Imbeciles on parade…

Six Republican members of the House, escorted by a man in a giant Trump costume bearing the message “TRUMP WON,” marched on the Justice Department Tuesday afternoon to speak up for those they called “political prisoners” awaiting trial for their roles in the insurrection.

“These are not unruly or dangerous, violent criminals,” Rep. Paul Gosar (Ariz.) proclaimed at a news conference outside DOJ headquarters. “These are political prisoners who are now being persecuted and bearing the pain of unjust suffering.” Rep. Louie Gohmert (Tex.) speculated that “we have political prisoners here in America.”

from As Jan. 6 hearings begin, Republicans side with the terrorists

Opinion by Dana Milbank

Just sayin’

As you will recall from the two impeachments of America’s Greatest Compulsive Liar, the mere attempt to do something, if done by or on behalf of the sitting president, is not a high crime or even a misdemeanor. Ukrainian president Zelensky never actually went on CNN to announce an investigation into Hunter Biden, so… no crime, no quid pro quo. On January 6, a mob may have tried to stop the certification of the election, at Trump’s strong suggestion, even succeeded for a few hours, but an ATTEMPTED coup is not the same as a successful coup, which is why Pence, Pelosi, AOC, Liz Cheney, Kevin McCarthy and company are all still alive to talk about it.

We need to recall this principle, even though it might seem objectively absurd, and the above purely academic definition, as we march toward authoritarianism.

“What did Nancy Pelosi know and when did she know it?”

As the House Select Committee on the January 6 MAGA riot began its first hearing, the man who called to beg Trump to stop the riot, and then asked him “who the fuck do you think you’re talking to?” when Trump mocked him, held a press conference to ask the most important question of all about the day a hoard of outraged Trump supporters stormed the Capitol and attacked police: What did Nancy Pelosi know and when did she know it?

This is a typical diversionary obstructionist move and brazeness is sometimes the main point of the exercise. The provocative yet senseless question can be answered easily enough by anyone who read accounts of the riot. Nancy Pelosi knew the Capitol was under attack when her security team hustled her to a safe location, with freshman Congress member and QAnon adherent Lauren Bobert texting out Pelosi’s movements and realtime location to the armed rioters who were looking for her.

Again, the brazen nature of this in-your-fucking face distraction is the point of the exercise. If you are trying to provoke rage in your supporters, you want to go big — give them more reason to really hate those they already blame. Plus, it will drive your hated enemies crazy! Forget that more than one Capitol police officer is in the House chamber testifying about a crowd of snarling “protesters” calling him a “fucking nigger” and daring him to put down his gun and have a fair fight against the twenty of them. It looks bad for some of the very fine militia member supporters of America’s most openly racist president that his peeps would use the ‘n-word’ so openly, and toward Blue Lives Matter. No problemo. Flip the script, give Newsmax, OANN, FOX a BIG alternative headline.

Fucking Pelosi is a witch. This is yet another illegal, purely partisan witch hunt. She could have stopped the riot at any time, merely by surrendering and letting the lawless mob bring her to justice. Did she? No, she selfishly hid, like the radical communist coward she is. What did she know? When did she know it? Real Americans need to know!!!

Not far away, during the mayhem on January 6, we all know what the man who was the focus and instigator of the riot was doing. He was glued to the television. When McCarthy called him, in reasonable fear for his life, and was finally put through, and asked his leader to call off the rioters, Trump reportedly delivered a very catty line — “well, Kevin, I guess some people are more upset about this stolen election than you are”. The line pissed stressed out Kevin off, he raised his voice to America’s Greatest Snarkmeister, even used the fucking f-word. 140 Blue Lives Matter folks were seriously injured in the ongoing lovefest (presumably from excessive hugging and kissing) as the former president swelled with pride watching the riot, seeing how many still loved him unconditionally, and showed it by openly, violently violating the law to carry out his gentle suggestion that they “stop the steal”.

So, naturally, the REAL question is not why Capitol Police were unprepared for the attack [1], who ordered the DC National Guard to stand down during the riot (Trump ordered the interim-acting lackey who headed DOJ to do so), not who donated the $50,000,000 in advertising funds to promote #Stop the Steal, not who worked directly with the White Supremacist militias who took care of the logistics of the actual violent insurrection at the Capitol, not who failed to act to stop the riot for hours, not who gave aid and comfort to the criminals who stormed the Capitol — none of that matters. The only question before real Americans today, in this great nation, under God, indivisible, is “What did Nancy Pelosi know and when did she know it?”

My next question is will Pelosi authorize the House Sergeant at Arms to arrest and lock up McCarthy when he tries to pull a Don McGahn, defy a legal Congressional subpoena to answer the many questions he is desperately ducking as he audaciously tries to reframe the exercise in accountability as a purely partisan witch hunt by the very witch responsible for the riot in the first place, Nancy Pelosi, who, indisputably DID NOTHING TO STOP IT!

