Posts tagged with "Insurrection"

FBI seizes phone of John Eastman, key figure in effort to overturn 2020 election

June 29, 2022

Federal agents seized the cell phone of John Eastman—an attorney who advised former President Donald Trump how to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election—Eastman said in a court filing on Monday, June 27, reports The Huffington Post.

Eastman filed a lawsuit asking the Justice Department to return his property and destroy any records it had obtained after FBI agents in New Mexico stopped him as he was leaving a restaurant last week. The investigators had a warrant and seized his iPhone, the filing says, and agents were able to access his email accounts.

He said in the filing that the agents “forced” him to unlock the device.

“By its very breadth, the warrant intrudes on significant privacy interests, both of [Eastman] and of others whose communications with him are accessible on the seized cell phone,” his attorneys wrote in the filing, obtained by The Hill.

Eastman was a key figure in developing a plan that would have seen Vice President Mike Pence delay or block certification of the 2020 Electoral College results, and his work has become a central focus of the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Pence refused to go along with the scheme.

Eastman also spoke at the January 6 rally just before the Capitol attack, where Trump falsely claimed that widespread election fraud had cost him the White House. There is no evidence to support those allegations.

The seizure of Eastman’s phone came the same day federal authorities searched the home of Jeffery Clark, a former Justice Department official under Trump who encouraged the then-president’s efforts to remain in office, despite his Electoral College loss to Joe Biden.

Clark had served in the Trump administration as assistant attorney general of the environment and natural resources division—but became close to the White House after the 2020 election. At one point, Trump mulled putting Clark in charge of the Justice Department after William Barr resigned after refusing to go along with Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud.

The House select committee focused heavily on Eastman’s efforts to aid Trump during its third hearing this month. The body, citing an email he sent to Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, also noted that Eastman sought to be on the president’s “pardon list.”

Research contact: @HuffPost

Michelle Obama delivers urgent message about this year’s midterm elections

January 13, 2022

Former First Lady Michelle Obama has a message for Americans ahead of the 2022 midterm elections: “We’ve got to vote like the future of our democracy depends on it.”

In a letter titled “Fight For Our Vote,” which was published on Sunday, January 9, as an ad in The New York Times, Obama and her voting rights organization, When We All Vote, called on Americans to continue engaging in democracy amid a historic attack on voting rights.

CNN reports that Obama’s letter—which comes as Congress has yet to move on voting rights legislation at the federal level—was signed by 30 other civic engagement, voting rights and voter mobilization organizations including the NAACP, Stacey Abrams’ Fair Fight Action, Voto Latino Foundation, NextGen America, LeBron James’ More Than A Vote, and Rock the Vote.

“We stand united in our conviction to organize and turn out voters in the 2022 midterm elections, and make our democracy work for all of us,” Obama wrote in the letter.

The former FLOTUS laid out a plan of action and said, within the next year, When We All Vote and the coalition of other organizations will work to “recruit and train at least 100,000 volunteers” and “register more than a million new voters.”

Obama said the coalition will also enlist thousands of lawyers to protect American voters, work to educate Americans on how to ensure their vote is safe, and encourage at least 100,000 Americans to call on their Senators in support of the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act—two proposed pieces of legislation that have stalled in the Senate as a result of the filibuster, which requires 60 votes to overcome.

Obama’s letter—published days after the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Capitol riot—referenced the insurrection and the slew of voting restrictions passed at the state level across the country in its wake. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has vowed the chamber will vote on whether to change the Senate’s legislative filibuster rules by Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 17, if Republicans block Democrats’ latest effort to advance voting rights legislation.

Citing obstacles to voting access throughout history, Obama wrote that in 2022, Americans must continue to fight for their rights.

“Generations of Americans have persevered through poll taxes, literacy tests, and laws designed to strip away their power—and they’ve done it by organizing, by protesting, and, most importantly, by overcoming the barriers in front of them in order to vote. And now, we’ve got to do the same,” Obama wrote.

Obama added: “We must give Congress no choice but to act decisively to protect the right to vote and make the ballot box more accessible for everyone.”

