Sarah K. Burris

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:

'This is not going well for Bannon': MSNBC legal analyst says Trump ally on track for a stinging defeat

Former Solicitor General Neal Katyal explained that Trump ally Steve Bannon is going to be highly unsuccessful in his efforts to beat criminal contempt charges.

In a Sunday filing by the Justice Department, prosecutors said Bannon's attorney, Evan Corcoran, refused their attempts to negotiate on some kind of agreement. According to the 10-page filing, the prosecutors alleged Bannon's lawyers were using their filing as a press release instead of a legal filing.

"The prosecutors called Steve Bannon's filing frivolous, so Bannon claimed that he wanted to make certain documents public and the Justice Department wasn't letting him," said Katyal. "And the Justice Department's response today was to call it frivolous and basically say, 'Oh, no, you didn't!' They point out that Bannon never even asked the Justice Department to try and make these documents public, and so this dispute is not going to go well for Bannon. Judges don't like it when parties can't work out stuff among themselves... and that's particularly true here, given Bannon's specific claim."

At its heart, Katyal said that Bannon is complaining that he can't publicly discuss certain documents.

"I have a very easy suggestion for him if he's worried about that: Testify," he continued. "This guy is afraid to go and tell the truth about what happened under oath, and that's what all of these legal skirmishes are about. That's the part that's frivolous. So, I think he's going to lose these claims and it's going to embolden the House investigators."

See the full conversation below:

If Bannon wants people to see documents he can testify

CIA releases detailed report about what it was like to give Trump infrequent 'presidential daily briefing'

The CIA released the latest chapter of the ongoing history of Presidential briefings, Micah Zenko tweeted over the weekend. According to the information provided by the U.S. spy agency, Trump didn't much care about national security, while Vice President Mike Pence did the "daily briefing" six days a week. Previous reports cited anonymous sources, but the CIA report detailed the specifics on the record. The report went even deeper into what agents experienced, noting Trump's rants and other issues.

By the time that the 2020 election rolled around, Beth Sanner was the one briefing Trump. The so-called PDB, "Presidential Daily Briefing," actually only took place twice a week under Trump and lasted about 45 minutes, with the overwhelming majority involving Trump's ranting.

"Even during times when President Trump publicly expressed great irritation with the IC—most notably in 2019 when an IC employee filed a whistle-blower complaint concerning the president's efforts to have Ukraine investigate a political opponent, Joe Biden—briefings continued as usual and Trump' s demeanor during the sessions remained the same," said the report. "After the 2020 election, PDB briefings also continued for a period of time. When Sanner briefed the president before he went to Mar-a-Lago for the holidays, he commented that he would see her later. The briefings were to resume on 6 January but none were scheduled after the attack on the Capitol."

By contrast, Pence so regularly held a "presidential daily briefing" that he had briefers to his home and gave them a commemorative medallion as a gift. They offered him a certificate of appreciation as he left office, the report continued.

The report also confessed that no briefing was as bad as Trump's other than Nixon.

"For the Intelligence Community, the Trump transition was far and away the most difficult in its historical experience with briefing new presidents. The only (and imperfect) analogue was the Nixon transition, when the president-elect effectively declined to work with the IC, electing, instead, to receive intelligence information through an intermediary, National Security Advisor-designate Henry Kissinger," the report also explained. "Trump was like Nixon, suspicious and insecure about the intelligence process, but unlike Nixon in the way he reacted. Rather than shut the IC out, Trump engaged with it, but attacked it publicly."

James Clapper also wrote in his book about Trump's inability to focus during briefings as a candidate. After taking over the White House, Clapper left and Trump brought in his own team.

"Clapper recalled, Trump was prone to 'fly off on tangents; there might be eight or nine minutes of real intelligence in an hour's discussion,'" the report recalled. "The irreconcilable difference, in Clapper's view, was that the IC worked with evidence. Trump 'was 'fact-free'—evidence doesn't cut it with him.'"

You can read the full chapter at the CIA's website.

