Raw Story

How the 'dumbest man on the internet' influenced Trump's fight against democracy

A far-right conspiracy website founded by the "dumbest man on the internet" fueled many of the conspiracy theories Donald Trump cited in his ongoing efforts to overturn his election loss.

The twice-impeached one-term president pressured Justice Department officials to question the election results as he leaned on various state officials to nullify his losses, according to notes taken at the time by his deputy attorney general, and he chastised law enforcement officials for not reading sites like the discredited Gateway Pundit, reported The Daily Beast.

"You guys may not be following the internet the way I do," Trump told acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen and deputy attorney General Richard Donoghue in a Dec. 27 phone conversation, according to recently revealed documents.

A former senior White House official and another person with direct knowledge of the situation told The Daily Beast that Trump once handed them a printout from the conspiracy website and asked them track down its ridiculous fraud claim, and they saw him on multiple occasions holding printed-out articles from The Gateway Pundit in the White House, including the Oval Office.

"I didn't really do anything about it," the ex-official said. "I think I threw it out. Maybe I recycled it."

Trump frequently shared dubious online materials with high-ranking officials in the final months of his presidency, but they often discarded or ignored the claims, including foreign interference allegations shared with the ex-president by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, who said at the time he tried to share those documents with senior White House staffers.

"Lindell said he showed Trump an article from The American Report, a conspiracy theory website that's fringe even by the standards of Trump's late presidency, that purports to show that China and a host of other entities hacked the election through an analysis of IP addresses," The Daily Beast reported at the time. "But the president seemed just as, if not more, interested in the pictures on the article, rather than the text or the chart."

Trump promoted Gateway Pundit content on his Twitter feed in the weeks ahead of the Jan. 6 insurrection, such as one late-December article that falsely claimed statistical anomalies in Arizona and another article that used the wrong total for nationwide voter participation to claim the vote totals were impossibly high.

In yet another, Trump hyped a Gateway Pundit article featuring claims from a debunked forensic report that was presented as part of a lawsuit in Antrim County, Michigan.

Trump's trade adviser Peter Navarro sent a Gateway Pundit article to Trump's legal team baselessly alleging ties between Venezuela and Dominion Voting Systems, which attorney Sidney Powell infamously cited during a bizarre post-election news conference.

The site has long been derided as inaccurate and unreliable, and Wikipedia included The Gateway Pundit on its list of untrustworthy sources in November 2019 and Twitter suspended the site's account and Hoft's for spreading election misinformation in February.

Arizona Republicans discovered what the national GOP did — there's no safe way out of Trump world: columnist

Many Arizona Republicans have made it clear they want nothing to do with the audit from the Senate GOP. But as one Washington Post columnist explained, they've gone so far down the rabbit hole, and there's no real way for them to climb out anymore.

Writing Tuesday, Phil Bump cited the New Yorker's Jane Mayer, who reported that conservative groups had been working on the so-called "election audit" idea before the election was even held.

But he keyed into a "startling and important discovery" in her piece when she points to a county official nammed is Bill Gates. He's not the Microsoft Bill Gates.

"Gates says that Karen Fann, the Arizona Senate's president, confided to him that she knew there was 'nothing to' the fraud charges," Bump said, citing the Mayer report. Fann wouldn't respond to questions about the conversation. "Nevertheless, she buckled under the political pressure and authorized a subpoena of the county's ballots, for the 'forensic audit.'"
Bump said that it's entirely possible that Fann told Gates she didn't think fraud happened but wanted to "grease the wheels" for the effort.

"But it's more likely that Fann, a member of Arizona's legislature for more than a decade, actually recognized that nothing untoward happened," Bump continued. "After all, Arizona had been trending more blue since 2004, in part thanks to its evolving demographics. That the result in 2020 was close was a continuation of that trend; in fact, the shift to the left from 2016 to 2020 was smaller than the shift from 2012 to 2016. Fann herself was elected in a district that includes parts of Maricopa. One assumes she feels pretty confident about those particular results."

