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Mitch McConnell's fake outrage fails to conceal his own betrayal

After voting to acquit former President Donald Trump of inciting an insurrection on Jan. 6, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell did something few were expecting.

He took to the Senate floor and explained why Trump was guilty.

"There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day," Mcconnell said. "The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president. And their having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories, and reckless hyperbole which the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet Earth."

It was a forceful, clear, and powerful speech, one that would have fit well among the many widely praised performances by the House impeachment managers. But rather than mitigating McConnell's vote to acquit, it only aggravated the wrong he had done by covering, once again, for Trump. In attempting to strike a balance between voting in Trump's favor and verbally condemning him, McConnell only made it crystal clear that he's just as guilty as the former president.

"Former President Trump's actions preceding the riot were a disgraceful dereliction of duty," McConnell said. That was true. But on Feb. 13, McConnell — along with many but not all of his Senate Republican colleagues, 43 of whom voted to acquit — were derelict in their own duties to hold Trump accountable.

McConnell's dereliction and betrayal of his office, however, was unique. The excuse he gave for voting to acquit Trump was based on a technicality that he personally engineered.

He claimed the former president is "constitutionally not eligible for conviction," citing the argument made by Trump's lawyers that because the Senate trial occurred after Trump left office, it was improperly held. And he blamed the House of Representatives for this fact: "Donald Trump was the President when the House voted, though not when the House chose to deliver the papers."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, speaking after McConnell's remarks, eagerly rebutted this claim: "When this distinguished group of House managers were gathered on Jan. 15 to deliver the articles of impeachment, we're told it could not be received because Mitch McConnell had shut down the Senate. And was going to keep it shut down until the inauguration."

She added: "It is so pathetic that Senator McConnell kept the Senate shut down so that the Senate could not receive the article of impeachment and has used that as his excuse for not voting to convict Donald Trump."

McConnell even admitted as much in another part of his speech when he said: "The Senate was right not to entertain some light-speed sham process to try to outrun the loss of jurisdiction."

So he essentially acknowledged that it was his choice to force a situation in which he now claims that Trump can no longer be held accountable by Congress. His suggestion that it would've been a "light-speed sham process" to conduct a snap trial after the House passed the article of impeachment doesn't hold up. The House was able to vote quickly to approve the article on a bipartisan basis. McConnell himself said there is "no question" that Trump did what the House accused him of. In another portion of the speech, McConnell called the impeachment power an "intra-governmental safety valve" — an apt phrase. But the point is to use it, and it provides little safety if it can't be used swiftly in an emergency.

An impeachment trial is not a criminal proceeding, so it doesn't need to have the traditional level of due process usually afforded by the courts. Congress can adapt its procedures based on the seriousness of the violation in question and the persuasiveness of the available evidence. And McConnell's remarks make clear: he thinks the evidence was decisive. Trump's behavior was "unconscionable," he said, and it threatened to "either overturn the voters' decision or else torch our institutions on the way out."

So why not hold the trial immediately? McConnell just didn't want to convict, so he delayed instead. He then used the delay as an excuse to acquit.

The constitutional argument on its own is dubious, even if McConnell weren't the source of the technicality that enabled its use as a fig leaf. Most constitutional scholars reject it, including originalists and conservative thinkers McConnell supposedly adores. And though he argued vehemently in favor of his interpretation, McConnell even admitted the Constitution is "legitimately ambiguous" on the question of trying former officials. Given this admission, McConnell should have, by all rights, let the matter remain settled by the Senate's vote on the question, 56-44, finding that it did have jurisdiction to hold Trump's trial. Instead, despite having lost this vote, McConnell used this separate issue as his excuse for voting on another matter entirely: regardless of jurisdiction, was Trump guilty of the charges laid out in the article of impeachment?

McConnell's speech made quite clear he thinks Trump was guilty. But instead — against his own judgment, and arguably in violation of his own oaths — he declared Trump "not guilty" when the roll was called.

