Raw Story

Investigation reveals disaster that unfolded after GOP governors and DOD sent troops to the border

Republican governors were so irate about the situation they perceived to be unfolding on the U.S.-Mexico border that they deployed their own National Guard troops.

What unfolded was such a disaster that even GOP officials in Congress admit that it was shocking and "reprehensible."

Military Times reporter Davis Winkie has written an extensively researched report that looks at the soldiers sent by Govs. Kristi Noem (R-SD), Doug Ducey (R-AZ), Kim Reynolds (R-IA) and Asa Hutchinson (R-AR).

Other governors sent Highway Patrol troopers or other state law enforcement agents, reported Politico in June, including Govs. Mike DeWine (R-OH) Pete Ricketts (R-NE) and Ron DeSantis (R-FL). Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sent both groups. These soldiers mixed with the Department of Defense deployments of soldiers from around the country.

The result, according to the report, was that "leaders initiated more than 1,200 legal actions, including non-judicial punishments, property loss investigations, Army Regulation 15-6 investigations and more."

It means that there was nearly one legal action for every three soldiers.

"At least 16 soldiers from the mission were arrested or confined for charges including drugs, sexual assault and manslaughter," said the Times. Compared to the same time period in Kuwait, only three soldiers were arrested or confined.

What makes matters worse is that the soldiers were sent to the border woefully ill-equipped by their state or federal government. Guard troops who took over in Oct. 2020 didn't even have night vision goggles for those working the night shift.

"This was despite units identifying the capability as a shortfall months before deploying, according to multiple sources," said the report, noting that one officer said he didn't get the NVGs until April 2021 after requesting them in July 2020.

One officer vented that his soldiers just stared into the void of the night, unable to see any of the borders they were sent to "monitor."

When there was a request for equipment, the states that sent them to the border denied it, because that equipment belonged to the states and the deployment by the governors was "a federal mission." Some troop groups were able to get items from their home state after persistent requests.

When troops weren't on duty, the investigation revealed that they were in hotels or other remote locations with alcohol and drug abuse "so widespread that senior leaders issued breathalyzers and instituted alcohol restrictions." One soldier was killed in a DUI accident in September.

"Troops at the border had more than three times as many car accidents over the past year," the report continued. There were also "at least 500 incidents totaling roughly $630,000 in damages — than the 147 'illegal substance seizures' they reported assisting."

"A 1,000-soldier battalion-level task force based in McAllen, Texas, had three soldiers die during the border deployment," the report also revealed. "For comparison, only three Army Guard troops died on overseas deployments in 2021, out of tens of thousands."

To make matters worse, they rarely even encountered migrants. Those in Loredo, Texas never saw any. Sites near Wilcox, Arizona spotted 21 over a year.

Those there were so miserable that there was were at least 34 cases of "suicidal ideation," during the year.

"In one case, a Puerto Rico National Guard soldier slipped away from her unit, caught a flight home and sought inpatient psychiatric care," said the report.

Drugs like cocaine and fentanyl were spotted in drug tents, military justice reports said. One soldier tried to pick up a kilogram of cocaine to take to his colleagues at a McAllen, Texas hotel. While that story made national news, there were "dozens more soldiers [who] either tested positive for drugs or were arrested by civilian law enforcement agencies."

Most of the misconduct allegations and three of the deaths happened in McAllen as part of Task Force Southeast. The headquarters of that group was in the Alabama 877th Engineer Battalion. So many soldiers were at the border that it left the Alabama headquarters "half-staffed." The medical officer left mid-deployment.

A lot of problems and two deaths came from the Louisiana National Guard: D Company, 2nd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment; and A Troop, 2nd Squadron, 108th Cavalry Regiment. They were trained to go to Iraq, but they were at the border instead.

It left both companies with a "severe shortage of qualified [noncommissioned officers]."

“Without the proper amount of NCOs, it made it harder to keep them from doing dumb shit,” said one officer. “[The units] had a lot of soldiers that shouldn’t have been there.”

Finally, one soldier couldn't take it anymore. The person penned a kind of manifesto, slipping it under every door in his brigade headquarters.

“Someone please wave the white flag and send us all home,” the letter begged. “I would like to jump off a bridge headfirst into a pile of rocks after seeing the good ol’ boy system and f*cked up leadership I have witnessed here.”

“We are literally the biggest threat to ourselves down here,” said one staff officer who was part of the mission.

“We could be saving billions of dollars if we actually funded [Customs and Border Protection] instead of using the Guard as a Band-Aid,” said another officer who served in 2020. “We’re useless and CBP treats us like we’re useless. We cost the taxpayer millions of dollars in pay, benefits, per diem, hotels, [and] vehicle rentals.”

Read the full investigative report at the Military Times.

