison by a Washington, DC federal judge for his involvement in organizing the January 6, 2021 insurrection on the United States Capitol this week, Republican leaders rushed to defend those involved in the attack and even threatened future violence, The Daily Beast senior columnist Matt Lewis writes in a recent op-ed.

Tarrio was the last of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers leaders to be sentenced, while more than 1,000 other rioters have also been charged and sentenced across the country this year.

Lewis points to the fact Florida governor and 2024 GOP hopeful Ron DeSantis, former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Pailin, ex-Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, and DeSantis' rival — biotech multimillionaire Vivek Ramaswamy, all painted January 6 rioters as heroes. DeSantis and Ramaswamy both suggested they would work to pardon rioters if elected.

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

Regarding to DeSantis' warning that he'd pardon the "excessive sentences" and his comparing of Black Lives Matter protestors to January 6 rioters, Lewis writes:

There is the implication that America now has a two-tiered justice system, where people on the right are being targeted and receiving 'excessive' sentences (never mind the fact that Tarrio's sentence was handed down by a Trump-appointed judge—or that sentences handed down were below what the government was seeking).

The columnist notes that "Scott Adams, the right-wing creator of the 'Dilbert' comic strip, tweeted this week that '2024 isn't a presidential election. It's a pardon hearing for J6. Treat it that way.' It's a message that the rioters, themselves, have embraced. 'Oh, I know [Trump will] pardon us,' Joe Biggs, a Proud Boys member who was sentenced to 17 years in prison, declared recently. 'I believe that with all my heart.'"

Lewis notes:

Regardless of the sentencing, it seems likely that the fate of the Capitol rioters will ultimately be determined based on which party wins next year’s presidential election. So while their prosecution wasn't politically motivated, their pardoning most certainly would be.

He adds, "2024 won't just be about pardoning the Jan. 6 rioters; the 2024 election may very well impact whether [ex-President] Donald Trump is in a position to pardon himself," emphasizing that Republican leaders have pointed to the potential of violence if Trump loses again.

READ MORE: Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio sentenced to 22 years: report

Lewis points to ex-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who said this week, "People in power use their police agencies to arrest their opponents for made-up crimes in an attempt to discredit them bankrupt and imprison them, exile them, are all of the above. And if you're not paying attention, you may not realize that [President] Joe Biden is using exactly those tactics to make sure that Donald Trump is not his opponent in 2024. If these tactics end up working to keep Trump from winning or even running in 2024, it is going to be the last American election that will be decided by ballots rather than bullets."

Anti-gun activist Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was murdered during the 2018 Parkland High School mass shooting, earlier this week blasted Huckabee as "a domestic terrorist who has gotten away with using religion for too many years while pushing hate and violence. His most recent comments should be taken seriously and result in his arrest."

The Daily Beast's full report is available at this link (subscription required).

'A lot of them have been running for office': Author warns Proud Boys 'aren’t going away'

After a Washington, DC federal district court sentenced Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio to 22 years in prison for his role in organizing the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol Tuesday, HuffPost senior editor and author of We are Proud Boys Andy Campbell warned many of the group's members are still "running for office" and "mobilizing at rapid clip" around the country.

During Tuesday's episode of MSNBC's The Reid Out, guest host Jonathan Capehart asked Campbell to offer more details about who Tarrio is, and to explain what may have influenced him to lead the far-right group to

Campbell replied, "Enrique Tarrio has been the Proud Boys chairman since 2018, when their founder Gavin McGinnis stepped down. He got involved in politics around the same time as Trump rose in Miami-Dade County, Florida. And it was there that he met people like Roger Stone, Trump's top confidante, and also members of the Proud Boys, and he realized that through the Proud Boys he could put a violent edge to his political grievances. that's exactly what the proud boys do for a living."

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

He continued, "And so he took the mantle here and realized that if the Proud Boys are seen as a fight gang on the street, they're going to dissolve pretty quickly. So he wanted to make them more of a political monster. And sure enough, like you said, the Proud Boys probably aren't going away because a lot of them have been running for office as Enrique Tarrio told them, and even as their leaders sit behind bars today, the Proud Boys are mobilizing at rapid clip. They're taking local seats at school boards and local Republican committees in Florida. They're really trying to go for something more politically legitimate here, and Enrique Tarrio was a big part of making that happen for them."

Watch the video below or at this link.