Were McConnell really so opposed to the trial that he thought he couldn't in good faith vote to convict, he could have chosen to abstain from the final vote. He could have even boycotted the proceedings, which would have made it easier for the managers to obtain a conviction — a conviction only requires two-thirds of the senators who are present. Instead of choosing these alternatives, McConnell took a dishonest vote.

These choices on McConnell's part show how hollow his devotion to the Constitution and his cries of outrage about the president's conduct really are. But it wasn't just the games he played around impeachment that should draw scrutiny. His actions prior to Jan. 6 showed he's just as derelict in his duty as the president was.

Even though McConnell on Saturday denounced the "growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories, and reckless hyperbole, which the defeated President kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet Earth" for inspiring the violent Capitol mob, the Kentucky senator himself had already personally enabled it.

On Nov. 10, 2020, after media outlets correctly projected Joe Biden as the winner of the election, Trump had already declared victory and was launching a wave of frivolous lawsuits attempting to overturn the result. The then-sitting president's refusal to concede despite the clear evidence of his loss disturbed many of his critics, and some of us correctly saw even then that he was plotting a coup. We warned of potential violence.

But McConnell defended Trump's array of legal challenges, despite their clear lack of merit and their role in stoking conspiracy theories and distrust in the election result.

"Until the electoral college votes, anyone who's running for office can exhaust concerns about counting in any court of appropriate jurisdiction," McConnell said on Nov. 10. "That's not unusual. That should not be alarming."

He added: "At some point here we'll find out, finally, who was certified in each of these states. And the electoral college will determine the winner. And that person will be sworn in on January 20. No reason for alarm."

There was reason for alarm, and many of us were correctly alarmed. Not only did McConnell dismiss those legitimate fears, he was defending what he has since called on Saturday the "increasingly wild myths about a reverse landslide election that was being stolen in some secret coup."

McConnell did recognize Biden as the president-elect after the Electoral College voted in mid-December. But by then the damage was done. McConnell had enabled Trump to spin his election lies for more than a month, and the train was already on a course for disaster. Had McConnell, as the then-leader of the Senate, joined with Speaker Pelosi in congratulating Biden and assuring the country that his victory was settled as soon as the election result had become clear, Trump's doomed effort to stay in power might never have gotten off the ground.

Just as Trump's riling up of the mob on Jan. 6 foreseeably resulted in the violent attack on the Capitol, McConnell's decision to humor the president in November foreseeably gave rise to an insurrectionist movement.

And indeed, McConnell's dereliction of duty goes back even further. He led the Senate through Trump's first impeachment trial at the beginning of 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic took over our lives. And he was upfront from the start that there was no way he and the Republican caucus he led were going to let Trump be convicted.

During that trial, lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff made a passionate plea that Trump's attempt to induce Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden was a gross abuse of power and an attempt to cheat in the 2020 election. And Schiff warned that if Trump wasn't convicted and removed, he would continue to put democracy at risk

"You can't trust this president to do the right thing," Schiff told the Senate. "Not for one minute, not for one election, not for the sake of our country. You just can't. He will not change and you know it."

But McConnell, along with nearly the rest of his caucus, refused to listen. Even as Democrats said over and over that Trump's crime needed to be punished by impeachment because it was a threat to democracy, McConnell said their objections could be solved at the ballot box.

"If Washington Democrats have a case to make against the President's re-election, they should go out and make it. Let them try to do what they failed to do three years ago and sell the American people on their vision for the country," McConnell said during the first impeachment trial.

It was a disingenuous response, and he knew better. There was a plain warning that Trump was dangerous and didn't care about democracy, but McConnell couldn't be moved. He helped keep Trump in office, only to let Trump attack democracy in a more overt, gruesome, and vicious way. The Capitol was stormed. More than a hundred officers were injured. Five people died during the attack, including one Capitol police officer. Two other cops who responded to the assault died by suicide in the following days.