Meadows text messages reveal he secretly chatted with GOP members about an election overthrow plot

Mark Meadows shared some of the contacts he had in or around Jan. 6 involving the White House's attempts to stop the certification of the 2020 election, according to a letter from the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol and what led to it.

According to the Committee's Chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Meadows had a conversation with a member of Congress who suggested an alternative slate of electors. The member confessed that the idea would be a "highly controversial" one, but Meadows still said, "I love it."

"The text messages you did produce include a Nov. 6, 2020, text exchange with a Member of Congress apparently about appointing alternate electors in certain states as part of a plan that the Member acknowledged would be 'highly controversial' and to which Mr. Meadows apparently said, 'I love it'; an early Jan. 2021 text message exchange between Mr. Meadows and an organizer of the Jan. 6 rally on the Ellipse' and text messages about the need for the former President to issue a public statement that could have stopped the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol," an excerpt of the letter from Thompson to Meadows' lawyer says.

The messages were from Meadows' personal cell phone, which don't appear to have been turned over to the National Archives, in violation of the Presidential Records Act.

Read the full letter and full report here.

Here’s how Mitch McConnell outsmarted Trump — even though it created a major rift in the GOP

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has ignored complaints from Donald Trump and reached a deal with Democrats to extend the debt ceiling and avoid a government shutdown.

"We’re seeing some pretty significant fissures inside the Senate Republican Conference over the debt-limit strategy," Punchbowl News reported Wednesday. "Some of the "no" votes tell us that Republicans already helped Democrats raise the debt limit once and they shouldn't do it again."

Punchbowl noted the position of three Senate Republicans who are seen as hopefuls to be the next GOP leader. Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) and Sen. John Cornyn are both backing McConnell's deal, while Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), the chair of the Senate GOP Conference, remains undecided.

"But there was “a lot of pushback” in the GOP Conference meeting on Tuesday where McConnell laid out the plan, according to Republicans sources. Sens. Richard Shelby (R-AL), Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Mitt Romney (R-UT) -- normally “safe” leadership allies -- all raised concerns, as did more hardline conservatives," Punchbowl reported. "Some Republicans seem to be struggling with voting no because the debt-limit process bill also includes language to delay Medicare sequestration cuts. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), a hardliner who one would expect to be against any debt-limit increase, questioned why any Republicans would vote against the measure."

Punchbowl said the deal "seems to be sailing through the Congress quite easily."

But Trump is not on board, issuing a statement on Tuesday complaining about the "pathetic" strategy of Senate Republicans.

"USE THE DEBT CEILING TO WIN, AND MEAN IT THIS TIME!" Trump said, in all capital letters.

Republican senators have repeatedly sided with McConnell over Trump when the former president has demanded particular votes.

In October, Trump also tried to kill a debt limit increase.

"Republican Senators, do not vote for this terrible deal being pushed by folding Mitch McConnell," Trump argued, shortly before he lost the vote as eleven GOP senators joined with Democrats on a procedural vote.

In August, Trump urged Republicans to use the debt limit as leverage to kill the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework. But his advice was rejected by nineteen Republicans Senators.

Trump 'not worried about anything' because he isn't being charged for inciting Capitol riot: former RNC chair

While the "foot soldiers" of the Capitol insurrection are being arrested and prosecuted, federal authorities don't appear to be "building cases" against the people who sent them — including former president Donald Trump, the Atlantic's Barton Gellman reported Monday.

Appearing on MSNBC on Tuesday to discuss Gellman's story — titled "Trump's Next Coup Has Already Begun" — former Democratic Sen. Claire McKaskill said Steve Bannon's recent indictment appears to be as close as investigators have gotten to "the control center" of Jan. 6.

"One thing our country's always had is faith in the rule of law," McKaskill said. "We've always known it was frayed around the edges. We've always known that justice was not applied equally, depending on who you are, where you live, and how much money you have. But ultimately, we thought when somebody did something really bad, something really bad would happen to them. Instead, this guy [Trump] is sitting at his golf resort picking out his cabinet secretaries for the next administration."

Michael Steele, the former chair of the Republican National Committee, echoed McKaskill's remarks, adding that he believes both the press and the American public need to take Gellman's story to heart.

He said it's the press's responsibility to call "out the crap that is filling the airways and the sinews of our public discourse," while the American people need to ask themselves, "Do you want more of this?"

"Because you're about to put men and women in charge in the United States Congress in 2022 who will give you that with an ugly cherry on top," Steele said. "If you think you don't like a Nancy Pelosi as speaker, wait until you embrace Kevin McCarthy, or better yet Jim Jordan, who is likely more in line to be the speaker than McCarthy."