Research contact: @CNN

January 6 panel zeroes in on Fox News’ Hannity; releases texts between host and White House

January 6, 2022

Fox News host Sean Hannity was concerned about former President Donald Trump‘s strategy and conduct before, during, and after the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, according to a letter sent to him on Tuesday, January 4, by the House select committee probing the insurrection, reports CNN.

The committee asked Hannity for his voluntary cooperation with its investigation  as a patriotic American—noting it had received “dozens” of his text messages sent to and from former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows that indicate that he had “advance knowledge regarding President Trump’s and his legal team’s planning for January 6th.”

In the letter, the panel said it wants to speak with Hannity specifically about his communications with Trump, White House staff, and his legal team between December 31, 2020, and January 20, 2021, when President Joe Biden was inaugurated.

Hannity’s attorney, Jay Sekulow, told CNN, “We are reviewing the committee’s letter and will respond as appropriate.”

The committee said it has text messages from Hannity pushing back on the plan to urge Congress to challenge the certification of the election on January 6—and urging Trump to prepare for his departure from office.

On January 5, Hannity wrote that he was “very worried about the next 48 hours.”

In its letter the committee asked Hannity, “With the counting of the electoral votes scheduled for January 6th at 1 p.m., why were you concerned about the next 48 hours?”

The committee also cited a separate December 31, 2020, exchange in which Hannity wrote to Meadows, “We can’t lose the entire WH counsel’s office. I do not see January 6 happening the way he is being told. After the 6th. [sic] He should announce will lead the nationwide effort to reform voting integrity. Go to Fl and watch Joe mess up daily. Stay engaged. When he speaks people will listen.”

The committee said it appeared that Hannity has “detailed knowledge regarding President Trump’s state of mind,” and engaged with the former President numerous times. The committee noted that Hannity spoke directly with Trump on January 5 about “his planning for January 6th” and on January 10, when Hannity “may have raised a number of specific concerns about his possible actions in the days before the January 20th inaugural.”

The committee referenced messages from January 10 that Hannity sent to Meadows and Ohio Republican Representative Jim Jordan: “Guys, we have a clear path to land the plane in 9 days. He can’t mention the election again. Ever. I did not have a good call with him today. And worse, I’m not sure what is left to do or say, and I don’t like not knowing if it’s truly understood. Ideas?”

Trump told CNN in a statement Tuesday evening, “I disagree with Sean on that statement and the facts are proving me right.”

In a text to Meadows on January 5, Hannity wrote that he was “very worried about the next 48 hours” and referred to then-Vice President Mike Pence, who oversaw the certification of the 2020 election, saying: “Pence Pressure. WH counsel will leave.”

And on January 6, Hannity urged Meadows to tell Trump he should “ask people to peacefully leave the [C]apit[o]l.”

Before sending its letter, the committee revealed it had text messages from Hannity to Meadows on the day of the attack, calling for Trump to take action. According to the previously released text, Hannity said to Meadows: “Can he make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol?”

In its letter, the panel also made clear that it wants to learn more about the communications Hannity had as the riot was underway. “We are aware of and interested in your communications to Mr. Meadows and others during the violent attack on January 6th, as the rioters were attempting to occupy the Capitol building,” the letter reads, specifically referencing a text message sent to Meadows about “a potential effort by members of President Trump’s cabinet to remove him from office under the 25th Amendment.”

The committee made clear that its questions for Hannity are narrowly focused on those topics and do not address his public broadcasts.

Research contact: @CNN

Trump adviser Peter Navarro lays out how he and Bannon planned to overturn Biden’s electoral win

January 29, 2021

A former Trump White House official says he and right-wing provocateur Steve Bannon were actually behind the last-ditch coordinated effort by rogue Republicans in Congress to halt certification of the 2020 election results on January 6 and keep President Donald Trump in power earlier this year, in a plan dubbed the “Green Bay Sweep.”