McConnell correctly said that Trump is "practically and morally responsible" for the events of that day. That's true. But McConnell shares in the blame as well.

Speaking on Saturday, he said: "The Senate's decision does not condone anything that happened on or before that terrible day. It simply shows that Senators did what the former President failed to do: We put our constitutional duty first."

But this isn't correct. Like the former president, McConnell abandoned his duty to protect the Constitution and fulfill his oath of office. By letting Trump off the hook, once again, McConnell's just as negligent and derelict.

McConnell tried to deflect such accusations by saying others can hold Trump responsible: "We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation. And former presidents are not immune from being held accountable by either one."

But he also said: "By the strict criminal standard, the president's speech probably was not incitement."

That claim is up for debate, and many legal scholars disagree. But if McConnell is right, Trump isn't subject to be held accountable for the acts he spent the speech condemning. If it is true that Trump's acts, reprehensible as they were in McConnell's view, didn't technically violate the criminal law, it would only emphasize why it's so important that the Constitution provides a specific remedy for high crimes and misdemeanors. Officials can abuse their power and authority in unique and dangerous ways, and that's why impeachment exists. Through McConnell's actions, the remedy has been vacated. And if Trump does end up criminally charged for his Jan. 6 conduct, his party and supporters would have been better prepared for that eventuality if the Senate had properly fulfilled its duty and delivered a resounding bipartisan vote for conviction.

Instead, Republicans want someone else to take responsibility for Trump.

And regardless of the criminal question, the gravity of Trump's violation demands a constitutional response. It would prevent Trump from even credibly threatening to run for office again and help the country move on. And it would close that dark and dangerous chapter, and potentially allow the Republican Party to move in a healthier direction.

But McConnell, like most of the GOP, is refusing to defend American democracy from a would-be tyrant. He let Trump run wild and tramble over American institutions, cheering him on at certain moments, averting his gaze at others, and eventually throwing up his hands in a feigned inability to use his power to respond as needed. And for that, the minority leader shares in the former president's guilt.

Here's how Senate Democrats can pass almost anything — without nuking the filibuster

Astute politics observers well know that the Senate filibuster—the Jim Crow relic that requires supermajority support to pass most legislation—is a major obstacle for any hopes that Democrats have of enacting Joe Biden's agenda and righting the country after four years of wicked misrule. But because a handful of Democratic senators (as well as all Republicans) oppose curtailing the rule—for now, at least—party leaders are pursuing an alternative route that will allow them to bypass the filibuster and pass major bills with just a simple majority.

It's called reconciliation, and it's a complicated beast. If you've heard about it, you may have read that it can only be used in a limited fashion. But that's simply not so. Democrats can actually use the reconciliation process for almost anything, including an increase to the minimum wage, a current topic of contention. What's more, in contrast with filibuster reform, they don't need unanimity from their caucus to proceed. A mere 41 votes will do the trick.

Congressional experts usually say that the person who decides what can and can't be included in a reconciliation package is the Senate parliamentarian, an appointed official who advises the chamber on matters of procedure. The key word there, though, is "advises": The presiding officer—that person who occupies the big chair atop the central dais you've seen on C-SPAN, either the vice president or a sitting senator—is free to reject that advice.

So what happens if Kamala Harris (or, if you like, Jon Ossoff) does exactly that? A Republican could object, but in order to sustain that objection—that is to say, in order to override the presiding officer's decision to rebuff the parliamentarian—it would take 60 votes. In other words, all 50 Republicans would need 10 Democrats to join them. There's little chance that would happen.

And it's been done before, in the service of promoting majority rule in the Senate. The last occasion arose in 1975, when a bipartisan coalition, led by Minnesota Democrat Walter Mondale, sought to reduce the threshold for ending a filibuster from two-thirds to three-fifths. Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, a Republican, paved the way for the proposal to move forward by declining the parliamentarian's advice in order to allow a key vote that would buttress reformers' arguments. While pro-filibuster senators staged a revolt after the vote succeeded, the dispute ultimately ended with the filibuster requirement getting lowered to today's familiar 60-vote benchmark.

