Sarah K. Burris

Trump’s special master 'seems to be running out of patience': former federal prosecutor

Donald Trump and his legal team hand-picked the special master that they wanted to be appointed to review all of the documents taken from Mar-a-Lago as part of the former president's stolen document scandal. In court documents released today, the judge made it seem as if he's losing his patience, said one former prosecutor.

Bloomberg reporter Zoe Tillman posted the recent filing of Judge Raymond Dearie saying that he didn't need to meet with Donald Trump's legal team in person on Dec. 1, as previously scheduled. Instead, all Judge Dearie needed were some clarifications on categories.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department is trying to eliminate the special master entirely in a panel before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. In one line of questioning a judge on the panel asked if there was a point at which the case essentially became moot. Trump's lawyer, Jim Trustey said that the upcoming hearing on Dec. 1 or the Dec. 16 deadline were all stopping points. Judge Dearie had previously said that the Dec. 1 conference would be an "opportunity for the parties to elaborate upon their respective positions" before the final report.

In a discussion about Tillman's report, former federal prosecutors Shanlon Wu and Cynthia Alksne shared a laugh about their thoughts about the Dearie decision.

"Judge Dearie may be tired of the utter lack of specifics from the Trump legal team," quipped Wu.

"Or maybe he thinks the 11th Circuit is going to shut the whole process down. Perhaps he listened to the audio of the latest argument?" wondered Alksne.

"Hah! Dearie is counting the days till that 11th Circuit opinion drops," Wu chuckled.

Joking aside, Wu noted later that Dearie may have "canceled upcoming status hearing citing no need for it. He seems to be running out of patience with [the] Trump legal team's failure to provide any specifics in their arguments about documents. Maybe the 11th Circuit will relieve him of this ridiculous assignment which amounts to Trump Judge Aileen Cannon appointing Special Master Dearie to interfere in the Department of Justice criminal investigation of [the] Mar-a-Lago matter."

Colorado Springs shooter appears in court bloody and bruised

The Colorado Springs shooter appeared in court on Wednesday, slumping over to the right, bloodied and bruised after the survivors of the attack struck back against them.

The defense attorneys said that 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich identified as "non-binary," which led MSNBC reporters to wonder if that was part of the defense strategy to get rid of the hate crimes charges. Their left eye appeared swollen and bruised and red marks on their forehead.

A transgender woman and an Army combat veteran were the ones who were able to subdue the attacker, beating Aldrich with their own gun and stomping on them.

The appearance was short, only lasting a few minutes, and defense lawyers asked whether police had access to their social media accounts and electronics, claiming some material might be privileged. The lawyer suggested Aldrich hasn't given permission for their records to be searched. Investigators and the district attorney will likely obtain a warrant to ensure access to such things.

Records are also sealed in some pieces of Aldrich's life, including any psychiatric treatment as well as if the red flag laws on the books in Colorado were implemented against them. Police said at a briefing this week that Colorado has strict "sealing laws" and that they couldn't even say whether or not those records exist.

TMZ reported more on the court appearance here.

Justice Department wants to speak to Mike Pence about January 6th

Former Vice President Mike Pence has not yet been subpoenaed, but the Justice Department has reached out to his representatives to ask that he speak to them about his Jan. 6 experience, the New York Times reported.

Pence has published a book that gave little information about what he observed other than the admission that Donald Trump's lawyers made it clear that what he was doing wouldn't be upheld by the Supreme Court. He then later blame "bad advice from lawyers" for Trump's behavior.

"On Jan. 4, the president’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, summoned me to the Oval Office for a meeting with a long list of attendees, including the legal scholar John Eastman," Pence recalled. "I listened respectfully as Mr. Eastman argued that I should modify the proceedings, which require that electoral votes be opened and counted in alphabetical order, by saving the five disputed states until the end. Mr. Eastman claimed I had the authority to return the votes to the states until each legislature certified which of the competing slate of electors for the state was correct. I had already confirmed that there were no competing electors."

This happened prior to the appointment of special counsel Jack Smith under the leadership of Thomas Windom, one of the lead investigators, said the Times.

"The discussions about questioning Mr. Pence are said to be in their early stages. Mr. Pence has not been subpoenaed, and the process could take months, because Mr. Trump can seek to block, or slow, his testimony by trying to invoke executive privilege," said the report.