'We Are Proud Boys" author Andy Campbell on Enrique Tarrio sentencingwww.youtube.com

READ MORE: Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio sentenced to 22 years: report

Trump’s 'daily' statements 'threaten to prejudice the jury pool’ special counsel signals to Judge Chutkan

Tucked away in a court filing Tuesday was a statement from Special Counsel Jack Smith’s office warning U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan that Donald Trump’s “daily” statements “threaten to prejudice the jury pool.”

Trump is using his Truth Social social media account to target prosecutors, judges, and others involved, directly or indirectly, in his criminal cases.

Judge Chutkan is presiding over the federal government’s case against the ex-president surrounding his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and his alleged efforts surrounding the January 6, 2021 insurrection.

READ MORE: ‘Their Is No System of Justice’: Trump Lashes Out at Judge Chutkan, Fani Willis, Letitia James in Wild Series of Rants

Trump’s legal team complained that federal prosecutors had failed to notify them of a filing made “under seal,” meaning a filing the public cannot see, but Smith’s office told the judge they had notified the Trump legal team of the filing, just not that it would be sealed.

The Special Prosecutor’s attorneys noted in their response, “…given the pressing matters before the Court including the defendant’s daily extrajudicial statements that threaten to prejudice the jury pool in this case…,” as Politico’s Kyle Cheney reported.

“Prosecutors made that claim as they pushed back on a call by Trump’s lawyers to allow a three-week briefing process for Judge Tanya Chutkan to decide whether ‘every ordinary’ court filing that refers to sensitive materials should be placed on the court’s public docket,” CNBC reports. “The claim by prosecutors that Trump’s out-of-court statements could make it difficult to seat a fair jury in the case came as part of a squabble with his lawyers over the protocol for filing legal motions.”

READ MORE: ‘Divisiveness. Anger. Marginalization’: Top Florida Paper Warns What DeSantis Would Do ‘to the Whole Country’

The filing in question refers to what what prosecutors called “Sensitive Materials,” generally documents or information the government believes should not be revealed to the general public.

“Chutkan later issued an order granting Trump’s motion. She told defense lawyers to respond to the prosecutors’ motion to file their document under seal by Monday,” CNBC adds.

Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio sentenced to 22 years: report

Ex-Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was sentenced Tuesday in a Washington, D.C. federal district court to 22 years in prison for his role in the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol, The New York Times reports.

The United States Department of Justice sought a sentencing of 33 years for the 39-year-old, according to Associated Press, "describing him as the ringleader of a plot to use violence to shatter the cornerstone of American democracy and overturn the election victory by Joe Biden, a Democrat, over Trump, the Republican incumbent."

Still, the Times notes Tarrio's punishment is "the most severe penalty handed down so far to any of the more than 1,100 people charged in connection with the Capitol attack."

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NBC reports:

Last week, Joe Biggs was sentenced to 17 years; Zachary Rehl to 15 years; and Ethan Nordean to 18 years, tying with Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes for the longest sentence given to a Jan. 6 defendant so far. Proud Boy Dominic Pezzola, the fifth defendant in the seditious conspiracy trial, was found not guilty of the top charge of seditious conspiracy but found guilty on other charges; he was sentenced to 10 years.

Tarrio is "the final Proud Boys leader convicted of seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack to receive his punishment," according to AP.

Although, AP notes that "Tarrio wasn't in Washington on Jan. 6 — he was arrested two days earlier in a separate case — but prosecutors say he helped put in motion and encourage the violence that stunned the world and interrupted Congress' certification of Biden's electoral victory.

READ MORE: Undisclosed 'emergency' delays Proud Boys sentencing

The New York Times full report is available at this link (subscription required). Associated Press' report is here. NBC News' report is here.

Peter Navarro complains 'this will be the most expensive week' of trial after saying he’d represent himself

Former Trump White House aide Peter Navarro, criminally-indicted on contempt of Congress charges for refusing to hand over documents and testify before the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, is now complaining about the cost of his trial after claiming initially he would represent himself.

Navarro, who wore numerous hats during the Trump administration, had claimed he did not have to comply with the legally-produced congressional subpoena because he had executive privilege, allegedly an extension of the privilege Donald Trump had asserted. A federal judge threw that argument out, leaving the former Assistant to the President and Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy with little to support his reasons for not complying.

Legal experts have said that even if Navarro’s claims of privilege had been legitimate, he still would have been legally required to assert that privilege during his testimony before the Committee.

READ MORE: ‘Bro, You’re Already Facing Charges’: Protestor Mocks Peter Navarro as He Tries to Grab ‘Trump Lost’ Sign

Professor of law and former U.S. Attorney Barb McQuade commented, “Navarro prosecution is important to our system of government. Even if you believe a congressional investigation is driven by political motives, you must show up when you receive a subpoena. That’s what’s on trial starting today.”