I’ll tell you this, if Nancy Pelosi stops short of having McCarthy arrested for contempt of Congress, she will embolden every other Trump apologist and Nazi wannabe that Congress subpoenas to testify. This is not a situation where anybody has a year or two to spare while federal judges slowly work on this Rubik’s Cube of a constitutional conundrum, the binding legality of a Congressional subpoena.

Democracy is under direct, sustained, serious attack. When did Pelosi know this and what does she know?

Three Stooges

[1] blah, blah blah… WHAT ABOUT PELOSI?!!!

Three days before the siege, a Capitol Police intelligence assessment warned of violence from supporters of President Donald J. Trump who believed his false claims that the election had been stolen. Some had even posted a map of the Capitol complex’s tunnel system on pro-Trump message boards.

“Unlike previous postelection protests, the targets of the pro-Trump supporters are not necessarily the counterprotesters as they were previously, but rather Congress itself is the target on the 6th,” the threat assessment said, according to the inspector general’s report. “Stop the Steal’s propensity to attract white supremacists, militia members, and others who actively promote violence may lead to a significantly dangerous situation for law enforcement and the general public alike.”

But on Jan. 5, the agency wrote in a plan for the protest that there were “no specific known threats related to the joint session of Congress.” And the former chief of the Capitol Police has testified that the force had determined that the likelihood of violence was “improbable.” . . .

. . . The Department of Homeland Security warned the Capitol Police on Dec. 21 of comments on a pro-Trump website promoting attacks on members of Congress with a map of the tunnel system, according to the inspector general’s findings.

“Supporters of the current president see Jan. 6, 2021, as the last opportunity to overturn the results of the presidential election,” said the assessment three days before the riot. “This sense of desperation and disappointment may lead to more of an incentive to become violent.” . . .

. . . “Several comments promote confronting members of Congress and carrying firearms during the protest,” a Capitol Police analyst wrote.

Among the comments reported to the Capitol Police: “Bring guns. It’s now or never,” and, “We can’t give them a choice. Overwhelming armed numbers is our only chance.”

On Jan. 5, the F.B.I.’s Norfolk field office, in Virginia, relayed another threat from an anonymous social media thread that warned of a looming war at the Capitol.

“Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Pantifa slave soldiers being spilled,” the message read. “Get violent … stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die. NOTHING else will achieve this goal.”

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Five Questions about GOP involvement in January 6 MAGA riot at Capitol

Well-done, Mehdi Hasan (viewing time about 6 minutes).

Were Republican members of Congress involved in organizing “Stop the Steal” rallies including the big one on January 6 in Washington DC? Did elected Republicans, like Paul Gosar, Andy Biggs and Mo Brooks, take part in the planning of the January 6th rally/riot?

Were Republican members of Congress in contact with the insurrectionists before the attack on the Capitol? What of reports of freshman Congress member Lauren Bobert giving reconnaissance tours prior to the attack, and her tweeting live updates of the Speaker’s location and movements during the midst of the attack on the Capitol? Were there connections and contacts between specific members of Congress and individuals and militia groups involved in the storming of the Capitol?

What happened to the DC National Guard on January 6th during the attack, during the hand to hand combat between the mob and Capitol Police trying to prevent the violent breach of the Capitol? Was the Guard blocked from deploying, and if so, by whom?

Why did Capitol Police seem so unprepared for the attack? [1]

What did the president know, and when did he know it? When Trump tweeted “Big Protest in DC on January 6. Be there. will be wild” what did he think would happen? What did he want to happen? On the day of the attack, why didn’t Trump take action? Did he block others from taking action?

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[1]

Mehdi quotes from this article from the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — The Capitol Police had clearer advance warnings about the Jan. 6 attack than were previously known, including the potential for violence in which “Congress itself is the target.” But officers were instructed by their leaders not to use their most aggressive tactics to hold off the mob, according to a scathing new report by the agency’s internal investigator.

In a 104-page document, the inspector general, Michael A. Bolton, criticized the way the Capitol Police prepared for and responded to the mob violence on Jan. 6. The report was reviewed by The New York Times and will be the subject of a Capitol Hill hearing on Thursday. . .

. . . Three days before the siege, a Capitol Police intelligence assessment warned of violence from supporters of President Donald J. Trump who believed his false claims that the election had been stolen. Some had even posted a map of the Capitol complex’s tunnel system on pro-Trump message board

“Unlike previous postelection protests, the targets of the pro-Trump supporters are not necessarily the counterprotesters as they were previously, but rather Congress itself is the target on the 6th,” the threat assessment said, according to the inspector general’s report. “Stop the Steal’s propensity to attract white supremacists, militia members, and others who actively promote violence may lead to a significantly dangerous situation for law enforcement and the general public alike.”

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Trump is “not free from fault”

Let’s roll the video tape, as Warner Wolf used to say (the clip is 57 seconds).

Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) tells Congress on January 13 that Trump, while he doesn’t deserve to be impeached again, is not “free from fault”. He states that Mr. Trump bears responsibility for the January 6 “attack on Congress by mob rioters” and that the president “should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding”.

He says “these facts require immediate action from President Trump: accept his share of responsibility, quell the brewing unrest and ensure president-elect Biden is able to successfully begin his term”.

He says “the president’s immediate action also calls for immediate Congressional action” a fact-finding commission and a censure resolution in Congress, after “the worst day I’ve ever seen in Congress.” He added “our country is deeply hurt”.

Of course, after meeting with the furious, deranged former president in his Florida resort a short time later, McCarthy got his alternative facts straight. They are now both on the same page, along with all but two elected Republicans in Congress, two very conservative members of Congress now reviled as RINOs (and “Pelosi Republicans”– thanks, Kev) for rejecting their party leader’s constantly repeated lies (stolen election, he had nothing to do with planning or fomenting the spontaneous, peaceful riot by honestly outraged patriots at the Capitol).

As the former president mischievously claimed for the thousandth time, the other day at a pep rally in Arizona: “the radical left Democrat communist party rigged and stole the election.” House Leader Nancy Pelosi, the former president and his buddy McCarthy both agree, is responsible for the January 6 MAGA riot, is a witch, and is currently conducting another purely bogus, like, totally partisan witch hunt against a completely innocent man.

Kevin, of course, still claims to love the taste of the “ring” he is constantly kissing.

The expression on his face, and his past remarks to the public, may tell another story, but who are you going to believe, your lying eyes and ears, or a debased sycophant, contradicting his own statements to Congress (a hundred years ago), the man next in line to be thrown under the bus by the Supreme King of Loyalty (oaths)?

I can’t wait for Kevin to try to fight the, like, totally unfair, partisan, communist Congressional witch hunt subpoena for his testimony, under oath in front of the commission he called for on January 13.

Y’all know this

On January 13, of course, [Kevin] McCarthy said: “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding. These facts require immediate action by [Trump] to accept his share of responsibility.”

Now, six months later, Republicans have lined up behind the former president and are seeking to sabotage the investigation into the January 6 insurrection, clearly unhappy about what that investigation will reveal

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Shoot, your party would do the same damn thing if the news was so ugly for yuh!

You Like the Idea of The Fourth Reich?

I wake up almost every morning, the grandchild of two people who had their entire families massacred one August night in 1943, to the banging of drums and the caterwauling of drunken Ukrainians (all relatives of my other two grandparents disappeared, with no trace at all, into the fog of Nazi genocide), slightly sick to my stomach at the latest news of how heartily homegrown fascism is growing in our promising democracy. The antidemocratic insurrection that came to an ugly head the day a Jew and a Black tipped the balance of a closely fought Senate is still openly in progress as feckless liberals ring their hands and vow to get to “the truth”.

It is a supremely sickening subject, one detail more vomit inducing than the next, so we must not speak about it, it is too upsetting, plus we are utterly helpless to do anything about it but watch in horror, let’s talk about anything but what is taking place right in front of us! So I sit to write every day, and try to clear my head a little bit, lessen the sick feeling in my gut. Some days it works better than others.

We live in a country that, as a culture, does not believe in history. Six months back might as well be fifty years ago, two hundred years. Since nothing happened to really refute the lies Trump told about the effect his explosive lies had on the followers he incited to storm the Capitol to stop certification of the election he lost, well, who’s to judge him? Nobody has ever held him accountable for anything, why start now? In additional, there are important institutional questions to be debated before we act hastily, about the administration of justice, the Supreme Court, prosecuting the organizers and inciters of the MAGA riot.

Who among us has not wanted to have people who hated us shot to death by riot police, the military? What his fans love about him is that he does exactly what they would do if they were in charge. Even when he lies, he’s telling a larger truth anyone who is really angry can instantly identify with. Enemies? Fucking kill them, what’s the problem? They’d do the same to you, if they could.

In every new book about the previous regime, led by a giant two-year old in a perpetual temper tantrum, we learn more details about how destructive a giant angry “populist” baby can be when in charge of a country with violently emotional divisions.

Russia, we learned the other day, again, made a calculation in 2016 based on the usefulness of a vain, insecure, easily flattered and manipulated American president of strong opinions and limited intellect, an “impulsive, mentally unstable and unbalanced individual who suffers from an inferiority complex” according to a leak of Russian documents reported by The Guardian[1].