Chick-fil-a executive appears to have been manipulated by Russian spy Maria Butina: report

The fallout from Russian spy Maria Butina continues even as she's been deported back to her home country. The Young Turks penned a new revelation amid part of an ongoing report about the Fellowship Foundation, sometimes referred to as "The Family," the secretive group hosting the National Prayer Breakfast.

One of Butina's first events, as she began her work in the United States, was the notorious breakfast, which is nonpartisan, but run by the far-right.

A longtime Chick-fil-A executive ensured Russian official Alexander Torshin got onto the guestlist for the event. He also helped Butina get in.

"Internal documents of the Fellowship Foundation suggest that The Family's role was largely unscrutinized at the time and greater than has been previously reported," said TYT. The post noted that The Family and the Fellowship Foundation are notoriously homophobic and transphobic. Their anti-LGBTQ philosophy works well with Chick-fil-A, which has continued to fund anti-LGBTQ causes.

"One of Butina's contacts in Washington was identified in a 2019 Senate Finance Committee minority report as Tim Burchfield of Tennessee," said the piece. "But the report didn't disclose that Burchfield was a longtime Family insider. It also didn't mention that Burchfield was an executive at Chick-fil-A, a company known for pushing Biblical values, including opposition to LGBTQ rights."

Burchfield's involvement hasn't been reported in the past and the role of The Family in Butina's entry to the world of Republican politics has only been uncovered recently.

Torshin first reached out to the NRA in 2011, the New York Times reported. It was the same year he met Butina.

"In an unpublished 2019 interview, a spokesperson for the Russian Evangelical Alliance told TYT, 'Torshin, you know, has had the U.S. contact for 25 years probably. I never knew about the gun connection.' The spokesperson, William Yoder, had written in 2013 that even then Torshin was already considered 'a perennial' at the prayer breakfasts in both Washington and Moscow."

"Butina was not given any invitations to the prayer breakfast," said a source in The Family. "Torshin was and Butina was basically his administrative assistant." He was also the main contact in Russia for The Family's Russia liaison Doug Burleigh.

TYT spoke to former CIA Russian operations chief Steve Hall, who explained that the two groups have a lot of common values. He told TYT, "that's a natural point where a Russian can come in and say, 'Oh, yeah, we feel your pain, America. We feel your pain, religious person in America, right-wing person in America, because, y'know, society is just all screwed up and we have all these gay people running around.'"

The Family's Russia point people in 2016 to the National Prayer Breakfast were evangelical conservatives, said the report.

Torshin didn't speak English, but Burleigh speaks fluent Russia and Butina speaks English as well. Burleigh has gone back and forth between Russia and the US for years in his position for The Family. He handed Torshin and Butina the 10 tickets to see newly elected President Donald Trump at his first National Prayer Breakfast.

The Family's documents even show that Butina's country of origin was Russia and used a South Dakota mailing address associated with Paul Erickson, who Butina ultimately used.The Democratic Senate Finance minority report cites Chick-fil-A executive Burchfield, though it focuses exclusively on the NRA, and nothing was filed citing the links between The Family or the National Prayer Breakfast even though there are long-standing ties that surpass the NRA.

TYT reported last week that Burchfield has been part of The Family for a long time. "The controversial fast-food company confirmed to TYT what the internal documents show: Burchfield's role as The Family's coordinator for Tennessee," the report said. "But congressional disclosure forms show Burchfield has also been part of Family-sponsored trips by Family allies in Congress."

All of his guests lean Republican, some are affiliated with anti-LGBTQ groups, and others support Trump's false claim that the 2020 election was stolen.

In 2016, while Erickson got the tickets for Butina, he wasn't there to escort her. So, NRA millionaire Joe Gregory asked Burchfield, a fellow Tennessean.