Even if she did believe that there was no fraud, she's got two options, he explained. Either she can keep going with the audit and election fraud claims or she can throw up her hands and make a deal that she showed her Trump loyalty.

The problem, Bump explained, is that they have all double, triple, and quadrupled down on the conspiracy. There's no real respectable off-ramp for them anymore.

"Fann, as president of the Republicans in the Arizona Senate, would have been hard-pressed to stay quiet, so she chose to play along. Again, maybe she was lying to Gates, but it's safe to assume that she wasn't. She had little political choice but to go along with the 'review,'" said Bump.

It's the same situation that Republicans are in at the national level. They've gone so far down the road with Donald Trump that there's no real way to divorce themselves from him. They've been given every opportunity to abandon him, but each time they came crawling back. Republicans know how to navigate that path, Bump explained. The path without Trump is a "minefield."

"Whenever there's a discussion of the review in Arizona, the same conclusion emerges: Everyone knows where it is headed, but no one really knows what happens then," he closed. "For the review itself, in other words, there's no off-ramp, just this big, rickety truck rumbling forward with dashboard warning lights going unheeded. The time when this could have been averted came months ago, before the vehicle started moving. But even then, Fann and other Republicans were not offered any easy choice other than to step on the accelerator."

Read the full column at the Washington Post.

Elise Stefanik shredded in local paper for her 'pro-COVID agenda'

On Tuesday, writing for the Glens Falls Post-Star, columnist Gretta Hochsprung tore into Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), the upstate New York lawmaker recently elected House GOP Conference chair, for spreading what she termed a "pro-COVID agenda" by inciting anger and opposition to public health measures.

Hochsprung took particular aim at Stefanik's tweet earlier in the week, in which she proclaimed, "No vaccine mandates for teachers No vaccine mandates for students. No mandates for anyone. And unmask our kids!"

Stefanik gained national attention in 2019 for her intense defense of then-President Donald Trump during his first impeachment.

"Children entering school in New York are required to have had seven vaccines, and middle and high school students must have a couple more. You can get an exemption if you have a medical condition that qualifies. No other sort of exemption, not for religious, cultural or 'it's a free country' reasons is granted," wrote Hochsprung. "We assume Stefanik is referring to the COVID-19 vaccines, although she doesn't say that. But what makes the COVID-19 vaccine any different from the hepatitis B vaccine or the chickenpox vaccine? Hepatitis B and chickenpox did not kill more than half a million people over the course of the past year, and that is because most of us were vaccinated for those viruses when we were kids."

Allowing unvaccinated students and teachers to spread COVID-19 at schools unchecked, Hochsprung warned, would have dire consequences, as the highly infectious Delta variant continues to explode.

"We don't know why, as a federal representative, Stefanik is expending her energy on public school policy, which is the purview of the states," wrote Hochsprung. "Like everyone else, we are weary of dealing with COVID-19. Being weary or angry or rebellious doesn't make the virus go away, however, while vaccinations and mask-wearing do."

You can read more here.

Trump won't block DOJ officials from testifying to Congress about his efforts to overturn the 2020 election

Former president Donald Trump won't sue to block former Department of Justice officials from testifying about his efforts to subvert the results of the 2020 election, the New York Times reported Tuesday morning.

Trump's attorney, former Georgia Republican Congressman Doug Collins, sent letters to six DOJ officials on Monday informing them of the decision.

"By allowing his former Justice Department officials to speak with investigators, Mr. Trump has paved the way for new details to emerge about his efforts to delegitimize the outcome of the election," the Times reported. "Even though department officials, including (former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey) Rosen and the former Attorney General William P. Barr, told him that President Biden had won the election, Mr. Trump pressed them to take actions that would cast the election results in doubt and to publicly declare it corrupt."

House and Senate committees are expected to interview Rosen and Richard P. Donoghue, a former acting deputy attorney general, as soon as this week, as part of their investigations into the Trump administration's potentially illegal efforts to delegitimize Joe Biden's victory.