This claim by a super-liberal British fake news rag is pure propaganda to tens of millions of Americans who may not agree with everything their leader does, but who know that he has their best interests at heart, even as he weaponizes vaccination (he himself quietly took the vaccine, and softly admitted on FOX that everyone should get it), exacts revenge on everyone on his long, ever-expanding enemies list, humiliating even those most loyal to him once he feels they failed him, and continues to fan the flames of the audacious, violence-stoking lie that, but for the grace of God and some Capitol police who fought against overwhelming odds, would have cost his supremely loyal Vice President his life (along with others). He plays to rage, his particular “genius” is inspiring greater and greater bonfires of rage in his followers. He will say literally anything to keep them mad as hell, fired up, ready to take names and kick disloyal, unAmerican commie ass.

At least 40% of America is in denial about their destructive champion, no matter how much evidence of his destructiveness is revealed by people close to him who remained fatally silent when it mattered most to reveal these alarming details (“just shoot the protesters” “I need a favor, though” “support my self-serving lie or I’ll end your fucking career”). This man, aided by the able, and morally supple Bagpiper Bill Barr, sent a death squad to execute an unresisting American citizen they believe had murdered a Trump supporter in a street brawl in Portland.

Forget the Three Percenters (their name is based on the myth that only 3% of British colonists in the New World actively supported the American Revolution, and that was enough to start it), 40% of the electorate, angry and motivated, in a country whose electoral system was designed to protect the minority power of slaveholders, can decide the destiny of our experiment in democracy.

This group is glad to believe that it’s irrationally angry Blacks who are the racists, not White Christians. The teaching of history, they believe, must not be political, it must be patriotic. They are happy to renounce the vaccine that their leader once touted among his greatest accomplishments, the result of his brilliant and history making Operation Warp Speed. They are willing to die en masse for the freedom to ignore the best advice of infectious disease scientists. They belong to a death cult they fervently believe is a cult of freedom.

My friends, in a way, are right. There is very little any of us, as individuals, can do to change any of this supremely depressing stuff. If one million people a day read this blahg, where I attempt to make sound arguments based on actual facts, it would make little difference, would change almost no minds that didn’t already agree with my point of view. The price for my success would probably be dozens, if not hundreds, of trolls telling me every day that I need to take a fictional red pill to really understand the seriousness of the Satanist cannibal pedophile ring that runs the world (speaking in a heavy Yiddish accent, of course).

On the other hand, things looked hopeless for flipping the Senate as the Georgia run-off approached. It seemed unbelievable that after all of the clear fuck-ups of the giant peevish baby’s disastrous (except to the rich and religiously extreme) administration so many of his most ardent supporters easily won reelection. Why the Democrats didn’t take a dozen seats, including Lindsey Graham’s, McConnell’s, was a perplexing mystery to people like me.

As the Georgia run-off approached, Sekhnet and I attended Zoom meetings and did everything possible to get Georgia Democrats to the polls. On January 6th a Jewish journalist and a Black reverend made history, becoming the first of their kinds to be voted in as Georgia senators. That victory was quickly swallowed up in an outburst of organized rage that the Party of Patriots is defending, counter-factually, as a lawful protest, based on a patriotic reaction to an infuriating allegation advertised to the tune of $50,000,000 plus dozens of influential, free, presidential tweets and speeches in the weeks leading up to the deadly siege. Democrat (sic) determination to investigate the MAGA riot is just another example of a child-blood drinking radical leftist witch-hunt against a man whose only crime is trying to make America great again, and rid us of the rule of murderous pedophiles.

No facts can really enter this existential debate. Facts are malleable, subject to definitive refutation by allegations of alternative facts, as we’ve learned. Here is a nice quote from a powerful, ambitious Republican who never tired of the taste of his leader’s crusty nether sphincter:

Here are a few other quotes that jumped out at me, wound up flapping around in my stomach acid:

General Mark Milley, who’d accompanied Trump on his triumphant walk through used tear gas canisters to awkwardly and defiantly hold up a Bible for a photo op of a Strong president who showed cowardly governors how to dominate the protesters, distanced himself from the stunt, regretting his involvement. A few months after that he, a student of history, referred to these very fine Nazis by name. He at the time had

See also the Lyin’ Ted quotes above. The Leader has the right to say anything, no matter how much it might rile up some very fine Nazis, even who he would or would not Do a coup with.

The most loyal asslicker in US presidential history, Mike “No Homo” Pence, was unable to convince his master that he lacked the power to stop the certification of votes on January 6. He lacked the courage or the character to speak to him frankly, suggesting that perhaps the lawyers could have the final word, but not Rudy or Sidney Powell, nor Flynn or the My Pillow Guy. Never mind. He proved himself an unworthy coward, and such a person, in the eyes of a lynch mob, is richly deserving of kicking at the end of a rope.

Not a problem. The guy was a coward, you kick his ass to the curb, like that guy who married a dog (the only woman who would have him) and whose father was involved in the Kennedy assassination. We’ll leave colossal piece of shit Bill Barr with the last supremely aggravating word:

That, and the fact that he ran against the second most hated politician in America in 2016 (fuck Barr and his fucking last word).