Other reports cite Trump calling Pence a "p*ssy" and a slew of other things. At the same time, Pence wasn't innocently standing up for democracy on principle. He was searching for a way to make it happen too, even going so far as to call Dan Quayle to ask for advice on what his role would be on Jan. 6.

'All the Justices concur': Georgia Supreme Court unanimously rejects GOP case to end Saturday voting

The Georgia Republican Party appealed a lower court ruling this week that denied their efforts to eliminate Saturday voting in the state. The appeal was unanimously struck down by the Georgia Supreme Court on Wednesday, however.

Most Georgia early voting is cut off at 5 p.m., which prevents people who work such hours from accessing the early voting, leaving Saturday voting as their only other option.

"Upon consideration, the Emergency Petition for Writ of Certiorari and Motion to Stay are denied. All the Justices concur," the court filing said.

The runoff date is set for Dec. 6 for Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and GOP challenger, Herschel Walker. Under Georgia law, there are at least five days of early voting mandated from Monday Nov. 28 through Friday Dec. 2, which requires that the Saturday option be available to voters. The largest counties, like Fulton County, which includes Atlanta and is a Democratic county, intended to hold Saturday voting on Nov. 26, after Thanksgiving.

See the court notice below:

Elections lawyer mocks Kari Lake for claiming voter suppression after years of GOP efforts to stifle votes

The GOP's efforts to question elections, pass so-called voter fraud laws, and suppress votes is now working against them.

Elections lawyer Marc Elias explained on Monday that one of the excuses from Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake is that her voters were blocked from voting due to voter suppression efforts. Those efforts have long been part of the conservative attempt to restrict the electorate as much as possible and make it more difficult for people to vote.

Elias joined former Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) on Monday with Nicolle Wallace to discuss their ongoing lawsuits around the election and protect the sanctity of the vote.

McCaskill explained that in her home state of Missouri, Republicans swept the state in federal and state seats. Yet, because Republicans have worked so hard to convince voters that elections should be questioned, the Republicans there are questioning the GOP wins.

"You know, Claire makes an excellent point about the narrative that Republicans are trying to spread in Arizona that somehow they were the victim of voter suppression," said Elias. "I mean, if you look up the term chutzpah in the dictionary, you find the idea that Kari Lake is saying that there is voter suppression. They're complaining that there were long lines. Well, you know why there were long lines? There were long lines because the Kari Lake and Republicans have been making it harder to vote in Arizona. They're complaining voters were disenfranchised due to voter registration laws. Do you know why? Because Kari Lake and the Republicans have made it harder to register in Arizona. They're claiming that ballots were thrown out due to mismatched signatures. Do you know why? Because when we sued Arizona to make signature matching more accurate and make it easier for people to cure their ballots, they opposed us. And by the way, on the long lines point, while they're crying crocodile tears about people waiting in line for an hour or two in Maricopa County, where are they talking about the students who waited for six hours in the cold in Michigan to vote in their election?"

He went on to ask where Kevin McCarthy was on the issues like voter suppression and lies about the election. In fact, all Republicans, from Ronna Romney McDaniel to Mitch McConnell are all silent when it comes to such issues.

See the discussion below:

Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis are already duking it out in Pennsylvania

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) hasn't announced he's running for president yet, but Donald Trump has — and he's expecting to win the support of Republicans in Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

DeSantis was in the state to help support Doug Mastriano during the final months of the campaign. Mastriano lost, along with some of the other candidates DeSantis supported like Derrick Schmidt.

According to the report, "DeSantis took to the stage at the Downtown hotel and stirred the people to their feet with calls to 'make Pennsylvania free' and 'put on the full armor of God.'"

Stumping for Mastriano, DeSantis bragged that his family's roots came from Alquippa. He told the far-right crowd to "stand your ground. Stand firm. Don't back down."

Mastriano got the Trump treatment months later with a little drive-by event, where Trump rolled his new 757 airplane reading "TRUMP" up to the stage. He then spent several moments holding inside the plane before emerging to cheers and applause.

The report says that the "speeches in Western Pennsylvania were far more than just stump rallies for key candidates." They're beginning their efforts to run for president, years ahead of time. And how successful they are at getting people elected could determine their status in the state and the Republican Party.