Last week, the DOJ delivered a "significant" blow to Trump when it said department officials can give "unrestricted testimony" to the committees, because the former president's efforts to overturn the election to promote his "personal political interests" represented an "extraordinary circumstance" that is not protected by executive privilege.

In his letter to the DOJ officials, Trump's attorney Collins slammed the DOJ's decision, saying the Biden administration should have first consulted with Trump before waving executive privilege. Collins also said while Trump will not attempt to block their testimony outright, he may take undisclosed legal action if congressional investigators seek "privileged information" related to his administration.

"The committees have also received a slew of emails, handwritten notes and other documents from the Justice Department that show how Mr. Trump, Mark Meadows, his former chief of staff, and others pushed the Justice Department to look into voter fraud allegations that were investigated and not supported by evidence, to ask the Supreme Court to vacate the election results and to publicly cast doubt on the outcome," the Times reports.

Paul Krugman lays bare how much Ron DeSantis cost Florida

Gov. Ron DeSantis has won praise for guiding Florida through the coronavirus pandemic, but economist Paul Krugman revealed his inaction against COVID-19 has cost his state tens of thousands of lives and tens of billions of dollars.

The Florida governor has become a Republican favorite for refusing to implement measures to prevent the pandemic's spread, but Krugman analyzed the data and found a massive failure in leadership.

"I've been doing some number-crunching on Florida, which has become the poster child for red-state Covid disaster," Krugman tweeted. "Not only does it top the nation in hospitalizations per capita, but it's far bigger than the other disaster states."

DeSantis has been claiming credit for the state's economy, but Krugman argued that his policy has already cost Florida -- and could torpedo its chances for the near future.

"How well will that economy hold up as potential visitors realize that the Sunshine state has become extremely dangerous and its hospital system is in overload crisis?" Krugman tweeted. "But leaving that aside, a good economy isn't much comfort if you're dead."

Florida is currently losing, on average, nearly 58 people a day to COVID-19, compared to around six for New York -- and those excess deaths are costing the state and bringing misery to families.

"The standard valuation of a human life — based on revealed individual preferences — is $10 million," Krugman tweeted. "So FL should have been willing to pay $400 million a day to avoid these deaths."

Florida's gross domestic product is $1.1 trillion a year, or $3 billion a day, Krugman pointed out.

"So if you put a dollar value on it, DeSantis's anti-mask, anti-Vax policies are costing his state the equivalent of 13% of its GDP," Krugman tweeted. "Winning the pandemic!"

Long-running CIA feud bursts into public view as the House's Capitol riot investigation ramps up

The House investigation of the Jan. 6 riot has thrust a long-simmering CIA feud into the public eye.

David Buckley, who's now the top Democratic staffer on the select committee, ruffled feathers as the spy agency's inspector general 11 years ago, when he aggressively tried to root out alleged wrongdoing, and his reputed hostility to whistleblowers may prevent potential witnesses from coming forward in the House probe, reported Politico.

"I as a whistleblower attorney would definitely need to weigh the costs and benefits of recommending to a client that they go to this committee while David Buckley is the staff director," said attorney Kel McClanahan, who represents national security whistleblowers. "Especially if those clients are of the type that don't have strong whistleblower protections, like Capitol police or Intelligence community employees."

Buckley investigated a case as inspector general involving $3 million and numerous meals at Hooters, and one of his investigators there, Andrew Bakaj, accused him of retaliation after he was blamed for providing information and assistance to another probe.

Bakaj is now a whistleblower attorney who represented two of the four law enforcement officers who testified at the panel's first hearing, and his attorney Mark Zaid -- who represented the whistleblower who trigged Donald Trump's first impeachment -- said he would be hesitant to bring whistleblowers before the panel.

"The committee's defense of Buckley embarrassingly reveals that the Democrats' support of the [intelligence community] whistleblower, who Andrew and I represented, was just a partisan exercise to get Trump," Zaid said. "Once a whistleblower issue conflicts with their political agenda, the whistleblower apparently gets sacrificed. Given this position, the committee is continuing the illegal reprisal against Andrew."

