Meaghan Ellis

Oklahoma attorney general fighting to return $2 million stockpile of Trump-touted hydroxychloroquine

The Oklahoma Attorney General's Office is now seeking to return its $2 million stockpile of hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug former President Donald Trump touted as an effective form of treatment for COVID-19.

According to The Frontier, back in April, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) ordered the purchase of 1.2 million hydroxychloroquine pills—equivalent to approximately 100,000 doses—from the California-based, private pharmaceutical wholesale company, FFF Enterprises. On Monday, Jan. 25, Alex Gerszewski, a spokesman for Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter (R), confirmed the office is in negotiations with Oklahoma State Department of Health "to try to figure out a solution," the publication reports.

At the time, the purchase was criticized due to the limited amount of information regarding the effectiveness of the drug as a COVID-19 treatment. However, the state argued that because the drug could be used to treat a multitude of conditions, "that money will not have gone to waste in any respect."

Now, it appears the state is looking to renege on that stance.

With very little evidence to determine whether or not the drug was effective to treat COVID-19, Trump described it as a drug that had "a real chance to be one of the biggest game-changers in the history of medicine," according to Forbes.

The former president also took to Twitter on multiple occasions in an effort to strong-arm the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) into fast-tracking the drug for emergency use despite public health experts warning against doing so. Multiple studies also deemed the drug ineffective for treating COVID-19.

At the time, Dr. Anthony Fauci also pushed back against Trump's claims. During an appearance on "Good Morning America," Fauci told ABC News' Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos, "The overwhelming, prevailing clinical trials that have looked at the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine have indicated that it is not effective in coronavirus disease."

Arizona GOP lawmakers who traveled to DC before Capitol riot refuse to release cell phone records

Two Arizona Republican lawmakers who traveled to Washington, D.C. ahead of former President Donald Trump's "Save America" rally and subsequent riot at the U.S. Capitol are now refusing to release their phone records.

Under the state's public records law, the Arizona Republic requested for the state's House of Representatives to provide any correspondence between Rep. Mark Finchem, (R-Oro Valley), and then-Rep. Anthony Kern, (R-Glendale). However, the private attorney for Finchem and Kern both pushed back against the demand arguing that any phone records on their "personal devices" cannot be categorized as public records, according to Arizona Central.

The attorney's letter also acknowledged the FBI investigation into the U.S. Capitol siege as it argued that even if the two lawmakers did opt to release their records under the public records law, "the threat of criminal prosecution gives rise to certain Constitutional rights that may overcome the duty to disclose otherwise public documents under Arizona's public records law."

Arizona courts have, in the past, ruled otherwise. Although the devices are categorized as "personal," the courts "have ruled that records on a public official's private device can be considered a public record if those records relate to public business and the phone was used for a public purpose," Arizona Central reports.

In fact, House staff issued a warning to lawmakers urging them to be cautious when conducting official business on personal devices as it would lead to records on their personal devices possibly being made public. They were also informed that they would have to disclose the information if requested to.

Constitutional law expert Dan Barr argued that the device type is an irrelevant factor. Despite the Republican lawmakers' arguments, Barr noted that the nature of the communication and capacity are the key points attorneys can argue.

Barr noted, "Look at the nature of the communication. Are you acting in an official capacity?"

So, what was their purpose for traveling to Washington, D.C.? Finchem and Kern expressed support for a "joint resolution" to invalidate Arizona's general election results. Their trip to D.C. appears to have been related to their previous efforts to overturn the election.

In fact, Fincham claims he had a letter to deliver to former Vice President Mike Pence and reportedly had plans to speak at one of the rallies leading up to the Capitol riots.

He also shared a social media post that read, "What happens when the People feel they have been ignored, and Congress refuses to acknowledge rampant fraud."

While Fincham claims to have left the area before violence erupted, a photo of Kern appears to show him standing on the steps of the U.S. Capitol the day it was stormed by the angry mob. Kern also argues that by Jan. 6, he had already "completed his active service as a public official at the time of the riots." The lawmaker had run for office again but lost his bid for re-election.

'Disgusting sense of entitlement': Report reveals a scheme to get vaccines meant for an Indigenous community

A wealthy couple has come under fire for traveling to Canada's remote community of Yukon to take COVID-19 vaccines designated for indigenous seniors.

According to The Washington Post, the couple has been identified as Rodney Baker, a 55-year-old casino executive and president, and his wife, Ekaterina Baker, a 32-year-old actress. It has been reported that the couple, residents of Vancouver, Canada, are now facing charges for violating Yukon's Civil Emergency Measures Act (CEMA).

The two are accused of "breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek," reports Yukon News. The couple is said to have traveled from Vancouver to Whitehorse, Canada before chartering a private jet to Beaver Creek, home to a very small population of mostly the White River First Nation.