[1]

The second big story came this morning in the form of an article from The Guardian, which purported to reveal leaked documents from the Kremlin in which Putin and Russian leaders agreed in January 2016 to make Trump president to sow discord in the United States in order to get U.S. sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Crimea overturned. The documents described Trump as an “impulsive, mentally unstable and unbalanced individual who suffers from an inferiority complex.”

There are many reasons to be skeptical of this “leak,” but, in the end, whether true or not, it doesn’t tell us much that we don’t already know. There is ample evidence, articulated most clearly in the Senate Intelligence Report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, that Russia worked hard to get Trump elected in 2016.

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NY Times fact-finding on the Jaunary 6 MAGA riot

The New Yorks Times writes:

Day of Rage: An In-Depth Look at How a Mob Stormed the Capitol By Dmitriy Khavin, Haley Willis, Evan Hill, Natalie Reneau, Drew Jordan, Cora Engelbrecht, Christiaan Triebert, Stella Cooper, Malachy Browne and David Botti  

A six-month Times investigation has synchronized and mapped out thousands of videos and police radio communications from the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, providing the most complete picture to date of what happened — and why.

By The New York Times June 30, 2021

In the six months since an angry pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, immense efforts have been made not only to find the rioters and hold them accountable, but also — and perhaps more important — to dig into the details of Jan. 6 and slowly piece together what actually happened that day.

Congressional committees have looked into police and intelligence failures. The Justice Department has launched a nationwide investigation that has now resulted in more than 500 arrests. And while Republicans in Congress blocked the formation of a blue-ribbon bipartisan committee, House Democrats are poised to appoint a smaller select committee.

Even now, however, Republican politicians and their allies in the media are still playing down the most brazen attack on a seat of power in modern American history. Some have sought to paint the assault as the work of mere tourists. Others, going further, have accused the F.B.I. of planning the attack in what they have described — wildly — as a false-flag operation.

The work of understanding Jan. 6 has been hard enough without this barrage of disinformation and, hoping to get to the bottom of the riot, The Times’s Visual Investigations team spent several months reviewing thousands of videos, many filmed by the rioters themselves and since deleted from social media. We filed motions to unseal police body-camera footage, scoured law enforcement radio communications, and synchronized and mapped the visual evidence

Here are some of the major revelations.

We pinpointed at least eight locations where rioters breached and entered the Capitol building — more than were previously known. The scenes revealed the extent of the rioters’ disregard for the law as they surged violently around the building’s perimeter and, eventually, inside.

The police were outnumbered and responded differently at various breach points, allowing rioters to break through doors using weapons like crowbars or, in some places, to simply walk through as the police stepped aside.

The multiple breaches also revealed the Capitol’s vulnerability. Despite locked doors and, in certain places, thick windows, rioters without specialized equipment were able to break in instantly in some places.

In the Senate, proceedings to certify the election results were halted almost immediately when a building-wide lockdown was called after the first breach by rioters. But we found that it took much longer for the House of Representatives to do the same. This delay appeared to have contributed to a rioter’s death.

Instead of evacuating, members of the House sheltered in place and resumed their work even as rioters overran the building. Speaker Nancy Pelosi was rushed to safety, but Representative Jim McGovern took her place presiding over the session. He told us that Capitol building security staff had said it was safe to resume.

Eventually, the House session was halted and members began streaming out of a rear door guided by security personnel. Rioters had arrived at almost the same moment, just on the other side of a hallway door with glass panels. They became incensed at the sight of the evacuating lawmakers — a situation that could have been avoided if the lawmakers had left before the mob arrived.

Ashli Babbitt, a Trump supporter and follower of the QAnon conspiracy theory, tried to climb through one of the door’s broken windows toward the lawmakers. A plainclothes Capitol Police officer charged with protecting the House shot her once through the upper chest. The wound was fatal.

One of the biggest questions hanging over the aftermath of Jan. 6 was whether the riot was planned and carried out by organized groups.

By identifying and tracking key players throughout the day, we found that most — even some at the forefront of the action — were ardent, but disorganized Trump supporters swept up in the moment and acting individually.

The first person to enter the Capitol building, for example, was a 43-year-old husband and father from Kentucky named Michael Sparks. He has no known affiliation with any organized groups. Ray Epps, an Arizona man seen in widely-circulated videos telling Trump supporters on multiple occasions to go into the Capitol, also seemed to have acted on his own.

Yet we also found that the crowd did include members of groups who seemed eager for a confrontation, like well-organized militias and far-right groups including the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys. This proved to be a combustible mix. In the videos we analyzed, they can be seen with baseball bats and body armor, and coordinating with one another using radios. On several occasions, a calculated move by a more organized actor — for example, a Proud Boy identifying a weakness in the police line near a set of stairs — set off a surge by the mob.