When first indicted by a federal grand jury last year in May, “Navarro said that he still wants to represent himself without a lawyer and accused prosecutors of using ‘hardball’ tactics by arresting him at an airport and not allowing him to make a phone call,” CNNhad reported.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday, “the 74-year-old economist, still a loud proponent of the ‘stolen election’ falsehoods of his ex-boss, remains noteworthy in this sense: After right-wing provocateur Stephen K. Bannon was convicted last summer of contempt of Congress, Navarro on Tuesday became the second top official in Trump’s White House to face a criminal trial related to a scheme to undo Joe Biden’s 2020 victory at the polls.”

READ MORE: ‘Claims Are False’: DOJ Tells Judge Peter Navarro Is Lying to the Public

“And Navarro, who has pleaded not guilty, said it is costing him plenty. ‘My legal bills just went up by another half-million dollars,’ he said last week as he departed the federal courthouse in Washington, having failed in his last-ditch attempt to have the case against him thrown out.”

“By the time the trial finishes, I expect those legal fees to hit $750,000,” Navarro, who has been called a “conspiracy theorist,” said last week.

“Rarely given to understatement, Navarro cast his legal fight with the Justice Department as an epic constitutional battle over ‘the separation of powers between the legislative branch and the executive branch,’ which ‘is probably going to the Supreme Court.'”

By Tuesday afternoon, Navarro, a “fringe” economist, upped that number substantially.

“This will be the most expensive week, thus far, of this journey,” he told reporters outside the courthouse, as a protestor stood behind him. “The legal fees, because we’ll have attorneys in the courtroom, for what’s likely to be the full week, will run up the meter once again, this will be, at the end of the journey, a case costing over $1 million or more.”

READ MORE: ‘Why So Much Hate From You?’: Mark Cuban Smacks Down Stephen Miller, Twice

But last week, appearing on Steve Bannon’s “War Room,” Navarro said his legal fees would grow to $1.7 million in total, including appeals.

Watch Navarro below or at this link.

Why 'Giuliani has only himself to blame': constitutional law attorney

In a Sunday, September 3 op-ed published by MSNBC, constitutional law attorney Gerry Weber argues that ex-President Donald Trump lawyer and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani "sealed his own fate" by destroying evidence and hiding truth.

Weber writes, Giuliani recently "took pains to highlight his long career in front of Judge Beryl Howell," who "was evaluating whether the former New York City mayor had defamed Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss by falsely claiming after the 2020 election that they had committed election fraud."

Weber writes:

Giuliani has only himself to blame. He is no victim here. But there are victims, beyond the horror that befell Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss. There are also the other thousands of Americans who volunteer to ensure our election process works, who wake up early to staff the polls, and who are now under attack. No one wants to be the next target of an election denying mob. And the legal system itself has been sullied, too, by a man who was once a hero to folks of all political stripes but is now a self-admitted fabulist who helped trigger a mob. Defamation cases are hard to win. But not when an experienced and once respected lawyer destroys evidence and hides the truth.

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

Noting that "defamation cases are hard for plaintiffs to win," the Emory University School of Law professor emphasizes "each state has laws protecting citizens from lies, but the burden of proof for defamation plaintiffs is so high that only a tiny percentage of defamation cases succeed," and furthermore, "the judge said Giuliani was destroying evidence in the defamation lawsuit even as he was warned repeatedly about the consequences."

Additionally, Weber notes, "Giuliani does know better. As Howell noted on Wednesday: 'The fact that Giuliani is a sophisticated litigant with a self-professed 50 years of experience in litigation …. only underscores his lackluster preservation efforts.' In other words, said Howell, Giuliani 'plainly should have known better.'"

READ MORE: Rudy Giuliani loses defamation case filed by Georgia election workers

Weber's full op-ed is available at this link.

'Mark Meadows has a potential perjury problem': former special counsel

Former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, charged in Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis‘ racketeering prosecution of Donald Trump and his 18 co-defendants for alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election, may have some challenges surrounding possible perjury, according to several legal experts.

“Mark Meadows has a potential perjury problem,” writes professor of law Ryan Goodman, a former U.S. Dept. of Defense Special Counsel. Goodman is referring to court documents filed Thursday by Willis arguing against allowing Meadows to move his case to federal court and severing it from his co-defendants.