The Finance Committee obtained the emailed request:

"Tim Burchfield, As you know, I have told you that two of my new good friends from Russia will be attending the National Prayer Breakfast this year & they are very excited about it," the email says. "They are Mr. Alexander Torshin & Ms. Maria Butina. Their Bio's [sic] are included with this email & Maria's email address is included as well. Her cell phone number is [redacted]. At your permission, I have extended an invitation for them to join the East Tennessee contingent for dinner the night before the breakfast (Wednesday evening, 2/3). Tim's cell phone number is [redacted]. I leave it in your capable hands to inform our Russian guests & arrange places & times for the Wednesday evening dinner & thank you for showing them the same hospitality that Jesus would show & that you have shown to me. I believe they may also be interested in Thursday mid-day & afternoon tour happenings & invitations if they don't end up going to NRA headquarters. Thanks for your help with this! Best Wishes for another successful Breakfast & send my regards to Doug Coe & family & the Fellowship."

The Finance Committee report identifies Burchfield as "an associate [of Gregory] from Tennessee," and completely ignores his decades working with The Family and Chick-fil-A.

Tim Burchfield still owns Chick-fil-A franchises in Tennessee but he was appointed to be the Honorary Consul to Guatemala in June 2018 and still lists it as his current occupation on his LinkedIn page.

The report goes into much greater detail which you can read here.

Leaked text messages show Women for America First was coordinating with Trump's White House for Jan 6: report

Rolling Stone obtained text messages that show the coordination between Jan. 6 attackers of the U.S. Capitol and to former President Donald Trump's White House.

According to the report, rally organizer Amy Kremer was focusing on food instead of what was happening down the street of her hotel at the U.S. Capitol. Among other things, Kremer is the founder of Women For America First and is a long-time tea party activist.

Kremer's text messages made it clear that she was speaking with the White House for events that happened after Trump's loss in November.

First, she hosted the March for Trump bus tour that would come to Washington to protest the president's loss.

"For those of you that weren't aware, I have jumped off the tour for the night and am headed to DC. I have a mtg at the WH tomorrow afternoon and then will be back tomorrow night," wrote Kremer in messages to followers. "Rest well. I'll make sure the President knows about the tour tomorrow!"

She went on to explain that she and her daughter Kylie seemed to indicate that they were in communication with the Trump team. Chris Barron, the spokesperson for the Kramers, claimed all of the messages that Rolling Stone has are fake news.

"You are printing things that are 100 percent factually untrue that we can prove are not true," Barron said. "You are printing things that are absolutely, factually untrue and, beyond being factually untrue, for anybody who knows Amy are like hilariously preposterous."

When Rolling Stone asked for specifics, Barron refused to answer, merely repeating that they disputed the report.

In another text, marked Dec. 13, 2020, Kramer told the group she was "still waiting to hear from the WH on the photo op with the bus." She explained that she didn't have the permits yet so they couldn't tweet that the event would be at the Ellipse until it was confirmed.

"We are following POTUS' lead," Kylie then wrote.

A text message from Jan. 3 between activist Dustin Stockton and Kylie again made it sound as if there was blatant coordination. She told Stockton that handling rally credentials for VIP were being organized with a "combination of us and WH."

Stockton's fiance, Jennifer Lawrence, not the actress, asked for specifics about the press credentials. Kylie said that the Trump campaign was navigating that piece of it.

The House Select Committee for Jan. 6 subpoenaed documents from the Kremers but it's unclear if the information was turned over.

The morning of Jan. 5, Kremer texted organizers, "we are about to be part of a pivotal and historic moment in our nation's history."

"Thank you for taking this journey with Women For America First. I love you all and am grateful for each of you," she wrote. "Let's go save the Republic!"

Ali Alexander was organizing another group that would protest at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

"Two sources who were involved in the Ellipse rally planning previously told Rolling Stone they had concerns Alexander's event could turn violent due to his apparent ties to militia groups and its location directly outside the Capitol," Rolling Stone explained. "Those sources claimed Alexander initially agreed he would not hold the 'Wild Protest' and would allow the Ellipse rally to be the only major pro-Trump event in D.C. on January 6."