The same approach can be deployed when dealing with constraining guidance from the parliamentarian regarding reconciliation, and Democrats have no reason to fear doing so. While Republicans will inevitably complain, voters don't care about procedure—they care about results. That's especially so when we're talking about popular legislation like a $15 minimum wage, which poll after poll has shown Americans support in massive numbers.

Some have in fact already called for the Senate to take this tack. "You don't have to override the parliamentarian or get a new parliamentarian," noted one expert on Senate procedure, a likely reference to the occasion when then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott fired parliamentarian Bob Dove in 2001 after Republicans grew frustrated with him. "Under the statute, it is the vice president who rules. It is the presiding officer who makes the decision. The parliamentarian advises on that question."

That's precisely right, and it's precisely the approach Democrats should take. And when Republicans howl, Democrats need only point out that the expert who advocated for a robust use of reconciliation was none other than Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Josh Hawley blasted for sitting in Senate gallery 'with his feet up' and ignoring impeachment trial

U.S. Senator Josh Hawley, the freshman Missouri Republican who has been accused of effectively being one of the leaders of the January 6 insurrection, is now being blasted for ignoring the Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump for inciting that insurrection – a trial in which Senator Hawley has sworn to be an impartial juror.
Sen. Hawley is "sitting up in the gallery with his feet up on the seat in front of him, reviewing paperwork, throughout" the trial, NBC News' Garrett Haake reports.
Other reporters confirmed Haake's account:




CNN's Manu Raju reports Hawley told him, "I can basically see the back of their heads. But I sort of picked a spot where I can look right down on them, I can see the TV, and it's interesting."

Hawley appears to be violating his oath as an impartial juror by ignoring the Senate's conclusion, based on Tuesday's vote, that it does have jurisdiction to try Trump.


Hawley is being blasted.









Dems to show never-before-seen security footage proving 'just how close Trump’s mob came to senators': report

Democratic impeachment managers, fresh off Tuesday's resounding first day win, are expected to show another damning video on Wednesday that should prove Trump's MAGA insurrectionists came dangerously close to members of both houses of Congress on January 6. The new video "evidence being shown by Democratic House Impeachment Managers today is previously unseen security camera footage shot from inside the Capitol," PBS NewsHour White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor reports.

Alcindor adds that a Democratic "source says that the video will show 'just how close Trump's mob came to senators, members of Congress and staff.'"

U.S. Senators on Tuesday sat through a damning 13-minute video compilation of the events of January 6, video that went viral on social media and on news outlets across the country. Some Republicans, including Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Marco Rubio and Rick Scott of Florida, reportedly looked away or were caught doodling rather than paying attention and being impartial jurors, a role they were sworn in to uphold.


America 'should be ashamed': Texas teen forced to use college savings to prevent mom's eviction

After Alondra Carmona, a high school senior in Houston, recently exhausted all of her college savings to prevent her unemployed mother from being evicted, one media outlet on Tuesday tried to portray it as an "act of kindness," but progressives are emphasizing that the all-too-common story is an indictment of a deeply unequal society reliant on private charity as a result of policymakers' failure to guarantee livable incomes, affordable housing and higher education, and more.

"In February of 2020, my mom broke her ankle and was not able to work," Carmona explained in a GoFundMe ad she created to support her family. "Come March, the coronavirus started, which added to the financial problems we already had. Today, I found out that my mom has not had a job for 3 months and hid it from us. She owes two months of rent and will most likely get evicted in March."

"All of my college savings will go to paying the rent that we are behind on," wrote Carmona. "As much as I dream of going to Barnard College, it is not looking promising right now. I am turning to this as a last resort because Barnard will not be able to change my financial aid package."