A spokesman for the panel's Democratic majority defended Buckley reputation.

"The years-old situation conveniently resurfacing now dealt with possibly unlawful handling of information that could have jeopardized one of the CIA IG's most important and sensitive investigations in recent years," said spokesman Tim Mulvey. "Mr. Buckley did his job to protect the integrity of that effort, and since these events unfolded, a federal court has ruled that the precise sort of action he took does not constitute retaliation."

The court ruling didn't involved Bakaj's case, and Republicans, for now, don't appear to be interested in turning Buckley into a political liability.

MAGA lawyer repping Jan. 6 rioters plans to try unusual defense — but there's one big problem

A highly leveraged attorney whose reputation is in tatters has become the go-to defense for Jan. 6 rioters.

John Pierce, whose boutique law firm is facing mountains of debt, has represented Kenosha, Wisconsin, murder suspect Kyle Rittenhouse, former Donald Trump campaign aide Carter Page and now more than a dozen U.S. Capitol rioters -- and he plans to use an unusual tactic to defend the insurrectionists, reported The Daily Beast.

"We are going to take every one of these cases to trial, we are going to seek full acquittals, and in that process we are going to find out what actually happened on Jan. 6," Pierce said at a rally in June.

Pierce said in one court hearing that he would pursue a "public authority defense," a tactic sometimes used by informants, to argue that his 17 clients believed the government -- in this case, the former president -- had legally sanctioned their crimes, but some legal observers believe that strategy is destined to fail.

"He's not a defense attorney, and therefore he's not an especially good defense attorney and it would take a tremendously good defense attorney to make a good public authority defense," explained national security journalist Marcy Wheeler. "That's why nobody else is trying it."

Pierce, who was fired by Rittenhouse over a financial dispute, is representing Proud Boy William Pepe, conservative media scion L. Brent Bozell IV, and alleged Proud Boy conspirator Ryan Samsel, although the latter notified the judge last week that he would be getting a new lawyer.

Before getting involved in MAGA cases, Pierce's law firm dissolved under more than $800,000 in tax debt and his own admitted substance abuse issues, and he reportedly sent his ex-wife menacing messages and threatened to kill her.

History provides a roadmap for forcing Jim Jordan to answer questions about the Jan 6th insurrection: columnist

In a column for the Guardian, Sidney Blumenthal -- a former senior White House adviser under President Bill Clinton -- explained that there is no legal reason why the House select committee investigating the Jan 6th insurrection can't call upon Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) or any other lawmaker to testify in public.

With members of the committee reportedly making up a list of witnesses they would like to subpoena in order to get to the bottom of how the riot began and who was complicit in inciting it, there have been questions whether members of the House can compel some of their colleagues to appear and answer questions about their conversations with ex-president Donald Trump on that day.

The Washington Post reported on Saturday that committee members are weighing what could "...lead to an unprecedented legal and political showdown over how to force members of Congress to take the witness stand."

As Blumenthal explained in his Guardian column, there is a legal precedent if the committee wants to call Jordan or House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to the stand based upon another violent insurrection that occurred in 1859.

Quoting Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) claiming, "I don't know what the precedent is, to be honest," Blumenthal added, "There is one."

"After a bloody insurrection was quelled, a congressional committee was created to investigate the organization of the insurrection, sources of funding, and the connections of the insurrectionists to members of Congress who were indeed called to testify. And did," Blumenthal wrote before citing abolitionist John Brown's attack on Harpers Ferry on October 16, 1859.

After the trial of Brown, Blumenthal wrote, "the Senate created the Select Committee to Inquire into the Late Invasion and Seizure of the Public Property at Harpers Ferry. Senator James M Mason of Virginia, the sponsor of the Fugitive Slave Act, was chairman. He appointed as chief prosecutor Jefferson Davis of Mississippi. Davis was particularly intent on questioning Senator William H Seward of New York, the likely Republican candidate for president."