Professor of law and former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance says, “Willis makes a compelling argument against permitting Meadows to remove his case to fed’l court simply because one or more overt acts involved his official position, pointing out he’s charged with a conspiracy to violate the RICO act & he must have a fed’l defense to that crime.”

Willis opens by writing: “The defendant’s prosecution was not commenced against him ‘for or related to any act’ under color of his office. The defendant’s prosecution commenced because he knowingly and willfully entered into an agreement to violate the Georgia RICO Act.”

READ MORE: ‘Morality Police’: Fox News Hosts Freak Out After Canada Warns LGBTQ Travelers About Dangers of Visiting US

As Lawfare’s Anna Bower points out, even in a footnote Willis makes a good case against allowing Meadows to move his case to federal court.

“In addition to the contradiction highlighted above, the defendant said repeatedly that he misused the pronoun ‘we,’ an assertion that would materially alter the plain meaning of several of his relevant statements. The defendant also repeatedly insisted he was merely ‘trying to land the plane’ and achieve ‘a peaceful transition of power,’ a statement clearly belied by his participation in the Trump campaign’s attempts to overturn the outcome of Georgia’s election.”

Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license

Iowa county Democrats quickly replace GOP auditor who spread false fraud claims: report

Iowa has long been a critical state for presidential candidates, as it holds the privilege of hosting the first presidential primary.

Ahead of the Iowa caucuses, which will be held January 15, 2024 — the same day as former president Donald Trump's trial in journalist E. Jean Carroll's defamation case against him, according to Axios — one Iowa county has replaced its Republican election auditor.

Iowa Public Radio reports a petition drive prompted a special election this week to vote out Warren County auditor David Whipple.

POLL:Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

According to the report, "Warren County supervisors selected Republican David Whipple, a manager for a private construction firm, for the job overseeing elections" in June, "over Democrat Kim Sheets, the deputy county auditor who has worked in local government for 20 years."

Whipple, Iowa Public Radio notes, posted to Facebook "false claims of fraud" regarding the 2020 election, although he has said he "does not believe the claims he shared and that he accepts the vote was valid."

Per the report, Sheets emphasized, "As I've always said, good government is drama-free and non-partisan. The people expect to be able to count on their leaders to do their jobs and do it right. That’s what I’ve always done, and I’m happy to make that pledge again tonight."

READ MORE: 'We like to be courted': Iowa GOP 'pretty open' to 2024 candidates besides Trump and DeSantis

Iowa Public Radio's full report is available at this link. Axios' report is here.

Trump Jr. wants MAGA fans to buy mugshot merch from him — not 'other people'

During an episode of his Triggered podcast earlier this week, ex-President Donald Trump's son Donald Trump Jr. said that he would prefer if his MAGA fans bought merchandise displaying his father's mugshot from him than from "other people," HuffPost reports.

"I get other people have made [a] very good living doing the MAGA merch, even if none of the money actually goes toward the [Trump] campaign or the cause," the ex-president's son said.

To Trump Jr., other people are just planning on "lining their own pockets, but he, according to HuffPost, "doesn't 'feel right about profiting' from his dad's arrest."

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

The MAGA hopeful had his mugshot taken in a Fulton County Jail last week when he was booked days after an Atlanta grand jury indicted him and 18 others on criminal charges related to their alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

"I’d probably actually get killed in the press, thinking about it now," he said, referring to potential backlash he'd receive for profiting off the former president's mug shot.

HuffPost notes, "If, however, one does want to buy some mug shot merchandise, he said, they can go to his website, where they'll find a veritable cornucopia of shirts, posters, koozies, hoodies and coffee mugs featuring the infamous photo."

He said, "That's the nature of capitalism. But I figured if you're going to buy it, this is a good place to do it."

Additionally, according to the report, "Stressing that it's 'important' to show support for his father, the younger Trump promised he would give 'all of the profits' to his dad's legal defense fund to 'push back against some of the insanity, the miscarriage of justice.'"

READ MORE: Look: Trump mugshot released

HuffPost's full report is available at this link.

'That’s the hell of her': Author slams 'pathetic' Nikki Haley’s inconsistent Trump support

In a New York Times op-ed published Tuesday, August 29, Duke University professor of journalism and public policy Frank Bruni argues that despite the display of "undeniable smarts" on the GOP debate stage, former South Carolina governor and Republican candidate Nikki Haley is "pathetic."

He writes, "I have this thing called a memory. And as one of my favorite classic rock bands pledged, I won't get fooled again. Past Haley, present Haley, future Haley: They're all constructs, all creations, malleable, negotiable, tethered not to dependable principle but to reliable opportunism. That's the truth of her. That's the hell of her."