The report described that Trump could be facing off against some of the most serious investigations a president has ever experienced. It comes at a time when DeSantis is facing nothing but a sweeping victory. Florida was the only place where the 2022 election had a "red wave."

While DeSantis has indicated he will run, having Trump in the mix might hold him off, as Trump isn't likely to be reelected if his only campaign message is that the 2020 election was rigged.

"It will also force their party’s leaders to make critical choices that could perpetuate the bare-knuckle politics of Mr. Trump — who still commands a significant base — or usher in an entirely new era for the party," said the report. "It’s likely to trigger fights among party factions and candidates who were reined in for years by Mr. Trump’s ability to wield his base voters like a club against anyone who challenged his supremacy, say political observers."

Already, strategists told the paper that the changing political landscape might be radically different than it was 40 years ago.

Read the full report at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

'We didn't have a free and fair election!' Oath Keeper Jessica Watkins loses her cool in court

Oath Keeper Jessica Watkins lost her cool in court Thursday, according to reporters in the room.

Mother Jones reporter Dan Friedman was live tweeting the trial dealing with the crimes surrounding the Jan. 6 attack on Congress. Watkins, an Army veteran from Ohio, has said that the jury is already against her.

Testifying before the court on Wednesday, she described herself as another "idiot."

"At any point did anyone say, 'Now it's time to enter the Capitol? Now it's time to stop the certification," her attorney, Jonathan Crisp, asked.

"No, sir," Watkins said, "I thought the certification was over."

Once inside, however, Watkins said she became more "pissed off" over what she called the stolen election, as well as pain due to broken ribs.

By Thursday, she was asked questions by assistant US Attorney Alexandra Hughes about her experience and her testimony.

"Despite the fact you were charged with obstructing an official proceeding, you never said that you believed there was no official proceeding to obstruct," said Hughes.

That's when Watkins lost her cool talking about her fight with the police.

"I was angry!" she said. "I accepted full responsibility for what happened in this hallway, And I know that opens me up criminal responsibility. I know that I’m gonna get charged [she likely meant convicted] for it. I get it."

When she was pressed on the claim that her violent rhetoric didn't connect to her conduct on Jan. 6, Friedman said that Watkins completely lost her compose and said loudly: "Half this country feels this way still. Half this country still feels disenfranchised by this election! We didn't have a free and fair election!"

Friedman said it seemed like a "disaster" for defense attorneys.

House Republicans nominate Kevin McCarthy for speaker

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has been nominated by the Republican caucus to become the next Speaker if the GOP takes control of the U.S. House, sources told Raw Story and CNN confirmed.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) was attempting to mount a challenge to McCarthy, but failed with just 31 votes out of 188, in a secret ballot, CNN said.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) had been trying to get Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) to run against McCarthy, but Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) threw her support around McCarthy and some other Freedom Caucus members.

There are still elections that haven't been called and there is still a pathway for Democrats to hold the House, though it is a slim one.

Former FBI official charts all of the false claims by agency heads about the January 6th insurrection

The House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on Congress uncovered a number of problems that came from the FBI, Secret Service, Homeland Security and other law enforcement agencies that failed to work as they should have ahead of the attacks on Congress.

Writing for Just Security, former FBI agent Asha Rangappa explained that after the Sept. 11 Commission found failures, there were major changes to the government and intelligence community. In that case, however, there was no direct link to someone to blame. In the case of Jan. 6, there is a lot of evidence that federal agencies didn't sound the alarm to the U.S. Capitol, elected officials, the Capitol Police or the Washington, D.C. Mayor to warn that they were certain an attack was coming.

While the FBI has done a lot of good work since Jan. 6 in arresting militia members and thwarting attacks, there remains to be reports of a small minority of agents who think Jan. 6 are a waste of time and that the attack wasn't that big of a deal.

"That’s a factor which, it stands to reason, may have played a role in the lack of proactive measures taken by the FBI in the face of multiple warnings of potential violence on Jan. 6," wrote Rangappa. "The evidence presented by the Jan. 6 committee, combined with reporting over the last year, offer clues into what may be going on behind the scenes at the Bureau. If the picture painted by these sources is true, it suggests an internal, long-brewing problem that the FBI needs to investigate and nip in the bud. That, to date, FBI Director Christopher Wray has not taken action to address the problem internally also suggests that congressional oversight committees may need to get involved and demand answers."