While the performance of Carmona's online fundraising page suggests there may be a happy ending in this particular instance for the Barnard-bound aspiring scientist, critics slammed ABC News 7 for framing the story as a heartwarming tale of generosity rather than an opportunity to reflect on society's failure to meet people's needs—especially, but not only, during a pandemic.




Critics asserted that Carmona's effort—though undoubtedly selfless—is a devastating expression of how ordinary people, left behind by a government that caters to the wealthy while workers fend for themselves in a market-fundamentalist rat-race, are forced to suffer and beg privately—typically not as successfully—amid worsening inequality made even more intense by the coronavirus crisis.


"This is a heartbreaking story and one our nation should be ashamed of," said Julián Castro. The former Housing and Urban Development secretary also pointed out that if the federal government refuses to deliver adequate rent relief to Americans who "owe $70 billion in back rent that they won't be able to pay... there will be millions of stories like these."


Alan MacLeod, a sociologist and journalist, in 2019 published an article denouncing corporate media outlets for spinning "horrifying stories as... perseverance porn."

"Any of these stories could have been used to explore the pressing social and economic realities of being poor in the United States, and having to work for things considered fundamental rights in other countries," the media critic wrote in Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. "But instead they are presented as uplifting features, something only possible if we unquestionably accept the political and economic system."

MacLeod continued:

What these articles highlight so clearly is not only the grim, inhuman, and unnecessary conditions so many Americans are forced to live under, but the degree to which mainstream corporate journalists have completely internalized them as unremarkable, inevitable facts of life, rather than the consequences of decades of neoliberal policies that have robbed Americans of dignity and basic human rights. Because corporate media wholly accept and promote neoliberal, free-market doctrine, they are unable to see how what they see as "awesome" is actually a manifestation of late-capitalist dystopia.

As philosopher Ben Burgis argued in Jacobin in May 2020, rather than forcing people to convince strangers to help them on crowdfunding sites, the U.S. needs a strong welfare state funded through redistributive taxation to ensure that everyone's basic needs are met.

"The scale of the current crisis casts the absurdity of relying on GoFundMe for these social needs into sharp relief," wrote Burgis. "It's as if we were living on an island about to be wiped out by a volcano and we were relying on a multitude of individual fundraisers, each jostling for attention, to purchase each individual boat or plane to be used in the evacuation."

"But it's even worse," he added. "The fact that anyone has ever needed to use GoFundMe to pay for things like rent or healthcare is a symptom of a social sickness far older than Covid-19."

Watch: Lead impeachment manager lays out how 'inciter-in-chief' Trump 'praised and encouraged and cultivated violence'

The Democrats' lead impeachment manager, Congressman Jaime Raskin of Maryland, opened Wednesday's Senate trial by focusing on the violence caused by the ex-president, Donald Trump, who he called the "Inciter in Chief."

"The evidence will show you that ex-president Trump was no bystander. The evidence will show that he clearly incited the January 6 insurrection. It will show that Donald Trump surrendered his role of commander-in-chief and became the inciter-in-chief," Raskin told the Senate.


"You will see during this trial a man who praised and encouraged and cultivated violence," Raskin said.

"'We have just begun to fight,' he says, more than a month after the election has taken place. And that's before the second million MAGA March, a rally that ended in serious violence and even the burning of a church."

"And as the President forecast it was only the beginning. On December 19, 18 days before January 6, he told his base about where the battle would be that they would fight next. January 6 would be 'wild' he promised, be there, 'will be wild,' said the President of the United States of America. And that too, turned out to be true, you'll see in the days that followed Donald Trump continued to aggressively promote January 6 to his followers."