The couple's actions have led to stark scrutiny from local officials. On Monday, Jan. 25, Mike Farnworth, the British Columbia solicitor general, released a brief statement to the Vancouver Sun as he shared his reaction to the news. "I can't believe I've ever seen or heard of such a despicable, disgusting sense of entitlement and lack of a moral compass."

In a statement released to The Post, the White River First Nation also condemned the couple's behavior as they demand stricter consequences for their actions. Given the couple's financial status, the nation believes that the fine they are currently facing is "essentially meaningless." It has been reported that investors have revealed Baker earned "more than $10.6 million in 2019" as the executive of Great Canadian Gaming, Corp.

Chief Angela Demit said, "It's clear to me that because we are a predominantly Indigenous community, that they assumed we were naive."

Janet Vander Meer, who serves as the director of the White River First Nation's coronavirus response team also argues a similar stance insisting the couple should face greater consequences for their actions.

"Our oldest resident of Beaver Creek, who is 88 years old, was in the same room as this couple. My mom, who's palliative, was in the same room as this couple," Vander Meer told during a discussion on Monday. "That's got to be jail time. I can't see anything less. For what our community has been through the last few days. The exhaustion. It's just mind-boggling."

Capitol Police chief apologizes to Congress — admits department's failure amid deadly riot

The acting U.S. Capitol Police chief is addressing the deadly riot that took place on Jan. 6, admitting the law enforcement agency does bear responsibility for failing to contain the angry mob of Trump supporters that breached Capitol security.

On Tuesday, Jan. 26, acting Capitol Police chief Yogananda Pittman delivered his testimony before lawmakers during the House Appropriations Committee, according to The Hill.

"On Jan. 6, in the face of a terrorist attack by tens of thousands of insurrectionists determined to stop the certification of Electoral College votes, the department failed to meet its own high standards as well as yours," Pittman said.

Pittman's remarks come nearly three weeks after the civil unrest which led to the deaths of five people. In the days leading up to the U.S. Capitol riot, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released an intelligence warning of violence on the day of the Electoral College certification. However, based on how violence erupted at the Capitol, the warnings were not taken as seriously as they should have been.

In the statement, Pittman went on to admit that the law enforcement agency could have done more to combat the violence that ensued. "We knew that there was a strong potential for violence and that Congress was the target," Pittman said. "The department prepared in order to meet these challenges, but we did not do enough."

Since Jan. 6, the FBI has arrested more than 100 individuals in connection with the riots, including more than 20 state and local Republican lawmakers and several police officers from law enforcement agencies across the United States. With the investigation still underway, more arrested are expected in the coming days and weeks.

Former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial is also set to begin in the coming weeks. On Jan. 13, the disgraced president was impeached for a second time for inciting an insurrection.

Man accused of stealing documents from McConnell's office during Capitol riot now facing charges

A California man accused of stealing documents from then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) desk is now facing charges for his actions.

According to ABC News, federal court documents include footage of a man identified as Tommy Allan, of Rocklin, CA, who could be heard admitting that he stole documentation from the Republican lawmaker's desk inside the Senate chamber. In addition to the verbal confession, another video filmed inside the chamber has been made public by The New Yorker. It also features Allan putting the document into his back left pants pocket.

An additional Facebook video, which captures Allan outside of the Capitol with "multiple documents in his hand," has also surfaced. According to the affidavit, one of the documents included the Senate's official business calendar and another document Allan showed another individual was a "letter from Trump' and was 'signed by Trump.'"

When asked why he took the documents, Allan reportedly said because he is a "taxpayer." The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) also has reason to believe Allan initially attempted to steal an American flag from inside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) office but the item was confiscated before he exited the federal building.

The FBI's arrest of Allan came after the bureau received tips about several of his Facebook posts that showed the angry mob breaking windows and vandalizing property at the Capitol. He also shared a "disturbing post that said the next step of the Insurrection was to get rid of Justice [John] Roberts."

Allan is now facing three misdemeanor charges including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol property. He was released from jail on Friday, Jan. 22, after making an appearance before a federal judge.

He is one of more than 100 individuals who have been arrested in connection with the U.S. Capitol riot that took place on Jan. 6.

QAnon mayor turning small town into mecca for kooks by purging critics from government

A small-town mayor in Washington state town is using his position as an elected official to promote the ideology of the QAnon conspiracy theory, the Daily Beast reports.

Sequim, WA Mayor William Armacost was reportedly elected by a number of like-minded individuals who currently serve on the city council. Many of the city's meetings reportedly consist of Armacost using the time to push baseless claims and carry out what is being described as a "QAnon coup of the town government."