Steele went on to note that people like Jordan, McCarthy and Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell "have not distanced themselves from Donald Trump, they've leaned into him."

"As was just said, he's sitting in Mar-a-Lago filling out his cabinet form for the next election," Steele said. "He's not worried about anything that we're talking about, because Donald Trump has always believed, 'I'm going to do it until you stop me,' and no one has stopped him, and that's why we are where we are. It's going to be up to those two players, the press and the people, to decide just how much more of this crap we're going to tolerate."

Watch below.

Claire McKaskill and Michael Steele on Trump's new coup www.youtube.com

Trump's election lie falls flat again as right-wing Wisconsin group finds 'no evidence of widespread fraud'

In a blow to former President Donald Trump's conspiracy theories, Forbes reported on Tuesday that a right-wing legal group in Wisconsin has released the results of its investigation into the 2020 presidential election — and concluded that there was no evidence the election was corrupted by voter fraud.

"The investigation by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) found 'no evidence of widespread voter fraud,' which it defined as 'an intentional effort to subvert the election' by preventing voters who support a specific candidate from voting or having their vote counted, 'attempting to procure votes that were never cast' or 'falsely increasing' one candidate’s vote share," reported Alison Durkee.

In an extra blow, WILL found that Democrats performed "worse than expected" in areas that used equipment from Dominion Voting Systems — an elections company that has been the target of conspiracy theories from Trump allies who have claimed their machines switched votes to Joe Biden.

"In all likelihood, more eligible voters cast ballots for Joe Biden than Donald Trump," concluded WILL — although the report was sure to note the group still recommends new voting restrictions.

WILL has previously stirred controversy by filing a lawsuit to force hundreds of thousands of voters to be purged from the Wisconsin voter rolls.

Trump has repeatedly claimed that the 2020 presidential election was corrupt or rigged, even though reports indicate his own lawyers knew that his accusations were completely unfounded. His conspiracy theories have formed the basis for crackdowns on voting rights all around the country, as well as partisan "audits" of vote counts, most notably in Maricopa County, Arizona.

Judge rejects Bannon request to delay trial until October

Federal prosecutors told a court they could try their case against Steve Bannon in one day, but the former White House strategist's attorneys want to delay a possible trial for nearly a year.

Bannon was indicted last month on a contempt of Congress charge, after he defied a subpoena in the Jan. 6 investigation, and prosecutors said Monday in a court filing the case "very straightforward" and would need only one day of testimony, while defense attorneys estimated they would need about 10 days -- and asked for an October start date.

"In our view, this is not the average criminal case on the docket – because it will take more time to obtain discovery, and more time to fully brief the issues," defense lawyers said in the filing.

Prosecutors asked the court to set an April trial date, but the judge said that was too ambitious and the defense request was too late.

The judge set a July 18 start date for a trial expected to last up to two weeks.

Former Pence chief of staff cooperating with January 6 Committee as probe gains 'momentum': report

On Monday's edition of CNN's "The Situation Room," correspondent Jamie Gangel broke down the significance of former Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff Marc Short cooperating with the House January 6 Committee.

"We learned the committee subpoenaed Marc Short a few weeks ago, but unlike some other Trump officials, he is not fighting the subpoena," said Gangel. "Short's cooperation ... is a significant development because he is a firsthand witness to many critical events. He was with Mike Pence at the Capitol on January 6th. He was also in the Oval Office on January 4th when former President Trump tried to convince Pence not to certify the election results."

She then suggested that Short's cooperation could open the door to more Pence loyalists testifying at the committee.

"Our sources say that Short's assistance signals a greater openness among Pence's inner circle, with one source telling me the committee is getting, quote, 'significant cooperation with Team Pence,' and another source telling me that Short's help is an example of the momentum the investigation is having behind the scenes," continued Gangel. "I do think it's important for context to remember this: Short is considered one of Pence's most loyal aides. He has worked with him off and on for more than a decade. It is hard to imagine that Marc Short would cooperate with the committee without Pence's blessing."

"That's really an important point, Jamie," said anchor Wolf Blitzer. "Why is Short's cooperation as a result so, so significant?"

"We've heard a lot about Trump officials, allies of Trump claiming executive privilege or saying they'll take the fifth," said Gangel. "This marks a significant break for the committee, because Marc Short is a firsthand witness and he's willing to cooperate, according to our sources. He knows firsthand what was going on in the days leading up to January 6th. He knows what happened at the Capitol on January 6th. It's hard not to imagine that Marc Short, who was then chief of staff to Mike Pence, he's there in the Capitol, was not calling or texting someone like Mark Meadows ,who was chief of staff to Donald Trump, when the riot was going on."