The leaked texts show that there were internal arguments over Kramer's protest and Alexander's.

"Ali trying to rearrange our women for america (sic) seats," a volunteer wrote. "Stop that sh*t," Stockton replied.

Kylie noted on a Dec. 31 text that the only reason that the Alexander group was hositng their own was that his group was made up of "all the people who aren't invited or POTUS won't be associated with. How do yall not get it? Seriously. Everyone needs to get off that damn bus because you are all going crazy focused on things that don't matter."

Then another volunteer asked the group why the details of the event hadn't been tweeted. Kylie responded by saying that Ellipse events are extremely rare and that they necessitated more red tape. She noted that she was working with "Team Trump" to get everything prepared.

"I am very frustrated and feel like you guys have NO IDEA the hoops we have been jumping through 24-7 lately. Google events at the Ellipse. Send me pictures that you can find of anything other than the Christmas tree light or menorah lighting that are official WH events. THEY DONT HAPPEN," Kylie wrote. "Y'all this has got to stop. The back and forth. If anyone doesn't like what … team trump and I are doing then you don't have to come to January 6th."

Arguments continued within the group with Amy Kramer going so far as to admonish her daughter in public on the text chain for drinking.

"Kylie, you need to slow your roll on the wine RIGHT NOW," Kremer wrote. "We have so much work to do and not enough time to get it done."

She then told the group, "There will be no more drinking on this trip."

Rolling Stone even got access to the food order that Kremer made for the organizers who met in her Willard's hotel suite. A Jan. 6 order also included a bottle of champagne at the same time Kremer's organization was denouncing the violence. Napa Tea Party coordinator Pam Silleman told The Uprising that she drank champagne in the Kremer suite as they watched the storming of the Capitol on television.

A March for Trump team member revealed that the suite was one of the nicest in the hotel and the Kramers demanded "fresh lightbulbs" and other special requests. The organizer suggested that the orders may have tipped off law enforcement.

"I got the call from someone at the FBI asking why I used my card at the Willard in DC. … It was an exorbitant bill. The suite they were in, it was ungodly expensive because Kylie had to have the presidential suite. That was what made her comfortable," the team member told Rolling Stone. "She had to have her waffles every morning. She would check the lightbulbs at every hotel. She would have maintenance change the lightbulbs."

Another organizer remembered over a dozen people in the suite with wine flowing.

"She was sh*tfaced that night Kylie Kremer was," the person recalled.

The following day, some were so disturbed by the Jan. 6 violence they wanted to make a public statement.

"I don't think it is wise for us to talk to the press or have a press conference. Our statement yesterday was strong enough and we need to leave it at that," Amy Kremer wrote on January 7. "Nothing god (sic) will come from us talking to CBS or any other mainstream media outlet. I hope you guys understand and agree."

Then something of a disaster happened. Kremer got locked in her bathroom and texted the whole group for help.

Former FBI terrorism experts saw something suspect in the Wisconsin SUV attack that is going unnoticed

Former FBI agents Clint Watts and Frank Figliuzzi agreed that there was something different about the Waukesha mass casualty event than previous incidents.

Watts pointed out that if the driver had wanted to kill as many people as possible, why would he swerve around trying not to hit anybody?

"It was a very unusual video, and I having looked at other terrorist attacks which were vehicle-borne attacks," said Watts. "They are quite different. I am confused of what to make of it. The driver in some places seemed to deliberately mow over people and other places to dodge them. So, I think there is a lot to learn to be honest, and I don't think we should probably jump to any conclusions right at the outset because it is very strange if you've watched any of the video and there is a lot of it online I would not encourage people to watch it because it is traumatic. It is a very strange incident."

He went on to say that the event had a heavy police presence and that terrorists look for places where there isn't law enforcement.

"Usually, a vehicle-borne attack, if the goal is to produce lots of casualties, they wouldn't stop and only hit one person," Watts continued. "What is odd in the video is at times the vehicle seems to be hitting and colliding with people apparently deliberately other times not. That is unusual. It is also strange in terms of circumstances with the barricades. There was a heavy law enforcement presence. This is known. They knew there was a parade and there would be law enforcement."