The publication reports that: "Questions about insurrections and QAnon have become the norm in Sequim, as its residents grapple with becoming what appears to be the first American town to have an open QAnon supporter as mayor. Now, with Armacost and his allies carrying out what critics have described as a QAnon coup of the town government, the fight over QAnon in Sequim has come to a head."

At one point during the latest city council meeting, Armacost was asked whether he could promise not to get involved in any future insurrections.

"At the very least, for the rest of this month, if you could promise not to commit any act of insurrection, that would be great," a man only identified as "Josh" said during the meeting. "Just as a citizen of Sequim, I don't like to be represented by terrorists. So if we could promise to finish out this month without killing anyone, that would be great."

It has been reported that concerns about QAnon and future insurrections have been looming over the small town due to all that has transpired since the presidential election took place. Armacost, who reportedly wears a QAnon button during meetings, has argued that QAnon is a "truth movement" as opposed to a conspiracy.

"QAnon is a truth movement that encourages you to think for yourself," Armacost said. "If you remove Q from that equation, it's patriots from all over the world fighting for humanity, truth, freedom, and saving children and others from human trafficking."

During the city council meeting, Marsha Maguire voiced her concerns about the mayor's stance and how it reflects on their town.

"It reflects very poorly on the town," Maguire said. "Not only is QAnon absurd, but it's violent at its core. I think we're a little microcosm of what's happening at the national level."

'Its roots are deep': Noam Chomsky breaks down just how dangerous Trumpism is after ex-president's 'attempted putsch'

President Donald Trump's reign may be over but there are still concerns about how his lingering legacy will impact U. politics. Now, American linguist Noam Chomsky is explaining just how disturbing Trump's incitement of the Capitol riot was as he argued that it hit much closer to the United States' centers of power than Hitler's first coup attempt in Germany.

During an interview with TruthOut, Chomsky discussed the Capitol riot as he offered a comparison of that disturbing event to Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch of 1923.

"An attempted putsch, though the connotations of the term putsch may be too strong," Chomsky said. "The events reminded many, including historians of fascism, of Hitler's failed Beer Hall Putsch of 1923, which actually did not so easily penetrate the centers of power as the attempted coup of January 6."

He added, "The reasons for the security failures are being debated. I have no special insight. Black members of the Capitol police, who showed great courage along with many of their white colleagues, have charged for years that the force has been infiltrated with white supremacists. There may have been some collusion, and possibly serious corruption higher up the chain of command."

Chomsky's remarks come just weeks after Trump's mob of supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol following his "Save America" rally on Jan. 6.

At the time, the president and his supporters encouraged rally-goers to head to the Capitol and express their demands to lawmakers in hopes of having the election overturned. Trump and his allies made these remarks even after it was clear that the Electoral College certification would not be invalidated. The president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani even encouraged rally-goers to pursue "trial by combat."

Although the Trump presidency is over, Chomsky admitted that he believes the disgraced outgoing president is "far from" done.

"Whether Trump will survive the error of judgment that turned major power centers against him is unclear," Chomsky said. "He may well do so. The voting base of the Party seems to remain loyal, maybe with even greater fervor after this attack on their hero by the 'deep state.' Local officials too. He was cheered on his visit to the Republican National Committee the day after the Capitol riot. He has other resources."

Chomsky added, "Whatever the fate of the individual, Trumpism will not be so easily contained. Its roots are deep."

Trump speaks out from Florida for the first time since departing the White House

Former President Donald Trump may no longer be in the White House but many are not sure he is completely done with politics. However, when asked about his stance on Friday, Jan. 22, he gave away no indications of what he may do next.

While seated at his usual table at the Grill Room inside his Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla., the Washington Examiner asked Trump what's next on his political agenda. The former president only said, "We'll do something, but not just yet."

The brief remarks Trump offered are his first since he left Washington. With the second impeachment trial just days away, his future in politics remains unclear as a conviction in the Senate could bar him from running for office again.

However, he has mulled over a number of possibilities including running for president again in 2024, starting his own news network, and launching his own political party, the Patriot Party. But despite talks of all the possibilities, Trump has not yet finalized anything. Right now, he faces a number of obstacles that likely contribute to the lack of direction.

Without the help of social media, Trump and his allies have faced more difficulties staying connected to the former president's loyal base.

The latest news comes just days after Trump opted to skip President Joe Biden's inauguration and depart for Florida. Over the last three months, Trump focused most of his attention on overturning the presidential election as opposed to governing the country. However, an aide for the former president insists he needs a break.

"He needs a break," one of Trump's aides said this week, adding, "I think we all hope he just plays golf for a month, but he always has to be on the go."

With Trump's heightened level of unpredictability, many are convinced that he is still not done with politics.