"He is likely to be able to provide information about conversations, phone calls, texts that were going on in real time on January 6," added Gangel. "Just as one example, he may be able to tell the committee what the communication was when they were reaching out, trying to find out why did it take so long for Trump to come out and tell the rioters to stop."

Watch below:

Jamie Gangel on Marc Short's cooperation with the January 6 committee www.youtube.com

'Stay in Mar-A-Lago': GOP Lt Gov begs Trump not to bring 'traveling circus' to Georgia race

Donald Trump should stay in Florida practicing his golf game instead of traveling to campaign in Georgia, said a GOP lieutenant governor Monday during an appearance on CNN.

Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan made the comments during an interview about former Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) being expected to announce a primary challenge against Brian Kemp. Both Georgia Republicans have been harshly criticized by Trump for refusing to overturn the 2020 election, which was won by Joe Biden.

"Brian Kemp is probably Georgia's most conservative governor in history," Duncan said. "He has done everything he needs to do. We've cut taxes, we've increased teacher pay, we've navigated through a pandemic, we've got $6 billion in a rainy day fund and, quite honestly, David Perdue should know better than this. He's the only one to blame for losing his last election to Jon Ossoff and he ran the worst campaign ever — and that's his fault not Brian Kemp's or Geoff Duncan's or any other Republican's fault."

"What issue do you see him running on?" Berman asked. "I mean, what do you think he big issue for him is then?"

"It appears early on he will try to carry Donald Trump's water on the conspiracy stuff and that seems to be the only tail wind he's got, it's unfortunate," he said. "We what much this play out all across the country. But look, his is a short-term sugar high, it will wear off. The quicker we take our medicine as Republicans and move on and focus on the next election, the next opportunity to lead this country, the quicker we are going to get the White House back, the Senate back, the House back and have opportunities to put our conservative leadership on display."

Duncan urged Trump to stay out of the Peach State.

"We don't need the traveling circus of Donald Trump to stay here in Georgia. We need it to stay down in Mar-a-Lago, working on his handicap playing golf and let us be conservatives here in Georgia and move forward," he said.

Watch:

Geoff Duncan www.youtube.com

Here’s how Roger Stone brought anti-vax conspiracy theorists into the Republican Party

Notorious GOP dirty trickster Roger Stone has become a "key connector" bringing anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists into the Republican Party.

"In October, a conference filled with anti-vaccine activists in Nashville, Tenn., received a high-profile political guest: former President Donald Trump's son, Eric Trump," NPR reported. "The day before Trump's speech, a homeopathic doctor named Edward Group stood on the same stage and suggested to the audience they should drink their urine as an alternative to getting vaccinated against COVID-19. Another speaker, Carrie Madej, said that the vaccines contained microscopic technology designed to put 'another kind of nervous system inside you.' The true purpose of the vaccines, she claimed, was to turn humans into cyborgs."

NPR noted that pre-COVID, the anti-vaccine movement was largely nonpartisan, with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. supporting some liberal causes while "well-known anti-vaccine activist" Del Bigtree describes himself as a registered Democrat.

"Stone, who spoke at the conference, says he's quite open to some of the ideas presented there about vaccines. But he also sees the shot as a powerful wedge issue that Republicans can use to motivate conservative voters during next year's midterm elections. Citing public polls, Stone says that in particular, vaccine mandates are 'highly likely' to be a campaign issue," NPR reported. "But the result of this union increasingly appears to be an even higher death toll from COVID, in part because it's causing many people to resist getting the shot."

The gambit appears to be that it's okay for Republicans to sacrifice their own voters if it helps them win during the 2022 midterms.

"Between conservative media and GOP politicians, many Republican voters are being pummeled with bad science about vaccines almost daily. Kaiser's polling found that 94% of Republicans think one or more false statements about COVID-19 and vaccine safety might be true," NPR noted.

Read the full report.

Trump admits to obstruction of justice in Fox News interview

Former President Donald Trump bragged that he effectively obstructed justice during a Fox News interview.

Amid demands for Attorney General Merrick Garland to impanel a grand jury, Trump told Fox News that he simply had to fire former FBI Director James Comey. Otherwise, he could have been held accountable for his relationship with Russia during the 2016 election.

"Don't forget, I fired Comey," Trump bragged. "Had I not fired Comey, you might not be talking to me right now about a beautiful book about four years in the White House, and we'll see about the future. If I didn't fire Comey, they were looking to take down the president of the United States… I don't think could've survived if I didn't fire him."

The report published by former special counsel Robert Mueller said that they didn't even look at whether Trump broke the law during the 2016 election because he followed the Office of Legal Counsel's opinion that the president couldn't be indicted while in office. What Mueller did say was that he uncovered at least 10 examples of obstruction of justice from Trump attempting to stop his investigation.

In the video below, Trump admits that firing Comey was one of those examples:

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