"A lot of the other vehicle-borne attacks do the reverse and seek out places like in Barcelona where they know there is no law enforcement presence so they can inflict the most damage," he continued. "Is this a symbolic event? Is this related to other criminal activity we don't know about? There are a lot of confusing things in the video that don't match with what I've seen from other vehicle-borne attacks on places of high population density like the west side highway for example."

See the full discussion below:

Newsmax turns against right-wing conspiracy theories — and hire 'straight news' Fox producers

The Daily Beast is reporting that Newsmax has taken a turn in their editorial content akin to the direction that Fox News is taking.

Despite the misinformation, Fox continues with personalities like Tucker Carlson and others, but as far back as February, the network was broadcasting reports that fact-checked lies about the 2020 election results. That month it also canceled Lou Dobbs the day after conspiracy theories from him led to Fox Business being sued for $2.7 billion. The network said that the two incidents weren't related.

Now Newsmax appears to be following suit, albeit only a little. The report explained that they have hired two Fox producers and reporter James Rosen.

"Between multiple billion-dollar lawsuits over its 2020 election-fraud lies and having a star White House reporter go all-in on satanic vaccine conspiracy theories, Newsmax seems to face a similar predicament Fox News has faced in recent years," said the Beast. "The fledgling MAGA channel's solution seems to be going on a hiring spree of former Fox News producers and reporters."

Newsmax hired some of former President Donald Trump's biggest names from his campaign in 2016 and administration like Sean Spicer, Sebastian Gorka, and Steve Cortes.

Over the past few weeks, however, the network came under fire after Emerald Robinson, Newsmax's White House reporter, told her Twitter followers that the COVID-19 vaccines contain a "bioluminescent marker called LUCIFERASE" that also serves as a tracking device.

Robinson was suspended from Twitter and Newsmax denounced her saying that it "never reported [her] false claims." Then they benched her, saying that the network was reviewing her posts and during the investigation, she wouldn't be on air. Robinson previously worked for the One America News channel.

After returning to Twitter after the tweets, she was then banned permanently for continuing to tweet about the vaccine conspiracies.

"And now it appears Robinson's days as a Newsmax personality are numbered," the report said, citing multiple sources. "And Newsmax may already be lining up a far more seasoned reporter behind her to take over: former Fox News chief D.C. correspondent James Rosen, currently a political reporter for local TV giant Sinclair Broadcasting Group."

"Emerald Robinson remains off-air as Newsmax reviews matters relating to her posts made outside of the channel on her own social media," a Newsmax spokesperson revealed to the Beast. "As of yet we have not determined when she will return to the air."

The producers hired from Fox News are those the Beast called "straight news" producers. One staffer telling the site, "If we are going to be viewed as a news organization, we have to act like one."

Read the full report at the Daily Beast.

Bill Barr got into a screaming match with Fox News personality Maria Bartiromo: new book

More excerpts are leaking of Jonathan Karl's new book about the White House of former President Donald Trump. According to one part quoted by CNN, former Attorney General Bill Barr ended up being screamed at by Fox News host Maria Bartiromo. So, he screamed back.

The book describes the unhinged Bartiromo as "screaming" about false voter fraud, which Barr fact-checked in an exit interview with the Associated Press.

"Bartiromo had once been a widely respected and trailblazing financial journalist," the book describes. "As a correspondent for CNBC, she was the first television reporter to report live from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Now she had her own show on Fox News and she was using it to boost a series of unfounded allegations designed to overturn a presidential election."

Bartiromo invited Sidney Powell, the onetime lawyer for Donald Trump, who rattled off a series of false claims without any "skepticism" from the Fox host.

"It was all a lie," wrote Karl, "but Sidney Powell's deranged theories would have never taken hold if there weren't people in positions of power and influence who had promoted them -- people like Maria Bartiromo."