Recalling Haley's inconsistent support of former President Donald Trump since his loss to President Joe Biden in 2020, Bruni emphasizes, "When I tell you that's pathetic, it's an understatement."

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

The professor references a December 2020 profile that then Politico journalist Tim Alberta wrote about the GOP hopeful, noting that "for a month," former President Donald "Trump had been denying the results of the presidential election, spreading his conspiracy theories, undermining the peaceful transfer of power and doing profound damage to the country. And while Haley let Alberta know that she had the president's ear and had called him in the middle of it all, she made equally clear that she hadn’t felt a smidgen of responsibility to talk some sense and decency into him."

A month later, after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Bruni notes, "Along came the insurrection of Jan. 6, and Haley suddenly snapped to. She talked to Alberta on Jan. 12. She told him she was 'disgusted' by Trump's treatment of [former Vice President and 2024 GOP hopeful] Mike Pence. 'When I tell you I’m angry, it's an understatement,' she said."

However, after "The Senate had acquitted Trump of the charges that led to his second impeachment. Many other Republican leaders had moved on from any denunciations of his actions on Jan. 6. And his hold on the party’s' base had proved enduring," Bruni writes — and that includes Haley.

The "Beauty of the Dusk" author adds that "By April, her ire was embers and her vow a puff of smoke. At a public appearance in Orangeburg, S.C., she told The Associated Press that if Trump decided to run for president again, she would support him and would not seek the Republican Party's nomination herself. (Ha!)"

READ MORE: 'Straight up communism': Nikki Haley echoes Marjorie Taylor Greene rhetoric to attack Democrats

Bruni's full op-ed is available at this link (subscription required).

Witnesses told Jack Smith Giuliani consumed 'significant quantities of alcohol' on the job: report

An exclusive Tuesday, August 29 Rolling Stone report highlights United States Department of Justice special counsel Jack Smith's investigation into ex-President Donald Trump attorney Rudy Guiliani's possible "alcohol consumption" while assisting the former president's alleged ploy to overturn the 2020 election.

The former New York mayor was among 18 individuals indicted August 1 along with the 2024 MAGA hopeful by a Fulton County Superior Court grand jury on charges related to their alleged 2020 election interference.

Per Rolling Stone, "Smith's team of federal investigators have asked" witnesses "questions about how seemingly intoxicated Giuliani was during the weeks he was giving Trump advice on how to cling to power, according to a source who’s been in the room with Smith's team, one witness's attorney, and a third person familiar with the matter."

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to hold office again?

The publication reports:

Last year, when the House select committee probing the Jan. 6 attack held public hearings, the panel aired video clips of depositions of Trump brass, which included senior Trump adviser Jason Miller telling congressional investigators: 'I think the mayor was definitely intoxicated, but I do not know his level of intoxication when he spoke with the president' on Election Night.

When these clips went viral, Giuliani angrily responded in a tweet that he 'REFUSED all alcohol that evening,' and that he was 'disgusted and outraged at the out right lie.'

However, the report notes, "None of this stopped claims of his public drunkenness from entering the public record, in the form of another high-stakes, wide-ranging investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and Trump's efforts to cling to power."

Furthermore, sources told Rolling Stone that "Some witnesses told Smith's team that they saw Giuliani consuming significant quantities of alcohol; some told the special counsel’s office that they could clearly smell alcohol on Giuliani's breath, including on election night, and that they noticed distinct changes in his demeanor from hours prior."

An ex-Assistant United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, Mitchell Epner said, "In order to rely upon an advice of counsel defense, the defendant has to, number one, have made full disclosure of all material facts to the attorney. That requires that the attorney understands what's being told to them. If you know that your attorney is drunk, that does not count as making full disclosure of all material facts."

READ MORE: Giuliani booking photo released

Rolling Stone notes:

Federal prosecutors often aren't interested in investigating mere alcohol consumption. But according to lawyers and witnesses who've been in the room with special counsel investigators, Smith and his team are interested in this subject because it could help demonstrate that Trump was implementing the counsel of somebody he knew to be under the influence and perhaps not thinking clearly. If that were the case, it could add to federal prosecutors' argument that Trump behaved with willful recklessness in his attempts nullify the 2020 election — by relying heavily on a lawyer he believed to be working while inebriated, and another who he bashed for spouting 'crazy' conspiracy theories that Trump ran with anyway.

READ MORE: Trump's refusal to pay Rudy Giuliani worse than we thought: report

Rolling Stone's full report is available at this link (subscription required).

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