In his recently published memoir—In Trump Time, published by All Seasons Press—Peter Navarro, then-President Donald Trump’s trade adviser, details how he stayed in close contact with Bannon as they put the Green Bay Sweep in motion with help from members of Congress loyal to the cause, reports The Daily Beast.

But in an interview last week with The Daily Beast, Navarro shed additional light on his role in the operation—and his and Bannon’s coordination with GOP politicians Representative Paul Gosar (Arizona) and Senator Ted Cruz (Texas).

“We spent a lot of time lining up over 100 congressmen, including some senators. It started out perfectly. At 1 p.m., Gosar and Cruz did exactly what was expected of them,” Navarro told The Daily Beast. “It was a perfect plan. And it all predicated on peace and calm on Capitol Hill. We didn’t even need any protestors, because we had over 100 congressmen committed to it.”

That commitment appeared as Congress was certifying the 2020 Electoral College votes reflecting that Joe Biden had trunced Trump. Senator Cruz signed off on Gosar’s official objection to counting Arizona’s electoral ballots—an effort that was supported by dozens of other Trump loyalists.

Staffers for Cruz and Gosar did not respond to requests for comment. Also, there’s no public indication whether the January 6 Committee has sought testimony or documents from Senator Cruz or Representative Gosar.

But the committee has only recently begun to seek evidence from fellow members of Congress who were involved in the general effort to keep Trump in the White House—including GOP Representatives Jim Jordan (Ohio) and  Scott Perry (Pennsylvania).

This last-minute maneuvering never had any chance of actually decertifying the election results on its own, a point that Navarro quickly acknowledges. But their hope was to run the clock as long as possible to increase public pressure on then-Vice President Mike Pence to send the electoral votes back to six contested states, where Republican-led legislatures could try to overturn the results.

And in their minds, ramping up pressure on Pence would require media coverage. While most respected news organizations refused to regurgitate unproven conspiracy theories about widespread election fraud, this plan hoped to force journalists to cover the allegations by creating a historic delay to the certification process.

“The Green Bay Sweep was very well thought out. It was designed to get us 24 hours of televised hearings,” he said. “But we thought that we could bypass the corporate media by getting this stuff televised.”

Navarro’s part in this ploy was to provide the raw materials, he said in an interview on Thursday. That came in the form of a three-part White House report he put together during his final weeks in the Trump administration with volume titles like, “The Immaculate Deception” and “The Art of the Steal.”

“My role was to provide the receipts for the 100 congressmen or so who would make their cases .… who could rely in part on the body of evidence I’d collected,” he told The Daily Beast. “To lay the legal predicate for the actions to be taken.” (Ultimately, states have not found any evidence of electoral fraud above the norm, which is exceedingly small.)

The next phase of the plan was up to Bannon, Navarro says. “Steve Bannon’s role was to figure out how to use this information—what he called ‘receipts’—to overturn the election result. That’s how Steve had come up with the Green Bay Sweep idea,” he wrote.

“The political and legal beauty of the strategy was this: By law, both the House of Representatives and the Senate must spend up to two hours of debate per state on each requested challenge. For the six battleground states, that would add up to as much as 24 hours of nationally televised hearings across the two chambers of Congress.”

His book also notes that Bannon was the first person he communicated with when he woke up at dawn on January 6, writing, “I check my messages and am pleased to see Steve Bannon has us fully ready to implement our Green Bay Sweep on Capitol Hill. Call the play. Run the play.”

The rest is history.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Schumer urges Pence to invoke 25th Amendment to oust Trump from office

January 8, 2021

After Trump supporters stormed Capitol Hill on January 6 in an insurrection that was openly incited by the president in hopes of overturning the November 3 election results, federal legislators began calling for his immediate removal, MSN reports.

“This president must not hold office one day longer,” tweeted presumptive Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), adding, “The quickest and most effective way—it can be done today—to remove this president from office would be for the Vice President to immediately invoke the 25th amendment. If the Vice President and the Cabinet refuse to stand up, Congress must reconvene to impeach President Trump.”