It was in another section that Karl reveals the Bartiromo call with Barr.

"She called me up and she was screaming," Barr told Karl for the book. "I yelled back at her. She's lost it."

Karl said that he asked for her response, noting it's unethical for a journalist to call the attorney general to lobby "and demand he do something related to a criminal investigation."

"Bartiromo did not respond," Karl said, "but a Fox News spokesperson did get back to me and denied Barr's account of the conversation on Bartiromo's behalf."

Karl's book Betrayal will be released on Tuesday Nov. 16.

'She's young enough for this to haunt her': Ex-federal prosecutor warns Kayleigh McEnany to obey her subpoena

Former U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance on Tuesday discussed the decision by the House Select Committee investigating Jan. 6 to issue an additional ten subpoenas, including aides who were closest to former President Donald Trump throughout the day.

Speaking on an MSNBC panel of experts, Vance warned that Kayleigh McEnany is so young that her decision about whether to cooperate or not will determine her future in politics.

"It's important to remember that Congress has a different role here than DOJ might have," Vance explained about McEnany pushing the "big lie" from the White House podium. "Congress can't indict anyone. Congress' mission here is a fact-finding mission and so they'll be interested in learning all of the obvious questions that we would have here. Who told her to say this. Did she think it was true? Did she push back? There's a lot of rich information to explore with her."

What is hanging over her head, however, is how her participation could reflect on the Justice Department investigation and prosecutions.

"She's a young woman, presumably she has future stages in her career," said Vance. "So far, DOJ hasn't seemed to get serious about prosecutions. There hasn't been accountability for any of the people involved in the big lie, but she is young enough for this to haunt her and for the risk, the threat of criminal prosecution down the road to be very serious. if she were to decide to tell the truth, she could do a lot to undo the many times she took to the podium after telling us she would never lie to us."

Host Nicolle Wallace said Vance was "putting it kindly."

See the video below:

Kayleigh McEnany -- to cooperate or not to cooperate

Josh Hawley claims a man isn't really 'a man' if they play video games and aren't married with children

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) is launching a campaign against men who play video games, "watching pornography and doing nothing," and aren't married with children.

The conversation came as part of Axios on HBO's interview between Hawley and Mike Allen, who addressed the recent speech the Missouri senator made at a conservative conference in Florida.

In his speech, Hawley alleged that it was the left that was attacking the "men of America," but when Allen asked Hawley what he finds to be the problem with men in America today.

"What's a man to you, paint a picture," asked Allen.

"What's a man?" asked Hawley. "Well, a man is a father. A man is a husband. A man is somebody who takes responsibility. As conservatives, we've got to call men back to responsibility. We've got to say that spending your time not working. And we have more and more men who aren't working. Spending their time on video games. Spending your time watching porn online while doing nothing is not good for you, your family, or this country."

It's unclear if Hawley meant to say that men must be doing something while watching pornography for it to be good for the country. Either way, Hawley's analysis seems to be that any man who can't have children, like those who can be sterile as a result of cystic fibrosis or other diseases, aren't real men. Similarly, Hawley, who identifies as an evangelical protestant and went to a private Jesuit high school, also attacked celibate religious figures like Priests who don't have wives or children. "Real men," by Hawley's definition, also wouldn't be families that have decided not to have children.

It's a new attack from conservatives who typically claim that the country is being ruined by "welfare moms," but it seems to have shifted to childless men.

The attack on those playing video games also isn't unusual for conservatives. For decades they've blamed video games for everything from school shootings, to the sexualization of children to drug addiction and criminal activity. Yet, by 2023, there are expected to be 3 billion video gamers across the world, which would account for 500 Missourians. The Entertainment Software Association revealed that "67 percent of all American adults, those 18 years and up, play games, while 76 percent of kids, those under 18 years old play."

Among the largest video game companies in St. Louis include Graphite Lab, Riot Games, Happy Badger Studio, Six3six Studios, Mythican Games, MeltedJoystick, DataGame, and Simutronics.


Happy Holidays!