"The event was scheduled at the protest at the precise time that Congress would be meeting in joint session to count the Electoral College votes, and to finalize the 2020 presidential election. In fact, in the days leading up to the attack you'll learn that there were countless social media posts, news stories, and most importantly credible reports from the FBI in Capitol Police that that 1000's gathering for the president save America March were violent organized with weapons and we're targeting the Capitol. This mob got organized so openly, because as they would later scream in these halls and as they posted on forums before the attack, they were sent here by the President. They were invited here by the President of the United States of America."

Watch:


Swarming of Biden campaign bus in Texas could be a factor in Trump impeachment trial: report

Back in October, just days before the presidential election, a Biden-Harris campaign was forced to cancel an event after one of its buses was swarmed by a caravan of Trump supporters in central Texas. Now, that incident could play a key role in former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

According to KXAN, the Texas incident could be used as an example of the violence Trump incited leading up to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Although the incident happened months prior to the Capitol insurrection, the disturbing incident could be referenced as an example of how Trump's rhetoric has incited violence. The House trial memorandum details the incident and how it correlates with the violence that erupted on Capitol hill.

"October 30, when a caravan of his supporters in Texas attacked a bus full of Biden campaign workers, nearly running it off the road, President Trump tweeted a stylized video of the caravan and captioned it, 'I LOVE TEXAS!' Days later, he declared that 'these patriots'—who could easily have killed a busload of innocent campaign staff—'did nothing wrong,'" the House trial memorandum reads.

During an interview with the publication, Wendy Davis, a Democratic congressional candidate in Austin, Texas, recalled what it was like to be on the bus when that incident occurred.

"It was unnerving for everyone," Davis said on Tuesday. "I would hope that we never get numb enough to that kind of behavior that it's normal and that it's okay and, really, that's what this impeachment trial is about right now."

While some Republican lawmakers are in support of convicting Trump in the Senate, others like Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) argue the trial may be unconstitutional.

"I'm happy to listen to the evidence, but really more than the facts or what happened that night I'm concerned about the precedent that would set," Cornyn said. "If Democrats can do this to a Republican president after he's left office, that means Republicans can do it to a Democratic president after they've left office. That strikes me as a bad outcome."

So what will the impeachment trial mean for Trump's future in politics? If he is convicted, he will be barred from holding public office in the future. Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor in Houston, believes there will be a number of Republicans who will vote in favor of Trump's impeachment. However, many others, like Cornyn and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) likely will not.

"They're both Republicans in a state where Ted Cruz needs to have that success and John Cornyn just had some success so they both need to be able to follow the Trump model, at least a little bit," said the University of Houston professor. "This is a test of the Republican party unity and, by all accounts, they're going to stay together."

Even Trump's biggest Fox News cheerleaders think his impeachment lawyers are doing a terrible job

Donald Trump's lawyers put forth such a flimflam argument to open the Senate's impeachment trial that his biggest sycophants in the right-wing media didn't even bother trying to spin in the disastrous first day.

On Wednesday, Sean Hannity pressed Trump lawyer David Schoen on his team's performance. "I'm not attacking your partner. I don't know him at all, but I like focused arguments."

As Hannity's show closed, Ingraham told her colleague that she was glad to see him press Schoen on Castor's argument.

"Yeah, a little meandering, a little free-associate..." Hannity said of Castor's cringeworthy defense.

Ingraham cut him off. "It was terrible. I'm sorry, it was," she said to Hannity. "You're way too charitable. If you hired that guy in a case that you were paying the bills on, it woulda been like..."

Hannity admitted that he was "a little nervous" at the beginning of Castor's defense.

"How much time can he spend praising the democrats?" Ingraham asked. "The whole thing was, like, a walk down memory lane."

"Sorry," Ingraham continued, "I'm pretty worked up about given what's at stake for the Constitution and the country."

On "Fox & Friends" the next morning, co-host Brian Kilmeade offered a similarly dissatisfied review.

"These are not helpful things that was happening on the president's behalf," Kilmeade spoke for the former president who has gone curiously silent since being booted from Twitter. "You wouldn't blame him if he was upset, but it might've been the president's fault for firing his other attorneys that were doing all the preparing."