According to Blumenthal, lawmakers had been alerted that Brown might be planning something including Henry Wilson, a Republican from Massachusetts who later served as Ulysses S. Grant's vice-president. The columnist then added that both Seward and Wilson were called before the investigating committee and that they complied.

Adding "Other witnesses were subpoenaed and warrants were issued for the arrest of those who failed to appear," Blumenthal explained that the committee in their final report -- written by Jefferson Davis -- cited the Constitution when explaining their justification for getting their colleagues to testify.

"The Senate committee concluded its report citing the fourth section of article four of the constitution: 'The United States shall guaranty to every State in this Union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion, and, on the application of the legislature or of the executive, (when the legislature cannot be convened,) against domestic violence,'" Blumenthal wrote before noting that Davis himself, just eight months later, "...assumed command of the greatest insurrection against the United States in its history, sworn in as president of the Confederacy."

You read all of the historical details here.

'A serious risk of prosecution': Trump's PAC fundraising and spending questioned by legal experts

According to a report from the Guardian, financial information released by political action committees (PACs) linked to Donald Trump are being scrutinized by critics and legal experts alike who see evidence that the former president may be engaged in fraud as he amasses millions of dollars.

As the Guardian's Peter Stone writes, Trump has "has built an arsenal of political committees and nonprofit groups, staffed with dozens of ex-administration officials and loyalists" who are now using his election loss to rake in millions for the purported reason of contesting his loss in the courts, yet there are few dollars being spent on lawyers and a lot of questions about what the money is being used for.

Focusing on Trump's "Save America" PAC, the report states, it "had raised a whopping $31.5m by year's end, but Save America spent nothing on legal expenses in this same period, according to public records. Run by Trump's 2016 campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, Save America only spent $340,000 on fundraising expenses last year."

Additionally, Trump is now touting a lawsuit --and asking for donations to finance it -- against Facebook, Google and Twitter which experts claim looks like another fundraising "ploy" which is leading to even more questions.

According to Paul S. Ryan, vice-president of policy and litigation with Common Cause, "Donald Trump is a one-man scam Pac. Bait-and-switch is among his favorite fundraising tactics. This time he's got the unlimited dark money group America First Policy Institute in on the racket."

Adav Noti, a former associate general counsel at the Federal Election Commission, concurred, explaining, "The president deceived his donors. He asked them to give money so he could contest the election results, but then he spent their contributions to pay off unrelated debts," before adding, "That's dangerously close to fraud. If a regular charity – or an individual who didn't happen to be president of the United States – had raised tens of millions of dollars through that sort of deception, they would face a serious risk of prosecution."

With the Guardian's Stone writing, "Veteran campaign finance analysts say that the bevy of Trump-linked groups launched since his defeat raise new questions about his motives and political intentions," Sheila Krumholz, who leads the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics added, "Trump's aggressive fundraising, using a variety of committees and surrogates, raises questions about whether his continual hints at running in 2024 is primarily a ploy for donations. Trump may be more interested in fundraising than actually running, especially given how unprecedented his post-loss fundraising is."

You can read more here.

Lara Trump hopes Black American Olympian loses

Fox News allowed Lara Trump to fill in Sunday for one of its afternoon shows. She ranted about a Facebook ad response that has been twisted into a conspiracy theory and then lashed out at an American Olympian.

Olympic athlete Gwen Berry said she would protest the American National Anthem if she wins a medal in the hammer throw. Many Black athletes have protested during the National Anthem dating back decades, but when President Donald Trump lashed out at them, his flock of fans followed, including his daughter-in-law.

"I feel like I've earned the right to wear this uniform," Berry said when she made it through her qualifying round.

It was Berry, who, two years ago at the Pan American Games, raised her fist in solidarity with Black America, similar to the 1968 fist raised by Gold medalist Tommie Smith and bronze medalist John Carlos after the 200 m race.

It triggered Trump to such a degree that she even fumbled her own insult, "there are a lot of people who hope she doesn't make it to that podium because, you know, she's — she's not doing the right thing with that."

See the video below:

lara trump desperately tries to justify her racism


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