Indeed, the events Wednesday “stunned the nation and the world,” MSN said, noting, “People watched in disbelief as a swarm of Trump supporters overran police, breached the Capitol building. and ransacked it.” Four people died during the assault, which followed a speech by Trump at a DC-based rally.

During the rally, Trump repeated his false claims that the presidential election—which he lost to Joe Biden by 7 million votes—was “stolen” from him. He spoke to the crowd, encouraging them to march to the building and saying, “You’ll never take back our country with weakness; you have to show strength and you have to be strong.”

But can he be removed from office immediately? Under a provision of the 25th Amendment, the vice president can, with the support of the majority of the president’s cabinet, invoke the the measure and declare Trump unfit for office, which could lead to his early removal.

Under such a scenario, NBC News reports, the vice president would immediately take over as acting president.

Earlier Thursday, Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois), called for Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office, becoming the first Republican to do so.

In an interview with MSNBC, Kinzinger, slammed Trump as “unmoored, not just from his duty, or even his oath, but from reality itself” and said Pence, and the rest of Trump’s cabinet, needed to invoke the measure “to end this nightmare.”

“The president is unfit and the president is unwell. And the president must now relinquish control of the executive branch voluntarily or involuntary,” he said.

Meanwhile, Democratic Representatives David Cicilline, of Rhode Island, Ted Lieu, of California and Jamie Raskin, of Maryland, circulated articles of impeachment against Trump on Thursday.

The legislation accuses Trump of “willfully inciting violence against the government of the United States” and having “gravely endangered the security of the United States,” which they added, “demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security, democracy and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office.”

Research contact: @MSN

‘We’ll put them down very quickly’: Trump threatens to quash election night protests

September 14, 2020

President Donald Trump threatened Thursday to “put … down very quickly” riots on election night, should aggrieved Democrats take to the streets in the wake of his potential victory, Politico reports.

The remarks from the president came in an interview with Fox News host Jeanine Pirro that is set to air Saturday, in which he was asked how he would respond to incidents of rioting should he be declared the winner on November 3.

“We’ll put them down very quickly if they do that. We have the right to do that. We have the power to do that, if we want,” Trump said.

“Look, it’s called insurrection,” he added. “We just send in, and we do it very easy. I mean, it’s very easy. I’d rather not do that because there’s no reason for it, but if we had to, we’d do that and put it down within minutes.”

Trump drew bipartisan criticism in June after police officers and National Guard troops fired rubber bullets and deployed flash-bang grenades to force largely peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters from Lafayette Square outside the White House.

The incursion against protesters by U.S. law enforcement officials allowed the president, top White House aides, and senior administration officials including Attorney General William Barr, to walk across the street to the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church — where Trump posed with an upside down Bible for a political photo opportunity.

Just a few weeks later, in July, Trump deployed an ambiguous mix of militarized officers from the Department of Homeland Security to Portland, Oregon, where they were captured on video using apparently unnecessary force against a Navy veteran and loading BLM protesters into unmarked cars.

At the same time, Biden has forcefully condemned all violence in American cities. However, Trump has been reluctant to speak out against violence perpetrated by his supporters in the form of counterprotests.

It is unclear whether there will be rioting on election night or if the White House race will even be called in the hours after the polls close, due to the significant expansion of mail-in voting amid the coronavirus pandemic, Politico says.

Trump has expressed vocal opposition to voting by mail, asserting without evidence that the virtual ballot-casting practice would result in widespread voter fraud and yield unfavorable electoral results for Republicans.

In august, Trump threatened that he would order law enforcement officials to polling places in an effort to deter illegal activity on Election Day, although it is unclear what authority he has to issue such a directive.

“We’re going to have everything,” Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity. “We’re going to have sheriffs, and we’re going to have law enforcement, and we’re going to have, hopefully, U.S. attorneys, and we’re going to have everybody and attorneys general.”

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows insisted at that juncture that Trump was not advocating a form of voter suppression, and Attorney General William Barr argued that sending federal agents to voting sites would be legal if they were responding to a “particular criminal threat” or “specific investigative danger.”

Research contact: @politico