Evidence collected by the F.B.I. suggests that the Proud Boys in particular were aware that they had inflamed the mob of ordinary people — and may have intended to do so in advance. Just before the assault, one Proud Boy leader wrote on a group chat on Telegram that he was hoping his men could incite the “normies” to “burn that city to ash today” and “smash some pigs to dust.” Then, after the riot, another Proud Boy leader wrote on Telegram: “This is NOT what I expected to happen. All from us showing up and starting some chants and getting the normies all riled up.”VISUAL INVESTIGATIONS: Our investigative journalists use evidence that’s hidden in plain sight to present a definitive account of the news. Get an email as soon as our next Visual Investigation is published.Sign Up

By synchronizing footage from both sides of the Capitol building, we were able to establish how crowds on each side interacted with one another.

We tracked the movement of a group of rioters from the west side of the Capitol — which faces the National Mall and absorbed most of the attendees arriving from Mr. Trump’s speech — to the opposite eastern side.

The eastern crowd had remained largely behind the barricades, but all that changed with the arrival of rioters from around the side of the building. This more violent group was the trigger that put the entire mob over the edge, spurring them to push easily through a line of officers and surround the Capitol on every front.

Most of the videos we analyzed were filmed by the rioters. By carefully listening to the unfiltered chatter within the crowd, we found a clear feedback loop between President Trump and his supporters.

As Mr. Trump spoke near the White House, supporters who had already gathered at the Capitol building hoping to disrupt the certification responded. Hearing his message to “walk down to the Capitol,” they interpreted it as the president sending reinforcements. “There’s about a million people on their way now,” we heard a man in the crowd say, as Mr. Trump’s speech played from a loudspeaker.

The call and response didn’t stop there. We found evidence of his influence once the violence was well underway. In one moment, a woman with a megaphone urged rioters to climb through a broken window by asking them to “stand up for our country and Constitution” — echoing the language in an earlier tweet from Mr. Trump. In another, as the police were pushing to clear the mob off the building, a rioter screamed at officers: “I was invited here by the president.”

One unanswered question when we began this investigation was how the police managed to reclaim the Capitol building from the mob. We found that once officers increased their numbers, armor and crowd-control weapons, clearing the rioters happened quickly and effectively.

The footage revealed that officers cleared several locations in less than an hour after being reinforced by local Metropolitan Police, Virginia State Police and other local and federal agencies that arrived with more manpower and authorization to use more powerful crowd-control weapons.

It’s a stark contrast to what we saw during the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020, when federal officers were on scene from the start, already equipped with riot gear and authorized to use higher levels of force. Law enforcement’s relatively quick success in clearing the Capitol building once reinforcements arrived shows how the rioters might have been stopped far earlier with a different level of preparation — possibly preventing fatalities, countless officer injuries, over $30 million in damages.

There was another difference between the Capitol riot and those connected to this summer’s racial justice protests: Very few people who broke into the Capitol were arrested at the scene. Most were allowed to leave the building, forcing the F.B.I. to track them down later and take them into custody — a process that is still continuing today.

Continue reading the main story

Facts, anyone?

In light of the wide acceptance of Trump’s Big Lie (that his “landslide victory” was stolen by a bipartisan conspiracy against him), by tens of millions of Americans, it would appear that making a winning argument based on evidence and what you can actually prove, from a practical, tactical point of view, is a thing of the past — at least to a good 40% of our fellow citizens.

The real Big Lie, according to Trump, is that that everybody beside him, and those completely loyal to him, is lying about the rigged election he actually won in a “landslide.” The truth, Tump insists, is that a landslide victory was illegally stolen from him by massive voter fraud and a wide-ranging bipartisan conspiracy to deprive him of his rightful office and illegally install the illegitimate Joe Biden as the “president”. Hence, the rioters who stormed the Capitol January 6 had, as they believed, every right to be enraged, to fight like hell to protect their country and do what their president insisted was their patriotic duty — fight like hell to stop the steal of democracy in progress in the Capitol.

Not that long ago, facts (things that can be shown to have actually happened, things that are witnessed, that people swear to, that are recorded on cameras from multiple angles) supporting each side of an argument were weighed before deciding who was right and who was mistaken. Now, for purposes of American politics, one need only repeat the party line (“alternative facts” work beautifully), loudly and without deviation, and the “perception” of truth will do just fine for that loud minority of Americans.

If a violent mob unleashed by your party’s leader attacked you and threatened to kill your vice president, who, arguably, deserved to be punished for his cowardice and treachery, after all, you must say that there never was a lawless mob and nobody threatened violence against anybody. Anybody who says there was an armed, angry mob, 140 injuries to police, five deaths and threats to Pence and other elected officials is a bald-faced liar! Case closed, loser!

If a sitting president’s deliberate, months long, coordinated, well-funded attempt to violently stop the peaceful transition of power at the last possible moment doesn’t demand a fact-based reckoning, and accountability for the organizers and inciters of the violence, we all might as well just wait to be told where to report for re-education.