Two days after the attack on Jan. 8, 2021, the director of the Washington field office, Steve D’Antuono “had told reporters … that the FBI had no intelligence suggesting that violence was brewing before Jan. 6.” Rangappa also recalled that neither Wray nor then Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen were around when the first press conference happened, six days after the attack. They dodged questions about what the FBI knew and when they knew it. Now it's very clear they knew well in advance.

Rangappa cited the so-called "Norfolk memo" which referenced “an online thread discuss[ing] specific calls for violence” against members of Congress on Jan. 6. The story changed when in June 2021, Wray repeated D’Antuono’s comments in speaking before Congress. He claimed that the "Norfolk memo" was shared with law enforcement, but that they had no other information other than that.

That has now been proven false.

"Wray, along with the Deputy Director for Counterterrorism, Jill Sanborn, also testified that the FBI could not, under its internal rules, monitor social media posts of people publicly advocating or planning violence, due to First Amendment concerns," Rangappa recalled. "This was not entirely accurate. The FBI had latitude to monitor social media in order to conduct threat assessments and to use evidence of planning and coordination of violence on social media to open a predicated investigation (which happened with at least four people later charged under an anti-riot statute in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd)."

So, Wray told Congress that the Attorney General Guidelines meant they couldn't monitor people online without any kind of prediction. In fact the AG Guidelines explicitly encourage the FBI to do the opposite.

The other red flag she cited came from the Aug. 2021 Reuters article claiming the FBI had “scant” evidence that Jan. 6 violence was coordinated. Sources were four “former and current law enforcement officials” with knowledge of the investigations. they claimed there was no scheme by Roger Stone or Alex Jones ahead of time. There was no evidence that Oath Keepers and Proud Boys had plans to attack. All of it was false and the truth has been a key part of the prosecutions of many of the members of the militias and it's being used in investigations for others like Stone.

The FBI didn't just lie about what they knew, they intentionally worked to mislead Americans and Congress.

Rangappa closed by including new evidence that continues to emerge in the investigation about what was known and when. There are FBI informants that flagged the attacks ahead of time that are part of the trials for Oath Keepers and Proud Boys.

There has yet to be a reckoning for Wray and those who misled Congress. There also hasn't been any investigation into the FBI's internal failures, much less a probe into agents who align themselves with the insurrectionists.

Mike Pence: John Eastman 'didn’t even believe what he was telling' Donald Trump about election fraud

Former Vice President Mike Pence published an excerpt from his upcoming book as a column in the Wall Street Journal, making it clear that John Eastman's quack theories about trying to overturn the election on Jan. 6 were known to be false even to him.

He recalled a conversation with Donald Trump in the days before the Capitol attack. They were discussing the lawsuit brought by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX).

"I don’t want to see ‘Pence Opposes Gohmert Suit’ as a headline this morning,” Trump raged, according to Pence.

The former VP recalled he told Trump he was against it.

“If it gives you the power,” he asked, “why would you oppose it?”

Pence claimed he didn't believe the power existed under the Constitution.

“You’re too honest,” he chided. “Hundreds of thousands are gonna hate your guts. . . . People are gonna think you’re stupid.”

Other reports cite Trump calling Pence a "p*ssy" and a slew of other things. At the same time, Pence wasn't innocently standing up for democracy on principle. He was searching for a way to make it happen too, even going so far as to call Dan Quayle to ask for advice on what his role would be on Jan. 6.

"On Jan. 4, the president’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, summoned me to the Oval Office for a meeting with a long list of attendees, including the legal scholar John Eastman," Pence recalled. "I listened respectfully as Mr. Eastman argued that I should modify the proceedings, which require that electoral votes be opened and counted in alphabetical order, by saving the five disputed states until the end. Mr. Eastman claimed I had the authority to return the votes to the states until each legislature certified which of the competing slate of electors for the state was correct. I had already confirmed that there were no competing electors."

Pence recalled Eastman trying to explain his legal theory, but it was the only one he had.

“Do you think I have the authority to reject or return votes?” he recalled asking Eastman.

“Well, it’s never been tested in the courts, so I think it is an open question," Eastman replied.

Pence then told Trump " Even your lawyer doesn’t think I have the authority to return electoral votes.”

He recalled Trump saying, “I like the other thing better,” presumably meaning that he could simply reject electoral votes.