Miami Herald editorial board slams Florida's 'racist legislative proposal': Worse than Stand Your Ground

In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republicans in the state legislature have been aggressively promoting House Bill 1, a stand-your-ground proposal being described by some Floridians as the "Combating Public Disorder Bill." The Miami Herald's editorial board slams the law in a blistering editorial published on February 10, arguing that HB1 isn't about public safety, but racial fear-mongering.

"Proponents of Florida's proposed 'Combating Public Disorder' law are spinning it as a reaction to the violent mobs that stormed the nation's Capitol on January 6 to try to reverse the results of the presidential election," the Herald's editorial board explains. "But don't be fooled. House Bill 1, a priority of the Republican leadership in Tallahassee, is redundant, racist and totally political. It's aimed at Black Lives Matter and will make it dangerous for the movement's supporters to take to the streets, however peacefully."

DeSantis first proposed such a bill in September — well before the January 6 insurrection. Micah Kubic, executive director of the Florida American Civil Liberties Union, has denounced HB1 as authoritarian and "problematic from beginning to end," and the Herald's editorial board concurs.

"Florida already has laws that punish violence, theft, burglary and vandalism committed at protests," the Herald's editorial board notes. "Last year, protests in the Sunshine State mostly were peaceful. But HB 1 would impose harsher sentences if those crimes are committed during participation in a 'riot" or 'unlawful assembly,' which are loosely defined in the bill. The proposal also would make it a third-degree felony to cause $200 or more in damage to a monument — by that, read Confederate monument — and would create a slew of new crimes."

The editorial board adds, "It would fill up jails by ordering that those deemed as rioters be detained with no bond until a first-appearance hearing. Worse, it lets vigilantes and counter protesters who injure or kill those considered rioters escape liability in a civil lawsuit. Kyle Rittenhouse, anyone?"

The Herald, in its editorial, also cites examples of law enforcement dealing with far-right extremists much less harshly than Black Lives Matter. In New Port Richey, Florida, for example, BLM activists got into a verbal confrontation with members of the Proud Boys in 2020 — and only BLM activists were cited for violating an anti-noise ordinance. Members of the Proud Boys were among the violent extremists who, along with QAnon sympathizers and members of various militia groups, were among the insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6.

"HB 1 won't stop bad actors determined to cause mayhem," the Herald's editorial board argues. "It will create bad actors, then let them off the hook. Like Stand Your Ground, it will have deadly consequences — and as history has shown, Black and Brown people will likely pay the price."

Forensic research group confirms Capitol attack was not spontaneous

According to a report published by the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab, the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was the "direct result of a months-long effort rooted in disinformation" that was "promoted by President Donald Trump."

The group has put together a comprehensive timeline that shows how the movement was "coordinated by some of his most fervent, conspiratorial supporters; and incorporating a wide range of supporting groups."

The research article, published at Just Security, uses material posted "in plain sight" on online platforms which were designed to convince people of falsehoods about the 2020 elections. The disinformation campaign centered around the "Stop the Steal" movement, which hosted a rally on Jan. 6 that preceded the violence at the Capitol.

"The Stop the Steal movement was far from monolithic, though, and included groups across a spectrum of radicalization: hyperpartisan pro-Trump activists and media outlets; the neo-fascist Proud Boys, a group with chapters committed to racism and the promotion of street violence; unlawful militias from around the country with a high degree of command and control, including the so-called Three Percenters movement; adherents to the collective delusion of QAnon; individuals identifying with the Boogaloo Bois, a loosely organized anti-government group that has called for a second civil war; and ideological fellow travelers of the far-right, who wanted to witness something they believed would be spectacular," the report states.

According to the report, the binding ingredients that brought these groups together was conspiracy theories about the 2020 election coupled with cult-like support for Trump.

Read the full report over at Just Security.

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