Facts still mattered in American court cases, in arguments over public policy, in basic agreement about what is reality and what is delusion, in our very recent history… (this doesn’t necessarily apply in the unappealable Supreme Court, of course, that non-political body Justice Breyer defends the impartiality of… [1])

It’s easy to forget important facts when a powerful firehose of ever more violent bullshit is constantly flooding our perceptions. Remember how Trump mega-donor Postmaster William DeJoy openly removed hundreds of mailboxes from urban areas and ordered urban high speed mail sorting machines dismantled? These moves were targeted to minimize the mail-in votes of Democrats. DeJoy was ordered to put the mailboxes back, but the high speed mail sorting machines could not be replaced, they were literally in a million pieces, already shipped somewhere to be sold for scrap. Sorry.

Polls showed Democrats were much more likely than Trump anti-maskers (future anti-vaxxers) to vote by mail during a pandemic. Trump and his mega-donor then made every effort to eliminate as much mail-in voting as possible, as he and Barr continued to spread furor with unfounded, evidence-free claims about fraud-rife mail-in voting, setting the stage for #Stop the Steal and the January 6 MAGA riot. (After the damage was done Barr claims to have told Trump the voter fraud business was “bullshit” and that he’d “suspected” that was the case even as he ordered — and announced — federal investigations of criminal voter fraud).

Trump won in 2016 by 78,000 votes delivered in key Electoral College districts in three states. One of them was Pennsylvania which he won by less than 1%. He could improve his odds of winning greatly in 2020 if he could eliminate a sizable percentage of anti-Trump votes in swing states where voting is always close. His party’s chances of winning elections are tied directly to voter suppression, particularly after Trump lost an election where he had the second highest number of votes cast, all-time, in an election that set the record for voter turnout, (during a pandemic, mind you).

CandidateYearPartyPopular vote
Joe Biden2020Democratic81,268,924
Donald Trump2020Republican74,216,154
Barack Obama2008Democratic69,498,516

The sixty baseless lawsuits challenging the 2020 elections brought by Trump and the RNC were famously all dismissed, often for lack of evidence. Sometimes forgotten is that before the 2020 election Trump and the Republican National Committee brought literally hundreds of lawsuits to stop forms of voting they felt would put them at a disadvantage. One was a federal suit in western Pennsylvania challenging the state’s plan to expand mail-in voting, and drop boxes, for an election during the second wave of a deadly pandemic. The judge ordered Trump/RNC to produce evidence of their claims that these long-used methods of voting would introduce massive fraud into the election. If they did not produce evidence, the judge ordered, they must state that they have no evidence.

The federal judge, J. Nicholas Ranjan, had been appointed by Trump and for a time it looked like he was bending over backwards not to dismiss the case. He wasn’t, as it turned out.

The Trump/RNC’s legal team’s initial response to Judge Ranjan’s order (which granted the state of Pennsylvania’s motion demanding evidence) by Trump’s attorneys was (according to Reuters):

The Trump campaign says the ballot drop box invites fraud. The federal judge asked the campaign to provide evidence of actual fraud, but the campaign declined, arguing it did not have to do so in order to win the case.

source

In the end Trump’s lawyers obeyed the judge’s order by submitting several hundred pages, screenshots and stories from Breitbart, FOX, OANN, Newsmax and similar outfits, alleging massive fraud, without presenting any actual evidence of widespread fraud. Even the right-wing non-profit Heritage Foundation’s zealous crackpot documenter of voter fraud, Hans von Spakovsky, has found a statistically insignificant number of actual voting fraud since 1984.

When Judge Ranjan finally dismissed the Trump/RNC case he wrote that since Trump and the RNC were likely to file an appeal, that he would explicitly lay out the law supporting every facet of his dismissal, basically appeal-proofing his dismissal of the evidence-free lawsuit. He did so over the course of more than 100 pages.

“Frivolous suit” is the usual term for a lawsuit submitted without any credible evidence in support. These lawsuits are designed to harass, intimidate, bully, bankrupt and they are deeply frowned on by American courts. Law students are taught that lawyers who submit frivolous lawsuits abuse the legal process, violate their ethical obligations as “officers of the court” and are subject to sanctions including disbarment.

Millions of Americans are waiting, without much hope, for the legal consequences of this wave of frivolous, evidence-free Trump lawsuits that created the “perception” that there was massive voting fraud because an angry, powerful man who has never lied told us it was true, and filed countless lawsuits. Suspending Rudy’s law license seems a few hundred wrist slaps too few.

Where the Trump-appointed J. Nicholas Ranjan demanded actual proof of fraud, the 6-3 Federalist Society majority on the Supreme Court (5 of the 6 appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote) had no such scruples before ruling in favor of their party. The “perception of fraud” was good enough for Samuel Alito to rule that perception of fraud alone is sufficient reason for, admittedly partisan voter suppression laws you can’t actually prove were passed with anything but good old partisan intent. It’s the quiet Nazis you’ have to watch out for, the silently smoldering ones, particularly when they’re protected by a robust like-minded majority of extremists.