Pence said he then made it clear to Trump that even Eastman didn't support his own ideas.

Those debates happened again the next day, and that's where some of the testimony from the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack and the attempt to overthrow the 2020 election. Legal fights broke out in the Oval Office. Trump yelled at everyone and nothing was decided.

Pence went on to give a TikTok that walked through what happened on the sixth, though it essentially matched all of the books that have come before him.

On Jan. 11, he remembered talking to Trump, confessing, “I was angry. You and I had our differences that day, Mr. President, and seeing those people tearing up the Capitol infuriated me.”

He went on to tell Trump to his face that what happened on Jan. 6 was horrific and wrong. That hasn't been the message that Republicans delivered in the past two years.

Pence said that he told Trump he was "praying for you."

“Don’t bother,” Trump said.

Read the full excerpt at the Wall Street Journal

Mar-a-Lago under evacuation orders as strengthening Tropical Storm Nicole eyes Southeastern Florida

Parts of Florida are announcing evacuations as Nicole approaches the state.

The cone of uncertainty for landfall is large, as it's still further off the east coast of the peninsula. The counties of Palm Beach, Martin, Brevard and Volusia have all announced evacuations Tuesday as the tropical storm approaches. The storm is anticipated to hit as a Category 1 Hurricane, so it'll be a far cry from the severity of Hurricane Ian in September. Given the number of people who were trapped and killed in some areas due to slow evacuations, the east coast doesn't appear to be taking any chances.

In the cone of the possibility of Nicole, however, is the Palm Beach County country club, Mar-a-Lago, where former President Donald Trump lives in the winter.

According to Newsweek, the National Hurricane Center generally predicts the path accurately 60 to 70 percent of the time. To be fair, the map shows a relatively large part of the state in that expected cone, but for Palm Beach to begin evacuations shows that they have an elevated level of concern.

There are certain areas in Palm Beach County that are being told that evacuation is mandatory. Schools have already been canceled for Wednesday and Thursday.

"We're not forecasting a major hurricane," said Jamie Rhome, the acting director of the National Hurricane Center, in a Monday Twitter video. "Again, not an Ian situation, but still a potentially impactful system. So, Florida residents need to be taking this seriously."

See the path from the National Hurricane Center below or at this link.

Democratic turnout trounces GOP in early voting in 3 states — and analysts see something is 'different'

It's unclear whether the so-called "Red Wave" the Republicans have been talking about since early 2022 will eventually materialize, but one thing is certain, something is happening in early voting and it's helping the Democrats.

MSNBC showed numbers in Ohio, Georgia and Wisconsin that prove the enthusiasm of Democrats to get to the polls isn't as suppressed as GOP pollsters want to believe.

In one conversation with Nicolle Wallace and Joy Reid on the election panel Monday, Reid explained that people don't simply forget that they were freaked out by an attack on the Capitol or that they've lost their right to govern their own health care.

She also addressed the issue of a large swath of women voting. It isn't because they're rushing to fight inflation, she explained.

"Women just don't get over the idea that they no longer own their bodies. That's not something that they say, 'Hey, you know, I wish milk was a little cheaper. I'll probably get over it.' That isn't something that happens," said Reid. "So, when I look at the electorate and the way that campaigns are looking at it, they're saying, can Republicans catch up to that 4 million vote lead on Election Day? Because that's when they are voting."

Wallace had another point when it came to the issue of choice and abortion rights. She noted that despite being a long-time political operative, she doesn't trust the polls, particularly when it comes to women.

"I think it's unknowable," said Wallace about whether women are being reflected in voter expectations. "Because I think if you don't trust your Apple watch to track your period, you're not responding to a pollster about how, whether you care a lot or not at all. It doesn't answer the question. I don't know if you're taking those calls anymore, if you are that kind of voter. I also think that this idea that the Dobbs vote peaked early — it's 50 years of precedent overturned! You don't get over it, in like 12 weeks."

She also noted that she thinks it's a trap to say that people can have democracy or they can have cheap milk, and that was the point that Barack Obama made on the campaign trail over the weekend.

Meanwhile, the numbers are what is making many Democrats hopeful heading into Tuesday.

In Ohio, for example, in 2018, Republican early voting outmatched Dems by 2.3 percent. In 2022, however, the discrepancy of enthusiasm has Democrats in the lead by 4.9 percent.