Even (or especially) in a country where a good 40% of voters are entirely faith-based, rather than reality-based, facts need to be known. Thousands of enraged Trump supporters violently assaulted the Capitol to Stop the Steal. The procedure for calling in the National Guard had been changed by “federal officials” shortly before the riot, delaying the deployment of waiting troops that quickly stopped the riot when they arrived, four hours too late to prevent the multiple breaches of the Capitol. When the National Guard arrived, and surrounded the crowd, the riot was quickly over and, instead of the arrest of every rioter, the rioters were allowed to go in peace, no harm no foul. They celebrated their triumph, they actually did stop a joint session of Congress, and posted selfies and videos that got many of them arrested weeks later.

It is too simple a point to make that had this been a crowd of angry Black people, January 6 would be remembered as the day police and National Guard massacred hundreds of American citizens in front of the Capitol.

We are to be consoled, six full months later, that perhaps as many as half of the violent “protesters” who breached the Capitol that day and beat down police officers are facing charges for things like trespassing. Merrick Garland is no radical, after all. Now, calling for an investigation of this violence, planned and incited by the former president and several sitting Congressmen, aided and abetted by multiple senators, is a political hot potato in a land where facts are as malleable as the clay God originally formed into the first man.

On the other hand…

It may be that in following an unhinged but popular leader the now extremist GOP may have finally sealed its fate — no matter how many voter suppression laws they pass, their over the top extremism may be punished at the polls by voters determined to vote, and organizing to defeat the laws designed to disenfranchise them. Heather Cox Richardson provides a great historical echo for that proposition. It may be that, like celebrity psychopath Al Capone, it will be the former president’s greed, cheapness and true belief that he is untouchable, even for shooting someone in the face, that brings him, and his whole criminal empire, down. I can hear his faithful, should that day arrive: “For that? For that?!!!”.

For those who have the stomach for the hideous facts, here’s the NY Times visual account of Trump’s January 6 MAGA riot, very well-done — the video is harrowing [2].

see the full video here
  • Video Investigation: Day of Rage

    [1]

    “My experience of more than 30 years as a judge has shown me that, once men and women take the judicial oath, they take the oath to heart,” [Breyer] said last month in a lecture at Harvard Law School. “They are loyal to the rule of law, not to the political party that helped to secure their appointment.”

    source

    Just ask any of your six Federalist Society colleagues about that one, Steve. I’m sure even Clarence Thomas would agree with you…

    [2]

    A few handy links from the NY Times video investigation of January 6, 2021 .

    Capitol Riot Fallout

    Worth Remembering

    “Given Mr. Trump’s reckless actions after losing the 2020 vote [1], and the violence they spurred, the newly released emails are unsurprising. But consider that fact for a moment:

    It is unsurprising that the president of the United States leaned on the Justice Department to help him try to steal an election.

    The country cannot forget that Mr. Trump betrayed his oath, that most Republican officeholders remain loyal to him nonetheless — and that it could be worse next time.”

    source

    you people are all fucking losers, you deserve “president” Biden

    [1]

    Among these reckless actions:

    repeating the baseless, infuriating lie that the election was rigged against him and riddled with bipartisan fraud, spending $50,000,000 in advertising to promote this lie, denouncing the numerous courts that found he’d produced no evidence of voter fraud or irregularity, firing the federal appointee who certified the election as fair and clean, attacking Republicans in various states he lost for not overturning election results, leaning on state voting commissions to overturn the election, making calls (18) to at least one Republican state Secretary of State asking him to give him a break and just “find” a total of one more vote than he lost by, calling for and promoting a Stop the Steal rally in front of the White House, with a march to the Capitol to “Stop the Steal,” on the day a joint session of Congress would ceremonially award the Electoral College votes to Biden, and officially make him winner of the presidential election, encouraging anger at the “cowardly” “traitor” Mike Pence who was refusing to be bold, break the “law” and declare Trump the winner, as his crowd stormed the Capitol and chanted “Hang Mike Pence!” with a gallows erected outside, Trump, watching the mob advance inside the Capitol on live TV, tweeted:

    etcetera

    When he was impeached for these dangerous, unconstitutional actions, he denounced the “partisan” impeachment as a desperate ploy by partisan, witch hunting fraudulent [cannibal pedophile] losers. etc.

    Now there are a bunch of new voter suppression laws, in states Trump lost, to make sure what he demanded be done by Trump-loyal state legislators to reverse the election results last time can now all be legally done next time.

    Where is the moderate, judicious Attorney General Merrick Garland on all of this? On the obstruction of justice case laid out by Robert Mueller? He hasn’t really taken a public position on the seriousness of this threat to democracy.